in memory

let death teach us how to live -
beinlove
Today is a deep reminder to me – we never know how long we have, so when I look into someone’s eyes, when I talk to them,
I want to be there fully. It’s a practice so easy to forget when we are so busy…
nothing- nothing at all – can be more important than connecting truly with the heart.

 

zalman-1024x631markb

 

I’m glad I was there. I am grateful I heard you. Thank you for sharing you.

You both were such bright lights in your own unique ways. Oddly, though so different, you shared a childlike quality of playfulness & sweetness – so this day is a very heavy one indeed.  A little light left the world when you died.

how fortunate we were to be here to know you, even a little bit.

It is beautiful that you both touched so many people’s hearts, and left them a little (or a lot) changed for the better. If only we all could do something that glorious with our time here. Both of you did. You gave joy.
Selfishly, i go to a place of: i do not want to lose anyone else. make it stop.
this is too much. I do not want to say goodbye.

rabbiz

So let this be a teacher to me – and to all of us still here- that love is the most important – what could matter more than knowing we will also leave behind us a legacy of sweet loving kindness?

directedby

Anger: Four Steps to Release and Heal

Anger. What is it, why does it happen, and what is the healthiest way to deal with it?

These questions have been coming up as I have carried anger for the past three days. That doesn’t feel good in my body or heart, so I decided to really examine what was happening.

I came up with these key things: four ways to diffuse and heal the anger.

 

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1) Name it.

What am I REALLY feeling? Anger is a secondary emotion – there will be something underneath it.  So go through, list the things you feel out loud. “I feel angry because ________.”  Keep going until you run out of reasons. Then, dig deeper.
“I feel minimized because _________.”
“I feel used because _________.”
“I feel threatened because _________.”
“I feel betrayed because _________”
“I feel afraid because _______”  whatever comes up, name it.  For each one, list reasons until you run out of things to say. Let yourself cry if you need to. purge it.

When you have done this, sit silently with your heart and give yourself love. Give yourself approval. Remind yourself that you are safe. No one can harm you or detract from you without your permission.

 

2) Reach Out.

Connect with other people who remind you how loved and how incredible you are – not necessarily with words, but simply with the way they are happy to be around you.

When we interact with others, the way we relate to them is a reflection of ourselves. We are creatures who project — and that’s why if we find ourselves continually saying negative things about others, if certain words/phrases keep repeating/patterns keep repeating with every relationship, it’s time to examine ourselves. For example, if people say their ex is “crazy,” (they’re likely to say that about all of them), it’s time to take a hard look at their own issues. Or If we are continually suspicious of others, it’s time to do some counseling to heal whatever it is in us that is living in a lack / fear of loss mentality.

So : go interact with the people you have good things to say about. The people you love. The people who make your heart smile. The people who know, love, and bring out the best you.

3) Take Personal Responsibility.

After a time, if the anger cycles and re-cycles, it’s time to examine what it’s trying to tell you. Anger is a signal. I was told once by an incredibly brilliant person that “Anger is a sign that we need more self-care.”
It can also be a signal that our boundaries have been crossed in some way. It can be a signal that we aren’t being true to ourselves.

In my case, I betrayed myself in a huge way. I kept silent. I fell into old people-pleasing behavior and did not speak what I wanted or what I didn’t want; I didn’t speak what I was feeling — I did something that was NOT o.k. with me in that moment.
It was a very horrible, difficult experience, and the rage aftermath was nearly crippling.   Apparently I have healed so much that my subconscious is telling me in no uncertain terms, it is NOT ok with self-betrayal anymore.

This anger is mine, I own it, it belongs to me.  When you say that, you stop putting it on others. You stop saying “He did ….x,y,z” and listing the actions and circumstances that triggered you into reaction, that were a catalyst for the anger response. We can waste years of life if we continually justify our anger with someone else’s actions — because the focus will always be on something we cannot control. We will be in reaction, telling the harmful actions and choices over like rosary beads, re-opening the wound and reacting again as though it just happened. The stress hormones will flood the body anew. I can feel them come up even now, if I play over in my head the circumstances that led to my anger.  This is not healthy for the body or soul,  and it keeps us stuck. Stuck in old circumstances that no longer exist (the past does not exist except in our own head, since everyone’s experience of a moment is different!) stuck in reaction, basically — it keeps us a victim.

So. Owning the anger is an empowering thing.  I KNOW people can do absolutely horrible things, and depending on the degree of the harm, there may need to be years of processing anger. This is a healing step.  But once the healing has occurred and enough time has passed, there is a time to own it all, take responsibility for our emotions, and know that we can make choices.  We can’t choose what others do. Sometimes we are truly helpless and someone else’s behavior is deeply violating. What we can choose is how we heal, how we walk forward, how we honor ourselves – how we talk to ourselves from that moment on. We don’t have to take any responsibility for what someone else chooses to do – if they treat us badly, we don’t have to choose to say “They treated me badly because something in me is not worthy of respect,” or “I invited that,” or any other variation of taking blame for someone else’s shitty behavior. No…what we can instead choose is “I love myself/I am incredible/ if they can’t see it, their problem,” and so on. This is owning our anger, owning our response, and knowing that we deserve better and can walk away faster next time.

I uncovered that the person I was truly angry with was myself. I was livid with myself for staying silent, for freezing and complying, falling into a very long-ago established abused-victim behavior. I was furious with myself for being afraid to speak up. Underneath that, I was deadly afraid. If I had betrayed myself again, when would it stop? When would I finally learn my own worth, stop caring so much what others think, and SPEAK UP when something wasn’t ok with me, or when a boundary had been crossed?

This was a harmless, innocent situation, (albeit thoughtless and rude-) and yet the old harms came up due to a chance dynamic.  What, I wondered, would teach me to believe in myself and know that I was valuable and speak UP?

The answer is : the anger. The anger is teaching me. The anger is there TO teach me. I just had to stop ratcheting around the room like a burning ping-pong ball, and create stillness. I had to stop running from the anger, I had to stop reaching out to try to communicate with the person I had been angry with, I had to look within and tell it, “Ok, anger, I am listening.”

Every human being is going to experience anger. If we could stop putting shame and fear around it and start listening to what it’s trying to tell us, we might all be healthier with it.  Anger in itself is not a bad thing. It’s natural and it’s vital to our survival. What is important is how we use it – if we can create some stillness and listen to it, if our subconscious feels heard and honored, it won’t try so VERY hard to get our attention.

 

 

4) Self Care.

Now it’s time to remind ourselves that we are loved — and that we are accepted and whole just as we are, anger and all. When something happens that triggers anger, there is a great vulnerability afterward, and the self-esteem will take a big dip.
We  need to feel some solidarity and safety, and the awesome thing is, we don’t need anyone else to give that. We always have that available, because we can give it to ourselves!
A good start to rebuilding self-esteem and feelings of security & being loved is to do some self-care practices.  Cook a healthy, delicious meal, or take yourself out on a date! Take a bubble bath, or do some self-massage with oils or scents that soothe you. Take a walk in beautiful surroundings. Write a gratitude list, and really ask your heart to feel the goodness of these things in your life. Exercise – do something that isn’t a punishing chore, but fun and playful! Something you enjoy. Write yourself notes about why you are awesome. Write affirmations (short and sweet!) and say them to yourself while meditating, or while taking a walk.

Do the things that empower you, do the things that make you feel most YOU.

If we feel empowered and safe, we will experience less anger. If we feel loved, we will experience less anger. The constant work is to give these things to ourselves.

I wish everyone healing in this continual process… I know I feel a lot better :)

Holy Sh*t. The Biggest Challenge Of Your Life. (You May Need Goggles For This One)

I think maybe our minds are wired for hypervigilance- after all, it’s not the relaxed and “it’s all good” happy-thinking ones who survived in the jungles and forests. Maybe it’s encoded in our DNA to worry, to focus on the problems or small hints of possibly-approaching-trouble and develop those hints into stories of What Might Be. So it takes a lot of work to train the mind away from this stuff -and it’s easy, in times of illness, weariness, hunger or stress, for the mind to slip back into those old worn pathways. The “What Ifs” —

I made the worries and upsets large in my mind, and forgot my sense of humor. I left it behind somewhere lost in a pile of emails, to-dos, cold remedies and grim watching of the numbers on the scale-

I forgot the simple joy of being alive in this beautiful world;

I forgot to celebrate my strong body, and instead I began to watch it suspiciously for signs of weight gain…

I forgot, even, the joy of boxing; I made it a task, a thing I had to do. On the days I would miss, I would get on the scale four or five times in order to “make sure” my weight hadn’t gone up.  I made myself a Project. To Be Completed. To Be Perfected.

I forgot why I was in nutrition school… I forgot why I was in a Maggid program…I forgot the heart, the reason that drove me to seek to learn these healing arts, and they became a To Do List, a Must-Do, Have-To-Do List that had drained away my joy completely.

I forgot that people cared about me – and I forgot to look at those people and see how incredibly dear they all are.

I forgot to look with fresh eyes and see how incredibly full and rich my life is.

I mean…not too long ago, I thought everything would be perfect “If only I could lose that weight.” I was so happy with my amazing, kick-ass life, but not happy with my weight, which had gone about 20lbs beyond my body’s normal “set point” during a difficult relationship. The relationship ended (whew!); I lost the weight.

Soon, I got used to my old “skinny clothes” being a bit baggy, and the gratitude feelings shifted – I started to nitpick every flaw, wish my muscles would be larger, more defined, wish I could box faster, stronger, longer — it became “If only I could lose MORE weight…”

Then, I woke up, and realized that if I didn’t change my thinking, this would continue indefinitely.  I would never be satisfied. I’d never reach a moment where everything was perfect.  As soon as I realized that, I noticed most of the people around me carrying on a similar theme.

The What-Ifs and If-Onlys and But-I-Don’t-Haves were the bulk of conversations.  They seem to be huge occupiers of many of our time, thoughts, and energy.

Say I gave a present to someone and they didn’t appreciate it. Worse, what if they saw it, shrugged, and then started talking about all the things they DON’T have. I dunno about you, but I wouldn’t really want to give that person a present again — or if I did, I’d be prepared for the reaction and wouldn’t, maybe, put as much loving energy into the finding, choosing, and joyful giving of the present as I had before.

I think that’s how it is when we forget gratitude for what we have. When we instead focus on what we lack…why would the universe want to give us more of the juicy good stuff, if we can’t appreciate what we have been given?  And anyway, where is the fun in complaining? yecccchhhh.

I dunno about you, but I don’t want to be a  party pooper in my own LIFE.  It’s like showing up to a birthday party the Universe is holding in my honor, and having atrocious manners the whole time, or sitting and moping about a Past Life and reading its old letters, listening to its old droopy love songs, and generally missing the entire party by behaving like a wet sock! ew!
I don’t want to live with lack-goggles on any more. They’re so dreary. It took me a little while but my sense of humor is back, and I found a pair of hope-infused gratitude goggles and they’re back firmly in place.

 

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Here’s all it took :  laughter (someone called when I was in the midst of a Very Grim Day with a to-do list a mile long, and made me laugh…)
Somehow that particular moment, that laughter and lighthearted exchange shook the Grim Goggles off my face, and I saw the sun on the trees across the street. I saw the loveliness of the world on my way to complete my errands, and I even saw how blessed I was to be on such an errand – voting!! – for which privilege women in the past had fought a really tough battle.

Then I entered into a conscious effort to change my thinking with these tools: Medition. Writing. Self-care. The practice of awareness- of truly being right here right now, one breath at a time, and seeing my world with new, fresh, conscious eyes.

I might be half asleep,  and my mind is spinning off on Floyd Mayweather the boxing champ, and his tactics in the ring. I’ll be going over boxing moves in my mind, and thinking how to be better, faster, stronger — and that’s when I’ll realize my mind is monkeying away. I’ll breathe deeply into my belly. I’ll notice and name the beauty around me. I’ll say to myself “Be here now. I am here, breathing the crisp air that’s coming through the window. The sun is shining in a patch on the ceiling, I’m looking at the green, sunlit leaves of a tree.”  I’ll name the things I experience.  I’ll drop back again into the present.

That’s the practice  of waking up. That’s the practice of becoming present – it’s what meditation teaches us. It’s like a heavy bag workout for the mind…and I think it’s going to be a constant practice for me.

You think Floyd Mayweather is a champ? You think boxing is tough? This is gonna be the biggest challenge yet,
being here for your own life!  Actually being in it. Think you can do that? 
I ask myself,
and then I grin.  I always did love a challenge.  (It also cracks me up that my inner voice sounds, sometimes, a lot like Rocky’s trainer.)

So. Are you ready for this challenge, Dear Reader?

All we have to do is begin to be aware of what we’re grateful for, and it’s like our eyes are opened and we can actually see more clearly the people in our lives we are so blessed to have, the moments of peace, the beauty.  (and of course, the cats.)

From there, once I “woke up,”  I saw what I had been doing to myself.  I had utterly forgotten to enjoy being alive. I had gotten so caught up in trying to achieve and trying to reach a specific goal, I had forgotten to be grateful for living, and enjoy it.

And here’s a thought: what if I never achieved this “important goal”?  What if THIS is my great life’s work, just the every day living that happens in between trying to achieve things?  Wouldn’t it be better to do my best to be present, right here now, if this in-between-on-the-way-to-a-goal-place is my life? And I’ll take that one step further — what if the struggles, the small frustrations, the striving itself is the Big Work I am here to do?

What if.

It pays to be present in the small things, rather that get through them as quickly as possible so that the real business of living might finally, finally begin –

the real business of living is now. and now. and now!  And with all its imperfections, with the feeling of being left out sometimes, and the feeling of sometimes not communicating clearly with our partner, and the feeling of tiredness and wishing we could just catch UP for once…

This business of living is a really lovely, fun thing.  I’ve got my Gratitude Goggles on now, and I can see it so clearly.

Do find yourself a pair – they’re all the latest rage in Paris, I hear…  :o)

Imagesyllabus (this is stolen from some cool teacher on tumblr, by way of a cool teacher on Facebook. O, modern times, you do leave me breathless. I shall have to loosen my stays.)

Book Love List

this is inspired by Sioux, whose blog you can find here: http://siouxtrett.wordpress.com

my blog entry will not be so clear, concise, tidy and understandable as hers;  I am a sprawling, messy writer.

Here goes:

a “Love List” for my book-    Image

My poor book that I have not worked on in over a year, because I’ve gotten too busy with FEAR RESPONSES, HEALING and OLD DREAMS.

My book that is really begging for attention again, like Figaro does persistently in the morning, his silently obstinate furry face totally un-ignorable — my book, you’re going to get my time and attention again and to merry hell with everything else.

Everything else being:

Fear Response: a certification that will lead to a business that is a side-passion in a health-related field, that will lead to more certain income.

Old Dream: a Maggid certification/ordination… this is in lieu of rabbinical school, which would have taken a lot more money and many, many more years. This has been two years of training, and it will be over in September. It doesn’t really feel like a “detour” as such, because it will add to my writing, and it has been a very rewarding experience. It has also challenged me to face and conquer some major demons, so I feel it has been a unique opportunity that is actually completely necessary on the road to completing this particular novel. (AND I have had to really conquer the fear of rejection, so that will serve me immeasurably as a writer. I  have a much thicker skin now, thank God.)

HEALING:  Figuring out the whole “love” thing (which, duh, no one ever figures out – it’s a cosmic joke, it’s why we are here in the first place, isn’t it, so I’ve gotten over trying and have gladly let go of the old – and may or may not lampoon him mercilessly in my book- and am enjoying the new and keeping it in perspective. I’m not sure I believe in romantic love any more, to be honest…there is love. But the romantic thing is, perhaps, a dopamine-flooded illusion. Maybe.) I’ve been focusing a LOT on boxing this year. I am stronger. I am healthier. I feel awesome. I’m getting good at boxing. But working out so much means sitting and writing has become anathema. I’ve tried to find ways to stand and write.  I’m still working on this. I think the fitness aspect will help the writing, actually, if I get more methodical about exercising early in the morning and then hitting the keyboard.

All right. Okay.  long apologia over. Now to the Love List for my book (Which is, for now, entitled “Steampunk Torah;” merely a description of what it was when it was a weekly serial – it needs a title of its own–)

I love you, Archives. I love you so much. You are unique, dangerous and weird and I still haven’t completely explored you. I am excited to figure out  the dark powerful mystery that surrounds you.

Characters I love dearly:  Jac, Professor Malone, Is.  You three are supporting characters right now, and I love you so much. I am not sure how you sprang out of my brain; you are hilarious and clever. You behave in ways that surprise and delight me. I have had to add a sequel simply so I can preserve your lives — and the sequel is duly added — you are not going to die on my watch.

I love that these things are in this book:  Shrødinger’s Cat, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, Amaranth, the “unwilting” that was mentioned in John Milton’s Paradise Lost as a flower in Eden, that happens to contain more iodine than the average grain, which happens to dissolve ink, and so it is used as a “murder” weapon against a Manuscript.  I still have to perfect the method of iodine extraction here, but I’m very proud of this research.

I love Mari’s journey that people will never read.  How she began as a heroine who simply reacts to the men around her, and how I realized that, and how she is now shifting to drive her own story – to create her life, not react her life.  I love how her “life” in this sense mirrors my own awakening.

I love the “villain” characters who grew from people in my life, who came across my path like ugly little gifts, to become the love-to-hate kinds of nasties that one needs in a book. And I love that they are faceted, not just plain nasty.

I love the illustrations that grow in my head until I need to put the colors of my book down on paper.

I love that you haunt my dreams still, book, you maddening, sprawling piece of weird adventure.  I wonder what is going to happen next. I wonder how you grew – truly it is a mystery to me where you came from.

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I love that an agent in Jerusalem whom I never would have met under ordinary circumstances (but you propel me out of the ordinary, and I love you for that,) stayed up all weekend to read you, book, and then told me she needs to know how you end — I, too, should love to know how you end –

I love the fun contraptions: the “Certainty Principle” which uses the spheres in their paths as a sort of guiding principle to manipulate space-time realities of human beings;
the wearable double-boiler (dangerous!) and wings; Figaro, who is not really just a cat, as he seems to follow his own space-time rules, but then, that’s a cat for you; Professor Malone’s clockwork carriage (highly dangerous, do not try this at home!), the Manuscripts…

I love the questions you make me ask, such as:

Who is to say that magic does not exist, since it’s all just bendy science, and therefore entirely provable and possible?

If the nature of space-time as we perceive it is defined by our limited perceptions, what if our perceptions were to be given a little shove of encouragement to expand?

Where will I find an editor who believes as passionately as I do in the semicolon?

When are you going to be finished?

Mother, A Cradle to Hold Me by Maya Angelou

Mother, A Cradle to Hold Me
by Maya Angelou

It is true
I was created in you.
It is also true
That you were created for me.
I owned your voice.
It was shaped and tuned to soothe me.
Your arms were molded
Into a cradle to hold me, to rock me.
The scent of your body was the air
Perfumed for me to breathe.

Mother,
During those early, dearest days
I did not dream that you had
A large life which included me,
For I had a life
Which was only you.

Time passed steadily and drew us apart.
I was unwilling.
I feared if I let you go
You would leave me eternally.
You smiled at my fears, saying
I could not stay in your lap forever.
That one day you would have to stand
And where would I be?
You smiled again.
I did not.
Without warning you left me,
But you returned immediately.
You left again and returned,
I admit, quickly,
But relief did not rest with me easily.
You left again, but again returned.
You left again, but again returned.
Each time you reentered my world
You brought assurance.
Slowly I gained confidence.

You thought you know me,
But I did know you,
You thought you were watching me,
But I did hold you securely in my sight,
Recording every moment,
Memorizing your smiles, tracing your frowns.
In your absence
I rehearsed you,
The way you had of singing
On a breeze,
While a sob lay
At the root of your song.

The way you posed your head
So that the light could caress your face
When you put your fingers on my hand
And your hand on my arm,
I was blessed with a sense of health,
Of strength and very good fortune.

You were always
the heart of happiness to me,
Bringing nougats of glee,
Sweets of open laughter.

I loved you even during the years
When you knew nothing
And I knew everything, I loved you still.
Condescendingly of course,
From my high perch
Of teenage wisdom.
I spoke sharply of you, often
Because you were slow to understand.
I grew older and
Was stunned to find
How much knowledge you had gleaned.
And so quickly.

Mother, I have learned enough now
To know I have learned nearly nothing.
On this day
When mothers are being honored,
Let me thank you
That my selfishness, ignorance, and mockery
Did not bring you to
Discard me like a broken doll
Which had lost its favor.
I thank you that
You still find something in me
To cherish, to admire and to love.

I thank you, Mother.
I love you.

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One or Three Ways to Get Over Yourself (and other people): On becoming a Maggid

I found a very very silly story for the Maggid concert. I spent a few days brushing it aside, cutting it down, making fun of it…and still it hung around. I’d swing at it and it would bob away, only to come fluttering back like a gentle, idiotically persistent moth.

It’s a very silly story.

Just today while I was boxing, sweating out some frustrations and some chattering mind-gremlins, the story grew fangs. It grew arms laced into hard little boxing gloves. It hit me. It bit me. It gave me the reason I was telling it… and I had to stop, breath coming hard, and drop into some pushups and laugh. Okay, and maybe cry a little.

So. this is being a Maggid.  Wait – is this being a Maggid? It’s like I am my own court jester. A part of my mind sees my struggle (maybe a struggle I haven’t even admitted to myself yet), comes up with an analysis, sees past it to the heart of the matter, puts on a motley cap and bells and THEN- and only then- brings a story to my attention; but it doesn’t explain it. It just gives me the story so I can (maybe) figure out my own sh*t. Then it hands me the cap with bells and tells me, “Wear this, dance around, tell a story and stop being an idiot.” Also, it reminds me I don’t have to battle other people’s opinions of me..because other people’s opinions are reflections of themselves. (It usually says this while holding up a very useful fun house mirror.) 
It says other people’s actions and choices have nothing to do with me, and everything to do with themselves.
It says my own actions and choices have nothing to do with other people, so I’d best own the choices I make, (and love them, or make better choices) because those actions are reflections of who I am.

It says we can change the reflection at any time, but only when we realize that no one else is responsible for it.

Awesome.

If I were writing a Mind Body Green article right now, it would be called “5 steps to realizing that other people’s dumb behavior is not about you, and your dumb behavior is not about other people.” (because apparently more people read things if they have numbered steps.)  

 

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Getting Clear – Honoring Yourself

I wrote this almost two years ago, and I’m finding it is time to revisit it.

I do have to add that I no longer agree with my words regarding the man in question; I’m not going to change the words of this post, however, because regardless of what someone else chose to do with their time here in this life, my own learning turns out to be what is important.

Getting Clear

I just finished a coaching assignment, writing about “my ideal partner.” it was surprisingly difficult.
How often do we actually think specifically about what it is we want?

I have been allowing what comes into my life…not asking for what I want and need.

He was persistent and determined, I loved him- he is a truly wonderful person- I was flattered and thought it must be right. It got to the point where I needed him to persist. I needed to “test” him, pick arguments or push him away a little, in order to know that he was loyal, that I could be safe. Because I wasn’t safe…he had been dishonest, out of his own fear. I could not handle dishonesty, but I pretended to myself that it didn’t matter. He left too many times, in pain and confusion of his own. I dealt with the shattering of abandonment again and again, accepted, understood, and forgave, and endured, and didn’t notice that I was betraying myself.

Here’s the thing I have learned, that is easier for me to put into words than into action: unconditional love does NOT mean that you ignore your own needs.

If you accept things that go against your own core values, you will not be able to act from your highest self. You will fall into reactionary behavior, you will get sucked right into your own conditioned responses…in short, for both people, no matter how much in love you are, the relationship will not be bringing out the best YOU you can be.

This was the truest love I have ever known, but harmed by a toxic cycle of fear and reaction.
I am learning so much from this, and I am finding I want to teach others, and help them with what I have learned. Then, this deep love will still have a purpose. It will be putting some good into the world. It won’t have been for nothing.

I only saw the good things, of which there were many. This is not about him being bad in any way. He’s one of the most amazing people I have ever met. Because of that, I put blinders on myself and ignored warning signs, because I wanted to believe in a beautiful fantasy.
I accepted his choices that went against my deepest values, because I convinced myself that loyalty to the one I loved was more important than anything else. I’ve been reacting my life.

I am taking responsibility now–and grateful for this lesson. I made the choice to ignore my own values. I am not regretful of this- I learned a lot from it. Nor do I regret loving so deeply, because I found out how magnificently loyal my heart is. I am proud of that.

Examine what you are at the core without judgment, accept it. Then, it’s time to start working with it. Whatever you are, don’t hide it!

I know I am deeply loyal, and could no more betray someone, abandon someone or shirk responsibility than I could cut off my own arm…this is a truth that’s in my bones, it is who I am. The important thing is to love that, not pretend it doesn’t exist, if someone comes along who has different values. It doesn’t make them less, or you less. The key is to be so clear in who you are, that you remove the emotion from your decisions. If you’ve already mapped out what is truly vital to you, you will no longer be in a reactive state when other people come into your life. You will be acting from your truest self.

We are all so different. If we learn to love who we are, and stand up and BE who we are without hiding, if we let the people go who do not mesh with our own core values — without rancor or judgment of them or ourselves, just let them go, as they need their own kind of people, you see — then , we can begin to have clear lives free of toxicity.

Sit down and articulate your core values. What makes you who you are? What makes you happy? Then go one step further, and define what you want. Get specific. It’s surprisingly difficult to actually write it out. We might think about it vaguely, but rarely do people actually spell out their visions, dreams, intentions, desires on paper.

Creating my life is fun- it feels like I’m a kid again, where the daydream is nearly as pleasurable as the reality would be. When we actually get specific, not just about what we want but about how that would feel, we call things into our lives. Creating your life with intention, honoring who you are, knowing that it’s possible and that it’s not “selfish” is a very empowering thing! I highly recommend it. take a moment to really think about what it is you want in your life, or to create in the world with your time here. Happiness is a choice, it is accessible to everyone regardless of external circumstances. To want to be happy is not selfish- it actually leads to greater compassion for others, and more ability to put healing in the world.  

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And I Will Give You Ireland

Long ago, I wrote a song called “I Will Give You Ireland.” It was an impossible fairy tale, a Maxfield Parrish painting of luminous idealistic nonsense. Image
I still love Ireland in that way: with blinders on; with an infatuation that puts Her on a pedestal and doesn’t let Her breathe. My memories are those of a kid- of golden light on grey stones and an impossible green that brought tears to my eyes… of friendly, warm people everywhere we went, who offered us hospitality…of music, and of magic. That was my Ireland. She is magnificent…but I know it’s not a whole picture.
So in antidote, here is Seamus Heaney – often too gritty for my taste, I have still always been drawn to his work.
The big lesson that came to me today is about loving a whole human being, with his flaws. About trusting him, and remembering to see the good also, even in the midst of darker places. It is about loving myself, too, shadow and all. What a gift. 
I hope one day to see the places of my childhood as a whole and love them even more deeply with the flaws – even the flaws that crack my heart open. 
 
Beannacht Lá Fhéile Padraig!
 
From Lightenings by Seamus Heaney
 
 
Shifting brilliancies. Then winter light 
In a doorway, and on the stone doorstep 
A beggar shivering in silhouette. 
 
So the particular judgement might be set: 
Bare wallstead and a cold hearth rained into- 
Bright puddle where the soul-free cloud-life roams. 
 
And after the commanded journey, what? 
Nothing magnificent, nothing unknown. 
A gazing out from far away, alone. 
 
And it is not particular at all, 
Just old truth dawning: there is no next-time-round. 
Unroofed scope. Knowledge-freshening wind. 
 
VI 
 
Once, as a child, out in a field of sheep, 
Thomas Hardy pretended to be dead 
And lay down flat among their dainty shins. 
 
In that sniffed-at, bleated-into, grassy space 
He experimented with infinity. 
His small cool brow was like an anvil waiting 
 
For sky to make it sing the prefect pitch 
Of his dumb being, and that stir he caused 
In the fleece-hustle was the original 
 
Of a ripple that would travel eighty years 
Outward from there, to be the same ripple 
Inside him at its last circumference. 
 
VII 
 
(I misremembered. He went down on all fours, 
Florence Emily says, crossing a ewe-leaze. 
Hardy sought the creatures face to face, 
 
Their witless eyes and liability 
To panic made him feel less alone, 
Made proleptic sorrow stand a moment 
 
Over him, perfectly known and sure. 
And then the flock’s dismay went swimming on 
Into the blinks and murmurs and deflections 
 
He’d know at parties in renowned old age 
When sometimes he imagined himself a ghost 
And circulated with that new perspective.) 
 
VIII 
 
The annals say: when the monks of Clonmacnoise 
Were all at prayers inside the oratory 
A ship appeared above them in the air. 
 
The anchor dragged along behind so deep 
It hooked itself into the altar rails 
And then, as the big hull rocked to a standstill, 
 
A crewman shinned and grappled down the rope 
And struggled to release it. But in vain. 
‘This man can’t bear our life here and will drown, ‘ 
 
The abbot said, ‘unless we help him.’ So 
They did, the freed ship sailed, and the man climbed back 
Out of the marvellous as he had known it.