Friday, May 24, 2013

spring is here! life is growing all around us.  i mean, i suppose it's always growing--the rest of dormancy being so necessary for the cycle--but right now i can really see it happen over the course of the days.  we have four pots of tomatoes shooting up on our front porch, salad greens thriving in the  back balcony window box, and our ledroit park plot is filling in with spicy radishes and mustard greens, among other things.  i love it because  it was my dream for years to garden.  i wanted to dig in the dirt and wear rubber shoes and eat from my own efforts.  that dream seemed complicated and far away for so long, but like all dreams, now that it's here nothing seems simpler.  i just put good seeds in fertile soil and stand back.

it's important to remember that, right? when the time is right for something to happen, it feels incredibly simple.  the next step is always the easiest one and the secret is always faith.  one of my favorite yoga sutras is 1.14. "practice becomes firmly grounded when well attended to for a long time, without break and in all earnestness."  i do believe that we can create what we want through shifting our perspective from lack to fullness and seeing the world through a filter of gratitude.  i also believe this can be a really long, arduous journey that will bring up a lot of muck in the process.

last night i finished reading brene brown's new book, daring greatly.  as a social researcher who studied vulnerability and shame over the past decades, she began to notice that a small group of people set themselves apart as "wholehearted" (her word to describe them).  she found that although we all deal with the muckiness--shame, low self-esteem, compulsion, etc--the people who seem to grow from it are the one who "dare greatly" and reach out during their most difficult moments.  the courageous act of reaching out in those moments and laying it all out helped those wholehearted people to see that 1) we all deal with this stuff so we can be compassionate with ourselves  2) even if we do bad things or if bad things happen to us, it doesn't mean we aren't also worth of love, joy and connection.

i love this idea and try to practice it as much as i can in my life.  it asks me to do on a daily basis what feels counter intuitive to the happiness i hope to receive.  instead of impressing the world around me with how perfectly beyond fault i am, all i have to be is honest and truthful about what i feel.  this is difficult for me.  it makes me think about my time as a sensitive fourth grader who just wanted to read during recess in the shady spot, leaning up against the cool brick wall.  after a few days of doing this, my teacher told me she was worried for me and i had to start playing games like four square and HORSE with the other kids.  squinting in the sun, i slowly walked out to the blacktop and started following other peoples rules.  this went on for a good long while in my life.

over a long practice of self-inquiry, i have come to remember that i am introvert who loves connecting at my own pace with people i trust.  when i get overtired and overstimulated by the world, i start to doubt myself and try to compensate by trying to give others what they want.  brene brown calls this our worthiness "hustle." that word feels really right to me because of how mechanic and exhausting it can be.  in those moments, it can be really hard to figure out what i am actually feeling.  yet when i do interrupt that process with the honest space of a yoga class or a cathartic journaling session or by talking to my short-list of confidants, i have no choice but to just be with my messy self.  once i am there, i am surprised by how accurately i know my feelings and how cleansing it can be just to tell the truth.  what's more, i find when i am willing to be in this honest space, i am so much better at being there for the people that i love during their difficult moments.  looking back at my life, i see how crucial these moments have been for my own growth and how much sharing them with my confidants has bonded us together.

yay truth! yay connection! yay brene brown for having the courage to give it all a name! although i think it will take me the rest of my days to fully learn this lesson, i am content for the long practice ahead.  the deep sweetness that lurks amidst all the the sweaty ardor makes walking this path well worth it.

Monday, May 6, 2013

from colossal (thanks erik): 

To help thwart rampant insurance fraud in Russia many cars are now equipped with dash cams to capture what unfolds in front of vehicles in an attempt to aid innocent persons, law enforcement, and insurance firms. This has lead to almost unlimited hours of footage found online of unbelievable accidents, close calls, and some of the worst of human behavior. Luckily somebody took it upon themselves to edit together some of the most amazingly thoughtful actions and tender moments caught with these same dash cams and edited into this short clip. And can I just say what on Earth is up with that kid running around on the highway!? (via kottke)

Friday, May 3, 2013

i really don't know who these ladies are, but seeing their moment at a bat mitzvah i photographed in january makes me feel like i do.

happy friday! i'm packing up to leave to teach my yoga retreat with steve in west virginia.  we have a full group, great people running our kitchen and the weather forecast is lovely.  i am filled with gratitude about all of this. there are also a lot of big transitions and losses going on with people that i love and i am really feeling for them.  it feels like such a honor to be there for them yet when i'm not quite sure how to help or what to say when life is big and hard. social researcher brene brown says that one of the most vulnerable times is figuring out to say to someone who is grieving. what helps me is to come back to the immediate moment, as pema chodron so beautifully expresses in the quote below, and remember that our whole big, messy lives can be exactly the fuel we need to soften and grow and become who we really know we are.  remembering this makes me feel like wherever i am standing is the best place i could possible be.

"Now. That's the key. Now, now, now. Mindfulness trains you to be awake
and alive, fully curious, about what? Well, about now, right? You sit
in meditation and the out-breath is now and waking up from your
fantasies is now and even the fantasies are now although they seem to
take you into the past and into the future. The more you can be
completely now, the more you realize that you're in the center of the
world, standing in the middle of a sacred circle. It's no small affair,
whether you're brushing your teeth or cooking your food or wiping your
bottom. Whatever you're doing, you're doing it now.

Our life's work is to use what we have been given to wake up. If there
were two people who were exactly the same--same body, same speech, same
mind, same mother, same father, same house, same food, everything the
same--one of them could use what he has to wake up and the other could
use it to become more resentful, bitter and sour. It doesn't matter
what you are given, whether it's physical deformity or enormous wealth
or poverty, beauty or ugliness, mental stability or mental instability,
life in the middle of a madhouse or life in the middle of a peaceful,
silent desert. Whatever you're given can wake you up or put you to
sleep. That's the challenge of now: What are you going to do with what
you have already--your body, your speech, your mind?"

--Pema Chodron, The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving-Kindness