I just returned from a treasure hunt in my old loft, and found my reflections from New Year’s 2007 and 2008 (we are on the horizon of New Year’s 2009 — I’m seeing the sun set through my window) So, I’m reflecting on my reflections: a thoroughly YIN thing to do. Here are the entries:

 

From 12/31/2006

 

I am excited to launch my blogsite just in time for the New Year! Visit often: I’ll talk about that elusive thing called desire–that feeling inside that lets us know we what we want. That feeling often gets pushed down by the demands of life, often to the point where we don’t recognize it anymore. Here’s a space where desire reigns! What do you want out of life? Who do you want to be in 2007? As a perpetually-optimistic Sagittarian, I love making resolutions. Usually my resolutions are just the next step in my process, but there’s something attractive about a clean slate, the energy of the new, the pure potential represented in the New Year’s baby. I’ll be reflecting and resolving over the next week or so, but here’s what I’ve got so far:

1. I’m working on a radical form of self-acceptance: taking pride in my quirks. After all, it’s the quirks that get listed in the “reasons why I love you” on any romantic comedy. I want to love the fact that I often stay up too late, that I really care about the details, that I have no sense of time and fight time boundaries whereever they pop up.

2. Along with #1, I am embracing my introversion. See Surviving the Mosh Pit for more. [NOTE FROM 12/31/08: I didn’t know then that INTROVERT POWER would be on the bookshelves today!]

Happy, Desire-filled New Year!
From 1/6/2007
Good morning! Here’s what I’ve come up with over the past week:

Resolution #3: To stand firm in who I am, even if that leaves me alone.

I finally solved the mystery of why I’ve been having serious leg pain over the past several months. I’ll save you the boring details, but during the months of complaining (mostly internally — I am an introvert after all), occasional spells of crying, sleepless nights, talking to doctors and getting test after test with negative results, I came close to concluding I was a hypochondriac, “focusing on the negative,” “overly sensitive,” blah, blah, blah. What I’ve discovered is that I have a gland that has gone crazy and is taking calcium from my bones and depositing it into my blood. Not good. But If I hadn’t seen that one more specialist who happened to notice my high blood calcuim levels, I’d be on a fast track to hell.

The lesson? Trust what I know. Throughout, I knew this was not “normal aging” or my imagination, but the feedback coming my way was “I was fine.” But I’m not blaming the doctors or anyone else — I am the one who best knows my body, who best knows me.

I think back to the time I nodded in agreement to something a news reported said, even though I really didn’t agree. He printed his opinions as mine!

Or when I was pregnant and contracting and told my midwife my pain was at level 9 (on a scale from 1-10) — she said “It couldn’t be” and I agreed that I must have been exaggerating. She ordered me a sedative and told me to go to bed. By the time I got to the hospital the baby was coming out! (It worked out in a weird way — my “labor” was very short.)

Lessons take awhile to learn, but I’m getting more comfortable NOT being in agreement. It’s nice to agree — everybody is in harmony and all — but it’s not nice to abandon who we are. I resolve to be in harmony with ME. If this resolution fits for you, you are welcome to borrow it!

From 1/8/2007
Happy Monday! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not usually big on Mondays, but today was a good one. Here’s something I learned today: January was named after Janus, a Roman God with two faces, one that looked backward and one that looked forward. That’s what I enjoy doing in January: looking back and reviewing, and looking forward and opening myself to new possibilities. Janus was all about openings, new beginnings, doorways.

I also discovered that Monday means “the moon’s day,” and was sacred to the goddess of the moon. The moon is often associated with wisdom coming from the unconscious. How would our Mondays be different if we didn’t jolt ourself into consciousness, alarm clock blaring, artificial light glaring, and we brought our more subtle creative wisdom into the work week? I’m sure there’s a resolution in there, but for now…

4. A Very Practical, Un-lofty Resolution: To put new addresses and phone numbers into my little green book as soon as I receive them. For you, this may mean programming numbers into your phone, but the idea is the same. I spend needless time trying to track down contact information that I scribble on a piece of scrap paper, telling myself I’ll put it in my book “later.” Just thinking about commiting to this one small discipline has already reduced my stress level!

Happy Moon Day and all-hail Janus, Laurie

From 1/6/2008

Happy Reflection Time! If you’re an intuitive introverted optimist like me, you probably relish stepping over into a New Year. It’s the time after the overstimulating holidays, after the parties and gatherings, when we get to stay in, chill out and cuddle up—and think. Here’s some of what’s been cooking in my internal loft:

· “Taking care of things.” We use this expression frequently, but don’t often pause to consider what we’re saying: taking care. I have a history of neglecting self-care when it’s boring or inconvenient – ordering new glasses, fixing broken stuff, finding the right product for my hypersensitive skin. Here’s an example: I spent hours last night hunting for a toothpaste formula without fluoride, which gives me a rash on my chin (look it up – it’s pretty common!). There are about a million different kinds of toothpaste formulas—sensitive, whitening, super-platinum glow with diamond sparkles—but I found NOTHING without fluoride, at least for adults. I finally purchased some “training toothpaste” for toddlers in Fruit Splash. I ultimately did discover an adult formula without fluoride, and I had used it successfully in the past without realizing why: Tom’s of Maine “natural antiplaque tarter control plus whitening” toothpaste, the peppermint one. Thank you, Tom.

Anyway, my hunt for this toothpaste is the very kind of thing most of us avoid doing because it’s a huge hassle. And when we do invest time in “taking care of things,” we often think about all of the other more important things we could be doing. This leads to another theme in my head:

· Taking or Giving? If you’re on my subscriber list (if you’re not, sign up at wakingdesire.com), you received a blessing I sent, taken from a letter by Fra Giovanni. The essence of his message: take heaven, take peace, take joy. In this context, “take” refers to “taking in” or “allowing.” I have been reading the words of another wise monk: Brother David Steindl-Rast, whose article, “Learning to Die” is a masterpiece. You can read it yourself at his site: gratefulness.org. Bro David notes the language we use regarding time: we take, spend, borrow and even kill time, but we rarely talk about giving time.

So, I’d like to think of my toothpaste expedition as a generous gift to me, a gift in the service of care and love. I gave time to something that needed time. I now deliberately substitute “giving” for “taking” when I think about time. Try it – it feels SO much better.

· The Ultimate Care Challenge. After about a year of dabbling in David Allen’s book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, I started 2008 with the conviction to employ his ideas. WOW. This guy knows what he’s talking about. This isn’t your typical time-management program with priorities and goals and schedules. For me, this is a book about “taking care.” It’s not easy, but it’s also not oppressive. The basic idea is to put together all your piles and cluttered ideas and thoughts in your head and—clear two whole days for just this—go through every piece of paper, every idea and decide what the “next action” is. The next action may be to find a phone number or to ask somebody a question. The trick—and this is really tough—is to NOT PUT THE PAPER BACK IN THE BOX, to not skip over to something more interesting. WOW. I have been doing this (you’d need to read Allen’s book for the whole system) and, I tell you, taking care of those pain-in-the-ass items feels so liberating—and so loving.

As I reflect, it was the pain-in-the-ass responsibilities that helped me bond with my babies: the late night vigils, the diapering, clipping tiny fingernails. Giving is evidence of love, and giving time to your own care helps you feel loved and worthy. Resolve to give yourself the pain-in-the-ass care, not just the fun kinds of care like movies and popcorn (though these are important, too). Barrel through the resistance, your impulse to put it off. Feel the love.

Take—rather, give—care,

Laurie

And from TODAY, 12/31/2008
The sun just set on 2008. No parties for me, just dinner with the extended family (not too far extended, which is good) and watching revelry on TV and being glad I’m not out in the cold rubbing bodies with strangers. I’ll probably sneak off to write in my journal, and before bedtime, will begin my looking back and forward process (well, it has already started, but I like to look at my thoughts via writing). So, I’ll share what I come up with as I go. But as I look back, I realize that my resolutions of the past two years are still a part of me, and still evolving. That continuity is comforting.
Wishing you rich reflections and loft-y visions in this time between time.
Love and peace,
Laurie
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Poetic Dictation

December 6, 2008

Thank you for your kind comment, Cris. I love poetry and, for me, the times when words flow most freely — the times when I have to sit right where I am and put pen to paper — these are the times when I feel poetic. It is as if a poem is already formed and I am taking dictation. I have a clear memory of places where I was compelled to stop, sit and write: in the shade of a tree in residential St. Paul, MN, on a bench at the Mall of America, in the tall grass of a meadow in rural Wisconsin).

My most poignant experience of poetic dictation happened for me from a dream state: It was early morning, when dreams are most intense. In this particular dream, my sisters and I were gathered and the eldest of us was reading a letter from my mother. (In reality and in the dream, my mother had died over a year prior.) As my sister read the letter, I held the words in my mind and, as I began to wake, sleepily grabbed my notebook and took dictation. Here’s the message my mother, a very traditional woman in her life, gave to her daughters:

Move on girls. Don’t get caught up in what others say you should be or do. Just move on. Be free. The distracting voices will work at you. Just move on. Love, but stay detached. You are not those voices. You have your own voices. Yours are quiet, but wise and capable of silencing the masses, of inspiring awe. Move on girls. Your time has come.

Thank you, Cris, for bringing these memories to mind.

Practical note: I am very grateful that I had pen and paper available when the words came. Anne Lamott suggests keeping index cards and a pen with you at all times. I like tiny notebooks when I’m out and about, and I always have a journal by my bed.