March 9, 2012

somewhere in the middle

For those who have been reading my blog for a while, you know I've used it as a forum for sharing my exploration in learning how to create something tangible from the emotions bottled up inside - and perhaps most eminently, my internal struggle as I've searched for a solid sense of self. Not only has it been a way for friends and family to monitor the changes in my life, but it's also been my canvas - the one place I've most felt like an artist.

Lately, though, I find myself looking at the blog as an obligation, uninspired to paint on it the words of  yearning swimming inside. I think of the past couple of weeks, for example  - sleepless nights and deep grief over another relationship ending in spite (or perhaps because) of my willingness to offer my heart -  and where my instinct in the past would have been to pour out the anguish onto my screen, now I can hardly muster the urge to write. Instead, I'm simply holding it and observing, noticing when it's lodged in my throat or blocking the oxygen from my chest. Sometimes movement shakes it loose, but more often not, and I've come to own it as part of me for the moment. After all, certainly if I've been lucky enough to hold sweetness and love, I must also claim the ache of disappointment and hurt. And in these days of fresh reminders and tears, I'm searching for the equilibrium of existing somewhere in between them.

On a professional level, I'm also graduating and will begin interviews for full-time positions as a therapist soon. I don't know that my blog would end up on the screen of my colleagues and clients, but as our online anonymity evaporates more each day, I don't know that it wouldn't either. I think it's in my best interest to take a pause and eventually take the blog offline when I am hired. This is no longer the appropriate forum for sharing my intimate thoughts and experiences.

I'd like to think this blog (and the one before it) did its duty overall, though. I have a sense of self - a genuine pride in being the open and honest woman I've always wanted to be, always thought I could be. And I'm no longer worried these qualities will be threatened by much of anything. And perhaps, being able to say this and believe it now, when I can't say I'm feeling particularly loved or happy at the moment, is an indication I'm ready to leave this space for good, to find other tangible ways to grow and process, to share and emote.

Endings and beginnings, right?

Here's to finding the road somewhere in the middle.

March 7, 2012

more borrowed words

I might have posted this before, but I never tire of Mary Oliver.

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

March 5, 2012

battle fatigue

After a tough weekend, I'm feeling tired on the outside and bruised inside. I'm not so much detoxing from words anymore but I'll be damned if I can find any of my own. I read this today on Brene Brown's blog, and it so encapsulated my reality, so today borrowed words are better than no words.

"In the song Hallelujah, Leonard Cohen writes, 'Love is not a victory march, it's a cold and broken hallelujah.
Love is a form of vulnerability and if you replace the word love with vulnerability in that line, it's just as true. If we always expect to feel victorious after being vulnerable, we will be disappointed. In our culture, wholeheartedness is often a quiet sense of freedom mixed with a little battle fatigue."


March 2, 2012


There are a lot of endings lately, my supervisor said yesterday as I sat with her. A bit broken, tired and soft with grief, I sighed my agreement as a tear escaped down my cheek.

Yet somehow there are tiny reminders of eternal beauty, too.Thanks to Kristin Noelle of Trust Tending for sharing this one.

Coleman Barks reading of Rumi's "I See My Beauty In You":

Coleman Barks reads Rumi's 'I See My Beauty In You' from on Vimeo.

February 27, 2012


I'm detoxing for a while - from sugar, caffeine, even words. I'm going to wring out this longing that's been hammering around inside of me lately and make something of the space that's left. And until I know what that something is, I need a little break. From here. From words. 

I need a little time to purify.

Till then.


February 25, 2012

a slice of simple

Yesterday, my body was craving my yoga mat.  So exhausted from the fluctuating currents of the week, I simply wanted to curl up on it for a while until my world stopped spinning. Knowing I was holding in my chest and stomach, I decided I'd just flow at the whim of my limbs rather than plan out a sequence for my practice - see if I could wring it all out improv style. 

Improv style, indeed. 

As I began to warm up my spine, I immediately burst into tears. Cat/cow became child's pose, and the tears became sobs. Deep sobs ripped so roughly from a yawning space inside, I had no choice but to let them run their course. Eventually they did, and after, I wiped my mat dry and continued to flow - a bit morose but lighter, completely spent but focused.

It's been a long time since I've sobbed on my mat with such intensity. I'm trying to pay attention to that - to what it means, but I'm not sure I know. Clearly, something so personal I didn't trust it to surface anywhere else. Whether it was longing or anguish - and I'm not sure which - what happens on my mat is always a better gauge of my internal state than anything else.

And then I woke this morning wishing for a simpler life and felt confounded all over again. If only I didn't see the images of alternate realities dancing around me all the time. They aren't always beautiful, but too often they are, and it's hard to evade their temptation. The closer I get to freedom - to graduation - the more insistent they whisper.This morning, it was a life away from trains and people and traffic. Away from smog and shootings and prisons. A life filled with music and movement, space and simplicity, heat and happiness. A life with time to create, to sit with community, to love without always having to leave. This morning, I woke up tired, the question does it really have to be so damn hard? cycling round and round. It's feeling damn hard these days.

Certainly I am not a stranger to the urge to run, to escape. While some dig their heels in to change, I've always sought it. Chased it. Run towards new dreams - be they anchored in evanescent clouds or sodden sand. This time, though, it feels different. I'm ready to settle. To finally root. And ironically, just when I know I'm ready, I don't know how - or where.

So, because I have no answers and needed to shake the doldrums, my daughter and I went to the arboretum today. We hunted garden gnomes, got lost in hedge mazes, flipped upside down in the snow, and breathed in space. Lots of space. 

The whispers didn't quiet; the images didn't fade. And I don't know that they will - but for a few moments we had a slice of simple.

February 20, 2012

goodness to hold

My goodness, the dreams. They're hurtling towards me these days. Sometimes I'm lucid, and other times not. Sometimes they're as bold and colorful as a late summer sunset; other times they hover in late winter shadows. My brain captures and feeds them to me in flashes and glimpses, clips and soundbites. Around and around they go as I move through my day.

I could write yet another post about the dreams - about the fear and anxiety. I could describe - again - how difficult it is for me to stand here, arms open, waiting for my future to unfold with only the weight of my intentions as an offering. But it's overdone already, and somehow putting words to them hasn't alleviated the pressure in the least, and in a world where so many people are hurting and every day I'm reminded of how much goodness I have to hold to my chest, it seems indulgent to keep sniveling. So instead, here

is the image of my little girl - long legs, big sparkling brown eyes,  rosy cheeks. Laughing in the park, swinging from a tree, snuggled up reading to me. Giggling. Charming. So good I'm in awe every time I think about her. I'm pretty sure every parent loves his/her child this fiercely; yet, at the same time I'm also convinced she is beyond compare in her compassion and insight - and I don't mind shouting her fabulousness to the world!

is a settling into the realization that as solid of a team as my special little girl and I are, someday I want a partner for me -someone who is as sure of a sure thing as this life of ours allows. Another parent for her. Maybe a sibling, too (or maybe not). We don't need to go through life alone anymore just to prove we can. We've done that already. And sometimes being strong means admitting it's ok to open that door and dream a little. Someday.

are delicious moments of intimacy interspersed with raucous laughter. Moments that lend themselves to creativity and karma. Too few but sweeter because of it. Heartily delicate, fragile yet mighty.

is my gratitude journal. Tiny, grateful entries grounding cyclonic days.

And so much more (to come when I can keep my eyes open)...

February 15, 2012

an elusive allegory

I can't remember when I've ever been as scared as I am these days. Not the heart-pumping terror of nightmares or the hysteria induced by sobbing, but instead a deep fear unsettling in its breadth, an unease that seems to have taken up residence in my cells like a latent virus threatening activity.  Even during my divorce a few years ago, when I didn't know where we were going to live or what my future held, I don't think I was this scared. This alone. This aware of the seriousness of life - knowing not only is my survival dependent on the choices I make in the next few months but more importantly, my daughter's. People think I'm being dramatic when I express worry about not being able to maintain our life - our home - but to me the possibility of losing it in this job market and economic climate is a very real and tenuous force.

As I near the next crossroad (and it very much feels like one), it's becoming more difficult to place my faith in the mysterious workings of the Universe. And in my cynical moments, I wonder if this philosophy of non-attachment to desire and expectations is easier espoused when struggle is more of a memory than an acute existence. When one has the luxury of a steady paycheck or a second household income, when one can freely question the efficacy of existing within the limits of problematic macro-level norms without the pressure of collapse on a micro level.

So often on my yoga mat anything seems possible. The unknown becomes exciting and hopeful. Anxiety feeds potential, and the practice embodies boundless passion. But it isn't magical, and my off-the-mat truth these days lies somewhere closer to a perpetual mindstate of messiness, fierce thought-waves slamming against the shores of my brain.

I'd like to think these are our defining moments - that beneath the fear lies a purpose, an elusive allegory. Perhaps it is in these exact moments when compassion, faith, and breath matter most. I'd like to think I can find the courage to move towards the energy of change instead of ducking in protection, compromising for compensation, sacrificing for "security". I'd like to think somewhere beneath this distraction, I'm holding wisdom.



January 31, 2012

we can heal

I came home this evening after a day observing the way very real chains bind us to suffering in this life. I hugged my little girl close until her energy replaced the saturation of sorrow, until her chatter paused the images replaying in my mind, until her innocence extinguished the lingering helplessness.

I've been learning to let go of the misery I must hold in my work - willing to let my heart get scratched but not cracked - yet tonight I'm sad about our world filled with trauma for so many, angry we live in a country so rich with resources but so inadequate in functioning systems, frustrated we label human beings as good or evil without exploring our complexities in the contexts of our vulnerabilities and resiliencies.

I've said this before: we can do better. And we must.

Maybe for tonight, though, this is enough. But before I turn off the technology and slip into a bubble bath, it seems wise to capture a piece of the day before I let it wash away with the bubbles and bathwater. To take the soulache and heartbreak and find something meaningful in their midst. To acknowledge even in our most helpless moments, connection can feed the human spirit. Love can withstand the horror of separation. Our emotional capacity is never ever static. And no matter how battered, how bloodied, we can heal. 

January 29, 2012

the icy fingers of winter

 "Love begets courage, moderation creates abundance, and humility generates power."

I reread this yesterday in Light on Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar, and today I keep coming back to it. I'm not sure why exactly, but I feel myself softening into it more each time. Maybe because it's been a particularly stressful week - one where I've needed (however poorly I feel I succeeded) to tap the reservoir of love and courage inside myself rather than receive them from others - these words prod me to keep giving, to keep loving. They ground me and reveal despite my fluctuating panic that I know nothing about damn near every area of my life right now, living with love and humility might just give me everything I need.

It's a timely reminder, particularly when the desire to retreat is creeping up a bit more each day. I told a friend last week I felt brittle, like winter is settling in and its icy fingers are reaching into not only my muscles and skin, but even threatening this heart of mine with its chill. The heart I know I only want to give away - to my clients, my family, my soul/spirit sisters, my lover - is resisting. Scrambling. Scared that open might mean empty, without walls might mean weak, exposed might mean broken.

And yet, despite the frost and the fear, I keep thinking about something a therapist I know said recently. He said (and I paraphrase) we don't measure our growth by how infrequently we hurt, but by how we use what we've been working on to deal with the pain. It isn't so much a desire to eliminate the contraction of pain altogether as it is an effort - a practice - to shorten its duration and ease its long-term effect. If we aren't challenged, we can't expand.

So, perhaps it's healthier to see the iciness that's been edging closer as simply a natural contraction in the cycle of love, of growth. Maybe the only way to unfold out of that same contraction is through it - by using everything I've been practicing - my yoga, compassion, openness - to tend to the uncomfortable twinges of intimacy and transparency.

To believe what's waiting on the other side can - and will - unfurl into an expansion of joy and grace.

To move toward the thaw with love that might just beget courage and humility that might just generate power.

January 23, 2012

the world seeming a bit rough today

Today I was reminded there are some days when the world seems a bit rough. The wind blows me clear off the sidewalk; cars honk impatiently and incessently; the windows from outside give more shadows than light. And I find myself moving through it all, floating in a space only partially submerged - like a buoy, lightly skimming the surface but never still, always bobbing, never settling.

I'm sore from the turbulence.

Feeling "off" last weekend, I decided to spend most of it hunkered inside meditating, practicing yoga, reading, and preparing for my final semester exams at school. As I rifled through a box from storage, I found a stack of pictures I'd forgotten existed. My favorite was one of my daughter in profile when she was 18 months old. I don't remember where it was taken or by whom, but she's in mid-stride and simply exquisite. Her body, so much more compact than the gangly limbs that wrap around me now, still a baby. Her cheeks then were round, her lips red. Gazing at the image, I brushed my finger over her face, the urge to clutch her softness to my chest swelled into tears and spilled down my cheeks.

At that moment, I was rocked all the way down to the pelvic floor with the desire for one more night with her as a baby. One more chance to rock her to sleep as her heavy head settles against me. One more night to inhale the yeasty, powdered baby smell. One more night of the cheeks, the thigh creases, the soft fleshy feet. Just one more night of pure, unfiltered love.

Is it possible the world wasn't as rough then somehow? That it was any less frantic? Or is time just playing its tricks?

Regardless, the photo tugs at me from its new home on the refrigerator. Each time I enter the kitchen, it lures me close. I spend countless minutes absorbing each detail, searching for something I missed, filling up on the memory of holding her. And I wonder, not without a (mildly shocking) ripple of fear, if I'll ever have that again - a child, a late night evening spent rocking a baby to sleep. Or have the decisions I've made in the past several years taken me too far from walking that path again? Would my eggs and ovaries still work if my life even supported such a decision someday? Or will this transformation I'm sensing, this metamorphosis into a breathing instinct to heal, feed and nurture be absorbed solely in work instead?

It's enough right now, I suppose, to consider the questions. To consider why I'm asking the questions. Perhaps I want to go back so badly just to stop life from moving so quickly. Maybe the restlessness I'm feeling is really loneliness. A little sadness. Life. The world seeming a bit rough today.

January 18, 2012

my dream: it will hold love.

I told a friend today I was feeling so full of new knowledge, love, and creativity, but other than on my yoga mat, I wasn't sure how to process it. It seems every day adds new layers, more sparks, glimmers of possibilities, and like an artist with her muse beside her, I want to take the energy from all of it and create.

We were in a sunny coffee shop, this friend and I, and ensconced in a corner we talked for hours not only about the ways we create, but also the ways we are in relationship in this world. It was a provocative conversation - deep yet meandering, challenging yet loving. I shared my struggles in attempting to live authentically with an open heart; she spoke about attending to love as a form of self-care. I painted for her a picture of my community - the dream I feel in the deepest part of me whenever I question why I'm here; she told me the dream could exist. Might, in fact, already exist.

I owe this post both to her and to the thoughtful man who listened to me this weekend as I shared dreams of a different kind. It isn't every day people come into our world who see us as we strive to be and also make us want to be better. I'm lucky. I also know from experience offering up these visions creates space, asks for help, and often unlocks energy that is stuck in a frontal lobe loop and releases its potential.

So here it is, my dream. When I close my eyes, I can see it: a rambling house with a porch wide enough to relax into on spring days or summer nights. It's cheerful with painted shutters and pots of colorful perennials, and a path winds around the side leading to the garden in back. Next to the garden is a patio on which sits a large wooden table for outdoor meetings and dining al fresco. Maybe there are childrens' toys scattered about; maybe not. Perhaps there is grass and a pergola over the walk; perhaps not. But it's green and lush, regardless, and invites both workers and wanderers.

Inside houses a studio for yoga/ movement that is painted in warm tones framed in gleaming wood and a library lined floor to ceiling with books (something like one of these). Cozy armchairs and ottomans are nestled into the corners (in my fantasy, there's a woodburning fireplace warming the feet of the lounging readers). Another room is the office with the community board, technology center and tables for classes, group therapy sessions and community meetings, and next to that are individual treatment spaces for healers to work with clients processing their traumas. In the back of the house is a large kitchen with lots of light and an industrial stove and space enough for cooking and nutrition classes. Always brewing is tea and/or coffee; often baking is a healthful treat.

The basement is finished, carpeted, and reserved for everything child's play. Upstairs is divided into personal residences, guest space and lockers for service workers. It's a house open to anyone with a skill or resource to share, so essentially it will be available to everyone. Instead of cash, the operating currency will mostly be people, our community in relationship to each other. Whether it's through time-banking or a gift economy model I don't know yet. But we'll do it. And it will work.

It's my dream to start, of course, but the details will shift and the visions will morph as we consider collective needs and build from the ground up together. It will be a living, breathing example of our community feeding each other. Teaching each other. Healing each other.

So as I look ahead to manifesting this dream, two thoughts continue to prod me forward. The first: Am I showing up for my life? I was reading an article the other day, and while it is discussing a spiritual practice, the question the author poses is applicable to any situation. Am I showing up? And I can't honestly say I am, not entirely. I keep denying opportunities to connect out of fear, insecurity, or because it's hard work. I  postpone them in favor of what we're socialized in this society to see as security. But I can't do it, not anymore. My life is supposed to be different than this, give more than this. It's time to root, to wholeheartedly embrace the offerings that are presenting themselves at my feet more each and every day. No running. No fear. No insecurity. No apathy.

It's time.

And yet, with desire and intent to root, I paradoxically hold onto something else my friend said today that highlights the fleeting existence of anything in this world,
"It's all sandcastles. We build them and they wash away. We know this. But if your building holds love, build it. If it holds fun, build it. But if it doesn't hold these, consider." 
This building, this dream - just like anything else, it will be a sandcastle. This we know. But it will hold love and give love and be love, and that perhaps more than anything else, is why I'll build it.

January 13, 2012

Yoga: A Wrecking Ball or Panacea?

Here is my latest article at Yoga Modern. Take a peak. Leave a comment. Enjoy!

Ever since reading the widely forwarded recent article published in the New York Times, How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body by William J. Broad, I’ve been pondering the relevance of such a statement. Yoga, after all, is my safe harbor – the lighthouse that signals home no matter how harsh the storm.
 Whether it’s due to the daily stressors in my world or the abject suffering and injustices around our globe, I seek out my mat, my meditation seat, and the spiritual texts because they give me space to transform the threatening darkness into light, to shift the agitation to stillness. Over and over again, my yoga practice provides insight, shelter, healing.
It’s difficult to frame the question can yoga wreck the body in a yes/no construct. The answer is anything but simplistic; it’s dialectical. 


January 7, 2012

faith whispers

Meditating last night with a candle flickering and the moon hovering outside my window, the urge to write pressed into me so fiercely I almost rose mid-breath to grab my journal. Instead I let the loosening patchwork of longing, grief, faith, and hope spill into breath, leaving my heart a bit sodden but scrubbed clean, tidied up enough to lend room for the shifting spaces that often look so very different from that which I've expected.

I've been trying to write a new year's post - not one consisting of resolutions or desires for self-improvement, but instead a piece capturing both the bittersweet yearnings of last year and the buoyant dreams for the new one, all the while staying grounded in the promise of the present. It's no easy task - the writing or the journey - and I'm seeing landmines and roadblocks litter the path, making it treacherous travel if I happen to stray too far in either direction.

And as I sit here right now with the sun streaming into the room, a kaleidoscope of color as it bounces from books to wood to glass, I can't write that post. I can't find the words or the sentiment when what's behind me is still so monumental and close and what lies ahead so tenuous and elusive. In this moment, I know next to nothing. I can't envision my future; I can barely see my path, yet still awareness shimmers. Grace settles. Faith quietly nestles into the corners and whispers, I'm here. Hold on. And I - with all my fears and tears, my desires and uncertainties - am held in the arms of the world who, if asked (and sometimes if not), will bend down and breathe our truths in our ears. Every time, she answers, if we listen.

You are exactly where you should be.

It's often hardest before the light.

You are perfect just as you are.

Just be.

Happy New Year, my friends. May you have a year of awareness and grace, faith and truths.

December 31, 2011

honeycombs in my heart

I was reading this article today about Tantric Yoga, and it ends with the poem below. I think it's lovely to repost for a New Year's blog and speaks volumes, however one defines or seeks God. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


Last night, as I was sleeping,
I dreamt — marvelous error!—
that a spring was breaking
out in my heart.
I said: Along which secret aqueduct,
Oh water, are you coming to me,
water of a new life
that I have never drunk? 

Last night, as I was sleeping,
I dreamt — marvelous error!—
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures. 

Last night, as I was sleeping,
I dreamt — marvelous error!—
that a fiery sun was giving
light inside my heart.
It was fiery because I felt
warmth as from a hearth,
and sun because it gave light
and brought tears to my eyes. 

Last night, as I slept,
I dreamt — marvelous error!—
that it was God I had
here inside my heart. 

Spanish poet Antonio Machado (1875-1939), and translated by Robert Bly.

December 21, 2011

choosing this life, again.

Whether it's about relationships,dreams, or ideas about what our lives should look like, patterns keep showing up in my conversations lately. A friend recently echoed a sentiment that has often banged around in my mind over the last few years. She said despite doing everything she thought she was "supposed" to do, she is nowhere near living the life she thought she'd be living at 36. I listened and nodded, completely understanding what she was saying.

After all, how many of us are living the lives we thought we'd be living? The lives we were in many ways molded into expecting? Regardless of conscious choices and positive-thinking, how many of us actually look in the mirror (or the bank) without ever feeling, at the very least, a twinge of inadequacy - without asking how did I get here? How do I do better? How many of us look into the eyes of our parents and recognize nestled deep in the layers of their love and pride also a perceptible grief? Grief that we aren't living in the same city, that we aren't close enough, or that pursuing our dreams mean we struggle harder than many to live differently with the currencies of intention and love instead of greed and scorn. Grief that we trusted and got hurt, that we loved and we lost.

And sure, maybe in that grief is some projection of our own. It takes time and practice, after all, to strike a balance between what "might have been" and what "is". Some days all I can see is the pure magic of my world as I chose it; yet, in others the weight of could've and should've is oppressive and maddening.

During the holidays, especially, it would be easy to swing between those extremes without spending any time cuddled up in the vast, cozy middle. I could bemoan spending Hanukkah and Christmas without my little one, or I could embrace it as a sacred rarity - a chance to catch up, to write, to breathe (Pratipaksha Bhavana anyone?). I could get teary when the smells, sounds, and tastes of holidays from years past assault my memories, or I can continue building my home with beautiful new traditions that fill the heart and with people who feed the soul. I can make fresh memories and leave room for those still to come.

So, I'm using this holiday to choose life. Again. This life. My life - teeming with its shallow bank account, precarious stability, uncertain future as well as its deep well of love, laughter, hope, and faith. I might not be living the life I thought I would be living at 36, but really, let's just thank god or the Universe or whom/whatever for that. This one is invigoratingly more beautiful and abundant. Letting go of what could've been at this point only makes room for what is. And I love what is.

December 13, 2011

less technology. more moxie.

I read this post on a friend's blog yesterday, and as I often do while reading her writing, I found myself nodding and "uh-huh"ing when she spoke about her longing to write more often and the ever-present distractions that keep her from doing so. I've been feeling similarly. I tuck the nuggets of my days away, file them in my "write about later" folder only to find, once opened, the contents too scattered or the words stuck fast to the edges - as if a cup of tea had spilled and dried them into the tissues, and to pry them loose would surely destroy them.

Yet - I can hardly open my eyes without seeing inspiration these days: in the shifting struggles of my clients, the courage and insight of my co-workers, my daughter's sparkling smile, the mutable shades and intensities of my new beau's lovely eyes, his special touch. The heart opening yoga practices must be helping because I'm embracing it all, welcoming the depth in which I'm submerged, feeling electrically energized from the charge instead of diabolically drained. And the words. God - the words wash over me, spread through me. They feed me all day long as I file, file, file them away.

I need more discipline, fewer of my self-imposed distractions. Less technology. More journaling. Fewer excuses. More moxie. Just one hour every night for me and a cup of tea, a lighted candle, and pens and paper. These words deserve some light.

December 1, 2011

exposure and beauty

What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful
-Brené Brown

I spent much of my yoga practice today opening: my chest, hips, back. My work continues to push me inward, and as such I've noticed a slight tendency to hunch, a desire to avert my gaze, a hesitation to hold  upright and open. Almost as if I subconsciously need some kind of protection in order to protect others, some kind of shield to deflect the pain that may touch me, but just as surely may not.

I'm feeling a bit vulnerable these days. A little scared. A lot sensitive.

And I'm just not good at being vulnerable. I want to be, but I'm so damn afraid to leave this spot where I perch alone and sufficient and in control of what comes in and even more so of how it goes out. I'm happy to write about what it might be like to leave it, to analyze it - but to feel it? To feel it makes me alternately edgy and catatonic, aloof and weepy, fearful and hopeful. It rips off years of poorly layered and ineffective band-aids. Band-aids that hide scars. I don't want to look at the scars, and I have to wonder what if no one else does either?

Yet, ultimately what choice do we have when faced with that which makes us vulnerable but to feel our way through, however unsettling and scary? Certainly as a therapist, I have little choice, and as a mother, none at all. Nor do I want to be a lover or friend who evades rather than protects those I care about. No matter how often I've watched others walk away from me, I can't be the person anymore who hides, who imagines all of the 10,999 possible ways I could be "too much", feel "too much" and end up alienated as a result. Being that girl comes at a cost, after all, and I have to do better not only for my little one who is watching my every step, but for myself.

If, as BrenĂ© Brown says, what makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful, I hope one day to soon stand with an open heart that knows how to take as well as give, to curve into a backbend without an urgency to hide, to sit in meditation awash with acknowledgment and feeling. And I hope in these moments when I'm most exposed, I can still see beauty.

November 28, 2011

ready to raze

I noticed in session a couple of weeks ago that I didn't want to sit with sadness. I was willing to name it, explain it, acknowledge it, but when I should have simply held it for my client, I couldn't. I didn't. Instead to protect myself, I intellectualized it, steered us down a new path to a place where it all wouldn't hurt so much. I processed the session after, of course, with my supervisor, but it's haunted me a bit ever since. And I can't help but wonder what else I'm not willing to sit with, to hold.

You see, I've been trying valiantly to recognize when I get stuck in unhealthy patterns these days. Whether it's another birthday looming in a few weeks or a lovely new relationship unfolding with promise (or both), the pressure of figuring this all out is sitting pretty heavily. While it's true we always carry our own stuff regardless of how emotionally healthy we become, I believe it is possible for it to be if not weightless, at least lightweight. I believe it's not only feasible to demolish patterns of communicating and being that are no longer serving us, but that from the remnants we can rebuild something both sustainable and exquisite.

I awake most mornings recently knowing this: I'm ready to raze, and I want exquisite.

More on the lovely new relationship another time. My initial instincts are to share it all - the crazy excitement, sensual discovery, genuine comfort, as well as what feels like a very real exploration of intimacy and trust; yet, something tells me that pattern of disclosure hasn't served me so well in the past. And well, I also want to cradle it close for just a while longer. It does makes me think of exquisite, though. That much I can tell you.

November 27, 2011

November 17, 2011

to be me

I was talking with someone today who thinks the things we feel we need from others or from relationships really come from something unresolved inside of us. "Wants are different than needs," she said. "And we shouldn't need anything external; we should already have it inside". Along the same lines, another friend recently wrote me that what scares us in others is usually a reflection of our own unresolved issues (an aside: how lucky am I to have multiple people in my life with whom to have these deep, honest exchanges? Just sayin'...).

Moments like these along with the emotional roller coaster I've been on these past few months have motivated me to take a look at myself - at my own fears, my own unresolved issues. It's been distracting as hell, and I've gotten none of the work I need to finish completed, but clearly I needed the time to ponder. So often lately I've meditated and been shocked at what has come up. I know we're supposed to simply notice and acknowledge without judgment, but more often than not, I'm muttering what the hell? I already dealt with that. Yet there it is. Again. And again.

Learning to sit with it all in a new context is a process. One that makes me question what I feel I still need from people, from relationships, from myself. One that simultaneously affirms my growth and highlights my vulnerabilities. Vulnerabilities that remind me I work so hard at not making mistakes sometimes I forget to forgive myself for being human, and as such, horribly flawed. I wonder how much growth I've prevented by renouncing these imperfections rather than embracing them.

And you know, it dawned on me today that I think I'm finally ready to forgive myself, to move away from the judgment laden identities I've claimed. To move forward. To love without need. To feel without shame or reservation. To be unapologetically me - flaws and all.


November 8, 2011

into the recesses

What would life be like if we could see the soul of each person rather than what we wear on the outside?
 - Mercedes Dauphinais (photographer unknown) 

I saw this circulating on Facebook, and it captivated me. So much, in fact, I've been slowing down when I look at people, trying to see past the exterior chains in which our lives lock us to the recesses within that shelter our essence, our energy. If we look hard enough, compassionately enough, I'm finding we can see each other so much more clearly than I ever thought possible. See ourselves more clearly. I'm telling you, it is no small change-maker.

I think, too, the image struck me because for weeks I've been groaning my way through Halloween ads and articles, friends' pictures posted all over the web, and the general mayhem and money-waste that accompanies Westernized and commercialized holidays. I detest Halloween, and I've always wondered what is says about us that we so eagerly don the masks of someone else during this holiday. Perhaps if it were all whimsy and fairy dust, I'd see the magic so many claim; yet, each year there's more blood, more masks, more death. And I guess I just don't see what's playful about that. Then again, life is hard enough for folks, and if a manufactured day living a fabricated persona brings happiness, who am I to judge?

I can't help but imagine how different the world would be, though, if we spent that time and energy on the things that really mattered.

Regardless, I loved the photo. I don't know the artist, so please feel free to leave the info in the comments if you do.

November 3, 2011

it's a thought

Determined to stay awake because I'm afraid to go to sleep, I had hoped to write - something good, something profound. Something that captured the deep ache twisting around inside. Something that would purge it. Instead, I'm stuck (like really, really stuck. I even had trouble breathing while receiving a Reiki treatment today. I did a lot of work around your heart, the Reiki master said. No shit, I replied).

So I've been reading instead, and I came across this piece on Kristin Noelle's site and began to weep. She writes,
What if becoming (painfully, gut-wrenchingly, sometimes) aware of our fear is not always a sign that we're far off from peace, but actually quite the opposite: a sign that we're actually close enough to peace to start collapsing into it, to start admitting to ourselves or someone else how hard things have been? How much we need Life's hug?
It's a thought, I suppose.

October 29, 2011

scary shifts

I hate taking pills to help me get to sleep, but after this last bout of insomnia and a week of nightmares, I'm not sure what else to do. The nightmares are terrifying - people with guns chasing me while I panic and plead and sob so I can see my little girl again. They're graphic and detailed, and I remember them in full-color for days. I taste them for days. After they wake me, I spend the rest of the night alert, checking on my daughter every half hour. Listening to her breathe in the room next to mine as I try to shake my mind clear of the image of being lost to her forever.

Layer on the insomnia and a draining week, and it's no wonder I'm sick in bed at 9 pm on a Saturday. Perhaps it's vicarious trauma from work or latent anxiety making an appearance, but something is happening in my head, and the usual remedies aren't working. I'm tired. And really, really sad. I'm so damn grateful for my life and feel myself stretching at every turn; yet, something is loosening in my chest, in my world. Something that has been lodged so deeply and densely, I've only just begun noticing it. Something that frightens me as it unleashes a bit more of its intensity each day.

Maybe this is what happens when the big changes occur, and I'm just more attuned to them in a way I haven't been previously. Being a therapist, after all, requires an unparalleled openness. Perhaps opening for my clients also opens me to my own deep - and uncomfortable - shifts. I just wish it weren't so painful. Or maybe I don't. I don't know anymore.


October 24, 2011

it's tough (to date when you're an independent anti-racist)

I have a feeling writing this post is going to be a part-humiliating, part-entertaining, and completely self-pitying act...

Shortly after my divorce, my cousin started a campaign to get me to try online dating. I was divorced, dammit! It was supposed to be a time of rebirth and rediscovery, yet I wasn't meeting anyone I felt worthy of my time. After listening to me  moan about my starved sex life and the general lack of male yumminess in my life ad nauseum, she essentially told me to try it or shut up forever. While I recognize online dating is no longer a stigmatized - or rare - method of making a connection, I was hesitant. It always seemed like something other people did. Other people, lest you think I'm being self-righteous and contemptuous, whom I adore, respect, and in many ways envy for their openness to the idea. But for me, it seemed a bit like choosing a dog from the pound. And I didn't think trolling men's profiles for proof they were housebroken was a great way to spend my time. It's a terrible thing to say, I know, but true. I suppose in rebuttal, you could make the point that one person's nightmare of a pet could be another's absolute dream, but I think I won't draw out the metaphor any longer.

Anyway, despite my misgivings, I gave in to her and wrote up a profile for a few different sites she recommended. Her response after reading them was " might not get a lot of responses, but...good for you anyway". Here is the one for the Jewish site I tried for all of 48 hours (I know. I know...a religious site...for me?):
I'm independent, intellectual, fun, and disarmingly honest. My friends tell me I'm no wallflower, and they sometimes even call me (charmingly) stubborn. I read EVERYTHING - from the back of cereal boxes to textbooks - and there is very little that doesn't interest me. Full disclosure: I never thought I'd give online dating a whirl, but things have changed in the last decade, so here I am. Honestly, I'm not looking to be rescued, nor am I in need of someone to complete me. I'd simply like to find a companion with whom to share fun, conversation, and intrigue. I was raised Jewish, and when I find a congregation that is progressive enough, I might attend services. More often, however, you'll find me incessantly questioning anything organized and flinching when other Jews assume I blindly support Israel's politics simply because I'm Jewish - similarly to when some narrow-minded white people think I sympathize when they make a racist statement simply because I'm white. If you aren't interested in the human rights of all people, I'm probably not someone you should contact. Needless to say, the following are essentials in anyone with whom I spend a lot of  time:  progressive politics, candor, compassion, strength of character, and a damn good sense of humor. Mutual magnetism doesn't hurt either. 
(You know, after all this time, I still don't see what was so wrong with it...:) )

She was right. Turns out only a few are interested in a woman not looking to be saved, and even fewer are seeking anti-racist activists. I did have one man compliment me on my grammar, though. That was nice. Anyway - for these and other various reasons, the online dating phase didn't last long. Perhaps it's the story of my life, but a method created to eliminate isolation in the general population only increased it for me.Ultimately, I determined any process that made me feel I was selling out in order to get attention (or emails, winks,sex, dates, etc) was simply not one in which I could partake (please know I'm not even remotely proposing that everyone who dates online is selling out; I just know for me, the manufactured forums don't work. Another friend told me once I actually went out a few times with someone, the fact that we met online would fade to the background. That, too, never happened for me. I was always acutely aware of the contrived settings, of the process laden with unhidden rules and all too often fictitious histories. It made me sick to my stomach.).

Perhaps I'm not as curious as I think I am. Certainly I'm not as free of judgment as I'd like to think. If I were, I imagine I'd be relatively happy sharing meals while learning about the lives of others - regardless of our commonalities or the imposed structure. Instead, well, ugh. I find it exhausting. I mean I don't think less of a person if he isn't also interested in the things I'm interested in or has never been exposed to them, but I damn well don't want to be his teacher either - especially if I'm dating him! And unfortunately (or maybe fortunately?), I have this affliction that requires my brain be as turned on as my body. I really, really want global politics and goopy sweet whispers as pillow talk. I want to be reflective as well as rambunctious, brainy as well as batty. More times than I can count, I've been told I'm "too intense","too grown up", "too intimidating" - when in reality that's only the part strangers see.There's so much more underneath.

It's tough out there in this world where social media all too often replaces physical interaction, where the percentage of available (and accessible) folks looking at the world through an anti-oppressive lens is quite small, where still in the year 2011 women are supposed to be rescued and men are supposed to rescue. It's tough when you don't want to be alone, but being alone by yourself still looks better than the alternatives. It's tough to figure out what works when what doesn't places you on the margins. Again.

October 22, 2011

be so happy

I'm holding onto this message my little one left for me today on my "to do" list in the kitchen. How a 7 year old knew to leave the exact message her mother needed, I don't know, but she did. I've taken a picture of it and posted it everywhere I go so I don't forget. Be so happy.

This week brought too many extremes, and for just a few minutes I'll succumb to feeling ill-equipped to deal with them. Just for a moment I'll admit I'm tired. Tired of being swung from ecstasy to despair and back again. Tired of not sleeping. Tired of wanting more when I already have so much. So tired of thinking about happiness - of straining against the ingrained and inaccessible fantasies of what it is, what it could be. Tired of hanging out in deep, dark places and having to depend on myself for the strength to resurface. Tired - and a bit sad - when resurfacing brings distress rather than comfort. Tired of glimpsing the possibilities yet being too far away from them to touch. Just tired.

Perhaps it is the idea that in a few short months I'll once again be starting over. And yes, while starting over can bring fresh air and new growth, it also requires letting go - be it of a place, people, or of running narratives - all to which I am quite attached despite the fact they may no longer serve. And how much letting go can one person handle? My god - how many times must I rebuild myself and my life until I'm finally living it? When will one step closer become finally there?

And yet, despite the weariness, be so happy doesn't seem so impossible. So far away. I know it's in things big and small: a strong cup of hot coffee, warm sun in Chicago's October, a leisurely downward dog, my little one's smile and embrace. I swear I see such sheer perfection in her I can't fathom how anyone could ever - will ever - turn away from a life with her if given the chance. She makes everything better. Everything. She makes it possible to be so happy.

Be so happy.

October 17, 2011

j, my big brother

(so the pic is really old...
it's not like it's a dating profile)
To my big brother, Jason:

It's true as children, we often threw bricks at each other instead of kisses, pulled hair instead of hugs, wrestled instead of worshiped; yet, somehow those days, too, fastened love. They battened it down against the storms sure to come, the storms that surely came, so after we could discover it beneath the rubble - if sleeping at least breathing. Among the casualties at least alive.

And it's funny how the years unfold and we stand here facing each other, staring at ourselves. Our hearts so identical they could have fed from the same placenta; our dreams so alike it's impossible to impose boundaries of yours and mine. Our sickening romanticism; our infinite, if sometimes unfathomable, hope. Our daughters. Our songs. Our dogs. I could go on...

So this is to tell you, big brother, how glad I am you are someone with whom I can still sing (however badly) 70's duets, dance like no one is watching, laugh until my cheeks ache. In this world that sometimes feels too isolating and other times not isolating enough, know you aren't ever alone.

I love, love, love you always. 

October 16, 2011

for jimmy

A couple of weeks ago I was reading a post on Kindness Girl about a guerrilla goodness mission (an intentional, anonymous act of kindness) that involves two of my favorite things: cooking and making a dedication. Go here to read it in detail, but basically Patience, aka Kindness Girl, recently heard from a woman whose son, Jimmy, had died. She was seeking help in coming up with a special act of remembrance for him. Patience ran with the request (as only she can deliciously do), and suggested since he loved to cook, perhaps folks might make and dedicate a dinner in his honor, and she would send the pictures to his family of random people all the country cooking in celebration of Jimmy's life. Kind, no? 

So tonight,with my favorite 7 and 16 year old, we dedicated a yummy dinner, many laughs, and much love in honor of Jimmy and his family who loves and misses him.

Vegetarian Chili w/Squash and Rutabaga
Apple Pie!
Dinner's ready!

October 15, 2011


My little one is away this weekend, so I've tried to restore a bit. Yesterday, for instance, I willingly succumbed to a much-needed late afternoon nap - a deep dream-filled, naked sleep teeming with shadows and colors and promises.While vivid, often beautiful and sometimes amusing, my dreams bring no resolution, just more pressure on a heart already drenched from the storms of the soul - which is probably why I tend to avoid afternoon naps, and sometimes sleep altogether. But it was a worthwhile indulgence yesterday nonetheless.

Today brought the most perfect fall weather, aimless wanderings with my dog, an afternoon indy film, a quick visit to a beer/bonfirefest with friends, and home to a pile of homework preceded by a bubble bath with a glass of wine and my favorite candle. It was pretty freakin' fantastic.

And tomorrow, my agenda includes pancakes and coffee before I delve into evidence-based trauma treatment research - followed by, of course, yoga. I'm pretty sure by the time I reunite with the little one, I'll be so rejuvenated, I'll be completely unrecognizable.

There are endless other things cycling through my mind and my heart, but I can't bring myself to write the words to describe them. Sometimes, I'm discovering, it's better to just pause. Sometimes it's better to dust off the clutter by breathing in space and light than to try to systematize with meaning and metaphor. Sometimes smelling the sunshine, feeling the chill and swaying in the wind is better than all the poetry in the world.

I hope your weekend has been as lovely - and restorative - as mine.

shake your world

No - this isn't a sex toy post (although that would be fun!); it's my latest piece on Yoga Modern.

Here's a peak...

Shake Your World by Practicing in the Dark

I don’t know about you, but I’m finding it hard to live serenely and grounded these days.  Be it the energy surrounding the “Occupy” movement, the politics and yoga discussion, my experiences teaching with fellow Yoga Modern writer, Carol Horton, in a women’s prison, or thinking deeply about the modern embodiment of yoga philosophy, I’m over-saturated and edgy from images and analysis. I sway between righteousness and weariness, and the last phrase I can utter with any certainty is I believe.

In spite of the palpable love energy and necessity to engage in dialogue about our role in the complexities in the world, they continue to sting my increasingly sensitive heart,  and I admit, leave me a bit confused. If the aspiration in yoga is to calm the fluctuation of the mind's chatter, how do we still rage against injustice? How do we remain calm yet not complacent? My practice lately has a hint of this same confusion to it. Tell me, I ask with my breath. Cradle me, I say with my body. Release me, I cry with tears that drip into the earth.

Go here for the rest...

October 11, 2011

ryan gosling AND feminist theory...yum

This is the blog of the day: Feminist Ryan Gosling. Really, enough said.

Here's a sample:

Feminist Ryan Gosling

October 10, 2011

trauma and yoga

My 2nd piece was published on Yoga Modern today: Trauma, Teaching, and Triggers: An Interview with David Emerson. Take a look if interested!

October 7, 2011

loneliness needn't be a burden; it, too, can be a gift

My free Fridays are quickly filling up with teaching and progress notes and "must do" and "must go", but I've been thinking about loneliness a lot this week and wanted to put this out there. On a personal level and a professional one.

I awake some mornings acutely aware there are no arms into which I can sink and snuggle before starting my day. My skin tingles from the body memories only. And often, I spend my evenings with dead jazz musicians and a bottle of red wine, company not so shabby but albeit a little skimpy on conversational exchange. During some of these evenings lately, I read love letters from various social justice activists to their lovers (god, I miss the days of love letters). Beneath the searing passion and yearning I sense something that also resonates over and over again when I work intimately with others - whether in therapy or in movement: a seemingly universal need for connection. It manifests individually, of course, in ways both healthy and harmful - but at the root is a craving to attach. To someone, to something meaningful. And life, no doubt, can be lonely for those for whom attachment is threatening or painful. It can ostracize and overwhelm,  tease and torture, diminish and devastate.

But as I discuss with my clients (and remind myself), there's something seductive about loneliness despite its achy discomfort. Perhaps it grants us permission to live as narcissists, to spread out our needs, desires and dreams on a blank canvas without having to consider the impact they would have on someone else - only consummate longing without submissive sharing. Or maybe without it we wouldn't have space to dance with our sensitivity or to cradle justice. After all, who would ever change a damn thing about ourselves, about our world if we felt full all the time? Contentment can so often lead to complacency.

Loneliness, I think, needn't only be a burden; it, too, can be a gift.

October 4, 2011

i will love you, again

I've seen some exquisite examples of grace lately. And depth. And courage. I've watched lives that have crumbled like paper; I've thought how can a body withstand this? And yet, it does. We do.

There's beauty in our collective brokenness; after all, even from scraps we can build community and find space to love again. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

The poem is a new item in the Syracuse Cultural Workers catalog. I love it. You can find it here if you do, too.

September 30, 2011

we can do better

I taught pre-natal yoga at the Cook County Women's Detention Center today. Driving there, I had a few moments of doubt - not because I was intimidated by the inmates or surroundings, but because I wasn't sure a group of women of color particularly needed -or even desired - yet another white girl telling them what to do - even if that "what" was only how to get into Warrior II. I found, however (as I usually do), my fears were mine - rooted in the work I still need to do around my anti-racist activism - not theirs. They were gracious, receptive, and appreciative for the opportunity to share resources.

As the women lined up after class to go back to their section of the prison and called out their goodbyes and wished us a safe trip home, I was struck again by how similar we are underneath the layers of our life stories. We are women; we are mothers worried about our babies; we are scared; we are people who care about others; we respond to kindness; we want peace - and change. We are all the same, really. And for a brief moment before we said Namaste, the room shimmered with the energy of that perfection.

One image in particular stays with me tonight. Towards the end of class, I was instructing a foot position for a leg stretch, and I smiled into the eyes of the woman with whom I was working. She smiled back shyly, her immense sense of gratitude palpable between us. My heart filled with warmth, but it was equally pierced by the reality that we live in a world where for some the most simple act of kindness, a smile, is a rare occurrence. I seem to be asking this question an awful lot lately, but how did we get here?

I thought it, too, when I walked out through the heavy metal doors, gazing around at the bars and the filth these women have to live in every day without regular access to services that will ensure a safe and sustainable departure when the time comes. And I became enraged at the indignity of it all. Even resources for mental health counseling and substance abuse treatment have been completely eliminated from the system due to budget cuts. A community organizer told me this week our prison population has grown 1000% since 1980, and 80% of those incarcerated are there for drug charges. I know we can't talk about a solution without also talking about all the injustices plaguing our various systems, but damn, we can do better than this. It doesn't take a political science degree to spend five minutes on our prison grounds and know we can do better. We must do better.

And until we do, well, I'll keep visiting my new mama yoginis in the hope our hour together carves out some space in which they can feel their bodies and feed their spirits, a space that offers smiles and gives light they can carry with them back into the darkness. But we can do better than weekly yoga classes for these women. And we must.

September 26, 2011

a declaration don't mean ready

In the midst of hectic classes, alternately numbing and invigorating clinicals, loving parenting, and mindful teaching, I'm trying to carve out a few minutes each day just for me - either to write, drink a cup of tea without doing a hundred other things at the same time, or simply take a walk by myself. It's hard, but I'm trying. And as I'm scurrying about getting it all done, I chuckle to myself that I think I could ever juggle a romantic relationship along with all the other balls I have up in the air right now. After all, just because I declare my heart might be ready doesn't mean at all that my life is - especially considering the going-all-in way I love. 
And while this might appear as an excuse to some, despite my declaration to the Universe (or to whom/whatever I made that declaration) that I'm open to love, I wonder about my heart's readiness.One of the most profound lessons I've learned in my clinicals these past few months is what it takes - and looks like - to be in a healthy relationship. To be healthy in a relationship. And honestly, I've never accomplished it.  Either I've  been willing to deny essential needs like intellectual stimulation and physical zing in exchange for security, kindness, and companionship or I've fallen for men I thought I could love into wanting to be with me - men I thought I could love enough for both of us - and as a result accepted much, much less than I deserve. I'm 35 years old, and I don't think I've ever been healthy in a relationship. For the first time I can look at myself and say this with only simple acknowledgment, without bitterness or judgment.

Even my most intimate friendships are difficult when they shift into conflict. It's much easier for me to avert my eyes, fall silent, deny uneasiness and resentment than it is to acknowledge a rough patch face to face. Maybe it's an issue of trust. Perhaps it's a long-nourished and deep-seated fear of not being understood or wanted. Of not being enough, of making mistakes (I hate making mistakes). Maybe it's unresolved adolescent insecurity and residual emotional trauma. I don't know. What I do know is that I must learn how to be healthy in relationships - all of them. And being healthy in relationships means cultivating internal safety as well as external. It means sometimes offering everything I have to someone else without asking for anything back - even basic decency of reciprocity in regards to respect - isn't protecting myself. It means it's ok to love with great depth and tenderness and still say "no" if it isn't right. It means enough of being in relationships all alone - relationships that make me feel all alone. It's time to be healthy.

I'm not sure what any of this means for my life. I've been looking forward to a few new experiences - to a dating revival if you will - but even the responsibility of  flirty texts weighs too much right now - especially when they are squeezed in between counseling sessions or my little one's bath and bedtime. I'm more annoyed than entertained with "get to know you" nuance, and I have a short (and tired) fuse. Maybe it's just not time. Maybe my life or my heart - or both - just isn't ready. 

A while back I was talking with someone who suggested I give myself permission to just be. She advised picturing my heart as an open door but not spending any extra time directing traffic to it. "Just build your life", she said. 

Maybe I will. Maybe I am.


September 22, 2011

don't give up

I'm so busy I can hardly breathe, but each week I sit with my clients and my respect for them grows exponentially. I could say adore, but there is probably an ethical code I'd be breaking if I admitted that. Sure - I provide a safe space and a temporary shelter for their pain, but there's nothing that compares to what they've given me. The human spirit is an amazingly intricate, resilient, and hopeful thing, my friends. Believe it.

And I guess because I can't seem to stop thinking about the hidden stories we all carry and hold in the face of unspeakable tragedy, I've been listening to this song performed by Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush so much I'm hearing it in my dreams. There is indeed a place where we all belong: it's here.

September 19, 2011

with you

photo credit: piovasco

We were driving away. Heart pounding and cries still piercing my ears, I turned to look out the back window to see my dad struggling to hold my little one back as she tried to chase us.

"Don't go", she screamed.

Legs flailing, tears pouring down her face, she cried "Take me with you.Take me with you".

"I'm with you, little one", I said softly, "I'm with you".
That was how my weekend away began.

Already conflicted about leaving, I ached driving away from her. I needed to go for work, I knew, and also to intentionally put myself in a group of people, to force myself out of isolation and into relation, but as a parent, it's a special kind of hell to walk/run/drive away from my baby screaming for me.Of course, she was fine - smiling again and requesting burgers and ice cream in less than twenty minutes. It took me a little longer, but I was fine, too.

But - because I was away and need to make up time to her and my dad who is visiting (who not only watched my lil one while I was gone but bought me a guitar so I can learn how to play! yay!), as well as attend to the gazillion other details involved in staying afloat these days, I only have a short list, in no particular order, of lovely unexpected treasures from the weekend:

1. Rising to mist-soaked wheat fields
2. Mindful meals w/no computers, no texting, no calling - just conversation and connection
3. Sun Salutations in the sun
4. Yoga sculptures, fire pits, hugs, and giggles
5. Sliding into intimacy, into vulnerability with a group of not-quite strangers/ not-quite friends
6. Having those not-quite strangers/not-quite friends morph into quite-like family
7. Open hearts, big hearts, full hearts
8. Space (and an audience) to be goofy again
9. Getting lost on winding, country roads
10. Hearing "you're strong, warm, brave, passionate, and I admire you so for following your dreams". Being gently reminded of the qualities I want to believe but so often forget I have.

It was lovely to hear over and over, verbally and physically, I'm. with. you.

And for more lovely today, visit Jen's new post, How To Be Happy (part five) and the fabulous Kindness Girl.

September 14, 2011

love trumps

A couple of years ago shortly before my divorce, I had a session with a great astrologer I trust implicitly (yes - I have astrologers as part of my self-care with it), and I remember talking to him about relationships and my sometimes problematic Venus in Scorpio, and he told me from my chart, he wouldn't be surprised if I found him relatively soon(ish), the one who could simultaneously challenge and handle me, who would see into my soul and I into his. The him who would light me up, make everything better just by being. I've held this conversation close - for many reasons that have to do with hope and standards, desire and dreams.

For all of my radical politics and unwavering acceptance, I'm still a bit old-school when it comes to love. I'm a holdout to the Bogart/Bacall, mutual surrender days, I guess. And as much as I'd sometimes like to try on the costume of someone who casually engages in love affairs no matter the depth or time frame, ultimately I know it won't fit. I've tried, and the stretching and hemming and tailoring it takes to put it on binds; the ripping to get it off hurts. And I'm not interested in self-inflicted (and fully preventable) pain anymore. Yet, even though it's what I must do, I'm finding it's hard to stand  proudly and defiantly with a naked heart. It's limiting when it should be liberating, somewhat sorrowful when it should be satisfying.
Photo credit: Addaperle
I read a lot. Always have. So much my elementary school teachers used to call home in frustration because they didn't know what to do with me when they caught me during class (a frequent occurrence) with my own book hidden inside the cover of whichever text we were studying. Even now, my daughter will remove a book from my hands when I've been reading so intently I forget to give her the attention she demands. My Google reader has hundreds of feeds on it, and I refresh them obsessively. Some might say it's a problem...they might be right. But I digress. I have my own category for "power to the single mom" blogs. They are full of aching stories, unparalleled bravery, and entertaining manifestos declaring independence and worthiness. In them I've found solidarity and acceptance; yet, lately I cringe when I read  "we don't need no stinkin' men" posts. Whether it's the lady doth protest too much or just my own inability to relate to pretty much everyone these days, I don't know, but I just can't feel them. I mean, of course I don't need to be in love, but damn it, I want to.

And perhaps that is the purpose of this post: to state it. To put it out there to the Universe or our guardian angels or God or whatever. To acknowledge I have a life that works - with a happy girl who is growing into a beautiful citizen and professional opportunities that feed my mind and my body. I have a lovely home that is safe and colorfully cozy, and despite the grouchiness about my sense of isolation, if I reach out, I have people. Wonderful friends and family who care about me deeply.  Perhaps it's time to acknowledge what is, and by doing so, make space for what can be.

I'm ready.

I'm a believer in love, after all. I think it transcends even when we aren't surrendering to it for all the reasons - both righteous and ridiculous - we turn away. I think as much as we choose the pathways we walk, destiny is every bit as powerful, and love trumps them both. I think while it's a hell of a lot harder to breathe love, take love, give love, be love after we've walked away or someone has walked away from us, it's those moments that encompass everything: our frailties and strengths, our deceptions and truths, our narcissism and compassion. I think - I'll even say I believe -  if we can synchronously receive and renounce them, we create space for hope, for happiness, for love.

September 12, 2011

tattoos and harleys

After dinner with friends last night, I drove home under a moon just a few hours shy of being full. I rounded my favorite bend on the interstate - the one where I curve slightly and drive right into the city's skyline - and saw it suspended on the horizon: big and bright and beautiful. Upon seeing it, I got to thinking about the escalating anxieties that seem to plague me these days and my receding grasp on believing enough to declare I actually believe anything, and I found myself feeling immense gratitude for the moon's consistency. Because the moon, though it waxes and wanes, always shows up. No matter what. It's no wonder we so often personify it.

The months, too, cycle through - and here in Chicago fall is making an appearance with breezy days and cool nights that resonate with my undeniable urge for rambling walks with no destination, for soft blankets, softer hugs, and big mugs of hot tea upon my return. I have an intensifying longing to create, to write, to bake, to pour everything stirring inside into deep urns of savory soups. Somewhere in the moving meditation of peeling, kneading, and mixing, the weight slides in the direction of lighter.

Just as many evenings, though, the shift of the seasons grips me with a desire to do something crazy and unexpected - like draping my biceps with delicious tattoos, turning my newly-spiked hair platinum, riding one of those mechanical bulls at a honky tonk bar, or commuting to work on a new Harley.  Of course, thanks to a ridiculous excess of psychology classes, I recognize these fantasies for what they are - attempts to maintain control during a restless phase leaving me all too vulnerable and powerless. So - instead of ink, bleach, bulls or metal, I'll grudgingly choose Eka Pada Khoundiyanasana. It should keep me busy until spring at least.

I can't help but think, though, that I'd feel pretty damn fantastic on that Harley.

September 8, 2011

happy stuff does exist

Someone found his/her way to my blog the other day by googling the words "pain solitude failure grief tears". I chuckled, of course, but I really don't want to be that blog (and I know yesterday's post was a bit heavy), so today I'm giving you happy stuff.


Let's start with the bridge of love in Kiev. Leonie captures the most amazing images, and this one is no exception. Imagine - a pedestrian bridge covered in thousands of locks inscribed with the names of lovers. There is something about it that just makes me all gooey inside.

Did you wake up full of awesome today? (h/t to Stephanie)

Go here to see this poignant project devoted to reclaiming the OB/GYN patient experience through imagery and words. (h/t to Chicago Women's Health Center)

It's a year old now, but this picture captures just one of the countless moments between me and my girl. It never ceases to make me happy. I love, love, love her.