If you wish to read…Out of a desire for privacy, most of my posts in Sasha In Seattle are password-protected. It's not like I'm writing anything I wouldn't share with people who know me -- it's more an effort to understand who is interested in knowing what's going on in my life. That said, I'm happy to share with interested parties -- shoot me a brief e-mail explaining why you'd like access [sasha.kemble(at)gmail.com], and I'll provide you with a key. Lucky you!
Were it not for a dreadful morning almost a decade ago, I doubt I would have spent this evening as I did. Worth it? More than I could ever express.
Remember, remember, the fifth of November.
At the end of June, I made a major decision. I decided to focus on myself for three months, and give myself 90 days off from major decisions, and work instead on understanding my moods – what they are like, how they effect me, and what I can do to feel good navigating my way calmly through them.
It’s been interesting. I started out by going hard-core into a new workout routine – which felt great – but began to realize that the best thing I can do is what I’ve been doing for years… walking. (And, you know, occasionally running.) I also began biking to get around and have adventures – it’s been a lot of fun!
Because I was giving myself time off from the big decisions (any major changes, commitments, or purchases), I began focusing more on the smaller ones – checking in with myself to see how I was feeling as I made my choices. I began feeling like the conscious choices were ones where I could both celebrate and learn something, and those are good things to do!
Though I’m not making any major decisions, it’s not as though I’m not thinking about some of the ones that are on the horizon. There are various decisions that I’ve been considering for a while that seem to all be at odds with one another. A crossroads in which my life can go in so many different directions, and which path do I take?
And so I turn to Daphne, who is curled up on a chair, wishing I would go to bed so she can sleep at my feet and not have to guard me from phantoms visible only to her. (She’s pretty protective.)
“Daphne,” I say. She opens her eyes, and I swear she raises her eyebrow. “Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?” She fails to play along as the Cheshire Cat, but the words continue in my head. “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
Though I’m only on Day 76, I feel as though I’m nodding my head. I know that at any crossroads, big or small, I’ll be able to follow my heart. I feel grateful to be moving slowly, to be learning how to breathe, and feel like in most situations that come up in life my smile is never far out of sight. Not to say there aren’t hard days, but even those hard days can lead us to the biggest blessings.
Earlier, I saw a picture of one of my totems, a sea turtle, accompanied with, “You don’t have to move fast, just keep movin’ forward.” Agreed. May the next two weeks keep brightening the smile on my face. Peace.
Life has been pretty interesting lately. I’ve been pushing myself out of my comfort zone to try dating again (instead of being so focused on work). For the better part of the year, I pushed dating out of my mind to focus on my friendships and life outside of work – for I know that the relationship I’d like to create in my life is one with someone who feels like a best friend.
A lot of this has to do with my past. My greatest weakness (and simultaneously my greatest strength) is seeing peoples’ hearts, and believing in what I see there – to the point of being slow to recognize that I should also consider someone’s actions to determine whether or not a relationship is good for me. I still struggle with this. Fortunately, I have friends who care about me, who help me understand that I don’t give myself enough credit for being a great catch, that I seem incapable of seeing myself as others see me. The thing I’ve heard the most from people this year? “Don’t sell yourself short, Sasha.” It’s eye-opening.
In the past two weeks, men from my past have been emerging out of the woodwork. Suddenly these parts of my life are falling into place — where I recognize that the only reason I went through what I did for as long as I did in several different situations was because I did not realize that it was as simple as expressing my unhappiness, and recognizing that I had the strength to leave. Or maybe that I simply did not recognize my own worth. How sad it is that we are so often our own worst enemies.
Being on my own for the better part of my twenties has helped me to discover my biggest blessing – that I know I am self-sufficient. I have everything I need, and I know who I am (at least, about 95% of the time – always room for improvement, eh?). I know that I can support myself, I can take care of myself, and daily I am getting better at recognizing what I need to find comfort in discomfort, to breathe and embrace everything that comes my way. I could be plucked up by a tornado, plopped down somewhere over a rainbow, and I know that I would be just fine.
I have a quote from Roald Dahl on my fridge — because I loved his stories, and his written words were the first that I learned how to read, at 4, following along as my mom read aloud with her finger under each word (she has always been kind and patient). Anyway, the quote is this: “And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in the magic will never find it.”
I believe in magic, I believe in mysteries. I believe in everything that is good and right and true. I believe in love. And I believe that God/the Universe/the Grand Poobah conspires with Love to ensure that we always have exactly what we need (even if not entirely obvious in the moment), and that He/She/It looks for ways to tickle us with delight, if we can learn to see delight in all things. If we choose to see obstacles as a stepping stone, than there isn’t anything that will ever be so big that it stands in the way of us manifesting who we are. And I know who I am, and I know that the path to keep getting closer and closer to my truest self involves one word, simultaneously a noun and a verb: LOVE.
Doubt is a funny thing. And it’s hard to give full voice to doubt.
Earlier today, I was speaking with a friend about how powerful words are. Giving voice to doubt seems to acknowledge that it’ll be what exists.
And it’s hard for me to really recognize the doubts that I have. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m afraid to admit them and acknowledge them, or if it’s because the feeling that keeps me afloat each day is my sense of faith. That everything will be okay. That everything will be alright.
This is adapted from an exercise we’re doing in Crash, which was adapted from my friend Theresa’s brother-in-law’s classroom. Each week, one of us posts a song, and then we have a few minute’s writing meditation. This week’s selection was made by my friend Brent, and it was Yann Tiersen’s “Comptine D’un Autre Eté”. He described it as “short and heartbreaking and beautiful,” and shared it because it “peels back the layers in slow motion.”
I think the only word I’d add to Brent’s adjectives is wistful; that’s how I feel after listening to it. I want the song to keep playing over and over, slowing time down to where I notice each breath I’m taking, each pulse of my heart. I know the song will be over all too soon, and then? It’s back to the grindstone.
Why is it so hard to carve time for one’s self? Sometimes, in the midst of chaos I thrust myself into an existential mindset that leaves my inner-self clamoring to have the right to choose each moment in a way that feels best for me. I can intuit what is right for me, but there is no path easily available that leads there. (Apart, say, from winning a MacArthur grant and having the freedom to direct my energies as I see fit. Wouldn’t that be just lovely?!?)
At times, I feel out of place. Like I’m an artist-in-residence in a suit-and-tie world. If you look at my cube compared to those of my colleagues, it could serve to highlight that fact. And though it’d be lovely to just do as I want to do, I understand that in order to provide for myself, I must do the work that others ask me to do, in order to be rewarded with the opportunities to do the work I’m called to do. I am glad that the work that I’m doing in the CU Movement holds meaning for me, and that the people I’m working alongside are ones who brighten and enrich my life in so many ways – but am I just being ungrateful for what I am fortunate to have? (It feels a little like that.)
I wonder what it would have been like to be a nomad, before the Age of Industry, before the Renaissance and the Dark Ages. I’ve no doubt I would have minded my duties with great care – gathering food as I walked the beautiful and bountiful landscape around me. Undoubtedly tending to members of my tribe in the ways that I feel called to do even in the here and now, though there’s so much more that’s… different… with technology.
Last night I walked through the neighborhoods around my house, and there were people I wanted to say Hello to, except that they were absorbed in the devices they carried with them. And there were others I did greet, andwe made that brief connection with surprise, like it came out of nowhere. We shared space for a few seconds and acknowledged one another, and I think that’s all that we’re really put here to do, anyway.
One of our delightful new(ish) hires talked me back into hot yoga. I’d tried it a few months ago and really loved it, but the death of my car soon got in the way. Plus, it seems the only way I’m able to commit to getting out to exercise after work is if I have an accountability buddy. So when Shannon and I had another yoga conversation (I was sharing how much I loved the yoga class we have on-site at lunch on Wednesdays) she suggested (again) that I join her at hot yoga. I explained why I couldn’t go (transport), she offered me a ride both ways– how could I say no? It was everything I needed to do something that I wanted.
[Plus, we have a fitness subsidy at work, so I could offset the membership I paid for, making this easier in my newfound budget-consciousness.] Since my department processes the claims, I had fun with the claim.
Subject: If you can’t take the heat… lie down in “Corpse Pose”
Health-Related Program: I pay to be contorted in a hot room, almost to the point of passing out. Thank you for reimbursing me for this, I appreciate the Fitness Subsidy benefit.
My boss wrote back, “I have serious questions about any activity that involves a corpse pose as a safety precaution. Serious questions indeed.”
I was going to respond with a mere smiley face… but found myself writing more. My response is one I wanted to share:
“I know, right? When I first heard it on my way into my first class, I wondered what I was getting myself into. But then I think about how yoga was originally a Buddhist activity, and that the Dalai Lama (Buddhist!) has a great sense of humor… and I find myself believing it was all just one big joke for the ancient yogis. And so when a particular pose is too tough for me and the heat is too much, I lie down in corpse pose and in my head these ancient yogis crowd around me giggling, “You look like a corpse!”, “That last pose was killer, huh?” and it makes me giggle inside too, and I smile and my breath flows easier and I realize I’m alive and I am ready to get up and keep going. So I agree, it is a dreadful name… but like anything, it all depends on how you choose to look at it. :)”