What's in the gallery?

We dissolve stuck and rewrite patterns. We apply radical playfulness to life (when we feel like it!), embarking on internal adventures (credo of Safety First). We have a fake band called Solved By Cake. We build invisible sanctuaries, invent words and worlds, breathe awe and wonder.

We are not impressed by monsters. Except when we are. We explore the connections between internal territories and surrounding environment to learn what marvelously supportive delicious space feels like, and how to take exquisite care of ourselves. We transform things.* We glow wild.**

* For example: Desire, fear, worry, pain-and-trauma, boundaries, that problematic word which rhymes with flaweductivity.

** Fair warning: Self-fluency has been known to lead to extremely subversive behavior, including treasuring yourself unconditionally, unapologetically taking up space, experiencing outrageously improbable levels of self-acceptance, and general rejoicing in aliveness.

What's in the gallery?

We dissolve stuck and rewrite patterns. We apply radical playfulness to life (when we feel like it!), embarking on internal adventures (credo of Safety First). We have a fake band called Solved By Cake. We build invisible sanctuaries, invent words and worlds, breathe awe and wonder.

We are not impressed by monsters. Except when we are. We explore the connections between internal territories and surrounding environment to learn what marvelously supportive delicious space feels like, and how to take exquisite care of ourselves. We transform things.* We glow wild.**

* For example: Desire, fear, worry, pain-and-trauma, boundaries, that problematic word which rhymes with flaweductivity.

** Fair warning: Self-fluency has been known to lead to extremely subversive behavior, including treasuring yourself unconditionally, unapologetically taking up space, experiencing outrageously improbable levels of self-acceptance, and general rejoicing in aliveness.

Tiny monuments and what to do when the ambient panic is too much

muted sunset behind a tree in a field

I like when the sunset shows up casually dressed, it’s not a big show tonight…


Announcement & ebook reminder

If you’ve already given to Barrington’s Discretionary last year or this year, you should have received my ebook (by email) on how I approach and plan my year, how I think about time and am in relationship with time. The feedback on this has been lovely and heartwarming, thank you!

You can still obtain a copy for now, as a thank you when you give any sum to Barrington’s Discretionary Fund, and I hope you enjoy and find lots of clues in there!

More housekeeping: You can subscribe to posts by email again!

If you aren’t seeing these updates in your in your email and want to, you can click right here, or scroll way down to the footer and click the orange RSS icon.

This will pop up a new page on Follow.It that lets you subscribe via email, newsletter, or RSS reader. They say “expect 50 stories a week”, and yikes to that imaginary number, once a week is the dream.

Tiny monuments & what to do when the ambient panic is too much

Last time

Last time we talked monuments, and specifically the way that almost anything can be or become a stone or a post or a [something]; a think-for-a-moment.

Anything can stand in as a reminder of what we want to remember, or what we want to let go of.

And in that pause-moment of exhalation or contemplation, or just noticing the noticing — whether it’s a moment of stillness or it takes place in motion, there is something about marking the memory that matters.

Partly this and partly that

I had wanted to get into more examples of how something can become a monument, but partly there wasn’t time, and partly it wasn’t the moment.

And partly I forgot, because I am the person who writes about memory but doesn’t have memory, at least not in a reliable way.

Also, have you noticed, there is so much panic in the air. So much.

A breath for just noticing the ambient panic

Just a noticing breath. Maybe hand on heart, or hand on a steady surface.

We can remind ourselves (acknowledgement & legitimacy!) of how deeply normal and reasonable it is to be experiencing anxiety while existing in all the intense chaos of this world.

We could do a calming thing on the plane of the physical, the tangible. Hum it out.

Try covering your ears while humming it out. Shaking it off or dancing it out. Or exhaling repeatedly while shaking your head…

Shake it off like a puppy, or a goat, or a mountain lion.

How much of this belongs to me

Sometimes I find it helpful to just ask, “How much of this is really and truly mine?”

I only want to feel my own emotions, not the whole everything of the scattered collective.

If only 3-5% of the panic belongs to me, and rarely is it more than that, the rest can remove itself from my space.

Give it to the earth or the mountains or the sea, let energy return to loose particles of possibility. Or imagine this is happening, or could be happening.

Just checking in with myself

Is this mine, is this from now, is this helpful, is this something I need to carry?

And if not, then what would help with the ease of releasing, other than the noticing?

As you know, I love to combine techniques “in the hard” (anything physical, tangible) with techniques “in the soft” (mental, emotional, imagination, energy, the things that are hard to describe, the realm of not very measurable).

And so sometimes when the ambient panic is very high, I will do something physical (legs up the wall, pressing two fingers gently above my upper lip, lengthening my neck, gently lengthening my breath), and I will also accompany this physical action with something softer.

Return to sender, I whisper, if I know where it’s coming from. Return to the earth, energy back to source, if all I know is that I am picking up on The Big Fear and it does not belong to me.

A monument

It occurred to me this week that these moments are also monuments.

Both in the sense that they involve a pause, a think-for-a-moment, and in the sense that they rewrite memory, they mark a turning point. A monument in the moment of releasing, a monument to the releasing.

It is the point at which you decide that enough is enough:

I do not agree to carry the fear energy of the world, it is not my job to hold all of this, I can do a better job supporting the world through my steadiness. I have noticed this big fear, and I am asking it to be transformed through being noticed, and released back into potential energy.

Or whatever, phrase it however you want. Maybe those words don’t work for you at all, that’s fine. I am not married to the phrasing or even to the idea. I am only into noticing when we are picking up on ambient panic, and reducing the load, for ourselves and for the collective.

What else is or can be a monument?

Omer suggested that December 30th should be Africa by Toto day, as in the song. Because of the line about “she’s coming in on a 12:30 flight”. 12:30 aka 12/30.

And so if you are someone who loves the song Africa by Toto, now you have a feast day to look forward to, which itself is a sort of monument. A think-for-a-moment that is a day.

A song becoming a day becoming a monument

I really love the idea of a song becoming a day becoming a monument, because it feels like a very wise and clever way to use a proxy in order to feel things or otherwise process them very indirectly.

You don’t have to make a day for the thing that is too many feelings, it’s just a day for the song.

Maybe something is too close to home for me to declare a holiday to mark it or build a monument to it, but I could have a song that means something to me, and build a holiday around it, and kind of fold whatever I’m working through into it, you know?

The monument that forms itself

My friend and I went on a hike for her 71st birthday, and we passed a community monument that people built in memory of friends of theirs who died in a terrible car accident. Not at the location of the accident, but at a place on this path, at a location that presumably meant something to these friends.

The friends had brought objects that made sense to them, and combined them in a way that made something statue-like, and this was their think-for-a-moment that is now also a public think-for-a-moment.

It was beautiful because it was not beautiful, if that makes sense. It was a very human endeavor, to honor a very human kind of pain, you could feel the humor in it, people laughed and cried while making it, you could just tell.

The absence of a cairn of objects, for example

For me, I don’t have a physical place to go for the person I miss the very most, but every single time I hear a song, I am thinking about what he would be thinking about that song, which means that every song is a monument.

When I am insisting that Flowers by Miley Cyrus is overrated, that is a monument. Sometimes I even will say I don’t like a song when I do, just because I want his take on it. I know he can get me to listen to it differently.

Sometimes the songs themselves make me so angry, just by existing, especially all the new songs that he will never get to hear in real life.

Do you even understand what you are missing?????? I yell at him because it is easier to be mad at him for leaving the world (me) than it is to build a statue on a mountain and then never go there.

Ritual

This is our ritual, now. Our little routine. He doesn’t get mad at me. He doesn’t even mind that I yell. He sits on the windowsill and smokes, holding his cigarette outside the window so the smoke won’t get in, and it never does, because it is not real, but I appreciate the care he takes.

I make him listen to the whole song with me.

It’s a monument of a moment. I get mad, he lets me be mad, he smokes his cigarette and holds it out the window, we listen to the song until it is over.

The healing stone

I had a dream about the healing stone.

I had a dream that someone asked me, “What don’t you want?”

In the dream, this was the answer to everything.

In another dream there were terrifying emergencies that couldn’t get solved, possibly related to all the ambient panic.

In a third dream, the father of my childhood best friend was still alive, and he hugged me and told me that everything was going to be okay, and that the answer was “lots and lots of flowers”, that’s what would make everything better.

What don’t I want? Ask the question. Make sure there are flowers.

When things are hard, which they often are

When the hard things are hard, I like to light a candle or an imaginary one.

Or to set a stone on a cairn, even if it’s an imaginary stone on an imaginary cairn.

Something to do while exhaling and humming and shaking it off and returning what is not mine to the earth.

A breath of whoosh, goodbye to this big panic that is not mine. A breath for grace, compassion, ease of ease, small miracles, any shift in a storm.

It will solve itself, or it won’t. And still we exhale.

The monument we need most

Maybe it matters less what it is and more that we pause to feel it.

We change the pattern by noticing the pattern. That’s not the only way to change a pattern, and it’s not even the most interesting way to change a pattern, but it’s the most consistent way to approach.

We noticed. Something shifted. We noticed the noticing. Another shift.

We interrupted the pattern not just by noticing but by pausing and exhaling. We interrupted the pattern by describing the pattern and the noticing and the interrupting.

We are making more and more space to just be in conscious relationship with the pattern instead of inside of it.

The noticing is a monument

The noticing itself is a monument.

And the pattern can’t remain unconscious when there’s a monument right there.

We can map the pattern through these monuments. We can introduce small changes, gently, with love.

It will solve itself, or it won’t (and still we exhale)

You win some, you win some later.

Sometimes you take the nap, sometimes the nap takes you.

Sometimes you make a monument to a moment, sometimes the moment is the monument.

And so on.

It will solve itself. Or it won’t. We breathe it out, and notice what’s ours and what isn’t, and keep it moving. It’s a practice. Sometimes it’s easier and sometimes it’s less easy. That’s okay.

Here now / it’s not easy being green

What would help most? For me, it is doing comforting things, repetitive things. Ritual things. Baking cake.

My cake, much to my astonishment, turned out bright green on the inside. Imagine a cake made by the grinch. I truly thought for a minute that I’d poisoned myself and was about to perish dramatically in a way that would be remembered in myth by the locals because of the circumstances being so mysterious and weird.

But it turns out that sunflower seed butter reacts chemically with baking soda, because there is chlorophyll present in sunflower seeds that will turn your batter green when you bake!

What a fun surprise for someone who likes surprises

What a fun surprise for someone who likes surprises.

But if you are not that person, and you are out of peanut butter and tahini but happen to have sunflower seed butter because it was on sale, and you use it in baking because it’s the right consistency, you too can treat yourself to a serious panic over nothing.

And then enjoy being relieved, I guess, after you think of the right thing to ask google.

There’s some poetry in that

I really genuinely scared myself for no reason, but what if this reminds me to try being less scared of things and potentially more excited. For example, I could open a wicked witch themed bakery.

I can pretend that I am a sunflower, purposefully ingesting my chlorophyll to grow tall and face the sun.

There is some poetry in the panic, once it passes. And in these times of massive ambient panic energy, there is going to be a lot of poetry as we help it disperse.

A breath for this moment in time, and a breath for the next one, a breath for pattern interruption, a breath for a generous monument in time, and a breath for all the unanticipated poetry.

I am ready to let some more joy in.

Come play in the comments, I appreciate the company

You are welcome to share anything that sparked for you while reading, any monuments of your own, anything that helped or anything on your mind. I am lighting a candle for all of it.

Or anything you’d like to toss into the wishing pot, the healing power of the collective is no small thing, companionship helps.

Whatever comes to mind (come to heart?), let’s support each other’s hope-sparks and wishes…

Thank you to everyone who reads, porch breaths, the winding path, the many clues that land when they land, receptivity, keeping on keeping on.

New ebook alert!!!

Aka fun bonus material on how I relate to time and map out my quarters for the year.

Anyone who gives to Barrington’s Discretionary this week (see below) will get this by email as a pdf!

A request

If you received clues or perspective or want to send appreciation for the writing and work/play we do here, I appreciate it tremendously. Between Long Covid and traumatic brain injury recovery, things are slow going.

I am accepting support (with joy & gratitude) in the form of Appreciation Money to Barrington’s Discretionary Fund. Asking is not where my strength resides but Brave & Stalwart is the theme these days, and pattern-rewriting is the work, it all helps with fixing the many broken things.

And if those aren’t options, I get it, you can light a candle for support (or light one in your mind!), share this with someone who loves words, tell people about these techniques, approaches and themes, send them here, it all helps, it’s all welcome, and I appreciate it and you so much. ❤️

In a memory of a holy place / a memory in a holy place / a memory that is a holy place / forgetting

deer

My deer friend hanging out in a field, making an Instagram-worthy face…


Announcement & reminder about the ebook!

If you’ve already given to Barrington’s Discretionary last year or this year, you should have received my ebook (by email) on how I approach and plan my year, how I think about time and am in relationship with time. The feedback on this has been lovely and heartwarming, thank you!

And if you gave to Barrington but didn’t get it, I am so sorry if anyone fell through the cracks, please email me at my name at this website, Havi AT fluent self DOT com, with any emoji, and I will send it.

You can still obtain a copy for now, as a thank you when you give any sum to Barrington’s Discretionary Fund, and I hope you enjoy and find lots of clues in there!

More housekeeping: You can subscribe to posts by email again!

If you aren’t seeing these posts in your in your email and want to, you can click right here, or scroll way down to the footer and click the orange RSS icon.

This will pop up a new page on the Follow.It site that lets you subscribe via email, via newsletter, or via RSS reader. It says you can “expect 50 stories a week”, and yikes to that, but that’s a number they made up – it would be shocking if I post more than once a week.

And if you want to catch up on / binge-read essays from me from the past couple years, they are at fluentself.com/archive, the password is starlight, enjoy.

In a memory of a holy place / a memory that is a holy place

My favorite German word

My favorite German word is not one of the long, complicated ones. My favorite German word is Denkmal.

It is the word for a monument, but unlike the English word monument, which, to me, feels cold and clunky and somehow much too large, Denkmal is compact, sweet, clever, warm, maybe even kind. It’s an invitation of a word.

It means: think for a moment.

Think, for a moment.

That’s why this statue, that’s why this marker. We are here to think for a moment.

Welcome, stranger, this must be the place. This is the spot where you get to stop and think, for a moment.

In other words

In other words: Pause here for a spell.

Or: Stop and take this in.

A moment to notice what is here (or what was) before we keep moving. A moment to contemplate the significance of this space and your moment in it, just for a moment, before you go…

It’s so lovely to me that the name itself suggests what you are meant to do. Oh look, there’s a think-for-a-moment! Guess I will stop and think for a moment!

Just the most charming thing ever. It almost makes me cry because it’s so sweet.

Depends on the day, like so many things

Obviously this all comes with a major asterisk, which is that if I ever say that a specific word is my favorite word in any language, that is true, and also: I might have a different favorite word on a different day.

I just love so many words! Words, like trees, or foods, are my favorite when I am spending time with them.

Is pausing at a think-for-a-moment to think for a moment the most charming thing ever at all times? I mean, yes, of course! And also: No, it varies.

Because sometimes the most charming thing ever is the German word for mittens (shoes for your hands!), or the Arabic word for manatee (sheep of the sea!), and maybe I am easily charmed, or maybe there is simply an abundance of charm available in language. Probably both.

To forever (as a verb)

In Hebrew, the verb to memorialize, l’hantziach, means to forever someone.

And once, a long time ago, I was trying to translate a news broadcast very fast, from Hebrew into English, and couldn’t remember the word “memorialize” or even that it existed as a word.

So I tried saying, “You know, the desire to forever this person who is gone?”, and it was immediately clear that I’d landed on the wrong phrasing, but also the person I was talking to knew exactly what I meant.

There is something very appealing and compelling in forever-ing

We all want to forever someone. Or to forever a moment.

To do something, in some way, so that the person or place or experience that was-and-now-isn’t can live on in our hearts, or in a place.

Or maybe we want to forever something or put up a marker for it so that we can stop holding onto it so tightly or so that we can let the big feelings around it rest in some way. Situations vary.

Beautiful

It’s a beautiful desire, and I also think that to forever someone or to forever something, is much more poetic than to memorialize, which is only about the aspect of memory and remembering, and not about that very specific yearning to hold onto a moment in time even though time is always moving.

Yearning to touch something that is gone, to stay with it, or at least, to not let it be swept away from us with the swiftness of time.

Maybe the person we miss is the version of us who is gone due to that experience changing us; yearning for the before of it all.

Time is always rushing on, which is why we need the reminders.

It’s why we need to be gently told, by a word, by a pillar, by a song, by a piece of art: Think for a moment.

The pause is the interruption, and the interruption is where we notice things

The moment is for whatever it is for.

Think-for-a-moment at this think for a moment. Remember.

Pause here for a moment. Let this moment be a forever-ing of something that matters.

A breath for the moment. Remembering to exhale.

(Exhale.)

Etymology

Three summers ago, I had a pretty nasty concussion, and six months later I became ill with COVID and never recovered, so my memory is a hot mess, which is why I just spent a good ten minutes trying in vain to remember the word “etymology”, and I simply could not bring it up from the recesses of my mind.

Eventually I was able to think of some google-able terms, and at some point one of them got me to the missing word.

The upside of constantly losing words is my joy at re-finding them. It’s a joyful reunion, the pleasure of being re-united with an old friend.

Ah yes, Etymology. We knew each other, once upon a time. I smile happily at Etymology. Hello, friend. I forgot your name but I did not forget you.

The Etymology of Etymology

Here you go:

late Middle English: from Old French ethimologie, via Latin from Greek etumologia, from etumon, neuter singular of etumos ‘true’.

Logos is word, thought, principle or speech.

Etymology is about getting at the TRUTH of the word.

And while I think the phrase “the truth of the word” could carry a religious connotation which is not at all what I’m going for or getting at here, if you put that aside, there is something very compelling to me about this.

As if there is a kernel of truth hidden within anything, and if we are patient, and shine some light, approach with curiosity and investigative rigor, we will arrive at something.

We will arrive at something

And then we can pause there, and think for a moment.

Each word is a monument of its own.

A truth-kernel that will reveal itself when we pause and think for a moment, when we let ourselves sit in the vicinity of a memory.

Memory

The word memorial is related to the word memory: remember, something that serves as a reminder.

And the word monument, also from Latin, comes from the word monere, which means to remind, or to warn. Which can be interpreted as “Let us learn from what happened”. Or may this memory give us clarity about how we want to continue.

The word Denkmal is also related to memory in spirit, or it’s at least memory-adjacent, because when you pause to think, what you are thinking about is a form of remembering-and-forever-ing.

Or a form of releasing and making peace, if that’s where you need to focus your remembering.

Memory is tricky, and each time we revisit a story, the story is a little different. Telling the story changes the story. And also stories can remind us about what is important to us, they can bring us back to ourselves.

Midrash

A midrash is a commentary on Hebrew biblical text, they are the stories about the stories, because what is a story without friends in the form of more stories?

Here is a wonderful paragraph from Reba Carmel in Currents:

”In its simplest and perhaps most basic meaning, the word “midrash” is derived from the Hebrew root drash — study, inquire, seek, explain, investigate, interpret. The sheer number of verbs that actively describe the process of creating midrash speaks not to uncertainty but to vibrancy.”

If you know any Arabic, then you see the similarity to madrasa (school), mudaris (teacher), and other words that share this same root.

Here is a midrash about Alzheimer’s, for example

The midrash says that if you encounter an elderly person and they have forgotten Torah because they have a cognitive disorder or whatever form of memory loss, you treat this person like an Aron Kodesh that currently doesn’t have a scroll in it.

The Aron Kodesh is the holy ark in the synagogue that holds the Torah scrolls when they are not being read. And just because the holy ark doesn’t have a scroll in it in a particular moment, that doesn’t make it less holy.

It’s still a holy place without the words that were there. It’s still the place that exists to hold them.

And so, to treat this person who has forgotten everything important to them as the empty ark means that you treasure and honor this person. The container of past wisdom is as important and special as the wisdom itself.

Reminders about reminders

I try to regularly remind myself about this midrash, in part because I cannot hold anything in my head consistently, and in part because of another situation, and in part because I am trying to forever some things for myself.

The container itself is holy. Or, as Abraham Joshua Heschel put it:

“Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy.”

Just to be, just to live. Holy and a blessing. In this container. Think-for-a-moment on that.

Two things (pick a card, any card)

My dad has been telling me lately each time we talk that he wants to do two things before he dies.

Each time I ask what they are, and each time he has already forgotten them and can’t tell me.

I hope that he is joyfully reunited with one or both of them and feels as good about that as I do when I remember a word, like etymology, or when I remember what I was on my way to do after half an hour of pacing in my tiny, tiny house.

But maybe any two things are good. Pick a card, any card. Remember something and find some joy in the remembering. Let something go, and find some joy in the letting go.

A SMOPL, for example

I have written quite a bit about my practice of SMOPL, something my brother and I came up with called Something Meaningful On A Personal Level.

For when you need a ritual, any ritual, and there isn’t a pillar there or a think-for-a-moment, and so you have to come up with your own moment.

A forest in imagination

Someone sent me this piece about a COVID memorial in Scotland that invites people to interact with all we have lost.

There are many beautiful clues for me in this piece, but the one that stands out the most is this: “Grief is a heightened state which must be respected.”

There is also something bittersweet and maybe even bitter-funny to me about a memorial to what we have lost from COVID, when one of the primary things I have lost is memory itself, and my mind, at least in the way it used to work.

A remembering of my memory, a memorializing of my not-remembering.

Even though I can’t go to Scotland, I can visit the trees there in my mind, and I can hug the trees here in Southern New Mexico, and all trees are connected, and the trees can remember too.

What’s important to us? What’s important to you?

For me: small joys, small rituals, porch breaths, making gluten-free flour tortillas in my tiny kitchen, hanging out with a deer who likes to visit.

Also sharing my writing and my love of words here. Forever learning new words even while knowing that I will forget them.

There is a buried bottle of wine somewhere that I remember. I don’t mind that I will never go to retrieve it. I like being reunited with the memory when it comes up to visit.

Reminding myself to ask

I want to keep reminding myself of what is important, reminding myself to pause and think-for-a-moment, to pause and check in. To ask the questions.

What’s important to me? What do I need right now? What would help?

I want to remember that it’s okay if the answers about what is important shift and change, or if an answer slips from my grasp.

It’s the pausing and asking more than the answer. Asking is a declaration of life and hope. Maybe we’ll get to a truth-kernel, or maybe we just let the question float out into the world and trust that it’s going where it’s needed.

(Thank you for being part of the place I go to ask questions…)

Come play in the comments, I appreciate the company

You are welcome to share anything that sparked for you while reading, or anything that helped or anything on your mind. I am lighting a candle for all of it.

Or anything you’d like to toss into the wishing pot, the healing power of the collective is no small thing, companionship helps.

Whatever comes to mind (come to heart?), let’s support each other’s hope-sparks and wishes…

Thank you to everyone who reads, porch breaths, the winding path, the many clues that land when they land, receptivity, keeping on keeping on.

New ebook alert!!!

Aka fun bonus material on how I relate to time and map out my quarters for the year.

Anyone who gives to Barrington’s Discretionary this week (see below) will get this by email as a pdf!

A request

If you received clues or perspective or want to send appreciation for the writing and work/play we do here, I appreciate it tremendously. Between Long Covid and traumatic brain injury recovery, things are slow going.

I am accepting support (with joy & gratitude) in the form of Appreciation Money to Barrington’s Discretionary Fund. Asking is not where my strength resides but Brave & Stalwart is the theme these days, and pattern-rewriting is the work, it all helps with fixing the many broken things.

And if those aren’t options, I get it, you can light a candle for support (or light one in your mind!), share this with someone who loves words, tell people about these techniques, approaches and themes, send them here, it all helps, it’s all welcome, and I appreciate it and you so much. ❤️

The slow steady art of Just Keep On Showing Up

a

A series of rocks form a walkway across a creek leading to an incline with steps made of wooden beams. Rays of light cross the path…


Announcement & reminder about the ebook!

If you’ve already given to Barrington’s Discretionary last year or this year, you should have received my ebook (by email) on how I approach and plan my year, how I think about time and am in relationship with time. The feedback on this has been lovely and heartwarming, thank you!

And if you gave to Barrington but didn’t get it, I am so sorry if anyone fell through the cracks, please email me at my name at this website, Havi AT fluent self DOT com, with any emoji, and I will send it.

You can still obtain a copy for now, as a thank you when you give any sum to Barrington’s Discretionary Fund, and I hope you enjoy and find lots of clues in there!

More housekeeping: You can subscribe to posts by email again!

If you aren’t seeing these posts in your in your email and want to, you can click right here, or scroll way down to the footer and click the orange RSS icon.

This will pop up a new page on the Follow.It site that lets you subscribe via email, via newsletter, or via RSS reader. It says you can “expect 50 stories a week”, and yikes to that, but that’s a number they made up – it would be shocking if I post more than once a week.

And if you want to catch up on / binge-read essays from me from the past couple years, they are at fluentself.com/archive, the password is starlight, enjoy.

The slow steady art of Just Keep On Showing Up

It’s in the air

Or in the earth. I don’t know. Everyone I know has said some variation on “I have never felt this stuck in my liiiiiiiiiife” this week, and I myself have said it at least fifteen times.

It was useful to remember / remind people / be reminded over and over again that sometimes this is just a thing, a known phenomenon. It happens, it sucks, it will pass.

Dramatic fist to the sky

This week was the third anniversary of Stuck Boat Week, plus a wild full moon, eclipse time, all the many heartbreaking and horrifying tragedies of our world, and also this is just a preposterously long month.

So yes, this is a week that we, like a giant boat in the Suez Canal for example, might be confronted with what it feels like to be very much stuck.

Also my bathroom door got stuck for half an hour, which is a long time, and I did the dramatic fist to the sky of DAMN YOU, STUCK BOAT WEEK, once my friends reminded me that this is the week for things to be stuck.

That is such a lovely thing about friendship and about community. We can remind each other. And we can remind ourselves. I remembered, I calmed down, the door opened.

Maybe

I spent a lot of the week taking naps, but the kind of nap where it’s more like, the nap takes you, and not the other way around.

What do you call it when you are so wiped out that there is no path other than into bed.

I am trying to stay attuned to the idea of It Solves Itself, and maybe sometimes sleep is the solution, and I mean this also like a liquid solution, something I am being immersed in. A brining, of sorts.

Maybe it’s catching up on the sleep lost during time change week, maybe it’s recovery from the winter of Witching Hours, and maybe my body is just reclaiming what it needs, and if so then good job, body.

Maybe it’s Stuck Boat Week, maybe it’s Maybelline.

Keep On

After a week of naps and snowstorms and wild winds and trying each day to do one small thing in service of Keep On Keeping On, something shifted.

Suddenly I wanted to be outside again. Outside, moving, breathing, not in bed. Huge.

It felt hopeful. I needed hopeful. Maybe you also need some.

So I took myself and this new [quantity of hopeful] on a short hike. There was snow on the inclines but not on the path. It was very muddy. I took lots of breaks because of the mud and the elevation. I crossed a creek on a bridge of well-placed rocks.

It wasn’t actually a bridge, but it felt like a bridge. That felt important and I can’t remember why.

I bravely let myself experience being alone with my thoughts (braver than the marines). I hugged several trees. And kept on.

Just Keep On

One of the trees seemed especially kind-hearted, which is a funny thing to say about a tree, they are all kind-hearted, but there was something about this one, so I asked it for any advice, any wise counsel.

The tree said, “Just keep on showing up.”

I asked if it wanted to expand on that, and it said, “Just keep on showing up.”

The usual questions

So I have been thinking since then about all the ways that I might keep on showing up.

Sometimes this is the question of where do I already practice this? where am I continually showing up? Aka the question of What’s Working?

Sometimes this is the question of where do I wish to be the person who keeps on showing up? Aka the question of What Is Needed?

What are the rituals and practices, what are the experiments, what are the fun obsessions, where do I wish to keep showing up, and in what way?

Zum Beispiel

Writing and being here is a way of continually showing up. Did you know that this August will be twenty years since I put up this website?! In internet time, that is positively ancient history, as old as the hills.

I kind of wish I could find the picture of me from 2004 that was on here, I remember that all my friends were like, oh no, you CANNOT put a picture of yourself on the INTERNET. What a time.

Small is a good place to start

It would be easy to turn Showing Up into another should, another to-do list, and I don’t wish to do that. My focus is small, simple, do-able, playful. Do less to get more.

So yes, there are small daily ways of showing up.

Washing dishes, sweeping the floor, stretching for the duration of a song. The metaphorical chop wood carry water of a quiet life in isolation.

Baking cake for Cake & Coffee Club is a way (for me) to keep on showing up, I am a big believer in the healing powers of cake for pre-breakfast.

Re-devote, rededicate, reset, restart

But I think my tree friend also meant that I need to continue doing what I’m doing: being bravely alone with my thoughts, and going for a slightly challenging hike.

And really, what am I showing up for when I do those things if not to recommit to being alive, to rededicate myself to aliveness?

Dedicating and rededicating, devoting and re-devoting. A reflexive act, doubled. I am devoting myself, to myself.

What else is a form of Just Keep On Showing Up

Intention + Repetition.

My slow and deliberate modified sun salutations and backwards walking on the rug. My daily ten minutes of practicing Arabic.

Even something like Taco Tuesday could become a ritual of Just Keep On Showing Up.

Why do I not do Taco Tuesday? Maybe it’s time to start. Or maybe that’s just a jumping off point for something similar-but-different.

Any ritual in a storm. It’s good to have things to look forward to. Let’s find out what they are.

Brainstorming / drawing board / an idea party

Each time I think of a way to Just Keep On Showing Up, I am adding it to my list. Adding it to the cauldron, into the pot. What else goes into the wishing cauldron?

  • Deep Unrelenting Empathy
  • A Glorious Return of [all of the things that help]
  • The Beautiful Magical Hourglass, it’s imaginary but I like thinking about visual time
  • It Solves Itself
  • Choose Calm Choose Ease
  • Welcoming simple elegant solutions
  • The path reveals itself / one next step is a fractal next step

The more I practice, the more I will remember. The more I remember to just keep on showing up, the stronger the practice.

What’s next

I don’t know, I am hoping and trusting that the fog of Stuck Boat Week will clear, but either way, the path is the path. Or: change the path.

In the meantime, I can focus on what I do know. there are practices that hold me and sustain me, and I can keep returning to them.

And if these practices aren’t doing it for me, I can change up any aspect of them or invent something new.

Lighting a candle for small shifts, new movement, the first signs of spring here in the southern New Mexico, hope sparks, whatever is needed most.

Let the right openings open in good timing, or something even better.

Come play in the comments, I appreciate the company

You are welcome to share anything that sparked for you while reading, or anything that helped or anything on your mind. I am lighting a candle for all of it.

Or anything you’d like to toss into the wishing pot, the healing power of the collective is no small thing, companionship helps.

Whatever comes to mind (come to heart?), let’s support each other’s hope-sparks and wishes…

Thank you to everyone who reads, porch breaths, the winding path, the many clues that land when they land, receptivity, keeping on keeping on.

New ebook alert!!!

Aka fun bonus material on how I relate to time and map out my quarters for the year.

Anyone who gives to Barrington’s Discretionary this week (see below) will get this by email as a pdf!

A request

If you received clues or perspective or want to send appreciation for the writing and work/play we do here, I appreciate it tremendously. Between Long Covid and traumatic brain injury recovery, things are slow going.

I am accepting support (with joy & gratitude) in the form of Appreciation Money to Barrington’s Discretionary Fund. Asking is not where my strength resides but Brave & Stalwart is the theme these days, and pattern-rewriting is the work, it all helps with fixing the many broken things.

And if those aren’t options, I get it, you can light a candle for support (or light one in your mind!), share this with someone who loves words, tell people about these techniques, approaches and themes, send them here, it all helps, it’s all welcome, and I appreciate it and you so much. ❤️

Imperceptible Movement

the majestic elephant-feet of a giant tree appear to be almost in motion

The majestic sun-dappled elephant-feet of a giant tree appear to be almost in motion…


Announcement & reminder about the ebook!

If you’ve already given to Barrington’s Discretionary last year or this year, you should have received my ebook (by email) on how I approach and plan my year, how I think about time and am in relationship with time. The feedback on this has been lovely and heartwarming, thank you!

And if you gave to Barrington but didn’t get it, I am so sorry if anyone fell through the cracks, please email me at my name at this website, Havi AT fluent self DOT com, with any emoji, and I will send it.

You can still obtain a copy for now, as a thank you when you give any sum to Barrington’s Discretionary Fund, and I hope you enjoy and find lots of clues in there!

AND! Blog subscription news!

Thanks to the sunsetting of Feedburner (RIP Feedburner), a lot of people have not been getting posts in their email anymore, and I apologize about that.

Here’s good news: If you were a confirmed subscriber, you’re probably seeing this post in your email account right now because we are using a new plug-in and supposedly everyone has been migrated over, so if that’s the case, hi, I missed you, and you don’t have to do a thing.

Though if you want to catch up on / binge-read essays from me from the past couple years, they are at fluentself.com/archive, the password is starlight, enjoy.

If you aren’t subscribed to posts but you want to be, you can click right here, or scroll all the way down to the footer and click on the orange RSS icon.

Doing that will pop up a new page on the Follow.It site that allows you to subscribe via email, via newsletter, or via RSS reader. (It says you can “expect 50 stories a week”, and yikes to that, but that’s a number they made up – it would be shocking if I post here more than once a week.)

Okay, that was a lot of housekeeping! Let’s do this. A breath for beginning. Here we go.

Imperceptible Movement

The tree

Cate asked what I wanted to do for my birthday, and the thing I wanted to do, other than see a person (Cate) for the first time in what felt like forever, was to set off on a pilgrimage to hug a particular tree.

Okay, fine, any tree. I was up for a tree-hugging mission of whatever form, but yes, there was a certain tree I have been day-dreaming about. I wanted to meet (and hug) this tree, and I wanted company.

The tree-hugging mission involved a hike, and thanks to Long Covid, I can almost never make a good guess about how much energy I will have, if any, but also:

I have been training for this.

Training for visiting a tree. Training for all of it.

Training for this moment

Now that I have been sick for twenty seven months, and it’s less a matter of “being sick” as a situation that I find myself in, and more “this is just my life”, I have been getting to know this version of me, learning about the ebbs and flows of existing like this: chronically ill and still here.

Trying to stay attentive, fluid, adaptable, curious.

Trying to channel whatever might help with figuring out what I need, while not judging myself for needing it – to the extent that this is possible, when is possible, and no, it is not always possible.

I will be honest

I will be honest: Sometimes I hate needing so much, both in general, and also regarding needing so much recovery time specifically.

What is possible for me and when? These are the questions, both in relation to what I might have energy to do, and how easily I am able to receive the answer that is.

That’s one part of the training. Asking the questions.

The next part

Staying receptive to the known information, and receiving the answer that is, not fighting the answer that is. That’s another part of the training.

Letting things change. One day like this, one day like that. What if this can be neutral input? And if it can’t, can I conjure some more compassion for myself until it can…

Staying hopeful, maintaining fierce hope in the face of [the many seemingly not-hopeful things], this is also part of the training.

The hope is not about recovery, because what’s that. The hope is about hope.

The hope is about hope

Hope as a way of being, hope as a resilience practice, hope for its own sake.

Maybe I won’t get better but maybe things around me will get better, and maybe I will get better at adapting, who knows, so many things are possible.

So many things are possible, miracles abound, I don’t know what I don’t know, and so I breathe and tend to the hope-sparks. When I can.

Hoping my way towards a version of me who can cope gracefully with the harder days. The me who loves the sea.

All this is a form of training.

What is possible

I have been learning more about what is possible for me (or might be possible) when, and what facilitates a state of [possible], and what preparation and recovery are required to support [possible].

A lot of it is stuff I’ve written about here already: recommitting to ritual and routine, doing so much less, doing less to get more.

Doing less while inviting in more presence, more intention, more compassion, more (or any) grace. Staying devoted to Loving Clarity, aka recognizing what is, but recognizing it with kindness towards myself.

A lot of it is building in more entry (rest) and exit (rest), and making peace with the idea that anything I do will send me back to bed for a while.

Small gains

Every day I walk and jog in my kitchen. I spend time on the balance board, do slow stretches, and backwards-walking. Practicing the art of small gains; assassin training on the micro level.

I know that I am so very lucky that my body agrees to do these things and mostly enjoys them.

Similarly, I know that I am lucky I already had a daily movement practice of decades in place to support me, a practice which miraculously preserved itself beneath the surface, even when I had to spend several months mostly in bed. A thanksful heart for all this.

I also train through not-doing

I also train through early to bed, resting as much as possible, practicing 10% More Relaxed, doing the peaceful, grounding, quieting things that help.

Each day, I say to myself: WE TRAINED FOR THIS.

Because we did.

Slow to the point of imperceptible

The tree was even more majestic and magical than I had imagined it might be when curiosity pulled me into its trajectory, and it was truly a delight to meet this tree and share many hugs.

The tree was enormous and serene, deeply rooted, arcing powerfully skyward, but its magnificent elephant-feet (pictured at the top of this post) conveyed a sense of motion, almost as if we’d caught it mid-step.

I liked the feeling of this, a sort of deeply grounded momentum.

As if the tree was drawing energy from the earth and moving itself. Moving itself! And moving so slowly as to be almost imperceptible, and yet, at the same time, moving with great power and conviction.

Great power and great ease. Imperceptible grounded movement.

Tree-style / assassin-style

Now there are some superpowers.

What would a tree do? Move imperceptibly, almost invisibly. Stay grounded and steady. Draw power from the earth.

What would an asssassin do? Move imperceptibly, almost invisibly. Stay grounded and steady. Draw power from the earth.

Movement is happening, even when I can’t see it

Isn’t it fascinating when things are changing/healing/moving/evolving, and we don’t realize it yet?

I find this reassuring. Movement is happening.

There is forward momentum, change is happening, good things are coming, the wishes are set into motion, moving with power and grace. It’s just a matter of fine-tuning my perception.

Entry / middle / exit / recovery / more recovery

Just as I had to come up with a plan of entry (rest first) and exit (rest to recover) to support my visit to the tree, everything requires a plan for resting before, during and after.

I am currently dealing with a fairly major family emergency. Flying is not an option because of a combination of issues most of which are health-related. So I need to drive across the country very slowly.

(Clarification! I will not drive slowly, I will drive at a reasonable and legal-ish speed; what I mean is that I can only do a few hours at a time, and might need additional rest days in between.)

Which means: I need a plan. A plan that involves a tremendous amount of rest and recovery, for the before, the during and the after.

The planning of a plan

But even the planning of the plan is something that wears me out, and it too requires resting up to be able to plan, and then resting to recover from doing planning time.

This feels almost ridiculous when I put it into words, except it’s also just my reality. My ridiculous reality.

Or as another friend calls it, the ongoing shitshow of magical unfolding.

What can I learn about Invisible Movement / Invisible Momentum

How do you plan a plan when you have no energy to plan, and when you physically can’t do that much? When there’s no way to know if one good day will be followed by another one?

I am invoking fractal magic: may each step be activating thousands of other steps, may the imperceptible motion on the surface be enacting deep waves on other planes of existence…

Patience (I Play The Long Game)

Similarly I am practicing patience, like a big cat: I Play The Long Game.

Patience, and trust in right timing. I am practicing Choose Calm, Choose Ease. Continually reminding myself about This Can Solve Itself.

Cherishing my wishes for a better solution, more ease, more grace, a third way, a new path, and placing them gently into the wish-cauldron.

Whispering about them to my tree-friends and the sky when I take evening porch-breaths.

Holding onto the hope sparks.

Working backwards, working forwards, moving imperceptibly

Working backwards and working forwards simultaneously.

What is one step I can take today?

Practicing within movement practice

Something I like to do when I am on the rug is imagining a pose, for example, a boat pose.

Then maybe I do it and maybe I don’t, but the work has already happened while I was in the imagining.

It’s endlessly fascinating to me that my body works just as hard while imagining doing it as doing it. You can imagine something so hard that sweat pours off of you before you have even lifted your legs.

Sometimes I can even learn more about the pose or the movement through the imagining than through doing it. It is in imagining that I realize how much I need to engage inner thighs, or remember to relax my jaw.

We trained for this, with imagination, and with imperceptible movement.

Imperceptible, again

Another thing I like to play with, in my movement practice which often resembles a stillness practice, is moving as little or as slowly as possible.

Sometimes I can make the movements so small that I feel them but they might not be visible from the outside.

An imperceptible movement practice. Like the tree.

Like a big cat stalking its new toy, I can be patient and wait in the grasses, I can be poised, I can play the long game.

What if there is great power in moving the tiniest amount, an imperceptible amount, but with clarity, intention, patience? Drawing power from the earth, moving deliberately.

Keeping on keeping on

This helps me with the work of keeping on keeping on, in the face of the many heart-breaking things. I am the big cat, I am the tree.

You can’t see the motion, because it is currently in the before, the stored up potential before the kinetic burst.

Or because it is happening at an imperceptible scale, but with fractal and cumulative results. One small invisible step for a majestic tree, one giant leap for a cougar. One small invisible step in imagination, exponential movement that will propel me across the country when I am ready.

Or something like that. This is what I am playing with in my mind and in my movement practice, as I am resting, slowly planning, resting, slowly planning, resting and recovering from slowly planning.

Moving slow, for a good reason

Here is a clue via this excellent piece of dialogue from Will Trent:

“How’s it going down there?”
“Moving slow, making good decisions.”
“See, that’s what you want from a bomb technician…”

Moving slowly and making good decisions feels so important, and I think it’s because it’s about being deliberate.

Deliberate

Deliberate is the quality I am trying to channel most as I work on remembering to Choose Calm Choose Ease, and make my way towards simple elegant solutions.

How can I be extremely deliberate as I figure out how to slowly and steadily move myself across the country for an amount of time and then return, without wearing myself out.

There is something beautiful and compelling to me in this commitment to slowness, to unhurried precision.

To be clear, it also scares me, but maybe that’s because it goes against the external culture of pushing and striving, things I can’t do anymore even if I wanted to.

The perfect answer

I also honestly think this delightful quote might be the perfect answer to nearly any question.

Of course it’s very rare that I speak to a person because I live alone in the wilds and am often resting, but I sincerely hope that the next time someone asks me how I’m doing or what I’m up to, I can remember to answer with: “Moving slowly, making good decisions”.

Like a tree, like an assassin who has trained for this, like a big cat, like a wise and cautious bomb technician.

Deliberate and steady. Deliberate and sure of myself, because I trained for this.

Moving Deliberately & Making Good Decisions Monday

Each day I try to practice moving even more slowly, even more deliberately. Making good decisions, receiving useful intel, adapting as needed.

What day is it? It’s Moving Deliberately & Making Good Decisions Day.

Being slow and steady.

Being deliberate means letting the routine hold me.

What is useful / good / treasure about Slow Deliberations

Deliberate = intentional.

Slow = giving yourself adequate time to perceive more / gather more clues / notice what you notice / feel what you feel / notice that you are feeling the things that you are feeling, and so on.

In a way, moving deliberately and slowly is like having dedicated time for therapy or for journaling or for a conscious movement practice.

In other words, it’s about conjuring a container of time for breathing, noticing, self-reflecting — a container of time when you won’t rush or be rushed, because it is not the nature of the practice to rush.

Slow is smooth and smooth is fast

I know I have referenced the book Momo before here, which I have enjoyed greatly both in the original German and in the excellent English translation.

There is a character who is a street-sweeper, and he explains that if you rush the sweeping, you feel stressed and it takes longer, but if you go breath by breath, breathe-and-sweep, the road almost sweeps itself.

Slow is smooth and smooth is fast. Slow is present and engaged, and progress happens while you aren’t looking for it. There is a dance of Swift & Slow. But it starts with slow.

Just as my own movement practice yields gains even though often it looks as though I’m barely moving at all. I’m training. For this.

What else is good about Slow Deliberations?

For one thing, you can’t accidentally talk yourself into a decision that is not true to you if you are slow in your deliberations, if you keep asking questions and looking for the path of Choose Ease.

I know I can’t be rushed, not just because I don’t want to be, but because I will physically collapse if I try to do too much.

Adapting to this, and watching other people in my life struggle to adapt or even to remember that it’s happening to me, is its own form of training.

Either way, here we go

Either way, I’m moving slowly and deliberately, channeling tree-powers and fractal motion, moving with great intention.

Training and moving, training and imagining, training and breathing, training and wishing.

Let’s play with invisible and imperceptible motion!

Some ways we can practice and play:

Wishing wishes, into the wishing cauldron, into the pot. It is brave and beautiful to wish, to be present with the wanting, it can be a vulnerable admission to let ourselves want.

Using proxies: if it’s too hard or sticky or potentially painful to wish a wish, can we name a playful, silly, semi-imaginary goal and find out what steps we would take if that were our wish?

In actual movement practice: a clue walk, or any slow, small and symbolic movements. Gathering power, moving from the earth, it doesn’t need to be visible to be powerful.

Journaling and stone skipping, asking questions of a Slightly Wiser version of you, or the you who has already found the answer or taken the next step…

Doing anything that supports the training: hydrating, for example. Nap on it, dance on it, cry on it, rest on it.

What are the superpowers

I am calling in / on / up the powers of:

This is all in the hands of the sky, nothing for me to do here except light candles, choose calm, choose ease, and put it into the wishing cauldron with love…

The cowboy abides, we stay tough and do chores on the ranch, keep it moving, find beauty and any joy sparks.

It solves itself

If moving is where the ease is, what gets me moving? What supports movement?

Can I remember to let myself need what I need and want what I want.

How am I doing? Moving deliberately, making good decisions, asking over and over for Loving Clarity.

Remembering that this can solve itself, simple and elegant solutions are on their way. It might feel like they are moving imperceptibly, but they are on their way. Can I trust in the powers of deliberate imperceptible motion?

The solutions move towards me, I move towards them.

Come play in the comments, I appreciate the company

You are welcome to share anything that sparked for you while reading, or anything that helped or anything on your mind. I am lighting a candle for all of it.

Or anything you’d like to toss into the wishing pot, the healing power of the collective is no small thing, companionship helps.

Whatever comes to mind (come to heart?), let’s support each other’s hope-sparks and wishes…

Thank you to everyone who reads, porch breaths, the winding path, the many clues that land when they land, receptivity, keeping on keeping on.

New ebook alert!!!

Aka fun bonus material on how I relate to time and map out my quarters for the year.

Anyone who gives to Barrington’s Discretionary this week (see below) will get this by email as a pdf!

A request

If you received clues or perspective or want to send appreciation for the writing and work/play we do here, I appreciate it tremendously. Between Long Covid and traumatic brain injury recovery, things are slow going.

I am accepting support (with joy & gratitude) in the form of Appreciation Money to Barrington’s Discretionary Fund. Asking is not where my strength resides but Brave & Stalwart is the theme these days, and pattern-rewriting is the work, it all helps with fixing the many broken things.

And if those aren’t options, I get it, you can light a candle for support (or light one in your mind!), share this with someone who loves words, tell people about these techniques, approaches and themes, send them here, it all helps, it’s all welcome, and I appreciate it and you so much. ❤️

A scintillation of light / Backwards and forwards in time

blue sky with dramatic zigzag cloud patterns

When I remember to look up, I get to enjoy this high magic sky with all its shifting cloud art


Announcement & reminder about the ebook!

If you’ve already given to Barrington’s Discretionary last year or this year, you should have received my ebook (by email) on how I approach and plan my year, how I think about time and am in relationship with time. The feedback on this has been lovely and heartwarming, thank you!

And if you gave to Barrington but didn’t get it, I am so sorry if anyone fell through the cracks, please email me at my name at this website, Havi AT fluent self DOT com, with any emoji, and I will send it.

You can still obtain a copy for now, as a thank you when you give any sum to Barrington’s Discretionary Fund, and I hope you enjoy and find lots of clues in there!

Scintillations of light / Backwards and forwards in time

Backwards in time

I have gone backwards in time, in the very specific sense of scrolling, all the way back, to the very first episode of a podcast that began in 2018, back then, before.

Before the everything and the all of it. Simpler times but we did not know that, because it felt like extremely complicated times, at the time.

The podcast is called Obscure, it’s by Michael Ian Black, and the first season begins with him reading the book Jude The Obscure, by Thomas Hardy, which I have never read and neither had he, and apparently neither have most people, which seems appropriate.

Every time I tell someone that this is what I’m listening to, they say huh I never read that, and yes, that’s the point, you’re in good company, the time is now. Or later!

Though really more

That’s the concept! And it’s…what it sounds like, more or less, though really more.

Michael Ian Black reads the book out loud, which is a delight. I forgot how much I enjoy being read to. And he comments on the book as he goes.

He talks about obscurity, in general, as a theme, and does some voices.

There are detours. I love detours.

*There are also ads, and I do not love ads, but I fast-forward through them (do people still say that? I come from the analog times, speaking of the past), and obviously I understand that everyone needs to find a way to make money and stay alive in this bizarre trap we are all in, so: just letting you know.

Back to the detours, as a concept, and as a way of path-finding.

I love detours

So far I have recommended this podcast to at least seven people, though now more since I am telling you about it here, and what I tell them is that this show is more thrilling than it sounds when you describe it

At this point, I have listened to six episodes and am enthralled. Can’t stop thinking about it, which is extra surprising, because this is the exact category of you could never have imagined you needed this but you do.

Also it is ADHD heaven, a delight of rabbit holes.

He follows threads where they take him, and it is fun to go on small adventures with someone, and then, whether I agree with his conclusions or not, I invariably find my own threads to follow either way…

Who disliked the sight of changes

My first clue showed up, entirely unexpectedly, right at the beginning, in the second paragraph of Jude the Obscure.

“The rector had gone away for the day, being a man who disliked the sight of changes. He did not mean to return till the evening, when the new school-teacher would have arrived and settled in, and everything would be smooth again.”

Who knew that a book written in 1894 could sum up the current situations so immediately, so concisely, with such elegant precision.

The sight of

My hope in putting on the podcast was that it could potentially take my mind off of a stressful situation I find myself in, and of course it brought me right back there.

A family member spent the month of January in urgent care, which was terrifying and anxiety-inducing; I couldn’t be there because my own health issues make travel impossible.

Now back home, rattled by the experience, they have embarked on the process of downsizing, and somehow this has turned into me being in charge of downsizing from afar.

And what I keep trying to explain to everyone involved is that this is a person who is positively allergic to change.

Ask Thomas Hardy

Except people do not take me seriously when I say this; everyone says something like, yes, yes, who isn’t, as if this is simply a universal way of being.

And, to be fair, it is. To some extent.

But there are people and there are people, and some people have a harder time with change than the normal amount of having a hard time with change, even though everyone around me is pretending this isn’t true.

It is true. Ask Thomas Hardy.

They can’t bear to be there to observe it

As Thomas Hardy himself understood and emphasized in the second paragraph of this serialized story, from all the way back in 1894, speaking of going back into time, there are people in this world who dislike the sight of changes more than your average person dislikes the sight of changes.

In fact, there are people for whom the sight of change is so unbearable that they simply cannot be present for it, they don’t even want to be around it, which is different than just not liking when things change.

There are people who don’t like change in the way that no one likes change (though personally, sometimes I crave it and at other times resist it), and there are people like the rector who simply have to remove themselves from the situation, because it is too distressing.

They will return when everything is smooth again, per Thomas Hardy.

Everything changes

And we react how we react.

Some people need more time to adjust. Some people need to physically remove themselves from what’s happening, and come back later when everything is smooth again, though now of course we find ourselves in such especially un-smooth times, so who knows when that will be.

But I found it comforting that the rector is this sort of person, and even more comforting that Thomas Hardy acknowledged this, because, as I said, I seem to be spending a lot of my time trying to convince people that their friend (my relative) has more difficulty with changes than the rest of us.

And they seem to think that I don’t understand how change is hard for all of us. Which it is.

It really is

Changes, whether the kind we might be able to anticipate, or the kind that take us entirely by surprise, are challenging and often extremely uncomfortable, I’m definitely not arguing that.

I’m right here still reeling from the changes in my own life brought on from the pandemic, and from my concussion, which was followed by Long Covid.

In fact, I’m still reeling from changes that barreled into my life over twelve years ago, when my beloved mentor announced a lawsuit against me, still reeling from a relationship-shattering revelation in 2017..

Time

I find myself still doubled over in pain from wounds that feel agonizingly of the moment even as the calendar tells me that much time has passed, and continues to do so.

So I would never argue that change is not hard or scary; if anything I absolutely understand how thoroughly it can confound, how devastating and debilitating it can be.

Also, if you are not neurotypical, and you, like me, exist mostly outside of time, the then and the now can get extra mixed up emotionally, I’m sure there’s a better way of explaining that but I can’t.

Back to the rector

It’s just that some people are the rector, and this person in my life is one of them; he would prefer to not be around for change while it is happening, or acknowledge it in any way.

And in this case he cannot remove himself from the situation that is changing, because it is his life/body/mind/home, and they are all changing at once.

Trying to be with that, and be patient with all aspects of that, even though I too, like the rector, would prefer to remove myself from this whole project entirely, only to return once things have somehow, mysteriously, smoothed themselves.

Self-smoothing

What would it be like for things to smooth themselves, to smooth themselves along, smooth themselves out, do the work of soothing-and-smoothing without me.

I am dropping this into the wishing cauldron, as another form of It Solves Itself.

Though also there is something of a contradiction here, for is it not the job of the rector to be the one in charge of smoothing situations that require smoothing?

Let’s call a wise friend (the internet)

I will be honest with you, I am not entirely sure what a rector is, a word I mainly know from Agatha Christie mystery novels, so I am looking it up.

According to google, the rector is the priest in charge of a parish, the ecclesiastical authority of the parish…

So, yes, a spiritual leader, the one who should realistically be modeling presence in this situation and instead chooses absence? Is that a dig at the rector for being bad at rectoring? I do not know.

I am sitting with this too

Obviously I am not going to judge the rector for doing exactly what I would want to do in this situation.

And of course, to every thing there is a season, which is from Kohelet, and I never remember how to say that in English but I looked that up too, and it’s Ecclesiastes.

A time for being present with the changing changes, and a time for recusing yourself until the situation smooths itself while you are away.

That’s not in the text, not in Jude the Obscure and not in Kohelet, but you know what I mean.

Beneath the skies

To all things a season, and a time to every purpose (purpose? object?) beneath the skies. There you go. That’s my overly-wordy translation of the Hebrew, though not as overly-wordy as it could be.

I don’t love how under heaven sounds, which is how it’s usually translated — now that seems overly wordy, not to the point. So much drama.

It’s trying too hard to be poetic, while the actual words are beautiful in part because they are so simple.

The point is

The point is, back to the rector in Jude the Obscure, and to the person who needs to empty out a house after fifty two years of accumulating belongings…

There is a time for being present with the hard thing that is hard, and there is a time for elegantly disappearing until the situation smooths itself out, and who am I to say which one is called for right now.

Sometimes both are the practice, though maybe not at the same time, that could be tricky. Though yes, sometimes we can bring some presence to our escapism, or some relief to the practice of presence.

All I know is that what always helps (for me) is to be patient and pay attention. It helps if I remember to ask for or otherwise channel some Loving Clarity.

Add Compassion & Stir.

People vary!

People vary.

If you know you are someone who dislikes the sight of changes, in Hardy’s words, then it might help to just make room for that.

Or if you welcome changes but feel trepidation about how to go about that, okay, that’s the season we are in. Change is happening, and we get to feel about it however we feel about it.

Rainy season

There’s another really great podcast that you might already listen to if you speak Hebrew.

It’s called Shir Echad (One Song), and it’s a highly-produced and impressively well-researched show, and I cry at least three times per episode, though I have kind of been going through a lot lately so your crying mileage may vary.

Anyway, each week they deep-dive into one song, and it’s always fascinating.

This week they covered Geshem Beito (Rain In Its Time) by Ruthi Navon, from 1974, a song I have heard dozens and dozens of times in my life, and never really had any thoughts about it that I can recall.

Other than the thought that Ruthi Navon can SING. What a voice, what a talent.

Not about rain

They shared a marvelous clip of Talma Alyagon-Rose, who wrote the text to the song, laughing somewhat bitterly about how radio stations always play her song when it rains.

She was like, listen, it’s not a song about rain.

And it’s not.

About time

And it’s not; it’s a song about how war steals everything good in life, how it takes away the time that should be given to experiencing love.

It’s also a heartfelt prayer for the rain to be exactly what it needs to be as it comes; a blessing for the crops, a light touch on your lover’s face given to them in your name while you await their return…

It relates again to this seasonality, the rain comes it its season, and sometimes it’s miserable and sometimes it is what is needed, but either way, here it is, so let’s ask it to be a messenger of sweetness.

Sad and not sad

It was a sad episode and very moving episode, and also funny in parts.

I was astonished to learn that Ruthi Navon nailed it on the first take, so much so that one of the producers described it as if she was almost rewriting the song while singing it, through her musical improvisations, inventing a new song that was even better through revealing what no one knew could be there.

The song is on youtube if you want to listen.

Process

Mainly I was fascinated by listening to someone describe their writing process and having the meaning dawn on them later.

This is the writing process of someone who writes entirely in metaphor but only much later realizes what she was writing about.

This is extra funny when you consider that she has a philosophy degree, and extra funny to me when I consider that I also do this, pretty much constantly, often unintentionally and sometimes even very intentionally, when I play with proxies…

Sometimes I write about something and even at the time I realize I’m writing about something else, but then later I go back to it and realize that what I thought I was hiding from myself three layers deep, is actually just a clue about what was hiding seven layers deep.

Welcoming frivolity

This is why it’s so useful to write about (or do art about, or go for a walk about, etc) something you think you don’t care about at all, because it can reveal so much about what is truly important to your heart.

I am a huge fan of journaling about frivolous topics, the more frivolous the better.

Today for example, I am writing about a podcast I listened to, and the other day I journaled for an hour about muffins, because I had to process something about betrayal and despair.

Bonus: I found a great muffin recipe.

The power in playing at the edges

There is so much freedom in not directly addressing the issue, so much freedom, so much ability to play and reveal new information, and maybe also there will be muffins.

No need to force yourself to jump into the deep end of the scary thing. We can just wander around the garden path and do some reconnaissance, appreciate the view, possibly have a muffin.

This is why sometimes it is useful to be the rector, especially if you do this intentionally.

Go somewhere else, see what you notice. Last week we talked about clue walks, and removing yourself from a situation can be a form of Go Forth And Bring Back Observations…

Changes

On Sunday, I surprised myself by having a good day for the first time in ?????; I remember thinking to myself, today was such a lovely day for me, and then reveling in the newness of that.

I tried and was unable to remember the last time I’d had a thought like that, or if I did then it was a lovely day despite all the challenges, but this day was just lovely, seemingly for no real reason.

Then the next day I went careening into the Pits Of Despair, also for no real or apparent reason.

I received a decision that I thought would lighten my stress, and it did not. The things that had brought joy the day before were no longer bringing joy. It happens.

Remembering what helps, even when it doesn’t

Even when I couldn’t make my way out of the Pits of Despair, I was able to hold onto my rope ladder, is it woven of the wisdom of having been here before?

For example…

  • a surprise lovely day can come again even if right now I don’t believe it can, the science shows it can
  • everything passes, including the big despair
  • even if the things that help aren’t helping yet, that doesn’t mean their cumulative effect won’t kick in later
  • I can skip stones or go for a walk with the me who is past the pits and knows what I need
  • lighting a candle for all the Bravery & Tenacity powers
  • remembering that hope in the face of hopelessness is revolutionary
  • it’s all neutral, even when it’s not
  • I can find beauty in the unexpected places, I’ve done it before

And somehow, by evening, I felt mostly better again even though I didn’t think I would.

Beauty in unexpected places

Okay, check out this line from Chapter Four of Jude the Obscure:

…a watch-chain that danced madly and threw around scintillations of sky-light as its owner swung along upon a pair of thin legs and noiseless boots.

Scintillations of sky-light.

Striking

Isn’t that a striking image?

Isn’t that a gorgeous combination of sounds and words?

Scintillations of sky-light, I love this so much.

I am reminded of hope-sparks and hope-glimmers, which we all need in these scary and heart-wrenching times.

Now also thinking of a prism which refracts light and casts it on the walls where we perceive it as a rainbow…

Glimmer-related research

You will not be surprised to learn that I went down a rabbit hole about scintillation of light, a scientific concept, the light emitted when ionizing radiation is the source of the energy.

I also learned that the first device which used a scintillator was built in 1903, almost ten years after Thomas Hardy wrote about these scintillations of sky-light.

What a cool word!

Scintillations of

Scintillation is about brilliance and sparks, glinting and glittering, reacting to the light, a brightness that sparkles.

If I imagine that I am following a path and there are milestones, what if these are gem stones that emit scintillations of light, glimmer-cairns, star-markers…

The light was already there, I just needed to perceive it bouncing off of these faceted surfaces and find the beauty again, the High Magic in the ordinary, and the reminder that the pits are not separate from the path.

I didn’t get lost at all. I went in to come back out, and to remember.

Magic

The sky outside my door was especially glorious the other day and I sent a picture of it to my friend who said, “We are in magic!!! Oh, that I could only remember that every moment!!”

And that’s such a summing up of the human experience, just constant remembering (if we’re lucky), and forgetting, and then re-remembering (if we’re lucky).

If we’re lucky

Sometimes I think most of what I do is just to help me slow down enough to remember more, but for sure the forgetting is part of the remembering, and therefore part of the treasure even though it feels like not-treasure.

And of course the very next day, there I was, back in the pits of despair, having forgotten again.

All that to say that many things can be true and taking place at once, the magic and the forgetting and the excavating and the waiting.

Maps of

If you ever watched the show Prison Break, then you know about the thrilling feeling of:
“You’ve seen the plans?”
“Even better, I designed the plans…”

I like to regularly call on all related superpowers of Even Better, I Designed The Plans.

Of course my plan is pretty much generally the same: find beauty in the unexpected places (or the very expected places, like outside my door), do the things that help, remember that every crisis offers up its own solutions.

I don’t have to like any of it, but eventually there will be something useful here too, from the crisis…

There will be

There will be something useful here, there will be some unanticipated treasure.

There will be a scintillation of light, there will be hope-sparks and hope-glimmers, the rain is here in its time, I will remember my way back, I will remember something that helps…

Sometimes you have to go backwards to go forwards, sometimes you have to take what feels like the long way. What an adventure!

A time for

There is a time or times that ask us to be brave and to be present when we can be present, as much as we can, and to reach out and extend a hand if we can.

And there are times when we might have to remove ourselves from a situation for a bit and let things smooth themselves out while we adjust, or while we wander and look for clues.

Anyway

I gave my fifty minute hour to thinking about a podcast I like, and got some clues about why I might be feeling what I’m feeling.

Another thing I noticed was that sometimes I use a podcast as a way of puttering towards something, and that something often ends up being the creative process, or a therapeutic process or both.

Like the rector, I removed myself from the situation, and then that invited me to do some clearing of the decks, slowly but surely. Maybe the situation hasn’t smoothed itself out yet, but some adjusting happened.

Also thinking about how It Takes As Long As It Takes, but what if that’s a good thing or what if I can be neutral about it…

The meeting of the sky appreciation club

Looking up: things are looking up, and so am I.

Doing some more of whatever helps most, sometimes going backwards on purpose, a breath and another breath, staying oriented towards pleasure…

There’s a time for that too, out here, beneath the skies.

Come play in the comments, I appreciate the company

You are welcome to share anything that sparked for you while reading, or anything that helped or anything on your mind. I am lighting a candle for all of it.

Or anything you’d like to toss into the wishing pot, the healing power of the collective is no small thing, companionship helps.

Whatever comes to mind (come to heart?), let’s support each other’s hope-sparks and wishes…

Thank you to everyone who reads, porch breaths, the winding path, the many clues that land when they land, receptivity, keeping on keeping on.

New ebook alert!!!

Aka fun bonus material on how I relate to time and map out my quarters for the year.

Anyone who gives to Barrington’s Discretionary this week (see below) will get this by email as a pdf!

A request

If you received clues or perspective or want to send appreciation for the writing and work/play we do here, I appreciate it tremendously. Between Long Covid and traumatic brain injury recovery, things are slow going.

I am accepting support (with joy & gratitude) in the form of Appreciation Money to Barrington’s Discretionary Fund. Asking is not where my strength resides but Brave & Stalwart is the theme these days, and pattern-rewriting is the work, it all helps with fixing the many broken things.

And if those aren’t options, I get it, you can light a candle for support (or light one in your mind!), share this with someone who loves words, tell people about these techniques, approaches and themes, send them here, it all helps, it’s all welcome, and I appreciate it and you so much. ❤️

The Fluent Self