rain soaked notes

I’ve been looking for a name for what I am doing in Mexico this time. Practice Intensive feels most accurate. Creation Retreat?

In 2012 I took a six month sabbatical, two weeks of which I spent in Mexico. It was the fourth stop on the journey, but that was the two weeks where I actually slowed down, disconnected with the external world and began reconnecting with myself. I made a commitment to build some time into each year for…that. This.

It’s not a sabbatical in the way the first trip was, not even a mini version of that. I needed to Do Nothing for a while back then, and I felt burnt out and lost. I needed massive transformation.

These trips, these days, I’ve needed rest, but I’m also on my path and that feeling is it’s own source of center and sustenance.

And I still need to recalibrate how I’m spending my time every so often. What happens here is that I set my patterns and intentions for the year. Whatever comes, here’s how I want to be.

It’s a vacation destination, but doesn’t feel like a vacation, because there’s a lot I’m doing. This time, my goal was to finish a first draft of a book on emergent strategy, which I did last Friday. Which feels like…

!
!!
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And so on.

And now I’m going through the rampant self-doubt work related to putting something you love with your whole being into a tangible form. Just more awareness work. And notes for the next draft.

But in addition to the writing, which has included the book and a bunch of short stories, I’ve been doing a lot of other practices. Practices I need in my daily life, which can slip away in the chaos of even the good times, much less the grieving times.

My practices here have included guided and silent meditation, yoga, Spanish lessons, daily tarot reading, journaling, creating art, reducing social media viewing, reflecting on the year I just lived and the year that’s coming, rituals, reading physical books, and a 300-word daily speculative fiction writing challenge with my Clarion woes.

It’s also included preparing for a year of no added sugars, which will begin when I return to the US in a few days.

That prep has taken a lot of forms – logistical and ritual, yes, but mostly emotional. I’ve been moving in this direction for a while, with community and family. It’s so clear to me that my sugar addiction is the next frontier, the next set of gates (yes, I’m referencing The NeverEnding Story, because that’s how I feel going through changes). I’m mostly really excited – I know it feels better. I know I can do it. I know my body wants it.

I’ve been setting up plans and support structures for handling big emotions, which are, no surprise, the consistent trigger for sugar binging. I’ve also been ritually having sweet things I won’t have for a long time, with gratitude – the fun part of the prep.

The other practices – mindfulness, quiet, returning to my body and to the present moment – all support and connect to the shift in my sugar life. And vice versa – knowing that the fuel in my body isn’t there to hook me in, but rather to nourish me, from the earth…that lines up with the kind of presence and gratitude and balance I want throughout my life.

Being public about the sugar journey is itself a practice. Like most addictions, it thrives on silence, ignorance, deception and omission.

This trip, I have noticed how the connected world is encroaching everywhere on the world of quiet, meditation, escape. This year the WiFi is stronger, more of the neighbors have televisions, news and crisis pops up daily – perhaps this is no longer far enough away.

Or perhaps this is advanced practice, like daily life. Where is my choice in all of this, how do I continue to train my attention?

I have wrestled with boundaries, feeling frustrated that people keep asking me for work things while I am on break. And yet I know it’s no one’s else’s fault. If I let myself be too accessible, I don’t get the time I know I need. Reading Carlos Castaneda is helping with this.

And turning off WiFi.

I will add that since I completed the book draft, it has been cloudy and raining. Not light drizzles either, torrential downpours that flood the neighborhood. Instead of the beach time and swimming and scuba diving that I expected to do to celebrate in this post-book week, I have done other things – reading, listening to music, all of my practices.

I realized that I can get a Mayan massage and limpias for $25, so I’m redistributing my defunct scuba budget to get rubbed on lots and lots.

I’ve had more time for deep listening, for observation.

I noticed that Bruce Springsteen is always singing to someone he calls ‘little girl’. That David Bowie does sound like an alien to me, in the best way. That when I want the music closest to my heart, I always turn back to Ella, Billie, Etta, Dorothy, Dinah, Sarah – the classic black female vocalists of the jazz era.

I’ve noticed that I can let things pass without needing to engage or correct. For example, a bunch of white people with dreadlocks were in the town and all looked at me with a lot of…hmm what was that look? Longing? Invitation? I biked away. Then the other day I sat down for a nice restaurant dinner and after about two minutes a very belligerent drunken couple sat down at the next table with a little boombox playing something that sounded like country metal. I considered my options, decided to put on my headphones and drown them out with the ethereal sounds of Gallant. I have my own work to do.

I watched a community of ants move a piece of prosciutto, and felt really blown away by how they did it. I am barely resisting the urge to intentionally leave them food just to watch them manage it all.

I have grieved for all the people who have passed while I was away, especially sweet and brilliant Bowie, who has been a beacon on my weird futurist fluid fashionista path. Even how he passed, creating a releasing incredible music til the end. Yes.

I downloaded Labyrinth the other night, having forgotten how scary it actually is. It’s scary.

I considered writing a comparative piece about Bowie’s Lazarus and Drake’s Legend. We’ll see.

I’m having my most successful experience with learning a language other than English (every other experience has ended in official failure), which is exciting. The difference between my Duolingo competence and real life conversation is hilarious though. Real life is so much faster.

I have a few more days of this intensive period, and then another big year takes off. Last year was so complex, it took a lot to survive and navigate it. Here I am, stronger, clearer. And I feel excited. And I feel ready. And I know that comes with practice.

an all-gender friendly post about periods, & a moon ritual recipe

since i got my moon phase tattoo down my spine a year ago, my period has come on the full moon. this is totally awesome and very different for me.

i have been blessed in terms of the level of pain i face during my period, i don’t have the monthly internal torture sessions of some folks i love. i do have a day or two of heightened emotions and some groaning discomfort. but i generally take the opportunity to rest and disconnect.

i have noticed that regardless of the gender of my loved ones, there tends to be a need at least once a month for humans to turn inward, to focus on restoring the self. and if we don’t listen for that time and try to power through with life, we can be awful to ourselves and others.

i read the red tent and got into the idea of making my period a monthly time for ritual and self-care. separately, i learned a beautiful full moon bath ritual and started learning about the relationship between moons and periods.

as far back as i can remember i’ve always loved the moon, which led to my tattoo. the alignment of my cycle with the moon for this whole past year makes that love feel reciprocal, however unlikely it may be. i feel like i soak up the reflective power of the moon, the power to orbit, to stay, to be simple, to be imperfect, to always be full but rarely be fully seen.

this past week, i decided to approach my period and the full moon with total celebration. and, unsurprisingly, i had one of the best week’s of my life.

i realized that with or without my period, the combination of things i did last week, which i am about to share with you, would make anyone’s life incredible. when i reflect i can see i have been increasing all of this good stuff in my life since before my sabbatical, and it’s working.

doing this sort of ritual once a month, even once a quarter, is deeply restorative and rebalancing without having to go away on a vacation. and it wasn’t a financially expensive week – i went for the most affordable options and lots of the activities i was able to do in my home or with my community.

i notice that when i share stuff with y’all, it contributes to the echo chamber of good behavior, self-care and transformation in my life, because y’all share back, and when we see each other in person we check in on all this self-loving, which reminds me to do it more often.

so in that spirit, here’s a recipe for an incredible restoration week (a moon ritual):

1 dose mindfulness. have a sense of when this period of restoration is coming. this is an area where surprises are no fun.

1 session community acupuncture early in the week.

7 days yoga (a minimum of 5 sun salutations, including warrior, triangle and tree poses. you can do an immense amount for the body and spirit in even 10 minutes of yoga and or stretching.)

1 pelvic balancing massage (if no one in your community currently offers this, i recommend getting a group together and taking a class to offer to each other – some places now offer variations on this ancient practice which has health benefits for reproductive processes as well as digestion and overall system cleansing.)

7 days meditation, including but not limited to:
– solo meditation as often as possible (start small, follow your breath – you really can’t overdose here).
– community meditation to taste. ‘community’ just means meditating with one or more other people.
– and orgasmic meditation of course! this method helps with cramps…and everything else 🙂

2 sessions dancing as freely as possible, ideally becoming one with the music.

1 spa day with a friend (if you are going to splurge anytime during the week, this is the place. check out my page on spas and feel free to alert me to places you know of that are affordable and delicious for all kinds of bodies).

7 days of healthy food, with local organic vegetables for at least half of every meal (and ideally protein the other half).

and water. i recently read that to calculate the ideal water intake, drink half your weight in ounces of water. i have rarely been able to drink that much but aiming for it is having delightful impact on my whole system, skin and health.

so i am lit up and rested…and i found myself immensely productive throughout the week. i am already looking forward to my next period.

do you have rituals around your moon? what would you add?

2013: reminders

i resist the resolution thing. it feels like the epitome of trying instead of doing. if nothing else has changed but the number in our random count of time, then why should i expect my way of being to truly change?

and yet there are things that i know increase my quality of life, and that of my loved ones. so instead of resolutions for the year, here are some reminders:

hydration makes my skin look delicious, makes me feel limber, keeps me young, invites my body to function with ease.

yoga gives me capacity to breathe and be present in my life, and feel the longing in my limitations.

spending time with my family grounds me, focuses me on changes i can actually invest in long-term in myself and our relationships, and keeps me humble.

singing is my happy place. writing songs and poetry about my experiences in the world continues to be my primary form of journaling, if im not singing, writing, and otherwise making art, something fundamental in me has gotten too quiet.

love is abundant and healing and i know how to do it and i have so much still to learn and experience. stay open.

i am a practice ground for abundance.

i don’t know how to recreate my own miraculous existence, so i must be celebratory, tender and in awe of this body, these days, this worldview, this moment in which i am living, and these people who love me.

every day, waste less and less.

<3

21 observations for a new day

i love days like this, uplifted as something special – winter solstice, new calendar, mom’s birthday, named in time. here are 21 current observations from my life.

1 there is no silence, but it is good to quiet ourselves enough to hear the night animals hunting, the snow melting, the vibrant pounding of our own hearts.

2 there are moments which cannot be thought through, must be felt through. this becomes more apparent as i am growing my capacity to feel.

3 i am starting to ask children the questions i really hold. their answers delight me. i highly recommend this.

4 ‘so now i am older/than my mother and father/when they had their daughter’ – fleet fox, ‘montezuma’. when i remember this, i feel such compassion for my parents.

5 it comforts me to imagine that thousands of years ago, people sensed that humans would need thousands of years to work out our worst tendencies, but longing for a compassionate resilient way of being was present even then.

6 that said, i don’t presume to understand what was known then. it makes me nervous when people speak too definitively of what someone in the past was thinking, knowing how often i am mysterious and misunderstood in this time.

7 every single day that i begin with meditation and/or yoga is better than days i don’t. writing is a meditation some days, jo others.

8 it is taking me a long time to apply that lesson to my morning routines. but i am aware now, and feel the immensity of choice in me, that any time things aren’t feeling right i can return to breath, begin again, and again.

9 dignity is becoming very important to me. i notice it in posture, in the way people meet my eyes without falling in or falling away, in the pull of gravity and dreams. i want to be of a dignified people.

10 i’m not the only one who hears music all the time inside. when i let my ‘soft animal body love what it loves,’ i am always dancing. (mary oliver, a beast among poets, wrote those words in her poem ‘wild geese’)

11 i really do hope i was foreseen, and am worthy of my time.

12 home is an internal condition, and a way of being in relationship, for me.

13 fashion is a communication of home, beauty and vision. my fashion, which i am finally allowing to matter to me and for me, was shaped by marilyn monroe, new york city, and images of the future from the past: star wars, star trek, idoru.

14 i prefer to be part of the beauty, not part of the background.

15 ‘we must keep in mind that we are not going to be free – we already are free. every idea that we are bound is a delusion.’ swami vivekananda

and

16 ‘the only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.’ camus

17 complexity is liberating me. i now hold that there is an absolute freedom, some place we are all driven to, and a relative freedom, the freest we think we can get given our conditions. taking steps towards the relative freedom can move us towards the absolute.

18 i love love. it feels really essential to being alive, to risk the vulnerability and the heartbreak, to actually live in love with others.

19 i love this body of mine, part of the greater human body. the more i feel, the more i realize every cell is full of stories, and more are coming.

20 i have, so far, avoided getting so serious i can’t laugh at these efforts of ours to make meaning of our seeming insignificance. we are completely hilarious.

21 i have, so far, avoided getting so cynical i can’t feel the miraculousness of my life, and of our efforts to understand and evolve what it means to live. we are utterly incredible.