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.

What do we do when the Great Lethargy Strikes Again?

What do we do when the Great Lethargy Strikes Again?

This week was sluggish for me, everything extra-heavy (not just me, apparently also key particles), and I had no energy for anything.

It was frustrating, because I also perceive a great deal of urgency to solve all the various dilemmas that are asking to be solved. And also, that was the reality I was working with, nothing but lethargy, and no clues to be found.

So I wanted to very briefly cover a self-fluency approach that I consider a fundamental, always useful and especially so when your brain can’t do much.

I’m sure you’ve read about this concept if you’ve been hanging out here over the years, I call it “in the hard and in the soft”, we can work on things in the hard and we can work on them in the soft, ideally we do both.

Advanced practice: both at the same time!

Hard / Soft

For our purposes…

The Hard = that which is tangible, palpable, quantifiable, can be seen or perceived, described in a way that most people would understand.

The Soft is everything else. Everything on the mental-emotional side, and the energy of things, the spiritual end of the spectrum. We can’t touch or see the things in the Soft, and yet doing the work in The Soft still helps.

And: Whether what’s going on in The Soft makes sense to me or not, I am not always able to describe it in a way that other people understand, but that’s okay, they don’t need to.

Examples

When I approach sluggishness and lethargy in The Hard, I’m thinking about things like “Wow, I did not realize that it’s 95 degrees (that’s 35 degrees celsius) today, I bet that’s taking more of a toll on me than I think it is.”

Or, “Hmmm, have I been getting enough iron?” And of course, “Is it possible that a shower would help here?”

When I approach sluggishness and lethargy in The Soft, I’m thinking more about even more invisible impacts on my mood and energy level…

“Oh right, early April is often a challenging time for me, and the first heat wave too. This could be stirring up some memories from Then that are held in my body. Oh right, here are some other things going on in the background that are likely influencing my mood and energy levels.”

How we practice

Whenever I make a list of Contributing Factors / Known Elements of what could be impacting me, I name them in The Soft as well as in The Hard.

And I do the same when generating a list of what might help.

I will share bits of my lists with you, keep in mind that these are mine, your mileage may vary. The factors that impact you and techniques that support you don’t have to mirror mine. People Vary.

The important thing here is not what makes anyone’s list, rather what works for you.

In other words, my suggestions aren’t necessarily suggestions for you, they’re suggestions for me; you can put what works for you on your list, and if you aren’t sure yet, then you get to run some experiments, test hypotheses, figure out what earns a place on your list…

In The Hard: Known things that sometimes help when I’m feeling sluggish

Have I been hydrating (probably not), and is there a way to make hydrating more appealing? Sparkling water with ocotillo tincture? What if I write myself a note and tape it to my water glass? Current note says: SORCERY!

Have I been forgetting to take vitamins? Specifically vitamin B, vitamin D and iron. These, for me, are the Usual Suspects.

And I know that I do not eat enough because of JAZZ HANDS ****anxiety!!!**** JAZZ HANDS, so I can always use a reminder that feeding myself is a vital choosing-towards-life op, what can I do to care for myself in service of nourishment & dopamine…

What else!

Can I find movement that is fun (three minute dance party!)

Can I find movement that is needed (neck stretches, relaxing the jaw, relaxing the jaw again, rolling around on the floor)

Is there too much stuff in my field of vision? This is a big one for me. I can get really overwhelmed really fast when there is too much to look at.

Have I been outdoors / nature-adjacent? If it’s too hot, is there somewhere nearby to drive to and commune with tree friends or cactus friends, and have a beautiful expanse of horizon? Can I get going early enough to go walk the labyrinth before the heat kicks in…?

What else!

My friend H has a default rule of “when nothing is working, shave legs & paint nails”.
My friend K wisely gets under a weighted blanket as fast as possible.
My friend R washes dishes.
My friend M does a non-zero number of jumps (jump jump!)

Maybe none of these do it for you, and maybe they are clues or starting points. Sometimes it helps to know what is no in order to get a spark about maybe-yes.

In The Soft: Known things that sometimes help when I’m feeling sluggish

Ahhhh.

In the soft, we practice Acknowledgment & Legitimacy (naming what is what is happening, noticing how I feel about it, reminding myself that it’s okay that I feel this way, and no, I don’t have to like it).

In the soft, we investigate: what are the Known Elements at play here? What are some of the very legitimate contributing factors?

We looked at the temperature, but what about the invisible stuff, is there some big wilding happening with the astrology, have I spent time online encountering energy crud and emotional potholes…?

In the soft, we ask what’s true and what’s also true? In the soft, we wonder what we need to say no to or what boundaries may have collapsed and need to be shored up. In the soft, we return other people’s projections about us, we release what is not ours into the magical elevator shaft…

What else is going on for me?

In the soft we ask, What else is going on for me? For example, what would I bring up to my imaginary-therapist, oh right possibly I am exhausted because of narcissists & manipulators pushing boundaries.

What else is going on for me?

Oh right, loneliness, oh right the eternal disconnect, I am trying to survive in a pandemic but yesterday 100,000 people liked a tweet that took place in an airport bar. YIKES to airport bars. Yikes to pretending this isn’t happening.

Process (an example)

I did some journaling on the story of [I am not excited about anything, I don’t care about anything, everything is very blah], and discovered that while it is partially true, it is also not entirely true.

The part that is true is a sort of energy-level allergy to my current location, and several iguanas (things I don’t want to do) that need to be liberated from my life.

The part that is interesting is that there are actually several things I’m excited about that I haven’t let myself feel excited about, because they don’t seem to support my current mission of Solve All The Problems, which is kind of crucial right now.

What am I excited about even though I convinced myself I have zero enthusiasm

Okay it turns out, I get interested again when I think about the idea of making delicious seasonal recipes that can be a ritual of celebrating the seasons, like hell yes it’s April and we’re making horchata!!!!

Ooh, and I also like reading ten thousand different recipes, then coming up with my own version of [a something], especially if I can make it for someone I care about.

And as you know, I am geeking out on inventing new ways to celebrate made-up holidays.

And I enjoy thinking about vengeance ops, aka becoming an even more intimidating cowthey (or: nonbinary desert sorceress/assassin), this is also related to my secret op of luscious self-treasuring at Life Ruiningly Good levels.

So, I thought I had no interest in anything, and it turns out I do have interest in things, I just haven’t been giving myself any permission to access these passion-sparks because I am overwhelmed by my long list of Solve This Urgent Scary Problem.

What’s the point though (my self-criticism monsters ask)

Does it solve anything to know these sparks are there? Maybe, maybe not. Who cares!

The point is, I learned that my believable-sounding story was at best only partially true, not the full truth at all. The point is, I was reminded of much bigger truth-facets.

For example, integrating my vengeance-loving lusciousness-seeking cowboy-hat-wearing nonbinary vixen self is not separate from the mission I think is the mission.

And, if excitement-sparks exist, I might as well use them. So let’s make some life-ruiningly delicious horchata with what’s already in the pantry.

It’s a starting point, where there was none before.

If I follow the spark, a next indicated step will be there. Or I will return to playing in The Hard and in The Soft until I find one.

Worthy of a brief mention

Ahhh, the phenomenon of [things that help more than I think they will but not as much as I want them to], it’s such a thing.

So I just want to mention that this exists!

And it’s okay, I still keep things in this category on my list because a) they still help, and b) their support is cumulative.

Maybe today a shower is not the magic I needed it to be, and it still helped more than not doing it, maybe the same will be true for five minutes of stretching. It all helps a little, and quite often it helps much more than I think it will.

We try things, we take notes, we switch up the experiment and try again.

Can you combine techniques in The Hard and in The Soft

OF COURSE, absolutely, that’s the best way, if you can do it.

For example, I might do legs up the wall (in the hard), and name all the things that are going on for me or run a monster negotiation in the soft.

Summing up before I run out of steam

Working (and playing!) in The Hard and in The Soft is not so much a technique as a way of discerning what techniques are available to you in the moment.

Even better, everything we do in The Hard or in The Soft is going to impact the other side, and making sure we get a little of both is a way we can remember the hidden richness of options.

If something works, add it to the Book of You!

We keep practicing acknowledgment and legitimacy with the various Perceptions of Stuck (fake band of the week?), and we make room to feel what we’re feeling, and we poke around a bit to find out if it’s the whole story, and we do things that help.

If they don’t help, we give ourselves a trillion sparklepoints and have a party for being brave and trying something, and we try something else.

Also we make room for the idea that This Didn’t Help At All could be a monster story, and who knows, the thing we thought wasn’t helping enough might actually be shifting things in the background, under the surface, in the soft where we can’t feel the results yet…

And we praise ourselves, applause & sparklepoints all around

Good job planting seeds. Good job trying anything at all.

Good job going back to bed if that was the right answer (or the only available option). It all counts.

Thanks for doing it for the collective, I applaud and appreciate everything we try.

Come play with me, I love company

You are welcome to play with this concept in any way you like. If you have also been feeling the Sluggish and/or finding that key particle overly relatable, let me know. Slug Club!

You are welcome to brainstorm in the category of [things that might be affecting my mood/energy] in the hard and in the soft, and/or brainstorm [things that might help] in the hard and the soft…

You are also as always invited to share anything sparked for you while reading, or add any wishes into the pot, into the healing zone, as a friend of mine said, who knows, the power of the collective is no small thing, and companionship is healing.

A request

If you received clues or perspective or just want to send appreciation, I could use some miracles right now with my emergency situation that has now been compounded with new situations.

I am accepting support (with joy & gratitudea) 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.

Or buy a copy of the my Monster Manual & Coloring Book if you don’t have it!

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

xo
Havi

A Swimming Story

lake view

Image: View of a favorite lake in New Mexico where I have never once gone swimming, blue-green water, surrounded by juniper and piñon, I am asking the water to lend its powers of free movement, clarity, and something that is both open and contained.


A Chat With The Vicar

I was catching up with the Vicar, who was getting ready for a date.

Me: What do we know about this one?
The Vicar: Not much. She doesn’t know how to swim.
Me: Huh. Okay, so not Jewish, presumably. It’s one of the few parental instructions in the talmud, you gotta teach your kids to swim.
The Vicar: Noted.
Me: God I hope there’s a good story. I am craving a good story.
The Vicar: Me too! I’ll report back.

There’s always a story

There was no story though. Just a person who had never learned to swim. A neutral piece of non-information. Or at least there wasn’t a story that wanted to be shared. Which is fine, no one owes anyone their stories, and also, there has to be a story, whether it gets told or not.

Me: Okay, I mean, there’s always a story.
The Vicar: For you, there is always a story. If you’re a storyteller, you’ll find a story.
Me: I’m sure I could come up with ten different stories related to swimming, and I don’t even remember the last time I went swimming. Do I even like swimming? Maybe I will use this as a morning writing prompt…
The Vicar: I await a story!
Me: There’s always a story…

Alive, and proving it

Every day I try for some writing time, usually in the morning.

It’s something I do to remind myself that my brain does in fact still work, that I am still, somehow, creative, playful, spark-filled, alive, even if covid and concussions have compounded my adhd to a point that I am mostly entirely unfocused, lost somewhere deep in the brain fog, blanking out on absolutely everything.

Prior to two concussions and long covid, my adhd was more like, wow I do not ever know where my keys are, with a side of piscean day-dreaminess. Sure, I was a mess, but, you know, Manic Pixie Dream Mess!

Now it’s more like, hmmm what happened to the last three hours, I couldn’t tell you.

Was I staring into space, was I pacing aimlessly, was I trying over and over again to start literally any task and then forgetting? Who can say, it’s gone.

Anyway, if I write for half an hour or so, then at the end of the day, I can say that I definitely did that.

Small Rebellions

Sometimes I have a topic on my mind, a direction for what I want to write about, more often I skip stones, or grasp around for clues until I find one that can start me off.

True confession that is probably extremely unsurprising to you: I can be pretty reactive when it comes to writing prompts. It’s the great conundrum of rebellious by nature.

For about ten seconds, I imagine I want someone to tell me what to write about, but the second I see a writing prompt, I’m like, “Oh yeah?! Screw you, who asked you, you don’t get to tell me what to do, you’re not the boss of me!”

Which is of course entirely unfair to the generous writing-prompt offerers of the world, who are just trying to be kind and helpful.

However, the positive side of Rebellious Mode is the way I can find myself suddenly excited to explore rabbit holes as a middle finger to a writing prompt, or if I think whatever is on my mind is off-topic and not to the point. We love off-topic and not to the point! Hell yes, we’ve lost the thread!

Anyway, the Vicar didn’t have a story for me and I wanted one, so I had to come up with one myself. A story about swimming. A swimming story. What is my swimming story? What is my swimming story?

Memories

I got as far as What as my swimming story, when it dawned on me that I have already written a swimming story. Almost sure of it.

Was it about the summer I made myself swim across the lake each week to prove a point, even though I hated the clammy sensation of the seaweed, the way it tried to take me captive? And if we’re being honest, I didn’t enjoy any part of that weekly crossing other than the grim satisfaction of having completed it. Was that the story?

No, something else. Something from before, possibly even something that had contributed to becoming the version of me who needed to do miserable things to prove a point.

Then of course I was worried I wouldn’t find it, because who knows where anything is. But I found it almost immediately.

All I had to do was input the word “swimming” into my notes to discover, to my amazement, that I’d written an entire essay about swimming, all the way back in August of 2020, never to revisit it, just wrote and erased it from memory, until now.

August 2020

Six months into the first year of pandemic. I had just downsized to 150sq ft, semi-off-grid, in rural New Mexico, and I couldn’t sleep because the metal trailer bed made popping sounds, like the exhaust backfiring on a car. This is how 3am became my writing hour for a while.

A whole piece about swimming, a couple thousand words, that I wrote, and promptly forgot, which is how it was never shared it with you. Who knew? Definitely not me! But also I did know, I must have known.

Anyway, thanks to the Vicar’s mysterious date with the not-a-story non-story, here it is…

And here’s to the mysterious and reassuring superpowers of All Timing Right Timing, as well as It All Works Out, and especially There’s A Story When You Need One.

Lighting a candle and raising my glass of water to all of that.

A 3am appointment

A fun part of pandemic life, maybe the most fun, is how I am just awake most days from 3-5am for no apparent reason.

The witching hour demands I let it run its course, and, having learned that I cannot coax sleep into returning to me during this nightly gap, I go to therapy then.

My therapist doesn’t mind these unconventional hours, and while there are many advantages to holding therapy appointments in my head, the flexible timing is really the strong selling point for me.

Meirav

Meirav was my therapist twenty-five years ago in Tel Aviv. She was, and remains, extraordinarily wise, deeply compassionate, dangerously insightful and so very quick.

No one else has been able to keep up (with her or with me) since, and so all other attempts at therapy have been profoundly unhelpful, for me.

Fortunately, since I know exactly what Meirav would say in any given situation, I can just show up at appointments with her, in my head, and I do.

Sometimes we even do what I call shower therapy, who needs a fifty minute hour, I’m hopping into the shower anyway, so we talk things out, short and sweet. Love shower therapy. 10/10.

Quiet

In other words, you could say that I haven’t been in therapy in nearly a quarter of a century but you could also say I’ve been in therapy regularly for all these years, and those are both true statements.

We’re both pretty quiet at 3am so she just gives me that look, and says, Nu, sapri li, ma kore, ma over lach b’rosh b’shaah kazot? Tell me, what’s going on, what is passing through your mind at this time of night?

And so I tell her.

The summer

When I was eight or possibly nine years old, my parents sent me to a month of sleepaway summer camp somewhere in the midwest. A wooden cabin with a bunch of other kids, woods of winding pathways, a lake, a large dining hall with picnic style tables and giant jugs of milk that they would dye in bright colors with food coloring for reasons unknown, but it was the 80s, orange milk, why not.

I don’t remember much else about it.

They had a required swim test the first day or one of the first days, to determine how well we could swim, on the basis of which you‘d be allowed in different roped off areas of the lake during swim time.

Into the water

Young me had taken swimming lessons, and liked water and the beach, I think it is safe to say this young self did not like tests.

Obviously in retrospect Small Havi was a highly sensitive and spectrum-ey child who should have been getting extra support in all things because the world was confusing and overwhelming for her, and she existed in a state of constant sensory overload, but no one knew about those things then.

Anyway, I can’t give you a reading on what this very small child’s mental-emotional state might have been about this test, I actually don’t remember anything at all before we got to the middle of the lake.

On the boat

They rowed us out into the middle of the lake in small boats, three kids and a counselor or two in each boat. I definitely did not understand what was happening.

And then we stopped, and they said we had to jump from the boat into the water, one at a time.

Jump in or be thrown in.

Those were the choices. We weren’t wearing life jackets. The water was dark and cold. No one had explained to me what was happening.

Just: taken to the middle of the lake and forced to jump.

Pass/fail

If you could swim, you passed the test. If you panicked, and believe me, tiny-me PANICKED, they waited a little too long to see if you were going to figure it out and then I don’t remember, maybe they threw a life jacket, maybe someone came in after you. I don’t know.

Did someone dive in and pull me out? Did I catch a life jacket, maybe. It’s a blurry memory, a blurry moment.

I can’t even tell you if I jumped or they threw me in.

Sink or swim. I guess in theory, the fear is supposed to motivate you to swim? Hahahaha, fear as motivation, imagine that. It didn’t work on me, and never has once.

Learning

All I learned was that I was very much on my own.

It was made clear in that moment that, not for the first time, grownups were not safe or dependable, and I had to just get through the month somehow.

And when I revisit this story, what I see is that we live in a culture that loves the notion of fear as motivation, and in my mind it remains a manipulative form of torture that is also wildly ineffective.

Did I know how to swim?

I think I did, my parents had taken the talmudic instruction to heart, and I’d been taking lessons for quite a while. Probably by that point I was a reasonably okay swimmer, but swimming in a pool is different than being forced to walk the plank.

Okay, there was no plank, this is not a pirate movie. But I think we can agree that “jump or we throw you” is a trauma, even if you are not a very small eight year old.

The verdict was that I did not know how to swim, but it wasn’t a particularly effective method of testing.

Cold

I remember the cold shock of the betrayal and the water, my absolute terror, the darkness beneath the water, I remember swallowing water and forgetting everything I had ever known about swimming.

I remember that I didn’t like swimming after that, and didn’t care that they put me in the remedial group that was only allowed in the shallow entry to the lake. I didn’t want to go to the lake at all, an hour of lake time (every day?), and it passed, summer passed.

Over the next summers I was sent to three new different camps, all of which — and I say this now with great incredulity but it is true, were infinitely more traumatizing than that first one, and so that awful summer was forgotten.

Submerged

Submerged, says Meirav, about small me and about the memory. Uh huh, I agree.

You want to rescue her, Meirav says, and it’s true, I do.

Meirav always wants to go below, into what is underneath, to explore and cast light.

Safety First

But working with Meirav is also how I came to understand the approach of Safety First. We can use story, play, language and metaphor to approach whatever we are approaching, to create a sanctuary at the edge.

Meirav never demands of me that I jump in to the waters of memory. It’s why we work so well together.

We layer on kindness, and then layer on more kindness.

Layering on kindness towards myself is one way to rewrite and repattern, and so we rescue tiny me again and again.

Rescue

Rescue can take many different forms.

Sometimes I show up in a situation from then as the wise loving adult from now, the adult I can be now, the one I needed someone else to be for me then.

Sometimes this adult is very calm, stable, centered, showing up and immediately asserting order and authority, lovingly but without room for argument.

Absolutely not, this adult says sternly. Under no circumstances are you asking small children to jump out of a boat as a swim test, this is actual child abuse and completely unacceptable. You will turn this boat around and deliver these children to safety, and you will apologize to them for scaring them with a mean joke. It was a joke, right? That’s how we’re playing this. You will tell them that they were never going to have to jump, are we clear?

Angel

Sometimes this adult is an avenging angel.

WHAT THE FUCK, I scream, in my angel-fury, my 3am pain, THIS IS A SMALL CHILD, what are you doing to this poor child, how dare you ask a child to make this choice, what cruel nonsense is this?!?!?!?

The counselors dive into the water to escape me, so afraid of my anger and the lightning from my fingertips, they are helpless and petrified in the face of my rage, and it occurs to me that they too are essentially children. They don’t know what they’re doing either.

Who put eighteen year olds in charge and had them devise the world’s most sadistic swim test?

Rescue for everyone. Safety for everyone. But mainly for me.

Safe rooms

As you know, I love a good sanctuary, a safe room, or a safe house, one of my favorite forms of Very Interior Design.

The safe house that eight year old me wants has a large pool in it, with kind and loving adult selves on duty as lifeguards, nothing bad will ever happen to her. Small me is protected.

There are skylights and fluffy towels, a hot shower with a blue and white tiled floor, zero frogs in the shower and no mosquitos, nothing like summer camp at all.

There is a tire swing and no time limit.

Small me naps in a giant four poster bed with sheer cream colored curtains, and is watched over by the bobcat, the Fierce Protector.

Well provisioned

I instruct these guardian selves to make sure Small Me can have all the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches upon awakening, made the way that Nancy, my childhood bestie’s mother, used to make them, on thick hand-sliced bread with a generous layer of butter.

And a tall glass of milk to drink, because this is still Michigan in the 80s, but the milk will be white, no confusing food coloring, and there should be tall jugs of fresh water.

Flowers everywhere. This kid likes flowers. No one to criticize her. This child’s love language is unconditional acceptance, and I want her to have so much of it that she can begin to trust it.

New day new mission

I make chai for myself in a black ceramic mug and watch over my young self until she falls asleep, and I cry because I love her so much and I just want her to be safe forever, and I am so angry that no one was there to help her.

And I pretend that my mug says world’s best self-parenting parent, because this makes me laugh.

I don’t know that I’d make a particularly good parent in real life, I’m sure I would do the job to the best of my ability if I had to, probably also reluctantly and with some resentment. It’s just not a job I want.

Be that as it may, I am proud of my hard-earned, trauma-honed self-parenting skills: I self-parent the fuck out of myself and my small selves, and this, much like the kind of parenting that is more visible in our world, is a thankless unpaid full-time job that is also very much a labor of love.

Good rescuing, babe. We can rescue and re-rescue, as many times as needed.

Rescue and a warm drink. New day, new rescue mission. We’ve got this.

Wanting

Meirav asks what I want, and what I want is for her to do the thing she always does and confirm that this experience was in fact very traumatic and awful.

Meirav: You know what I think. This is an extremely horrifying experience. You didn’t deserve any of this. You were ambushed and you disassociated, a very reasonable reaction to trauma. What do you think?

Me: Yeah no, the whole thing in retrospect is shocking and abhorrent, and made so much worse by everyone acting like this was normal and not child abuse? The bewilderment of suspecting something was wrong but everyone acting like it was fine, so it didn’t occur to me I could opt out.

I don’t even think I told my parents about it? I don’t think we were allowed to make contact other than via letters.

It didn’t occur to me to find a way to say hey this is abusive and dangerous, come and get me. Also, to be clear, they absolutely would not have come to get me.

So that’s another thing, they were strongly anti-rescue as a matter of principle, and regularly left me stranded in far worse situations, but also: I didn’t know how to ask.

Out

Meirav: Let’s talking about OPTING OUT, that feels relevant, that’s a theme. You’re good at that now, aren’t you?

Me: Okay, holy shit, yeah, okay the thing where I know now as an adult there is always an Opt Out option available for me, but I didn’t know about it then, and it didn’t occur to me because it couldn’t have!

Like, how could a child say, “This is an unacceptable choice and I refuse to make it. You can just mark me down as a non-swimmer, that’s fine with me, I will opt out of lake time, thanks, we’re done here.”

I didn’t have the vocabulary, but, more importantly, I didn’t even have the concept of opting out.

And because I didn’t know there was such a thing as a way out, as far as my this young self could determine, there were two choices and they were both bad, the end.

Self-hurling as a way of life

Meirav: So this is about your former mentor, right? This is about believing you were safe and protected, cherished and held in love, and then all that disappeared and you were forced very suddenly and without warning to hurl yourself into the cold waters.

You were given a choice that wasn’t a choice, and all choices ended up with you in the water because you didn’t know how to fight back or you weren’t willing to, because of how much you loved him. That’s why you’re thinking of this now. Because you are trying to summon the courage to write about [the dance that was and isn’t], and it feels too overwhelming to start.

Fuck. Why is Meirav always right?

She’s always right. That’s exactly what this pre-dawn memory is about.

(It’s also about my divorce, another self-hurling, and the most painful breakup.)

Where do we go from here, the eternal question

What do I know about swimming? Self-powered movement.

The activity of propelling oneself through water using the limbs.

What am I propelling myself through now? Recovery, pandemic life, trailer life, the various mysteries and challenges, the process of integrating new incoming selves.

What else about swimming? Swimmingly is what you say when things are going well. Splendid! It’s all going swimmingly!

That’s less about self-propelling, which sounds laborious, and more about ease, grace, floating, the practice holds you.

The practice holds you

This is why I write, dance, do abbreviated sun salutations, roll around on the floor, hold therapy sessions in my head, these are all forms of you show up to the practice, and the practice holds you.

Even if I forget, or lose the thread, or get lost, it’s always there for me when I return.

Resurfacing and re-emergence, recovery, new and better

A swimming story is also like swimming your way through a story, let’s allow the story to resurface.

Let’s let this story come up for air.

Look how this brave story crosses an entire lake all by itself, story as passage, and as a small triumph.

We recovered the story, we are in recovery, we wrap up in a warm blanket and get cozy under the covers, in the interplay of uncovering, recovering, covering, all in service of creating sanctuary.

There’s a story here too

I put A Swimming Story into the anagram generator, and it anagrams to Orating My Swims, which is kind of amazing.

Also, here are some of my favorite word-clues hiding inside that phrase:

Roaming. Aiming. Organism. Wins. Margins. Smart. Warm. Gyration. Sayings. Swayings. Gymnast. Iris. Misty. Twangy. Toys. Wings.

I bet someone could write a great story from any of those words, never mind the combinations, so you are welcome to use any of them as a (pun not intended but cracking me up all the same) jumping off point for any writing or exploring of your own.

Come play with me, I love company

You are welcome to play with any of this in any way you like.

You are also as always invited to share anything sparked for you while reading, or add any wishes into the pot, into the healing zone, as a friend recently said, who knows, the power of the collective is no small thing, and companionship is healing.

And if you wish to make safe rooms for past versions of you, have at it. Or if you have a swimming story or a not-a-swimming story, or are excited about any of these new words that emerged, it’s all welcome.

Thank you for keeping me company, and for this space where submerged stories can resurface safely, sanctuary is no small thing, and we all could use more of it.

A request

If you received clues or perspective or just want to send appreciation, I could definitely use some miracles right now with my emergency situation that has now been compounded with new situations.

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, tell people about this work, it all helps, and I appreciate it so much. ❤️

xo
Havi

A Kingdom

gila cliff dwellings

Image: View from the Gila cliff dwellings, where the Mogollon people made homes over a thousand years ago, a lot more I could say here, but I wanted to share this view of Expansiveness and Striking Beauty, via blue skies, trees growing up the mountain side, also a clue about ingenuity & sanctuary.


My refrigerator is a cooler on the porch

My refrigerator stopped working after the fire, so now my version of a refrigerator is a cooler on the porch. Or at least, this was a great winter solution, we will solve for the challenges of warmer weather as we get there, sooner than I want, probably.

I have become adept at workarounds, experimenting until I can make reliably tasty meals with food combinations that avoid the need for refrigeration entirely.

Pancakes made with oat milk and flax egg (drop a tablespoon of flax seed into 2.5 x warm water, wait five minutes, you get something that is not egg-like per se but gives the right texture). The pancakes get made on a plug-in griddle because I don’t have a stove but I do have electricity as of November. A blessing.

My friend who has chickens gives me extra eggs when available, straight from the chicken, no need to refrigerate. I make labneh from goat milk or sheep milk yogurt, and store it covered in oil. Bonus: conserve the whey, use in pancakes instead of oat milk.

Workarounds.

Ingenuity plus

Often it is too cold in my trailer, the olive oil has solidified and can’t be poured.

Here is the protocol: it goes by the space heater to warm up, then we need to set a bell to remind [me of five minutes from now] that [right-now me] did this and now it’s time to stop, because between ADHD, traumatic brain injury, and long covid brain fog, there’s a 90% chance we will all forget.

We being all versions of me in time and space. The collective of Havi.

Ingenuity on its own is not enough, but ingenuity plus reminders plus back-ups, now you’re talking.

What are the superpowers?

Let’s name them, call them up and in, naming as invocation…

Superpowers of no refrigerator: Inventiveness, experimentation, workarounds = new neural pathways

Superpowers of setting a bell: Presence, grace, compassion, protection, being my own form of divine intervention, staying attuned to the available information from what Riv calls the Predictive Physics Generator…

May I get better at respecting Predictive Physics Generator intel vs I see [item] close to edge, make mental note, shocked when I have to clean it up!

Superpowers of making do: Creativity, play, curiosity, the art of extemporizing, and of course Use What You Have.

Still, something in this is not what I want, and [Not This] is always a clue…

I skipped some stones until I figured out what was bothering me.

My refrigerator workaround and pancake workarounds are not what is bothering me at all, I don’t mind being in camping-mode. It kind of works for me.

What I dislike is the phrase (and concept) of Making Do, it reminds me of the worst and scariest times in my life, also it just feels like a boring, un-playful approach.

Uninspired and uninspiring. Who wants to Make Do?

And yet, here I am, very much making do. This is my life right now. So how are we rewriting this?

Metaphors as a form of sorcery

If you’ve been hanging out here for a while, you know I use a metaphor technique, adapted from Suzette Haden Elgin, to help me rename whatever feels disharmonious in my life.

I use this technique whenever an aspect of a word or concept is grating to me, even if in the background.

And yes, maybe not everyone is as sensitive to words as I am, but I think we are all still influenced on some level by hidden associations inside of words that can cause us to get surprise-stuck. Surprise!

Renaming and reframing is a form of sorcery; everything shifts once I find a better word.

Rewriting and self-fluency

Self-fluency is not just rewriting our habits and patterns, it’s also changing up and charging up words so they contain what we need, removing what we don’t.

We have the power to play with vocabulary, replace words as needed, reconfigure their meanings to work better.

And another aspect of self-fluency is remembering that we get to rewrite and rename as often as we want.

Aka do-overs forever, the ongoing process of updating internal vocabulary so our words support us.

Let’s play.

It starts with unpacking Making Do, and figuring out what I crave instead.

What do I want to keep from Making Do and what is not coming along for the ride?

And then the next step is imagining how I might move from one to arrive at the next.

Necessity is really not winning any mother of the year awards

Obviously there are positive qualities I can find inside of Making Do, we’ve already identified them: ingenuity, playfulness, creativity, and so on, necessity begets invention, we know this.

And at the same time, Making Do reminds me of the bad times, it is stressful, frustrating and the opposite of lusciousness. Necessity is really not winning any mother of the year awards, according to Invention.

Just ask Invention!

Oh, and also something about Making Do feels forced.

No, that’s not what I mean to say, I perceive myself as being in a situation in which I am forced to make do. Yes?

I like having the skills, not being forced to use them

Sure, maybe I derive some pleasure from being innovative but I don’t enjoy having to innovate.

Similarly, there’s nothing joyful in the moment when yet another appliance stops working and I sigh and say “okay, guess we’re gonna have to get even more creative here, because that’s the only option”.

That moment of acquiescing to the Making Do feels like a capitulation, like I lost, and bad luck won again.

Yes, I have the skills and experience to Make Do but I’m not happy about it.

Being able to do something is cool. Needing to rely on that skill or else…not a fan.

Sounds, for example

The tiny trailer makes sounds I hate. It’s been nearly two years trying to solve for these noises. Some have been solved, some have been blessedly muffled, and there are still a few left that are not miserable but also I would describe them as not my favorite.

So I pretend the trailer is a boat and the sounds are the creaking of a ship at sea.

Oh yes, I nod, when a sound happens, that was quite a wave. We’ll make it though. It’s a sturdy ship.

I look out at the sea (the tall grasses, the enormous sky), and sing sea shanties. It’s just noises. Ships make sounds. I don’t have to love it. It’s a grand adventure, and not all parts of it are fun.

I have more quiet than I ever would in a city, and I get to live on a boat without having to do any of the boat things.

Sometimes this reminds me of the tougher times in my life but that’s also a reminder that I am a badass, and I’ve been through much harder things than any of this. It’s gonna work out.

Dishes, for example

I don’t have hot water in my tiny trailer.

Well, I thought I was going to have to [insert new word for Make Do once I find it] for three weeks, because the tiny part needed to fix the tiny hot water heater was delayed, but then it got more delayed until six weeks had gone by without hot water.

And then it finally arrived and I paid someone to come from an hour away to switch out the relay, and they couldn’t get it to work at all, so now I just don’t have hot water. At least it’s spring!

Though to be fair, I only ever had it to begin with in the shower, it never reached the kitchen because the line is too long, and the kitchen sink is high-efficiency low-flow, anyway, the point is I’ve been doing dishes without hot water for a long time now, but this winter it got pretty brutal, and I would cry from the shock of the freezing water, and nothing about that was fun.

Solutions (a word that means solving a problem and also: a liquid mixture)

So I heat water in the kettle, pour it into a wide-mouthed glass jar, add soap. Set a timer for 25 minutes to let it cool. Try like hell to remember what the timer was for.

If I’m lucky, we only go one round of this. Then I dip my sponge in the warm soapy water, play the one song saved on my phone, play the game of how many dishes can get done in the space of a three minute song, dance it out, somehow the dishes get done.

Does this always work?

Haha not at all.

I’m working with ADHD, two concussions, long covid brain fog, perimenopause, complex ptsd. Some days it’s like my synapses are on extended holiday and forgot to tell me where they were going. So yeah, sometimes a timer is not enough.

Sometimes getting to the right temperature water to do dishes takes all day, haha, love this journey for me. My mind is a zen sand garden constantly being erased by monks.

But remembering is a practice, and practice means we are in process, and the first rule of being in process is that we can be gentle with ourselves, there’s time. We live by Safety First. We try things, and we keep adjusting.

Patience. We’re playing the long game here!

This week I am in Tucson, where I have access to wifi and a shower, and hot water in general. Blissful. I appreciate it every single time I wash my hands, and that appreciation is another gift of Making Do.

What do I want?

We’ve established that [Making Do] contains some positive qualities that I appreciate, as well as distressing associations that lead me to resist and resent anything related to it. That’s the part about discernment, good job for discerning.

Now we start the process of winnowing, sorting out what is invited to remain and inform the new word or concept, what we need to eliminate, and what we need to add.

Let’s start with what I wish to keep and go from there. If there’s a word or concept you’re working on rewriting, you can use this as a map, adapting for your own needs, and see where it takes you.

Keep, Leave Behind, Add

What I wish to keep from [Making Do]

Creativity, playfulness, inventiveness, workarounds, alternative thinking, imagination, possibility, remembering that there is more than one exit.

What I wish to leave behind, what does not need to tag along

Aka my list of Unnecessary Items…

Exasperation, exhaustion, monsters of shame and self-blame, and their familiar not-helpful sing-song stories about how I am soooooo bad at life.

What I wish to add:

Freedom, joy, pleasure, spaciousness, a relaxed positivity, trust in my creative abilities, being the Sorceress On A Sailboat, being adventurous and loving the adventure.

Also fun superpowers like the ones in my favorite power phrases:

  • It Solves Itself!
  • I Crave It, Actually!
  • I Trained For This!
  • Do Less To Get More!

Let’s talk more about these false narratives (starting with how to recognize them)

It is so very common for self-criticism monsters to disguise their cruelty as concern.

Aka “You are forty five years old, how are you such a mess, how do you not have your life together enough to have sorted out the absolute basics like hot water, refrigeration, things that in theory could allow you to focus on your work and writing, how are you such a spectacular fuck-up, it’s embarrassing, how is it even possible for someone as smart as you to be so inept at adulthood?!”

So first of all, we can recognize this as monster talk because:
a) it is unkind,
b) it lacks both compassion and context, my wise selves know I’ve been though some stuff, and nothing about this situation is anyone’s fault, definitely not mine, they won’t blame me for being where I am, and
c) the patterns of vocal emphasis follow what Virginia Satir named Blaming Mode, a learned form of toxic communication we can fall into with ourselves or each other out of habit, and one we can also unlearn, with time and practice. The better we get at recognizing it, the less likely we are to use it.

Ah, yes, the old Unreliable Narrator

Monsters are the epitome of the Unreliable Narrator. We can deflect and manage them, and also we do not need to take their stories seriously.

*If you’re looking for more support with this, you’ll find it in my Monster Manual & Coloring Book, which you can acquire in the shop!

Okay, what do we do once we’ve identified monster stories / false narratives

First off, we relinquish what is not true, not helpful, not ours, not from now, not supportive of our progress.

Whoosh, goodbye, into the elevator shaft with these false perceptions, self-criticism patterns, fundamental misunderstandings of what’s actually important in life (guess what, it’s not how I do dishes!), boring monster stories, external societal notions or expectations about how I am supposed to have achieved certain things that I don’t actually need or care about. Byeeeeeee!

We give ourselves credit (and many, many sparklepoints) for noticing. When I pay attention to false narratives showing up, I can recognize them for what they are. There’s power in that.

The idea that I’m bad at adulthood is truly not only a boring and unhelpful story, it’s also based on a ridiculous premise that I don’t have to adhere to. Indoor refrigeration is not a prerequisite to adulthood!

Guess what, monsters, I’m killing it at adulthood, I self-parent the fuck out of myself, and it’s actually kind of impressive to live alone out in the wilds and take on these new challenges every day like a badass.

Sidebar: you’re always allowed to ask for reminders

Quite often I have to ask my friends to remind me that I’m a badass.

And they do, once they’re done laughing.

Honestly, a thousand points to my friends for laughing uproariously whenever I make this request, sometimes the best gift someone can give you is the reminder that your deeply-held fear belief is, while of course legitimate, also in fact extremely ludicrous!

Their laughter is a balm. It reminds me that I am the only person who spends time concerned that I’m somehow not enough of a badass, while everyone who actually knows me considers that to be one of my baseline qualities, impossible to forget.

Laugher is good medicine, laughter plus compassion plus perspective.

Oh, one more technique I wanted to mention

This is the basis of self-fluency: we practice Acknowledgment & Legitimacy.

In other words, the feelings I’m experiencing are reasonable and understandable, my reactions make sense, I’m allowed to feel what I’m feeling, even if the narrative I’ve fallen into is ridiculous.

And at the same time, I am the one who has some power to play with my patterns and my reactions, though of course I won’t always be able to do that in the moment, that’s a super advanced practice.

That’s not something I need to expect of myself, or be upset with myself if I’m not able to do that yet. We are where we are in the moment, working with the tools we have, trying our best.

Rinse and repeat

So here I am, taking a moment, being where I am with what I’m going through, reminding myself that it is okay to be a human who has monster stories and false narratives, it is okay to have learned the wrong things from trauma or any painful life experiences, it is so reasonable to be feeling the big feelings, whatever they are, even if it is not fun to feel them.

Rinse and repeat. There is really never enough of this one. Add it in between every step, and then reapply!

Alright. Back to our wordplay…

What secret words live inside the word that is not working

While I was pleased to have made some decent progress with the monster brigade, I suddenly found myself mysteriously extra-stuck on the metaphor part of things.

It just seemed impossible to locate any word, image or concept related to what I wanted.

Whenever I get bogged down in the naming process, I like to play with anagrams, and the easiest way to do this for me is to input whatever is stuck into the online anagram generator for clue-gathering.

[HEADS UP: if you deal with epilepsy, migraines, queasiness or high sensory processing sensitivity, be aware the anagram generator I’m about to link to has letters that JUMP AROUND on the top of the page. While I don’t have epilepsy, it will send me directly into an autism rage meltdown, so I remind myself it’s coming and cover the top of my computer with my hand until I can scroll down far enough to not see it, web designers I beg of you to stop making things bounce around even though you can.]

Anyway, the anagram generator is at wordsmith.org/anagram, apologies in advance about the jumping letters.

Yet again, an anagram had my back

Often as not I don’t find one particular appealing anagram, however many of the pieces inside the anagram words are such good clues that I can find some enthusiasm, and between the enthusiasm and the clues, I’m able to find a new name for what I want.

This time through the anagram generator had my back.

Are you ready to be as astonished as I was?

MAKING DO anagrams to A KINGDOM!!!!

A KINGDOM

A kingdom

A kingdom is brilliant.

A kingdom can contain all the positive (aka non-stressful) qualities that live inside of Making Do, in my personal definition of this phrase.

Such as Taking Inventory, which is knowing what you have, appreciating your stores, and actively practicing Use What You Have. A kingdom is a place where my ingenuity can be treasured, it’s a way I contribute to the success of the kingdom.

But a kingdom is also about qualities like sovereignty, boundaries, and clearly delineated spaces!!!! Being impenetrable. Caring for what is yours. A kingdom implies fortress and sanctuary!

Sanctuary. I love this. It feels safer for me to be in Making Do mode if what I am really doing is caring for my kingdom and growing my storehouses.

And the reminder about boundaries and delineated space feels very important here for me.

Space to thrive

If I have a kingdom, aka the domain of my space, then my work is to lovingly tend to the inhabitants of my kingdom, aka aspects of self, parts of me that I forget about, the Havi Collective, and to make sure everyone has what they need to thrive.

(Obviously, historically this has not been the case with kingdoms, but I am putting my history degree aside and receiving this word more on a fairy tale metaphorical plane, and not in, like, a colonial mindset sense, if the word is too loaded for you, keep searching for yours!)

And of course, since people vary, you can toss A KINGDOM if it does nothing for you, and find your own word, word-clues, anagrams, rewritings. The point is not the name, the point is space to thrive.

Bountiful and gracious

A friend of mine who, like me, is also dealing with some large and unexpected expenses, said this about my exciting anagram discovery:

“I love A KINGDOM! I wish to stave off the part of me that says the only way to deal with big, unexpected expenses is to hunker down, cut out all pleasure and stop doing anything good for myself.“

“There are different ways now. There are also many pleasures that cost nothing. I don’t have to just be MAKING DO, I can be making A KINGDOM where I get what I need. My kingdom is bountiful! My kingdom has boundaries that are lovingly and graciously set!”

Yes. That is such an elegant summing up of the magic in the renaming.

How do I want to exist in my kingdom?

How do I want to be? What do I wish to embody.

I love this transformation, the art of turning Making Do Into A Kingdom, or, as a friend pointed out, a king-dome, a place of roundness and resonance.

Anagram magic is word sorcery and also the embodiment of both Safety First and Actually What If There’s An Easier Way, both key practices in self-fluency.

How do I want to be in my kingdom? What is here for me.

I wish to be playful and inventive, embodied and discerning, actively seeking clarity but a clarity that is infused with compassion towards myself, I welcome all loving insights and laugh at monster-narratives while giving myself a trillion points for recognizing them.

Brain or no brain

Here is my actual situation right now: on a really good day, I have two hours of brain time. On a more typical day, I have between thirty minutes and an hour. On the hard days, I exist in fugue state / zombie mode, and do what I can to do the absolute basics, if I can, which is not always.

Often when I do have brain time, I have to use it to do things that aren’t directly related to work stuff, because so much else (life stuff) piled up while I was not able to do anything.

Sometimes making do is a bit like, okay, brain or no brain, we need to take any step on thing x, and sometimes making do is more like, alright I can’t do anything, and that’s the reality here.

Sometimes there is room for inventiveness and play, and sometimes we are just working with what we have. Turning the concept of Making Do into A Kingdom doesn’t necessarily mean anything gets easier, but there is a lightness to it, I have more options, because the playful approach is generative.

It is less draining for me to brainstorm ways to tend to my kingdom than it is to solve for New Problem X, when I was already overwhelmed by a long list of unsolved mysteries.

Kingdom clues

What adds lusciousness? What feels regal? What supports plenty? What is restful? What can I do right now to support the domain of self?

If the playful approach is generative, what enhances play?

These are some of the stones I am skipping right now, aka questions I am journaling on, and you are welcome to borrow any of these or add your own to the pot.

In the meantime, crown on (I have a cowboy hat, or is that a cowthey hat, since it’s mine?), wrap up in an enveloping mantle (mine is a large scarf). I am imagining breath moving up and down my spine until I am an inch taller.

And somehow it has taken me a week to write this and my brain is definitely done for today, the monks are here with their rakes, ready to smooth the gravel of my mind, back to blank, so it’s time to watch the rain now.

Come play with me, I love company

You are welcome to play with this concept in any way you like.

You can brainstorm ways to play with and rewrite any words that are currently feeling stuck for you, or you can expand on this concept of what if Making Do was actually A KINGDOM.

You are also as always invited to share anything sparked for you while reading, or add any wishes into the pot, into the healing zone, as a friend of mine said, who knows, the power of the collective is no small thing, and companionship is healing.

A request

If you received clues or perspective or just want to send appreciation, I could definitely use some miracles right now with my emergency situation that has now been compounded with new situations.

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.

You can also buy the my Monster Manual & Coloring Book if you don’t have it!

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, tell people about this work, that all helps, and I appreciate it so much. ❤️

xo
Havi

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!
The Fluent Self