Tag Archives: impermanence

What I just won’t buy anymore

I was reading the website of a prominent life coach the other day, and was feeling myself getting seduced by the promise of change. For me, this feeling is a little tug in my chest, accompanied by a little voice that says, “You could be like her! Why don’t you just try harder? You could be successful like that! You can have everything you want in your life! Just try harder!”

I was getting pulled in by her clarity, and her certainty, and her artfully written course descriptions and “How I Work With You” page. I was dreaming of what my life would like if only I were “as on top of things as she was”. I was reading through her punchy blog posts, which boiled everything down into three simple categories, a numerical scale, and a “toolkit” for achieving the state of bliss that she has apparently created for herself.

In her “About” page, where she introduces herself and tells her story of why she became a coach, she talks about “having been there”. Having been broke, miserable, in a rocky marriage, and not living her best life. Continue reading

Solving the Puzzle of the Universe

A few days ago I solved the puzzle of the universe.

It came in a box. There were 500 pieces and a neat image of the final product – what the solution was supposed to look like.

I had a partner while I was doing it. We didn’t discuss how we were going to tackle the problem, we just started working on it, each in our own way. There were no words. Things just began when they began, and ended when they ended.

I noticed that I wanted to follow some instructions that were somewhere in the back of my head about “how to” solve a puzzle like this.

Start with the edges and corners,” was one set of instructions.

Find the colored pieces first,” was another.

I tried both of those, but the puzzle was just so big, so complicated, with so many parts, that I quickly got frustrated with each of those approaches. I made a tiny bit of progress, but immediately got stuck following those two paths. Continue reading

The Difference Between Being Organized and Uncluttered

You can be both organized and cluttered at the same time. Have you ever thought about that?

A friend sent me a link to an article discussing the difference between organization and uncluttering. It arrived in my life at a time when I was open to receiving an “aha” moment.

Even though I have found a place to store and/or organize many items in my home, I have noticed that so many of these items are ones I don’t need or love anymore. At one time, they held an important place in my life. At one time, they were useful to me. At one time, they were needed on a regular basis.

But how about now? I have undergone three major career changes in my life, and have lived in five different cities over the past twelve years. I have had an underlying assumption that my life “should” be constantly expanding in size. An unexamined belief that progress and growth means accumulation of things. I have full closets that I haven’t touched in several years. And while my mind and body and spirit are trying to move in a new direction, the weight of these untouched contents is becoming palpable. Continue reading

Creating Your Vision for 2011

What’s your theme for the new year?

I’ve never been a New Year’s Resolution person, but every year on December 31, I take time to reflect on the previous year and write down what I remember. I focus on things like what I learned, how I grew, and the events that were most meaningful for me.

This past year was a particularly abundant year of growth and change for me. Last December 31, I finally felt clear and took the step of writing a letter to the thirty families in my violin school, announcing to them that within two weeks, the school would come to an end. While I had no idea what would unfold as a result of that action, I was absolutely clear about my intention of letting go in order to move into the next phase of my life and accept whatever it would bring me.

It was an act of trust. My self-proclaimed commitment, or theme, for 2010, was to live from my Core of Peace. To experience life, perhaps for the first time, from a new, unfamiliar place called Peace.

Continue reading

Cleaning Up The Crap

Face-to-Face With The Crap

I stopped by my post office box this morning after who-knows-how-long. I was expecting to have trouble turning the key on my box, the folded up magazines and edges of post cards shredded by all the successive stuffing and weeks of piling up. I was surprised to see an empty box, except for a single slip of paper saying, “Please claim your mail at the counter.”

I stood in line as a young man with tight-fitting jeans, tortoise-shell glasses, a Members Only jacket, and a black Tumi laptop backpack (this was the downtown Palo Alto post office) put one envelope after another on the scale, each certified mail with return receipt, and then wanted to mail two packages overseas Priority Mail. He was taking forever.

And then it was my turn, finally. I extended my hand with the slip of paper and waited. A few minutes later, the woman behind the counter emerged with a white Postal Service carton (the kind the mailmen use in their trucks) between her two hands, resting against her belly. “Here you go,” she said cheerily.

“Wow,” I said out loud.

I had to look at the physical representation of several weeks (probably a month) of not attending to my previous ritual of checking my business mailbox. Mostly this ritual was about feeling important for having a business mailbox. None of the mail I receive there seems to be addressed to me personally, and all of the bills I receive online. The energy I spend on my P.O. box is primarily spent shredding and throwing things away. It’s mostly crap.

I sighed as I tried to make a bundle out of the assorted items in the carton, then carried them, like an infant against my chest, over to another counter to sort through them. I picked a spot right next to the recycling bin. They were predictable things – all the junk mail and marketing solicitations of having a credit card and magazine subscriptions mailed to a P.O. Box. They were also vestiges of my previous life, which consisted of lots of time spent thinking about furniture, clothes, shoes, and travel destinations. So two Pottery Barn catalogs, two Crate and Barrel catalogs, a Restoration Hardware catalog. And of course, two Shar Music catalogs. Why always two? And then the mailings from Yoga Journal. At least four statements saying the same thing – “Your subscription expires a year from now. Will you pay us now? Thank you.”

I went through as much of it as I could at the post office, then brought the rest home. I opened my home mail box also to be greeted by a fully stuffed space.

Looking at it, having to look straight at it, reminded me that it was unequivocally time. It was time to clean up the crap. Not the pile of mail in front of me. But what the pile of mail represented in my life.

It reminded me of the central image in Iyanla Vanzant’s memoir Yesterday, I Cried, and this quote:

“Some people don’t know how, and others never think about going back and cleaning up their crap. Most people want to start today and feel better tomorrow. They want to take a yoga class, listen to a meditation tape, rub a crystal on their head, and believe they have fixed their lives and healed their souls. You cannot create a new way of being in one day. You must take your time remembering, cleaning up, and gaining strength.”

It hit me that I have been feeling ready to do some remembering. I had built some strength and rather than running forward, it felt like time to clean up some crap. Continue reading

Being Your Own Hero

OK, I admit it. I was disappointed. I was disappointed when Tiger Woods, just a few short months after the “SUV incident” outside his home in Florida, staged a press conference, stood behind a podium, and recited a canned apology written in corporate-speak by the damage-control PR spin doctors at Nike. Like a dutiful boy, he was dressed in a suit, clean-shaven, looking humble and respectful to the corporate sponsors who made his public career that much more lucrative.

But beneath the surface was a whole story waiting to be uncovered, spoken, and shared.

I secretly (and not so secretly) cheered Tiger on when he hit the apparent depths of his personal crisis – the extent of his adultery revealed, the intensity of the pain he has kept hidden beneath the socially acceptable, corporate endorsement-worthy veneer of relentless competitiveness and focus.

I saw this as an opportunity for Tiger to deliver his real “medicine” to the world, and to show us how a hero falls, journeys through the abyss of his own self-discovery, and emerges whole in a different way. With a different message about heroicism, with a more solid foundation on which to stand, with a deeper message than can be conveyed merely by counting wins and trophies. Continue reading

Waking Up To Love

Every once in awhile, I get completely jolted into awakening. It’s like the universe taking me by the shoulders, shaking me, and saying, “Wake up to your life. Look! Listen! Pay attention!”

Usually these moments happen exactly when I admit to myself that I just don’t know. When I completely surrender to not knowing, and just relax there, it’s my way of asking for guidance. I’m opening to the possibility of something waking me up.

Last Wednesday was one of those moments.

I dragged myself to another open mic at Angelica’s. After going every week for nearly six months now, I admit that sometimes it’s a bit of a chore to get myself there. But I do it because I know that playing music and seeing other musicians play – and frankly, the “you-never-know-who’ll-show-up” factor – will feed my soul in some way.

I even brought my computer this time, because I had been on a bit of a writing “roll” before I left the house, and thought I might pass the time by writing.

It was Game One of the World Series, with the San Francisco Giants playing. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. In other words, we didn’t expect peak attendance at that night’s open mic.

Well, it ended up being proof that quality far outweighs quantity. Continue reading

Just one generation…what will our children teach us?

“My most relaxing time is when I’m sitting on the couch watching TV. What’s YOUR most relaxing time?”, asked 11-year-old Aaron.

I paused, then said, “Well, I meditate every morning. So that’s my most relaxing time.” I was a little hesitant to say it because I didn’t know how an 11-year-old boy would react to the word “meditate”.

“How do you meditate?” he asked.

“Oh you’re too young, you don’t need to learn how to meditate yet.” I waved my hand and smiled, thinking he would want to move on to other “cooler” subjects.

You know what I heard? If you meditate 15 minutes a day, it’ll change your life,” he said, his eyes widening a little. “Did it change YOUR life?”

“Yes, it did. It completely changed my life.” I smiled and nodded. Now I recognized that I was speaking with a fellow human spirit, and that I had incorrectly assumed that because of his age, and being a boy, he wouldn’t be interested in the same human subjects I’m interested in. I also caught myself doing something that I had always found annoying as a child – whenever an adult waved off my question with the phrase, Oh don’t worry about it, you’re too young to need to know. The reality, I saw, is that this fellow human spirit was full of curiosity, playfulness, and desire to know the truth, just like I was. Continue reading

The Space of No Thinking

The creative space is one of NO mind.

This morning, as I was driving to the grocery store, there were these thoughts running through my head:

“What if I could just relax into ACCEPTANCE of myself, exactly as I am right now?”

“What if I could treat myself as if right now, exactly as everything is, it IS all exactly as it should be?”

I was trying to examine my recent thought patterns which were centered around “concern” for a variety of things in my life: was I spending enough time doing the right things, was I doing enough yoga, was I eating enough fruit and vegetables, was I working hard enough on the right things for my business, was I spending too much time on “non-productive” activities….

The list went on and on, and nothing seemed to be “clicking” or “flowing” during the past few weeks until the rare moments when I just let go and did the ONE thing right in front of me.

This morning, I was thinking about the feeling and energy around doing JUST THIS, RIGHT NOW. What is it about that thought which creates flow? It’s certainly not a state of heightened anxiety and pushing and grasping. It’s not an energy of worrying.

It’s exactly the opposite. It’s LETTING GO of all the worrying and relaxing the mind completely. Continue reading

The sun folds in, the waves roll on

How many times have you witnessed the sun setting?

Now that I live near the California coast, that number has gone from “zero” to “so many times I’ve lost count”.

I never get tired of it, even though it’s usually so cold at the ocean that I’m not completely relaxed as I’m watching. I’m usually huddled under blankets, or in a car, woefully underdressed for the plummeting temperatures.

Last night, though, we were blessed with “Indian summer” weather and a warm enough evening at the coast that we didn’t even need to wear our jackets. I had nowhere to be, nothing to do, except to behold the sun folding in, the waves ever-present in their rolling motion against the smooth sandy beach, and the earth turning away from the sun’s reach, notch by notch.

I managed to catch the very last 52 seconds of the sunset on video. Watching the playback, I saw a perfect soundtrack and image to accompany this affirmation (which I am practicing to replace one of my habitual thoughts, “There will never be enough.”):

I am complete, as I am, in this very moment.”

Saying this out loud, or even reading it silently to yourself for the duration of the video, can be a powerful practice in shifting energy and attention. Notice the rhythm of the waves, and the silent power of the sun as it gradually disappears below the horizon.

Enjoy…