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We’ve just published an ebook on amazon called Morning Practice for Radiant Humans. It’s a collection of the favourite morning meditations from the Dr.KS Facebook page. People have been asking for this.
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01499CK78 for Americans or
http://www.amazon.ca/dp/B01499CK78 for Canadians.
If you’re from Venezuela, perhaps you can just google it.
Omg!!!!, I would say if I were texting this.
I’ve just been having a whack at revamping my website – you know, updating it to include the important stuff that’s happened since I last looked at it about eight gazillion years ago.
While deleting seventeen pages of spam comments about purses, big dicks, and auspiciousness, I happened upon pages and pages of comments that some of you have written in response to my wee posts. I’ve never seen most of these. Somehow, I can figure out Facebook but I can’t find a way to see your comments to the website easily and respond to them.
First, I’m sorry to have missed your words at the time. It’s so beautiful to read them now. It feels like a party that we’re all at, gathered across time.
Second, I’m going to recruit some help to improve this situation. I don’t have an interest in monitoring seventeen different platforms, but I do have an interest in continuing the conversation that goes on here.
There’s some kind of irony in talking about being present – being here, now – and finding out that some of your words have taken years to reach these ears.
This universe cracks me up. I’m glad to be in it together.
Much love. xoxo
There’s a woman who works at our post office downtown.
She’s tall, strong looking, blonde/grey, and has a good, big mouth and therefore a good, big smile. She’s missing at least one part of one finger.
You probably know her.
At some point during each trip to the post office, it occurs to me that I hope she’s working because of the way her wide open friendliness makes me feel like a human being. She’s alive.
It also occurs to me as I turn the corner on Worthington each time that she once mentioned having survived a tragedy. I suspect it was her kid. I suspect there was a death. She didn’t spell it out, but that was what hung in the air during one over-the-counter chat. I fell in love with her that day. It was something about the way she shared herself and her history for a moment and then moved on. How can you not love that?
During this week’s visit, we laughed about what it is to live in Northern Ontario: the short summer, the relentless bugs, the different ways to combat the relentless bugs. (I moved to the country last year. The bugs are formidable. I look for tips.)
She mentioned two things which, in combination, crack me up. The first is that she stuffs Bounce sheets (things that go in a clothes dryer) under her bra straps. Mosquitoes hate them, she said. The other thing she does when the bugs are particularly bad is to wear a baseball cap and to stick a green mosquito coil on the brim and light it. Between the smoking hat and the smelly dryer sheets, she can enjoy being outdoors in the summer even if she looks like a total lunatic.
It makes me aware that you can try to be someone other than who you are and be somewhere other than where you are, both of which make you look like you’re in a witness protection program, which makes you and everyone around you slightly uncomfortable and less alive.
Or you can say yes to who you are and exactly where you are in life and be singularly radiant.
That’s what she is.
Go there. Meet her. Tell me what you see. Better still, tell her what you see.
Thanks for the conversation.
I was just in the grocery store, buying paprika and chili powder. It was my second time in this store in less than an hour. Most of the cashiers are wonderful in this place, the kind of women (why always women on cash? Another chat for another day, maybe) who notice you’re there for the second time.
“You, again! You can’t get enough of us!”
I was next in line and had my paprika and chili powder on the conveyor belt thing when I heard a man yelling, “Hey! Heyyyyy! HEY!!!!!!!” By the third hey, it was LOUD.
I turned around and saw Robert running toward me.
Robert was a patient in my clinic when I had a clinic. This means I haven’t seen him in almost three years. Robert is intellectually challenged or whatever the inadequate terminology is now. He processes the world in a different way than what the experts call normal. And his life, because of this, is challenging in different ways than mine.
He’s a big, beautiful hunk of human flesh and he was running toward me with three years worth of enthusiasm.
When he smacked into me and wrapped his arms around me I started crying and saying, you’re so beautiful, you’re sooooo beautiful, and he yelled, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU.
That was it for dialogue, but we were at it for about five minutes. Then he just put me back down on the floor and walked away.
I was felled by it, the way anyone would be, seeing a long lost love. I wasn’t wailing at this point, but there was still a steady flow of salt water falling down my face.
The young woman at the cash, who could not possibly have missed this whole thing, said, while looking over my shoulder, “Excuse me, do you need bags?”
“Do you need bags?”
Oh, man, it made me sad.
Here’s what I want to say to her.
Honey, you just witnessed two people being felled by love right in front of you. Do not hold your doors closed. It will kill something in you and in us if you stay closed.
It’s also very likely that the next person in line has been felled by fear (of the price of these groceries, for instance, or of cancer or of the pressure at work) or loneliness or delicious lust or gratitude or some other force.
What a crime not to open the doors of your gorgeous self and be with us. Sad for us and sad for you.
What, you think your job is ringing up the price of paprika?
Honey, your job is to be in Love with us. The paprika, the cash register, and your bright green uniform are props. They are excuses to practice knowing who you are.
Love and openness are your real job.
That’s what I want to say to her. She was too beautiful – we all are – to forget this.
Let’s be felled together. Just falling over with love all day long. Why not?????
Thanks to all the free and not-yet-completely-free cashiers out there, and to beautiful Robert.
And thanks to you for the conversation.
Fear visits some of us, moves in with some of us, owns some of us, paralyzes some of us.
I don’t know where you are with fear, but in my neck of the woods, it’s worth looking at if it causes any suffering at all.
I’m going to use a tree analogy again because it’s simple and clear and because trees are gorgeous.
When I experience fear, it means I believe I’m a leaf on the tree. Somehow, I have identified with something tiny and vulnerable.
The wind blows, I shake, and I’m terrified. My colour changes, I’m terrified I’m going to die. All the leaves around me die at some point and I know I’m a leaf, so how can I not be afraid? And finally – plink – I fall and I am dead. So I was correct to be afraid every time the wind blew. Right?
Well, yes. If I believe myself to be the leaf, I am completely justified in being terrified every day.
Every time I cross a street, every time I lose a job or a house or a lover or my savings, every time my kids make their own choices, every time anyone finds a lump or has a stroke or loses their mind.
In fact, even when everything is peachy I can be afraid, knowing that today could be the day that your leaf falls or mine does. Drunk driver, bird flu, bee sting. Miserable existence.
So we come up with strategies to deal with fear.
As adults we reword fear to make it look like something saner.
We say, I’m concerned about your report card, when we mean, I’m afraid you’ll grow up not smart and you won’t find a good job and you’ll end up in prison eating bad macaroni and cheese and never seeing daylight again.
We say, I’m just being cautious, or reasonable, or careful by washing my hands four hundred times a day or taking 720 vitamin supplements or staying with a job I hate or never making eye contact with strangers.
We do our best to create security and stability in our lives and the lives around us in an attempt to minimize fear or to at least turn down its volume.
I’ll make whacks of money, I’ll find the perfect partner, the perfect life. I’ll find the perfect balance. I’ll medicate!
And if our attention to perfect security/safety/stability/balance begins to deaden our spirit (and it will), we’ll either try harder or try another version: new job, new partner, etc.
Maybe you can identify with these. Maybe you have your own marvellous variations.
But fear will always, always be there if I’m the leaf. If I’m the leaf, I’d be crazy not to be afraid.
The answer is simple.
Question who you are in this story. Take your attention inward and find out who you really are.
It isn’t about convincing yourself. It’s about looking more deeply inside than we normally do.
Are there times when you aren’t afraid? Yes. Look there.
Are there times when you know everything’s all right? Yes. Take your attention there.
Are there times when you know you are larger than this scary situation? Yes. Look in this direction.
What happens with honest looking is that you lose the delusion that you’re just the leaf.
Look, and it’ll happen.
You come to know yourself as the branch, and then the tree, and then the energy that creates the tree.
Keep looking, and you come to KNOW yourself as something that can’t fall. Something open and eternal. (I don’t like describing it. You are it.)
Then you’re home.
(In truth, you’re always home, but you forget.)
When you’re home, the wind blows, a leaf shakes, a leaf falls, and everything is fine. No fear, and never anything to be afraid of.
This is crazily long-winded for something that is so simple.
But it’s hard not to spend your whole life yelling, Look! Look!
No need to be afraid, you beautiful hunk of universe, you.
Hope this serves.
Love and thanks.
It’s good to be back.
It’s not like I’ve been in a tent in Sri Lanka or anything. I’ve been writing for theatre and now for film (stories about love in difficult situations and with difficult people), and chatting to groups about the same things we talk about here. Life is good, good.
And we have a lovely forum over at Dr. Kristin Shepherd on Facebook, where we do thoughts to lift us up a bit and to remind us who we are. The community there is gorgeous.
I haven’t been doing much here because, well, I got lost in a technology swamp. I moved, my old computer is no longer hooked to the net, I couldn’t find my way back into the back door of WordPress, etc., etc. I have more usernames and passwords than the cosmos has stars and every single technological platform I use is in need of some loving.
Here’s the thing, though. I may do a wee book consisting of favourite chunks of writing and favourite daily thoughts. People keep asking, and it’d feel good.
So. If you have any particular faves, please feel free to let me know here, at the Facebook site, or at email@example.com.
If you’re still here and still listening, thanks.
My dog and i were out for a walk the other morning on trails behind our house. To set a relevant context, I’ll tell you that dogs run free on those trails and that my dog, though poorly trained and maybe overly enthusiastic, is small, weighing in at 18 pounds.
We don’t usually meet anyone out there in the morning, much to Rosie’s dismay. She loves to jump up on people’s legs, and she loves to terrorize other dogs.
On this morning, i saw a woman, maybe 50 metres up ahead on the trail, doing something funny with her arms. We got a bit closer and saw there were kids behind her, and she was holding her arms out front towards us, and crossed, like she was fending off a vampire. She was crouching a bit, too, as though preparing for some martial art i don’t know about.
Is everything all right, i asked, as we got closer.
I’ve got little kids behind me, she said.
I see, i said.
The whole school is coming, she said. Hundreds of kids.
It took a minute to understand that she was afraid of Rosie being free around the kids. Which seemed ridiculous to me, and evidence our protect-us-from-all-harm-and-all-fun era.
I put Rose on the lead.
Here’s the bit that freaks me out.
We passed 200 kids, and perhaps 20 teachers, or teacher’s aids, or educational assistants (whatever they’re called now). Every time a group of ten or so passed us, the kids went wild, wanting to pat Rosie. Of course they wanted to. Open hearts like each other.
And the teachers, for the most part, did not want that. You could hear it in their voices. Danger!
But they didn’t say that. Instead, they said this: Leave the dog alone. The dog wants its privacy!
Another one: Don’t touch the dog! The dog is not a part of this walk!
Another one: Stay away from the dog! It doesn’t want your hands all over it!
All the while, Rosie was straining at the lead, doing her best to be touched by them, putting on her cutest face and her cutest tail wag.
One kid, held back by her teacher, shouted, I WOULD REALLY LOVE TO KISS YOUR DOG! I could have kissed her for saying what she felt.
And i thought, oh, man, there is a lot of dishonesty going on here. I get the safety thing, and the liability thing, but pay attention to what that dishonesty is doing.
Don’t tell children that the dog wants privacy! That teaches kids that their excellent instincts are false and off the mark. Surely the purpose of any education is to teach us the opposite.
This went on for roughly 199 kids.
Trailing behind the entire group were a teacher and a boy with cerebral palsy. The boy adored Rosie. He got so vocal about it that i took her over to meet him. His teacher looked on cautiously and quietly. The boy stroked Rosie, and I wish you’d seen the change that came over his entire body. Although i didn’t understand every word that came out of his mouth, it cracked my heart in half, it was so beautiful.
It’s not that i don’t feel for the teachers and their responsibility. But i feel more for those kids.
Many thanks to that one teacher who let that one kid follow his instincts. You are a gem. And many thanks to all of those kids for showing me what it looks like to shout, I WOULD REALLY LOVE TO KISS YOUR DOG!
I hope we all find our way back to our instincts, one way or another. It feels as though everything important depends on it.
Thanks for the conversation,
“Are you ready for Christmas?”
What the hell does that mean?
What a season. Sure, we sing Christmas tunes. And things sparkle. For the religious, there’s the whole Jesus thing, which is probably satisfying.
But. Over twenty years in a health care practice, I saw this as a season of huge stress.
The Joy bar, if you can imagine one, is raised. You’re supposed to feel jolly, bursting with good will, eager to be with your loved ones (even the drunken aunts and the bigoted, pedophiliac, shoplifting, arsonist, B&E in-laws), and, most of all, willing to shop for all of the above. There’s nothing like an elevated expectation of joy to make you feel less joyous, to make you feel like a Scrooge-y underachiever in the realm of happiness.
Families get together, which is wonderful and not. Combined families do the absurd and hugely complicated Cirque du Soleil thing in order to be at all twelve turkey dinners around the country, stuffed to the resentful, guilty wishbone by the end of it all.
People spend themselves into debt that amounts to carrying a fat, loaded sleigh for the rest of the winter.
I drive by the mall, stare at four bizillion cars in the parking lot, and head to the library instead. I’ve done this twice in the last week. I’ll be well read, if not “ready” at all, by Christmas.
So what does it mean to be “ready” for Christmas?
Here’s my checklist:
1. Am I listening to my own values? (Do I even know what my values are?)
2. Am I doing what makes me happiest or am I just doing my best not to offend my mother, my father, my lover, my husband (same thing in some cases, but not for everybody this Christmas – talk about Cirque du Soleil stress), my kids, my in-laws, the guy who delivers the mail, every starving kid in Africa who will die because i just wasted $20 on a hat that no one will wear, the clerk who has asked me 600 times to donate an extra dollar to a cause I have no interest in?
3. Am I allowing my kids and lovely man to make their own decisions about what makes them happy (or am I pressuring the hell out of them to do what I want)?
4. Am I finding time every day to remember who I am? To breathe and be sane? To remember that Love is the Point?
Ahhhhh, that’s it.
The moment I remember that Love is the Point, I’m ready.
Are you ready? What’s the point for you? And is it easy for you to remember your own point this season? I’d love to hear.
Thanks for the conversation,
This is my last post with Beginner’s
Change has always both scared the hell
out of me and thrilled me right down to the mula bandha, to put it
But with age, with experience, and I
swear with yoga practice, I’m beginning to love the feeling that comes with letting go and walking through the next door.
My guess is that saying thank you is one of the keys to good transitions.
Thanks, first, to Yogajournal.com and
all of the lovely editors who offered me a chance to have this 18-month conversation with you. As readers, we have no idea how
much work goes into such a massive and excellent website. To create
and nurture such a thing, and to do it with good hearts, humor, and
professionalism is off-the-mat yoga at its best.
Thanks, next, to yoga for being such a
fabulous topic of conversation, not to mention a superb window
through which to explore ourselves and our place in this mysterious
Thanks, most importantly, to you. Many,
many of you have become friends. Many of you might as well have written
these posts, given all the compelling and thoughtful notes you sent this way. On occasion, some of you objected to what I wrote. Thanks for caring enough to do so. All of you have been excellent
It’s been a
(And it’s not like I’m dead. You can
still reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
or at Dr.Kristin Shepherd on Facebook. Hope you do.)
Thanks again for the conversation.
Lots of love and joy,