Thursday, December 31, 2009

Auld Lang Aughts

The aughts weren't all bad, I was thinking this morning. Because it's finally New Year's Eve, I can afford to be generous, thank God. Apologies to all for being such a bitch the other day.

Seven out of the past ten years I spent in my fifties, my very favorite decade of my somewhat lengthy life. For the first time ever, beginning on my fiftieth birthday, I felt comfortable in my own skin. That's a good thing!

Also: though I practiced massage before the aughts, this was the decade in which my profession genuinely blossomed. It was a great decade for work, even during the first couple of years when I worked seven days a week - four days at Whole Foods, three days doing massage. I would not have believed, before then, that I had the will power to work like that, but I do! Or at least I did!! It was very empowering.

The aughts was the decade in which I discovered blogging. Wow. Blogging opened new worlds for me, put me into contact with all of you, many of whom I would never have "met" otherwise. Indeed after hanging out with the terra cotta warriors at National Geographic today, I'm going for a NYE drink with one of my oldest blog friends. He and I are really good friends, but would I ever have known him if not for blogging? Can't imagine how.

It feels good to emerge from my bout of the blahs, to remember the good times that were an essential part of the first decade of the new millenium. Today is an eclipsed blue full moon, y'all, so celebrate in style, OK? Happy new year!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Expecto Patronum

The dregs of the holiday season are never a lot of fun for me, especially, it seems, this year. It's very cold for DC, and Brother Wind has been in the foulest of moods. Yesterday the wind was like a cold dagger, really mean. Of course I took my walk anyway, because I believe it's important to spend time outdoors no matter what. But the walk was uncomfortable, lackluster.

Not only was Brother Wind sarcastic and cutting, but the landscape has assumed its wintry monochrome. There are still random piles of dirty snow in the tree boxes, but mostly the land is beaten down and muddy looking. All the leaves are gone. I of course took pictures as I walked and cursed at the wind, but none were in any way interesting or appealing (hence the pics of Eastern Market accompanying today's post.)

Add to the dreary landscape and time of year the fact that both of my roommates have colds. Actually one of them is very sick with the flu. They soldier on bravely (or is it denial?) but as you can imagine, they're not a lot of fun to hang around - but that's not their fault. Oy vey.

Though I'm enjoying writing my resolutions and watching Harry Potter movies, I'm definitely not feeling cheerful. The end of 2009 is like a gathering of Dementors. Guess I'll head out and buy some dark chocolate today.

Oh well. It'll all be over soon.* 2010? Bring it! A.S.A.P. Thanks.

*My favorite line from the film Titanic.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


A musician must make music, a painter must paint, a poet must write if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What one can be, one must be.

--Abraham Maslow

This year I am thinking hard about new year's resolutions, not in order to punish myself or as a set up for failure, oh no. I'm thinking that skillfully conceived resolutions can act as a framework on which to hang the events of the coming year. Good resolutions are beacons that can help remind me of my heart's wishes, keep me on track.

Some years I'm content with the idea that who I am right now at this very second is just fine. This year, I'm feeling a little bit more ambitious. Some of that, no doubt, has to do with the fact that not only is 2010 a new year, but also the beginning of a new decade, one in which I will turn sixty. Yikes. Life is short and time's a-wastin'.

So I'm sketching my ideas, writing down my hopes and wishes for the coming decade. Tomorrow or Thursday I will sculpt all these drawings and words into something coherent. Then on New Year's Day I'm going to go down to the Supreme Court where I will say them aloud, with conviction. (I always like to make declarations in front of the Supreme Court. It is one of my public altars. There's something about all the white marble, maybe, along with the double columns and serious looking dudes in the frieze above the front door that always inspires me to say what I mean and mean what I say.)

It's a cold, windy, sunny day in DC; a great day to hunker down and refine my resolutions. I am very determined! Oh yeah!

Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

-- Mary Oliver

Sunday, December 27, 2009


It's incredible as well as humbling to realize that a single event can define a whole year. I'm thinking about this truth as I look back on the events of my personal 2009. All in all, it was an average year with its ups and downs. There were some real high points, like my trips to California and New York, also some not so high points.

Jake's death on June 30 punched an energetic hole right through the center of the year, a gaping abyss into which all the energy from before and afterwards drained away. Bizarre that he died EXACTLY halfway through the year. What are the chances of that?

That moment is still vivid, almost lurid in detail. I'm no longer engaged in active grieving, but the experience left an ugly scar on my heart. Compared to Jake's death, everything else that happened in 2009 has faded like an old photograph left out in the sun. It's almost over - the year, that is. Hasta la vista, baby. Oh yeah.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Learning the Hard Way

Remember Y2K? Coming up on the new millenium scared many of us. Among the rationally minded, the fear took form as a prediction that at midnight, January 1, 2000, the internets would break down. It was a big fear even though ten years ago, being plugged in was not nearly as important as it is now.

It didn't happen all at once, and it wasn't about the internet at all, but it is true that the aughts were mighty fraught, oh yeah. Suicide bombers brought down the twin towers, changing forever the way we Americans think about security and safety. Our economy went down the toilet, literally millions of jobs went with it. The Bush administrations were disastrous in every arena imaginable: education, finance, environment, health care, and in terms of our reputation around the world.

So in a way, those Y2K fears were spot on. None of us imagined a protracted version of disaster, but indeed that's what we sustained.

The first ten years of the new millenium woke us up, though - well - some of us, anyway. In the last election we did not fall for the charms of Sarah Palin. Thank God! Our new president shored up the financial meltdown, is trying to close Guantanomo Bay, ordered the end of the practice of torture. Some of us are feeling impatient with him because there's still so much to be done. But for heaven's sake, he hasn't been in office even a year. I think he's doing a really good job.

Americans are thinking more about global warming than ever before, buying hybrid cars, planting vegetable gardens, recycling. We're actually in a national debate about what health care should be. In fact, we're looking closely at all the ways in which we've failed. We're thinking about what we eat, looking at industrial farming on all levels. At last we are beginning to understand why we're fat yet suffering from malnutrition.

All the discussions/arguments and all the active thinking about what's not working in this big, fancy country gives me hope that in the years ahead, we might become more mindful. I'm hoping we will let go of our fixation on hoarding, our childish expectations. I'm hoping as a country we will begin to grow up. The new millenium broke our denial. Now may we roll up our sleeves and work hard to fix all these problems!

The rain that began falling yesterday afternoon continued through the night and morning. The snow is melting, the year is melting, the first decade of the millenium is melting. I'm not sad to see any of it go. Onwards & upwards!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Winding Down

Today I will be celebrating Christmas with Jewish friends which means going to the movies followed by Chinese food. Those of my tribe who are seriously observant celebrate an anti-Christmas: kung pao instead of goose or ham, the oblivion of the movies as an alternative to gift exchanges and Christmas trees. It's not a hostile tradition, even though it's true that being Jewish is always very weird at Christmas time. It's a special treat for me in particular because I never go to the movies.

Tomorrow Christmas will be done. In spite of how lovely this whole season has been, to be scrupulously honest, I thank God it'll all be over soon. I believe Christmas should be over the top, and indeed this year I tilted face-first into the celebrations. Nevertheless, I'll be relieved when all the wrapping paper has been laid to rest in the recycle bin, when the cookie jar is empty and my normal routines are back in place. I believe I'm the only person I know who loves the month of January.

I am, after all, a creature of habit, which makes me, even when my intentions are pure, a bit of a grinch. Oh well. Onwards & upwards.

Last night's Christmas Eve gathering at Rod and Tom's, my very favorite Christmas tradition. They are hosts with the most. Can you feel the warm, welcoming atmosphere? Smell the delicious dinner? Absolutely fabulous.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Christmas to All!!

Is Christmas a Christian holiday? Not here in the U.S. - unless you're Christian, that is. For the rest of us it's about parties, gathering with family and friends, exchanging gifts and feasting. We Americans are all about feasting whenever possible.

Christian historians believe Jesus was actually born in late April (how do they figure these things out?) though moving the celebration of his birth to winter solstice is definitely poetic, and convenient, too, since Easter falls right around Jesus's historical birthday. The logistics of celebrating both of those big Christian holidays at the same time could get hairy, you know? Imagine a late season Easter followed immediately by an authentic Christmas. It could be confusing, putting the cart before the horse, as it were.

And Christmas trees? Hmmm ... how many snow covered evergreens will you find in the middle east? My guess is: not many, which always leads me to a contemplation of what it means to dream of a white Christmas. Surely that is a northern European invention as well.

And as for Santa, aka Father Christmas, who lives at the North Pole with Mrs. Santa and a bunch of industrious elves? Well. What does that have to do with Jesus? Not much, eh? If you haven't already checked out Sketchy Santas, by all means, do. Wow. Very scary!! Almost as scary as clowns.

I love the melange of traditions and festivities that we call Christmas. Happiest Eve and Day to you all!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Reya vs. the Virus - who will survive?

If this had happened a couple of months ago, I probably would have surrendered to it. I would have made myself some hot lemonade, gone to bed and suffered, assuming it was my fate. Right about now I would be blaming myself for staying up too late at holiday parties, for eating too many cookies, etc. I would be figuring out just where I went wrong.

But in fact the terra cotta warriors have taught me a thing or two about warfare, they honestly have. The war I'm currently engaged in is a just war, my immune system vs. some terrible virus that came in through my ears and is now trying to make itself at home in my throat.

Last year as I was coming down with what turned out to be pneumonia, the Sufi acupuncturist advised me to think in terms of war, but I rejected his ideas outright because I am a pacifist.

Hmmm ... I am not a pacifist today. This morning I bundled up, then trudged down to the market and loaded my backpack with immune support remedies, also bought the ingredients to make Caldo Verde: Smiter of Colds. (Think swiss chard simmered in peppery chicken broth with garlic, potatoes and chorizo.) I'm sipping echinacea tea, slugging down EmergenC's and droppers-full of astralagus. In a little while I will go simmer in a tub full of hot water and lavendar bath salts, then sleep hard. The virus will be begging for mercy but I'm not feeling merciful, no way.

As the warriors suggested, I am putting aside thoughts of weakness (i.e. why did I eat all those cookies?) in order to focus on the task at hand. Can I head off this virus before it gets a foothold? Do virus have feet? Viruses? I don't know, but I'm going to give it my best effort. Let the war bells ring and the siege begin! Oh yeah!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

On a cookie bender

At least on the internet, there is disagreement about when or where they were invented, and what they were originally called before the Dutch named them koekje, which means "small cakes." The origin of the word, interestingly, is something everyone agrees about. Some say the history of cookies began in 3rd century Rome, others believe 7th century Persia was the place of their birth. There were other theories floating around the internets, too.

Who knows? Perhaps this is yet another topic about which I have an over-abundance of curiosity. What I do know is that here in the house on Tennessee Avenue, we are enjoying a bounty of "too many" Christmas cookies - from neighbors, friends, clients and blog friends who took the time to mail them all the way here. Oh my, they are ALL so good! And so pretty.

At the back of my mind a vague memory of how hard it is to break the cookie eating habit lingers. But the sugar and butter induced intoxication that I'm currently in the midst of sweeps away all such nagging thoughts, at least for the time being. After Christmas, when the cookie jar is at last empty, well, then it'll be time to pay the piper.

In the meantime, please pass the rumballs and beautifully iced and decorated sugar cookies, please? Oh, and a pecan sandy and jelly filled thumbprint? Or maybe two? Thank you!!

Both pics today were taken before the blizzard, obviously!

Monday, December 21, 2009


The way we used to celebrate winter solstice in San Francisco (when I was part of Reclaiming) was to gather at Ocean Beach, build a bonfire, sing songs and - if we were moved to do so - take off our clothes and plunge briefly into the ocean to cleanse away the old year. A winter plunge in SF, btw, is not actually much worse than a summer plunge. I always thought I wouldn't do the plunge, but always ended up inspired to join my community, whooping and yelping in the ice cold Pacific. It was fun, with the benefit that afterwards I was warm for the rest of the evening.

After the beach, we were supposed to hang out with friends and coverners, and stay up all night, then gather in another place to sing up the sun in the morning. That second bit never made sense to me. I mean, the longest night of the year? Wouldn't dream incubation followed by a long, luxurious sleep make more sense? That's what the bears do, after all.

I did stay up all night a couple of times. Once I was even invited to the Studio 54 of solstice parties, but even the glamour of celebrating with Starhawk did not inspire me to enjoy the all night vigil. It seems counter intuitive to greet the new solar year exhausted. Doesn't it? Similarly, I don't understand the tradition of getting stinking drunk on New Year's Eve because that means the first day of the new year will be spent enduring the misery of a hangover - not a great way to launch a year if you ask me.

Last night I didn't exactly celebrate, but I noted the winter solstice by having some delicious soup for dinner, reading and wrapping gifts. I turned in early and slept hard.

Winter has officially arrived. Happy solstice to all (including those celebrating summer solstice)!

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Have you ever been swept away by love? In those situations, all you can think about is the boy or the girl, everything else in life slips through the cracks. You forget to pay bills, do the laundry, you drop all your best friends because you want to spend every waking second with the object of your affection. Remember Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton? Yeah.

Yesterday's blizzard was the Angelina/Billy Bob of snowstorms. It was the weather equivalent of the moment in psychotherapy when I finally broke down and cried. I hadn't wept in years, so when I started, it was like I couldn't stop. It was quite frightening, actually, though I'm certain it was VERY good for me.

It was an iron man triathalon of snowfall, it really was!

All the snow we haven't received in two years arrived during a 24 hour period. Whoa. What was I saying the other day about knowing the difference between enough and too much? The weather gods definitely have no concept of moderation. Yesterday the snow started and did not stop. I am in awe.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Snow is so unusual at this time of year in the American midatlantic that, even though everyone else was getting ready for a big one, I remained skeptical all day yesterday. But they were right! We're in the midst of a serious, heavy-duty snowstorm, or as my friend Donald would say, the snow ponies have come to town.

My guess is that if I lived in Minnesota or upstate New York, I would not be so excited and enthused about snow, but since I live at the northern edge of the American south, I am thrilled anytime we get an accumulation.

Instead of going on and on as I tend to do on a day like today, I'm thinking I'll have another cup of tea, get my book and read and gaze and revel in the beauty of it all.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Jumping into the Fray

Right before winter solstice, time/space becomes extremely busy and crowded. So many things to do, wow! And it stays densely packed until after the New Year.

As usual I am giving small token gifts and sending cards and as usual I am not worrying too much about making sure Every Single Person I Care About receives something. To my mind, gift giving at this time of year represents a contemporary form of making offerings to Brother Sun, so as to coax him into renewing himself on solstice.

It's important to me to give gifts and send cards, but not so important to whom I distribute these offerings. Does that seem random? Honestly it makes sense to me.

So if you don't receive something from me, it doesn't mean I don't care about you. Oh no! Quite the opposite.

Onwards now to a big day of work and a very busy weekend. It's supposed to snow - but I'll believe that one when I see it. Happy Friday to all!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Da neigt sich die Stunde and ruhrt mich an

The hour is striking so close above me,
so clear and sharp,
that all my senses ring with it.
I feel it now: there's a power in me
to grasp and give shape to my world.

I know that nothing has ever been real
without my beholding it.
All becoming has needed me.
My looking ripens things
and they come toward me, to meet and be met.

--R.M. Rilke from A Book of the Monastic Life

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chronic Curiosity

That's the White House in the background, the Washington Monument looming behind it. And yes I added speckles because the composition looks vaguely Seurat-ish to me.

How and when do you know when you've had too much of a good thing? Sometimes it's easy to understand, as after a too-big dessert when your stomach hurts, after a too-ambitious workout when your body aches (in a bad way). Not to get into details here but I have definitely had too much sex, a happy excess that left me disoriented, shaky, heachachey and flaky. Too much reading causes eyestrain and too much work of any kind locks the shoulder muscles or lower back so tightly that the overworker can barely move. You get what I mean, right?

Wanting too much of anything carries with it a kind of grasping energy; it's a form of greed, no matter how noble the object of desire might be. In the old Norse myths, Odin trades his eyeball for wisdom. For heaven's sake! Talk about grasping. No offense to Father Odin, by the way. He's a God after all, but still sets a bad example if you ask me.

Lately I've been thinking that even wonderful qualities, like curiosity, can come up too strongly. The inquisitive mind that ideally shapes itself as a wondrous openness, can become a grasping. For example, I think of moms reading their kids' journals - spying of all kinds, in fact. Archeologists pillaging (and therefore desecrating) ancient tombs have perhaps overstepped what is healthy in terms of wanting to unravel the mysteries of history.

Yesterday I was wondering about Amma, the hugging saint. I know lots of people who wait all night, when she's in DC, for a chance to hug her. They all say that the hugs are completely genuine. OK. I believe it, I do, and yeah she must be a saint, because if I had to hug 10,000 people all in one sitting, YIKES. Just shoot me! Seriously that would be so awful. Maybe for Amma, 10,000 hugs is OK, but if she had to do 100,000 hugs in one sitting, that would be too much.

Who knows? I wonder about these things, though over time I've realized I don't need to try to understand or figure out everything, oh no. I am an essentially curious person, but I no longer want to be curious about everything all the time, 24/7, because that's too much. It's not healthy, not satisfying. Really it is not. Curiosity killed the cat! Oh yeah.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Uh oh. It's December 15th. Once again, as always, I have done virtually nothing in terms of getting ready for the big celebration of solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah. I actually love to send out cards, give gifts but somehow I can't engage with the holiday until it's so close that I feel I have to panic. So from now until Christmas Eve, I imagine I will engage in a flurry of seasonal activity.

1. A brief, light snowfall.
2.a. A sudden gust of wind. b. A stirring mass, as of leaves or dust; a shower.
3. A sudden burst or commotion; a stir: a flurry of interest in the new product; a flurry of activity when the plane landed.
4. A short period of active trading, as on a stock exchange.

Speaking of flurries, I've been asked out on dates lately - twice - by two different men. I have not been asked out on a date literally in years, so this is a pretty exciting development. Sadly I'm not interested in dating either one, but I'm flabbergasted to be approached twice in the space of a couple of weeks. A flurry of date invitations. Hmmmm.

Flurries of remembered dreams are a part of this moment in time as well. Two nights ago I dreamed I had a flurry of dogs - 2 dachshunds named Jet and Jetta, and a Boston terrier named Roxie. When I woke up I was kind of sad to realize I didn't have a flurry of sweet little dogs. Oh well.

Right now I need to get into a serious flurry of housecleaning, then hurry into a flurry of Christmas card writing. Tonight? A flurry of latkes. It's a theme, isn't it? Oh yeah.

Monday, December 14, 2009


The season of the leaves is almost done. There are still a few trees with leaves hanging on for dear life, but mostly the sky has opened, even on streets that have the densest leaf canopy during the summer.

Now the land land will quiet down, settle into itself for the winter.

I know it's strange, but I think the colorless landscape of winter is every bit as beautiful as the lushness of summer. Sometimes it's kind of a relief not to have to encounter the powerful life force that infuses this swamp in spring and summer, and even into late fall. Winter is a modest season in the midatlantic, modest and beautiful.

From now until March, the bugs are gone, the flowers are gone, the leaves have fallen. All is quiet and subtle, except Brother Wind, of course. It's not winter solstice, but winter is here. Nice!!

Sunday, December 13, 2009


The poem at the bottom of the post is one I recited so often while doing initiations into Reclaiming that I finally memorized it. It is, in so many ways, a perfect poem, at least I think so.

Homo sapiens, as a species, is a social animal. We join forces more often than not. One of my great teachers used to talk about how adept we humans are at collecting ourselves into groups, communities, collectives, teams, crowds, and clubs.

There are so many forms of adoption among humans and other species, too. When we are feeling generous, we realize that we all do, in some way or another, belong to each other. Certainly here in the blog world we adopt each other, yes? I say yes.

I went to a party Friday night at which I realized just how much a part of the Capitol Hill community I have become over the years. Looking around I saw neighbors, clients and friends, and their kids, too, now grown up, who I knew when they were in junior high school. Wow. It was quite moving, feeling in my heart - knowing in my heart - that I don't have to always be the weirdo, the outsider, unless that's what I want. Indeed I used to play the outcast in my family, but the second I decided to abandon that role, I was welcomed in with warmth and enthusiasm.

Because I don't have kids or a partner or a nice house, I have assumed that here on the Hill I am somehow "other." According to the folks at the party, I'm one of them. That story I told myself for years, that I didn't belong? JUST A STORY.

Sweet, isn't it? I think so.

by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

If you've got a bit of the holiday blues, I recommend walking the gauntlet of a big double row of Christmas trees. That clean smell and the beautiful bluish green needles will clean all the gloom out of your aura. It's like an aura carwash.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Remedial Socialization

It was clay day yesterday. One thing I can report is that the unfortunate moment has arrived when American women begin wearing Christmas sweaters in public. Oh man. Those things are so completely ugly, every one of them. Lumpy, garish, overdecorated in every hideous way you can imagine, I can't for the life of me figure out why they are so popular. They are not flattering to ANY figure, and since most of the people who wear them are middle aged, they are especially bad.

I talk as if I had one single atom of fashion sense. I don't! Apologies to those who love Christmas sweaters. I saw a lot of them yesterday.

And as usual, I had fascinating interactions with perfect strangers all day long. The adults are very interested in the exhibit and ask lots of great questions. I love being a "content expert." Suits my ego just fine, thank you! The school kids could mostly care less, so I try to get them curious. Sometimes I ask the really little ones, "If that guy could talk, what would he say?" Or, "What does it look like he's thinking?" My favorite answers yesterday included, "He says, 'You will die forever!'" and "He's thinking, 'It itches underneath my armor.'" Good one. Both of those came from second graders. Cool.

After all these years of living my life mostly on my own and relating to people one at a time, the docent gig is proving to be socially rehabilitative. I'm re-learning how to talk to people I don't know, a Very Good Thing. Tonight I'm going to a Christmas party here on the Hill where I'll be able to practice my newly rediscovered social skills. I am actually looking forward to it! Yeah!! Happy Friday to all!

Yes the warriors had plenty to teach me yesterday. I'll include that information in the comments section since the body of this post wanted to be about exchanges with the living.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thank God for the Sufis

Should the Sufi acupuncturist choose, as part of a treatment, to pray over me in Arabic (a beautiful sound, btw), I know something in my energy field is seriously off center. If a friend, from out of the nowhere, gives me a beautiful illuminated book of Rumi poems, then I can only conclude that some major healing is called for.

Both happened this week. That means I was in pretty bad shape. WAS.

Every page of the beautiful book is actively healing. I can feel my neural networks snapping back into place as I gaze at the illustrations, my heart's rhythms normalizing as I read Rumi's divinely inspired words. Truth is definitely healing, definitely; I believe Rumi told a deep version of the truth with his poetry.

After the Sufi acupuncturist did his thing, suddenly I was aware of my body again. I now believe that the sad news about my client left me literally numb. But the praying and the aroma of the burning moxa cleared the dreck from my heart/mind, allowed me to feel again.

It's typical for folks like myself, with sun and moon in Aquarius, to retreat into philosophizing when I've been hit hard. All that spewing of theories and ideas functions as a kind of denial, a shield that appears quite noble and is very interesting, but nevertheless keeps me from feeling anything.

But I'm back, thanks to Rumi, thanks to the Sufi acupuncturist, thanks to my friend who gave me the book at the perfect moment in time. I am well loved and cared for. Thanks, God. I mean it, thank you so much.

Here's the
new rule: break
the wineglass,
and fall toward
the glassblower's

--Jelaluddin Rumi

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Hasta la vista baby


1 : the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress
2 : an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change

Shit happens. Relationships end, people get fired from their jobs, they get sick, old, they die. Houses burn down, or are destroyed by floods or tornadoes or earthquakes or hurricanes. People move away from everything they know, everyone they love. All kinds of tragedies take place during this amazing experience of living in our human bodies.

Somehow we get over these misfortunes. Well, almost. But even almost is pretty amazing when you think about it. And for those of us lucky enough to be in the right frame of mind, surviving awful experiences brings wisdom. I've written before about how I believe wisdom is gained through hardship. Not knowledge, oh no, knowledge is pretty easy to accumulate, but wisdom? It's a whole other level of learning. Whew!

Human resilience is, according to the cosmology of Reya, part of our survival instinct. If I had been unable to recover from the hardships of my own (very lucky) life, I would no doubt be either really crazy, or dead. As it is, the times when life has delivered a major beatdown have eventually served to help me become smarter, kinder, more open minded, only because I can bounce back, or crawl back, depending on the situation at hand. It kind of blows my mind.

During the past few days my understanding of suicide has shifted dramatically. Now I'm not saying that I actually understand it or anything like that, but I see for the first time that applying the label "bad" or "wrong" to suicide is just one more way I judge the decisions of other people. I am officially letting go of that judgment. One down, a thousand other ways I judge others to go.

I feel lighter and more cheerful today, proof of my human birthright of resilience. L'chaim, y'all!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Way It Is


There's a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn't change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can't get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time's unfolding.
You don't ever let go of the thread.

- William Stafford

I used to really believe this - that you must NEVER let go of the thread. Suicide was incomprehensible to me for any reason. That was the rule according to the cosmology of a very young Reya.

Later on in life, after I had heard about the suicides of people who were mortally ill, people who were never going to get better, after I had heard stories about seriously old, chronically ill people who took their own lives, my hard and strict rule loosened a bit. At that point, suicide seemed to me a more complicated affair. Under certain circumstances, it was OK.

Since my client committed suicide, I've been rethinking the above, very very carefully. He wasn't old and wasn't physically ill, but the guy was miserable, truly miserable. I've been asking myself, could his death have been avoided? Should we - his neighbors, friends and caretakers - have tried harder to keep him from taking his own life? What was our responsibility, and at what point was his situation no longer in our hands? Was it EVER in our hands?

I walked around for an hour after work yesterday shaking Eduardo, my glow-in-the-dark skull rattle, rattling, rattling ... and walking ... and thinking ... and rattling. When I get into a mode like that people cross the street to avoid me - my energy must be so weird.

I was thinking about the idea that the soul is lost when someone commits suicide, asking myself do I believe that? Definitely not. I used to think that after suicide, on the other side of the veil, there was some kind of rectifying that had to take place. I believed suicide affected a person's karma. My thoughts on it were vague, true enough, but I felt there had to be consequences.

Yesterday I remembered that in certain cultures, taking one's life is an act of honor, of bravery even. And, too, the God I worship doesn't judge us. My sense is that after death, if God had a personna (something I don't believe), but if He did, after death, no matter what kind of death it was, He would simply say, "Oh. You're done? C'mon into the light honey. Welcome home." The God I worship is eternally and infinitely compassionate and forgiving.

What do you think about suicide? Any theories you can offer?

In many ways I am grateful to my client for giving me so much grist for the mill of my thoughts. Clearly I am still in shock, but beginning to process the reality that he is gone. A neighbor told me yesterday that there will be a memorial for him at Eastern Market. He was a gentle soul, terribly unhappy in his body. I believe he's in a better place now, I really do. When I tune in to his vibration what I feel is bliss, ecstacy and relief. For those of us still living it is not so pleasant. And that's the way it is. I guess.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Let There Be Light

Light comes in so many forms, have you noticed? Of course there's visible light, visible to homo sapiens, that is. We love our visible light so much that in big electrified countries like the U.S. it's never really dark. I remember the San Francisco sky right after the Loma Prieta earthquake, when there was no ambient city light. It was so beautiful, spangled with stars I had never seen above that brightly lit city.

Somewhere I read that in 200 B.C. (when the terra cotta warriors were made), there was so little pollution that people could easily see Venus in the sky during the day, like the moon. At night it was very easy to navigate by starlight. In 200 B.C., you could cast a shadow from starlight. Only when it was overcast, with no moon, was it hard to see at night. Can you imagine?

I think of Reiki as a kind of light, coming as it does from its mysterious source and traveling through the body of the practitioner into the body of the receiver. It feels like heat, or sometimes it feels like a buzz. Reiki is invisible light, but light just the same.

Love, too, is a kind of light. Love illuminates in so many ways. And the light of love is so healing, too, drying up dank dark corners of the heart.

This is my long-winded way of saying THANK YOU for all your kind and loving comments on yesterday's post. I am still processing the news and will be for awhile, but my heart is wrapped in the light of your thoughtfulness. Thank you so much!! To life and to light! Bravo!!

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Because I have worked with so many clients facing serious illnesses, it follows that sometimes they don't make it, sometimes they die. Several times I have had to deal with the grief, shock, loss and - with those who were sickest - the relief of their deaths.

Yesterday I learned that a client I haven't seen in awhile, someone I referred to a psychiatrist, an M.D., and the Sufi acupuncturist because I was unable to be of help to him with bodywork or Reiki, committed suicide last week.

Perhaps it's just as well that the snow yesterday, while pretty when gazed at from indoors, was not fun to walk around in because it was so wet and because of the wind. I walked around the block once or twice, but basically tucked myself under a blanket on my couch for most of the day. Staying indoors and just staring at the falling snow, was probably the best way for me to begin to wrap my mind - and heart - around this tragedy.

Thank you for allowing me to share this sad news here. L'chaim.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Tundra my ass. It's just another day of rain.

If I have one tiny little bitty complaint about the weather in the midatlantic, it's that we have a little more summer than I wish we did, and a lot less winter than I would prefer. By winter, I mean snow. I love snow, but we hardly ever get any. It snowed once last year. Once. C'mon, that isn't winter.

OK I know I have no commute, waterproof sneakers and other essential weather gear, and I actually like shoveling snow. Yes, I do, really. I love the quiet beauty, the clean air, the flakes themselves of course, and also the way that the children of Capitol Hill marshall their forces to create entire civilizations of snow beings almost as soon as the white stuff stops falling.

They promised us some snow today, even Lacochran's friend Rico promised at least an inch or two. It's dark enough out there to produce snow, but it isn't nearly cold enough. Dang, man. Global warming is a bitch.

This girl's whole outfit was amazing. Hello Kitty purse, pink jacket, and of course the bike was just the sweetest thing, too.