The Long View

A few weeks ago I spoke with a young man of 25 who (I think) was trying to impress me with his plans. He said he had just landed a job with a well-known company in the tech field, He was being paid to be trained and he claimed to be willing to work for that company for 35 years, he had the list of his steps up the ladder: one year entry level, three years field work, and ending somehow in management after 35 years.

I have to admit my head swam and I might not have gotten all his details correctly. Why would anyone put themselves on such a journey. I didn’t hear about discovery, I didn’t hear about enjoyment. I heard entrainment, a version of responsibility. I was at a loss – for words, among other things.

After spending much of the summer researching trauma and loss, fear, recovery and memory – and why would anyone study that unless they felt they would grow in the understanding of those close around them (that would be me!) – I did recognize that I was listening to fear. I was hearing about unacknowledged choices, unrecognized chances and a life lived within the barest of minimum tracks.

Of course I see myself in him. The fear of failure, the holding tight to what is known. We can all relate to some degree to the young who are starting out with what we call “chances of a lifetime,” while we know something about lifetimes and the longevity of denial. Denial had its own life. It can go on and on. It can hide in the smallest cracks, the most reasonable choices, the most sensible moments.

Who among us does not have a story about a dream unfilled, a lover denied. Not all of mine were chances lost, most were gains – but what about the mini-moments of denial, the tiny efforts let go, the chances I thought I couldn’t handle because I wasn’t good enough or didn’t deserve. There are those moments that come to each of us every day. How do we meet and greet them. What plans do we make to avoid them, what skills do we fall back on to justify choices? How do we treat our moment of green thrust? Do we make room?IMG_7843



Better and Better

In the 1800’s a physician named Emile Coue – my type doesn’t allow me to put the accent on the e – helped thousands of people in the town (city?) of Nancy, France. It was the era when those who were healers would hold group healings and/or see people one by one. Another worth looking at is Florence Scoville Shinn – same-ish era and modus operandi – writing and talking about auto-suggestion.

I have been delving into their work for some years now and marveling how far we have come from helping ourselves when we go to seek help from someone else. I remember once I asked my (very) country vet – no one here – about flea powder for my cats. He looked at me – I’m sure I was trying not to put it on my cats – “you might as well put it on your shoe and expect the fleas to go away.”

Reading Florence and Emile I notice how much they teach about how to apply the wisdom they espouse. No pills, no treatments other than developing the mind/body to align with the sought after result.

I believe that is my job too. For myself, yes, but also for those who come to me for guidance. And I know it best because, having done it, I see the result. Nothing is a straight shot, my misses are as fruitful as my hits.
I found this poem in my head while I was pondering these wonderful mentors, Florence and Emile, who I thank so much.

I am getting better and better every day.
Better at what? You might ask
Or, you might not. I’m getting better and better
No matter what I say. Or you say. That’s
The height of better.

I have ideas about myself that I no longer
Parade in front of me, take on for my
Impression of you. Or your impression of me.
Whichever comes first and stays longest.
I’m cozy on my own.

It’s not that resentments and dramatic fantasies
Of someone who was nasty to me don’t enter.
Perhaps I can roll around
Having a bit of a hard time. I might even participate
In that hard time but it’s brief.

And mental. That’s’ why I’m not so mental anymore.
Yes, I’m getting better and better every day. Did I
Neglect to say, “every way?” I did, didn’t I?
Well I have nothing to make up for because
I didn’t really do anything wrong, did I?

More heights, with sunny and light breezes.
There were some other things I wanted to say.
But I forgot or they slipped away. I
Don’t know which. Does it matter?
What matters is that the air is nice and
Spring is finally here.


The Language of Doubt



This morning as the cats and dogs aligned themselves with my body in a way designed to prompt wakefulness, I was reminded that the only difference between aggravation and enjoyment is how I see it.
“It” can be anything. Does the above photo look ominous? Playful? Beautiful? If I remember correctly, (or if I don’t) it was windy in a playful way and I was stirred to participate with the earth and the wind, the clouds were my playmates and my feet were happy to be on the ground.
I have to say that I prefer those unchallenging times – but, it’s all in the way I see it, isn’t it?


Here There and Everywhere

The heart can be a lonely hunter. But we are never truly alone, not really, our hearts are known by many, here and not here.
Life’s lessons are learned one by one though at time they come in platoons, groups on the prowl, hunting for us.
Where there is life, there is strength.

Strength of heart cannot be forgotten or overpowered. This is true for us all.


Frogs In A Well

Purdah. Rich muslim women behind screens looking out. They are cared for. They wear rich clothes. They are fed. They bathe. They smell good. Jewelry everywhere. Make-up, hair. And this is what they call themselves: frogs in a well. For they cannot be in the world.
How much can be seen? Not much.
But imagination can run. Hope cannot.
Fantasy is fed. Willingness is not.
It is an old story. Women behind screens on a high balcony. Women with bound feet.
In my own life my mother said. “the more respectable you are the less you do.” She was horrified that I would want to change the oil in my car, shop for myself, wash my own hair.
The flip side is not opposite.
I spent some time listening to women say they were nobody without taking care of someone else. They were free to move. Free to drive and shop, read books and write. But they identified themselves by who they take care of, whose wife, whose mother, whose friend.
And still others who seem to only care for themselves. My mother looked like that sometimes. She preened and had “admirers” who sent flowers, she seemed to think only of herself. Once while visiting me we separated in Cambridge, MA. She got lost while I did an errand – too plain for her. When I couldn’t find her I went to the chi chi- est shop and there she was. Salespeople all around, sitting having a cup of tea. She looked at me, said, “What would I do if something had happened to you? How would I get home?”
Indeed, I worried about that too.
My point here is not to expose my mother’s peccadillos but to the larger issue of how we are who we are and how we treat ourselves.
Not knowing how to get home is not a good idea. Not knowing how to be without a project also not life-provoking. And that crosses genders.
How fully we each reach out to ourselves and what we say is crucial. The body is eavesdropping on the mind constantly – not just checking in from time to time. What you say about yourself to yourself is duly noted each time, no exceptions.
My lovely wife danced a dance many many years ago with the title “Frogs in a Well,” I don’t have a clip of that but her newest solo, “Speak,” is handy to me. In it she explores the consequences of autism – of our godson trapped in a speechless form for now – I can say freed to a speechless form for now as well. I believe they are equal. There is nothing that is good or bad but thinking makes it so. My good friend Marcus Aurelius said that a long time ago.
Speak – performed at Lincoln Center.

What If Karma Is Your Friend?

What If

What if every Thing you are given in your life, good and bad – good and bad according to you since there really is no such thing – were to open your heart and then open you up some more?

What if every time you put blame on something or someone you took away your chance to open further?

And every time you held onto the blaming of someone or some thing and made it a story, perhaps even your story, you kept yourself away from the reality of You.

What about that?


How Can You Hear My Song

How can you hear my song
If I don’t sing?
How can I tell you  my love if I don’t speak?
What is in my heart
Can be shown, tasted, heard, felt and sensed
in a thousand ways
A thousand voices are mine
A million miles of connection
Are mine to show and yours to receive

But I have to show up
And you do too.

Brene Brown On Oprah

Brene Brown with Oprah. Super Soul Sunday

Daring Greatly

What can I say? This woman has opened the trap door to the ogres of the world and freed us – mind you we each have to take our own step – to be who we will be.
To get the full benefit is to suspend all judgement.
To get the full benefit is to look in the mirror with love and respect.

Join me in adding to the voices of authenticity, of caring for the hearts and minds of us all.

I Am Enough

I wrote these words today looking for a simple meditation on spiritual life. Looking for simple, relational, believable.
I wanted to write it on something and, being in my studio where there are no straightforward pens, pencils or paper for making notes, everything is art related, I saw a notebook I take with me on retreats. Flipping through the pages I realized what I had just written was perfectly illustrated for me by me some years ago.
I’ve heard consistency is the hobgoblin of the little mind and mostly I subscribe to that but today I was thankful to find I had already illustrated something I had just written.


As I open to the world
I see I belong
I cease the fight to belong
As I discover how deeply I am
As I trust I am seen
I no longer feel the need for any
effort to be noticed by the world

I am enough

I am one with the world
The world is one with me

The Only Eavesdropper You Need To Worry About

And it’s not Eli! I just put his lovely face up because when we see, even for a moment, something we like in a category we love, our cells relax, take in more oxygen, and have a chance at some rest and recuperation they’ve been trying to get.
Since the slightest change of mood is picked up by every cell we should really feel paranoid about what’s in our minds. If we could flip the scary stories we tell ourselves; all the denial, envy and pain to seasides and mountains, contentment and frolic, we could save ourselves so much aggravation.
Let’s say we know that our 50 trillion cells (by last count) pick up our slightest change of mood and share actively in our thoughts. We know that what we think catalyzes change in our bodies and over time our mirrors talk. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to pay some attention? Meditation vs. face cream or lipo. Smiles vs. iffy digestion or gimpy backs.
What would you give for some peace of mind? How would it be to see a solution to every problem? To know when you need help, shouldn’t go that route, or can do it yourself? Most of us can access our wisdom, our strength is right here, now, ready. It’s simple, not necessarily easy.
The strategy for this is to notice what is right about us, our life, our health, our spirit. Treat yourself as if you were a beloved and very interesting child/person/animal. Listen with love and curiosity, let patience be your guide. Let this moment, this one here now, be your guide. Then take the next step and the next. It’s not about wallowing in the moment, but letting the moment take you, inform you, love you, forgive you.