Tag Archives: friends

in the future

I remember what it feels like to be a man
So I touch my face and lips now like one

I speak many languages
In my belly they remember poems

I see pictures of yours that I recognize
My dreams were photons before I came,
before you-

I drive a mile and it is warmer
These movements of form are microclimates,
nearby shifts

Daffodils still bloom today
Friends go

This is it.

Destiny was a muse of another man
Until I saw he is me

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Filed under lisa goettel, poetry, writing

At Sea

I can’t leave my house today because the road is closed. It feels like an at-sea day.  (Non-cruise-loving travelers, allow me to explain.) On cruises, the trip revolves around the places of port – the journey’s milestones where everyone on the boat files off, spends 8 hours stimulating the local economy, then clambers back on board in time to sleep and wake up somewhere else.  I’ve been on two cruises – lesbian cruises (which is a blog post for another day) – and to me the best days were the at-sea days.  The days between ports, when the boat was our unavoidable container and there was nowhere to go. (Would you hate being stuck on a boat with 2,000 lesbians?)

Knowing my options are limited is a great relief to my system. It’s getting the prix fixe dinner vs. the insurmountable 32 page book-of-a-menu at that Chinese place. No angsty deciding. No contending with constant imaginings of all the things I could be doing if I wasn’t here. So I’ve been counting down the hours today, not with “when can I leave?” but with “how many more do I get?”

I wish I could say I was rapidly spiritually evolving with this poignant reminder that accepting limitation is so freeing.  In reality, my distractions today have only downsized to the 10 million things I can/ need to do in my house.  What next?  Work?  Yoga?  Organize the scary cabinet?  Write the next great American novel?  Nap?  Make cookies?   Someone in me is hoping there’s someone else in me who’s in charge of these matters.  It’s a little disappointing then when I get the typical response: “uh….let’s check Facebook while we decide.” Irretrievable hours of my life later, I’m back at the beginning and I’m contemplating how social media has successfully replaced TV as my unconscious time-waster of choice.  (At least it’s interactive and about people I (usually) know and care about.)

What’s true is today has been exactly like most days.  I spend the bulk of it sitting and staring at a lit-up rectangle.  The sun comes and goes, and I’m alternately 1) doing the holy work of housing and feeding myself, 2) avoiding doing the holy work of housing and feeding myself or 3) thinking about the limitless array of things I’d do if only I didn’t have to house and feed myself.

At least I didn’t lose those five minutes toying with the notion of driving down to get my mail and a mocha, which is the other favorite thing I do to keep me from having to sit still.  And I’m seeing a little more clearly how often I scan for that delicious distraction that will keep me from focusing on my heart’s desire  – and ultimately, from the full measure of success and fulfillment that I know is available to me.

It’s November, and I decided at the beginning of the month to again attempt the ridiculous and totally do-able endeavor of writing 50,000 words in 30 days for NaNoWriMo. It’s November 21st, and I’m at 5,348 words.  Another day of another year, and my prize is seeing how relentlessly I avoid doing what I want to do.

My house is littered with messages to remind and encourage me.  I get wonderful pep-talk emails twice a week.  I am haunted by self-help book titles, like Mary Goldenson’s It’s Time: No One is Coming to Save You.  I made a poster and stuck it on the wall by my bed that says in big letters: There Is No Time To Waste.

And.

I have apparently not seen what I do enough yet.  I have not felt unsatisfied enough yet to turn my seeing into change.  Getting to enough is key.  And remembering enough, even more so.  I don’t believe anymore that simple laziness is to blame for keeping our dreams out of reach.  It’s habits, usually super attractive, unconscious habits that strap us in the comfy chair, and desperation that pushes us out.  We only shift when we have to.

Of course, saving ourselves is ultimately up to us. But help is useful. Friends are good. I think we should start a friends-don’t-let-friends-get-complacent campaign.  I think we should make interventions a daily practice and the ultimate sign of friendship. Not interventions of shame but of the ultimate care – the care for our soul’s wellbeing. I think we should make explicit our real goals and ask our friends to help hold us accountable  – to check in on us, call us out and shine light on our excuses, even when we kick and scream (which we will.)

I don’t know how this would work.  Phone check-in’s? A website? Written contracts? Maybe I’m the only one who wants this.  Am I the only one?  Please tell me I’m not the only one.

As of four minutes ago, the road is officially open again, so you can come on over and brainstorm.  Maybe I’ll make cookies.

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Filed under invitations, lisa goettel, writing

Procrastination Station

I don’t need NaNoWriMo’s procrastination station.  I have an infinite supply of my own. Like this blog.  I should be writing many, many words right now. In my novel, that is.  Instead I’m writing words here.  Because my brain is working like these sentences. Small and random and not well put together.

So here’s my random collection of things to share this evening.

  1. Nano halo with ice cream horns

    Nano halo with ice cream horns

    This is a picture of what I look like right now. I’ve decided this is my Nano halo, complete with ice cream horns.

  2. I am weary. I moved houses, again, today. This is a house I will move out of on Dec. 1st, so I can move back into it on Dec. 15th. And I will live there until at least April.  April!  Oh god! If you want to know how I feel about this, go look at the cover of the latest New Yorker Magazine.  You should seek it out anyway. (Thanks Dale.)
  3. It is ridiculously beautiful in Big Sur right now.  I feel bad for all of you who live in places that are cold and rainy.  It is sunny (not now, because it’s nighttime) and 80 degrees and I did yoga on a deck this morning next to a hot tub, overlooking 180 degree blue blue ocean view. (Thanks Nadine!)  I say this to inspire you all to come visit. Since I will soon have a house. And to say “Thank you god for not making me move in the cold rainyness.” Because today I would have just sat down in the mud and cried.
  4. My friend Mike from London is coming to visit on Monday.  Yea.
  5. I’m having lunch with my friend Chris tomorrow. Yea.
  6. I’m going to Mexico in February. Yea. (Thanks Mom.)
  7. I’m going to San Francisco this weekend to write dangerously, at the Night of Writing Dangerously.  And I found out today I’ll get a prize, for raising all those dollars, from all of you!  Hey! Thanks!  I’m also hoping to march in the streets.  You can too! http://jointheimpact.wetpaint.com/?t=anon
  8. Which brings me, aptly, to number 8, the post-Prop 8 despairdrom.  Seriously. I have been ruminating much on this. So have other people who are speaking out most eloquently. Namely, Keith Olberman and Joe Solomonese. Please take some minutes and click on both those links. And it seems I have something to say too.

The passage of Proposition 8, which takes away the right of gay couples to marry in California, right there in the Constitution, has been beyond a disappointment to me and so many people I know.

To me it feels personal and it feels mean.  What a pointy contrast to the presidential outcome and The Big O’s message of hope – appealing to the best, most heartfelt, inspired, humble and giving parts of our humanness.

I am sad, but I not at all hopeless. I know in my knowingest knowing that the passage of Prop 8 will be more inspiration for all people, in every state, to engage in a dialog.  And dialog will save the day. Dialog with those who are directly impacted by it is important, but also those that aren’t. Those who think this has nothing to do with them.  Those who think that the rights of someone they haven’t met are not inextricably linked with their own. And it is my fervent hope that this inspires dialog with ourselves.  What an opportunity to discover what our own beliefs and (often subconscious) intentions are bringing to the world!

They say a “value” only changes when two held beliefs come in conflict.  It can be a painful and sometimes lengthy process, but it happens all the time.

Example: I believe the gay lifestyle is wrong.  My son just told me he is gay and I love him.

Whether or not it seems so, I promise, these two statements are fully incompatible.  These incompatibilities force something to shift.

My invitation to you is this. Take an opportunity, right this very minute, to shine a kind and honest light on your most deeply embedded beliefs about love and relationships in general.  All your parts.  Write them down. Your parts will disagree and you may not like some. But in so seeing, we have a chance to more consciously choose which part we want to lead our lives.

Cheri Huber says something to the effect of “You can have a wounded little whiny person in you who just wants to get whatever she wants all the time.  You can love her and listen to her and accept her as a part of you.  But you don’t give her the credit card and keys to the car.”  (I have a part of me who wants to pop other people’s zits.  But I do not let her go to parties.)

Ok then. Remember to check out Joe and Keith’s links.

Back to writing.

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Filed under life, lisa goettel, offerings, politics, writing

The great debates

It’s another glorious day in paradise – hot sun, blue sky, big ocean, sun setting and I’m eating chocolates dipped in peanut butter and drinking a blueberry Izze.  I’m in the honeymoon phase of a new love affair with life – serenading and writing poems to it, making dates, walking around all giddy. To this I credit a whole host of responsible parties – namely me, Cheri Huber, my person I talk to (I hate the word therapist), healers, friends, random path crossings with wise people… in some more meta way, everyone who has ever crossed my path ever. This is proving, once again, my circumstances have nothing to do with my happiness.  It seems it is the human condition to need constant proof of this.  We are slow learners. (Or perhaps I will just speak for myself.)

Just for kicks, let us paint the picture here.  In the external realm, I am recently broken up from a serious and wonderful relationship of more than 3 years, I’m homeless, my checking account balance today is -$347 (yes, that is a negative sign), my car is making one of those little “uh-oh” noises and the check engine light came on again, “catastrophic rain-related mud and debris flows” are predicted by all the experts to befall Big Sur this winter, this morning I spilled a mug of hot tea all over myself (again) and last, but oh no, not least, I am likely the proud new party to a frivolous lawsuit.**

**Indeed, a woman behind me when boarding the plane home from Colorado tripped on a bag I set down in the aisle while I was stowing my guitar and it seems she is rather enthusiastically tormented by her swollen ankle. Susan from Risk Management at US Airways has called me to let me know I should give my insurance company (which insurance?) a heads up about the coming claim.  Know any good lawyers?

This is not to say each of these hasn’t given me pause – it’s not hard to start ruminating on any one of these subjects and watch myself dissolve into a seething, sobbing or withering puddle of goo. I have to check myself constantly.  But the will to check myself, and to choose something different, now that’s news.  I find it’s not so much these arguably legitimate concerns that even bother me really, it’s the voice in my head that never ceases to remark on my culpability, unworthiness, righteousness, (pick your judgemental characteristic of choice.)  This voice sucks my soul out through the head of a pin and spends all day letting me know why I deserve it and offers me every situation I encounter as proof.

I have recognized this voice before, and been unable/unwilling to disidentify with it for long.  It’s powerful and wily and reasonable and convincing.  By even getting me to hate it, it has sucked me back into itself. Cheri Huber calls it self-hate, even when it’s directed outside.  I’m in a three month class with her via e-mail and phone calls and she wrote this yesterday: “Print it out and hang it on your wall–everybody! Self-hate, the incessant voices of dissatisfaction, leave you feeling frustrated/exhausted. THEN the same system talks you into doing something that will strengthen IT and leave you feeling WORSE!”

Indeed. (Flash back to so so so many lost days spent watching movies and eating sugar because “I deserved it.”) Perhaps even more poignantly though, she responded to a participant who was doing the “yes but…(bemoaning his/her terrible situation)” by asking simply “And, of course, you know the only way to address this problem is to stop, yes?”

I’m experimenting with this whole stopping business.  Just stopping.  Watching the train take off from the station, working me into a lather about exhibit A or B and just stopping.  If it takes zoning out for a minute or breathing or leaving or walking or temporarily distracting, whatever… just stopping.  And I must say, if this were a diet shake infomercial I would sign up to be spokesmodel.  I am deeply changed in my days.  The content hasn’t changed at all, but I am changed.  I’m waking up in the morning (early!) and writing and reading reassurances to myself, meditating, doing yoga, making breakfast.  I’m cooking really good dinners and walking on achingly beautiful roads being grateful.  I’m reaching out to friends because I want to, and receiving the love they have to give.  I’ve even set up my calendar to e-mail me things like “You’re Wonderful!” throughout the day, and who would have guessed I could believe those voices too.

Yesterday in my session with my un-therapist there was another touchstone moment of realization (it should be noted that as time goes on I’m finding epiphanies are less and less “my god!” and more and more “oh yeah”) – and that is: this isn’t requiring my familiar “muscle-through” approach to life. While committing to stopping does require some force of will that often feels like a strict parent or that coach who used to shout through the last, shaky push-ups – more than that it requires that I allow all my most deeply uncomfortable feelings of rage or shame or disappointment to just be there. Not doing anything at all.  I’m begging to do push-ups at those moments.  They’re just sitting out there for everyone to see, and there I am, just sitting there.

So here I am, hereby announcing this commitment to the world to keep stopping and sitting there, which at this moment feels like it’s giving more weight to the commitment.  Most of the time, that has felt like a bad thing.  But look at all I have to lose!

I’m going to go now and not watch the debates.  I’m a political junkie turned politically-inspired-but- non-debate-watching happy person.  They should talk about that.

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Of mountains and molehills

It’s late and I have to get up in six hours.  It’s been weeks and weeks and weeks since I’ve written regularly though, and I’m determined to prove to myself that typing a few words is not pushing a boulder up a mountain.  I wrote two whole posts last week and had internet problems so I didn’t post them, and when I re-read them later they felt forced and inadequate.  Blah.  I’m sticking my tongue out at my inner critic right now.

I’m just going to say a nighttime prayer (I wish that word wasn’t so associated with churches and bibles) to this infinitely supplied universe, full of things that are healing and nurturing and fulfilling. Heirloom tomato pizza, suprise path crossings with old friends, singing(!), Ani DiFranco’s new album, the nighttime that is serenading me with crickets.

For the majority of you with whom I’ve lagged in contact, here’s an update in five minutes or less:

  • I’ve moved 12 times since July.
  • I’m luxuriously perched atop a Big Sur ridge in one place for a whole month, as of Saturday.
  • I went to Colorado for 10 days and saw changing Aspens and old friends.  I love Colorado, changing Aspens and old friends.  I saw my cat and three ex’s.
  • I’m teaching myself how to play guitar with “Guitar for Dummies”.  I know 16 chords and am very, very proud of myself.
  • I’m single for the first time in 10 years.
  • I’m taking a three month Zen class with Cheri Huber remotely, using conference calls and e-mails.  My assignment: do something that a) nourishes my heart and spirit and b) will earn me $500 in three months.  I think this is scary and implausable and fantastic.
  • The neighborhood skunk just waddled by the open door and gratefully decided against coming in for another cat food feast and four hour nap under my bed.

I’m back!

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Writing down the bones*

I don’t know how I’d ever be a painter. As a writer, I edit every time I re-read, usually taking things out. I suspect this technique may not work out so well on a canvas. (Although I recently heard that when painting with oils, you can put saran wrap on the painting to try something out before you’re stuck with it.)

The idea of being stuck with my first draft is actually pretty terrifying. It’s the great thing about blogging. I can change things whenever I want. I just edited my last post this morning because it was the one post that was staying with me – knowing in my gut that I started writing it from the place of wanting to be a good writer instead of the place where I just write to find my voice.

It’s so easy, once something is sent out into the world for public consumption, to begin expanding my consciousness to include such considerations as “but how will this be interpreted?” and “is this witty enough”? To be tainted with the longing to be liked.

Writing for me gets worse the more it gets like chess. In chess, the better you are, the farther ahead you can see the moves. When I write, I do it for the discovery. It is a practice I use to find my voice. To cut through all the gobbledegook in my brain and distill the essence of the undercurrent that’s invariably brewing in my spirit. And it’s surprising. Words like gobbledegook pop out of me and I shake my head in the wonder of where it comes from. It’s how I know that my spirit is bigger than me and my over-active mind. It’s often as though the words write themselves and this is just an exercise in getting out of the way.

And I always know the source of origin of my words, when I choose to look. I know how my authentic voice feels in my chest, ringing a “yes” in my heart, that for me is often accompanied by a shaky, full breath, a wave of excited energy or a tingle of tears.

I rarely, if ever, find this when I’m speaking. The pace of talking is generally beyond my capacity to deeply attune to myself. So I come here to slow down, to drop kick formulas, expectations, and hopes of outcomes – to practice slowing down – to find words with care and intention.

And it’s interesting. Once I allow this, editing is no longer required. My editing tends to make things worse. How cool is it, that I have this opportunity to figure it out through doing? Because I often don’t know what space I’m inhabiting, until my own wisdom feeds back. And it can’t feed back if there’s nothing on the page.

I’ve spent most of my adult life avoiding creation just to avoid the mess. (Nobody is going to be interested in this – why bother? Come on Lis, just spit it out already. Why are you making this so difficult? No no no – that’s so boring. What’s an intriguing metaphor? Nope. That’s bad too.)

And for some reason now the mess is less daunting than it is a thrilling obstacle course. I’m living in Big Sur – full of artists and other creators – and the more artists I meet the more ripples of inspiration buoy me. The more I write the more hungry I am to receive someone else’s creation and then I’m ready to write again. What a relief it is to be in the mess, after years of watching.

I want to mention that is isn’t out of disregard that I try to let go of my imaginings about other people in favor of my own soul intelligence. It’s actually out of a deep love. I think of my own struggling as a microcosm of the whole world. If I can’t find my own way, meet my own voice of dissent or even hate with some resilience, figure out what’s rattling around in my bones… it seems pointless and arrogant to figure out what someone else wants and try to deliver. I don’t want to offer you something I don’t have to give. I don’t want to be the maid with the dirty house.

And if my friends are a guide (and they are) – I know that my own voice is the biggest contribution I can make to Us. My advice, however well meaning, or my tiptoeing through relationship in fear of disappointing or any myriad of other things serves only to distance. The desire to give or the fear – these are real and wonderful – but until I own and express them, there’s little room to connect.

And look at that! In finding my voice I got the most wonderful advice! Thank god I wrote it down.

*btw – I stole the post title from the title of a book, that I just now understand

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Just you and me

I’m alone in a hostel in Sausalito tonight. A private room, as private as hostels go, that smells like a boy’s dirty socks. I’m attempting to remedy this with tea tree and eucalyptus soap-covered tissues that I’ve placed strategically around the room and I feel like a new-age MacGyver. It’s quieting down and I’m fading, but am drawn to write nonetheless.

Hostels tend to bring out my already predisposed leanings toward loneliness. So do going to concerts by myself, which I did tonight before coming here. It’s aloneness surrounded by people, which for me shines a bright light upon the way I relate, or rather often don’t relate with the world. I told my therapist this week that there are two chairs in relationship – expressing and receiving – and that I’ve spent WAY too much time in the receiving chair. I realized later that I actually haven’t been in either chair. I’ve been watching and reacting to other people, and most of the time I’m not only not receptive, but I actively shut down my receptivity from this place – spending a whole lot of time in relationship with myself. And all the watching becomes isolation that turns quickly into loneliness and resentment. So much so that it’s paved a well worn road to depression and despair.

The concert tonight was actually a public lecture – an interview with Ani Difranco at the Palace of Fine arts in San Francisco. She’s been a longtime source of musical, social and personal inspiration – I feel like I’ve grown up with her. It’s bizarre to feel like this with a stranger. A completely one-sided friendship, that on my one side, has been full of complexities and growth and emotion. She’s just a stranger I’ve watched and listened too more than the average person – while I go about having my reactions and relationship with myself. So I decided to really pay attention tonight to what relationship I’m having exactly. I listened, I received Ani’s offerings and felt nourished. And afterward came a strong and natural wave, of hunger for dialogue. I felt enlivened and inspired, and I wanted an outlet to share the new creations that were brewing in me with these new ingredients.

This is my practice. It’s why I decided (and re-decided, and re-decided) to start this blog. To feel fulfilled experiencing relationship in this way – this most basic giving and receiving that has been the primary developmental gap in my life. And I am already finding wells of vitality in me that have been long hidden. Since I started this blog I feel like a fountain has been turned on, and the more I express the more I want to receive and the more I want to express. This is what relationship is. I’m alone right now, writing in a strange, stinky room without knowing who, if anyone, will read this. But in writing I am learning how to find and speak what is inside of me. And if you are here receiving my little offering, it may grow something in you. What else on earth is there for us to do?

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