Watching The Heaviest Blossoms Fall

Watching The Heaviest Blossoms Fall

A couple of days ago I was standing in my kitchen before a class with a couple of my students, Mary and Christy, and I was telling them about all the mistakes I’d been making lately, dropping balls left and right, and Mary, who teaches a desktop publishing class at a college nearby says, “Hey, those mistakes are important,” and goes on to tell us what she says to her class on the first day.  “You can take desktop publishing from anyone,” she begins, “but the reason you’re taking it from me is because I’ve got 40 years of mistakes to share with you.” So let’s get that straight. The teacher isn’t the person who knows more than you, not the master at whatever it is you’re trying to learn, the golden one who maybe you’ll be able to emulate one day. No, she’s just messed up more than you – and seriously, you can’t buy that kind of talent. 40 years of mistakes is quite a trek, and if you’re lucky, you’re still making them, at least I am. This last month has felt exactly like learning how to parallel park a big old clunker of a car with a whole crowd of people standing on the sidewalk watching. I’m doing it Lucille Ball style; hitting the car in front of me, then the car in back of me, over and over until the big car is reduced to a sardine can. Nothing elegant about it. Cue the laugh track. Of course I’m making every day mistakes like forgetting someone’s name or forgetting to call on a student...
27 Ways to Tell a True Story

27 Ways to Tell a True Story

27 Ways To Tell a True Story Write from where you are. Don’t think about what others might want to hear. Think about what’s moving through you. What’s actually moving through you now; the man you ended a relationship with a few months ago who you know you shouldn’t text or call. How the last two men you dated have been posting up a storm on Instagram, pictures of their new girlfriends and their travels together. Write about how even though those relationships weren’t right for you, you still go over and over in your mind how you might have made them work. Write about how the sweet one said, “I’m just a simple guy who wants to love and be loved,” and how that echoed in your head for months, how you wondered if you were too complicated for love… Write about how self-care looks like a concentrated effort at avoiding Instagram because you know that’ll only make you feel bad about yourself. Write about the long walk you took in your neighborhood, fighting back tears, one foot in the “I’ve got this” camp, the other in the “What’s my problem?” camp.  Don’t think about something better to write. Write about how every single person you pass on that walk seems as lonely and uncomfortable as you are; putting on a good face – trying to seem like they have it together – like they’re going somewhere –  just like you. Write about this. Start where you are because that is a real place, and I’m telling you, there is nothing better to write about. If you reject...
From Tinder to Tender

From Tinder to Tender

Last week I sent a letter to 25 of my posse asking them to help me find a sweetheart. I thought of it like a barn raising, like something I had to reach out into my community to get help for, something I couldn’t do entirely alone. I’d been on the dating sites off and on for a year or so and it felt like shooting fish in a barrel – except the barrel was as wide as the sea, and the shooting felt like a sloppy, blind spray of arrows flying out into infinity, never to be seen again. I’m sure there were plenty of good men on the sites, but rarely did I see someone who I might want to know more deeply. Most of the men never seemed to recognize the specialness in me either, passing me by, and I often felt invisible. I found myself checking the sites multiple times a day to see if anyone had found me. I was on three dating sites at once. That’s a lot of checking, and a lot of wasted time. It was like some horrible high school punch in the stomach over and over, and it did nothing for my self-esteem or my nervous system that got jacked up each time I logged on in the hopes of finding someone. It’s a helluva way to start the day and I don’t recommend it. Sometimes if I hadn’t been on the dating sites for a month or so – because I’d randomly gotten off when I’d had enough – but then found myself lonely, I’d get on for...
Jupiter and Venus

Jupiter and Venus

Jupiter and Venus A few weeks ago I read that if I got up before sunrise on the following Tuesday morning I’d be able to see Venus snuggling up close to Jupiter in the sky. Two bright orbs winking at each other – something that hadn’t happened in a long time and wouldn’t happen again anytime soon. It sounded magical – two massive, bright celestial ships passing in the night – and I wondered if I were the kind of person – if I had enough of whatever it would take to get myself up and outside before the sun rose. In the past, I’d left those kinds of jobs to my ex-husband, who cajoled me many times over our nearly 30 years together, to get up and out of a tent to see a sunrise or some other display of natural wonder. Once on a sand dune in Death Valley we had a wrestling contest where the winner would get whatever they wanted. And because Mark won, I had to run behind him down the steep slopes of a dormant volcano in the park. He told me that he’d spent two nights there once, sleeping on the floor of the volcano. He talked about the peace of the place, what it was like to be that deep into the earth. When we pulled up to the volcano the wind was howling and spitting sand in our faces. We sat in his old Toyota and watched Japanese tourists chase their hats in the wind. We laughed as they huddled behind skinny trees in the hopes of being protected. He...
The Ancient Medicine of Me and You

The Ancient Medicine of Me and You

Every day for the last week and a half the Bay Area has woken up to the smell of smoke – an instant reminder that the North Bay is still burning, and that the lives of many of our Northern neighbors have been completely altered. At last count, 40 people had died, 217,000 acres of land had been ravaged, 75,000 people have had to evacuate, and 5,700 homes had been damaged or destroyed. This on the heels of an already incredible month of hurricanes, a devastating earthquake, an unbelievable scene in Las Vegas, and while we’re at it, a series of high profile men in Hollywood and other places who are being outed by women who’ve had their fill of being sexually humiliated. And this, on top of a life that already felt like it was flying out of a blender without its top on. My friends, and maybe yours, feel hurried, distracted. They can’t get their heads on. The best, most mindful people I know talk about needing to get into nature, and put their phones away. If only we could. Simply leaving the house for two hours without the phone becomes a triumph, a show of personal power. This is how it is for me. It’s like some crazy rip tide taking us farther and farther from the shores of our own humanity. Lately, I’m astounded that the simple act of sitting across from one another, knee to knee, phones down, has felt absolutely revolutionary. Like some ancient medicine called Me and You that is grounded in eye contact, and in speaking and listening to one another....
Call your mother…

Call your mother…

Friends, artists, activists, writers, and lovers of everything beautiful, Our world is spinning off its axis. We lost Tom Petty, Las Vegas is reeling, Puerto Rico is still waiting, Florida and Mexico are recovering. Not to mention all the people we love who are sick, or in trouble or scared. It’s hard to know how to respond in a way that matters. Gandhi says, “Whatever you do may seem insignificant to you, but it is most important that you do it.” So we do the one or two things we can do; The music makers make music, the bakers bake, the artists paint. If you do yoga, do it with love, if you teach, teach with love. Call your mother, tell your siblings you love them, pet your cat. Pray. Be grateful. If you breathe without a tube, bow down. If you walk without assistance, go you! If all you can scrape up is a smile for someone you pass on the street, it’s plenty. Pick up trash, catch your hand before it hits the horn, forgive someone, let them off the hook because they probably didn’t mean to hurt you. Be kind. I listen to music, I get out into the dirt, hang with friends, make things with my hands, love on my children. I also write – which is my way of taking the chaos and the beauty that’s inside of me and bring it out into the world – for my own healing and the healing of others. It’s craziness out there. So much is flying at us and it’s hard to hold. If you’re needing...