"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: “identity”

“these are our days” . . .

garden with plantersSometimes it’s hard to remember what we were like twenty years ago. Since then, we may have grown our hair out, gained weight, lost some but still weigh a little more than we did back then. Even more weighty is what our experience has been since then: how did we make out in our professional careers; what do we do and how do we spend our time now? Most importantly, what’s left that we would like to have out of our days while we are in what’s been called our “third chapter?”

G and I when we first met, >twenty years ago. . .

G and I when we first met, >twenty years ago. . .

I’d been thinking about these questions when I came across an article about Carey Mulligan, the actor who appears to be more independent than most. On her dressing room mirror, written in eyebrow pencil are the words:

“These are our days.

Walk them.

Fear Nothing.”

How pure, I thought. No extra words or flourishes. No project management flavored goals, timelines or milestones. How refreshingly free of “shoulda, coulda, woulda” thoughts. No plans nor agendas. Walking is something we do everyday. Pace yourself.

“Fear nothing” is the best advice of all. Upload into the Universe what you can’t manage anymore. Sew them up with tiny stitches and put them away, Push them through the opening and zip the cover tight. Breathe naturally. Since doing that, I’ve found that nervous tics go away. So does a lot more.

Today is Sunday and the day is filled with sunlight and a light breeze that makes the trees sway. G. is tuning a piano downstairs before it is delivered to a new home this afternoon. (How lucky we are that he does what he does with pianos and that we live in this beautiful home!) I’m drinking the last of the coffee and reading my Sunday New York Times newspaper which I relish as one of the luxuries of my week.

our weeping cherry tree flowers every year around May 1st. . .

our weeping cherry tree flowers every year around May 1st. . .

Tomorrow, our new tenants for the front apartment will be coming by for supper. I thought I’d make a vegetarian dish called “Buddha’s Delight” and we’ll make scallion pancakes together. They’ve said that they love dumplings so we’ll make them later on in the Fall after they’ve moved in and things settle down. Earlier in the afternoon, I’ll make some homemade dashi broth with kombu seaweed and bonito flakes; strain it and add some white miso, tofu and green onions for our soup. A good new start to living here in the “piano house.” I hope things work out and that we’ll have a good time.heuchera planters 1jpg

The spring ceramic planters I bought at Lowe’s are filled with dramatically colorful heuchera plants whose leaves contrast with each other against the green of the pots. Coral bells have always been some of my favorite kinds of plants because of the unusual colors the leaves are (chartreuse, light orange and deep maroon) their stems of tiny coral flowers swaying in the breeze.

heuchera planters 2

My idea is to let them grow for awhile in the planters, then place them in the ground. That will allow the pots to change their look and contents with other plantings that catch my eye as the growing season progresses: knee high cosmos plants during the summer, or statuesque foxgloves for example; bright, deep-colored chrysanthemums in the Fall. It will be fun to rotate what’s in the planters outside and mostly, it will be fun to anticipate, fearing nothing.

heuchera planters 3







echoes . . .

DSC_0487I’ve been thinking a lot about what Denise Linn said about identity, it being an external idea that we take on like clothing as small children, behavioral patterns that have imprinted themselves on us and which we then unknowingly re-enact over and over again every day no matter what our age is now. It’s not just the memory or sensation of that experience, it’s the irrational feelings that cookie stamped themselves on us–like feeling helpless and over-responsible at the same time. Or a feeling of dread when we wake up, fearful of what next thing is going to hit the fan. Whatever they are, they are THOUGHTS and emotions that come from those thoughts. And as identity, these thoughts get in the way of our reaching for our true authenticity.

And because they are just thoughts, we can recognize them and do something about how we want to deal with them: let the endless replaying of the taped memory go on and on until we die, falsely believing that we are in control of our lives. Or, hitting a pause button with our finger in the air, and experiencing the silence. Sudden emptiness of not feeling the same old thing all the time. The nothing-ness of feeling anything and at the same time, not feeling beleagured any longer.

Is that why people like Zen? Maybe that’s what living with a bare slate is like. Not having that replay going on and on without our even knowing it. What strikes me is how much time it takes to even think about ourselves in this way. Why is that anyway?

Having had my own share of what-ifs and disappointments, I’ve resolved since my last birthday (you don’t want to know) that I choose every day to do something satisfying, simple as it may be: drinking fresh citrus juice, writing a haiku poem about the red/pink dogwood tree that we planted last week, cleaning the kitchen and putting away the dishes and straightening things on the counter.

I realized also that we are inundated by bad news about tawdry and tragic events that we read about first thing in the morning in the newspaper, listen to on local news, then repeatedly again on national news (maybe two stations worth) and then late at night on the eleven o’clock newscast before we go to bed. That’s at least FIVE times of bad, awful news about things we can’t do anything about directly and bad, awful behavior on the part of people who should know better and who keep grinding their axes regardless. I keep thinking things were more awful before in terms of how people enacted human nature (look at “Game of Thrones” for example which I can’t bear to watch for more than a few minutes.) Or Congress, for that matter.

Anyhow, back to how to survive and live in the midst of all this bad news and horribleness, we still have freedom to live with purpose and dignity each day. It’s different for each of us, that’s for sure. How are you managing with yours?

“identity” . . .

DSC_1037In Denise Linn’s book, “Soul Coaching,” she writes:

“Our identities are shaped by the emotional environment of our childhood years, which we tend to re-create in adult years. We are programmed by the thoughts and belief systems of our parents, who were shaped by the beliefs of their parents. Sometimes we will even treat ourselves the way our parents treated us.” . . . “You are not your identity. To begin to lose your attachment to your identity, it is important to first become aware of it.”


The ideas in the paragraph I just quoted above are heavy duty and complex according to how our childhoods played out. For me, I was left on my own at a young age to fend for myself and to prove myself over and over again on my own. Boy, does that sound familiar. I can’t believe that I’m still re-creating that kind of environment for myself. But guess what? I think I actually am. For example, I know that I’m really a loner and set up projects for myself that are challenging. And that I am intense about moving through those challenges.

Like today, I moved the eight foot money plant back to where it was before out of the direct sunlight that came from a higher skylight. A plant expert had told me last week that too much sun wasn’t necessarily the best thing for the plant. To create a space for it, I moved the canary over so that it wouldn’t get a direct draft from the window if cool air were to enter. The plant window needed attention so I grouped all the amaryllis bulbs that had gone by and relocated the huge flowering orchids so that they would be visible from the street. By that time, I discovered that the vacuum cleaner bag was so stuffed full that it wasn’t drawing anything up. After changing the filter and putting in a new bag, I was ready for a break.

This little example illustrates that I do things alone that need to be done, but are way more than probably could be done in the space of a mid-morning, resulting in my feeling overtaxed, impatient and dreading what else that still needs to be done but which I’m too pooped out to do anything about until later today or tomorrow.

Having too much to do and feeling like I have to do everything myself is a familiar feeling from my childhood. Especially when it goes along with feeling invisible to others or not being noticed (enough.) Maybe I should stop now that I realize it’s a part of my so-called “identity” that I don’t need to enact anymore.

In her book, Linn says that being able to see one’s created “identity” is the first step to removing it and discovering one’s true authenticity. What an interesting idea!