Posts Categorized: Radical Kindness

What’s Your Trellis Look Like?

I was a lazy gardener this summer.  It took me until August to reclaim the garden beds on the side of my house, having torn down all the vines last year to paint. It was immediately obvious that the clematis and Virginia creeper were not thriving.  Without the support of a structure to hold them up, vines sprawl, unable to reach to the sky.

Sound familiar? Without the stucture of routines and rituals, I notice my direction and inner focus begins to sprawl, too.  Not to mention my waistline, but that’s just one of the signs I’ve lost touch with the structures of daily life that sustain me. Creativity and inspiration require routine.  I learned this when I taught writing.  Classroom routines set the stage the most imaginative writing.

So now that the school year is almost upon us, I look at my own trellis.  Morning quiet time to meditate, to stretch to write.  A food plan that sustains and fuels my body.  A calendar that allows me to manage the complexity of my appointments. A daily check-in on my To-Do list. Each year I examine my trellis and see how it needs to be strengthened. This outer focus is a big part of the commitment I make to my inner growth. I keep experimenting with ways to make this easier, and technologies from I-Cal to scheduling programs to blog support makes it all work better for me at this time. But I’m still very fond of the classic approach of a small calendar in my pocket with a to-do list.

The creeper is now climbing a standard trellis, and the clematis is climbing an innovative trellis consisting of a large chain suspended from the roof. But both now have all the support they need to flourish.  And my own new new trellis, the infrastructure that will sustain my spirit and allow it to bloom,  is almost in place.

What does your trellis look like?  What will sustain your growth in the coming months? Now that the sprawl of summertime is coming to an end, it’s a good time to ask the question. And to allow your own unique trellis to be constructed from your answers.

The World is Full of Yes

This is my newest morning mantra.

I believe in morning mantras. I like to remind myself, as soon as I come to consciousness, of something which I know to be true, from my own direct experience. I have discovered again and again all the ways the world answers my longings with invitations, and each offer is a Yes to my own essential self, my own kind connection with Life.

First light of day has some sacred juju. There’s a thin veil, a softness between worlds. Every single morning when you wake up, there’s a distinct second when some part of you declares yourself “awake.” There’s a nothing in the nanosecond between asleep and awake.  And then there’s a something, as you move from the distant lands of dream into this multi-storied existence we inhabit daily.

On this side there are lists, memories, plans.

Also the mindless habits of yesterdays past. They  get rebooted, too. In a nanosecond.

A very valuable nanosecond.

Because there is a moment no longer than a blink of an eye, before the old hardwiring is launched.

In that moment the world is full of yes.

It’s as if a shy part of me is waiting to be heard and knows just when and where to show up in the early morning. I set an appointment with it, set a timer (with a kind, gentle signal), and there she is, patiently waiting.

Early mornings offer a soft launching pad for this new relationship with life. In that moment, the world summons us, if we can catch the new wave. Yes to gravity. Yes to movement. .Foot on floor. For me, sitting quietly in meditation before picking up my journal and engaging in my writing practice opens the doors to Yes. Then perhaps I capture a dream, perhaps I begin with a list of possibilities. Perhaps I begin with a perhaps. My pen shows me the way and slows down mind enough that it can be heard. The Yeses expand as the day unfolds.

The World is Full of Yes. When I begin the day this way, I live beyond gratefulness and into possibility.

How do you greet that Yes with your own? Here’s how it might look to live into the yes of possibility:

  • First, if possible, Go to bed with enough time to awaken gently.
  • Get the harsh alarm out of the picture except in urgent situations. If you must use a timer, set it on a soft setting.
  • Don’t jump up. Luxuriate in the liminal time between sleep and wake. Come back to your body gently with a blessing of awareness and slight rotations or stretches.
  • Give yourself a few minutes of quiet, meditation or prayer. Evoke a new relationship with life by affirming it.
  • Invite your mind to wander and discover all the ways your world is full of yes. ~When the time is right, follow that flow to what’s next. When you’ve allowed time to engage in an early morning practice, there’s time to explore your world in slow motion.
  • Instead of mechanically moving to email or robotic old habits, move back into stillness. with a yes to the invitations of the Universe.

Making Moments Into Beads

For a time in my life I was struck by a Beading Bug. Wherever I traveled I collected these tiny morsels of art, and as I strung them together I reconstituted the events and committed them to memory. I still celebrate places and people from long ago and far away by wearing the jewelry I created back then. Read More>>

Getting Naked

One of my friends is leading a Teleclass called “Getting Naked.” When she told me about it, I decided right there that she’s one of the bravest people I’ve ever met. Once I let go of the images of stripping in front of a webcam for all the world to see (which, to be clear, was NOT a part of this class), I was flooded with snapshot images from my past: Read More>>

Blessing this Face Through the Years

I once owned a mirror that unfolded into a triptych framed in lights.  They called it a make-up mirror. I put it on a small vanity table and called it my altar. First thing every morning I switched it on before leaving for work. It was the only time of day I was still. For two minutes I was not a teacher, mother, wife, daughter. Lists and complications dropped away and I became a canvas, silently ready for the blessing of line and color. Read More>>

Happiness, The Blue Arrow, and This Body

I recently heard about signs scattered around New York. Big blue arrows, pointing to one word. Happiness.

Sound familiar? It does to me. Pretty much the way I’ve lived a whole lot of my life in this body. The loop goes something like this: If I get this (name the ailment or condition) taken care of, THEN I’ll have happiness in and with this body.

A whole avalanche of conditions could fill this page. You have your own, but here’s a sample from my mind:

Something is too big (Fat knees, big thighs/hips, belly. Depends on the day).

I’m too sore from exercising. I’m not sore enough.

I could injure myself.

My feet hurt.

My knees are creaky.

I have to pee. Now. Read More>>

The Hour I First Believed

My body for so long was my secret shame, the taboo subject. I remember lying on the couch, looking at my seven-year-old legs and declaring to myself that they were too fat.

I had become a believer. In that specific moment, all the judgments I’d absorbed from the world around me just popped into my head, a full-grown bundle of beliefs that I’ve carried most of my life.

My religion had simple rules: it was good to be thinner. Read More>>