How to Be Heard by a Total Asshole

How to Be Heard by a Total Asshole

Be quiet for gratitude.
Give yourself time to notice the privileges sent your way today.
Not everyone is so fortunate.
When you see how lucky you are, you show up humble.
When you see how lucky you are, you can listen and connect.
Lose sight of that and in one breath, one single moment, you become the asshole in the conversation.

Today I am lucky for the friends around me, for the earth and sand I walk on, and for the ocean I draw deep healing from. I am lucky to have access to community, to food, to new ideas and skills, and to resources immeasurable. I went to bed feeling safe, and I walked down the street yesterday feeling safe. This body, this skin, this spirit, this life – all are a privilege. I am so unbelievably lucky.
Hello privilege.

Be quiet for pain.
Sit still long enough to connect with your own pain today.
It’s a privilege to have time to sit with your pain and the ability to share it.
Time to grieve and to heal.
Making time within yourself to hold space for the pain of others.
Not everyone is so fortunate.
When you hold hands with your own pain, you can sit and hold hands with others in pain.
When you move while aware of your own grieving, you can recognize grieving and pain – not evil – behind the anger, rage, and fear you encounter.
Lose sight of that and in one breath, one single moment, you become the asshole in the conversation.

Today I cry for Amal, my friend helping and moving severely wounded children, and bodies, daily in Gaza.
Today I cry for the family of my neighbor who died of cancer this weekend.
Today I cry for the family of Michael Brown, burying their son. I cry for the pain I hear in the voices of black parents, for the systemic racism that continues to plague my country, and the violence and deaths that arise because so many white people can’t see it, let alone have extended conversations about it.
Today I cry for the children of Robin Williams, burying their father. I cry for the stigma around depression and mental illnesses that results in people suffering and dying alone instead of getting help.
Today I cry for my exhausted father, finally admitting that caretaking for my mom, who has Alzheimer’s disease, is too much for him. Cry for the man who is too tired to even pick up the phone to get help.
Today I cry because members of my family—adults I have always looked up to—have turned on each other over the last wishes of my beloved grandparents. That the people who taught me to love can also be filled with hate.
Today I cry about my own helplessness and failures. My failure to share how amazing my Palestinian friends and my Jewish friends are, to talk about how kind and loving my protestor friends and my police officer friends are. My failure to explain how amazing I think each of my family members are to each other, despite our many flaws.
Today, like all days, I cry for the distance between us.
I cry for the loss of connection.
I cry for life extinguished, pointlessly, and far too soon.
I cry for trying hard, when it really matters, and for failing.
For the frustration of showing up with tiny hands to shovel a gigantic mountain of crap.
Hello pain.

Be quiet for joy and humor.
Reflect and notice the joy and humor sent your way today.
It’s a privilege to feel joy, to have a sense of humor.
Not everyone is so fortunate.
Every time you laugh an entire universe of new possibilities opens up.
When joy brings you to tears, a renewed you springs forth, ready for action.
You can bring laughter and joy to others – even these total assholes, right now – if you are in touch with your humor, your joy.
Lose sight of that and in one breath, one single moment, you become the asshole in the conversation.

Today I got to sleep late.
Today is warm and sunny.
Today I get to write something new.
Today a friend made me laugh out loud.
Today I heard my mom and dad laugh together on the phone.
Today I thought about visiting my amazing sister.
Today my dog and cat woke me up by purring in my face (my dog purrs too, she modulates her growl to mimic the cats because she thinks purring is so cool, which it is).
Today my friends are laying 2.9 miles of hopscotch path around our Seattle neighborhood for a gigantic play event this weekend, an annual neighborhood event that I had a hand in starting.
Today I’m having dinner and seeing a movie with women friends.
Today my husband comes home, and he’s bringing an old friend with him.
Tomorrow we will attempt to catch and eat some crab in his honor.
Hello joy.

How to be heard by a total asshole…

If you are unable to see how lucky you are.

If your pain is not recognized and acknowledged.

If you cannot feel or even remember joy today.

If you have no time or energy for reflection.

Then you are the asshole in the conversation.

From my perspective, there is nothing else that you possibly could be.

So be the asshole. Bring it. (although for God’s sake put any weapons down first)

And then listen to yourself.

Be quiet and listen to yourself and hear your perspective, really hear it, patiently, as if you were listening to your closest friend.

Only an asshole would begrudge you this moment, when you are so far down that you could not possibly be anything else but a total asshole right now.

Hello asshole. Hello.

Purr partners

The Voice of Unease

The Voice of Unease

One day I will hear the voice of unease
before her tears fall.

I will take her small hand, slow down,
allowing the ample time she demands
to reacquaint us with this lucky life.

And when I do,
we will see a neighbor
teaching her dog how to dance.

We will notice nervous new bird parents
racing to feed crying baby.

We will shut our eyes and pull that warm breeze
into our souls.

I will stay with her until we relax
and breathe deeply:
until we stubbornly insist
on being the we
we want to be.

 

The Big Nothing

The Big Nothing

Rainbow's end at the pirate house

I learned something strange and wonderful this winter:

How significant a change I feel the need to make in my life has a fairly direct proportional relationship to how many days I’m willing to do nothing to get it.

Yes, nothing.

There is a time and place for action when I feel the need for significant change.

But that time and place is after The Big Nothing, not before it.

For those of you who like some order with your chaos, my process is:

  1. Feel the need for significant change.
  2. Do nothing for a very long time. (that is, only doing things you adore so much that doing them is easy and natural)
  3. More nothing. (feeling luxurious now)
  4. More nothing. (feeling playful, naughty, and/or feisty now)
  5. Watch, stunned, as a remarkable idea gently touches down in your head like a visiting space ship landing on an empty field.
  6. Become more curious than scared, at least for a moment.
  7. Do something about it (something now simple and obvious, like smiling and greeting the newly arriving aliens, or maybe running like hell, depending on the situation).

Yesterday I was reading Havi’s blog, The Fluent Self (specifically, this post: http://www.fluentself.com/blog/personal/wish-235-a-hat-that-is-a-door/) and my eyes fell upon this new wish of hers:

What do I want?

Ease. Miracles. Simplicity. Perfect simple solutions.”

I was compelled to say something to her, because I realized that I recently got exactly what she says she wants now and that I could describe what happened to me, perhaps opening some opportunity for insight for her into what she’ll need to do. So this poured out of me…

Havi, Ease, Miracles. Simplicity. and Perfect simple solutions came my way this fall/winter. Followed 8 weeks of doing nothing I didn’t want to do and a lot of doing nothing. For me, no work, no social obligations, no deep reflection. Just playing with cats, sleeping in, walking dog, SciFi reruns, creating for the fun of it, and good food. Seemed like a lot of time to waste at the time. Ah, past me. The change that came to me out of 8 weeks of nothing was simple and huge and entirely unexpected by me and others. The speed at which things changed after that was astonishing. The miracles that showed up kept my mouth dropped open, awestruck, for most of November and December. So simple, so perfect.

We now live on the beach, on an island, in a home whose previous owners left us their pirate flag. Surrounded by water, sand, trees, sky, stars, and a community of creators and writers. Friends live in our Seattle home now and run the coworking space out of their home now. I’m left aware that I didn’t make it happen. Was more sort of just a bouncy-house slide that I and my family slid down. I will never doubt 8 weeks of nothing again. In Lori Land, big nothing is the doorway to big perfect easy miraculous change.

Re-reading this it’s clear why I write: I have almost no idea what I believe until I see it in writing.

Then yesterday, my dearly beloved, and very busy, sister Jen said this to me:

“I’ve been to Mesa, Chicago, and Reno in the past three weeks and my sinus infection went from my head to my chest, so I’ve been traveling, working, and going to the doctor like a crazy woman. As of yesterday’s chest x-ray results, I am pneumonia free but have restricted airways. They are so very swollen I’m doing more wheezing and squeaking than breathing or coughing stuff out. So I am now on 4x per day oral steroids, a steroid inhaler, antibiotic, and some lovely cough syrup that says I should not operate heavy machinery while on it. I have a 3-day weekend, so am really looking forward to being home and having an extended chance to R & R.” 

If life was entirely fair I’d have manifesting powers so extraordinary that when my sister is this sick, and believing that just 3 days counts as “extended rest and relaxation” then I could just mentally whisk her up here to our house and make her stay on our couch for at least two weeks. With pets to hug, nettle tea and apple cider vinegar to drink, and perhaps some walking-on-the-beach, time off the couch for good The Big Nothing behavior.

So this week it was Havi and Jen who helped me see that I learned something really important this winter.

For me, the more significant the change I feel the need for, the bigger the The Big Nothing needs to be. And The Big Nothing takes far longer than my rational mind thinks it should take. I’m talking hours instead of minutes (little change), or weeks instead of days (bigger change), or months instead of weeks (even bigger change). And so on.

The remarkable idea signaling the end of The Big Nothing, when it inevitably comes, feels about the same as if actual aliens landed in your field, assuming you had a field, which in my metaphor you do.

The remarkable idea causes your brain to think “What? That’s totally crazy.” Plus “That can’t happen.” Plus “Wow, that’s amazing.” And a little “Hey, that’s actually happening.” Then, when Curiosity has become greater than Fear, all the little things you do are moves in the direction of the remarkable.

I think the trick is that unless our The Big Nothing is for a long enough period of time, we aren’t present-in-the-moment enough to notice the aliens. Hell, we may not even know we have a field for spaceships to land on.

This time, for me, The Big Nothing meant only being and doing exactly what I most deeply wanted to be and do for 2 whole months—only the things that felt amazing in my heart and body and soul—often in the face of my rational brain prattling on that SciFi reruns, pajamas, anti-social behavior, and chocolate mousse were all utterly ridiculous ways to change myself, the community, and the world.

But The Big Nothing helped me hear the call of a pirate house on a beach on a distant island and know that that’s where we needed to be.

And The Big Nothing helped me hear the voices of friends who were being called to come live and build community in the home and neighborhood we were saying goodbye to.

And the remarkable idea, acted upon, is changing everything at once now. I’m growing closer to Daniel. I’m back to writing every day. I’m wandering aimlessly on the beach and in the woods and neighborhood now, every day, automatically exercising when for decades I’ve struggled to make this happen (Arrgh). And prioritizing who and what matters most to us is easier here too.

Oh, and I’m a pirate now.

Receiving time

Receiving time

I’m at Office Nomads coworking space today, joining others for an hour of “free writing time.” We came together, shut off the email, the Internet, the phone, and the iPad to just write. The folks at the table around me haven’t been finding enough time in their days to do the writing that they really want to do. One is creating Web copy for her business. Another is writing a blog post. Another poetry and an application for an MFA program in poetry. Another is laser-focused, working on something that she didn’t share with us.

And then there’s me.

Thanks to Bas, and this adorable screen saver that he made for me earlier this spring when I’d gotten seriously off track… Did you write today

I found my way back to writing every day. I found my way home.

Ahhhh.

For me,

sitting here,

hands on keyboard,

feels like home.

Here, writing,

I find the space I need.

To be more fully present.

 

Open                     Aware                       Curious

 

And grateful to get to be me.

 

I came to “free writing hour” to get out of the house for a bit, hang out in a quiet room with other writers, and to hear the sounds of pens on paper and fingers on keyboards.

It’s like an introvert symphony in here.

But I don’t need to make time for writing. Not anymore.

At some point you’ve made so much time for the thing that you love most — and been helped by so many others — that that thing begins to make time for you.

Writing now makes time for me.

Writing gives me the time to sit here listening to the sound of other writers at work.

It gives me time to play with the cats.

Time to hang out with family and friends.

For browsing bookstores.

For listening to others.

For community night at the library.

For coworking.

For large-scale neighborhood hopscotch events.

And playing at the dog park.

And wandering in the garden.

And watching just oodles of SciFi.

 

I think this is one of the most important things about following your own energy and continuing to get back on the unique-to-you, really-hard-and-easy, crazy-winding-back-on-itself path toward doing work you love.

I am no longer making time for writing.

Writing makes time for me.

Thank you writing.

Thank you free-writing coworkers who helped me get a blog post done in record time.

Thank you Bas doodle.

Finding stillness in real life

Finding stillness in real life

Eva moved in on March 27.

So cute!

So fun!

So wonderful!

Eva

Expectations, meet 8-week-old puppy. Prepare to be dashed.

Eva likes to flip her food bowl upside down, scattering food across the room, most of it ending up under the heavy kitchen appliances. She likes to sniff around in the yard for 20 minutes while we all get soaked by the cold spring rain and then come inside and immediately pee in the media room. She prefers chewing on expensive chair legs and spendy catnip-filled cat toys instead of the huge box full of dog toys left to her by Sydney and Grady. When she does pick up a dog toy, it’s always one with a loud squeaker or one that plays Christmas carols when squeezed (thanks Grandma). She broke through a barrier to the basement and went truffle mining in the cat boxes. She pooped on my favorite pillow. She found a hole in the fence and escaped to chew on rusty bits of things in the neighbor’s garage.

These are her habits.

Then there are her needs.

Puppy needs to go outside every 60 minutes during the day to do puppy business. And she needs to have her mouth removed from a chair leg every ~20 minutes (and a chew toy placed into it at roughly the same rate). Ok, that one might be my need. At night, she needs to go outside every two to three hours, and she has the energy to play loudly for at least 30 minutes each time before she drifts back to sleep. These are not really negotiable things. They are what teething puppy, with little puppy bladder, needs.

And they are our new schedule now, whether we like it or not. And more often than not, I DO NOT. I do not like this schedule.

Last night some visiting friends said “Oh, she’s so wonderful! Has she brought a new energy with her into the house?!”

Um, yes, she’s turned me into an exhausted, half-brained, slow-moving zombie. I have zombie energy now. woo hoo.

Good Lord, how do you people with children do it? You all deserve medals and adulation and parades and buildings named in your honor. And spa gift certificates. I keep thinking about our friend who has two sets of twins. I would lose my entire mind.

Lori with 4 hours of sleep a night is a very different creature than Lori with 8 hours of sleep. Sort of like the difference between a Hobbit and Gollum.

I don’t think as quickly. I snap into anger more easily. I’m not as forgiving as I used to be.

And I’ve been burdened with a surprising new guilt that I’m not doing anything right anymore—not puppy parenting, not cat parenting, not being a good spouse, not being a good creative partner. Bleh. Guilt sucks.

Did I mention that the day Eva moved in was the same day that my partner on our brand new June 1st neighborhood event—Hopscotch CD—left for a month to visit Argentina? “Sure!” mid-March Lori said to Knox. “I’d love to cover for you. Will be no trouble at all!”

But neither of us had any idea how big the event would grow. How many neighbors would want to be involved. How many groups would like us to come and talk to them about the event. How many hoops our dear City of Seattle would need us to jump through.

How actually kind of hard it can be the first time around to co-imagine and create 1.8-miles of neighborhood family fun.

I’ve responded to more email in the past 3 weeks than I did in the previous 6 months. And again, these are kind of not negotiable things. They are what’s needed right now to make the event what the neighborhood needs it to be. I love my neighborhood, and this is what I am called strongly to do, and I’m doing it, and I’m grateful.

And I’m kind of a total mess right now too.

All of my dearly beloved, energy-giving creative work—the Collective Self blogging, our Different Office story gathering, and most importantly the new book Bas and I are creating about (irony anyone?) savoring transitions—has been unceremoniously dumped on the back burner while I’ve been trying to dig my way out of piles of email and meeting invites and washing puppy poop off a pillow again.

I thought I was managing pretty well until I had a full-scale meltdown to a wide-eyed Daniel on Sunday—sobbing and questioning every life choice I’ve made in the past five years. Not my finest moment.

And then yesterday this image for me from Bas, all the way from The Netherlands, showed up in my email Inbox, just in case I needed it.

ThisSucks

That’s me in the middle there shaking my fist at the universe. Thanks for the image, Bas. Without it there would have been zero Collective Self blog posts this month.

Hmm, so not only have I not been holding it together pretty well, like I’d hoped, but the fact that I’m not holding it together well is so obvious it can be felt all the way to Zandvoort.

Good Lord. I’m writing a book about savoring transitions, and I’m too exhausted to write it because I’m going through multiple transitions at once and can’t savor anything right now.

I’ve spent three weeks angry that I can’t even write for the book, let alone finish it. A little angry because I fear I’m letting Bas down, but mostly angry because—while I cannot speak for the rest of you—I really need to read a book about savoring transitions right now!

My universe has a seriously weird sense of humor.

Surviving several transitions at once is what I’ve been doing the past three weeks. On Sunday afternoon, post meltdown, I thought, “Enough. Time to get to the savoring part already!”

So I began thinking about my own go-to question for moments like these.

What am I learning right now?

I think I’m learning what new parents and new event planners the world over must eventually learn to have even the remotest chance of thriving during transitions: how to find stillness in the middle of real life.

For at least another few months, I’m not going to get the 6-hour chunks of empty time that I’ve needed in the past for writing. I’m not going to receive stillness in the way my soul longs for. But I still want to write. I’m not me unless I’m writing. So what the #!$@ am I going to do? (Hmm, this may be my new go-to question.)

A few things are happening to me this week—good things, I suspect, now that I’ve had a nap and am willing to honestly admit it. I am…

Saying NO (thank you) even more. Letting go of anything that is an energy drain or that even has the potential to be an energy drain (well, except puppy, of course, and meetings with the City that we need to do for the Hopscotch event to happen: this is not my moment to let go of ALL energy draining things).

Asking for, or at least accepting, more help. Taking Daniel up on his offer to work from home on Fridays. Taking Ben up on his offer to come wear the puppy out a few times a week. Next week, perhaps puppy-play-time happy hour at our local dog center that Fisher told me about.

Learning to be ok with the mess. For example, I used to get the house into tip top shape for coworking Wednesdays. I used to empty my office of clutter before sitting down to dream and think and work. Now, 40% of puppy toys into the basket and the big pieces of food off the floor count as a thorough cleaning. I’m becoming adept at finding spinning galaxies of wonder within dust bunnies and deciding that it’s a better karma move to just let them be.

Accepting feeling like a mess and learning to share it. I’m tired, I’m cranky, and I’m on edge right now. This is what I am at the moment, not always. Do I really think all the amazing people around me can’t deal with that? Oh ye of little faith!

Learning what it REALLY means to offer my entire self and schedule to the universe. I’d thought I’d done this years ago when I said “I will move where I am pulled to move.” and then began giving ample time to listening and going in the direction of my energy and joy. But when the universe tugs at your pant leg and wants something of you every five minutes—and you respond with love most of the time—that’s giving yourself fully. Each time you respond in love that’s a selflessness guru in action. I’ve done it 70-ish% of the time for just three weeks. I’m exhausted. This is really hard!

Finding stillness in smaller moments, like…

In witnessing Daniel’s total-bad-ass puppy parenting skills.

In watching Bas become a world-class artist.

In watching our new girl grow confident in her fur and wiggle with glee as she makes friends with new people in the coworking space. As she goes out to explain to the birds in her yard who’s boss.

Or in the email messages from neighbors planning to have yard sales, and photo-snapshot stalls, and food stands, and glitter tables (glitter tables!) along the Hopscotch CD route.

Asking for forgiveness more. Bas, I’m sorry I’m so distracted right now—I had no idea what I was getting myself into this month.  Daniel, I’m sorry I’m such a mess right now—I had no idea what we were getting ourselves in to.

Forgiving myself more. Instead of guilt, yesterday I began again to treat myself like I would my best friend. Giving myself pep talks and cheering myself on. Celebrating the little victories: no puppy accidents in the house for 3 days in a row! Holy crap we’re a bunch of geniuses!

Letting go of the guilt of not being the perfect mom, spouse, and creative partner. Guilt serves none of us well. Perfection is ridiculously overrated.

I am writing this as Eva sleeps below my feet, right where Grady used to lay. She got her first set of shots this week and the ok from the vet to be out leash-walking now. This morning I walked her in a circle up and down the block until she passed out cold.

I am a genius.

Because there she lies: stillness with a pink and black speckled nose.

Stillness in the middle of real life is a nap.

And it is a peaceful, forgiving, cracked-open heart.

It is an embracing of what is even when what is isn’t exactly what you had in mind.

An offering and acceptance of friendship instead of guilt.

It’s giving yourself over, in love, every 5 minutes. Forgiving yourself when you forget the in love part.

It’s a way of being, and then a daily practice, and then a way of being again, and then a daily practice.

I’m not making it to yoga class quite as often as I’d like to this month. But I caught myself chanting “Om shanti, shanti, shanti” as we staggered haltingly down the sidewalk, learning the feel of the new collar and leash, figuring out how to walk, in step, together.

It’s so easy to recognize the shakiness of now as me.

A bit tougher to recognize the stillness of now as me as well.

But the stillness is me too.

The stillness is us too.

To all you other busy humans and puppies out there.

Om, peace, peace, peace.