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I haven’t been blogging much, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been trying. Each time over the last few weeks that I’ve started to write a post—something about yoga, or teaching, or meditation, or writing a novel—I give up after a few paragraphs. Everything I’ve been trying to say sounds too preachy, not quite right. It wasn’t until today that I realized the problem with all my drafts is that they’re covering up the real issue I want to write about and work through.

I haven’t been totally honest with myself about how much the loss of my job in February affected me. Don’t get me wrong—I strongly believe I’m in a good place now, and I’m finally focusing on my writing in a significant way. (I’m on the second draft of my novel! Hooray!) I no longer wake up in the morning and head to work with knots in my stomach about what tension the day might hold. And I have faith that positive things will come from this transition in my life.

Still, it hurts that I was let go. I wasn’t working for some big corporation, where I might expect a level of soullessness for the sake of profit margins and ego. I was working at a place with a spiritual mission, and I thought I was among friends. Being targeted and told to leave because I had a reasonable concern was harsh and violent. I know now that there were probably a lot of negative things being said about me behind my back that I wasn’t aware of, even though I tried so hard to communicate face to face. I acted with integrity and trust and kindness, and the response was darkness, hostility, dishonesty. Those are actions from which I won’t heal easily.

I still believe in kindness, though, in compassion, in peace. In fact, I believe in them now more than ever. I know that when a person tries to hurt someone else, it’s because he or she is already hurting. Aggression often comes from fear. And all of us have to make the choice about whether we let fear be our guide, or faith. Choosing faith and love showed me I’ll never get the short end of the stick. What will always remain, in the face of whatever consequences, is my integrity and my dignity. Nothing is more important than that.

In the past months, as I work on my novel and take on small side projects that help nourish me, I’m working through the next big phase of my life. I’m practicing patience and mindfulness, surrender instead of the need to control. I’m paying particular attention to the role of women in our culture, and thinking about what I can do to support and nurture a sisterhood that we so desperately need. As I found in my last environment, women still have a lot of sexism to overcome. For a long time, as a teacher, I talked about these issues in my classes. We discussed the role of mothers, the expectations placed on men and women in the household, the reason to read women writers, the need for equality. But until recently, I wasn’t fully cognizant of the struggles women face in the workplace and even in liberal-minded religious institutions. I knew about the issues, of course, but I didn’t feel it in my bones. Now I do, and it was an important wake-up call. As the next stage for me unfolds, I know that I want to commit to women’s equality in a meaningful way.

Of course, my story is little in comparison to some of the darkness we read about in history and see in the news everyday. There are plenty of people who direct their energy downward, who choose weakness and fear and destruction instead of compassion and love. But there are also people who consistently do inspiring and positive things: people who speak up about injustice, who teach, who learn, create, foster discussion and cultivate empathy. The spiritual work I did at my last job affirms that.

There are loads of good people in the world doing positive and meaningful things, creating beauty, however small. I am trying to consistently be one of them.

 

 

Image: “Reflection of Sunlight” by Rajiv Ashrafi via Flickr Creative Commons.

 

 

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Staying the Same

April 23, 2013

 

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“Change is constant,” people say. It’s a phrase we always hear, even though saying the words never actually gets to the heart of it.

I’ve written before about change, about how much I’ve wanted to avoid it. One of the things I found so hard about teaching college was the constant change—transitioning of semesters, transitioning from school to school, new schedules, new childcare arrangements.  There were new classes to create and conduct, new syllabi to adapt and tweak. When I switched to an office job, I was hopeful for an end to so much change, a feeling of constancy and stability. But that job proved to be inconstant, too.

One of the things I’m learning from yoga is how to adapt to change. A constant shift in posture forces a mental shift every few seconds or minutes. The more my body does it, the more it feels like second nature. I am constantly coerced into an attitude adjustment. In every pose, as in any new situation, our goal should be to breathe, focus, and be present.

Right now, as April wanes, change is happening not only in nature, but in my life. My longtime neighbors are moving in a couple of days, which means I’ll no longer be able to look out my dining room window and see them sitting outside, their son drawing with chalk in the driveway. I won’t be able to call for an egg or a cup of vegetable oil, or stand on the porch with them in early summer and watch the kids on scooters ride by.

Yesterday, I got an invitation in the mail for a memorial lecture to pay tribute to one of my favorite college professors. He used to sit in the restaurant where I worked, drinking wine and writing his ideas down in notebooks. My husband remembers that we saw him in a bookstore after I’d had dental surgery, and he said “Be true to your teeth, or they’ll be false to you.” He seemed to be from another era, another world. Now he’s gone.

On top of that, this weekend my son turns six. Six is so far from infancy or toddlerhood. He has longer legs now, a strange sense of humor, a firm fold in his arms when he doesn’t want to listen. He has a new best friend every day, new interests. And then there are the rumblings about girls, even though he’d rather not tell me about those.

Soon enough, he’ll be 16, and he won’t want to tell me anything.

There is no way to control change, even though I want to. Stagnation is a kind of death, an unwillingness to grow. It’s not that we have no power; it’s that the power is in our own behavior, our willingness to surrender. I can’t control change, and I can’t control what others think of me. But I can direct my energy where I want it to go. I can act with integrity, adhere to a value system that strengthens me so I can adapt. I’ll never know what’s going to come, but I can work hard and breathe and be present.

When I first finished this post a few minutes ago, I saved it and went back to search my blog for the other times I wrote about change. A lot of titles popped up, but I had a particular one in mind, so I scrolled back until I found it. “Change and Resilience,” I saw, was published in April of last year. I remembered writing it at my coffee table when I was at the cusp of a new job, invigorated by spring, eager to fit one more thing in before bed. Every year, when spring comes, I tend to write about the merging of old and new. It’s not the first time my blog helped me notice I’ve had the same thoughts and observations swirling in my head year after year, almost to the same day.

That’s when I saw I had published on the same day. On April 23rd, 2012, I wrote a post called “Change and Resilience.” And today, I wrote a post I almost called “Change.”

It delighted me to remember how many things stay the same.

 

Image: “Stylidium productum” by petrichor via Flickr.

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New Places

April 11, 2013

  Every year, when National Poetry Month comes around in April, I get excited about the encouragement to read and re-read poetry. It makes me happy to know there are others out there like me who look to poetry for solace. I think poems are the parents of all other writing, and they comfort me, […]

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SuperWoman and the Party Planner

April 1, 2013

SuperWoman has met her high-maintenance match with her progeny, TalkMonster. Especially now that he’s turning six. (SuperWoman, despite her super-ness, would really like an instruction manual for how to deal with an almost-six year-old who alternates between knowing everything—including how she should drive—and bursting into tears over the unfairness of life.) TakMonster has a lot […]

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Honoring Oneself

March 19, 2013

“Self-knowledge promotes choice and action, and many people feel unready for either.” –Caroline Myss   Caroline Myss’s  Anatomy of the Spirit has been a transformative read for me this year. I bought the book two years ago, but didn’t start reading it until January 1st when I felt that I was ready and open for spiritual guidance. […]

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A New Path

March 5, 2013

There is so much poetry in our lives. For months now, I’ve been practicing detachment. I’ve tried to acknowledge what I can control and what I can’t, and that sometimes, the only thing I can change is my attitude. I stopped shopping for extraneous things. I started writing a novel in November without a plan, […]

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Why I’m a Quaker

February 27, 2013

I think I’ve always struggled with identity, labels and categories. Who am I? I have wondered. Where do I fit?  In my twenties, I wondered when I could safely start calling myself a “woman.” It was unclear when the official shift came from “girl.”  Next it was “teacher,” which I adopted quickly because it was my profession. […]

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Imagination Is a Muscle

February 1, 2013

For a long time, I’ve lamented that our culture doesn’t accept imagination as a healthy part of adulthood. The overemphasis on Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy, in fact, are proof that we seem to think imagination dies in childhood, that when you grow up, you have to be practical. Follow the […]

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Destination: Adjustment

January 15, 2013

Be careful what you name your blog—it just may come true. Not to say that three years after my first post, I’ve reached the end-all, be-all of attitude adjustment. No one can claim that, except maybe the Dalai Lama, or Jesus. But even those gurus have bad days, I’m sure. The Dalai Lama killed a […]

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SuperWoman Panics in the New Year (and Becomes a Yogi)

January 3, 2013

SuperWoman knows that the beginning of January is the time to take stock. Not for soup, but for life. SuperWoman tried to do this on New Year’s Day. She woke up after only five hours of sleep (children don’t care how late you got to bed celebrating), drank tea, went to yoga, read a little […]

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Flying Through Life

December 18, 2012

On Friday morning, I took my daughter to visit the school where her brother attends kindergarten. We sat in on the preschool class as they went through story time, played with toys, ate snacks, even went to gym class and raced around orange cones. The kids were so precious; there was so much joy. We […]

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“Husband and Wife”: The One month Post-Election Episode

December 3, 2012

Setting: 6:30 p.m. Late fall. Wife is sitting at the dining room table browsing her laptop and sipping wine while the kids freak out about all sorts of things. She ignores them. Sip. Wife reads an article on The Huffington Post about Mitt Romney’s sad Thanksgiving dinner, a turkey and sides from Boston Market. Then […]

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Glimmering Moments of Beauty

November 30, 2012

I wrote an article recently where I articulated a feeling I’ve had for a long time. No matter which era we live in, our heritage,  background, or status in society, every human being experiences occasional moments of beauty. There’s a lot of struggle in life, but I think it’s those glimmering moments that help us […]

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The Age of Discovery

November 23, 2012

Now that my son is five and in kindergarten, he’s learning a lot of truths about the world. Some of them are exciting and inspiring, like how to spell and read his storybooks. Other truths? Not so joyous. As wonderful as it is that my child is learning to read, it poses a little bit […]

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Good Things About Cold Weather

November 5, 2012

  I’m not a huge fan of cold weather, but in my effort to work on Extreme Attitude Adjustment, I’m trying to find something good about the oncoming winter months. (A Noreaster and snow in the first week of November? Not so much.) I can always handle autumn without problem—it’s my favorite season. But in […]

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Superwoman Does Monday (And Don’t Feel Nothin’ Like Super)

November 5, 2012

Want your head to hurt? Spend approximately 59 minutes with TalkMonster and WonderMess. To be fair, Superwoman had it coming. It was a cold Monday, the air holding the scent of winter in its breeze. Superwoman woke up in the dark and couldn’t bear to exercise, so she threw on a sweater and some cheap […]

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Write a Novel? Sure.

November 2, 2012

Two weeks ago, the family and I took a drive up to New York State to visit my sister-in-law in a quaint town that overlooks the Hudson River. I was stressed about the drive, since keeping kids relatively quiet and entertained for three (or more) hours in a car ain’t easy. There’s a lot of […]

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Storm-Reading

October 29, 2012

After I made the coffee, cleaned up the house, made the pumpkin cookies (think: rations), yelled at my kids, yelled at my husband, made myself some calming tea, took a shower, fretted that the hurricane would make the tub fall through the living room ceiling, I went to my bedroom bookshelf to decide on some […]

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What Calm Before the Storm?

October 28, 2012

In Karen Thompson Walker’s The Age of Miracles, she creates a world, much like ours, in which—seemingly out of the blue—the days begin to last longer. The sun doesn’t set, gravity changes, earth’s magnetic field goes haywire. And there is nothing for humans to do but adapt. With the oncoming of Hurricane Sandy, I’m reminded […]

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Why SuperWoman Hasn’t Been Blogging

October 27, 2012

1. Because she’s fucking tired. (Yes, Superwoman says fuck. It’s fun. Try it.) 2. Because she has to sit on her dirty couch and bite her nails about the oncoming Frankenstorm. She is still recovering from Hurricane Irene last September, and now here comes another one. That night, all she did was worry that large […]

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