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Archive for the category “Being still”

Daily Ground – – -January 29

The longest journey is from my head to my heart.

I know a lot.  I still get stuck in the knowing instead of the living. I know that I should listen more and talk less. I know that often when I get angry or scared or frustrated, I have a tendency to run from those feelings. I run by talking. Passionately talking. This passionate talking can at times be mistaken for yelling or judging others.

I know that none of this stuff is very important stuff. It is simply something in me that comes up and makes me feel uncomfortable, and for some reason I can’t just sit with it. So recently I’ve been sitting with this in meditation, therefore it is in my awareness.  Now after I do my passionate talking/yelling, the awareness is in my face and it hurts! I walk away saying to myself, “What the heck did you do that for? Aren’t you trying to commit to listen more and talk less? Why can’t you control your actions?”

This is the first step in the incredibly long journey from my head to my heart. Awareness. Knowing does very little to change me. I need to practice.  I can’t think my way into right living. I have to live my way into right thinking.



Daily Ground – – -January 28

We are so unused to emotion that we mistake any depth of feeling for sadness, any sense of the unknown for fear, and any sense of peace for boredom – – -Mark Nepo

This past October, I walked out onto the deck with a cup of coffee and experienced the sun a little lower in the sky, the leaves dark red, and a chill in the air. It was beautiful. I recall feeling heavy hearted. Heavy. Grounded. Intense. I just sat there.

For a brief moment I mistook this feeling for depression or sadness. I had recently come out of several dark years and I was afraid the recent reprieve was over. As I continued to sit, I realized this was simply a feeling. A deep, intense feeling.

I’ve often been moved to tears by beauty.  I’ve often felt heavy with strong emotion – even joy.  So I sat and simply felt. I sat until I was okay with what I was feeling. I didn’t label myself dark or depressed or weird because of the way I experience beauty or love or pain or Autumn. Then I got up. I got another cup of coffee and began the day.


Daily Ground – – – January 5th

Life is both storm and calm, and the challenge of living is how to use the calm to endure the storm, not bypass it.” – – -Mark Nepo, from Seven Thousand Ways to Listen

The mom of a teen recently said to me, “Sometimes she is happy just because she is alive, and the next minute she is miserable just because. . .” I finished her sentence, “just because she is alive.”  Being alive takes us through our full range of emotions.  Once we have practiced being present to this full range or once we have been through enough darkness and come back into the light, we no longer have to fear these feelings.

Some people stumble through life giving the glory to other human beings for their happiness or blaming some poor schmuck for their problems.  Every life has calm and storm, maybe like the teen above, we don’t need an excuse to be happy or miserable, it is simply our human condition.

Can you simply be with your feelings today? Whether they are good or bad – can you simply observe and accept without judgement? Observing and accepting isn’t passive – it’s just stating the obvious because what you are observing is already happening – why not accept it and move on.


January 2nd. . .

“Hope and fear come from feeling that we lack something; they come from a sense of poverty. We can’t simply relax with ourselves. We hold on to hope, and hope robs us of the present moment. We feel that someone else knows what is going on, but that there is something missing in us, and therefore something is lacking in our world.”
― Pema ChödrönWhen Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

I sit with patients in my office who often think there is a rule book to life and they don’t have access to it like everyone else does.  It seems natural to walk around comparing our insides with everyone else’s outside. “They have it all together! Why can’t I get it together!?” Freedom from suffering like this comes from simply sitting with what you do or don’t have. Mostly we are taken care of – it’s just our mind that causes the discomfort. Sitting with the feelings,  accepting what is right in front of you, and creating space from the feelings in order to get perspective will bring you some freedom from the fear and anxiety of not being/having enough.

When faced with this suggestion, patients will almost always go to the default of, “What will so and so think if I do this or don’t do that?” And there lies problem.  Why live your life based on what others think of you? Sit with yourself. Lean into your own heart. Do or don’t do according to what your heart needs. Let go.



Beginnings don’t just come on January 1st or the first day of school, or your first day married, etc.  Beginnings can happen with each new breathe. If we allow it.  I am old enough to know that resolutions come and go, and if I truly want to change, it takes work, commitment, support, self-love, and lots of leaning into the pain that comes with change. I don’t need a special date for this, I can start anytime, and I often do,

I began writing everyday last year around this time.  Unfortunately it wasn’t on a blog; it was text messages sent to about 25 friends.  I get up in the morning, sit quietly, and try to have a conscious contact with God (Higher Power, Inner Peace, Universe, Spirit – insert whatever word you need here to get the point). This act has helped me be kinder on some days. It has helped me create space between my feelings and those of others, it has helped me get perspective on baffling situations and circumstances.  An added bonus is that a few of the receivers let me know it helps them some days too.

Because most daily prayer/reflection type of books begin on January 1st, I am choosing today to do something new.  This is also very scary, because I may not finish.  I may just complete today’s entry and no more.  But then again – maybe – just maybe – I’ll lean into the  pain that is commitment and discipline and actually start a new habit that is life-giving. Maybe I’ll simply do something everyday instead of thinking about the doing and getting side-tracked in the pain and judgment of not being enough.  I’m just jumping in . . .1. . . .2. . . 3:

January 1st:

Begin. . .

Begin doing nothing.  I dare you.  Take the challenge – do it today.  Just sit.  Set a timer for 5 minutes and watch what happens.  Don’t judge, don’t move – just sit.  When thoughts come – watch them – are they thoughts about the past? Are they thoughts about the future? Just watch them and come right back to now.

This may sound easy or it may sound excruciating.  I promise you – if you do this long enough or for many days in row – it will be both easy and excruciating. So often we get so attached to doing and doing and doing. Sometimes we are afraid to do nothing because we are then left with our human beingness – with our thoughts and feelings. We judge ourselves and we wonder how others will judge us if we just sit and feel.

Just for today – be a human being – not a human doing.


Lost in Transition

I’ve been a bit out of sorts lately.  Everything seems to have shifted.  For so much of my adult life, I’ve been very busy.  I moved across country and back, got married, purchased homes, had children, raised families, got degrees, got jobs, quit jobs, got other jobs, got other degrees, took care of dying people, buried people, birthed friendships, buried friendships. You get the point.

At 35, I was living in Utah in a recently purchased home with my soulmate husband, my 2 and a half year old, and the baby in my womb. The baby was due on October 31st, and I was nearing the due date. I got a call from Maryland that my mom’s husband went to work and had a massive heart attack.  I think my mom must have called me, but I remember talking to my sister-in-law and my sister too. It was devastating for all.

I called my husband at work and could barely speak – the receptionist thought for sure I was in labor when she gave Jeff the call. The call was about death – not life.  I couldn’t go the 2000 miles for the funeral being 9 months pregnant so I went through the process at a distance. It was difficult not being there; not being closer, and I think that is when I was pulled back home.

My mom and her husband were lovely folks; they lived in the moment and showered their grand-children with tons of gifts. However, when Frank died, there was no insurance, and my mom had no Plan B. My family and I moved in with her about 8 months after his death, and a year later we all purchased a home together.

Life really took off once we all settled into it.  Mom lived with us and shared much of the load. She was able to help with the kids, the cleaning, the laundry, and the gardens. The kids grew, she aged, people began dying, and eventually mom left us last October.  I’ve been out of sorts lately.

I have two jobs.  My day job is in a school and follows the school calendar; the other is a small private practice that keeps me busy in the evenings.  But it’s summer, so I’ve got some time on my hands from the day job.  I’m usually productive – cleaning, working, socializing.  But I feel kind of lost this summer.  I don’t want to clean or work. I want to sit on a beach, I want to watch baseball.  I want to move. For so long it seemed life was pulling me along. I didn’t really have to make choices – things just happened. I was living with and for others – taking care of parents and kids and not thinking much about it. Now this transition.

Everyday – it just seems like the rug has been pulled out from under me – like everything is shifting – like I just don’t know my place in the world. The worst part of all this is I do!  I do know my place, I am on solid ground – the place just changes and that is okay – normal even  – but the feelings – they hold me captive. Running helps – a lot – just getting out of my head and into my body.

I realized the other day – I have some freedom right now.  I don’t really want to clean or take care of this home anymore – I really want to move.  I could never have  moved as long as mom was here – I didn’t want to, and it wasn’t an option.  But suddenly this house feels strange to me.  Too big, too much work.

I turn 50 in a month. My kids are looking at colleges. My mom died. Yesterday was my dad’s birthday. The economy stinks. I want to move. I don’t want to take care of the house. Running helps.  I’m not needed in the same ways I have been for so very long. No one is dying (actually everyone is dying).  I’m being held captive.  What to do?

I will sit still.  I will wait.  I will breathe, and write, and ask for help when needed. I will try so very hard not to judge myself for not wanting to clean this house.  I will not judge myself for feeling so uncomfortable in my own skin after so much work to feel comfortable in my own skin. I will have faith.  I will have faith that it is possible – no – probable – that in an hour I won’t feel like this at all – that I will be hiking in the woods with a friend wondering what the big deal was.  I will feel comfortable in my own skin. There are no big deals.

I will tell myself the things I would tell others.  I am in a new place. I have never been in this place before.  It is okay to feel uncomfortable.  Most people feel uncomfortable. I will wait.  I will wait.  I will wait. I am so very happy I have learned to wait.  I am blessed to know how to wait. I won’t numb (except with my passion/obsession with the Orioles), I won’t run from this by giving into it and buying a house in this mess.  I will go hiking. I will have dinner. Heck – I might even clean the house.



Long, lazy, summer days

Last June, my husband, two teen girls, and I discovered a small, sleepy beach town on Florida’s Atlantic coast.  Last week we visited there again. I usually plan an adventure over the winter and we go somewhere different each year, but this winter I didn’t have the energy, so we went with the sure bet.

We drive from Maryland.  How does that sound? Most people gasp when I say this.  I love it.  I love being enclosed in a minivan with my family; moving speedily down the highway while at the same time weighed down by the space in the vehicle. This is where the groundedness of vacation begins for me.  The slowing down.

I often have a difficult time going on vacation.  Throwing off the structure and routine scares me.  It helped knowing what I was getting into this year – knowing where we were heading. It is beautiful; the condo is right on the beach.  The first full day, I was on the balcony with my husband and feeling as if it were just too much trouble going down to the beach.  I was grounded to the point of being heavy, slow moving, like a sloth. So I sat on the balcony searching for the dolphins in the ocean before me.

Without the distractions of work and house – I am forced (or I chose) to see.  I see that for the first time, I don’t want to do anything. I don’t want to perform. I am that person who was always running, working, cleaning, planning, talking, partying. Even on vacation – I had to keep busy.  But now – I’m ready – I’m ready to just be.  (See what I did there? I have to get ready to simply be!) And yet I can’t throw off the pangs of guilt that creep in – the guilt that is always about comparing my insides to others’ outsides.

Even the waiter at our favorite restaurant at the beach asked what we had done – water taxi, para sailing, National Seashore? “Uh, no, no, and no.”  We didn’t do anything.  We went to this awesome used book store and bought 10 pounds of books.  We read, we sat on the beach, we swam, we played Scrabble and Phase 10, and we slept.  And I watched baseball.

It was Tuesday before I became grateful for the heaviness, the sloth like body that I took on.  It was Wednesday before I  stopped comparing. It was Thursday when I realized that if I had written a story about my future – what kind of family I thought I wanted – it would not have been the one I have.  I would have written all kinds of things about money, and success, and the Caribbean, and parasailing. It would not have included used book stores and teens that sleep until 1:30.  I would have been selling myself short. I have the most incredible family; the perfect family . . . for me.  Especially now – in this moment – in this year of my turning 50 and the girls being 14 and 17 and Jeff loving and accepting us with his whole heart and soul.

Especially now – as I let go of past and future expectations. Especially now that I begin not caring what others want and expect from me. Especially now that I have lived long enough and been brave enough to look beyond the surface into the darkness to see what was driving me and and pushing me to do, do, do instead of be, be, be. Especially now as I am in that uncertain time of life where we stand on the bridge between having children and launching young adults.  Especially now as I experience both the  sadness of knowing this moment is fleeting and the excitement of knowing this moment is fleeting. Soon – it will be Jeff and I in the car alone traveling – how wonderful . . .and how sad.

Next year – we may stay for two weeks. Peace.

Rainbow without rain

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