A Spacious Deep Breath of A Poem & Reflections on Living In the Layers

A note from Erin:

The beautiful bowl we created at a recent Grief Tending Ritual.

Hi friends,

Guess what! In this post we are selling nothing.

There is nothing you need to respond to or stress about.

Take a few deep breaths and read at your leisure, if you’re so inspired.

I’m inspired to share ten random reflections and a poem with you today:

1. The heavy grief at the world comes suddenly in the form of a broken rake. I think I’m fine, then I see that the red plastic bottom of the rake has come detached from the wooden handle and I don’t know how to fix it and I hate to throw it away. We throw so much away. In Nepal, they even have replacement parts for flip-flops. Of course they fix things that are broken.  Here, we are living too fast to fix what is broken. We just keep throwing stuff away and buying the next breakable, poorly made thing. It makes me want to fall on my knees and weep a long time. It makes me want to slow way down.

2. That time three years ago when the ghosts of this house visited me in a dream and asked me to remember them. I do. I feel them here always. That swerve into weirdness that is not weird at all. To talk to the house spirits, the tree spirits, the land spirits, the ancestors. Not talk about them. To them. It’s sane, actually. Maybe ignoring them is the real crazy.

3. The large wooden bowl sitting on the couch. The popcorn bowl we all reached hands into last night while watching a Harry Potter movie. I think popcorn is my fave not only for its salt-and-butter-delivery brilliance but for the way all hands reach into the same bowl.

4. I am always longing for more water. To swim. To sit in hot springs. To drink. The cedar hot tub I’ve been fantasizing about for more than a decade. I wonder if we’ll ever afford one. Maybe feeling thirsty, always, is part of living in the high desert. Sometimes I fantasize about having an IV put in just to hydrate me. I remember the times I’ve felt most right with water were after spending the day at Kabuki in San Francisco soaking in the tubs and drinking so much lemon cucumber water. Or at Ojo Caliente, sipping water while getting in and out of the hot springs. I’m thirsty. I want to soak.

5. Gylfie is one of our hens who holds herself apart. I wonder if she’s at the bottom of the pecking order or just introverted. While the other 7 hens lay in the nesting boxes in the coop, she flies over the fence to the front yard, walks on the front porch to a little nook where she lays her blue egg every day.6. That swoony, melty, heart-is-a-puddle feeling of receiving kind words. Kind emails. Birthday cards. Thank you notes. The miracle of people taking the time. Even now. The way gratitude is jet-fuel for love. The way it makes me want to take a week off just to write love letters to everyone I love.

7. The grief that things aren’t what we thought they were. This isn’t the good world I grew up thinking it was. Racism. Misogyny. Domination. Bigotry. Corruption. That feeling of “where are the grownups?” That line from my friend’s dream: “Oh…. It’s up to us.” The hunch that there’s an even more beautiful world waiting to be discovered, to be revealed.

8. I keep thinking how “capitalism” is another way of saying “headism.” Head of state, head of the committee, head of the company. I am so damn sick of Heads, Headism, Disembodiment. How about the lungs of the state? The heart of the committee? The pelvis, the hara of the organization? What if I am the breath of my company? The heart of my household?

9. The blue of this November sky is so luminous it makes my heart swell. After a summer full of wildfire smoke, these clean air days are such a gift. And there’s that fantasy of a life where I live in the middle of nowhere with horses.

10. The way he ended up in town on my 45th birthday. The sushi feast. The way I kept being surprised and delighted by our boy jumping into the adult conversation with thoughtful, articulate stories. The way we all got up to meditate together at 4am. He sat between us in the dark, 3 cushions in a row. Beeswax candles lit. 40-minute timer set. Quiet and dark. Hearing each other swallow. The intimacy of stomach gurgles. Resting in quiet being. The harvest of satisfaction to feel grounded in my own presence, my own practice, my own body and mind, the harvest of having abandoned others’ ideas of the right way to do it: To live. To be. Though there’s a Zen teacher sitting right next to me, I feel no nervousness, no need to prove myself, no comparison. Just alive, here, breathing, tired, happy to be in this 45-year-old skin. Hara, earth support, spaciousness. No more war with myself or life. Grateful.

Friends, I’ve been writing these little lists of 10 things like this for the past few weeks as a way of listening to my life. No need to make sense. Just making space for what is there. What a helpful practice. it feels like a sip of a digestif, a little Campari and soda. It helps me to digest the layers of my life.
So many layers.

The news is still crazy, the sky is so beautiful, my heart is so tender, my stack of books is so tempting, my friends and community make me feel the most important kind of rich. If you feel inspired to write your own list of 10 things, I’d be most delighted to read! Feel free to email me!

Along with my random thoughts, I’d love to share a poem.
In part, I want to share it because the sky is so heart-crackingly beautifiul today.
In part because there is always more space than we think.  In what I’ve learned of the elements, Earth and Space are the stable elements, while Water, Wind, and Fire are the mobile elements. We’re all made of all of these. When we need more stability, it’s nice to know where to turn. Ground. Space. Interestingly, between Earth & Space, Space is considered the most stable. In the Buddhist tradition, our true nature is understood to be just like the sky: Open, edgeless, spacious, ceaseless, changeless, stable beingness. It’s nice to relax into that, even if just for a few breaths.
May the poem inspire you to do so.

p.s. We’ll have a schedule update for you soon. We’re working on an exciting project which we can’t wait to share more about!
p.p.s. May you know you always have a home here. May you know that you are loved.

We Are Of A Tribe – by Alberto Rios
We plant seeds in the ground

and dreams in the sky,

Hoping that, someday, the roots of one

Will meet the upstretched limbs of the other.

It has not happened yet.

We share the sky, all of us, the whole world:

Together, we are a tribe of eyes that look upward,

Even as we stand on uncertain ground.

The earth beneath us moves, quiet and wild,

Its boundaries shifting, its muscles wavering.

The dream of sky is indifferent to all this,

Impervious to orders, fences, reservations.

The sky is our common home, the place we all live.

There we are in the world together.

The dream of sky requires no passport.

Blue will not be fenced. Blue will not be a crime.

Look up. Stay awhile. Let your breathing slow.

Know that you always have a home here.


Thanks so much for reading. We’re so grateful to be connected. Thank you for the privilege of allowing us space in your inbox and in your life.
(and Carl who will be back to writing next week!) 

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By training and profession, I am a somatic educator. Over the past 25+ years I have trained in and taught modern dance, tai chi, Indian and Tibetan yoga, yoga therapy (specializing in back pain). I completed a 4-year professional Feldenkrais training in 2007 and a 3-year Embodied Life training in 2014. I also study and work with somatic meditation and the profound practice of embodied inner listening known as Focusing.