Thursday, January 05, 2017

Looking Back (Week 3/3)


I am posting my own responses to looking back over the last year in this blog weekly for three weeks. These are unedited writings done in class, offered here for my students and readers. This is week three out of three. The door is closing soon on Return: Setting New Year's Intentions That Stick, so sign up now if you are interested!

Note the photo above showing the conversation between my dominant and non-dominant hand. This is an especially powerful way to have an exchange with yourself about tender or complex topics.


(dominant hand)
Each time I write this prompt I think it will be dead for me, having done it three times already. I've explored my word in retrospect, looking at my intention word for 2016: connect. I've discovered lightly neglected feelings, and looked at all the interlocking growth and happenings. So what could possibly be left?

(non-dominant hand)
All the tiny specifics details and the endless moments of inspiration and desperation are left.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Looking Back Post 2/3

(I am posting my own responses to looking back over the last year in this blog weekly for three weeks. These are unedited writings done in class, offered here for my students and readers. This is week two out of three - the last one will be next week)

“Whatever arises is fresh, the essence of realization…”
(line from Shambhala lineage chant)

I look out over the back yard from the windows above, and I see space: whiteness expanding our small urban field, melding into the white and blue garage, and blue sky beyond. It is easier from this high up to not see where rabbits have run in circles, or shat in the snow making small minefields, to not to see the still green fallen willow leaves, or patches where grass bleeds through.
And so, though I don’t mean to back into a metaphor for looking back at the end of the year, I have. It is easier now, at the end of December, either see the whole year as clear and white and clean and destined, or as muck and confusion and mud. The fact is, it was, as is life, both.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Looking Back Over the Year, Post 1/3


This is the first in a series of three year's end blog posts, in which I "practice what I preach" - going back over the year in a tender, curious way, exploring with forms like six word stories/memoirs, looking for key words in retrospect, getting a felt sense of the year that is ending.

Look for the next two in the next two weeks.

If these practices pique your interest, consider taking Return: Setting New Year's Intentions That Work class with me.

As is always the case in classes, where I wrote these, these pieces are written spontaneously and without editing. So please keep that in mind as you read.

I don’t know; that is okay
The same memoir, six different titles
Life and memoir in constant revision
Finding where I am triggered; everywhere
Family cabin finally sold; golden relief
So. I guess I really can!
Letting go of what seems known
Facing whiteness in my sangha, myself
Too much travel, even with cancellations
My body loves exercise - who knew?
Accountability in body, food, finances, love
Graduating from program no one knows
Signing up impulsively; sitting around forever

A reckoning, maybe, this year – that could be my looking back word for the year – my intention was to connect, and in order to do that, I had to reckon. Both in the simplest cowboy sense of familiarity (“I reckon!”) and in the intense, super powerful, coming home to roost sense.

Or value could be my looking back word: Value wound up being so much a part of this year: connecting with my values, and with what I value, connecting my values with what I do, enacting values, valuing my time, body, money, and more.

The more accurate word though I think is potency - discovering how rich I am, how much not just power, but effect I have on people. Owning that, noting that, gauging that: me and my sharpness, my softness, my every way I manifestness: like a potion that can poison or empower.

Potency yes more so than value is my looking back word. It feels linked to me also to the wrong kinds of richness: too many books, too much travel, too much fat intake, which makes my IBS flare up. Not just what I give out, but also what I take in, needs moderation, titrating.

“Do more dharma,” one student said.
 Teaching a week intensive is intense
 Collaborating again brings up unhealed wounds
 What other tools for trauma needed?
 Compassionate exchange: my perfect practice form
 Combining all I teach into one
 Herspiral Arts: Nurture Your Creative Nature
 Dedicating the merit to all beings
 Where there is a will, loss

So many things feel incomplete, not neat and tidy at this years’ end. And yet, why pretend otherwise? My own memoir and many others are in messy but forward progress. The deep need to coach one-on-one and grow my week-to-week online offerings have allowed my wisdom to specialize, to connect between things I’ve never connected to each other before.

So much inspiration and possibility ahead
Traveling less I am at home

Friday, December 02, 2016

"Forgetting How Easily Children Soil Clothes"


This beautiful, totally unedited fresh writing came from a student this week, Priscilla Matthews, in response to a prompt where they selected a single line of poetry from various poems by Naomi Shihab Nye. Priscilla had no idea this was what she was going to write - as is true to the practice, she simply put pen to paper, and this homage emerged.

There's not much I want to say about it, except to point out the incredible ordinary-ness of it: clothing, stains, children, laundry. And so powerful - all the details, and the way she connects it back to her mother and herself. Direct. Clear. Universal. Specific.

I will also point out that Priscilla stated some things I can relate to, having also lost my parents when I was young. I relate in particular to these lines: "If she had lived, she may have died by now," and, "Does this mean I'm finally in sync with my peers?"

Please enjoy this poignant grief and pleasure mixture.


forgetting how easily children soil clothesI just remembered that today would have been my Mom’s birthday.  She would have been 87 years old.  If she had lived, she may have died by now.  Having a parent pass at my age now is “normal.” It’s part of the process many people my age are going through.  Does this mean I’m finally in sync with my peers?  No.  I don’t understand their expressions of grief.  But I am more compassionate and patient with them than I was with myself.“forgetting how easily children soil clothes”My mom had 8 children within 9 years.  The other day I imagined how joyful it must have been for her with one child…the time she had to dress her, play in the grass, share her growth with my Dad.  And then my brother was born, and the work grew, the balancing act.  And then another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

You Fucked Up? Be kind, then, re-commit.



The more work I do with folks one-on-one and in small groups around accountability - not to mention working with myself - the more I've found this distillates slogan to be the core needed approach.

Didn't work out when you said you would? Be kind, re-commit. Haven't been meditating as often as you'd like? Be kind. Re-commit. Spent the afternoon on Facebook instead of cleaning the house? Be kind then re-commit.

If you are nice with yourself but don't recommit, you won't have accountability. If you punish yourself, then re-commit, you won't want to do it (damned if you do or don't). So both parts are needed.

This is actually a macroscopic version of what we do in meditation. In meditation, if your attention has drifted off the breath and onto a passing thought, for instance, how you decide to come back is crucial. Are you cruel to yourself, beating yourself up for making a simple mistake? Getting distracted? Are you a jerk because you can't believe you did it again? Do you have the view that when you aren't following your breath, you aren't meditating?

The view can be like this: the whole thing is meditation.
The attitude can be like this: its human to get off the track.
Your approach can be like this: Ok, that happened, now let's do it again.

It's simple, but not easy.

That's where support comes in.