Life IS a Verb

I am holding in my hands the book Life is a Verb, written by Patti Digh.

Oh, wait - did I just say written by Patti? Well, it is, the words are hers. But the sense I get when I read her book, or her blog, 37 Days, is more that Patti is one part of a lovely interconnected web of people, places and experiences, and while she does write from her unique perspective from her place on the web, she's also able to take a deep breath, somehow put herself above it all, and write from a place of seeing the connections within the web. Still with me? That was a long sentence! So, Patti wrote the book, but without the connections and the people and circumstances populating her blog, and Patti's openness to seeing those (connections AND people), there wouldn't be a book. When I say "above it all", I don't mean better than us, or disconnected - it's just about the visual perspective on that one. Because one beautiful thing about Patti is her absolute humanity, and her willingness to share that with us, as well.

Patti is a writer who knows she's not alone in the world, and her writing and experiences show that. She is able to write about people in a way that leaves me feeling like I know them, which to me, means she's made a soul connection with each one -- and, to me, too. Yaron is my friend, too, and I still tear up over the loss of Meta, and I feel a part of her circle of love, even though I've never met either person. Tess is one of my favorite children on the planet, and if I should ever meet her, I know we'd be great friends. There are many stories with Tess - here's one, and here, and here. Hmm... maybe Patti should write a Tess book?

OH! Book! This is supposed to be about the book:

So, OK - Patti started her blog as an instruction manual for her daughters, should she pass from this life without having had a chance to tell them what she felt were the most important aspects of living. She wanted to leave them something so they could know HER, as a person. You can read more about that here, and why it's called 37 Days. It has turned into an instruction manual for all of us, and a way of learning how to connect more deeply and live more intentionally. She gathered 37 of her essays from her blog, and collected them into Life is a Verb.

This is the first book I have ever read where I just dived right in. With most books, I start from the front cover, read everything in order, read the table of contents to see how it's laid out, read the introduction and preface to read what the author's intentions were. Not this one! It's SO gorgeous, and inviting - I opened it to a random page and began reading. Then I stopped reading, and started flipping through, looking at the beautiful artwork, all created by readers of 37 Days. That's a story in itself! The book itself is gorgeous. If you're asking why you should buy a book, when there's a blog with the essays in it, that's a reason in and of itself - the sheer beauty of it. The heft in your hand - it's the perfect size! Plus - it's, um, a book. Hel-lo!

So as I was flipping through, I noticed she had actions to do after reading, or movements, designed to help bring awareness to what she wrote about, to open us up a bit, maybe challenge us a little. It could be because I was a rebellious, contentious child who wasn't allowed to be rebellious or contentious, so it didn't really come out 'til I was a grownup, but I don't do the assignments or actions in books where you have to DO stuff. What? It's a book! I'm just supposed to read, all cozied up with hot tea and pillows, maybe a blanket. I just skipped over those. And I read essays that I hadn't read before. One great thing about Patti's blog is that she has been writing a while, so there are still surprises when I dip into the archives. One essay that I hadn't read before was Squeeze in Next to Someone, Arm-to-Arm, and it's now my favorite essay because of the mystical feel to the story, plus I love the feeling of someone's warm arm next to mine. I have a feeling that whatever essay I read next will then be my favorite, but that's OK.

In going through the book, I came to see that she had organized it into parts, and the second part was divided into chapters, each one focusing on one of the six practices for intentional living, the pattern she found when she started to form the book. I'm sure I would have read that in the introduction, if I had read that. I think Bust Your Toast Rules gave me the impetus to break free of my book rules. I feel so reckless! I didn't even know I had book rules, until I opened this one and started reading that random page. Anyway, the six practices are: Say Yes, Be Generous, Speak Up, Love More, Trust Yourself, and Slow Down. I think I could post those around my house, and they'd help me live a more intentional life, but now I have essays and stories for each one, essays and stories that touch me deeply, open my heart, help me feel connected.

I flipped through some more, reading more deeply, looking closely at the art. Then I read an action, and it was a free write. Oh! I can do that!! AND I trust Patti enough to go where these actions will take me, and I can trust that doing them will help me see things from a different perspective, will open my heart ever wider, because that's where we're connected, you see. So, I did it - and had so much fun, I'm looking forward to doing more! That's a first!! I'm actually excited about doing the exercises in a book!

I do hope you buy Life is A Verb - for the connection, for the different perspective, for the opportunity to look at your life with fresh sight, and insight. For the opportunity to get to know Patti Digh, a beautiful person. For this review, I almost just wrote, "What he said", Rick wrote so perfectly about Patti and the book. Go read that review for a beautiful perspective. Buy the book to see the art, to dive in, in your own way. Buy the book to support lives lived more intentionally. To live your life more intentionally.

This weekend, I am here - with Patti! My birthday weekend! Today, the 28th, is my birthday. I could have interviewed Patti for this review, but even in thinking of doing that, I got all tongue-tied, just in my mind. I couldn't even form any questions to write to her! If I ask her any questions at the retreat, I'll let you know.


The Children

I walk my dog
past a house
that's empty now.
The house where I used to hear
The father
screaming at the children
screaming at the mother
calling them stupid.

For weeks
at the empty house
where the father and mother and children lived,
there has been a large limb.


Fallen from the tree.
Huge, imposing,
dividing the yard in two.
Every day
I see the limb
as my dog and I
walk past.

as I walked the dog
I saw the empty house
and the broken limb, still there.

It was still there.

My legs collapsed,
and I sat in the yard
and sobbed and sobbed.
Weeping for the beauty,
for the perfection

of the broken limb

and the tree,

Still standing.



A Handy-Dandy Tip

Our cable company offered "turbo" speed for their internet service, for a fee of $9 per month. I tried the free trial, and cancelled before the free trial period ended. (Yay! I remembered to cancel!) It made me wonder - because when I cancelled, they kept trying to talk me out of it: "It makes a significant difference!" - are they saying their regular cable internet sucks? After selling me that over dial-up - there's a difference! I couldn't work from home if I didn't have cable internet - and saying how fast and speedy cable internet is... is it now not fast enough? It seems like if the basic service was adequate, you wouldn't need turbo. Evan's an online gamer, the regular, fast cable speed works for him. How fast do you need it to be? Anyway...

When there is a small wait while I'm waiting for a page to load, a picture to come up, a video to download... I've started closing my eyes and breathing in that small space of time. I'm no longer looking at the screen saying, "Come on! Come on!". I'm pausing, and breathing, and, when I remember to, being grateful.

Now I almost like it when I'm waiting to hear the "whoosh" of an e-mail being sent, or for some reason, a picture is coming up only one line at a time. Stop. Breathe. Smile.

It feeds my introvertedness. It feeds my spirit.

Easy and totally free! No $9 per month charge!

And here's something I've discovered - the pages take the same amount of time to load whether I'm tapping the desk impatiently, or breathing in peace. The exact same amount of time! Go figure.



I needed a reminder this morning that I am but a small, small part of the timeline of life, and I didn't even know I needed the reminder.


I was throwing sticks for my dog, and I turned around and saw this, and started laughing so hard I had to sit down in the wet grass.

It's the moon! Right in my backyard. At 7 in the morning.


There is some kiss we want with
our whole lives, the touch of

spirit on the body. Seawater
begs the pearl to break its shell.

And the lily, how passionately
it needs some wild darling! At

night, I open the window and ask
the moon to come and press its

face against mine. Breathe into
me. Close the language- door and

open the love window. The moon
won't use the door, only the window.


Translator: Coleman Barks

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. ~Oscar Wilde


Two Sevens

Seven years ago...

I was trying to process and take in what had happened on 9/11. I was planning a silent auction and picnic for La Leche League, wondering if we should continue planning or, like US air traffic, should we be grounded for a bit? I was driving from place to place, collecting silent auction donations that had been promised, feeling out of it and in shock.

We didn't have a TV. I heard about the attacks on the radio at home, and later that morning as I was driving, I pulled over to cry when the first tower went down. (Did they really just say that? The entire building collapsed? Is that what they said? Oh, my God, it is.) I went to our library later that day, they had set a room aside where they had a TV on CNN. I was only in there a minute when I realized I didn't really want to see it, I couldn't handle it.

In a phone call a few days later with Sheri Lynch, our speaker for that year's picnic, we decided that the auction should go on. The terrorists can't take our day to day lives! Babies were born on September 11th, as well - we should do what we could to ensure they'd get a great start.

It was surreal - life going on, body count going up. Will they attack again? My husband had jury duty that morning, which meant he was downtown. I was scared until I got his call, saying they had been released.

I still feel panicky and my heart hurts when I remember that day.


Seven days ago...

We were here.

This was the view at the first drum circle.

There was drumming

And Bionicles

Lots and lots of Bionicles

And, though I didn't get a picture, lots of Rock Band and Guitar Hero. And Garry's Mod, which makes me wish we had a PC - what a goofy, fun game!

This conference was full of mixed feelings for me, for several reasons, which I'll write about later. Now, I'm just left with the good ones, the glow.

The connections.

The highs.

I used to go see the Grateful Dead, and there is nothing on Earth like a Grateful Dead show. And - there is absolutely nothing on Earth like an unschooling conference. So many open-hearted people! So much joy, and connection, and love. I'm saturated in love.

I hadn't made the connection before between 9/11 and our decision to unschool. We had begun unschooling that year, 2001. I think 9/11 showed me what was important: connection, being present. We honestly don't know, moment to moment, what's going to happen. We can only make this moment, NOW, as good as we can, open our hearts as wide as we can, connect as deeply as we can. That's what's going to get us through, no matter what. That's what I want my life to be, and what I want for the boys, as well, as much as I can impose my desires upon them.

I could react to the events of September 11, 2001 by closing down, closing off, staying safe, becoming suspicious and grabby. I choose the opposite - opening up, making stronger connections, taking those risks that help me grow closer to my heart center, sharing my deepest self with others. Unschooling has been the most powerful path to that kind of life that I've discovered.

I am refueled after going to the conference. Dedicated even more to living the life we've created - and asking: how can we have *more* joy? *More* connection? Where do I need to grow, so we can be closer? Where am I stuck, so I can be un-stuck, so I can help the boys get what they want?

I had written in an e-mail this morning that we can be at the conference any time we wish - just close our eyes, take a minute to visualize, and we're there. I have a feeling I'll be doing a lot of that - for just a few seconds at a time, then I'll be HERE, where I'm needed, where I want to be, here with my boys and our dog and our cats.

Our life.

Our unschooling life.


This Isn't About the Live and Learn Conference

... because I'm busy doing just that. Living and learning.

I just heard that I don't qualify for Medicaid. This is after a couple months of filling out forms, mailing forms in, being asked for more forms, mailing those in...

I'm kind of in shock. I was counting on that, the coverage. I desperately need new glasses, and Medicaid would cover that. Non-stylish frames, but who cares? I'd just like to be able to see without squinting.

And - here's something that's hard to write. I have a spot on my back. I'm afraid it's skin cancer - it is in a spot that I severely burned in my 1970s laying out days. I know it needs to be checked, and I was waiting for Medicaid to do that.

I'm now afraid to get it checked, because 1st, I can't afford an office visit and 2nd, if it is something that needs more care, how can I do that? I can NOT take on more debt. That in itself would cause SO much stress, it would wreck what's good about my health.

OK, yeah - I just saw those un-looked-at thoughts there. (Darn you, Byron Katie!) I don't HAVE to get stressed about debt. That's a choice. So I hear, anyway. Can you call me at 4 in the morning and remind me of that, when my brain is on spin cycle?

Do you know what is covered? Family planning. I got a family planning waiver. Um - I haven't had sex in four years, and I have an IUD that's supposed to be effective for six more years. Family planning isn't a priority for me. I do not have a need to prevent pregnancy. I'm doing that quite effectively, thank you.

Well. I'm going to trust. Trust that a solution will come, if I continue to search, and that solution won't involve the boys going to school so I can work full-time.

Breathe and trust....

And breathe.


Blog Break

I'll be back after the Live & Learn Conference, with tons of pictures and stories. Unless I forget the camera again, then just stories, with pics stolen borrowed from other folks' blogs.