One way to define love is "sustained, compassionate attention". These words came from John Muir Laws, a naturalist, educator, and artist who inspires stewardship of the land by sharing his practice of nature sketching. When I read these words, I began to see the importance of my own art practice in developing sustained, compassionate attention for myself.Read More
A few weeks ago, on August 20, I read the news that BKS Iyengar, the renowned Indian yoga teacher and founder of the Iyengar Yoga tradition, had died at age 95. Immediately I was brought back to the many memories I have as a result of his teachings. My first California yoga teachers were trained in the Iyengar tradition. In their classes I was exposed for the first time to silent meditation and chanting. I remember as a student just managing to tolerate these first few minutes of ritual as I waited for "the real yoga class" to begin. What could these Sanskrit sounds possibly have to do with my physical strength, flexibility, and fitness, which is why I did yoga (or so I thought)? As soon as I read the news, I went to my bookshelf and pulled off my well-worn copy of Iyengar's book, Light on Life. Nearly every page is marked and notated, evidence of the way I used to read as if every book were homework that I would have to write a paper on someday.
The pages that the book fell open to were about extension and expansion in yoga poses. How when we reach and stretch, we often only think about the point to which we are trying to reach, but we forget about where we are reaching from. And as I pondered this, I realized that no matter how far we are trying to stretch, we are always reaching from where we are now. From the center of our being.
How often do we check in with how we are as we are doing something?
With the completeness of our focus on the outward gaze, how skilled are we at really seeing the inner place we are always reaching from? Do we know this place? Do we know how it feels? Do we really know it as it is NOW, or do we know it as a memory, a snapshot of some previous moment in time, or some interpretation created by our judging mind? Do we only see what we think other people are seeing - some image of how we're supposed to look?
Developing clear inner vision, and the capacity to really see where we are reaching from, is the core practice of being present. In the years since I started yoga practice, I have been exposed to many more forms that give the body, mind, and soul the opportunity to be together in harmony - improvisational music, whole body listening, Breema bodywork, to name a few. When this harmony is happening, we have the opportunity to see the world within our true selves. When we practice seeing into our true selves, we begin to know more and more where we are reaching from in any moment, even as we continue to reach toward something else.
Each day since Iyengar's death, I have read a few pages of the book again. I am grateful for the life he lived that enabled him to write those words on the page. And I feel gratitude for the life I am living that enables me to understand the meaning of those words beyond the page.
Where are you reaching FROM? And how can you practice seeing your true self with inward-looking eyes?
Join me in the Energy Gardeners' Club for some practice with the support of nature, sound, art, and a circle of safety and encouragement. Starting next Tuesday, September 9th in Half Moon Bay.
The Native American tradition speaks of each person's Original Medicine - that set of gifts that only you can offer the world with your particular life. I've always felt there was such a finality to the phrase "Original Medicine" - like I had to define the one thing I was here to do, or it would be lost forever.
This feeling would ignite the achiever in me, who would scramble to come up with a name, a brand, a package, a business, something very "put-together" that would create an image of how well I knew my Life's Purpose.
I've been doing some version of that for most of my life. But recently I've begun to discover a process I find much more alive, much more healing, much more in alignment with my own sense of unconditional wholeness. I call it "Live Your Medicine." It is the practice of asking, "What time is it now, for me?". It involves listening for what holds the most fear for me in this moment. And then summoning the courage to take action toward that in one small way. Again and again, revisiting and refreshing with each present moment.
It is reminiscent of Eleanor Roosevelt's words:
"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
How often do we actually avoid - quite skillfully - the things that spark fear inside us? How often do we explain away these avoidances with elaborate theories, often quite impressive in their defense of our own status quo?
"Live Your Medicine" captures my emerging discovery that the true healing experiences for me happen whenever I do something that is utterly frightening to my mind's unquestioned beliefs. "Live Your Medicine" is an invitation to search inside yourself to find your edge, and to live in a way that develops your courage, rather than reinforcing old patterns, no matter how comfortable they seem.
For example, each morning for most of my life, I would begin with a "To Do" list - my responsibilities and things to get done. There was no reason for me to get out of bed beyond that list. It served as my purpose. There was no rhythm other than the methodical ticking off of items, showing up for scheduled activities, and getting through things.
Everything in my life changed when I made one seemingly small shift: I began my days differently. Instead of hopping out of bed and beginning to run after my "responsibilities" dutifully, I stepped off my bed and sat in silence, looking out a window at the sequoia tree stretching tall in front of it. I started with five minutes. I did yoga, not when the yoga studio scheduled a class, but when I needed it - sometimes first thing in the morning - and for the length of time my body required it - sometimes only twenty minutes.
Since then, I have maintained a practice of beginning my days with rituals that ground me in my connection to breath, body, and the earth. I am currently blessed with the situation of living just fifty steps from the beach. Most mornings I make the walk out to the bluff, and down to the sand where the birds pace along the water's edge. I wake up gradually, following the pace of the sun's creeping over the fog-covered hills to reveal the glistening surface of the ocean.
I notice, though, that even this ritual can drift into feeling of an "assignment" I give myself. I can fall back into a pattern of giving myself a job - even if that "job" is to start my day more kindly. My practice can harden into a set of rules that I must follow, or else be judged as something less than acceptable to myself. Not very kind!
My mind can turn any practice into a "To Do". It's just a repetitive pattern - a habit that was practiced for many years, and reinforced without questioning.
So my medicine is to "do the thing I think I cannot do". To be attentive to what that thing is, in this moment. And then do it.
I recently learned some simple restorative yoga poses from a friend. No need for the fancy bolsters, blocks, straps, and blankets that I've used in yoga studios. I can use pillows, blankets, and whatever else I have available. The experience is like floating - like my entire body is being supported, almost suspended, without any effort from my muscles. It's like being in water, without having to move at all.
And it's a totally ridiculous way to start the day! Which is why it's my medicine. Living MY medicine, at this particular point in my life, means having the audacity to begin my day by going into a state of complete surrender and relaxation. As if there is nothing to do, nothing to conquer, nowhere to be.
This is what living my medicine looks like for me, right now:
While my body floats in the feeling of being totally supported, my mind rests. It cannot feel fear in this moment of rest. And each moment I spend here, I train in courage. I look fear in the face - the fear that whispers a "To Do" list in my ear - and I do nothing anyway.
What's YOUR medicine right now? What time is it now for YOU?
Photo credits: Top - Randy Bales. Bottom - Lydia Puhak.
My friend Lydia Puhak, coach and creator of The Sensitive Idealist, recently interviewed me as part of her series on Self-Care. You can listen to our sweet conversation here. Funny how sometimes the most important lessons we learn are the quiet, gradual processes that unfold out of necessity.
That would be the case with me and my learning about self-care.
Back in late 2010, I burst on to the scene with my "5 Principles of Self-Care for Caring Professionals". I wrote a blog post, hosted a series of calls, then turned the material into an online course.
And then I left it at that.
I got "busy" with the work of living these principles in my own life. I came face-to-face with my own version of workaholism, and started on the path of recovery. I unplugged from the computer and went outside. A lot.
I got back in touch with a slower way of doing things - growing a garden, cooking meals instead of heating up trays of food, forming more real relationships in the real world.
The biggest (and smallest) change I've remained committed to during this entire almost-three-year period is how I start my day.
Before 2010, I was a slave to my Blackberry, not because I was working such an "important" job that I needed to be available at all times, but out of habit. A habit that developed initially out of a need to feel important, and that continued because I never considered other options.
I began each day by waking up to the alarm on my Blackberry, and immediately checking my email.
I experienced a slight deflation in my chest if there were no new messages. I quickly found out that I could fix that by subscribing to more newsletters.
I felt a rush of adrenaline when there was evidence of "things to do" - meaning, when I got email messages that required me to respond.
My whole life was a series of transactions. My motivation for getting out of bed in the morning was my list of "to do"s.
I was very skilled at this game, so I never ran out of things to do. My mind always found a way to create more.
What was missing in this way of life was a felt sense of enough.
When your feeling of importance comes from what other people ask you to do, or how busy you are on a given day, there is no endpoint to the doing. More is always better, because more to do equals more feelings of worthiness.
Until the "to do" list goes away.
Or when your ability to do goes away.
So, as you might imagine from a benevolent Universe, I was given the gift of not being able to do any more.
My body reached its limit.
I was not hospitalized or injured, but I was in pain. Immobilizing physical pain that definitely did not match my vision of "living my dream".
I met many teachers from that moment on. Teachers who encouraged me to speak the truth of my heart in front of strangers. Teachers who showed me a whole repertoire of sounds that I had never made before. Teachers who had broken the prison bars of their own minds, and freed themselves from deep-rooted childhood beliefs. Teachers who pointed me to the wisdom of my own inner authority above anyone else's teaching. Teachers who taught me how to sit and stand and sleep in ways that preserve the natural anatomy of the spine. Teachers who embody grace and loving kindness in the practice of their art. And the teachers in every moment of everyday life.
But the linchpin - the common thread, the consistent practice - throughout all of this learning has been paying attention to how I start my day.
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I no longer read my email in the morning. I no longer consult a list of things to do.
I wake up and I give thanks. Either silently or out loud, I open my eyes and give thanks for this day.
I then dedicate at least one full hour to my breath and body. Either on the beach or in my home studio, I visit the place within me from which all is created. I breathe and move consciously. I feel my breath move through my body. I treat my body with kindness and gentleness. I use this space and time to listen carefully.
And I sit. I sit with whatever arises on a given day. Sometimes I notice my mind is very active, wanting to insert thoughts throughout my practice. Sometimes I notice that I can descend into the waves of feeling, watching my breath make its subtle patterns throughout my body. Other times I am simply grateful for the practice, and nothing more "significant" occurs.
When I feel rushed or somehow skip this practice, I notice. I feel heavier, more burdened, plagued by a sense that I am not doing enough, or that there is not enough of something happening in my life. My mind gets snagged in a knot of insufficiencies, buried in thoughts that I need to fix or do or say or be more.
This practice is quiet and generally unnoticed by anyone but me. It is not something I teach to others, not something I have packaged into a product.
And it is my core. It is my way of touching the place from which all of life arises. Call it self-care, call it meditation, call it yoga, call it space.
Call it nothing at all, but know that when you find your core, you will want it as your constant companion, your reminder of what's true and real, your own place that no one can see or hear or feel but you.
And that is enough.
[singlepic id=410 w=320 h=240 float=center] There was a time when I believed - when I was totally convinced - that I could not take a day off.
Maybe it was the example of my parents, whom I saw work tirelessly every single day, never letting go of the responsibilities of their jobs, and never taking a day off unless they were absolutely required to (and by that I mean, being so sick they had to be admitted to the hospital).
Or maybe it was medical school, where I learned by working alongside residents and fellows who would regularly show up to work sick, because they "couldn't take a day off". On one rotation, I recall the vascular surgery fellow being so rundown from flu-like symptoms that he had to dash out of the operating room to throw up in the scrub sink during a procedure he was performing. I watched wide-eyed and took everything in, my mind drawing the conclusion that "people with important jobs can never take a day off".
I became determined to find work that would enable me to take a day off, and still be considered important.
The problem was, I really had no idea what was truly important to me. I had many concepts that had been implanted by messages from my family, from images in movies and advertisements, and from the culture in which I was living. "What's important" was a moving target, a reaction to whatever "everyone else" appeared to be doing.
Meanwhile, in my heart I knew that I wanted to make a difference in this world, to care about something genuinely, and to share my story somehow in this life.
But the only way I knew - based on what I had seen, learned, and been taught - was to put my head down and work.
I worked hard at everything I did. I didn't take many days off. When I did, I remember feeling an odd combination of freedom and loss.
"Who am I without my email inbox full of requests and my voicemail full of messages?"
"Who am I when I am not answering to anyone else?"
"What would I choose to do if I had an entire day with no obligations, no one telling me where to be or what I had to do?"
Questions like these would pop up in the few instances I let myself off the hook and took a break. The questions themselves brought up feelings of fear and confusion, because no one had ever asked them of me before. I had never dared take the time to find out what the questions might reveal, if I invited them into my life.
So I pushed them away, filling my time with work instead.
It was easier than grappling with the questions.
And yet I know now, looking back, that the times when I felt the courage - the imperative - to take time away from my routine and give myself a change of place, a change of pace, and a piece of open space to allow these questions to surface, have been food for transformation in my life. Had I not followed the instinct to "Just do it", I would not have been given the chance to watch my true story unfold, and so many of my genuine desires come into reality.
These days I am often approached by people for advice on career transition, achieving happiness or fulfillment, healing from chronic medical diagnoses, and how to get "unstuck" in life.
I listen, and I am always deeply humbled by the courage required to put our struggles into words and share them with another person.
I know that, being another human being, I never have the answers for another human being. To say that I do would only feed that part of our minds with an insatiable appetite for certainty and control - the same part that tells us we can never take a day off.
The coaching or healing or help or support I provide - whichever word you choose to describe the energy of being in the presence of divine acceptance of what is - is a practice of opening space, of giving permission to ask the questions that come up (no matter how much fear accompanies them), and celebrating the miracle of the unique journey we each take in this life.
So, can you really take a day off?
I don't know the answer for you.
But if the question interests you, why not try it and see where the answer takes you?
Here's an opportunity to join me and my friend Mary Bartnikowski - photographer, author, kundalini yoga instructor, and world traveler - for a May Day ReTREAT at the beach in Half Moon Bay: Spring Cleaning For Your Soul
[singlepic id=461 w=320 h=240 float=center] Is your creativity dead?
I honestly believe that few of us – regardless of whether we work as “creatives” or not – intentionally set out to kill our own creativity.
We may just gently turn our backs on it, dismissing it as something reserved for children, or as something only “irresponsible” adults indulge in, or as a waste of time that could never serve a purpose in society (ie, getting paid money for it), or as something only “talented people” get to do.
I’m here to say that none of those is absolutely true.
Creativity is not limited to art…
So, let’s say you’re longing for a more creative life. That could mean anything from having more freedom and flexibility in your current job, to finding a way to support yourself while expressing your own creativity.
I don’t define creativity as being limited to “artistic” activities like painting, dancing, singing, or sculpting pottery. I define creativity as our innate human ability to connect with the unseen. By this definition, I see every human being as creative, by virtue of our brain’s ability to spontaneously form images that are only seen in our mind’s eye.
How you choose to use your creativity is a different story.
And this is where many of us have killed our own creativity, or least left it for dead.
How Creativity Dies
Let’s say you don’t believe that you ever killed your creativity. But somehow, it just died.
Why would it be useful to spend any time thinking about how it died? Shouldn’t you just move on, get over it, and start creating?
I could have written an article on how to practice creativity in your life right now. I actually did that, and maybe it spoke to some of you.
But what I’ve found with more time talking to adults in life transitions is that in order to recognize how we want to change, we need to talk about what gets in the way of that change. Focusing on the big vision is important, and looking directly at the obstacles in our own minds is important. Only when we see what’s standing in our way can we shift our attention toward a clear path through.
The Voices That Kill Creativity
In my own journey, I’ve discovered that there are at least three characters in my mind who show up whenever I am step into my creative self.
I’ve named them, because it helps me form a humorous mental image of these characters and – importantly - recognize them as “not me”
Voice #1: "The Slavedriver"
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I picture a relentless tyrant, holding a whip and demanding every ounce of energy and focus on the tasks he has deemed urgent and important. He shouts: "Work harder! You need to be making more money! How will you pay the bills if you don't work more? You’re nobody if you’re not working hard all the time!"
Voice #2: "The Critics"
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I picture the guys in the balcony from The Muppet Show, Statler and Waldorf. "Hohohoho!”, they sneer, reveling in their elevated status, far removed from the performances they are critiquing down on the stage. “THAT'll never fly. No one will ever take THAT seriously. THAT'll never be worth anything. What a waste of time! You'll never make it!"
Voice #3: "The Teacher’s Pet"
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I picture the perfect student, eagerly listening to the teacher’s every word and raising her hand at every opportunity to give the right answer. She says, "I need to ask for permission or receive approval before I act on anything. I need to know it's OK to do before I do it. I need to know that everyone will like me if I say what I want to say. I need to know that I have the right answer before I raise my hand, step forward, or speak up."
For me, the dance goes something like this:
When I open my eyes in the morning, The Slavedriver makes a long To Do list, ensuring that the number of items on the list is not humanly possible to complete in one day. That ensures I’ll always end the day a little dissatisfied…and keeps the Slavedriver employed.
I manage to quiet the Slavedriver down long enough to create space for my mind, body, and breath to connect, and to hear the silence of a clear mind. I perform a morning ritual reminding me of space in my mind, body, and breath. From this silence, my creativity starts to speak through me. I hear words, I see images, I envision metaphors for how I can relate differently to a particular challenge, or I notice how tightly I am gripping and attaching to certain thoughts. I receive guidance that feels calming, freeing, and truthful.
I hold that guidance long enough to put the ideas on paper. That means I’ve successfully ignored the Slavedriver’s unrelenting wrath for another few minutes.
Now it’s time for the Critics. As I step back to admire and assess my work, I hear them immediately chime in with, “HA! Like THAT’ll fly! Good luck with THAT…not! Hohohoho!”. Their sheer delight at mocking my tender creative attempts is enough to stop me in my tracks, or at least send me running toward the nearest distraction (in my case, opening my internet browser and checking e-mail, scanning Facebook, or looking at the pageview statistics on my blog).
Once I’ve unfrozen myself from the stupor of clicking endlessly back and forth among the five or six open tabs in my browser, I wake up to the fact that the Critics have been running the show for me. It’s time to put something out there already.
Enter The Teacher’s Pet. She’s such a nice girl, so polite and well-behaved, so eager to be called on when she has the right answer that no one else does. She is SO afraid of putting a creative piece out in public when she doesn’t KNOW whether she got it “right” or not. She is terrified of losing her status as Teacher’s Pet, perfect student, A-plus girl. She grabs a hold of my shoulder, clinging with tiny fingers, begging me to wait until I know more.
So there I am, with my creativity gasping for breath, stuck between the ongoing cries for productivity from the Slavedriver, the sneering Critics’ seeds of shame, and finally the doubts and fears of the Teacher’s Pet.
How To Resuscitate Your Creativity
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If you’ve never faced a problem with your creativity, then please stop reading. Go back to your prolific output of one-of-a-kind masterpieces in the making, and don’t change a thing.
But if you’re anything like me, and experience periods of creative “flatlining”, read on. You might be thinking that with all this chatter in my head, it’s a miracle that I even made it this far in writing this blog post.
You’re right. It is a miracle. And here’s a process that really works to bring my creativity back to life, just when it seems to be slipping away.
- Acknowledge the characters in your head. What are the voices killing your creativity? Hear what they have to say. Ignoring them doesn’t work. Pretending not to hear them doesn’t work. They want to be heard. Sometimes that’s all they need before they begin to quiet down. Really listen, and try writing down or saying out loud what you hear.
- Name them. This helps you recognize them as “not you”, and to see when they are running your show.
- Form a relationship with each character. Now that you’ve stepped back and noticed that these characters are not who you are, talk to them from the place inside your heart that knows your greatest truth and creative power. Treat them with the kindness and gentleness you want for yourself, not the criticism and judgment they appear to hold against you. For me, this involves saying to the Slavedriver, “Thank you for your concern. You’re right, I need to make money, but there are many different ways to make money with the gifts I have to offer. I don’t have to struggle. I notice all the ways in which money arrives effortlessly.” When the Critics chime in, I notice that they’re not on the stage with me, and they’re also not the whole audience. They only occupy two seats in a huge auditorium that is my potential audience. Let them laugh and sneer, because there are (or will be) plenty of other seats in the house for supporters and fans. To my beloved Teacher’s Pet, I offer reassurance that life is not a school classroom, and I don’t need to know before I raise my hand. I thank her for all the times her niceness served me, and stand in the trust of my own power.
- Create space for silence and solitude each day. Finally, the best antidote to quiet and calm all of these characters is silence and solitude. I find and create space for this each day, whether through meditation, yoga, singing, walking in nature, writing, gardening, or reading inspirational wisdom. As I soak myself in the open space of silence, and feel my body in the freedom of solitude, I gradually learn to trust my own creative power, and the characters in my head become more cartoon-like and less real. I can observe them and laugh, and know that they have only the power that I grant them in my mind.
When I practice these four steps, with patience and gentle persistence, I always find an opening for my creativity to flow. You may notice that I haven’t done anything to “eradicate” the voices. I haven’t killed the characters. I also don’t wait for them to go away. I treat them with creative energy, and that’s what I receive in return.
Try this with your own creativity. But only if you’re prepared to be surprised.
It's been just over a year now since I stepped with clarity into the next phase of my life by leaving a business I came to California to create, back in 2004. I've told the story so many times that it may seem like "old news" to some of you, but for me, that one decision was a *huge* step. It cleared the way for so much magic that has emerged - through effort and spontaneous creativity, guided by intention and enabled by practice - over the past year. Last week I went through the embodied steps of letting go - moving all the physical items out of the Cradle of Manifestation after acknowledging that a 1,800-square-foot facility no longer matched the life I am creating. In the process, I've come face-to-face with so many of my deeply held beliefs and default patterns.
I believed that being a "responsible" person - a piece of my identity I held tightly as a symbol of my worthiness to occupy space on this planet - meant putting other people's needs ahead of my own, no matter what the cost.
In my work, this was expressed as taking full responsibility for all outcomes associated with the people I was involved with - which translated into poor delegation, inability to trust other people's skills and ways of doing things, and the result of preferring to do everything on my own, so it would be perfect. Ultimately, I experienced exhaustion and burnout as the destination on this path.
After I crossed the hurdle of actually setting a boundary, saying "no more" to my own business (which, at the time, was the only path I felt drawn to), and risking the disappointment of other people (which, at the time, was my greatest and most paralyzing fear), the same belief expressed itself as a firm resolve in my mind to continue paying rent on my office space simply because I had signed a lease, and that was that. An agreement was an agreement, with no room for discussion. I was a person who kept my word. But living by those old rules under the new circumstance of starting a business from scratch in a new industry translated to prioritizing my landlords' needs over my own, which I did for an entire year. I dutifully and silently wrote each check and made sure it arrived before the first of every month. For an entire year.
I was silently proving to myself my own worth as a "responsible" person (daughter, girl), but in fact I was not honoring myself or my fledgling business fully.
It took me all those months to finally realize it. In the meantime, I learned and practiced other valuable skills - like making up a new offering each month, playing and experimenting without needing to be perfect, and learning to teach from a place of total peace. My default pattern gave me the gift of valuable practice in honing my craft, and discovering more of what I have to offer.
And now I realize that I do not need those particular four walls in order to be who I am or share what I have to give. In fact, I'm excited about the possibilities of teaching in retreat settings and other community spaces.
I'm writing this as I am going through one of those very courageous times - a time when I am sometimes confused, sometimes at peace, sometimes wanting to jump out of my skin, and sometimes wanting to just walk away from it all. And by being in it, staying with it more deeply than perhaps ever before in my life, I see that I never learned how to take things apart. I learned a lot and focused a lot of my attention on how to build things. How to start things. How to keep them going consistently and steadily.
But I never saw a graceful possibility for finishing things. It was always with regret or disappointment or reluctance that I saw the adults in my life let go, move on, or stop doing things. In my mind, I made it mean that these things - letting go, moving on, or stopping - were bad, or at least to be avoided at all costs.
What I'm choosing to teach myself through this experience is that loss doesn't have to be tragic. Loss can be embraced and walked through with the same energy of acceptance and welcoming as that with which we greet our gains. I'm asking and living the question, "What would it be like to walk through loss with the same welcoming smile, to approach it with the same intention of gaining familiarity, to extend it the hospitality we offer so willingly to what we consider the "good" things?" And by "good", I usually mean the things I wanted or believed were supposed to happen, of course.
I am walking through that loss right now, opening up space and freeing myself to serve and share more. But I notice that the opening only happens by being willing to learn. In other words, to do that whole "celebrate your failures", "be prepared to be surprised", "be curious about everything", improvisation thing. And you thought I had already learned this stuff so it should be easy now? Ha! My rational mind would like to avoid discomfort just as much as it always has. Parts of my brain will always be wired to avoid the unknown. The difference now is that I have a deeper awareness to guide me toward those things I once avoided, in spite of what my mind has to say. And I recognize the tiny moments where I get to practice letting go, taking things apart, moving on. I embrace them as gifts to get better at the things I never knew how to do before, and to grow into more of the person I can become.
These videos capture snapshots of the journey I took during the physical part of the process. I could think of these as the final gestures in a year of events I could not have planned, predicted, or even known to ask for. I simply held a vision of what my inner life would feel like, and practiced emptying space in my mind to allow that life to enter, moment by moment.
Or I could think of these as the first tiny expressions of a whole new way of relating to my stuff - the furniture, the obligations, the way my business needs to operate. After a year of practice, I am developing a whole new way of using my precious attention.
And so what once seemed unimaginable, or impossibly hard, I finally completed last week. I did the thing I thought I could not do.
And now I am resting. I am allowing myself to just sit with myself. To remember to breathe for myself and be thankful for every single sweet drink of fresh air I inhale.
Part 1 was shot just after the furniture consignment center came to pick up my piano, desk, credenza, chairs, and file cabinets - the pieces I once picked out by hand and then dreaded having to figure out how to move.
Part 2 was shot after clearing out my two-drawer lateral file cabinet, filled with all the pieces of paper I created during the five and half years of my school. After more than a year of not looking at these, it was amazing (and shocking) to see how much mental energy went into my planning and controlling and accounting for every single detail of every concert my students presented. What looked like a "tightly run ship" or "extremely organized" or "perfection" on the outside, I now recognize as the anatomy of a burnout for me.
Part 3 shows my progress of sorting things into "piles" on the end of day 1:
Part 4 was shot on the morning of day 2:
Part 5 shows the final empty space I left behind:
And finally, a shot of the pile I brought into my home...and am tackling a little bit each day: