very personal adsPersonal ads. They’re … personal! Very.

I write a Very Personal Ad each week to practice wanting, and get clarity about my desires. The point isn’t getting my wish (though cool things have emerged from wishing), the point is learning about my relationship with what I want, and accessing the qualities. Wanting can be hard, it is easy to feel conflicted about it, and the reasons for that make this a surprisingly subversive practice…


My brother and I have a thing we call SMOPL.

It stands for Something Meaningful On a Personal Level.

We use this term for a lot of things, but most often it comes up in the context of trying to reconcile our discomfort with religion (ours and in general) with our love of ritual and the desire to have some sort of connection to our complicated tribe.

So we take bits and pieces, and allow a SMOPL to emerge.

Sometimes we opt out of tradition, and make it a SMOPL. Sometimes we opt in, and just switch things up, and then that’s our SMOPL.

What do I want?

To choose towards SMOPL. To live in SMOPL.

To be true to my desire in a much deeper way than before, checking in to make sure I’m choosing something that feeds me, choosing from love and not from perceived obligation.

Like this…

This year when yom kipur came around I really felt the need for comfort, with all the painful things that have been going on. I just didn’t really, really didn’t feel up to to leaving the house, or being around people.

Sam came to keep me company, and we did two hours of sweet slow yoga, in the dark, with just the sound of our breath for company.

We set our intentions and each breath was intention, and everything about it was perfect. I was able to access such a deep peacefulness and knowing, to fill up on the well of me. It was such a clear example of No, Really, This Is Right.

I got all the things I needed and even some of the things I didn’t know that I needed:

Quieting, peace, clarity, sweetness, trust, a renewed sense of faith, deep trust in the my own process as a human being and in the bigger process of this life, a thank you heart of appreciation and gratitude, a re-committing to life and aliveness.

SMOPL is always the right answer for me, sometimes that is hard to remember.

The tango lesson.

I had signed up for Portland Tango Fest this weekend, and then my mother went into the ICU and from there into hospice, and she died Thursday night.

I sat on a couch in the corner while the tango lesson was happening, and couldn’t dance, couldn’t get into it. Tango is not my dance anyway, not yet at least, and it requires an intensity of focus when I had none.

So I sat there and watched people dance. I didn’t watch the way I would watch, as a dancer. I watched the way my mother would watch. I noticed color, texture, interesting faces, little human moments.

I imagined her smiling over things she found beautiful, silly, playful, surprising.

One of the tango instructors was this very small, very charming guy from Buenos Aires, amazing dancer. At one point he said, “Do you know, I always want to be this tall big black guy with an afro and a boom box, like, funky, like uh huh uh huh uh huh uh huh, and it isn’t fair, god made me short and white and like this, so I have to cultivate the attitude of what I want, to feel sexy and move like how I imagine I am, this is tango.”

She would have liked that, I think.

My mother loved watching argentine tango, one of her favorite movies was called The Tango Lesson, and she’d fast forward through the drama to watch the dance scenes, so I feel certain she would have gotten a kick out of being a fly on the wall in that workshop.

And I had suddenly this idea of SMOPLing the entire mourning process by doing things she liked.

What if.

What if that becomes my process of grief.

Maybe instead of [some of the traditional things that do not speak to me], my brother and I could instead choose things she would like and do those.

Like watch tango and eat soup and sleep in. What else did she do?

Watch her happy movies (The Tango Lesson. Strictly Ballroom. 50 First Dates.) Stay in bed until eleven. Enjoy flowers. Be in the garden. People-watch. Make up back-stories about people in advertisements. Read a book last-chapter-first.

Ez: Yeah, and we could watch just the fun scenes in movies.
Me: Or go to something really late, like, show up right before it ends. Or make random changes in our homes.
Ez: Yes. Hahaha. I like this plan.
Me: Or take a hundred books out of the library on one topic.
Ez: Wait, I already do that.
Me: Okay, I can’t think of any other things I’d want to do.
Ez: That’s fine. We can do our own things too. Whatever seems right. Look for clues.

What if indeed.

I wasn’t sure if she would have approved of this or hated it, not that it matters in a way, since this is for me.

However, thanks to all the drugs she was on in her last months to help with the pain, I was able to meet a much more chill version of her, and this experience is softening my thoughts about what she would or would not like.

For example, I had the thought on the plane to Detroit that I should remove my sparkly purple nail polish because mom would think this is disrespectful and inappropriate for a funeral, but actually medicated-mom would say, oooh what a pretty color, so it’s fine.

Similarly, the mother I remember from before probably would have frowned at SMOPLing the mourning process and had much to say about the importance of Doing The Right Thing, but mom on drugs would smile and think this was a really sweet plan. So I’m going with what she would have liked, and not the mother I knew for the previous thirty-seven years.

What else would I like?

Support for this op! Actually, I already have that. Everyone in my life is for this.

Annabelle: Yes, this is great! You should do this.
Briana: This is a brilliant op.
Sam: I like that you’re doing what your mom would have enjoyed.

Anything else related to this?

I’ve also been thinking that my mother was surprisingly sneakily good at doing what she wanted, despite the cultural legacy of Obligation Always. She did find ways to sleep in and eat things she liked and read books she liked, watch the same movie scenes over and over, take art classes, avoid situations with people, and generally do things that were comfortable for her.

She made life fit her weird complicated needs, which is a pretty great superpower.

Says a person with lots of weird complicated needs.

I have weird complicated needs! I want to make choices that fit the energy that supports me, choices that help me be the clearest bell.

So I suspect this desire is behind something I said to a friend of mine yesterday:

This is my last funeral, babe. From now on I’m SMOPLing it.

I don’t know if I have the balls to commit to that. I know what the intention is though:

Choose towards experiences that feel light and clear. Choose away from experiences that feel murky, muddy, tangled up with my stuff and other people’s stuff.

More things that feel real, true, brimming with life and aliveness. More celebrating. More breathing. Really this is about love more trust more release more receive more. This is about radical sovereignty and living by my yes.

Checking in. How am I doing?

I’m okay, actually.

My brother and I were talking about this. About how, in many ways, we feel relief. The hardest part was knowing she was in so much pain and fear, and not wanting to die. Now it’s just peacefulness, which is easier. Sad and complicated, but also less hard.

I feel everything becoming lighter now.

Feelings of peace, relief for the end of anxiety and pain. Whoosh!

Amen to the whoosh.

What do I really want?

Same as the past few weeks. To trust my instincts more. To trust my yes and trust my no, and act on that trust immediately.

Me: Hey, slightly-wiser me, what do you have for me?

She: This is brilliant, babe. This is about finding a way to live that doesn’t feel itchy.
Me: I’m not sure I am following the thread.
She: Congruence. Living harmoniously. Being a clear bell. These are things that require you to say a clear, loving no to everything that feels itchy. SMOPLing is a good way of transforming potentially itchy things into experiences that are supportive of who you are and how you function.
Me: What if I screw up and say a reluctant yes to something I know is actually a no? Like I did this week, over and over again?
She: No biggie. It’s all practice. Internal guidance is like GPS, it will just recalibrate and get you back on track. Nothing is wrong, my love. We’re just learning how to do this. It will take as long as it takes. All we need to do is keep checking in.


Hahaha, the month of trusting the voyage, and I am literally on a plane to Detroit for the funeral. It’s on the calendar. Trust. The. Voyage.

And my nail polish color is called homecoming. Hahahaha. Yes, well. The Havi Show is extra funny this week.

The superpower of trusting the voyage.

Last month on the calendar was the month of receiving, and gracefully receiving gifts. Gracefully receiving my gifts.

Now we’ve turned a page and it’s the month of Embarking, with the superpower of trusting the voyage.

So here we are. This is me trying to find my way into a life where I am much, much, much more true to my internal knowing than I have ever dared to even try before. Trust the voyage, kiddo.

Ongoing wishes.

Seeds planted without explanation, a mix of secret agent code and silent retreat. Things to play with someday.
  • Everything is easier than I thought, and look, miracles everywhere.
  • I have the best time dancing in my ballroom.
  • This doesn’t require my input!
  • Ha, it’s so perfect that it turned out like this. Past me is a GENIUS
  • I have what I need, and I appreciate it. There are resources to do this.
  • Trust and steadiness. I can see why this moment is good.
  • I am fearless and confident. I do the brave things, I state my preferences clearly, calmly and easily, and it is not even a big deal, yay.
  • I am ready to come into my superpowers, including the superpowers of knowing that it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks, I Am Okay With Being Seen, receiving gifts that are winging their way to me. See also: The superpower of Everything Enhances My Superpowers. And adds panache.

Things I find helpful when it comes to wishes…

Set the intention. Nap on it. Dance it, write it, play with it, walk the labyrinth. Take lots of notes. Take deeper breaths, getting quieter and quieter until I hear what is true.

More sweet pauses, yes to the red lights, remember the purple pills, say thank you to the broken pots. Permission. Bright colors. Passion. Costume changes. Stone skipping with incoming me. Dance. Intensity. Writing. Lipstick. My body gets the deciding vote. And, as always, saying thank you in advance.

Give it to the compass: Eight directions, eight qualities, eight breaths.

Trust. Release. Love. Receive. Anchor. Crown. Glow. Boldly.

Progress report on past Very Personal Ads.

So. Last week, aka the doing of not doing…

This turned out to be an absolutely amazing wish, because this week was full (ha, full) of not doing. As I wrote in the Chicken:

Things have been internally productive rather than externally. Internal Productivity means I’m making progress on processing with heart and mind. The external fruits of that will be apparent later. I need to pay attention to where the work is happening instead of thinking that there’s no work happening. I need to stop looking critically at what isn’t happening on my projects and look at what is happening inside of me.

Love more. Trust more. Release more. Receive more. Thank you, writing. Thank you, me who asked.

Attenzione! Attention, AGENTS.

I wish to whisper a whisper about the Monster Manual! It comes paired with the world’s best coloring book, which does so much monster-dissolving magic that even if you wait to try the techniques, you’ll still feel better about everything.

Self-fluency is hard enough, we need ways to to interact with the thoughts-fear-worry-criticism that shuts down creative exploring. And when people get the manual, I am able to me spend more time writing here. So if you don’t need help with monsters, get one for a friend. Or plant a wish that someone gets it for you! And bring people you like to hang out here. The more of us working on our stuff, the better for all of us. ♡

Keep me company?

Consider this an open invitation to deposit wishes, gwishes, personal ads. In any size/form you like, there’s no right way. Updates on past experiments are welcome too, as is anything sparked for you.

Commenting culture: This is safe space for creative exploration. We are on permanent vacation from care-taking and advice-giving. We are here to play and throw things in the pot! With amnesty. Leave a wish any time you want.

Here’s how we meet each other’s wishes: Oh, wow. What beautiful wishes.


The Fluent Self