Monthly Archives: April 2011

awakening joy*

For years I have been meaning to get to James Baraz’s meditation group here in Berkeley. I am reading his book Awakening Joy now and loving it. (And can’t believe that this amazing course has been going on only blocks away from my house all this time!) There are many things that awaken joy in me- beauty, the surprise of something delightful (like this bike rack pictured below) Nico’s laughter, Ben’s samurai moves… I love the idea of awakening joy… like it is has been there all along, sleepy, but willing to come alive.

And this! Possibly the best radio piece I’ve ever heard about creativity. If you’re short on time, forward to the part with Elizabeth Gilbert. Love you Radio Lab!

emotions, truth and chinese finger traps*

The nature of emotions is flow… I heard this the other day on a book on tape. And like a song that gets stuck in your head, it keeps coming back to me again and again. The nature of emotions is flow… And so I have been noticing how this is true, that if I can allow the big emotions in and not resist them, I can also allow them out. The same mechanism allows for both.

This has been my practice this week. The tide of hurt, sadness, fear, rushes in, sometimes in a roaring, deafening wave, and then flows back out. I notice that when I am trying to hold it together, to be strong, to “pull myself together” (was anyone else told this as a child?) the monster only gets bigger. It hardens and changes form. Instead of being like water it becomes more like sap, corrosive and sticky- and the flow is lost. This is when I become grumpy with the people I love… not soft or gentle, but pent up and anxious.

Earlier this year, I had a session with an extraordinary body worker. She is also an intuitive and gets most of her information from working on your body. This means that while you’re getting a wonderful massage, she simultaneously gives you the download on your life. More importantly, on what your spiritual work is at that time.

When I saw her months ago, she told me that my work is about honesty. I was surprised, thinking, “I’m honest. What gives?” but then she explained. “I mean emotional honesty. I mean telling the truth to people you love even when you’re afraid, even when they might not like it or disagree. It’s allowing your feelings to be valid, to matter. It’s standing in your truth even if someone pushes back. You need to learn that in holding someone else’s truth, you don’t have to abandon your own.”

And since I didn’t get it the first time, my therapist alerted me to this last week as well. Almost verbatim.
One of the things that moved me most about Jen Lee’s voice course is the part where you explore voice injuries. We all have them, but since I am fairly self-expressed in my creative life and able to be vulnerable in my emotional life, this showed up as a blind spot for me.

How much of our truth are we willing to tell? Especially if it’s bad news? Is there a way to tell your truth with fierce love in your heart?

I feel like I’m being handed my mission from the Universe and I have been trying to wrestle it to the ground. I see how I want to quit instead, forfeit, avoid, hide, talk myself out of how I feel.. and because this is old wound territory, it feels like my survival is at stake. I suppose in a way it’s true. There is some part I am ready to let go of. Some way I have always been that might not survive, but (hopefully) I will. Something new might be born. It is a risk to grow, but I am reminding myself that it is a risk worth taking.

Jen and I always joke that we can’t escape being students in the class we are offering. We are immersed in the content of each course whether we like it or not. This Dream Lab is no exception- it is about clearings, about making space and letting go of what no longer serves us. It is no accident that I am being called to do this work now. As scary as it feels though, I know that on the other side lives deeper connection, truth and real power.

I have had insomnia on and off for weeks now. The image that continues to find me in those wee hours, (literally sitting right behind my eyelids) is of one of those chinese finger traps. Do you remember those? You put an index finger into each end and the more you pull and pull, the more you get stuck. There is no way out except to do the most counter intuitive thing — you push your fingers further in, thereby loosening the grip of the toy. Only then can you take your fingers out.

I suppose the message is clear. Relax, allow… let go. There are gifts on the other side.

like an orange on the seder plate


The story goes that a rabbi said to a female professor, “A woman belongs on the bimah, (in a place of leadership in the congregation) as much as an orange belongs on the seder plate.”

And so, each year at Passover, there is an orange on the seder plate where we celebrate. This is just one of the things I love about the family we spend Passover with each year. It is perhaps our one long standing tradition… a gorgeous seder with my godparents and their extended famiily every year. I love that each time the room gets bigger and the kids more numerous. Ben had so much fun he tore off his pants and flung them in the air, preferring to party in his underwear for the duration of the evening.

We also did something new this year. Zahava carried a large glass pitcher around the table and each person poured drops of water into a bowl while calling out names of women they wanted to honor… it was a very sweet way to send out blessings.

And then there was gefilte fish! which no one really likes, but everyone seems to take a bite of just the same. Perhaps like a Christmas fruit cake?

things that are rocking my world these days*

Finding Your Voice: My pal Jen Lee sent me a copy of her incredible workbook, Finding Your Voice. I read it cover to cover in one day, not able to put it down. This topic of finding our voice, where we lost it along the way and how we can reclaim it, is so moving to me… I’m excited to go through all of the exercises with a friend and continue this exploration. If you are having any trouble finding your voice either creatively or in your relationships, this little book/audio set might be just the right medicine. So much healing is possible with this book in the world.

Freedom: The application that blocks you out of the internet for up to eight hours at a time. The thought of this thrills me to no end! In the spirit of our current Dream Lab about making clearings, this feels like an amazing tool. Basically, it blocks your ability to get onto the internet for a prescribed number of hours, allowing you to write and do other creative work undistracted by the interwebs!

My friend Rachel Cole whose beautiful web site just launched.

Teahouse Studio and all of their incredible offerings, right here in Berkeley. Speaking of this, if you are in the bay area and are interested in doing a storytelling/writing course with Laurie Wagner, me and a small collection of other women, we are hatching a scheme to begin this course very soon. Email me if you are interested!

Overhearing Ben talk to Nico…
Ben: Awww… Nico, you’re the best! I love you so much… (kiss, kiss, face smoosh) Nico, you… wait! Ew!!! Yuck! Puke! You pukey butt ham! Yuck!

Katherine Center’s new video… Grab a tissue first! then watch.

and this message that just came in from Tut:
Though folks never suspect this in their times of crises, no one is ever more than a few wispy thoughts away from a rebound, breakthrough, or blazing new trails with friends, in love.
Burn rubber on me,
The Universe

passion and purpose*

Just a quick note to let you know that SARK is leading a *free* teleclass tonight! (6pm PST) I’m hoping to listen in myself! You can register for it here.

Nico Boon is 5 months*

The way I found out I was pregnant is a funny little story. Literally, within a week of conception, while watching Avatar with Matt, I polished off a GINORMOUS burrito by myself.

Horrified, I waited for the inevitable stomach ache and instead felt hungry a mere twenty minutes later. I didn’t say anything to Matt at that moment but knew there could only be one explanation. I was officially a bottomless pit for the the entire next year!

When we were choosing names, I kept thinking about how Nico was an unexpected blessing in our life. Something we didn’t even know we could have, something we didn’t even dare to want. We imagined making the choice to have another child would be filled with more doctor’s visits, infertility clinics, acupuncture appointments and stress. Just the thought of it exhausted us. But Nico simply appeared and we said yes.

I looked for synonyms for “unexpected blessing” in an online thesaurus one day and found the word boon. I love the way it sounds and all that it implies… and so it is Nico’s middle name. A friend of mine says that blessings are things that are so good, so unexpected, they can’t be found on a list, or wished for in the traditional ways. They are blessings precisely because they are better than you could have imagined. They come to us when we’re not paying attention, when we are not in control, when there is room for magic…

you gotta love a therapist that calls you Toots

Found the sweetest therapist around… she is an older woman, probably in her late seventies, and her presence alone was so deeply comforting I hardly needed to say anything at all. It was just good to be near her. Because she didn’t know anything about me, I told her a bit of everything and was able to see the whole picture of my life in a new way. I have a big gremlin/inner critic that tells me that whatever I’m going through (or have gone through in the past) is not that bad, that I shouldn’t complain, it could have been worse, that I must be exaggerating… Does this gremlin visit any of you as well? It was so good to have someone hold some of those pieces with me and simply acknowledge what was hard.

As I left her office, she hugged me and said, “Toots, we’ll get through this.”

Spring Dream Lab: Spring Cleaning for the Soul

Our Spring Dream Lab begins today! You can still join us (at a special Superhero discount) by registering here. I have to say people, this might be one of our BEST classes ever. And the lineup of interviewees is incredible….

Karen Maezen Miller, author of Momma Zen and Hand Wash Cold
Wayne Muller, author of Sabbath and A Life of Being, Having, and Doing Enough
Natala Constantine of Vegan Hope
Bindu Wiles
Mike Robbins

It’s going to be an amazing five weeks of clearing space… holding the possibility that clearings can make room for our lives to fill with more of what naturally blesses and fulfills us. Here’s to spring!