When Sh** Hits the Fan

First things first: I’ve missed you. And because of that, Mindfulness Soirees are back… and in a brand new spot! Next one is Monday May 12th at 7:30pm at 102 Thompson Street (the new Faherty Brand Store). If you haven’t been there, prepare to meditate in a beach bungalow. All are welcome.

I’ve been terrible at writing my weekly newsletters this past month. I could give you a slew of reasons for this, but let’s just keep it at things are “cray,” (dad, that’s short for “crazy”), meaning: 

1) I’m flakier than a buttered croissant when it comes to social meetings (“ack…can we reschedule?)
2) My home cooked meals are now made by Eddie at the cafe across the street
3) I answer 75% of work phone calls with the question, “what’s wrong? 
4) I wake up every day thinking it’s Monday
5) I now wear Alex’s clothes because they’re cleaner than mine (this truly is a low point)
6) My work outs amount to calf raises in the shower
7) My poetry laden journal has become my daily to-do list planner
8) Seeing elderly people eat makes me teary eyed (clearly that’s another issue…)
9) I’m researching farm real estate in Nova Scotia 
10) I don’t make the bed every morning (this really sums it up)

I used to pride myself on being balanced, rationing my time and resources like a perfect food pyramid (1 cup work; 1 cup friends; 1 cup leisure; 2 ounces exercise). Now my plate looks like a heaping portion of sloppy joe.

The good news is that amidst my frenzied disintegration into Imbalance, I have broken no rules. As the wonderful Sylvia Boorstein gently asks, “where is it written that you’re supposed to be happy all the time?” No where is it written that we need to have all our ducks in a row or things figured out or a nicely structured, productive day. 

What a relief.

When sh** hits the fan, most of our pain stems not from things going wrong, but from the belief that things should be going right. It has not been written. 

My current quest? To find ease when things go wrong and okayness in being  “Imbalanced Frenzied Kerry.”  

Namaste?

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Shut Up and Listen.

Hope to see you tonight at the Faherty Beach Bungalow at 102 Thompson Street. Doors open 7:30pm, meditation starts at 7:45pm. All welcome!

Mindfulness tip of the week? Shut up and listen. Often the noise in our head is louder than the noise in our minds (dear brain, stop screaming at me!), so taking a moment to listen to external cues is an easy (and quick) reminder to be present. 

So take a moment to notice sounds outside: birds chirping, ambulance blaring, people chatting, co-workers chewing.

And then maybe, take a moment to hear the sound of your breathing.

That’s it. 

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On Freaking Out

Let’s cut to the chase this morning: does mindfulness actually work? 

Quick story from my own life. But before I begin, let me contextualize. I like coming home at the end of the day to a clean home. Every roommate I’ve ever had can attest to this desire. My mind is messy enough, so when my house is messy bad things happen. 

Two weeks ago, my brother and I returned to cold NYC from 10 days in India on a work trip. I had been up for 48 hours; I was severely dehydrated; I got locked out; I had to beg my landlord to let me in; I didn’t have my contacts in; and I desperately had to pee. 

My beloved husband had wrote me a thoughtful, somewhat panicked email that said, “I didn’t have time to clean the apartment, I’m so sorry.” Thankful for the heads up, but optimistic that the apartment would not be in squalor, I walked in and, gasp, my apartment looked like 5 year old had been house sitting. Without airing too much of my husband’s dirty laundry (which, may I add, was EVERYWHERE), the apartment was a mess. Seething from my foggy jetlagged mind, I sat down on the toilet only to find…. there was no toilet paper. 

RAGE. 

I quickly picked up my phone and started writing a very harsh text replete with “are you freaking kidding me?!” and superlatives like “alwwaaaays” and generalizations on the quantity of love he has for me and an incident that occurred 8 years and all those things you learn in Therapy 101 not ever to say.

But then, something happened. 

I didn’t send the text. I erased it and I wrote another (without the “freakin’s). And then I wrote another (without the exclamation points). And another. 

And eventually the one I sent looked like “I feel disappointed and bummed out when….” and “how can we avoid this from happening again” and blah blah blah (boring!).  And then I sat in the bath for an hour till I turned to a prune and all the negative energy could slip down the drain.  

Inevitably (INEVITABLY!) we will change as we practice. And we know this, not only because neuroscientists have now proven mindfulness can change the physical structure of our prefrontal cortex and shrink the size of our fear-regulating amygdala  (is this med-talk turning you on right now?), but because we (or others) start to to see subtle shifts in our own life. 

These subtle shifts are sometimes so subtle we don’t realize they’re happening. But when we realize we used to flip out, and now we flip out less, these are profound (and celebratory) moments.

Let’s learn to freak out less.

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Is it Just Me Or…

Is it just me, or is this week, like, the most depressing week of the year?! (For those of you in sunny California soaking up the sun and sipping ICED coffee (hi Shannon!), please disregard the below) (show off).

I’m in NYC. It’s freaking February. It’s cold. I’m shoveling spoonfuls of mashed potatoes in my mouth like its steel cut oats. I wear 4 sweaters at a time.  I can’t get out of bed in the morning. I only eat at restaurants that have fireplaces. I complain that I personally don’t have a fireplace in my 500 sq foot apartment. And I look at people wearing fur coats and am actually jealous (I mean….!??!!).

So what does one do in this season of “Ugh-ness?”

You wake up. You eat breakfast. You have a cup of coffee/tea and think, this is warm. You go to work. You laugh with co-workers at how miserable it is outside. You eat your lunch and get full. You keep working. You look forward to going home and relaxing. You get home and relax and do something you enjoy.  You snuggle into your bed. You take a sigh of relief. The day is complete. You go to sleep.

Sometimes life is a grind and a struggle. (Scratch that…life is always some type of struggle). Sometimes we’re in survival mode. (We’re always surviving). Sometimes we want to hibernate and hide from the world. (If bears can do it, why can’t we?)

It’s just as okay to be somber and sad and tired and stressed as it is to be grateful and funny and hopeful and glad. We can experience it all in one day, one hour, one minute.

And amidst these emotions, these intense, all-encompassing, changing emotions, sometimes we pause and we recognize….

this is ALIVENESS.

this is what it feels like to be alive. To feel. To be aware. And here. And okay.

Sometimes simply surviving is the most beautiful act of strength. And an occasional smile or offering of gratitude a profound victory.

We can use whatever we’re experiencing  today to connect more deeply to others. As Pema Chodron says, “When you feel bad, let it be your link to others’ suffering. When you feel good, let it be your link with others’ joy.”

Be alive with me for a mindfulness soiree Monday, February 17th at 7:30pm. 54 West 21st Suite 608. All welcome. Donation based.

When in doubt (or chilly) (or miserable), meditate. Let’s do it together.

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Everyday is Groundhog Day

h yes, yesterday was Groundhog Day–the day, not when the groundhog potentially sees its shadow, but when we’re are wisely reminded by Bill Murray (in his 1993 classic) that we really only live ONE day, over and over again.

Meaning, our whole life unfolds in a simple span of 24 hours, perpetually.

Meaning, we only live in ONE Day, which is today.  (It will never, not be today).

Meaning, each day is the SAME, but what unfolds within it, is different.

Have I lost you? I’ve almost lost myself….

In sum, life’s calendar only has one calendar box–the 1st of the month.

So if every day is Groundhog’s Day, we might as well celebrate it like New Year’s Day, full of hope that today is the start of something new, that change is possible.

Happy Groundhog Day, may your Resolutions (just for today) come true.

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