summer school

“When we protect ourselves so we won’t feel pain, that protection becomes like armor, like armor that imprisons the softness of of the heart.”
― Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

i spend time with emotional pain. i drag up old triggers, hit that rewind button over and over and work on healing. a friend remarks that summer felt suffocating to her and i sink into the reality of her words. i understand that i could not breathe for most of summer. the weather was too hot, the air too dry, and the bright light glaring. 

“We have a choice. We can spend our whole life suffering because we can't relax with how things really are, or we can relax and embrace the open-endedness of the human situation, which is fresh, unfixated, unbiased.” 
― Pema Chödrön, Living Beautifully: with Uncertainty and Change

i visit my kids up north and never take my camera out of my camera bag, but rather rely on my phone, feeling more present and in the moment. their healing powers are strong and authentic, and i allow myself to savor them and learn from them. i sit alone for a few minutes each day and connect with my body, noticing where and how i feel love. 

“Rejoicing in ordinary things is not sentimental or trite. It actually takes guts. Each time we drop our complaints and allow everyday good fortune to inspire us, we enter the warrior's world.” 
― Pema Chödrön, The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times

i learn to accept what i cannot change and work on how to open my heart with honesty and forgiveness. i learn that the only things i can controle are my thoughts and actions; fretting over what others do or how they act towards me is ineffective. i learn that most things in life will never be solved and that life is both glorious and painful. 

“If someone comes along and shoots an arrow into your heart, it’s fruitless to stand there and yell at the person. It would be much better to turn your attention to the fact that there’s an arrow in your heart...” 
― Pema Chödrön, Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living

i fret over fires and floods, earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes. i turn the TV on for the first time in months, to something other than Netflix, and watch it unfold. i limit my exposure but not my prayers. i walk the dog and cook from our garden. i read and meditate and free write in my journal over and over. i try new classes at the gym and push myself outside my comfort zone. i laugh and cry over the same things and come to understand that this is okay and normal. 

“WE ALREADY HAVE everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement. All these trips that we lay on ourselves—the heavy-duty fearing that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the identities that we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kinds—never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake.” 
― Pema Chödrön, Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living

i purge self-help books and start reading poetry. i make playlist on Spotify and listen to music in the car instead of podcasts. i even sing along. i relax into myself with gentleness and kindness and allow my heart to be touched by love. i learn to start asking for what i need and want and to pause before i answer. i explore way to tap into my intuition, and learn that it is often helpful. 

“When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it's bottomless, that it doesn't have any resolution, that this heart is huge, vast, and limitless. You begin to discover how much warmth and gentleness is there, as well as how much space.” 
― Pema Chödrön, Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living

for the first time in years, i don't feel trapped or muted or confused. instead i feel tenderness, joy and love flowing outward and inward. i learn that this is a practice and it is not about become the best at something but rather understanding the joy of the practice. the hard days and pain are not over but being awake and present for the ebb and flow of life is what being alive is all about. i learn that life isn't just one way. 

“You are never going to get it all together, you’re never going to get your act together, fully, completely. You’re never going to get all the little loose ends tied up.” 
― Pema Chödrön, The Wisdom of No Escape: And the Path of Loving-Kindness

i learn so much about myself this long hot summer. . .