Announcement & reminder about the ebook!
If you’ve already given to Barrington’s Discretionary last year or this year, you got my ebook by email this weekend about how I approach and plan my year, how I think about time and am in relationship with time.
(And if you gave to Barrington but didn’t get it, please email me with any emoji, and I will fix that!)
Anyway, you can also still get a copy 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! So far getting lots of really lovely feedback!
Being tested / exhaling / loving the sea
Or at least doing my best given the circumstances…
Yet again, again and onward, finding myself in these heartbreaking moments.
Finding, myself, again
Finding myself in the sense of welp here we are I guess.
Though also finding myself in the sense of locating myself, identifying where I am, self-orienting. Not that I am lost, just that I have forgotten.
(To breathe, to pay attention, to notice the passing of time.)
But either way, here we are, in the YOU ARE HERE of it all, and the here is in the heart-breaking moments, which are many. In the world, in the news, in a scary election year for the United States, in general.
And let us not forget the cumulative effect of the various other smaller and larger heart-breaks and heart-shards in the micro, in the right-here right-now.
It’s a lot, isn’t it
Yes, it’s a lot, it really is, and I hope you are doing okay, or possibly even better than okay, if that’s an option for you, and if yes or if no, either way we are going to try to remember how breathing works, because I have been forgetting lately.
Let’s remember together.
Oh right. Releasing and allowing. Ahhhhh.
The forgotten exhale, and an intake too. That part is also important.
Both of these are worth remembering, there’s this whole quiet world of in and out.
Hello heart, hello lungs, hello oxygen, a hand-on-heart sigh of remembering, this helps, a little, sometimes.
And either way, the moment of remembering matters. If I forget that too, so be it. I’ll remember again later.
Here we are.
In other remembered moments
I remember last January being slow and heavy, a molasses month. I remember the quest for increasingly tricksy ways to coax myself to get out of bed. Tricksy tricks and sheer determination, much was required there.
This year I’m pretty sure I blinked twice at most, and three weeks had passed.
What happened during that time? I mean, other than like ten different emergencies…
All I know is that I kept forgetting and then remembering to exhale.
But/and/also: noticing something about feeling rubbed raw.
Something about being a snake who has half peeled off the old skin but has not yet wriggled free. I am not used to the rawness of the releasing or the rawness of the new, it is all very raw. What else?
Noticing all the big moods and feelings:
Angry at times,
raucous at times,
the fierce assassin who is devoted to the mission,
the quiet cowboy who actually likes chore-time,
worried and frightened,
steady and gloriously unbothered,
sometimes all of it at the same time…
Just noticing and re-noticing, and sometimes what I am noticing is how I yet again forgot to exhale (exhale).
And so that’s what I’m doing.
Exhaling. And remembering.
Noticing and remembering, and exhaling, again.
Reminding myself to relax my jaw and then trying it again, and then laughing at myself a little because honestly, this much accumulated tension is almost impressive.
Companionship, sometimes invisible
In addition to the other scary things going on, I have to go and do at least one scary-to-me thing, and I wish I didn’t have to go it alone, I wish I had someone to go there with me, but I do not, so:
Candles (the ones I light, the ones my friends can light for me), and incoming selves who are braver, wiser and more fun about all of this.
And remembering to breathe.
The other day I wrote on a note that I am actually in a very serious and intimidating power couple situation with myself, with incoming me, and there is simply no way to talk about this without it seeming very cheesy, but I knew what I meant. And it helped. We will go there together.
Oh god I keep doing that thing where I think I’m fine and have even convinced myself of it, and then SUDDENLY it hits me…
Either a memory of one of the things that is going on, or realizing that I haven’t talked to anyone in weeks, and then things get a bit crumply, if that is a word.
It’s that cartoon phenomenon where the protagonist is moving their feet and there’s no ground beneath them because they’ve wandered off past the cliff edge, but they’re fine actually, as long as they don’t look down.
Except for some reason I keep looking down
Except for some reason I keep looking down, which is clearly not the smart move here.
Or maybe the not-smart move was forgetting about the edge. Or forgetting to exhale.
Still, there’s always another moment, right here right now. And anyway, there’s no cliff and no crumpling, it’s all an illusion, and we are so very brave.
Exhaling for that. We are so very brave, we keep on keeping on.
Tested (testing, one two)
This is a phenomenon I have written about here before how sometimes you wish a wish and then you seemingly get the opposite of the essence of the wish. Or you name your word for the year and extremely get tested on it right away…
Yes, the thing where you are almost immediately tested on all your goals / wishes / words, your most desired qualities and superpowers.
And is this because your attention is more drawn to a theme because you have invoked it? Or is it all the gunk coming to the surface on the way to clarity, like washing that one dish that had to soak for a while?
I’m not even sure it matters what the reason is, all I can say is that everyone I know is telling me they too are being tested in the biggest way this month on their words and themes for 2024.
So if this is happening for you too, then ah yes, welcome to this club…
Sometimes it’s helpful just to notice this is happening. It will pass. And maybe the test is also an illusion.
Maybe we’re just panicking a little because we were brave and allowed a wish to exist…
It Solves Itself
As you know, I don’t do resolutions, but I did spend a few days thinking and journaling about the qualities I want to embody more of in 2024, and here’s what came up.
I want to focus more deeply and be even more devoted to the power of It Solves Itself.
Welcoming elegant simple solutions! Instead of trying to solve things, what if I practice Choose Calm, Choose Ease? What if I practice more Bravery & Tenacity. It Solves Itself.
What if I stop trying to be the solver? What if I stop staying up way too late trying to all solve all the problems and instead just put it all into the pot to percolate and brew? Into the wish cauldron, let the percolating do what needs to be done…
Testing one two, testing one two
Then the new year came in and wow did I get tested on this right away, and over and over again.
First by being offered what I would now call a Feast of an Easy No, but not being able to recognize the easy no, and trying to problem-solve my way into a yes instead.
But even after I recognized the Easy No in hiding, I kept getting tested in the area of having to be my own disability advocate.
People would ask me to do things I simply physically cannot manage, and then I perceived that they were upset with me about not being able to show up, but guess what, wanting other people to be not-upset with me doesn’t suddenly bestow upon me abilities I do not have. I can’t solve what I can’t solve!
And this is how I learned (again) that coming into the role of being your own disability advocate is very challenging, actually.
Even when it’s ultimately a form of Choose Calm, Choose Ease to be the person who can clearly state the facts: no, this is not an option right now actually.
Reminders upon reminders
I needed a thousand reminders from friends that, assuming that [The Best Solution Is Probably The Simplest One], which is often true, then if no simple solution reveals itself, maybe the best solution is to wait until a simpler solution can be found…
And I needed to remind the people I love as well.
Sometimes the best answer is light a candle, hope for the best, go for a walk if that’s an option, keep asking for solutions to reveal themselves, keep reaffirming my willingness to accept help and support, keep re-upping the wishes.
Waiting, noticing, inviting, if there’s a simpler solution, please show yourself, and until then I’m going to remember to exhale.
And tending to these raw feelings, adding on comfort where I can.
Being kind with myself when I forget to choose calm or forget to choose ease, I can choose again later.
Like I always say, You win some, you win some later…
Bravery and Tenacity
I have been doing many brave things in January, actually, one after the next.
To be clear, it is not fun to have to be brave at all, never mind this brave, never mind to continually be brave and then do it again the next day.
Even worse, I have had to be gracious about it, which somehow compounds the challenge.
Though also, at the same time, I am trying to remember to be proud of myself too; bravery is no small thing in this world, tenacity is also no small thing.
Then add grace to the mix, it’s honestly impressive.
Choosing what to be impressed by
Can I let myself be a little less impressed with the illusions and the cliffs, and a little more impressed with my own commitment to tenacity and bravery, or at least with the way I keep asking for their help…
The ongoing practice of Choose Calm, Choose Ease, Choose Grace, and, along with it, being gracious about the many moments in life that are not and seemingly, in that moment, at least cannot be about calm, ease, or grace.
And even these challenging moments, who are we to say they are not at the very least grace-adjacent? For me they are. The practice is the practice.
You win some, you win some later
You win some, you win some later.
Either way, the fact that you are choosing to be in a conscious relationship with yourself and with these qualities even some of the time is a big deal, actually.
The grappling, the invoking, the forgetting and re-remembering, it’s all part of the bigger experience of being a person.
Good job to us.
“If I knew where songs came from, I would go there more often,” said Leonard Cohen. “The real song, where that comes from, no one knows, that is grace, that is a gift, and that is not yours.”
The grace place (grace places?) are not known but also are very known, in the sense that we can quiet things enough to wind up in them.
There is an exhale that brings us closer to them, or brings them closer to us, or maybe we are already sharing the same space, already in the circle. Maybe it’s just a matter of not-solving for grace, and breathing patiently until we remember grace is already here, in this place…
Add this to the category of the many mysterious mysteries that are both not at all mysterious and very mysterious at the same time.
And let’s not forget joy
Yes. And joy. And-joy! Not to be forgotten.
There is joy (surprise joy, transcendent joy, simple joy, micro-joys) to be found both in the mysterious mystery, and also in those unlikely moments when the mysterious elements solve themselves somewhat.
When the mysteries are solved, resolved, revealed, clarified, or otherwise calmed in some way. Like the waves.
The grace in the storm, the grace in the calming.
This is a bit of poetry I whisper to myself on repeat but it actually comes from the lyrics to a song by one of those Israeli bands that was big in the 90s and is somehow still very beloved in a way that could not happen in a larger country I don’t think…
All backstory aside, these are the words I hold onto like a talisman:
sometimes I’m on top of the waves /
sometimes I’m beneath them /
but in any case (either way) /
I love the sea
I love the sea, I love the sea, I love the sea.
Come love the sea with me.
I love the sea (this amazing life), and also I cry a lot, because the pain of the many painful things comes in waves too, and I can find myself and lose myself and find myself again in some very bedraggled moments in their wake.
What a very human experience.
“Thank you, life” is what I sometimes whisper or shout, depending on my mood, when I finish up my evening porch breaths and have talked to my friends (the trees, the fields, the mountains, the big sky, the crisp air, the wildlife) about my day. And sometimes I add, “I love you, life”, and once I specified: “I love you, my life.”
That surprised me. I do not always love certain or even many aspects of my life, which is kind of in shambles, but in that moment it didn’t matter, because I was choosing to. It solves itself, and here I am.
It solves itself, it comes in waves, here I am, and either way, I love the sea.
If you are anywhere in the United States, you probably got hit with some big, big weather over the past couple weeks, and if you are elsewhere, you probably read about it online.
I got lucky and somehow ended up in the one corner where there were no imminent disasters, but did get about a week of a pretty severe cold spell here before the general chaos started chaos-ing.
Lowest temp was 12F which is -11C, and as you know, I live in an unheated metal box and rely on a very hardworking little space heater, along with a lot of jogging in place while wearing everything I own.
Add in a bonus two hour power outage for fun!
This required even more jogging, and luckily my body didn’t object. It likes moving more than it likes being still these days, moving or sleeping, just not being still. That’s a mystery too, but we made it through.
This tremendous good fortune
And at the same time, even as this was all happening, a power outage on an impossibly cold day…
I was still able to remember my tremendous luck and good fortune: the sturdy roof, the new double-pane windows that fit properly and close properly, my newfound ability to jog for long stretches, my friend the sun who always comes back to visit me here.
What good fortune. I love the sea.
Married to the sea
I laughed delightedly when I saw that the You Are Good podcast was covering the movie Entrapment, a movie I unironically adore that I also think is simply not that good, but just give me a hot heist with agility maneuvers and elegantly sliding between lasers in a catsuit, and I will overlook a lot.
It was a joy and a relief to learn that the hosts of this show basically agree with me on most counts.
Then Sarah Marshall started talking about the sea, and I had just been thinking about the sea — in the sense of sometimes I am above the waves and sometimes I am below, and either way, I love the sea, like in the song.
So this was confusing and also beautiful, and I had to listen to that bit again, because I think Sarah meant that loving an ancient Sean Connery is like loving the sea, but also that in general when you love someone — and here I would add: including yourself! — it’s a bit like loving the sea in that you get what you get.
You get what you get
You love someone or you learn to love yourself, and this love or this experience of love is so vast and wild and dangerous and beautiful and merciless all at once. Truly anything could happen at any time and you can’t anticipate anything.
How brave we are to love at all, to exhale and be here, in this human endeavor, and to keep doing it, to love more…
At least I thought that was what she meant but like I said, I was already very caught up in my own internal love story, realizing that I will continue to love the sea no matter my relationship to the waves.
Married to the sea? Married to the sea! Why not!
Okay, so I listened again, and here is what Sarah said:
“In any relationship you have to know that you are marrying the sea, in the sense that you are marrying all the joy and beauty that you find, but also the entirety of existence which also includes profound destruction which, if people stay around, it’s going to happen to somebody, sorry.”
I am also married to the C of Choose Calm, Choose Ease, and the C of the cowboy who is me, and the C of comfort, contentment, capable, capacious, cake-making…
In true Sesame Street fashion, this realization about love and life is brought to you by the letter C!
Yes, all that
Like Sarah Marshall and the 90s Israeli band both said in different ways, as I choose to understand them, the hard, painful or challenging moments are also part of love and being alive.
They even make up a pretty significant part of loving life, and being, as my friend Keren used to say in an attempt to describe me, “a great liver of life, in the sense of joyfully experiencing, not the organ…”
That is a part of love, the painful inevitabilities. And yet here I am, still loving the sea.
I also want to add that on that episode of the podcast they asked each other, “What are your hopes and fears for this new year and what do you want to eat”, and that’s honestly such a beautiful stone to skip in general, but especially for someone who loves the sea…
What are we going to eat, in this world of upheaval? Let’s start there.
Here’s to loving the sea
Here’s to loving the sea, and here’s to cake for pre-breakfast, if that’s your thing (it’s mine), or whatever might help, maybe it’s something entirely different for you than anything I’ve mentioned here, people vary.
Here’s to everything solving itself deliciously.
Here’s to enticing solutions offering themselves.
I hope you are finding moments of grace, or finding yourself in moments of whatever is needed.
Mainly I hope you are able to conjure some space to breathe, replenish, fill up on whatever you need most. Making space for the grace-places.
What am I hoping for as I recover from these big waves
More of the good things: hope, comfort, sustenance, sustainability, warmth, sweetness, micro-joys, focus, loving clarity, appreciating all of it.
More of I Choose Calm, I Choose Ease, I welcome elegant simple solutions, I love the sea, It Solves Itself.
Will I continue to be tested on these? Maybe. Am I still asking for them? Absolutely.
The grace-places are wherever I am, and if I forget to exhale, I will remember again, and we can also remind each other, with love, by lighting a candle for each other and for peaceful resolutions, and taking some breaths for the greater good.
That’s the kind of resolutions I want for this new year: things resolving themselves peacefully, may it be so.
And as for myself, I am going to keep pausing, breathing, asking, wanting, tasting, sweetening, enjoying, crying, resting, loving the sea.
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, everyone who reads, porch breaths, the winding path, the many clues that land when they land, receptivity, keeping on keeping on.
New product alert!!!
There’s fun bonus material on how I relate to time and map out my quarters for the year.
Anyone who gives to Barrington’s Discretionary (see below) will get this bonus material by email as a pdf!
If you received clues or perspective or 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, 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. ❤️