I am opening a space here in my heart, in my house, in my life. I am opening up a wide open space for miracles. I am feeling a huge shift, as though everything is about to change and I am trusting that all will be well…all will be well and all manner of things will be well.
Things are blowing up, unlocking and transforming all around me. It started this summer when someone I love got really really sick. It was then when I was faced with how quickly change happens. One minute we are lounging by the pool and the next minute we are sitting on the side of the road, with our arms wrapped around our knees in tears. In the space of 5 minutes everything changes.
And then in small and big ways the “way things have always been” started to get unglued. Everything started to unravel. In every corner of my life I am being asked to let go of something. And I am simply trusting, after all that I have learned, that this letting go is simply to create the space for something to be born. I don’t know what that something is yet. I can’t even begin to imagine and so instead, I light my candles, go about my work and leave the door open for miracles.
The other night I made chocolate chip cookies and poured tea and cuddled my boy while I climbed in bed and talked in whispers with some of my dear ones huddled in their hotel rooms. We talked until I was so tired I no longer made sense, long after everything that needed to be said had been said. Its this kind of self care and kindness and compassion that is necessary in times like these. Tonight I practiced music I love to play, watched old music videos from the 80s and then curled up on the couch and listened to my friend play guitar while the kitten nestled herself into my lap. These are the things we can do to simply be, to squeeze the pleasure and beauty out of a day some would call awful. This is how I open to miracles.
Last night at midnight I slipped outside into the sharp autumn and sat down on the cold slate pathway in front of my house. And I breathed. Counted my breaths, one, two, three, four all the way to ten and back again.
And now, I am listening to the rain. That soothing, melodic rain. Its like a lullaby and I am half asleep already. Comforted in the arms of some invisible angel who whispers to me in time to the rain, “all will be well….all will be well…”
I have no idea how this will turn out–these sudden crazy shifts. It could simply be we are experiencing earthquakes but after the shakes it will look pretty much the same around here. Or it could be that new mountains will be born. Either way, the world will keep spinning and I will be wiser.
Yes I am holding out for miracles: little miracles and big ones too. Miracles that will set the world spinning in the most delicious and unlikely of ways. Miracles that will heal and miracles that will inspire and miracles that will reorganize and miracles that will hold me.
Every now and then a possibility shows up that seems almost magical in its design. A perfect situation that seems to be constructed just for me (and Max), even as it sends us spinning in a new direction. I have learned to leap at those opportunities and to follow the string of it where ever it leads me. To wholeheartedly and excitedly say yes to these possibilities when they show up. In big or small ways, they always lead somewhere essential and unexpected.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes, when those opportunities appear and I have said my yes, I am suddenly awash in hopes and expectations. I find myself day dreaming about how amazing or fun or challenging or thrilling it will be. If I am not careful, I can suddenly in my excitement leap ahead imagining how it will look or feel, and what is going to be great and what is going to be hard and what is going to be different than we ever imagined it would be. I fantasize about lessons I will learn. I can get carried away.
Funny thing is, it never turns out exactly that way, and sometimes the possibilities dissolve as quickly as they materialize — like a mirage shimmering in the sun.
It could be an opportunity to host an foreign exchange student who doesn’t come, or a new job dangled in front of me only to be retracted. It could be a chance to partner on a cool creative project or to visit a place I have always wanted to go. It disappointing when that happens and I can find myself suddenly grieving something I never had, something that I didn’t even know I wanted until it sparkled in front of me like a fairy dust.
In the past, when the exciting opportunity slipped through my fingers like that, I could feel something like such a chump for daring to get excited about this unmanifested adventure. Who was I to believe that this exciting opportunity was meant for me? Who was I to believe that I that saying “yes” might carry me somewhere new? Who was I to get so–AHEAD of myself?
Truth is, in those moments I was so focused on the fact that I didn’t land where I thought I would, that I ignored the fact that the adventure had in fact already carried me somewhere–usually somewhere good, challenging or thought provoking. Someplace important. But instead of continuing to follow the string, I would drop it, not realizing that it hadn’t come to a bitter end. And I would get stuck.
But now, I am practicing the art of genuinely, excitedly, openly saying yes without attaching to the outcome. Because I am learning that often, its not the end result that matters, but what gets put in motion when I say yes that matters most.
Offering to host the student who is not coming may have inspired me to finally clean out the guest room, creating space for newness unimagined. The new job that falls through may have inspired me to view my talents in a new light or step into a new role in my current job. The work of readying myself for a project with a mentor may have set in motion a creative process that doesn’t need a partner. The cancelled trip to a dream location may be the thing that gets my travel itch going, readying me to say yes to a future journey that might have otherwise seemed daunting or undoable.
Truth is, every time we open ourselves up to adventure we are indeed swept a little further along the path leading to our dreams, even if we don’t end up where we thought we would. I am learning that sometimes these wonderful possibilities that never materialize may indeed be mirages–wonderful tricks the Universe may use to entice us out somewhere we might never have dared journey otherwise–somewhere uncomfortable or scary or exhausting or just simply counter-intuitive.
Once upon a time, past disappointment may have been thing that gave me pause next time an exciting adventure presented itself.
But now, I am beginning to peer beneath the surface of that disappointment and am finding that actually, really, the disappointment is the mirage. All it takes is a closer look to see what treasures actually were delivered.
Truth is, as a teacher I admire has said, I am (we all are) arriving, exactly where I need to, right on time.
And instead of throwing down the string that led me here in despair or annoyance, I am instead holding on lightly, following it centimeter by centimeter around blind corners and down dark alleys, learning as I go to trust the crazy places it may lead, squeezing the goodness out of every step.
When I was young, just 25 or 26, a flimsy bit of a thing, fresh and new, her desk was next to mine. I could whisper over the insubstantial divider to her when I needed her and she was there. Her gray curly hair pulled up in concentration, she would look at me over the glasses perched just so on her nose, the glasses that hung round her neck and pressed against my heart when she hugged me, and she would laugh or sigh or just listen.
Her voice is like a warm soup to me, a hot steaming mug of tea with honey, exactly what is needed to soothe my broken optimism, my raw and new frustrations. She judges nothing, has heard it all and always always answers my frailty and mistakes with love. We walk our lunch hour away, circling the streets of power, lost in conversation that tumbles like a fast moving river over stones, in her fluent English, in her native Spanish, back and forth, like birdsong. I tell her things I uncover from my heart and she looks at me in amazement…”Que chevre” she says, slow and drawn out and deep inside for the first time I know I am. When we are together I know that I am precious, beloved. I call her my second mama. I drink wine at her home and cook with her, sing revolutionary songs and build circles of sisters.
I buy a house down the street and around the corner from hers. But before we have a chance to be neighbors she rents that house. Heads out on an amazing adventure in organizing that takes her and her husband all over the Western hemisphere. Organizing in South America, Central America, caring for her old ones, welcoming granddaughters. She sends a beautiful handwoven tablecloth for my wedding. She pops by one Christmas to hold my fat baby. But then in the crush of life, she fades away An occasional email, a phone conversation from far away, the everyday and in the moment takes hold of my attention. I let her go without even realizing it. I lose her.
I walk by her house on the way into town and I wonder where she is. “Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego” I sing under my breath as I smile in the direction of the threshold that once promised comfort and silliness. I smile as I think of her, her missions, her work, her goodness touching the far corners of the globe. I think of all the young women who will stitch themselves back together in the circle of her arms. I think they are lucky.
And then, suddenly, she is there. In her yard. After more than 10 years and three continents, moving boxes back home. And suddenly she is there walking through the door to come to dinner, kissing the fat babies who have grown into lean kids. Suddenly she is there, her warm smile as radiant as the Puerto Rican sun that birthed her. “OK girls…tell me…” she says and I wonder how we cover 10 years over dinner. But when you speak the language of a heart, just a few words are all that is necessary, stories can be told with knowing looks and a sentence, data transmits almost instantaenously and we are, in a heartbeat, caught up and giggle as though that long pause had never transpired, as though she had held my hand (and I hers) through the journeys of the last 12 years.
Her hands are like butterflies that flit about as we laugh and tell stories, thrilling me when the land for a moment on my hand, my shoulder, my face. She has come home. And so have I.
Having declared that I was going to show up here and write no matter what I find myself in a bit of a bind.
Perhaps I thought that that simple declaration would inspire brilliance? Perhaps I thought that if I simply pronounced it, the writing would come. Today, the very first day out of the box I am showing up here with no wisdom, no happy endings and certainly no magical stories. Damn.
Today Max is with his dad and so I don’t have to rush home after my paid work and jump into my work life as a mother and so I promised myself I would sit here for at least 20 minutes. As the day started to come to its close I thought of 100 or so different reasons that I really needed to just get going–errands that needed being run, chores that needed to be completed. I promised myself I would write tonight after Max went to sleep, after my guitar lesson…later.
Its amazing all the ways in which we sabotage ourselves, isn’t it?
I am wondering what THAT is all about? And what is the thing that underlies it all? Is it fear? Fear of what happens? Or fear that if I dropped all my excuses I would show up, naked (figuratively–I AM still at the office afterall) and be revealed for what I am–which is not quite a fraud, but also perhaps “not all that“? Maybe I might discover that when I eliminate all the excuses I am just Uninspired? I think about that a lot you know.
I know…I know…its silly. If any of you wrote or spoke those words aloud, I would be the first one in line to kick your butt. I am just saying.
Cause you know, what the hell do I have to say? I am just a girl. I value kindness. I love my kid. I love to play but can take things way too seriously too. I have known deep personal pain–though I am awed at how in the scheme of things how easy I have gotten off (knocking on wood now). My life has taught me a thing or two but its not new wisdom–really ancient wisdom–the kind of wisdom that the ancestors sort of hit their foreheads over while muttering things like “You just figured that one out Einstein…Duh…Kids today”. Most of the time I think I have shared all that I have learned, all that I know, my hour is over, time to get back to the chores.
I am not doing anything all that big or scary or Meaningful (with a capital M) right now. On some of my projects I am moving forward with the tiniest of baby steps and nothing new to report. Others seem terribly stalled. Along those lines, fitting my life into my life is a challenge and the only thing I hate more than that fact is the fact that I actually think that way. That for all my talk about being present, for all my embracing of now, for all the joy I can find in the smallest moment, I still think my life (the life I want) is still out there somewhere. That I love the life I have but that other life–the one I am moving too–well I am going to love THAT life so much more…
OK. Confessional closed.
In the interest of wrapping up here I will simply share this:
Five Things I Know:
1. Fresh picked lettuce tastes so much better than store bought.
2. Lemonade is much better if you shove a handful of mint in the bottle and let it sit a day or two.
3. Constantly editing myself to be the good girl is a bad habit. Its a challenging one to break. Its exhausting.
4. I could really use a hug today. Not because I am sad, or lonely or any reason like that. Just cause I like hugs. More than the average person I think.
5. I need to exercise more. Really. I’m not kidding. I saw a picture of me timing at Max’s swim meet today and I said, “Oh who is that super cute pregnant girl with the pigtails? I don’t remember seeing her on Saturday.” And then I realized it was me. And I’m not pregnant. (But at least I am super cute.)
I have a big dream I have been holding deep in my heart. Over the last year or so I have been holding the possibility of that dream coming true. I have been getting used to the fact that maybe, just maybe, it will all work out afterall and that my story about dreams this big being for other people will finally get blown to smithereens.
This year has been one of deep rest. After declaring my dream and putting some things in motion, I have mostly been in a lull. There are lots of reasons for that lull–some logical and some that look stubbornly like fear. But mostly, my life has needed tending in the way that my overgrown garden needed tending this week. And also, even more importantly, I have needed to learn about mystery.
I am a planner. Every project I tackle with ferocity and strategy. I break things down into doable steps–I make lists. I throw myself in knowing full well how the completion of each step leads to the successful engagement with the next one. But somehow, when it comes to figuring out how I am going to rearrange my life and my finances to follow my path and learn how to heal, I have been at nothing short of a loss.
For much of the last year, this stuckness has been a source of frustration for me. I wish I could explain how many tears I cried for lack of knowledge of what to do next. How I beat myself up for my lack of movement. How I bemoaned my own stuckness. Like a horse tethered to a post for the first time I bucked and pulled and kicked and wore myself out. Until one moment, when frustrated and exhausted from all the suffering I was broken and just gave up–or maybe I gave in.
Something deep inside me, my inner wise woman, my intuition, tells me that this process is part of the curriculum. That maybe, just maybe, the lesson here for me is about not knowing what comes next and be willing to surrender everything, even the dream itself to faith that everything is unfolding exactly as it should. The learning how to “not know how” is the lesson.
I have a meditation which I have been settling into. I imagine myself climbing up on top of my mountain and sitting peacefully with a bowl in my lap. And I imagine that everything I need to know, or find, or discover will appear in my bowl unbidden.
This runs counter to everything I have always believed about how one makes their dreams come true, this slow, trusting, almost passive way of waiting. Its a lot like being pregnant. You take your vitamins, you eat well and drink your water, you sleep a lot and you wait to birth a miracle. It feels like nothing is happening and yet everything is happening efficiently and without conscious effort.
This weekend I have some steps to take. I have forms to fill out, even though I am not sure that they really matter. I have some shots to get, even though I am not sure I will actually need them. I am taking these steps because they are in front of me without any attachment that they will lead anywhere and without any knowledge of what comes next. I will do them simply because I am not sure what else to do and I am willing to just do what I can and surrender to whatever comes next, even if that is more waiting or profound disappointment or maybe just maybe a blossoming in the most unexpected way.
This week I was cruising through my chores. My trip to Madrid had put me behind. I had so much to do. Several weeks worth of laundry had piled up and I had no work clothes. Max was running out of socks. In a burst of efficiency, I threw a load in and went up to make dinner. After homework and bath and bedtime I went down to move the clean clothes to the dryer. I put them in, turned the dial, hit the button…and then nothing. The dryer coughed a little. Strained a bit. But it would not spin. Incedulous, I tried again. And again. I checked plugs and connections and then, exhausted I gave up. A good nights sleep would do me well. I thought the same would be true for my dryer.
The next morning I was peppy. By the dryer still made the same cough. Still whined before growing silent.
We are on a very tight budget. I have practically no cushion for moments such as these. And sure enough, when I checked, other emergencies which had come earlier had eaten what little was left. I could not pay to have someone come and fix my dryer. Not now. It would have to wait.
This was not such a crisis. I delight in line dried clothes. They can be stiff perhaps but there is nothing like the smell of the outdoors, of the crisp air, on my shirts, my pajamas, my pillowcases. When Juan and I went to Mexico, I handwashed and line dried everything I brought with me on my last day and then rationed those clothes for months–breathing in the scent of a place I loved so much, a scent that did not come from mechanical dryers but from clothes hanging, swaying and drying in the Oaxacan breeze. I returned home from every trip with the intention of hanging a clothes line but each time convenience and lack of time got in my way.
This morning, as my anxious mind worried over bills, and dirty clothes and the impossibility of having time to wait for a repairman even if I could scrape together the cash, the simplest of solutions jumped to my brain. $10 for clothesline and clothes pins, sunshine and winter breezes, a reduced gas and electric bill, and sunshine infused clothes.
I recently read that Universe is always doing its best with what it has at its disposal. Always trying to arrange the moments, no matter how chaotic and sad and tragic for the best possible outcome. I could stomp my feet at our bad luck or I could hang a clothes line and delight in sundried clothes.
I chose the later.
What crazy, horrible, inconveniences have lead you to a place you always wanted to go? This wide eyed dreamer is searching and would love to hear your stories.
For the last several years, it has been my New Year’s ritual. Encouraged by the lovely Jen Lemen, I pick just one word to be my anthem for the coming year. Its a word that holds in it all the boundless possibility of 365 fresh clean days ahead. Its a word to whisper to myself as I wake up. A word to help me channel what my heart needs, a touchpoint to keep it front and center.
In 2007, as I was recovering from the break-up of my marriage, my word was RENEWAL. In 2008, as I moved forward beyond that crisis my word was BLOSSOM. Last year, as I began the process of a strangely beautiful, challenging inner journey I chose the word TRUST. In all these cases, I found that the year magically delivered the lessons, experiences and opportunities that allowed me to sink into that word. These experiences did not always present as I imagined they might, but they unfolded perfectly nonetheless. My word becomes a prayer, a mantra, a device that immediately allows me to access deep wisdom and cherished dreams.
My experience with my one word has been so powerful that choosing it this year felt both thrilling and terrifying. But a word, is just that, a word. It is not magical alone. It is my awareness, my love, my action in its name that makes it so.
Nevertheless, at the end of last year, I sat in a driveway with the same friend who gave me this exercise, fretting over an appropriate choice. I told her that this year I needed to learn about ease, not the kind of ease that is associated with lying around eating chocolate while someone else cleans, but the ease that comes from grace, lack of resistance and effortless motion. I wanted to glide through the next year, instead of the “stumble stumble trip” sort of hike that many of my adventures have resembled. This is the year I want to learn to get out of my own way and see what develops when I drop my fears and excuses. This is the year I want to learn to stop assuming everything will be an uphill battle and to enjoy what unfolds effortlessly when I let me be me.
She barely missed a beat. SKATE.
I am a bit wobbly on skates. Once upon a time I knew how to glide about, but now I can be tentative and restrained at the rink. Old bones, many years away from the ice, they have all made me a bit wary. Max skates circles around me while I take frequent breaks to rest my weary ankles. I wondered if this word would really do. Sure, SKATE speaks of speed and grace and forward motion–but for others, not for me!
But then I remembered something that happened last February when Max and I went to New Hampshire. My friend Marcy loaned me her hockey equipment and we took to a frozen pond for a pick up game with our boys. I skated on hockey skates for the first time in my life. I tripped and fell and then I started to try things I hadn’t ever tried before because with all that padding, the fear had gone away. It was silly and glorious and while it didn’t transform me as a skater I learned enough that it changed how I approached the rink next time. Looking back on it, that Sunday afternoon was one of the most joyful, light and spirited days of my year. It was a day of laughter, of learning and of –yes–ease. That feeling was exactly what I was searching for this year. That bright blue Sunday afternoon feeling, when the feeling of grace and possibilty came my way, when falling stopped phasing me but instead became a teacher and trying became doing.
Skate is a word that speaks to me of letting go. Skate speaks to me of childhood, and crystal blue skies and forward motion. Skate speaks of speed and abandon and laughter.
So SKATE, I choose you as my word. I welcome you in and hope you bring a sense of ease, grace, fluidity. I know you will bring falls, and bumps, but I will remember they are teachers and like my hockey suited self, I will bounced up from them unharmed. In fact, they will make me laugh. I look forward to gliding along and seeing where we go together, you and I.
Now, you, tell me…What is your word for 2010? What do you wish to welcome in to your year?
2009, oh its hard to believe you are coming to a close. Feels like just yesterday that you were dawning. You have been a year of quiet shifts and changes. Nothing big happened this year, and yet, so much happened. And its all been big.
This was the year that I learned, really learned that no one knew what I should do better than my own sweet self. This was the year that I learned that no one will love me quite the way that I could love myself. This was the year, that I learned to embrace stillness and to sit, however uncomfortably in the quiet. This was the year that I learned to retreat. And to trust that it would all be OK in the end.
This is the year that I lost so many of my illusions about fairy tale endings. This is the year I learned to let go. I grieved so many friendships this year. Friends who died, friends who moved, friends who simply left or stopped showing up. This is the year that I stopped resisting Grief and finally accepted that nothing I would do would ever hold her permanently at bay. No amount of tap dancing, no amount of good girl work ethic would keep her away. She would exist always, along with her twin sister Joy. One could not be without the other. Welcome teacher, come have tea.
This is the year that I finally decided to accept my big old heart. I stopped telling myself the story that she was too much and decided to go ahead and let her feel, spill out and be overflow. I let her love. Even when that love was messy. Even when, especially when, that love went unreturned.
This is the year I learned again that life doesn’t have to be perfect or smooth or unblemished to be beautiful.
This is the year I returned again to the dance studio. And I realized that nothing makes me happier, and I wondered why I ever dare stay away.
This is the year I started to ask for what I needed and found that miraculously, mysteriously it always arrives, in completely unexpected packages. I relearned the delight of a childhood Christmas morning again and again and again. This is the year I became awake to all the signs in my life, the signs that point me home, the signs that remind me I am loved, the signs that I really know what to do.
This is the year that I jumped into an abyss, not knowing where it would all lead. This is the year that I never found out, but learned to ride the not knowing. Learned to accept I might not ever know. This is the year that I learned to accept the out of control feeling that comes with mystery and adventure. This is the year I sank into my insecurity, financial and otherwise. This is the year that the reality of all I had experienced the last 40 years hit.
I forgive myself for all those days this year that I lost faith. I forgive myself for all those days I curled up into a ball and gave up, too exhausted to give a hoot. I forgive myself for letting myself be held back by fear, for making excuses, for going back to sleep. I forgive myself for not writing, not playing my guitar, not creating, not trying. I forgive myself for not being inspired, for being blase, for disconnecting. It happens.
Yes, 2009, you were quite a year. You held many gifts. You brought many lessons. You were difficult and wintery. You were small and quiet but powerful and transformative and one day I will be like you.
And now, dear 2009, with all the love and gratitude in my heart, I declare you complete.
Welcome 2010, you round, yummy year you–here I come!
Inspired by this superhero, my soul sister Kaiya, the icey glaze on my lawn this morning and one really good plate of pancakes.
Before I post again, I needed to stop to offer a huge thank you to the many people who have stopped by this blog, emailed, called, or facebooked in the last few days. Your kind, loving, beautiful words are a gift.
The overwhelming emotion for this week has been great gratitude for the gift of Jenni that we all shared, that indeed we all continue to share. Jenni lives on in all us, whenever we reach out to stranger, whenever we are courageous enough to be raw, and real, when we speak truth to power, when we find humor, grace and beauty in the most difficult of situations. Jenni lives on when we hug our children, when sing at the top of our lungs, when we make our art (whether it is with paper, dance, music, paint, fabric, clay or words). Jenni is with us when we cry at night, when we worry about our babies, when we contemplate the suffering in our homes, our communities, the world. Jenni is with us when we giggle with our girlfriends, when we pour “a cuppa” and sit for tea with our sisters, when we tell our stories over and over again in the hopes that we will find healing there. If we follow our stories, we will find as that in the end, there is only love–love so big and messy and wide and deep. That was the lesson of Jenni.
I have been holding a small moment of silence over here for Jen, until she be laid to rest. But now it is time to keep doing what Jenni and I enjoyed doing together–writing, connecting, watching, witnessing, living and growing.
I will. I will. I will. Everyday I will.
I am in the process of becoming more and more the person I already am, the person I have already been. I am on a journey that takes me home, right here to myself.
I recently had the occasion to hold a new born baby.
Babies are funny creatures.
They are completely capable of receiving love, deep love in all its forms without reservation. They receive it all effortlessly–the practical (food, diaper changes), the physical (nursing, cuddles), the smiles and cuddles what ever comes their way. They don’t think about it, or question the motive. They don’t wonder if they deserve it. They just take it in–indeed their very survival depends on it.
Likewise, babies are capable of bringing forth joy and gratitude, simply by their being. They open up spaces of lightness. They can make the grouchiest old fart smile. They aren’t trying to prove anything. They don’t yet know that there is anything to prove.
We are brought into this world to accept love and to bring forth joy and gratitude. We don’t ever need to learn how. It is who we are. Inherently.
We then spend much our young lives forgetting everything we ever needed to know about ourselves, and then, if we are lucky, wise or awake, we spend another portion of our lives forgetting the forgetting and just coming back home to ourselves. and to the perfect way we always knew how to be before a series of somethings false made us question what we know so deep we need not language to express it.