Thursday, September 5, 2013

Life As You See It - Plus Cats

"Develop interest in life as you see it, in people, things, literature, music - the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls, and interesting people.  Forget yourself." 
- Henry Miller

I once went to a fertility practitioner when my cycles became irregular.  She massaged ovaries for a living, and taught women to do the same for themselves.  She served tea in a basement room carpeted with oriental rugs and lined with peace-filled doohickeys.  I don't know what I was expecting, but I left feeling like a giant failure.  My cycles, however, snapped right in line. 

The practitioner asked a question about my relationship to my body, and I responded with essays-worth of material.  I tied my geographical location to various stages of esteem in this diatribe, at the end of which she took a giant breath and recommended a book called Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn. 

For some reason, I felt humiliated. I felt like I had legitimately opened up about something and was responded to as one might address someone who simply needs to get a grip, and here's a Dr. Suess-sounding book for sad sacks like you, to speed you on your way! 

Wherever You Go, There You Are is a best-seller about mindfulness and meditation, and let's be honest, I really did need to get a grip.  The book is truly not bad, as I found out recently when I finally speed-read it.  Isn't that what you are supposed to do with spiritual books - skim them? 

I read a tip on the Harvard Business Review website about how to listen to someone vent.  (Never mind that a knitting blog and the HBR are two of my favorite internet reads.)  The tip said something like, help the venting person identify their frustrations.  Jumping in too soon with advice could make them smash their fist into your nose (paraphrase mine).

Anyhoo, during my speed-read of the Jon Kabat-Zinn book this month, I came across the following and thought, as Paul Simon might, Hey...that's astute!  (Why don't we get together and call ourselves an institute?)

From Wherever You Go, There You Are:

"Our esteem problems stem in large part from our thinking, colored by past experiences....The wounds are important, but so are our inner goodness, our caring, our kindness toward others, the wisdom of the body, our capacity to think, to know what's what.  And we do know what's what, much more than we allow."

I sometimes overlook the innate kindness present in myself, and instead measure my life in unhelpful and even competitive ways.  But more than any on-paper accomplishments I've earned, the simple ability to genuinely care for people brings me mountains of self-esteem.  Nothing feels better than raw presence and kind attention.  It's elemental, totally free, and doesn't make me feel like I need to order a book from Amazon to "get life."

I like the pathway Amelia detailed on the blog we share, Grizzly & Golden.  She wrote about healing jealousy by opening her heart to another being's happiness. It is really beautiful. Click here to read, and leave a comment if you are feeling extra-credity.  Even though it appears like Amelia and I just want to gab with each other, really, that space is for all of us.

For more inspiration and data on the human spirit, listen to part of Phillippe Petit's Ted Talk on NPR's Ted Radio Hour.  That guy is out of his mind in the best possible way.

And, for your next dose of Animals On the Internet, check out 15 Cats Who Are Leaning In.  Just look at all those feline feminists in the workplace!

That is it!  Go out and be yourself - your best, caring, innate wise self that counts 100 times more than all the problems you think you have.  Otherwise, I will be forced to recommend best-selling books and trust me, no one wants that.

With love,



  1. This is a GREAT reminder. Alsooo, I had heard that Ted talk (as it turned out) but I liked re-listenting to it in the context of this post. What an irrepressible spirit!!

  2. I love that I read your blog and end up with 5 other links to websites that I need to go read! Thanks for the reminder!