volunteer or weed

In Defense of Weed(s)

Many years ago when Mr Dreamboat and I were just starting off on the wild ride that would be our life together, we bought our very first home. It was a tiny and lovely nestled on a sleepy street in Northeast Portland, Oregon.

There we brought home our very first Baby Boy Young. Perhaps because it is so many years in my past, the only memories I have of our first little cottage are illuminated with soothing yellow lights and somehow every memory seems tucked into a perfect summer evening. Sigh…

Though we lived in our home for only a year, it was there we became a family and there we learned many other lessons as well.

One of those lessons was about weeds.

The previous owner was a young man who had bought the house and fixed it up. A nice job

You wanted to talk about pot, didn't you?
You wanted to talk about pot, didn’t you?

he did of it too. The floors were stripped of old carpet and redone in a beautiful, old patina that felt cozy and grounded. The remaining carpets were new and fresh. The house was tiny but charming in every way. Well, if I’m being honest, the kitchen was achingly small and outdated, but beyond that it was entirely perfect.

Including the yard.

Both the front and back yards were nothing fancy but well kept and tidy. He was a meticulous guy and wanted to walk us through the whole property, small though it was, before we took complete ownership.

He talked about the floors, the fireplace and the basement. When we came to the plot he walked us about the little patch of grass and pointed out the decorative beds.

“These plants I brought back from some hikes I took in the gorge. They’ve done really well. These over here are volunteers. I don’t know what they are, but they’re pretty.”

For certain it was the first time I’d ever heard a plant referred to as a “volunteer”. And without a doubt it had never occurred to me that one might choose what one thought was beautiful and worthy of a garden based on nothing but preference.

Where were the experts? What did the books have to say about it? How can we possibly value something unless we’ve been told it’s valuable?

And so the light turned on.

Weeds are only weeds when we think of them as such. Beauty is to be found in every living thing, in every living circumstance. Sometimes, if we find we like something that until now we’ve thought of as a weed, it’s not a weed at all, it’s a volunteer.

Too often I am quick to label things.

This is “good”, and that is “bad” and these things have “value” while those don’t. It is in the labeling that I am committing the injustice. When I throw something out without critical thinking I may very well be getting rid of my very favorite flower in the garden of my life.

The volunteers that have popped up in my life have sometimes been quite ugly on the surface. Challenges I couldn’t have planned for and outcomes never imagined have thrown me for a loop and sent me running for the weed killer. Until I remember…

You are the expert of your own life. You decide what should thrive and what should die. Yet sometimes if you give things a chance to grow, occasionally that which was never valued before turns out to have the most magical powers.

Got some weeds in your garden? Let’s sort them out together.

Contact me at michelleatplay@gmail.com

sunrise yoga

Thank You/F*ck You

This morning I got up, took a shower and meditated to the sounds of the ocean. Lest I give the false impression of paradise, know that mating seagulls made such a ruckus that the meditation turned into an exercise in keeping my focus and not feeling rage at the randy, squawking, feral, avian scavengers romping above my head. But I digress…

After such a hypnotic practice I finished dressing, put on a touch of make up and donned my jaunty black cape, the practical one I wear when I’m doing chores and can’t be bothered with the flowing, fancy ones.

It is the cape about which we talk today. I continue to wear it and continue to learn from the practice.

Not long after I put on my first cape, I sat in the cool Austin evening talking with a friend of mine. Daniel is a musician and has traveled the world singing the songs he’s written and entertaining what is probably hundreds of thousands of people. Beyond that, the man is brilliant.

yeah thats how i doI explained to him that the cape is making me think and grow. It’s a challenge. Often. I admit openly that I am sometimes self-conscious in it. Sometimes I want to apologize and explain that I am in all actuallity a sane person. Then I remember if I have to tell you I’m sane the likelihood that this is true diminishes dramatically.

The evening sauntered on in that comfortable way we relish good friends and conversation. And Daniel imparted a bit of the wisdom he’s acquired over millions of miles and thousands of performances.

“A performer has to come to the stage with equal amounts ‘thank you’ and ‘f*ck you.’ We aren’t anything without the audience, but beyond that you have to know you’re bringing inherent value. That’s what makes a good performance.”

I’ve thought a lot about that conversation and though it’s often top of mind, I watch myself continue to become obsequious, pleasing, submissive even.

No one finds this attractive. Especially me.

With this notation in the performer’s handbook, I am now capable of stopping myself in the act of subjection. I pull my shoulders back and I remember that gratitude is first on the list, always gratitude, but of equal importance is knowing I’m the one running the show. When I take charge, when I know my value, the “show” gets infinitely better for everyone, including the audience and including myself.

Perhaps the Performer’s Strategy isn’t for everyone. Maybe you find the words a little harsh. I get that and respect that. I’m just grateful you came to read the post.

And I’m wearing my cape. And I am embracing that delicious fifty/fifty split. You do you and I’ma do me…

Thank you, thank you very much. Michelle has left the building…

michelleatplaycaped

Looking For You

I am a life coach. I love what I do. I work with people one on one and in small groups, taking them from a place of uncertainty to a place were life is a daring adventure and challenges are opportunities.

My new group coaching session starts in a few weeks and I want you in it. Seriously. I want YOU.

If this piques your interest and you’d like to know more, message or text me at 503-957-0821.

Not sure? Let’s do a free 30 minute Discovery Session.

best life

Your Best Life Ever

A month ago today I drove the five hours necessary to pick up my new best friend. Mr Dreamboat had done more than his due diligence and hand picked my tiny, puppy companion and the day and hour had arrived for me to take on my new responsibility.

Preacher and I met and instantly fell in love. I with him, because he is cute and he is fluffy. He with me, likely because I give him snacks. Whatever it takes, I’m not proud.

michelleatplaycapedAs the weeks passed I’ve become confident the “Honeymoon Phase” is past and we are in the day to day routine of figuring out how to live together. He has convinced not only me (the easy sell) but Mr Dreamboat (the cynical one) that his rightful place to sleep is in our room. I have persuaded him that… well, he’s a puppy. He does the majority of the convincing in our relationship.

That said, it occurred to me just a few days ago I should be doing some sort of official training with this guy lest he become obnoxious and I rue the day we met.

Turning to the Oracle Of Truth & Enlightenment (The Interwebs), I opted for advice from Cesar, The Dog Whisperer, or whatever his name is. Cesar informs me that my puppy is a pack animal and I should always maintain my position of Alpha. Check.

I’m supposed to go through doors before the little devil does and he should walk beside me or behind me when we’re on a leash about town. Okay. I think we’ve been doing this already. What else ya got, Cesar?

It turns out this puppy thing isn’t as difficult as I thought it might be. Thus far no major mistakes have been made on my part and all the basics were already being covered, apparently on an unconscious level.

Cesar assures me consistency, kindness and gentle praise are the key factors in raising a puppy you won’t regret as an adult. In his words:

“A pack leader is, by definition, strong, stable, and consistent.”

Yes! Yesyesyes!

The rules of dog training, it turns out are no different than the rules of life. If we’re interested in leading the pack, we have to be willing to step out in front of the crowd. Consistency is key and gentle praise an important part of every day communication.

I’m convinced I am raising one of the best dogs of my life. He is smart, sweet and small enough to sit on my lap on a cold winter evening and keep me warm.

Likewise, I am also delighted to be creating a life I love. I do it on a consistent basis. I try to use gentle praise as a key part of my communication, and I try to keep good snacks on hand. Never underestimate the importance of good snacks .

In the end, whether your life is a dog or not, there’s no reason not to make it your bitch;)

bill murray awesome

Why You Matter

One time Mr Dreamboat took his hand off my back and I thought I was going to die. Literally, not figuratively.

I was in that super-cool, super human state where my body was expelling a completely separate human and was practically turning inside out to do it. Because of the intense concentration it required of me to keep from howling at the moon, the floor and anyone within a 27 mile radius, I hadn’t stopped to mention, “Hey, your hand on my back is tethering me and without it I will most certainly float into the Abyss of Agony and never, ever return. Thanks for that.”

When he removed my connection to our reality I focused with all my might and said just that in the most precise words possible, “Put. Your. Hand. Back.” Not my most poetic work, but it did the trick.

Look! I created this perfectly lovely human being!
Look! I created this perfectly lovely human being!

I come back to this story often when I am doing something I don’t necessarily want to do. Not convinced it makes any difference to anyone if I show up to a party, support a friend’s child’s fundraiser, make a phone call or offer a smile on a day that the energy expense is considerable, with this incident firmly planted in my labor-traumatized mind, almost without exception, I do the deed anyway.

Maybe it wasn’t the incident that continues to remind me to matter, but our conversation after the fact that impacted me so completely.

“Why did you move your hand when I needed it so much?” I asked Mr D.

“I didn’t think it was making a difference,” he explained.

Too many times I’ve said harsh things thinking it didn’t matter, decided my presence wasn’t of any real import and thoughtlessly pursued the voices that drive my own needs. Though that conversation took place almost 17 years ago (Can it really be almost 17 years ago?), I continue to make those same mistakes, though I certainly try not to.

We are so fragile. Almost none of us are immune to the need to be understood, loved and supported. Try as we might to “first, do no harm” like the Doctors of Love we most certainly are, no one gets by without offending someone at some time.

Whether we realize it or not, our kindnesses, reaching out and gentle touches tether our loved ones as well as strangers to a  world in desperate need of more kindness. We need to remember that. Remember that our omissions can sometimes do harm and that goes against the Oath of The Universe. I’m sure there is one, we just don’t remember taking it.

We will harm each other. It’s what we do. We’re human. But when we remember that we matter, our presence matters, the words we say and the things we do, they matter, then we’ll do a better job of doing good, healing hearts and tethering one another to a more beautiful world.

old-woman

Who Can You Trust?

Once, plagued by the vague but persistent symptoms of my autoimmune “thing”, a doctor from whom I sought relief asked in a condescending tone, “Um,” insert one raised eyebrow tinged with contempt, “Are your symptoms occurring once a month, Mrs. Young?”

Because I didn’t have as much experience, rather than tell him to go to hell as would be my response today, I started to cry. This evoked far more frustration than sympathy from him. I left his office without help or comfort. Once a doctor even told me the symptoms about which I was visiting him were, “Not possible.”

Oh. Okay. Thanks for that.

That was many, many moons ago and I would not stand to be treated like that today. Also, I wouldn’t go to a doctor for the nebulous symptoms that to this day nag me onto the couch from time to time.

Because there was “No balm in Gilead…” as the scripture goes, I sauntered off into blood donationMichelle Land, clear this wasn’t a part of my normal monthly cycle but equally convinced that there was something out there that could ease my woes.

For more than 30 years I have been on a quest for wellness. Sometimes I’ve succumbed to the panaceas of the day ~ Note to self, if it’s direct sales and will cure ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING, including acne and diarrhea with exactly the monthly dose you are now obligated to purchase for the rest of your life, it’s probably voodoo. Too good to be true, almost without exception, is indeed, too good to be true.

While I may have tried a few foolhardy things in my day, the good people in the healing profession also tried to steer me away from time-honored methods as well. I had one doctor tell me to stay away from acupuncture at all costs. He was, incidentally, Asian.

While I wouldn’t say I’ve necessarily “healed” myself, most of the time I feel really good. My days on the couch are limited and from time to time I continue to dabble in energy healing and the occasional weird remedy.

You can’t blame a girl for trying.

I would love to tell you what you need to do to heal your particular bugaboo, but what I’ve learned is exactly contrary to that idea.

While the medical profession is to be consulted and respected, the missing link in our wellness plan is our willingness to listen to ourselves. My symptoms are my symptoms and you can’t tell me they’re not. What makes me feel better, like acupuncture, makes me feel better, regardless of being advised against it.

While there isn’t a miracle cure, a skinny pill or a panacea to cure all that ails us perhaps the “Balm in Gilead” arrives in the quiet moments we take, the deep breaths and listening and in finally trusting ourselves to listen and trust ourselves above all others.

Listen to the silence, feel the world go round, listen to the silence, feel the lack of sound…

flirt

I Am Shameless & You Should Be Too

I practice a weird sort of magical thinking. It’s kind of a belief system cum superstition a la religious practice. If you will.

Whether it stems from my own delightful form of mental illness or from the smorgasbord of my various interests, the “program” runs constantly in the back of my mind. My religious/philosophical/life coaching convictions can be summed up in four, simple words;

Flirt with The Universe.

Mercilessly.

To flirt with The Universe involves nothing more than a sassy attitude, a genuine smile and a belief that when we make ourselves available to the good things that inhabit life, they likely will come to us; somewhat like the phone number of a highly desirable partner, written on your hand while he looks meaningfully into your eyes.

Who doesn’t want The Universe to do that to them?

love hugTo Flirt with The Universe is to wake up every morning in possibility. It is to believe in real and meaningful connection and to consider that every interaction is possibly the most important one of your life.

To Flirt with Life requires a willingness to see the beauty that is inherently in every moment, whether that beauty is obvious or not.

Each day is another opportunity to start dating life.

While I may have deftly named my practice ~ if I do say so myself ~ if I’m being honest Mr Dreamboat has made this ideology his custom for many years. His every transaction is with an important person, every conversation matters. Regardless of whether he’s buying a soda or a piece of property, my Dreamboat is engaged with life, so life engages with him. That’s so hot.

When we Flirt with Life we believe in Possibility, we Hope for the Best and we pull our shoulders back like the pretty girl at a middle school dance. When we are certain the very best partner has his eye on us, he does, he will, we are, we win.

May we each put on out very best, brush our teeth (for The Universe loves good dental hygiene) and look to life like it has everything to give us, every day of our lives.

Because of course, it does.

Buddha-Quotes-free-from-suffering-quotes-attachment-quotes

A Vacation For The Overworked Ego ~ A List Of Ten Things

If you ask me the ego gets a bum rap. Designed specifically to protect us and keep us far from harms way,a list of ten things we malign its existence and constantly shame it, never giving it the applause it deserves for saving our sorry, vulnerable asses.

Shame on us.

The ego, unlike any other human being, has been with you from the beginning and knows your pain as intimately as you do. That’s why it’s there for you, protecting you from the agony of middle school rejection and encouraging you not to try lest you fail miserably in the first round of the spelling bee again. Sure “anchor” has an h in it. I knew that.

But for the ego, we would go through humiliation again and again.

While the ego is actually a friend to us, perhaps the best way to thank it for its tireless work on our behalf is to give it a rest once in a while. Stop scaring it and make friends with a different sort of world so the overworked part of ourselves can take a little rest.

Your ego will thank you:

1. Give in to the fact that none of it’s personal. People laughing at you or laughing with you, it’s all the same, if you allow it to be.
2. Remember, and you can remind the ego of it, that people are not responding to you, they’re responding to themselves. Whether you’re, “…the GREATEST…,” or, “…the WORST…”, it doesn’t matter. Put the ego to bed and stop worrying about it.
3. As soon as we give into the fact that at some point in time the ride will end, the ego can stop worrying that you’re going to die. You are going to die. It’s best to stop worrying about something that will happen if your ego is working overtime or not.
4. There is no perfect life without Photoshop so stop trying to get one. Ego, you are dismissed now from dusting and otherwise proving that you are perfect. You are not. Not even on your best day. On your best day you are you, flawed, fragile and perfect in your imperfections.
5. While there may be a few absolutes like gravity and death, everything else is up for questioning so your ego can give in to the idea that you will inevitably be wrong. At least from time to time and likely often. Take a nap, Little Ego.
6. Though Facebook is a vehicle used to prove otherwise, everyone else is as flawed as you are. No one has the perfect life so we can give it up and make peace with our stained shirts and imperfect children.
7. Sure I applaud the ego, but its nagging desire to tear down others is ill-advised. I can never figure out why we can’t figure this one out; Your flaws do not equal my perfection.
8. Conversely, when we teach the ego the pleasure of finding the beauty in others and in our own world, the ego settles down and enjoys a world infused with beauty.
9. After a long day, it’s important to remind the ego that tomorrow is a completely fresh start. Everything gets reset.
10. When all else fails, it’s best to take the ego by the hand, thank it for its tireless work and allow it to pull our shoulders back and continue to fight the good fight. It’s best to do that after a good night’s rest though.

woman-strong

Yes I’m A Feminist, Why Aren’t You?

The household in which I grew up included my mother, sister, grandmother and myself. Even our dogs were female. It is for this reason that I never believed taking out the garbage, mowing the lawn or the tools around the house lay in a man’s domain.

How tall the grass would have grown.

Camping tents were erected, road trips ventured and household repairs all envisioned and executed to completion, sans man. To greater and lesser successes, to be sure, but that’s not a gender issue now is it?

Being a woman is a complicated matter. I have never in all my years been a man and so I cannot speak to that. While I don’t think the job is necessarily easy, there doesn’t appear to be nearly as much nuance to it compared to that of being a woman.

I imagine it’s not that easy to live with this particular woman. There’s no real way to tell if the maya feministcomplexities in my relationship with Mr Dreamboat arise from inherent personality characteristics, my own upbringing or the nature of my sex. I suspect all three factors play in to the equation.

Any way you look at it, being a girl factors into any situation. From our specific needs, desires and perspectives, to the fact that we can’t stand up to do our business, we are different. And this is good.

It’s always puzzling to me what feminism might mean to someone who takes offence to the idea. The idea that women should be able to vote, shouldn’t be considered property to their husbands or make less money doing the same job, wherein lies the offense?

Conversely, I believe with all my heart that when we stand up for ourselves, when we show up in our full, feminine energy, the world sees us, shines a little brighter and we inherently give permission to the world to show up in authenticity. Masculine and feminine, boy meets girl meets world. Guns blazing. Magic made.

Subscribing to feminism is the ultimate, “You do you,” regardless of one’s assigned gender.

I don’t really understand what the aversion to being pro-women might be. Perhaps it’s seen as something dirty. Maybe people imagine it’s anti-family. Who’s to say?

What I will say is that feminism in her full glory, with her swinging hips and sassy ways is a family promoting, industry building, life fulfilling, children rearing, economy boosting, laugh inducing, big smile of a sun-shiny-daisy institution.

Feminism creates bright minds and strong ties. Feminism, at least my brand of it, is about love and standing in our power; with power tools or Manolos. Whichever. You choose.

I learned from an early age how to take out the garbage, mow the lawn and set up a tent. I watched my mother provide for her family and my grandmother plant a garden and make homemade bread. They did what they had to do, and then they did the things they loved to do with a panache that only equality allows.

That’s what I want. I want it for women and I want it for men because I want it for the world.

The view from the house.

You Don’t Have To Be Deep To Be Happy

When I was but a young one pretending to be an adult, I took a trip to the beach. I padded in time for myself though I was with a large group of women on a retreat. I took my time before anyone arrived to go down to the beach and to be alone.

I remember vividly the view though I can’t recall which coastal town it was. The sun barely shown through the persistent Northwest clouds and the breeze tickled instead of nagged as my toes tunneled into the salty sand.

And then I wasn’t sure what to do next. I’d watched too many movies and read too many books with deep thinking characters with great plans or flaws to flush out on a sandy shore or a lonely night.

I dawdled as long as I could, trying to eat up time so I wouldn’t feel silly. And I felt silly. And I felt silly all by myself since no one else knew I had no great plans or readily apparent flaws available.

I am many years older than I was back then. The beach I visit is almost always Lincoln City. The view spectacular and largely unchanged. I have what I like to think are “great” plans and my flaws have been revealed to me over and over again over the decades.

But the real difference lies not in the wrinkles congregating around my eyes or the people ready to testify concerning my flaws. It lies in the fact that I know exactly what to do with a bit of time for pondering with buried toes and nothing demanding but seagulls and waves.

When one has time to think and latitude in which to ponder, it’s a terrible waste to ponder imperfections and percolate plans.

There is a time to simply meditate. When the space is cleared in which to breath the fresh ocean air and a stretch arrives in which you can simply exist without apology or explanation, it is best to feel your toes in the sand, the breeze on your cheek and humbly be grateful to be alive.

There’s no need to complicate things. It’s as simple as a gentle breeze at the beach and just as pleasant.