The Journey

IMG_4405-1“It’s about the journey, not the destination.”

Ugh.

This sentence has annoyed me so many times in my life, not the least of which was during a particularly arduous drive to an annual trip with family. Our trip is supposed to take about 6 hours. Known quantity. It is not a new trip. For whatever reason, when I plugged the same old info into the GPS, we got a route that claimed we would be arriving in 4 and one half hours… After I checked to be sure that I had plugged in the right destination, I rejoiced internally, celebrated technology, and began heading down the road on the charted course.

We calculated that the first big turn in the route would coincide with a time when it would make sense to grab some lunch, fill the tank before the drive through the hills, and exchange the morning’s tea and coffee for some water. Perfect. We were on our way. And then we realized, that turn in the road was a turn we’d made before. That sense grew that we were about to repeat an error that we had made in the past, but that promise of the shorter trip proved too tempting to pass up. Continue reading

Forgiveness for the Beginner

Slide1Yesterday I had to have some blood drawn. OK, I had to have a lot of blood drawn for a variety of annoying tests. While I’m not a fan of needles, I am not phobic about the whole thing. I waited and was called back by an earnest young woman who indicated to me that she was a student and asked if it was okay if she drew my blood… Ugh.

I looked at her smiling, friendly face. I remembered being a student teacher. I thought about how hard it is to get practice with skills that require other humans and I agreed to let her draw my blood, against my reptilian brain’s firm belief that this was a terrible idea. She led me into a room and began to prepare the tools, hands shaking. I decided looking the other way would be the best approach. I certainly didn’t need to know her hands were shaking. Continue reading

Givers and Receivers

I know, you were expecting that “takers” part, but frankly I am bone weary of givers and takers conversations. I really am. I don’t find this distinction helpful, even in the moments when I can characterize myself as a “giver” in that scenario. Dividing into givers and takers just makes the “givers” angry at the “takers” and makes the “takers” confused by the accusation. My revised dichotomy is based on advice given to me about meditating. No, I’m not going to ask you to meditate, at least not right now, unless you want to in which case you should totally have at it.

Slide1The advice was to breathe deeply, relaxing more with each breath, and open to receiving. It stopped me in my tracks, or in my breaths I should say. Open to receiving. As I noticed my clenched jaw, it occurred to me that I was not even remotely open to receiving. And it seemed to me that stance was about more than relaxing by meditating. What was I prepared for? Why so clenched? Why am I glancing at the timer and hoping my jaw unclenches by the time I’m halfway through the “meditation.” I fear what I was focused on was a sort of tortured “giving.” Continue reading

Will Curiosity Bridge the Gap?

LoveAllNowI’m not sure what’s going on in the rest of the world, but in the U.S. things are… I don’t even know what to say they are. We have been shaken by multiple tragedies and everyone’s reactions are raw, loud, blazing hot, and loud. Did I say loud?

Please understand there is nothing inherently wrong with loud. I personally have trouble with loud, but I recognize that this is my own neurological twitch, not an indicator that the content being expressed is not accurate, valid, or completely understandable.

The problem I’m having with loud right now is that everyone is loud. I’ve taught and I can assure you that when everyone is loud, NOBODY is listening. The most sure guarantee of no understanding is no listening. Listening is first, then hearing, then hopefully understanding. Scratch that. Compassion and openness are first, then listening, then hearing, then hopefully understanding. Continue reading

My Dog, My Mirror

IMG_3559I have a dog. More precisely, I have a big, goofy dog. My big, goofy dog and I take walks together most afternoons. My big, goofy dog is not always goofy with other dogs. My husband and I believe his hostility towards other large dogs is simply a dominance thing. I’ve noticed, however, that his occasional negative reactions to other dogs has made me far more wary when I see them approach. And when they come running across the yard towards their electric and invisible enclosure, I do tend to startle and tense up. This is all fairly predictable and not that strange.

The next part is the part that I’ve really been thinking about. When I startle and tense up, my big, goofy dog becomes far more interested in the other dog, and not in a good way. He senses my upset and works to restore stability as quickly as possible, which in dog means to eradicate the threat by being more threatening. We have been fortunate to avoid any actual physical problems as a result of this extended interaction, but it’s taken me awhile to come up with the best way to dissuade my very large friend from acting as my own personal and overly protective body guard. The change in our process had everything to do with my acknowledging that my buddy was reacting to my perceived fear. Continue reading

Nobody Cares

I realize that title sounds like we’re leading into a “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me…” moment, but there is no worm eating going on over here. Bear with me because I think where we’re going is important.

IMG_4336Last week I had the serious good fortune to be in Italy. Now, there’s a lot to say about Italy, but what I want to say today was also prompted by a friend of mine who just decided, in spite of her vociferous inner demons, to buy and wear a bikini to her local pool. She was pretty freaked out and decided that her fear was her best indicator that this was exactly what she ought to do. She did it, took a picture, and posted it on Facebook.

I’m guessing that the bikini to one piece ratio at her local pool in the U.S. (East Coast if that makes a difference, which now that I’m thinking about it, it might) is VERY different from said ratio in Italy. In Italy, I was one of maybe 4 women on the beach in a one piece, and two of the other 3 were great grandmothers. The other, perhaps another American. I lay there in my one piece which seemed kind of sassy when I tried it on, and felt like a total prude. I saw every shape go by and all of them were playing, at the beach, in their bikinis. Bikinis of all description, covering varying (within a relatively small range) amounts of flesh. The rest of the flesh? Out there, sunning, swimming, building sand castles, applying sunscreen, napping. Perfectly normal. Continue reading