Thursday, July 29, 2010

doing nothing

How many times will it take for me to get that when nothing feels right I need to do nothing? It is very hard for me to do nothing. I am afraid the activity police are going to roar up on giant black motorcycles and shake their fists at me. They will tell me I am lazy and unproductive and not a worthwhile member of society. When nothing feels right I can tell because I am grumpy and irritable. All of the things that normally give me pleasure feel tedious and difficult. Everything pisses me off. I am overwhelmed by all of the suffering in the world and I want to turn on my heels and run away, move to a strange town where noone knows me, change my name and get a job arranging flowers. When nothing feels right I try to distract myself with eating food I'm not hungry for or shopping in thrift stores. Today as I was looking at another person's used shoes which were scruffy and had worn down heels, I asked myself,"Is this what I am doing with my one precious life?" Then I came home and overate. Although the food was tasty and just what I wanted to eat, it provided only momentary pleasure before I felt annoyed with myself for overeating which further contributed to my irritation. It is a sad state of affairs when everything I can think of to do to distract myself from doing nothing feels like dunking myself in lukewarm apple juice on a hot day. Maybe it is a glad state of affairs because I finally listened and laid down on my living room floor on my back and did nothing. After fifteen short minutes I felt more comfortable in my skin instead of wanting to jump out of my skin. I know whatever is calling to me needs more attention. I want to keep listening. Doing nothing has no purpose in the world of doing. In the world of being it is the elixir of the gods. Doing nothing is a call from my inner presence to slow down and tune in. How creative does my inner presence have to be before I will listen? Does it have to hire a marching band with tubas to parade through my living room and play a resting song? " All you need is rest dododododo. All you need is rest, rest. Rest is all you need." I am glad I listened. Doing nothing is a call from my inner child to pay attention to her- to stop my frantic doing and actually give her my undivided attention. She is not a big fan of my multitasking. I made a commitment in my last therapy session to spend thirty minutes a day actively being with her, doing what she wanted to do. I have done a medium job. I realize I need to stop and be quiet and actually talk to her and see what it is she wants to do. That is different than thinking up some activity that I think she would like and then doing it. I need to stop and be quiet if even for a moment and tune into her and ask. When I just stopped typing and tuned into her she said she wanted to do an art project tonight. How would I even know that if I hadn't stopped typing long enough to hear her? I want her to know I am there for her and that she matters to me enough to stop moving and listen consistently. How about your inner child? Could she or he benefit from a little undivided attention from you? I highly recommend doing nothing. Is it easy or hard for you?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Challenge yourself with love

Yesterday was my daughter Monnya's 25 birthday. I remember being pregnant in July. I felt like a pizza oven. It's so hard for me to imagine Monnya has been alive for 25 years. Yet here she is- a beautiful woman inside and out who I am inspired by. Last Friday I went to the performance at the end of her week long aerial dance camp for girls. I have gone every year since she started offering the camp three years ago. I love to see her in her glory being the cheerleader and guide for girls from 5-13. They come out of the camp confident and empowered, dancing and flying through the air. Monnya is a talented teacher. She has the ability to break the complicated aerial dance moves into small clear steps and praise the kids every step of the way. She is passionate about aerial dance and that passion is contageous. She makes the process very non-competitve between the girls yet gently pushes each one to go to her edge. Monnya is gifted with the ability to support others in challenging themselves with love. She has always done so with herself- sometimes to the point where I am shaking with fear. To her, life is a daring adventure.
Today she came to my house to pick up her car because we left it there to go to the surprise party that Isaac her husband had planned for her. It has been such a treat to see her so much in the past few days. Today she showed me her hand decorated goal book in which on her birthday she had written her goals for this year. She has an extensive process of goal setting and monitoring her goals. Her goals are about all aspects of her life. She has made daily entries in her book for nine months. I am really proud of her perserverance and persistence. Monnya is a perfromance artist. Many of her goals are related to training to develop her artform as an aerial dancer. She stressed that the success of her goals isn't determined by the outcome. Success is determined by her keeping her agreements with herself and then acknowledging herself for doing that. Success is also cutting herself some slack and having compassion for wanting to rest.
Goalsetting has never been my forte. It is easier for me to ignore my accomplishments and focus on what I haven't done. Monnya encouraged me to push myself and create my own book. I have been feeling stuck and anxious and her enthusiasm fueled me into movement. I got to experience my daughter's skill at challenging with love.
I found a beautiful book that Monnya's step-mother had given me for my fiftieth birthday. I had been saving it for something and it was perfect. Sometimes I save things obsessively, not allowing myself to use them.I'm glad I saved that book and I want to give myself permission to use or wear beautiful things instead of saving them. I decorated the inside because the outside was already decorated. That fulfilled my goal of artistic expression for today. My goals are physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual. There are doing goals and being goals. It is my intention to do clear goalsetting and to monitor my goals with compassion. I want to see what I plan to accomplish and acknowledge myself for the energy I put in regardless of the outcome. I think in my mind the difference between goals and intentions was that intentions included letting go of the outcome. I see that I can create goals and also be gentle with myself about what happens. I think I have been aversive about goalsetting in the past because I associated goalsetting with being hard on myself. I see now that it doesn't have to be that way. In fact setting goals can be a way to honor my own effort and energy. I am excited about my book and about having a record of my progress. Today I accomplished all of my goals. I spent the evening with myself and thoroughly enjoyed my time. I feel renewed energy, as if my life force has been amped. I am grateful for my daughter and the power of her life-force. I am grateful to myself for recognizing that she is my teacher and receiving the gifts she has to offer. Thanks for listening to my kvelling. Kvelling is a yiddish word that my mother taught me for the wonderful feeling of expansiveness in the heart that happens when you share about the accomplishments of someone you love.
Consider creating a record of your goals and a system for monitoring them. It is a good feeling to be accountable to myself. See if it might be useful for you to create a system to know what you want and watch yourself move steadily in that direction. Notice it is possible to be kind to yourself in the process. See if it might be satisfying to challenge yourself with love.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

envy again

I thought green would be appropriate because I am feeling envious. The last time I wrote about envy was after I watched a DVD of Angela Farmer, the yoga teacher. I wanted her life, her relationship and her lithe flexible body.
My friend Amanda's booksigning is at Tattered Cover LoDo tonight at 7:30. She has written a successful book on Appreciative Inquiry. It is a process to help people, especially in workplaces, focus on what they appreciate rather than what is wrong. It can dramatically change the climate of a workplace. Her new book about which she is speaking tonight is using appreciative inquiry in developing leadership styles. Amanda wrote her first book after I wrote my book Eating My way To God: A food addict's spiritual journey. I have envied Amanda her drive to complete her book and do all that is necessary to get it published and marketed. I am glad for her and I envy her. At one point I thought her success would inspire me to put the necessary energy into getting help in putting my book out there. That hasn't been true. I am glad for Amanda. She has been able to contribute to many people's lives. I am excited to go to her booksigning tonight and support her.
On Monday Geneen Roth was on Opray with her new book, Women Food and God. Although I haven't read it from what I gleaned from watching the show, Geneen's book is about women using food to medicate disconnection from their own feelings and using emotional awareness to reconnect with the source. I was green with envy. My origonal mission was to spread the message that being in touch with my feelings rather than stuffing them under food was my path to eating my way to God. I dreamed of being on Opray and even sent her a copy of my book. Geneen Roth was articulate and seemed very grounded and clear with the people whose questioons she responded to. I want to read her book. I know it could be helpful to me. I can be envious without shutting my heart down. I can breathe into the felt-sensation of envy in my body. I feel a tightness in my chest. I feel sad that I haven't pursued putting my book out there and mad at myself. As I breathe the tension lessens. I find a sense of compassion and acceptance for myself. The truth is that right now I am not moved to put energy into my book. It doesn't mean I am doing something wrong. I don't know what it means. What matters is to acknowledge that it is my choice not to do anything with my book right now. Maybe I wrote it for myself and the thirty or so people who have read it. I don't even have an edited copy to give to someone right now if they wanted one. I can be clear that I don't have the energy to put into my book right now because two people said they were interested in buying it and still I did nothing.
Last time when I felt envy for Angela Farmer I came to the place of appreciating her and appreciating myself. When I am lost in envy I can jump out of my circle and oogle over the other person and dis myself.
This time I realize I have made a choice and to take responsibility for that choice. It doesn't make me a bad person because I am choosing not to put my energy into my book. I am choosing to put energy into my work and my relationship and my family and friends. It's OK to be an ordinary awesome person. It's OK for me and OK for you.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


I just finished reading Three Cups of Tea One Man's Mission to Promote Peace One School at a Time, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. Gary had read this book three years ago when we were in Mexico and I noticed it in his house last weekend. Being up in the mountains away from any of my usual activities is a good reason to nestle down with a satisfying book. Evver since I was a child I have loved escaping into the world of a book. I would creep into the hall from my bedroom and read by the nightlight until I was exhausted. Sometimes my mother would let me stay home from school the next day and I'd finish the book.
I spent much of the weekend immersed in the world of Greg Mortenson and his mission to create an education for girls in Pakistan. Greg dedicated his life to building schools for these girls after his failure to summit K2. On his way down he wandered disoriented into a nearby village where the Balti people befriended him and took care of him. The title of his book comes from a Balti saying: The first time you share tea with a Balti you are a stranger. The second time you take tea you are an honored guest. The third time you share a cup of tea you become family and for our family we are prepared to do anything, even die.
Greg Mortenson becomes an integral part of the family of the chief of the Balti village who helped nurture him back to health. Greg was a trauma nurse and as he healed he began to help others heal. The village was hours away from any medical care on foot and the villagers suffered from many medical conditions because of their difficult living conditions in mostly subzero temperatures. When he first saw that the children of the village sat on bare ground practicing lessons they had been given by a teacher who visited once a week he made a promise to come back and build a school. It took him over a year to raise the money. He had never done any fundraising before and didn't even know how to use a computer when he started. This book is the story of the challenges he faced and the opportunities that came his way fueled by the power of his dream. As time went on he could see that building schools especially for girls could generate change in an entire culture. The stories of the lives of these girls who began to believe in their own dreams as they became educated is inspiring and heartwarming. One girl after graduating from fifth grade secured the money to continue her education and had the dream to build a hospital in her village which she would administer. It certainly is possible that that hospital will exist someday soon. One of Greg Mortenson's favorite things to do was to listen to the dreams of these girls. Many local men couldn't understand why he would spend hours listening to these stories from girls. Greg knew that with encouragement and support coupled with the opportunity to learn, these girls could change their own way of life and help entire villages become more self-sustaining at a higher level of well-being. One thing he noticed was that things aren't what make people happy. Many of these people have nothing but the love and connection with their families and are very happy. He wanted to improve the lives of girls and provide schools for girls to study and grow. In most of the communities he eventually built schools in, girls had never gone to school at all. What moved me the most about this book was the power of one man's dream and the power of that dream to inspire others to follow their dream. Greg has writiten a new book called Stones into Schools. This new book is his continued journey building schools in Afghanastan, often in areas of strong Taliban influence. I am excited to read his new book. Greg Mortenson has been nominated for the nobel peace prize at least two times. He is definitely an angel of peace. I hope he wins this year. It makes me think how grateful I am to the people in my life who supported and encouraged my dreams. Also I feel a stronger committment to listen to and encourage the dreams of the people who share their dreams with me. It seems to me that no dream is impossible.
Who in your life supported you in dreaming your dreams? Who supports you now? Can you support yourself in spending a little time looking at what your dreams might be? One of my dreams is to share with people that their dreams are there waiting for them. However simple your dreams might be give yourself a little quiet time to dream them.