Tuesday, August 12, 2014

No Home Like Home

 
Watering Hole, Philadelphia, August 2014
In case you haven't noticed, I travel a lot.

The first weekend in August, I was in Philadelphia teaching Miksang. A few weeks before that, on a three week retreat in Colorado. My wife gets tired of me traveling (that's the polite way of putting it). I get tired of me traveling (that's the simplistic way of putting it). And my cats? I think they don't notice so much, but they sure are happy when I get home.

As am I. I wish I could bring the cats and my wife along with me. I get jealous of dog owners, that they can carry along their dogs. I see them in carriers (well, little ones) on planes, out running in dog parks in other cities, and I wish the cats could just curl up and come along. I wish each place I am for between 4-21 days could become home for just a little bit.

It does, sort of. I figure out where to get the food I need. I take good care of myself: I practice, sleep, bring my own pillow, make sure my meds are in order. I get better and better at this over time. And yet, ironically, I also get older. It takes longer for me to adjust to time changes, more sleep for me to feel recovered. I get sick less often because I am more in touch with what I need - and I need more than I did when I was younger.

Nothing beats arrival - especially arriving home. Piles of mail, of dirty laundry, of dirty dishes, even, can't deter me from snuggling my wife and cats. Home is my watering hole, where I come back to again and again.

In my first chapbook of poetry, At Home Here, I implied I can be at home anywhere. Yes, and also, there is actually no place like home. No home like home.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Tara Mohr on Inner Critic

I cannot suggest Tara Mohr's posts on inner critic enough.

Over the years, she has focused on the voice of an inner critic. This is a highlight of the posts I find most useful. She also offers classes and coaching in these areas, as well as women's entrepreneurial work.

This is not an affiliate post! I simply love her work and find myself referring to it so often that I wanted to have one place where folks could find the core links.

Please visit, digest and spread around. Potent stuff.

Simple and useful lists and charts like this and this.
Pithy and powerful short videos like this and this.
Explanations on why not to argue with your inner critic (here and here).
How to determine whether your inner critic is a motivator or saboteur (here and here).

As for me: I encourage you to battle gently with your critic - she has a lot to offer, but how she offers it is limited. Help your critic to get past her own boundaries and free your energy to create and live.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

What Writing Looks Like

Procrastination.
Evasion.
Deadlines and then reaction.
Writing.
Crying.
Banging head against manuscript again and again.
Breaking through: writing.
Time is up, drop it again.
Come back.
Try to write again.
Crying.
Writing.
Deep joy and relief, thank you thank you thank you gratitude.
Calling on friends to read and for support.
Going for walks.
Writing.
Yoga.
Writing.
Editing.
Writing.
Editing.
Crying some more.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Groundless Inspiration.





Confession time:


When I have not written in this blog for awhile, like recently, it's not because of block.
Or not the kind of writer's block one would normally think of: a lack, a drying up, an inability.
Instead, I have been too inspired.

Too inspired. Tired from being inspired. Not opening books that I know will spark off my mind. Too many ideas, and I cannot get them all down on page or screen. If I could write each time I get an idea, I would be writing all the time. I can't keep it all organized. I know that, especially as I increasingly guide people through the process of book-length memoirs, I should not say this out loud. I should tell you that I have an ideas document, that I use Evernote, that I know how to make all these thoughts manifest into being.

But some days, after teaching, reading, talking so much (so much richness! my god! no complaints!) the last thing I want to do is process more. Chogyam Trungpa says there is no such thing as a moment off, no such thing as vacation. But I need space, and I think - since he taught meditation - this he would understand. Room for the ideas to run around, disappear and reappear in a form that is more digested and bloggable, bookable, speakable.

Last night, on a quiet walk at Olbrich Botanical Gardens, sans camera or notebook with my wife, I cried and said lately, since getting back from a busy, full and wonderful teaching and personal trip to Toronto for eleven days, I have felt utterly overwhelmed. Too much. Too much good work, too much energy, too much to read.

What a "problem" to have! I wake grateful for this "issue" every day, and also, I know that it is one that I will be working with, if I am truly as blessed as it seems, the rest of my (hopefully long) life. Some days all falls into place, organizes itself. The memoir writing is clear, the blogs perk up and fill themselves with my thoughts, the client and student appointments, the classes, sharpen and soften in the right rhythms. Most days.

In fact, the days where this does not occur are the days when I am "off," when I have to structure my own time. I fight between the part of me that wants time "off," truly off, on the beach off, technology off off, and the parts of me that recognize my need for structure: yoga, exercise, writing, cleaning. If I know what is next, I can relax and let go. This is my own personal balance, but I recognize in many of my students how universal it is. Because it is personal for all of us, and intuitive, while we may find systems or ways of understanding it, it changes - and should stay this flexible - from day to day, week to week, month to month.

The groundlessness that accompanies a day off after weeks of work is so so so familiar to me. In particular, I got trained into it working in technical theater, when my only days off were either once a week - Mondays - in which I slept and drank, or weeks on end, waiting for another gig, where I'd get lost and depressed, anxious and come up with projects I would never complete.

Of course, it turns out groundlessness - not knowing what will happen next, the sudden anxiety or panic of open time without a plan - is so universal and human. Some of us have an acquired taste for it and others hate it - and the hatred can come in the form of overplanning for me. But can I love that open time with just the right amount of structure? Each time I hit an open - or relatively open - patch, I have to remind myself that I can. That's what I am doing right now, in fact. And in the process of writing this, a friend writes to see if I want to go see a photography exhibit with her today. I say to myself: why yes. I can. I have my blog posts done for the week, I can schedule some email catch up for later. It's a gorgeous day. Let's do it.

And for just a moment, the groundlessness feels liberating. The secret is: it always is. The inspiration is groundless, always is, and is always liberating.

Remind me next time, ok? I have a hard time remembering, just like every other human being.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Searching For My Father's Voice

My dad in his office, mid 1980's
Daddy? I ask the tape player,
Is that you?
It is Tom Clark. Not Dad.
The jovial
joking commentator on
NPR
WPR
takes me right back
to my mother's bedside
listening to Chapter a Day
falling into nap.

This man is not my father,
nor the next, a guest on Jean Feraca's show.
I look out the window at the crocuses
just now popping up in my late-blooming
yard. Twenty-four years ago
these bloomed in my mother's shade
mid-March, the day Daddy died.
Now it is late April,
two hours south
and I am still searching for his voice.

I put in another cassette. These are
promising - Maxell from the mid-80's
and the shows are ones I know
they listened to together.
I listen to silence, silence, silence
90 minutes of it on each side. 
I am rapt with anticipation,
dread. The last time I heard Dad's voice
I was in my teens and accidentally found
him yelling at the end
of a radio recording.

Here I am hoping I will find his voice.
Hoping I won't.