Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Touching Souls

How can you do the same thing for 18 years and still be inspired by it?

No one asks me this, per se. but it usually raises a few eyebrows of aston-
ishment when I mention on first nights of classes that I've been teaching for that long. It seems longevity either impresses people or horrifies them. Certainly any long-term relation-
ship--whether with a person, a place, or a profession--can slip into "automatic pilot," and although this may be comfy and cozy, it isn't necessarily inspiring.

How does one stay inspired? How do I stay in love with what I do or where I live or who I embrace week after week, year after year? A line of Joni Mitchell's comes to mind:

Love is touching souls.

Touching souls inspires me. And I get to do precisely that in all my classes. Still, I'm human: over time, things can get routine, I can get lazy. But then something happens to rouse me.

Last week, that something was this note from a long-ago workshop participant, the mother of a current student, that arrived in my Facebook mailbox:
I am so grateful to you for turning [my son] on to his writing. [M]y husband said that he shared some of what he wrote tonight with him, and... felt like he was getting a glimpse of his soul. Sometimes, when we are just experiencing [our son's] erratic and difficult behaviors, we and he don't have access to this deeper place and forget how much more there is to him...
I offer my deep gratitude and admiration to all who have shared their hearts and souls with me. May none of us ever lose sight of the inspiration that we are, that we can be.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Dakota is situated on South William Street and is perhaps one of the coolest pubs in Dublin. Lighting is dimmed down inside and with the top class music that is played this gives a chilled out atmosphere. The bar is long and you're never waiting long to be served by the cheerful barstaff. Pints are lovely and are not priced as bad as would be expected. It is very spacious and even though it does get crowded its layout ensures it never gets cramped. Also, has a small outdoor seating area in the front for those hot summer days (and smokers). Trendy and stylish, Dakota is well worth a visit as it manages to carry it off unlike some pubs.

Opening my mail this morning I find this enticement and think, "I've got to stop torturing myself with these and unsubscribe." In a few days, in a favorite section of the City, there'll be a Meetup of new found Dublin friends, and (being that I'm 3000 miles away) I'm going to miss it. Pang. Pang.

Hey, I know these pangs. They are not so different than those one feels after a lost love. Ohh... this... would be... so... lovely... I want to go, I am drawn to go, I envision the enjoyment I would experience, the sights I would see were I to go, but I can't go. Now there's a recipe for torture, no?

Yes, and no. Because after the pang comes the clear view, the truth behind it, its cause: this is a city I loved, a life I loved. This is a city and a life I shall continue to love. Each invitation rouses that fondness. And I ask myself: what's so bad about that? Surely there are worse things than being filled with love!

Unsubscribe? On second thought, I'd rather not.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Work That Matters Isn't Work

In the course of my so-called work, I often come across people who are unhappy with and usually ill suited to their current work. They would love to be doing something else, and in most cases they know what the "something else" is, but they are trepidatious about taking the leap. Fear--or mortgages, their kids' tuition and the like--has kept them stuck in place.

I know with every bone in my body that it always works out to go for it. All it takes is a passion, a trust if Life (in Love's way) that It knows what It's doing, and a leap: a great big (gulp or no gulp) YES! But it doesn't matter for others that
I know this, of course; they have to know it for themselves.

To those of you out there who are teetering on this fence especially, and to everyone else as well, I offer these words by Matthew Scott of
StrategicIncubator.com. His is a remarkable story, one of the most inspiring I've ever come across on this subject, and one which also happens to illustrate vividly how powerful we are-- right down to the capacity to manifest a place and cause of death of our own choosing. Grateful thanks to Matthew, to the Quality of Life Project where I found this compelling share, and to Anne for pointing me there: abundant blessings all around.

Four years ago on Christmas Eve, my father & I left my San Diego home to get my mother a last-minute gift.

Within minutes, my father spoke about things that a son is not always prepared to hear. He told me what he wanted if he were to suddenly pass away.

I asked him if he had any regrets about his personal or professional life? He placed his calloused hands, from years of working on an Arkansas farm, upon my knee and said to me, “I have none. And when you find the work that matters, Matthew, you will never work another day for the rest of your life.”

One last question, “Dad, if you had to pick a way to go, how would you want to go? My dad answered instantly, “That would be easy. I would be playing tennis with my hooligan buddies and hit the game winning backhand and then have a painless heart attack.”

Exactly nine days later my father passed away after experi- encing a massive heart attack while playing tennis with his buddies.

The next day, I resigned my position as a Vice President of a Biotechnology company in San Diego.

I have not “worked” in over four years since I found the work that matters to me.

Thanks, Dad.

Matthew ScottWest Linn, Oregon

Friday, June 05, 2009

Mother Love

I would never have predicted in my turbulent 20's or my self-
absorbed thirties that this day would arrive when I would appreciate my mother for the sweetness she bring to my days.

When I left Boston last July for my Irish adventure, my mother was still shuffling around only with the aid of a walker, still inching her way back to her fully-abled, active life. Today, she is walking and driving and swimming as before her accident--making plans, taking pleasure, on the good days--and that is wonderful to see. But she is not fully recovered, and a bit discouraged: she is starting to feel old. Or maybe she is fully recovered, and she is getting old. Either way, I notice she is increasingly poised for 'winding down' and talking the talk of going.

On the question of recovery, she decided to ask the surgeon who put her hip back together last June if her aches and pains were normal.

"You know, most people your age are dead," was all he had to say.

She laughed, of course, and laughs again each time she shares the story. But however comic his response, it offered no conclusion or solution.

It's true: most people are dead by 84. And though my mother has come close twice, she is still very much alive. She is enthused about a new condo she might buy up here. She's contemplating winters in Florida. She's discovered T'ai Chi and is excited about what it promises for her flexibility and all-around well being. She raved about the tape I bought her for Mother's Day to support her practice:

"It's perfect! So easy to follow. It's better than the classes at the Y. I'll use this every day!"

Which prompted my suggesting she have my brother make a back-up copy for her. "VHS does wear out," I said. It was a lively conversation, and it did my heart good to hear her so happy, so forward looking, so full of life. She returned to the topic when we spoke a few days later.

"You were awfully optimistic the other day," she started.


"You said I should have Steve make a copy of the tape. How long do you think I'm gonna live?"

"Well, your sister's about to turn 90!" was my first thought. My last living Aunt was about to be feted for her milestone birthday. But just behind that thought was this one:

You'll live as long as you say you're going to live.

I'm keenly aware that Life follows thought; I know she has every say in this matter. And I always hope she'll opt for thoughts of staying. But since the accident, she doesn't feel great. Incentives to stay, everyday enjoyment are no longer a given. I never had aches and pains. Your father's gone. There's not much here for me...: these are the thoughts of her not-so-good days, and the ones she'll leave by.

I understand, of course. And I wouldn't fault her for choosing to go. But I do hope she'll postpone it awhile. I do hope she's still healing and will feel increasingly better. I hope for her incentives to grow. Because for my part, it would be ever so lovely to enjoy this sweetness a good while longer.