Season of the Fallen Flower

It’s the season of the fallen flower. It’s the season of heat when the rising temperatures cause the petals, so vibrant and alive just a few weeks ago, to wilt. It’s the season of paradox: we bask in summer light and longer days yet the hands of darkness are stealing away the light minute by minute; we revel in the heat yet when it reaches a crescendo and breaking point we seek shelter indoors. The winter of summer. The emotional paradox of this season is that when there’s heat there’s an expectation of joy – beer and BBQs, swimming pools and parties – and yet there’s an undercurrent of sadness because we sense, especially the highly sensitive ones, the loss of light that begins after the summer solstice, and we feel in our bones the interplay of life and death.

We live in a culture that desperately seeks to avoid … Click here to continue reading...

Feelings Are Messy

As humans in an uncertain world, we seek certainty in a variety of ways. We ask questions that are fundamentally unanswerable. We ruminate and obsess on a single thought (otherwise known as intrusive thoughts). We Google and text and seek reassurance in a variety of increasingly technologically oriented ways. When I see someone falling into these common mental habits, the first question I encourage them to ask themselves is, “What are these thoughts/actions protecting me from feeling?”

We’re so identified with spending thousands of hours in the realm of thought that oftentimes this question doesn’t make any sense. What do you mean “protecting” me from feeling? What I mean is that somewhere along the road of growing up, somewhere between the innately healthy relationship that babies have to their emotional life and the disconnected relationship that most adults have, we learned that one way to manage the messy, amorphous, … Click here to continue reading...

The Life You're Meant to Live

Somewhere along the road of childhood into adolescence, a belief is transmitted that says: Follow the roadmap that culture presents and you will find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. This roadmap looks like: Graduate from a 4-year university, land a corporate job then climb the ladder, get married, buy a house, then have a couple of kids (in that order). There are a thousand other assumptions along the way: Marry someone of the opposite sex (who is also “the love of your life”); marry someone of similar background; don’t move too far away from your parents or your hometown; have your babies in the hospital; send your kids to school; don’t do your own thing; don’t have your own life, I could go on and on.

Very few people question this assumed path. Instead, they follow its implicit formula and then, years down the road, … Click here to continue reading...

Moment By Moment

Life is a series of micro-moments. Most of the time, we’re floating along in the fast-paced current without self-reflection. But inevitably, at some point, we will get snagged on a branch of anxiety or intrusive thoughts, an uncomfortable feeling, an illness, an argument with a loved one, or a season of depression. The habitual responses to these gifts-disguised-as-snags are to protect in some way: to attack outwardly through blame or withdraw into stony silence. We also gravitate toward habitual mental defenses as a way to protect against the soft feelings that live in the underbelly of the heart: we worry, we ruminate, we distract, we check, we watch television, we surf the internet, we shop.

We aren’t taught this anywhere in our early life, but the conscious path is largely about slowing down those micro-moments so that we can observe our habitual response, ask if it’s a response that serves … Click here to continue reading...

And Then He's Eleven

As my son approached his eleventh birthday, I found myself sounding like those women who used to stop me on the street as I was walking with my newborn so many years ago: “Oh, sweetheart, what a beautiful baby! It goes by so quickly. Soak in every minute of it. I can still remember when my boys learned to walk like it was yesterday…”

Yes, it does go by quickly. One evening this summer, as the four of us took an after-dinner walk, I looked at my older son, whose head now reaches my chin, and asked my husband, “When do you think he’ll be taller than me?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe two summers. But maybe  next year.”

Each birthday brings an acute awareness of the passage of time. Then the memories tumble in, as they always do on the threshold of a transition.

I see him as a … Click here to continue reading...