Posted by: Susan | December 26, 2012

Dogs of Winter

In this week between the old and the new, I’m often sparked to clean things out, set things straight, and start fresh–in other words, embody the Tasmanian Devil of housekeeping.  I like this about myself–pride in productivity–but I also know I’d be well served by a little balance, a little recharging.  So, taking the hint from my dog, Ruby, I will be off-the-air for a few days.  Instead of managing my virtual presence here, I’ll be attending to my actual presence in the cool, damp air of late December in Washington.  Here’s to the dogs of winter who are wiser than me.

What do the dogs know?

What do the dogs know?

Posted by: Susan | December 18, 2012

The Quiet of the Year

In a few days, the year will shut its eye for a moment, then reawaken to a new cycle. The Brumal Solstice is always my favorite moment of the year. It’s the end of the slow emptying of the daylight and the beginning of the refilling, a tidal flux of light. As a Leo, a child of the sun, I come fully alive in the bright and heat. As a native Pacific Northwesterner, I crave the almost shocking freshness of sea and woods, which are at their most bracing in winter. The upcoming Solstice will be my forward fold–uttanasana–my closing, nose to knee.  And even before the next day breaks, I will sense myself rising toward mid-summer. Every day from December 22 to to June 21 will offer more light and more energy. No better expression of possibility than that. I wish you a contemplative solstice. What possibilities will you look for in the growing light of this next year?

Posted by: Susan | December 10, 2012

Release Your Grip

Scan your body right now for any tight spots.  Where are you tense, contracted, gripping?  I have a spot just below my left shoulder blade that is as good as a smoke alarm for me.  I’ll notice it suddenly tighten with a ratcheting-like sensation, and usually just in advance of a disconcerting thought.  My body knows before my mind does that I’m worried.  So this spot is teaching me.  I notice it; I breathe; I visualize releasing that bit of muscle, unbinding it with an exhale.  And when I do, I often notice I’ve forgotten what I was worried about–my attention to the worry released with the grip.  And yes, I get to do this over, and over; repeated practice is necessary to learning.  What does your body want to teach you?

Posted by: Susan | November 30, 2012

Sit Still

I am a fidgeter by nature.  My first grade teacher wrote on my report card that I might learn to read if I’d only stay in my chair.  Proved her wrong.  I read like the dickens, and I still struggle to keep my seat for long.  Over the years, I’ve learned to channel my fidgetiness into energy for “getting things done,” which has served me well in many respects. But still, with the constant movement and doing, the zipping all over the place like a highly charged electron, comes the absence of ease.  It’s hard to be present in life when in full flight.  So, about three years ago, I began a  practice of sitting still.  I have a lovely chair I use for that purpose only.  When I drop into it, my body has learned to drop also, to let go of tension, the by-product of constant action.  I sit still to simply practice sitting still.  Yes, it’s meditation, but that came later.  The first step for me was not doing anything, and finding that I liked it.  In the quiet of my bedroom, hearing a bird across the yard, feeling a slight unfurling of warmth as the furnace kicked on, noticing my own breath falling into a gentle rhythm.  In moments like those I can acknowledge I’m here, now, in my life.  The one I have, rather than an imagined one.  When I sit still, so does my life.  And since it’s the only one I expect to live, I’m glad.

Posted by: Susan | November 22, 2012

With Gratitude

Being thankful changes me.  It softens and opens my body, mind and spirit, and especially, toward others.  It’s really easy to fret about the things that aren’t right, aren’t aligning with my oh so perfect vision of how it should be.  But when I notice the tight, closed-up spaces of irritation and resentment, of non-gratitude, and I’m smart enough to shift my perspective to what’s right and what’s good, then I stop practicing what my brain finds easy: fear, worry and anxiety.  In every way, we are what we practice.  I intend to practice  thanksgiving every day, and today I’m thankful for all of you who read these reflections and support my purpose.  May you enjoy the spaciousness of gratitude this holiday and throughout the year.

Posted by: Susan | November 8, 2012

Then We’ll Be Happy

We are buying a house.  Fortunately, we are not selling one at the same time.  Our new-to-us house is, for now, a weekend house, and will become our retirement house.  So, for the next five years, we will engage in a  taffy-like transition that stretches into an assumed future.  Meanwhile, “buying” is a verb fully alive; we are in present tense–and boy, it’s been tense.  We are in that medieval torture device called the loan process, where despite being qualified every which way from Tuesday, we are required to feel pain.  Death by fax machine.  Why would two sane and rational grown-ups do that to themselves?  Attachment, pure and simple.  We have been carting around the fantasy of our retirement life for years now.  How happy we’ll be by the sea.  What fun we’ll have.  It will all be right then.  So, we endure present tense for the promise of future perfect in the form of a 1953 bungalow with a view of the bay. Fortunately, we are self-aware enough to notice ourselves do it.  We delight in the stories of how perfect it will be, then we delight in how easily we believe it. The challenge is to delight in this moment of grinding house-buying process because it is one of a finite number of moments we’ll get, and then to leave the future to the future.  Stress is trying to live ahead of one’s self.

Present tense, future perfect

Too much phone

Tasks slap the table with their impatience

Even my face feels strained

Where is relief?  Ahhhh…my friends:

A little cow—inhale

A little cat—exhale

A bit of dog in the fresh air

While the rain, too, takes a breath.                                  Image

Posted by: Susan | October 30, 2012

Recovering Type A

I drove through the rain this morning to meet with clients and realized my response to idling in commuter traffic had changed.  Days past I would have been in the grip of stress: a heaviness in my chest and my jaw set against the facts of too many cars for too little pavement. But this morning I was breathing.  I called to tell my first client I would be late, and I was.  Eventually, I, and the hundreds of cars ahead and behind me, arrived.  For me, the consequences of lateness were light; for others, perhaps weightier. Hard to say.  What I know for sure is that my attenuated commute was not the tortuous ride I could have made it. Some even breathing, no assault-by-news radio, and voila, victory over my limbic system. Another day in the life of a Recovering Type A.

Posted by: Susan | October 24, 2012

Drop Your Shoulders

Do you know where your shoulders are? Chances are they are keeping your ears warm. Take a twenty second break and actively depress your shoulder blades, moving the heads of your shoulders back slightly. Notice the space you just created for your heart and lungs in the front of your body. Now, take several long, slow inhalations and exhalations. Are you saying “ahhhhh” yet?

Posted by: Susan | October 22, 2012

Coming Soon

Feel the stillness settle in
Like birds alighting
More will follow