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Leave Good Reviews

9 Jun

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Rob and I took our engagement pictures in a dive bar after eating mac and cheese, buffalo wings, a burger and garlic fries. I list it all out there because it’s one of the reasons I love Rob the most. We go to a restaurant and implicitly agree, yes, all of it.

Yes, all of it, is a good approach to life, I say. Or at least it’s the approach I’ve attempted.

It works sometimes, I say.

In order to reproduce our photobooth strip, I tried out the local copy shop. The man at the counter looked at me like I was insane and then told me he could “make a copy on paper.”

No, good sir. I want these to be photos?

He had no suggestions for how I should proceed and told me I probably shouldn’t.

It was a pretty discouraging conversation, honestly. I left thinking we were dumb for taking $4 engagement photos and also that that man deserved to live in Arizona during the summer!

(Only sort of.)

(Only briefly sort of.)

Next I tried CVS.

Yes, that CVS.

A worker instantly came to my aid. He experimented with different sizes. He printed off a bunch of attempts. “We’ll get there,” he said, over and over.

He gave me a nice discount because of the number of prints we ordered and because we weren’t using a full sheet. An experience that could have been very expensive and disheartening was positive and easy.

I decided to leave a review on Google. The first that this CVS had ever received.

Five stars. “Very helpful and patient with an unusual photo order.”

I’ve never left a Google review before.

I still have inside my soul a scathing takedown of a dentist in Calabasas who felt the need to argue his frightening political beliefs before fixing my tooth, but this man is old  and clearly unhappy and do I really want to end his career?

So no, I’ve never left a Google review.

Anne Lamott says in her brilliant Ted Talk: “Food–try to do a little better. You know what I mean.”

This was greeted with thunderous laughter by the crowd. Because it’s a truth. Because we seem to think we can do more than a little better? I know I do.

I think, oh no problem, this week I’ll revolutionize my food life. My writing life. My everything life.

When the reality is, life is in small steps. We try to do a little better.

We lurch forward, as Anne would say.

Leave good reviews.

That’s my lurch this week.

Leave good reviews because we live in an age where we check Yelp before we leave the house, where new businesses and CVS businesses and all businesses benefit from kind public words.

Leave good reviews because it’s free and it’s simple and because you can brighten someone else’s day and put kind words into the universe, so why shouldn’t you?

Leave good reviews.

You know what I mean.

The Lauren Graham Kitchen Timer Writing Method

25 May

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This is taken directly from Lauren Graham’s book Talking as Fast as I Can. My schedule has changed and I’m BACK, baby. I’m back working on my big writing projects. I need this as a reminder and a guide, always. Perhaps you do too.

The Kitchen Timer Writing Method

The principle of Kitchen Timer is that every writer deserves a definite and doable way of being and feeling successful every day.

To do this, we learn to judge ourselves on behavior rather than content. We set up a goal for ourselves as writers that is easy, measurable, free of anxiety, and above all, fall-proof, because everyone can sit, and an hour will always pass.

HERE’S HOW IT WORKS

1. Buy a kitchen timer, one that goes to 60 minutes. Or use a timer app. Or tell Siri to start a timer for 60 minutes.

2. We decide on Monday how many hours of writing we will do Tuesday. When in doubt or under pressure or self-attack, we choose fewer hours rather than more. A good, strong beginning is one hour a day, but a half hour is also good, or twenty minutes. Some of us make appointments in our calendar for these hours, as if they are lunch meetings or business calls.

3. The Kitchen Timer hour:

No phones. No texts. We silence ringers; we turn our phones facedown. It is our life; we are entitled to one hour without interruption, particularly from loved ones. We ask for their support. “I was on an hour” is something they learn to understand. But they won’t respect it unless we do first.

No music with words, unless it’s a language we don’t understand. Headphones with a white noise app can be helpful.

No internet, absolutely. We turn off our computer’s Wi-Fi.

No reading.

No pencil sharpening, desk tidying, organizing.

4. Immediately upon beginning the hour, we open two documents: our journal, and the project we are working on. If we don’t have a project we’re actively working on, we just open our journal.

5. An hour consists of TIME SPENT KEEPING OUR WRITING APPOINTMENT. That’s it. We don’t have to write at all, if we are happy to stare at the screen or the page. Nor do we have to write a single word on our current project; we may spend the entire hour writing in our journal. Anything we write in our journal is fine; ideas for future projects, complaints about loved ones, what we ate for dinner, even “i hate writing” typed four hundred times.

When we wish or if we wish, we pop over to the current project document and write for as long as we like. When we get tired or want a break, we pop back to the journal.

The point is, when disgust or fatigue with the current project arises, we don’t take a break by getting up from our desk. We take a break by returning to the comforting arms of our journal, until that in turn bores us. Then we are ready to write on our project again, and so on. We use our boredom in this way.

IT IS ALWAYS OKAY TO WRITE EXCLUSIVELY IN OUR JOURNAL. In practice it may rarely happen that we spend the full hour in our journal, but it’s fine, good, and right if it does. It is just as good a writing day as one spent entirely on our current project.

6. It is infinitely better to write fewer hours every day than many hours one day and none the next. If we have a crowded weekend, we choose a half or quarter hour as our time, put in that time, and go on with our day. We are always trying to minimize our resistance, and beginning an hour on Monday after two days off is a challenge.

7. When the hour is up, we stop, even if we’re in the middle of a sentence. If we have scheduled another hour, we give ourselves a break before beginning again–to read, eat, go on errands. We are not trying to create a cocoon we must stay in between hours (the old “i’sorry, I can’t see anyone or leave my hours–I’m on a deadline method). Rather, inside the hour is the inviolate time.

8. If we fail to make our hours for the day, we have scheduled too many. Four hours a day is an enormous amount of time spent in this manner, for example. If on Wednesday we planned to write two hours and didn’t make it, we schedule a shorter appointment for the next day. We don’t add an our to “make up” or “catch up.” we let the past go and move on.

9. When we have fulfilled our commitment, we make sure we credit ourselves for doings. We have satisfied our obligation to ourselves, and the rest of the day is ours to do with as we wish.

10. A word about content: This may seem to be all about form, but the knowledge that we have satisfied our commitment to ourselves, the freedom from anxiety and resistance, the stilling of that hectoring voice inside us that used to yell at us that we weren’t writing enough–all this opens us up creatively.

The Good Things Post 5/15/17

15 May

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At the end of last year I did the thing on Twitter where for every like a Tweet received I shared something good about my 2016.

It was one of the brief respites from the whole nightmare of that time and it helped me. It helped to articulate the good.

I thought with everything still so often dark and nightmarish I would start Mondays off with some good things. The Good Things Post.

May it help you. May it help me.

May we all help each other.

Good Things 5/15/17

1. A couple I do not know, have never met, and likely will never meet got engaged!

Ashley and Kelly are one of my favorite couples despite all of the above. Ashley is a writer who has beautifully put to words  her feelings on Kelly many, many times in the past and I love seeing relationships unfold that are healthy, respectful and empowering. You should be following their love story too.

2. Anne Lamott strikes again!

“Mothering has been the richest experience of my life, but I am still opposed to Mother’s Day. It perpetuates the dangerous idea that all parents are somehow superior to non-parents. (Meanwhile, we know the worst, skeeviest, most evil people in the world are CEOs and politicians who are proud parents.)”

Goes along with Mari Andrew’s beautiful Mother’s Day drawing

3. Everyone’s Instagram Mother’s Day posts!

I imagine many of us hold both #2 and #3 as truths inside of us. That Mother’s Day can be quite difficult and is a complicated holiday and should it be celebrated? And also we are incredibly grateful for the humans who have nurtured and loved us in our lives, mothers are not.

I personally love a day online where people are giving tributes to those who helped raise them.

I love seeing 90s hair and old wedding photos and babe moms and hearing the things that you picked up from the people in your life who loved you, traditional mothers or not. It’s one of my favorite days on all of social media. A day of professing love.

4. Marco Polo

My family is using Marco Polo and I’ve been seeing my niece and nephews more and sharing more of my drama and that’s all I want in life, really.

5. Gilmore Girls Legos

Yep yep

(Vote vote)

 6. Sunscreen!

I recently realized that I wear sunscreen every day. I don’t know when that change happened, but somewhere along the line it went from a distant goal of the type of person I’d like to be to a reality. (I use this one. My dermatologist recommended it and it is not sponsored because I’ve never done an ad on here, remember?)

 7. The Hyperbalist’s Instagram account

In a world where it seems so many draw upon the same Instagram Dictionary (“this guy” “obsessed” etc) Alina is HERSELF. It’s a true talent to show your voice through captions and pictures and snippets but she has it and it’s fun to follow along.

 8. I read a whole book this morning

(This one.) Just sat in bed and read. It was the perfect antidote to a yesterday so intense I told people I was losing my mind and I meant it.

Real question: When we lose part of our mind do we ever get it back?

9. Rupi Kaur’s poetry

In case you’re not one of the 1.2 million already following along.

 10. JFK stamps

Going on our wedding invitations because when you’re doing a Cape Cod wedding this can be justified. Also a good conversation starter with your local post office worker!

 

xoxo my friends

May you find good things in your life this week

What I’ll Tell My Future Daughters About The Women’s March on January 21, 2017

22 Jan

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I woke up at 6:30 bubbling and ready to go. This never happens, you know. Well you really know if you’re my daughters.

I’m sorry about me in the mornings.

We met at my friend Shelley’s place to finalize our signs. Poster boards were sold out all through Los Angeles. “I had to buy them in packs of 10,” LJ said.

I went for a double-sided post: “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights” and “Women Unite.” I carried a bit of Hillary with me today.

We drove to the Metro and were greeted by snaking crowds and bright signs. As soon as we stepped out strangers yelled, “Get back in the car!” It was 2,000 deep to even purchase a ticket.

Back in the car we got.

We parked nearby and joined the throng wandering to Pershing Square. The air was electric. I don’t know how to describe it. You could taste the hope. Smell it, feel it.

This was history.

We gathered, unable to hear the speakers or what was going on. Every once in awhile we held our signs up and cheered. We were here! We were ready!

The crowd was too big to march whatever route was planned and soon we dispersed. All through downtown, hundreds of thousands of us marched and cried and chanted Beyoncé.

There was a lot of Beyoncé.

We danced in the street to “In the Name of Love.” We hugged a stranger who said “Now hug someone else. Get to know someone else who is here.”

Every kind of human being, every kind of American imaginable was present. We had women sporting Republican signs and Communist signs. We had people in costume as the Dakota Pipeline.

Everyone had a different reason for being there. Healthcare, the environment, immigrants, women’s rights, LGBT rights, anyone marginalized. Human decency.

Love.

Above all, love.

There were babies and men. A woman with a broken leg whose husband was pulling her on a converted wagon.

There were seven of us girls who came together. Seven of us girls who are women of faith, feminists of faith. We met at church and through each other.

Feminists need women of faith.

Women of faith certainly need feminists.

We shared stories about the sexism we’ve experienced in our lives. We introduced ourselves. We sat on each other’s laps in our unexpected journey downtown in a car.

We held signs.

My mamma taught me how to march

Girls just want to have fun-damental rights

Girl Gang Forever

We all had different reasons for coming, different backgrounds and feelings. Different issues at stake.

I was slightly more hysterical than some (all), perhaps.

What else is new?

I wish you could have seen the signs, girls! The signs were such a highlight.

So many creatives, so many beautiful posters. Star Wars was everywhere. Carrie Fisher was everywhere. “A woman’s place is in the resistance.”

The resistance it was.

We gathered a crowd of millions of people worldwide, hundreds of thousands in Los Angeles alone. Women across America and the globe said no.

No, this is not ok. This is not normal.

No to hatred, no to bigotry, no to sexism and bullying. No, no, no.

No.

We will resist.

We did it peacefully. We did it happily. We were hopeful and inspired, we stood in solidarity with different viewpoints and different backgrounds.

Today we made history, girls.

I did it for you.

I did it for me.

Today we made history.

Here We Go

23 Nov

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There was a brief time in London where I thought I was losing my hearing.

I took a day off work to see the doctor, which led me to the dentist, which led me to the thing I already knew–I grind my teeth. The thing I didn’t know was that in particularly stressful situations my teeth grinding could lead to an inflamed jaw, so inflamed it affected my hearing.

I doubled down on my mouth guard. I made some life changes.

My front tooth is fake, did you know that?

I’m sure you didn’t.

My front tooth is fake because I have ground it off in the night, time and time again.

This week, my jaw is so swollen you can hear it crack across a room.

My therapist tells me a lot of people are having physical reactions to this frightening post-election time. Not just emotional reactions or grief reactions, but actual trauma.

I am so lucky. So privileged.

So very fortunate.

I’ve been thinking about mothers lately.

Rob’s mother showed him, not just through words, but actions, exactly how capable women are. He was raised to believe women are inherently equal, that household tasks have no gender, that my dreams–across all areas of life–are the same as his. This has made him the very best boyfriend I can imagine. I am 100% satisfied with gender roles in our relationship, and I am not a person 100% satisfied with almost anything.

Then there’s my mother.

My mother raised me a feminist. I never doubted how smart I was, or what I could do with my talents. She showed me how to critically think, how to keep an open mind, how to live in a world that still does not value women as much as it values men.

Today she is getting her graduate degree in English with an emphasis in 18th Century Feminism. She brings homemade cookies to the college students she teaches.

I’ve been thinking about mothers a lot this week.

It’s true, the Dave Chapelle skit on SNL. I am the privileged white person over here in shock with what just happened. I cannot believe it. I am mourning, grieving, cracking my jaw.

My minority friends and colleagues, people specifically targeted by our President Elect, are all much less shocked than I am. “I always knew how America felt about me,” one of them told me.

My therapist, a minority woman, looked at me and said, “When you’re told a story your whole life it becomes fact, and you can’t argue with someone about their facts.” She is so much calmer than I am.

What can we do then?

What can we do?

I’m not ready to make nice. That’s how my therapist described me.

I’m in the stages of grief, but I keep cycling back to anger. I don’t want to apologize for my anger. Hillary Clinton apologized for not winning the election, another blow to women everywhere. We do not need to apologize.

We do not need to apologize.

Here are some things I’ve done to help me feel better:

- Called my representatives (Here’s where you can find your Senators and Representatives. My favorite comic made some handy calling cards.)

- Bought a subscription to the New York Times

- Given a church lesson on peace

- Written letters to women I love

- Donated blood

- Signed up to volunteer more

- Met with my local political group to discuss the way forward

- Worked on a library display promoting diversity

- Set up monthly deposits to causes I believe in

- Interviewed at a charity I believe in wholeheartedly

- Read books about people with experiences different than mine

- Checked in on friends who are far more vulnerable than I am

- Clung to kindness wherever I’ve found it

- Taken a break from social media (Not long enough)

- Shared my ugliest thoughts and fears, not online, but with a safe group of people

- Written out some of the poison I feel

- Seen my therapist

- Bought a new teapot

- Spent more time with Rob

- Clung to a truth that makes me feel better: Hillary Clinton won more votes this election than any man not named Obama ever has. Including our President Elect.

 

I’m sharing these not because they are the only things to do, or even the right things to do, but because they’ve helped me a bit. Somewhat. And maybe in sharing it can help you? Maybe you can share what you’re doing and we can help each other?

Someone I know suggested every day you do two things: 1) Sweep the news. (Take deep breaths and brace yourself) 2. Do one action item. Call a representative. Donate to a cause.

-

Yesterday I was sitting at a red light next to a homeless man. I looked down at my uneaten breakfast of apple sauce in a plastic cup. I rolled down my window. “Excuse me, sir. Would you like some apple sauce?” “Yes, thank you,” he said. We made eye contact. We smiled at each other.

It cost me nothing–literally. That apple sauce was taken from my parents’ pantry. It didn’t even cost me time–I was sitting at a red light. But I felt better all day. It helped me and my mood surely more than the 100 calories helped him.

It was a good reminder that yes, I need to take political action. We all must put pressure on our representatives and we must stand up for what we know is right. But we also need to take small action in our lives. That is where sanity and peace and hope lies.

In apple sauce cups.

-

It’s going to take a long time to heal from this. Far, far more than four years.

Here we go.

Jaws a’cracking, here we go.

Self-Forgiveness

18 Jul

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Sitting down and writing every day, being creative, is not about discipline it’s about self-forgiveness.

 

Elizabeth Gilbert said this, or something like it, in her podcast episode with Brene Brown.  It was an important statement, but not the crux of the conversation. A little chocolate nugget sandwiched in to the roast beef and red potatoes.

It’s about self-forgiveness.

As soon as I told this to my writer friends they nodded so hard their heads hurt.  YES they said.

My friend texted me later to tell me during her daily free write she listed all the ways she forgave herself.

“For everything?”

“I didn’t have time for that,” she said.  “Just for the writing things.”

It’s hard to write every day.  I don’t say this in a boohoo poor me way, just in the way that it’s hard to exercise every day.  It takes energy and work.  It’s always easier to eat a sleeve of Nutter Butters and watch Felicity.

I punish myself when I don’t do it. I get upset that I’m simply not disciplined enough, not better.  If I were better I would find the time to do it every single day.  If it was really that important to me, I would be vigilant, dedicated, an army general writer person with 10 more books to my name.

I am a loser.

I am failing.

Self-forgiveness.

Does it all come back to that?  Being kind to your body, eating healthier or exercising more comes down to self-forgiveness.  I’ve berated myself for failing at exercise or diet plans, felt like a fraud and a lazy loser, told myself if I just had the discipline then I wouldn’t be in this predicament.

It never worked.

What does work? Radical self-love.

Forgiveness for the days I don’t walk more than a few steps.  Forgiveness for the times I should have had a vegetable but ate a stale bag of pita chips instead.

I’m never getting myself to yoga if I don’t forgive myself for all the times I didn’t go to yoga.

Something like that.

And so today as I sit in my faux-silk nightgown and drink my flat Diet Coke and celebrate the first day I’ve been able to really write in so, so long, I say to myself.

I forgive you.

I forgive you for the days you didn’t have time to write.  I forgive you for the days that you did but you chose Nutter Butters and Felicity.  I forgive you for the crappy stuff you wrote last time and for the crappy stuff you will write today.  I forgive you for not being as good as you want to be.  I forgive you for your unrealistic expectations about how good your writing should be.

I forgive you for the shoulds.

I forgive you for it all.

I forgive you.

Now go write already.

I Miss The Old Blogging

18 May

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This week one of my favorite bloggers retired from the blogging world.

She was one of the first bloggers I really got into, about four years ago, when my blog obsession began.  I spent nearly a year reading the entire archives of several blogs and falling in love with their writers and their words.  Those bloggers, the first few, are still so important to me.  I know them from 10 years ago.  I feel like I know them!

As I read this blogger’s goodbye comments, I was overwhelmed with how many people felt the same way as I did.  How many people this one girl’s words had inspired and changed.  How many of us readers felt genuine sadness.

I saw this coming.  You don’t read someone’s words for 10 years and not see something like this coming.  But I hoped it wouldn’t. I refreshed her page over the past few months, wishing for a killer essay that would get me writing and thinking and blogging again.

Instead I got a farewell.

All of my favorite bloggers, the ones from those times, are basically gone.  Sure, they may update a few times a year now, but there was this golden time, well before I started blogging, where they were updating nearly every day.  Where silliness and inner thoughts and unworried posts were thrown together.

Today there’s so much hate online you have to watch every word and even then you’re not safe.

Today there’s so many sponsorships online you can’t believe any word and even then you’re not safe.

Many of these original bloggers are married and have children and they are giving their families privacy and separating themselves from hate and I am glad for them, but I am also sad that I am losing them.  I’m losing the rants and opinions and the real thoughts.  The uncensored posts.  I love those.  Getting a blog post from one of those writers is like waking up to a bouquet of fresh hydrangeas at my door.  A big, puffy gift.

Now this gift is done giving.

And my eyes are puffy.

(This took a turn.)

I’ve been thinking a lot about blogging lately.  How fashion bloggers are now in the millions of followers and milliosn of dollars category.  How these girls (often) offer the same rotated few words:

Totally obsessed with these new (free and sponsored) shoes!!!!

These shoes!!!! (free and sponsored)

I don’t want this to be a judgement on fashion bloggers.  They are their own thing.  But it makes me sad that my blogging world is being reduced to these same few sentences and non-opinions. That the women with voices and unfiltered thoughts and skills and lives and words I aspire to are slowly dripping away.

It’s been happening for years now.  The Wild West of the blogging world is gone and we are fully into the very manufactured, all-alike suburbia.

I miss it.

I wasn’t even a part of it, I feel like I sort of got on the blogging train a few stops too late, that if I were to really have dove into this thing I needed to start 10 years ago, I needed to build some big base and to go on some journey that I documented.  And that my silly 2016 words about Chip Gaines and books and little epiphanies I have throughout my very regular days, well, what are they offering anyone?  What are they offering me?

Maybe I should retire, too.

I’m funny like that, I see someone else do something and I immediately question my own decisions.  Even if I’m happy with my current life, watching someone boldly forge a different path makes me wonder if that’s the right path!

If that’s the right podcast!

Eventually I settle in and I calm down and I make my own decisions.

(Mostly.)

And this is my decision.

All the girls in my family are going on a vacation to Texas next month because of my last blog post.

I’m here, baby.

Me and my words are still here.

On Miracles

18 Mar

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Anne Lamott once said that going from an addict who couldn’t take care of herself to a sober, functioning mother was a moderate sized miracle.

She had transformed herself completely, changed things she thought impossible.

It was a miracle.

 

I don’t use the world miracle often, even in hyperbole.  Miracle always seemed too big and intangible. Do I believe in miracles? Sure.

(Where you from? You sexy thing.)

But what have I classified as a miracle?  What in my life, of relative health and prosperity qualifies as an actual miracle?  I haven’t been healed from some life-threatening illness. I haven’t lifted a car with brute strength or survived  a dramatic plane crash on berries and volleyballs alone.

Reading Anne Lamott, though, I realized that I have experienced miracles.

Miracles are things that you previously thought impossible that you’ve now done.

Staying sober.

Having a conversation that could have never happened five years ago.

Getting over something–something impossible.  Something you knew in your heart you could never ever ever after 60 years get over, and yet.

Here you are.

You are over it.

These are miracles.

 

Grace.

I think it goes back to grace.  I’ve been studying grace for a few months now, and like miracle, it was not a word I used very often or saw very often in my life.

But the other day I bought a pair of pants online and they were too small and my first thought was I would lose 10 lbs.

An hour later I recognized how unhealthy this all was and that the pants were the wrong size, I wasn’t the wrong size.  I put them back in their package, took them to the post office, and returned them.

I realized that so often in my life I assume I’m the wrong size rather than my pants/someone else/the situation is the wrong size fit for me.  I realized that I am the right size as I am.

Right now.

This very moment.

 

It was grace.

It was a miracle.

Super Bowl Sunday

2 Mar

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I woke up lazily.  Every time my body wanted to rise I asked it if it really did.  I slept on and off through the morning.

I pulled out my latest Anne Lamott book and read until I couldn’t read anymore.  I meditated for 12 minutes, reeling my mind back in approximately 1,400 times.

I had a bowl of Frosted Flakes and a ripe tangerine for breakfast.  I drank 16 ounces of water.

I caught up with a few friends.  I headed out for a walk.  On the way, I made the last minute decision to turn around and check Pavilions for Girl Scout cookies.  They were there!  Hallelujah!

I bought four boxes of Tagalongs.

I accepted that Tagalongs are the only Girl Scout cookies I truly care about even though society told me for so long it was Samoas and Thin Mints that should own my heart.

I walked on the Pepperdine track, the last of a children’s soccer practice clearing out with tears and grass stained shinguards.  Pepperdine’s baseball team started practice, tiny, gorgeous orange dots on the horizon.

I made plans with Rob for the next day.  Mondays are our weekend and we alternate who chooses what we do.  Tomorrow is his Monday and he wants to get Lily’s breakfast burritos (with potatoes) and go to Broad Beach.  It’s nice that what we like to do lines up so beautifully.

I walked around Pepperdine’s track for 5,000 steps.  I listened to Mariah Carey and remembered her arm movements in her concert and how everything I know about dancing I learned from Mariah.

Look fabulous.

Stand in one place.

Sing your guts out.

Let your diva arm do the talking.

I sang Touch my Body as I rounded the track for the last time.

I had a huge salad topped with peppers and olives and artichokes and garbanzo beans. I added a Diet Coke to the mix for balance.

I didn’t pretend like I cared about football.

Or the Super Bowl.

Instead I went to a yoga class with other people who weren’t pretending.

I thought about how a few months ago I felt like everything was falling apart.  How there are half a dozen dramatic blog drafts entitled things like “I feel happy today” and “I’m trying” that I never published on this blog because when my internal life is too jumbled I’m unable to create anything.

I thought about how I got myself over that mountain or molehill or something in between.  How I sought help.  How I reevaluated my career and made some course corrections.  How I took up meditation and how the benefits of that cannot be overstated.

I thought about how I’ve pursued my self-care as a religion the past few months.  How I walk every single day and read and meditate and self soothe.  How I am able to take one bad thing that comes my way and accept that it is a bad thing not a bad life and I’ll try again tomorrow.

How I couldn’t do that before.

My friend is going through a hard time.  I wanted to pass all this on to her, to say, “Hey! Here’s the secret.  Do it!”

And then I remembered that this is my secret, for now.

My sacred, for now.

I remembered that we all get there through different means at different rates.

That we can’t save anyone but ourselves.

That we’re all just doing our best.

For now.

January Was The Month Of Meditation

29 Feb

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January was the month of meditation.

November was budget month. October I cleaned.

I’ve discovered setting goals for a month is the only way I can get anything done. Goal for a month, I suppose.  Only one.

At the beginning of each month I decide what’s most pressing and I put my energies into that. If I complete that goal then I have been successful for the day.  There is no other measure of my success.

This system feeds into my need for success, but also lets myself off the hook a bit.  I don’t have to change everything today.  I just need to meditate.

That’s what January was.  A month of quiet and breathing. Of listening to sounds and feelings and reeling my wandering mind back in again and again.  In 10 minutes of meditation my mind can escape me thousands of times.  The task of recognizing it has lost its way, lassoing it and bringing it back to the present—that’s hard work.

That’s the lifting weights of the mind.

It’s funny, not until this last year did I think of mental exercise in the same way as physical exercise.  I’ve always known that I can improve my physical health by exercising.  Walking, lifting weights, stretching and moving.  There are tangible effects from those exercises.

I understand why I do them.

With my mind, though, it’s always been Fleetwood Mac.

It’s always been

How can I ever change things that I feel?

 

Oh Fleetwood

Oh Mac

 

I think the answer, or part of the answer, is I can’t.  I feel something, I recognize it, and then I move forward.  I don’t take every feeling as fact or an indication of my future everything.  I don’t indulge them all.  I experience them but I don’t let them overtake me.

I train my mind like I train my body.

I sit on my marshmallow bed, palms up and breathe again and again.  I work at it for a month and get up to 15 minutes in a state of meditation.  Barely 15 minutes.  Working on 15 minutes.  I think that maybe in a year I can complete the hour-long meditations.  Maybe in a year I’ll be there.

But for January.  For this month.  For today.  I am stretching my mind.

I am a success.