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Choose Your Life Mondays #29

Choose Your Life Monday is an invitation to name what pattern you will lovingly notice this week and to do so in community. Join in when and however suits you.

Here’s a pattern I notice when sitting down to write these blogs posts: the pattern of feeling scrambled.

As in who the hell am I?

This is a good pattern but somewhat crazy making.

It’s a pattern created by learning.

By being willing to constantly test who I think I am.

By being so hungry and curious about life.

I love this about myself!

This week’s scrambling is because I spent the weekend listening to the venerable Ane Pema Chodron. There was so much about this weekend to be grateful for, not the least of which is simply being able to partake of such teachings.

How lucky am I to get to explore how to work with my mind?

How lucky are you and I to be able to learn such wise ways to stop feeling unhappy and icky and to be joyful?

(Note to self: remember you are grateful for this when it’s two in the morning and you’re so painfully aware of your mean thoughts about your ex.)

Another wonder of Pema

is how comforting she is. She keeps saying, “It is possible to be free of your neurosis and endless stories. It really is.”

She then says, “I may not be the best role model but really, it is possible.”

And we all laugh and feel comforted.

Because how often do we believe we can never be free? We will always be screwed up.

Always be depressed or wounded or lost or less than or not fit in.


Not true.

Of course

Listening to Pema made my whole snarl of around significance and safety and wanting to just get things done so transparent.

Before the retreat, I was thinking how deep and original my pattern was.

How very difficult to unwind.

How significant.

Um, no.

These are all moves I make to avoid stepping into the groundlessness of being, otherwise known as being completely and utterly vulnerable, tenderhearted and without a story.

Being here, without your story to shield you from life.

Being naked like this is true freedom.

As free as my dogs in the car, heads out the window, eyeballs vibrating, ears flying.

Even freer that that.

Tasting that freedom, that nakedness, this weekend, after quite a long time of not tasting it, of being lost in busyness and anxiety, was such a precious reminder of why I do inner work.

Of why I do my work in the world.

Which brings me to this week (in a long winded round about way)

I so want to nurture this experience of freedom – at the same time I’d really rather go pour a big glass of wine and numb out – but I want freedom more – so this week

I will lovingly notice

When I get lost in my fear and anxiety,

I will inhale deeply and exhale long and slow and then look gently and steadily at my fear, and keep dropping my story, whatever that story is in the moment.

This is my committment for this week.

I’d love to hear your comments and what patterns you are working with this week or this month or this lifetime.

13 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Kat Jul 13, 2009

    Thanks for the reminders Jen that we can always change the story or release it.

    I will lovingly notice this week all of the ways in which I am nurtured and supported. I will notice my reaction to being supported and nurtured, mentored and uplifted.

    Yesterday, a woman complimented me on my bathing suit while I was swimming at the community pool. It was an unusual interaction to say the least and brought to mind all the ways that women in my past undermined each other and needed to have someone be down in order to feel up. I rejoiced that I rarely encounter such women any more. Watching women of all shapes and sizes move comfortably in their bathing suits felt really good.


  • 2 Jennifer Jul 13, 2009

    That is lovely Kat. I do that a lot, spontaneously compliment people. It sometimes freaks people out but I don’t mean it to, it just comes out.

    I haven’t had snarky women in my life much at all. I am very lucky. OR smart. :) And I work alone.

  • 3 Cathy Jul 13, 2009

    Hi Jen,

    Great post. Thanks for sharing not only the experience of learning and insight you got from the weekend retreat but the buzzy, questioning, unsure quandry you have when you are back to “real life” after your retreat. I am going to write down your commitment for the week and use it as an affirmation too. It’s a great post, and a great affirmation and most importantly a great awareness. Thank you for all you do.

  • 4 Carla Jul 13, 2009

    Thank you for revealing your soul so that others can do the same. I am reminded from your post to notice my pattern of who am I to do THIS? and I am choosing to step into this powerfully this week, knowing it’s just an old story and that is all. You inspire me to step forward and share my own vulnerability – it is in doing so that you allow others like me to get a glimpse into their own hearts and what is real in this moment. It can be such a pull to numb out, but what we really want is greater connection to what is real and alive.

  • 5 Sonia Simone Jul 13, 2009

    I love Pema, she’s really my heart teacher. Even some very fine teachers like the Dalai Lama or Suzuki Roshi or Pema’s teacher, Chogyam Trunpa, seem exotic, removed. Like this thing is different for them.

    With Pema, it feels like she knows exactly what’s going on in my schtick, exactly how it works with me, and she’s been there too, and I’m not some uniquely messed up creature. And that there’s some hope for me.

  • 6 Jennifer Jul 13, 2009

    Exactly Sonia, she’s so real. It helps me to see the value in that. We need to feel less alone or we give into despair, and the story we are screwed.

  • 7 Liz Jul 13, 2009


    Thanks for this reminder. I find for myself so often I forget that I’m even in a story… it just seems like this is the “way it is.” Of course there’s no such thing as “THE” way it is- it’s always a story I’m telling myself. So my practice for the week will be to ask myself, “What is the story I’m telling myself about this?”

  • 8 Shannon Jul 13, 2009

    WOw. I hadn’t thought of the ‘story’ as a way to bind anxiety and fear…as a coping mechanism or a filter for life, but I think you hit right on. That resonates so true for me, and also through the buddhist teachings too. Thank you for the aha moment…reminding me not only of my story, but also of the ‘why’… (audible exhale)…

  • 9 Mahala Mazerov Jul 13, 2009

    Being here without the story. This was important for me to hear right now.

    I am really struggling in a push-pull of identifying with and unhooking from health issues that are dragging me down. It’s leading to some exquisite moments of love and compassion, but maybe I could do that with less struggle, eh?

    Thanks dear.

    As for Pema Chodron, so happy you could see her! She was my first teacher and I’m forever grateful for the teachings she gave me.

  • 10 darrah Jul 13, 2009

    I was also at the Pema Chodron retreat this weekend and was overwhelmed with a sense of calm, a sense that we’re all in this together. I left with so many gems to bring into my daily life. But life gets busy, so this week, I will start with one goal.

    This week, I will notice when I feel myself “wanting” or “not wanting”…meaning wanting what I don’t have and not wanting what I do have. I will just notice and let it pass instead of letting it take hold of me.

    Thank you for this post and sharing your experience with Pema. It’s great to know that we were in that sea of people together.

  • 11 chatondeluxe Jul 14, 2009

    thanks for sharing i had never heard of pema even though i am a little bit familiar with buddhism through my mother who practised it for more than 25 years, she sadly passed away so i cant ask her. i would love to get a pema book but there are so many which one would be a good one to start? thanks for the advice

  • 12 Jennifer Jul 14, 2009

    Chatondeluxe – I love all her books but Start Where You Are is a great place to start UNLESS your life is falling part or you are very fearful these days, in which case a double helping of When Things Fall Apart and The Places that Scare you are fantastic!

  • 13 Emma McCreary Jul 14, 2009

    This post is lovely!

    The pattern I’m working on this week is my anxiety and everything I do to avoid feeling it – like my “screen” addiction – TV, computer, etc.

    Underlying that I’m working on the “Upper Limits Problem” that Gay Hendricks writes about – increasing my capacity to stay in positive energy and feel joy continuously.

    Thanks for asking!