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rachel, remember this…

To: Me
From: Me
CC: You

Dear Me,

I have something that I’d like to remind you (me) of.

We tend to look back on our lives and see how things worked out. We marvel at how we made it through. Or lament at how crappy it was at the time. Or pine for how good it was at the time.

Yet.

The more we embrace where we are, when we’re here, the easier and more enjoyable life is.

Not easy. But possible.

With practice of attention to and kindness for the moment.

Kindness to self, kindness to others, kindness to whatever shows up.

The good stuff and the seeming bullshit.
And the real and true bullshit.

All of it, as Ram Dass would say, grist for the mill.

This is how our experience of life can change.

How it can transmorph in our hands,
alchemize in our minds
and flow into shimmering rivers of gold.

See the current there?
Ah, how it ripples and rolls.

Let it in. Let this life in just an ounce more.
Breathe in, breathe out, look around, you are here.

With love and admiration as you (me) wind your way,
Rachel

she showed up… we followed orders

I sit and write as my kids play downstairs.

That’s bologney. They’re actually on screens watching some movie. Which is a bit of an anomaly mid-day but Mama needs what Mama needs and right now it’s time to write.

And what happened just before this, well, that’s a bit of an anomaly too.

We planted flowers. Just beside the brick front porch. One for each kiddo. And you looking at the pic above can probably tell me what the flowers are.

But I know that each one took “partial to full shade” and that’s what I go for in our yard of humongous leafed out hardwoods.

Oh, and 8 year old Ruthie was adamant that we get mulch with the little trio of flowers.
So we did.

When we got home, she wanted to put her plant in the backyard instead of the front. “Ru, your flower will do better up here with the others,” I said.

She paused, steeled herself and caught my eye, “But his lily is all alone!”

I suddenly got it.

I had missed why she wanted her flower back there.
I had missed why she wanted mulch.

But now I got it.

For the back garden around Thomas’ lily.

Which we planted three years ago, about a week after his service.

A dear – dearest – heart friend came over that morning.
When she popped the back of her SUV, my jaw dropped.
Shovels, pitchforks, bags of soil and mulch piled upward toward the ceiling.

“I didn’t know what you had,” she said with her signature single shoulder shrug and near-imperceptible tilt of the head.

She proceeded to instruct us as any good captain does,
Dig here, soil there, stomp here, mulch there.

And she came with more than her knowledge, more than her gardening tools.

She came with her heart, open to the hard.

The hard of loss and un-takebackable death.

And the healing of togetherness.

Of sacred acts.

Of doing something that marked the here and Now of his death,
linked to then and There of his life.

To laugh and share grief with someone who knew grief was elixir.
That dearest of friends knows her own grief.

Not our’s.
But her’s.
Which after all might as well be our’s.

Not her grief.
Not my grief.
Not your grief.

Our grief.
The grief.

And, true to The Grief, there’s no straight line from before to next.

Because, you see, we planted 3 lilies that day. But today, 3 years later, only 1 lily remains. And I doubt from its position it’s even 1 of the original 3.

Voles apparently love lily bulbs. Squirrels and rabbits supposedly love their flowers.

The survival of those initial plants in their act of healing was challenged from day one.

But.

There’s that other lily now. An off shoot of what we’d planned and initially planted.
That new lily is waiting for care.

And we’re caring for it.

This year we got some squirrel and whatever else repellent that apparently smells like carnivorous animals. (I don’t wish for gardening advice here but if you must then feel free to send along.)

So I guess that’s a thing to remember.

The initial healing was oh so right for the moment.
And now it’s spread into something new.
As healing tends to do.
And this coming weekend when Ruthie and I get a few more plants to befriend the lily, The Healing will evolve into something else.

The Healing is in the moment. It’s always in the moment.

May you feel that your grief and your healing for the world – and for you – is not alone.
Is never alone.
That it’s spreading,
that it’s evolving.
That it’s challenged but not defeated,
ever finding a way.

With love and faith,
Rachel

p.s. If you know someone who needs to know they’re not alone in The Grief and The Healing, forward this along. Don’t hesitate, please. We need each other.

the spotlight, the floodlight and the lighthouse

You hold a most precious resource.

It’s not your intelligence.
It’s not your time.
It’s not your money.

It is
your attention.

Your attention’s a light,
a spotlight focused and still,
a floodlight wide and deep,
a lighthouse swoop and sweep.

The spotlight shines on the ever morphing Now.
The floodlight shines on the inner and outer buffet of the senses.
The lighthouse shines on the infinite expanse of time and space.

It is your choice,
it is your way.

It is your silver, your gold and your platinum.
It is your diamond of facets aplenty.

Where do you choose to shine the light of your attention?
What do you choose to look toward?
How do you choose to see?

With great love and admiration,
Rachel

where love meets loss

The sun doesn’t set.
It disappears as we spin onward and in place, all at once.

It rests there, just beyond the horizon, hidden from searching eyes.

It melts and spills over creep crawling earth.

Coating bay waters, rushing sands, splicing scrub pines.

We feel its residual light.
We see the shadows left behind.
The fuzzy soft edges to what was clear and sharp.

Where we can no longer see, we now listen and feel.

There is a softening. There is a spreading.

The light washed forth as a bucket of water tossed upon a floor of stone,
up and over and between and through.

We take what we are given.
A sunset, a moonrise.
We take what we are given

and rest in.

Sending love and rest your way,
Rachel

a concert for grandpa

Five year old Nora is sitting at the piano.

Her Grandpa – my husband’s father – slowly makes his way down the stairs.

One careful step at a time, mindful foot after mindful foot,
he arrives in the sprawling basement.

Nora sits at the piano and presses,
one
careful
finger
after
the
other.
Plink.                                   Plink.                                   Plunk.

A classically trained pianist many moons ago, Grandpa stands beside her, one gnarled hand steadies him on the wall.

His walker waits at the top of the stairs.

“She’s got a soft touch, doesn’t she?” Grandma says from her perch across the room.

And more to himself than in reply, Grandpa muses with his eyes upon this little girl,
“She can hear what she’s playing.”

A silent echo bolds the air.
That echo hangs in the moment.
This freeze frame swallows the entire universe in it’s Truth.

She hears what she is playing.

His words. Those words.
They are the magic of a life.

When we can hear what we are saying.
When we can feel what we are playing.
When we can see what we are doing.

This music is sublime.

Shhh… quiet now.
Listen.

i published… check it out

Well, friend, I did things a little differently this week. I popped my blog up on Elephant Journal. Because I‘m apparently in stretch mode and my burning ears are confirming as much.

if you’d be so kind, click here to read (it’s the same ol’ me, I promise). After you’re done, click the heart if you like it, pop it up on your facebook page, send it to a friend, or leave me a comment. (Geez that’s a lot of stuff they’re asking for… just one would be truly amazing.)

It’s a friggin’ humongous world out there.

Yipes.

Big gratitude to you as we walk together,
Rachel

p.s. Only you get Nora’s drawing… that’s for my favorite folks. mwah.

come back to center

I was in the aisle at Target holding my phone to my ear when it happened.
Oh, and I was in front of the toothbrushes.

I know this because I started to put one in my purse.

But don’t worry, I haven’t taken up shoplifting.

Instead, my body was in the aisle but my entire Being was in the phone, sucked across the ether and plopped down into the person I was talking to.

And here’s why.

I love that person on the phone a ton. A deep and old love. You know the kind. The kind where you don’t want them to hurt, feel wrong, stupid or bad in any way.

But I heard the sadness in their voice. I heard their tone
deflated
crushed.

So I whipped out my Super Rachel cape and tossed it around my shoulders!!!!!!!!! Except I didn’t literally put it on which could’ve been REALLY helpful to make me pause. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The point is I fixed it. In mere seconds, I thought of an “I can do it”, said it out loud, and heard them snap to delight,

“Oh… that would work!”
And inside of me, the happy puppy jumped with joy.
“I did that!” the puppy yelped, “I made them HAPPY!!! Keep making them happy!”

It felt SO good in the moment, giving them that hit.
(I mean, that’s what I should do, right? Make them feel better? Whatever it takes?)

Then we hung up.

And now I’m back in my body, in front of the toothbrushes, staring at my still glowing screen and realizing,
I feel numb
I feel frozen
I feel shaky
I feel confused.

“What just happened?” I wonder.

How did I go from picking a kid’s toothbrush to feeling kind of weak all over?

Gobsmacked, it hits me.

Oh riiiiiiiiiiight, I just dismissed myself. And I didn’t even see it happening. I abandoned my own desires and carefully crafted plans to offer bandaid joy to someone else.

I didn’t offer them a solution. I offered a trade.
I traded their deflated for my own deflated.
I traded their suffering for my suffering.

That trade seems kind of funky, right?

Now I pause.

Knowing that this knot in my stomach is about me dismissing my needs.
And about me rushing to the rescue.
Knowing that I assumed I needed to do some rescuing.
Knowing that I assumed this loved one was in need of some rescuing.

How we play into the status quo of our lives is a sneaky thing. One that’s tricky to catch real time, especially with loved ones, right? Those interactions can be sticky-slick. Sticky to how we’ve always done things together and slick as we slide down the track of the same ol’ same ol’.

I can’t change that moment on the phone. It sent me down the shoot and out the ol’ toboggan track where I careened into a snow bank.

Brrrr….
shew.

But what can I do? Where is my power?

My power is in my very next choice.
The next choice is always there for me.
Open and expansive and full of possibility.
And the chance to choose differently this time.

The question to ask yourself isn’t “what’s the right thing to do?”
The question to ask yourself is “what’s the thing to do right Now?”

In the tricky thick layers of loved ones,
in the crashing currents of spouse and children,
in the foggy night of serving yourself, your family and your world,
on and on
it’s your choice, your way, your life.

What’s your thing to do right Now?

My business email is down for a short bit so let me know at rachel.manetti@gmail.com .

You’re doing great,
Rachel

p.s. Please forward along to someone who could use support as they navigate family or dear friend hard. It’s tough stuff.

permission to be

I know there are plenty of people who feel what they feel and think what they think and that’s that. Then there are those of us who have an extra layer to what we feel and think.

We’re really good at watching the world and taking it all in.
And we’re excellent at comparing ourselves to it.
And we’re exceptional at making ourselves wrong because we see all those other ways.

Because our eyes are wide open to the world out there.
While there’s something in here that we’re sure is different.

“I’m tired, others seem so energized.”
“I’m confused, others seem so focused.”
“I’m slow, others are so fast.”
“I’m doing so little, others are doing so much.”

It’s a twisty filter through which we can watch the world.
Tricky stuff, this is.

So.
Just for this moment, give yourself permission.

Permission to be
confused
tired
overwhelmed.

Permission to
slow down.

Permission to
breathe.

Permission to be
angry
righteous
judgy.

Permission to
be happy
joyful
silly.

Permission to be…

what?

What is it that you need to give yourself permission for?
What is it that you’re already feeling but you’re fighting?

Say it three times to yourself with your word.

Permission to be…
Permission to be…
Permission to be…

You have permission to be ALL of you.
And I’m so glad that you are.

Take really good care,
Rachel

the 10 year old teacher on “judgmental”

Ruthie turns 8 today. It feels floaty high to remember her torpedo launched freight train birth. But that’s another story for another time.

Today, I get to watch her practice playing with all that she is –
shadow and light braided together,
a one of a kind stepper on this ground we call earth.
(Just like me. Just like you.)

And although magical to me, this day did not start out feeling magical to my son.

It’s so very hard to feel that undoubtedly a sucky situation will never change, isn’t it? Especially with someone who we love and so very much WANT to enjoy and be around. But instead, we find ourselves judgy and miserable when they do the same old same old and we react with the same old same old. It’s some heavy quicksand this roundabout we ride on. And although I know we as grownups may have more layers to our relationships, there is much to learn from beginner’s mind.  Watch this quick story about John and his sister and how he found his own way toward less judgmental and more present.

Watch. See. Feel what you feel in response. And notice, how does it feel to be human with him?

And with me. And with each other.

I’m grateful we are here together. Bumbling along, it’s good to travel with you.

Take care,
Rachel

the cat got stuck and then…

Doh.

I knew this part would be bumpy but holy smacks. It’s like for the past year, our little family of 5 was orbiting the normal world (aka “the pandemic pause”), looking down at the stunning and heartbreaking thing called earth, and now the past 10 days we’re getting a “smack smack smack” cartoon slap to the cheek as we blaze through re-entry to the atmosphere.

Today’s highlight reel of proportionally representative mess comes by way of our two cats and includes, A) not just a single turd but a rogue pile of poop, B) a verifiable bucket of pee (one of the cats got stuck in the basement last night), C) morning vomit, and D) afternoon puke that trailed a good 18 inches from wood onto carpet.

ugh yuck wow blech.

And it’s fitting.

Because as I’ve said, right about now, re-entry into the atmosphere of “our normal world” is slimy slippery, rough and tumbly. Our little spaceship’s bouncing off some everyday rubble and flipping flames into the space around us. There’s enough human emotional biohazard in this house for the well deserved title of shitstorm.

Well, break out your umbrella, my friend, because pieces of my life have no silos. So, you’ve already seen and will continue to see me bump scraping along in my blog as I try on some new (for me) things in the coming weeks and months.

Instead of doing the u-turn here on the page, check out this video (which does NOT include anything about cats) and how I injected a quick dose of ease into my day. Do it, feel what you feel and leave a comment about 1 thing you notice.

Until we chat again, I’ll be over here, cleaning up cat puke, poop and all the human emotional detritus in between. Well, to be fair, I can’t really clean up the emotional detritus but I can hang out with it. (While I also thank the inventors of Lysol wipes and Resolve for their worthwhile contributions to my life.)

Click here to watch and remember to comment with what you notice.

Take good care,
Rachel