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A scene from my one wild and precious life

I am halfway through the most luxurious vacation. Ask me where I am going and I will tell you I am here. Right now.

Once upon a time, I would step out of my office for lunch and watch the tourists wander the streets of DC with envy. I would wish it was me in their shoes, walking my streets without the rush, the to-do list, without my head buried in emails or lost in a conference call. I would watch the tourists and sigh and want to be them. And then I would go on vacation to some wonderful far away city and watch the locals with envy. “It must be so wonderful to walk by this river every day!” “I wonder what it’s like to come to this amazing coffee house every morning?” “I wish I knew what it feels like to pass through this park in all seasons and weather!”. I would watch the locals and sigh and want to be them. The irony (and dare I say maddness) of this was not lost on me.

Its been such an adventure filled year. It has been quite a dance, learning to balance a full time school load along with the job that pays the bills and parenting a busy 10 year. Life is so very full and truth be told, I don’t remember being happier. This year I woke up to the fact that the life I have always wanted was actually the only life I have ever had. It’s always been here this life, not “out there, beyond the to-do lists and someday achievements”, but right here. The good, the messy, the sometimes sorrowful or maddening or sweet. Its all right here. I am so blessed.

And yet, there have been times this year when the crush of the work at home, school and work was so intense I could barely breathe. What I did in those moments was breathe. And when I got real still, a tiny voice inside me would whisper, “Tend my life, just tend my life”. And I would. I would do the dishes, fold the laundry, answer email, print out my homework and smile. Smile for having had food to eat, clothes to wear, a job and the incredible privilege of returning to school as a 42 year old. In tending my life I would rediscover the joy of it.

When talking about this month I have off from school, a friend said to me, “I bet you can’t wait to get away–escape the craziness!” It was then, there in that exact moment that I knew I wanted to do nothing else but stay here and take 16 days to sink into my life, this life I am creating, this life that supports and sustains me, this everyday existence. I wanted nothing more than to wander the streets of my own life and practice being awake to the beauty of it. To tend my life and not to miss one sweet thing. I wanted to host Max’s friends for playdates and to fold the laundry and go for walks and nap. To walk to the grocery store and read books about acupuncture and have dinner with friends. Truth is I wanted to do everything I have done all year with peace in my heart, more ease, more gratitude. I wanted to use the space created by no classes and a few days off from work to really drink in my life with slow sips and deep gulps. It is here that I am practicing letting go of the agenda and the striving and the to-do list entirely and instead do what is in front of me because it needs tending, because I love it, because it is everything I ever wanted afterall.

    I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
    I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
    into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
    how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
    which is what I have been doing all day.
    Tell me, what else should I have done?
    Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
    Tell me, what is it you plan to do
    with your one wild and precious life?

    from The Summer Day by Mary Oliver

It’s something like this. There are all these stories you told yourself when you were a child, the stories about life that you whispered to yourself as you closed your eyes to sleep. They were the stories that kept you safe, or explained the big, wide, scary world, helped you make sense of it all. Some of them were stories someone told you. Some of them were stories you made up to keep yourself from being hurt. Some of them were simply stories that seemed to make sense at the time. They kept you warm and cozy if a little bit boxed in. At very least they enabled you to close your eyes and sleep.

But that’s not how the world is. You are older now, and you know better. You see that the world is not that small and maybe, yes, not that scary. There is a world of possibility and abundance all around you. You know this. Your spiritual teachers have taught it to you, you have seen amazing miracles unfold. You have been inspired by amazing heros who don’t seem limited by stories. Seeing is believing they say. And you chose to believe.

So you have papered over the old stories with new ones–stories of Universal goodness, hope for the World, richness and abundance in the most glorious senses. You whisper them to yourself as you fall asleep at night. You can close your eyes because of them. You gather hope from other people’s stories. You hold them in your head as a new manifesto, solid if abstract truths and for awhile it worked. It carried you somewhere else. It brought you here. To this place.

One day you will break down, because suddenly it stops working. The more you try to lean into the new stories, the more you find that even though you have papered over all those old stories with new shiny pretty ones, those old stories never went away. In fact, the more you have tried to give into the new sparkling stories, the more you hear the old ones shouting from the depths. Those old stories still sit simmering in their smallness, festering. Incongruent and confusing. And you somehow feel like you can’t settle, like something is tugging at you restless. You may feel like you are being broken open. Or maybe you will feel blocked. Maybe you will feel like a fraud. Or maybe all of the above.

And then out of the murkiness–an epiphany. You cannot paper over old stories with stories that aren’t yours–you need to transform them. You cannot abstract yourself out of this box your old stories once put you in. Its time to take another leap and while you don’t really know how to do this, can’t imagine what needs to be done, you know that all the stories need to shift. The jig is up. You can’t simply layer stories upon stories–it doesn’t work that way. What happens is that you have mind full of stories and a confused heart. So you start again, but this time you start the way you did as a little girl.

No abstractions. No theories. This isn’t about the Universe or the World or someone else in their juicy magical wonder. No stories of anyone else’s journey will give you the calm you need. The only stories that will really settle now are the ones about You and your blessed and messy heart.

These new stories may start: “I live in a world of ease and abundance…” and then they go on to describe the way the light falls on the baseball field at 7pm just before the boys pick up the bases, and the smoothness of the cheesecake you had for dessert and the sighs of the cat who is dreaming of birds and the angelic face of your sleeping child and the virtuous circle of kindness and love that you witnessed in a group of runners. Perhaps they will start, “I am powerful and wise…” and then go on to sing about how you balanced the checkbook and fed the children and made it through that really impossibly hard time. Or maybe they will start, “I am exactly where I need to be…” and then you will describe how every time you allow yourself to pay attention you learn something amazing. You will forget every abstraction and stop finding inspiration in others and instead make yourself the hero of your stories. Because this is the only way it will move from your head to your heart.

You must tell yourself these stories every night. Concrete and real and very personal stories of power and triumph and wisdom and kindness and yes of the kind of heart break that comes from leaping and falling and getting up again. This will be your bedtime story. Until you know what else to do. Something like this. Something like this.

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Different Plans
by Brian Andreas

I don’t know how long
I can do this, he said.
I think the universe
has different plans
for me

& we sat there in silence

& I thought to myself
that this is the thing
we all come to
& this is the thing
we all fight
& if we are lucky
enough to lose,
our lives
become beautiful
with mystery
again

& I sat there silent
because that is not
something
that can be said.

On Sunday as I was pulling out of the Trader Joe’s parking lot, the power steering in my new car gave way.

At that moment, I became profoundly aware that I had a car. A car that is transporting me to school every day. A car that allows me to take Max to hockey and to carry a trunk full of groceries home in the heat. My chest, neck and shoulders all began to tighten as I contemplated what the next few days would be like without the use of this precious car. That tightness could have been a springboard to a whole downward spiral of panic.

Instead I used it as a bell. A call to make a different decision. Instead of contemplating its loss–what if I celebrated its presence? This was something I am learning in school. It was a chance to practice. The truth is dwelling on the problem would only have given rise to panic and my panic would not have served me. It would have not helped me solve my problem and was about to cause me a whole world of suffering. So I decided to chose a new practice of gratitude.

I started from where I was. I was able to turn the car using a bit of muscle. I could take it the two miles home. The frozen chicken in the trunk would not melt. I was grateful for that one small detail. I was grateful the whole way home, at every stop light, I noticed how far it had carried me. Whenever panic began to rise in my throat I told myself. “I have a car–a car that serves me well. It is taking me home.” Those words changed the whole way I held my body.

Surprisingly, I was feeling calm when I got home, not in the funk I might take on when my carefully orchestrated reality starts to unravel. I made a phone call to a friend and found myself blessed once again. For I had a friend who would loan me her car for a day or two while my broken one to the shop. I had a way to school and it only required one phone call. How easy!

The next morning, I made a call to the magic auto repair garage in my neighborhood. Milo the Magnificent made a quick decision that the car wasn’t safe and even though they were booked (and it required me to rush out of the house at that minute) they would take my car if I could get it there quickly. He didn’t promise me an answer anytime soon but he wanted to be sure it was off the road and safe at their place until they could take a peak. I may have felt panicked about what the visit to the garage might do to my carefully planned morning schedule but I decided to make a different choice. As I walked into the garage that morning, I declared myself joyful. It was a beautiful morning. I had mechanics who care and my car had given me an excuse for an early morning walk through the neighborhood.

When they called just a few hours later to tell me about the expensive repairs that were looming, I did not despair. Instead I chose to focus on how pleasantly surprised I was that they had looked at it so quickly and grateful that I had cash in the bank. I had a car. I had the cash. I am lucky. Lucky. Lucky.

When I went that afternoon to pick up my car, I didn’t feel tense, sick or even the slightest bit resentful, even though I was handing over hundreds that I hadn’t planned to spend. Instead I felt nothing but gratitude–for the car, the mechanics, the cash.

When my power steering hose (and another belt or two) gave way, I never imagined it would be a gift. It woke me up to a present moment both abundant and blessed.

I have a car.
I have a generous friend.
I have an efficient and fair mechanic.
I have sufficient cash.

The world is beginning to show up new. Full. Rich. I am lucky indeed. I am so grateful for the leaking power steering hose that reminded me of this. Life has showing up as abundance and it took a broken down car to point me to it. I am so glad I can finally see.

The G-force Line
Max (who played left wing) with the center and right wing on the infamous “G force line” of the Ice Warriors.

On Saturday night we went camping with the hockey team. The hockey team that made our winter feel like a Disney movie–full of warm heartfelt lessons and goodness and hard work paying off. For just under 20 hours we were together again. We parents, working side by side to chop, move, carry, sit, talk, rest, build and the boys to run wild and be free together again. With the whole campgrounds at our disposal I thought for sure they would be running wild all night, visible only as a blur of flashlights and glowsticks. They did some of that–but they also huddled in a tent with a hand cranked radio and told stories and ate stolen marshmallows and chocolate bars and giggled.

On Sunday as we drove home, Max sat in the front seat and sang along with the radio–sang at the top of his lungs with the window open. Until recently, such behavior was reserved for embarrassing mothers. But there was something about being among a whole group of people who understood him that cracked open his heart and let the music flow, gave him the confidence to express his joy. Being among people who see him as he is–who don’t expect him to be anything other –opened a door.

Magic happens when we are valued for simply showing up exactly as we are.

There are so many places where we are expected to show up as someone else–or we are given subtle or not so so subtle messages that it would be so much better if we showed up just a little bit differently. Whether we are teased gently or sternly corrected childhood– adulthood–is full of moments where the people who love us the most are telling us to be someone else: stronger, smarter, cleaner, kinder, faster, more popular, more cool, less whiny, more thoughtful. The list goes on and on. There are no shortage of those who would like to improve us, challenge us to grow into our potential. Its important to be pushed. But its also so important to simply just be–and be loved.

One particularly tough night this spring, Max broke down telling me that at school he feels he needs to change to be liked, that he is valued because of who people think he is–not who he is. Or worse still they like parts of him (his athleticism for instance) but other parts (his sensitivity) need to be checked at the door. We all remember that feeling I am sure–that sinking feeling that we are not OK just how we are. Its exhausting and at times debilitating to wonder what will happen, “when they find out”. Worse still is to hold a private shame around the part of us that doesn’t fit their expectations: Our sensitivity, our sexuality, our vulnerability, our desire to sing off key, our struggles.

And that is why moments like our 20 hours in the woods are so important–when we go among our tribe, when we just show up–messy and imperfect and completely brilliantly beautiful and are just loved in a no-nonsense, no big deal kind of way. No one asks you to change as a price of admission. It can unlock something profound and gives us what we need to grow on our own, exactly in the direction we were meant to go. To become someone who sings at the top of our lungs with the windows rolled down with no worries what the world thinks.

There are seasons in our life where we are gifted with these moments–like our hockey season–the moments from which we are given space to blossom into our best selves. Their appearance feels random and lucky.

But I am learning that if I want to keep growing I need to create these moments myself. Sink deeply into the friendships that allow me to show up as I am. Because its only in their company that I will have the confidence, space and courage to transform and grow as I am meant to. With those friends and cousins, magic never fails to happen in my heart.

The night Max felt so sad, we made a list of the friends with whom he feels completely safe and pledged to make the summer about those kids. He is a lucky boy. Despite his struggles at his school, he has a long list in our neighborhood and among his team. With the summer upon us he can sink into the company of his tribe and grow strong.

The fireflies are just showing up, the summer just being born. The summer of tribe has just begun.

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I have one of these cool journals. A ten year journal where you have just 4 lines to capture the essence of the day. It is laid out so that on one page one can see what happened on the same day over a period of ten years. February 19, 2009…February 19, 2010…February 19, 2011. After writing the days news yesterday, I looked back over the last three years and sighed. “Nothing’s changed,” I shrugged. Reports of ice time and Caps games and playdates. Same problems, same sadnesses, same simple pleasures that stitched together a day. I grumpily closed my journal and turned over to turn out the light, murmuring about the lack of movement in our simple little life.

But the simple fact is everything changes. All the time. The sameness is just an illusion, a cheap trick. But all it takes is a shimmering ray of sunlight to break the trance.

In the last 3 months, this boy has grown an inch. He’s made friends this year, who don’t live so close to home, on the other side of the county. The first night that he is over there, it is as though he is half a world away. These changes snuck up on me when I wasn’t looking, slowly bit by bit, the way the baby fat disappeared leaving a lean young man at the dinner table doing his homework. Subtle.

Someone I love who was very sick got well, and another person I love who was well got very sick. These things happen, like that, a bomb dropped, a miracle. Sudden.

Jobs change. Addresses change. Adventures arise when we least expect them. People leave. Others come. Some stick around for now. And every now and then we are struck with a remarkable moment of pure laughter and love.

Pay attention to this moment, girl, for all that it brought, tinged with joy or sorrow or maybe both, all it brought is about to slip away. You can try and hold onto it but it will only make you cry when it pulls away from your desperate grasp. Because it will. Are you going to waste this moment here trying to hold onto something that has gone? This is the way we miss our life. We can miss it without even noticing that we are missing it. We can miss it by grieving that we missed it.

A wise teacher once told me that letting go of every breath is the most basic act of faith. The exhalation does not come with a guarantee in writing that if we let go of this air there will be enough to breathe next time and yet we breathe. We are already so practiced in the act of faith. We have been faithful since birth, since the first time we breathed out without knowing if we would ever fill our lungs again.

This is a good thing, because I need that sort of faith to loosen my grasp on the moment and to let it go without knowing what comes next, without worry, without fear, without expectations. All those things get in the way of paying attention. Quick sink in and let it wash over you and bathe it with its warm warm light before it goes again with the exhalation, whoosh…

Blizzard of 2009

A couple of weeks ago now (it feels like a lifetime), Max and I were stuck in a terrible snowstorm. It was the kind of snowstorm that brings down trees and turns DC roads into a mess. Like everyone else, we left the office early, but it wasn’t early enough. By the time we hit the roads, traffic was at a virtual standstill. My normal 25 minute commute lasted almost 6 hours.

But the point at which we arrived home is the end of the story. What is more fascinating is what happened in between.

For the first hour it felt like an adventure. We were moving along at a snail’s pace but we were certain we would make it home for dinner time. I dreamt of what I would cook and was comforted by the fire I would start, the cup of tea I would make within minutes of our arrival.

In the second hour, we started to get a bit itchy, but were certain that we would make it home for the Caps game on TV. The cup of tea turned into a glass of wine. I would need it after all this stop and go.

In the third hour it was clear that we would miss the start of the game, and that dinner would in fact be a long ways away. All the dreaming of tea and wine had made me thirsty. Max had fallen asleep in the car and everything on the radio began to feel old. We had moved barely 10 feet. I began to think we would be there all night. It was then that irritation and restlessness started to set in. Suddenly I was flooded with visions of being home in front of a warm cozy fire, a smooth glass of wine in my hand, the Caps game on the big TV and I wanted to scream and lay on my horn as though that would make the seas part. As I sat uncomfortably, munching on a donut that Max had earlier scavenged from the crevices of the back seat, misery snuck into the passenger seat and taunted me. “You’re not home” it whined. “This is miserable.”

And then something happened that saved me. I learned that the power was out at home.

Transformers had blown and the entire neighborhood was out. The house was cold and dark. There would be no tea, no Caps game, no warm dinner. All my visions of what could have been went up in smoke and I suddenly saw my situation much more clearly.

I was warm. There was an interesting story on the radio. Max was dozing in and out, but relatively content snuggled up in a sleeping back in the back seat. When he woke up from his naps we chatted about things we rarely had time to talk about. While we didn’t have a full tank, we had plenty of gas. The woman in the car in front of me was chatty and kind and together we were moving the branches that fell in our path. The man in the car crawling along in the right hand lane was patient and funny and compassionate, checking in on Max. We could melt snow for water. The stale donuts in the back of the car had filled us up. There was in fact, nothing truly miserable about our situation.

Somewhere in between hour four and five, I had one of those epiphanies that make me feel so naive, like a too-smart schoolgirl, stung by the simplest of lessons she had missed. Rarely does my suffering arise from my life’s circumstances. It is not what my life is that causes me pain. More often than not, when I suffer, it it caused by my disappointment about what my life is not. After all these years, that teaching had never sunk in so profoundly, but rather it had floated about on the surface of my intellect. But suddenly, in the midst of that thick wet snow that promised to hold us hostage, a switch was flipped and I could no longer deny it.

As I turned off the traffic filled road and onto a snow choked side street, I breathed into the reality that we were Ok, more than OK in fact. And while I had no idea of what would happen next I was certain that everything seems to change, even if its slowly.

With the newness of my understanding settling, I felt a bit sheepish and even a bit childish in my complete lack of understanding. All these years, even as I had talked the talk about non-attachment, I find I wound the tendrils of my happiness firmly around visions of some false future and then whine when its somehow different.

Its a habit, a very hard one to break.

I am being gentle with myself now. It takes a lot of courage to admit that most of my pain and misery is truly just an illusion. I have nursed my suffering so for so many years. As I tended my own wounds I felt, I don’t know…. Complete. Worldly. Complex. Deep.

Thats not to say that my pain wasn’t real. Just that not all of it was necessary. And while there is grief that will be unavoidable, real sorrows and feelings of loss, I can save myself from a whole lot of manufactured hurt if I dare. I’d like to think there is infinite value in being able to see behind the veil of my own disappointment into the richness of my own magnificent life.

Slowing down this year was more than a treat, a luxury, an indulgence. It was an absolute necessity. It was suddenly as though I was moving through cold maple syrup, sticky and sweet but slow slow slow…I am not sure I ever gave myself permission to check out so completely–to detach from work, from the phone, even from large swaths of my community who I normally need like oxygen and water. I let it all slip away and fell into a space that was silent and warm.

The sap is starting to rise again, and its as though that period of deep rest fed me. I think it fundamentally changed me.

But I know myself. I know that I could easily forget what I learned throwing myself into new adventures and bliss. So I am easing back in, all the while integrating what the hush and quiet taught me.

1. Lighting candles and singing old hymns and spirituals is very nourishing.
2. Everything that is important enough will find a way to get done. The rest will find a way to stop pretending to be important.
3. Lighting a fire or simply lighting a candle is an instant way to sanctify a space and make it holy and peaceful and a little bit juicy.
4. Gifts freely given don’t need to be given on any specific day.
5. Anger is OK. It can carry you somewhere if you let it. It is as holy as bliss.
6. Its important enough to slow down enough to make my bed every morning and take the time to apply moisturizer to my feet. If I am moving too fast to do those two things, its a bell reminding me I am moving too fast.
7. Filling my house with art made by friends makes me happy. Hanging up my own art makes me even more blissed out.
8. I don’t really need coffee if I take the time to drink my tea.
9. There are three reasons (and only three reasons) to do anything: a. To bring me joy. b. To bring me peace. c. Because something needs to be done. Doing things because they will pay off one day, or to be a good girl is a fast track, surefire, express train ride to misery. Don’t do things for those reasons. Anymore. Ever.
10. There is always enough time. Always.

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Max and Mutoni, Odette’s daughter getting ready to “trick or treat” this past Halloween

Its hard to describe what it feels like to be driving to Connecticut with the three of them in the backseat–Max sandwiched in between Grace and Mutoni. I look back in the rear-view mirror and see the three of them huddled over the Harry Potter movie on the computer. They are arguing over Justin Bieber (dreamy or ridiculous?–the sides are drawn) and sharing music on the ipod and sharing the box of cookies I snuck into the backsheet. It feels…well…it feels normal. A normal extended family fighting the traffic on I-95, two sisters in the front seat catching up, three cousins being silly as they sing the latest pop songs. And its that normal-ness that makes my heart swell with gratitude.
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Three years ago my friend and housemate Odette made her first trip with me to Connecticut for Thanksgiving. At that time everything seemed impossible and stuck. We had no idea if she would be able to stay here in this country and the possibility of bringing her daughters from Africa seemed bleak–at best. After facing a horrible civil war and genocide in her native Rwanda, after losing her husband, after following her heart to cooking school and becoming a chef and after years of supporting her mother and children and nieces and nephews with her amazing cooking, she took a leap and came to the US. When things didn’t go as planned she ended up with me, thousands and thousands of miles away from her children, on a journey to Connecticut.

The thing I remember most about that trip is the hours we stole away dreaming about what it would be like IF she got to stay AND IF she got to bring her girls here. How amazing it would be. I also remember seeing absolutely no path to this dream. It was a far off destination through a wild jungle and a stark desert without a road (or even a path) leading there. I couldn’t see how she would get there but I loved her dreams. They were beautiful, even though they felt ridiculous and completely unreasonable. And I resisted every temptation to try and talk her out of them in order to protect her heart. And with that decision, I started to learn about dreaming, not wishing and praying but the active art about making dreams come true.
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If there is anything I learned from my dear friend Odette, it is that we make the road by walking. Looking back over the highs and lows of the last three years, I am not sure anyone would ever have started out on that road if they knew how complicated, hard and impossible it would be. Huge unmoveable boulders would present themselves. Big pits of quick sand. And lions and tigers and bears. And yet, obstacles were faced one at a time. There always was a way around them, even if it took months, and heavy lifting, and impossible stretching. Just when I couldn’t imagine how she would continue or where the answer would appear, countless strangers came out of the woodwork to brick by brick built a path to that dream, chipping in how and when they could. Courage and hope was the only map. They guided everything–and always led the way home.

And then after four years of separation, we were making another journey up north, this time to an airport to pick them up because amazingly they were here. (Side note: for a bit of Thanksgiving inspiration, click over here to see Stephanie Roberts amazing photos and stories of their reunion!)
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Having been a witness to this amazing story, knowing full well that when she started she had no idea what to do but it didn’t let her stop her, I don’t dismiss her advice when we are talking about my dreams, especially the ones that I can’t imagine the path towards.

JUST START, she tells me. She says it firmly. The next step will appear once you begin. I know, from the giggling I hear in the back seat, that she is right. She had no idea how she would ever bring her girls here but even though she had no plan, she threw herself into it and did the one thing in front of her. And then, the next thing…and the next one and the path appeared and outlandish, impossible and amazing dreams came true.

If there is anything I have learned from my sister Odette, from witnessing her journey, it is this. Just start. Hope and Courage are found in the doing.

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Max is a very picky eater. He and I have this drama that unfolds this way almost every few days. He opens the fridge hunkering for a snack. He sees carrots and cheese and milk and leftover Thai food. He sees peanut butter and apples and some fish. He does not see leftover pizza –the only food that he thinks will “scratch his itch”. And so he closes the fridge. And whines. And he declares himself starving.

He doesn’t just think he is starving. He IS hungry because he has refused to eat. Dug in his heels. His stomach rumbles because he did not take in what was offered. He didn’t see the mountains of food in the fridge as nurturing healthy goodness, but rather he saw it as “not quite right”. He has rejected it. In those moments, with an empty belly and a mind set on pizza, he really is starving even as he stands before a refrigerator that is full.
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“You have everything you need.”

When teachers, doctors and friends whisper those words to me I both am deeply comforted and deeply cynical.

I love the idea that I have everything I need. And yet, it is one thing to intellectually understand that “I have everything I need” and quite another to feel the full weight of that. Really feel it and trust it. I have struggled with the whole abundance notion.

Truth is, I can be more like my picky eater son than I care to admit–at least at a metaphorical level. I sometimes find myself standing at a the Universe’s fridge, staring at the makings of a feast, and not finding the thing I think will scratch my itch, I close the door without taking anything and declare myself starved.
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Its not hard to see how this happens, how we can miss the abundance laid out for us in all of its juicy goodness. Afterall, we are trained to think in terms of scarcity. Not enough energy, not enough time, not enough money. That is a story our society trains us to tell ourselves over and over again. Its the excuse we make for why we don’t write more, or call more, or practice more. We say not enough so much that we start to believe it and it becomes like a mist that starts to cloud up our lives.

In some cases, I walked right by gifts offered up lovingly by the universe, certain that they were not meant for me. Sometimes I have rushed right by, telling myself I didn’t have time to open the door and peak in, believing I didn’t even have the time to stop and explore and that chances are there would be nothing there anyway.

In other cases, perhaps, I have not even seen the abundance offered because I was so attached to it showing up differently I just couldn’t see it. Truth is, it is easy to open a fridge full of delicious food and declare yourself starving when you can’t find the one thing that you thought you wanted, the deliciousness you had been dreaming about all day.

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And yet I have come to believe that this small shift in perspective is the difference between a life full to bursting with joy and love and one in which I feel like I am depleted. Its not simply a matter of gratitude. Its hard to be grateful for something that for one reason or another you simply don’t see. How often have I for one reason or another missed a chance to be nurtured, nourished and held by the universe because I closed the door not recognizing the gift that showed up. How often have I wandered through a banquet feeling starved because I can’t get my mind off pizza.

I am trying to make a practice of seeing the gifts life offers me. Here are just three things I am doing to remind my hungry self that there always is enough:

1. Make a practice of saying yes whenever something lovely is offered. If it turns out I really don’t need it I can pass it along and share the joy. But by saying yes I allow myself to consider and hold what is offered as a gift. By making space for it in my life I can see it.
2. When I find spare change, I tell myself that it is a reminder that there always is enough, even if it shows up in small bits. I immediately put it in a special jar on my altar to remind myself that what we need always shows up.
3. Make what I need from what I have. Make the cookies or the salad from whatever is on hand, even if it is no trouble to run out to get the one thing that feels missing. Redecorate the room from whatever is found in the attic and the basement. Dig through the bottom of the craft bin to make art. See that it all comes together perfectly without any extra steps or trips or additions.

I am curious about how you are cultivating the sense of abundance in your life. How do you celebrate it? How do you teach your eyes to see it? I am opening the comments up and hoping you will play along so I can learn from you.