Know How

I don’t write how-to articles. I don’t think that I will ever write articles like that, even if those are probably the best ways to get traffic to your site. You’ve seen them–numbered lists and all that.

The truth is that there is no easy way to achieve something. It really is about letting go of control and the need to force a certain outcome. In some ways, that is why I don’t like the practice of law. There is too much of wanting things to be a different way and then getting down about it because you couldn’t achieve a certain result for a client. For some people, this doesn’t bother them. But it bothers me.

That’s why I know I won’t be in the law long term.

I’m at a point in my life when I’m trying to decide what I should do. And sometimes there are days like these when I want to pick up my things immediately and quit. Then I have a moment where I realize that I still have to think a few things through before doing that. Maybe I do need more information on something. Maybe it does make sense to have more savings before I jump ship.

What I do know is that these thoughts are limitations to the true message I can sense in myself, and in my heart. In, as what Kyle Cease would say, whatever is making my heart beat at this time and what is making me alive. No amount of numbers in my bank account can compare to this feeling, which has served me well but has been shunned a little bit too much by me in the past.

I’m afraid to take the leap, but I must.

 

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Into the Unknown

The weird thing about giving advice is after some time, you’ve got to start listening to it yourself. Whether it is to avoid feeling like a hypocrite or simply because it is coming from you, after a certain point all the heehawing about listening to your own heart has got to get you thinking.

That’s a little about how I feel about my future, lately. I have a lot of options before me and so many more thoughts, but it can be hard to get a handle on everything that is going on. And I think explaining it to someone else can be hard as well, because I’m not sure that I even understand it myself.

This blog hasn’t been updated much lately because when I enter into a period of intense transition, when I feel like I’m on the cusp of real change and opportunity, all I want to do right now is to stop and pause and meditate. I’ve been doing that more lately but I think it’s important to write and get my thoughts out onto the page.

I know that change is coming but I don’t know how or what direction it will take. And I’m fighting every impulse to try to rush the situation and to go in when my emotions at a high. There’s nothing wrong with making decisions on an emotional level, but there is something to be said about not reacting immediately to discomfort or an internal stimulus. Only when I feel really calm and centered inside do I think it makes sense to make a decision or leap. Even things like signing up for a tournament with no recent training experience, or going on a weeklong trip to Wyoming without knowing anything about what will happen, or even draining my savings to pay off my debt in one fell swoop at the end–these had reasoned steps to it and some planning involved. To be sure, I’m done with trying to play it safe and play it small, at least at this point in my life. But even bold moves require some prior thinking and reflection before they can happen.

I came to the conclusion last week that there are no right or wrong choices, only choices. That has been the most liberating thing about the whole experience, but also that leaves me with the fact that there are choices to be made. I can’t spend the entire time thinking about what needs to be done when it is a matter of executing on something. When it is a matter of doing, in addition to feeling and thinking.

I feel like sometimes I do too much of feeling when I can be thinking and too much of thinking when I can be feeling. The key is to try to bring those elements into a closer balance and harmony. That to me is the definition of alignment.

What to do now about my career is anyone’s guess. And it’s funny because I don’t really know what will happen in the end. I don’t really know if the opportunities that I’m feeling out are right for me. I feel like I need more information but I’ve gotten all the signs at least that where I’m headed is the next step. Not a right or wrong step, but the next step. Perhaps that’s enough. Perhaps that IS all I need, and I can’t recognize it yet.

34,000 Feet

We walked ten miles yesterday down not a quite desolate road in Wyoming, the three of us with our backpacks and a camera that was way too fancy around here parts. We got stopped by a police officer, saw a dead cat, and several barking guard dogs of various shades and colors. But we also saw horses that approached us from many meters away (sorry, no apples), dogs that wanted to play more than guard, and the sweet sunset light basking the mountain valley in which we walked.

Mountains are everywhere.

In the ridges and peaks and valleys of tree bark

The slanted angle of a fence

The pebbles of a stream

This is Wyoming country, and it is where I’ve been staying for the past few days. I knew that this journey would be important for me, but I’m trying to wrap my head around the significance of it all. To say that Wyoming is life-changing would not do the experience justice, to say that it is life-shifting may come closer. Even before the moment in which I landed, the Grand Tetons greeted me with their indifferent yet majestic peaks–the entire 32-seater airplane in which we flew awakening with sudden gasps of delight at the extreme elevation on the right window side. A nice red-headed girl took some pictures for me on my phone; this started a chain reaction where the left sided passengers were suddenly asking the right sided passengers to help them capture a memory that they admittedly did not witness for themselves.

And then there was the landing; the elk antler statue, the look of the mountains through the windows of an otherwise barren airport that did not feel the need for frills. The only added touch of modernity may have very well been the Uber/Lyft ride signs at the two lane pickup in front of the airport, which reminded me more of the pickup lanes at my elementary school than anything for jet passengers. There was Sam, too, in all her smiling love–and the silence in which we embraced each other, like old friends. Very, very old friends.

As we went through the mountain pass, my black pen exploded all over my journal; leading to a split second of dismay but also a flash of insight that I had not thought of before. That ink blot which tarnished my otherwise pristine travel journal (though already filled with some scratched out poems in the ride to Dulles) caused something else to spill in my brain. So suddenly I was bubbling with creativity; suddenly the black smear became the snow on the mountains; my pen now more like a paintbrush in which I could see the world. Jiggling my pen this way and that, I drew the mountains that I had already come to love.

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I belong with the mountains.

There was Christian too. We embraced like old friends though we had only met each other in that moment; silence was the rule for the first day of the retreat and so we had only our eyes to accept each other. I thought back to my childhood and when I couldn’t understand the words being spoken, and all of a sudden I was yet a small child in a strange but familiar world.

I walked through the snow that day, in bare feet. To say it was cold and frightening would be an understatement.

We ate. Broke bread, except not bread, because we were supposed to be eating differently at our time here. So it was spaghetti squash, made with a certain amount of uncertainty and love. I debated (silently?) in my head whether I wanted to give Christian a gift–a sketch of him, meditating with agitation, after his healing session with Sam out in the woods.

I decided to wait.

At some point Sam gestured to me that the top room was mine, or maybe it was in a note, I cannot remember. I did remember the note that fell out of the book she had left on the passenger side of the seat. A gift that I didn’t know was a gift at the time. And a note written on it rules that I probably could have considered a decade earlier in my life:

No alarm clocks

Sleep when I get tired

Leave when I want to leave

Say stuff when I want to say it or stay silent if I want that

Technology only at a designated time, preferably before dark

A rough paraphrase but good enough; certainly different from the lifestyle that I have led for a long time. Not understanding breaks and self-care is something that everyone talks about and I am no exception to the rule that things can get out of control if I don’t pay attention to my body.

I don’t remember much of day two, except the most aesthetically pleasing whiskey and salad dressing store I’ve ever seen in my entire life (because it is probably the only whiskey store I’ve seen in my entire life).

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Not sure if #FlatJean is supposed to be decidedly irreverent in this way…
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But I’m gonna put #FlatJean in expensive whiskey

Animal glass figurines decidedly more vibrant than the taxidermy animals in the same shop.

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And a butcher shop that I wished was across the street from me back home.

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I’ve been introduced to epsom bath salts, coconut oil with cupping, dry brushing, and simply a good ol’ bodywork stuff. Nothing far off but still unfamiliar to me in a world that rewards grinding, both of your bones and muscles and joints but also your mind.

I’ve been letting Sam get her hands on me a lot more; working out the various energies in my body that I can’t quite comprehend. It’s like my body understands itself better than I can understand it, even though I’m living within the body.

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Samantha FaulhaberĀ 

Somewhere along the line something opened up inside of me, though I’m not sure I like what I found inside. Perhaps I’m not giving myself enough credit like I always tend to do (and ironically, I am doing right now with these words). It’s surprising and gratifying to know that there are hidden gifts inside of me (and inside of everyone?!?) that I did not know before.

Like when the bartender (transported from Maine) said “holy s**t” when I gave him a sketch of the bar that we sat and had wings at.

Like when the horses decided that I was friendly.

Like when I recognized a special moment that Christian was having, sketched it, so now he has that image for life.

Like when I found out purple, my favorite color, stood for intuition.

Like when I faced an invasion of privacy from that police officer and did not crumble with fear.

Like when I admitted I was f**king scared.

There have been so many wonderful moments. Small moments that I cannot comprehend, like only seeing a small piece of a constellation in the sky. I am ready to do more growing and loving in the few days ahead, and I am excited to see what is to come.

The Allegory of the Dirty Dishes

I love washing dishes. Ok, I lie. Sometimes I hate washing dishes. But dishes are a very tangible task that I can get through and feel like I’ve accomplished something at the end of my time. I know exactly what I need to do to get things done; I am willing to put in the time and effort to reach a different state. I give myself something called the “Clean Sink Award” whenever the dishes are done and I can see the bottom of the sink again.

Some people don’t like washing dishes. I am not one of them. To me, washing dishes has a lot to do about life.

When I start washing dishes, I am often overwhelmed by the sheer options in front of me. By options I mean thoughts like, “Do I wash this pot first” or “If I move this plate, will the entire mound come crashing down and splash water on me.” And sometimes there are so many dishes in there that I don’t even know where to start at all.

But start I do. Dishes are one of those things that even chipping away at a little, helps a lot. And I’ve found in my experience, it makes sense to tackle first what I want to do last. Another way of eating the frog, so to speak. So I dive right into washing that large cutting board that is sitting diagonally across everything, even if it means a little bit more effort. I start the hot water soaking under the mashed potato encrusted pot and move onto the big mixing bowls. I rather start tossing the small stuff into the dishwasher but I tackle that smelly tupperware first that has some rotten leftovers from who-knows-when. In this sense, I tackle the hardest things first and get a little bit more momentum every time.

If there’s a lot of dishes I don’t try to finish them all at once. Sometimes I won’t have time to do so. Sometimes I can’t because I haven’t emptied the dishwasher or our dish rack, so the clean dishes won’t have anywhere to go (I refer to this fondly in my head as the “vicious cycle”). But I try to do a little bit here and there, if it makes sense to me. So I’ll maybe wash a few things in the sink, and be content with leaving the rest of them for another time.

Just like in life, sometimes you can’t or won’t have the energy or time to tackle everything all at once.

Sometimes you gotta chip away at it, little by little.

Sometimes doing a little bit, even if you don’t get to the final end result and you have to let go of that and be happy that you did something, if not everything.

I know that I cannot ignore dirty dishes for long. Without dishes it would be hard to enjoy some of my favorite dishes or otherwise result in a lot of waste. Whenever I wash dishes I feel a sense of peace that comes from knowing that I am preparing myself for another day, for another way to enjoying myself. It is a way of taking care of myself that actually does not require that much energy at all when it comes to it. In fact it may require more mental energy to think about it, as opposed to doing it.

I like to find joy in the simple things in life, a cliche for sure. But I wonder how long of my life I have spent trying to control the things I cannot control. Trying to force instead of enjoy, letting go, surrendering. Trying to judge instead of loving. There are so many small moments in my life, pockets of opportunity, that I am starting to appreciate more and more. I love the small moments of peace that come with writing, with playing classical music, all while trying not to worry about my cats romping around the apartment. It is a different kind of peace and a true gift that I really enjoy.

Left Page

Kyle Cease has something in his Limitation Game series called the left page. These are actions that make you say, “hell yeah.” These are the insane things that I would never do because I’m conditioned to ask “how” instead of simply taking the first step of doing it. The “right page” item is the naysayers who ask, “but what about this?” and introduce obstacles to doing or accomplishing something.

I’ve had a few more left page items come up lately, and I love that. It seems that the more I do left page items, the easier it becomes to find more left page items to do. And the item can change over time as well.

Here are all the left page things I want to do.

Write a feature story about the Unity Jiu Jitsu kids team, complete with really shiny photographs

Get a damn good camera

Start vlogging. No one understands what the heck lawyers do. Our life is boring as hell but it does have its good parts. And I want to make it as much about access to other potential first-gen lawyers as it is entertaining.

Restart my podcast and really hammer home some of the stuff I’ve made and discovered lately

Go to another major jiu jitsu tournament and get my ass kicked

Sit for two hours and do nothing but watch the show of my mind