My journey into the world of podcasting continues with episode 88 of Steve Silverman’s “World Gone Good” podcast. I had a wonderful time chatting with Steve about healing, writing, reiki, yoga, and following your joy. Some of the highlights include our Jodie Foster stories, how we healed our stomach aliments through mindfulness, and how we channel our inner truth through writing.
For many of us, traveling evokes feelings that range from excitement to dread. Some of us don’t like to fly. Others have trouble adjusting to new time zones and dietary delights. When we travel, we often do a good job of checking off our lists of “what to bring,” and “what to do,” but we’re not always great at ensuring we keep our energy as balanced and healthy as possible.
Since everything is, in essence, energy, including our bodies, it behooves us to do what we can to keep it flowing on the right pathways and in as much harmony as possible. As an energy healer and EMYoga teacher, I incorporate many of these simple tricks and tips into my classes and teachings. They can be great tools to take along with your travels:
- Spoon Your Feet: I learned this one in my EMYoga training. It’s simple and effective, and it works wonders. Take a stainless steel spoon and rub the rounded part of it in circular motions, or figure eights, on the bottoms of our bare feet. The magnetic property of the spoon will help balance your body’s polarity, as well as calm your nervous system. It’s a great way to both start and end your busy travel days and can help you sleep better.
- Energy Shields: Our bodies are complex networks of energy systems, one of which is our auric field. This energy field can extend about six feet out from our physical bodies. It is in constant communication with the energy around us. Therefore, it only makes sense to keep it protected. A simple visualization of an energy bubble around your body can help keep your aura vibrant. I like to use either gold, white, blue or a mixture of all the colors in the rainbow to wrap around my body.
- Weave Your Eights: This ties into the first two techniques I’ve mentioned. Donna Eden, the creator of Eden Energy Medicine, often talks about how our energy bodies use the repetitive pattern of the double helix (down to the level of our DNA and as large as our auric field). We use this weaving of figure eights a lot in EMYoga, which is based on Donna’s teachings. One way to incorporate the pattern into your energy body is to use the spoon technique on the feet mentioned above, but you can also use your arms to weave figure eights around your body, or simply visualize your energy body weaving together in this pattern.
- Hook Up Your Energy: Another favorite of Donna Eden’s, hooking up your central and governing meridians will give your energy a nice boost when you are feeling depleted. Simply put the middle finger of one hand in your belly button and the middle finger of the other hand in the space between your eye brows. Gently press them in and pull up for three cycles of breath (ideally in the nose and out the mouth). Here’s a fun video of Donna demonstrating this technique during a workshop.
- Calm the Nerves: There are so many great techniques to calm your nervous system. My favorites were learned during my EMYoga training through Lauren Walker, who trained under Donna Eden. All of them involved calming your Triple Warmer energy system, which is associated with your fight-flight-freeze response (among many other things). When we are nervous, we can calm Triple Warmer by wrapping one hand around the opposite elbow, and the other hand in a self-hug around our opposite low ribs. It’s an easy technique to use on a plane, train, etc. without drawing unwanted attention to your self.
If you are interested in learning about EMYoga, as well as simple techniques you can incorporate into your daily life to strengthen, balance, and cleanse your energy body, I will be teaching a Spring Equinox EMYoga workshop at Sharing Yoga in Concord, NH on March 20 from 1-2:30pm EST. The workshop is also being offered via Zoom. To learn more about the workshop, and my weekly Zoom EMYoga classes, please visit my website.
I just finished listening to part of a YouTube astrology post that a blogging friend of mine shared. The astrologer
triggered had me at the word “trigger.” To say these are “triggering times” for many of us is probably an understatement. We don’t, in fact, need an astrologer to tell us that volatility and instability surround us and stir the sense of unease within us, but it’s helpful to know how we react to what triggers us. It’s helpful to discover the cause and the effect.
Triggering events are what spurs life into being. If you recall yesterday’s post where I discussed the five elements and their corresponding seasons that cycle through our lives, you might bring life’s triggers into the perspective of the natural patterns of Life. And these need not be negative. We need not view them from the lens of judgement. The union of yin and yang energy that brings forth life is often pleasurable, just as a “triggering” song might inspire us to dance or sing with joy.
The key lies in the response. What do we do with what we are given? How do we learn? How do we take action that yields new growth, which brings us closer to the state of being that resides in joy?
Often, when we are triggered by something that we perceive as “negative,” we dive into defense-mode. We externalize our feelings to guard and protect our sense of security. It can take tremendous vulnerability to let go our guards and dive inside instead of outside of ourselves. We forget that herein lies the gift. When we go within we find the seat of our strength and our inner power, because that ever-wise inner-self calls us home to who we truly are.
I have experienced many triggering events in my life. Some days I experience several over the course of just a few hours. I probably don’t need to tell you how exhausting that can be. We are energy, and the more we are pushed to expend our energy and then turn that push into defense-mode, the more exhausted we become.
These triggers remind me of the guards I still station around my joy. They are irrational in the moment, but rational when I dive into the body’s wounded stories. What a disservice, though, it is to myself and others to perpetuate these myths and to allow them to wreak havoc on my interconnected mind/body/spirit.
There are times where it doesn’t take much to spur the creative action of grown. Years ago, I decided to get my palms read. I was a vendor at a local metaphysical fair and during one of the audience lulls I went over to a booth that had caught my eye. I’d say about 50% of what I was given during the reading rang true, the other 50%, well some of it triggered within me with the feeling of untruth.
As the palm reader was studying one of the lines on my hands, she declared with absolute assertion that I could not be a writer because I lacked the line for creativity. This statement triggered a whole series of wounds inside of me before it spurred me into growth. It triggered my sense of self-doubt and the idea that I would never be good enough to do what my heart knew to be truth since the moment of earliest memory. It temporarily unraveled my sense of identity and had the potential, if I had let it, to unravel my dream. I pushed aside the fact that the reader had also got a lot of other things wrong, like that I really didn’t listen to, nor like in the least bit, heavy metal music. Instead, I immersed myself in the one statement that spoke to my wounds.
And for those of you who follow my writing, you know that I haven’t stopped. We can feed our energy bodies or we can deplete them with the stuff of life that triggers us. Many of you may also know that when I was in my early thirties I suffered from debilitating IBS. For two years I allowed my energy body to suffer because of its untended wounds. Then, on Mother’s Day of 2008 I awoke from a hellish night of my body’s agonies and decided that this trigger I was experiencing was not going to defeat me. I was going to defeat it. Or, let me put it more kindly, I was going to grow from it and heal it. For the sake of my children first, and my own wellbeing (still always second, I’m still learning), I dove inside and released what needed to be freed. It was the same day I gave myself permission to write. I had 30+ years of words buried inside of me, it was no wonder my body was ready to explode. Thus, you can perhaps image how triggering it was to, years later, hear that palm reader tell me I was not, in fact, a writer.
I tend to be one of those people who always looks for the underside of the story of an event. I like to dig into the “why” to discover a deeper meaning, and how it might relate to the bigger picture of my life, or life in general. It helps me make sense of a world that would otherwise seem chaotic and randomly unjust. I don’t always like doing it, but it’s essential for my own wellbeing.
I am currently reading a book I don’t like. It’s a sequel to another book I didn’t like. The author, Octavia Butler, was a fine writer, but her apocalyptic choice of genre is triggering for me. I suspect that was a large part of why she wrote the books she did. In these particular books, the nightmaric world she created for the future illustrates a future out of control due to all the triggering events that lead up to its dystopian creation. Climate change, greed, the lust for power…it hits hard with a possible reality that is difficult to stomach. Yet, I keep reading it. It is triggering my shadow-self, that part of me that I don’t always like to visit, and that part of humanity that Butler is asking us to see for all its potential horrors.
There’s a section of the population, including the lead character of the books, that Butler calls “sharers.” It is another word for empath, but in the case of Butler’s stories, these empaths were created from a drug their mothers took. The stark reality, though, is that we are all empaths. Some of us hide it better than others. Some of us build shields to protect what we don’t like to feel. Butler’s books are uncomfortably close to our global reality, and because they are so dystopian, they stir more despair than hope through their plots. Yet we can still use them as triggers for change. We can dive deep, deep into the shadowland of the individual and the shared self to find out the root cause of our actions or inactions and allow the trigger to inspire positive growth.
It is always a choice. Life, in each moment, unfolds a myriad of options at our feet, asking us which way we would like to walk. We can, quite literally, in each moment choose the path of darkness or light. Love or hate. Peace or turmoil. Wellbeing or disease. The choice is always there.
There is a pattern developing in my yoga classes and it centers in the place of the lungs and heart. In the practice of EMYoga (energy medicine yoga), which was created by Lauren Walker based upon the work of Donna Eden, the body is viewed through the lens of the five elements of ancient Chinese medicine. The elements, which correspond with the seasons, can be viewed as a circle, but also a star. I like the symbolism of both. The star within the wheel.
Arising out of the element of water, where life is birthed into being, the energy body (for this post’s purpose, the term energy body includes the entire body: physical, emotional and spiritual) is encouraged to move out of the stagnation of fear into the courage of potential. In the watery world of potential, everything is possible as creation stirs into being.
Winter’s hidden growth emerges in the springtime, the element of wood, breaking ground in the cycle of rebirth. The energy body can become restless in the element of wood. Angry, even, when growth is not happening fast enough, or not in the way the mind wants it to. Here, the sometimes frenetic energy of springtime can be tempered, like all energy, through the compassion of the heart. Aggression then becomes assertive action as the energy body learns to harness the force of spring for positive action.
Spring weaves into the energy of summer, where the heat of the sun burns the fires of creation. Too much fire leads to anxiety, as the energy body seeks to dance and move itself in a thousand different ways. An excess of fire leads to burn-out, and so the flames seek also the tempering of the heart of reason and compassion, moving the creative force into the energy of inspiration.
As summer wanes, the energy body begins to turn inward to the self, seeking reunion with the inner child who represents the true, joy-filled self. It is the time of transition, where the outer begins to move inward again. The element is Earth, residing in the in-between times of the equinox and solstices. Those with an abundance of Earth energy tend to neglect their inner child in favor of excessive giving to others (summer solstice), depleting the self of sunshine (winter solstice). The energy body seeks balance (equinoxes), urging the turning inward to reconnect with and tend to the inner flame. It’s not always easy to do for those who tend to reside within the element of Earth.
It takes trust, and letting go, and so we move into the final element on the wheel, and the last point on the five-pointed star, which resides in the “season” of autumn. In the northern hemisphere we are in the middle of fall, so it is fitting that my classes seem to keep finding their way to this seasonal elemental focus. Due to the pandemic, though, loss has become universally poignant. Grief feels like a cloud surrounding us, and for some of us it is deeply infused into our energy bodies.
So how do we let go into faith and trust? How do we allow the wheel to keep turning to move back into the season of winter and the phase of infinite potential to bring forth new life? It is perhaps the biggest act of faith we can partake in. Surrendering to the unknown, and trusting in an inherent, yet often elusive-feeling of universal love that supports and surrounds us all, is no easy feat for someone who is immersed in the energy of grief. We, as humans, learn to cling to the tangible as we become accustomed to life in the body. We look for safety and security from the touch of others and the comforts of physical objects. When we lose these things, we often linger on the empty feeling of lose and our sense of security becomes threatened. The ancient Chinese medicine element associated with the season of fall is metal. In Tarot, the element is air, but it is often depicted through the metal symbol of the sword as a representation of this very mentally focused season/element.
It takes mental fortitude and a mighty hand to form the sword, as well as to make the choice to use it of to lay it down in surrender. There are two forms of surrender. Defeat and trust. With trust, as we see in the Ace of Swords, the mental energy of the metal/air element gives way its hold to a higher power. Piercing the crown that sits atop the head, it breaks open the energy of the 7th chakra/ or crown chakra, to open to the wisdom of the divine. It is the ultimate surrender of faith. The mind relinquishes its hold on control and trusts that there is a universal plan that arises from the energy of love. A challenge when one suffers profound loss, yet this trust comes with a knowing that death is a natural part of the cycle of life and this season of loss will move, once again, into the infinite potential of creation.
To tumble out of the unfolding draw in a breath
Remember who you are
Remember the child who knew how to dance with light
Your doorway to truth
Like Alice peering into the Looking Glass without fear
Grab ahold of wonder
Dive into the ripening
You the vine, but also the seed
Arising from the place of beginnings
Everything already coded
waiting to break open
To reach beyond the ground
draw down light and spread the tender vine
Rejoining the spiral dance
I am sitting in my car, driving home from my yoga class, shaking my head. The radio is tuned to NPR and there is (another) program on about the pandemic. There have been other programs before it, there will likely be many more as we struggle to overcome what has become a struggle not with just a virus, but with our humanity.
The mystics of old, as well as the mystery schools, teach us that we are all, in essence, one. We are each a piece of a larger consciousness. A consciousness that we become somewhat (but no wholly) separated from for a period of time to learn and grow back into the return of unity.
This is the prevailing concept that drives my life. This is why I turned to the mysteries. To yoga. To studying Life, as best I can, in each moment.
To me, the concept of “oneness” includes the knowing that at our core there is love. It is the force of love that drives life into being. It is the force of love that sustains the continuation of Life, and it is the force of love that unites our separation into unity.
Even though I grew up with a very scientifically structured childhood and adolescence, there were seeds of spirituality scattered throughout. Seeds of this idea of unity and of a conscious energy that flows through all life. In the closet were decks of Tarot cards, no longer used. On the shelves, books about the divine feminism and yoga. In my household there was the prevailing, underlying knowing of this greater consciousness, even if it was largely ignored.
I studied biology (and English) at Bowdoin College. A place filled with brilliant minds and inquisitive students. My lust for understanding Life led me to read writing by philosophers, mystical poets, and scientific texts based on logic and theories that could be tangibly proven. After Bowdoin, I went on to study, for a brief time, at Brown University. Another place filled with brilliant minds and inquisitive students. Over the course of my years studying in the field biological sciences, I worked in four different research laboratories. I ran experiments in molecular genetics at Bowdoin, and in two different laboratories at Brown. Then, when I left Brown after deciding that a career in a laboratory wasn’t for me, I took a 1.5. yr temporary position under a neurogeneticist who was getting ready to retire at Massachusetts General Hospital. Why am I telling you all of this? Because during these years I met and worked with several brilliant minds all with a shared interest of studying and understanding Life, not for mere personal gain, but for a genuine and sincere interest in making the lives of others better.
Over the years I have moved into the more mystical side of science, yet “science” is ever-present in my life. It always will be. Science is integral to who we are. We are complex molecular structures woven into complex bodies of cells, muscles, and tissues that move and operate through a matrix of energy systems. We are science, but we are also more. Pervading through these bodies of cells and atoms is a life force that sustains us and will sustain our being after our bodies return to Earth.
Life happens. Things go wrong. We get sick. We mistreat our bodies. We mistreat each other. We are human beings having a human experience. We are imperfect. That is why we are here to learn and to grow…back into unity.
This is why I am deeply troubled, as I know many of you are, by the extreme polarity that persists in our world. That stuff that seeds war, racism, hatred, and mistrust is bothersome to me. All of these aspects of our minds that move us away from unity and the knowing that we are more alike than we are different. This polarizing movement away from the knowing that we are all, in essence, seeds of the same light.
We have our individual experiences, and hence we are different from each other. Experiences, which I believe, most often extend throughout many lifetimes. Yet are are not served well from these experiences if we do not explore their effects on us and on others.
I have a friend whom I consider to be deeply spiritual. She has studied Shamanism, as well as reiki and other forms of the more mystical aspects of life for many years. And she is also college educated, with two degrees, was brought up in a Jewish household, and considers herself a follower of both the mysteries and science. Although she has a deeply rooted fear of needles (not vaccines), which may seem illogical unless you follow the thread of experiences of past-lives, she pushed through her fears and got the COVID-19 vaccine. Even though she is health-compromised from fibromyalgia, I am happy to report she is doing fine post-vaccine. There were some uncomfortable side effects a day-and-a-half, but they have passed.
I am incredibly impressed by her strength and fortitude. I admire her ability to balance a life of science and mysticism while constantly keeping her fears in check through awareness. She believes in the prevailing goodness of humanity, even though she knows we are all imperfect beings having a human experience. My friend also believes in facts and data. She knows that “numbers don’t lie,” and that the deaths from this virus have far exceeded any fear she harbored about getting jabbed with a needle. In her case, she is not afraid of the vaccine, she is afraid of the mechanism that administers it.
And she owns it. In order to understand her fear she did not divine into a conspiracy. She did not search the irrational to find an excuse. She dove into herself. This is, in my humble opinion, what defines a good Life student. My friend sought to understand herself, and in doing so, uncovered the root of her resistance to getting the jab. And in doing so, she overcame it. Not just to help herself, but because she knows that we are all interconnected. She is aware that by vaccinating herself, despite the risks of her underlying health condition, she is helping others who may be susceptible to becoming ill, or worse, from a virus.
A couple of days ago, another friend of mine brought to my awareness a recent article titled “Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine Was My Act of Ahimsa.” Ahimsa is the yogic practice of living life with the intention of inflicting as little harm as possible on other beings. It is the principle of altruism based on a selfless knowing that we are all connected, and that all life has meaning and value. The author of the article wrote this assertion after her diligent research separating facts from conspiracies and speaking with experts in the field, “It brought me right back to my understanding of ahimsa. While the concept of ahimsa’s direct command is not to kill, its wider, and more positive meaning is simple: to love.”
Unlike my friend, the author of this article was at very low risk for having any side-effects from the virus or the vaccine, yet she decided to get the vaccine as an act of ahimsa. She thought not merely of herself, but of the wholeness of humanity of which she is a part. She weighed the risks against the benefits. She explored the intricacies of science and how viruses work, as well as the vaccines meant to keep them in check. And, she overcame her personal fears to do what she considers to be the right thing for the world.
Feeding mistrust divides us. A lot of controversy spun out of this article, which appeared in Yoga Journal. Some people were outraged. Others read through their personal fears and insecurities and saw the love at the core of it. They saw Ahimsa. Sometimes life requires us to surrender to trust and faith in the prevailing goodness that unites us. Yes, there will always be those that would do harm based upon their own life experiences, but the vast majority of beings walking this Earth are striving, ever-striving, towards that reconnection with Love. Including the scientists and healthcare workers that dedicate their lives toward ahimsa.
Before I get out of my car to enter back into my home, I listen to the words of the reporter on the radio, lingering for a moment in my garage. He is talking about all those thousands of people dedicated to saving lives. In particular, various healthcare workers who are emotionally and physically exhausted from months that have now stretched past a year of trying to save lives. And he is talking about some, more than a few, who are so exhausted they are considering giving up their careers. They simply have depleted their personal supply of constantly giving of themselves in the face of death and adversity. Giving up their careers is not turning away from ahimsa, it is, sadly, instead a result of too many people not practicing its principles. We cannot do it all alone, but we can, together, live in the belief of love.
I still weep at least once a day. That is okay. I’d rather the body process and release than trap sorrow.
Each day I open my inbox to see her smiling face framed in a halo of red curls. I click the link to read a memory of her life. It is a gift I sometimes find heart-wrenching, but always soothing. Part of me dreads the day when these posts will disappear. I’m not ready to retrieve the words she wrote for me during our years of correspondence. I am trying not to need them. I am trying to let go of what once was and move into what is.
As my mentor through the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, she taught me about the mysteries of what we call “life.” All those illusions we hold onto that bind the larger truth called “union.” You’d think I’d know better. I stand before my own students and teach union. Together we practice yoga, which translates into “union.” On our individual mats, we move the energy of the body to release what binds, while focusing the breath on what unites. Together, and individually, we create union. Or should I say reunion. Sometimes it is more accessible as a concept than it is to practice.
Knowing that she is now in all things is not yet enough for me to find a steady state of solace. I search out the essence of her that lingers in the words she wrote, reading each post that appears in my inbox. It matters little that I’ve read most of them before. Each one brings a fresh wave of her magic.
This is what I am missing most these days. The magic that felt uniquely hers. We may be sparks of the same light, but through the process of our individuality, this light morphs into personalities that cannot be replicated or mimicked. I have convinced myself she is irreplaceable, and of course she is. It is now that she might remind me that I should not look for a replacement. That this is both futile and unnecessary. She would tell me that she has not disappeared, but everywhere.
It is true. When I walk outside she is the woodpecker calling me home. At night, her love pours out of the curl of the cat nestled into my legs. In all moments of stillness she is the soft dance inside each cell. I am familiar with this transfer of love. I have felt it in other losses. But it is not yet enough.
I don’t know why I am feeling it. There’s no rational explanation. Yet, there it is, the feeling of possibility stirring the cells into the flutter of excitement. Perhaps it is the quickening pulse of Spring that vibrates within my being. The Earth’s re-awakening becoming my own. It is, after all, the time of growth and movement. But not all moments are like this one.
Today has no set agenda for me. This morning, after I ensured that my daughter had a hearty breakfast and everything she needed before she headed off to take her SATs, I checked my phone and realized it was unlikely the call would arrive. Today, it seems, I am not needed outside of the home. I have started subbing at the middle school in town and usually the call for assistance arrives by 7am.
The day spreads before me a promise only I can fill. Some days this might bring the feeling of unease. The unknown agenda pressuring the need to be useful. Even though I am a Virgo, the mutable element of water flows strongly through me. I find grounding in routines when life feels uncomfortable, but there is the ever-present spark of magic waiting to be ignited.
There is something wondrous about a day unfolding without knowing what each minute will bring. Time is freed up to capture and weave together an infinite number of patterns of creation. It becomes the choice of the seeker to choose which path in this labyrinth to walk. We become poised, ready to receive what awaits. And how we navigate this spread of possibilities is also up to us.
When we open to the agenda-less, we allow that spark of magic to be ignited within. The outer world responds to our desire to be awakened into joy. We learn and discover in subtle ways that reveal to us their immeasurable value. It need not be, and often is not, a radical offering that awaits us. Most days we do not win the “lottery.” Most of us never will. How many people who do receive an over-load of abundance all at once know what to do with it to find true joy?
It is the offerings that may, at first glance appear tiny, that reveal the hidden gems that spark the life within us. Overload often brings overstimulation and chaos. The body and mind can only process so much at once. Conversely, one silken moment threading into a new one, nearly invisible in its form, can become something exquisite. One step into the unknown day leads us into a possibility offered without the force of our own creation. It becomes a gift, an offering to unfold.
As I sit here with one dog on either side of me, and no middle school classes to cover or yoga classes to teach, I hear the soft rhythm of breath mixing with the hum of the artificial life of my refrigerator. Choices unfold before me, but only a few have been revealed. The cat who fears the dog calls out to be visited, and I have decided that I will choose his offering first. But what is offered next, I am content with not knowing. It is the possibility that sparks the quickening, not the knowing.
It doesn’t matter who says it these days. As soon as the expression escapes someone’s lips, the dog comes running, filled with the promise of a dropped morsel. “Oops” is all it takes to make her feet race with joy as quickly as they can carry her into the kitchen. One person’s mistake is another [dog’s] victory.
When my husband dropped a few grains of cereal this evening, sending the dog running to the kitchen to clean up his mess, it got me thinking about this simple cause and effect conditioned response we have created. It did not take long for our Zelda to learn that an error for us meant a reward for her. She’s a smart dog, highly motivated by food.
Food pretty much rules Zelda’s life. She’s an opportunist, ever-ready for the chance to snatch up a meal, whether it be her own, or the remains of someone else’s. When my husband dropped some of his evening snack, I got to thinking about how subjective the meaning of “Oops” can be. Even, you might say, for the person who utters it upon impulse.
In this example of food lost from one mouth, only to be retrieved by another, the idea of a loss equalling another’s gain seems quite simple. But, most of the time what is dropped in our kitchen and retrieved by the dog is mere crumbs and is not really missed by us. The dog, in this case, is doing us a favor by sweeping the floor with her mouth.
At other times, though, the loss is greater. A quarter, or even a half of a meal might be lost with a careless swipe of a hand, resulting in the dog’s gain becoming more of a costly indulgence not just for us, but also for her health. Then, perhaps you could say the “Oops” is a genuine oops.
But I’m more interested in the subjective nature of the “Oops” and how the impulse to utter a word of mistake can, upon deeper reflection, become a gain for the person who might at first glance be thought of as a victim of circumstance.
When an event occurs that disrupts the status quo, it is in our nature to react. Our reactions determine our emotional response to the outcome, and sometimes it is unwavering. For example, if we return to the instance above, the dropped food may be perceived as a careless action that results in self-reprimand. No thought for gain may be considered, aside from the dog’s.
Yet, when we take the time to consider the cause behind the cause and the result beyond the initial result, we might arrive at a different conclusion. We might take a moment to realize that maybe our thoughts had influenced our carelessness, causing the food to be dropped because we had not been fully present and invested in the present moment, or task at hand. Therefore, the dropping of the food becomes an opportunity to reflect and pause. We can consider what has caused us to be distracted and why. We can make a choice to let it go and become more mindful as we carry out the rest of the meal preparation that is underway.
A mistake, then, becomes an opportunity to learn and to grow, even one as simple as an “Oops.” As we do this, the amount of “Oopses” by nature decreases, and the opportunity is seized not by someone else (or the dog), but by ourselves. The reward becomes our own to retrieve if we choose to. And, most likely, with enough exploration, we will find that the gain outweighs the perceived loss.
I chose the above photo as an image for this post because it reminded me of a big “Oops” I recently read about regarding the writer Ernest Hemingway. Early on in his literary career, his first wife, Hadley lost his entire collection of unpublished manuscripts. Deciding that she would gather all of his work to bring to him while they were vacationing, Hadley misplaced the briefcase containing the contents of his creative work on the train. The briefcase, assumed to be stolen, was never to be recovered. It took months, if not years, for Hemingway to realize, with the help of a writer friend or two, that perhaps Hadley’s “Oops” had actually been a gift. His writing, you see, had only benefitted from his loss, becoming stronger and more refined because the page, like our floor, had been whipped clean by a perceived mistake. He had no choice but to start over with nothing to lean upon. Hemingway’s creative hand took not only adapted to the loss, it grew from it.
It’s Wednesday morning and I’m up before dawn to ensure one of the teenagers I said I would not mention, but already have, does not miss her morning class. I’m emptying the dishwasher while steaming a kettle of water for tea and a too loud clink gets an echoing bang from the other said teenager I promised not to mention. Did I mention it’s Wednesday, which means in our small town in NH there is no school (unless you’re taking classes elsewhere).
Abandoning the chore, I decide to salvage some peace and descend into the dungeon of the house to visit the cat-who-distrusts-dogs, Yoda. Yoda, as always, is elated to see me (unlike the teenagers we’re trying to overlook for now) and promptly comes over for his morning pets. As I settle in for a good hand grooming of the feline, my eye catches upon a white and gray mass near the hand weights. “It can’t be,” I think.
I pull the string to turn on the overhead light.
Yes it is. Stuck to the wire of a portable fan, and even more stuck to the black mat on the floor, is the flattened carcass of a mouse. As I gather spray cleaner, paper towels, and an old bread bag from the shelf beside the cat food, kept in the dungeon for this very purpose, I recall the evening five days ago when Yoda leapt through the cat door and deposited his live catch before my feet. I had my answer.
The desiccated rodent remains now (mostly) cleaned and scraped from the floor and tied inside the (single use) plastic bag and in the garbage bin. I crank open the tiny window, and get ready to settle in for a morning workout under the supervision of Yoda.
In bounds Millie through the same cat door that allowed entry of the rodent I just disposed of. Full of energy after her night in the coat closet, Millie is ready for second-breakfasts and not so ready for pats. As Millie-who-thinks-she-might-be-a-dog, or as we call her a “cog,” polishes off the scraps of Yoda’s treats and the remainder of his breakfast, I zero in to steal some snuggies. Once again, my eyes hijack the intended moment.
Yes it is. A tiny black tick is working its way into Millie’s white coat. Fingers pinch the bugger while the other hand quickly finds the roll of masking tape (also on the shelf for this very purpose) to snuff out the life of the invader.
Thirty minutes later I have managed the semblance of a workout with my trusted guide, Yoda (Millie, true to her nature, has found better things to do with her time) and have also caught myself up on half an episode of ‘The Great British Baking Show.”
I figure I’ve at least faired better with the first half of the morning than some of the contestants under the tent. I give Yoda a few more pats and make my way upstairs where the dogs are already taking their second naps of the day on the couches.
I reach for my laptop to go through the morning’s mail and give Rosy a slight nudge so I can sit down beside her. A waft of dog-perfume greets me as my rear-end meets the cushion. “Never again,” I tell myself for the five hundredth time, “Will I buy a couch with non-washable cushions.” Friday, which we’ve dedicated to renting a commercial washer and hopefully scrubbing the scent of cleaner into the couches, cannot come too soon.
Rosy, on the other hand, appears quite content with her couch, and not too thrilled with a human invading the tiny space beside her. Soon enough I leave her to her nap, and head upstairs to my yoga room with my shadow (aka Zelda) at my heels.
Ten minutes later, as my busy mind is finally beginning to settle into the flow of the postures, my fifty-pound black shadow with fur, claws, and a very loud mouth, leaps onto the window seat and starts hollering her displeasure at an unseen presence.
Just for good measure, I check to make sure. Yep. Not an intruder in sight.
I settle back on the mat, while my shadow settles her head on the windowsill to keep watch, and slowly the flow of life returns. But not for long. With a charming chirp, the cog announces her reappearance.
There is no resisting the cog. Even the dogs, who despise all other felines, have been charmed into near-adoration by this would-be-dog. Adjustments must be made, and the mat must be shared while Millie graces the day with her presence.
Not to worry, though, she’s soon vanished (again), and I nearly, just nearly, get a complete practice in before the not-to-be-mentioned-teenage-son makes his way downstairs and starts rooting around the fridge for some breakfast.