Massages, Martyrs, and Being in the Moment

Photo: Rhendi Rukmana

It’s raining buckets. A few hours from now, we’ll hit the road in this atrocious (April!) weather to drive to the breeder’s house. We will meet a litter of six baby bulldogs, and choose our girl Chalupa from three of them.

I’m getting a massage this afternoon. It’s amazing to me that age the age of 44, I still have the impulse to explain and justify this , to call it an “indulgence.” It’s a holdover of martyrish thinking — take care of everyone else first, then maybe myself — that I’m continuously shedding like old skin. So yes, getting a massage on this nasty, wet, cold not-at-all-like-spring day.

Yesterday I led a mini retreat. Four people had to cancel due to illness and unforeseen conflicts, but eight of us gathered and it was wonderful and easy. Easy like arrive and from the start, there’s a feeling of safety and connection. Easy like delicious, homemade food, a couch and a gas fireplace to warm the chill, and a beautiful old converted church with good bones. Easy like pen and paper, eye contact, voices, and hugs. (Early bird registration is open for the June retreat… just sayin’.)

Today, I have a little bit of post-retreat letdown. Rather than saying, “What’s wrong with me?” (see holdover from first paragraph), I’m remembering that this happens after every retreat — be it four hours or four days. I am so present, so in my element while facilitating that kind of space, that the next day I think I have a little bit of a) where’d the party go? and b) need to refill my well. Thus, the massage, and moving slowly on a day that hardly welcomes much venturing.

The weather everywhere is wacked — a tornado in North Carolina, a blizzard in Minnesota, flash flooding in NYC and Hawaii. My kids are going to D.C. for the school break with their dad this week, and it looks like it’s not all that much warmer there than here. Aviva called earlier from the car and it was fun to chat with her. Speaking of Aviva, check out her newest cover (“Sweet Caroline). She just got a mic and I can tell she’s havin a blast mixing songs on her own tracks. I especially love the snapping.

We are getting a puppy. A puppy! Like, holy shit. I have never had a puppy. I had a little dog named Duffy when I was a kid, a cockerpoo who was sweet and small and affectionate. Later, my ex and I found Juke, a black lab-dalmation rescue who was a bodhisattva dog if there ever was one. Juke died in 2007, and a few months later, Bobo found us on the beach. After River and I split up, Bobo lived with me for a while, then him, then me, then him, and then ultimately, stayed with him.

I haven’t lived with a dog in about five years. And a puppy is a whole ‘nother matter. This is me and Mani starting out together with a new creature to nurture and love and train. I’m excited and a little nervous, too. What will she be like? Will we get along? Will I be a good puppy mama? Of course it has already occurred to me to write about this new adventure. I thought of keeping a little daily journal. Knowing myself, it will bring up all kinds of thoughts around being present; if there’s one thing I know (and love) about dogs, it’s that they live completely in the moment — something I’m not always the best at.

It’s raining buckets, my friends. I’m a little down. Sometimes I wonder, will I ever learn to just be with whatever I’m feeling, rather than resisting it, arguing with myself about what’s valid to feel? All the feelings are valid. Period. Resistance is not only futile, it’s self-punishing. It’s no accident that I am constantly saying “be good to yourself” and “everything counts.” After all, we teach what we have to learn.

The rain is my teacher, one who says: “Surrender to this.” The eye twitch is my teacher, and the knot in my shoulder saying: “Take care of this body.” The puppy will undoubtedly become my teacher, in ways I can’t even predict. When I sit with all of this and relax, my heart takes up more room in my chest. I am flooded with something like compassion for myself, along with grief and anger and love. All of it exists here, in this being, this being here.

I’m off to get that massage. Over and out.

Be good to yourself.

One thought on “Massages, Martyrs, and Being in the Moment

  1. Leah says:

    It’s refreshing, to me, when someone shares these feelings honestly.

    A friend once helped me to re-frame the grey days (grey weather and mood). She asked, “Instead of calling it an off-day, why not a day-off? Just decide that it’ll be a day off from expectations, from feeling excited, from being fun or productive. Just accept it.” You know what? When I remember that advice, it really does help.

    But that’s me. I don’t know what will help you to just let the feelings be. My grey days are part of life’s many, many mysteries that I struggle with in my final year before 50.

    One thing I have learned, though: massages are a totally worthy and justifiable element of well-rounded health care.

    Happy puppy picking!



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