Tag Archives: Anne Lamott

Saddle Up

H Pic-1

Forget twelve-step programs, it’s three-steps for me just to get out of bed and “take on the day.” Let me explain.

Step 1. Morning Pages. I’ve been faithfully practicing this since I started, say fifteen years ago. The program as taught by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way is a spiritual life-saver. Can’t recommend it enough.

Step 2. Simple Abundance, by Sarah Ban Breathnach. Daily meditations and the keeping of a gratitude journal start each day off on the right foot (i.e. attitude).

Step 3. A Year with Thomas Merton: Daily Meditations from His Journals. This is a new one for me. I’ve added these gems from his journals because, like Anne LaMott, I find Thomas Merton “an incredible source of light and comfort and humor.” And although neither Anne nor I are particularly Catholic, I’m sure that she, like me, is pleased as punch with Pope Francis. And so on January 1, 2014 I added Thomas Merton’s meditations as the third step in getting out of bed, and haven’t missed a day yet.

When so many New Year’s Resolutions go down the drain, maybe we have been calling them by the wrong name. What if we thought instead of having aspirations? Let’s look for something desired, rather than the medicinal taste “resolution” leaves in our mouths. I mean, who even uses that word anymore? And we’ve all been around enough to know that, year after year, a resolution is never really resolved. Cynicism becomes us.

What if, instead, we were to be gentle with ourselves and grow what is working? Expand on what we are doing well. Do more of it. Piggyback complementary habits to it. I’m just thinking this might make all the difference in the world.

I had the first two steps going, and all I had to do was add the third. This is what I mean by piggybacking. Habits are learned through practice, and the best way I’ve found is to strap a new one onto a trusty old saddle. And let them go riding out together…

But please don’t call it “resolution” or you’ll never get anywhere. Call it desire, yearning or longing. Call it aspiration, leaning, longing. Call it something you would want. Then maybe on this second week in January we would not only remember what it was we had vowed to do, but we  could be practicing it.

Just know that in my case, it’s taking half the morning to get out the door to, you know, take on the day.


Filed under New Year Resolutions

Hair of the Dog

Seattle is, as they say, a city of neighborhoods, and when we first moved to Queen Anne, the local 5 Spot restaurant was particularly welcoming. We liked to sit and eat at the bar, watch a UW game or the Mariners, and befriend the bartender. Hank may have been the first person in town to remember our names every time, and so the 5 Spot became for us, the local Cheers bar.

Every now and then we feel in need of that again. Earlier this week, at a time of high election angst, we returned. (It is important to note here that this was before Hurricane Sandy made landfall). The intensity of the election was, at that time, Category 4, all consuming and draining. As Anne Lamott put it, “This is no way to live–rooting around the internet and twitter sites like a truffle hound, looking for better polls.” We had to get out of the house.

Once again, the 5 Spot was just the ticket. For those who are unfamiliar, the 5 Spot continually celebrates an “American Food Festival” by changing its theme every three months.  Sometimes it’s Texas, New Orleans or New York. Currently the theme was Washington D.C. Of course it would be.

Customers entered via a red or blue door to a restaurant decorated with every red, white and blue cliché: stars & stripes, beads, hats and streamers. It felt like one enormous rally. It felt like election night. And it occurred to us that maybe this was one way to deflect from the election, by just stepping right into it. Soon it would all be over, in other words.

“Vote with Your Liver” screamed the cocktails menu. Although I knew we would be ordering our usual iced teas, it was a good read:

Let Me Be Clear Martini, “no details, perfectly clear”

Bain Baubles & Bubbles, “silly, what recession?”

Joe’s Scranton Manhattan

Private Sector Sunrise, “we build, you drink, no interference”

Hair of the Dog, “for those mornings when you feel like you were tied to the roof of your car”

One of my goals this campaign season was to change my mother’s mind, to get her “to vote like a woman.” I wrote a blog post on the subject, “Don’t Call Me During the Debates,” and told mom that I had written it for her. And in every conversation I tried in some way to convince her. Then one day she informed me that it was too late.

“Your father and I have already voted,” she said.

“So there’s no sense talking to you anymore?” I quipped.

Mom laughed, I laughed.

Well, maybe I will try a Hair of the Dog cocktail afterall.

The specialty menu at 5 Spot offered Congressional House Hash, Marion Barry Cakes, White House Standoff, Koch Bros. Memorial Super Pac Porkity Pork Wich, and Initiative 502 “Herb” Salad (in reference to Washington state’s marijuana legalization initiative). I went with my usual, Cobb Salad.

There was no room for dessert. We had so much on our plates. Slurping to the bottom of my Hair of the Dog I was thinking, we can’t go back and protest for women’s rights again, not twice in one lifetime! I want to pray, please let Obama win so I can get on with my work!

Meanwhile, over on the Eastern seaboard, global warming was at our door. And she didn’t knock, and she didn’t just huff and puff, but blew our house down. How many times do we have to be reminded? Nature rules.

Vote, and vote intelligently.


Filed under Category 4