Want to Get Rich Quick?

I saw this little quip on a church reader board in Napa, California: Want to get rich quick? Count your blessings. We strive for more to ensure future survival, but in the process, we forget that in order to thrive, we must love our lives as they are. Now. Right Now.

I strapped a tired toddler to my back on a recent morning and I hiked up a storied San Francisco hill. This felt luxurious. The warm squirming child, the 70 degree sunny skies, the world-famous architecture, the views of the bay. I looked people in the eye when I passed them. Sometimes they pretended not to see me. I discovered new sets of stairs to climb. I looked with new eyes, and I saw new things. I walked without a destination, like I do when I'm a tourist. I love to travel my own city and explore it's many undiscovered pockets.

All of this felt so good that it was too good. Guilt arrived to drag me off my cloud, back to the cold hard ground. Who am I to love my life this much? Who am I to live in this beautiful city and have time to take a walk at 10 am on a Monday morning? Who am I to write a blog and expect people to come?

Why is it so hard for us to enjoy what we have?

I dreamt of the life I have now. I did not take shortcuts. I worked hard to get here.

So why do I waste time thinking I do not deserve it, or that I have far more to accomplish? Haven't I done enough for today? Won't the rest come in time?

Perhaps our nature has not caught up to modern life in which we have all our basic needs met. Perhaps we invent problems to solve. Or perhaps, humans have struggled with this brand of guilt and dissatisfaction for eons. This could be an inextricable part of being human--or not. I don't know. But I'm done with it.

People often speak of gratitude lists and counting blessings because we must be reminded, and often, to focus on the good. Because there is bad, too. Because the world contracts and expands according to our focus. Our thoughts, they matter. Our thoughts, they can make us poor, or they can make us rich.

This is day 19 of 30 consecutive days of blogging. I’m glad you’re along for the ride. If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. If you have something to add, feel free to comment openly or anonymously.

To read more of my thoughts on womanhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow the blog or subscribe via feedburner.

IMG_1507.JPG

IMG_2308.JPG

IMG_8561.JPG

There's A Lesson In This

There's a lesson in this. This mantra is how I'm learning to approach struggle everyday, the inevitable hiccups that wrench my insides, literally and metaphysically and metaphorically. This is how I open to the purpose of struggle, bringing clarity, and eventually, freedom.

It's what I think when I lose patience with my little children and I say or do something I regret.

It's what I think when I spend money on something that makes my body contract instead of expand.

It's what I think when words slip easily from my mouth and I find myself wishing I could repossess entire conversations.

It's what I think when I drink liquor and I wake up in the middle of the night to vomit the food I could not digest.

It's what I think when I share something on social media only to delete it later.

It's what I think when I stay up late and I have to survive the next day.

It's what I think when I hear myself spewing venom to someone I love dearly, whether it's my husband or my child or my sister or my mom.

It's what I think when my two older children fight and I don't know how to make them stop.

It's what I think when I stay home for too many hours or days and I forget to enjoy the landscape of this tiny yet massive planet.

It's what I think when I compulsively check social media or get caught up in the world wide web in all of its sticky splendor.

It's what I think when I stop writing every day.

It's what I think when I feel in the pit of my stomach that something isn't right.

Sometimes, the lesson is simply a reminder: this is not for you.

I can drink wine in moderation because my body processes it, but I must stay away from the liquor.

I can buy anything I really need, but I should never go shopping for entertainment or therapy.

I can stay up late, but for the love of God, I must put down the book by midnight.

Sometimes the lesson is to think (and breathe!) before I speak, to make a schedule and stick with it, to not speak at all, to keep calm and carry on, to get out of the house, to fill my cup before I run dry.

Sometimes the lesson is that something needs to change. That I have beliefs to release and edges to find.

The same challenges show up in our lives until we learn from them.

So, the next time the struggle has you in it's clutches, why not ask yourself: what is the lesson in this? You might be surprised at what comes up.

This is day 4 of 30 consecutive days of blogging. I’m glad you’re along for the ride. If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. If you have something to add, feel free to comment openly or anonymously.

To read more of my thoughts on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow the blog or subscribe via feedburner.

IMG_1154.JPG

Life And Death Transformation

On the evening of Mother's Day, complex emotions and utter exhaustion induced sleeplessness, my head buzzing with metaphysical possibilities. I'd just finished reading "After This: When Life Is Over, Where Do We Go?" by Claire Bidwell Smith, the pages containing a litany of profound revelations about death and the afterlife. Claire helped me excavate a knowingness from deep within: there is no such thing as death, not in the sense that our souls leave these bodies and we cease to exist. Death is a transformation. There is consciousness after death, even if it looks and feels different than we look and feel while animating a human body.

Read More

The Purpose of Privilege

In what ways are you privileged? We are all privileged.*

What does the universe want from you?

The universe wants something from you.

Do you know what your purpose is?

We all have purpose.

What makes a life worth living?

This man says "flow" is the secret to happiness.

So when do you lose yourself?

When you "lose yourself," you can become a vessel.

What is the self anyways?

It seems we love to define the self, our selves.

How do we transcend the self?

We need to get out of our own way.

What would you do if you could do anything?

We could start today.

Where do we start?

Perhaps our various privileges serve as guideposts.

No matter what we're doing, whether it's staying at home with kids or wandering the world with nothing, may we let the ways we are privileged reveal our purpose.

Let us notice how the universe nurtures us. Let us take it in and love it, then let us lose the self for a moment, let us get into the flow and release all that goodness back into the ether. Let our privilege become someone else's privilege.

This is vague, so I will offer a few examples. It could be music. Maybe you have a pretty voice or mad piano skills. Have you thought about sharing your music? You could go into a classroom and play a few tunes, you could join the music ministry in a spiritual community, you could write music and play it for friends, you could post videos to YouTube, you could go after a talent agent. Really, there's no limit, great or small.

It could be organizing messes or organizing communities. It could be counseling others or taking photos. It could be crafting or welding. It could be a job or it could be volunteering or it could be neither. It could be the main focus of your days or it could be a couple hours on the weekend.

The bottom line? If we feel good about our privilege rather than guilty about it, we know we are using privilege for the Greater Good. It's that simple.

May our privilege not be in vain.

Where does your privilege point?

To read more of my thoughts on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

*Inspired by Roxane Gay's essay entitled Peculiar Benefits.

IMG_7099-0.JPG

Tell me what life is about

Lately she's been saying things like, tell me what life is about. Her voice dreamy and her eyes wistful. She wants to know. She senses that oceans and galaxies lie beyond her grasp. After all, her world only recently turned itself upside down when we moved from our hometown of Seattle. She seems to recognize that life is fragile, that small moments can change everything, that big feelings are fleeting, that nothing lasts forever, and ultimately we will all die. Her daddy & I try to answer her questions.

I said, love. Life is about loving other people.

He said, but people forget a lot. They think it's about themselves.

She said, I think it's about peace. And harmony.

There have been other questions, too.

I told her that I'm not really sure what happens when we die. That nobody really knows. That it's the greatest mystery of life. Death.

She worries about us dying, about her grandparents dying.

I told her that we will never be separated because we live in one another, we are one another. We are not the same, but we are also not completely separate. We are oneness, embodied.

When I see her smile, I smile.

When I see her hurt, I hurt.

When I see her learn, I learn.

I told her, I think life is about doing what you love. Someday soon, I'll teach her what it means when something moves you. I want her to recognize what moves her, so she can know her purpose. I want her to know that the universe will guide her by speaking to her heart.

She knows how to ask. My next job is to teach her how to listen.

To read more of my thoughts on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

IMG_5626.JPG

Savoring October (10 ways)

I woke up yesterday morning and I felt cold. I missed the space heaters that I already purged because I thought we'd be gone before the drafts in this big old house began to crawl under the covers.

But it's October now and they've arrived, making me even more reluctant to emerge from my bed, which I didn't think possible.

October usually makes me giddy, but this year I'm in a funk about fall. The great purge showed me that we have a million costumes and dress-up clothes and I have no business taking my kids (or myself--let's be honest) shopping for Halloween costumes. Not even at the Goodwill.

This year I miss the summer. I miss the tilt of the earth towards the sun, bringing my patch of ground that much closer to the light. I miss eating dinner outside and sunbathing at the lake with my best friend and our babies. I miss chilled cans of Sofia Coppolla sparkling wine. I miss sweet berries from the farmer's market. I miss long days and Bicycle Sundays and bare feet in cool grass. I miss ice cream because sadly ice cream doesn't taste (nearly) as good to me in the colder months. (Unless it's atop a slice of warm crumble.)

Maybe it's not the summer that I miss but my entire life as it was this past summer and will never be again. Of course everything's always changing but sometimes, sometimes it's slow and easy to ignore, and sometimes it's so quick I can hardly keep up.

But I do. I always do. Life goes on.

Yesterday, October began. The first day of a new month holds great symbolic meaning for me. A lot can happen in a month, a lot of pleasure and happiness and change and unhappiness.

So I felt compelled to slow down and make one of my favorite months count, starting with a list. Here's a 10 point bucket list to get me (and maybe you) into the spirit of October:

1. Go to the farmer's market and see what's still growing in the Pacific Northwest. (CHECK!)

2. Spend a sunny afternoon in the Washington Arboretum. Take pictures with the Japanese maple.

3. Fry some famous Washington apples in coconut oil and cinnamon. (CHECK!)

4. Consume as much butternut squash as possible, preferably in the form of a creamy soup.

5. Go on a pumpkin-themed Trader Joe's shopping spree.

6. Mull some wine. (A first for me.)

7. Visit a nearby pumpkin patch.

8. Paint and/or glitter some pumpkins.

9. Use my slow cooker.

10. Write every damn day. (Because I will be moving this month & will have so many reasons not too. But life is too short to put off doing what we love, even for one day.)

Is it obvious enough already that I really really really love food and pumpkins?

How will you savor October? Tell me in the comments or email me lucymiller7 [at] gmail.com. I'd love to hear from you!

To read more of my musings on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

IMG_1593.JPG picnicking at the Columbia City farmer's market yesterday evening

A beautiful mess

Sometimes lately I feel scattered, unfocused, spread thin. Life spilling over and making my edges more noticeable as they crumble, bits and pieces of me falling away. My house.

My community.

My business.

My belongings.

Everything seems a mess, my hair consigned to the bedhead style. I need a haircut but I thought I just cut it. I have hardly looked in the mirror for a week. I keep forgetting deodorant. I haven't done any formal exercise for most of the month. I haven't been cooking much either. My 4 year-old wants to eat only bread. Our car broke down then got broken into. We're moving and we don't know when.

I am in the process of changing and simplifying. But I have to dig out of the rubble before I can take a deep breath. It's like everything has to get a little bit worse before it can get a whole lot better.

And so, after a weekend of madly cleaning my house for a showing, and then sorting through the piles of stuff I'd thrown into the garage to get it OUT of the house, I am here. Thinking about the messes I've cleared away, the messes still waiting for the magic wand. My "trash" that will hopefully become someone else's treasure. Wondering why my desk drawers and kitchen counters aren't always this empty because it feels so good. Why do we love stuff so much and why do we want it all around us? For a distraction or a band-aid or a disguise or a preservative?

This purging of stuff has brought me a buzz. Strangely enough, it's not so different a buzz from finding the thing I really wanted. The materialistic circle of life.

In clearing away the detritus--not just papers and clothing and toys but other things I won't get into now--I feel like I'm seeing myself anew, yet again. Though I may (occasionally) look put together, I am (often) a mess. When we married my husband wrote in his vows that I was "a beautiful mess" on the morning before the evening we fell in love. But I was a mess that day because I'd been riding my bicycle in the rain on city streets.

So maybe, if the messy part comes from adventure and risk and fun, maybe it's okay. Maybe I can learn to love my messes simply because I had the privilege to make them.

Is there something about yourself that you're learning to love rather than shame? Tell me about it in the comments or email me lucymiller7 [at] gmail.com.

To read more of my musings on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

IMG_0353.JPG

Have you heard of resistance?

Have you heard of resistance? Resistance is the force that stops us from doing what we want to be doing.

The force that feeds fundamentalism, addiction, hate and depression. A proliferating fungus, a tumor of stagnant energy, a cloud that suffocates our brains and chases our hearts every time we so much as think about doing it. Whatever "it" is.

Maybe the resistance comes in the form of silence. Maybe in the form of distraction. Maybe you don't use your voice even though you've found it. Maybe you don't ask for help even when you know who to ask. Maybe you type the words but you never send, or never post. Maybe you have a demanding day job or children at home and you never make the time.

No one is going to give you the time. You have to take it. If you feel in the seat of your soul that there is something you need to be doing whether it be swimming daily or playing team sports or writing a story or painting a picture or traveling the world--and you're not doing it--you have succumbed to resistance.

Sometimes we bury our desires under so many layers of ego and opinion and appearance, that we forget what they are. But we can't ignore the tug at our hearts.

Something's missing.

Society, loved ones, corporations, jobs, bosses, other people, they usually have ideas on what we should be doing. Where we should live. How we should live. People are quick to speak, declaring what is best for us, what we need, what we don't need. They believe themselves the authority and because they don't have ill intentions, because they probably love us, we might think to listen.

But the only person who knows what's best for you is you. Only you know where the resistance hides, and what it's hiding.

When I saw the Dalai Lama speak, a man asked him a tough question. The Dalai Lama responded, "I don't know." His audience of thousands waited patiently for him to continue. He did not. He demonstrated that it's okay not knowing. We don't need to pretend we are authorities. We don't need to know everything. We can feel our way through darkness when we don't know the way. We can cast aside our egos and revel in the mystery.

I enjoy growing older because I feel as if I am growing into myself. Growing stronger into myself. So that when someone tells me what to do, I know that I don't have to listen. When someone says something about me or makes a judgment either implicit or explicit, I don't have to believe them.

They don't know me, not all of me. I know me. And I know resistance. And I know that when the resistance builds up like plaque on dirty teeth or toxins in the blood that the only cure is not a deep cleaning nor a drastic detox, but time. And when I grow bored of whatever it is that's scaring me from blogging or writing or submitting, whether it be exposure or self-doubt or judgment, I can start again and be further along than where I left off. Because overcoming resistance is a story in and of itself. 

"Resistance is directly proportional to love. If you're feeling massive Resistance, the good news is, it means there's tremendous love there too. If you didn't love the project that is terrifying you, you wouldn't feel anything. The opposite of love isn't hate; it's indifference."

-- from the book that inspired today's blog: "The War of Art" by Steven Pressfield

IMG_0807.JPG

To read more of my musings on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

It's June and I am

Inspired by Alisha Sommer's "Currently I am ..." post.

Listening … to Skyla's voice as she finds it, her breath as it moves through her body, pliable and pure.

Eating … like a goddess and letting food love me back.

Drinking … homemade americanos, and many glasses of water.

Wearing … my torn up TOMS because I just can't quit 'em, they make the earth feel soft under my feet.

Wanting … to take more of my beloved barre classes because this energy, nor the subsequent endorphins, cannot be replicated at home.

Dreaming ... about traveling, publishing novels, going deeper.

Needing … time, sleep, and a tan.

Thinking … about opening as I participate in another session of Liberated Lines. The theme of OPEN feels different than the last session on LOVE.

Feeling … like I could spend every spare moment reading and writing, and there would still be more books to read and more words to write.

20140604-100848.jpg

20140604-104054.jpg

20140604-105317.jpg

20140604-104143.jpg

20140604-104157.jpg

20140604-104214.jpg

20140604-104221.jpg

20140604-105723.jpg

20140604-104612.jpg

20140604-105251.jpg

 

To read more of my musings on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.