Lojong #54

I made it into the third bedroom for an hour or so yesterday, and threw out a full garbage bag full of stuff. Then it became overwhelming. This is the room we refer to as “the den” and it’s a catch-all room for my dollhouses, dolls, craft stuff, and my card deck collection.

Today I woke up at 6 a.m. worried about mildew getting at things I have stored in there and on it went from there. I know the rule about declutter and how if you haven’t used it for a year, get rid of it, but I saw another rule yesterday that made even more sense. It was to ask yourself “Would I buy this today?” and the answer for me in many cases is “No, I wouldn’t” but then where do they go? I can’t throw them out because they are new things, but they are a burden because I have no place to store them.

Worrying, I decided to pull a random Lojong card.

Train wholeheartedly
Photo: A Canada gosling munches on the seeds of Bahia grass.


That made me smile because I am sure getting a workout in uncertainty, change, the ambiguity of being alive and letting things go. Pema Chodron makes the point that training yourself every day in the small things will eventually filter in so that when a big thing comes along to cope with you will know what to do.

Like this baby Canada Goose gosling, we fall and get up, we teach ourselves how to find things to eat, but we keep going, falling and getting up. Norman Fischer calls this “Be wholehearted” and says pay attention, don’t worry, don’t forget, don’t complain—all these things. Come home and feel your breathing and your heartbeat.

We make excuses for not keeping up with our mind training, but more than that we don’t practice. Here I have a perfect opportunity in selling the house and moving 4500 kms, to keep up, to train each day, to recognize emotions and face things I’ve kept in a room. BUT if I open the door and wholeheartedly get to it, I get to all the stuff I’ve avoided for years, which is fear, sadness, disappointment, a wall of emotion, lingering and festering.

Judy Lief says:

“Pay attention to the boundary between wholehearted practice and a more vague and lukewarm approach. Notice your thinking process, your bodily sensations, and emotional undercurrents. What happens at those moments in which you click in and are really practicing?”

I can tell you what happens, the emotions dissipate, I feel relief and hope and I think to myself “This isn’t so bad.” But it requires some discipline to do it, to practice wholeheartedly.

Time to munch some seeds.


10 thoughts on “Lojong #54

  1. “I get to all the stuff I’ve avoided for years, which is fear, sadness, disappointment, a wall of emotion, lingering and festering.”
    This statement sure pinged my brain; it’s not so much the stuff, the people, or the situations, but that tsunami of emotion I’m afraid will leave me gasping for breath. Of course the irony is I’m drowning now because I’ve failed to see I’m in the ocean already.
    Baby steps (or gosling steps :)) is what I have to remember. One item, one emotion at a time. Like wading instead of swimming…

    • And yet, I try to say to myself “It’s just a feeling, it will pass” and it does. One emotion at a time. I have found it very helpful to realize that I don’t have to avoid them, I can simply feel them until they simmer down and nothing bad happens from noticing them.

      Oh Bev, I love that thought: “…I’m in the ocean already.” That is good, as if there is no way to avoid it so you have to float along.

  2. Oh, such a treat to see Bev’s cards here. They’re on my short list!

    Selling a house that has embodied a life well-lived replete with its attendant memories and emotions AND moving 4500 kms (!!) away is rather a huge undertaking. I would imagine more than a few moments of trepidation might arise and it sounds like you’re meeting them with heart and awareness. All the best as you journey wide and deep, breath by breath.

    • I think they should be on everybody’s short list Rose. They came along for me just at the right time, and every time I feel overwhelmed they remind me of what is important.

      It is a huge undertaking–we’ve always wanted to go West but avoided it for just that reason. But you know, other people do it, it can be done, it’s only the feelings we have, the fear that crops up–just a feeling we have to live with for a few months. That’s not such a long time to get a new life.

  3. JJ, a stranger came to my house today to buy a copy of the Absurd. It prompted me to look at my tarot journal, which I never peek at. In my absence, the words I’d written had become more beautiful. It made me sad.

    A few months ago, some stranger offered me an Ironwing tarot, just out of the blue. She’d heard I’d wanted it– a desire prompted by you. She had a deck that couldn’t be sold; it was promised to only be given. She said she wasn’t using it. I had to turn it down, as I couldn’t see it gathering any less dust in my hands. The offer was more beautiful to me than the item.

    Today I have the feeling of being a lost object.

    • Funny, I was just catching up on your photo blog early this morning Jess!

      Ah Jess, you sound like you’re going through an upheaval and major life passage. After two children life has changed. I tell you though, many things I let go in the hurly-burly of life came back to me in later years because I missed them and realized they were important to me.

      One of the reasons I do an almost daily draw or postcard or whatever, is so that I don’t let something that is important to me go. Even if it’s just to look at the pictures or write poetry or get away, get a breather, I find the card journal helpful.

      If it has no meaning for you, why is that I wonder? You’ve stopped exploring. Time of course is scant with two young children but perhaps you could use cards or art or writing to bring back some meaning that you miss?.

      I wish you’d taken the Ironwing. Lorena has such depth as a person and an artist, you might have found it helpful during all the changes you are going through. I guess you saw that I use it in conjunction with your deck and the Diary of a Broken Soul? Three decks with depth and something special from the artists infused in there.

      A lost object–perhaps a natural transition from being Jess to being “Mom”?? Parents sacrifice a lot during childhood and teenage years. It’s natural but women often feel they have lost themselves in there.

      Maybe….pick one thing that interests you as a person, not a Mom, is there some way to bring this thing back into your life, give you a little spark?

      • I have let go of a lot of things. The first thing I let go of was my fountain pen. The thing I miss most right now is sleep.

        What I am obsessed with at the moment is this:


        You’ve seen it? I wrote an “about” story for my Etsy page, explaining me. I had to keep it separate from tarot:


        Not that any tarotists would be offended by the dolls.

        I make them & sell them at nice low prices. I mean, low for my labor. When they sell. I just started selling them before Akiva was born. It was a great excuse to buy lots of cute fabric. My water broke at the cutting counter at the fabric store :-/

        It is almost the same thing over & over, but each doll is a person. A small friend to say hello to me in isolation. A people. A listener. A quilt. A tether.

        I almost wish I’d taken the Ironwing. Because I would have looked at it years from now, when I have time to finish my book. And I would have thought of you.

        • You let go of your fountain pen??!! Egad, that is serious. I like your dolls, it’s so interesting to see all the different personalities from one pattern. I am particularly impressed by your inventiveness with the dress and coveralls patterns–all so different and distinctive.

          It reminds me of when i made tarot bags, each was unique.

          I keep meaning to make my Frida Kahlo doll and a quilt for her–one day when things are more settled.

          Your water broke at the fabric counter? There must be a metaphor in there somewhere. Keep on Jess, I can see why these dolls obsess your thoughts, there are so many ways to be creative with them.

  4. Don’t keep something just because it’s new. You don’t owe the object a space in your life.
    Give it away.

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