Thursday, July 2, 2015

More on less

Give up the world; give up self; finally, give up God.
Find god in rhododendrons and rocks,
passers-by, your cat.
Pare your beliefs, your absolutes.
Make it simple; make it clean.
No carry-on luggage allowed.
Examine all you have
with a loving and critical eye, then
throw away some more.
Repeat. Repeat.
Keep this and only this:
   what your heart beats loudly for
   what feels heavy and full in your gut.
There will only be one or two
things you will keep,
and they will fit lightly
in your pocket.
~ Sheri Hostetler ~
(A Cappella: Mennonite Voices in Poetry)
Thanks to my good friend Maryann Phillips for sending this to me. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Mindfulness and the heat

At the beginning of our current seemingly endless heat wave, I was in much cooler San Jose at a workshop. I was distressed to see on the weather app on my phone that brutal heat was coming our way. Like most Portlanders, I don't have air conditioning. Typically we get a heat wave about every six or seven years and it lasts 3 or 4 days. That's about the same frequency as we get a lasting snow storm.

But this was looking serious: 90s as far as they could predict, or worse. I mentioned this to my friend Margaret, also from Portland, who was at breakfast with me. She listened to me and then said, "But you're here now and it's quite cool and comfortable. You're okay in this moment."

I love how she reeled me in from future projection back into my present moment.

I did come home to heat. This is day 8 of it with 7 more forecast but I'm holding to Margaret's advice. At this moment, in my home, it's about 80. I have a fan blowing on me and I'm quite comfortable. I'm okay in this moment. And that's the only moment there is.   

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Another impact of tidying up

A number of years ago, I learned the term drainers from author Cheryl Richardson for those projects we never get around to. The name comes from the feeling we get when we see those projects. "Ah, yes," we say, "I should do that one of these days" and the energy to do so just drains right out of us.

One of the side effects of the Marie Kondo tidying up process has been having the drainers I still have become more obvious. When you have a lot of clutter in your visual field, it's easy to pass right over the things that need repair or attention. But when that clutter has all been discarded or put away, those drainers are much more evident.

For me, this is a good thing. I want to free up the energy that's stuck in those messy computer cords, the bags of stuff to go in the car to Goodwill, that  purse that needs repairing. I'd like to be drainer-free one of these days soon. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

This explains a lot-- Part II

Zeldin's comment, which I posted a few days back, has really stuck with me. Freedom is tiring and trying and most people can't sustain it. They fall back into some form of slavery because it is safer and easier. While this may sound counter-intuitive, it makes a lot of sense to me. There are many forms of slavery and in our culture, many of them show up as addiction.

We are enslaved to shopping, to TV, to eating, to drink or drugs--all to avoid the difficulties of being free. We are enslaved to debt, to safe, low-paying jobs, to abusive partners. I find myself struggling with the idea of having no big problem. I've had some of form of active addiction for so long that to imagine life free of that is very, very difficult. I know the answer lies in embracing the challenges of freedom. Something to think about.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

If you've read my latest novel...

When Your Mother Doesn't, I'd very much appreciate a review on amazon. While amazon is controversial for some of us, having a lot of strong reviews is really helpful not only for sales but for my editor to convince her boss to buy more of my writing.

Here's the amazon link: 

And if you haven't read When Your Mother Doesn't, here's a link to the first chapter:

Let me know what you think.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Taking August off and practicing now

After some conversations with my more regular clients, I've decided to take August off from paid work. This is a very radical step for me, as I am a workaholic and not in a fun way. Work and productivity have been central to my identity as long as I can remember.

My mother taught us a Puritan work ethic: work was noble and valuable, as was being financially independent. Idleness was suspect. Life was happier if you kept really busy. As a child, you don't realize your parents have their own demons to avoid in the best way they can and that they pass on those forms of avoidance.Boredom and anxiety are two of my demons, and work and more work have been successful ways to keep them at bay.

On the advice of a couple of my friends, I have begun practicing for August. A leisurely Sunday afternoon spent on my porch swing with a good book and petting Mr. Sam. Stopping work at 5 pm on a weekday. Not getting on email first thing in the morning. Showing up for work projects at 10 instead of 8 in the morning. I think I'm beginning to get the hang of it.

Friday, June 19, 2015

An Intimate History of Humanity

I'm in the middle of reading Theodore Zeldin's An Intimate History of Humanity, a fascinating book published in 1994. This book had been on my shelf so long I have no memory of how I got it: a purchase, a loan, a recommendation? But when I purged all my books a couple of months ago, I hung on to this one and it came up in my to-read stack last week so I plunged in.

Zeldin is a kind of historical sociologist. He's interested in how we relate to each other and how that contemporary relating is influenced by the past. How conversation came into being, how sex and cooking are related, how love is an unfinished revolution, for example. He interweaves historical discussion with the lives of contemporary women who live in France (not all are French).

Many of the ideas are very thought-provoking: homosexuality has not always been taboo, why friendships between men and women are problematic because of the kind of conversations we want, how a military and then economic basis for society impacts sex and marriage.

I'd love to talk about this book with someone.