Sunday, September 19, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude

My old friend insomnia is visiting me again. This happens every so often. I'm hoping this won't be a regular occurence, but I figure it's a good opportunity to sit here in the dark, listen to the sounds of the traffic below on Haddon Ave., and check in with myself. It's been over 6 months since I've done this, and since this blog was created so that I'd have some accountability for the changes I wanted to make in my life, that's no good. Although, part of the reason I haven't blogged is because I've been busy making changes. So that is good.

It was a long, snowy, sick winter, and a long, hot, hectic summer. I'm so happy now to be able to sit here in my writing/yoga room and feel the fall chill in the breeze coming thru the window next to me. July was filled with my car dying (R.I.P., 2002 Lancer), buying a new car, said new car getting rear-ended and being in the shop for two weeks, and the ceiling of my apartment falling in. Let's choose not to focus on July, except to say that it brought about the possibility of change. I can sit here in my yoga/writing room now, because I actually have a yoga/writing room, because the caving in of my ceiling allowed me to get out of my lease in Palmyra and move to a 2 bedroom place in Collingswood. I now have more space, natural light, a proper kitchen, hardwood floors, and walkability -- meaning I can walk places. Or ride my bike. It's freaking awesome. It also puts me next door to Yogawood, where I completed my teacher training in May (woot, woot -- check that off the 33Y list!). Actually, check moving out of Palmyra off the 33Y list as well! I can now walk to my good friend Sharon's house, which is also pretty freaking awesome. We discovered the first week I was here that we could drink wine at each other's places and not have to worry about driving home.

I would post pics of the new place, but I believe my camera is in the bedroom, where my boyfriend is currently asleep, and I don't think he'd appreciate being woken up at 4:30 in the morning so that I can share pics of my apartment with the four or so people who will probably actually read this blog. :-)

I'm so grateful to be here. I have so much in my life for which to be thankful. Not the least of which is that I just realized my camera is sitting right next to me, so, pics of the new place:

Okay, so the formatting on those got all jacked up, and I'm not in the mood to figure out how to fix it, but you get the idea. This place is awesome. And I'm so grateful that I get to be the one to live in it.

I'm grateful for a lot of things. I'm grateful that I can look out my window right now and see a tree instead of a parking lot, that I get to spend this time in solitude and reflection, that I have my health and a functioning brain and body that allow me to sit here and type these words. I'm grateful for the cats that made their way into the above pics -- for their companionship and unconditional love. And I'm grateful for the person sleeping in the next room.

Matt resurfaced in my life back in February, after we had met at a writer's workshop a few years back, gone on a couple of dates, and lost touch. I credit my being anthologized with putting my name back into his brain (we were published by the same small press, so he was on the mailing list for a reading I did last winter), and I credit facebook for putting us back in touch, since that's how he ultimately found me. Facebook. Who knew?

Matt is funny and warm and smart and sincere. He challenges me and encourages me to do the things that make me happy and the things that make me me. Like moving. Like pursuing a new job. Like taking a much needed vacation. Like writing. I don't know where this relationship will end up, or how long I'll be lucky enough to have him in my life, but I'm so grateful that he's here now.

I feel truly blessed. And when things get difficult, as they always will in life, I have to remind myself of all of these blessings.
And now I feel blessed that my eyelids are getting heavier, these words are getting blurrier, and I can go crawl into my bed and fall asleep, hopefully not to wake up until the Sunday morning sun is shining thru my window.
Gratefully yours,

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Signs, signs, everywhere signs...

I think the universe tells us shit. And maybe whether or not we end up happy or miserable depends on how much attention we pay to what the universe is trying to tell us. Lately, I've been paying attention. And the universe has had a lot to say.

I started paying attention back at Christmastime. I was having a particulary down week, which is not typical for me lately. A lot of it had to do with dating nonsense, and exacerbating that was the fact that yoga teacher training was demanding an increasingly insane amount of my time, and I wasn't finding balance in my life to do other things that needed to be done. On a particulary bleak Sunday evening, I found myself in tears, on the phone with my friend, Kiersten who proceeded to explain to me that she thought I should try meditation, and that she had been meditating a lot and it was really helping her.

Here's the thing about being down. Sometimes, it's easier to stay that way. And sometimes, we don't want to hear the things we need to hear to be brought back up and keep trying. On this particular Sunday night, I didn't want to hear it. And I proceeded to give Kiersten every possible excuse why meditation wouldn't work. Undeterred, she started talking about a book she was reading about passage meditation, and how you can just pick a particular prayer of any denomination that means something to you, and say it over and over to yourself. At this point, I got a little freaked and told her I'd been doing that with the Prayer of St. Francis every day, because even though I'm not really a practicing Catholic anymore, that prayer has always resonated with me and brought me an inordinate amount of comfort. There was silence on the phone for a moment, and then Kiersten said, "Coll, that's the exact prayer the author recommends starting with." Okay, universe. I'm paying attention.

Another way I go about keeping myself down is ignoring the fact that I should be writing more. There's always something "more important" to be doing -- bills to be paid, emails to be answered, asana sequences to be compiled, books to be read, episodes of "Jersey Shore" to be watched (horrific, but I actually did watch that show). Although I write far more now than I have in the past few years, I never prioritize writing as much as I should. And I always find myself wondering, if I devoted even half as much time to actually writing as I do to avoiding writing or thinking about writing, how much more successful could I be? What am I so afraid of?

The answer to that is easy. Failure. I'm afraid of being exposed as a fluke, a flash in the pan, a one hit wonder -- pick your cliche. But how will I ever know what I am capable of if I don't try? And if I really had no talent, would I have been published three times already?

The universe answered me by smacking me in the face. Hard. I got a facebook message from a complete stranger who had seen me read at the launch party for The Best of Philadelphia Stories 2. She was asking me to be the featured reader for an event she is having in the summer, and offered me a "modest honorarium." I'm pretty sure that means money. To read my shit. Someone wants to pay me to read stuff I wrote to some people in a coffee shop. That's no joke. I take it as the universe trying to tell me that I have as much shot as anybody to parlay writing into a career, if I put forth the effort to make it happen.

In yoga teacher training, we are reading the Bhaghavad Gita. In it, Krishna tells Arjuna that he must fulfill his dharma, or purpose. The Gita teaches us that we all have a purpose, and that the only way to truly know God (or enlightenment, or fulfillment, or our true Self, or whatever concept works for your 21st century mind), is to fulfill our dharma, and to do work and detach from the rewards of that work. I believe my dharma to be to help others, to write, to practice yoga, and to pay attention. I think it's time to start doing the work.

To that end, I have some writing to do.

All the world is
All I am
The black of the blackest ocean
And that tear in your hand
All the world is
Danglin' for me, darlin'
You don't know the power that you have
With that tear in your hand

--Tori Amos, "Tear in Your Hand"

Paying attention,