Tuesday, February 12, 2013

f*ck "stuck"

It wasn't long ago that I found myself stuck.

Physically, stuck. In my car. On a snowy, slippery path declining straight into a river. Couldn't reverse out of it, couldn't move any farther forward. My palms were sweating, my heart was racing, and my lunch hour was quickly running out. Soon I'd be late getting back to work. And here I was -- stuck.

I tried rocking back and forth, going from "drive" to "reverse" as swiftly as I could. I'd back up a few inches and think I was saved, only to have my tires start spinning again and slide back down the hill, even closer to the river. Being in a state forest in the middle of the day on a Tuesday, there wasn't anyone around to beg for help. I felt doomed.

After a long while, I realized I could pull forward and off the path to the right, risking gunning the engine and avoiding trees and picnic tables and any unseen rocks far enough to swing back around and meet up with the main road farther down. In a moment of bravery, I did just that. I managed to steer clear of any stumps and ended up getting one wheel up onto the main road before I was stuck even harder than before -- now looking like a fool, having driven my car through the woods from the direction of the river. Holding back tears, I saw a man and his dog pull up just then and asked him to help push me out. Within just seconds, I put the car in neutral, steered straight ahead, and this earth angel pushed me to safety. Adrenaline rushed and I was freed, only a few minutes behind schedule. I thanked him profusely and sped back to work, shoes soaked and pants muddy.

The thing is.....in that moment of sweaty-palms, racing-heart, and teary-eyes, I was so totally sure I was stuck. I was stuck. My car wasn't moving. The snow was against me. I'd be there forever, or until a tow truck came. There was no getting around it. Stuck, stuck, stuck.

Once I was able to gain some perspective on the situation, I realized how familiar that place is: going into survival mode, dropping down into a pit of despair, throwing up hands and throwing in the towel. It's so easy. And it's a pretty common place -- you've said yes to plans you wished you'd said no to, you're in a job you hate and there's no other options, you declare yourself depressed and there's no way out anytime soon, you don't know what to do in that tricky situation. For the past month I've known that place intimately. Shutting out light and declaring myself "stuck." Waiting for the upswing, as if it's some great outside force that's going to come sweep you off your feet and drop you back into the real world. Deciding it must be a reaction to a food or a general dissatisfaction for current circumstances. The label of "stuck." Anything to keep the responsibility away.

Yes, I know that place, well.

To which I now say, fuck "stuck."

(I say this in the gentlest of ways, like an urgent encouragement of the word "stuck" to dislodge itself from your mind.)

"Stuck" is just a mindset. It's not real. It does not define you. Contrary to what your mind is trying to tell you, it isn't a place you're in.

It's a state of being, in your head. Which is good news, because we can change those much easier than we can a two-ton vehicle sliding through the snow on a hill.

Flip the switch. Feel into what you need and make any tiny little adjustment that needs making. Open the heart chakra. Make a decision, in that instant, to let love in. Smile, breathe, trust. You are not stuck. Fuck stuck. You are never stuck.

Just open. Open yourself up a tiny little bit, invite in a gentle softening.

Suddenly a crack of light will make its way into your field of vision. You can step forward and open the door, and that crack will become wider, bigger, brighter, until the whole room of your heart is lit up. And you can hold onto that doorknob anxiously, just waiting for the next opportunity to ease it shut again, or you can

let it go. And exhale and smile and let it all pass through you, aware and trusting.

And throw your arms up and stand in your light, bravely.

Because you are never stuck.

Monday, February 4, 2013


creating haven

I'd like to see the South of France.

And Asheville.

And Sedona.

And Reykjavic.

And Tuscany.

And South Africa again, too.

What is the proper method for going about life when a severe case of wanderlust sinks in? The method doesn't even have to be proper. It just has to be.....a method. A coping mechanism. A bandaid for the time being, until the world travel can really happen.

Perhaps there needs to be the expansion, first. The watching of movies and the reading of National Geographics and the stumbling upon of photos that take your breath away and spark a sincere desire for more. For possibility, for excitement, for culture. One minute you're putting in Under The Tuscan Sun for a cheap weekend chick flick and the next minute you're pressing pause abruptly, looking up sharply, and speaking aloud to no one in particular: "I must go to Tuscany." (This has happened to me once before -- I was drifting off to sleep when I sat bolt upright and declared I must go to some such place. And I did, four weeks later -- although that was just to NYC, not across oceans.) The presence of possibility must be there first.

And then there's this idea of home, that home is found within you, deep in the recesses of your heart. And that home doesn't depend on where one is physically in the world.

I've always struggled with that one.

It can be especially difficult, when you're trying to navigate the deep recesses of your heart and your outer surroundings are so decidedly not home. At least, not in that moment. Unpacking your belongings and setting up shop within your own body can seem like the farthest thing from truth.

bathroom sink 

And then there are moments when you're cleaning the bathroom, immersing yourself in the most mundane of tasks simply because a series of repetitive actions without much thinking sounds good to you, and you're suddenly caught by the Saturday morning sunlight catching the water droplets in your just-scrubbed sink and you think to yourself: "That has got to be the most beautiful thing in the world." And so getting out the camera and taking pictures of the bathroom sink becomes perfectly natural, in that moment. It is the closest thing to truth, safety, resonance, and warmth that you've felt in awhile.

The mundane suddenly becomes the magical. The act of making the bed, refilling your water glass, hanging up your coat, setting the alarm, pushing in your chair.....punctuated by the most astounding moments of clarity and contentment. One day after another, in and out, mundane and magic.

And then -- you've created a haven. The word "haven" has been following me lately, tugging at my heels wanting to be heard. It feels nurturing and expansive and personal. It feels like an enormous blank wall, all your own. Settling down into this haven, unpacking the items marked "fragile" and spreading the softest comforter over the bed -- this is where the room for possibility is created. The room for moments of sharp wanderlust that hit you gently in your gut and make you think, "Oh yeah. I'll go there some day, for sure." The room for hyper-awareness of the clarity and contentment that will undoubtedly rush in.

Someday I'll see the South of France. And Asheville, and Sedona, and Reykjavic, and Tuscany, and I'll go back to South Africa, too.

But for now, I'm setting up a haven. Deeply and soulfully. And stopping to take pictures, yes.