Listen to Gayle reading the blog aloud.
Hello my friend,
As I write, an online auction is running to clear out our basement and garage of three decades of family life.
My feelings throughout our transition process (a phrase that sounds so well put together and is anything but) are uncontainable. What do angst, despair, doubt, glee, euphoria, gratitude, confusion, exhaustion, guilt, hope, anger, joy, terror, frustration… times twenty… look like? What song, or dance, or painting could depict this experience?
Preparing for the online auction was its own enormous effort, but now that the items are catalogued and ready for purchase, my mind keeps returning to them, with more and more memories coming alive.
There’s a large carved chest that sat in the “man cave.”
The chest held the speaker for the home theater projector. I never wanted the home theater, the man cave, or the large carved chest. The home theater was a spouse/son creation one summer I was away on a meditation retreat. The large chest was a “gift” from my father who found it somewhere on his collection journey. My mother said, “No, that thing is not coming into our home.” So, it was dropped off at mine.
There’s pristine white American Girl furniture.
It includes a Murphy bed, with closets on the sides filled with colorful clothing to fit my daughter’s matching American Doll. That toy mostly collected dust as my daughter (now 29) loved her waterbaby, Courtney, the most, and live animals even more. But we traveled to Chicago with my mother, her Nanma, to visit the American Doll store, drink tea in their café, and attend a theatrical performance. I will always remember this weekend.
There’s a treadmill. I won it in a local school auction to support the school budget years ago.
There’s a metal shelving unit. It’s filled with various tile from original home construction and subsequent renovations.
There’s a never-been-used Gorham silver vanity set – mirror, comb and brush. Seriously? Who uses this?
There’s a framed set of Japanese art still in plastic. It’s memorabilia from our 2006 summer family trip to China and Japan.
There are chairs, light bulbs, office supplies, lamps, ceiling fans, camping equipment, wood, gardening tools, furniture, Lionel Trains.
Some memories bring me tender feelings of joy. Some jumpstart a knot in my stomach. Others cull out an untilled portion of my soul that I was not ready to remember… until now.
Now my parents are passed.
Now I am seeing more truth of my life.
Now I am facing my choices.
The stuff sitting in our basement has grabbed me, and it is shouting: “Take a good look at me; what can you learn as you release me?”
Here is what I find:
The stuff accumulated in our basement reflects a value that was never mine, but thrust upon me through my family upbringing and my parents. My ancestral blood.
The stuff for disposition in our basement reflects material consumption, in truth well beyond sufficiency.
The stuff in our basement, ready for a new home, demands I face my choices.
And I feel grief. I feel shame.
These things were never really enjoyed to the fullest. (What does that even mean?) They could have been given away to someone who needed them. They reflect an unconscious string of spending choices, some mine, some others, but all feeling like my responsibility. I “should have” managed these things better. I “could have” made better decisions over the years.
I didn’t fully enjoy them. I didn’t give them away. I didn’t manage things better.
It’s okay to judge me. I am, too.
Then a small voice says: be kind, and wrap yourself with a blanket of self-love and compassion.
Ok, I say back. I can do that. Thank you.
That small voice gives me the grace and space to ask the urgent questions rising from this stuff.
I ask: What truly sparks joy?
I ask: What stuff have I given others that now sits in their basements?
I ask: What finite earthly minerals were used to create all this?
I ask: Let me forgive myself. Let me forgive the others who helped create this mountain. Let me forgive all of the people who, like me, are trying to make sense of their stuff.
I ask: What are my new choices?
And in this spaciousness, I realize that I don’t want to choose things that simply “spark joy,”
Fuck sparking joy! I choose flames of ecstasy pulsing through my veins!
As long as we’re choosing, let’s make the choice count.
Now I ask you: What’s in your basement, or garage, or storage unit, ready to release?
What’s your version of sparking joy – or sizzle in your veins?
How does sufficiency speak to you?
Sensing, grieving, releasing, and choosing,
Tiny Body Practice
Going With the Flow
What is your changing season? … and how are you “in it”?
Are you able to stay in life with unexpected “disruptions”?
Disruptions, unexpected occurrences, are a part of everyday life. Thank goodness. Can you imagine how dry life would be if you knew everything would go exactly as you expected? At first, no surprises might seem like a miracle. But given deeper reflection, we see how magic would shrivel from our existence.
In my Cribstone Bridge Walk, notice … the variety, movement and focus. I could have retaped my walk over the bridge waiting for no cars or people. But we know life doesn’t flow that way.
Find a physical walking space to experiment with going from place A to B and staying with unexpected disruptions. Here are a few suggestions: crossing a bridge, walking from one end of a mall to the other, walking from a park bench on one side of park to the other. [Note: Choose a location that will offer up a few surprises – rather than a quiet solitary walk in the woods.]
Point A represents where you are in this changing season and Point B represents an end or a new point of your changing season. In your mind, define your changing season.
Before you take your first step, enjoy three full breaths sensing the interior of your body.
Where do you notice tension?
Where are you energized?
Where do you feel flow?
Just notice without explanations and then begin.
Begin walking from Point A with your attention and focus on Point B.
While walking and focusing on Point B, notice what happens to your attention when your focus is disrupted.
What happens to your sense of ease, vitality and flow?
What happens inside your body? Do you feel tight and contracted or open and spacious?
What feelings arise during your walk?
What disruption do you experience as an imposition?
What disruption do you experience as an invitation?
What disruptions do you flow with? And which ones do you not?
Arrive at Point B.
Enjoy three generous breaths sensing the interior of your body.
Reflect with this wonder question… hmm, how did I go with the flow?