Archive for ‘Change’

The Word on the Street

October 18th, 2010

Since I picked CHANGE as my word for 2010, I’ve learned to be  more specific in what I ask for from the universe. When I chose it, I thought of Change in terms of new career and creative opportunities, kind of a lite life-makeover that might be accomplished in a couple of workshops, something about as dangerous as kittens or cupcakes. Instead I got Change that cracked me open and left me wondering who I am, who I was, who I will be. I got Change that picked me up like Dorothy’s tornado and set me down in an alien country where I don’t speak the language. I got Change that makes me feel like a stranger to myself when I wake up in the morning. Sometimes I think numbing down my life was better, even though all it did was create a constant re-icing of my soul until something triggered a furious glacial meltdown, drowning all the defenses I’d spent decades building, washing away years of saying “I’ll be fine” whenever something bad happened. Today someone told me that when grief strips you bare, down to the bone, when you think you have nowhere left to go (and I doubt it was mere chance that led me to notice this sign for the first time on a street I drive every day!)–that’s when real change can occur. Maybe someday I’ll be thankful for this painful opportunity to metamorphose, and it’s felicitous that Uranus in the form of positive, revolutionary, happy-trickster change will soon be transiting my planets. But in the meantime, I think I will be very careful about the word I choose for 2011, because  it seems the universe is actually paying attention.

Crossed Wires

September 29th, 2010

Every time I mention something that’s gone wrong in my work or personal life, the person I’m talking to invariably nods sagely and says knowingly, “Mercury Retrograde.” It happens so often that I’m convinced our planet has veered too far into Mercury Retrograde and can’t get out. I’m afraid we’re permanently stuck in an orbit of dead end signs, pissed-off voters, midlife crises, rebellious kids, pay cuts, paper cuts, bad tattoos, computer viruses, perfume strips, telemarketing calls, thong panties, dystopian novels, receding hairlines, bedbugs, bandaids that won’t stick, adult-proof caps on prescription bottles, insomnia and Farmville games. I wish the planet would pull itself together and give me some love instead of mean looks and missed connections. I’d like to be able to complain about too many men in my life, and have someone nod sagely and say knowingly, “Venus Prograde.” I could live with that.

Change Sucks

July 22nd, 2010

I’m headed to Yosemite tomorrow to visit my younger daughter, who’s the park anthropologist, and I’m looking forward to real hiking instead of the metaphorical kind. 2010, while far from being my annus horribilis, has been a process of gaining a foothold and losing a foothold, over and over, until I feel I’m right back where I started in January. I’ve been disappointed in myself more often than I like to admit and exasperated to tears by the people around me at times. Who am I and why don’t I know what I’m doing?! It’s ironic that I started the year jauntily declaring that 201o was going to be my year of Change,  but I didn’t stop to think it might be difficult, upsetting and bewildering change! I followed all the good advice I read in blogs and books (The Happiness Project, The Year of Wishful Thinking, Living the Creative Life, etc. ), did my Wildly Improbable Wish list, took workshops, practiced waking up spiritually — and then got kicked in the ass by the Universe, which was wearing steel-capped boots. Not that any of those books and blogs were wrong — they just weren’t right for me. Or maybe they were, but I wanted easy change because I thought I was doing all the right things to attract it. I was a caterpillar curled up waiting for a metamorphosis, a Saturday-afternoon-at-Saks makeover for my life. What I didn’t reckon with was that my year of change would feel more like being locked in an industrial-sized laundromat dryer than emerging from a cocoon with pretty wings. It’s forced me to take a close-up look at myself, my work, my past, my present. To pull myself up only to slide back down again. It’s kind of a relief to recognize it, admit it, lie here at the bottom of the mountain and just stop struggling so much. Who knows — maybe I’ll find another path, one that goes around the mountain instead of straight up and over or find that the whole point of change was in the struggle, not the outcome. The future is a mystery, but even so, I haven’t given up hoping for my own kind of  annus mirabilus along the way.

The Secret Word

April 24th, 2010

Today I did something totally out of character — I went to the gym on a Saturday afternoon, not for a class, but just to walk/run on the treadmill. I hate the gym, and the only time I go there is to do my weekly spinning classes, and I only do that because I’m trying to be healthier and because I decided that I’d focus on exercising instead of trying to force ideas. Yes, I still hate the gym (can they make them any grayer, any drabber, any more dank?), but I’m entranced with the fact that I actually did something very un-me, so my word of the day is Open. It’s only when I do something so 180 that I realize that I’ve let the path I’m traveling on get narrow and restricting. How will you startle yourself today?

Dreamsicle Sky

March 19th, 2010

I never really completely understood what yoga teachers meant when they said to make an intention for your class before beginning your class, but since I made “change” my intention and mantra for 2010, eerie things have happened. Not only have some cool opportunities come my way that I would never have dreamt of a year ago, but also I think I’ve changed in subtle ways that helped bring them into my path. It’s not that I’ve deliberately changed the way I act, like when George decided to do the opposite of what he would normally do on Seinfield, but I think I’ve expanded my reach by reaching out to strangers in ways I wouldn’t have before. Simply because the word “change” is always quietly humming in the back of my mind now. I keep coming back to the idea that the plans I make have been too small for my life, because there are some possibilities and dreams that just don’t enter my mind– either because I don’t think I have the skills or credibility to aim so high or because of a failure of imagination. This is the first time I’ve ever chosen a word for the year and actually maintained my commitment to it for more than a couple of weeks, and I’m tentatively amazed at the results. Sweet dreams.

Do One Thing

March 14th, 2010

Do you ever get driven to distraction by your inability to follow though on anything? Distraction is the water I swim in lately, but in one of the many books on writing, resistance and change that I’ve been reading, I found a good piece of advice: Pick one thing and do it. Doesn’t it sound simple verging on simpleton? Not for me. I obsess about everything, which keeps me in a constant spin. The spare room is still a mess, my bedroom doesn’t induce calm or serenity, and I keep accumulating piles of things that don’t  get put away, dealt with or thrown away. So yesterday I picked one thing that needed to be done in my life and did it. My books have been making me crazy, with stacks of them covering the coffee table, spilling out of the bedside table, rising in teetery towers up available walls. I spent most of the day filling bags with books I want to give away and then shelving what was left. Just getting them off the floor and every other available surface made me feel I’d take a small step toward clarity. I know there are even more titles I need to let go of, but I’ve made a good beginning. The key for me was not getting diverted by a postcard I might find in an old book or siting down to read a page I’d marked with a sticky note. I’m easily diverted and tend to leave projects midway through. Admittedly, I did I hare off to try and replace a bathroom faucet at one point in this literary mayhem, but luckily I didn’t have the right screwdriver and was forced back to my main task. “Do one thing” is my new Zen-ish mantra.


February 21st, 2010

I went to an amazing workshop led by the poet David Whyte this weekend, and when I came home after the last session today, I pulled out this print by Olivia Jeffries that I bought on Etsy a year or so ago and decided to use it again but in a totally different context this time. It was on my mind because I realized I’ve been asking myself for months now, “What am I looking for?” and trying to push my way through to an answer right now. And for months, I’ve come no closer to finding it, becoming more agitated and frustrated as time went by. But at some point during this retreat, my question changed to, “What is looking for me?” That is a huge shift for me, because it suggests that there is a calling waiting for me that I need to spend time preparing the ground for, but not trying to force into bloom like paperwhite bulbs in the dead of winter. I’m only two months into this Year of Change that I’ve declared for myself, but just making it an official pilgrimage, if only to myself, has made me attentive to all sorts of messages coming to me from seemingly random sources that I might have ignored a year ago. A year ago I wouldn’t have signed up for, didn’t sign up for, this transformative workshop when it was offered. A year ago the poems that were read might not have lighted up the darkness for me in the way they did this time. A year ago I might not have been ready. But looking back, I can see that all the while, the field was being prepared in the darkness, the seeds being planted. The search that I’m on, the big decisions and change that I’m aiming myself toward, seem a bit less arduous and maddening knowing that while I have work to do on my part, something is looking for me as intently as I am looking for it.

Styrofoam Heart

February 14th, 2010

I found two odd objects on my desk on Friday: a pack of Fun-Dip candy powder from a sweet friend and a discontinued condom package we were thinking of using in the magazine. Sadly symbolic because there’s going to be no fun-dip happening for me on this doily-edged, red- velvet day. I’m embarrassed to admit that I have a heart-shaped void where a relationship should be. Not that I haven’t had more than my fair share of overnight hook-ups and years-too-long live-ins. But I lack the knack of day-to-day living together that grown-ups my age should have developed. I like the falling-in-love part better than the through-thick-and-thin part. Yes, I know that’s incredibly immature, but my teenage marriage was a terrible love accident that I never really got treated for. Lots of casualties as a result, and over the years, I built up a protective carapace of scar tissue where the wound was. After I had lung surgery years ago, a deep scar formed along my ribs and under my breast that for a long time was numb to feeling. I think it sealed off the terror I felt through that time, and in the same way, my love scar sealed off the sadness I didn’t want to feel. Unfortunately, it also sealed me off from the sweetness that can come with love. At some point, the scar on my ribs lost its numbness and became a badge of honor, but the one on my neglected, protected heart is more stubborn. I keep it mostly hidden because I feel to blame for it, but my word for 2010 is Change, so maybe there’s still time for me to have a change of heart.

My Word for 2010

February 7th, 2010

…is Change. I veer between thinking that change is inevitably bad or that I’m too old/comfortable/sensible to change. That the house of my life is framed in, dry-walled, insulated and picket fenced. As it should be after years of trying to get to just that state. All the years of not being able to pay the bills on time, of owing the IRS, of driving crap cars, of career ups and downs, of crazy self-drama and unbridled emotionalism, of cobbling together a living until I accidentally hit on something that became a sweet little success. Why would I court Change? Especially when I’m convinced it always means someone leaving, something ending, something falling apart. Early sorrow teaches you to lowball your expectations. So this is my year to sidle up to Change with a carrot in my hand and make peace with that wild unpredictable beast. What if Change means someone new comes into my life. What if Change means an unexpected new beginning or project or talent? What if Change means me letting go instead of hanging on? What if I start dismantling my old ideas about Change? I figure there’s a 50/50 chance of Change being positive, so I’m going to work the odds and envision my 17 year old self getting on an outbound bus again without a clue to the destination. What’s your word for 2010?

Anchors Away

January 2nd, 2010

The beginning of the year is an artificial construct that tends to make us question what we’ve been doing with our lives and/or flagellate ourselves about what we’ve left undone. I haven’t made a list of resolutions, but I’ve spent some time thinking about why I’m not living as bold a life as I’d wish. I could promise myself to go on a cruise, take belly dancing lessons or date a younger man in order to shake up my life, but I think that would be skin deep. I’m more interested in the barnacle-encrusted anchors that I’ve pulled against for decades: I’m too shy to [fill in the blank]; I’m just not talented enough; I’m no good at relationships so I’m not going to try; I could never [fill in the blank]. I want to remember that my family is a strong anchor, that my job is a welcome anchor, that my house is a safe anchorage, but I also want to try and haul those other anchors up and let the wind fill my sails now and then. I don’t think it can happen overnight, and maybe I will always be too shy to [fill in the blank], but I do think it’s possible to lessen the drag enough to find an unexplored harbor or an unexpected sea lane of desire. I’m a big believer in kaizen, but believing and doing are two different things. Sometimes it feels like I would need to check into a monastery of the mind in order to have time to rehab my soul. It’s always: I’ll meditate/cogitate/contemplate as soon as I meet this deadline, drop off my dry cleaning, clean out the refrigerator. I’ll meditate tomorrow, I swear. Am I the only spiritual dilettante out there?