muted sunset behind a tree in a field

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

Announcement & ebook reminder

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

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

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

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

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

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

Last time

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

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

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

Partly this and partly that

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

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

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

A breath for just noticing the ambient panic

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

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

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

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

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

How much of this belongs to me

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

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

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

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

Just checking in with myself

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

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

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

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

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

A monument

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

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

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

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

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

What else is or can be a monument?

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

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

A song becoming a day becoming a monument

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

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

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

The monument that forms itself

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

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

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

The absence of a cairn of objects, for example

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

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

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

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


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

I make him listen to the whole song with me.

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

The healing stone

I had a dream about the healing stone.

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

In the dream, this was the answer to everything.

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

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

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

When things are hard, which they often are

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

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

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

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

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

The monument we need most

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

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

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

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

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

The noticing is a monument

The noticing itself is a monument.

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

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

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

You win some, you win some later.

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

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

And so on.

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

Here now / it’s not easy being green

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

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

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

What a fun surprise for someone who likes surprises

What a fun surprise for someone who likes surprises.

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

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

There’s some poetry in that

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

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

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

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

I am ready to let some more joy in.

Come play in the comments, I appreciate the company

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

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

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

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

New ebook alert!!!

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

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

A request

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

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

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

The Fluent Self