What we do here:

Work on our stuff. Dissolve stuck. Play. Experiment. Rewrite patterns. We take sometimes-heavy things* and we make them more fun, playful, manageable.

I also write about my conversations with walls and monsters, and what it's like to work on a pirate ship. Good times.

* Sometimes-heavy things include: mindfulness and presence, pain and trauma, business-growing, that problematic word which rhymes with flaweductivity)

 

Category Archives: working on patterns & habits

The History of Blanket Friday

Last week someone on the bus asked me if I’m “looking forward to Black Friday”.

That was a little weird.

Not compared to things that happen on the bus. Much weirder things happen on the bus, both to me and in general.

In the land of Havi, though, the question seemed bizarre. Just the concept of someone — anyone — theoretically looking forward to Black Friday is something I can’t really wrap my brain around. Yes, people vary.

I am not in fact looking forward to Black Friday. But what if that changed? What if I could?

I mean, since I’ll be hiding under blankets, I guess I could look forward to that for starters. So, why can’t blanket-hiding became my holiday?

Blanket-hiding.

That is what I do on Black Friday.

Hide. Under. Blankets.

Blanket-hiding is basically what that day is for, as far as I’m concerned. In fact, it’s kind of odd that this is not already a thing, that they don’t just call it Blanket Friday.

There’s probably a perfect German word for it already. Like Unterdendeckenversteckungstag.

Or, possibly, Tag der Ab Ins Bett Einheit.

I made those up, but they feel right.*

Translation: Hiding-under-the-covers day. Or “Get To Bed” Unification Day.

I suggested these on Twitter, and then Jessica volunteered Bloßnichtausdembettkrabbeltag (Justnotevencrawlingoutofbed day!), which is even better.

The Holy Days of Havi Bell.

I keep a notebook called the Holy Days of Havi Bell Who Is A Bell.

It’s where I keep notes about holidays and rituals, so my relationship with these days can be more conscious and more playful. So I can be a bell. And so I can find ways to not be in my stuff about holidays. Because I have big stuff about holidays.

Some of the Holy Days of Havi Bell are Jewish holidays that I do my way. Like Purim, the holiday of costumes, and also the holiday of surprising your friends with delicious baked goods. Or Sukkot, which is practically a festival of blanket forts.

Some are broader-culture holidays that I actively play with, or sometimes subvert.

Groundhog Day, which is the holiday of do-overs.

It is also a day for getting to do everything twice. Two times breakfast! Two times bath!

Or Hermitsgiving, where I run away and avoid American Thanksgiving.

Or Operation V.A.L.E.N.T.I.N., a day to practice being completely and utterly dedicated to sensual pleasure and vital aliveness, combined with zero contact with the extremely irritating (and excessively pink) outside world.

Basically all my holidays are about avoiding. Also connecting.

Avoiding: static, noise, external rules, social media, other people’s expectations and projections.

Connecting to: myself, quiet, peacefulness, presence, desire. What I need and want. Taking exquisite care of myself.

Avoidance in the sense of turning inward and getting quiet, and also in the sense of oh good god make all that noise just stop.

Connection with the things I want to connect to. With the qualities of the voyage.

Holidays for introverts!

Blanket Friday is exactly what I need.

Here’s what I don’t want to see, experience or even hear about on the day-after-Thanksgiving:

Pushing. Pressure. Lines. Stress. Anxiety. Commercialism. The collective forgetting, on a grand scale, of everything said the day before about appreciation, thankfulness, kindness, grace.

I know this world of Black Friday exists, and I don’t want to know anything more about it than that.

I want my world of Blanket Friday: cozy, grounded, safe, sheltered, full of sweetness and possibility.

I will be at Rally (Rally!), so this will be somewhat easier because the Playground is absolutely full of blankets, and it is a world unto itself, separate from everything happening outside.

But even if I weren’t, I’d be following the same basic plan:

Stay indoors. With the exception of a walk to the park, maybe swinging on the swings if it isn’t too cold.

Stay offline. Other than to play here with the Friday Chicken.

Naps. Multiple naps.

Skip some stones. Play with some spirals. Color in a monster.

Drink tea. Be with people I like.

I don’t really know what else is part of Blanket Friday. I guess I’ll find out this Friday.

We are writing the history of Blanket Friday. Rituals will evolve. There will probably be cheese.

That’s probably enough.

Because really, what more needs to be said about a holiday, other than “there will probably be cheese”.

And since the first Blanket Friday hasn’t happened yet, I can’t know what it is like, how I will feel or what I will need.

Like all grand experiments, parts of it will probably be not-so-great, and then I’ll have more information for next year, for the book of the Holy Days of Havi Bell.

There will be good things too. Like comfort and sweetness. Appreciation and a thank-you-heart.

I will whisper a thank you to the person on the bus with the unlikeliest question. And a thank you to past me who filled an entire playground with blankets.

As if she knew that one day I would need a whole day for this.

Join me if you like.

If you would like to celebrate Blanket Friday with me in any form at all, or to adopt an aspect of it, you are invited to. Or invent your own holiday, your own form. We get to play however we like.

If you’re like me and run away from American Thanksgiving, then a peaceful ease-filled Hermitsgiving to us this Thursday.

If you celebrate American Thanksgiving, then I am wishing you a safe and pleasant one. If you’re Canadian, a retroactive happy Thanksgiving and a happy perfectly normal Thursday. If you don’t celebrate, then may it be a beautiful day. And a comforting Blanket Friday to all!

And if another wish is in order, here is a wish for the thing you need and desire in the best form for you to receive it.

Thursday night is also the first night of Hannukah, so chag urim sameach.

Things that are welcome here: Excitement about Blanket Friday, as an idea and my new experiment! Well-wishes of all forms. Blankets. And cheese.

Red Lights: A Love Story.

I took it for granted that the green lights were the good ones.

Like a sign . A loving whisper of encouragement: Go.

Permission. Go.

Right timing. Go.

You are ready now. Go.

Red. Light.

Of course green lights are the good ones. Who doesn’t want green?

Except, also, remembering…

Once we were so in love we wanted each second to lengthen: to extend a little longer, hold a few drops more. Walking the streets slowly, delighting in each opportunity to stop. We worshipped red lights, cherished every moment of red.

Leaning into each other slightly. This arm just barely brushing that arm. The sensation of warm breath near my ear. Muscle. Tension. Warmth. Adoration. Pleasure. Pleasure tinged with the pain of future ending.

The sweetness of knowing that each moment of Don’t Walk was another moment of this.

You forget, and then you remember. Hello, red light. Hello, pause.

Oh this beautiful heart.

Agent Anna and I have a shared epiphany that took slightly different forms.

Hers occurred when she realized that meditating is not boring at all. That in fact it is exactly like that deliriously sweet moment when your head is resting on your lover’s chest and you are listening to your lover’s heartbeat.

And you have no thoughts in you at all other than: OH THIS BEAUTIFUL HEART. OH THIS BEAUTIFUL MOMENT.

Meditation, she realized, is exactly that, except the heart you are listening to is your own.

For me, the moment came in Tel Aviv, on the wooden floor after yoga. I was trying to remember if I had ever felt this still, this blissfully steady, this at home in my body and the world, this singing of joyful aliveness in my veins.

I realized: oh, this quiet happy stillness is like when you have just had stupid-good sex that was so stupid-good that you couldn’t form a complete sentence to save your life, but it doesn’t matter because guess what, there is nothing on earth that needs to be said.

OH THIS BEAUTIFUL ALIVENESS.

And that, I am now realizing, is what red lights are for. I can’t remember that feeling of OH THIS BEAUTIFUL ALIVENESS if I don’t stop and breathe it in. If I don’t get quiet enough to remember.

This moment: beautiful.

I took it for granted that the green lights are the good ones. Movement over not-movement. Stopping means noticing that everything is changing. Stopping means feeling all the feelings.

“Is there anything that’s not a lesson in impermanence and this-moment-is-beautiful?”

That was my lover’s question as the water from the bath slowly drained around us during a long red light. That moment: beautiful. Painful and beautiful.

This moment: beautiful.

On the radio at the cafe.

Green was go and play and pleasure.

Playing in the background at the cafe as I write these words…

“Do you believe that there are treasures in the oceans /
One kiss from you and I’m drunk up on your potion.”

That’s Angus & Julia Stone

Yes. That is an accurate description of green.

Except red can be like that too.

That’s kind of what those long slow red-light pauses were like.

Full of treasures and potions.

I didn’t used to like to stop. Because of the NO.

Green was obviously better than red. Walk obviously better than don’t walk. The image of the guy walking: obviously better than the red hand of Don’t Walk.

That red hand of NO and STOP seemed so formal and cold. Like a preachy wagging finger of no-no-no.

It was rules and institutions and restrictions: all the things I rebel against and do not agree to having in my life.

The red hand of no as an amulet of protection.

Green lights are the good ones.

But now that red hand suddenly appears like a hamsa: a blessing of protection.

Here. You are safe. Pause. Breathe. Rest into this moment of safety. You are held in the pause. Nothing to do but breathe. Refuge and reprieve.

The red hand wasn’t saying I have to stop. The red hand says I get to stop.

Not red for danger. Red for grounding and rootedness.

The hand wants to give me the best gift there is, and I extend my hand to receive it: Pleasure. Breath. Center. Refuge.

Speaking of signs.

At Rally (Rally!) last summer, TJ, who, just like me, prefers the green lights, wanted a sign. He found a sign, but it said NO.

Literally. It was an actual sign, and it said NO.

He wasn’t happy about the NO at first, because he was really, really hoping for a clear YES.

It turned out okay, like everything at Rally always does. And he found his yes. It was a pretty great yes.

Actually, it was a yes that lived on the other side of an entirely different no.

This is what I think of when I think of how I have misunderstood red lights.

The red light isn’t giving me a no of “you can’t do this”, it is the no of “take a minute before you do, take a minute to get ready and present for the next yes.”

Pause. Pause. Pause. Yes, now I am ready to go again.

Postscript.
One more piece but I say it in tiny letters because it scares me a little.

What if they’re all good ones? What if red makes green better and green makes red better?

I took it for granted that the green lights are the good ones. As if that’s even a thing. If there are options there are not good.

What if this moment is right? Red. Green. What if the light I get is good? What if the light I have is good?

That’s what I’m thinking about as I rest into each moment of pause, as I stride forward with each moment of go.

How we play here. You are invited.

This is that very rare thing that is safe space on the internet, and for that to work, we lovingly commit to not giving each other advice and not caretaking.

Within that, you can play any way you like. I am receptive to appreciation, wonder and delight, things you noticed or sparks sparked for you about red lights and related themes, ways you are going to play with this.

And I will always always always take flowers, because flowers make everything better.

Lost in a Tragic Ice Cream Incident!

There’s this thing and I have no idea what it’s called, but it goes kind of like this.

There’s this completely horrid and dislike-able character on television or in a movie. The mean boss. The snobby girl. The vindictive teacher. The bully.

But then you find out that there’s a reason for their horribleness. A reason that makes them seem vulnerable because of the deep and awful loss they’ve experienced.

And once that reason is known, you start to find out that They’re Really Not So Bad.

I’m positive there is already a name for this phenomenon, and if someone has already found it on tvtropes.org, please tell me!

Lost in a tragic _____________ incident.

The awful boss was being so unreasonable about the deadline, but then it turned out that her entire family had perished in a tragic deadline incident.

The sadistic sergeant who sticks to the rules so strictly — he’s only been that way since his pet koala died in a tragic rulebook incident.

The boyfriend who refuses to talk about his feelings or even admit he has them, but then it all kind of makes sense once you discover that his brother was actually defenestrated in a tragic communicating incident.

It happens.

We all have our reasons.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember but we do.

But there’s another point here too.

When I write blog posts or teach a class or do whatever it is I do at Rally (Rally!), I always want people to know they can change the language.

If I’m referencing sovereignty and that’s not your word, re-work it.

If I’m talking about superpowers but superpowers are uncomfortable for you, re-think them.

It’s your experience. You get to have your own relationship with it.

And there are two ways to work with a word that doesn’t speak to you. You can rewrite the word (invent!) or you can rewrite the definition (translate!).

Either way, you’ll probably want to do some unpacking.

Unpacking is a metaphor, of course.

It just means figuring out what your associations are with a particular word or concept, both positive and negative.

Let’s see… I was in this yoga class and the teacher kept talking about SUPPORT, and I noticed that I started feeling uncomfortable. What qualities, aspects or attributes of support live inside of my personal definition of this word?

Support has — for me — some good things, like:

[+safety] [+sturdiness] [+held] [+can’t hurt myself because I am cared for]

But I also have some not good associations:

[+having to depend on others] [+vulnerability] [+stuck]

Once you know what’s in there, you have choices.

You can decide to rewrite your definition:

From now on, I choose to interpret support to mean that I have internal and external resources which hold me up and keep me grounded and safe.

Support includes my own strengths, and also maybe a community of people that I can rely on.

It can also mean things like the earth, the floor, oxygen — anything that physically helps me move, walk, breathe and be.

Or you can use the metaphor mouse technique to find a new story or a new name for it.

I still don’t love support, but I adore the idea of a hammock. So from now on, whenever she says SUPPORT, I’m going to whisper HAMMOCK to myself, and feel the feeling of the hammock.

Either of these is much better than being in resistance.

It’s no fun thinking to yourself: Aaaargh support is so stupid!

It’s no fun being the person secretly grieving. How can they talk about support when I lost everything I loved in a tragic supporting incident! I’m being a little silly here but sometimes that’s really how it feels.

Sometimes we have pain around words and we don’t even know it.

So if a word doesn’t resonate with you, there isn’t anything wrong with you.

And there isn’t anything wrong with the word.

It just meant that it’s time to give yourself a new word or a new definition. Or both.

Unless, of course, you lost your ability to do that in a tragic dictionary incident.

Back to the ice cream.

Last night I was teaching Shiva Nata at the Playground, and we were coming up with words for the different positions.

The horizontals were Ice Cream, Panda, Sandbox and Barnacle. The verticals were Scrumptious, Cloud, Clam and Orange. It was highly entertaining.

It’s a cloud, shaped like a panda, in a sandbox, eating orange ice cream. Scrumptious panda has barnacle clams? The oranges are cloudy!

But even with silly, ridiculous play-words, you still never know what people’s personal baggage is. Who knows what tragic ice cream panda incidents live in their past?

Everyone has their stuff.

You don’t know what their associations are with these things. And even though it’s unlikely that they suffered awful losses in a tragic orange scrumbox clam-cloud incident, you never what what’s going on for them.

So it’s always, always, always useful to remind people that they have the power to interact consciously with language.

And if they don’t like a word, they can investigate their relationship with that word.

Or not. But change the word or rewrite it or replace it.

Once you remember that you have the power to do that with a word, you have the power to do it with anything.

Play! And comment zen for the giant blanket fort playroom.

If you want to invent ridiculous and imaginary possible tragic incident backstories with me, you are welcome to.

If you want to invent a new name for that particular trope, that works too.

If you want to rewrite words or investigate definitions or do some metaphor mousing, go for it!

As always, we all have our stuff. We’re all working on our stuff. We take responsibility for our stuff and recognize that it’s ours.

We take care of ourselves and each other by making space for people to have their own experience and not giving unsolicited advice or telling people how to feel. That’s all.

Ice cream and pandas for everyone! Unless you don’t like either of those, in which case you don’t have to have one. I’m sure we have something else in the treasure box. What would you like instead?