findorloseoursouls

Feathers

IMG_1623This morning, bright, blue, with a soft breezy reprieve from the prairie summer heatwave, I went to collect my yoga mat from the hatchback of my little car, when i noticed, and then held my breath about, the sad news of two tiny baby feathers that were the softest innocent white and ginger, left behind, I guess, by a head-on collision of a tiny guy flying into the back window of my stationary (I presume) car.  I was too nervous and sad to look more carefully for the evidence of whether the little guy managed to fly away after and instead concluded heavily in my heart, that everything hinges on so little, doesn’t it?  Grateful to be here for just another day and for what compassion and sadness feel like (weighty, thick, expansive all at once) and for this breath and this one and for these eyes that saw the sweet sad feathers, even. And even for the truth that everything hinges on so very, very little.  I don’t want it to, but am grateful that it does

(Also on a similar note: i watched this ted talk the other day and played part of it for some yoga students during savasana.  I awfully love the little girl and her explanation of real curiosity.)

 

Perennial

IMG_1311.JPGI live in a house that feels just like a home.  It’s a small miracle, to be honest, to walk into a place and belong there instantly.  I hardly feel like i need to rearrange or change or adjust anything, even.  I still do those things, though, of course.

There are a couple gardens here.  One is underneath the shade a couple of well-established old lilac trees in the front of the home.  My neighbour says not much will grow there, but that at least you have the lilacs.  She has an amazing garden and her window boxes spill over chubbily with a zillion fuschia plants and the limiest of lime green greenery, but you’ll always have the lilacs, she says.   The woman who lived here two inhabitants ago got eccentric or a bit of dementia they say and filled the backyard with pot.  The pot plants thrived madly.  Once in awhile, a little sprig comes out of nowhere, in her honour, even though the family who lived here before us and after the lady, dug everything up and re-sodded the backyard into a clean slate.
Tabula rasas.  They rarely work completely the first time;)

I have been planting some perennials not just as a project that i think i’d like, or that i like a little bit, or a practice of being consistent.  I really love those guys.  I LOVE them.  When it rains hard outside, i need to remind myself that they’re made for this and that they are fierce and strong living beings.  Tobias peed on one of them the other day and I almost put him on kijiji.  I love watering them and i think about their roots and hope they feel safe and grounded.  (I don’t want to have a baby, no, thank you.)

Last midsummer, we planted five little clusters of shasta daisies in the front garden, assuming that my not-at-all-green thumb might get lucky and see two survive.  Maybe Mrs. Garden next store’s mojo spread into our yard, but all five grew up this year to be sturdy, tall, hearty teenagers of plants.  It seemed too easy!  Because they were so plentiful and because i’ve been wired for things being harder than all the plants just thriving, probably, i decided to transplant one of the guys to the tabula rasa backyard little garden so the roses that keep coming back wouldn’t be lonely.  I didn’t wait for the right time of the year for the move, my mom said, the interweb said.  Instead I rocked that little guy’s boat way too close to blooming season.  For a couple weeks, he looked pretty pathetic to tell you the truth, even though every day i whispered to him, while looking at his crunchy leaves; you’re doing great!  While his counterparts budded and reached for the sunshine, he was wilted, grey.  I was certain he was goner.  I watered anyway and hoped for the best until one luscious summer afternoon that couldn’t be resisted and there was a tentative perkiness there waiting.  The perkiness turned into a little zest for life, and while little, the hustler got a bunch of buds and looked hopeful again.

The other day, the first daisy bloom on the block (!) belonged to the little transplanted plant, and resiliency saved the day, and you can mess up caregiving and you can get your roots disrupted and not even be nourished the way you might need, and in all likelihood, you’ll probably just thrive anyway because life is worth it, man, and we’ve got the zest in us too, and perenniality is the real deal.

little triumphs

Triumph.  Now there’s a word.  Is it an onomatopoeia almost?  I feel a sudden lift of my heart when i read it on the page.  I want to breathe it again and again.  Triumph, triumph, triumphant heart, invincible calm; you will triumph.

When i was a little, i put in place some pretty uncompromising systems in this human body and brain and heart.  They kept me alive, i think, and safe when things were dangerous and volatile.  I am thankful for these layers and layers of reinforcements.  I was lucky to have them.  Years ago, when i started to teach yoga, i began to discover them again, because i had forgotten i had put them there really, and I began to see what they were made of and what they were making a fortress about.  I have spent much of my adult life (so many years; i just got to 40!) trying to go backwards into these layers and find the little guy that put them there, take her by the hand, uncover her.  She resided there, dormant, stuck for a long time, underneath the sludge and survival of those reinforcements.

These reinforcements, in my business, are what we call ‘murky shit.’

You guys, yoga is a miracle.  Living is one too.  And by the grace of the gods or whatever pulls and pushes us into the secret mysterious stuff, i managed to go through those layers, by the grace of my pals holding spaces with me, sometimes without knowing it, by the grace of the human urge to thrive, i got to see the things and see her and see me and be a whole entire human sometimes.  And not be afraid to breathe into all those tendernesses.  Not quite a triumph, but a bit neat.  I feel like i learned to swim, learned to hold my breath, went down to the bottom of an unknown ocean, waded through all those disorienting and dense and weird deep-water plants and found a treasure, not knowing what it contained, but found that little guy and coaxed her into taking my hand, and taught her to swim, held my breath, waded backwards through the disorienting, weird-neat plants, held our breaths underwater some more and then swam back up to the enormous animal-pull to the light and the air and a big breath in and another and another.  This, this!, is a little triumph, for me, or it might be a big one.

Konrad, who bawled his eyes out at his 40th birthday party at the glorious tenderness of being alive, says this is 40.
Carl Jung says the first half of life is devoted to forming a healthy ego, the second half is going inward and letting go of it.

I realize that little me is actually just me; there is no separation of course.  It has taken 40 painstaking, adventurous, weird years on this earth.  It has taken choosing, especially in recent times a lot of (A LOT) of the bloody hard way to get to see the reinforcements clearly so that i might begin to relax them, piece by piece.  It has taken a lot of karma burning off for me to feel whole.

Can you even believe it?
That being a whole person, finally, is a triumph?
40 is a triumph.
Taking a sabbatical from the beautiful murky waters so you can enjoy the pull up to the surface is a triumph.
Feeling your heart lift off the page from the words, triumphant.
Teaching a one-last regular yoga practice that felt like swimming upward from the dim and muffled ocean floor and seeing the light grow and get closer and closer and closer and pressure on the lungs,  we’ll make it, and breaking through the top of the ocean and breathing a triumphant breath and for it to feel like that for others, even.  I mean that’s a bit of a miracle.

And so, today, on my first official day of this new summer and sabbatical season with fortiness really settling in, i put myself and portman in the car and we stuck our arms and heads out of the windows like free, happy birds, and went to the best coffee place, well out of the way.  We walked our walk, honestly unfettered, checking out all the cute and quaint purposeful stuff in the wolseley backlanes, and I saw a cat sitting on a second floor open air porch, beside a pretty nice cluster of rainforest green potted plants and I thought, well if this isn’t just the life.  And that?  I think that’s a triumphant thought.

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29 april

Some very big handful of years ago already, it was an April 29 that was one of those very warm April 29th’s, the kind that feels like it’s too early to be so summer-hopeful and let your winter guard down, one of those.  hot even in the morning.  Bright.  BRIGHT.  On that late April day that was masquerading as beautiful and summertime and the livin’s easy, my sister’s giant soul left her body in our crumbly apartment on the third floor of an old building and my heart broke as my legs somehow carried me down all the stairs into the incomprehensible warmth of that morning.
My heart broke open. Despite her chosen freedom.  Despite the freedom i believed her to have settled instantly into, my heart was crushed under a million pounds of all the Christmases that no one else would ever remember with me, all the sorrows that we had carried together, all the enormous jokes and laughter.  Under a million tonnes of that, i was crushed.  Crushed is not the right word.  Broken open.  Cracked under the zillion tonnes.

Every moment since then, I imagine her freedom bigger.  Oftentimes, I honour the date and her existence and all of our survivals and the idea of a tribe and the lessons I learned about how to love from her with an Extra Old Stock, which is gross, but i don’t really drink it anyway, except a sip or so, and that’s what people end up having to drink to honour you when you die in your twenties and still drink gross beers.

Every day since then, i have been aware of the fault lines left behind, of the places where they say you heal stronger (cmon though), and of the resurrection we all have in us, the resiliency that I have become so grateful for.  Sometimes in the more recents years, this date is just a nice one.  I think of the Cortney with a whelming love, and feel like grief has largely had its way with me, and miss her erratic and wild facial expressions and would do just about any thing to sit simply with her again, but mostly feel peaceful, while wanting to smell her hair or sit on the kitchen floor together.

I want to tell you that I understand why this year is so different.  Why it feels like I am the same person that walked out of that building with numb legs and cracked insides and not even one day has passed.
I want to explain it as a regression, or a revisitation, or like a current grief might be feeling like cousins to that one, tying me into that moment of loss.

I want to speculate that I am resurrecting in a way that feels similar (hallelujah!)  Or like miriam says, it’s just more layers of the onion peeling away.  I wonder a a bit, honestly, if we have a statute of limitations on the number of little sorrows a body can hold and then it starts to spill over or blow a fuse and fall into a loop.  Or maybe grief’s waves are even more unpredictable than i thought.  Or maybe i have wholeheartedly entered into new places where i am challenged in the same way again and i just feel the same sorts of tenderness.  To love despite everything.  (I know, i should start smaller in this being human and love, i have limitations, but you don’t pick your karma sometimes/ever practically, at least not consciously.)

But really what i want is to have a big hug from a little sister and call it a day.
(No picture, but if there was one, the eyes would be auburn.)

‘Today i noticed’ prompt to write down some words

I noticed how nice the feeling is to notice a thing of worth; hard work, commitment, beauty, a breath, a giant deep breath on a day when someone you know stopped breathing; and to know that the bottom of the line is that you are a miracle and these things are miracles just like all of the other miracles like life and love and the grand canyon.  I noticed portman’s orange fur curling on her cute nose and thank god she’s here and tobias brown white fur (everywhere!) and noticed my anxiety and its grip on my chest inside my ribcage about things i can have OCD about, like tobias’ fur everywhere even though he’s a super-sweet fellow.
I noticed the call of the river quieting now that the skating path is closed and it’s practically March and the spring melt is underway and i noticed with all of my senses and all the corners of my little soul how much i miss an adventure walk even though the long walk to the coffee shop is pretty sweet and routine and has a happily strong and caffeinated midpoint.  Tonight i will walk to yoga on the ground, not the frozen water, and I will notice how good it is to walk into a room where people are souls and vulnerable and themselves.  And i will be caffeinated and strong by that too.  But i’ll notice.

What did you notice today?

Here’s a picture of the river and the wilderness there.  It’s already a couple weeks old.  Still wild, though.FullSizeRender (9).jpg

favourite day of the year

This morning I woke up.
I woke up and I was alive, by a miracle, like always, but noticed the miracle and the aliveness a little more consciously than sometimes.
This morning I woke up and left the windows covered so that no one else would wake up before they felt like it.  I woke up and without rushing downstairs to start ingesting tea, peanut butter, emails, i took a detour into the room that is quiet and mostly empty and calm and pulled out a mat and lied down on it and did the boringest asanas, slowly, well, intentionally, and even deliciously.  They tasted.  I don’t know if they tasted delicious or good even, who cares, but i tasted them; a success.  I took the time, by another miracle, and then still no rushing, still no bossy cravings, ran a slow bath, eucalyptus, epsom salts, and though my body felt rigid and protective like often, it softened into the water as the time was taken.  Only when I had the right amount of slow breathing, body under water, did i come out, and dry off, and do things still slowly, and approach a window unprepared, pulled the soft diffusing curtains open, and found the answer to all the slowness, the syrupy feeling of the morning; first snow, thank goodness, at last.

I’ve never been in this home in the winter.  I went to all the windows to check things out.   It looks like this from the front:
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and this in the back from the quiet, empty, yoga room in the rooftops.

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And as i looked out at it all from the sturdiness of home, i felt happy for the sweet guys sleeping soundly around me, snowed quietly into their sleep and maybe some dreams too, i’m sure.
I felt so thankful for the first snow that reminds me in its ritual of ritual.
And i began to feel extra-hopeful about the nourishment that comes from doing important things like breathing and preparing food and moving, with intention and heart.  And i felt thankful for nature being such a cyclical teacher, always, and for the power of an intention, and how clear the out-of-place things become when you slow down and feel your way through a thing.  And how obvious the things that nourish your bones and your heart and your busy stupid brilliant brain and your humanness and your perfect soul are when you move less frantically, hungrily.
Woke up.

 

the wishbone

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Childhood was a disordered and unpredictable place.
Nearby adults didn’t act like adults, or at least not what i wished for adults to be; loving, safe, steady.  They were tantrumming children mostly, reactive, explosive, having no idea how to process their difficult emotions, poor guys, creating a volatile little place in which to grow, in many ways.  It was inadvertent, of course, good people in challenging karmas/life experiences/etc…  I love them.  Forgive them.  But the smell of them still repels me a little;)

Anyway, this is a post of gratitude, believe it or not.

Always on the holidays, my dad would spend a good part of the day making a big meal usually including some kind of bird and a dessert made from pumpkins or apples.  He did this despite not seeming especially joyful or one-way-or-another about it.  But he always did it.  It was a funny convention to hold up when so many others were ignored, but since during much of that time i felt like an alien trying to relate to more ‘normal’ guys, these traditions were so important.  It was a little structure and it was purposeful and thought-out and probably saved our lives in some way.

We would eat a meal together, and then he would take the rest of the meat of the bird for other normal things like leftovers, and that night, he would start to make a soup stock from the bones.  Except for the wishbone.  That, as we watched, he would carefully remove, show us that magical thing, a bone that has wishing potential! and put it up on a shelf too high for littles to get while it dried out.

Every day, we would tug on his shirt to take it down and check if it was ready for the wishing, and he would oblige, each day, until it was dry enough, anticipation was high enough, we were happy enough to make some wishes, my sister and i.  When wishing day came, we would excitedly, kid-clumsily, pull on that bone, and one of our tiny kid hands would get the bigger piece and one wouldn’t and i don’t remember caring about that bit, but I will remember for one million years holding onto that wishbone while my sister did too, and that our dad took the time to encourage that moment to happen as he watched, but only through his periphery as he did something else because he was a little too something for presence.  Ritual should have presence, I think, but we’re works in process, and that was enough.

That time must have been hard on my dad; a man who loves structure and actually infuses things with a lot of pretty beautiful ritual, tradition, thank goodness.  Though he was not able at the time to do it joyfully, i don’t care.  I am thankful every day that he kept on and kept on and dragged his road-weary self through the effort to give me/us/himself that intention for some kind of magic.  That predictability saved my heart, i imagine.

Today, I love ritual.  I love it so much; to be intentional, to sit together with people for a thoughtful meal, to watch the moon go through its cycles, predictably, to pause when it pauses, to do things with your whole heart/mind, sometimes with others minds/hearts.  To move through tedious daily grinds with the illumination that doing them with intention, with a heart, brings.  I built my job and my work on this love, i guess.  I built a little tiny life on it, even.  And with my often-anxious nervous system, and still subtly waiting for other shoes to drop often, and with distrust when there is unpredictability, and not-quite-anymore-paralyzing fear when people act erratically, and as i hold my breath just a little when everything is ok, life is tricky.  It’s the trickiest of all the tricks, but you know?  there is an uncontainable amount of magic here, too.  And i got to learn how to make space for that, even weave it into things.

Thanks, da.

 

 

a little thanks

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Gratitude.

Sundays.  Second Sundays.
Thank yous.
The feeling of gratitude untying the knots in the heart of all of the matters.
The cooking of foods warming a home on a cool fall day.
Setting tables and candles.  These things separately and also together.
The little and big glimpses into how good we’ve got it, how precious life is, what a glorious thing it is to be living in it.
A giant space, on the very-edge of the city, full of the prairie, full of coyotes even i’ve heard, where you can breathe more deeply (as above), walk on crunchy, uneven ground, and get burrs on your ankles, and then smell like the wild a little after.

blue

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A new home.  I’m home.

My other home was good, too; it was filled with healing and being clear, but this one has windows that let you see out in all the directions and a backyard and it feels like a home and is filled with people and dogs and a family of things and beings being.  It is good.  I guess i’ll get some patio lanterns and i even feel like digging up the soil, slowly, slowly, and putting things in it.  It’s good to be home.

Beside the house/home, on the east side, the smallish space between the east wall of this house and the west wall of its neighbour, a robin has built a nest.  Is there anything but hope and renewal about a robin?  The robin has babies now because my neighbour pointed out a robin’s egg blue (best colour) egg on the ground, and the robin that i’ve seen looks strong and tired and busy and beautiful, so she’s obviously a mom.

Many of the windows on the house have a lever and they open outward from the bottom, and this morning, the robin-mom, in her food gathering mission, somehow got caught in the space under the open window of my dining room while i drank some tea.  It was a pretty big fiasco with frantic wings flapping and akimbo, disorder, and a lot of noise, and my heart panicked a little while the robin mom panicked because of compassion and post-traumatic stress probably;), but together we figured it out and it turned out the window could open just a little wider, which was wide enough, thank goodness, for her to find her way out with her beakful of food for her brand-new babies.  And everyone was ok.

The other neighbours stopped by with wine, baguette, but the robin wins because hope.

 

All this light. Also, earth.

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Sweet things.

Yesterday was my birthday and one of the longest days of the year and also almost-a-full-moon, so things felt pretty wild.  I celebrated all of this wilderness and overwhelm and excitement by deciding to teach yoga in this ancient (for Winnipeg) deep, red building made of gritty brick and smelling of wise, old books for the summer.  The floor is matte, creaks, choir practice filters through it.  The rooms are round holding places.  The windows, even the low ones, are filled with green leaves.  It is a treehouse, but low, lived-in, so fully used.  Yoga will be good there.

Decisions feel grounding, red is, brick is, old buildings are, old buildings filled with ritual, habit, people; feet on the ground, heart to wind.  Rolling forward.

How are you?