Monthly Archive for April, 2009

exciting quiet

over the past two weeks, i’ve gotten to do “coaching” sessions with several people, each from a remarkably different background than the next. i have often found myself doing an inner recoil when i hear the term ‘life coach’, but i have to admit at this point that there is something about sitting with people and interviewing them until their own wisdom can be applied to their “problems” that feels like winning the lottery over and over. its different from therapy cuz i don’t claim to be an expert at anything but being present with someone while they work it all out. seems to help.

the number one most common thing i find in every single session is that folks don’t take time for themselves. folks know it would help but…life just sucks up all the waking time. after they see how almost everything that feels problematic in the world is the result of not being present and intentional, most of the folks i talk to are ready to commit to 30 minutes or an hour of time each day – quiet time, writing time, swimming time, sexy time. some of them are going to try really really hard to do 5 minutes.

every time i do one of these coaching sessions i learn something, i recommit to trying a practice or thought out on myself. totally selfish, i know…i am a huge fan of time for myself, but it’s easy, even with that, to fall into a routine where it ceases to feel so special. so this week i have been practicing taking time for myself while with others, in crowded settings, when i am feeling frustrated, when i am feeling hurt. i am a visual person, i have to sometimes imagine a quiet room in my head (the inside of my head kind of looks like a midwestern or ocean sky – really vast. and the room is a cloud.)…and i can go in there and close the door and just get quiet. and when i am quiet, all things seem clear, and all things seem possible. which gets me excited again about life, in the midst of otherwise anti-exciting moments.

this is tied to something else i need to admit: i am really over complaining. i can’t even hear it anymore, i just hear “nyahnyahnayhblahblahnyablah!” i am challenged with how to write this without complaining about complaint :) – this world is so amazing, and i have had the experience so often of holding the perspective that it is all conspiring in my favor and it is all miraculous, at which point it has become just that. lately i have found myself in a cycle of complaint and sulking, while in the midst of roughly everything in my life going my way. i am more aware of how often two people will sit with each other complaining and call that a conversation, a friendship, a marriage. i want to talk instead about plans, options for how to meet those needs i used to complain about, dreams, how hilarious and awesome things are, adjust my mindgrapes.

today i went to the patton park recreation center, where i had their heated pool all to myself (expect for the four bored young staff trying to determine what viagra does over near the office). beforehand two women were in the locker room discussing the novels of zane. one woman was trying to explain that they are basically erotica, and i had a sharp memory of watching a woman read a zane book on the subway a couple years ago and blush, flush, sweat, fan herself and finally have to close the book and get her breath. i looked away when she checked to see if anyone had seen her. lol, don’t read zane on the subway!

leaving the pool, the older of the black women was still sitting there, she’s always there, she keeps an eye on things. i asked her for a bag for my swimsuit and she said yes, they had tons of bags, that people bring them by. i said i would bring her some tomorrow, we collect them from everywhere and they just get stuffed away…and she said – “you know when i was a kid, we used to cut the bags up into strips and weave them together into purses. everything could be somethin’ else. these days, the kids just do video games.” she looked so happy about her generation.

i was tempted to talk about all the amazing things the kids are doing in addition to and through video games, but then i looked at this woman, sitting in a locker room in a rec center in detroit, reading erotica, using a cane to get around, full of her memories, right about the world, with a solution for every little issue i had at the moment…and i realized she didn’t need that.

the future is behind us and in front of us. it’s all a loop, playing over and over, and we get to determine each moment anew how we will play it. (BSG watchers, i know you know exactly what i MEAN. so say we all.)

what i mean is, sometimes its ok to be quiet. sometimes it’s exciting.

spring inside

today is day two of a spring cleanse of my insides. this time i am not doing the master cleanse, which i do love. me and sweetheart are doing a veggie cleanse, basically raw veggie juices and heated veggie purees. anyone who knows me knows this is a bit terrifying since i am allergic to…everything. apple skins, pear skins, almonds, cashews, macadamias, carrots, tomatoes, and more. but, skin the apples, juice it with beets, ginger and celery? and i’m fine! carrots in veggie broth with garlic and ginger stewed until its nearly mash and then blended? mmmm. we’ve steamed some broccoli and asparagus along the way, and today went for a swim which i much needed. i was swimming every day for nearly a month, then went to bermuda…

this past weekend was one of the most challenging and interesting of my facilitation life. i was part of the voluntary facilitation team for a planning meeting for the U.S. Social Forum. i volunteered because i have a lot of love for detroit, and i have a lot of hope for the potential of the social forum. ruckus is one of the very few intermediaries on the national planning committee – and that we’re on there is largely due to the huge shifts we have made to prioritize the leadership of impacted, grassroots communities. the meeting was really a navigation, a truth and reconciliation session, a hopeful renewal of the process. it was fascinating for me to watch how quickly people jump to suspicion and doubt, and how helpful it was to have community agreements in place that reminded folks to default to trust and expect the best from each other. my long-term goal is to have an excuse to do tons of strategic direct actions that advance the work of local detroit communities, and i know that will only come to pass if the foundation gets set in a good way.

while i was at that meeting, i made a new friend. you know the feeling you get when you meet someone who is definitely going to be a new character in your life? miss ann! miss ann works with michigan welfare rights and she is going to be my mentor on the road to health. i noticed her cuz she is about the sharpest looking slightly older woman i’ve seen. as she says, “i’ve got the thighs of a 25 year old!” on our third day together she showed me a picture – she used to be bigger than me! while we both agreed that i do work what i have, she said she was down to help me [insert sucking in noise here] “tighten up”.

so far i have learned: 1) water and walking! 2) that i should throw away Accent if I have any in my house (which I don’t, but if you do, throw it away). 3) also, give up shellfish – crabs, lobster, catfish, shrimp. They are “bottomfeeders! like rats of the sea”. Ew! Easy. I paused on catfish, but she said to try her tilapia, and as soon as I am done fasting I plan to. 4) live as many flights up as you can and take the stairs two at a time and 5) it’s all about portions. put a spoon of everything on there, get a taste, that’s all you need.

more to come!