Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Negotiating Integrity

I'm sitting in a torture chamber as I write this blog post. Cleverly disguised as a neighborhood coffee house, this is a den of iniquity for me right now.  The tantalizing smell of coffee brewing wafts around me like a favorite hat that is swooped from my head by a gust of wind.   It is swirling around me, tantalizingly close and always inches out of reach.   

I'm on a cleanse. This is day 16 of a 21-day cleanse, as a matter of fact.  I've had a couple of blips along the way but no coffee. I don't drink coffee on a daily basis, saving it for those days when I need that extra pick-me-up or for a weekend coffee date with my husband.  And I've been doing fine with a daily cup of Yerba mate tea, which has it's own smidge of naturally occurring caffeine, in place of the latte I so dearly love, for lo these past sweet sixteen.  I was caught totally off guard this morning, then, when the urge for one great coffee buzz flattened me like Wile E. Coyote running himself over with a steamroller.   

"Just one cup," I thought. "One small cup will give me the energy to get some work done." I haven't felt a real sense of accomplishment since I started this cleanse.  "It will be organic," I reasoned. "I can maintain my integrity and my pledge to reduce my toxic load, if it's a cold brewed, shade grown, Fair Trade, organic coffee. It will be nothing less than a heroic, selfless act of Eco-commerce." I will do whatever it takes to negotiate with Mr. Will & Ms. Integrity and get myself out of this caffeine and sugar deprived stupor. 

This is what I do. I'm an excellent negotiator, if I say so myself, even if the bulk of my professional experience is among Me, Myself and I. We can be a tough crowd, so it's a testament to my skill to note just how often I'm able to get us all to come to terms. 

We all three got into the car and drove to Organix, the local organic food store, to see what we could work out.  I noticed immediately that the store is out of my favorite tea.  This didn't bode well for Me.  "Do you have any organic coffee?" I heard Myself ask. 

"There's a nice organic cold brew in the refrigerator," the clerk said, as he handed a bottle to Me who could barely contain her joy. I saw Myself reflected in the glass of the refrigerator glass, and I could see she was pissed. "You're not going to give up so easily, are you?" she hissed. I shrugged. "Perhaps it's meant to be," I said.  I put a single bottle in my cart. "It's got a real bottle cap, so we can't open it until we get home to a bottle opener," I said to reassure Myself. "Maybe this will all have blown over by then."

Back at home, I had just enough time to put away the groceries before it was time to head out to this writing meetup. I made Me put the cold brew into the fridge. She relented only because I pointed out, "this is a brew to savor, not to be slammed down in a rush." I saw Myself giving Me a celebratory thumbs up, which deflated Me. "Besides," I said, "we don't need it. Our next stop is a coffeehouse.  With all organic coffee!"  

We all got back into the car. "Blackberry tea, please!" I heard Myself blurt out at the counter, before anyone else could speak. I glanced at Me who fell into a petulant pout.  I took the tea to our usual table and set us up to write. "Isn't this nice?" I said. "We worked it all out and we're still friends."

The mere suggestion of a compromise riled Me.  I heard her scheming, "okay, fine, not today, but the cold brew is definitely on for breakfast tomorrow. It's organic, there's no need to rush tomorrow, plenty of time to savor it..."  I heard Myself sigh. 

All this dissension is making it hard for me to my concentrate on writing.    Maybe it will be better tomorrow, after that coffee.....

Monday, August 18, 2014

Missing My Blankie

Laying on my back with my legs up on the wall, I'm enjoying an end-of-yoga class reverie when I hear the instructor say, "I love that you brought your own blanket!" to another student.  I'm flooded with anguish.  Just last week, I was relieved of the possession of my favorite blanket.   I'm still grieving its loss.  It wasn't just any blanket, mind you.  It was a cheery red plaid and designed for outdoor use, with a waterproof backside.  It rolled up and had a handy leather handle, so I could take it anywhere in nature I wanted to write.  I've written countless blog posts and most of my eBook while sitting on that blanket.  It has accompanied me to to mountaintops and creek beds, from cultivated gardens to wild woods.  

Oh, I know you can find replacements everywhere now.  Ours was the first I'd ever seen,however, when David bought it in an after-Christmas sale more than ten years ago.  I remember it clearly because I thought it was still too expensive, not "clearance" priced at all. "We already have blankets," I protested.  I just couldn't see the value of it.  Fast forward to starting the Natural Muse meetup, and I'm trekking all over Los Angeles, finding remote and often dirty or muddy places in nature where I can sit with Nature to write.  I quickly discovered the value of that blanket.  Easy to tote.  Big enough for me and all my gear. Waterproof backside to stay dry even when I'm perched creekside.  

A week ago, I brought it home from writing by the duck pond at the Holy Spirit Retreat Center.  We also use it in our "outdoor room," so I dropped it in a lawn chair on the way from my car to the front door.  That's the last time I saw it.  Part of me still holds out hope that I've done something with it that I just don't remember.  That happens more often than I care to recount.  The other part of me says that it's gone to a good home, that anyone who would take a blanket needs a warm, dry place to sit (or sleep) more than I do.  

And still I miss it.  Why am I so sentimental about this blanket, anyway?  It wasn't handmade or a family heirloom. I have the means to replace it.  My mind is baffled even as my heart aches for it.  (My mind also says that nobody is going to be interested in a missing blanket to read an entire blog post about it).

I'm sitting indoors, as I write this, a rare blog post composed while sitting at an actual table.  Call me Linus, I just can't bring myself to write outside today without my trusty blanket.  The blanket was a sort of ticket to explore, I muse.  No matter where I went, whether I knew where I was going or how to find it, I knew I'd have a familiar place to sit. 

Have blanket.  Will travel.  And write.  

What's making this whole experience so miserable for me, I realize, is that I'm keeping my focus on "what I've lost."  We're remodeling a bathroom in our house now, and, as excited as I am to see the progress, I'm also feeling pangs of nostalgia.  The bathroom where we've bathed babies is no more.  My children are babies no more.  Am I just a sentimental mess, always missing what is no more?  Maybe there's more wrapped up in this blanket than I have realized.

I'm reminded of a suggestion made by life coach Jessica Colp in a master class on Acceptance and Surrender.  Use your own breath to move into the feeling of acceptance and surrender, she says.  Every inhale is an experience of  receiving (acceptance) and every exhale is an experience of letting go (surrender).  I settle back into my chair and, with every exhale, I imagine my blanket keeping someone else warm on cool summer night or a with family picnicking by a babbling creek. 

My act of Surrender "complete," I do a quick search online, and I find replacement blankets are readily available, costing half of what we paid years ago.  I just can't bring myself to buy one of them.  I don't want just "any blanket" to replace mine.  I'm going to Etsy and find one that's handmade.  One that's special.  And I can't help but hope (you know it goes) that I just might find the old one as soon as I buy the new.

For more about life coach Jessica Colp, see