I've scribbled the alphabet for meaning since I can remember.
“Change rooms in your mind for a day.” - Hafiz
I attended a circle a few nights ago that was centered on connectivity and relating in a concrete format — meaning it had a system and was a bit formalized. It was my first experience.
One deep gem that I walked home with I’m going to share with you here - a bit paraphrased & rewritten to capture the essence of the moment without reiterating the minutia:
A man in the circle decidedly sat hands splayed, in a gesture of openness. The group asked him questions about his feeling state, he answered.
At one point a woman commented: “I noticed that your hands began splayed open, and then depending on what we were talking about sometimes they curled closed, and right now they are open, but also kinda closed — and I would say they seem to be in a gesture of connection, to your self.”
His hands were loosely in jnana mudra — effortlessly.
I have also noticed, when I sit down into a yoga or a mindfulness practice, I have to invite myself to sit back a little to get my sits bones on the mat. I just did it again as I typed that sentence; relax back. I have begun to notice that I often lean forward, sitting just a bit before the moment.
On the drive home from the circle, and into the next morning I really thought about that correlation - open and connected, not splayed out unstable and uncertain - whether in posture or in mindset. That is the space of new horizons, and easier compassion, rooted in the self - but open to the moment, occupying both the downwardness of rooting and the openness of a heart horizontal — the expanse of the day and the life that we have created.
So much more is available, it feels, when we sit back and relax into It.
Happy New Moon + Have a Great Holiday Weekend,
I recently let go of something (does it matter if it is a person, place or thing?), and I was - in Kate fashion - getting ready to explain the depths of what had happened, when over coffee on a very bright, and sunny Tuesday my girlfriend shrugs, “It died a natural death.”
My mouth gapes. “That is exactly what happened,” I realize.
“Yeah, I know I just figured that one out myself. It just died a natural death. It’s over.”
“Yeah. A natural death. Saying ‘natural’ is the most important part,” she shifts her shoulders to demonstrate.
“It is,” I squeal, confirming my perplexed awe at the simple truth. “It happens all the time in Nature.”
“Yeah, it happens all the time everywhere. It returns. And something new is born - eventually.”
“Yeah.” I am pretty sure my face is still squinting at the simplicity - because it is true. I was hunting for a story - I now realize - and had been practicing the arc line when I was telling it to others in order to justify it to myself, but the truth - the truth is : it died a natural death.
It was time to let go.
End of story.
Let it go.
In Blackwater Woods
by Mary Oliver
Look, the trees
their own bodies
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
the long tapers
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders
of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is
I have ever learned
in my lifetime
lends back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
"How do I start?"
I cock my head to the side, "Start what, sweetie?" I ask a friend.
"When you have a big idea, like you guys did for Writing + Ritual, how do you know when it is time to start?"
"When you start asking questions like that," I answer honestly.
Within twenty-four hours, another friend texted me about a gorgeous idea she wants to bring into the world..."But where do I start?"
Hmm, I thought. Itʻs the hurdle we all have to jump, walk, crawl under or over whether we are writing a book or opening a landscaping business - it doesnʻt matter how we get there as long as we keep going.
I then remembered, Start Now, Love.
What is that, you ask?
Itʻs a tiny book that has been sitting in my notebook waiting for the right time to undergo necessary polishing to be shared with the world; waiting for the right time, which is apparently: Now.
Hereʻs an excerpt:
"This is a process. You will fail. You will succeed and you will continue to do both because you are a human living a life."
When you make space for the creative, She appears. And in the midst of listening to others, I am nudged by my own need to move with the wind of Inspiration, if for no other reason than the wind has moved, and I felt her. A little creative giddiness or trepidation, is enough of a reason to do what brings joy.
So how do you start?
You take one step.
No matter how small.
How irrelevant, impractical, or [insert personal dismissive adjective] you take one step, today.
Thanks for reading, it.
Iʻll be writing about the time I bombed in front of Cheryl Strayed and a good year and a half later it was the best thing that could have happened.
Writing + Ritual is a co-creative space hosted by myself and international chant artist Mira Newman, we weave the mystical call of creation through mantra chanting, writing prompts, and simple writing tools into a powerful and transformational awakening of the heart. Next one is May 4rth in the Philadelphia area, inquire if you want to join us. firstname.lastname@example.org
photo found: Dr. Bill Wooten
Hello Family and Happy New Year.
2017 is here. The air is crisp. The rains and the snow have been falling and we are in the energy of the new: new resolutions, new habits, new beliefs, new, new, new.
"What an elder sees sitting; the young can't see standing."
Amongst all the new and the more, I see a very needed space for the Elder and the less. There is a time of simplicity that our hearts, souls and nervous systems are yearning for. You may feel this when you head into Nature.
It seems to me we need more Elder Wisdom - and some of us may need to assume that role of Elder. I know advice from my Elders still swirls through my ears.
My grandfather, the simple sage that he was, told me when I was fresh out of college and hot to trot at my new technical marketing job, in silk suits and dangerous shoes, shaking my fist at every grievance, squealing at him over the kitchen table, he said to me: "Kid, you are either here (he raised his hand) or here (he lowered his hand) - you wanna be here..." his steady patient hand moved across the midline.
And he never did tree pose or attended a Vipassana retreat. He simply came from a time that appreciated the moment. Iʻm still efforting to live that straight and steady line.
I love yoga and meditation and they are definitely tools in my toolbox with todayʻs fast pace - yet if I am only slow on my mat or in my living room, and I cannot slow down for myself or to show kindness to others ... the practice means nothing.
That is simple Elder wisdom.
Perhaps, we would benefit from a little less movement and a little more wisdom. In many cultures, the Earth is considered an Elder. So if you do not have a physical Elder in your life to turn to -- head out to the Grandmother, our Earth or Father Sky.
I leave you with the Hawaiian word that started this whole post, I looked up kūpuna, a word I knew to mean elder, but what revealed a longer and more telling definition: Starting point, source; growing
Today would have been my grandfatherʻs 84th birthday; may we celebrate those that loved us into being that is my New Yearʻs Wish for us all.
My best to you,
What is Kate Up To?
Asheville, NC January 14th - only 4 sessions, so spread the word to your peeps! - thanks to Jess Godino of www.fourflameshealing.com for a session space and Maia Toll of www.maiatoll.com for the connection.
Philadelphia, PA through February.
Kauaʻi March 10 - 18th
More announcements coming as the year whispers a new pace.
artist: Lucy Campbell
Do less with more kindness.
There are many holiday posts with the top ten things to do, have, buy or be. It appears the last thing anyone needs this holiday season is another thing to do, have, or buy.
We are up to our eyeballs in doing - drowning in it, yet dehydrated - with not one spare breath for being.
For this Winter, whether you are focused on the holiday, the political climate or the environmental brutality, do one less thing. If we do one less thing, we have more space to be - perhaps remember who we are.
Who are we?
We are a miracle of sinew and tendons, with perfectly articulated circulation.
We are a structural majesty dancing on the tenacity of precious bones.
We are a universe of desires and contemplations, contradictions and decisions, with waterfalls of Grace.
We are the only one of us.
And many of us don’t even know who that one is.
So this season, do less with more kindness.
Start with yourself and let it overflow from there.
Keeping a gratitude journal might sound trite; it’s not. Our preferences and habits create a filter in our mind’s eye, to find what we are seeking. Alex Korb, Ph.D. explained: “…your brain loves to fall for the confirmation bias, that is it looks for things that prove what it already believes to be true.”
I would add, it looks for its preferences. For example, I was walking with my two year old nephew the other day. “Plane, plane!” He says to me. Looking up in the sky, I see nothing but a tree-scape. Slowly my mind hears the tell-tale sign of a plane just before it peeks past the limits of the tree-line.
Ryan, my nephew, is fascinated by planes, trains and trucks. His awareness is fine-tuned to them, so he found them. He found what he wanted to see.
Some of us are complainers. Some of us aren’t. Some of us are in process of re-training our mind’s habits. You cannot control the chaos of life; you may only control your reaction. Does seeing a beautiful flower change horrible news? I don’t know. I know for a moment I get to be soaked in the beauty of nature, where I otherwise would not. So for me, it works. Moment to moment.
But what power can a gratitude journal have? Well, I recently watched the documentary Happy where the neurologists found that people who keep a gratitude journal are happier people because…wait for it…they have trained their minds to find things to be grateful for.
I keep a gratitude journal - bullet-point style and I aim for tiny, tangible things, like: perfect latte art, hug from partner, no traffic to work, feather that made me think of a loved one, and a great client session. I aim for 5 things a day.
Some days I struggle for five — and here is where the brain-functioning gets fascinating — when I am thinking of my five things, my brain is literally calling out an “all-hands-on-deck” moment to my memories for the day:
“Does anybody have anything we can give Kate to write down for number five?”
The mind continues to skry for information - it wants to please the request. The more you place the request for moments of gratitude, you literally train the mind to look for things to be grateful for, even if only under the guise of writing in your journal at the end of the day ( Personal tip: I enjoy re-visiting yesterday’s grace over my morning cup of coffee as a peaceful way to write my mind into place). The more you look for things to be grateful for, the more you find. The more you find reasons to be grateful, the more grateful you feel. Your mind is a puppy-pleasing entity that wants to complete tasks that will merit a reward.
What have you trained your mind to retrieve?
Consider taking on a gratitude practice and see what you find.
I was sitting in front of a late summer fire when the woman next to me turned and said, “You know, it all changes when you are 70.”
I raise my eyebrows and nod for her to continue.
“No one talks about it. You know. No one talks about aging anymore or how to age — or that we even age.”
“No, they don’t.”
“But we do,” she looks off, smiling and contemplative. “We do. We do age. You know I started having dreams.”
“About regrets. Choices I made - or didn’t make — things that I am not pleased with; I have started waking in the middle of the night, seeing them. Do you think I am crazy?”
“No,” I answer honestly.
“And I had — still have — a good life. I did well for myself in Academia, and then advanced in the business realm to. I haven’t wanted for much - “
“That’s an accomplishment.”
“Yes, it is. And I have lead a full life with community — my family, cultivated friends, cultivated a spiritual life, but you know my regrets are connected to work — a lot of people’s regrets are connected to work.”
“How so?” I prompt, curious.
“Well you know you do things in the business world, you treat people in ways in the business world that you would never do in real life — you know. You don’t go by your own ethics; you have to do things in the work world, be a way, that you would never choose to be.”
I allow silence.
Eventually she offers, “You know they made me fire someone I didn’t want to fire and didn’t think should have been fired — I see his face in my dreams.” She looks at me, “You know you ruin someone, or at least a part of them, when you fire them like that. Never sat right with me.”
She brushes her forearm, lets her hand rest and says, “You know I believe these dreams are Spirit talking to me, telling me what I need to get right with to have a good death. Do you think I am crazy?”
“Yeah, well you are too young to understand anything I am saying anyway.”
I chuckle, “That may be true, but I am glad I am hearing it anyway —even if I can only understand a sliver. People my age, and younger, need to hear what other genrations have to say — how else will we learn? How else will we prepare? Cross-Generations need to talk again, too much isolation,” I tell her. "That's one of our biggest problems today -- we are all isolated, instead of helping each other out."
“I didn’t think about that,” she says and we both stare into the fire.
To be continued…
“Can anything be sadder than work left unfinished?
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