I've just spent the most delicious two weeks at a writer's retreat in Virginia, and during the retreat, a Thai Yoga Therapist came and did some "body work" with me. Less massage and more stretching, hands on body touch healing, and energy restoring. During our session she asked a lot of questions and I responded, and parts of my body "spoke" for me. One of the things she said was "you can't pour from an empty cup." I told her about my desire for connection. I told her about my desire to step into a new phase in my life. She helped realign my energy and I felt different afterwards. More powerful. Having let go of some things. This is good. I was reminded that this is what we have to do sometimes beause we give so much and then we're left with nothing for ourselves. I am a giver. An empath. A healer. I rarely say no. I champion others. This makes me feel good and I like to see other people happy and achieving. There is enough abundance in the world for everyone to have all of their dreams come true if only we would operate in the world with love. This is why I teach. I love to see students step into their best biggest dream selves. We each have to remember that everyone is on his or her own journey, and it does no good to compare and despair or to lament what has come before or to criticize or judge. One of the things I'm always working on is not "shoulding" on people. It's tough. You see people in pain and you want to help, but you can only save yourself, and in saving yourself, it is possible -- I believe this -- to save the world. Standing in love and forgiveness is the only way to a creative life. I know this. I write because I have to. I write because I believe that writing can change us from the inside, and when we do that, we can change the world we live in. So for the past two weeks I've filled my cup -- after dumping out the grounds. I did a lot of journaling -- letting go, self-forgiveness, forgiving others, and recognizing that we're all on the same journey back towards our 'god' selves. Everything is ok. Everything will always be ok.
One of my favorite videos to show my students is "The Most Astounding Fact." I love it because it reminds me of how big life is and how big I am. Our atoms come from those stars. We each have stars and the stuff of the cosmos inside of our bodies. When I show them this video, sometimes students cry and wipe away tears just in time before the lights of our classroom come back on. Then I release them out into the world -- the stuff of the universe, each of them a little seed. Just a missive from over here where the full moon shines down on me as I sit on this porch and write to you, from where the cicadas clamor in the trees and the fireflies circle their way up to the highest treetops, and the bull frogs belch and the birds call to one another checking the mail. It's a beautiful night and I'm grateful for it. Write that. Write your beautiful night and your gratitude, or your beautiful morning and your joy. If you do that, the world will be better for it.
DON'T BE AFRAID TO MAKE BIG CHANGES!!!!! -- Josh LaJaunie
Today I woke up feeling gross. I had gone to bed at 3am after a rousing debate discussion with a friend. This week has been a sort of timelessness. Days of feeling peaceful and relaxed with a few pockets of excursions, adventures, lots of naps, contemplation, and yes, a little bit of stress too.
Mostly, this time is an opportunity to reflect and make a decision. I say "decision" instead of plan today because that's what it is. I was talking to a family member this morning who is overweight, depressed, and stuck in a routine of ignoring self+love. Recently she bought a skin care regimen advertised on television, and for three days, morning and night, she's been using this skin care regiment and taking daily pictures. On this third day she'd taken her glasses off and was smiling in the picture, and I thought, not A LOT has changed in three days but she FEELS better about herself.
This reminded me that routines for self+care can have such a strong and amazing impact on us. My own self+care routines have been pretty non-existent the last year or so. With work, getting a senior ready for high school graduation and entering college (oh the college applications!) I have been putting my self last on the list. And waking up without a solid self+care routine is waking up without a foundation.
Today, Josh LaJaunie posted a little video showing his pre-weight-loss jersey when he was at 400 pounds, on his svelte, muscular, athlete's body today and he said "Don't be afraid to Make Big Changes." A lot of this has to do with being VULNERABLE.
It's a tough thing to do.
Josh says, "vulnerability is really a very strong thing to sign up for, to volunteer for."
Yeah. And being positive all the time can be really tough and really hard too.
This cat is so inspiring! I have been following his journey a few years now and have been up and down and off and on my own health journey and I find his words so inspiring. FEAR is the #1 killer -- it's not heart disease, it's not cancer, it's not diabetes, it's not smoking, it's FEAR. What would happen if you CHANGED EVERYTHING? It's like jumping out of an airplane with a parachute for the first time. IT IS SCARY! It's scary to make big changes and be public about these changes. And it's so so so so hard to keep focused on yourself in a world that pulls at every limb of you and wants nothing more than for you to take care of everyone else and everything else but you.
I'm talking about me. LOL.
DON'T BE AFRAID TO MAKE BIG CHANGES!!!!!!!!
Or, if you ARE afraid, BE AFRAID AND DO IT ANYWAY!!!!!!!
Have you ever watched that TV show "Friday Night Lights?"
If you have Netflix, I highly recommend it. We gave up cable a while back when our TV broke and started tapping into Netflix and watching whole seasons of shows on our iPads. It's pretty fun, actually--getting through a whole 5 years of a show in a few weeks or months.
Friday Night Lights was one of those shows, and we were hooked pretty quick. Coach Taylor is the football coach, and in Texas, he lives or dies by the win. His wife is a smart, no-nonsense kind of lady:
Coach Taylor: "I have no idea what's going to happen tomorrow."
Mrs. Taylor: "Well, you're gonna win; or you're gonna lose. Either way, the sun's gonna come up tomorrow."
I love this.
I try to remember it often. I want to make sure I don't forget it.
No matter what happens, no matter how dire or crazy I think it all is, the world will continue spinning on its axis. The stars will continue to come out brightest at night. In the morning, the sun will rise and I'll rise with it, and dive into a new day.
Contrary to popular belief, I DO want to stop thinking about tomorrow for a while.
What can I do today to be the best version of myself?
I'm hanging out in Gambier, Ohio for a few weeks this summer, and then I'm headed to The Porches in Virginia for a much-needed 10-day retreat. I love it there. Porches. Quietude. Mountains. Rain. What could be better?
This summer I've been working on what I want to work on. After a couple of years of super-duper-teacher-overload, I'm trying to reframe and blankslate myself. It's a tough thing to do.
Sometimes we get so caught up in the stuff of life, we forget that we are the reason we're here. Like, on the planet. I'm always drawn to Neil De Grasse Tyson's video "The Most Astounding Fact." I show it to my students all the time because I want them to remember that they are beautiful living breathing human stars. And so am I.
I was taking some time this week to nap and rest after the 14-16 hour days of the last two weeks, and I found myself going through my email account and looking at several old, saved emails of projects and newsletters and other things, and I found lots of beautiful things that I just forgot existed.
We do this work and then we get sidetracked. It's important to keep pushing.
"The Work" is us.
Today is the 8th anniversary of my Grandmother's death. I wrote a brief essay about her and read it last week to the kids and the staff at the KR Writer's Workshop in Gambier, Ohio, and I thought -- yeah, those summertimes with my grandmother were the best. We'd sit on her porch and drink coffee and I'd write and she'd read and then we'd ride the roads and pick up watermelon and dinner and truck parts for my paw paw's logging business. . .
I miss her.
Mostly, I miss who I was when I was with her --
Grief changes us. The deaths of people we love changes us too. That's ok -- we don't need to mourn our old selves. Instead, we can marvel at how we're evolving. Evolution. That's a good word.
Next week when I'm at The Porches I want to blankslate myself. What I mean is, I want to sit down and have a talk with Kirsten and say "Girl, what is it you want now? What big dreams do you have now? What kind of work are you going to do now?"
Dive deep. Ask the tough questions. Write out the manifesto.
Set the tone for the next 5 years.
Some people do this at New Year's, but for me, Summertime is a good time to start fresh, and then when my birthday rolls around in October, it's a great month for that quarterly review.
Three questions to ask:
1. Where is your joy?
2. What are you willing to do?
3. Have you told you lately that you love you?
see you on the flipside,