Interactive Intentions



Be soft in your practice.  Think of the method as a fine silvery stream, not a raging waterfall.  Follow the stream, have faith in its course.  It will go on its own way, meandering here, trickling there.  It will find the grooves, the cracks, the crevices.  Just follow it.  Never let it out of your sight.  It will take you.  - Sheng Yen, Chinese Buddhist Monk 

Happy New Year!  A few years ago I started a habit of taking time to establish my New Year’s resolution.  I generally set the intention in early January to be open to inspiration and then settle on a specific resolution for the Lunar New Year.  Adopting a fluid, rather than rigid, approach is often more helpful more me in the long run.

This year I tried something a little different.  I actually did set my resolution at the beginning of January and have been revisiting as I waited for the Lunar New Year.  In 2018 we've had an extra long time between the two beginnings.  Lunar, or Chinese, New Year arrived last Friday, February 16th.  Why does it change?  Lunar New Year falls on the second day of the new moon between the 21st of January and the 20th of February.

I appreciated the space this gave me to engage with my intention and modify as needed.  I started off with a commitment on January 1 to bring curiosity to my relationships.  I explored this in my writing for the Riveter blog, and community quickly joined curiosity as a focus.  I sat with these two ideas and another word came up for me - connection.  The past eight weeks offered me time to explore these three concepts individually and collectively.  

Curiosity - As a mother of a toddler, I find that I'm fairly starved for adult conversation.  When I sit with this longing, it becomes clear that this often manifests as a desire for adult attention.  I get the chance to interact with the outside world and I talk, alot.  I'm trying to be aware of that and balance my need to tell stories with curiosity about others' lives.  I want to engage in thoughtful ways with people I disagree with - in a manner than honors both of us.  When alone, I hope to wean myself off of mindless downtime like watching favorite shows and listen to more podcasts that engage my brain.  New Year's Intention #1 - ask questions and stimulate my brain.

Community - This winter I'm focused on how to hibernate and still build community, because winter can be a dark and lonely time of year.  Between cold/flu, short days, and traffic/schedule challenges, it's hard to find time and energy to get out of the house and be with people.  I'm working on small things, like meeting friends at a yoga class I'm already going to so we can practice together or get to know another parent at my son's school or take a writing class to remind myself that I'm not the only one passionate about this craft.  New Year's Intention #2 - be in community.

Connection - Speaking of writing classes, I attended one on dialogue last weekend and was amazed at the life lesson hidden in the group exercise.  We had to fill in half of a conversation for an assigned role.  I was given a card with an instruction to write four lines of dialogue as a teenage daughter in an argument with her mother, without discussing it with the mother.  Then I found the woman who wrote the mother lines and we engaged in the dialogue.  As you might expect, since we wrote our sides of the fight separately, we talked past each other.  The surprising aspect of this exercise was how true to life it felt.  Even when we're right in a conversation with another person, we so often have our own agenda to get across and don't listen or respond very well to what the other is saying.  New Year's Intention #3 - listen in order to connect.

Brené Brown summed up my thoughts for 2018 pretty perfectly in a recent interview with Krista Tippet.  She speaks to loneliness stemming from  "counterfeit connection" and "common enemy intimacy."  We've lost our ability to connect and truly belong.

And so this first practice of true belonging is, “People are hard to hate close up. Move in.” When you are really struggling with someone, and it’s someone you’re supposed to hate because of ideology or belief, move in. Get curious. Get closer. Ask questions. Try to connect. Remind yourself of that spiritual belief of inextricable connection: How am I connected to you in a way that is bigger and more primal than our politics?  Stay curious, be kind, and, listen with the exact same amount of passion that you want to be heard. 

Lunar New Year Intentions

For several years now, I've been experimenting with an extended New Year awareness.  I don't set a January 1st resolution (full disclosure - I haven't been up at midnight for several years now, but that has more to do with motherhood).   I've tied many of my daily rhythms to lunar cycle awareness, which includes celebrating the lunar new year.  Between Jan 1 and the next new moon I sit with ideas for intentions and let them percolate.  By the lunar new year, I’m ready to commit to a few ideas for shaking up my daily life.

It's taken me longer to settle on intentions this year.  But yesterday things clicked and I chose three lunar new year resolutions based on the theme of conscious living.

Pay Attention   I used to regularly set aside time to be tech free - nightly before bed and a weekly ritual silence for a few hours of family time with devices shut off.  As I slip further into motherhood, I've neglected this practice, spinning my wheels faster and faster to try and keep up and keep moving.  I try my best to say off computer and phone when my son is around, but am more hooked than ever in the time I have without him - eating breakfast alone, walking to and from appointments or meetings, sitting on the couch with my husband after our boy has gone to bed.  I'm equally disappointed with myself and addicted.  New year intention number one - conscious eating and walking.  I (re) commit, starting today, to just walk when I am walking and just eat when I am eating.  I will (try and) resist the urge to pick up my phone at the table alone and walking to and fro.  I commit to connecting with myself and the city around me. 

Moon Angels I love staying in tune with the lunar cycle through daily inspiration from Ryan Rebekah Erev's Moon Angels.  These cards provide thought provoking art and guiding descriptions for each day of the cycle from waxing to waning moon.  I've drifted from including these in my morning practice and have missed the ritual.  Today they are back and not a moment too soon.  Many of the systems in our country - political, corporate to name a couple - are dominated by a deeply ingrained patriarchy.  In itself, this solar powered energy we often associate with masculine qualities is not wrong.  But over centuries this way of living and governing has taken root to the exclusion of other ways of functioning and our systems are out of balance, serving only a few rather than all.  Lunar energy is linked to the feminine, to qualities of creativity, calm, and intuition.  Power is expressed in a very different way than we've come to know in our culture.  When we who live in a society dominated by the masculine/sun energy start to pay attention to the feminine/moon energy, we invite a shift towards balancing these two opposites.

Activism  Eight years ago I was inspired, like many, to go into public service following the election of Barack Obama.  I pursued a job with a councilmember at Seattle City Hall.  Two years later I left to pursue a Masters Degree in Sustainable Food Systems and, disillusioned with shortcomings, bureaucracy, and lack of creativity in government, never returned.  I stopped following local politics and grew complacent about (and took for granted) a national progressive agenda.  Eight years later I feel despair and anger at the election results and the decisions currently being made in Washington DC by mostly white, male political leaders.  I am inspired to activism, to an awake and conscious life that comes out of being and living according to a feminine, creative, compassionate rhythm.  

Conscious living - that's my motto for 2017.  Perhaps you'd like to join me?

Another New Year

Happy (lunar) New Year!  I realized recently that I've put off writing for a very long time, while waiting for the perfect post to take shape in my head.  One of my intentions for the coming year is to write, daily.  Just write, whatever it is I have to say, regardless of how polished it is.  Thank you Elizabeth Gilbert (Big Magic is a must read for the avidly creative!)  And so, a jumble of thoughts...

I picked up some cards last fall that follow the cycle of the moon.  Each day has a card and it's become my meditation since my son was born and my world turned upside down.  Day 27 keeps coming back around and grabbing my attention, and it did so again Saturday.  

Whirlwind: There's something in there in the chaotic windstorm and twisted-up jankyness of this moment.  There's something there.  You're uncomfortable.  There's something there in the discomfort.  There's something there.  It's gold.

 (Day 27, Moon Angels by Ryan Rebekah Eren).

I read this card and immediately think of the poem Eyes So Soft, by Haiz

Your loneliness so quickly.
Let it cut more

Let it ferment and season you
As few human
Or even divine ingredients can.

Something missing in my heart tonight
Has made my eyes so soft,
My voice so

My need of God

Loneliness is not a feeling I enjoy, AT ALL.  I doubt many of us do.  It seems to particularly agitate me.  And so I love being brought back to this poem and reminded of the goodness that lies in such discomfort.  I didn't expect motherhood to bring a huge wave of loneliness.  Yet here it is, day after day.  Fall has turned into a dark and wet winter, dear friends live in far off places, everyone is busy, busy, busy, and I am alone with this dear, sweet baby boy who can't yet talk.

Six more weeks of winter.  Lent begins Wednesday.  Time to hunker down and see what beauty emerges from my discomfort.  Let the new year begin.

Happy (lunar) New Year

New MoonAs I deepen my practice, I find myself surrendering to a lunar-centric cycle of life.  I notice my personal rhythms seem better aligned to the moon.  Shifting from observation to implementation however, is where the real challenge lies.  The Sutras say that our lives settle easily, comfortably into the deep grooves of our habitual patterns.  We won't get out of these patterns without slowing down to recognize them and then choose a different action.  I am free to act differently, and yet this choosing is perhaps the hardest part. I finally gave myself room to breathe this January.  I'm never ready for a new year when the calendar says I should be.  It's too soon after the hectic holidays, too dark, and too cold.  My appetite for routine needs time to build back up.  In the relative stillness this month I reflected on life's ever-present busyness.  The pace of life around me won't change, I have to decide how I engage with it.  Yes, absolutely, sounds great, will slow down...check.

And of course what did I do this morning to celebrate the new moon and new year?  Convince myself that I should go to a morning yoga class and run errands and so on and so on.  And once I've settled on should, I set in motion a familiar pattern of obligation, efficiency addiction, and guilt if I change my mind.  So, mind made up, I set my alarm.  Alarm buzzes, I get ready for my day in semi-hurried fashion, rush through breakfast, pack up a bag, panic at the time and run out the door per usual when I have to be somewhere before 9am.  The rain outside stops me -- I forgot my umbrella.  Back down the hallway.  Rush, rush rush...I'm now late.  Umbrella in hand and heart rate elevated I race once more out the door.  And then I stop, for just a moment, and see the absurdity.  I'm stressed out about getting to a yoga class.  I'm rushing around so I can go relax.  I'm so focused on getting to my practice that I forget to be in my practice.  The pause is just enough to break the spell.  I stop, slowly turn and walk back to my front door.  It's cold and wet outside.  I don't have to go anywhere.  I'm a yoga teacher for goodness sake, I can practice at home.  Heart rate slows, breath lengthens, body relaxes.  Another day will be better suited to joining others in the studio.