Friday, February 27, 2009

opening and closing doors

If you shut the door to all errors
truth will be shut out.
-- R. Tagore
No man ever became great except
through many and great mistakes.
-- W. E. Gladstone

Thursday, February 26, 2009

grad school update

Ask questions from your heart
and you will be answered
from the heart.
--Omaha proverb
It's a good thing I am not as depressed today as I was a couple of weeks ago as the bad news from graduate schools continues to flow in...

I will not be moving to San Diego, Santa Cruz or Los Angeles.

Still waiting to hear from three more... so all is not lost, and I do only need one YES for my grad school dreams to come true... but I am losing what little confidence I did have.

I am hoping there is a committee amongst the three reviewing my applications that can see that I have asked for this from the heart.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

life, and making insides match outsides, etc.

The art of life lies in a constant readjustment to our surroundings.
--Kakuzo Okakiwa
The greatest discovery is that a human being can alter
his[/her] life by altering his[/her] attitudes of mind.
--William James
There is little sense in attempting to change external conditions,
you must first change inner beliefs,
then outer conditions will change accordingly.
--B. Adams

All photos from my day on the beach back in January. Hoping to get back there this week... on a day it's not raining.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

searching for opportunity and silver linings

In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.
-Albert Einstein

I am trying hard to believe this... hoping it's true.

Monday, February 23, 2009


For years I have endeavored to calm an impetuous tide
- laboring to make my feelings take an orderly course -
it was striving against the stream.
--Mary Wollstonecroft

Saturday, February 21, 2009


I am listening to the Bill Moyers show I taped last night while I was making dinner for a friend... just as I finished and sat down to rest, I got this special gift (I added the emphasis):

BILL MOYERS: What do you do when you hit bottom?
Well, nothing for quite a while. And people sometimes say depression is like being lost in the dark. My experience is it's more like becoming the dark. You don't have a sense of self any longer with which you can stand back and say, "Oh, I have this disease and it, too, will pass."

The voice of depression takes over. And all you can hear is the darkness which is you. And I think what you learn at that point is a couple things. One is there's huge virtue in simply getting out of bed in the morning, by which I mean learning to value the fact that you can take one step at a time.

The second thing you learn is that you need other people. You don't need their advice. You don't need their fixes and saves. But you need their presence. I sometimes liken standing by someone who is in depression as being like the experience of sitting at the bedside of a dying person because depression is a kind of death, as is addiction and other serious forms of mental illness.

You have to be with that person in an unafraid way. Not invading them with your fixes, not hooking them up to wires or whatever the non-medical equivalent of that is, giving them advice, but simply saying to them with your very presence, your physical presence, your psychological presence, your spiritual presence, I am not afraid of being with you on this journey of the — at the end of this road.

Truly, I needed to hear this. And I did feel held, in that moment.

If you want to watch the whole segment with Parker Palmer, you will find it here. Thanks Parker and Bill, you guys are the best!

redirecting energies...

I am the master of redirecting my four (almost five) year old nephew. My sister appreciates that instead of just being frustrated, I engage him and then distract from one behavior to another.

I keep him busy. Not to say that I am not willing to tell him when he is doing something that he shouldn't do; it's just that we move on from that conversation.

He told me recently that he didn't want me to scold him anymore. I was impressed with his ability to tell me about what was frustrating him; but he needed to know that in order to get the desired response more would be required than merely letting me know.

I told him I was happy to not scold him as long as he stopped doing things he knew he was not supposed to do. He looked at me quizzically, so I asked him if he could tell me anything he knew he shouldn't do.

He gave me a fairly comprehensive list of actions and behaviors that he has been told are not good for him to do. He was not especially pleased that I was not going to just stop scolding him, but he didn't argue for being allowed to do any of the banned behaviors.

Since then it has been easier to tell him when he is doing something I don't like and giving him choices for resolving the issue. Invariably he makes the right choice -- without cajoling. I wonder if it has something to do with the fact that it gives him the power to decide. I don't know if he considers it any less scolding, but I get less dirty looks.Not sure where this one came from today... I guess I have just been giving some consideration to how to redirect my physical energy and emotional energy while I go through this difficult time.

I am holding back from creating a plan B because I have only received one rejection from graduate school, but I am very anxious now about not having a job. Perhaps I have always been anxious, but now it is closer to the surface.

I have this precious "free" time with plenty to do -- but I am having a hard time feeling satisfied with the emotional work I am doing. I want more done, faster. I want to be "better" even though I know that "better" is not a plateau that one reaches.

So, anxious definitely describes my emotional state most accurately -- and when I am anxious, what I want to do most is plan, fix, make it happen.

Sometimes the best thing, though, is to just breathe.

So, maybe I am trying to figure out how to redirect myself to that message every time I start to madly make plans...

Now I will take a late start at a run before getting ready to make a birthday dinner for a friend... plenty to get accomplished in one day, right?

Friday, February 20, 2009

I love to read signs aloud. I appreciate signs. [They are everywhere!]

Sometimes I take them seriously -- as the guides to the area as some are meant to be. Other times, I mock them for not providing any guidance. [You know like that one on the freeway that says 80W and 580E or vice versa, but you get the idea.] I have been pondering what my sign would read at this moment.

I feel as though I need one that can change with the wind. I am especially hoping that there would be one that would decide on its own. Then I could look down around my neck and read the sign, and see how I am doing.

For today, I am going to go with Maya Angelou's words:
Having courage does not mean that we are not afraid.
Having courage and showing courage mean we
face our fears. We are able to say
"I have fallen, but I will get up."
-- Maya Angelou

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes.
Don't resist them - that only creates sorrow.
Let things flow naturally forward
in whatever way they like.
-- Lao Tse
All things are in the act of change;
thou thyself in ceaseless transformation
and partial decay and
the whole universe with thee.
-- Marcus A. Antonius
I remember the day I realized this is what they were trying to teach me at the nearly-silent meditation retreat. I packed my bags and walked towards my car. The one thing I had not come there to hear was that I could not make it better. I did not want to know that I had no control over the world or my life.

I got to my car and almost had cell reception.

I think I cried.

I had been training for a half marathon as well as going to daily mediation something like six times a day -- as well as engaging in the exercises that allowed (required) me to speak but didn't allow me to talk for three or four days... and NOW they were telling me that I couldn't fix this... this life.

Since I was 15, or maybe earlier, all I knew is that there was only one sure way to end the pain, but it was against all the laws -- mine, theirs and god's. Sometimes it involved a razor blade and others it was more about swerving my car into oncoming traffic.

At key points in my life, starting when I was 15, people (some would call them angels) visited my path and steered me away from the darkest path. But they could not put me on a lighter path, they could only keep me from doing the thing that could not be undone.

Finding the path with the light was my job.

I didn't know how to do it; so instead, I endured the pain... and I thought that was all there was to life.

I went back to my room at the meditation center that afternoon. I think I cried some more. I went to more meditation -- and I learned to deal with the present. It isn't easy. I am a planner. But, I am learning how to make plans that can bend with the reality of the present.

What I know for sure is that when things get bad, I know that it won't last. I know that a new experience is around the corner. I know that life continues though pain may not. It means that, now, when times get difficult that I can face them with the strength and knowledge that none of this lasts forever. It may not seem like a huge consolation, but to me it is.Life is beautiful even when it is painful.

Every day brings the opportunity for a new experience.

Today, I got my first response from a graduate school. It was a rejection.

Tonight, I toasted to the fact that I only got one rejection today.

Life goes on, and next week, I may have to create a plan Z for my life, but it will go on...

blessed be.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


The fastest way to freedom is to feel your feelings. --G. Bellin
Your pain is the breaking of the shell
that encloses your understanding.
-Kahlil Gibran
The sun came out today -- and even though it took me all day... I decided that while my mind could continue to duke it out with the demons, my body would go for a run. I am sore all over right now but feeling peaceful and thankful for a beautiful day.

My mantra for tonight: Keep finding beauty. It is everywhere.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Learn to be silent
Let your quiet mind
Listen and absorb.

Daily silence experienced in humility and fervour as an indispensable exercise in
spiritual nourishment gradually creates within us a permanent state of silence.
The soul discovers in such a silence unsuspected possibilities.
It realises that life can be lived at different levels.
-- Pierre Lacout

I don't know about any of this... but I feel so unable to deal with outside input that I haven't been answering my phone and dreading having to go out in the world and deal with other people.

At the same time, I am unable to truly quiet my mind. There is so much going on ... I am having a hard time focusing on anything. I understand why silence is to be prized -- it is so difficult to achieve.

Tomorrow I want to try to introduce some kind of structure ... and if it will just not rain, I will go for a run. A long run. Regardless of how painful that might be after not running for two weeks.

Monday, February 16, 2009

rain, rain...go away

In every winter's heart has a quivering spring,
and behind the veil of each night
waits a smiling dawn.
--Kahlil Gibran

I know we need the rain, but I am still hoping the forecasters are correct and tonight we get the last of it. We've already fooled the plants into believing it is spring.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

where I have been... so far

I convinced myself that I would be able to work through everything and be DONE and ready by the end of February -- you know, just in time to get back to work and await responses from graduate schools.

I should know better... somewhere deep inside, I do know better.

But I am planner and I think I can plan EVERYTHING... despite all the evidence to the contrary.

ALAS... things have not been going as planned. Things have been going as they should, no doubt... slowly, painfully, arduously.

It turns out there is only so much twisting and turning of my soul in one day or even in one week. A couple of hours of writing or serious contemplation has meant several days where at least half the day is spent in bed. It takes all the emotional courage I can muster to walk myself up the street to the cafe.

Lately the emotions have been so close to the surface that I can't seem to go for more than a few hours before my eyes well up again... it feels like I am making no progress, but then I will have the tiniest of revelations.

I wish I could say that I celebrate these little victories, but I barely notice them before I am deep into the next struggle.

It is like a serious wrestling match in my subconscious... I can't explain it, I can barely talk about it, and surely my friends think I am either unhappy with them or ignoring them or just hiding...

The good news/bad news of the week is that I am not going back to work in March -- I won't have a steady gig again until June. I have enough money saved, so I will survive financially -- I will have more time to work on this process as well as some time to work on my other project. I need more structure but also the freedom to stay in bed all morning if I need to -- so it is good to have more time and it is not so good to have so much time.

The best I can do to comfort myself lately is to read through my quote book to find some piece of spiritual nourishment upon which to meditate.

Here is one of many that spoke to me today:
I have been told that crying makes me seem soft and therefore of little consequence.
As if our softness has to be the price we pay out for power, rather than simply the
one that's paid most easily an most often.
-Audre Lorde
I had been carrying this around in my back pocket [thanks, Andrea, you seem to intuit what I need] -- to remind myself, but I seem to have misplaced my little card, and I will have to write it out again because I need the reminder... sometimes hourly.

I may only be able to back post and/or post my meditation quotes for a while -- although I am hording a rant that needs to be released at some point.

Send me some encouragement if you can. I am looking for the light at the end of the tunnel...

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Sorry for the radio silence.

I wish there were adequate words.

I have been living in a hole.

I am trying to climb out -- but I am also trying to just feel what I need to feel before I climb out.

I don't know how to share it now... but I will try, soon.

Not sure if anyone is still reading... I could use your good energy just now.

friday the 13th

nearly meaningless to me... but interesting how people convince themselves to worry

a pre-valentine:
Oh, many a shaft at random sent
finds mark the archer little meant!
And many a word at random spoken
may soothe, or wound,
a heart that's broken.
-- Sir Walter Scott

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Birthday

Two famous birthday boys... and one not so famous I am thinking about today.

Here are some words from the famous ones...

You can have anything you want -- if you want it badly enough.
You can be anything you want to be, do anything you set out to accomplish
if you hold to that desire with singleness of purpose.
-- Abraham Lincoln

If I had my life to live over again,
I would have made a rule
to read some poetry and
listen to some music
at least once a week.
-- Charles Darwin