February 2008

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure.

Helen Keller



I love my chick-friends, don’t get me wrong.  Without them I’d last maybe a week and a half before I’d be a mumbling, crumbling mass of something really unpleasant.  But sometimes. They’re. Exhausting.

Like this week.  We do an annual chick’s cottage thing in February.  It’s been going on for 10 years now.  We book a big Martha Stewart-type cottage on a frozen bay where the big ol’ fat seals climb up on the ice to lounge.  While six of us sit inside in front of the fake fire.  It’s 2 nights of eating amazing food, drinking a vineyard of wine, getting caught up and relaxing.  We always leave on Sunday afternoon feeling like completely new women.

So it’s coming up and someone emailed the group about bed arrangements and someone was having an extra-crappy day and stuff got interpreted badly (thanks email!) and someone said she wasn’t going, she was just too broke.  And everyone chimed in. So I worked behind the scenes to straighten it out.  We talked some stuff through.  She came clean to the group about the bad day and how she interpreted things badly.  She got bankrolled and everyone was emailed to say all was good.  We started joking about breakfast menus.  Whew – crisis diverted right? 

Nope, someone else in the group emailed this morning and said the whole exchange had pissed her off, she was out, and she wished us a good weekend without her.


And I just didn’t have the energy to try to fix it today.  And I was OK about that – but it still bugged me and that made me think about detachment. 

Detachment comes from the idea that clinging to stuff causes us problems.  And when we’re tangled up to our eyeballs in issues with all the nasty emotions that come with it – the alternative seems like it should be a cranky, pouty, arms-crossed-defensively-over-the-chest kind of thing.  But that’s just a new thing to cling to isn’t it?  It’s just a new problem.

Getting all “that’s it I’m outta here” isn’t respectful of the relationships I really care about. Looking at my friends, it seems like reading too much into emails and reacting negatively is just proof that we *really* need a weekend away together to chill.  It’s not anything I need to get cheesed off about.  I don’t want to be angry at my friends.  But I also know that I can’t feel tangled up in the intensity.

So what detachment options do I have?  When I look it up in the dictionary it’s words like “separation” and especially “aloofness” that makes me thing nah, I don’t want that in relationships I care about. 

But the part I do like is “freedom from prejudice or partiality”.  To me that means being free from reacting.  Free from simply dismissing my friends as nutheads.  Or choosing to feel calm rather than caught up in the crazy.  Choosing to be loving to my friends.  And choosing to detach myself with compassion.

A single step back is enough.  Not stomping off in anger or saying “I’m so outta here”.  A step is just enough to detach myself but still be close enough to see my friends compassionately as they are – over-worked, too-much-wintered, need-a mini-break kinda gals.  Just like I am. 

Maybe tomorrow I’ll have the energy to talk to the friend who baled.  Or maybe I won’t, that’s ok.  But I will stock up on wine so I can share it with my buddies who show up.  And hoist a glass to wish the ones who don’t, the very best.


On the weekend I saw Some Kind of Monster, the documentary Metallica did about making their last album and I’d highly recommend it.  I know what you’re saying, “Um, do I look like a raving metal head?”  No you don’t and I’m not one either but stay with me before going back to listening to your Zamfir pan flute music.

 I got the impression that they brought in the cameras to grab some footage that could be jammed onto a concert DVD or something.  But instead the cameras caught the band coming into the studio after losing their bass player, spending a bunch of years apart with serious creative differences and no material.

Their management hired a $40k/month therapist who specializes in helping performers. Where the creative process had been driven by two of the band members in the past, he helped them figure out how to make it more cooperative, so they’d have a “now we’re all working on lyrics” time together.  And what a process it was, it looked pretty painful at times and the album still took 2 years to create.  With the challenges they had, it probably wouldn’t have been made at all without the intervention.

These guys worked hard on not just doing the “stock” thing but keeping it interesting and different and it meant being excruciatingly honest and going to the edge with each other.  Their challenge seemed to be about channelling the anger and emotion into the music and not at each other.  They even invited in the guy who was thrown out of the band in the early days who talks with heartwrenching emotion about his regrets for screwing up – it’s brutal to watch.  By the end the band has bonded in a way you can’t imagine at the beginning.  Once they finished the album they became a unified front dealing with all the external stuff that comes into play post-album release.

If you have any interest in music, it’s a great insight into the creative process.  They’d listen to the playbacks, find the nuggets in a song and nurture them into interesting hooks.  And the process seemed to be succesful, they ended up with 30 songs to choose from for the album.

The part that really got me was midway through, James, the lead singer goes into rehab and pretty much comes out a different person.  He goes from being sullen and disconnected to talking through some pretty heavy shit, which must have taken serious guts with the cameras rolling. 

You see him dealing with his “new life” trying to do things sober for the first time.  Pretty challenging for someone whose stage persona was all about consuming beer.  But at the end of the film there’s a bit from a concert where he’s really connecting with the audience and you can see that it’s more effective than the beer bit probably ever was.

So before going back to your Zamfir records, check it out.

OK I’ll admit it here in front of the whole Internet.  I am a total Valentine’s Day scrooge. You know, the waxy chocolate holiday designed to make single women feel crappy?  Hey maybe it makes single men feel lousy too – wow it is evil! 

I find myself asking – what’s with all the pink?  And the ooey gooey cards that say stuff in script that no human being would utter on their own?  While I think heartshape boxes are amazing feats of engineering prowess, come on, they’re also totally depressing.

I had a thought about going to dinner this weekend.  You know, because I might get hungry not for any V-day thing.  And one of the restaurant options was doing sittings at 5:30 and 9:00 all weekend to move the Valentiners through like they’re on a slow food conveyor belt.  What’s the fun in that?  And who can wait to eat at 9:00?  Thanks I’ll stay home and eat crackers.

I totally get that I’m in the odds on this and that’s cool, somebody has to keep Hallmark in business.  Call me crazy but I’m more in for, I dunno, spontaneity and maybe authentic heartfelt feelings that aren’t driven by the calendar.  Accompanied by good belgian chocolate of course ;-) 

My friend Rosie just shared this poem by Joy Harjo with me:

Perhaps The World Ends Here

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat
to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it
has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the cor-
ners. They scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be
human. We make men at it, we make women.

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our
children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as
we put ourselves back together once again at the table.

This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.

Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the
shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.

We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for
burial here.

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering
and remorse. We give thanks.

Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laugh-
ing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.

I’ve been going through some emotional craziness lately.  I’ve been having to say good-bye to some people in my life and I’m not real happy about it.  It made me think about a Sylvia Boorstein article I read in January’s Kripalu Online newsletter. 

She was talking about teaching at meditation retreats and students ask her how it feels to be peaceful all the time.  And she tells them it’s just not that way.  After her decades of meditating she’s not necessarily peaceful all the time but she’s wiser about her decisions and kinder.  That sounds pretty good to me.

She wrote that when the chips are down and you’re feeling an avalanche of emotions and you’re tired and exhausted the mind gets confused.  All those things you know to be true and all those things you know about being peaceful go out the window.  And you get into your stories.  The angry ones, like “this isn’t fair”.  The pity-party ones like “poor me”.  And the scared ones like “I won’t survive it if things don’t change”.

She says:

I continue to suffer, stumbling around in stories of discontent, until I catch myself, and stop, and allow myself to know, and deeply feel, that I am frightened or confused or disappointed or angry or tired or ashamed or sad — that “I’m in pain!” Then my own good heart, out of compassion, takes care of me.  It all happens when I am able to say to myself (I honestly do use these very words). “Sweetheart, you are in pain. Relax. Take a breath. Let’s pay attention to what’s going on.  Then we’ll figure out what to do.

God I love that.  Her method just stops the stories in their tracks and injects a huge dose of compassion to the difficult reality of what’s going on.  What a great way to catch yourself instead of letting yourself squirm around in pain, wishing you weren’t in pain.

And maybe “sweetheart” isn’t your term.  Maybe you’re more of a honey, baby, darling person.  I’m more of a nickname person myself.  Pity the person who comes into my life and has their name mangled by me over time – with love of course.

My little brother finally broke down and said to me, “Cor, it’s not Crick, it’s Jonathan”.  I can’t remember how that particular nickname evolved but he’s so cute.  I still forget sometimes and he just looks at me.  But I can’t help it, I love him to pieces.  And most people who love me just call me Cor.  So that’s the one I picked for myself.  It’s not super original, but it reminds me that I care about myself too even when life sucks.  I need it especially when life sucks.

Reminding yourself to breath is so simple.  But when you’re breathing and focusing on your breath, your mind can’t really go churning off on painful tangents.  Sylvia says:

Pain is pain. Knowing the story of the distress is helpful for choosing a response but my first response….is to not be mad at it, or at myself for falling into it…. Sweetheart reminds me that it isn’t my fault that my mind is embittered, that something has upset it, that I’m in pain.  Even if I see that the source of my suffering is my own mind’s refusing to accommodate to its challenge, I can still feel compassionate about that.  No one purposely suffers.


I got Zero 7’s latest, Simple Things and it is so awesome for yoga.  It’s good lush chill-out background music with enough beat that’s never too in your face.  It’s smooth without being schmaltzy.  I used almost all the album, there’s a mix of vocals so you don’t feel like it’s all the same stuff.  Here’s how I remixed it for my 85 minute yoga class:

  1. Destiny – sexy vocals and a nice groove for 5+ minute warm up
  2. Give it away – a good smooth beat for starting sun salutations and standing poses
  3. Out of town
  4. Simple Things
  5. Red Dust
  6. Likufanele
  7. Polaris
  8. In The Waiting Line – here’s where it starts to slow down for some nice easy stretching
  9. This World
  10. Spinning

And I finished it with 10 minutes of crystal bowl sounds I got from itunes for Savasana.

I love the 100 ideas on Keri Smith’s blog.  It’s a fun list and I plan to consult it when I have noodle time and am not sure what to noodle on or with or about.  Sometimes you just have the urge and are not sure where to direct it.  My faves are:  illustrate your grocery list (26), spend a day drawing only red things (9) and make a painting using tools from your bathroom (87).