Sunday, December 14, 2014

Quote of the Day

“The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.”

~Carl Sagan

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Cultivating Mindfulness (*or, My Little Brother's Getting Married!)

So I'm sitting here listening to Tiny Ruins, drinking my black coffee, and thinking about my 2014. For awhile now, I'd planned on writing my "Top Things That Happened This Year" list, like I did last year. But I've commented on many of the events, and they've swirled together in my heart: the passing of my dog Luna and my friend Mary Kay, starting my new job, moving in with Gus, other nuanced dramas that may or may not ever make it outside my own thoughts and into words or onto paper.

I've also been aware that for four or five months now, I've been living in full-steam-ahead, go-go-go, hyper-busy mode. My way of coping with change and stress has been to let my OCD rear its head, and I'm trying to both let him have his place at the table and also realize he's fine with just a side salad, no main course for Mr. OCD, thank you very much. What I *haven't* been doing as much is cultivating mindfulness, which sounds a little woo-woo, but it's something we can all pause and reflect on, especially around the holidays. It's time to rewire my neurons, compassionately redirect them to living more in the moment. And as I do so, I want to reflect on one of the most exciting parts of my 2014: my brother Aaron's engagement to the lovely and smart Stephenie Goodwin.

When he proposed, Stephenie came home to not only a beautiful antique ring -- selected with Mom's help -- but to Aaron and the three dogs wearing shirts made by Aaron, each with one printed word. You got it. "Will You Marry Me?" How romantic! It's a sweeping yet intimate gesture; it pulled in their beloved pets and Aaron was able to make use of his creative talents as part of the proposal. Talk about mindfulness -- there's a lot to admire in how he planned to ask Stephenie to join him in this next phase of their lives. Stef's been in our lives for years now, so I already consider her a soul-sister, but now there's something extra beautiful, an invisible thread sewing our families closer together.

I think it's been partly because I'm in "protection mode" and "perfectionist mode," but I haven't really been seeing all my forests for all my trees for awhile now. I've been trying to project myself into a happy ending without some chapters in-between. The only way out is through, right? And aren't "endings" happy and melancholic and wistful and frustrating and hopeful and everything in-between?

Time for me to take some deep breaths.
Time for me to stand back and work on letting my family be their newest, wisest selves.
Time for me to sink even deeper into my lovely new home with Gus. I'm so appreciative for Gus!
Time for my writing muse, Cassandra, and I to spend more time together outside the "What if?" realm of publication. Time to focus on the writing itself, and just *be* with our characters, regardless of the outcome. Find out why their stories must be told, no matter what else.
Time for me to more fully accept that the Great Horned Owl in the woods really was bringing me a message, and I should have faith in this, a deeper faith.
And time for me to cut myself some slack. The shades of gray we bathe ourselves in, those doubts and fears, are part of us too. Their place at the table is necessary.

Most of my friends and family have had intense years, filled with lots of transition, lots of speedy life goings-on. I think we can all take deep breaths, reflect on the gratitude of the moment, and exhale into our beautiful futures.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Quote of the Day

"'Or maybe a person is just made up of a lot of people,' I say. 'Maybe we're accumulating these new selves all the time.' Hauling them in as we make choices, good and bad, as we screw up, step up, lose our minds, find our minds, fall apart, fall in love, as we grieve, grow, retreat from the world, dive into the world, as we make things, as we break things."

~From Jandy Nelson's I'll Give You the Sun