At War

“You have suffered enough and warred with yourself. It’s time that you won.”

This past weekend wasn’t the first time I’d heard the song “Falling Slowly,” by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, from the film and Broadway musical Once. For several years now, I’ve enjoyed the soulful, raw harmonies in the song, with sweet acoustic guitar and piano. But until this last weekend, I hadn’t noticed that set of lyrics: “You have suffered enough and warred with yourself. It’s time that you won.”

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Sitting with Grief

I have witnessed many sources of grief this month:

An ended relationship, lost pets, a miscarriage, the Clayton Fire, the end of one job for a more desired one (yes, grief even there), the effects of a custody battle on a child, the failure of a long-hoped-for project.

I have also witnessed many sources of joy: garden harvests, vacation with friends, new loves, family reunions, visits among old friends, job promotions, unexpected gifts.

The grief rests alongside the joy, often more quietly. Yet, it is there.

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When someone comes to see me for help with depression, an autoimmune disease, cancer, or anything else, I’ll ask what they want to create in their life.

A lot of people answer, “I just want to feel better.”
I’ll press them: “Anything else you want?”
“No, just to not hurt anymore, just to feel better.”

Now, this goal makes a lot of sense when you are in constant pain. However, I’ll often encourage this person to get in touch with something else they want, with the use of an undervalued tool: imagination.

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Gifts in Garbage

Last fall, I set up my first well-researched compost pile. Rather than just throw all my food scraps in a heap and hope they’d eventually amount to something (as I’d done in the past), I studied the ideal ratios of carbon and nitrogen and built a pile accordingly, carefully layering dead corn stalks from last year’s harvest (carbon) and food scraps and green plant parts (nitrogen), with a little bit of soil in between.

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Weather and Wanting

A few weeks ago, my husband Andy and I treated ourselves to a weekend getaway at one of our favorite spots in the Sierras, near Carson Pass.

On our last day, we strapped snowshoes to our backs, clipped cross-country skis to our toes, and headed out for an adventure. Even at almost 9,000 feet above sea level, we were warm in the sun with only one thin layer. Powdery snow left over from a recent storm made for smooth skiing. Continue reading “Weather and Wanting”

Creation and Mystery

The changing of the year is a natural time for us to evaluate where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going next. It marks the possibility of something new in our lives.

In reality, each day is a chance for us to choose something new, even if that is doing an old thing in a new way. And yet, even with our most focused efforts, we often encounter surprises in the quest to create our own lives, surprises that can discourage, delight and/or distract us.

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Grief and Gratitude

Lately, the events around me have looked somewhat like a bad country song:

My cat died, a dear friend died, half my town burned down. And there are things happening all over the world that merit grief: shootings in Paris, fires in Indonesia, Syrian genocide. The approaching holidays for many of us involve mixed feelings about family dynamics—whether we’re with them or not. We rush around like ants, buying food, searching for the right gifts. Those of us in Lake County wait for tree crews to clear the road so we can pass through on the one lane that will take us to our destinations. This is real.

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