Thursday, December 22, 2011

Dear Humanity, Thank You.

"Perhaps everything terrible is, in it's deepest being, something that needs our love."
~Rainer Maria Rilke

Dear Humanity,

I have been thinking about you a lot lately and I just want to say thanks. I think you are awesome and I feel the need to let you know how much I appreciate you.

Humanity, I know that you often get a bad rap. Sometimes people say that you are mean, greedy and even insane. People sometimes think that you, Humanity are our enemy. But I disagree.

Because Humanity, we are you. All of us. And I believe that even though most people understand that all of humanity is interconnected, we often forget that that connection can really never be broken whether by violence, theft or hatred. We say that the mean ones, the greedy ones, the insane ones are somehow different from us and therefore are not us. That sounds suspiciously the same as "us" being disconnected from "them". And it seems to me that in differentiating between us and them, we create an impermeable barrier against growing together.

Humanity, you do so many things to amaze me. When I spend time with you I cannot believe how beautiful, talented, wise, generous and loving you are. I love what you are capable of. You sing songs, make babies and create art. You dance, you laugh, you cry. You love.

Everyday, while some people stew sadly in resentment toward you, others watch you play at manifesting beauty in the world. Beauty that, though sometimes inspired by nature, can only be created by humans. And often it is your own self that inspires. It is your own children, friends, family, partners, lovers,gurus and teachers who move you. You are the phenomenon of art, dance, literature, poetry and gastronome (yes, I am throwing around fancy words to impress you). You recognize suffering and move toward those in pain to offer soothing words, an embrace, material needs. Wow. Seriously, wow.

Also, can I just mention how awesome it is that you know how to made up cool stuff such as sidewalk chalk, bubbles, chicken tacos, Hello Kitty, bikes, Peanut M&M's, modern plumbing, sledding, jokes, coffee, digital technology, etc, etc,..I seriously better not even get started on the cool stuff.

When I think of you in the context of a growing child I remember that you are doing the best you can with what you know and have at any given moment in time. We all are. I feel tenderness toward you. You are very literally only doing what you have been conditioned to do. On top of it you're trying pretty hard to undo a lot of that conditioning, following your intuition and your heart and making the world better.

I want you to know, Humanity, that I wouldn't change a thing. I am so glad that you are who you are. I embrace and support you so that we can both be better in the world. I am both proud and humble to be one of you. Yeah, this is me saying thanks. You are comprised of a pretty rad bunch of people Humanity. I love you.


There are a few cool little videos and such making their way around the internet that make me feel happy about you. Thought you might like to see. XOXO.

Those who love themselves are those who know how to love others. This little girl has it nailed:

Humans do care:

I can't stop watching. The most eloquent thing I've heard anyone say about revolution.

I can't look at Chiura Obata's work, or this gorgeous web presentation without feeling good about our ability to appreciate the natural world:
And finally Mason Jennings on love, religion and...a black hole??? Just watch, okay?
BTW- not my fave version of the song, but still wonderful.

Friday, November 4, 2011

It's All Just a Bunch of Miracles Anyhow

Looking for a miracle? What amazing turn of events do you seek? Need a new car? New home? Maybe a miracle is what it will take to heal from an illness or life trauma. What makes a miracle? How do we petition the miracles we are desperate for. Miracle is most often defined as divine intervention and usually regarded as pleasant.

Miracles are most often observed when the impossible happens against all odds. Though many things unpleasant and even horrific do happen against all odds, we have a way of compartmentalizing phenomena into good and bad. But one persons junk is another's treasure- no matter what it may be.

Millions of human beings are in real need of what we consider to be miracles. Myriad ugly situations such as unclean water and oppressive political organizations have much of humanity in no more of a position to appreciate the ground beneath their feet than the concrete slabs they sleep on. I'm going to call that not having basic needs met and bureaucratic affliction. It would be shallow, foolish and sophomoric of me to presume anyone living like that would be hoping for nothing less than a thousand miracles.

For the rest of us however, whether in the midst a genuine crisis or just wanting a little more of what we've already got, here's a thought: If life is feeling less than miraculous, simply contemplate existence.

Existence of earth, air, stars, sky, people, puppies, Tupperware, your favorite boots, cheese. The list goes on. I mean, given the variety of experiences available to humankind it's almost too obvious. The phenomenon of what we call reality itself is one gigantic miracle or a stream of infinite miracles continually unfolding. Infinity is a miracle in and of itself. I'd even venture to say this existence thing might be happening against all odds.

Look at the object nearest you right now. It's made of the same protons, neutrons and electrons that you are made of. The atoms in that object and the atoms composing the elements which (miraculously) systematize themselves to actualize our bodies may be "formulated" differently, but they are all made of the same stuff, which when looked at closely it's not really stuff at all. In fact, it's scientifically possible that stuff doesn't even exist! Miracle.

Think about the functionality of our own bodies. What or who makes the human body work? If someone handed you the computer program to operate your body and mind, how long do you think it would take before you keeled over? Just try controlling the functions that make you breath, your heart beat and give you mental capabilities. Given that opportunity, we'd all drop dead in less than a minute. Us being animated, thinking, creatures? Huge freakin' miracle. Overlooked daily.

In light of this infinite miracle existing at this moment; breath, blood, beating hearts, redwood trees, water, stars, bubble gum, emotions, The Rolling Stones (!)- how can we ever question that miracles are being worked not only constantly, but miracles are the only thing that ever happens.

I don't mean to get all trippy, but whoa, that's cool. You gotta admit. And I love being reminded of it.

Returning to poverty and oppression as translated into miracles? Maybe the more we as privileged individuals living in the world of easy to spot miracles appreciate this phenomenon, the deeper appreciation we have for what the the world around us offers. We feel ease and gratitude in extending ourselves to those who do not have that luxury.

As a woman in the midst of a full swing life transition (I'll spare the details) that could easily be viewed as a partial crisis, I have thought a lot about this. People do extend themselves to offer time, energy and resources and it feels miraculous to get what I need precisely when I need it. I can slice into an orange, listen to my boys giggle, plug in my miraculous little ipod device, say hello to a dear friend and my breath is taken away by commonplace bits of magic. Every miracle I need exists all around me at all times.

My miracles may be different than yours, but if you really think about it, there is no one thing that is more miraculous than another. Truly so. Some things just appear more impressive than others, which is probably why we've forgotten what the miraculous really is.

Recognizing miracles is much like the Hindu story about the monkey deity Hanuman who possesses vast powers, but has merely forgotten it until reminded that his power is infinite. Only then does he remember that he can do anything. We, like Hanuman are also immeasurably powerful. Miracle workers in need of a simple reminder.

I like to remember the Hopi Elder saying: "We are the ones we've been waiting for." A statement as deeply profound and true as it gets. Human existence is a miracle, down to every single aspect of our beings. Which means every capability we posses is miraculous. That makes our actions miracles, therefore we are miracle workers. We are, every single one of us miracle workers.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

How to Be a Sensualist: A 15 Item List

#1. Stop hating sand in your shoes, swimsuit and bed. well, okay- you can hate sand stuck in your swimwear. The delightfully abrasive scratchiness of a little sand is the feeling of paradise following us home.

#2. Love mud between your toes and enjoy the scary thrill of possibly accidentally stepping on some creepy bug- or better yet, not stepping on it and getting freaked out by its looks. The Jerusalem cricket is a good one to get freaked by.

#3. Get lost in a crowd. Crowds generate an energetic buzz of human-ness like no other. They are not annoying, they are delicious with the flavor of diversity which is what we are experiencing while immersed in them. The flavor of humanities joys, sadness and secrets and aspirations (including yours!) ooze together and once you decide to taste it rather than reject it, it's pure delight.

#3 & 1/2. For that matter, get lost. Then see something new as you find your way back.

#4. Eat a food that frightens you. It will make you feel brave and adventurous without having to go anywhere. If you need a suggestion on this one, just ask me.

#5. Roll down a steep grass hill. Be itchy afterward. Better yet- if you have poison oak, go ahead, scratch it. If you have had poison oak, you know what I mean!

#6. Don't just smell the flowers, stick your face in them completely.

#7. When you see people you have any amount of affection for, throw your arms around them (okay- some people are freaked by this, no need to cross boundaries), feel the mass of their human existence- notice what they smell like even- pull back for a moment, look them straight in the eye and tell them what you think of them. Let yourself have lots of internal explosions over your feelings about people you like/ love.

#8. Taste your food with all six senses. Yes, I said six. Don't argue, okay? It really can be done. Every element of the food sensory experience registers in your entire body- and your intuition. If you pay attention, you will notice it. Do it with a lemon, with a spoonful of honey, with some stinky cheese, with some good olive oil. D. it with a chunk of butter some melted chocolate. A very hot pepper. see what happens? Ecstasy. Or agony :)

#9. Read a poetry book-- that you understand. Don't make yourself crazy trying to decode anything. Go for Rumi, Hafiz, etc.

#10. Smile and wave at every small child you see. Even if (maybe especially) they are giving you a blank stare or dirty look. If you are rewarded with a smile in return- your whole existence will flood with joy.

#11. Tickle and or get tickled by someone- my kids are masters at this and I love it! Good thing I am stronger than them and I always win. Also, let children climb on you and give them horsey rides. Same gratification.

#12. Stay up until 2am talking with someone you really like or until the conversation reaches delirium and you don't even know what the last thing you said was. Then talk to that person again the very next morning. Tell them how much you like talking to them.

#13. Swim underwater with your eyes open for as long as you can while holding your breath. I have a trick that helps me hold my breath for long periods of time. Don't mock it 'til you try it! Just hyperventilate for about thirty seconds then take in a huge deep breath and go under! Make sure to include underwater somersaults and handstands.

#14. Stare at the moon as though there were nothing else to stare at- ever.

#15. Wake up, go outside, take a deep breath, scan the scene, say "WOW," and explode on the inside.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Cadavers and Compassion: A True Tale

I have had some pretty amazing insights during my yoga teacher intensive with Richard Freeman. One is the effect a sense of humor can have over things that are often taken way too seriously. Take chanting om for instance. C'mon, lets make fun of that a little bit. Because you know sometimes it becomes pious and dramatic, which ultimately is annoying. In making fun of chanting om it we can't take it too seriously. Then it's fun and meaningful without being dogmatic.

Another great insight regards what it means to fully understand something that can never really be understood. Take existence for example: The only thing to understand, is that we don't understand anything. It is in our very nature to crave certainty about what we do or believe which creates a false (but useful) sense of security. Everything, absolutely everything is a total mystery at the core.

A particular experience that made an impression on me was in anatomy lab where our group studied four different cadavers to learn more about physiology. I'll admit that when I first learned what a cadaver lab was really like, I was nervous. Once inside the lab though,Todd our amazing teacher shed some light on how to participate with an open heart and a calm gut.

Class began with Todd asking what kinds of discussions and questions we might have about the lab and the cadavers. Maybe I was the only one or maybe no one wanted to mention it, but after a few students asked some scientific questions he asked again, "What else have you talked about?" My hand went up sheepishly, "What if I feel squeamish?"

"You begin by telling yourself a story", Todd began. He then shared the story of how these cadavers made it into his classroom.

First, every single cadaver in the lab is the body of a person who volunteered to be used for educational purposes. This is different than being a donor Todd explained, because as a donor, you may give organs that will potentially function in another live body. If one donates the body to science on the other hand, she fills out an application and is aware the the body will be preserved, dissected and used for about a year as a specimen. People who donate their bodies do it so others can learn.

This was a good start for me, as I consider myself to be of the squeamish ilk. I tucked that story in my front pocket in case I needed it. What I did not expect was something entirely different to overwhelm my senses. Actually, I was overwhelmed by a full spectrum of feelings.

The cadavers all have names. They are not the real names of the once living personality who inhabited the body. In our quartet of cadavers there were Agnes and Lee as well as two others whose names I do not remember. The bodies had been prepared in a manner that specific organ, muscle and nerve groups could be seen, touched and moved. When it was time to begin Todd explained that he needed our help. The cadaver were tables were heavy. To move each one into the middle of the room, several people were needed. My first step in being a participant felt a little like being a pallbearer. With several others whom I felt an immediate affinity for, I grabbed a corner of the steel covered container on wheels and we rolled Agnes over.

Agnes was covered by a hinged lid and concealed inside a bag. When unzipped she was covered in layers of formaldehyde soaked cloths. This kind of layered presentation creates some serious suspense. Lids, zippers, then cloths. Todd finally removed the wet cloths and something magical was exposed. The body of Agnes displayed in a way no living thing could be. The diaphragm, the pelvis, the psoas. There they were in all existential glory. I was overcome with an urge. Not to run or to vomit--but to cry.

What explosion of profound appreciation and gratitude came over me I can only call love. Here was Agnes. This body that once was a woman in the world. She was thin, appeared tallish. We were looking at what she never once in her own life was able to see of herself. How beautiful is that? This, I realized was an incredible gift. This was the gift of selflessly saying, "Here is my most relevant earthly asset. The thing I needed to physically exist. I have never known it's appearance, but when I am done you may take as deep a look as you like." I am aware that Agnes may not have thought that at all, but the story Todd told earlier had essentially unfurled into my own fairytale.

On the brink of tears and the verge of hugging this entirely un-huggable body, ( I learned later that it was very emotional for many other students as well) I immediately shifted closer.

There is so much to learn in anatomy. So much that it can very easily become a lifelong obsession. Agnes' organs at this point were removed and put aside for our later lesson on viscera. Todd began pointing out muscles, nerves and connections. Here were the abdominal muscles- the rectus abdominis, the obliques, the transversus abdominis, painstakingly separated to show fascinatingly thin layers. The pelvic floor- a long ignored place in the body, lined with small to tiny layers of muscle cradled in the sculpted bowl of the pelvic girdle. The diaphragm and the psoas, whose actions affected by behavior, emotion and breath interact each other.

This was like science fiction and a real life miracle all at once. I was reminded several times that looking or asking for miracles is like looking for your sunglasses when they are right on top of your own head. I was reminded that this idea of "everything is connected" has been incredibly bastardized and lost almost every bit of meaning in mere conversation.

It occurred to me that we dissect our lives into various categories and departments and have forgotten that there is absolutely no one thing or act that doesn't affect absolutely everything in the entire world. Todd reminded us that though tissues are categorized and named which creates a necessary separation for obvious reasons. His point seemed to be that there is no disconnect between your toenails and your spleen to the heart, eyes and digestive system. If one leg hurts the rest of the body knows and acts accordingly. If we are sad, every limb knows and behaves accordingly. If we are in love the body expresses it though our very skin. When one commits an act of charity that lightness lifts the world by some measure. When a person is abused or killed, we all suffer deeply. In the world, in people, in our individual lives, we cannot truly separate anything. But we sure try.

Speaking of separation my final insight came near the very end of class while studying an arm that had been dissected so we could see all tendons and ligaments. Beautiful satin cords of nerve were exposed. The machine like workings of muscle attachments to bones clearly separated as newly wired electrical work in a house. There was space, movement, total grace and a perfection in the workings of the musculoskeletal system.

I was feeling it. I mean, I was really feeling it. Todd slid a tool underneath the four lumbricals (extensions of the tendon) of the hand and so gently lifted them to show flexion of the hand. I experienced a very deep unnerving sensation in my own hand and all I can say is that everything became very fuzzy. It sounds dramatic, and unfortunately it was a little dramatic as I crouched on the floor and looked up while 10 faces stared down. I wondered why I was so popular all of a sudden. But as it turns out I actually passed out which made me popular in not my favorite way. Several others sat closely offering water and helping me out of a sweat soaked lab coat and gloves.

So what was that all about? Here is the most insightful lesson of all. It's about compassion. Number one, it felt as though every person in that room was genuinely concerned for my well-being. They were experiencing compassion. This is when we learn whether we are able to receive or not, if we are even able to recognize when someone is expressing compassion. A day later several of my class mates told me that they were either having some difficulty just being in the lab, felt nausea or mentally checked out to avoid dealing with those feelings. That they shared those feelings with me, even though nobody would have ever known, showed me compassion.

But then there is empathy. Mary, Richard's wife helped me understand this. Empathy is when we directly experience what is or could be felt by another. And make no mistake-- when we empathize, we are experiencing only our very own feelings, as we believe others might feel them. Even if we do feel precisely what the other person is feeling it's still empathy. That is what happened to me as I have always been a certifiable empath and maybe a little proud of it. I had an empathetic feeling of what it would be like if my own tendons were lifted away from my hand. So though I might have related it to what the cadaver was feeling- let's not kid ourselves. Cadavers don't feel.

Compassion on the other hand (as I am still learning) is when we are able to relate to an experience with an open heart without having the experience ourselves.

Crap. I don't think I've really learned compassion yet. I'm certain I've experienced it, but have been unaware of the most fundamental difference between it and empathy. There is still some sorting to do on my mental end of that stick.

This I learned from the arm of a dead guy. I'm a little disappointed that there are no more lab days.

If ever you have any opportunity to explore the human body in this way I highly recommend it. Knowing from a tangible place what is really inside of us is special. And what we can learn from seeing our own impermanence, the generosity of the once living is quite an illumination of some uncharted and very adventurous self territory.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Squirrel and the Tumor: testing theory through practice

"99% practice, 1% theory"
-Pattabhi Jois

I'll begin by identifying theory as what we believe should or will happen based on personal belief systems.

For the sake of the greater population, it might be okay to apply a little more than one percent theory to actual living- for a beginner (such as myself), I think 25% seems reasonable. Political view points, religion, diet, science- any facts derived from those things are based in theory, yet where would we be without them? Yes, we living on the material earthly plane need theory to make choices.

The important thing is not to identify too strongly with our theories.
As said by Isaac Asimov:
"Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what's right."
Morals, being rules are just theories shrouded in dogma. Maybe. That doesn't mean morals are useless. Remember that one percent.

My teacher Richard (Freeman) told this story illustrating why being a strict theorist can be disastrous.

Lets say you need a surgeon because you found out you have tumor- You are going to need a good surgeon (note the word "good"). You find a surgeon and he says, "Yes, you have a tumor" and thus decides to perform the necessary surgery. There you are in surgery and this surgeon you picked (because he was local we'll say) starts cutting you open. There you are all cut open with your guts exposed and instead of a tumor, what you really have in your stomach is a squirrel! The surgeon being hung up on the theory that you have a tumor states "Whoa! That tumor looks just like a squirrel!" Fine for you that you don't have a tumor, but are you sure you want this guy cutting into you?

Anyone would be surprised by something so improbable. I think the real experience for this particular surgeon might be fear. Fear that what was thought to be the truth is not true at all. Fear causes blindness. I can comment on that because I have plenty of experience with those things. When and if the illusions surrounding ones beliefs dissolves, the disillusionment itself feels a little blinding. Things like realizing I don't really know someone I thought I knew well. Things like when life feels stable and the bottom falls out and you have no where to live and no money. Things like angering someone you thought could never be angry at you. Also things like realizing that the church you go to is full of crazy people. That church experience screwed me up for like 20 years. I was really invested in that church saving me from myself. It didn't work.

We get so invested in what we theorize about it that it gives us a false sense of being anchored to a world that we really cannot pin down. Then something surprising happens and our theories fall apart and we find ourselves floating in space, possibly in a total panic. Like the theorist surgeon who deep down thinks he's going nuts because his theory that you had a tumor was all wrong. So he's totally freaked and blinds himself to his own misconception. It's like suddenly finding yourself dangling from your feet by a thin wire over a river of lava. Very precarious. Very dangerous to our sense of who we think we are. It just might- if you go deep, feel like a threat to your very existence. Like "Hey, if this isn't true, then maybe I'm not really who I think I am!"

Back to the squirrel. A good surgeon on the other hand- one who is not hung up on theories will automatically recognize that you have a squirrel instead of a tumor. Instead of carrying on cutting up your insides, he (or she- hello!) will encourage the little fellow to run back into the woods while she stitches you back up. In the end, it's good news for you too! I mean, hey- it was just a squirrel!

Everyone will probably be really perplexed for some time. Maybe even forever.
But isn't that what everything has the potential to do? To perplex us with the truth? And how interesting is it that better news; "Hey it's just a squirrel!" but news that is confusing;"Oh my God, it's a squirrel!" is scarier (at least to the doctor) than a common, well known tumor? Nobody expects the squirrels.

We are perplexed with truth, making an effort to grasp what cannot be grasped. We remain attached to our theories of what things are so that we can feel safe, grounded- all knowing perhaps?

What about the 99% practice? What is that? What does it mean to practice? I can say for myself that I just have to experiment. There is a lot of intuition involved. Everyone has intuition at their disposal, but we can be so attached to what we think the outcome of every situation should or will be that intuition is ignored. We disbelieve in the ability of the moment to unfold on its own. We can be so caught up in a past disaster or pleasure- a hope for the future, that the potential for the blossoming this infinitely petaled flower of life is misunderstood.

In that well intentioned effort we deliberately attempt to make the petals of this flower unfold a certain way, maybe pull the petals off seeking the center of the flower. And though many flowers require cultivation, this one requires a different kind of attention in the form of simple observation.

My theory however, is that this flower is forgiving, resilient and immortal in its ability to bloom over and over again. That is one way to experience God. To theorize, to force theory, to experience the discomfort of what is forced is a part learning to practice. We can only "practice" something that has a foundation of beliefs and set practices, yoga for instance. But to elevate what we are doing to true art, which everything has the potential to become, we must both remember the rules of our theories and then throw them completely out the window in order to witness the blooming of life that our theories germinate.

Theories are easy to talk about. Practice is another realm entirely. Maybe you are practicing getting really high Tetris scores, I don't know. It seems to me that when practice is experienced by the individual, it is recognized by others. Real practice is an abstract thing that we cannot contain, and yet boundaries keep us from floating away from the rest of humanity. Practice is not some willy-nilly floundering act where there are no rules. As a truly good artist knows good technique and applies it, truly good art is embedded with an element beyond technique. It transcends our ability to communicate in the traditional sense, try as we may. That is where theory feeds practice and practice has the most freedom.

At the moment I am theorizing that this blog post will get lots of hits. And honestly I am truly a bit attached to that theory. If I am right I will be happy. But for now, just sharing these thoughts is my practice. If I am disappointed, I will practice getting over myself. Maybe through ice cream.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Big Life- The only cost is a little courage

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage."
-Anais Nin

2011 has been an intense year for me. Never in my life have I had so many amazing, intriguing, perplexing and frightening things on my plate to sort through, dump and digest all at once. But I am and have always been an optimist, so when people ask me how I am doing, my answer is as always, "Great!". If the person knows me well, they look at me searchingly. They know there must be something missing. And if that person tilts their head, drops their gaze and voice and asks again "How are you?" I have another answer.

My answer: "Not to long ago my life appeared unique to many people, but for me it was normal. Now my life is unique to many people but it is not longer normal even for me!" The thing is that we all seem to have a default setting for our general dispositions. My default setting is happiness. When my happiness wavers, I immediately believe something is terribly wrong. And this last week I seriously started to question my sanity in the choices I am making based on what exists in my life.

I have been at the center of a whirling dervish of existence- relative to us pampered Westerners- since the year began.

I applied to study with Richard Freeman in Boulder which would happen for 30 days over the summer- without my family coming with me. I decided that certain people in my life belong in it minimally-- if at all and that I also wanted to branch out in my friendships. So you know- releasing people, loving new ones; it can be quite be exciting, jarring and emotionally taxing all at once. I decided to move my business to a new location and I have two children who are getting the minimum of required time with me.

This too shall pass

It's what I always tell myself. And in this I am able to move forward and complete the tasks at hand- but it also gives me an appreciation of what I am confronted with. I am more aware of the pleasures and lessons of each experience knowing that it will all end eventually.

And though awareness of the impermanence of everything is what keeps me in check- it is really courage that keeps me going. Courage as I have been taught is not a lack of fear, but the ability to experience what causes fear. I have also learned that what is most scary is anticipation- never the actual event. And if courage is the deciding factor of the size of one's life, then the only way we can actually do the measurment is through self evaluation.

It seems that this should be a daily practice-- checking in and asking whether we are living the lives we want to live. But the daily grind and the rat race have the vast majority of us asking whether we are living up to the expectations of others. Self included.

I myself have been running circles in effort to raise the the money I needed to move to Boulder for a month, tending to leaving my business in the hands of others and making arrangements for moving it. This means LOTS of extra work that I am not accustomed to. And getting back to that happiness default setting- I may not actually be entirely in touch with what is good for me and what is not at all times. So one day when I was missing my children- (who are a huge inspiration to me as well as one of the main reasons I am taking time to fulfill a dream and cultivate a satisfying life), feeling exuasted and loopy I forgot why I cared about doing what I was doing. I began to doubt whether I was making good choices. I became fearful. Within days, I sustained a back injury and suddenly lost the choice of the constant doing. I was forced into a state of surrender and slept for 12 hours straight during the day, then 10 more that night.

I don't really reccomend crazy-making as a means to inspire insight, but good insight often comes like a brute slap in the face in times of maniacal behavior. When the next day rolled around I awoke and felt miraculously better! Clarity came in the form of two truths that everyone knows- but as in my case often ignore.

#1. Is that the the world- my world, will not crumble if I stop doing what I believe to be "holding it together" The world holds itself together quite well- this is not to say that passivity is a good choice either. Just that my activity is not the glue of the universe. And as independence is an illusion- if anything important is truly meant to be, if the individual is ripe for it, the world around that individual will support that manifestation. And look, I'll be the first to admit mild inverted narcissism--believing that the solid structure of my entire world depends upon my actions alone.

#2. Is that yes, I do want to keep going and that what my confrontation with fear required was courage. That the fear I was experiencing happened when, like a big wall climber or big wave surfer I actually looked at what I was doing and paincked. Again, self- evaluation is imperative here. We have to look at what we are doing and decide whether we are feeling up to the challenge, fear or no fear. I decided that not only can I handle this wave- but I am already riding it. So panic is only allowed for a split second. Panic, if allowed to grow will destroy the work in progress, which is also allowed- but we tend to know instinctually at that moment if we want to forge on or let everything go.

My life has gotten big as far as what exhilerates me, what makes me feel alive and satisfied. My life is huge with the amount of love I feel for my children and what I want to do for them. But I suspect that I am only in some kind of boot camp for big lives right now. What a big life means to one person will not be the same for the next. I have no measurement of whose life is bigger than whose, nor does it matter. What I do know is that what I am drawn to and the people who are part of my life have some pretty big-life energy that is truly inspiring.

My life is not only big, but resplendant, lush and alive. I credit that to learning what courage really is and how to use it. I will always be set to happiness default and I might always be slightly reckless in the way I seek to learn- that too is a default setting. Courage has helped me embrace those aspects of who I am so that I can feel the bigness of this life.

Special thanks to Samantha Weber, Heather Vanderheide and Brenda Ostrom for concepts and ideas in this post- You have been especially insighful and supportive during this time.