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.

Go forth and

steaming hot soup in a white ceramic bowl with a brass spoon

Delicious & nourishing: steaming hot soup as a form of devotional practice and clue-finding…


Announcement & reminder about the ebook!

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

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

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

Go forth and

It takes as long as it takes

I was listening to this Selected Shorts interview, Meg Wolitzer with Denis O’Hare, I put it on to distract me while the soup was heating up, so I could think about something other than how much I was looking forward to the soup (a lot).

What a delight, what an excellent choice, I love when I do something for seemingly frivolous reasons, and it yields something I never could have anticipated.

Familiar

Denis O’Hare was talking about something that is so familiar to me: when you have done something for so many years that it becomes difficult to break it down in such a way that you could describe to someone else how you do it, because it’s mostly if not completely automatic.

That is a phenomenon that encompasses many things…

Paradoxically, part of [not-teaching, but something adjacent to it] involves some elements of describing, or at least demonstrating that indescribable thing you wish to convey. Or the thing others wish to learn from you but you can’t explain it…

For me personally this can be extra tricky, because often the not-a-teaching that I am trying to convey is something that is by its nature mostly invisible — for example: the ongoing practice of Add Compassion & Stir…

Not-teaching but something adjacent to it

As you probably already know, I am team modeling > teaching; I would rather live something in way that is visible than explain it, but hey, sometimes we do both.

And as much as I am disinclined to be the person at the front of the room or at a podium, because I would always rather just be playing with everyone as equals in a delightful game that is not about winning and is only about playing…

I will allow that it is sometimes useful to be able to explain what you are doing. Even if you’re only explaining it to yourself as an experiment.

Go out and

Denis O’Hare mentioned that back in the day, an early acting teacher of his had once given him the instruction to “go out and bring back observations”.

Go out and bring back what you noticed while you were out on this mission of noticing things.

And then, presumably, you practice it, learn from it, embody it, play with it, tinker, refine, and so on…

I love this as a practice, it reminds me of clue walks.

What is a clue walk

A clue walk doesn’t have to involve walking at all, although it can.

It is any form you might use to look-or-wander through your space or through a place (including taking yourself for a walkabout, if you are able to and you feel like it) with this mindset of noticing.

Curiosity, attentiveness, receptivity, observation, these are the superpowers of a clue walk as a practice.

Wonder is a delicious and enticing quality too, if you are able to channel some of that, though no worries if not, it might surprise you and show up on its own.

What is a clue

Anything that sparks or draws my attention is or can be a clue.

The clue walk is an invitation to turn up attentiveness and see what I am drawn to…

Observing puts you in relationship with the clues

Observing puts you in relationship with the clues.

By noticing something, you are changing how you are in relationship with it.

You can also interact with the clues you find in a more conscious or intentional way, for example by asking them directly what they know or have to show you, whether related to a current situation or just in general.

This is a great journaling question or stone skipping question. Clue of X, what would you like me to know?

I have written about clue walks here before…

For example, in:

These are all good places to get more ideas or information, or you can just take a two minute clue walk in your space right now, even just by looking around you…

What are the elements of Go Out And

There is the Embarking, the Setting Forth, whether this is a physical action or a moment of deciding.

There is the meandering, the long middle. This is where you notice what you notice, and maybe here there can be some anxiety (what if I don’t find a clue, what if I don’t find what I’m looking for, what if I already missed it), and noticing the anxiety can also hold clues.

Usually our worries about one thing can shine light about our worry patterns about everything else, aka how I worry about anything is generally how I worry about everything…

Or maybe it isn’t, and that could be a clue too!

Then there is the noticing of observations, and of course there is the Bringing Them Back.

Letting the clues surprise you

Listening to Denis O’Hare took me to his website where I discovered several things I did not know, first that he is a terrific writer in addition to being a talented singer and actor.

I also did not know that we share a Michigan childhood, which could also be why I like his voice so much, so often when I have the conscious thought that I love someone’s voice, it later turns out that this person with the voice was a Detroit kid.

And then that he, like me, loves a geodesic dome. Who knew.

An obsession with round spaces is a lovely thing to share with someone, and it is always good to be reminded how I feel about the way things can echo and reverberate.

And then I kept looking, for one more clue

It was a craving, just one more clue! And then I found it, when he said, on the topic of writing:

”Stage directions have to be sexy.”

And he said this, too, which feels related:

”I love the feeling of a character appearing and telling me who she is. I love when scenes meander away from my control. I love when I re-read something and it makes my spine tingle because it is alive.”

Yes, there it is, the next clue

Yes, me too, I also love when my writing meanders away from my control, when a theme or an idea-spark takes on a life of its own.

This might be why I clue-walk, this might be why I do everything, to be deliciously surprised.

What if “go forth and bring back observations” is itself a sexy stage direction? A suggestion, an imperative, a description, a quest…

What if being deliciously surprised is a worthy pursuit on its own?

Anything else about clues?

I wanted to mention specifically that clues are either neutral or kind. They are not mean.

So if you think you got a clue about how your messy desk means you’re a disorganized loser, for example, that sounds like monsters, aka the voices of internalized criticism that can show up in our unconscious, ways we have learned from the world to motivate ourselves through stress or abuse.

But even as we notice a monster-story (good job for noticing!), we can still use our powers of observation to find a kernel of beautiful neutral truth inside of it.

A kernel of beautiful neutral truth

In the example I gave about the cluttered surface, maybe the clue is noticing that you crave a clean slate and more spaciousness for your work…

Or maybe it’s the opposite, and you are able to notice that you actually thrive when there’s some good creative chaos, and you can give yourself some permission and spaciousness to just thrive how you thrive!

Good noticing, either way. Noticing is a win.

Where else can we bring back observations

Obviously from out in the world, and from out in nature…

But also I can go on a clue walk in my inbox, or among my open tabs.

Clues exist in a pile of papers or a pile of dishes. Clues live in a project I started and put aside because it wasn’t the time, or because of [reasons].

Sometimes the clue is about a desire, sometimes a clue is about approach, sometimes the clue is in remembering the wisdom of You Win Some, You Win Some Later.

What clues am I finding in my open tabs right now?

So many linguistic-related rabbit holes! I love words so much! I am always looking something up to find where it comes from, or to help me translate something from Hebrew if I have forgotten a word in English, or vice versa.

And then I end up with twenty tabs that are just about words.

Many of my tabs are music-related, a song I fell in love with, an artist I want to know more about.

What can I learn about myself (again, with a compassionate and generous outlook, channeling Loving Clarity, not in terms of monster-narratives) when I take in the many open tabs?

And can I close some and still honor the true clues, which tell me that I am a curious person who is fascinated by the world and by sounds, and by how things connect and overlap. Can I say thank you for this clue, and then trust that I will find it again, or something better? Maybe!

Go forth and

Go forth and wander, meander, soften, maybe let yourself (or your eyes) relax, maybe even get to ten percent more relaxed

Go forth and observe, notice, laugh, practice, play, gather, disperse, release…

Go forth and find some pleasure, take some pleasure, enjoy something if you can.

Can I go forth and rededicate myself to these micro-joys, to these small practices of finding treasure in the clues?

The soup

Over the weekend I made a big pot of soup stock from various vegetable scraps in my freezer (onion, shallot, parsley, can’t remember what else) along with bay leaves, some chiltepin peppers, peppercorns and whatever spices I felt drawn to.

Froze some, used some to cook rice, which I also recommend, and decided to turn the rest into a soup, because I am really devoting myself to delicious nourishing soup life for this end-of-winter season here.

Using the tried and true Use What You Have method, I added some frozen broccoli, some cubed potatoes that I’d steamed and then coated in arrowroot flour and fried up in oil, some extremely garlicky mashed-cauliflower, some tahini for body (highly recommend this trick), and topped with lots of dill and some dried lemon peel.

Then I remembered that past-me had been obsessively saving tater tot crumbs for some future unknown special occasion, and of course soup is its own occasion, so I griddled those up as a topping, and am pleased to report that this soup was a revelation.

What are the clues here

So I get that soup is not necessarily a clue walk, and yet, since I am playing with the idea that a) everything can be a clue walk, and b) as Denis O’Hare said, go out and bring back observations…

Here are the clues for me in this comforting lunchtime feast..

Let’s observe…

A clue about Appreciation: all the scraps used to make stock come from past delicious meals, appreciating past me for finding the energy to cook, for saving the peels, for making sure I consumed vegetables…

A clue about Layers / Process: this soup came together because various pieces were in place that came together over time.

A clue about trust and practice and time: I have made some not-good soups in my life, but also I have been making soup without a recipe for so many years that I have a sensory map of what might be good or what feels right.

A clue about aesthetics: I sent this picture to my friend Emerson who commented that he liked the round handle of the spoon and the way the spoon rests in the spout of the bowl.

What great treasure in this reminder

His words reminded me that I used to be the kind of person who would not use their favorite bowl and spoon, because it’s not an occasion, but guess what, now I always use my favorite bowl and spoon, because this soup is its own occasion, and I am the occasion, and this day is an occasion, and being alive is an occasion.

This is proof that things can change and shift for the better, even if my monsters say they can’t and don’t, they are wrong, because look, the change has already taken place. Miracles abound, things move and shift, and the clues are a reminder of that.

That’s another good reason to set forth and bring back observations, to go out (or be right here) and notice.

Let’s play!

We can find clues in our setting, or change our setting (change our settings!).

We can go for a little stroll, or do a stroll with our eyes or ears right where we are. It all works, no need to let going out and observing turn into another thing we get annoyed at ourselves for not doing.

(This is not a should, we are not falling down on the job when we don’t go out and observe things, it’s all good.)

But just like how there are clues even in a soup and also in a side of griddled sweet potato patties (which are not pictured because they were so outrageously delicious that I devoured them before there could be photographic evidence), clues are available right here, right now, in the moment that is.

Beauty and wonder

I told a friend about how I am obsessing over clue walks again, after hearing Denis O’Hare talk about going forth with the purpose of bringing back observations, even though he meant it specifically as an acting practice, that you observe people, and bring back voices, and gaits, affects and ways people self-express…

She told me about a clue walk that she took when she came to do a retreat at The Playground, my former center in Portland, Oregon, this would have been over ten years ago:

I always remember the clue walk I took at the Playground. I still remember the best thing from it: Look up! Seeing the tops of trees being so ragged looking where the new growth is, not neat and tidy, just all over the place. I still think about it all these years later…

Sometimes observing with intention means that a clue or an image (and its wisdom) will stick with you, in a good way. It can accompany you onward to the next mission…

Naming what we notice

Let’s name some clues, if we can.

Or just find a few minutes for a little walk-about, whether inside or outside, just to explore and see what’s there.

Or if you, like me, are closing some tabs this weekend, what clues and qualities are there that you want to remember!

I’m getting a lovely mental image of a bag or pouch, as if we are venturing forth to pick fruit, to gather or forage our precious clues, and return triumphantly so that we can make them into jam, or, in this case, see what they wish to become.

Let’s notice what we notice, and maybe we can find something useful, or something reassuring, or something beautiful, who knows, let’s find out.

Come play in the comments, I appreciate the company

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

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

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

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

New ebook alert!!!

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

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

A request

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

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

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

10% More Relaxed, for example

a misty wintry day, snow on the hills and everything is blurry

On a misty wintry day that is beautiful and spooky, I wanted to tell you about my favorite spell…


Announcement & reminder about the ebook!

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

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

You can also 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!

10% more relaxed, for example

When a word is a mystery to me

I should start by saying that I absolutely do not know how to relax, and most of the time am not sure I really know what it even means.

You can think of this as the manicure conundrum, not that I have had a manicure in the past several years, but I mean the situation when someone takes your hand and they tell you to relax it, except, as far as you know, you aren’t tensing it, because why would you be doing that, so what are they talking about.

What does it mean! I don’t like being told to relax. It stresses me out.

Which is ironic, at least in the Alanis Morissette worldview of irony, pretty sure that whole song was about (basically) this situation.

What does it mean

What do they want from you! Why are they repeating it!

Sometimes they will say, don’t try to hold your hand, let me hold it for you. And I understand that more, but I still don’t really have the ability to follow an instruction to relax.

If anything, I get more frustrated because I don’t know what to do, so then if anything I am less relaxed.

In fact, the best way to get me to relax at all is probably to never suggest it, and yet here we are, talking about it.

*For reasons I can’t describe but it felt important to talk about this now.

Talking about relaxing vs about how frustrating it is to be told to relax…

So, yes, just a few words about the frustration, in case this is something you also experience.

It can really be so frustrating when someone tells you to relax, and you don’t know what they want from you.

It took a long time working with my beloved dance teacher back in Portland (in the before times) until we figured out a way for her to give me concrete instructions and communicate with me in a way I could understand.

Uncrossing the crossed wires

For example, she’d give the instruction “relax”, but what she meant was that I was tensing in such a way that she could feel it in her body when we were dancing together.

And, more specifically, this tension was localized, it was showing up or making itself known in a certain place in my body: maybe my hand was rising, or my shoulders were lifting.

Eventually we figured out that if she could just say “hand” or “shoulder”, I could bring my attention there too and let them drop a little. Or at least soften things in a way that more or less matched up with her version of relaxed, a word I don’t always have an internal definition for.

(Exhale!)

And yet

And yet, even though I tell myself I don’t have a definition for this foreign concept — “What is this relaxed of which you speak?”, it turns out that I have in fact experienced it many times…

At the end of a yoga or feldenkrais class, in a nap, on a peaceful beach, during my evening porch breaths when I tell my friends (the sky, the trees, the wildlife, the fields) about my day.

So it turns out that maybe I do know what this feels like in my body, and just don’t follow instructions well, or resist being instructed.

This is how I came around to playing with the concept of just ten percent.

Sure, maybe I don’t know how to relax (or what it means to be relaxed), but can I conjure some kind of sensory experience when I think about the possibility of ten percent more relaxed?

Spaciousness

Is there some spaciousness for me in that question…? Can it create an opening?

Does it, at the very least, remind me to have a good yawn (or several), listen to my breath, check in with my heartbeat…

And then something in that act of making room — or clearing the decks of my mind, something in that small amount of [attention, not effort] is what allows me to access even more spaciousness.

(Exhale)

Yes, okay, ten percent more relaxed is kind of nice actually. Just ten percent, how does it feel…

Ten percent

Sometimes in the middle of the night if I can’t sleep, I repeat this to myself like a spell.

Ten percent more relaxed.

Because even if totally relaxed feels baffling and unfamiliar to me (or so goes the story in my mind in these late night witching hours), I have absolutely had the experience of softening a bit, releasing some more…

Sometimes the softening is a symbolic amount, sometimes the softening is delicious.

Exhaling into the possibility of the softening

Sinking into the softening, or into the possibility of slightly more at ease.

I count backwards from a number I like, counting the exhalations, and with each exhale, I think to myself, I wonder what ten percent more relaxed would feel like…

It could be any percent of course.

Two percent more relaxed, if ten percent feels like a stretch. No pun intended but now I wish I had intended it.

Ten Percent More Relaxed

Whether I fall back asleep this way (and often I do) or not, I feel better in the morning.

Ten percent more relaxed also works well with other useful questions for those late night anxiety hours like “how much of this is mine” and “is this from now” and “can I put this into the wishing cauldron and let it solve itself, or I can try to solve it in the morning but either way, 3am is not the problem-solving hour, it is the hour of ten percent more relaxed…”

And it helps.

Sometimes it really is more of a theoretical imagining – maybe I can’t feel in my body yet what ten percent more relaxed feels like, but I can still imagine it in my mind. Imagining is great practice. That’s why athletes do it.

So yes, ten percent more relaxed is also a form of athletic training, in a funny sense. We trained for this.

Ten percent more anything, for example…

For example…

Where else can I apply this practice or experiment of imagining what it would feel like to be ten percent more or less anything at all…?

Can I be ten percent braver today, and what would that look like? What about ten percent more patient, ten percent more kind to myself? Can I channel ten percent more Loving Clarity?

What shifts in my day or my approach to my day when I call on this ten percent? And, to be clear, this is not at all about pushing myself to work ten percent harder or be more productive or any of the bullshit that hustle culture insists is important.

This is about experiencing what it’s like to be the person with the finger on the dial, and invite small shifts in the category of qualities or attributes that would be supportive in my day.

Ten Percent Braver

Ten percent braver me might tell me to wash dishes before checking email, because they know about the wisdom of clearing the decks.

Ten percent braver me gets out of bed a little faster.

When I am ten percent more kind to myself (kind with myself?), I remember to name the extenuating circumstances, I remember that I am in a process of rehabilitation. Yes, it took me two and a half days to recover from a trip to the laundromat, that’s just our current reality, let’s adjust expectations.

When I am ten percent more patient, I remember that I am playing the long game, and also to allow three to four times as much time as I think I need for doing literally anything. It helps.

Fractal

These qualities of course support each other, as you may have already guessed.

There’s a sort of a fractal relationship there of interconnectedness and exponential returns.

When I am ten percent more brave, that helps me to be ten percent kinder to myself and vice versa, and both of those support me reminding myself (with kindness) that it’s possible to experience ten percent more relaxed.

The more I get to experience these qualities whether in rest or in action, the less intimidating ten percent sounds, and I can try for some more.

When I can’t access ten percent more anything

It happens.

This weekend I have found myself in a quadruple-molasses deep funk state of everything is moving slowly and I can’t motivate. Okay, sometimes we need to fill up on rest and beauty (or whatever helps) before we can recalibrate our settings.

No worry, it will solve itself. I like to think of ten percent as more of a curious question than an imperative, though sometimes it also can work as a spell.

Into the cauldron it goes, and we’ll see how we feel and go from there.

If I can’t get to ten percent more excited, can I find my way to ten percent more spaciousness?

Where do we go from here

Well, as always, we notice what we notice, and we adjust the experiment as needed.

If this is not an experiment for you, maybe it’s giving you some ideas about other experiments you could run.

Or if relaxing comes easy to you (and I love that for you), what are the areas where you could use ten percent more of a little something-something, that sounded dirty which is not how I meant it, but sure.

Or what about ten percent more of not this, not that, but a third secret thing? Maybe you don’t even need to know what it is yet, maybe the process of asking is what begins to shift things, I don’t know, let’s find out!

Do-overs forever

What an appropriate game to play during the month of Do-Overs Forever, and we are really living through a time that is an absolute treasure of do-over holidays. We had Tu B’shvat, the Jewish new year for trees also known as the birthday of the trees.

Then we had Groundhog Day, the second day of the second month, to remind us that we can try things, and then try again.

And now, speaking of newness, along with new doors, new opportunities, another chance at a new year…

Happy lunar new year, if you celebrate! I hope the year of the dragon brings all of its most useful powers into your life in the exact right ways. For me this year is already about Bravery & Tenacity, which are fierce dragon powers to be sure, and they go well with my theme of Choose Calm Choose Ease.

WWADD (What Would A Dragon Do), and also: what would a dragon want me to embody ten percent more of this year?

Newness abounds

Happy new moon as well, and it’s the new moon that takes us into the first month of Adar.

Yes, we get Adar I and Adar II this year, it’s a leap year on the Hebrew calendar as well as the Gregorian one!

This means two birthday months for me, which is the best form of Do-Overs Forever I’ve ever heard of, something I need anyway because [complicated feelings about this time of year].

Joy: multiplied

I may have mentioned this before but the phrase for Adar is that when it comes in, then joy multiplies, so I am wishing multiplied joy for you as well.

For this month, I am calling on the powers of Bravery & Tenacity (ten percent more?), Surprise Good News, Obsessed with Pleasure, Obsessed with Joy, and of course appreciating the micro-joys.

Micro-joys multiplying: examples

Like a ridiculously large orange, for example, or a moment of pretty sky that I am able to notice as I am reminding myself to look up.

(Superpower of things are looking up when I remember to look up, which Anna reminded me to do, also a form of ten percent more relaxed).

Or in a sudden moment of light-heartedness, or a sudden moment of grace – remembering to love the sea.

Or the reminder I got, via Amanda who sent me this delightful web comic, that joy in winter is a noble pursuit.

A breath for noble pursuits, for finding joy in an orange, a breath for pleasure and play.

Lighting a candle for all this and more

Lighting a candle for ten percent more of what is needed.

Or maybe it’s about feeling into ten percent less of something.

Or could be you want to play with a different percentage point entirely.

As Chef John would say, that’s just you cooking.

(You are after all the 50 Cent of your possibly ten percent…)

Happy new everything, happy percentage shifts

Let’s place all these good thoughts and wishes into the cooking pot or the witching cauldron, and see what emerges once we give them some time to simmer.

Happy new everything, here’s to the micro-joys when and where we can find them.

Here’s to the small but meaningful percentage shifts, and also to being patient with ourselves and letting things brew for a while.

Come play in the comments, I appreciate the company

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

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

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

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

New ebook alert!!!

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

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

A request

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

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

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

A season of do-overs

a broad pink stripe decorates the sky above a peaceful field with trees in the background

The sky practicing do-overs, testing out magical light and a pink arch, what a great look…


Announcement & reminder about the ebook!

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

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

You can also 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!

A season of do-overs

Do-overs forever, we keep experimenting

Anyone who has been hanging out here for any length of time knows that I love a do-over. And not just one, I love dozens of do-overs, infinite do-overs, the expansiveness of remembering we can give something another try, or do it entirely differently, or keep experimenting.

And I especially love February, the Month of Do-overs.

Starting, for me, with February 2nd (Groundhog Day), the Holiest Feast Day of Do-Overs.

Edit: Okay I just reread that piece from a year ago after writing today’s piece, because I was searching for links to previous writings about do-overs, and was astonished by everything in it, bless my mind that writes and erases…

The second day of the second month of second chances

I love that Groundhog Day falls on the second of the month, itself a sort of do-over for the first day in case that didn’t work out. The second day of the second month of second chances…

We’re always practicing, we’re always trying things. We can take it slow.

Recalibrating, reconfiguring, renewing, each second is a form of seconds.

There is so much fractal magic in a symbolic restart, in doing something slightly differently than usual, with intention.

And either way, we made it through January, a thousand points to us.

January of many things / January is rarely easy

To be clear: if January is easy for you, then I love this for you, and am delighted on your behalf, may it only continue!

For me and for so many people I know, January can be such a challenge of a month, loaded as it is with so many external expectations, and located as it is in the calendar, in the cold, grey times if you’re in the northern hemisphere…

It can be a gloomy and/or stressful time for many of us, and then add to that being constantly exposed, through media, social media and the bigger culture, to people going full speed ahead on new habits and loudly excitedly talking about all the changes they are making (forcing).

Or about how stuck they are which isn’t really about an experience of stuck at all, it’s more just about how change and force don’t get along.

Hello, February

February is a beautiful reminder that January was, if anything, a very slow warm-up, barely a dress rehearsal, for any new qualities and practices we might want to invite in this year.

And now we get to take what we learned, add some compassion and grace if we can, and practice trying again, differently this time.

Maybe more slowly, maybe with more kindness, maybe with more realistic expectations, ideally with some Loving Clarity.

Moving water

I have been enjoying the sky (blue bits peeking from behind clouds) of the last day of January here. If you are in other parts of the world it is already February for you, and I hope it’s feeling beautiful and hopeful there, but in case it isn’t, then I am lighting a candle for you.

And either way, I am lighting a candle for me, and for entry into the new month.

A candle for more beauty, more hope, more do-overs, more good movement, more miracles, more bravery and tenacity, and/or more of whatever is needed, since I am not there and I don’t know.

Bravery o’clock

An interesting (to me) thing about this past January is that, unlike last January when writing was hard for me, this year I wrote every single day.

Meanwhile another intriguing piece of this is that I have felt positively allergic to editing these words and sharing them, and I’m not sure why or which part, but maybe the why doesn’t matter.

Maybe it’s related to the rawness, maybe it’s related to not wishing to be seen, maybe it just isn’t the time for sharing those words, maybe it just so happened that I had a lot to say to myself.

But today I feel pulled to share words with you, new ones, and so I am going to attempt to “move the water” of the words inside me, kung fu style, for a forty five minute hour, to see if they wish to take a shape.

Moving water / moving with water

I was half-listening to radio, and someone was talking about kung fu, and how the idea is not to move your body, but to be fluid and liquid in such a way that you imagine moving the water inside of you.

They suggested imagining you have a bottle of water, and instead of trying to move the bottle, you are shifting your mind into a fluidity state, and imagining that the water moves the bottle.

What a beautiful reminder for me that I live in a body, and my body is a body of water, literally mostly water, and just like a lake or a river is a body of water, so too am I.

Motion is happening, flow is already there, in play, at play. I don’t have to make anything happen; I can just be with the water and love the sea. I love the sea.

Twenty years later…

This August will be twenty years since I got the domain for this very website and it went up the next day, and what a time, it felt so exciting and so weird at the same time, and I could not have imagined that I would still be writing things here twenty years later.

But I am. Some days it flows, some days I have to remember how to move the water inside me. Some days I do not wish to share my words, some days I don’t even want to share them with myself.

We keep on keeping on, and it’s so brave to just be, never mind to listen to ourselves.

What am I listening to when I listen to myself

And by listen to ourselves, I mean the practice of separating out from all the monster-thoughts, the self-criticism, the inherited cultural and social expectations, the ideas that we receive from the world or from people whose opinions had power or perceived power over us at some point in life…

Listening to what is beneath that, listening to my heartbeat and my breath and the sounds in the room.

And also skipping a stone into this body of water, asking a question and letting it reverberate into the waters of my consciousness…

Then listening to the parts of me who are kind and funny and warm, they are not worried about me, they are unburdened by doom-stories, they love the sea

Marathon self

I have been noticing when my brain has been working overtime, and trying to remind it that February is the month of do-overs. Part of do-overs includes not trying so hard, not forcing, not pushing, more being present with the want and the water, with the remembering and the noticing.

Similarly, I am trying to remember that training for a marathon (whether real, metaphorical or, in my case, a proxy) doesn’t happen in huge chunks but with slow steady pacing and focusing on small incremental progress, like gradually improving timing.

Let’s talk to my marathon self. Marathon self, what counsel do you have for me?

Marathon Self advises…

A marathon is never as far out as you think, so start training earlier and more often, in small pieces.

Focus on what’s already working. You have endurance, stamina, posture training, core training, and most importantly, you have the ability to be alone with your thoughts.

You think running alone is a negative, and that you wish for companionship, but actually I am there and your various other incoming selves, so really you are running in a pack.

You love backwards walking, you can absolutely get excited about backwards jogging…

What does this mean

Me: I still don’t even really get what this is about at all, like what are we actually talking about?

Marathon self: You just want to train for things, and that’s great, it’s a sign of life.

Can we (we can) also train in other areas, from daily writing to moving forward, from journaling to finishing the many half-finished essays?

Or consider the daily cooking club projects that lead us towards a well-prepped kitchen…

And of course a marathon is about being victorious. Not in the sense of coming first. The victory is in the training. And then there’s another victory in showing up. And a third victory in finishing the course.

These are the victories we care about.

Victorious Marathon self says…

Even on a day when you were absolutely wrecked from a [situaton], you still managed to do your clubs, a symbolic non-zero version or amount of the things that are important to you in a day, this is not nothing.

Can you apply this to love, in general? Whether to your relationship with yourself or to healing past relationships through living differently now?

What would it take to be entirely unattracted to workaholics and deeply attracted to living intentionally and with ritual, run towards (ritual, for example), and if no one else is running that course, then who cares, you are still doing the marathon, you are still victorious…

Can you also release all vestiges of workaholism / fear that you will return to that mode of being and therefore dreading work, and find a renewed source of joy for creating?

Alright, let’s notice what worked in January

I love the January holidays.

For example, Carl Wethers Day. January 14 is his birthday but we can celebrate any day, and I celebrate with baby you got a stew going, and make a stew.

Do I usually make risotto? Yes, but that’s fine, it’s basically a stew. This year I also made Leave Your Family beans, and they were delicious, and I will tell you about that another time.

There’s Dolly day on the 19th when I channel Dolly Parton superpowers of celebrating being a baddie. I entirely made up this holiday (unlike all the other holidays which are obviously very real like making stew for Carl Wethers – who doesn’t celebrate that?), but it was her birthday, and it feels important to channel some extra unapologetic sex appeal in January.

*Even if I have been — allegedly — wearing the same sweatshirt and leggings for a [REDACTED] number of days.

Love a Feast of Liberations

Endings are beginnings are Feasts of Liberations, and making a feast day out of a formerly painful day is also a form of do-overs.

In January I celebrated freedom and more freedom, and also my tree friends, and today, January 31 is a holiday I call Reconfigurations Day because once, in the past, I got a piece of unexpected bad news on this day and had to recognize how to speedily recalibrate and reconfigure everything at once.

Here’s to the swift and less-swift recalibrations and reconfigurations happening with great ease, yes to unexpected great ease.

Here’s to remaining gloriously unbothered by perceived upheaval. And, also, here’s to falling apart if we need to fall apart, which is so reasonable, and then we can run do-overs later.

It’s all good, it all works out, good job to us.

Looking for another clue

Each time I look up, the sky is doing two wildly different things at once, depending on which way I move my head.

Just like how a lot can happen (or the water can move and be moved) inside of a fifty minute hour or a forty five minute hour, so the sky is a body of water.

Can I focus on the water within me, and moving as if I’m in a pool? Can I love the sea within? Maybe that is a theme for the season of do-overs too…

Oh, and something about season like seasoning, how do I wish to season these do-overs and change the flavor with each new experiment!

Tempestuous powers

I forgot to tell you that I refer to the month that was as Tempestuous January, which comes from a tweet a couple years ago from someone who said: “It’s the birthday of Pola Negri. Do something tempestuous.”

And I remember thinking, oh hell yeah, I’m gonna be tempestuous all month long, for good luck.

For good luck, and to practice. BE TEMPESTUOUS JANUARY.

A lot of the time this just involved doing something completely normal with a bit of a tempestuous spirit and flair, but also I talked to my most Tempestuous Self in addition to Bravery & Tenacity and tried to get some clarity on what these versions of me know that I do not (yet).

Anything else I want to keep in mind?

Whether for welcoming the season of do-overs, or in general?

The Cowboy: Do-overs is not about perfectionism, it’s not about trying to make something “better” each time, it’s about devotion. Your devotion to practicing and being present with the experience in a new way.

Like your yoga teacher used to say, how you do anything is how you do everything. That’s what I’m thinking about when I do chores on the ranch. Do-overs as a form of refinement, but without judgment. Gaining experience through repetition, changing some small element each time.

The Assassin: Training is about repetition, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun.

Victorious Marathon Self: I was going to say the same thing. Add some lightness. Laugh a little. Go backwards. Let moving the water be playful.

The Outlaw: You love hiding out, you love hunkering down, you love hibernation as a doorway to recalibrating and reconfiguring, so go with that.

Tempestuous January self: You did good, kid. Just keep finding more joy. Don’t give so much time and energy to not-joy, or even to trying to solve the not-joy.

Focus on accruing joy dividends! Let the pursuit of joy be joyful in its own right.

Delicious Obsessions self: Dive even deeper into what is appealing and what makes it appealing, take things that are working and switch them up, use what you have, add something extra!

Happy Season of Do-Overs!

Come in, come in, all helpful attributes for this season.

Clarity, Devotion, Playfulness, Integrity.

Sustenance, Intuition, Trust, Light-heartedness.

Letting go of expectations. Just trying things, here and there.

Here and there

Those both feel equally important to me: letting go of expectations, on the one hand, and just trying things, on the other. Here and there. Where we can.

Dancing it out, making small adjustments and checking in to see how it’s going.

Checking back in with these qualities and attributes, how is the body of water that is me changing and moving when I add these to the mix?

Casting

All this is what I’m casting into the waters, with love, of course you are welcome to invite whatever is appealing to you into your own pool of water.

I’m imagining the waters illuminated by moonlight, just like Tempestuous Me would like, but also I’m thinking about all the things I might be ready to release.

What a good time for a season of do-overs, what a good time to be unhurried and move deliberately. Lighting a candle for all this and more.

Come play in the comments, I appreciate the company

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

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

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

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

New ebook alert!!!

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

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

A request

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

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

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

Being tested / exhaling / loving the sea

blue skies with clouds on a snowy day

Blue sky with puffy clouds on a cold wintry day, comforted by my friend the sun who did not forget to come visit me…


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…

Exhale

(Exhale.)

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

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.

(Exhale)

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?

What else?

Noticing all the big moods and feelings:

Angry at times,
raucous at times,
determined,
fragile,
the opposite-of-fragile,
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

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.

Cliffs

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?

Noticing

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

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.

Grace

“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.

Waves

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.

The sea

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.

Cold spell

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.”

Yes, okay.

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!

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. 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. ❤️

Solstice wishing / we wish you a merry chrysalis and a happy new year 🎶

solstice light in the high desert, blue sky, open fields, juniper trees, the open road

Solstice light in the high desert: blue sky, open fields, juniper trees, the open road…


Announcement – New product alert!

If you’ve already given to Barrington’s Discretionary 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 didn’t get it and were supposed to then 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!

Onward

Okay, onward to today’s post, which is about Solstice Wishes, the period of hibernation (for me) that takes me from solstice through to New Year’s, and as ever, an opportunity for me to sing, mostly to myself, but also here:

We wish you a merry chrysalis and a happy new year…🎶

If only because that is running through my head constantly, sorry about that!

Solstice Wishes

Revisiting, again

I revisited a favorite labyrinth for solstice, and I revisited past wishes, past rituals, past stones skipped, for example these solstice stones or these, and appreciated how now is new and different (now is now), and also how it it also remains similar and familiar.

Revisiting and refining. Reconvening and recalibrating.

Appreciating all of it. The circular, spiraling nature of time, here we are again, but it’s different this time…

Or maybe not…

Maybe it doesn’t feel that different this time, or maybe hard to discern, or maybe just barely different enough…

Or: maybe not we’re not appreciating all of it!

Maybe we can appreciate aspects of it, while at the same time noticing the parts where we might be running headlong into old patterns or external perceived expectations or [whatever is going on for us right now].

Good job, on the noticing. Noticing is the real work.

The sweet surprise of a revisit

For winter solstice (or at least it’s the winter one for me here in the northern hemisphere), I reread the piece I wrote six months ago at summer solstice, and much was familiar, and much was already forgotten.

But the way it began really struck me.

I did not remember writing this, but it feels so very appropriate for this moment, right here, right now.

For where I am here, from the place in the year where I am writing to you..

I revisited and was surprised. A surprise revisit: different than a surprise visitor.

Broad into narrow into the broadening again

Broadly, here I am, in the northern hemisphere, winter solstice, the depths of the cold, dark time, cultivating hope sparks, any and all hope sparks, amen v’amen.

And, also, at the same time, zooming in to where I sit, perched on a blue bench in a tiny, tiny house out by the forest in southern New Mexico, looking out the window at my tree friends, imagining you can hear me…

Yes, I want to revisit and repeat that segment, to say those exact words to you (and to myself) again, the words from then, to renew them, like an incantation, like a prayer…

Let’s say it again. I think it needs to be said again. There is something beautiful and surprisingly powerful in the repetition, in the act of renewing. That’s why we revisit.

Quarters, again

I live my life in quarters, reveling in the double meaning that is quarters as living space, sanctuary, shelter, or all of the above, nestled alongside the parallel meaning of quarters as segments of the year, a way to be in relationship with both time and seasonality.

And I love the imagery of quarters as containers for wishing wishes, letting them percolate, all the superpowers of Three Months Later…

Where are we now? YOU ARE HERE.

Take me to my quarters. Am I ready to embark? Not sure. Am I ready to ready myself for the embarking? Yes, let’s find out what is here.

Winter Solstice, 2023

I keep having this sensation or perception that I don’t know where to begin or where to go, but that can’t be true.

It’s far more likely that I know, that the information is here, and I am just hiding it from myself for a while, for [reasons], so I guess let’s start with the animals, speaking of visitors…

The rabbit

A month ago, a beautiful rabbit died next to my house. Just the prettiest rabbit you have ever seen, a white rabbit with soft, soft ears.

The rabbit seemed at peace next to my house. No visible injuries, I do not know what lead to its end, or why it decided that next to my house (and not beneath the porch, where I often see rabbit friends hiding themselves away) was the right place to exit this life.

In a way I almost receive this as a compliment. That is to say, I myself landed here in this peculiar, extraordinarily peaceful spot when that was what I needed. So if this is where peacefulness radiates, of course that’s where our poor sweet rabbit friend would want to be.

But also, at the same time, there’s the more practical concern of hey there’s this half-frozen rabbit corpse next to my house and I don’t love that.

Except I cannot do anything about it because I cannot bend or lift things. One of the many annoying aspects of Long Covid is that these activities make me very dizzy. And it feels unsafe to risk dizziness when I am so isolated.

An elegant simple solution

I was trying not to fret about the rabbit, but also I was fretting about the rabbit.

One day I got a text from a friend I haven’t seen in a few years. He was driving from Iowa to Arizona, in the company of a very sweet dog I know, and wanted to detour my way for afternoon tea.

Of course, I agreed. It is a rare joy for me to have a visitor out in these parts, but also I was worried the dog might want to investigate the rabbit situation.

As it happened, she was entirely unconcerned by the rabbit or anything else, and remained gloriously unbothered, my favorite superpower and one I want for myself. My friend got the shovel from the shed, and slid it gently beneath the rabbit who fit perfectly inside it.

“What a pretty rabbit,” he said. And took the rabbit into the big field and there we said a goodbye. Goodbye, rabbit friend. Safe travels. An easy passage.

The rat collective

The State of New Mexico mailed my car registration for the coming year, so I applied the new sticker and went to put the paperwork in the glove compartment.

Inside the glove compartment was an enormous rat nest, taking up the entire available space. Which is a good reminder to me to open it more often, I guess.

Apparently they know all the other places I look, and that’s why they’re there.

I removed the nest, and deep cleaned the glove compartment, and also wiped it down with lemongrass oil, just to let them know that they have a worthy enemy in me.

My friends all said variations on, “ew I could never”, and honestly that’s not even the grossest thing I’ve removed from my car, I wouldn’t even put it in the top five. But it’s nice when other people think you are brave, even when you can’t appreciate it.

The javelina

An absolute unit of a javelina came to visit me this month, I’ve never seen one alone before.

Usually you see a family, traipsing across the street in a line, or enthusiastically knocking down trash bins if you’re in a city.

They are extremely smart, and also matriarchal, which is cool, and known to strike terror in the hearts of Texans and small dogs, but this one seemed very chill.

Very, very chill. The javelina just hung out by my fence and grazed, did not seem to mind anything at all, and then casually loped off after about half an hour.

An odd omen for an omen, if it’s an omen, I hope a good one in any case.

Miracles of fall quarters

So many beautiful and magnificent miracles.

It’s not nearly as bitterly cold inside as last winter, thanks in part to a mild winter so far, but mostly to the two new windows that have double-paned glass and were correctly installed.

I have running hot water! Indoors! For the first time in nearly two years. In the kitchen too! Shower still doesn’t work but I no longer have to heat water in the kettle to wash dishes or to wash me, and it is genuinely life-changing.

Didn’t know what to do about the mysteries of the half-frozen rabbit corpse, but it solved itself with my friend’s surprise visit.

More focus, more energy than three months ago. The imaginary clubs are helping, early to bed is helping, kitchen-jogging is helping, patience is helping.

Luck is a miracle, bravery is a miracle, keeping on keeping on is always a miracle. A thousand points to us, at least.

Bravery, endless bravery

I couldn’t listen to music the other morning during the power outage so did an hour of morning jogging/pacing alone with my thoughts, and it was okay, actually. As in: not nearly as bad as I feared.

Intense, sure, yes. But not a bad experience, astounding news to me.

My friend who much higher standards than me texted back regarding my unlikely morning win:

That is literally the bravest thing I have ever heard, I would not spend an hour alone with my thoughts if someone paid me a million dollars. Okay, maybe for a million dollars. But not a penny less!

And yes, she has a great point. Truly no one should have to be that brave, and we should all be well-compensated for it when we are that brave. I mean, yes, I AM BRAVE ALL THE TIME, WHAT IS THIS BULLSHIT.

And here we are, brave and keeping on.

Back to the labyrinth

I revisited the labyrinth and walked it twice, once for the quarter that just passed (equinox to solstice) and once for the quarter to come, solstice to equinox, here we are, embarking…

It showed me how I became the Tough Survivalist of the Bunkhouse, the tough cowboy who gets things done without hurrying, it showed me how I am stronger than I realize.

And then, on the second round, it gave me a task, related to these processes of hibernation and hermitude.

So now I’m just letting that information sit and percolate, and in the meantime I’ve been talking things out with my incoming selves…

Talk to me about these quarters

Talk to me about the next three months, this passage into the new year.

What do you think I should focus on, what do you want me to know or keep in mind?

This is what I asked of my various selves, including The Cowboy, The Assassin, and anyone who wanted to show up…

The labyrinth says

The Three Months Later of solstice to equinox can be a strong and steadfast a container as you make it, as powerful a chrysalis as you decide.

Come up with goals and a plan that can be broken down to weekly, with a lot of repetition and go way deeper into hermit time and hibernation. Use the practice of clubs to hold and tend to your wishes.

The Cowboy says

You gain so much from being tough and needing little,
but that doesn’t mean you should stop welcoming in plenty,
you want to expand your capacity to receive and to ask,
you just want to be very pared down and seek pleasure in that as well
always thanksful, the joy of these tea lights from your faraway friend, the joy of support,
the joy of learning from people you love, the joy of rain on the roof, it’s all beautiful and magnificent,
consider also the joy in compiling, and let’s also not forge the joy in releasing,
and of course the joy in ease
(can you take more joy in ease,
can you find more ease in joy?)

The assassin says

Take the clues where you find them, don’t look too hard, just stay receptive…

Take time during the day to breathe, experience relief, relax your jaw, find the good, we zero in on one mission and then the next. Bear in mind that hermit time is recovery time but it’s also a gathering..

For example: gathering inward, gathering your various selves and parts of you, gathering strength and powers, and gathering together what you need for your assignment..

You are training hard and you will be training even harder, finding more pockets of time in the day, making the transitions between clubs even more powerful and enticing, giving yourself more credit, liberating more.

Sorcery self says

Sweetness helps, keep adding sweetness and intention

Gleaming is a way to keep your space sweet, and hiking is a way to have sweetness

Winter cheer self says

The main thing is the rituals, one thing and then the next thing,
today you got a little out of the routine and started to flounder,
always know what your next club is and have a plan,
do writing time first, even if it’s just asking questions and seeing what comes…

Miracles self says

Miracles abound, see them everywhere

And when you don’t see them, there’s still no reason for worry…

Even when you think this practice is silly or unserious somehow, keep looking, stay receptive…

You can always find small things to appreciate.

Self of solstice to equinox / winter quarters says

Did you know…?

You can get rid of more than you think,
there is nothing to hold onto,
make space and even more space,
you have the elements in place, and you have insight,
put it to use

Disability advocate self says

Sleep matters, and it matters more than you think, protect your sleep time and get cozy.

Know your needs, know your known yeses, and when they are deeply known, you won’t need to defend them, because following that wisdom will be so automatic, there will be no more need to fight with yourself or with anyone else on this.

Choose Calm self says

Clearing space will help, movement will help, light will help…

But mainly just keep remembering that you can choose towards this.

And when it doesn’t work or doesn’t happen, we don’t need to be reactive about that, we can be compassionate, warm and loving about not-calm too, a human response is a human response, meet it with love and sweetness, and keep it moving.

Back to bravery

Okay, it remains extremely unfair that we have to constantly be brave, and yet we soldier on, and we are.

I took the advice from my incoming selves and spent some time contemplating and appreciating the beautiful miracles of fall quarters.

Including the fact that I thought I didn’t make a fall shrub for solstice, but there’s a cinnamon cardamom spiced apple shrub at the back of my tiny fridge.

Calling on all superpowers of bravery and joy.

Bravery and joy, bravery in joy

Taking joy in hibernation, in this intentional hermit time, the deep chrysalis of the last week of the year.

Yes, that’s the plan: seeding seeds, taking small steps, resting more, wishing more wishes. A hot beverage. Porch breaths under the stars

And imagining Mariah Carey singing, ALL I WANT FOR CHRYSALIS IS YOOOOOOOOUUUU.

A breath for that. Happy in-between-time, a good crossing. Bravery and joy.

We wish you a merry chrysalis and a happy new year!

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 clubs, hopes, wishes, dreams…

Thank you, everyone who reads, porch breaths, the winding path, the many clues that land when they land, receptivity, tiny hope sparks, 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!

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. 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. ❤️

The Fluent Self