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.

Feasts of the small gods

mosaic labyrinth

Image: Stones & candles the day I celebrated first time doing 444 sun salutations in a row, a small spontaneous festival for Agility


Feasts of the small gods

He who

My grandfather was a public school teacher in Boston in the 1930s. As part of his job, he was required to read aloud from the Bible each morning in class, a rule he was able to thwart creatively by realizing that very few people have any idea what the Bible actually says.

And so he would solemnly open a big book, clear his throat, and proceed to calmly and authoritatively say whatever he wanted, in a bible-reading tone of voice, inventing passages to suit his mood.

Those who have, it shall be taken away.

And so it was said.

He who tells the story preserves the story for the next generation.

Story time

Did anyone learn anything? Hard to say. What they should have learned is that if you give a cranky Jewish anti-nationalist a bible and a nonsensical rule, he will amuse himself, and possibly also sneak in some pointed thoughts on the separation of church and state.

I am sad I don’t have more “bible wisdom” quotations via Grandpa Sam to share with you, but I love this story, a story about storytelling and how it can be a form of subversion, a small quiet rebellion.

The Boston public school system was no match for my grandfather. Rules? Do I have a story for you…

The text is yours

Here is what I take from that story about storytelling:

The text is yours. The text is ours. We get to tell whatever stories we want, reinterpret and redefine ourselves for ourselves, and it is an exercise of our creative freedom to always be rewriting.

Right now I am thinking about the superpower of The Text Is Yours specifically in the context of time and the calendar; rewriting and reclaiming holidays, taking care of ourselves inside the calendar, centering our own needs in time-space to make sure we don’t forget to tend to ourselves.

I am also thinking about how we care for ourselves specifically at those times that require extra care and tending, the times of Known Grief as well as Surprise Grief, which are sometimes the same, and sometimes not. It’s complicated.

And I am thinking about Reinvention & Play: can we perceive these as intrinsic rights? And if we are able to remember that we get do-overs, what do-overs can we give ourselves in service of comfort and liberation?

Feast days and feast days

I love a feast day, the more feast days the merrier, and sometimes a situation arises that demands we invent a new one.

There are Joyous Feast Days for being joyful and remembering joy. Not just for joy — these can be zany, uplifting, inspiring, absurd, we need more of these, let’s keep inventing and reinventing celebrations.

Other Feast days are more like memorials that morphed into a party because they just really needed to become a party. The feast day of we will light a candle and make food, heyyyy now it’s a feast day.

Let’s not forget the Feasts of Liberation, a blending of joyful and sad, the #itscomplicated of Feast Days.

And then there are what I call the seasonal feast days, shehecheyanu days, we made it here and now it is the first warm day of spring, the first ripe strawberries, the first reason to make a pie, the day the saguaro begin to bloom, pumpkin spice lattes if that’s your thing, celebrating those small sweet moments that reconnect us to where we are in the year.

Into the pot

I am tossing examples into the pot, in the hopes of inspiring us to invent our own holidays, the more unlikely the better.

Let’s start with some Joyous Feast days and see if they spark ideas for other holidays.

The Joyous Feast Day of Four Seasons Total Fuckup Day

I have several friends who turned Four Seasons Total Landscaping Day into a feast day, with good reason.

November 7 is the glorious holiday of no matter how hard you fuck up, you will not fuck up this hard. You could spend a lifetime trying, and still not attain anything close to this level of fucking-up.

We can take a moment, or all day, to immerse in deep gratitude for this. However wildly embarrassing our screw-ups may be, it’s not as bad as booking a press conference at Four Seasons Total Landscaping, thinking it was The Four Seasons hotel, or Rudi Giuliani showing up to the parking lot of a landscaping business to deliver a speech between a sex shop and a crematorium.

No matter how spectacularly we mess up, and we will, it still won’t be the kind of disaster that results in everyone forever associating us with the phrase “between a sex shop and a crematorium”.

And it was a much needed day of comic relief at a time of great terror; a year of pent-up raucous laughter that needed to be let out, we needed to collectively fall apart in a fun way, and this day delivered.

Menu planning is also a form of rejoicing

My friend who planned an entire dinner menu around the anniversary of this holiday (rack of lamb with buttermilk mashed potatoes in a serrano reduction, the best kale salad, cocktails, wine) said:

“There is a reason to be festive today and make something amazing for dinner, take care of yourself and the ones around you, light all the candles and be grateful. We are safe, and there are bigger fuckups in the world than we will ever be!”

Blessings upon this menu, blessings upon the serrano reduction, blessings upon remembering this great and reassuring truth about how we are not screwing up as hard as we think actually.

The Festival of Stuck Boat Week (a week of slow feasting)

Ah, Stuck Boat week, when the boat was stuck and nothing could be done. Except memes. It shouldn’t have been hilarious, but times were tough, and being entirely Stuck was highly relatable content.

The boat was just the most relatable (who among us was not in the stuck place last March), and there was something oddly reassuring about such a complex international disaster being reduced to ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ … sorry, nothing works, can’t fix it, can’t do anything, Boat Is Stuck.

What’s the problem? Boat is stuck! What’s the solution? Boat not being stuck. What to do? Nothing!

This is the festival version of my favorite stone to skip: What is the treasure in Nothing To Be Done Here? Let’s celebrate that.

The Waters of Bitterness (bonus Stuck Boat trivia!)

Do you know where the ship was docked during the investigation of What Happened?

The Great Bitter Lake. You can’t make this stuff up.

Imagine how much Grandpa Sam would have loved both the notion and the name. The Great Bitter Lake. I know it would have become one of his favorite fake biblical references.

And so it was said, question authority, that ye shall not be lost in The Great Bitter Lake…

A grand celebration of Stuck and of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

My friend K plans to celebrates Stuck Boat week aka ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Week (March 23-29) by celebrating all forms of Nothing Can Be Done, and what they call the great equalizing superpower of No This Situation Is Not Special It Is Also Stuck:

“I’m going to speak in proverbs and do absolutely nothing helpful. Imagine me nodding sagely the whole week and saying to anyone who asks me anything, ‘The boat is stuck.’ And then just leaving it at that. I plan to show up to all my problems with nothing but a lego tool, and just BASK IN THE FUTILITY.

“All of your questions about the stuck boat are answered by my THE BOAT IS STUCK t-shirt! Then for weeks afterwards I will continue to say, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I don’t know what to tell you, that boat was in the Suez Canal too and everything is delayed. I might even cancel all my appointments to celebrate more thoroughly. Your hope is lost with the dildos, stuck on a boat in the Suez Canal! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Nothing to be done here, it’s just stuck, deal with it!”

Abandon all hope, we are busy being stuck, it’s a festival of stuck!

Abandon All Hope Of Dildos, Ye Who Enter Here!

Abandon All Hope of Email Responses! Do Not Hope You Are Finding Me Well!

Also All Hope Of Going Anywhere, we aren’t doing that at the moment, sorry…

I love these superpowers!

The liberation in the not-doing

A whole week for Joyfully Lowering Expectations. Can we find the liberation in that.

Let Us Bask In The Futility!!! The Courage of Helplessness. Nothing To Be Done But Chill. It is out of our hands. Oh well!!!

Guess it’s time to make tea and read fanfic, we’re not going anywhere. Are we there yet? NOPE. See also the superpower of might as well use what I have and make my own fun because we’re just waiting this one out.

Happy _______, to all those who celebrate!

Mixed feelings about Twitter these days (my misery loves company but my anxiety can’t take any more anxiety), however it is a great place to find people joyfully making up holidays and celebrating memories of shared moments.

Happy large boulder the size of a small boulder day (Jan 27) to all those who celebrate!

A joyous anniversary of white supremacist Richard Spencer getting punched in the face day to everyone who celebrates.

A delicious and festive National Carrot Cake Day to all who celebrate (Feb 3).

Rewriting Feast Days

The year holds many more commonly known holidays and I rewrite them to suit my purposes.

I celebrate Groundhog Day as my True North New Year’s Day (aka Do-Overs Forever Day), and that’s both when and how I begin my year, with the reminder that I can start over as often as I want.

January doesn’t count anyway, it’s a dress rehearsal at most, or just hibernation time, a thousand points for getting through it.

The start of this year was garbage, I got covid (I am an actual recluse who was vaccinated, boosted, masks everywhere, and, most importantly, doesn’t spend time with people, and still got it), and it took me out, chewed up my brain and also made my back stop working. So the first month of my year was spent in bed and on the floor, in an enormous amount of pain, having massive panic episodes.

What a relief that January doesn’t even count!

My new year begins in February.

I have no reverence for the traditional calendar holidays, I want to make things up like Grandpa Sam did, trusting that whatever I invent is probably better.

Other holidays I celebrate

The 14th of February is Victorious Day, sometimes known as Vengeance Day, and it is for living lusciously and being a walking fuck-you to the world and its boring expectations.

The second Sunday in May is when I celebrate Badass Self-Parenting Day, and make a point of staying offline.

(There’s more to be said about our toxic culture and its obsession with exclusionary holidays, but we can save that for another day).

I have a feast of BLTmas, sometimes also known as X Marks The Spot, on Christmas, the loneliest day of the year, and I’m pretty sure everyone knows about how I celebrate Zero Fucksgiving, the other loneliest day of the year.

Works in progress

These holidays and feast days are all works in progress.

I am always trying to figure out how to make them more bearable, more workable, more fun (???), and each year I learn something about what works and what doesn’t, what got me through it, and what did not help at all, and I take notes for the next time.

Superpower of Do-overs forever. We try a thing, and then we try again, with upgrades.

Seasonal Feast Days

These joyous feast days might not be in your calendar and maybe they don’t need to be, but they might spark some ideas for festivities of your own.

I love sunflower season and make a point of scheduling nothing the week the sunflowers go wild so that I won’t accidentally be too busy to go for a long walk in breathtaking fields of sunflowers.

And when the saguaro bloom. I visit them as often as I can in spring if I can to watch for signs of their glorious flower crowns.

What are we looking forward to?

Everyone I know has something like this they look forward to whether they think of it as a celebration or not.

Soup on the first cold day. Layers. Goddess bless Flannel Shirt Season. Picnic on the first warm day of spring.

I think the loss of communal seasonal festive days is partly why things like pumpkin spice lattes or shark week have gained so much traction online.

We crave connecting inside of time, being in conscious relationship with the seasons and with each other. All the more so these days when everything that is happening feels so accelerated, so much input, so much going on, versus the disorienting time-is-frozen everything-is-repeating sensations from being isolated.

BYOF

People vary, and I don’t personally experience the appeal of shark week or pumpkin spice everything, but I do extremely get that craving to have [temporal treats], something special or enticing to direct our focus as time goes by, so we don’t get lost in time.

This is why I am so committed to feast days, this is why I love the practice of Feasts of Small Gods.

BYOF. Bring your own festival.

Rarely in life do we get uncomplicated joy

I have special feelings about Passover because it is a Feast of Liberations that acknowledges how complicated celebration really is.

We are having a whole feast to celebrate a good thing, but the good thing is really the ending of the bad thing, so you can’t pause to remember the good thing without also remembering the bad thing, and not only does the good thing remind you of the bad thing, but even the good part of the good thing (being liberated) contains more bad things (harm was done).

Does that make sense?

It is easier to plan for a joyful feast day of joyfulness, but rarely in life do we get uncomplicated joy.

It’s complicated

I appreciate that Judaism is so upfront about this truth that no one talks about.

Like, yeah, we know, it’s complicated, but we lived to tell the tale, we are telling the tale right now, that’s the point, so we will laugh, we will cry, there will be a lot of food, come feast with us.

We are rejoicing, and yeah, it’s a very #itscomplicated kind of rejoicing.

Telling and retelling the Passover telling

We were enslaved and it was awful, we were freed and we are celebrating, a whole lot of death and destruction happened to get us from point A to point B, and we are conflicted about that but also grateful.

We are Miriam dancing with the tambourine and also we are grieving, this is when we dip our little finger into the wine to remove ten drops of joy.

And it’s even more complicated than that because also when we think about freedom, we are thinking about the people who are not free today, and we are thinking about the very specific ways that we are complicit in this, we see how we participate in and contribute to injustice and to systems of harm, and we have feelings about *that*.

Here’s to liberation.

And because today is the day of our becoming free, it is the day we tell that memory-story and eat the memory-food, and so we gather to do that, it is light and heavy at the same time:

Here’s to liberation. It’s complicated.

Here’s to telling our memory-stories and eating the memory-foods, here’s to gathering in time-and-space, noticing how we feel, noticing how we have changed and grown since the last time we paused to be in this remembering.

Here’s to being in the remembering and also being the observer of the process of remembering, here’s to remembering we can change outcomes and do better, we are always trying something new.

Liberations in action

Some of the many ways we can take action when it comes to remembering the ways people are not free in the world: B’Tselem is an Israeli human rights org devoted to fighting for Palestinian civil rights and sovereignty, I have friends who work with them. I love Free99 in Atlanta, they feed whoever needs feeding, blessings upon this work too. And the national network of abortion funds, as another form of supporting freedom.

Purim Pi Patrick!

Not only is Stuck Boat Week coming up at the end of this month, but this week is full of celebratory days.

Monday March 14 is Pi day for eating pie!

Wednesday night is when Purim starts, and you might know Purim is my favorite Jewish holiday, the holiday of NEW IDENTITIES (costumes), MERRIMENT (drinks & cookies), & VENGEANCE (celebrating the downfall of powerful people who tried to kill us).

Then Thursday is the day of Purim and it’s St Patrick’s Day, a day in which I confuse people by having green eyes, freckles and not being Irish, and a day for listing to Irish music, or however you celebrate, that’s what I do. Tucson’s Jewish-owned gluten-free bakery, Dedicated, put out a Purim-Pi-Patrick menu, and I love the mouth-feel of this phrase. So many Ps.

Feast of Liberation days

I wrote last week about celebrating my Divorciversary with a Feast of Liberations.

I also hold a Feast of Liberations on the birthday of my worst ex to remember that I am free from having my life tied to someone who makes unpredictable (though predictably terrible) life choices, without ever taking me into consideration. I am freed from being someone who thinks I’m only attractive when I’m a size 2, and that paying any amount of attention to me is an exhausting chore.

And I also have a feast to mark the day I left, even though that was painful too, and I deeply regret not setting their belongings on fire first.

But do-overs forever is also a game I can play in my mind, and go full Beyoncé Lemonade-gif mode AS OFTEN AS I LIKE. Setting a fire is another form of lighting a candle, right?

The surprise drop-kick of memory

These days can’t be described as joyful, even though I am glad for my hard-earned independence, it’s more like I have to make a point of remembering to light candles and feed myself, or these days can surprise drop-kick me into the most overwhelming situation of monsters and doom-stories.

Even when I think I’m ready for these days, I’m not.

But ultimately, yes, these days are for remembering what it took to have this freedom, and fury is part of that too.

And also I’m celebrating. I made it across. Nothing would compel me to be in that situation again.

Telling

Passover is all about telling the story. You read from the Haggadah which literally means Telling, and the first thing you are told in the telling is that the telling itself is what matters:

The text says: kol hamarbeh lesaper harei zeh meshubach, whoever makes a big deal out of telling the story of the exodus from Egypt, this is praiseworthy, the telling is to be praised!

Which itself sounds like something Grandpa Sam would have “read” to his students from his imaginary Bible:

You shall live to tell the tale and be praised for remembering.

Praiseworthy

It is praiseworthy to tell the retelling and tell it again, it is praiseworthy to make a big deal out of the story, to add and embellish, to bring it to life, and, as my dad says, make a big tzimmes out of it, this is a yiddish/yinglish expression, possibly related to how much work it takes to make a tzimmes.

The telling is an honoring but the telling is also a way of making something new. Or it can be. Storytelling as healing, renewal, perspective, zooming in to zoom out and vice versa.

The telling is a way to relive something but differently this time, not a rehashing, a re-understanding, all blessings of do-overs forever….

Blessings upon the do-overs! Blessings upon the snacks.

Reinvention & dress-up & play

These are the qualities I treasure in a festival or feast day.

I want to wear a giant hat. I want to rewrite my stories and release what needs releasing, strengthen what needs strengthening.

It is praiseworthy to play, it is brave to play with our stories. That’s what I believe.

Here’s to reinvention and reclaiming, do-overs forever, add more joy, and all powers of The Text Is Ours.

What feast days are we celebrating? Play with me in the comments (I love company!)

What do you want in your special days? What days do you want to mark as feasts of small gods, or whatever you’d like to call this ritual of reinvention…

Let’s brainstorm, name qualities and throw them into the pot!

You are welcome to share anything sparked for you while reading, any feast days you already celebrate, any ideas you have for new festivals, or rituals you’d like to add to existing festivals, or any experiments you’d like to run this year with your personal calendar or the collective calendar…

You can also leave pebbles or stones of presence -o- or any wishes you’d like to wish. It’s all welcome.

Flash sale!

I tried a thing and it didn’t work (technical stuff), so we are trying it again this way. You can temporarily get my 2014 ebook, Saying Everything Twice, on this page at a special flash sale price!

It’s 113 pages, and if you’ve ever wanted to read my blog all day but with the stuff I don’t post here because it’s too personal, I got you, that’s basically what this is. It’s from when I was not speaking, so there is also a lot of what I learned from that immersion in quiet.

xox
Havi

SMOPL / this is my grief ritual

mosaic labyrinth

Image: The entry to a favorite labyrinth in Tucson, Arizona


SMOPL

I wrote about Feasts of Liberations this week, a beautiful and grounding practice for when a day or [time period] holds some extra grief and where there is also some liberation to be marked.

What do we do though with the days that are just plain painful, when we can’t conceive of anything beyond existing in the pain, when feasting isn’t a good answer, isn’t possible or isn’t indicated.

Or

Sometimes we know in advance: X date of Hard Month is going to be extra challenging and not-fun.

Or, sometimes this happens too: we forget the heavy anchor a day or a holiday carries and are only reminded when we think we are sailing on our way, only to realize oh right we aren’t going anywhere.

Ahhhh, or we’ve managed to convince ourselves that this year we’re gonna be fine actually, it’s gonna be okay, we’ve been doing greeeat. And then it hits so much harder than anticipated.

And what do we do when we the grief shows up not on a day of known grief, surprise visit! When we are unprepared for how huge it is, grief loves a surprise. All this is what I want to talk about today.

When the calendar pulls sudden grief tricks

I never used to know what to do when the calendar pulls these sudden grief tricks, you think it’s a day and then it’s not, you know?

And then I remember that I have already solved this. Not the grief, I don’t know that I have too much wisdom about that, other than that I live with it: I can acknowledge and confirm that it Really Fucking Sucks.

But I have some thoughts about what we can do on those days that are still really hard, and we aren’t ready to be someone who can hold a feast day to get through it.

Ritual

My brother and I invented a practice during the first year after our mother died in 2014. It’s not one specific thing, it’s more like a framework, a symbolic ritual that can change shape as needed, something to do when you’re hit by the grief and the not-knowing (not knowing what to do, not knowing anything).

It has a perfectly simple name, we call it SMOPL. Noun and verb.

SMOPL = Something Meaningful On a Personal Level

Something Meaningful On a Personal Level.

Yes, I know, it’s extremely vague. That’s the point. Its vagueness serves as a compassionate permission slip.

So yes, it can be anything

When it comes to our mother, we SMOPL by either doing things she liked to do (reading a book while wearing ten blankets! baking muffins and scribbling chaotic notes all over the cookbook in pencil!), or we do things we think she’d appreciate.

For example, listening to Roy Orbison at TOP VOLUME, the link is to one of my favorite pieces I’ve ever written here, not to Roy Orbison, though you are welcome to listen while you read.

We do Ruth pursuits!

We do Ruth-oriented things.

Or we do regular things in a Ruth-like way.

Or we pause to consider a possible Ruth-perspective as an additional filter to whatever we are doing, which changes the experience.

The yellow house

Back in January I took her to the Desert Art Museum in Tucson, she loved the textile exhibits and wanted to linger at every single explanatory card, and we both appreciated the exhibit on the Dust Bowl immigration more than we expected to.

There were also works by local Tucson artists who had painted barrio houses en plein air and then gone back to their studios and painted a new version of their outdoor painting.

Mom wanted to know if I recognized the yellow house and I did. I will take her there next time.

Sometimes I SMOPL by doing something for me

I go walk a labyrinth when I am feeling [the big feelings], my mom doesn’t really care about labyrinths, she’s more interested in the beauty of the location, what is *that* tree over there, what is that flower called (I don’t know, mom), but walking the labyrinth is a calming, stabilizing and reassuring experience for me, and that counts as SMOPL-ing.

When we drive to the arboretum, that’s more for her. I don’t care that much about the arboretum, but I like listening to music on the way and I like the views. It’s an outing for both of us, and I feel better after.

Heading heartward, again, and hearting headward, maybe also

I don’t think it matters so much what the SMOPL is, what helps is doing a something beyond just staring into space or getting lost in the misery-fog, or the many other forms grief can take (sometimes raging, sometimes flailing, sometimes spacing out for hours, these are things I experience, your mileage may vary).

And I like reminding myself that I am tending to my grief, moving heartward, choosing towards grounding comforts.

Does it matter that she wasn’t that excited about vegan ice cream on her birthday in October? I don’t think it does, the ice cream was for me.

More SMOPL examples

My friend was telling me about a conversation with their mother. My friend’s sister died several years ago, the mother wants to plant a tree next to the house in sister’s honor. Friend is conflicted: what if they move, then they can’t visit the tree.

I told my friend about SMOPLing, and they were very relieved. Because a SMOPL is something you can do in the moment.

The sister can be visited by listening to her favorite song, or making her favorite pasta, or wearing her favorite color, watching her favorite movie, or just doing something she’d enjoy, doing it for her.

Everything is connected (or: what if we imagine that everything is connected)

Like how I light a candle when I don’t know what to do, a candle is a default SMOPL, the ritual that reveals if another ritual is needed.

You can light a candle or a candle in your mind. Blowing a kiss out the window becomes a candle.

And actually anything at all can be another form of lighting a candle. Breakfast tacos are a candle? I say yes. Absolutely.

Many possible available forms of [this is a candle and I am lighting it now].

Similarly

Similarly, any tree can be a friend of a tree you want to visit.

Kind of like how I believe all cemeteries are connected, but also that anything can be a proxy cemetery.

Like how I went to Santa Fe to visit the grave site of Waverly even though it is in Seattle. I don’t know if that makes sense or not. It does in my heart. When I pick up her book, I say, I visited you. Communing with my bookshelf is a moment of SMOPL too sometimes.

Everything is connected and fractal. Or it is if I want it to be, the imagining does the work.

How do you find a SMOPL

Obviously whenever we talk self-fluency techniques, we keep in mind that People Vary, situations do too.

Maybe you’re already getting an intuitive hit, or idea sparks for your own SMOPLs. Maybe you don’t know for sure yet but you know which clues you want to follow.

Or it’s still a mystery and this is something you want to journal on or skip some stones to find out more.

Possibly SMOPLing isn’t what your particular situation needs right now, and that’s a form of useful clarity too. In that case you can add it to the repertoire of [techniques for later] or toss it completely and invent your own thing, I’m not married to any of this.

And if you’re actively seeking a SMOPL of your own, I hope this is giving you possible starting points.

More ways to SMOPL, for example

Sometimes I scatter things that are not ashes, because I don’t have ashes. Old dried herbs you aren’t going to use work well, or gathered leaves.

Sometimes I just do something the person in my mind would definitely do, or do something in a way that is uniquely theirs. I read a book the way my mother would (last chapter first!).

When I listen to the song Short Skirt Long Jacket, I dance-walk around around the room and clap my hands above my head the way Srul did the first time he played that song for me. Sharp as a tack. CLAP.

When I feel a strong feeling about people I miss (alive or not), I do something small for them, make them tea, read a poem out loud, go do something I know they’d enjoy, or do something I enjoy in a way that includes them.

Why the practice of SMOPL is so useful

For two reasons, I think, at least two.

A SMOPL subverts the cultural expectation to hurry up and be okay

Our culture is so painfully lacking when it comes to loss, so inadequate at acknowledging grief at all, never mind the immensity of it, never mind at acknowledging that it doesn’t end, you don’t get over losses, you just get more practiced at day to day functioning.

We have to be in our grief while living inside this cultural expectation of Hurry Up And Be Okay, and that is exhausting and stressful.

That cultural expectation of Just Be Okay Already is cruel, it’s unfair, it’s honestly fucking impossible, and it does a lot of harm.

A SMOPL is a way for me to remember that I am in process; my grief is real, legitimate, sometimes intense and overwhelming, and it is something I am in ongoing relationship with. It’s my grief party and I’ll cry if I want to! 🎶

A SMOPL is concrete and do-able

And the other reason I love a SMOPL is how it gives me something to do, a small, concrete, do-able mission. Here’s an action I can take in the moment.

Something tangible, palpable. Sure, it’s symbolic but also I can perceive it with my senses.

Light this candle. I can do that. Make these muffins. Maybe I can’t do that today but I can make an ingredients list. Find out when the museum will be open? Sure.

Flowers in a jar? I can make that happen, and if I can’t then I can draw a flower and it will be a placeholder.

Side note about not rushing things

If you can’t think of a SMOPL yet for your situation(s), no worries, no stress required here.

I have found that often a SMOPL reveals itself to me in right timing. Aka cosmic right timing, not necessarily as soon as I am hoping it will, it’s a practice of trust.

Maybe just planting the seed of [this exists as a possibility] is enough for now.

Sometimes I wait for the SMOPL to find me, and I try to just trust that I will know when I know. And in the meantime I light a candle or make waffles, or stick a candle in a stack of waffles.

Whatever I have energy for is a good start. It all counts, I believe that.

Clue-searching to help with grief

One way I like to SMOPL when I can’t think of a good way to SMOPL is going for a clue walk. You don’t have to walk for a clue walk, I have conducted these while seated in a chair, standing at a crosswalk, waiting at a red light.

A clue walk is not about the walking, it is about being extra attentive and observing in a new way. Though sometimes the meandering part helps too.

A clue walk is where you wander or look around (in your living space or work space, on a street, in a store, in a park, location irrelevant) and notice what you notice. What do you observe?

For example, right now, in this moment, as I sit writing, if I pause and breathe, what do I notice?

I notice the light on the mountain, a tipped over chair on the porch, there is a bird on the ace of swords card. I have looked at this card a hundred times easily and never saw the bird.

What do these clues tell me? The light on the mountain says I will be here again tomorrow, the chair says small adjustments, the surprise bird says flight can be grounding.

SMOPLing with the calendar

October is basically one long SMOPL-ing for me, February has a lot of SMOPL needs. The older I get, the more SMOPLing I need, because the losses just keep coming.

It’s good to know when you might need one, and it’s also good to keep an ideas list somewhere (maybe in the Book of You), in case you need one and weren’t expecting it.

You can think of this as an ongoing experiment. We try a thing, it helps or it doesn’t, or it helps more than we thought it would but not enough (wow is that ever a thing), we make notes, adjust, try again. We keep going, we brave our way onward.

Summing up and offering you one more fun more word!

SMOPL is a useful technique or approach for a painful day and also a good call when it doesn’t feel right to have a feast day, the energy isn’t there or who knows, a feast day just isn’t the answer for whatever reason.

A SMOPL is helpful when the feelings are extra-complicated.

And! A SMOPL day is also a form of Namjooning aka getting out in nature, visiting a museum, prioritizing quiet contemplative time, in the spirit of Kim Namjoon from the band BTS.

Some people have the minhag of taking a Namjooning day to celebrate his birthday, but you can go namjooning whenever you are able to make time for it, just like a SMOPL!

You can SMOPL as a form of namjooning or go namjooning as a form of SMOPL-ing, how’s that for a sentence.

What I wish for

I wish for great comfort for all who need comfort, in a wide variety of sources and forms, surprise comforts, built-in comforts, the expectation that it’s okay to need to be comforted.

I wish for a culture that is infinitely kinder, about grief and loss, and about everything. About how people vary, and grief looks different for different people at different times. I wish for more compassionate approaches.

And I wish for a world in which SMOPL-ing can be more overt, more socially acceptable. What did you do this weekend? I went to the art museum with my dead mother.

Or: I like your hat! Thanks, I’m SMOPL-ing for someone and it required a costume!

And I wish for ease, sweetness, for us to be received and perceived as human beings who grieve. And we don’t just grieve people who are no longer here, we grieve lots of things. We grieve situations, lost love stories, friendships and other relationships, places, past homes, animal friends, jobs, truly no shortage of losses in this life.

So yes, I want a better world, and that includes space for the big feelings, to grieve casually or deeply, tiny monuments, places for grief picnics. I don’t know what else, but we can dream it up together.

Calling all SMOPLers! Play with me in the comments (I love company)

You are welcome to share anything that sparked for you while reading, any SMOPL rituals you already have, or ideas coming up for things you want to experiment with. SMOPL-experiments!

You can leave pebbbles -o- or light mind-candles, or actual candles if you have, or eat tacos as a substitute candle, I receive it all with love.

One of the beautiful things to me about community is the way we can make room for each other to experience what we are experiencing. Big love to everyone.

FLASH (flood) SALE TIME! Announcement!!!

As some of you know, I have been dealing with kind of a lot, a fire in my tiny trailer, then flooding, and now a personal emergency that is taking precedence over fixing the damages from either of those.

So we are having a FLASH sale on one of my favorite ebooks from the vault of things I’ve written over the past seventeen years. It’s called Saying Everything Twice (Saying Everything Twice), I wrote it in 2014.

It’s about lots of things, the first year I spent nonverbal, what I learned, challenges I processed in my journal using self-fluency techniques, resulting insights. Definitely a settle in, make tea kind of read… 😘

Anyway, it is temporarily BACK, super on sale, a way to read my thoughts that are too intimate for the blog, and to help out with my various things that need fixing, and I am so appreciative of everyone’s kind generous wishes.

Here is the button to purchase my 113 page ebook, Saying Everything Twice! (Saying Everything Twice)

Yes (Yes)


Notes! If you already have it and still want to help out, you can get it and send to a friend. Or if you sent funds to Barrington’s Discretionary recently and are thinking, “Ohhh actually I wish I’d known about this because I want to read the ebook!”, just email me (use my first name aka Havi @ this website aka fluent self dot com!) with the subject Saying Everything Twice. You don’t have to say anything else unless you want to, I will send it to you!

A Feast Of Liberations (20 year divorciversary)

celebratory waffles and chai, with jaguar


Image: Celebratory chai-flavored mini waffles (gluten-free & dairy-free) with pine needle syrup, halva, a date, nutmeg, flaky salt. A make-shift feast conjured from creativity aka what was left in my tiny trailer pantry aka use what you have. The waffles are guarded by a fierce jaguar, who goes everywhere with me, also accompanied by a jar of homemade oat milk chai. It’s no Greek Night at Shaul’s but there’s no set menu for a Feast of Liberations, we work with what we have and hope for dopamine…

Greek night, twenty years ago

The day of my divorce was completely and utterly miserable, but right now, in this moment, I’m remembering the celebration that sweetened it.

I just looked up the date and discovered that Greek night was actually the day after, not the day of, it was on my birthday, apparently the memories must have merged in my mind, but I like that. It works.

It’s beautiful to me that if I remember the pain of divorce day, I am brought back to the messy joy of Greek night.

Which is also a painful memory but a joyful-painful one, if that makes sense.

It was Srul’s idea, my bestie. I was the one who had introduced him to Thursday night (Greek night!) at Shaul’s, and it was a great and terrible idea, but the terrible is part of what made it great. Srul and I were always on the same page when it came to things that are both funny and not.

Chaotic times chaotic measures

Thursday night was the one night of the week I wasn’t working at another bar, it was my birthday, and I had just gotten divorced the day before.

So of course all I wanted was to sit at Satchmo, the dark, smokey, quiet-jazz whiskey bar in my neighborhood, sit there in the dark, listen to music and be the saddest, but Srul said no, we need wild, celebratory energy, we need to go straight into the madness for this one.

Chaotic times demand it!

Fuck. I miss him so much, every day and especially now.

Where were we? Chaotic times, chaotic measures. So we crossed “the bridge from heaven to hell” and made our way towards Shaul…

It’s no banana stand but

Shaul’s was kind of a rough pub in south Tel Aviv, very south, practically Jaffa, a little tricky to get to. Rough but not rough like the places that didn’t even have a menu, or a sign outside. Shaul’s definitely had a menu and a sign.

Shaul’s was also not like places that didn’t really have names and were just known as “the Syrian guy” or “the Polish guy”, Shaul’s was definitely no Raffi Bananas which was an actual banana stand, owned by Raffi, though everyone called him Raffi Bananas, who semi-secretly and definitely illegally sold beer at all times of day.

Raffi Bananas, both the man and the location, were unofficial Party Central for the day drinking troublemakers who made it to my bar in the evening.

Anyway, Shaul’s was an establishment among people in the know who wanted the feel of partying at Raffi Bananas combined with generous plates of food and a place to sit, and on Thursday nights at Shaul’s there was live Greek music, and the place just devolved into absolute chaos, I don’t know how to describe it but being there on a Thursday night felt like a party that might also be the end of the world.

Peppers and people-watching

People generally went to Shaul’s for the memoola’im (“stuffed things”, the perfect food group), they stuffed everything there, onions, zucchinis, tomatoes, mushrooms, eggplant but everyone agreed that the best of the best were the peppers, giant red and green peppers overflowing with spiced meat and rice.

And of course people went to Shaul’s for the foaming-over glasses of beer with shots of vodka on the side, the outlandish cast of characters that made for fantastic people-watching, and the high likelihood of a brawl.

A good place to drink to the great falling apart of [seemingly everything]

To be clear, none of my friends were willing to go with me to Shaul’s, ever.

Even Srul would tell everyone that he didn’t dare go in there without me, and he was Greek-Persian, making him much more likely to be welcome at Shaul’s than I should have been, the half-foreigner with what they called light eyes, too noticeable in every way: too young, too pale, too tall.

(Or, as my nemesis, my rival bartender in that part of town, would say while making a face and rolling her eyes, too long, as in: “Well, Havi is just very long.”)

Not to mention too much of a snotty North Tel Aviv accent which I’d acquired from years of imitating my cousins after being mocked my first day at university for sounding like a farm girl, and then found I wasn’t able to drop it when I started working in the dive bars and urgently needed to.

But most of the people who were there for the chaos of Greek Night knew me from Omri’s, and when I walked in there would be cries of “here’s the mozeget!”, the pourer-of-beer, and the old-timers lined up at the bar always made a point of shaking hands and introducing me to their friends. And if someone didn’t know me and asked what I was doing there, they would be told to shut up, the mozeget can drink where she wants on her night off.

Memories

I remember this and the clinking of glasses, the clinking of metal bracelets piled up my arm, the toasts, tears and laughter in the darkness.

To what do we owe this honor?
I got divorced!
Mazal tov, mazal tov, you should be healthy.

The noise, the music, the delicious peppers, the smoke, the hallucinatory nature of it all. Where am I? Where am I and how did I get here of all places?

Where am I

Where am I? Greek night at Shaul’s! A place where my very north Tel Aviv now-ex-husband not only couldn’t find me but would never be able to find me. He would never be able to find me or this place, he would never be able to imagine this place existed.

Even better, if somehow he found out about it, they definitely wouldn’t let him in the door.

Mainly I remember laughing with Srul at the bar, how he put his hand on mine in a quiet moment, “listen, neshama, it will be okay, it will all be okay, I’ll always be your birthday date!” I remember feeling cozy and safe, happy and contained, even after the terrible divorce day, even with all the fear around having to make it on my own for good.

Greek night, and that moment in particular, felt like a sanctuary-moment, both in the sense of safe and in the sense of sacred.

Yes, even in this place of all places, at Shaul’s, on Greek night, knowing that at any given moment we were maximum three seconds away from god only knows what kind of chaos breaking out.

Klezmer

Klezmer music is what I’m thinking of, even though it’s not what we were listening to.

The word Klezmer comes from the hebrew “kl’e” (instrument) and “zemer” (song) fused together to make a new word in Yiddish that sounds nothing like Hebrew.

And I am thinking about klezmer music because of how it can go from raucous to melancholy and back to raucous in a moment, turning on a dime, you’re in one place and then you’re in the other, then back in the first, unsure how you got there, tears streaming down your face, are you happy-crying or sad-crying, how would you even know.

It’s a very Jewish experience but also I know everyone reading can feel the elusive sensation I’m trying to pinpoint and unable to name.

That’s what this particular Greek night at Shaul’s felt like, like a nigun, a repetitive melody that shifts in mood, sometimes steady and calming, sometimes joyous and uplifting, sometimes deeply sad, it covers a lot of ground, even though all you’re doing is a sort of vocalized humming.

Humming our way back to ourselves, sounding our way heartward

If you ever came to a Rally (Rally!) at my first retreat center, the Playground, in Portland, then you remember that we sang nigun versions of sea shanteys, and how thrilling it was.

If you want to feel how a nigun feels, please listen to Batya Levine and friends singing this beautiful nigun for the birthday of the trees, happy birthday, trees, I hum for you always!

And if you want a fun musical rabbit hole to explore, bookmark this fascinating piece about how swing music was born from jazz and klezmer!

Anyway, I am trying to convey the Big Feelings of that night at Shaul’s, the night after my divorce, what I am recalling now on my divorciversary.

Twenty years today

Well, not to the night at Shaul’s, that’s tomorrow apparently.

But today I am twenty years divorced, humming a nigun, feeling the melancholy transform into the zany and back. And then back again.

Shaul’s is not how I’d celebrate now, even not-in-a-pandemic, I’m much more sensitive than I was then, and I don’t do well with crowds, noise, chaos, the sensory overload or the energy overload.

I miss my always-there-for-you birthday friend

I wish Srul were still alive and am furious with him for not being with me, I will never understand how he could have left me, and no matter how much I scream into the void, I receive no clarity, but I know he’d be keeping me company today if he could.

He wouldn’t miss it. So if he’s missing it, then it’s no one’s fault, it’s just sad. Into the chaos we go.

It’s funny too who I miss, twenty years later, not my ex-husband whom I’m not sure I’d even recognize if we passed on the street.

I would like to whisper that to the me of that Thursday night at Shaul’s, so that hurting self might be a little less melancholy, a little less fearful, a little less in the What Have We Wrought.

Things I want me of twenty years ago to know

Aw, babe. You’re the bravest.

It’s gonna be even harder than you think, but you will never, ever doubt that you did the right thing, there will be not one moment, not in the hardest times, when you wish you’d stayed. Brave on, there are some things we regret in life twenty years later, but this has never, not even for a second, been one of them.

What is a feast of liberations?

I like to convene feast days for celebrations, but also for sad days: anniversaries of losses and upheaval, experiences that ask for some sitting-with.

My beloved friend Darcy, whom I first met at one of my retreats all the way back in 2009, I think, holds a Feast of Madelyn each year to celebrate her vivacious mother who loved parties, hosting, conviviality, a great spread. I celebrate Madelyn and the Feast of Madelyn with Darcy from afar. It’s on my calendar of feast days, I’ll tell you more about that some other time.

BLTmas — Brave Little Toaster day, named for this tweet and not for the movie, though BLT can also always double as bacon-lettuce-tomato, I won’t say no to a feast day sandwich, is the feast day I mark when everyone else is busy celebrating Christmas, the loneliest day of the year for me.

On BLTmas, I keep busy making sure I am toasty warm, the coziest most wrapped up precious thing, and that I have the best snacks to get me through the day for I am the bravest of brave little toasters, I am the bravest and the loneliness will pass.

The #itscomplicated of Feast Days

For me, Feasts of Liberations are specifically for days that tend to feel melancholy but also contain a celebratory aspect, some relief, celebrating being free from what was, even if [Mixed Feelings] remain about parts of it, or about the whole damn thing for that matter.

A Feast of Liberations is bittersweet, sad-happy, like a nigun, the #itscomplicated of Feast Days.

I am free of what was, and so I celebrate freedom, and all forms of small symbolic liberations, the letting go that is needed, the releasing that is requested. Sometimes there’s crying.

Haha “sometimes”.

Eat, eat

And there’s food, because even though this isn’t technically a Jewish holiday, it is still a Jewish holiday by virtue of the fact that it is my holiday, I invented it, and it follows the logic of most Jewish holidays: things were not awesome, we lived through it, now we eat.

Eat, eat. Eat and be healthy.

We made it to freedom, and even if it’s still really fucking hard, we’re here, and that counts. It’s a cause for celebrating. Into the chaos. Or into the quiet.

How I celebrate a Feast of Liberations

With food. Waffles are a favorite.

With company, virtual. Checking in with friends, sharing something, asking them to eat something delicious for me or light a candle with me.

I like to go someplace beautiful that calms me if I can. If I’m in Tucson I visit my saguaro friends or walk a labyrinth, if I’m in New Mexico, I drive through Gila National Forest.

Twenty years divorced, today.

A thousand points to me for being so brave and doing what was needed, and facing the consequences, which were somehow even worse than what I’d been imagining in my worst imaginings. The bravest little toaster of all time. Good job, babe.

I don’t feel conflicted about my divorce, I don’t regret it, I also don’t regret getting married, I’m glad I had that experience so I don’t wonder about what might have been, and I never have to do it again. Being divorced works for me. It was a terrible day, and maybe I will tell that story some day or maybe I won’t.

Okay fine I would probably consider offers from anyone offering some of that sweet, sweet healthcare I’ve heard about…

For now, I want to be here, with my warm drink, my warm memories of Greek night. I want to be here, humming a nigun as the sun goes down.

The goddess Nyx

I was looking for a nickname for one of my Incoming Selves, a variation on The Sleek Assassin, but somehow new and different, and then I found myself in a “Greek Night” rabbit hole, and laughed out loud at the accidental double meaning of Greek Night when google misunderstood me.

How could I have forgotten about the Greek goddess of night? Greek: Night!

Of course my incoming is non-binary, but I am okay with goddess as a non-binary descriptor actually. Like assassin.

Nyx and I are going to have a quiet evening at the safe house, we will read cookbooks, stretch on the floor, go to bed early. Today is a quiet feast day, for quiet liberations, and that’s okay too. Twenty years is a long time, and I celebrate differently these days, I do everything differently these days, that’s a celebration too.

Heartward

Sounding my way heartward, to my heart-self, where I tend to my one true love (me), which involves taking care of younger me (that precious little bean) and attuning to wise, loving-self me, and making waffles when waffles are indicated, crying when crying is indicated, and getting on the floor and rolling around more often than I think is necessary.

Appreciating all aspects of self, the parts that are hard and sad too, but also the ways I have liberated myself and continue to do so, appreciating how sometimes I am The Sleek Assassin or The Formidable Panther, and sometimes the bravest little toaster.

Sometimes a nonbinary goddess and sometimes absolutely losing my mind in grief over my dead friend, sometimes making waffles or driving to be comforted by my beloved saguaro companions, it’s all part of the Havi show. In fact, if the Havi show had a tagline, Feasts of Liberations would be a good one.

Heartward, heartward. We brave our way on. Inward and onward.

Tell me about your feasts of liberations…

What might a feast of liberations look like for you, what feast days are you conjuring and naming for yourself?

I support them all and will happily light candles and eat waffles for your meaningful and/or complicated days!

(I mean that. Let me know in the comments if there’s a date when you’d like me or anyone reading to light a candle or do a something to support your hard or bittersweet day, I will make a note of it and make it happen.)

Celebrate with me. Comments section waffle party!

You are welcome to celebrate my TWENTY YEAR divorciversary (and birthday tomorrow and twenty whole years since Greek Night) any way you like.

With candles or imaginary mind-candles if you like. Eat something delicious, sing a song, hum a hum, visit a place, choose towards comfort, choose towards Greek Night, I welcome it all.

You are also as always invited to share anything sparked for you while reading, or brainstorm your own feasts of liberations.

Thank you for being with me today and this week and at all, thank you.

A request

If you received clues or perspective or just want to send appreciation, I could definitely use some miracles right now with an emergency situation I’m in.

I will happily accept support in the form of Appreciation Money to Barrington’s Discretionary Fund. Asking is not where my strength resides but Brave & Stalwart is the theme these days, and pattern-rewriting is the work, and it all helps with fixing what needs fixing.

And if you can’t support in that way, you can light a candle for support or light one in your mind, share one of my posts with people, that all helps, and I appreciate it so much. ❤️

1991

content note: Some tough topics, strong force fields indicated!

1991

The start of the first Gulf War lined up exactly with my first period, announcing itself in blood, an absurd thing to say, yes, I am aware, and also: that’s how I remember both these events thanks to their simultaneity, a synaptic linking in the place where memory points live.

To be clear, if this moment took place in a movie, I would bristle at the heavy-handedness, the unnecessary symbolism, I think we can all agree that the director needs to chill, the director could show a little more respect for the intelligence of the audience, but I swear that is how it happened.

The memory of that evening begins with feeling strange and woozy in an entirely unfamiliar way, a feeling that was deeply unsettling until I saw the blood and then at least I had a reason to which I could attribute the disconcerting feelings which then turned into relief. Or: relief mixed with annoyance.

I was unclear where I stood regarding this bleeding situation, and in that moment became aware of a hubbub of radio and voices in the background. Climbing the stairs I heard my father say to my mother:

This is it, we’re at war, this is war.

How do you know

I was unclear how I felt about bleeding, and equally unclear how I felt regarding this war situation, I remember being very, very scared, but also I just didn’t have enough information.

Even though I was young, I listened a lot, and had picked up in my listening that sometimes the United States really dropped the ball on being a useful ally (cough, WWII), while often the United States caused great harm in other countries (understatement, too many examples to list) and to its own citizens in this country.

How was I supposed to know which situation we were in now? I didn’t know, and wasn’t even sure how to frame the question, and so I kept listening, and the more I listened over those tense months, the more it became clear that the adults didn’t seem to know either.

It was war, and war, even a far-off one, was confusing, anxiety-inducing, everything felt tilted.

Confirming

Regarding the bleeding: in the moment I was relieved, I was already halfway through my first year of high school, the very last of my uterus-having friends to start menstruating, by a lot.

So this Perception of Lateness (new fake band alert!) had been worrying me, what if something was terribly wrong with me, why was my body not getting the memo?

Haha wow. Had I but known how intensely miserable bleeding would be for me, and that it would still be happening every damn month over thirty years later, an unimaginable distance in time, I assume I would have been furious…

More so had you told me that this far into the future, the United States would only have recently gotten around to trying to extricate from Iraq, suffering terribly, multiple generations, ptsd all around.

This madness has gone on so long that I’ve been in two long term relationships in my adult life with people who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and okay, I don’t know where I want to go with that thought so let’s just say that no one is okay.

Can confirm! No one is okay!

Time is a mystery and everything else is a scam, probably

Actually, while we are spilling intimacies, I will tell you that the last person I dated was an actual newborn infant back on that cold 1991 day of [this is war] + [first sign of blood], and it doesn’t even feel like a significant age difference now, that’s how much time has passed, wild.

I maintain that time is a mystery and menstruation is a scam, as is war time, I don’t know where I’m going with that thought either but I remain generally and indignantly opposed to all of it.

Similar

It was extremely similar to right now, actually, which is probably why the memory of that day keeps thrusting itself to the scattered front lines of the territory of my beleaguered brain that is still reeling from…from what exactly though, I don’t know.

My brain and I are reeling from everything, from two concussions, covid brain fog, the personality-altering loneliness of the first year of pandemic solitude combined with no steady place to live, an excess of loss, some combination of the above.

Anyway I keep remembering that day from 1991, I remembered it last week when Russia invaded Ukraine and the internet lost its mind, then again last night at midnight while the coyotes were making their howling rounds through the canyon, and again in the morning while sitting in stillness after sun salutations.

I remembered the stickiness of the blood, the strain in the voices on the radio, the rising fear, knowing that some things were going to be different but which ones, curious, apprehensive, unnerved, extremely not psyched…

What do I remember from that winter into spring of This Is War

Everyone was saying it was world war three, that was the phrase you heard over and over, if we’d had social media back then, it would have been the trending hashtag du jour. Kind of like right now, and by kind of, I mean exactly, zero points for originality.

Everyone was panicked about if draft was coming back too, who would be conscripted, who would be lost.

Everyone was suddenly a newly minted geopolitical expert, a specialist in the Middle East and in oil, everyone including ninth graders, repeating the same overheard opinions like gospel (“We should ally with Syria! We should ally with Iran!”), the faux-expertise and over-simplification was exhausting, does any of this sound familiar? Have you been online this week? Uh huh.

I remember trying to explain to some kids from school why “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” is not in fact sound political strategy, an ally you can’t trust is not an ally at all, and failing completely to make any headway. There was no common sense, no curiosity, just a frantic hum of anxiety.

Similar and different

So it was basically the same as right now, if you’re Very Online or even Mildly Online and watching the invasion unfolding in Ukraine, you are familiar with all those themes, and with the immersive energy of the Big Fear.

Thankfully we did not have social media then, so there were respites, there was ebb and flow, we were scared and also there was some room here and there to experience other emotional sensations outside of the fear. As opposed to All Anxiety All The Time Turned Up To Eleven, which is how things are these days, if you are a sensitive person and all the more so if you spend time on the various apps.

On my mind, more often than not

Here are two themes I find myself thinking about regularly:

  1. how our nervous systems are simply not designed or equipped to handle being flooded with the exhausting amount of high anxiety input we are inundated with from being online
  2. how very different historical events of the last century might have been (or would they?) had we all been anxiety-connected and information-connected as we we are now.

The boat that was turned away

I think a lot about the boat, the MS St. Louis, full of terrified Jewish refugees escaping Nazi Germany in 1939 fleeing to safety, and how we failed them utterly and completely, how this journey became known as The Voyage of the Damned, some unintended victim-blaming there, the voyage was damned by the countries who would not take them in.

They made it to the United States, to almost-safety, and were shut out. This country I am in right now. That was us. We said no thank you, we said we can’t help, by which we meant: we can but we won’t. We said no offense but fuck you.

They risked everything to make it here and we didn’t care.

So close and not close enough

Hey yeah sorry, no room in this enormous country for nine hundred Jews bound for death, we couldn’t possibly, gosh even Montana is just soooooo super booked right now, and yeah we said that thing on the Statue of Liberty about welcoming “your tired, your poor” but you know how it is, we definitely didn’t mean you, anyway good luck out there, in the ovens and everything!

Best,
The United States

The lamp

The job of the lamp is to be lifted. Our job is to lift the lamp.

Emma Lazarus, Jewish poet and anti-nationalist, wrote the words on the statue:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

And there they were, at our shores, tempest-tost, and we did not lift the lamp.

And that terrible thing is only an example of the terrible things

We did other terrible shameful things too. Gruesome things. My god. Rounding up Japanese Americans, internment camps, what we did to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It hurts to breathe when you think of it.

Not a great time.

Anyway, that was the reality of the time, antisemitism, xenophobia, isolationism.

Awful orders were given to the coast guard ships who followed orders and wouldn’t let the ship run aground, a last-ditch attempt in hopes the refugees could jump ship and make their way ashore. The ship had no choice but to turn around.

The almost and the not enough

To think you have a chance at survival, to be so close you are basically there, then left to wait and sent back to die, it’s so cruel that it hurts my heart to think of it. Imagine.

The desperation, the hopelessness, the terrible betrayal of it all.

I am lighting a candle for them right now, because that’s what I do when I don’t know what to do.

Cuba

One person survived, if that’s the word, in an unlikely way, via a suicide attempt while the boat was docked in Cuba, in limbo, waiting for us or anyone to let them in.

By choosing towards death, this person was declared a mental health crisis exception, and therefore allowed to disembark from the doomed boat, to remain in Cuba and live. But by choosing towards life, the others were sentenced to return to die. Make it make sense.

I would like to know what happened to the passenger who disembarked in Cuba and got that second chance to live, but also I fear that I don’t want to know.

Brave and stalwart

Good job surviving, I wish that wasn’t what it had to take.

There were other survivors too, who disembarked in other European countries and escaped death through however many thousands of small and large miracles, I doubt they were okay though either, trauma compounded with trauma, such a wounding. God knows I have been absolutely shattered from much smaller betrayals than this one.

Candles lit now for everyone, those who made it and those who didn’t, and for us.

The wondering

This is what I wonder: would or could this tragedy have gone differently if information traveled the way it does now (hashtags and memes, retweeted, reposted, regrammed)….?

Would there have been enough social outrage and fury to pressure President into changing his mind, into saving the people on the boat? I used to think so but now I don’t think so.

Obviously we can’t know this or anything. Things are different now, and also they are the same in some ways. In the way of bigotry and xenophobia, and also the way of anxiety, anxiety, more anxiety, add some anxiety to the anxiety, this is the air we are expected to breathe now.

Lighting a candle for all this too.

The big and little lies

Similarly, I think about the great American pretense that we supposedly did not know about the mass murder, the horrors of the death camps until they were liberated by American soldiers, a wild lie of conscience-soothing, of course it was known.

That was how they told the story in high school American history class, but the horrors were and are very much known. Maybe people hadn’t seen the photographs but they knew. It was known. Certainly President Roosevelt knew.

I learned an untruth. Many, many untruths.

People like to complain today that kids don’t learn civics anymore, but I can confirm, at least from tail-end Gen X, that most of what we learned in both civics and history class was inaccurate, incomplete, skewed, problematic.

Known

It was all known, just like we know now about the camps at the border.

The camps are still here. We voted in a new administration but I still see the Border Patrol thugs roaming around Arizona and New Mexico, smug in their white pickup trucks, resting a hand on your windshield at their fake checkpoints (traffic stops not at borders), where they ask you inappropriate questions and detain you if you don’t agree to answer, even though legally you are not required to answer.

That’s because they have a loophole: they can detain you for “suspicious behavior”, and refusing a search or not answering the questions you are not legally bound to answer is itself “suspicious”. Get it? Yeah.

Anyway. The horrors are still the horrors, the cruelty is still thriving and intact, we are still letting it happen right here, in part because so many things are falling apart at once that our attention is pulled in too many directions, and in part because we don’t know what to do.

Night visits

My mother visited me last night in a dream, in the dream she was alive and in a kitchen, we were in a kitchen, I don’t know where this kitchen is.

I was organizing the refrigerator, and found a pot of hard boiled eggs but some of the eggs had exploded while cooking. Then my mother walked in and said, “Oh, good, hard boiled eggs, what a good idea!”

And that was the dream. Thanks for the visit, mom.

This morning I was thinking about how, in 1991, she told me about the Cuban missile crisis, the Bay of Pigs invasion, telling me about moments from her life in much the way I am telling you about 1991.

Probably for the same reason, the familiarity of it all, these moments in a lifetime of oh dear god a terrible thing is happening that could lead to even more terrible things, maybe the end, maybe. The fear, and the continuing to do daily life things.

You can’t know until you know

What do you do when you find yourself in one of these possibly the end of the world crisis situations that sometimes are and sometimes aren’t, you don’t know, you can’t know in the moment, you’re just in it.

You clean what you can clean, you do what you can do in your own domain.

You make hard boiled eggs and you find the good. Small grounded pleasure-moments, grounded and grounding.

Or at least, I think this is what dream-mom was trying to get at, I could be wrong.

Memory is funny

I wanted to tell you about another memory, this is a memory from the Second Gulf War.

So maybe 2003, I think, I haven’t looked it up because of how memory is funny and how I am not ready to be surprised again by what happened when. But let’s say we’re in the general area. Close enough?

Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, or so goes the baseball saying, thanks Frank Robinson. Horseshoes, hand grenades and long-range missiles.

Mooshon & The Muppets

I was tending bar in south Tel Aviv, and all the discussion among the clients and in the kitchen and between the servers was the Scud missiles, would Iraq send them our way again, maybe, probably, did they have the capacity to wipe us off the map or was that just threats, and was this World War III, probably, maybe, and this is how we die, or not, too soon to call it.

It was early evening, 7:30 maybe, the bar had temporarily emptied out, a lull between the daytime regulars (hard drinking, chain-smoking) and the arrival of the evening clientele (twenty-somethings, hipster-ey).

I was doing the usual things, emptying ashtrays, wiping down the bar, lowering lights, changing the music, when Mooshon walked in. A well-known Tel Aviv character, a contractor of some kind, eccentric but generally warm, someone who somehow knew everyone and made the rounds between every bar in the city, or at least all the ones I’d worked at. He appeared in his own time. I hadn’t seen him in a couple months.

“Nu, l’an neelmu hachabubot?” he asked as his greeting, raising his eyebrows in the direction of the empty bar. Where have all the muppets disappeared to.

The muppets were his name for the regular-regulars at the bar, with their cranky old-man arguments, repeated jokes and ongoing bets. I made a clicking sound with my tongue which is Hebrew for “I can’t be bothered to explain, you can figure it out”, moving my head in the direction of the clock on the wall. “Marcello,” I added.

Marcello

“Ah, got it, Marcello the Romanian had to go walk his dog, and that’s how the party ended,” Mooshon surmised, nodding, putting his cigarette out in the ashtray I’d just cleaned and immediately lighting another one.

This is how everyone at the bar referred to Marcello, even though this Marcello was the only Marcello anyone knew. Marcello himself would get slightly irritable and then apologize for his irritation if you wrote “Marcello” on his bill and not his full name as he was known at the bar, Marcello the Romanian.

Marcello the Romanian with the dog who needed walking by 7:15, and he reminded us every day, so everyone knew, and he wouldn’t let you forget.

You could set your watch by Marcello the Romanian, or most of the daytime regulars for that matter.

“That’s how the party ended”, I agreed.

The end is near, or it isn’t

“You know the muppets will still be here every day, scud missiles or no scud missiles,” Mooshon said, “They’ll have a new name for the show: Chabubot Im Kasdot!” (Muppets with Helmets, but in Hebrew it rhymes.)
Chabubot Im Masechot,” I suggested. Muppets with Masks.
Mooshon laughed. “Did you get yours?”

My latest government-issue gas mask had arrived that week, outside the door of my tiny studio on the top floor of an old asbestos-filled clothing factory. A sheet of paper with instructions had been pushed under the door.

“Sure,” I said, “but it’s at home, which means the missiles will land while I’m at work.”
“Right? That’s how it goes,” said Mooshon.
“Eh,” I shrugged. “In my line of work I’m more likely to be killed by a suicide bomber.”
“Good point,” agreed Mooshon. “Or an exploding bus on your way to work.”
“I don’t take buses anymore,” I said.
“You just have to be walking by one when it happens,” he pointed out.
“Didn’t happen today.”
“Well,” Mooshon said, “It’s still early.”

It was a good laugh that took me by surprise because I hadn’t realized how much I needed it.

Ditto ditto

When he left, he said, “See you next time, whenever that may be, if you haven’t exploded by then, or the SCUDS haven’t arrived.”
“Ditto ditto,” I said.

And now memory fades, and I don’t know if that was before or after the suicide bombing at our bar, but I do know I was less scared than in 1991, even though I was in considerably more danger. At that point I was so jaded that nothing felt real or meaningful, including imminent destruction.

Bartender-me slept well, unconcerned in sleep about suicide bombers or SCUD missiles, bartender-me had no expectation of reaching thirty anyway.

But we did make it

Guess what, babe, we were wrong, we made it and then some, in a few days we’ll be forty five years old, if the gods favor this plan, how’s that for an astonishing miracle.

Though I will be the first to say that we don’t sleep as deeply as we used to, that’s for sure.

Muppet-talk

There are many frantic muppet-discussions taking place online right now, I find most of them draining. The takes. So many takes. And then the takes about how you should be handling the takes and interacting with the takes, and how you are definitely doing it wrong.

There’s you have to practice self-care versus it is selfish and entitled to pretend that ignoring tragedy is self care, there’s coping with humor is the prerogative of the overly privileged versus actually you cope how you cope.

It’s all partly true and not the entirety of what is true, and I can’t even remember the rest because I had to go light candles. Let’s light another one.

A candle is lit, the lamp is raised, inhale, exhale, okay, where were we.

The Currency of Attention

Here’s what I know for sure:

The world we live in operates on a currency of attention: how many clicks, how many likes/shares/re-whatevers, how much time people spend on a page, how much urgency, how much outrage.

The more upsetting something is, the more takes we consume, and the more we doom-scroll, the more attention-currency to Zuckerberg and co. Attention-currency eventually translates to real currency, and that’s why they hire the best brains in the world to keep us clicking and pushing for pellets.

Our outrage-anxiety is what allows them to steal our attention and our time, it’s how they draw power, the currency of attention is how they continue to exist.

The requisite parenthetical disclaimers!

(I am not at all suggesting that we shouldn’t be outraged, or anxious, those are extremely reasonable reactions to what is happening, the most reasonable, and, as the saying goes, if you aren’t outraged you aren’t paying attention!)

(I am only suggesting that we do what we can to be conscious and discerning when it comes to where we put our attention, for how long, and in what ways, and consider to whose benefit it might be when we do.)

What else is known?

I said this before but it feels too important to not repeat for emphasis: Our nervous systems simply cannot handle the pheromone rollercoaster of being flooded with new stressful data points all day that comes with the levels of news consumption we live with today.

Yes, sometimes you are in an actual terrifying situation (being in the war, in the bombings, on that boat turning around), and that’s trauma, and also there is this passive consuming of trauma that we can’t do all the time and maintain our ability to be grounded and stable, which means we also can’t help.

Yes, this is more severe for some of us (I am waving to you right now from the corner of Autistic and Highly Sensitive Person), and still we are all reeling from scary-update-overload, including people who are much less impacted by The Big Fear energy of the collective, or impacted in less immediately obvious ways.

And, at the same time, however we choose to spend the currency of our attention, the more conscious and intentional we are about those choices the better. Sometimes making those choices feels impossible, we are just being pulled by the stream, so we practice acknowledgment & legitimacy, we pay attention, we keep trying. You win some, win some later.

We Do Grounding Things

For me, maintaining my ability to function or cope both in the world and in my world demands that I steady myself, that I practice the practice of We Do Grounding Things, a practice of tending, a reminder.

I don’t turn away from the hard things, and I also don’t agree to give the currency of my attention to the constantly streaming timeline of The Huge Panic.

In other words, I tend to myself, so that I can also tend to what is happening, and maintain enough steadiness to support the greater good and help where I can to the best of my ability.

It has become fashionable to take a mocking tone towards self-care, it’s seen as self-indulgent, there is callousness directed at the idea that some people take on the pain of the world more than others, but here’s what I know and where I begin…

Where I begin

The best thing I can do as a highly sensitive and witchy person is to not add to the collective pain energy, and to do what I can so that I can add to the grounding strength energy.

Here is where I start: right now, in this moment, I am lighting a candle for the situation, for you, for us, for steadiness, and I am going to steady myself, and when I am ready to take in more information, I am going to do it in a boundaried way that meets what I am capable of.

I am going to make sure I don’t migrained by the news or give myself internet hangover (a phrase I invented for a friend’s course), I am going to practice We Do Grounding Things for myself and the good of the collective, I am going to be careful and conscious, notice which patterns I’m getting sucked into, and where I am putting my attention for what reasons.

We Do Grounding Things

I am lighting a candle for the reality of how we live, and how the constant streaming of The Big Fear is a thing. I am lighting a candle for Ukraine, I am lighting a candle for the courageous Russian protestors, I am lighting a candle for Safety, Protection & Sanctuary, a candle for best outcomes.

Is this enough? Of course not.

Does it have meaning? I hope so.

Is it where everyone should start? I don’t think that’s even close to being the right question. It’s a starting point that works for me.

For me, the practice of We Do Grounding Things is about returning to a sense of stability that exists outside of the twenty four hour anxiety stream.

When I start from We Do Grounding Things, I make better choices, I am better equipped to be a good friend and a good citizen, and I am able to think creatively about how to be of service.

For me, the practice of We Do Grounding Things is not about shutting out the world or disconnecting (it is not isolationism). It is about gathering my powers, calling up my strength, so I can be discerning, intentional, so I respond to the genuinely scary situations in life from wise-self mind, or really from wise-self body-mind, and not in reactive panic-mode.

Do I have advice?

I don’t, and if I did, I probably wouldn’t give it, because I think people assimilate learning better when they come to their own answers.

What is We Do Grounding Things for you? What might it look like in your world? I don’t know, because I don’t live in your body or your life.

Of course I have ideas about some things that are known to help, and that might need to be another piece. Let me know in the comments. Do we want a how to stop/reduce doom-scrolling manual?

And, also, this is maybe the most important part: you are wise and capable, you know yourself, and you can brainstorm with Slightly Wiser You until you get clues on next steps.

Do I have poetry to share?

Yes, because that, for me, is such a good door into We Do Grounding Things, returning to words, letting words do the work.

I am going to translate a bit of a song by Israeli artist Shlomi Shaban, who is exactly my age, I remember listening to his first album on repeat in the late 90s, we are the last of bitter, apathetic-from-trauma Gen X. This is as a duet with Chava Albertstein who was already getting in trouble back in the 70s for activism. An odd-interesting pairing.

The song is a surreal dreamscape conversation, and the name of the song is Targil B’hitorrerut which I would call An Exercise In Awakening but could also be translated as An Awareness Exercise. Translation is always tricky, but then again so is meaning.

This is the part I wanted to share: If this is just an exercise, it’s certainly a successful one…

If this is just an exercise, it’s certainly a successful one

Here is a snippet from the conversation in the song.

He: Tell me, are we winning?
She: Mm when exactly is all this taking place?
He: At the time when you (plural) wrote the songs.
She: And what of them, if we’re already talking about it?
He: They have been left to those who remember.

He: If so then essentially nothing is wrong, if so then everything is as it should be..
She: You were always given to compromise, you’re breaking my heart, I am right beside you

Together: If this is just an exercise, it’s certainly a successful one. The sky is painted vanilla, the horizon is filled with soot. Everything returns more red, on stretchers and in flowers. Tell me, are we…???

Are we?

One more candle

If you are inclined towards candle-lighting, please light one for Laurie, family friend of my childhood bestie, who had to flee Moscow this week after twenty-something years of teaching at an international school there, may she and her animals have safe passage, arrive in safe harbor, the lamp lifted, safety safety safety for Laurie and everyone else who needs it right now.

Sanctuaries within, too

This piece is getting very long, and I am noticing some urgency-feelings to finish up in some way, but I keep thinking about the early 1940s, how my parents were babies when their parents were learning the full terrible truth, that pretty much the entire extended family had been lost in death camps, that there was no one left to find.

I think about the anxiety and grief they were steeped in before they even knew how to differentiate between what is personal and what is collective, and sometimes it gives me some understanding and sometimes it doesn’t.

Sometimes when I am feeling exhausted from the companionship of my own anxiety, I think about how it is honestly miraculous that I ever have times without it given that I was brought into the world by the most high anxiety people that I have ever known.

And also I am thankful in my thank-you heart, where I lift the lamp beside my golden door for myself. For myself and my sad, scared, anxious selves.

Thankful for, for example

Thankful for my practice, my training, inhale and exhale, hand on heart, tree friends and animal friends, my porch-bobcat who taught me so much, for luck and privilege and clues, for right-place right-time.

Lighting a candle for easing and releasing, and for strengthening and fortifying inner sanctuary. For the ongoing practice of We Do Grounding Things and then We Do More Grounding Things.

I wish for us to stay brave and stalwart, friends.

Breathe, light the candle, breathe, touch the earth, take comfort in something alive. If this is just an exercise, it’s certainly a successful one.

Come hang out with me in the comments, I LOVE COMPANY!

You are welcome to share anything that sparked for you while reading, notice what you’re noticing, think about what We Do Grounding Things might look like for you, light a candle with me, or several candles.

A request

If you received clues or learned anything or just want to send appreciation, I could definitely use some miracles right now with an emergency situation I’m in.

I will happily accept support in the form of Appreciation Money to Barrington’s Discretionary Fund. Asking is not where my strength resides but Brave & Stalwart is the theme these days, and pattern-rewriting is the work, and it all helps with fixing what needs fixing. As always, I appreciate you for appreciating! And I am still giving my beautiful Book of Qualities in ebook form to anyone who contributes.

And if you can’t support in that way, you can light a candle for support or light one in your mind, share one of my posts with people, that all means something too, and I appreciate it so much.

Thank you for being here, it means so much to me to think about these things in companionship. ❤️

 

You win some, you win some later

prayer flag art

Image: Prayer flag art by Meira Yaer, she gave me this piece and I treasure it, the prayer flags live in her magical garden, the place of the wild winds.

You win some, you win some later

This is what Incoming Me says when things don’t go as anticipated or wished-for.

I love the simplicity of this phrase. I love the steady wisdom this Incoming Self glows for me, how they always remember that nothing is wrong, the way they remind me — with gentleness and humor, no expectations.

The reminder is kind.

You didn’t fuck up, babe. All is well. You’re doing your best in a tough situation, and that’s how it goes, you win some, you win some later.

Things happened how they happened, sure, maybe not the way I was hoping, better luck next time, we will win some more later. There are wins and there are later wins. Those are the options that get to exist.

What are the elements of [you win some, you win some later]

This is one of my favorite questions to ask when following a clue. What are the elements? What does this contain? What supportive magic lives inside You Win Some, You Win Some Later?

Elegance. Hope. Trust. The long game.

Reassurance. Steadiness. Playfulness. Recalibration.

Something about Agility, Resilience, Emergence and a Grounded Enthusiasm in the face of perceived challenges. Courage. That’s courageous.

The long game, is that called Patience, it is a sort of playful form of Patience, a hint of a rush, something about the gamble.

What happens when I put these into the world / my world?

The naming of qualities is an invoking.

Wow, what beautiful wishes. Where do they want to go?

We can put them in a compass. We can add them to the pot.

Draw them on prayer flags and hang them in the garden, let them be moved-and-loved by the wind until they are tattered, knowing that the tattering (is that a word) is how the prayers soar into the beyond. A holy unraveling, being tattered is not the problem, tattered is a door, an escape hatch, a great releasing.

The act of releasing as its own prayer

Or maybe this is what Leonard Cohen meant when he said the crack is how the light gets in, the tattering is how the light gets out, maybe, maybe not, the point is, everything is in the process of coming undone, and what if that is a prayer and not a tragedy?

I don’t know, maybe sometimes it’s also a tragedy, but you win some, you win some later.

A holy unraveling

A holy unraveling, a sacred undoing, like when things don’t go as planned, or the plumber finds a rat’s nest in your broken hot water heater, for example, and the necessary part is back-ordered so you can’t shower for three weeks, for example.

A breath for this.

The sacred, the mundane, the interplay of these. The holy, the tricky, the #itscomplicated of it all, interplay interplay interplay, and: you win some, you win some later.

Heroically existing, a prayer

The interplay, the forgetting-and-remembering, the slow exhale, we got this, let’s ground and release, the ceremonial tossing of the rogue nest into the wild winds, it’s so cold I can see my breath inside, the reassuring sound of water heating in the kettle, the reflection of candlelight in the window, the ways I remind myself that I am safe, treasured, here to tell the story.

The way I say to myself “Now we’re getting somewhere!” after I achieve something heroic like washing one (1) dish without getting lost in the brain fog, and then I laugh, because actually I’m pretty sure we have gotten nowhere but it’s okay, each step counts, it’s a brave start, and you win some, you win some later.

Is it long covid or traumatic brain injury or complex ptsd or perimenopause or all of the above? I lose the thread and find it again and lose it again. Now we’re getting somewhere!

We’ll win some more later

Here’s to each brave start, to self-sustaining brave starts, the “later” in we’ll win some more later…

Given to the wild winds

Look at us, existing and being in it. You win some, you win some more later.

We are the living embodiment of the “you’re doing amazing, sweetie” internet meme, braver than the marines, one step at a time, brave and stalwart. You win some, you win some later.

It’s courageous too to name the qualities, to let them land like blessings, unravel like prayer flags, venture off into the wild winds.

Disperse disperse

Repetition meets chance, add intention, let it disperse, may it go where it is needed.

There are many reasons why I write, and that is one of them.

The other day someone who had heard about writing retreats at my former center asked me what I write about, and I was startled, and said “oh I don’t know, personal essays, I guess” and that’s not not-true, but also it’s about the naming, and the giving to the wild winds. The reminding and the collective remembering.

Wishes for you and for me (wishes in companionship)

I am wishing you (and us) abundant joy, unexpected ease, the best clues, the exact right forms of comfort, astounding good fortune, new pleasures, surprise good news, helpful reminders, miracles in the moment of need and maybe sometimes just because. Whatever is needed most, in whatever form is right.

Come play with me in the comments, I LOVE COMPANY!

You are welcome to share anything that sparked for you, notice what you’re noticing, name any wishes or themes you’re exploring, skip some stones or play with YOU WIN SOME, YOU WIN SOME LATER or any other hopeful-helpful phrases that appeal to you.

I will happily accept support in the form of Appreciation Money to Barrington’s Discretionary Fund. Asking is not where my strength resides but Brave & Stalwart is the theme these days, and pattern-rewriting is the work, and it all helps with fixing what needs fixing. As always, I appreciate you for appreciating! And I am still giving my beautiful Book of Qualities in ebook form to anyone who contributes.

Thank you for being here, it means so much to me to play & process in companionship. ❤️

The Fluent Self