Monday, September 28, 2015


After my surgery I asked the nurse if I'd ever get married.
(This from the girl who has sworn off that and all other sacraments. And Catholicism.).
They say medication makes you say things you wouldn't otherwise say, that surgery makes you face your mortality in fun and exciting ways, and that jello makes you curious.
(I may have made the last one up).
I can (and will) assert my 5th amendment privilege here, despite it's irrelevance. It's basically none of your business.
Oh, right. Who am I kidding? I have literally no idea why I would have asked that. Or even if I asked that. Maybe he's pulling my chain because he knows how sore I am on the topic of marriage these days. Maybe that's the scopolamine talking.
I'm in the gooey center right now, between friends who are newly (and probably - possibly) happily married and those who are recently or soon to be divorced. It's an awkward place to be - a place I had never considered - based on my marital privilege. I just figured you met someone who could tolerate your midnight tongue-clicking, your occasional bursts of ineptitude, your bizarre fear of slipping on the stairs and not being discovered for days and you tied the knot. Put a ring on it while THE END scrolled down the movie screen of your mind.
There is more to the story.
And this part is uncharted. I don't have a template, because Disney ends before the s#it gets real, because my parents (and their parents) stayed married forever, and because my crystal ball is still in the shop and my magic 8 ball keeps saying "ask again later."
My perfect marriage ended perfectly, but just as I can feel the scopolamine and the versed and the god-knows-what-else still coursing through my veins, I can still feel the venom that lead to separation, divorce. I skipped out on the wedding of the century this weekend because I still need to lie down without warning. Many friends told me to be "gentle with myself" post surgery, because recovery can be sneaky - episodic - on again, off again. And I ignored those warnings several times, with nearly disastrous results.
The same is true, I fear, in recovery from divorce.
Surgery changes you. They cut you open and take out something that you grew - something that was you - that is you. Divorce is similar. It cuts you, leaving you vulnerable to overheating and over-sharing in the worst of possible situations. And if you deny the pain and push forward, put on a show and let everyone believe that you're alright, you do a disservice to yourself and to anyone who looks to you as an example. You neglect the healing - the grace - the gentleness that is required to become comfortable as a new whole.
Nothing will replace what was removed. Nothing will repair what was once there - once part of you - but I think (I hope) that with grace and gentleness (and a few tantrums and unscheduled breaks along the trail), that the new whole will someday feel like home.

Thursday, September 24, 2015


It's still right now. Unsettling things are sometimes called disquieting, but the stillness – the quietness – it's a bit much on it's own this morning. Eight years ago it was windy, and last year was unseasonably warm.

Today is my anniversary, and what I've learned is that the longer I live, the more anniversaries I have. The more meaning and history saturates each day:
April 4th – Bad News Day
May 10th – Start Something New Day
November 11th – Coulda Woulda Beena Birthday.

I'm fortunate enough to have had mostly good Christmas mornings. My birthday has been a mixed bag.

 Today is the best.

 And the worst.

 Eight years ago I woke up with my head pointed in one direction while my heart pointed in another. Ditto last year. It's getting to the point where now when I see golden aspen leaves in the hillside or on social media, I start to cringe, to buckle down and anticipate the coming of the darkness.

 I should have gotten married on the spring equinox rather than the fall, because then my anniversary would point me towards longer, warmer days rather than settling me into darker, windier nights. Equality seemed like a good message for a wedding, but that message wasn't the kind of magic that ends in happily ever after.

But there was magic in it.

Ten years ago I was on a train to the top of Pikes Peak and the wind rustled the billions of golden aspen leaves to the same melody that was playing in my heart. I was sure – certain.

Eight years ago I marched down the aisle after my heart had taken a dangerous tumble down the road less traveled. Less sure, but determined, nonetheless.

Last year I walked into the courthouse alone, the thunder of my heels clicking ARE YOU SURE? with each step.

 When my doctor's office called me to schedule my surgery, I thought I'd get a handful of dates.

 But this was the date that they offered.

 I've run the gamut on this date, from absolute certainty to maddening indecision. Knowing this, I've given myself complete permission to back out at any minute, something I perhaps should have done eight years ago.

Something I should do every day.

But days like today are carved inwards like scars, each passing year offering its blade to the etching. Whatever time has healed reopens. This day is more than the equal weight of sun and moon, it has a gravity for me that I can no longer overlook. My ex-husband suggested that I stay in next year with the shutters closed, sealed in against the ineffable fate that will rain down on me, like the Universe has it in for me on this day.

I see it differently.

I think that this date is an invitation for me – like the one day a year the wormhole opens and I have the opportunity to walk through, or peek through, or click through and see the future. Or maybe just see life as it is without the layers of foggy memory and sad memories.

Today I get to walk into a building as one person and walk out with a new identity. I have done this before, thrice, on this very same day, from this very same vantage point to the sun. But this time I know who I am.

And who I'm leaving behind.

Eagle Medicine

Tomorrow is a big, big day for me.
For the past three years, I've dealt with a difficult and debilitating diagnosis. While I get that Unexplained Infertility should be the most minor of complaints - like going to Universal Studios and then learning that Harry Potter Land is closed for renovation - it's still disappointing. There are LOTS of other rides out there, people. Plenty of other adventures.
And yet.
In the past several years I've tried on dozens of different healing modalities. Western Medicine says I'm "totally fine and ovulating like a rabbit," so I've tried fun list of things.
I've tried doing everything right. Then I tried doing everything wrong. 
Through this, several things have bubbled up to the surface, including the idea that problem is not in my head. Whatever your frustration is, I promise you that it exists both in the real world and in your head. Maybe it started one place and migrated to the other. I'm not sure what the case is in my instance, just as I cannot tell you what it is in yours. What I can say is that you do not deserve whatever malady ails you. It isn't fair that Harry Potter was on vacation the one weekend you made it out to visit. You are as in charge of your own destiny as the universe is.... you are dealt cards and then you have to play with them. Or walk away from the table. The control you have in this life, at least, is in making those kinds of decisions. Riding the water ride or heading off to the beach.
(I always choose the beach).
I'm not able to fully support myself through this. I tried, for a long time, and I'm the stubborn girl who used to hold my breath until I passed out (and still didn't get my way). I've accepted the suggestions and tried everything on. I was a VEGAN, PEOPLE. And now I eat therapeutic meat.
I spent so much money on my health that I neglected my happiness.
This was my biggest mistake. 
Rather than trusting my intuition and soaking in healing waters, gifting myself ample beach time and excessive massage, I ate seaweed and turned my life into a science experiment with an obsession not unlike Frankenstein, with equally monstrous results.
My biggest lesson? We make our own medicine. Everyone has an idea, a treatment, a solution. There is snake oil around every corner, and most of it works. Just not for you. For medicine to work, you have to believe in it. Which means that sometimes you have to make it for yourself. A few weeks ago I started binging on healing services, in preparation for The Big One. The anesthesia scares me the most, followed closely by the lack of control and my inability to take anything in with me. No friends, no tokens, no jewelry or images as I've done in times past. I can't even repeat a prayer or a mantra while I'm under. And while I understand that we're all on the same team, the surgeon, the anesthesiologist and I, it's a level of vulnerability I'm really not comfortable with.
A few weeks ago I spent time with a healer who mentioned something about eagle medicine - perspective, long view. It rolled around in my head with the kind of resonance that means something to me, and the next morning in my meditation I saw an image of a woman with an eagle tattooed on her chest, a seedling in one hand, ashes in the other. I wanted to draw her, except that I haven't drawn anything in a long time, so I just sketched her out in my journal. And later that week, when I had essentially decided I didn't want the surgery, my perspective shifted. I decided to allow this surgery to be more symbolic than practical. Sure, it's possible that Dear Polly is causing lots of my uncomfortable symptoms in addition to my "unexplained infertility," but what is more important to me is giving over control and allowing someone else to remove the psychic burdens that I've been carrying myself. Psychic surgery, where the thoughts are concentrated into their physical manifestations and removed.
This has given me a moment of peace (so has giving myself permission to back out at any moment). But I still needed to take something with me, something more than the good wishes and intentions that everyone is lopping my way.
And so I'm taking this eagle. My friend, a gifted artist, came and drew this totem on my chest as I had seen it in my vision, in henna, the only medium allowed into the operating room with me. This is my medicine. A shift in beliefs. Asking for help. Listening to what I really need.
What is yours?

I'd Vote for You

When did the American Presidency become a booby prize? 
I'm not sure. I was allowed to take a crash-course in American History over the summer, so I learned six weeks worth of primarily useless information, like President Taft got stuck in his bathtub. My civics class was worse, as my civics teacher was more invested in his (and our) Christian beliefs than - say - civics, which is why he was fired mid-year from my public junior high school. Second semester we covered the judicial branch, so I really have no idea how this process works. But somewhere, somehow, this process appears to have changed.
Sometimes I joke that you (yes YOU) would make a better choice than the vast majority of the candidates out there, except that I'm not confident that I'm joking. You, my friend, have many of the qualities it takes to lead the free world. Maybe you couldn't explain the electoral college in 100 words, and maybe you don't know anything about defense. Perhaps your understanding of geography is similar to mine. I once knew all of the state capitals by heart, and I'm very familiar with every country in the world, as the world was in either 1945, when the globe at my house was painted, or in 1993, when I took geography and had to memorize everything. But I believe a few things give you a leg or two up on several of the folks I've seen flash across my newsfeed as I try (desperately) to scroll past.
Reasons I think YOU should be President:
1. You know how to ask for help. Maybe you don't think you do, but I know you do. I've heard you do it. If you don't remember the precise capital of Illinois (it's tricky), I'm willing to bet you'd google it or phone-a-friend. Do this more. Ask for help daily, like a prayer or a mantra. Say "help me" and my vote is yours.
2. You love someone or something more than money. Maybe you fixate a bit more on what you have (or haven't got) in the bank, but my guess is that you have a few standards when it comes to money, time, and energy. You are working on it, I know. You spend more on coffee or fluffy socks or scratch-off tickets than you'd like, but there are a few things you wouldn't do for money. You know that money is a made-up thing that is necessary in the world, but that it is less valuable than real things like people, plants, and even cool rock formations.
3. You can say, "I was wrong." You do this with some frequency, I know it. Maybe your interval is rather long, as is my mother's. She will go 10 years without needing to admit she made a mistake, but that's because she's nearly perfect. My father says it many times a day (this may be the secret to a successful marriage, although I'm not sure because it didn't work for mine). The more you say it when it needs to be said, the easier it is to make up and go play hopscotch.
Maybe you're not an American, or maybe you're under 35 or even possibly a felon, and all of these things disqualify you. But please don't focus on them, because they don't matter. You have all of the qualities that matter, and the more you execute them, the better the world feels for everyone. 
Also, you share your bananas, which helps.
Keep sharing. Maybe the sentiment will trickle up?


I feel like I've run out of time. I'm heading into surgery on Tuesday (maybe... I think so... in all likelihood) and I feel like it's a momentous event, the excision of Polly the Polyp. 
I also feels like it is an end.
It doesn't help when the nurse on the phone reminds you to bring your ID and health insurance card along with a copy of your advanced directives. And not to bother bringing anything else of value with you. Like St. Peter doesn't have use for your moderately old, helplessly out of date iPhone or your favorite lip gloss.
There's so much I'd like to do in this life, so many more things to write. I've been writing with reckless abandon for the last three weeks as though the sands are all in the bottom half of the hour glass and there are just a few grains clinging to the glass above with a tiny bit of static and a prayer.
But I have more to say, please hear that. I hope I haven't used up all of my good lines. I hope I sleep soundly for three minutes and then pop back into the soundness of mind that I've appreciated to date.
We speak of time as though it is a thing we have, or have had. As though the reality is that we contained the time and kept it captive and not that it had run through us graying our hair and weathering our skin. But that is the reality. Time cannot be contained any more than spirit or gravity. You don't get to cash in your good karma or your 401(k) for an extra few minutes, no matter how many great last lines you've still got up your sleeve.
Time is long at the dentist and short in Hawaii, and no matter how long or short it is, you will never have it, and it will never be enough.
So look at your agenda today, tomorrow, next week and realize - recognize - that this electronic screen or paper schedule is an illusion of time in a cage, of control of what will come. Fill your days with experiences that make time feel short, that steal your breath, not long, grueling tasks that make you hold it. I'm serious. I've been self-employed for three and a half years now, and while I sometimes get to the bottom of my bank account, living this way has not done me wrong.
Time is short today, and for that, I am grateful.
When time is short, I'm running with the tide, not against it. And wherever it goes, wherever it takes me, I am grateful that I'm not in line at the dentist or the DMV, that I'm not tediously recounting all of the miles I've driven in a year.
I would rather live my life in the sunset - the brief moments that pass too quickly that can never be captured. I would rather be inspired by time than held captive by it.


I get really irked by the known things, more so than I should, given that they're "known." Death and taxes. If you've known me at all in my personal life, you know that it takes a heaping helping of coddling for me to do my taxes every year. It shouldn't, I'm not trying to hide anything, and there's nothing terribly complicated or exciting, but the grueling work of sitting down and crunching the numbers inspires a tantrum in my inner toddler.
Death does the same thing. It is as inevitable as birth. We know the curtain must fall, and yet when it does on those we love (on those I love) I find myself grieving the end rather than celebrating the show.
My friend lost a brother yesterday - suddenly, as though the suddenness matters more than the loss - which it doesn't. But we always qualify a loss as either 'expected' or 'sudden' even though I've never been able to figure out which is worse. I mean, we all knew it was coming, right? As surely as I know that next April I'll sit down with a box of Newman O's and a Venti whatever to pacify the angry toddler within, we ask as though this qualifies or lessens the blow of the curtain.
No matter when it hits the stage, it is always too soon.
And then we need to know how, but we know the answer there, too. The heart stopped. The breath stopped. The mind stopped. Did the soul carry on? Did it wait to say farewell, or did it slip out while you were in the bathroom? 
Where will it go next? 
I take comfort in the entirely bizarre idea that my grandmother was reborn as my friend's dog. She had a hard life last go round, and I can't imagine anything better for her than a life of ease and comfort. It brings me peace. I always wish people, pets, animals on the street and people lost in the freakish human events a favorable rebirth.
Which, I'm afraid, is all we can do. Some people pray, others meditate and hold space. Others drink and throw rocks at raccoons because there isn't A THING that we can do, other than the THING that feels like the RIGHT THING or the ONLY THING. The hardest part, the saddest part is that no right thing exists. Whether our prayer is within the context of faith or the desperate act of eating all the Newman O's, it is what we have.
And it is perfect.
Grief takes many forms, and it ricochets between the basest, ugliest qualities of our humanity and the tiny sliver of grace which always exists somewhere within us, like a sharp or soft beam of light that pierces the clouds above the sea as the storm passes over.
So today, tomorrow, as the days pass I'll wish for my friend's brother a favorable rebirth.
And a glimmer of grace for those he left behind.


I used to face the fall with a sense of dread, like I knew the hard times were coming and I had to get pumped up and cope and throw all the pumpkin spice in the world at it just to survive. When I worked in the world of constant work, constant "on," I would wash my suits, my 60 pairs of underwear, grab a PSL in each hand, and buckle in for the wild ride that was both exhilarating and exhausting.
The last few years have been different.
In truth, blazing through the fall was a happy coincidence, because then I didn't have to sit with the sad memories, nor did I have to watch the world go to sleep around me. This past year I've watched the odometer click (again) on the number of years I've been trying to get pregnant.
Most often, this ends in tears. Or historically, this has ended in tears. The world is dying, the echo of the misinformed doctor's voice telling me my eggs are "old," and the worst part was that I had given up the PSL because it wasn't good for my fertility. Coffee is bad, chemical pumpkin whatever isn't great, and of course there's the sugar and the dairy.
(It was particularly frustrating when the pregnant woman in line ahead of me ordered a grande PSL and gleefully sipped away).
But this was the ritual that helped me face the various anniversaries of death, of loss, of going to sleep. And I had cast it away as a crutch that I didn't need, and prematurely walked on legs that weren't ready to bear my full weight.
I'm learning these days that I don't have to bear my full weight, and more importantly, I don't have to punish myself for the lies I told myself for so many years. I don't have to work hard and push myself to the brink of collapse to be worthy of what I think I want. And I recognize that one crutch is helpful, two is a bit better, and there is no use for three.
I would like to tell you that I can meditate and drink only chamomile tea, and that it gets me through. That sunshine and exercise and a good night's sleep help me through the dark times, but that is not the truth. The truth is that the help I need is bigger than me.
Crutches are self-help, and I have (historically) had a bad habit of letting the weight of my body fall to my armpits to relieve my weary legs instead of accepting the help that comes with it's own legs and can walk beside me.
And this is what is different this fall. This time, I'm leaning and allowing others to help me carry my burdens.
If you are reading this, I am leaning on you.
If you are walking alone, muscling through in a power suit and armed with a latte in each hand, then let me tell you I have been there. And leaning into cups of coffee or Facebook or other flavors of time-sucking, life-force-sucking behaviors is not the answer. Neither is 108 sun salutations, or 1,000 hours of meditation, or "just smiling."
You can do this alone.
But you don't have to.

Some of you - a few of you - know that I am working on a book. This sounds romantic like I start the day with a typewriter and a mug of coffee on my writing desk, but most often it spews out of me after 2am with an urgency that's rather unpleasant. 
It's not a pretty process when you're on the inside. I imagine it is very much like giving birth. There is a thing within you that so desperately wants to be manifest that you can no longer contain it. It wants to stay where it is safe and warm, where others' offensive comments cannot reach it, where it doesn't have to do the arduous work of breathing, feeding itself, or weathering the various daily disappointments that come with life on the outside.
And yet, it must come out. To keep it in any longer would mean death to the both of you.
Maybe you have been through this process, either as a mother or as an author. Maybe you've just gleefully appreciated books (or kiddos) and tossed them aside. But like children, they require your full attention, full energy, full presence. I haven't been giving mine the attention it needs, because I've been so depleted myself.
So in the coming weeks - months - years, you may start to hear a strange sound come out of me. It is not directed at you, it is not to be taken personally. It is the sound of "no." There are so many things I wish I could do, and if I keep this baby within me, the both of us will surely perish. So my attention is turning inward, towards me. Towards whatever nurtures my body and soul. And whatever remains will pour forth, perhaps to delight you in the years that come.

Mountains of Jealousy

The internet is brimming with people who have the capacity to make me jealous, just by virtue of the little I see. Blonder. Younger. With invisible baggage, not yet visible through the rosy-colored lens of cyberspace.
And I have a propensity for jealously.
(it might be the green eyes).
I am not proud of this. I would like to be the yogic yogini who says, "I realize that that person is the same person as me, and therefore I will simply be happy for their happiness," but unfortunately it is more common for me to seethe and stew. Happiness for the virtuous, blah, blah, blah. It's all nice and good on paper and in philosophy class, but PEOPLE. Do you SEE how much x-er and y-er and z-er she is than me?
Earlier this week I had a moment where words that came out of my mouth in one context landed on my ears in another: there is no such thing as competition. I legitimately do not believe in it. You can say I'm wrong, and I'll throw a sutra at you. But I do not believe that two people teach the same thing, write the same thing, or offer the same thing.
I said this in the context of teaching yoga, but I heard it in the context of my duel with jealousy. My inadequacies shifted once I realized that I am me, and I will get a whole lot further in this life if I focus on being the best me rather than a copy of the best her.
The rest is out of my control, and thank goodness.
Never fault a pig for having a shorter neck than a giraffe. And don't judge a fish by it's ability to climb a tree. And if you see them out there on social media - you know them - the ones who have it all together, or are taller or younger or better singers - the ones who do not have bad hair days and don't get pregnant until the exact moment that they want to, and then do on a dime? They are not you. And this is not a score board. And there is no game to win or to lose.
Address your mountain.
And leave theirs to them.

Love is

Yesterday I was on the phone with my ex-husband. It's weird to call him my ex-husband, because most of the time when we talk, it's the same as it always was. At the same time, I was doodling some turtles, because that is what I doodle, and trying to decide what to possibly write about love for my friend's bridal shower scrapbook about "love" and "marriage" and "relationships." 
I wanted to write: "Make a prenup. Do it now. While you're still friends."
Even though my ex and I are still friends.
People say that "advice" like this comes from fear. Disaster-preparadeness. And that if you follow this advice, you're essentially willing your marriage to fail. So don't prepare out of superstition or out of a willy-nilly love affair with love. Have faith in the idea that nothing will change, despite the knowledge that everything changes.
It ended up being a hard phone call. One that ended with some choice words I've never uttered in the 10 years we've known one another. Words that do not appear in the Four Agreements or the Yoga Sutras and may have unfairly devalued the pig. It ended in tears and despair, on the coattails of a day that had more ups than downs.
After staring at my doodle for awhile, I realized that it is how I feel about love."Love is four turtles, swimming in opposite directions."
Some marriages fail without ending. Others end without failing.

Happiness is a Choice... that pisses me off

Happiness is a choice... that pisses me off.
If you are anything like me, you sometimes have bad days. Sometimes you let those bad days turn into bad weeks and bad months. Sometimes the badness takes root in you and it can feel difficult - impossible - to separate the two. You roll it over on your tongue like a sour candy because the burn tastes so good.
People (who shall not be named) say things like, "Happiness is a choice" in the face of this misery, possibly after it has carried on for awhile. This does not feel helpful. This feels like a shaming, a wrong-ing, a blaming.
I think it is done out of love. I think what these well-meaning, happiness peddlers mean is that waves of sadness will come, and if you need to batten down the hatches and crawl inside yourself for awhile, then fine. But the storm does not last. It cannot last forever. If you stay in your bunker, you will miss the sunshine and the rainbow. These things will not fix the storm. They will not erase the damage of sad news and shadowy desperation. But they will shine a light into the shadows and offer a tiny moment of perspective.
And the hard work - the choice - is to take a peek every now and then and decide whether the rain is coming down outside, or whether the storm clouds exist only inside you. And if they do, then so can the rainbow.
This week I got to meet Baby Millie, whose five day old body and ancient soul said, "I think the sun is shining in you."

Kleshas and the Moon

I'm awash in big decisions these days, so many that I often have a hard time picking the small things, like which Martha Beck book to re-read (again) or which flavor of tea to start my morning with.
Peaches or cantaloupe?
(the real decisions overshadow these simple little things).
My yoga mat has zero answers for me. It just sits there on the floor, the same as it did yesterday. No shifty shadows with secret messages. Nothing.
Wouldn't it be great if I could do sixteen downward facing dogs, or one hundred kundalini kriyas, or a tree pose balanced on some giant rocks and allow the answers to drift down or bubble up? Do you think a trap door might open if I chant the Adi Shakti 108 times, or aliens might catch my drift as I backbend willy-nilly at Garden of the Gods?
I think I'd have more luck asking the cantaloupe.
Yoga doesn't have answers, it has questions. Reminders. Little nuggets like the safety label on the mattress and the lid of my coffee cup. 
Did you turn off the TV?
Did you forget that the cantaloupe is more you than the reflection in the mirror?
Are you hoping this will never change?
What are you running from?
Is the fear worth your time?
Like any good teacher, it doesn't tell you what to do. It asks you what to do.
Does my fear pass this test?
Does yours?


Whelmed. Is that a thing?
When I am overwhelmed, I am standing in the river, fighting, moving against the current because I love CONTROL and fear FAITH.
When I am underwhelmed, I close my eyes and allow the river to take me wherever it wishes, smashing me into rocks and tying me up in plant life because I have no BOUNDARIES.
What I want to do is ride the river AND steer. I see and experience what is happening around me and navigate through the areas that feel most beautiful and least scary. I don't have to become a victim of the rapids to relax, and I don't need to resist the forces around me.
Just observe and steer, like faith with boundaries.
Whelmed? Is that a thing?


I have a deep, profound love for Rumi. In moments of desperation like this moment, like last night, like last Tuesday, whenever desperation seeks me out I have to get quiet and think about cultivating that which I am truly here in this life to do, because desperation isn't it.
Yoga pants and a tiny body don't make me perfect. My ability to weather storms for myself by myself... that is what I am seeking.
To become my own shelter.
I am here in this life to learn how to put myself first - to love myself first - to enjoy my own company first. And then to share my experience, and to hold your hand in the dark. I'm here to write and to teach.
Why are you here?
"What you seek is seeking you." ~ Rumi

Friday, September 11, 2015

Faith, Forgiveness, and Flower Girls

For the last ten days I've been trying to fill a hole.

For awhile, I thought this hole was related to my boyfriend being gone (and off the grid). In many ways, it is. Or it was. There is a really big, really empty space in the bed next to me. My house is obscenely large for one person. The number of cucumbers, cantaloupes, and peaches are more than one person should reasonably eat.

The first day was the hardest, until the second day. Then the third day was a little easier, and it has been up and down since then. I would say that day six was the hardest, except that I'm writing this through tears. It feels like we've broken up. My body echoes the rattling in my mind and they set up an unfortunate echo across the canyon of the emptiness.

My instinct was to fill this time completely with dates with friends, work, and other projects that would keep my mind occupied, but instead I did a lot of sitting and staring into space. Some people call it meditation, but I think that elevates the experience beyond what it was for me - holding space for myself. Breathing. Not checking in on my phone or reading a book, not making lists or prioritizing. Just sitting with the experience of who I am in this moment and exploring the hole.

On day two I saw an old friend for a massage, and like all good therapists, she asked me what I needed. And I answered the same way I do whenever I see a healer - whatever you think I need. Most of the time they ask a few probing questions, but she asked me to draw an angel card. It said forgiveness, which made me cry again. Am I supposed to forgive myself? My boyfriend? My parents? I needed a NOUN card to tell me to forgive the cat, or my car, or my uncle.

But forgiveness isn't about them, it's about you. The noun is inconsequential. It is about letting go of the things that don't serve you, things that dig the hole deeper rather than shining a light in to help you navigate.

On day four I received a card from a former student. Many months ago I had written out individual intentions for a yoga class - 20 different options which were selected by participants without seeing them. They were my intentions for myself for the year. I instructed them to use the word for the intention of their practice, and if it suited them, to hang onto it for a bit. But then to pass it on to someone who they thought could benefit from it.

The best part of giving is in passing on the lesson, the intention, the blessing. To acknowledge, you need this more than I do.

The card I received contained many messages that what I'm doing really worked, really resonated with this woman. It also contained the tiny slip of paper that she had kept for the previous nine months with the word FAITH on it. She gave it back to me, because she said she thought I could use it.

I cried again, for the hundredth time in a few days, for the millionth time this year. Everything works out the way it is supposed to, even on days when I'm not in charge. Even when "the way it is supposed to" feels like a sinkhole.

This crying thing is new to me. I didn't cry before. I held it in, under control, and just simmered. Sometimes it would boil over in a sickness or a mysterious and disturbing change in my vision, but nothing like the streams of tears running down my face for the past year and a half. I have let it get the better of me on a few occasions - and tonight is no exception.

I cry about a lot of things: loneliness, jealousy, lost dreams, lost relationships. I try to hide from the symbolism of certain circumstances, like the untimely death of my flower girl by her own hand... knowing full well that her death has nothing at all to do with me and simultaneously feeling a bit responsible. The death of a child. Another person who slipped through the cracks.

When people tell me that everything happens for a reason, I think on these kinds of unfortunate circumstances - the shadows beyond the place lit by forgiveness and faith. This is the hole. It is not an absence of a person or presence, it is not as simple as mere loneliness, the hole is the place where our best efforts cannot reach us.

As a doula, I watch women (families, really) drop into this hole as they navigate the treacherous waters between this world and the next and draw upon every last reserve to bring their babies across that tenuous border. The same thing happens when I watch a friend walk to the edge of this lifetime. I'm compelled to jump in with them - after them - into the blackness. But then it would be the two of us at the bottom of a well, in the dark, and at some point we'd face the unhappy decision of who should eat whom to survive a few minutes longer. You see, I've never given birth, and I haven't died in this lifetime. I have no idea how to help if I end up down there, with you.

Most people approach the person in the hole with some of the many implements from the board game Clue. Remember? The rope, the candlestick, the wrench. These are the life-saving, let-me-fix-you tools. And then there's the dagger, the pistol, and the poison for putting you out of your misery. But all of these things are weapons. All are an assault on the person down there. Saying "have faith" or "everything happens for a reason?" just additional tools in the arsenal.

The hardest thing, and truly, the only thing worth doing, is to be there. To say "I'm here" or let your soul sit by. If it's a hole you've been in yourself, maybe you jump back in and navigate through the darkness, but jumping in is perilous. You could break your leg or land on top of the person you're trying to save. So you have to choose wisely and decide whether the martyrdom would be worth it - whether the person would benefit from what you have to offer. But you can reach in with your heart or your hand and simply be.

When you're in the hole, there's something to be said for having your hand held in the dark.

I missed this chance with my flower girl, just like I missed it with my cousin, with Jon, with so many who have been swallowed whole by the darkness in life. It makes me cry and question my faith. It's what makes nights like this hard.

There is space in my life for faith, for forgiveness, and for a space beyond those greatest of intentions. The hole can eat you up, or it can become a portal to whatever comes next.

Just keep going.