A few years ago I thought that I had gone through some tough times and that life would spare me at least for awhile.  But now I know there is no sparing — there are, in the course of every year, beautiful, joyous times AND really bad, difficult times.

This year was no exception.

The beautiful joyous times were simple days of spending time with my daughter, Zoe, with friends, traveling around the country and a trip to Dublin, all for work.  Riding my bike along the Hudson in the summer and taking long walks in Central Park in every season. 

There was a visit to Emily’s house in the country — bittersweet because of her absence, but still pleasurable.

My play performed at the Beckett Theater this year, with friends from all areas of my life, old friends, new friends, everyone showing up to see it and lend support.  And a cast and crew of the most wonderful people and the challenges that go along with every creative project.

There was the grief of losing my best friend, Lucy, my beloved beagle, who was with me for 13 years and who died at 17 years of age.  I miss her daily and am deeply grateful for having had her for all those years.  She was truly a faithful companion.

I’m grateful that my ex husband and I were able to forgive each other and start up a new… friendship.  I would not have imagined this a few years ago, but forgiveness is a powerful tool — and cancer seems to completely change the landscape.  He really showed up for a harrowing summer and survived and we are all so grateful. 

2013 ends quietly… I feel that life has forced so many of us to seek comfort in being quiet, by going within. 

One of my favorite pieces of advice I heard recently came from the playwright Tracy Letts: spend at least 30 minutes a day staring at the wall, or looking out the window.  I don’t have much of a view, but I think I will start at my wall and give thanks for this past year and gratitude for the coming one.  Just being alive is reason enough to be celebrate. 

Emily Squires’ pond in Lake Ariel, Pa.  August 2013.

“Wherever we are, we can train as a warrior.  The practices of meditation, loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equinimity are our tools.  With the help of these practices, we can uncover the soft spot of bodhichitta, the tenderness of the awakened heart.  We will find that tenderness in sorrow and in gratitude.  We will find it behind the hardness of rage and in the shakiness of fear.  It is available in loneliness as well as in kindness.  

Many of us prefer practices that will not cause discomfort, yet at the same time we want to be healed.  But bodhichitta training doesn’t work that way.  A warrior accepts that we can never know what will happen to us next.  We can try to control the uncontrollable by looking for security and predictability, always hoping to be comfortable and safe.  But the truth is that we can never avoid uncertainty.  This not knowing is part of the adventure, and it’s always what makes us afraid.  

Bodhichitta training offers no promise of happy endings.  Rather this “I” who wants to find security — who wants something to hold on to — can finally learn to grow up.  The central question of a warrior’s training is not how we avoid uncertainty and fear but how we relate to discomfort.  How do we practice with difficulty, with our emotions, with the unpredictable encounters of an ordinary day?”
Pema Chodron

I haven’t written any posts since November, when my dear friend Emily Squires was in the hospital.  Sadly, she died a few days later.

I just haven’t had the heart to write anything because the fall was so bleak and I’m still struggling to get through the days.  I miss Em and life feels so uncertain. This morning, I had to read some Pema Chodron to be reminded that this is just the part of life that is real – that we do live in uncertainty and we always will.

When I fight my sadness, it always seems to dig in deeper, so I will try to sit with it.  It’s a bleak January day.  We went through Hurricane Sandy (which isn’t over for thousands of people whose homes were destroyed.)  We saw a horrible school shooting and still there is a battle over gun control.

I’m sitting with sadness this morning and I’m trying not to fight it.  I know this too shall pass and that I have so much to be grateful for.  Emily is no longer with us and that is truly sad.  I just had a thought though, to call a mutual friend this morning, who is probably also missing Emily.

It’s hard to lose someone you love and I loved Emily.  I’m watching my dog, Lucy, falling apart.  She is 17 now.  I’m not sure of the future, but then who is?  I wish for happy endings, but if I’m to be a real warrior, I guess I have to accept that there is no promise of happy endings, just this moment, and growing up and relating to discomfort.

“How do we practice with difficulty, with our emotions, with the unpredictable encounters of an ordinary day.”