Sunday, November 19, 2017

Why doesn't Sisyphus just walk away?

In the Greek myth, Sisyphus is condemned for his sins to carry an enormous boulder up a hill, watch it roll back down, and then do it over again for all eternity. Futility of effort is a terrible punishment, and I've been wondering, as minds tend to do, why Sisyphus doesn't just walk away. He isn't imprisoned, he isn't chained. Instead, he accepts his fate.

This isn't so different from many of us. We bang our heads against the same wall over and over, knowing nothing changes that way, and accept both our fate and our impotence. The wall can be a job that isn't working, a relationship that isn't working, our addiction to a substance or an activity, or in the larger context, the circumstances and conditions of our lives and those around us all the way to the political and social scene.

There is, I believe, a great wave of impotence and Sisyphean futility engulfing us in these days of huge shift. The old order is clinging to the reins and it's cruel and violent. The new order has yet to show itself, and we all feel stuck, rolling the same old boulders up the hill only to watch them roll down again.

Maybe it's time to stop and walk in a new direction--perhaps around the hill or down the other side.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

From the amazing John O'Donohue


Give yourself time to make a prayer that will become the prayer of your soul. Listen to the voices of longing in your soul. Listen to your hungers. Give attention to the unexpected that lives around the rim of your life. Listen to your memory and to the inrush of your future, to the voices of those near you and those you have lost. Out of all of that attention to your soul, make a prayer that is big enough for your wild soul, yet tender enough for your shy and awkward vulnerability; that has enough healing to gain the ointment of divine forgiveness for your wounds; enough truth and vigour to challenge your blindness and complacency; enough graciousness and vision to mirror your immortal beauty. Write a prayer that is worthy of the destiny to which you have been called. 

John O'Donohue 
 Excerpt from ETERNAL ECHOES

Friday, November 10, 2017

Renegotiating our commitments

It's important to me to be a person of my word. I want others to be able to count on me, and it's even more important to me to be able to count on myself because as an addict, it's been my pattern to break my word with myself a lot. At the same time, I want to and need to be able to change my mind.

I recently felt stuck in two obligations I'd committed to. I'd agreed to X and Y without really thinking through all the implications. With X, I didn't realize the problems until I arrived and things became difficult. I had no way to predict that but I know enough to always have a Plan B and that time I didn't. With Y, I had advanced warning that things weren't going to work out well, but I felt just as stuck until my life coach reminded that I can always negotiate a commitment. I may disappoint someone or have to pay a penalty but I don't have to be stuck. I just have to figure out what I really want and ask for it. So I figured out, asked for what I needed, and was able to negotiate to get it.

I'm learning more and more that I shouldn't say yes to something until I've figured out what I really want. And then if things change, I don't need to stay stuck.

How do you choose your commitments?

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Love on a train

Madonna and child
sitting across from us
Swaddled against her chest
the boy child gazes at us
with ocean-blue eyes
full of clarity in his safety
He has her cupid's bow mouth
and receding chin
He has her love
as she rubs his back
The train moves us
to the airport
and he sleeps,
his cheek against
the freckled skin
of her chest
I assume
to her steady heart
I envy him
that peace
that safety
that mother love

Monday, October 30, 2017

Lightening up for Fall

It's nesting season again. October rolls around and after the Indian summer days have come and gone  and we go through the rather meaningless ritual of returning to Standard Time, I get an urge to tidy and sort and clean things out so that my winter habitat is peaceful and supportive. It's also a good time to lighten my load.

I recently went through my closet and filled some donation bags for the thrift store, cleaned out my basement storage unit, setting aside old tax returns and papers for shredding and reconsidering getting rid of all that stuff I keep hanging on to. Will I ever need that air filter set up that I bought a decade ago? Do I really need three suitcases? Is it time to jettison those boxes of old journals?

I like sorting and tidying my stuff. It's a practice I learned from my mother, who parted with things easily, and who also taught me how helpful it is to know what we have--and where it is--in case we do need it.

What rituals signal Fall for you?

Wednesday, October 25, 2017


Took a walk
on Marmot Rd
on Mt Hood
Not a house in sight
only one set of mailboxes
and three gravel drives
into the thick, wild woods
of moss and ferns
pine and fir
yet signs of us were everywhere
A McDonald's cup and french fry sleeve
3 water bottles
2 beer cans
assorted plastic bags
the rings from a six pack
We watch as children
We learn what's okay
I learned not to do that
I know others didn't
but their indifference to beauty,
to the natural world
grieves me
And this is but a tiny consequence
of that indifference

Friday, October 20, 2017

Three things that make living spaciously easier for me

This year, my major intention has been to live my life more spaciously and use peace of mind as a filter for my decisions. When I do this, my life is so much better and when I don't, it isn't so great so I know that I'm on to something Here are three things that help me do that.

Do one thing at a time. When I write blog posts, that's what I do. When I do paid work, I do paid work. When I read for fun, I just read. No email, no Facebook. I might get up to stretch and get some water, but I take an intentional break and say no to the interruption of distractions and the myth of multi-tasking. 

Don't do any one thing for too long a time.  While it's great when I get absorbed in my work, it's not so great when I finally get up from the desk. So I set my phone alarm for 20 minutes whatever activity I'm involved in and do something quite different. In fact, I keep a list of computer-related tasks and a list of more physical activities so that I can balance screen time with doing the dishes or unclogging the bathroom sink.

Don't substitute just anything when what we want is something specific. I've put myself in some stressful situations lately because I've accepted invitations that I felt lukewarm about. I knew what I wanted--some time with a couple of close friends--but they weren't available and so I said yes to some other possibilities. However, they weren't what I wanted and while, like most of us, I know how to make the best of a situation, I don't want to do that if I can avoid it. It reminds me a lot of my active food addition days when I'd eat something sweet I didn't like (dark chocolate or raisins, for example) when what I really wanted was caramels or ice cream. Life's too short to settle.

When I practice these ideas, my life is more spacious. What makes your life more spacious?