To Trust – In Our Strengths

24 June 2017

When you need to stop an asteroid, you get Superman.  When you need to solve a mystery, you call Batman.  But when you need to end a war, you get Wonder Woman.  ~ Gail Simone

Last night I pulled out the dvd’s of one of my favorite TV series.  I’d been feeling the pull to revisit it, knowing I wanted to, also knowing it’s hard to watch because it wrenches my heart.

Once again, I was immediately drawn in by the main character’s vulnerability to both internal and external forces.  He’s blazingly smart.  He’s deeply wounded.  He’s got this huge heart that can hold and comfort a dying drug addict that he himself has just shot.  He says odd things because his experiences have shaped him differently and allow him to see things that others can’t.  His unusual way of understanding things is his greatest strength, his super power.  And, at the same time, it sets him apart and makes others uncomfortable, leery, even suspicious of him.

This is how it can be when we’re authentic.  When we step outside the ‘normal box’.  We learned as kids that when we use our own super powers of perception, integrity, or creativity we risk ridicule and alienation.  As adults, taking these risks is an inherent part of creating our individual expressions of life.

Trust can help.

Trusting and appreciating that diversity is part of what makes life amazing.  Trusting that we deserve a life that pleases and satisfies us.  Trusting that our perspectives are valuable, maybe especially when they don’t jive with everyone else’s.

I routinely fail at all of this, but like the character in the show, like all heroes, like most of us, I persist.  Because the stakes are high.  This is my one wild and precious life.

Super powers aren’t safe everywhere.  Even Wonder Woman has to cloak herself at times. But to create a satisfying life that includes intimacy and exploration, I need my superpowers.  Actually, I need yours, too.

Let’s nurture our unique abilities and interests.  Let’s bring them out into our world.  Let’s celebrate them together.

I wonder what your super powers are.  I know you have them.



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To Trust – To Let Go

20 June 2017

This moment — the one you’re experiencing right now — is the culmination of all the moments you have experienced in the past.  This moment is as it is because the entire universe is as it is.  When you struggle against this moment, you’re actually struggling against the entire universe.   ~Deepak Chopra

To Trust - To Let Go

It’s so easy to argue with what is.

Sometimes it seems like the only reasonable action.  When I want people to act better, government to be different, the air to be clean and the oceans healthy, my hackles rise.  Accepting this moment as it is seems traitorous to the things I hold dear.

But bitterness about things I cannot change, rancor towards people who see things differently, the repetitive rants that tangle my mind are ways I battle what is that are destructive.  Relentless combat crushes our spirit.  And distracts us from the opportunities inhabiting the moment.

Years ago, I had a yoga instructor who reminded us to let go.  I can still hear her voice, her calm suggestion that we relax everything that could possibly be relaxed.

When she said this, we were not in a restful pose.  We were in a demanding, difficult pose, Warrior Pose, extending through each fingertip and toe, every muscle clenched with effort.  Skeptical, I began an inventory of my body as it strained to lengthen spine, tighten quaking thighs, maintain breath through interminable seconds.

And, surprise!  I found tiny parts of me that could ease.  Softening within the greater framework, those parts were both supported and became part of the support.  Suddenly, there was more strength in my thighs.  My breath deepened into larger space.

When we attend with an awareness that allows things to be as they are in this moment, unexpected dimensions reveal themselves.

I don’t have to like what is to accept this moment as it is.  When I let go of bracing against it, parts of me relax.  Suddenly, there is increased integrity and authenticity.  Space opens for what truly is and those qualities I consciously choose to cultivate.

Life, even in warrior pose, is relieved and strengthened by finding places to let go of our resistance to what is, to release into the moment, and to nourish goodness within what is.



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To Trust – In the Quiet Voice

13 June 2017

Silence, however, is not merely the absence of speech….  It is a depth, a fullness, a peaceful flow of hidden life.  ~Ladislaus Boros, God is With Us

To Trust - In the Quiet Voice

Perhaps it shouldn’t have surprised me that when I started working with trust I experienced a collapse of it.  I lurched into fear that my words were preachy, a silly waste of time.  I blanked out, empty of ideas to work my way forward with.  I wanted to be authentic. . . I didn’t feel like enough.

I recognized the irony.  I could chuckle at this.  It didn’t make it all go away.

Showing up here, to explore the language of living, is one of the ways I dig in.  Another is tapping inward toward a deeper self.  Settling into the calm that is linked to breath.  Into the wisdom that arises from a place other than rational thought.  These last weeks, my grasping and straining could only pry open the tiniest crack into that realm.  Which, of course, amped my anxiety higher.

There is the story of the Zen disciple walking a mountain trail with his master who asks ‘What should I do to attain masterhood?’  They continue walking for a while before the master responds, ‘Do you hear the stream?’  The novice listens, focusing all his attention, and finally hears the soft, wispy murmur of a distant stream.  ‘Yes!’  ‘Then, listen to that,’ the master replies.  They walk on.  After a while the novice has another question.  ’What if I had not heard anything?’  ‘Then I would have told you to listen to that.’

This is how it feels sometimes.  Like listening to nothing.  I can’t always hear the water.  It is hushed and subtle when what I want is a blaring bullhorn.  That quiet can feel like emptiness or rejection, abandonment or failure.  But this is the pool stilling itself.  It takes times for the tea to steep and the bread to rise.

And, this is trust.  Trust that the tea will reach its peak.  Trust that understanding is offstage, waiting for its cue to arrive.  Trust that the pool will settle and clear while I become receptive and truly available.

There is not always an answer in this moment or a resolution at hand.   We are asked to persist in trusting the quiet wisdom inside and the peace we can cultivate.



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To Trust – Before Knowing

7 June 2017

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.  ~T.S. Eliot

To Trust - Before Knowing

I’ve been practicing a dance move that is a shift of weight with enough momentum to produce a sliding landing on one calf.  It looks easy.  It is easy, for the instructor.  I watch.  I practice the lead up.  I imagine the transfer of weight, the energy, the slide.  Then, ultimately, I have to just commit.

Committing in the face of not knowing seems like trust to me.  We do this physically.  We do it emotionally.  Think of the times you’ve been honest in a dicey situation, offered an opinion you were afraid might not be popular, been kind in the face of it all.

Vulnerable actions, creative undertakings and adventures are inherently risky and unpredictable.

Despite my efforts, I bungle this dance move and bang my knee repeatedly.  And yet, this matters to me.  And so, I continue trying.

When we begin work on any blank canvas, it is an unknown journey.  When we let our off-beat flag fly, we can’t know how it will be received.  When we spread open our heart to caring, there are no guarantees.   We embark without knowing.

But, engaging in creative endeavors, exposing our softest emotions, experimenting with new interests — these things all fertilize our lives.

I head out in the wrong direction before I figure out the path I want.  I unwittingly offer exactly the wrong sentiment to a friend in need.  Then I remind myself that while the outcome is not what I hoped, this is not failure.  This is not a reason to stop trusting.  In fact, this is exactly the reason to nurture a resilient trust.  A trust that can sustain and persist.  A courageous trust.

Like flowers opening without any certainty of weather or pollination or admiration, acts of courageous trust blossom beauty and vitality in our lives.



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To Trust

2 June 2017

All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust. ~J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

To Trust

These last couple weeks have been full and I’ve been busy to the point of leaving doors splayed open, and putting one thing in the fridge and one in the freezer, each where the other belonged.  At some point, I gave in.  I decided to trust that it would all work out.

This got me to reflecting on trust.  And, since then, I’ve been bumping into it everywhere;  rubbing up against it in a conversation with a friend, stubbing my toe over it as I practice a dance routine, and sensing the still point of it in the eye of the storm.

It appears to me that trust is a foundational cornerstone of our emotional lives.

Trust allows us to explore ourselves and unfold within.  Trust encourages us to let ourselves be vulnerable and thus create the connections we desire.  Trust supports expansion beyond our current abilities.  Trust in the great web of life brings us to a deep place of calm.

Although I’m spotting it everywhere lately, often trust lays well beneath the surface.  It is buried, like the thousands of microorganisms bustling around in healthy soil that vitalize the plants above.  Without those guys, the life above ground withers and wilts, never reaching potential.

Without trust, we wither and fail to reach beyond.

But trust can be risky.  We want to protect ourselves.  We don’t want to be the fool or the sucker.  So we try to ride along a balance point.

Or at least, what we perceive as the balance point.  But, maybe it’s changed since we checked in on it.  Maybe we’ve grown more resilient, we accept a bigger picture, or we yearn for more honesty.

What do you wish for today?  Can you lean into trust in a way that helps you grow toward that?



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To Begin Again – It’s Cumulative

30 May 2017

To Begin Again - It's Cumulative

It’s been fun for me to explore this topic and to recognize how beginning again weaves through my life and nourishes strands that I value.

Looking at an everyday thread of my life with shoshin, beginner’s mind, I spot a color I hadn’t noticed.  Opening to not knowing, I discover a new perspective.  Returning to practice and cultivating caring are quotidian acts that build upon themselves, small steps within longer journeys.

I think life satisfaction is like this, a cumulative process, built within the series of moments that become our days and our decades.

I’m closing this month and this topic with a link to a documentary video about an ordinary doctor prompted to make a simple yet big fresh start.  The video is called Slomo.  It’s about 17 minutes long.  Perfect perhaps with an afternoon cup and your feet up.   This is the link.

Thank you for being here when you are.  Thank you for the times you begin again.  May you voyage out into uncharted and wonderful territory.




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To Begin Again – With the Heart

26 May 2017

Have enough courage to trust love one more time.  And always, one more time. ~ Maya Angelou

To Begin Again - With the Heart

To begin again is a powerful choice.  It is a discipline that applies to every other discipline, intention, desire.  It is an action that defines and declares what matters to us.

And so, love is a matter of beginning again.   We show up and take notice.  We return with caring.  We build fresh upon the familiar.  We sink into vulnerability again.

In the morning when I kneel down on my yoga mat, the knee that has absorbed the brunt of my escapades and missteps reminds me with its stiffness that it needs me to start at the beginning yet another day.  The discomfort asks for extra tending and attention.  It requests that I once again listen to its hurts with tenderness and patience.

The easy place to go is impatience, is wanting that knee to be different.  I’ve done that.  So I know that fighting the reality of this moment is a no-winner battle.  Acknowledging what is and beginning again —  these actions lead me toward kindness.

Passion is a spontaneous combustion, a vigorous, intoxicating force.  Love is of a different nature, created and sustained by persistent choice.  It is a devotion, a cultivation of caring, a nourishing of intention.  We fail.  Then, we begin again… and again.

We return to the mat.  To the blank page of the day ahead.  To the person sitting beside us.  We return to the persistent application of focus and care, and we create love.




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To Begin Again – Barn Burnt

23 May 2017

Barn’s burnt down —                                                                                               now                                                                                                                                      I can see the moon.                                                                                             ~Mizuta Masahide, 17th c. Japanese poet and samurai

To Begin Again Barn Burnt

And occasionally, there is this kind of beginning again.  After a break that is not repairable.  After the damage is done.  When the loss is disabling, the sorrow disconsolate.

Barn burnt down.  The night long and cold without shelter.  The future bleakened by the loss of feed and livestock.

No life escapes losses of this sort.  We will grieve.  Life will bring us to our knees.

Some traditions have ways of helping us cope with difficult life experiences, rituals that honor the difficulty of being human and the raw uncertainty of life.  But ultimately perhaps, we must cope ourselves;  sink into the pain, grope through the dark, lean into those who love us while we find strength, or cultivate it, within.

It takes courage to recover and strength to lift the heavy beams into place for a new barn.  It takes determination to accept sorrow and build it into the structure of a good life.

In return, that shelter we create can come to foster our ability to go forward, to go ahead and care whole-heartedly again.

At some point, the resilience of life exerts itself again.  At some point, the wildflowers that spring from the blackened ground are more lovely and lush than ever.  At some point, that which is not mendable becomes a softness in our hearts.

At some point, the full moon comes into view in a new way, reminding us that life is big, impossible to contain within any single event.




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To Begin Again – Here Again

16 May 2017

Quiet the mind and the soul will speak. ~Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati

To Begin Again Here Again

I value contemplative practices.  Yoga and mediation have a strong hold on me.  l’m enchanted by the dynamic spaciousness of a quiet, calm mind.  A place that, for me, can be utterly elusive.

I begin meditation with several deep belly breaths.  These breaths are a wonderful, expansive welcome, like opening the front door and receiving a warm greeting.  Yet, despite the years that I’ve been sitting down to meditation, I can entirely forget to center and ground myself this way.  Instead, I barge through the door laden with armfuls of grocery totes and daily baggage.  Or I find myself, five minutes later, still pacing the door stoop.

And so it is then that I remember.  To round my belly with breath.  To feel the oxygen sifting into my cells.  To begin again.

This is practice.  This is why meditation is referred to as ‘a practice’.  It is always, naturally and inherently, beginning again.

Often a sense of restlessness or unease reminds me that I have been too much on the surface and that the deeper drifts of life are calling me.  Nudging me to loosen my grip on the wheel, ease off the gas, turn onto the less traveled road in order to connect with the values I hold and the intentions I hold dear.

Those small voices are urging me to return and create space.

Many times when I sit, instead of a still pool, my mind is wind-tossed and tumbled.  But each time I begin again, I’m practicing.  Beginning again is a muscle, a resolve that strengthens with each use.

The contemplative practice does not yammer or yell, shout or shove.  It waits, patient, quiet, unassuming and powerful.  Always willing to help me find my way.  Always ready for me to begin again.

Is there an urge within you?



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To Begin Again – Your Alphabet of Now

12 May 2017

     Presence is a state of inner spaciousness.  ~Eckhart Tolle

Alphabet of Now

Life is dynamic.  As bits of the cosmos, we are dynamic.  Ever-changing like the warp and weave of spacetime.  To begin again gives us a chance to get current.  To take stock of who we actually are now.

We harbor old tapes.  I have ideas about my appearance that sprung directly from the girl who sat behind me in 5th grade and enjoyed tugging my ponytail and whispering mean-spirited things.

She still ripples through my personal spacetime, but when I notice this I have a chance to choose different voices.  Perhaps my own.  I can ask myself, ‘Who am I today?  In this moment, what do I value?’

This week, a friend inspired me to play with the alphabet as an entrance into exploring inner landscapes.  The game is to randomly choose three letters from the alphabet and spontaneously name a character trait or emotion that begins with each one of those letters.  Then, poke around into each.  Is this trait or emotion something I admire and want to cultivate, or not?  Do other people tell me I have that quality?  Do I agree or not?  Why?  Can I be sure?  What do I know about myself in relation to that quality in this moment?

Like the universe we are part of contains many unsolved mysteries, we, too, are full of  enigmas we might never understand.  But, beginning again, fresh and open with ourselves, creates intimacy within that provides space and authenticity for intimacy beyond.

Maybe you’ll have fun playing with letters, too.  What is your alphabet of now?



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