Wednesday, September 30, 2009


This is the color of the flowers I saw walking along the river in Breckenridge. The flowers seem very vivid today because the sky is overcast. We have had four days of beautiful weather with clear blue sky and temperatures warm enough to hike in a tee-shirt. On Monday it was Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. I got to celebrate in my temple, which is nature. Sitting beside a clear green mountain lake with a 360 degree view of snow dusted jagged mountain peaks Gary and I asked for forgiveness. When we finished a large group of sparkling diamonds of light began to move across the water in front of us. It moved from the far end of the lake to the shore closest to us. It seemed as if the universe was smiling and saying yes. I am grateful to have found my sanctuary within myself and from the mountains and to be able to share that sanctuary with Gary.
I went to a yoga class in town this morning at 8. I am really glad I went because when I got there I discovered that this was the last day yoga was being offered in the space. I had planned to take a class each day for the rest of my time here. It was a lovely class and I did sun salutes for the first time since I hurt my wrist. Doing yoga can be such a joyous experience. I am grateful that I listened to the voice that woke me up this morning and urged me to do what I needed to do to get to the class. I think a year ago I would have let the studio closing be a big disappointment. It was a small disappointment. It let me know I have made progress in letting go of attachment. Yoga is a form of worship for me. I will now continue to worship in the comfort of our condo. It is good to appreciate what I have and to let go of the form it appears in. Would you be willing to do an exercise today to let go of the form of what shows up for you and to take it in and be present with it? Also notice any disappointment and see if you can show up for yourself being disappointed.

Monday, September 21, 2009


I am excited to write tonight. I have just emerged from two weeks of feeling like my heart has been in a vise grip. When my heart is shut down I use my entire life to prove there is something wrong with me. When I am in the midst of this abject self hate the voice of my ego-mind seems to be the total truth. It all started two weeks ago on Friday when Gary and I went to the worst theapy session of my life. Both of us were doing the autopilot dance of our egoes while the therapist mostly sat passively observing on the sidelines listening and reflecting back to us. After the session I felt disappointed, frustrated and hopeless. For two weeks I have been angry, filled with blame and wanting to bolt. I called and communicated my feelings to the therapist and we won't be going back. It made it harder that no matter how much Gary apologized I couldn't forgive him. I felt betrayed by him, myself , the therapist and the theraputic process I hold so dear. I decided that Gary did not want to work on himself and since that is my most important value, I couldn't continue to be with him. I plotted exit strategies in my mind. Things were complicated by our upcoming week's vacation which I was dreading. Last night I had a dream that when I woke up helped me to see my part in what had happened and to view the whole experience with more clarity. I am so grateful for this dream and inspired to do more dreamwork. This morning we talked and talked and finally cleared things. I realized I was blaming Gary and shutting him out of my heart. I spoke my truth from my heart and finally felt heard enough to let go of the past and come back to the present. When Gary isn't being defensive he is a really good listener and is very committed to growing. We both took responsibility for our parts and held each other with respect. My love for him came pouring back in the magic of both of us being present in our hearts at the same time. When we first met we made a vow to support each other's growth. Sometimes it feels so difficult as a loving flawed human being to be in a relationship with another loving flawed human being. Sometimes it is the best life has to offer. I read an article on forgiveness today in which the author said that forgiveness can be the freedom that allows the forgiver to let go of the past and move on. I have the experience that Gary is on my side again. I am relieved to be back in the relationship with both feet. I am so much happier. I led Laughter Yoga today and Gary came with me. Because my heart was open it was so joyful to lead Laughter Yoga. For the first time I didn't feel self-conscious that Gary was there, I enjoyed having him there. When my ego popped up and let me know that noone was enjoying themselves and that the laughter exercises I had spontaneously created were lame, I recognized that voice as my ego, soothed myself and moved on. I felt inspired by chosing to be present anyway in the midst of my inner critic and the session flowed with love.
Do you know what your negative core belief is? What is the belief about yourself that you hold against yourself and sometimes use your life to prove it is true? How could you interrupt that habitual dance? What positive belief is as true or truer than the negative one? For me my negative belief is that there is something wrong with me and that something is that I am incapable of loving. The belief that is as true or truer is that I am filled with great love and that it is safe to share that love with myself and others, including my partner. If you are moved give this some thought. What would your life be like if you believed the new belief that
affirms your magnificense? What would be the first step in acting as if it were true?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Nature as teacher

I am not a scientist. The right side of my brain seems stronger to me than the left. Logic and intuition sometimes coexist peaceably within me, sometimes not. I read an article in the Sun magazine yesterday about science that really excited me. It is unusual for me to even read an article about science and I was drawn to it because although I love reading the Sun's insightful poems stories and interviews. It was an interview with Janine Benyus, a biologist and science writer who wrote a book about what she calls biomimicry. Biomimicry is the concept of teaching humans how to learn from nature. Biomimicry means to imitate life. The first step she advises in solving a problem is to look at the solutions that can be found in nature. She consults with private businesses and founded the non-profit Biomimicry Institute to promote the biomimicry concept to the larger culture. The institute runs the website, a public domain resource for anyone looking for nature's answer to a design problem. What excited me about this article was Janine's passion for sustainable conservation and industrial ecology. I don't think I really understood either of those terms except vaguely before reading this article. Janine talks in a way that translates scientific jargon into laypersons terms. She made what she does juicy for me. Before reading this article I would never have attempted to pass anything remotely scientific on to you. She is a bridge person, connecting engineers and architects to mother nature and her ways of wisdom. She helps people to see that in the development of new projects and products nature can be seen as a teacher rather than something to be conquered. For instance, she helped the company Seventh Generation improve their environmentally friendly cleansers by helping them look at the natural world. "The natural world doesn't use soap to remove dirt. But if leaves get dust on them they are not going to be able to photosynthesize. So how do they stay clean? A lotus leaf has little "nanobumps" to which dirt particles adhere very loosely. When rainwater comes, the dirt balls up on these bumps and rolls away, picking up remaining dirt particles as it goes. The plant uses the kinetic energy in rainwater to clean itself for free. It's called the "lotus effect". Janine says that now companies have designed all kinds of self-cleaning products-exterior house paint, roofing tiles, fabrics, cement, glass-with this nonobump structure. She also is working with green architects to create structures whose abilities to perform mimic nature. For instance some cacti are pleated, and the pleats actually shade the parts of other plants. In Phoenix, Arizona where there is less shade and moisture than is needed she consulted with building firms to construct buildings with pleats to shade other buildings. Nature takes into consideration the interdependance of all beings. For example, the body of the bumblebee and the body of the flowers that they depend on have evolved to fit better together. Geese fly in formation and feed on the energy created by the goose in front of them. Nature is interdependance. That is nature's dance. I am inspired by this article to hang out in nature. Janine lives in Montana in a beautiful natural place and works hard to balance her busy work schedule and commitment to helping the planet with lots of time at home alone and with her partner in the woods. You could call that honoring the natural balance.
So, I am looking at what nature has to teach me. When I recognize a teacher I like to study with that teacher. I am looking to find a time to be in nature and be still- to open my heart and ask my questions and absorb my answers. How about you? What questions do you have or problems you want to solve that nature might help you with? I am grateful to Janine Benyus for her vision and her capacity to widen mine. I am grateful to the Sun magazine for continuously giving me opportunities to grow and learn and doing it with no advertising. Check it out if the spirit moves you.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Wow! I forgot about writing my blog until today. It has been a very power packed week. In my adult life I have given the least amount of sustained attention to socializing and community. Socializing didn't come easily. When I first started going to parties I would concentrate on the food and stuff myself to allay my anxiety. When I was in my twenties and thirties I created an alter ego who I would send to parties. I called her Suzy Creamcheese. I would set aside my fears and present the persona of Suzy, the outgoing animated person I thought I should be. The problem was in pretending to be Suzy, I left myself and often felt very drained. As I've grown more comfortable with myself , I have grown more comfortable with socializing. Small talk is very challenging and I'm not naturally good at it. It's hard for me to think of what to say to a person that's deliberately superficial. I have recognized over the years that it's rarely appropriate to start discussing spiritual philosophy with a stranger and have learned the value of starting a conversation with a warm up. After I let go of Suzy, I rarely went to parties for many years. I mostly stopped getting invited. In the last few years I have been getting interested in being more social. I at least wanted to be comfortable enough at a party to have a choice whether to attend or not. So, I created my perfect party rule.
I would go to a party and have a meaningful one to one conversation with one person.( One to one is always easier for me because I am an introvert.)I would do this by asking questions I cared about the answers to, listening attentively and then being as authentic as I felt safe to be with what I shared. Than I was free to go. Several times I went and fulfilled my intention and left. Several times I fulfilled my intention and decided I was comfortable enough to stay longer.
So this is why I forgot to write my blog. My dear friend Lynne was in town from Austin with her new fiance Patrick. Gary and I and the two of them went up to our friends Linza and Eric's house in the mountains for the weekend. It was a big deal for both Gary and I to do this because neither one of us is very comfortable in groups. This group seemed more like a community because I felt more comfortable being myself. It was fun to cook meals together and go hiking. I have rarely experienced being at ease with five other people all of whom I enjoyed spending time with. Then Lynne and Patrick came down to my house and stayed until this afternoon. It was challenging because I was working in the midst of it all. It was also satisfying to practice taking care of myself and noticing when I didn't. One day I was having a conversation with them and didn't give myself time to eat breakfast. I got to see once again how irritable I am when my blood sugar gets low. It definitely isn't pretty. I learned a lot about my difficulty in asking for what I want and need especially when I have people staying in my house. By the time they left I was better at being centered and being close to them at the same time. I carved out some time alone and that helped too. I am glad they were here and glad they are gone. I am learning the importance of healthy boundaries. The alternative is to lose myself and then feel resentful-not a very attractive alternative. I am grateful to have friends I love with whom I can be real and grow. Where are you with socializing? How could you make it easier for yourself if you are drawn to do it and it is challenging?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Heeding the call

I am home from my silent women's meditation retreat. I loved being in silence. It takes so much of the pressure of trying to hear away.This was my first all women's retreat. I enjoyed being in the company of 25 fellow female seekers. Terry, the teacher has white hair down to her waist and is a role model for aging with grace. The theme of the weekend was opening to what is with mindfulness in the body. Terry gave an inspiring talk about being with the sensation in your body of whatever is arising- not for the purpose of getting it to go away but rather to explore and embrace the present moment.
Today the peace quote I received was a sign from a casino which read, "You have to be present to win." I loved that. The idea of being present is even making its way to casinos.
Whatever it is we are thinking or feeling can be followed down into the body to a sensation and examined with presence. I got to experience the tightness around my chest that happens when I am worrying about what others think of me. As a sensation it was the experience of constriction and difficulty breathing fully as if my breath was catching itself on a nail along the way. When I noticed a story I was making up about what someone else thought of me or would or might think of me I let go of the story, sooner or later, and moved down into my body. Bringing mindful presence, or witnessing without judging, to what was happening in my body either allowed it to release or opened to the next layer beneath it. I felt how afraid and tense I was being around other people so much. It is challenging for me to relax around other people. This time I didn't try to get myself to relax. I went down into my anxiety and felt the tension in my body. I could feel the lifelong tight muscles in my neck and jaw. I could feel the scared little girl inside of me protecting herself from being hit with the vigilance of holding her body tight. I soothed her with my presence and asked her to stay with the feeling. It was so healing to let go of trying to get myself to have a different experience than I was having and to dive in to my experience in my body in that moment. I could feel the protective layers of armoring around my heart with which I keep myself from being known. I became more deeply aware that what I was thinking that someone else was thinking about me was really what I thought of myself. So I would notice myself thinking that someone else was judging me for how fast I was moving around. I would see that thought as a projection of my own judgement and take it back and own it. Terry suggested that rather than explore why we were feeling something to look at where we were feeling it in our bodies. My judgement of my pace was tightness around my heart. I could feel my heart closing to myself and that was sad. It also was what was happening in that moment. When I couldn't sleep at night I hung out with how tight and constricted my stomach felt. I placed my hands on my stomach, which is very soothing to the nervous system and let myself feel my fear and anger about not being able to sleep. Eventually I slept. I also felt moments of my heart expanding with pure joy. I loved taking in all of the beauty of the gorgeous mountain setting. There were several booming thunderstorms with heavy rain. It felt as if the thunder was punctuating our process with an exclaimation point.
The other thing I got from the retreat was a deeper understanding of the connection between righteousness and lack of self-worth. Attachment to being right and trying to be in control are two ways to protect myself from my fear that there is something wrong with me. Exploring that fear of my fatal flaw was also part of the tension around my heart. Being with it allowed me to explore the depth of it without getting lost in the story that there must be something wrong with me for thinking there is something wrong with me.
What would it be useful for you to be mindful of in your body? What sensation in your body is calling for your attention? Would you be willing to heed its call?