To Live in this World.

(This is inspired by the  27 Wildest Days writing challenge by Laurie Wagner. )

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To live in this world you must let go of it.

Let go of the memories of what was.

Gathering in public spaces.

Gathering in homes with friends.

Shopping for food without fear.

Sleeping without the anxiety of the world rippling through your drams.

Let go of plans, of what we think or hope normal will look like.

Shaking hands.

Summer concerts.

Art fairs.

Packed movie theaters.

Feeling secure in our jobs whatever they may be.

To live in this world you must be comfortable being uncomfortable.

Comfortable with uncertainty.

Conformable knowing that anything and everything can change in an instant.

Comfortable learning to be alone.

Comfortable learning to be together.

Comfortable with the tenuous quality of life itself.

To live in this world, the one have now, not the one we had or the one we dream of, we must be present.

Present to who we are in this crisis. To who we want be.

Present to fears about money, the anxiety about security, the anger at the lack of leadership.

And also be present to the moments of joy, of gratitude, of grace that slip in through the cracks of all we see as broken. Because perhaps it’s been broken for a reason. Perhaps it’s been broken to let the light in.

To let the light shine on all that wasn’t working in our little lives and in the greater world.

To let the light guide us toward our better angels, calling us into our best selves.

Maybe the brokenness happened so we could all begin to claim our own light, shine our light, share our light, be the light.

To live in this world it is necessary to carry yourself lightly. Carrying only what is necessary.

Step with care.

Soften your impact.

Lighten up the shame. The greed. The fear.

Step into the truth. The truth of who you are.

Drop the masks.

Let yourself be seen.

To live in this world is a gift. Even in this world as it is now. It’s a gift to have this body of flesh and bones and cells made of stardust that allows you to smell the heady scent of lilacs, to see the beauty of a sunset or sunrise, to hear the winds shaking the windows, to taste the exquisite sweetness of a chocolate cake made with your daughter.

It’s a gift to wake up.

It’s a gift to sleep.

It’s all a gift.

Even now.

Especially now.

A Doorway to Thanks.

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Who knew that a tiny virus could wreak such havoc around the world and actually become a doorway into thanks? I certainly didn’t know that.

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When it first came on my radar, I still of it as “their” problem. It was over there, not here. Then it came here. Then it shut down our yoga studio and I lost my paycheck. Then it shut down my husband’s job and we lost his paycheck. Then our daughter moved home. Then our other daughter became an essential worker and was forced to take her temperature daily and wear a mask to work. Then the grocery stores were empty of essential items like flour and eggs. Then we started wearing masks whenever we ventured out.

Then deaths began being reported. Doubling daily.

At first I was numb.

It all happened so fast. It went from there to here in an instant it seemed.

Our plans went from solid to nothing in an instant.

I couldn’t read. Could only write a little in my journal as I tried to process it all.

I watched way to much news. Consumed way too much social media.

I cleaned the house daily because it was something I could control.

I exercised 2-3 times a day for the same reason.

Now that we’re coming up on over a month of sheltering in place, I am beginning to see gratitude seeping into the nooks and crannies of my life. I am able to feel it daily, moment by moment, seeing how little I actually need.

I see there I was a lot I wanted. Also a lot I want to avoid. Spending money on books, clothes, meals out provided an escape.

I’m grateful for this opportunity to not escape. To feel bored. Sad. Angry. Anxious.

I’m grateful for all that I have that have been taking for granted for so long: my health, family, friends, community. The ability to flick a switch and have power. To turn a faucet and have clean, drinkable water.

I am grateful to have a home that feels like  a sanctuary. A refuge. A safe place to land within the chaos.

I am grateful for my husband. For all he is doing to take care of us. For being my safe place to land. For being my home.

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I grateful to be learning to hold opposing feelings at once.

Contentment and sadness.

Relief and anxiety.

Curiosity and fear.

Grief and gratitude.

And everything in between.

 

The Gateway to Living with Deep Gratitude & Presence.

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“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” ~ Mary Oilver

I love these words by Mary Oliver.

They are especially poignant this week as we navigate the loss of one of our cherished yoga students at the studio where I teach.

Whenever death arrives, whether it’s a loved one, a friend, a member of the community or even a celebrity, I find myself taking stock. Turning inward.

Am I living the life I truly want to be living?

Am I appreciating each and every moment?

Do I recognize each breath as the gift that it is?

Do my feet hit the floor in the morning with deep gratitude that I get another day to play in this world?

Do I appreciate and show that appreciation for the people in my life through my words and actions?

Do I enter each encounter as if I might never see that person again? 

Have I left anything unsaid?

It sounds like it might be a morbid way to live. Or it may just be the gateway to living with deep gratitude and presence.

I came across this recently by Bodhipaska:

Life is unpredictable. When you’re with someone, you have no idea if you’ll ever see each other again. Everyone you see today—this may your last encounter. And maybe you should behave as if it was. What last impression, what last words, would you like them to have of you, should either of you die tomorrow? Life is short; be kind.

Adopt as a mantra, “We may never meet again.” Let yourself feel vulnerable and tender. Let yourself feel affection. Let yourself appreciate others’ basic goodness. Let your tendency to focus on the negative fall away, and recognize that you’re surrounded by good people who are struggling to find happiness in a world where true happiness is rare. Let yourself love.

The trouble is, you think you’ll have time to love later, and you might not, so behave as if you don’t have time to waste, and let yourself love: Now.

That puts things into perspective, doesn’t it?

Mary Oliver’s words take on a new significance to me now. I used to think they meant I had to find some grand purpose that would change the world for the better.

Now, I think that if I live my life truly appreciating the gift of each breath, each moment, each encounter, living with vulnerability and tenderness, then that is a beautiful way to spend my one wild and precious life.

Books Read in January.

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“Talking As Fast As I Can” a memoir by Lauren Graham

Some of the most exciting things that happened in my life took place before I turn six years old.

I don’t generally read celebrity memoirs, or any books really written by a celebrity. When Snookie came out with a novel? Well, let’s just say that might’ve been the last straw. I don’t believe in books as brands. Books are breathing entities filled with hope and they lessen the burden of loneliness. Before reading Graham’s book, the only other celebrity book I read was the story collection by Molly Ringwald and it blew me away. As I read I could tell it wasn’t just a piece of her brand puzzle. And she could really write. What she has in common with Graham is that they were both English majors. So, maybe I’m a bit of a snob but if you took time to study literature then I have a certain amount of respect for you and enough curiosity to see what you own writing is like.

I am a huge “Gilmore Girls” fan. I’m a huge Lauren Graham fan, I mean…”Parenthood”…right?I’ve already watched the Netflix revival “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” twice and still wanted more. So, her book. Well, books, actually and I bought both.

This memoir is how I imagine she is when she’s not playing Lorelai or Sarah, but I feel there’s a lot of her in both characters. This book is funny, warm, charming and fast-paced (maybe the quick dialogue thing wasn’t completely Amy Sherman-Palladino’s call).

Not only do we get a glimpse of her childhood and her road to Hollywood success, she gives us a peek behind the scenes of each season of Gilmore Girls as well as the revival! Squee!!! I love seeing behind the scenes of anything, but two of my favorite shows? Well, it was heaven.

She also talks about writing and how she found it. Or, how it found her. And her timer trick to get the actual writing done? I can totally relate to that and it pretty much combines by own process that I’ve pieced together over the years through trial and error. It kind of combines the shitty first draft with a timer. It’s a way of getting and keeping your butt in the chair to get the work done.

So grateful that Graham (although I feel like I can call her Lauren after reading her book) found a process that worked for her to get this book written.

A sentence I love (and made me laugh out loud):

On  being a guest judge on Project Runway

“I can’t even stand giving feedback to the potato peeler I bought on Amazon—what made me think this would be any different?”

“Someday, Someday. Maybe” a novel by Lauren Graham

“Begin whenever you’re ready,” comes the voice from the back of the house.

This fresh, charming novel follows Franny Banks’ dream of acting. She gave her self a deadline to “succeed” that is fast approaching. Does she hang in there just a while longer or does she admit defeat and give up?

I became so caught up in the life of Franny that I forgot than one of my favorite actresses wrote it! One of the things I really loved is how the life of an artist, any artist, is explored. What qualifies as success? Once we achieve whatever milestone we set for ourselves, then what? What if you don’t? Then what?

I realized while reading this that I never set the same kind of deadline for myself as  a writer. Maybe because I have other means of income. But I know that even if I never sell a novel, go on book tour, have my novel optioned for a movie, I will still keep writing.

The advice that her agent, barney, gives her at the end about succeeding in show business can be applied to writing as well: Faster, Funnier, Louder. Read the book to get the details.

A sentence I love: 

(Referring to her filofax but it works as sage writing advice.)

“Just keep at it, like the fictional Franny, keep filling up the pages, and something’s bound to happen.”

“The Hidden Messages in Water” by Maseru Emoto

Understanding the fact that we are essentially water is the key to uncovering the mysteries of the universe.

I borrowed this book from a friend but it is so fascinating and life-changing that I will need to buy a copy for myself to re-read at least once a year to remind me how powerful our thoughts are.

The basic premise is that our words and thoughts have power to heal or hurt. By exposing ice crystals to different words then photographing them afterward he was able to show the physical effect words can have, not only on water but on our selves which are 70% water. Filled with beautiful photographs from his studies, this slim but powerful book lays out how essential it is that we take care with our words.

“Our emotions and feelings have an effect on the world moment by moment. If you send out words and images of creativity, then you will be contributing to the creation of a beautiful world. However, emitting messages of destruction, you contribute to the destruction of the universe.”

Once fully understood, it becomes deeply freeing while at the same time a sobering responsibility.

A sentence I love:

The relationship between love and gratitude may be similar to the relationship between sun and shade. If love is the sun, gratitude is the moon.

Book Gratitude

Cross posted from thelivingstonpost.com.

In honor of Thanksgiving, I thought I’d take a few minutes to briefly reflect on the books I am grateful for having come into my life this past year.

  1. For making me laugh out loud on just about every page: “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened” (A Mostly True Memoir)” by Jenny Lawson, the Bloggess
  2. For proving to me that celebrities can write moving stories of substance and not just as part of their brand: “When It Happens to You” a novel in stories by Molly Ringwald
  3. For making me actually cry: “The Fault in Our Stars”  a YA novel by John Green
  4. For exposing me to a foreign culture: “Drifting House” stories by Krys Lee
  5. For illuminating the beauty of compassion and forgiveness to ourselves and others: “You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know- A True Story of Family, Face Blindness, and Forgiveness” by Heather Sellers

For a thorough look at all the wonderful books I have read over the past six years, visit this page.

I am grateful for the opportunity to share my love of books and writing here with you. What books are you grateful for? Please leave a comment below.

Hope you all found much to be grateful for this year. Thank you for allowing me to a part of your lives.