Monday, December 5, 2016

pursue the obstacle

One of my brothers is living with cancer. Recently, we were talking about this saying ~

 the obstacle is the way. 

He's trying to use it in his own present experience. It's one of my mumbling mantras.

What do you feel when you hear the obstacle is the way?

Do you seize up, protest? Or exhale and feel relief?

As messages tend to do, this one has come around again.

Today's meditation is from The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo. (Sharing parts of it...)

December 5

Pursue the obstacle.
It will set you free.

We are invited to question that in us which insists that what is before us is an obstacle in the first place. It may not be so. It may be so. It may be something small that our history of struggle has enlarged into tragedy or bad luck. 

So if we can, we must focus on our relationship to the stream and not to the things being carried alongside us. If something appears to be blocking our way, we must try to understand what is moving it and what is moving us. If our movement in the world is still blocked, perhaps we are meant to be still. We must try not to damage ourselves unnecessarily by trying to force a movement to happen before its time. 

~ Identify the biggest obstacle in your life at present. What is it keeping you from?

My answer came swiftly before I could edit in my mind.  Nothing.
Whatever It is can't keep me from anything. Only I can do that.

Maybe any current obstacles are benevolent messengers wanting attention?

xo b

Thursday, December 1, 2016

without noticing it

At 7:30 this morning, I was digging in the dirt. I saw my new neighbor through the trees and thought, She must think I'm burying something out here. Who gardens in December? 

Plant the seed, the idea, the dream, the tulip bulb ~ then get on with your life.

Drink your tea
walk the dog
humbly do your work

Meditate on the message I saw on the back of a truck the other day

Do Not Push  Push what? 

Clearly a sign, you think?

Most growing happens in our underground selves, the fertile quiet part, the dark intuitive place. No need to figure things out. Sticky paws and strategic minds need not apply. 

This is the do not push. 
This is the daily practice. 
Give me a boulder, I'll push it๐ŸŒ€


“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer. - Rilke

xo b

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

My Mother's Thanksgiving Prayer

A friend texted asking if I'd share my mother's Thanksgiving Prayer. 

Grateful for her reminder, I offer it to you, dear readers.

May you drop, even briefly, whatever burdens you're carrying. Take a moment to remember the goodness all around you, and in you. May we be humble and thankful and glad.

Take what you need + leave the rest. I'll write you on the other side of Thanksgiving. xo b

Thanksgiving Prayer

We come to this table today
humble and thankful and glad.
We are first thankful for the great miracle of life,
for the exultation of being human, for the capacity to love.
We are thankful for joys both great and simple -
For wonder, dreams and hope;
For the newness of each day:
For laughter and song and a merry heart
For compassion waiting within to be kindled;
For the forbearance of friends and the smile of a stranger;
For the arching of the earth and trees and heavens and the fruit of all three;
For the wisdom of the old;
The courage of the young
For the promise of the child;
For the strength that comes when needed;
For this family united here today.
Of those to whom much is given, much is required.
May we and our children remember this.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Madrid Diary II: Muy Contento


This is one of those tiny stories about a moment where the portal between two humans opens and a kind of golden light buzzes back and forth. The last time I wrote about a tiny moment was the little girl in a car, she waved at me, I waved back, portal opened.

Portals are always opening. Like when a dog walks by. I swear I heard the one with the black eye say, Hola, me gusto mucho el queso and I said, sure, I like cheese very much too. But this isn't about the dogs of Madrid although that may be another piece.

This is about me wandering around by myself, not lost but lost. Not knowing anyone, looking to find a place for a beer and a bite to eat. My legs were wobbly because it can be exhilarating and weird to be alone in a city you don't know and barely speaking the language. It's the twin thing:

anxiety and aliveness

I've been riding both waves this week.

I'd been at El Bar de los Bocadillos where two women sat next to me eating calamari sandwiches. One had on a red coat, which I liked very much. I also like having two women sitting next to me eating and chatting. It didn't feel at all like Donald Trump hovering behind Hillary. Zero danger.

When I wasn't locking eyes with people looking in the window, I watched the soccer game. In my journal I wrote, sitting here in this little food place, Spanish raining over me like a school of goldfish. ba ba ba de de de Real Madrid was scoring like crazy. The players were muy guapo.


Anyway, after somehow accidentally asking for ginger ale or lemonade in my beer, not good, I left thinking, I'd better get back. Then, jeez, Betsy, six year olds stay up later than you. This is Spain! Almost home, I peeked in the window of a small place with a handful of patrons. Another game was on. A handsome older man sat at the bar, two women working: Carmen and Fanny.
And that's how I ended up sitting for two hours with Manuel, Manolo, Lolo - gracious human, 9 brothers, 1 sister, a medical doctor, who patiently pieced together a conversation half-Spanish, half-English, and a mix of stuff I made up. Lolo smiled and kept saying me gusto me gusto!  

The easiest thing off my tongue was 

muy contento, muy contento!

Another beautiful portal.

xo b

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Madrid Diary I

Madrid Diary
October 15, 2016

Okay, so some questions I ask myself:

What's it like to go someplace new? It doesn't have to be another town, city, country. What about where you live? How often do you drive the very same road to work, and then the very same road home? Have you ever turned down that leafy side street to see what's there? Have you ever allowed yourself to do something all by yourself, even if it's driving down that leafy side street you've never gone down? Or go to a movie solo? How does it feel to not know what's around the corner? What feelings rise up in your body when you're out of the proverbial comfort zone? What is your comfort zone? What does it look like, feel like, smell like? Do you love it as much as I love mine?

my home
my big bed
my kitchen
my backyard
my supermarket
my bathroom
my family
my friends
my neighborhood

I love my comfort zone so much that I get strung out going to the local supermarket. Some days, even that is too much. Too many people, too many choices. When I get back to my house, the dog, the red kitchen, the quiet; my body settles. 

Home. Nest. Comfort Zone.

On Wednesday night, I left my comfort zone and got on a plane to Madrid. Packing was a tizzy, passport, getting there, the plane itself with aisles made for paper dolls, the guy across from me with a horrible nasal issue laughing out loud watching Finding Dory. At midnight, I put my coat on my head and tried to sleep. So, not in my comfort zone. 

Every time I leave my small country of comfort, I grow. I shed a shell. I cut loose from a certain way of being and seeing myself, and the world around me.  There's a jolt of aliveness (which I dub anxiety). However,

Aliveness is not anxiety.

Aliveness is anxiety's sister. Dizzy, breathy, tingling in all sorts of body parts, the heart hammering, until you tease out what's really happening of course you want to lock the door and stay put. Most of us don't tease, we retreat before ever getting out the door. But if we want to live our one precious life we must at least open the door.

I'm grateful to my husband, children, dear friends who remind me that my pre-trip anxiety is nothing new (I have it every time + they listen to my worries every single time). When I'm walking new streets, attempting a new language, riding the metro (solo!) they hear the alive me on the phone, in texts, or jaunty emails. Oh my, isn't she now the adventurous one.  

Never  do they say, I told you so.

Aliveness is not anxiety

Anxiety will not kill you (it wants your attention - so said favorite therapist 100 years ago)

Do ONE THING new, different, off the usual path, surprise yourself.

Wear orange. 
Pack a carry-on for 2 weeks, unless it's the Arctic. Mittens take up a lot of space.
Trust that what's around the corner is waiting for YOU with open arms. 
Tell a friend you feel scared, they'll gently push you on your way.

open the door. 
step out. 
look around.
start here.

๐ŸŒ€namaste. xo b

Sunday, October 2, 2016

a little more room

I drink tea.

Every day begins with one cup of Irish Breakfast regular, then another cup of decaf, usually adding hot water to the mug. I switch to Earl Grey. Add more hot water as needed.

Splash of milk, no sugar.

If only for five minutes, I go back to bed, warm mug between my hands, close to my chest. Something about the heat in my hands, the shape and smoothness of the mug. Most mornings, despite the calmness of my bedroom, I wake with a rush of busy-ness in my head. Lists, concerns, what's on the calendar for the week. Sometimes a wave of sadness sweeps over me. My father's laugh. My mother's voice. Yesterday I felt the thump of my old cat, Owen, jumping on the bed and waited for the heavy warmth of his body on mine. But the last time I saw Owen was a year ago.

It was a warm August night.
He loved being outside.
He sat on the steps, looked over his shoulder at me,
then walked into the dusky backyard.

I never saw Owen again.


Something about the boiling water, the same white mug, the steeping of the tea, the holding of the mug, the first sip. The warmth against my solar plexus, cupped hands.

Something about that creates a pause.

The pause says, oh look at the yellow leaves on that tree, of course you miss your mother, father, cat.  Where did you go, Owen? Love is the answer. I miss my husband across the country. Yes, you're wondering how this whole thing is going to turn out, breathe, sip, hold me against your heart, fear not, how is this all working out, 

you contain everything. 

I wrestle with those feelings, get out get out, but some days I'm a warm mug of tea, a spacious container of all this life.  I make a little more room. 

I drew a little picture of my mug.
I wrote a little story inside the picture.
I sipped my tea 
I relaxed.  


Sunday, August 28, 2016

spilling over into the light

Waiting for Claire's x-country bus to arrive, I see the man across the street from the stadium tend to three large plants in the front yard. The man, like Tweedle Dee, wears baggy shorts, no shirt, white socks with sandals. The plants seem to be lifting themselves up towards the sun and air. I imagine them, a small yoga class arms up, gaze up, heart open.

The shirtless, large pale pear of a man, lovingly kneels to pull dead leaves off his plants, then lifts the water bucket to each one. Normally, fat pale men without shirts make me shudder as in,

Listen mister, put a shirt on! 

Tweedle Dee, who's name is likely Bruce, or Allan, or John, watered his plants in a shirtless meditation unconcerned or unaware of cars arriving to pick kids up, nor how his shirtless state of affairs might be pushing me over the cliff.  Rather than have a litany of personal problems about this guy, Dear God, man, have you no shame? I leaned against my car watching the tilt of the bucket, warm sun on my face, waiting for a yellow bus, and my sweaty kid.

One of those moments when nothing is bothering you...because there was nothing to be bothered about? ๐ŸŒ€Maybe that midnight reading about compassion was spilling over into the light of day.

Compassion is our deepest nature. 
It arises from our interconnection with all things. 

- Jack Kornfield

xo b