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.

New Year Experiments

New Year Experiments

We’re talking experiments for the new year (my own experiments, and the idea of experiments in general), we’re covering the gentle art of pattern-rewriting, and there might also be sound effects. Whee!

Preface! Context! And the usual parenthetical asides.

It’s that time of year when it seems like everyone online is either talking about their rhymes-with-revolutions, or about how they make a point to not do any.

Are these both reasonable options? Yes! Are there other options? Absolutely. Let’s find out!

And of course, as with everything we want to keep in mind (or hold in the heart, keep in heart? How is that not a phrase?) that People Vary. People Vary.

People Vary

One way we might vary is that some people find the new year invigorating, while some people want to sleep through it. My friend E says he resents even being reminded of the passage of time, fair enough!

Some people love making big changes all at once, and other people like to ease into new patterns and habits in their own timing, either in small increments or just waiting until they feel ready.

One of these approaches is not better than the other, it’s just a matter of figuring out where we land.

And, the People Vary principle also applies to words and how we feel when we encounter them.

We all have our own personal histories with words, layered associations built up over time.

Some words draw us in, some repel us. This can also change with time, and let’s remember that we have some power here too, in the sense that we can always rewrite words and/or our associations with them if we want to. We can play.

But first, we start with just noticing how we feel about these sometimes tricky words, and what they bring up for us. And of course the word I am thinking about specifically right now is resolution, in the sense of New Year’s resolutions.

Start where you are

If resolutions work for you — as a word or concept or a practice (or all of the above!), I love this for you and am excited for your new year resolutions! May all your resolutions come beautifully to fruition, or something even better. Wow, what beautiful wishes…

And if you’d rather opt-out entirely of interacting with anything related to goals, wishes, or anything in between, I support this too. There is so much external pressure to force big change, and that it happens at the exact time of year that is least conducive towards doing anything other than hibernating is honestly kind of cruel, and at best, a really big ask.

This dissonance can be painful, and we’ve talked about this before.

Opting out of the whole thing is not only its own beautiful, creative and subversive practice, it can be a generous gift to yourself. So if that’s what you’re drawn to, I applaud the opting out! Take the detour. Love a detour.

We begin when we begin. When we’re ready.

We begin when we begin

There is so much value and healing goodness in making changes in ways (and at times) that actually support us, and sometimes that means Nap First, receive intel later.

Rest into it or run towards it, whichever you like. Or something else entirely.

(The point!)

All that to say, I am not writing this to convince you of anything, I don’t need you to like resolutions or to be a middle finger to resolutions.

In fact, I genuinely support both of these, as well as any form of Not X, Not Y, But A Third Secret Way, whatever works for you.

I wrote this just to share how I do things. And I don’t need you to do things the way I do them either. All I want is to remind us with love and affection that we have options. We can go our own way. Cue Fleetwood Mac…

* Though I am hearing The Cranberries 1999 Live In Paris version which always makes me cry but in a good way.

A starting point

Maybe my new year practice will spark some ideas for you, maybe you’ll want to review your relationship with resolutions and intentions or [a stand-in for these].

Maybe what you want is a new word, approach or practice, or maybe you’ll realize the way you already approach this transition works really well for you, awesome.

And if none of this is what you want, maybe that clear beautiful no can be a clue that lets you craft something new and different that you like better. Love that too.

New Year Experiments!

The reason I go with experiments over resolutions is they feel more spacious and playful to me.

An experiment involves gathering information (reconnaissance!) and putting together a hypothesis, and being willing to change the hypothesis, or even the entire focus and scope of the experiment, depending on what we learn and how things develop.

Experiments are about being genuinely curious, suspending judgment and releasing expectations. Being present in the moment: willing to be surprised.

There might be some hope-sparks in a certain direction, but the experiment isn’t “good” if it “works” and “bad” if it doesn’t. That’s a misunderstanding of the process. All experiments are useful experiments.

And each experiment yields vital information that leads us to the next experiment.

There are too many unknowns for me to resolve anything one way or the other

I don’t resolve to do anything in particular, to be more x, or have more y, or even to commit to a habit in a certain way for a certain amount of time.

Mainly because I have no idea what’s going to happen, who I am going to be, or what slightly-future-me is going to need. It’s all unknown.

For me, resolutions involve deciding and committing, and I can’t do that because I have no idea what my energy level will be like, or what I’ll be feeling passionate about until I get there.

Example

Last year, in the very first week of January 2022, I got Covid. I was fully vaccinated and boosted so it could have been so much worse, and still, it kicked my ass, turned my life upside down and I am still not close to anything that feels like recovery, whatever that means.

Anyway, I was in pain and non-stop distress for pretty much the first two months of the year, and after that my brain didn’t work.

So it would have been pretty ridiculous — and enormously frustrating — had I resolved to do or produce or get things done, had I wanted to achieve [X number of Y], work out every day, be more this way or that way. None of those were available to me.

Luckily, I hadn’t made any resolutions. I had only renewed some ongoing experiments. Were the parameters of these experiments changed by being incapacitated? Sure, a little, but not much. I was able to shift my experiments and adjust.

A little bit about how I approach experiments!

Compassion is step zero!

But it’s also all the in-between steps.

Rewriting habits and patterns is courageous work. It involves challenging familiarity. We already have our comfy neural pathways, we already whoosh down them automatically, like a toddler on a slide. Wheeee!

If we are going to interrupt our patterns in order to reconfigure them or rewrite them into something better, we want to do it lovingly. Otherwise we’re just reinforcing a bigger pattern of trying to force things or generally being shitty towards ourselves, and what’s the point of that.

What’s the point of reinforcing self-criticism

So part of this practice of Lovingly Interrupting Patterns is noticing when we’ve whooshed down the slide of the old self-criticism pattern, and glowing some compassion and understanding for that too. Oh yeah, no worries, we went whooshing down the familiar path for a minute, so reasonable, so understandable, it’s okay.

Of course we did things the familiar way, that’s why it’s the familiar way. Of course we wanted to force things, of course we were being shitty to ourselves.

That’s the training we’re undoing! Good job, babe.

Good job, babe

Noticing the pattern changes the pattern.

Good job on the noticing.

Good job, stepping over onto the new path.

Good job, being conscious and intentional about being conscious and intentional. Is it always going to work? Hahahaha, not at all. Welcome to being human. Good job, babe, killing it at that too.

When we get into the loop of self-judgment…

And when we forget to be compassionate? Or when it feels impossibly hard…

You guessed it. We can apply compassion there too.

Like this:

Oh wow, I’m having a hard time being compassionate with myself about this old habit-pattern of the mind, and about how long it’s taking to get out of this rut, okay, noted, can we let that be neutral information for now, and remember that it’s okay to have a hard time activating the new response.

Especially when we live in a culture that pretends the best form of motivation is feeling bad about ourselves.

We’ve run the numbers

External culture loves a shame-guilt spiral, even though we have confirmed through years of experimentation that it pretty much never gets us to where we think we want to be! Run that one by the internal scientists.

We’ve run the numbers on this. Can confirm. Feeling terrible about ourselves is at best hit or miss as a form of motivation. It might occasionally work, for a brief period of time, but it backfires more often than not, is not sustainable in any way, and anyway, who wants to live like that, not me.

Nice try, Puritans, you got this one wrong. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Would you like some examples of ongoing experiments I’m working on?

Okay I reviewed my list and there were too many so picking two examples to start with, I can go into these in more detail later if you like (let me know in the comments!) and am also happy to share more about other ongoing experiments in future updates if that’s of interest….

The experiment of A Spacious Morning

This is an experiment about intentional containers of time, and starting my day with the rituals, routines and practices that are most supportive of mental well-being.

Sometimes focusing on morning spaciousness means I’m busier in the evening, but that’s okay for me because early evening is actually when I have more focus.

Things I have learned from the experiment of A Spacious Morning:
+ boundaries support spaciousness (too spacious and my day gets lost to depression and anxiety, or adhd spacing out and autism stimming)
+ 3:33 on a timer will get me to do something I find appealing but challenging
+ 19:33 on a timer will help me do something that will feel good once I start but I’m resisting starting
+ music helps

Tweaking this for 2023:

What happens if we rename the components?
Would it feel good to check these off on a card?
Syncing morning bobcat stretching with sunrise (exception for when night terrors)

The experiment of Naming Wins

It’s easy for me to get into monster-stories about how I have Achieved Nothing, especially since covid stole what was left of my concussion-injured brain, and I spend a lot of my days just trying to remember what I was about to do.

At the end of each day, my self-criticism monsters give me a long depressing list of all the things I didn’t get to, and I have learned that I can apply a neutral mindset to this list, and turn it into reminders for tomorrow-me.

But the main thing I like to do is counter their list with my own list of wins. Sometimes these wins are very small, but they all count, they all add up, and naming them is helpful for me.

Even more helpful is sharing them with a friend who is able to be much more impressed than I am with my list. I have learned that if I name the wins every day, I get better at noticing them throughout the day.

Tweaking this for 2023:

I’m not sure yet, will update when I know. I think it has to do with celebrating more fully. Maybe an emoji for each win on the list. Maybe lighting a candle while compiling the list. It can be hard for me to think I need a high five on any of this, but STUDIES HAVE SHOWN (aka the last few months) that it helps when a friend cheers me on, and I am always happy to cheer them on as well.

Main takeaways

I don’t ever want to turn an experiment into a should, something I use to beat myself up for not doing, or doing wrong, or even for forgetting about.

That’s the entire reason I moved away from resolutions to begin with.

It’s way too easy to let a wished-for practice or habit morph into a stressful obligation. It’s way too easy to feel crappy when we mess up or forget or get too busy or get sick, or [life stuff gets in the way, as it does].

Again, this is mainly the fault of external culture, which wants us to feel bad about ourselves at all times, to always be pushing, striving, trying (and failing) to be “better”, this is how the system maintains status quo and how it maintains itself.

And, as wiser people than me have pointed out, this constant push-push-push hustle-and-grind culture of striving towards an imagined happier, better, unattainable something (but never actually feeling content) is just how capitalism and other forms of hierarchy sustain themselves. So let’s keep interrupting those patterns too.

There is something that is not workaholism and not devoid-of-ambition, but A Third Secret Thing, and I don’t know what it is yet or what it looks like.

Figuring that out is another ongoing experiment, but I do know that it’s a worthwhile question to follow.

What is the opposite of turning a habit into a cudgel

So often we start a new “good” habit, something we have wished for and dreamed of and now we’re doing it, and then the monsters use it as a cudgel for the rest of our life.

I have seen the best minds of my generation eaten alive by this very thing.

The actual work of pattern-rewriting, from noticing the pattern to making space for letting things be how they are, to interrupting the pattern, to switching out an element in the pattern, to applying compassion over and over again, has to be about the opposite of a cudgel.

The new habit isn’t coming in to be the new thing we feel guilty about or frustrated over. Not playing that game is the real new habit.

Easier said than done? Sure. We still get a trillion points, at least, for experimenting with experimenting.

Come play with me, I love company

You are welcome to play with any of the concepts here in any way you like. Come play in the comments!

We are experimenting with experimenting! All experiments are useful experiments! You can brainstorm experiments & practices, for rewriting any patterns or whatever you might going through, People Vary.

And as always, you’re invited to share anything sparked for you while reading, themes you’re playing with, or add any wishes into the pot, into the healing zone, as a friend of mine said, who knows, the power of the collective is no small thing, and companionship is healing.

Wishing you a new year that is an improvement in all ways over the last one, and if you are boycotting the passage of time then pretend I did not mention that! May we all find the supportive rituals, playful experiments and loving compassion we need, or something even better!

A request

If you received clues or perspective or just want to send appreciation for the writing and work/play we do here, I appreciate it tremendously. Working on some stuff to offer this coming year, but between traumatic brain injury recovery & Long Covid, it’s still 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, and it all helps with fixing what needs fixing, currently focused on making it through winter.

Or you can buy a copy of the my Monster Manual & Coloring Book if you don’t have it!

And if those aren’t options, I get it, you can light a candle for support (or light one in your mind!), share one of my posts 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 so much. ❤️

Three Months Later

hannuka candles on a table by a window

Image: Hannuka candles on a table by a window…


Quarters, Quarters & the Superpower of X

Three Months Later…

A trope I adore in a television series is the card that tells you how much time has passed. I am especially fond of Three Months Later…

Three months later…

Dot dot dot…

A beautiful container of time

Three months is such a rewarding amount of time to be given, or to have passed through, or to imagine passing through. A quarter of the year has gone by. A season came and went.

Our beloved protagonist has been through some things. They are different, possibly in some ways unrecognizable, whether to us or to themselves. Very strong New Hairstyle Energy here, love this.

I am very drawn to the superpowers hiding inside of Three Months Later. Transitions and transformations. Off-screen. Unrecognizable in a good way. Things shifted, as they had to, for reasons, and we are about to learn what is now and how it is new.

That moment of about to learn how is where the appeal is to me the most: what transpired in the missing time and space, what shifted for this person we care about?

Yes, tell me more (show me more) about what happened during the ellipses, the later inside the three months later, dot dot dot…

Dot dot dot…

When I am going through some things, and wow have I been going through some things, I hold fast to the superpowers of Three Months Later and Dot Dot Dot…

Like, okay, time is baffling, things are rough or painful, the grief is overwhelming, this is all true, IIWIMI (It Is What It Motherfucking Is), and what’s also true is that three months is a good container of time for experiments, rituals and discoveries.

In three months, some things will be the same, and some will have shifted, and I will have more perspective, maybe even more compassion that I can glow, inward and outward, into my own relationship with the painful things, and outward into the world.

Glowing perspective and compassion: towards and away, forwards and backwards, through time and space, letting them find their way, rippling through the river, onward: to past and future quarters, for recent and incoming selves.

To past and future quarters, for recent and incoming selves. A toast, and a rippling through.

This is the magic.

This is the magic. This is some of what can happen during the dot dot dot…

Whether I spend those three months hiding in bed, crying at the edge of the void, clawing my way out of the pit of despair-anxiety-depression, baking gluten-free broccoli-jalapeño bread each week until I find my exact right version, visiting my favorite tree, and/or some combination of the above…

Dot. Dot. Dot.

I go through what I go through, I learn what I learn, we made it to the next quarter, a thousand points, and at some point it is possible to discern some treasure in what was, or what was learned, or just having been through it.

Or not. Treasure-finding not required. But it has been known to happen.

The treasure in the reframing

This is also related to what is sometimes called Reframing.

In other words, sometimes our perception is that there is zero treasure in a given situation, and while we absolutely don’t have to force ourselves to find treasure, sometimes someone else has a perspective that shifts our story for us, in a good way.

Soup, bread, repeat

I told my chef friend Michael about how I was feeling disappointed and sad that I just baked the same two things over and over again from autumnal equinox to winter solstice, and also made the same soup on repeat. Green chile cauliflower potato soup.

Extremely delicious. Zero complaints. This is my favorite soup, and I did not get bored of it.

But also something about sorrow and regret, a perception (or a monster story? aka a self-criticism narrative?) about how I had been neglecting my true-yes wishes about Wildly Experimenting, A Joyful Obsession, Expanding My Abilities.

He said, “You know, there’s something to be said for not moving on to the next thing too soon. It’s good to refine things, nail them down, internalize them, etc, so they become truly yours and an expression of yourself. You’re doing great. Keep grinding!”

It’s good to refine things, actually

And suddenly my perspective on the last three months shifted. I was just refining some things. And I actually love REFINEMENT as a practice, as a power.

In fact, that’s something I already know about, from yoga and dance and sun salutations, it just hadn’t occurred to me that it might also apply to soup.

And so my monster-story about how I am not innovating because I am unfathomably, impossibly stuck, just depressed-boring-stuck (and my cooking habits are undeniable proof of this!) dissolved immediately.

I am refining. Repetition is refining, and refinement is about getting to know yourself intimately. It is brave to pause, wait, refine, not rush on to the next thing. I’m doing okay, actually. It’s safe to take this time.

Three months later…! Dot dot dot…!

There it is. I refined things, without even knowing that’s what I was doing, and then I received a vital new perspective, I was able to that refining things was a valuable practice, and not a sign that I’d moved into the pits of the despair.

What else am I wrong about?

I thought I had mostly spent equinox to solstice in the pits of despair, but maybe that’s not the truth of that quarter, maybe those weren’t my quarters at all. What else am I wrong about!

This might be my favorite useful question, asked with love, in service of loving clarity. What am I wrong about here?

What really happened in my Three Months Later…?

Quarters (quarters!)

A delightful (to me) discovery I made probably ten years ago continues to be as enchanting as ever (in my brain).

The year divides into quarters, and quarters is also a word for living space. A segment of time, aka a quarter of the year, and also a designated space to call home.

There are my quarters. Captain’s quarters.

Here is a temporary home that is also a quarter of the year. Three months in which to experience [whatever happens inside of that time], and emerge.

You could say that quarters are a kind of chrysalis. You enter them and then [MYSTERY] and then it’s three months later….

My quarters — and here I mean both the period of time, and the living space I occupy, are what hold me as I experience whatever it is, from making soup and baking bread to rededicating myself to the practice of refinement.

What do I want from my quarters?

What do I want from my quarters?

And/or:

How do I want to feel in my quarters?

Shall we retreat to our quarters? Oh, but they have been redecorated! New and familiar. We’ve been here before and we have never been here before. It’s okay. We Trained For This. Remember?

Maybe.

Return to familiar quarters / rededicate our quarters

Each time I think about this (quarters & quarters), I turn into the living embodiment of the heart-eyes emoji. Is it my pattern-obsessed autistic brain, or my burning love for the playfulness of language, the poetry and symmetry of overlapping words, or all of the above, who knows…

I just love thinking about time as space!!!

And I love the imagery of oh it is winter again, and so we return to familiar quarters (we trained for this!) and we are able to steal a new glimpse! Here’s some more information about who we are, what we need to thrive in this time-space, and how we have changed since the last time we were here.

Or maybe it is time to rededicate our quarters, to re-imagine how we want to exist inside this container of time, this real and imagined living space.

Here we are again, but it’s different this time. Now is not then.

And here we are again: Very Interior Design.

Happy solstice (or maybe happy isn’t the right word)

You of course are welcome to design your quarters any way you like, or maybe quarters isn’t how you interact with your year at all. Some people like the clean start of January, some people like the fresh-notebook smell of September.

As you have already gathered, I like to set up my calendar from solstice to equinox to solstice and back around again.

Let X = Three Months.

Let me set up my space for the known quantities of these three months, run my experiments, learn what I learn, see what changes, until Three Months Later.

I wrote up some solstice wishes, and can share them here later if you like. And I wrote up my notes for the next quarter, and for my winter quarters, named the Known Quantities, and can share those too.

Of course there is much room for unknowns, because unknowns is most of what we are working with.

But there are known elements…

Known elements, for example

  • I do not love being cold!
  • It helps to actively notice as the days get longer!
  • I will be sad on certain days because of past heartbreak, and this calls for a Feast of Liberations or we can invent a new holiday, a Feast of Small Gods!
  • Menu-planning helps! Candles help! Soup helps!
  • It’s okay to have soup every day in winter! We are refining something that is nourishing, sustaining and delicious.
  • Winter is challenging for me, but also I can call on the superpower of We Trained For This!

What else about Known Elements?

Known elements help me strategize.

Some known elements lead to mysteries that need solving.

Some known elements lead to solutions.

Example of a mystery that needs solving

Known element: Ten days is how long I can go without a shower before losing my entire mind.

My trailer doesn’t have hot water or a heated bathroom or a fan, so I have to heat up water for daily wash cloth baths, and what I have learned is that this solution works fine for a week, and then it kind of works for up to three more days, and then it doesn’t work at all.

After ten days I require a real shower or I land in the pits of despair, but actually I need to arrange for this shower to happen every seven days because if something goes wrong with the logistics, then whoops, I’m in the pits of despair again, and it turns out that clawing my out of the pits of despair can be very difficult, even with a map. Even with a shower.

During this period of up to seven days without a shower, a shower will magically cure mild depression, moodiness and irritability.

But if things go sideways because of circumstances (snowed in, icy roads, various situations) and we get to twelve days, then acquiring a shower will no longer solve things, because I will already be in the pits of despair, and it takes a lot more than a shower to get me out of them again.

Erased from the brain

Somehow I forget this entire phenomenon, and by “somehow” I mean ADHD plus traumatic brain injury plus long covid (the trifecta), but also I have learned that it can be mysteriously hard for many of us to remember the basics of self-care, and for that I blame external culture.

Anyway, I have this information about what I need to not fall into the pits of despair, and at the same time I forget it, or I forget to prioritize it, or I try to prioritize it but circumstances get in the way, and the past three months have involved too many trips in and out of those pits.

See, we are learning things. Learning and refining. This is also the crux of the mystery.

Asking for new solutions to reveal themselves

Currently, way too much of my energy and attention go to either a) trying to Solve For A Shower, or b) trying to solve for Clawing My Way Out of The Pits Of Despair because I did not solve for a shower, or c) recovering from my time in the pits.

I am hoping that in this next period of [Three Months Later, Dot Dot Dot…], a perfect simple solution will reveal itself, or maybe there are multiple solutions.

We have talked about this before, but solution is also a word for a body of water, a solution is liquid, a solution solves-and-dissolves.

Solutions are like quarters in that each word has two meanings that sometimes overlap and sometimes don’t. Solutions come in waves. Quarters come in quarters.

I can live in my quarters and bathe in solutions. May it be so, or something even better.

Three Months Later, Dot Dot Dot

I am wishing you all the most beautiful solstice wishes. If you are here with me in the northern hemisphere, battling the bitter cold, then I am wishing you warmth, comforts, coziness, high regard hygge, luscious upgrades, whatever is needed, and the hopeful reminder that in a few weeks, we will have noticeably incrementally longer days.

If you are in the southern hemisphere, then I wish you cool breezes, ease of ease, replenishment, sweet comforts, whatever is needed.

And for all of us, as many glorious reassuring permission slips as we need to support us in existing outside of any cultural pressures to reinvent ourselves for the new year, or come up with resolutions or do anything at all in this period of extreme temperatures and indicated nap-time.

Siesta life is what is indicated, not taking up running.

Though of course, whatever brings you joy is what I wish you, and if that’s running, then god bless. I support it.

Grand experiments

As you already know from reading and hanging out here, I am not a fan of new year’s resolutions but I am a big fan of experiments, so maybe something I will write about soon is past and future (and ongoing) experiments in my life, many of which are related to quarters and quarters.

And one of my experiments is sharing more of what I write instead of keeping it to myself.

Though to be fair, sometimes I keep it to myself because I forget about it, but that just makes the experiment even more about pattern-mapping, and all experiments are about pattern-mapping, and much of what I write about is on the theme of pattern-mapping, so it all works!

Another experiment is about having more ritual around my writing, so maybe that’s something to share as well.

Looking forward-and-towards

I am looking forward to these new cozy winter quarters, this period of time and space in which to chrysalis, to emerge with a Three Months Later title card and see where the experiments take me, I am looking forward to updating on my experiments as I experiment.

Of course I am looking forward to green chile cauliflower potato soup, and I am looking forward to getting better at making shredded non-dairy fake-cheese.

Obviously I am not looking forward to visits to the pits of despair or the work of clawing my way out, but I am looking forward to being a better observer, especially when it comes the Refinement Ops of getting better at not falling in to begin with, and strategizing ways to bring more ease into my life so that I’m not spending so much time at the pit edge.

At the very least, I have done some refining when it comes to how I find my way back to the surface, and to how much I can trust that process and my own skill level. Hey, I trained for lots of things, as it turns out.

Good surprises

And I am looking forward to good surprises, as-yet-unknown treasures and pleasures, the reframings that have not yet been reframed, discovering how to imbue this process with even more compassion, and learning how to making a sweet home inside this new quarter.

Maybe I don’t dread winter as much as I think I do, or maybe there is a new way of relating to this time period.

More than anything, I am looking forward to rededicating and redecorating, symbolically and otherwise.

Here’s to time-space and feeling at home in new quarters. Safe passage for this. Wishing all this for you too, or something even better…

Come play with me, I love company

You are welcome to play with any of the concepts here in any way you like. Come play in the comments!

You can brainstorm experiments & practices, for rewriting any patters or for whatever you might going through, People Vary.

And as always, you’re invited to share anything sparked for you while reading, themes you’re playing with, or add any wishes into the pot, into the healing zone, as a friend of mine said, who knows, the power of the collective is no small thing, and companionship is healing.

Wishing you a solstice full of light, happy Hannuka (festival of dedicating & rededicating if you are celebrating), and an easy safe joyful passage into the new year, with whatever rearranging of cargo that entails, or blissful guilt-free hibernation time, whatever is needed.

A request

If you received clues or perspective or just want to send appreciation for the writing and work/play we do here, I appreciate it tremendously. Working on some stuff to offer this coming year, but between traumatic brain injury recovery & Long Covid, it’s still 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, and it all helps with fixing what needs fixing, currently focused on making it through winter.

Or you can buy a copy of the my Monster Manual & Coloring Book if you don’t have it!

And if those aren’t options, I get it, you can light a candle for support (or light one in your mind!), share one of my posts 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 so much. ❤️

Immersion

a pool by a river, with water flowing into the pool from the fountain

Image: a pool overlooking a river, with water flowing into the pool from the fountain


Immersion

Each day it gets a little colder here, and I wake up with the daunting knowledge that my first and biggest challenge is going to be finding my way out of bed. Bed is, if not the good place then at least the comfortable place: burrowed under a weighted blanket weighed down by more blankets, snuggled up to a heating pad, toasty-warm, inviting me to stay a while longer…

Getting up is the opposite of enticing: cold, anxiety-inducing. A source of dread.

My tiny house is unheated, I know that I will see my breath for at least the first few hours, already anticipating the shriek I will let out when I go to wash my hands, the water so cold that it almost burns.

Some way or another, I am going to have to be my own hero, braver than I can imagine from within my cave of blankets, braver than the marines, and just do it. Just get up, babe. I believe. Mostly.

What time is it? Bravery time!

I keep my clothes in my bed, like on a camping trip, so I can change out of sleepwear and into a different set of warm layers, safely beneath the covers. In between I reach out a hand for the wooden handle of a dry brush, hanging from a hook on the wall.

Dry-brushing skin is good for my anxiety, good for keeping me grounded, but is also the part that demands the most bravery.

I have learned that it helps to play music or a podcast to help me focus, and also that this is not enough: always set a bell as a timer, or I might end up staring into space for hours, caught up in a stim-cycle closed loop, running fingers through my hair, or drumming them on the bed.

Then it’s bravery time: hat on, run into the front room, turn on the space heater, light three candles, measure out two mason jars of water to heat, one at a time, start running. 3:33, let’s go.

3:33

Running is an exaggeration, it’s more of a light jog, which might also be an exaggeration, let’s call it slightly faster than a brisk walk, tracing figure eights on the kitchen rug, arms crossed tightly or hands folded, thumbs pressing into my chest because I definitely don’t have the ability to navigate a sports bra these days, the goal is to keep painful jostling to a minimum.

3:33 = the time the timer is set for.

One set of 3:33 of kitchen-jogging, combined with the humming space heater and the steam from the kettle, warms me up enough to be able to take my hat off. The second 3:33 might get me to unbutton my top layer. Progress.

I usually do 3:33 x 4, or 3:33 x 5, depending. One of these is the right amount of time for a jog. By the time I’m done, the sky is less dark, I am slightly more energized, and am rewarded with a steaming jar of hot water with lemon to drink. The second jar of heated water is for washing my hands, delaying the shriek until later when I inevitably forget to heat more water.

Progress, again. It all counts.

What’s in a habit

The word habit is so boring, and yet the work of rewriting patterns (and what is a habit if not a collection of patterns 👀) is maybe the thing I am most passionate about, the reason I started this business nearly twenty years ago.

And if I know anything about shifting habits, it’s that the work of [Trying Things, Without Judgment], always yields results. All experiments are useful experiments, maybe even especially the things that don’t work, or don’t work the way I think they will.

We try things, but mainly: we try them with a playful, compassionate approach

This practice is also how we accidentally stumble our way into things that do work, many of which we might never have come up with through trying to be practical or logical (like 3:33, why does it work? I don’t know, it just does, for me, right now, and that’s enough), it works until it doesn’t, it is until it isn’t, and then we try something new…

Transitions & sweetness

The difficult thing for me (after being the bravest person on earth and getting out of bed, despite all odds) is the transitions, whether that’s the transition between Warming Up and starting my workout, the transition from breakfast to getting things done, the transition from doing into rest time.

This is also heavily ritualized for me. Ten minutes on the balance board. Dance around the room for three songs. The right snacks, currently: a dried banana and a slightly caffeinated warm beverage.

I am also big believer in the twin superpowers of Dessert First and Solved By Cake.

Yesterday I made chocolate halva pudding and this morning I had some for pre-breakfast, and it was the answer to so many things.

Enticements: what are yours?

But then again, I really, really like enticing things (yes, I mean both the practices and rituals that feel enticing to me, and also of course the verb, being the enticement), and so this is information I have about myself that I can use both playfully and strategically.

The pieces of intel you acquire as you do reconnaissance on yourself, or the things you already know to be true about yourself that you can use (to tempt, motivate, inspire, or simply remind you of the things you know you will forget) might be different than mine, which is fine.

That’s why we experiment.

We are just gathering information about how we function in this world, and what we need to function better, and both of these might change over time. That’s okay too.

Use what works, take notes, try again

Being a human in a body is complicated and weird, and that might be both the least and most wise thing I have to say on this topic in the moment.

All experiments are useful experiments, a thousand points (at least!) for trying.

We use what works (or what might work), we take notes, and we bravely try again.

Hot water and other mysteries

Do you remember when my hot water heater stopped working back in February (probably from the pipes flooding, but also it turned out there was a rat’s nest inside of it, love this journey for me), and then I was stuck in limbo waiting on a small and hard-to-find part that was delayed indefinitely due to supply chain issues…?

The missing piece was located, but it turned out that the heater is still unfix-able, so now it needs to be replaced, which launched a disagreement that turned into a series of fights between me and former handyman.

He wants to keep things on propane, while I am still traumatized from last year’s house fire and want to move to electric. He wants to install a larger heater underneath the house, I don’t want a situation where if the heater stops working again, someone needs to take off the siding and slide into a crawl space, especially when the only people who fix things around here are close to seventy years old and recovering from hip surgery.

So is this even about hot water, I’m not sure

I am told there are places where people will just fix things the way you want them to be fixed? Like, you can just say what you want and the person you are paying to do it will do it? But not here apparently, or maybe this is yet another ongoing experiment in Boundary Stuff, we will see.

Anyway, the point is that I don’t have hot water, the situation seemingly has no solution other than that I need a new hot water heater and someone to replace it, and somehow there are only two people in the entire county who know how to fix things if you can catch them when they aren’t busy, also I do not particularly trust either of them, and at least one of them is going to fight me hard every step of the way.

Immersion

I make do with daily hot towel “baths”, dipping washcloths in a jug of steaming water, fresh from the kettle, using wooden tongs to fish them out.

When I can’t take it anymore and need a proper shower as well as the experience of being immersed in water to satisfy my piscean nature and to tend to the trauma self who wants to basically live in warm water full-time, I take myself on a day trip and visit some hot springs.

Some are nicer than others. I’m not sure how this is going to work when winter comes for real and the roads are snowy or icy, but I also don’t currently have another way of solving this other than lighting candles at the altar of And It Solves Itself.

May it solve itself, easily and beautifully, without my input. I welcome all simple, sustainable solutions.

Talk to me about IMMERSION

Hot springs are an obvious form of immersion: source from the source. Into the waters.

But writing is also an immersion. 3:33s are a form of immersion.

Immersion supports wishing. Immersion supports new ways of seeing things. Immersion is hope-based (may things get better), and immersion is a release-mechanism (may I stop trying to push and force my way into answers when I can let the warmth of the water remind me about softening…)

Immersion versus Immersive

I am thinking about experiences of immersion and immersing, and how they are similar and different, like meditating and meditative but also not like that at all.

Similarly, I am thinking about containers of time as a form of intentional immersing.

What qualities, wishes and experiments am I immersing myself in for November, or from equinox to solstice?

November wishes and superpowers

This morning it was easier than it has been for me in a while, to bravely get out of bed, to launch myself into 3:33s, to flow through 36×17 sun salutations (another form of immersion, another form of stimming) and to get myself to eat warm, nourishing food, with less coaxing needed than in October.

So that’s a hopeful noticing, and I am collecting good omens like this for It Solves Itself November, which is also Resetting The Rituals November and Higher High Regard November, a November of Surprise Ease aka Even Easier Than That November, which might also be Find The Fun Way November.

My friend Kathryn suggested NO-vember (to help refuse things that are Not Yes), which I love. Just Say No (vember!) to whatever is not needed here.

I also love Vember, a mystery word that rhymes with remember, and after all the work of rewriting habits is in the remembering. I love how Vember is not a word but it contains V + Ember.

V + Ember

V = Victory, Vengeance, Voluptuousness, and things that are Very-Very (over the top, delightfully too much which is just enough)

Ember = still burning actually, aka even when I think I have lost hope or my sense of self or a sense of what I desire or where to go next, the fire is still lit, a small sweet spark, eternal flame, still going.

Wishing some wishes for November and beyond

I am wishing for:

  • more immersing (in delicious warm water and in general)
  • sweet sweet focus
  • a simple easy solution to having hot water in the trailer
  • simple easy appealing solutions for showering
  • rituals that are fun and enticing (how can I make them so luscious that I crave them)
  • treasuring myself even more (new levels of high regard)
  • reinforce what needs reinforcing
  • no worry no hurry (but also not going into tendencies of being overly-flexible, cough, people pleasing)
  • finding the joy in trailer life
  • what is the opposite of dread / what would it be like to stop second-guessing everything?

Calling on (and in) some superpowers for November and beyond

Superpowers of…

It Solves Itself
Victory From The Embers
A Thousand Points For Remembering (and no judgment for forgetting again)
I Am A Badass Cowboy Actually
I Am A Creative Force
The Return Of Desire
The Fun Way Exists And Will Reveal Itself When I Look For It
Even Easier Than That

The Fun Way Exists And Will Reveal Itself When I Look For It?!

Tell me more about that please…

Things That Solved Themselves In October

So many things in this category, actually! An astonishing number.

Including: finally convincing the wifi company to send out a tech to adjust the satellite so now I have signal again. A friend who is possibly an actual angel came to visit from Washington State, camped out on my property, and insulated beneath my trailer, and also made a list of all the things local fix-it people did not do, despite having said they did, and then did those too.

Oh, and as you may have noticed from this long-form piece that was not finger-typed on my phone, I now have a working keyboard again! With love and gratitude to a retreat person / blog reader who sent me a spare keyboard, so now I can type again, the joy!

Another retreat friend researched local flu shots for me when I was having an especially bad brain week.

And I finessed some recipes I’ve been playing with for a while: green chile cauliflower potato soup, a chocolate dandelion root powder banana bread, and the perfect pre-breakfast halva pudding.

It was solving itself all along

Sure, there may be many items still in the Ongoing Frustrating Unsolved Mystery category, and yet, when I remember to pause, pay attention and ask the right questions, I am able to recognize all the ways in which things have been solving themselves all along, problems generating their own solutions, is that not also an immersion in luck and love and magic?

If it was solving itself all along, what else is solving itself right now, beneath the surface, generating its own solutions?

Let’s keep remembering, noticing, asking, playing, wondering, wishing, getting out of bed (when we can, if we can, if that’s an option) or the symbolic equivalent, being brave for three minutes and thirty three seconds at a time, getting back into bed because that’s also a win and sometimes it’s really the only indicated answer, and let’s keep investigating these questions.

What do I need? What might help? Where is the ease?

Lighting a candle for the questions.

Come play with me, I love company

You are welcome to play with any of the concepts here in any way you like. Come play in the comments!

You can brainstorm experiments & practices, for rewriting any patters or for whatever you might going through, People Vary.

And as always, you’re invited to share anything sparked for you while reading, themes you’re playing with, or add any wishes into the pot, into the healing zone, as a friend of mine said, who knows, the power of the collective is no small thing, and companionship is healing.

A request

If you received clues or perspective or just want to send appreciation for the writing and work/play we do here, I appreciate it tremendously. Working on some stuff to offer this year, but between traumatic brain injury recovery & Long Covid, it’s 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, and it all helps with fixing what needs fixing, currently focused on making it through winter.

Or you can buy a copy of the my Monster Manual & Coloring Book if you don’t have it!

And if those aren’t options, I get it, you can light a candle for support (or light one in your mind!), share one of my posts 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 so much. ❤️

What is the opposite of a fire

What is the opposite of a fire

Each morning I ask a question (of myself), and then I don’t try to answer it.

I just kind of hum on it throughout the day, if I remember, which I often don’t because my memory is broken (both in the sense of fragmented and in the sense of kaput), but it doesn’t matter, the question percolates.

The question and I percolate together

No answer (or answers) required. Just percolating.

Little bubbles.

Slow hum. So Hum.

One year

Saturday was the one year anniversary of the fire that went through my kitchen.

My question for the day was: What Is The Opposite Of A Fire?

What Is The Opposite Of A Fire?

I didn’t think about it much but at the end of the day when I reflected on this small commoration feast day experiment, an answer revealed itself through simply naming how I spent my day:

  • tending to kitchen space,
  • cooking creatively,
  • cleaning up,
  • reorganizing the pantry,
  • stretching on the rug when the sun came out…

The answer was the experience of being in the opposite

I learned that I had spent my day being present and engaged in the place where the painful thing happened, layering on new memories of better things; sweet sanctuary and comforting comfort.

There was time. There was Intentionality and Slowness.

And maybe all that is the opposite of a fast-moving emergency.

Maybe that experience of the opposite is or can be the rededicating.

Come play with me in the comments, I love company

Company is so welcome.

My keyboard isn’t working and I finger-typed this on my phone, which is both an intimate and lonely way to write, somehow these co-exist and I can’t explain it better than that.

You are welcome to play with any of the concepts here in any way you like. You can ask your own question of yourself and then put it into the pot, answers not required. You can share anything sparked for you, or name an experiment you would like to try. You can light a candle for the opposite of a fire.

I had more to say (of course I did) but keyboard is broken and sometimes less is more (and maybe that’s also a form of What Is The Opposite), so we are working with What Is.

All love glowing your way for your experiments, your internally directed questions & your opposites.

A request

If you received clues or perspective or just want to send appreciation for the writing and work/play we do here, I appreciate it tremendously.

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, and it all helps with fixing what needs fixing, currently focused on replacing three windows and installing a heater to make it through winter.

Or you can buy a copy of the my Monster Manual & Coloring Book if you don’t have it!

And if those aren’t options, I get it, you can light a candle for support (or light one in your mind!), share one of my posts 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 so much. ❤️

Burn After Naming

a tea light in a tall glass jar is a makeshift incense burner

Image: A tea light in a tall glass jar is a makeshift incense burner, with a small plant & art print of a cattle skull, gold backdrop


Memory

I wanted a feast day to commemorate the one year anniversary of my concussion (consussiversary?), and you will be unsurprised to learn that I got so caught up in trying to solve one small detail related to how I wanted to feast day to look and feel, that I wore myself out and the feast part itself didn’t happen.

In fact, the feast, rather aptly, turned into a Recovery Day.

That’s okay. Feast days are an evolving practice, really an ongoing study in the relationship between ritual and compassion, and each time I attempt one, I learn more about why (and how) they are complicated and challenging, messy and hard.

Forgetting, again

I re-learn this truth: feast days can be complicated and challenging, messy and hard. This doesn’t mean a feast day is not a worthwhile endeavor, it just means I want to approach with more kindness and lower my expectations.

And while my tendency with lowering expectations is to lower them in small increments, they actually need to be lowered by a lot. I keep learning this.

And then I forget again, the blessing-curse of this new mind, or, who knows, maybe my mind was always like this, I don’t remember, and can’t tell you. Or possibly the forgetting-again is a human constant that I forget about too.

Menu

Complicated and challenging, messy and hard.

What is the menu for a feast day that honors these qualities?

Another thing I am learning: Maybe I like menu-planning more than I like feasting. Can I make some room to be okay with that? Do I wish to investigate further? Maybe the menu-planning is the ritual.

Stolen

Commemorating anything is complicated and challenging, all the more so when the [whatever it is] being commemorated is fraught or painful, marking the moment between The Before and all that came after.

I got into a late night fight with a (possibly haunted?) chair in June of 2021 and I don’t know what happened, I can only tell you that found myself slammed against a wall, blood running down my face, eventually it became clear that I now had a different brain.

The chair stole so much of my ability to focus or remember, or to even care about the things I apparently used to focus on or remember, and then Covid knocked me out in January and took what was left.

Honestly I don’t even remember what to mourn, I just remember that I used to care about things, I think I had goals (???) and worked towards them (???), now I can’t seem to hold one in my head long enough to even determine out a possible next step, never mind take it.

Anyway. That’s a hard and painful thing to think about, never mind to actively take time to reflect on, no wonder I didn’t want to sit down for a feast, even one whose purpose was to celebrate marking a year of new brain.

[Also]

I want to make a lot of room here to genuinely give acknowledgment & legitimacy to the grief in this perception and assessment, and, at the same time…

I also want to remember to keep asking What Is True And What Is Also True?

Can I let in the also-true reality that I do sometimes have flashes and glimmers of goals and desires again? And a flash is not nothing. A flash is hopeful. A flash is a beacon.

Disinclination to pause…

You have probably heard me say this, I think it’s something we need to regularly remind ourselves of.

We exist inside a culture that is go-go-go, no time to process, deliberately built to keep us from reflecting, invested in making sure we don’t get to grieve, feel, experience, contemplate, shift in relation to. There’s too much pressure to keep moving.

And it turns out that creating a container for this work, taking intentional time or making intentional space to reflect is really scary and intense, no wonder we try to skip that part.

Do-overs forever

Somehow nearly three months have passed since the proposed feast day. And a few more weeks since I wrote this essay that you are reading and then forgot I wrote it, until today.

Three months? That makes no sense to me, but the calendar says it’s true. Do-overs forever!

Maybe if I try for a feast day each quarter, eventually I will end up with cake. Possibly even a cake I really like.

Chop wood, carry water, wash one (1) top

The other day I needed to hand-wash a black top that can’t go in the laundry.

I made the bed and then carefully laid out this garment on top of my bed so that I couldn’t forget, like a flashing sign. SOMETHING IS HERE, PAY ATTENTION!

Then each time I passed the bed, I wondered what it was doing there, because I forgot. Then I would pace, trying to remember what it meant: clearly a clue, what is it a clue for?

In the late afternoon, I suddenly remembered why there was a piece of clothing on the bed, so I washed it out in the sink, then rolled it up in a towel like a burrito to coax out excess water. I knew I needed a hanger to hang it up, so I set off to find one, only to forget what I was looking for.

Keep in mind that I live in a tiny house on a trailer, and my entire home is 150sq ft, not that many steps to walk front door to back door (and nowhere else to go in between), so it’s not like I’m going up and down stairs or forgetting because I am distracted by other rooms, there are no other rooms.

Eventually

In the evening, I found the rolled up towel, wondered what it was, discovered my black top, carried it with me to a hanger, and put myself to bed.

Pretty sure that was all I got done that day, having the brilliant idea to wash one (1) top, eventually washing it, eventually hanging it on a hanger to dry, continually losing focus and refocusing on the world’s smallest task took an entire day.

It wasn’t even on my List of Ten Thousand Very Important Things I need to do.

It wasn’t the metaphorical chop wood carry water of repetitive daily life chores.

Just the ongoing experience of trying to hold a thought long enough to act on it, and not being able to do anything about this wish.

Visiting worlds

I can still find my way in the world of concepts.

Unfortunately though, we exist in the world of things, and I am a stranger in the world of things.

Sure, the world of things was never my home, I was always just visiting, but I used to be able to fake it, and now I really don’t understand how to get around at a basic level.

Tea lights

I am out of tea lights, ran out when I was trapped during the monsoon floods. I like tea lights, they are cheery, and I use them to heat the loose incense I make.

Scent helps me focus, it helps me remain calm and remember to breathe.

Regular incense is sometimes overpowering, sometimes too smokey, and it costs too much. Burning loose incense by way of a tea light gives me many hours of diffused scent. I like this method.

I don’t like burning loose incense on charcoal, it involves remembering where the charcoal is and how to light it. That’s too many things to remember.

A tea light in a glass jar, with a sink strainer on top, the kind you can pick up at the grocery store, that’s my method. The strainer holds the loose incense, the tea light slowly heats it from below.

There is something cheery, steady, and calming with this method, the light through the glass, the wafting scent without smoke. Love an easy solution that is elegant in its simplicity.

Elegant in its simplicity

All you need is a tea light, if you can remember to procure tea lights.

Which I can’t.

In theory

There are no tea lights within a three hour drive that I have found. Unless you count scented tea lights at Walmart, but I don’t wish to give them money for anything, never mind candles that smell like fake vanilla or pumpkin spice or rum raisin, I can’t remember what unappealing synthetic variation on a food flavor they had for candles, but it was a clear and easy nope.

In theory, I could order tea lights online, but I only get wifi a few hours a day on a good day, and despite having written TEA LIGHTS in large letters, underlined many times, on many pieces of paper, I have not once remembered to do this.

Burn after naming

During the wild rains, I made three new loose incense blends.

Interestingly, the last time I made a loose incense blend was on concussion-anniversary day, so: maybe incense-making is a form of feast day celebration too.

Maybe it was a feast of scent and sensations instead of a feast of foods.

Smashing scented-things with a mortar and pestle is a delightful rainy day activity, and something I like to do on the new moon as well if I remember, which is a maybe.

But my favorite part of making an incense blend is the naming. And after you name it, you burn it.

So of course my favorite name of all the names I have come up with for [magic that I name and then burn] is Burn After Naming. Would you like to know my favorite names for incense blends?

Villanelle Tea Party

Villanelle Tea Party blend is the new name for what I used to call Sonoran Sorcery, a mix of cedar, creosote, rosemary & cloves, it reminds me of the desert on a summer evening.

Villanelle Tea Party was also name I came up with for the feast of forgetting.

Villanelle is the antagonist (though possibly the protagonist, depends on your perspective) in the show Killing Eve, she is the one intent on killing Eve. Though sometimes it seems as though Eve might be the one who will end up killing Eve, or, who, through her obsession with Villanelle, loses herself, and so obsession itself is killing Eve, if that makes sense.

And for me, because I grew up with Jewish feast days, a holiday always begins the evening before, the pre-, the Eve Of, It’s always the Eve of something.

So Killing Eve is a spectacular double-meaning, it is about killing Eve (who is to be killed? Eve), and it is about the BEFORE of an ending, the eve of the killing, something must end and it is the eve of that, the eve of things were one way and now they are not, the eve of it’s all over now, baby blue.

More about Eve (but not all about Eve, and also not All About Eve)

Eve is also the English version or transliteration of my very Hebrew name. And in some or possibly many senses, I was killed the night of the concussion. I am the Eve of, in the phrase “the Eve of”.

I am Eve, and I am the eve of.

Killing Eve is also the show I binge-watched during the ten days I spent in bed after the chair beat me up.

So I had a lot of time, because I live in the world of concepts and because the world of things was entirely unavailable to me, to think about Eve and being Eve, and what Killing Eve might mean, but also to study Villanelle who was utterly fascinating to me.

More about Villanelle

Villanelle, in the show Killing Eve, is a sociopath, a serial killer for hire, who works for bad people and does bad things. And has a lot of hot sex.

Villanelle is also hilarious, fun, glamorous, witty, playful, perceptive, a wild sensualist, honestly a delight of a character.

I was surprised to discover that I found Villanelle enormously relatable. And I think her relatability is intentional, showcasing the brilliance of the writing. A high-likability assassin is partly what draws you in.

Mmmmm, and I also think, more specifically, that I found a sociopathic serial killer so relatable because there is something deeply sad and very blank about this character, and deeply sad and very blank is possibly the best way to summarize what it feels like after your brain has been knocked out of its orbit.

Not to mention an appropriate tagline for these difficult times.

2020-2022: Deeply Sad And Very Blank.

What’s on the menu

But while I often feel distraught about the blankness and my inability to care about or remember the things I had once cared about, Villanelle revels in not caring about anything, other than Eve. Villanelle loves to care about absolutely nothing, Villanelle loves a good obsession, Villanelle sees no paradox here.

Villanelle is a NIHILIST but also a HEDONIST and an OBSESSIVE, and there is something extremely appealing about that combination.

When something gruesome happens (something that Villanelle, for once, is only indirectly the cause of), she shrugs and says, “We must get ourselves a very good meal now.” What an approach. I love this.

Yes, a good meal. A feast. Let me plan the menu, I love that part.

When sad and blank, a party

Villanelle wears a party dress to her psych evaluation.

What does this sad blank situation need? A feast day. Solved by cake.

What am I still excited about even when I believe I have lost the thread?

What am I able to celebrate and, more importantly, what’s on the menu?

More about a tea party for Villanelle

Villanelle loves dressing up and being glamorous and eating dessert, and so I wanted to make a rich chocolate lavender cake for Villanelle, to commemorate a year of everything is different now.

I wanted the cake to be very small, and to sit on top of an overturned wine glass. Villanelle loves presentation and display, Villanelle loves Use What You Have, Villanelle would kill you using the tiny chair just because it’s there.

But I got lost on the way to a lavender farm trying to procure culinary lavender, and wound up in a twilight zone, so that never happened.

Or, it hasn’t happened yet. I still have the recipe though. Chocolate lavender cake, and something about me making it for her, because Villanelle doesn’t bake, but I do, I have notes about this somewhere, let me find them.

The elements

Here are the elements and superpowers that Villanelle brings to a tea party, or to anything:

Captain, Sir!
Something about Velvety Decadence, is that cake-related or bigger than cake?
Glamorous, Formidable, Witchy and I Was Trained To Be Devastating…
Luscious, Hedonistic, Attention to Detail
and a dose of Hell Yes, Over The Top!

Devastatingly Delicious, as in: this rosemary-rose horchata I made is so good it needs a more beautiful glass to honor it. Also feeling some Olivia Pope energy there. Popcorn and red wine. Over a cliff levels of dedication.

Villanelle is a Wild Sensualist, extremely primal & scent-driven, instinct-driven, this is about atmosphere as much as food, beverage, elaborate cakes on cake stands, and let’s not forget aphrodisiacs.

Don’t forget aphrodisiacs

Villanelle is only about APHRODISIACS, I’m about DIY.

And the difference between us is not that she’s a sociopathic serial killer but that she’d go to a cafe in Paris in pursuit of the best cake, while I need to DIY it because DIY is about sorcery and about independence, it’s fine.

It’s fine.

Soll Sein Mit Mazal

Soll Sein Mit Mazal (Yiddish for “it should happen with good fortune” or “may it be with luck”) is my next incense blend: lemon balm, poppy seeds, cedar, nutmeg, cloves.

The name comes from a story about my grandmother, whose parents mostly spoke Yiddish and were old-country superstitious. They had a ritualized way of closing the windows before a storm, and they would say, I believe, Soll Sein Mit Chesed.

If you speak German, than you understand the first three words, even though that’s not really how you’d say it in German at all. It’s a blessing, or: the opposite of a curse. Chesed is the Hebrew word for compassion or mercy. So the phrase means something like, may god be merciful.

Something akin to “The good lord willing and the creek don’t rise…”

Luck luck luck, please, some good luck

According to a family story that is blurry in my lost-brain, my grandmother was quite young and at home alone when a storm came on. She knew she was supposed to close all the windows but she couldn’t remember the magic words, so she said Soll Sein Mit Mazal, may it happen with luck, may we be blessed with luck.

And now I say this.

During the monsoon and the flooding, the river rising and rising, I said it each time I looked out the window at the wall of rain. We should be so lucky. May it be lucky. The good lord willing and the creek don’t rise, compassion, compassion, compassion, mercy, mercy, mercy, luck, luck, luck.

Whatever works, right? Whatever fucking works. Whichever magic words are at your disposal.

Burn After Naming

Burn After Naming is my very favorite name that I have ever come up with for an incense blend, because it’s literally what you do: you name it and burn it.

Copal, sandalwood, sarsaparilla. Naming is wishing and invoking. Burning is the process by which the scent is released, like the prayer flags tattering so the prayers can be set free. Destruction as alchemy.

Consumed

Burn after naming makes me think of the Coen Brothers movie, Burn After Reading, it’s the phrase of spies and top secret files, it’s classified, you read it and burn it (or I guess nowadays you declassify it in your mind, if you are the most embarrassing and dangerous former United States President).

Vital intel is meant to be consumed, in the sense of taken in, and consumed again in the sense of destroyed by fire. Learned and forgotten.

The moment of epiphany, the moment that it’s gone. The scribbled note to remind you of a dream, but the note makes no sense.

Put this in your mouth

That movie is such a wild ride, entirely tied together by Brad Pitt’s oral fixation, that man just keeps putting things in his mouth for the duration, who can say what happens or if anything happens, it’s kind of just one long series of snacks.

So again, my interests are more centered around menu planning (Villanelle, come to my tea party, I made something for your mouth) and less about content, because I can’t follow the plot these days anyway.

Make this delicious thing, set it on fire.

Make this delicious thing, put it in your mouth.

Obsess a little, it’s all we have left really. Sensual pleasure, scent, the moment of igniting, the fleeting joy of a good obsession.

Disappointment Cookies

I have been on the prowl for gluten-free cookie recipes that I can make one at a time in a waffle maker, or, also one at a time, in my tiny EZ-bake style oven, because I don’t have access to a real one yet.

I made a batch yesterday, and they did not turn out the way I wanted and I got so frustrated with my broken brain, my inability to navigate the world of things.

This particular recipe contains coconut oil, coconut flour, and shredded coconut.

The first two get blended into the batter, and the last goes in at the end right before the baking. I mixed these up despite checking the instructions easily a dozen times, my brain just reversed them, and so I left the coconut oil out of the batter, instead of reserving the shredded coconut.

I get so upset with myself. So many monsters of self-criticism, about how I am wasting ingredients and time with my mistakes, why didn’t I double-check (I did! Just can’t remember anything!), why even try anything if I’m just going to ruin it, I screw everything up, it’s never worth it, etc.

I’ll give this to my monsters: they are nothing if not consistent.

Mostly falling apart

Of course they turned out fine, my panic was overdone but the cookies were not. They’re cookies. Cookies are delicious, even weird-looking ones that, like me, are mostly falling apart.

And not-yes cookies are still a clue about true-yes cookies.

And: I will get better at this.

Everyone makes mistakes, and a lost tourist in the world of things possibly makes more mistakes than they expect to, but okay, that’s part of this too.

What is the real story?

Is the story really that I screwed up making cookies because my brain doesn’t work, or is the story that cookies, like incense, are a form of alchemy, that experiments are intrinsically valuable, and that my intense disproportionate panic over outcomes is a step I can eventually remember to skip.

Just skip that part. Omit that ingredient. Maybe that’s aspirational, but maybe that’s okay too. Maybe just remembering that this is an option is the new step, whether I can pull it off or not.

Calming

Here are the superpowers I named (yes, burn after naming) and asked for to help me in this moment of falling apart over falling-apart cookies:

Bob Ross Happy Little Accidents
What If The Easy/Wrong Way Is Just As Good, Or Even Better?
All Experiments Are Useful Experiments
All Cookies Are Good Cookies Because Oh Hell Yeah Cookies
Hey What If This Is Unfuckupable Actually
Falling Apart Is Part Of The Process
All Points For Trying
Now We Know What To Try Next Time

As well as any other related or unrelated superpowers I haven’t thought of that could be of help here, I call them in, come in, powers of Sweetness.

What would Villanelle do? Devour three cookies and get right back to the mission.

Soll sein mit mazal. All luck and good fortune to us.

It’s all over now, baby blue

Bob Dylan, hilariously described by Israeli songwriter Meir Ariel (at possibly the last concert he did before he died) as one of the greatest Hebrew poets of all times, can write a hell of a poem, that much we know, and It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue is a masterpiece about endings.

Your lover who just walked out the door
Is taking all his blankets from the floor
The carpet too is moving under you…
IT’S ALL OVER NOW, BABY BLUE

I’m not sure if there is a better summing up of this specific kind of heartache-loss of an ending than someone leaving, and taking the floor with them. That really is what it feels like.

What was now isn’t. It was until it wasn’t, and this is the moment of gone.

What was now isn’t

The carpet too is moving under you.

The ground is suddenly unstable, not there, you have no balance, no proprioception, no way to even interact with anything that’s happening because it’s all been decided for you and without you.

The floor is not the floor, the ground is no longer the ground, nothing is how you thought it was, it’s all over now, baby, blue.

Strike another match

I like many versions and covers of this song, and don’t want to pick a favorite at the moment.

It does what it does, a perfect depiction of an unbearable goodbye, or, worse, an exit without a goodbye. It is also an accurate portrayal of what it feels like when the brain you have is not anything like the one you had before. You must leave now, take what you need you think will last, whatever you wish to keep, you’d better grab it fast.

It’s all over now.

But also: Strike another match, and start anew.

We’re putting our best guys on it

Speaking of the Coen Brothers, I keep thinking about that perfectly executed scene from The Big Lebowski, when the Dude is trying to get information on the whereabouts of either the missing car or the missing briefcase that was in his stolen car, and the car lot cop is entirely uninterested, and just gets more and more sarcastic about it:

Yeah, the briefcase, sure, that’s a big case, we’re putting our best guys on it!

Okay, I had to go to the library for wifi to look it up, here’s what he actually said:

“Leads, yeah, sure. I’ll just check with the boys down at the crime lab, they’ve got four more detectives working on the case. They got us working in shifts!”

So basically this but with my brain. Everyone is on the case, everyone is looking for it. They’re working in shifts.

Rise again

Phoenix superpowers of from the ashes, burn after naming, remember and forget, forget and remember, start over, it’s a new day, strike another match and start anew.

Name it, wish it, set it on fire, start over.

Burn after: naming.

What does it mean to name something? What does it mean to name something when you have no working memory, no focus, everything is blurred?

It is brave to name things when so much has been burned. I think so. My monsters disagree, they think I should stop being a baby and just get better. Which is honestly a beautiful wish. To just get better. Okay! We’re putting our best guys on it.

Let’s name some feast days

So many things to mark and celebrate, or to mark and not-celebrate, to just pause and breathe and take note, again, remember, again, that some days are complicated and messy.

We will Bob Ross Happy Accident our way through, or burn things and cry, or eat a cookie. Possibly some combination of the above. We will make it through.

Sunflowers

This week was autumnal equinox, which in the past was my ritual visit to the sunflower fields, but I don’t have energy for that, so the sunflowers will have to come to me.

And now it’s new years for me, Rosh Hashana, which begins with Erev Rosh, the Eve of the head of the year. Will I make a very tiny honey cake? Maybe. Probably not. Let’s start small and go easy.

October 8 is the one year anniversary of the fire in my tiny house, October 9 is the day my mom died. Maybe that chocolate lavender cake is still in the cards. We’re putting our best guys on it.

Strike another match and start anew.

What was, now isn’t. But what is could be exciting. Let’s find out, welcome in the unknown good surprises, make a new batch of cookies, try again.

Here’s to a beautiful sweet new year if you’re celebrating today, or a beautiful sweet new whatever beginning you are in.

Come play with me, I love company

You are welcome to play with any of the concepts here in any way you like. Come play in the comments!

You can brainstorm experiments, practices, rituals or feast days, cookies or menu items you would like to play around with, whether for your own times of loss, heartache or change, or for whatever you might going through, People Vary.

And as always, you’re invited to share anything sparked for you while reading, themes you’re playing with, or add any wishes into the pot, into the healing zone, as a friend of mine said, who knows, the power of the collective is no small thing, and companionship is healing.

A request

If you received clues or perspective or just want to send appreciation for the writing and work/play we do here, I appreciate it tremendously.

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, and it all helps with fixing what needs fixing, currently focused on replacing three windows and installing a heater to make it through winter.

Or you can buy a copy of the my Monster Manual & Coloring Book if you don’t have it!

And if those aren’t options, I get it, you can light a candle for support (or light one in your mind!), share one of my posts 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 so much. ❤️

The Fluent Self