Monday, January 21, 2019

I worried

I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers 
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn 
as it was taught, and if not how shall 
I correct it? 

Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven, 
can I do better? 

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows 
can do it and I am, well, 
hopeless. 

Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it, 
am I going to get rheumatism, 
lockjaw, dementia? 

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing. 
And gave it up. And took my old body 
and went out into the morning, 
and sang.

Mary Oliver

Yet another Mary Oliver poem, and yet one that speaks to me today. I worry. I worry all the time. And yet, today's meditation (thank you, Calm, for your 2019 challenge, which is bringing me some new favorites!) and this poem and another one I found... all highlight the importance of recognizing, owning, and then ditching my worries. 
I am working on this. I am trying, but it is hard. It is always hard for we who worry incessantly. And it's not easy for the non-worriers in our lives to understand this. 
I am worried about family things, relationship issues, the weather, my work, and on and on and on. I could just worry all the time, but I am starting to learn (finally) how counterproductive and destructive that is. 
So I strive to achieve what Ms. Oliver seems to have, in her later years... 

...Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing. And gave it up.

More inspiration for a Monday, as always. Thank you, Mary, for your light and life. 
💙

Friday, January 18, 2019

Per Aspera Ad Astra


I was all set to write about how Per Aspera Ad Astra is my phrase of the year - to with "seek", my word of the year. While I don't think I have necessarily navigated hardship, as the phrase indicates, this speaks to me because of the shift from the negative, the hardships (to whatever degree we all face them) and the shift to reaching for the stars. Moving towards the positive - finding the good and celebrating it.

It's astonishing how, when you land on an idea or word or thought that becomes your guide / intention, how you start to see it everywhere.

And, in honor of Mary Oliver, who died yesterday (1/17/2019), I realized that one of her poems speaks directly to this intention of mine for 2019. What better way to honor her and celebrate her, than to read and savor these words? She brought so much light into the world - I can only hope that I am able to reflect just a tiny bit of it in my own life.

The Journey - Mary Oliver
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice –
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do –
determined to save
the only life you could save.

The first line resonates so strongly for me - One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began...

Yes. Just, yes. 

Thank you, Mary. Thank you for connecting me to the deeper parts of myself. More than anything, thank you for using your creativity, your light, your words, to make this world a better place. Rest peacefully, reunited, I hope, with your love. You will be missed. 

Saturday, January 5, 2019

2018 Lessons

2018 turned out to be a pretty darn good year. Looking back, and reading all of the end-of-year surveys and comprehensive lists of what people did / read / experienced, I realized that my 2018 was right up there in the good ones.


  • I started a job that I really, really love, in a location that I enjoy more everyday. 
  • I did not move. This is HUGE for me, as I have moved more times than I can count in my adult life. Seriously, I needed extra pages for my FBI background checks for different jobs. 
  • I got rid of a lot of clutter and crap. Cleaning out feels so good - and holding on to things "just in case" or because of a vague memory, well, I found out that does not work for me. And that's okay!
  • Donated a lot of that stuff (which was actually in pretty good shape, not "crap"...) 
  • Made some work friends. Some of whom might, eventually, become out-of-work friends. 
  • Read.  A lot. I actually set a Goodreads goal for 2019 of 20 books - my first reading challenge! - and I really hope I blow it out of the water. Of course, that means that I have to actually record the books I read! 
  • Journaled. A lot. 
  • Started this blog. 
  • Kept connecting in unexpected ways with others. 
  • Meditated nearly every day (she writes, on a day she did not meditate...). 
  • Put my TV in the closet. 
  • Submitted a really big grant. 
  • Went to Maine for 2 weeks. 
  • Went to Hawaii for 8 days. 
  • Saw my parents twice, as well as my extra-parents. 
  • Napped more than I have. 
  • Tried a bunch of new things - Pilates, new foods - and enjoyed most of them. 
  • Started my journey back to being me. 
2019 is starting off pretty well, too. Time to see where it takes me... 

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Optimism - Jane Hirshfield
More and more I have come to admire resilience.
Not the simple resistance of a pillow, whose foam
returns over and over to the same shape, but the sinuous
tenacity of a tree: finding the light newly blocked on one side,
it turns in another. A blind intelligence, true.
But out of such persistence arose turtles, rivers,
mitochondria, figs -- all this resinous, unretractable earth.

I saw this posted on Instagram by Maria Popova, the founder, writer, and curator behind BrainPickings. Her work is amazing - she published a book last year - and her insights often bring me to new thoughts at just the right time. While not all of the newsletters speak to me, most of them do, and I look forward to her twice-weekly emails for the ideas and thoughts they generate for me.

I finally did the "trendy" thing and chose a word for the year - and for 2019, it's going to be

Seek.

I toyed with the idea of grow, again. (I've used that in the past.)
Explore was also up there.
But exploration, while it can be used to describe what I call "inner work", seems more focused on external explorations.

Seeking can be internal, external, spiritual, physical, emotional... I can seek adventure, but I can also seek positive relationships for where I am now in life.
I can seek a community, spiritual growth, new ideas, new knowledge.

And Jane Hirshfield's poem highlights, for me, how I want to focus my life, and my seeking, this year.

I want to become more resilient, more tenacious, more persistent.
I don't want to always hew to the path that I've chosen - sometimes, seeking, and resilience, tenacity and persistence require a new approach, a twist and a turn here and there.
But always, moving forward.
Seeking. Maybe not the way I anticipated doing so at the beginning, but still moving and driving and growing.

I love the line "...the sinuous tenacity of a tree"

Perhaps I'm not sinuous, necessarily, but tenacity? that I have.
We'll see what my path - my branches? - look like at the end of 2019. Who knows what the new year will bring? Time to seek...and know. 

Friday, December 28, 2018

Healthy Idleness

The present moment is the only one that matters...We have the choice to let go of worrying about the past, and instead, focus on the present, and the things we do have the ability to change.

Letting go isn't about having the courage to release the past, it's about having the wisdom to embrace the present. Steve Narbone

Try some healthy idleness... JJ (Family Friend)

Idleness - the active choice NOT to do - is really hard. I always have to be going, going, going. Sometimes, though, I get what I consider to be a signal from the Universe that maybe it's time to take a break. Slow down.

I know that it's a cliche to slow down in the winter. To take advantage of shorter days, longer nights, colder temperatures. But this year, it is oh so tempting to disconnect. To take the time to breathe. When I think back on all the insanity of the past 3 years - two moves, three jobs, lots of upheaval in relationships and life - it makes me think that if I don't disconnect, I will be forced to... whether by illness, or some unanticipated significant event.

So, perhaps I won't work a full day Monday (New Year's Eve). Maybe tomorrow I'll take the time to do my (fun) errands, enjoy a lunch with my mother in law, and take a nap. Because you know what? It's okay, sometimes, to just sit. It's okay to stare out the window without a purpose. It's okay to NOT follow a set schedule or list of tasks all the time.

Healthy Idleness. What a concept...

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Steps

From the ever-wonderful Brian Andreas, Storypeople, and Flying Edna (https://flyingedna.com)

Oh, this is so me. This was this morning's Story of the Day (one of my favorite emails...) and it just spoke to me. It is so hard to take those first steps; so hard, in fact that it's sometimes not even obvious to others that I have done so. And yet, in my head, I have ruminated and pondered and *almost* made the decision so. many. times. 

But they don't see that. All they see is the delay and the time that it took me to get to that first step. (There were probably 10,000 steps leading up to that first step, because of all my dithering and pre-work and almost-steps...)

It makes it so hard, sometimes, because from my perspective, I've taken that step! I've succeeded (for the most part; sometimes, well, okay often? I then take a step back and have to work myself up to taking the step *again*...). But if you don't see me moving - as I do, in my head - then, well, it's frustrating. 

Which then feeds into that lovely feeling of shame...and the need to pull back into myself, and keep myself from being vulnerable. Keep myself from being open. 

What's funny is that this is really only in my personal life. In my professional life, I've been more than willing to jump, to take that step (or more often, those steps, plural...). Maybe I use up all my step-taking there? 😕

I am hoping to take more steps to be me, again, in the new year. I don't know that I want to set goals, per se, but... maybe that's one thing to do? So many people do that this time of year. Perhaps it's more of an intention? What do I want to focus on? Taking the steps? Reaching out? Opening up? Hm.... ah, things to ponder. Good thing I have a few days! 

Monday, December 10, 2018


I have been struggling with this recently, this feeling of needing to be something else, someone else, to meet the expectations of others.
And yet, I also know that I need to become comfortable with owning who I am, what I am, how I live, and what I value.

What do I want to be?
What do I need to do to achieve that?
And then, what will I have?

This be-do-have approach was something my therapist (yes, therapist, I finally have a good one...) really emphasized at our last meeting. And it resonated so, so much with me.

I want to be happy. I want to be independent and strong again. I want to live my life without apology, with joy, seeking new experiences and the beauty in the everyday.

And I keep coming back to this awful thought - is this possible within my current relationship? This wasn't intended to be a "relationship blog" but it is foremost in my mind right now.

When I am constantly challenged by the person who is *supposed* to love me as I am, to accept me with all of the changes and challenges and frustrations... well, how can I then be who I am? How can I, as Nin says, find peace with exactly who and what I am? because I am working so, so hard on that. And then to be brought down by one offhand comment, or a series of them? That makes me think that I am not being loved as I am.

I've never read Anais Nin. Perhaps I should start. Next up on my "inspirational" reading list is an Anne Lamott book. I'm also working my way through Seneca's Letters to a Stoic. Short, overloaded missives full of wisdom, insight and ideas. Perhaps reading some Anais Nin will help me continue to broaden my perspective and think outside of my narrow little box.

Then again, Goodreads describes her as an "eroticist", so... perhaps not. :) I'm all for challenging myself, but maybe not to that extent, just yet!

A related quote to end on... from a wise friend:

Love doesn't have goals or benchmarks or blueprints, but does have a purpose. It is not the change the people we love, but rather to give them what they need to thrive. Alison Gopnik.