The Marvelous Crumb

Follow Joy. Find Belonging.

For all the other “late bloomers”

Last Sunday, I turned 36. And even though life does not look like what I imagined it would at this age — no house, no babies, no pets, no partner — I’m not ashamed of my years.

There’s a settledness that has arrived, a trusting in the unfolding. And in this resting, I’ve discovered something unexpected.  By unwinding from expectations of how I should be, what I should have and how I should be living, I’m finding a celebration of what is.

It’s like bushwhacking through dense jungle in search of water while standing in a fresh, sparkling pool. If we could just stop looking ahead, we might find relief by simply looking around.

This relief is remembering that life doesn’t have to look like anything other than what it is. I don’t have to be anyone other than who I am. Everything is abundantly enough.

Yes, there is heartbreak.
Yes, there is tragedy.
The planet is dying, our systems are broken. There are bills and deadlines and people who let us down, don’t show up and don’t seem to care.

But this, the glittering pool I’m talking about, is the cool water of restoration. It is the ever-present antidote of enoughness. We lose it in our quest to “measure up” and find in the reclaiming of rooting down.

This aging process, for me, has been a journey of reconnecting to the person I’ve always been. It’s learning to let go of the stories and fear of judgment and instead trusting and cautiously bringing forth an unbridled me-ness.

I believe that this is what the world is asking of us. The house, the children, the robust social presence, the thriving business, the perfect partner — sure, fine — but this is not what we’re living for. Striving for only these results in a world that does not work.

Instead, we’re being asked to show up with our quivering me-ness as the only means for building a world based on authentic connection. It’s about love — for self and planet. I know, there’s that ubiquitous L word, but there’s just no beating around the bush here.

Sometimes this looks like “not knowing.”
Sometimes this looks like being “a late bloomer.”
Sometimes this looks like “not having your shit together.”
Sometimes this looks like not having “grown up.”

If you, like myself, sometimes feel “behind,” and worry that your unconventional existence may prove disastrous down the road, may I offer another possibility? What if you are really a trailblazer? The tip of the wave hurdling through space and in this journey paving the way for a more congruous, more alive way of living? How brave. How revolutionary.

TAP YOUR UNBRIDLED YOU-NESS

What are the practices that bring you to yourself? Make your energetic presence swell? Remind you that you are part of something?

I’m being brought to myself when I slow down. Walk instead of drive. Soak in the late afternoon light. Stop to smell things. Look up. Listen without racing ahead. Collect leaves. Write with an actual pen.

I’m on the right path when I feel a little scared. Before I press publish.  Asking for support. Showing up at an event alone. Facilitating a group. Planning a workshop. Asking for what I’m worth. Making a boundary.

I am free when I let myself have “it.” Dancing in the front row. Wearing a tutu. Glittering myself. Reading my work allowed. Dressing by mood. Saying how I really feel. Savoring something delicious.

My heart is open when I drop my agenda. Observing strangers in moments of tenderness. Talking to my niece. Listening to a beautiful piece of music.

What are these practices for you?

 

Greetings from Thailand

View from atop Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai’s most visited Buddhist temple.

I’ve just returned from vacation in Singapore and Thailand, and though I’m happy to be back, some part of me is still in a far off place.

Maybe it’s the jet lag or maybe it’s the balm of living without email, news and Trump for several glorious days, but my world is moving much slower.

I’m worrying less, strolling my neighborhood more and prioritizing time with friends.

This is a much different pace than where I was 10 days ago.

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Blame on both sides?

I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve (or save)
the world and a desire to enjoy (or savor) the world.
This makes it hard to plan the day. –E.B. White

Sweet peas in the morning sun on a farm near Petaluma.

Oh, my loves, it’s all so much, isn’t it?
This bile that’s bubbled up from the storm drain
Offending nostrils and ears
Stealthily seeping into pores

Set it aflame and we burn ourselves
Go to battle and the war begins within
And soon the moon will blot the sun and bathe us all in gray

I was not surprised by the events in Charlottesville.
No sadness. No anger. Just another headline.
I was not surprised by 45’s two-day response delay and the subsequent offense that launched from his sphincter lips.

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The Continual Dance of Letting Go

Hapuna Beach

The end of a glorious day at Hapuna Beach in Hawaii.

The art is not one of forgetting but letting go. And when everything else is gone, you can be rich in loss. –Rebecca Solnit

 

“Letting go is easy,” one of my meditation teachers once said.

He sat in front of a group of us who had gathered for the weekly dharma night teaching and pulled his keys out of his pocket. He held them for a brief second and then dropped them to the floor. “See,” he said. “It’s just like that.”

Just like what? It’s not that easy, I thought.

He did this over and over again – reaching, holding, dropping, reaching, holding, dropping …

It clearly took some effort for this elderly man to continually reach to the ground. His movements were awkward and uncomfortable.

Well, this is embarrassing, I remember thinking.

What is he doing?

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Noticing “No Ways” and Dancing in the Cracks

Last week I led a flash mob on a BART Train.

Heading to San Francisco.
On the long stretch when the train dives under the Bay.
I asked riders and friends to shake their arms and legs.
To take deep breaths followed by long sighs.
To tap dance down the aisle between the seats, and to move their bodies slow and smooth like the seaweed floating on the waves in the Bay above our heads.

This train where we often cram in, press to strangers arms and legs, but carefully avoid each other’s eyes.
Where I plug in, head down, legs crossed, arms folded and pray no one sits next to me.

What would happen by opening up in this way?

I practiced what I might say. There would be no room for timidity. The train is loud. Alone in my living room, I yelled, trying and discarding tones and words like blouses on a dressing room floor. Which would cloak me in confidence?

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To Be Touched

And I sometimes think that a moment of touching is the difference between complete utter despair and the ability to carry on.Eleanor Cameron

 

After moving to a new town where she had no friends or family, a friend of mine began stalking her yoga teacher.

It started innocently with her attending one or two of his classes a week. That became three or four, and soon she was “doing doubles,” going to two of his classes a day and driving across town to do so. She knew his schedule; knew when he was subbing; knew when he started teaching at a new studio, and she followed.

It wasn’t that he was unusually skilled at guiding students into asanas, or even particularly handsome.

On any day in this progressive town, there were likely 50 or so other yoga classes providing nearly identical versions of what he offered  – except for one thing.

“He does the best adjustments,” she told me. “So strong, so firm, just the right amount of pressure.”

But we both knew that being assisted in her practice had little to do with her real motivations for showing up in his classes.

She was lonely. She worked from home. Being friendless and single meant there was no one to hug her, hold her hand or cuddle with at night.

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Balancing Joy and the Inner Critic

My friends, yesterday I posted my first FaceBook Live video. The topic was joy. Above is a truncated version where I summarize three steps I use to touch into my own internal joy, which I believe is inexhaustible, unconditioned and a resource for dealing with the many challenges we face in our world and personal lives.

It’s a topic near and dear to my heart — a message I share with delight and conviction with all those who know me, and yet, this morning, I’m filled with the voice of my inner critic.

Why were you so serious?
You should have danced!
You should have worn glitter!
It was way too long!
Nobody experienced any joy watching THAT!

You get the idea. It’s been brutal.

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Expanding Racial Awareness Starts With Feeling

Kelsey Blackwell

Illustration by Alicia Brown

Expanding racial awareness is uncomfortable.

It requires looking at ourselves,  examining potential blindspots and recognizing interactions shaded by ignorance, fear and shame.  It requires deep listening, a humbling of ourselves and the confidence to risk saying the wrong thing in the name of trying to understand.

I did not ask to do this work.
You did not ask to do this work.

But, it’s been handed to us by the transgressions of our past and the aching denials of the present.

Racial injustice is a putrid tar that’s been mixed in with the mortar holding the bricks of our fragile society together.  We can choose to ignore it, pretend it doesn’t stink, imagine that every powerful organization was not built by this noxious substance,  but we do feel it.

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Power is not a 4-letter word

Power

These days “power” seems synonymous with money, violence and fear.

It conjures images of Wall Street greed, banker bailouts, Kim Jong-un, Putin and #45.

Rather than strategizing or bargaining for power (which is how I’ve believed it is obtained), I’ve actively done the opposite – admonishing and pushing it away.

Power? No, thank you.
I am compassionate.
I am a champion of the powerless!
I believe in humanity.

Actively seeking power has seemed in direct opposition to these ideas. Seeking power meant slithering into back rooms, turning a blind eye, conjuring dirty deals and peddling cheap goods. It meant selling out. If I am granted power it will come when I’m busy doing other things – things that have merited its arrival. Otherwise, I’m content to humbly toil.

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Earth Day is not About Saving the Planet

Earthrise

Earthrise

You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From our there on the moon, international politics looks so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch. – Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14 Astronaut.

The earth is warming at an unprecedented pace. This is inarguable.
Sea levels are rising leading to an increase in coastal flooding.
Climate models project increased drought in the American Southwest
Weather is becoming more extreme.
The seasons are shifting.
Air pollution is increasing.
Animals are dying and some will go extinct.

We are on a path where these things will continue and intensify.

And while many mobilize to halt these realities – to develop machines that will suck CO2 from the air, save the polar bears, protect the Great Barrier Reef –I believe these efforts are only a part of the real task before us.

We do not need to save the planet.

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