• This Is the Power of Surrender

    Friday, July 24, 2020 No tags Permalink

     It’s been a long time since a book has stuck with me so completely as Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. I finished it days ago but I still find myself a little verklempt. I’ve never read anything like this book in my entire life. I laid in bed for over an hour upon finishing it, just tossing and turning and thinking about everything I had just consumed. It is one of the most aesthetically pleasing, and at the same, time terrifying piece of literature I’ve ever read. I still don’t think I can put my feelings into words, but I can say this book was a cathartic experience for me, and the irony of the word “catharsis” being a Greek rooted word is not lost on me, because if this book is anything it’s a modern-day Greek tragedy.

    Nietzsche has theory is that the ancient Greeks attained such a high level of culture mainly due to their personal struggle between the opposing philosophies of Apollo and Dionysus; Apollo being the god of art, and thus, stagnation, while Dionysus is the god of debauchery and barbarism, and thus, action. This struggle between appreciation for art and culture and a zeal for living is what Nietzsche credits for the Greeks’ impressive progress. He also believed that the only way we can progress today is to swing the pendulum toward Dionysus.

    “Beauty is terror. Whatever we call beautiful, we quiver before it. And what could be more terrifying and beautiful, to souls like the Greeks or our own, than to lose control completely? To throw off the chains of being for an instant, to shatter the accident of our mortal selves?”


    We don’t like to admit it, but the idea of losing control is one that fascinates controlled people more than almost anything.

    Remember the cheesy 80s movie Dirty Dancing? When Johnny tells Baby ‘You gotta hold the frame”. When a good lead takes a hold of me, it is only the slightest touch that tells me where I need to go. It’s in their innate confidence, the way they own and control their space. In the arms of a strong lead who holds the frame, I can let go of the relentless turn of my thoughts, of the need to control, of the way life holds me inside of myself. I can become so entirely embodied that there is no longer myself, my partner, the room. There is only the all and the everything of bodies and sensation and freedom. This is the power of surrender, of acquiescence. Give me this in the world, in the spaces where no one else exists. And when I let go, fully let go, I am infinite.

    Surrender by Fleur de Lisa on Flickr
  • Emotional Bank Accounts

    Monday, July 16, 2018 No tags Permalink

    An Emotional Bank Account is a metaphor that describes the amount of trust that’s been built up in a relationship.  It’s the feeling of safeness you have with another human being.

    – Stephen Covey



    The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change has given me the best insight on relationships.  I never thought about it this way.  If we look at a financial bank account, we regularly make deposits into it and make withdrawals when we need to.  If we look at it from an emotional standpoint, this could be the most life-changing chapters I’ve read in any book in my entire life.

    Each person has an Emotional Bank Account; couples also have Emotional Bank Accounts. The accounts link but they are three independent accounts; you can even transfer deposits between the three, and sometimes this is necessary, but you must be careful not to deplete one to fill the other.

    In order to make a withdrawal, you must have something in your account to take out. Otherwise, you have an overdraft and applicable fees will apply. Those fees come in different forms: stress, anxiety, depression, anger, volatility, exhaustion, disorientation, loneliness, insomnia, overeating, over-drinking, over-smoking, and general feelings of dis-ease.

    When you over-draft your Couples Emotional Bank Account additional fees may apply: low libido, snarkiness, irritability, disconnection, and a general lack of luster.

    “If I make deposits into an Emotional Bank Account with you through courtesy, kindness, honesty, and keeping my commitments to you, I build up a reserve. Your trust toward me becomes higher, and I can call upon that trust many times if I need to. I can even make mistakes and that trust level, that emotional reserve, will compensate for it. My communication may not be clear, but you’ll get my meaning anyway. You won’t make me “an offender for a word.” When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.”

    -Stephen Covey

    Both accounts (Personal and Couples) need to be monitored to be sure that you don’t go into overdraft mode. The best bet is to try to always keep both accounts at least half-full; sometimes this is not possible and in those times it’s even more important that your partner is helping by adding to your accounts.

    Both people in the relationship need to make deposits into the Couples Emotional Bank Account, and BOTH people need to make sure that they are monitoring their own Personal Bank Account.

    You all know how it feels when your emotional bank account is depleted; I don’t need to explain that feeling of being completely drained.

    Continue Reading…

  • Energy & Boundaries

    Friday, June 8, 2018 No tags Permalink

    I love it when you read exactly what you need to read, exactly when you need to read it.

    When life has to be a certain way in order to be good enough for you, you instantly close yourself off from all the real and present opportunities available – you spend all your mental energy resisting life, rather than making the best of it.

    And sadly, this is how the vast majority of the human population lives – stuck in a perpetual cycle of resistance.

    But you don’t have to continue this cycle. You can change your mind.

    When you consciously choose to let go of the way it “should” be, you free your mind to deal with life’s unexpected changes, challenges, and chaos in the most effective way possible…

    You create space for acceptance, learning, and growth.

    You learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others.

    And gradually, you allow yourself to step forward with a clear and focused mind.

    Closing the door, completing the chapter, turning the page, etc. – it doesn’t matter what you title it…what matters is that you find the strength to leave in the past those parts of your life that were not meant to be, so you can better attend to the present.

    What has happened is uncontrollable; what you do now changes everything.

    Of course, knowing this and actually living a lifestyle that reinforces this truth are two very different things. Letting go is NOT easy; it’s a journey that is traveled one day at a time.

    It can be excruciatingly difficult to leave a long-term life situation (or dream) behind, even when your inner-wisdom tells you that things aren’t right and that it’s time to let go. At this point, you can choose to let go and endure the sudden pain of leaving behind the familiar to make way for a new chapter in your life, or you can stay and suffer a constant, aching pain that gradually eats away at your heart and mind like a cancer… until you wake up one day and find yourself buried so deep in the dysfunction of the situation that you barely remember who you are and what you desire.

    Things will happen that are unexpected, undesirable, and uncontrollable. But you can always choose to let go and take the next tiniest step forward.

    One of the best things we can learn to do is to set appropriate boundaries.  You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop, and what you reinforce.  I often say, “I refuse to positively reinforce negative behavior.”

     I assumed that people weren’t doing their best so I judged them and constantly fought being disappointed, which was easier than setting boundaries. Boundaries are hard when you want to be liked and when you are a pleaser hellbent on being easy, fun, and flexible. Brené Brown, Rising Strong

    Brené Brown defines boundaries in Rising Strong (2015) as “simply our lists of what’s okay and what’s not okay.” More of her explanation:

    It’s so straightforward and it makes sense for all ages in all situations. When we combine the courage to make clear what works for us and what doesn’t with the compassion to assume people are doing their best, our lives change. Yes, there will be people who violate our boundaries, and this will require that we continue to hold those people accountable. But when we’re living in our integrity, we’re strengthened by the self-respect that comes from the honoring of our boundaries, rather than being flattened by disappointment and resentment.

    On the other hand, “When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated. This is why we sometimes attack who they are, which is far more hurtful than addressing a behavior or a choice” (The Gifts of Imperfection).

    Another pertinent quote from Rising Strong: “Compassionate people ask for what they need. They say no when they need to, and when they say yes, they mean it. They’re compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment.”

    If you’d like to know more about how to set boundaries, Brown gives three useful tips:

     Make a mantra. I need something to hold on to—literally—during those awkward moments when an ask hangs in the air. So I bought a silver ring that I spin while silently repeating, “Choose discomfort over resentment.” My mantra reminds me that I’m making a choice that’s critical for my well-being—even if it’s not easy.

    • Keep a resentment journal. Whenever I’m marching around muttering cuss words under my breath, I grab what I lovingly refer to as my Damn It! Diary and write down what’s going on. I’ve noticed that I’m most resentful when I’m tired and overwhelmed—i.e., not setting boundaries.

    • Rehearse. I’ll often say, to no one in particular, “I can’t take that on” or “My plate is full.” Like many worthwhile endeavors, boundary setting is a practice.

    benefits of improving your boundary-setting:

    1. You’re more self-aware.
    2. You become a better friend and partner.
    3. You take better care of yourself.
    4. You’re less stressed.
    5. You’re a better communicator.
    6. You start trusting people more.
    7. You’re less angry.
    8. You learn how to say “no.”
    9. You end up doing things you actually want to do.
    10. You become a more understanding person.

  • Fat Bottomed Girls, They’ll Be Riding Today

    Wednesday, June 6, 2018 No tags Permalink

    I always liked this song. My big brother had the album.

    Bicycle bicycle bicycle
    I want to ride my bicycle bicycle bicycle
    I want to ride my bicycle
    I want to ride my bike
    I want to ride my bicycle
    I want to ride my bicycle races are coming your way
    So forget all your duties oh yeah
    Fat bottomed girls they’ll be riding today
    So look out for those beauties oh yeah

    I’ve been trying to sit in meditation for at least 15 minutes a day, focus on my breath and let thoughts pass in and out. Trying not to let them stay. But it’s hard – really, really hard for me. Lately, I’m starting to get that it’s supposed to be hard and that’s just fine.

    My mind has a lot going on in there (probably why my mother says I think too much) and if I can calm even some of it then it’s a success.  When I sit down to meditate I picture my mind like a snow globe that has just been shaken, the snow is everywhere and nothing is settled. During meditation, I try to get that snow (my thoughts) to settle. Once those thoughts have settled, or at least some of them have settled, the impact lasts and I am more mindful throughout the day.

    However, I have found a place where it’s easy to be mindful — when I’m in motion on my bike. Mindfulness is about being present and being connected. Every pedal stroke is a chance to forget my worries and blend into the environment thinking about my breath, connecting with nature that surrounds me, and even experiencing the pain of pushing myself.

    I can hear my breath and focus on it.(Sometimes a bit too loudly, thanks to allergies and asthma. Note to self– must bring inhaler!) My bike starts to blend into the terrain like it’s part of the earth. I become one with nature.

    Unlike in sitting meditation where the focus is on being still, you can experience your body very intensely while on the bike. You can also find intense enjoyment from this practice, more than just endorphins — pure bliss.

    Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.

  • Put the Glass Down

    Monday, May 28, 2018 No tags Permalink

    Our psychology professor taught us a lesson we’ve never forgotten. She walked up on stage to teach one final lesson, which she called “a vital lesson on the power of perspective and mindset.” As she raised a glass of water over her head, everyone expected her to mention the typical “glass half empty or glass half full” metaphor. Instead, with a smile on her face, our professor asked, “How heavy is this glass of water I’m holding?”

    Students shouted out answers ranging from a couple of ounces to a couple of pounds

    After a few moments of fielding answers and nodding her head, she replied, “From my perspective, the absolute weight of this glass is irrelevant. It all depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute or two, it’s fairly light. If I hold it for an hour straight, its weight might make my arm ache. If I hold it for a day straight, my arm will likely cramp up and feel completely numb and paralyzed, forcing me to drop the glass to the floor. In each case, the absolute weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it feels to me.”

    As most of us students nodded our heads in agreement, she continued. “Your worries, frustrations, disappointments, and stressful thoughts are very much like this glass of water. Think about them for a little while and nothing drastic happens. Think about them a bit longer and you begin to feel noticeable pain. Think about them all day long, and you will feel completely numb and paralyzed, incapable of doing anything else until you drop them.”

    Think about how this relates to your life.

    If you’ve been struggling to cope with the weight of what’s on your mind, it’s a strong sign that it’s time to put the glass down.

  • Focus

    Wednesday, May 23, 2018 No tags Permalink

    I have been striving to focus my mind more resourcefully. I’ve started leveraging five-second daily reminders to keep myself thinking better and living better. Does it always work?  No.  I’m human.  However,  the reminders simply reinforce the core daily actions and rituals we know we need to engage in to remain calm and in control from the inside out.

    Challenge yourself to pick the one new reminder every morning for the next week and a half, write it down someplace you can easily see it (perhaps write it on a post-it note), and then consciously recite it (at least three times) as needed throughout the day. See how doing so prompts you to respond to life with a calmer and more effective mindset.

    I’m reading a book called Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Reality, and Turn Your Trials into Triumphs, and these points are excerpted from it.

    1. Calmness begins the moment you take a deep breath and choose not to allow another person or event to control your thoughts. You are not what happened to you. You are what you choose to become in this moment. Let go, and begin again.
    2. Happiness is letting go of what you assume your life is supposed to be like right now, and sincerely appreciate it for everything it is. So, RELAX. You are enough. You have enough. You do enough. Inhale, exhale… let go, and just live right now in the moment.
    3. Be here. Just right here. No matter what, you can always fight the battles of just today. It’s only when you add the infinite battles of yesterday and tomorrow that life gets overly complicated.
    4. Calmness does not mean to be in a place where there is no chaos, trouble, or hard realities to deal with. Calmness means to be in the midst of all those things and still remain mentally, emotionally, and physically centered.
    5. Be selective with your energy. If you can fix a problem, fix it. If you can’t, then accept it and change your thoughts about it. Whatever you do, don’t invest more energy than you need, tripping over something behind you… or something that only exists inside your head.
    6. When you are lost in worry, it is easy to mistake your worries for reality, instead of recognizing that they are just thoughts.
    7. Remember, you alone get to choose what matters and what doesn’t. The meaning of everything in your life has precisely the meaning you give it.
    8. Most of the time the problem is not the problem—the problem is the incredible amount of over-thinking and over-analyzing you’re doing with the problem. Pause, and breathe, again.
    9. Life humbles us gradually as we age. We realize how much nonsense we’ve wasted time on. So, just do your best right now to feel the peace that flows from your decision to rise above the petty drama that doesn’t really matter.
    10. What you focus on grows. Stop managing your time. Start managing your focus.
  • Elementary, My Dear Watson

    Thursday, May 17, 2018 No tags Permalink

    One of the (many, many) good things about summertime is that I quite willingly wake up early.  I have more time to morning, to sip my cold brew coffee on the patio, and to do a bit of reading to start my day on a positive note.

    Found in my reading this morning:

    The older we grow, and the more real-world tragedies and challenges we witness, the more we realize how incredibly blessed we are, and how frequently the fantasies in our heads hold us back from these blessings. In fact, you’ve likely fantasized your way into headaches and heartaches hundreds of times in the past. We all do this to a greater or lesser extent…

    We stress ourselves out, because of fantasies.

    We procrastinate to the point of failure, because of fantasies.

    We get angry with others, with ourselves, and with the world at large, because of fantasies.

    We miss out on many of life’s most beautiful and peaceful moments, because of fantasies.

    So today, I challenge you to move through this day and practice seeing life as it truly is…

    Do what you have to do without fantasizing and fearing the worst, lamenting about what might happen, or obsessing over how difficult your work is. Just begin, take it one step at a time, and do the best you can.

    See others for who they are, and accept them, without needless judgments. Choose not to allow their behavior to dominate your thoughts and emotions. Just be present and accepting. Then decide if you want to spend extra time with them. If not, part ways with dignity.

    Replace your fantasies with full presence…

    And invest your best into what you’ve got, right in front of you.


    So here’s my conundrum. Just how, precisely, do you “see life as it truly is”? How do you do that without making judgments? As it’s impossible to ever know everything about any given person or situation, how do you fill in the blanks?

    Growing up, I drove my mom a little crazy because I had this need to understand everything. I’m sure I was exhausting. I learned to entertain myself by practicing deductive reasoning and trained my brain to notice minuscule details.

    To keep myself occupied, I read mystery novels. It’s still one of my favorite genres, and I love British mystery TV shows. When the latest version of Sherlock launched on BBC in 2010, I was hooked.  The way Sherlock’s deductive reasoning was shown was spot on.

    But deductive reasoning has many flaws. Deductive reasoning is only as good as a) having the initial assumption being true, and b) not making logical errors. “Confirmation bias” and like errors of the human mind often lead to failure to see that initially assumed facts are in fact incorrect.

    Basically, I’m causing myself a lot of unnecessary pain by thinking that I must analyze and make sense of every single thing. Old habits die hard, but they can die with hard work and intention. I am perfectly imperfect…a work in progress.

  • Kicking Right

    Wednesday, May 16, 2018 No tags Permalink

    I love analogies.

    It’s just the way my mind works. I just have a need to break everything down to its simplest form.

    I probably preface most things I say with “It’s like…,” and I often feel people cringe when those words come out of my mouth.

     If I dumb it down, I can deal with it.

    Many years ago, I moved into a new house. It has an immense lawn. I eventually bought a lawn tractor, but not until the leaves were changing. I spent most of the summer on foot, chugging along with a shitty push mower.

    There’s nothing like mowing to clear your mind of the extraneous crap and just focus on a topic. For all the dirt I picked up on my exterior, (sticking to the sweat of those blazing summer days), an equal bit of muck was wiped away from my mind through this Zen-like task of straight lines.

    Just give me straight rows. It satisfies some part of me that craves order. I want to look back and see nice, orderly lines behind me.

    That summer, when I wasn’t concerning myself with my OCD for the symmetrical, I was thinking.

     About loss.

    The emotional kind.

    You see, life is like mowing the lawn.

    (Don’t roll your eyes yet.)

    Each year of my life is like a row that I’ve mowed. As I’m going along, I might come across something that the universe has put in my way. Once, it was a big yoga ball (of all things) that my son was playing with in the back yard.

    Now, my mower had that handle that you have to hold down to keep it running. If something is in my way, I’d have to let go of the handle and deal with it, which means the mower dies, and who knows how long it will take to get that piece of crap running again.

    So, I could decide to just run it over, whatever it is. But that might make a mess when the blades cut it into a million pieces and it would certainly upset some children. But the yoga ball is fine. It’s too big to run over, and it rolls—I can just move it along with me, pushing it as I go.

    But what about a plastic softball?  That’s a problem.

    Well, keeping a grip on the mower, I reached out a leg and kicked the thing to the right or the left.

    The direction I choose is important.

    Kick it to the left, and it’s on grass I haven’t mowed yet. I’m going to deal with it on the next row, or perhaps the one after that.

    Why would I do that?

    Because it’s easier at that moment. My right leg is stronger and kicking it left is avoiding pain. In love, you can think of that as pretty much doing nothing.  Status quo.

    If I kick it to right, it’s now on grass I’ve mowed. That’s my past. I’m probably not going to come across it again.

    The point is, I’m done with it in my own mind. Nothing is in my way now. I’m at peace.

    See, we have to make hard decisions in our lives sometimes.

    They were put here in front of us, and perhaps moving them along with us isn’t possible. It might be easier to move them left—hoping that somehow circumstances could change and we can deal with the issues later. But we know our path isn’t really clear. Get to the next row, and you’ll wish you’d dealt with it sooner.

    But moving them right, to our past, is hard.

    There’s more pain involved.

    Of course, I could take a risk and just keep that mower moving—hoping that I can just move it along with me or somehow leave the thing unscathed.

    But, besides the mess it can create if I’m wrong, I can suffer some pain from that, too. Like the time I ended up with a chunk of rock being kicked up into my leg. I took a risk and paid the price.

    Yes, that’s as true for love as it is for the grass-clipping world.

    Wouldn’t it be great if you could just take everything with you? Move with it forever? Well, you can’t.

    Not everyone in your life can be the yoga ball. Maybe you thought they were at first. Or, you knew they weren’t, but you hoped they’d grow somehow. Don’t beat yourself up.

    You might be reading this now, thinking about the plastic softball in your life. You don’t want to move it to the right.

    It’s too hard—you just can’t do it.

    Listen, friend. It’s a bizarre world out there. Anything can happen. The winds can blow them back to the left someday.

    You’re a couple of rows over, and… holy shit. There they are again. But now they are totally yoga. It really happens to other people every day. If that helps you flip the bit, then think about it that way.

    The odds are low, however, and you need to be sane. So flip the bit, and let them go. To the right.

    Just mow, baby. Mow.

  • Synchronicity

    Friday, April 27, 2018 No tags Permalink

    I’m having way too much fun with my letter board.  Apparently, I am easily amused, but I don’t see that as a bad thing.  🙂

    The universe is a funny thing.  Lately, I’ve been doing a better job of paying attention to what the universe is trying to teach me.  Sometimes things come together in such an interesting way.  Synchronicity at work.  Years ago I had record album by The Police called Synchronicity.  I loved that album.  Ironically, it contains the song Every Breath You Take, which I later came to hate, but the album is still great.  Especially the song Synchronicity II.  It refers to Carl Jung’s theory of synchronicity and tells the story of an emasculated husband and harried father whose home, work life, and environment are dispiriting and depressing.

    Another suburban family morning
    Grandmother screaming at the wall
    We have to shout above the din of our rice crispies
    We can’t hear anything at all
    Mother chants her litany of boredom and frustration
    But we know all her suicides are fake
    Daddy only stares into the distance
    There’s only so much more that he can take
    Many miles away something crawls from the slime
    At the bottom of a dark Scottish lake
    Another industrial ugly morning
    The factory belches filth into the sky
    He walks unhindered through the picket lines today,
    He doesn’t think to wonder why
    The secretaries pout and preen like cheap tarts in a red light street,
    But all he ever thinks to do is watch,
    And every single meeting with his so-called superior
    Is a humiliating kick in the crotch
    Many miles away something crawls to the surface
    Of a dark Scottish loch
    Another working day has ended
    Only the rush hour hell to face
    Packed like lemmings into shiny metal boxes
    Contestants in a suicidal race
    Daddy grips the wheel and stares alone into the distance
    He knows that something somewhere has to break
    He sees the family home now, looming in his headlights
    The pain upstairs that makes his eyeballs ache
    Many miles away there’s a shadow on the door
    Of a cottage on the shore
    Of a dark Scottish lake

    Many miles away…

    Anyhow, back to what the universe is telling me.  Several months ago, I requested that the library purchase the book Gift of injury: the strength athlete’s guide to recovering from back injury and winning again by Stuart McGill.  I just got the notification that it has arrived and I can pick it up.  That very night, my back went out, and for the past few days, I’ve had the worst and most painful back spasms of my life.  Non-stop.  If you are reading this,  you know me well, and you know that I don’t tolerate weakness in myself very well.  And by very well, I mean not at all.  😉 I am not good at needing help. I am not good at being dependent on anyone for anything.  But in the past few days, I’ve had times where I couldn’t get up off the floor on my own.  Talk about humbling. I am trying to practice more lovingkindness toward myself, more patience with myself, and more acceptance of myself.

    Earlier this week I was scanning through the documentaries on Netflix. I  love a good documentary. I stumbled upon Ram Dass: Going Home.  It was a really interesting film. Since suffering a life-changing stroke twenty years ago, he has been living at his home on Maui and deepening his spiritual practice — which is centered on love and his idea of merging with his surroundings and all living things.

    Some of my favorite lines :

    I am loving awareness.

    We are souls.  As souls, we are not under time or space. We are infinite.
    In this culture, dependency is a no-no. The stroke showed me dependency.  And that I have people who are dependable.

    I don’t wish you the stroke, I wish you the grace from the stroke.

    While having my back go out is nothing like a stroke, it’s minor and temporary.  But it did make me see that I have people who are dependable and that I can practice grace quite well.  I am learning.

  • You Decide

    Thursday, March 29, 2018 No tags Permalink

    One day Buddha was walking through a village.

    A very angry and rude young man came up and began insulting him. “You have no right teaching others,” he shouted. “You are as stupid as everyone else. You are nothing but a fake.”

    Buddha was not upset by these insults. Instead, he asked the young man “Tell me, if you buy a gift for someone, and that person does not take it, to whom does the gift belong?”

    The man was surprised to be asked such a strange question and answered, “It would belong to me because I bought the gift.”

    The Buddha smiled and said, ”That is correct. And it is exactly the same with your anger. If you become angry with me and I do not get insulted, then the anger falls back on you. You are then the only one who becomes unhappy, not me. All you have done is hurt yourself.”

    If you want to stop hurting yourself, you must get rid of your anger and become loving instead. When you hate others, you yourself become unhappy. But when you love others, everyone is happy.

  • Rejoicing

    Friday, March 16, 2018 No tags Permalink

    “I am larger, better than I thought; I did not know I held so much goodness.”
    – Walt Whitman

    Rejoicing in the good fortune of others is a practice that can help us when we feel emotionally shut down and unable to connect with others.
    Rejoicing generates good will. The next time you go out in the world, you might try this practice: directing your attention to people—in their cars, on the sidewalk, talking on their cell phones—just wish for them all to be happy and well. Without knowing anything about them, they can become very real, by regarding each of them personally and rejoicing in the comforts and pleasures that come their way. Each of us has this soft spot: a capacity for love and tenderness. But if we don’t encourage it, we can get pretty stubborn about remaining sour.
    – Pema Chödrön
    I see this as a kicked-up version of the meditation on lovingkindess.

    May I be filled with lovingkindness.

    May I be safe from inner and outer dangers.

    May I be well in body and mind.

    May I be at ease and happy.

    May you be filled with lovingkindness.

    May you be safe from inner and outer dangers.

    May you be well in body and mind.

    May you be at ease and happy.

  • Theory of Everything

    Wednesday, March 14, 2018 No tags Permalink


    His passing has left an intellectual vacuum in his wake.  But it’s not empty.  Think of it as a kind of vacuum energy permeating the fabric of spacetime that defies measure. Stephen Hawking, RIP 1942-2018

  • Contemplating Softness

    Wednesday, February 28, 2018 No tags Permalink

    It’s the hard things that break; soft things don’t break. You can waste so many years of your life trying to become something hard in order not to break, but it’s the soft things that can’t break. The hard things are the ones that shatter into a million pieces.

    We want to be “strong” and “tough,” to be able to handle all of life’s trials and tribulations without cracking. When we are strong, we hunker down, grit our teeth, and bear it. When we are tough, we “power through” the bad times. The short-term result of this is often satisfying. The hard person bounces back quickly from a failed marriage or an illness or losing a job.However, the trouble is often found beneath the surface and in the long-term. What happens when someone spends a lifetime hunkering down and powering through. The tree that doesn’t bend, breaks. A hard tree can endure a lot, but when a strong wind blows, it cracks and falls over.

    Brené Brown talks of armor. We put on armor to avoid the hurt. That used to be a way of life for me. I endured a lot of trauma as a young adult and one survival mechanism I developed through these experiences was to not go too deep with people and not open up. But what does it mean when you don’t let people in and open yourself up to them? You avoid the hurt, but you also miss the intimacy, the connection, and the depth of an open, honest relationship.As Brené explains, you can cut off feelings—the good and the bad—but you can’t isolate and block out specific types of feelings. In order to feel joy and intimacy, you need to allow yourself the vulnerability that will also inevitably lead at times to pain.

    <The more you hurt, the more you fear. The more you fear, the thicker the armor you wear. The thicker your armor, the more it weighs you down. When my armor finally cracked and fell off, it led to a  breakdown. It was during the recovery from that breakdown that I learned what true strength was. When the pain became too much, I fell apart, and at that point, I had no choice but to go right. At that moment, all my hardness couldn’t see me through. And that’s what suffering is: it’s the great teacher that tells keeps telling you where to go, and the more you try to power through, the more painful and prolonged it will be. Then you soften up and go right, and everything changes.

    Let hurt soften you; don’t let it harden you. Let that time someone hurt you open your heart up to compassion for all of those who are hurting. Let it be a reminder at the moment to be more forgiving.

    When an experience is difficult, you can fight with it. But if you surrender to it, let down your walls, and be open to the experience, and you will grow from the pain. Give up the hard walls and soften yourself up to what comes your way.

    When floating down the river of life, you’re totally right to swim in the direction you’d like to go. But paddle too hard against the current, and you’ll drown. Try going soft and floating, seeing where the river will take you—it’s not like you have that much of a choice anyway. 😉

    Bravely learn to relax with life and see what happens, and you will make decisions with more wisdom and take actions with more power than if you were fighting.

    As Pema Chödrön says, “stop protecting your soft spot…stop armoring your heart.” Likewise, “wretchedness humbles us and softens us…Gloriousness and wretchedness need each other. One inspires us, the other softens us.”

  • Chances and Changes

    Sunday, February 18, 2018 No tags Permalink

    “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” ~Maya Angelou


    That is one of the hardest lessons for me to learn.  I have struggled with it for years. I have caused myself much needless suffering because I always wanted to give people a second chance, and a third, and a fourth. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt. I am the woman who sees the “potential” in someone. The person they “could” be, with a lot of love and nurturing, and if I just believed in them enough. I tend to give people a pass and to make excuses for their bad behavior. Behavior that doesn’t  add up to what I am told, behavior in past or present relationships that wasn’t filled with integrity. If someone lies to other people in their life, there’s a very high likelihood that they will lie to you as well. When choosing those who I allow into I my life, I need to ask if he/she is a person embodies the things that are important to me, or am I convincing myself that I can change them? You can never change someone. Only they can change themselves, and only when they’re good and ready to change.

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  • Happiness and Purpose

    Saturday, January 20, 2018 No tags Permalink

    The man who makes everything that leads to happiness depend upon himself, and not upon other men, has adopted the very best plan for living happily.”

    ~ Plato

    Christopher Reeve was born into a wealthy family in New York. Reeve split his young adult life between Ivy League schools in the United States and sipping wine and riding horses around Europe. In 1978, Reeve hit his big break and scored the role of Superman in a big-budget Hollywood movie. He earned millions and became one of the most recognizable celebrities in the world.

    Reeve made a fortune. He spent that fortune on nice houses, nice cars, luxurious parties and his passion for riding horses.Then in 1995, Reeve fell off a horse and cracked two vertebrae in his spine. He would never walk or breathe on his own again.

    He became an advocate for the disabled and spent the rest of his life fundraising for spinal cord research. He was the first celebrity supporter of stem cell research. Reeve later claimed that his accident helped him “appreciate life more.” It wasn’t a joke. He noted that there were “able-bodied people more paralyzed than I am,” and once remarked, “I can laugh. I can love. I am a very lucky guy.”

    Happiness, like every other emotion, isn’t something you obtain, but rather something you inhabit. When you’re really angry, you are not self-conscious about your state of anger. You are not thinking to yourself, “Am I finally angry? Am I doing this right?” No, you’re just angry. You inhabit and live the anger. You are the anger. And then it’s gone.

    Just as a confident man doesn’t wonder if he’s confident, a happy man does not wonder if he’s happy. He simply is.

    What this implies is that happiness is not achieved, but rather it is the side effect of a particular set of ongoing life experiences. So often we get this wrong, especially since happiness is marketed as a goal in and of itself. Buy X and be happy. Learn Y and be happy. But you can’t buy happiness and you can’t achieve happiness. It just is. And it is once you get other parts of your life in order.

    Research shows that people who focus their energy on materialistic and superficial pleasures end up more anxious, more emotionally unstable, less healthy, and less happy in the long run. 

    One vital aspect of attaining a measure of happiness is to have a sense of a purpose in life.  For most of us, it is something that is constantly evolving as we move through life. This is my latest iteration:

    To live mindfully and passionately in the present moment, to discover my surroundings, discover myself, to follow my heart and to love freely, to become the greatest version of myself, to be a lifelong learner, to seek adventure and growth, and to spread kindness and peace along the way.

    I ask myself these questions to discover my purpose: What do you love? What are you good at? What are your greatest passions? What makes you truly feel alive? Make certain to follow your heart (do all those things that make you feel happy, that lift your spirits, that give you butterflies, that make you feel light) and evolve spiritually — become more enlightened.

  • The Shape

    Wednesday, June 28, 2017 No tags Permalink

    I stumbled upon this wonderful writing by Morgan Wade last night. I was so sleepy that I saved it to come back and read again this morning, and I’m so glad I did. It”s beautiful and it hits so close to home for me.  it reiterates what I’ve been telling myself for some time now- get out of your own way and open yourself to all the good things in your life . ❤️

    We were parked in front of a P.F. Chang’s, lit by the pale blue lights of the dash. He squeezed my hand while I let it wash over me: “It’s like there’s a hole in your cup,” he said, “Like I’m pouring and pouring all I have into it, but it’s never going to be enough.”

    He said the thing that was so true it burned clear down to the raw pink insides of me. I don’t think I would have let anyone else say anything so face-punchingly true. But him? Eyes big and longing, wet with hope. He’d named something so true it rang out, like striking a tuning fork, and everything in and around me started to sing in that same pitch of deep, unquenchable need. So what could I do?

    I heaved deep sobs, hot tears streaming down my face like electric eels. “I’m sorry,” I wept. “I’m so sorry.” And he pet my head, and kissed at my tears. “No sorry,” he said. “Just let me love you. Believe it.”

    I love relationships because they’re so close to the meat; they bleed you, show you the color of your rich, human blood. In a relationship, the longing for love and acceptance is so primal that it brings us face to face to the tangled wall of crossed wires that keeps us from interpreting Love’s signals and signs in the way we really hope will feel good.

    Sometimes it means we’re speaking such a deeply confused language that recognizing vital, healthy love is virtually impossible — and we instead invite losers, parasites and / or expert manipulators into our beds. Other times, it means recognizing the true love that’s sleeping beside us every night is hard; we’re constantly messing with the switchboard to see if we heard it right, tweaking things a little and then wondering why our lover sounds like Morpheus down a dark alley.

    It’s hard work to figure out which is true: Am I missing the signs that this person is a walking red flag — or am I sleep-walking while sticking red flags in the path and calling them warning signs?

    I really believe the only way to know where you stand and if you’re in real danger — or just making it up — is to know the shape of the hole you want filled, and to know when YOU’RE the one tugging at the makeshift plug at the bottom of your cup.

    If the shape of your longing is familiar enough, you’ll know it. Pay attention; the feeling will be familiar across multiple facets of your life, and it will have the same tinge, same taste: that metallic something that leaves us thirsty, never quite soothed.

    If you’re never satisfied with your partnership — if he or she is always guilty of not loving you quite enough — then it’s likely you’re also feeling that way about your work, money, family, and any other vital relationships in your life.

    The feeling of “Not Enough” might be real; it can be a genius indicator that you need to get bigger, ask for more, or tolerate more bliss in your life. And it can also be true that you haven’t asked one of the most important questions:

    What would it be like to feel deserving of the love, attention, prosperity and worthiness you’re trying to elicit from these vital areas of your life?

    I believe in common denominators, and I believe that WE are the most reliable, consistent common denominator in our lives; wherever there is a pattern in our relationships, there is also us, helping to re-live and create it, so that we might heal from it.

    We don’t all have the same patterns. I have a client who truly believes she’s constantly being taken advantage of, and that the people who love her most are actually TRYING to hurt her — her pattern means she’s constantly finding (because she’s constantly looking for) proof that this is the case. Hidden behind that protective fire wall of blame is a woman with impossibly high standards who doesn’t recognize her own pattern of freezing out / pushing away her partner and the people who are trying to love her, be honest with her and invite her into her extraordinary capacity to feel.

    I have another client whose pattern is to date utterly loserly men who are often younger than her, with their proverbial shit all over the place. Her pattern is getting herself all woo’d by the excitement and electricity of these connections early on, but then ultimately becoming their mother, trying to teach them how to adult and be grown ass people. She (like a lot of women trying to call their men into their best selves) is occupying the space she wishes her man would take up, but HE CAN’T, because she’s there, babysitting it and trying to burp it out of him. Behind this pattern is deep roots in a fear that A) not being in control will kill her, B) she’s not worthy of someone who doesn’t need her to save them; C) she’d have to grow up, too, D) she’d have to give herself permission to want what she really wants: the love and steadiness of a man who sees through her initial aloofness, and will take up the masculine space she’s used to trying to control.

    My point is: your pattern is not my pattern or her pattern or theirs — it’s yours. It’s the shape of the hole YOU want filled. It’s the drama you will recreate over and over again until you steady yourself and stop trying to chase shiny surface-level issues to keep yourself (and your partner) busy and not looking at the really deep stuff: there is a need you never got met, and you don’t know how to meet it for yourself (yet), so you can’t possibly know how to ask for what you REALLY need, and your partner will be chasing shiny things with you until one of you cuts to the chase, points at the hole in the bottom of your cup and, with compassion, agrees to begin there, tenderly molding earth into the shape of absence until it holds, and both are filled.

  • A Simple Practice

    Monday, May 29, 2017 No tags Permalink

    There are two core fears: losing what you have, and not getting what you want. There is one solution: Falling in love with where you are…”
    Jeff Foster

    I have a huge struggle with this idea. The falling in love with where you are. It feels too complacent, too much like settling. Yet, I know it is a key factor in happiness. I guess like most things in life, it comes down to balance. I have been working on a simple practice for whenever I feel stress, frustration, worry, and all the other detrimental mindsets that bring upset into my life.

    • Focus, carefully, on what you’re feeling. Don’t numb it with distractions, but instead bring it further into your awareness.
    • Turn to it, and welcome it. Give what you feel your full, thoughtful attention.
    • Notice the feeling in your body. Where is the feeling situated, and what unique qualities does it have?
    • Notice the tension in your body, and also in your mind, that arises from this feeling.
    • Try relaxing the tense parts of your body. Then relax the tense parts of your mind. Focus on your breath: Close your eyes, breathe in and feel it, breathe out and feel it, again and again, until you feel more relaxed.
    • In this more relaxed state, find some quiet space within yourself.
    • Allow yourself to rediscover the fundamental goodness within you, that’s present in every moment.
    • Allow yourself to rediscover the fundamental goodness of this very moment; it is always available to you whenever you’re willing to focus on it.

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  • On Children

    Monday, May 22, 2017 No tags Permalink

    “Over the past two years I’ve become increasingly concerned that we’re raising children who have little tolerance for disappointment and have a strong sense of entitlement, which is very different than agency. Entitlement is “I deserve this just because I want it” and agency is “I know I can do this.” The combination of fear of disappointment, entitlement, and performance pressure is a recipe for hopelessness and self-doubt.” Brené Brown

    Continue Reading…