Field Notes

I’ve always had a full-length mirror in my room. Always, even if it was only a hastily purchased, neon-bordered, Walmart-issued one. Do you know the one? It had a brown paper backing, and you could count on it for a year, anyway.

My room now — my new room — didn’t come with a mirror. (Of the head-to-toe variety.) And I didn’t put one up. Haven’t put one up.

I’ve been using what I think of as a medicine cabinet mirror, instead. Only it’s oval, and pretty. It cuts off about where my rib cage does, and it makes me wonder what it’d be like, to never give much thought to what’s below my shoulders.

It would be nice, I think. It would be so nice.

There are no mirrors at all, at yoga. There are stained glass windows, instead.

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There aren’t any spotlights, either. Just soft lights.

It is nice not to see, scrutinize. Second guess — it is nice not to second guess.

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Sometimes therapy happens after therapy, if that makes any sense. It doesn’t happen when it’s supposed to, when I’m sitting on the couch, trying not to slump, opposite an immaculately poised someone-I-don’t-know. She holds a magnifying glass up between the two of us, this stranger, and I have the strangest urge to reach out and swivel it around. See how she likes it.

She pushed me yesterday. Hard. It was not therapeutic. It was hot and cold and angry and indignant.

It made me hate her, briefly. Hate myself.

The therapy part came after, in the parking lot of a grocery store not really nearby.

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You would argue it is all the healing part, wouldn’t you? And maybe it is; maybe you’re right. But some of it sucks — really, royally, sucks — and some of it soothes.

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Where can I sign up for more of the pacifying parts?

It helps to stand at the stove, to swirl around a wooden spoon. Circles and figure eights: long and lazy.

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It helps to sit somewhere sunny. (Bring a notebook.)

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It helps to share something sweet. Seasonal and 70% sugar. (Brown sugar!)

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It helps to write. As always, it helps to write. (Especially on teeny tiny chalkboards.)

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And it helps to read what other people have written. It really, really helps.

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“Your brain is very clever. It wraps you up in a cocoon where it can whisper to you in the dark. It keeps you in there so you cannot look down at yourself, your beautiful self, and see the truth, see the extent to which you have been tricked.” -Leah Reich

“‘Nothing lasts,’ she says, and there’s a little crack in her voice. ‘You think it’s going to. You think, here’s something I can hold on to, but it always slips away.’” -Tim Tharp

“Freedom from obsession is not about something you do; it’s about knowing who you are. It’s about recognizing what sustains you and what exhausts you. What you love and what you think you love, because you believe you can’t have it.” Geneen Roth

“Those who love you are not fooled by mistakes you have made, or by dark images you hold about yourself. They remember your beauty when you feel ugly; your wholeness when you are broken; your innocence when you feel guilty; and your purpose when you are confused.” -Alan Cohen

“Be crumbled so wildflowers will come up where you are. You have been stony for too many years. Try something different. Surrender.” -Rumi

“The bad news is you’re falling through the air, nothing to hang on to, no parachute. The good news is there’s no ground.” -Trungpa Rinpoche

“‘See, the thing is, you’ve got this idea of normal that’s not normal. Normal people don’t do everything perfectly. You don’t have to do everything perfectly to be normal. To be normal, you’ve got to kind of relax and let some things go.’ I gaze out the window. ‘But if you’re not trying to be perfect, then how do you know if you’re doing things right?’ ‘There is no right,’ she says. ‘There’s the best you can do. And that’s fine. That’s normal.’ ‘The best I can do is sometimes completely fail,’ I say. She shrugs. ‘Fine,’ she says. ‘The rest of us do it all the time.’” -Marya Hornbacher

“So what if it’s slow? Even the winter can only cool the evenings at the start. So what if change happens one second at a time? One inch at a time? Even if it’s backwards a step to catch your breath for the next push. Look. You’re not exactly the same as you were before, are you? Are you? You’re not.” -Anne, Maybe everything’s still dark, but it’s less dark; maybe you have 100 steps to go, but you also have 100 behind you.

“What kind of person do you want to walk down the street with? What kind of person do you want to wake up in the morning with? What kind of person do you want to see at the end of the day before you fall asleep? Because that person is yourself, and it’s your responsibility to be the person you want to be with. I know I want to spend my life with a person who knows how to let things go, who’s not full of hate, who’s able to smile and be carefree. So that’s who I have to be.” -C. JoyBell C.

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