Friday, March 1, 2013

Psssst...Over Here

Don't you hate it when you visit a blog only to find they've relocated? Try not to hate me...

I'm moving! Physically and Virtually.

You can't come to O'ahu with me physically, but please come over to my new blog. If you are a regular reader re-bookmark me as Come on over and say hello won't you? 

I'm really excited about both moves and I can't wait to see what will happen next!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Bagful of Europe

I've fully embraced the minimalist lifestyle. I don't buy much and I get more joy out of getting rid of material goods than out of acquiring them.  My philosophy is that if I don't need it, I won't buy it (and I really don't need much). I used to shop as a hobby, to fill time or to fill a void. Now I only go to a store when I have a need that can only be met by making a purchase. 

Okay okay, I confess I'm prone to wander Goodwill. I'm not a perfect minimalist. 

Soon I'll be making a move that includes crossing an ocean. I don't want to take more than the absolute necessities when I go so I've already started the elimination process. The clothes I'll be taking fit into three drawers. I've designated where much of the household items are going and I've started the Craigslist posting.

Oh but those sentimental items. They sneak up on us don't they? We are just about to put that hat in the donate pile and it nearly screams out like the sorting hat in Harry Potter, "Wait not me! Your dad gave me to you last year for your birthday!". I've found it easier and easier to let go of material things even if they have a considerable amount of sentiment attached to them. I try to remember that the love and memories remain in my heart even if the item is gone. 

Until yesterday...

I tackled the photo albums and boxes. For the first few hours I was doing great. I threw out all the needless doubles I've been carting around for years and even trashed pictures I never wanted to look at in the first place! Why did I have two copies of a fuzzy picture with a finger taking up half the shot? My new plan is to own only the very best pictures and keep them all in one box, no heavy albums to lug around.  I was totally in a groove tossing and stacking and organizing. 

Until I opened the last box...

There it was. A Bagful of Europe. What is a Bagful of Europe? Oh it's a magical bag full of wrinkled maps, ticket stubs, journal entries, hotel soaps and other various bits and pieces picked up from a month spent traveling with my sister. I looked at that bag and knew I'd met my match. It almost laughed at me in all my minimalist cockiness. The gloves I'd worn during those cold days in Paris weren't worried for a second that they'd join the other winter items in the donation pile. I gently pulled out a few scraps of paper thinking surely I could eliminate something! I was wrong. 

And so I leave it at that. I met my match in a Bagful of Europe. It doesn't matter that the memories are all safe in my heart and I have pictures to prove my sister and I created four weeks of unforgettable adventure. I'll be giving away handmade gifts and saying goodbye to books I call friends, but the Bagful of Europe is exempt. 

Sometimes right when we think we've mastered a new life skill, the universe puts us to the test. Even the universe would have to give me a B+ on this one. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Make a Wish the Sky is Falling

I gazed up from my computer screen at the dark night sky over Los Angeles.  My eyes were met with a glowing ball of fire falling in an arc and disappearing over the city. I was sitting here all alone and it was late. Although I tried to be brave and imagine it was just an average falling star, I couldn't stop the sense of fear that started to take over. My imagination went wild with end of the world scenarios since I'd been looking at the news about the meteor that hit Russia just a few days before. I texted a dear friend that I'd just seen the freakiest thing and that "The sky is falling". Her response? "Wish for a baby unicorn!"

I don't always want to jump to the worst case scenario and I doubt you do either. In any situation we can find a way to see it just as it is rather than blowing it out of proportion. We hold that power, nobody else does. 

Next time I see a fireball, I will make a wish before freaking out. 

I really want a baby unicorn.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Dandy Juice & Pulp Face Mask


Just Fine and Dandy Juice:
One Cucumber
One Carrot
 Big chunk of Ginger
One fistful of Dandelion Greens


Juicing isn't cheap. It has saved me a lot of money to make my green juice at home, but the thrifty girl inside me cringes every time I throw the leftover pulp in the garbage. I've found good recipes for cooking with the pulp and I'll try a couple of those soon. 

Today I wanted to get a little more creative. I was inspired by a line of skin care products I've been lucky enough to use once or twice. Eminence Organic Skincare is delightful if you can afford and find it. What I loved about it was how it felt pure, fresh and whole. A couple of the masks smelled good enough to eat.  I'm starting to learn that if I wouldn't consume it, I should probably think twice about putting it on my skin. I hope my recipe inspires you to create your own skin pampering treats.

Cucumber Pulp
Carrot Pulp
Green Juice
Coconut Oil
Natural Bentonite Clay 
(I used Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay)

In a small bowl, blend about a tablespoon each of the carrot and cucumber pulp with a tablespoon of the oil and of the clay. Add the juice as necessary to get a thick consistency. You want the mixture to be moist enough to stay on your skin but not so wet that it falls right off. Play around with it until you're happy with how it feels. I left it on my face for about fifteen minutes.

My pores felt tighter as they always do when I use a clay mask but without feeling completely dried out. The oil and the cucumber especially helped with retaining the moisture. This mask felt great although it was a mess when I washed it off. I recommend wiping it off with a paper towel first to keep the food particles out of your drain and then rinsing with warm water.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

I Wonder What Will Happen Today

I'm not usually one to jump out of bed with loads of energy and a sunny outlook in the morning. I tend to lay there for a while and consider the day ahead. This can lead to worry and anxiety before I even see the mess of hair and my pillow-creased face. I know that setting the mood and intention for my day is the most important thing. More important than coffee? Yes, even more than that. 

The new experiment is this: I say "I wonder what will happen today" with curiosity and openness. I say it to myself or to my husband if he's here (pilot = gone a lot).  Since he loves hearing positive words out of my mouth first thing instead of "grumble coffee hrmpfh morning", he's trying this experiment with me. 

Give it one week. See how your day goes when you begin with a sense of wonder rather than apprehension.  

Friday, February 15, 2013

Confronting the Truth

“I don’t believe in the concept of hell, but if I did I would think of it as filled with people who were cruel to animals.” -Gary Larson

This week's Podclub podcast (Here if you missed it) was only one episode of many I listened to this week from Our Hen House. This is definitely a new favorite for me as a Vegan and lover of animals.  I feel like I have so much to learn and what better way to find out the truth than by listening to the witty banter and in depth interviews conducted by the lovely duo of Jasmine Singer and Mariann Sullivan. I feel like I know them after listening to them chat about their wedding day in New York. In this episode they interviewed Dylan Powell, an animal activist who is working hard to end the animal cruelty taking place at Marineland in Niagara.  

It's easier not to think about what's going on. It really is. It's easier to pay the entrance fee to the zoo or aquarium and enjoy your day looking at the animals without worrying about how they got there, where they are going or how they're being treated. I found myself in this position a few months ago. I had an L.A. Zoo pass and I knew how to use it! It only took one day to change my view entirely. 

We had ridden our bikes to the zoo with the intention of finding a nice bench and relaxing in front of one of our favorite exhibits before riding home. On that day, the elephants were finally within viewing range and we were so thrilled. The male elephant was hanging out by himself over in a corner near some chairs so we sat down to enjoy the view. What a magnificent animal! We sat there for at least a half hour wondering why he was taking a few steps forward and then a few steps back. He'd stop only to bob his head up and down repeatedly. I even joked that he was dancing for us. When we got back home I checked the Google to see why elephants bob their heads.  

Billy The Elephant
Help Billy.Org

The second my search results popped up, I knew I had two choices. I could close that window and retain my ignorance or I could dig in and start reading. I dug in. By the end of the evening I knew head bobbing is not normal and how Billy the elephant has a whole slew of people trying to get him transported to an animal sanctuary. Billy isn't the only one either. I continued reading about mistreatment of animals, elderly animals being "retired" in very inhumane ways, how no exhibit in a zoo can come close to allowing an animal to live as it would in the wild and even though we are keeping some species going, they could never survive in their natural habitat if taken there and released.

I never went back to the zoo.

This is the path I've chosen. I want to know what's happening no matter how painful. I'm aware that learning the truth means I have to make decisions I don't want to make. I have to give up things I don't want to give up. The same thing happened when I started learning about the food I was eating or the products I was using on my body. Once I knew they had a hand in harming animals or that they contained toxins that were bad for me, I had to replace them with something else.  

I'm so thankful for resources like Our Hen House and I hope you listen and learn a few things too.

That was a very mind expanding podcast for this week's Podclub meetup. Podclub is a weekly meeting of adorable ears and the smart brains between those ears. Just Jill and Soft Spiral have a lot of amazing words for you to read about this podcast as well. You should visit their blogs now and on other days too. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

What if it Rains?

- Pema Chodron
Me: "What if it rains?"  

Him: "Then we'll hike in the rain" 

I say this over and over to myself all the time now. He didn't know when he said those simple words that I would end up applying them to most of the difficult situations I run into day to day. The rain I was referencing was approaching Big Bear Lake last summer. We were about to leave to hike around that area for the afternoon and I wondered if maybe we shouldn't put it off for a day or two to make sure we'd have perfect hiking weather. He packed our rain jackets and we left. The clouds did roll through but I don't remember even getting sprinkled on. Our hike was stunning and I had almost talked myself out of going. And for what? 

I didn't want to get wet. I thought it would take the fun out of the experience. I was still clinging to my idea of perfect days hiking in the woods or by the ocean under wondrously blue,  crystal clear skies. Preferably the temperature would stay in the mid 70's and only a light cool breeze would waft over us every few minutes.   

That was a light bulb day for me. If I always wait for my idea of the perfect conditions to be met, life will pass me by. Since then I've hiked in the wind and the rain. I've slogged through mud and been baked by merciless rays of sun and you know what? Those are the days that I remember. The times I've had to deal with the unexpected and learn to go with the flow are highlighted in my mind. 

Now when I see rain in the forecast, I always hear an echo from last summer. 

What if it rains? 

Then I'll hike in the rain.

Monday, February 11, 2013

I Love Animals

I love animals. I know, you're thinking "Hey, so do I!  Doesn't everybody?". I haven't always cared as much about the animal kingdom as I do now. We always had dogs and cats in our home when I was growing up, but I haven't had a pet as an adult and I don't really want one.  So far that has led people to think I don't really love animals but it's quite the opposite! I only want a pet if I have adequate attention and space for it to play outside every single day and let me tell you, "dog parks" are nothing compared to the countryside our pets roamed near my childhood home. 

Our Hen House is a podcast that caught my attention recently. I gave it a listen and loved it. I'm only surprised that I haven't been listening to this weekly show for the last three years! This week Jill is trusting me with the choice of the newest episode for our Pod Club pick. Please listen with an open mind and be entertained and informed!!


Pod Club is weekly meeting of ears and the brains between those ears. Just Jill and I pick an episode every(ish) Monday and post our thoughts every(ish) Friday.  So far we've had Leah join in the conversation and a few others that refuse to publicly comment. You know who you are! I would love it if we had a few more ears join in the fun. It's free and we always come away having learned something about ourselves and the world.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Heads or Tails

Would you let a computer program "coin toss" make a decision for you? I just did. The lovely and brave Jill asked earlier this week if anyone would join her in a little experiment being run by Freakonomics.  Before reading any further, if you want to participate on your own please go do that now. Then you can come back to see how my toss went.

First, I found it nearly impossible to pick a question! I was tempted to pick something silly or pointless, but then thought I'd rather put something out there that actually matters to me. So I chose to create my own question. I typed in the question and then almost made "yes" the choice for heads and for tails. This was the answer I needed before I even got to the coin toss. Instead, I put "yes" for heads and "not now" for tails. That way I didn't rule it out for the future, I would just take the pressure off doing it right away.  

Before I even flipped that coin after taking the brief questionnaire, I felt like I had already answered the question on my own. After having to rate my current happiness and the likelihood I would follow through with the coin's decision I didn't care as much what the result would be. I did care that I'd actually answered rather high on the happiness scale even though I'm going through an extra difficult patch right now. I cared that it didn't bother me to answer my age of 33 years old or that I'm married which is a word I used to sneer at a little bit.  Honest answers about my life didn't make me frustrated or depressed. I usually stay away from surveys because I leave them feeling strangely dissatisfied with my life. 

What does this mean for me? It means I'm learning to find happiness even on the more difficult days and not feeling like it's one or the other : happy or sad.  It means I don't worry as much about my age or my status in life and that I'm beginning to trust myself to make choices that are right for me with or without a coin to flip.

The coin was tossed and it landed on tails = not now.  This means that in the future I will write a book. It doesn't have to be today or tomorrow, but I will allow space in my life for this to begin to grow as an idea and eventually blossom into a wildflower of my own design. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Step by Step

In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.  John Muir

The climb is harder some days. I look up at that stretch of trail and shake. Will I make it to the top this time? Are my legs strong enough? What if I trip? What will I find at the top? Am I going the right way?The questions going round and round on repeat only make it more daunting. But just like yesterday and tomorrow, I take it one single footstep at a time. Each swinging of the right leg and then the left brings me closer to the top. When my muscles ache and my doubt rushes in to stop me, I pretend I'm one of those perpetual motion machines. I just keep going (and going and going).

Then, at last, one of those single steps is the one that brings me to the peak. With my head down and my determination resolute, I almost don't see the plateau until I'm standing on top of the world. I can see for miles in every direction. My mind is clear, focused and proud. 

I made it through another challenge.

(And sometimes I go for hikes too...)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Who are You?

Two articles I read in the last week converged in mind and got me thinking about what I do and what that makes me.  I encourage you to read these two posts and ask yourself a few questions about the titles we give ourselves. 

The Minimalists : Life's Most Dangerous Question

The Minimalists urge readers away from defining yourself as what you do while Confessions bravely says that because she writes, she is a writer. If we aren't making a living at what we do, does that mean we can't claim that title? It's brilliant and empowering to say "I am a writer", "I am a dancer", "I am a musician", "I am an artist". If we allow ourselves these labels and say them with pride, our self worth can only go up.

Anything that encourages us to be more compassionate and loving toward ourselves is a good thing. So who are you? What are you passionate about? 

Friday, February 1, 2013

My Brain and Bees

My brain is a funny place. It wants to learn things which is why I asked Jill if this week's Podclub pick could be "learny". My brain likes to invent words when an appropriate one can't be found. I do have a habit of misplacing my words.  Jill agreed that this would be a good time to learn something. A new episode by the guys at Stuff You Should Know entitled "How Bees Work" seemed harmless enough.  

My brain likes to pretend it's listening. It's like "oh wow, uh huh, amazing, really?" when it's actually hard at work thinking about completely unrelated things like if I should unravel my current crochet invention because it's clearly going to be a tangled mess or wondering what I'd like to make for my afternoon green juice

So what I actually learned from this podcast was minimal. I did manage to absorb that the females rule and that bees make nectar into honey because it takes up less space. How they go about doing it is rather disgusting and makes me a teensy bit glad I'm vegan and don't eat honey anymore. It's amazing that it has antibacterial qualities but the fact that it's because it's basically hydrogen peroxide isn't very appetizing. 

The thing that caught my attention completely and made me stop all the other sneaky side thoughts was that bees dance to communicate. That's right they DANCE! Watch and be amazed. 

I used to be a dancer and I'm fairly certain this is about what I looked like when I tried to do a complicated turning combination across the floor that required doing pique turns in a square and then traveling forward a bit and then doing them in a square again. I mostly tried to move my body in the general direction everyone else was going. I was waggling obviously, all the cool bees were doing it.

Podclub is a weekly meeting of ears and the brains between those ears. Just Jill and I pick an episode on Monday to report on by Friday(ish). We have the lovely Leah join in once in a while and would welcome anyone else who feels the urge. Be brave! It's fun and it's free and it's faster than reading a whole book. In fact, your eyes get to take a break for the whole thing. (Well, technically if you are walking or doing anything other than laying down your eyes don't get an actual break but they aren't required to read anything) (Well, technically if you are out walking or doing anything and you see a word or a combination of words your brain will read them whether you like it or not). 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Lost Words : Reward!

I don't know where my words are. It seems they've gone into hibernation since experiencing true winter weather. I do recognize that I have long periods where I almost can't contain the thoughts and words and feelings that want to flow out of me into the ear of whoever will listen. And then I fold into myself to recharge. Things are simmering in this head of mine. I'm reading more and listening to the world around me, but not finding the words yet.  

So what do I do when my words are missing? 

I'm growing sprouts (or is that sprouting sprouts?). 

Puzzling over puzzles.

Trying out new crochet projects.

Playing mad scientist with my juicer.
This one I call "The Hot Shot"

Well, there you have it. I've been staying in a lot recovering from a cold and apparently acting like a grandma (crocheting AND puzzles??).  If any of you see a big gang of words causing trouble and starting grammar wars, please send them back to me. I will crochet you a beanie as a reward!

And my beanie's are rather awesome...

Monday, January 28, 2013

Bees Knees

How do Bees work? And do they have knees? Let's find out this week with our Podclub pick from...

Check back on friday to see what we thought and hopefully a few things we learned.

Friday, January 25, 2013

High Rise Stories

I love hearing stories. This American Life was the hook that grabbed me out of regular life and into the world of storytelling a few years ago. I don't know what I did before that.  Oh ya, I watched movies and read books (which I still do but now with a heavy dose of podcasts in that rotation). Not all who tell their stories are good at it. Some are flat our boring while others have lifted it to an art form all it's own. David Sedaris is clearly the Picasso of storytelling... or do you prefer Monet? Rembrant? Turner? Degas? Cassatt? Whichever you prefer, there are people out there who could sell ice to an Eskimo with the way they know how to turn a phrase. 

What came to mind as I listened to these specific stories about how we deceive ourselves and others was how easy it is. We concoct the most elaborate stories about things. It can start small but we know how to build and build on top of that first teensy deception until what we have is a sky high rise of a tale. And we take tours of the elaborate towers built by others. We gasp at the beauty and the magnificent architecture without realizing it's all smoke and mirrors.

Be deliberate with your words and know that the people within earshot might be taking what you say as truth. Be deliberate with your hearing and know that what you hear may not be factual. It may be a story beautifully told and you should fully appreciate it as such, but always find out for yourself.

I have no doubt you'll love what Jill has to say about this week's Podcast pick.  It feels good to be back into our regular weekly sharing of podcasts. If you'd like to join in it's pretty easy! Listen along and comment if you'd like to. 

If you want to listen to the podcast we chose this week, you can find it HERE.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

White Sage Smudging Ritual

I've never burned Sage in any sort of cleansing ritual before. Today I found two small bundles of White Sage had found their way into my shopping basket at the local natural market. I blame the "Face Melter" shot I had just downed at the juice counter. Cayenne makes one do brave things.  

My apartment is a place of peace for me no matter what is happening in my life or in the world at large. Since returning from my two week trip it's felt "off" though. It doesn't help that I'm sick with something that makes my nose run faster than the leaky faucet in my kitchen. I've wanted to try cleansing with Sage before but didn't know the proper way to go about it.

And I still dont...

After a quick search online for smudging advice I decided to just do what felt right for me. In the end, I think that's probably the most important thing in any meaningful ceremony or ritual.  What works for me may not feel right for you, but it might give you inspiration on how to get started.

Whether or not you believe in the power of such rituals, you can't deny the power of our thoughts and the outward actions that cement those thoughts in our daily lives.  You don't have to burn sage or say anything out loud. You could light a single candle and write down some of the positive things you want to bring into focus.

I'm still stuffed up and foggy headed but the peace has returned and the light smoky scent of White Sage reminds me of the power of my own positive thoughts. 

Do you have any special smudging ritual tips? Any favorite types of Sage? I'm open to advice for next time as I plan on making this a regular practice.

As the sun set, I brought out a candle and a beautiful shell I found on the beach. After setting these simple items on a small stool in front of my window, I lit the candle and touched the sage to the flame. It began to smoke lightly. I carried it through the rooms of my home saying out loud "This is a place of peace and love. No negativity or sickness are allowed here". I made sure to outline each doorway and window before setting the sage back on the shell to smolder out. I was quiet for a few minutes as I watched darkness fall outside. My windows were left slightly open so that all the negative energy would have a way to escape as I'm sure it did in the overwhelming presence of such focused positivity.  

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Let Go and Live the Moment

"We think that if we just meditated enough or jogged enough or ate perfect food, everything would be perfect. But from the point of view of someone who is awake, that's death. Seeking security or perfection, rejoicing in feeling confirmed or whole, self-contained and comfortable, is some kind of death. It doesn't have any fresh air. There's no room for something to come in and interrupt all that. We are killing the moment by controlling our experience."

I'm still making my way through When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron (third time). Last night I was struck by this passage about how we suck the life out of our experiences by trying to control them. Take some time to think about this today. What are some of your most precious memories? Did they come from a carefully planned out and controlled approach or were they spontaneous and full of wonder, surprise and magic? 

Have you experienced any magical moments lately? I'd love to hear about it.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Three Kinds of Deception

It's been a few weeks since we've had our Podclub fun. After busy holidays and wrangling the new year into submission, we can now continue with the little things that bring us more joy than should be allowed for free.  Just Jill and I have been missing our official weekly meeting of the ears.

What better way to start off than with my favorite Podcast: This American Life?! The answer is, there is no better way. So here it is....Listen now and report back this Friday!  

A story of self-deception, a story about deceiving others, and a story about accidental deception. And how one type of deception can easily turn into another

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Hermit the Blog

The new year began outside my comfort zone. I planned it that way and I'm so glad that I did. You see, I am a Hermit. I love my home. I love the safety of my daily habits. You might call me less than social. I can spend days on my own and feel just fine about it and yet I know that the really enriching times in life don't usually happen solo. I know it, but I rarely make myself do things outside what I consider comfortable and safe for me.

For two weeks I was with family up in the freezing north pole.  Okay okay not the north pole technically...Washington State felt like it had inched up a bit since I lived there. Maybe Canada lost weight? So there I was, cold and out of my element. I spent time in four different homes with four different families (yes Jill I consider you and your kitties a family) and their very different ways of doing things. I did my best to embrace each day and it's various activities and challenges and I found that the days flew by because I was having so much fun! 

I learned a lot about what I'm capable of and what life holds for me when I take a break from my regular Hermatic existence. I had more wonderful conversations that I can count. I ran into old friends and extended family. Relationships were strengthened and wonderful memories were made. If I'd stayed home, I would have been just fine but none of this could have happened if I had. 

So now you know the truth. I'm a Hermit and I'm not ashamed of it! However, I will be making sure to venture out of my shell more often. If I don't, I'll be missing out on special moments like these:

Junie B. and Me

Little Dancers

Just Jill and Just Me Actually
Back together at last!

My talented sister, Leah a.ka. Soft Spiral

Stacy, my wonderful and amazing sister (in law)
and her little Juniper. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Window Seat

I had a strange experience on my flight leaving L.A. two weeks ago. I sat looking out as we climbed above the clouds. My usual methods of distraction remained tucked under the seat in front of me as I soaked in the sight of mountains becoming mole-hills and lakes reduced to puddles below.  My heart overflowed with how beautiful and simple it all was way up there.  I had been pondering how to work through some difficult things going on in my world. Things that seemed just too hard, too big for me to figure out and work through.  And I thought to myself, it doesn't have to be so big, so hard.

Perspective is an amazing tool. We can learn to see what is really happening without the shading of the stories we tell ourselves. What is the big picture? What are the facts? If I can reduce situations down to just the bare bones truth, often I learn that my own personal mountains have been minimized as if I've climbed to a safe altitude.

The captain has turned off the seatbelt sign. 

It's now safe to move about the cabin.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Moving The Air Around

and half of learning to play is learning what not to play
                   and she's learning the spaces she leaves have their own things to say
and she's trying to sing just enough so that the air around her moves
and make music like mercy that gives what it is and has nothing to prove
she crawls out on a limb and begins to build her home
and it's enough just to look around and to know that she's not alone

-Ani DiFranco

Last night the wind rattled my window mercilessly.  I fought for sleep even as it whistled through the cracks and into my mind. When I was a child in this little town, the wind would uproot trees in the night. We'd wake to a terrorized landscape of tangled roots and strewn garbage. If I could take a picture of my thoughts, they would surely look the same today. 

But I'm not a little girl anymore. I know that the wind creates space for new growth. The gusts that are the fiercest, the ones that are the hardest to withstand, are the ones that take the old with them when they go leaving only new ground.

What will I plant when this windstorm dies down?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Permission To Fail

Prints by Dutson

One of my New Year's Intentions is to fail more. What? Fail? (gasp...the horrors).  

Yes, I need to fail. So many times I refuse to even try something new because of that fear of failure. What if I royally mess up in front of people I respect? What if I'm not good at it? What if? Well, so far this has meant a life of carefully choosing only those things I am fairly certain I can do well. 

My sister-in law is going back to school. She was nervous, of course. We sat drinking tea discussing the first day of class and for once I realized that I couldn't just give the usual pep talk "You'll be great! I'm sure you'll make lots of friends and get good grades and have a blast!". Isn't this what we do for each other? We don't give room to fail and so many of us don't even begin. I looked her in the eye and just said "There's a good chance you won't finish. We can't rule out the possibility that you could fail at this. But does that mean it's not worth trying?". The truth is that no matter what the outcome, we will all be proud of her and love her.  

The light bulb moment was when I realized I don't offer this permission to myself. 

This year I want to be brave like my sister-in-law. I want to do something that gives me butterflies in  my stomach. I have to know that the more things I try to do, the more failures I'll rack up. I want to be proud of the failures.  They show that I'm living a life unafraid of what others might think of me, and more importantly, what I might think of myself.

Let's all give ourselves permission to fail. We can look at the failures as proof of a life well lived. We can hold them up like trophies and say "Look! I did something I was scared to do!". 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

And Through The Woods

Days like this are few. You know the ones...the memory of these days stick when so many others fall away. Before today, I had met my Grandma only once as a young child. It's been over 25 years since that Easter and I wasn't quite sure what I would find.

An old house met me with a "Beware of Dog" sign in the window. My Grandma has no pets. 

We sat on "the davenport" and took pictures together and talked like we'd never been apart. I examined her face for glimpses of my own but mostly saw myself in her tenacity and straightforward manner. 

Standing on the upright piano, a photo of her as a young girl looked out at us with eyes that didn't know yet the struggle she would eventually face. Grandma asked if I played the piano. She used to give lessons and I caught myself wishing I had been one of her students. I pecked out a song I remember from my short lived lesson. "Would you like to hear me play?" she asked. Grandma's hands are gnarled and broken, stiff with age and arthritis. She wears a neck brace all day long and spends most of the time in bed. How could she play this old piano?

Waltzes. She loves walzes and her favorite song to play is "For Eloise" as it's labeled in her songbook. Her perfectly self painted fingers moved across the keys as if they knew not what time had done to them. 

And now I know my Grandma. I can't change the way things happened. I can't wish away the years of misunderstanding and hard feelings. None of it was up to me. But now it is. Now I can say I sat with my Grandma as she played and laughed and cursed a stray B Flat. I rummaged through her yarn and took a few skeins mostly just so I could say "Oh yes, I made this with yarn my Grandma Shirley gave me".  

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Room For Healing

"Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is that things don't really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It's just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy."

-Pema Chodron

Here I am at the start again. Every year a new beginning for the world. We all resolve to do better, be better, make huge changes. This year we will work on ourselves and by next year everything will be so different. We cling to the hope that this year, this year we will find happiness and leave the darkness behind us forever. How many days does it take for it all to fall apart again? Or is it mere hours? 

Last year I found a book that changed the way I approach these thoughts of wanting permanent change. So much energy goes into wanting things to be other than they are and so much suffering comes from the wanting. Slowly the words of Pema Chodron seeped in as I read her book When Things Fall Apart. I read through it twice over the course of 2012 and yesterday I started at the beginning again. New portions are showing more depth to me this time around. The section above resonated with me especially as I look ahead to a year full of .... full of what? I can't know. You can't know. All we can do is make room in our hearts and minds for all of it. The pain, the wonderment, the joy, the failure: it's all coming and we can't control anything but our own reaction, or non-reaction, to it all. 

What if we make room for every day as it comes? What if every day was an opportunity to start fresh?

Can we make every day New Year's Day?

(And yes, I realize I asked why we can't make Christmas Day every day and this does mean we have to combine holidays and make every day Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Two holidays are better than one right?)