Assessing the Present

I like to stand on the surface of the island of now and plant an adjectival flag into the soil. I shall declare you …… fill in the blank.

Last night the weather was violent. Rain and furious ice chunks flying through the air were striking my bedroom window. It was “bad”.

The gift of angels

People were posting on Facebook that it was “horrible”. The dreadful snow that had fallen the last two days became icy and slick. This morning was a gray locked in kind of day where the sky is frowning so that its cloud filled forehead was lowered below the mountains ringing the valley.

But the snow was beautiful. When the while fluff is lining the limbs of the trees so the black contrast delineates the shape of each branch, I feel as if I am in some handicrafted miniature village or on a 1930’s movie set (without the fake asbestos doubling as snow).

And the violence of the storm was exciting. There was such sheer energy at work that I opened the door and stood in it just to feel my pulse increase.

The sky has pushed back the gray and some dripping water color blue is starting to fill the gaps. Sun is shining along the branches of the trees where yesterday it was white. And the grass is now revealed with crocus plants pushing up from the soil of the garden bed.

And as I look at this day opening up before me, I think about the script we are given by our society. We need to name the thing. We must give attributes to the moment. We are like teachers in a classroom constantly ranking our experiences and assigning grades to each hour, each day, each season.

“Did I do well?” we ask.

As I was reading a post from a woman who is growing and stepping away from past chaotic experiences, I see that she is in a poignant place. She is not yet but no longer.

It is a time and place that leaves her unable to assess who she is. And my Buddhist teachers would say, “Congratulations.” When we no longer know who we are; when we no longer judge the events around us; when we simply breathe, make intentions and watch ourselves everything opens up.

The death of labeling; the death of catogorizing; the death of having to construct an emotional reaction to each now means that all is possible. It also, for me, has meant I can connect with the knowledge that my view is so limited that I have no idea at all the importance of any given experience. What I do know is that it is not to be found under a planted flag of “good” or “bad” and remaining standing still emotionally.

Life is an adventure and what seems good may become better or worse. What seems terror filled may be growth in disguise. What seems to be important may be, in the end, just another small lesson. Ending something is not the end. Beginning something is not the beginning.

Our lives are a single flow of lessons and there is no head teacher to judge our “progress”. I simply watch my own growth and see how submitting to the process has brought me greater peace and confidence that nothing is ever lost. And in that trusting place, I am able to be more loving because my anxiety is softening.

Every instance is new and fleeting. There is no need to call it by a name. We are here to learn.

Some Days Are Like That

Some days are to be forgiven even as they are arising or as a recollection unwanted. The snow has fallen but not violently. It lacks emphasis. It is a white skiff cemented to the ground with a sprayed on glue layer of ice. I could hear what kind of day it would become before I could even see it.

My snowboarder guest was out chipping a thoughtful passage from my door to the gate. The sound was unmistakeable. Not enough snow to allow the glide of the shovel, and too much ice to clear without chipping, crunching segment by segment.

I decided it would be an official UGLY DAY. I looked around for my well and truly appalling sweat pants. No matter how hard I work out, or how many squats I do holding a 15 pound weight to my chest like is was a Game of Thrones infant, I could never look attractive in these pants.

The waist hits me somewhere under my bra and the legs extend over my heels. My knees look like some creatures from the X-File pushing out of the wall of thick material.

Outside, the day was squatting on the hillsides like some weather spirit. It was deciding. More snow? Sheets of rain? The clouds were formulating possibilities.

I picked up my super strong snow shovel composed of some invention of clear blue plastic material that had some form of guarantee for how it promised not to break. I had purchased an assured weapon against winter.

Clearing my own sidewalk, my neighbours’ sidewalks is a form of social contract on our street. Our houses are small the frontage of our kingdoms is easily patrolled.

I held myself in neutral mode from the time I woke up. No need to make an emotional judgement about the day. If it can’t make up its mind, I don’t need to make up mine.

Along the freshly prepared sidewalk a group of young girls bounced toward me. At the front of the processing was a three year old with curly hair wearing a pink ballet costumes. She didn’t need a coat because she was performing a choreograph of spring.

any time is dance time

The mother thanked me for clearing the way. And as I stood watching the absolute joy of this family, I noticed that I had been left a gift.

Love shows up

My neighbour Sarah had hung paper angels on each of my rose bushes. The black thorny limbs held angels dancing.

Sometimes, it is best to reserve judgement and stay open to possibilities. Yes, some days need to be forgiven, or maybe just my attitude to the day needs to be released so that joy can come in.

Seeking Inspiration to Fuel the Passion

We are like little engines. Sometimes when the weather is cold and gray; sometimes when we isolate ourselves by sitting in front of the shining glass loneliness of a screen; sometimes when our spirits are in the Gulag of existence, we have simply run out of fuel.

The first step for me has always been to blame myself for not being able to self-generate, self-regenerate, guilty of  being un-buckable up.

What I am learning is that yelling at an already defeated spirit does little to efficiently motivate the crumpled self.

Last night I went to see The Greatest Showman and I came out of the theater feeling octane filled and ready to muscle up. It was a many layered infusion. Firstly, I was inspired by Barnum himself. He invented a massively effective entertainment. In his day, he was like Disney. The vision came entirely from his own inner imagination and made him a millionaire, famous and allowed him to create anything he could envision.

Secondly, Hugh Jackman just floods me with a joy for being alive when I see him perform in a musical. Strangely enough, when he slammed his hand down on the bar with such confidence and force, I felt a message being delivered: “I want to be like that!” He was in perfect time, emphatic, expansive, expressive and aligned with the music.

Now for me to find my music; my expression in words, in my art, in my rhythm in life will take confidence and submission. The submission is to the discipline of working on my skills as a daily habit. The submission is to stop relying on a sense that I need outside validation to know that I am making progress. The submission is to just work on building muscle in my body; to building stamina in my use of energy by not allowing momentary defeat to stall me; to submission to the utter joy of expression without constantly trying to reign myself in.

I walked out of the movie feeling like I had been recharged with the joy of the chase.

It is what art can do for people in this life of illusion of darkness and smoke. It is what creativity brings to people: Celebration of life. We need music for our movie. Make a sound track!

Taming the Wild Self

Learning to live takes a lifetime. I liken myself to an untamed mustang. So often I have felt out of control. Some incident occurs and I throw my head back, kick up my heels and just run aimlessly to nowhere so violently that it exhausts me. But with meditation practice, with running at the fences and  the resultant electrocution repeatedly enforcing a lesson, I am starting to get the hang of it.

And part of that wildness came from a sense of being trapped.

Comparisons always left me feeling short changed. Others seemed to have more, to move more easily through life, to achieve more. And the principle reason for that was that I saw myself as handicapped.

Sitting in a classroom with bruises under my lovely dress, left me feeling “other”. However, the greatest gift of having intellectual curiosity is that through my readings I have come to understand that nobody gets out alive. No matter how porcelain sky blue your tea cup; no matter how elegantly lifted your pinky finger is, underneath it all you are a wild animal. The body brings with it lessons, humiliations, limitations, crises and a great rooted heaviness.

To learn that there is no comparison because ultimately we are all under-going our own training of the wild, untamed, undisciplined, damaged self is an immense relief. Each of us is in our own paddock. And the greatest error of all is to suppose that anyone else is not working really legitimately truly deeply with his or her own perceived handicap.

The breath teaches us how to reconnect to the body, to ground in the unique physicality of our existence here-now. And through the process of watching self, there are even those out of control moments when we can step back and look at the muscularity and beauty of our thrashing strength. Being patient with our own wildness, our own charging stupidity can in itself tame our spirits.

And a sense of humour about all of the ferocity of struggle is immediately calming. It is why we laugh at the stories others tell about their own childlike errors. It gives us hope. They ran heedlessly for the fences as well. And isn’t it magnificent to see our shared feral attempts to escape consequences and from that to learn to just settle down into the fenced meadow.

Repairmen Paid for Nothing

In the last week, I have had difficulties with two appliances. My dishwasher was not emptying properly and the timer knob on my washing machine started to free float without engaging.
I put vinegar and vinegar and vinegar and vinegar into my dishwasher and used a stick to claw out particles between the parallel vents of the pump cover. By the time that the repairman arrived, there was only a little standing water around the pump drain.
Off season at a bed and breakfast is not a time of wine and roses. I don’t drink wine so for me it would just be roses. I was tempted to engage with financial worry.

I handed over my visa and swiped away $85 for the information that my dishwasher was working fine. All of the vinegar I had put in had cleared the chemical build up. I learned for my $85 that there should be a bit of standing water.

seeing what we think

The scenario when the repair man arrived called out to be written as a sketch for stage. The ETA was to be at noon. So I plastered my head with deep auburn hair color paste, put on my shorty red bathrobe with the pink polka dots and was waiting for the 30 minutes to pass when I heard the knock on my door.

He was two hours early with no warning phone call.The usual story is of a repair man being two hours late with a phone call. I was highly aware of my nudity under my bathrobe and had big rivulets of red soil paste trickling down my face.

My kitchen is large, open and bright and as I stood facing the unexpected man, I thought about it as a stage. We were center stage. I stood across from him both participating and simultaneously observing. He was missing three teeth in his upper gums and had an eight pm shadow on his face. He stood with his hands on his hips and was short, very dark and stubby.

I dismissed a possible menu of emotions and just stuck to the issue. I want my dishwasher to work. But somewhere inside I was sitting in an audience highly amused at the scenario.

not ready

Days later, I had a Korean guest in my airbnb that did something violent to my washing machine and twisted the start knob so inexpertly that the repair man today told me it was ,” definitely failing.” Again, I swiped my visa to pay him to come and tell me the repairs I wanted would run $400 so he recommended I just, “turn it like this.”
He showed me a careful methodology that would start up the machine and do no further damage to the timer. I paid another man another amount for telling me that I needed no repair (right now).

This time at least I was dressed and almost groomed.

I have dismissed the urge to winge about money going out for nothing (except to you.) Sometimes things are just not ready to repair. They have not reached the end of the road.

So I get my neck injected with pain killer, my knees filled, physio on my hand, work on building up my body and the back fire line for any incursions is to just stay loose.

It may be in “failing mode,” but it hasn’t failed yet. The entire issue of safety and control is a moot one. Both the dishwasher and the clothes washer will live on. And I have gotten to meet new people. Change is always happening and sometimes our appliances and our joints remind us of that truth.

Coming Back to Life

Lately, my sense of humour is back. I can only liken it to Godzilla appearing on the horizon and stopping to lift off his top hat, tap his cane and start to tap dance. Yes, it is unexpected. Yes, it is ungainly. Yes, it is larger than life.

I will be thinking things that send me into paroxysms of hysterical laughter. Yep. Outloud. When I am alone.

radiant self

It is the way I used to be in my twenties. My brother in law, who was the curator of the University’s art gallery in Bellingham would sidle up to me to get my “simultaneous” translation or color commentary for what was taking place in the room. He was fascinated by the connections that I could draw between social imprinting, delusional thinking, matrix creation and the constant effort of people to “seem” to be a certain way.

The gift of my childhood with all of its madness and chaos is that I can call the game.

After over seven years of just dropping surety in order to work on myself; after disciplining myself to learn; to meditate; to disrupt old patterns it is a rather joyful surprise to find that my minx of a spirit is coming back.


I do have a deep first compassionate response to people but at the same time, I can see the astounding absurdity of our asylum of beliefs. And it is fun to once again find the words flowing to describe what I am seeing.

Only this time, I trust myself more. Only this time, I trust the universe more.

I said to a friend I have known for 33 years last night that getting past 60 has left me with the absolute knowing that I will never, ever, in a million years fit into anything other than that cute pair of jeans with the pearls sewn on them. I told him there comes a time when you stand on the vast, uninterrupted expanse of the meadow of “fuck it.”

how I see it

So the chapter of isolation, meditation, self discipline and reconstruction is over. It will no longer be my sole focus… but will continue to be my soul focus.

Stomp, stomp, stomp… tap the cane and dance. My irreverent, creative self is back full on.

As Salvador Dali said, “I don’t do drugs. I am drugs.”

Freezing Rain and Frozen Programming

My new habit installation process is going fairly well. I am only allowing myself renovation in three “rooms” of deeply internalized sites at a time. I am on day 13 of the hypnosis programme on You Tube for removing childhood shame. I continue to work out using weights or stretching every day with the goal of recovering the facility I lost when I was sidelined with a broken wrist. And I have written some form of self expression every day.

Find a Perch

It is interesting to see what the mind does as I repeat the same You Tube self hypnosis every day. A particular expression of words will appear like a whale head out of the ocean. Was that there before? Could I have just sailed past that formation and not seen nor heard it? Absolutely. We hear what we are ready to hear and disregard the rest.

It was on day ten that I heard, “Respect the programming.” It is what Eckhart Tolle says when he encourages us not to resist or do battle with the ego. What I have laid down in my neurological patterning must be seen, respected and allowed. That is the only way to shift it. So today I heard that I was working on “bringing in a higher consciousness” and not wrestling in the mud with Gollum.

keeping the goal of strong body

I had a particularly interesting day with my coach at the Y yesterday. I could feel the under tow of self anger, the siren call of failure on the wind, the swooping down of the seagulls of despair wanting to pick out my eyes. “Holy shit,” I said to myself, “you are a wreck. You are an old ship wrecked on the shore of age.”

When she asked me to simply contract my abdominals to lift my butt, nothing happened. Then she said, “Let me help you.” She lifted me up and as soon as she let go I caved in again. She could feel that I had NO muscle in that area.

So we went back to doing the easiest possible strengthening possible. I had to push back hard mentally. I wanted to make self deprecating comments in a humourous manner. The old reliable strategy of let me stab myself before you do it to me.

But I didn’t. And I didn’t allow myself to feel lesser than. The temptation was many layered. I am lesser than I used to be. I am lesser than you expect of me. I am lesser than the others around me in the gym. I need to go home and hide my weakness.

Seeing oneself

Nope. I didn’t do that either. I just did the stretches she set up for me yesterday and today.

So the entire exercise of growing in life comes down to trusting the universe and trusting the future. If I keep my three promises to myself, I will improve.

I liken it to shooting an arrow while blindfolded into a landscape I have never seen.

Something is bound to happen.


We Can Not See

I was sitting in the bath today soaking up epsom salts. When I turned on the radio, I was told today is Blue Monday. A day has come each year which has been by some strange methodology considered the most depressing day of the entire year.

I thought about personal growth; the new year; intentions; taking baby steps. As usual, my mind went to other’s lives. It is always easier to see what others are doing that is unmindful than to clearly see my own self sabotaging behaviour. I kept thinking about the person who has a wounded, broken spirited loved one under his or her wing.

each on a branch

Some that I know have a child who is handicapped in a physical way. Some that I know have a person that they have decided to hold up and not let them go under. I did that for 18 years and eventually if the loved one is an adult, one has to let go and let them learn how to swim.

Others have husbands or wives deeply entranced by recurring stories of victim hood.  These are the teachers. These people are in our lives to take us very deeply into our own growth. Learning how to learn… is the gift and the struggle.

And my mind went back into my own inability to see that I could not rescue anyone. No matter how much I loved that person; No matter how much I leaned into his or her life: No matter how many books I left with them, videos I sent them, or questions I asked them nothing worked. We are alone in the lesson, inevitably. And for me, I learned that my co-dependent addiction was not helping either me or the poor person I was focused on at the time.

I was in the epsom salt bath clearing my own issues. What others have decided to take on is not a puzzle I can any longer put together. The most difficult thing in my life has been to learn it is about my feet on my own path. Any time I can clearly see “what he should do,” or “what she should do,” I know that I am off my own path. It is how I have gotten lost for so many decades. The muscle I need to build to be a healthy woman can only be laid down when I pick up the weights and focus on my own grounding.

All I can do with a person who I love and who is struggling is to bring myself back to the “NOW-HERE”. We sit across from one another and I think, “I love you. I love you now as you are.”

Instead of becoming entranced by what I think I know, I feel lighter, happier and more content just being a student. I wish the best for my friends, for my loved ones, for myself and know that  struggle is the motivation for learning. I can’t do their homework for them. That is cheating. I have my own big pile of work sheets to bend over and figure out.

And as I look out of the window, I see each black bird sitting on a separate branch together but separate. The beautifully silhouetted message against the sky reminds me.

The Ice Mountain Physio Challenge

After breaking my wrist, I was so carefully in submission to my body’s need for healing. I envisioned my bone mending and did all I could to support that process. Since I had never broken a major bone before (pinky toes don’t count) I knew little of the result of hibernation for six weeks.

I skipped along to the hospital to have the cast cut off and discovered the snipping of the support opened up a world of pain. Diligently, I pushed through and twisted my hand into the shapes the physio recommended.

And then the snow came. The shovel and I became a team. I cleared a “landing pad” for my car out in front of my house by digging the blade of the shovel in, doing a mindful squat, supporting the majority of the weight with my good hand and then carefully twisting my left wrist to deposit the snow. My goal in this game of reclaim was to have the ice mountain gone that had been build by the snow plow and various clearings.

blue snow

Today the sun is shining for the second day and just a mound about the size of two tires stacked together sits out in front of the house. It is like my debt… such a small percentage of the original blockage is still sitting there. The joy of going after a goal and completing it is within a 100 scoops of my shovel. Every victory is to be celebrated. And the result has been a stronger body after six days of the snow workout and a much more responsive hand.

The mountain in the way of self confidence can be removed… one habit at a time. Every victory is to be celebrated.

Sunshine and Dissolving icicles.

I am keeping my promises to myself and managing to only focus on three habit changes. Posting lessons and meditations on social media is garnering gratitude from other people who are trying out various ways to work on their relationships with themselves.

I was listening to a teacher today who suggested that you write down an intention that is in the area of your thick, crusted scar tissue. The ego by pass is to figure out what the benefits to you for stepping into that intention would be. And the next step is to see how you can spread out those benefits into the life you are already living.

So my desire for excitement could send me to Iceland, or it could lead me to having coffee in a new coffee shop that I have never experienced before. My sense of cocooning boredom can be broken open by finding new music to dance to in my upstairs apartment. Taking a mindful look at the actual rewards that I seek by going after that intention and building them into my life as it is, is brilliant.

The Cheetah Chimp ego will not become enraged from the jungle green tops and scream out at me. “Too much. Too risky. Who do you think you are?”

Nope. Who I am is changing constantly and poor frothing with energy teeth clenched Cheetah is just going to have to get over it.

In my conversation with myself I am learning to start with the “power lead.” Get right into that word flow and throw down the big glowing positives before Cheetah can show up and fling pooh at me. And it works.