Trust 30: Day 1: 15 Minutes to Live

I have just signed a pledge for the  Trust 30 Challenge, so for the next 30 days, I will be blogging in response to whatever the prompt of the day happens to be.  Today’s was a doozey, and it took more time (and words) than I am happy about. Hopefully, in the coming days I will be able to make quicker work of them.

Trust 30: Entry One

Gwen Bell – 15 Minutes to Live

We are afraid of truth, afraid of fortune, afraid of death, and afraid of each other. Our age yields no great and perfect persons. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

You just discovered you have fifteen minutes to live.

1. Set a timer for fifteen minutes.


2. Write the story that has to be written.

(Author: Gwen Bell)


I am totally speechless in the face of this challenge.  What if it were really the case? 15 minutes left?

Here’s what I would like to say to whoever is present:

Although my life was rich in many ways, and I did a few good things, I also end this ride with some regrets.  My premier regret is my timidity.  I wish I had been braver, I wish I would have risked more, I wish I could have dumped my old conditioning and realized sooner that I always had full control of my life.

As I have been driving around town this week looking at houses bent and dented and crushed by fallen trees from the recent wind storm, and pitying the people whose lives have been so disrupted by this mess, I have also been so very grateful not to have had to endure those pitying eyes myself.

I have deep, nauseating childhood memories of being pitied, and these memories still make me feel heavy and sad and afraid.

This fear of pity has made me timid and wimpish my whole life; it has held me back from doing the things I most wanted. It’s been my electric fence, and I totally believed I would die from its Zap.

So here’s what I want to say to anyone who will listen before I clock out: Be audacious!  Risk ridicule and pity and laughter and pointing and snickering and sneering and downright disapproval.  Go out into the world and do the thing you most fear doing.

The only thing you need to have in order to do this brave  “thing” is a deep bank account of Core Happiness.   If you are lucky enough to have someone open you an account early in your life, with a minimum deposit of respect, love and care, and then have them teach you how to invest that self-love, self-respect and self-care wisely in other people and worthy endeavors, you will be end up rich beyond your wildest dreams.

I learned the truth of this watching my mother live her life. My mother’s own minimum balance was all counterfeit.  She tried to finance her life on fake money.  It fooled a lot of people for a long time and it got her pretty far, but they soon found out that they couldn’t “spend” what they got from her because she was poor; she had nothing.  She was never there for them because she had no self-love, never practiced self-care  and had no self-respect.   She looked like the real deal, but if you tried to spend what she gave you, her checks bounced.

By some miracle, by the time I hit my 20s I had come into a little cache of real “happiness” money. It didn’t come from her, but I picked up a little here and a little there by associating with, and watching and learning from “rich” people: teachers, parents of my friends, and a few relatives.

And then when my daughter was born, suddenly my little “minimum balance account” started to miraculously double and triple in value.  I emptied my happiness account into that little girl, and in turn, she quadrupled my investment.   My daughter taught me the art of “Investing.” And by the time she was 3 or 4, I was overflowing in happiness.  I was a millionaire!

Now I end my life having lived the last 30 years of it totally off my “love and happiness” investment dividends.  I have so much happiness banked now, that I can afford to give it to everyone I encounter, my family, friends, yoga students, as well as random strangers. And best of all, I can never be “robbed.”

So here, in this last 15 minutes of my life, I bequeath all of my happiness to my family and my friends and my yoga students. I just ask that anyone who has received happiness from me, set up one other person with a minimum balance account and teach them the Art of Investing. (You invest by giving it all away!)

So I realize that I started this by regretting my timidity, and encouraging every one to be brave and take risks, so if this turns out not to be my last 15 minutes, but just a little “fire drill” I hope it has reminded me that I need to make it my life’s mission, for as long as I have left, to break this timidity tether, to wake up and realize that I am brave, that the looks of other people are not really pity, they could be love or concern.

And I hope that I have enough time left to learn to withstand the zap, clear the fence and not burden the people I most love with a legacy of timidity and fear, but leave them with an example of audacity, happiness and love.


I love my life

Pheucticus ludovicianus (Rose-breasted Grosbea...

Image by Arthur Chapman via Flickr

Sometimes it just has to be said: I love my life.

So many times I focus on the things I don’t like about my life, my situation, the weather, the whatever.  But man.  When all is said and done, I love my life.

I am at this very minute sitting on my deck looking at a pink sky. A rose-breasted grosbeak is singing its fool heart out from the top of the locust tree in my backyard.  I just returned home from leading a sweet little yoga class, and then having a wonderful conversation with one of the most beautiful and amazing of all my students, a woman I wished I had met years ago when we lived not 100 yards away from each other in Levittown, PA.

It is such a small world.

I love the smallness of the world. I love how the internet is making us really cozy.

I just returned from a little vacation in Florida. Went down to Key West, had a blast, rented a Mustang convertible, and drove it from Ft. Lauderdale to Mallory Square in Key West and sat on a veranda overlooking the sea and sipped a Stella and watched the sun set and applauded it when it did, along with lots of other people who had gathered to do the exact same thing.

I love my life.

Did I mention that?

Did I mention also that I don’t care about money, or things, or possessions?

Did I mention the bird? The rose-breasted grosbeak that is singing from a high branch of a Shade Master Locust tree in my backyard? A tree that survived a killer storm that caused the whole town to lose power for 2 days?

We arrived home from applauding the sunset in Key West to a massive power outage and trees down all over town, but the 100 year old oaks in the front yard of our house still stand, stalwart, untouched.

I love my life. I do not take it for granted. I know how fortunate I am. I bless it. I do what I can to help those not so fortunate.  I give thanks every single day for my life.

My one wild and precious life.

Namaste. The light in me sees the light in you.

Every day.

20 Minutes A Day

All of my little rituals each take 20 minutes.

For example:

It takes me about 20 minutes to write 750 words.

I set my Insight Timer for 20 minutes when I meditate.

It takes me 20 minutes to do my little circuit on the MU Stadium steps.

Funny, how in a mere 20 minutes I can totally reset myself: change my mood, raise my energy, get my brain cooking– just by making myself slightly uncomfortable for a little while each day: grinding out words, sitting with boredom, sweating.

Discipline is such a weird thing, because while you are practicing it, it feels “grindstoney” and  straight-jackety–the antithesis of hair-blowing-in-the-wind, Julie Andrews twirling in the field, freedom. Yet, it is the only way to achieve true freedom.

I’ve been re-reading parts of The Untethered Soul lately and the other day I came across Singer’s wonderful story about the dog and electric fence.

A dog wants to run free, is meant to run free, but its owner installs an electric fence, which is a buried electrified cable.

The dog is then outfitted with a special collar that will zap him whenever he get too close to that buried cable. In this way, the dog learns to stay inside the  fence.

The inside of the fence is pain-free, but it is certainly not running-full-out–jowls-a-slather, free (which is what every dog wants and dreams of, presumably.)

But a brave, hell-bent on freedom dog, will creep up to the edge of the fence each day and let the collar buzz him a little. If he does this enough, he will begin to realize that the “zap” just hurts a bit, that it won’t kill him. If he gets used to the buzz and can learn to withstand the zap, he will be able to plow right through that invisible force field and be truly free.  But he must be willing to take the zap.

It’s the same thing with me and my disciplines. I can live quite comfortably without them. The “yard” of my non-disciplined life is small, but it’s comfortable, predictable, though somewhat boring.

The larger world, the world of freedom and infinite possibility on the other side of the invisible force field, can only be earned if I am willing to take the zap, to open myself to the discomfort of the page, the cushion, the stadium steps.

So that’s why when people say, “Why do you do that to yourself? Why do feel the need to put on that straightjacket?  Why press your pretty little nose to that grindstone?  Life hard enough. Relax already!

I know that if I can just learn to withstand the pain of the electric fence which is imprisoning me in this little yard, and do it in 20 minute increments every day, soon I’ll build up the courage to take the zap head first.

Then I’ll be free.

I’m Back

Wow. That was intense.

The April Yoga Challenge wrapped up on the 30th of last month, and here I am, still a little woozey, 2 weeks later.

(I still fully intend to do a proper wrap-up post about the “30 Days of Amazing” on Virtual Yogarians, but I really miss being here on IL (Inspiration Location) talking about other stuff).

So, in honor of a whole new season, I changed themes (again) and am now ready to blog down-and-dirty through the summer in this funky new format.

I have the house to myself for the next few days.  Whenever this happens I take it as an opportunity to do weird things. I consider fasting, or going vegan, or sitting on the couch all day reading till my eyes bleed.

I consider massive house cleaning events, gardening projects, or all-day meditations.

Today I found myself faced with so many possibilities, that I was totally stymied.  I couldn’t do anything.  So I ate a bagel.  Then some ice cream.  Then I started my semi-annual clothes exchange because, Shiva-be-praised, the weather has FINALLY turned warm enough for me to consider wearing capris, at least.  About. Damned. Time.

(Wait. Was that a complaint?  Sheesh! Switch the bracelet.)

When I went down to retrieve my summer things, I was so proud of myself. Last year I went on a MASSIVE PURGE, so my “summer things” consisted of one (count ’em) space bag.  Go. fricken. me.

I took out one of my fave organization and anti-clutter books: Unclutter Your Life in One Week just to get some inspiration, and even she says: TACKLE YOUR CLOSET FIRST.

So I did all my laundry, then emptied my drawers and purged 2 Hefty Bags worth of stuff, and could have probably culled even more, but I lost heart after hour 2.  Tomorrow I will will revisit my “saves” and see if I can cut them down even more before moving on to the closet.

The question I always ask myself is: If you were moving, would you take this? Or: If you lost this in a fire, would you replace it? There is a lot of good stuff going to Goodwill this week, let me tell you.

After I finish with my clothes, I will tackle my books and files.  Oy.  I think I will never be totally happy until I am down to some real-world equivalent of One Robe, One Bowl.

neti, neti.