Monday, December 20, 2010

December 20 - Beyond Avoidance

What should you have done this year but didn't because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?)

I ended a 14 year relationship, moved across country, gave up almost all my belongings, my house, half my retirement money, my two dogs and two cats, and most of my "identity" because I could no longer live without love and kindness in my life.   I gave up on scared, worried, busy and unsure, they were lonely companions.   I chose to fill my cup anew, I chose to see life a new way.  I chose to live without fear.  It frightens the hell out of me every day.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

December 19 - Healing

What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011?

Hands down I can say three things - meditation, yoga and running…it was both sudden and drip by drip, coming on all at once, but having been built up slowly. 2011 will only be a success if I continue my practice of all three of these integral parts of my spiritual practice.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

December 18 - Try

What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn't go for it?

All I ever wanted to do was go fox hunting. The idea of galloping over green hill and dale listening to the hounds, the scenery, the horses, the hunt attire, the deeply steeped tradition - all of it so appealed to me. It is so contradictory to my belief system - a vegetarian pacifist, not a murdering elitist - but it runs so deep in my blood that I can only call it genetic. When I had the chance I didn't wait long enough to say "no". When I packed up my tack and coat and stock tie and drove, knees knocking, to the stranger who had invited me through mutual Facebook friends, I was full of trepidation - I hadn't ridden in months, I didn't know the horse, the weather was foreboding, the footing slop, the hunt one of the fastest in the southeast, if not the country, notorious for their long hard gallops and Tally Ho's late in the waning evening. But I piled into the car with two other ladies and two dogs and made the two hour drive to Thompson Georgia for what promised to be the single most exhilarating day of my life.

Renee had two well seasoned hunters, who would ride in hill-toppers happily, and checked easily for the novice that I was, but she did not have a second jumping saddle, so I had to ride, stirrups rolled up to my knees, in my very deep seated dressage saddle. She promised we wouldn't have to jump - much...

Three hours later, no coyote spotted, we headed in, our horses steaming, and my heart pounding in my throat. I had not come off, I had not embarassed myself or my host, I had, in fact, shown myself well, and my legs had done their job. All the thousands of hours spent in the tack had paid off and I was the owner of a new and wonderful story.

So in 2011 I will endeavor to say "Yes" when asked "Would you like to _______?". You never know where you will end up!

Friday, December 17, 2010

December 17 - Lesson learned

What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?

I have a hard time in the grey area. I prefer the black or the white, the good guy or the bad guy. I don’t understand contradiction, complexity or ambiguity. I love to quote Walt Whitman but do I embrace the true meaning?

Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.

I cannot give way when my strict rules are bent, I cannot accept that people may be both black and white, light and dark, yogis and car wreckers. It is hard to live in this complicated world when I want things to be simple. It is hard to allow others to be as they are when I portray them in iconic roles, square them into round holes, peg them as simple, when in fact they are not. No one is simple, no issue is black or white, the world is not flat, and we are both.

How will I apply this going forward? Ah this is a hard one…a core issue for me, to see that there are 1000 ways to skin this cat, 1000 ways to say snow, and my childish mind prefers the sheriff to gallop into town and make things right with a brandish of his pistol. I will lean into the confusion, stand quietly in the maelstrom, listen for my one true voice, and make room for myself and others.

December 16 - Friendship

How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?

An acquaintance, then a friend, then my anam cara - my soul's friend, and now, my love. In a mere 4 sublime and lovely, languid days, she was transformed from one the the next and then I fell, hopelessly, bottomlessly, in love. Without tether, without tanks, submerged at once, into the ether of her. I leaned into her, like a ripe blooming rose, drank in her heady scent, inhaled every last aroma, and am now, like Alice before me, fallen down the rabbit hole. She was everything I never knew I always wanted. And I see the world with new eyes, feel my life with a new heart.

December 15 - 5 minutes

Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010

Not in chronological order:

Laying in the hammock with Stella, the hug from Molly at the airport, every minute of our drive across country, my first kiss with C, the bondage exam at the airport, meeting Jewel, snow snow snow, the dogs at the dog park, digging digging digging, yoga and lots of it, getting 100 on my poli sci test, making love for the first time in my life, waking up with my love every morning, coffee and Pema, my first race, my first 5k, my first 10k, getting into size 6 jeans for the first time! Weighing 132 pounds for the first time in 100 years, running running running, Sunday meditation at shambala Atlanta, with and without C distracting me, the beautiful spring in Atlanta, and how much I loved it there, top down, kcrw, yoga, santa monica when I moved back to cali, the ocean, the goose chase, josie, bailey, bess, Chattahoochee river, carter center, love everywhere, crossing the finish, Rolex, Ginny & Hawley, waving the flag for a friend, sitting in vip, driving to Kentucky! Driving to Alabama! Loving the south east. Watching the Great Zenyatta win #18 in style, fox hunting for the first time, red dirt, azaleas, northern cardinals, run club, tofu tacos in Oakhurst.

Oh and fireflies!

This year has been one of giving up and gaining. I have lost much but gained much more. I achieved little on paper, but my soul has grown immeasurably.

December 13 – Action

When it comes to aspirations, its not about ideas. It's about making ideas happen. What's your next step?

Movement is hard forward thinking much easier than forward movement it has been a few years of forward steps for me, sometime big, sometimes little, sometimes almost imperceptible notions forward, but all have been action taken out of aspiration. I aspire towards a life that is full and real, that is wild and precious, that is lived to the hilt, I aspire to be Jack Kerouac’s roman candles, and there is but one way to get there – action. I have been inconsistent, I have had fits and starts, I have made progress and regressed, I have failed, over and over again. My next step is the same as my last, to continue on the path that I have charted. To walk this line with integrity and faith.

December 12 – Body

This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn't mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present?

My transition from 270 pound out of body mind disconnect frenzied eating machine has come to a new place this year. Because of an intense 6 months of yoga practice (1 ½ hours a day 5 days a week) I began an entirely new journey into my body. The stillness and connection between my mind, my body and my soul began to creep in slowly, unexpectedly, without a real hint it was coming, until one day I was in class and I was altogether one with myself. My body looked like and did things I did not recognize. My legs were strong and available to me and yet so part of “me” that they were like phantom limbs.

I have had these moments before, but never sustained. Riding horses has always been my mind/body escape. I have never been so free as when on horseback. The connection of my mind to not only my body, but the mind and body of the horse can be sensual and transcendent in a way that only another horseperson can understand.

Here’s an example: Riding down the long side of the arena at a slightly collected working canter, I begin to feel the slowing of impulsion in the horses strike off leg, we are half way down and he is anticipating the corner – either a down transition or turn – he is thinking slow down – but I do not want to lose the quality of the canter in the corner and I have a half pass coming up so I need collection and impulsion – so I choose my aids and ride on. All of this happens in an instant, through nuance, through a feeling that my body, not my mind, identifies. My body has sensed the change, the slowing, even if it is almost imperceptible. Only after my body has felt the change, does my mind understand, and react, and make a move. The horse feels my intention more often than not, before I apply my aid, and if we are well connected, is ready when I ask.

I have taken up running recently, and this too has a sense of mind and body integration. If only because without the power of my mind, I would simply give up. My body is far more capable than I know and I have little faith in my abilities to carry on. Just this last week I ran a 10k faster than I have ever run before, all without any belief that it could be done.

Mind body integration is an interesting question, when making love I am all body, no mind, when writing I am all mind no body (save for the fingers at the keyboard), it is only in the intellectual pursuits of riding and yoga that I find myself fully integrated.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

December 11 - Things

I’m participating in Gwen Bell’s #reverb10 challenge this month which means 31 days filled with daily writing/photography prompts meant to reflect on the past year and at the same time look ahead.

What are 11 things your life doesn't need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?

I could easily list of stuff, articles of clothing, extra towels, dishes, extemporaneous gadgets, kitchen equipment ( i have loads of that crap), but the move back across country helped me purge my belongings down to a lean and not so mean gathering of the minimum I could get by with. So I find myself with little to discard, but states of mind, resentments and judgements. There are opinions I hold dearly that really, no one should have, there are attitudes, and mind sets that really belong in my past life. The list then, would be shorter than 11 but I will try.

1. Impatience - with you, me, the cat, the world...really what is so important that I can't stop and breathe?
2. Envy - do you really have it better than me? If you do, great, but I really should give this one up
3. Sloth - I have one shot and one shot only, do I really want to spend my "one wild and precious life" watching television?
4. Greed - I have enough, I have always had enough, I have always had more than enough, so why do I want so much more?
5. Self-centeredness - I may feel alone a lot of the time, but I am not, not in the least, I am one of millions and I need to pay attention to by neighbors, my fellow citizens, my country and my planet in a new and more thoughtful way.

Friday, December 10, 2010

December 10 - Wisdom

I’m participating in Gwen Bell’s #reverb10 challenge this month which means 31 days filled with daily writing/photography prompts meant to reflect on the past year and at the same time look ahead.

What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?

After 14 years in a relationship that had gone horribly bad after about 4 years, I left. After 10 years of contest, conflict, competition, bartering, badgering and all around crankiness, I walked into the bedroom and simply stated, I don't want to be in this relationship anymore. It had been a long time coming, years in the making, but after four days spent with a friend, who would, it turns out, be my soul's mate, and many, many tears, it was easy, and the words fell right from my lips.

Wisdom is a strange word defined as a deep understanding and realizing of people, things, events or situations, resulting in the ability to choose or act to consistently produce the optimum results with a minimum of time and energy. It is the ability to optimally (effectively and efficiently) apply perceptions and knowledge and so produce the desired results. Wisdom is also the comprehension of what is true or right coupled with optimum judgment as to action. Synonyms include: sagacity, discernment, or insight. Wisdom often requires control of one's emotional reactions (the "passions") so that one's principles, reason and knowledge prevail to determine one's actions.

How did it play out? Better than I could ever have imagined, different from everything I thought could ever be. I had known so deeply in my soul that there was more, that love could be had, held, real, I knew that she had been so wrong for me, and yet I had stayed, and tried, and toiled. But here I was, in this new life, back in a place I loathed, and yet blissfully, completely and entirely whole and happy. I had lived for years in fear, fear of reprisal, fear of losing, fear of being alone. But the fear was so outweighed but the prize that I saw in front of me, that I leapt, I grasped for the brass ring, and my hand came back full of jewels.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

December 9th - Party

I’m participating in Gwen Bell’s #reverb10 challenge this month which means 31 days filled with daily writing/photography prompts meant to reflect on the past year and at the same time look ahead.

It was the first warm night of the year, the snow had melted weeks ago and the chill had held on...but this night it was warm, no cicadas yet, the spring was not yet in bloom, but we were out, walking the streets, my fellow Atlantans, unfettered, without glove or hat, and we were all feeling sexy. The party was an art opening, my first of what I hoped would be many nights out in my newly adopted city, and I had on a new scarf. I chose pink pink pink for my party clothes, and I drove down Peachtree past the Fox theatre with all my fellow citizens walking, drinking, talking, a convivial spirit enveloping the city. The people were as light as air, the mood was frivolous, gentle, laughter and clinking glass. The food was party fare, finger-y foods, white wine, gin and tonic, this is the south after all, and the characters were in full promenade. I met a politician, a broadcaster, some artists, some trophy wives, everywhere was skin, prickly white in the almost cool first of spring evening, but we braved the gooseflesh, we had had enough of wool and down, and cotton and silk were dancing around like Chanel Cruise collection on a runway model. The music was inconsequential, the dj spinning moody tunes, punctuated by a bit of hip hop when a local rapper joined the crowd, the room was bright, well lit for the paintings, and the conversation swift. I was carted around to each of the leading men and ladies, regaled with tales of Atlanta, its dark, light and funny sides, much like the roads here, all conversation lead to Peachtree Street, How can there be so many streets with the same name? I laughed at the tales of dogs, wrecked cars in ditches from late nights with too much drink, good old boys and college football. I told my tale of my first try at fox hunting, I was already initiated, accepted, a beloved, for southerners adore daring-do.

Looking back now, from my home in Los Angeles, I see that moment as I see all of my short 6 months in the South, as a treat, a bon bon, a petit four, a glimpse into a life that would not be mine. A friend of mine once told me "when you look back at the past, don't stare". Too true Molly, too true. If I were to reflect, and hope to manifest again, then it is I who must seek out the night, the warmth, and I will not judge the Autumn by the Spring.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Way I love you

The way I love you feels
Like the wind in my hair
and sugar on my tongue
The way I love you feels
Like sunshine warms my face
and fingertips slipping through rushing water

The way I love you feels
Like the lick of a fire on a cold winter night
Like the crisp smooth glide of fresh sheets on naked skin

The way I love you feels
Like the scent of dew in the morning
and the sound of leaves crushing under my shoe, damp, and moldering
freshness and earth, life and death,
sweet and heavy fog blanketing the coast,
comforting us with her bellowing horns

The way I love you feels like all my childhood memories, favorite meals, beloved toys, books, stories, best friends, scraped knees,
The way I love you feels like all things great, good, small, sacred, secret, whispered, shouted, cried over, promised,
like crossing the finish line, like licking the bowl, being tickled, milk out the nose laughing, sappy movies, making love, sleeping in, getting a kitten, losing a cat, reading and old love letter, regret, hope, remorse, faith, fireworks on the fourth of July

The way I love you is so quiet, so deep, so a part of me, that you beat in my veins, flow through my lungs, you are in me, part of me, have always been here, I have never been without you.

The way I love you feels better than anything I have ever known.
You are my alpha, my omega, my soul's closest friend. All I will ever feel will be this.
This is how the way I love you feels.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Keith Urban said it best

I continue to be brought to my knees by this love of ours… I am in awe of how this blessed family we are creating stretches and fearlessly opens my vulnerable heart…and I just want to be a better person, for you, and have you go to sleep every night knowing that no one has ever, or will ever, love you as much as I do…and all we need is faith.