I purchased these Relaxed-Fit, Memory-Foam Skechers just a few days after I posted my last blog on New Year’s Eve. I put them aside for spring, figuring the pair I was using to slog through the winter would be ready to be retired by then to use as garden-mudders. Turns out I wore them for the first time just a few days ago, well into summer.
These shoes hug my feet. Each step I take connects firmly with the ground. When I stand, I am fully at the X that marks this particular spot. Je suis arrivée. I have arrived. “The Eagle has landed.”
The Memory-Foam inner soles are not yet broken in, not yet shaped to my habitual posture or the way my right foot rolls outwards with each step. The outside of the heels are not worn down, so each step lands solidly on the four corners of my feet, something that never failed to challenge me in the years I took yoga classes.
The Memory-Foam has no preconceived notions about whose feet they will carry where, and remind my body that it can actually stand upright in a different way, move through the world in a different way, pivot or leap as needed.
It’s not confidence, exactly, or assurance. It’s not connected to the self of self-confidence or self-assurance.
More like a state of feeling the truth of something
A base. A point from which something unimagined might develop or unfold. A center of operations. A location of mills and machinery. A gravity, a force that draws my body to its own center even as it is drawn by the center of the earth.
Freedom. Freedom from habit, from preconception. Freedom to move.
In that December post something in me knew I was entering 2019 with resolve: “no choice but to know intimately, my yearnings, aversions, despairs…instructive, dignifying, and precious…the very features of God’s world and my way home.”
I’d spent the prior three-and-a-half years studying with an inspired group of my healing colleagues, revisiting the nondual healing curriculum I first traversed from 1996-99, inquiring ever more deeply into the dynamics of the universe and how they play out in my own body, my family, my cultural groups, and the public arena.
As the work has unfolded in 2019, it has been a means to heal a split that had plagued me between the parts of my life that were contracting in distressing ways, and the parts that were expanding in exciting, creative ways, to settle into the One Single Life with which I have been gifted.
The work of noticing preconceptions
I continued to follow an unfolding passion for justice that had re-ignited with the 2016 election.
I plumbed my relationship with boundaries and how both personal habits and cultural norms shaped how open or closed I am to others and to the flow of life. My relationship with agency and choosing and a peculiar disconnect between cause and effect that kept me from taking responsibility when appropriate and even from drawing nourishment from any “success.” How these same dynamics play out among in and out-groups in our country, all of us white folk in a trance to various romanticized notions of our nation, too often innocently asking wrong-headed questions about what is going on and why. My relationship with my own desires and yearnings, which I had been schooled to suppress, and the consequences for society of the limited opportunities and dashed hopes and expectations of so many different groups. I struggled with patriarchy, within myself, my marriage, and everywhere I looked. I struggled with my whiteness, my femaleness, my Jewishness, my aging
I read voraciously about all manner of things gendered and racial. I revisited my own origin stories of race, gender, and feeling different. Adult experiences working as a middle-class white woman in Baltimore City, and working as a Jewish woman for church-based advocacy and health-care organizations.
I worked with nondual practices, meditations, exercises, in small groups with my colleagues. I explored the states and shapes of the ever-shifting ego through movement and through playing with pipe-cleaners. I have a notebook full of practices for perceiving and naming parts of me, the “who-ises” that too easily remain in the shadows.
I wrote and wrote and wrote to transform this into teachable, transformative material, practices, exercises. My nondual colleagues helped me hone them.
I call this work Radical Inclusion © : deeper than the stories that divide us – from ourselves, from one another, from our own and our shared humanity.
This is work that respects and honors our family stories and our tribal stories, even while we are intent on bringing our own preconceptions to light. This work nourishes in us a life-changing humility, a readiness to admit and wrestle with the fact that we each have a partial view of the world, and typically stand invested in partial truths.
It offers us skillful means to cultivate a new, freeing and creative capacity to listen, take in and value the tough differences.
With honesty and kindness we practice: we include one more piece of life, one more piece of life, one more piece of life. Which allows us to be the size we actually are – neither better and wiser nor smaller and more foolish than we are.
For those of you who have followed my blog, or worked with me one on one or in Bend the Arc online, the NEW here is a healing and awakening Presencing of the cultural alongside the personal, the Human Family alongside our family of origin or adoption or construction.
An invitation and an offer:
If you struggle with the state of the world, the chaos and sheer meanness, the unrelenting flow of information and misinformation; with the harsh treatment of immigrants and refugees; with privilege, supremacy, and what does it mean to be white; with a family, a workplace or a place of worship where gender, race or other differences bear down on you.
If you hope for a better world or town or neighborhood and could use support to find your way to help make it so.
If you are a helping professional who needs a place to work out your own stuff so you can better help your clients or patients navigate their worlds.
If you want to step into a new pair of shoes, and stand in your own new place…
… let’s talk about how the work of Radical Inclusion with A Life of Practice can
- nourish and restore you to yourself
- wake you up to your preconceptions
- enliven you with new perceptions
- strengthen you to stand in your identity as your precious self and as an imperfect human being, and stand in the place you choose
- soften and fortify you to engage creatively with people who do not share your identity or your story
E-MAIL ME at firstname.lastname@example.org, using #RadicalInclusion as the subject – and we’ll set up a 30-minute consult to talk about how we can partner in this work to guide and support you.
Gratitudes: My heartfelt thanks to my teacher Brenda Blessings: you guided me through 4 years of nondual Teacher Training for the Marketplace and many treacherous waters. To my colleagues Kathy Bernstein and Terry Nathanson, you helped me to hone the material and practices and inspired me with your own specialties. To my poetry and all-around nondual buddy Greg Conderacci for your key insights and word-choices and fellowship. To Evelyn, Laurie, and Schlese for your extended commitment to showing up for one another to help me explore the territories of identity. To Lisa S for your questions and engagement with the ego-states that led me to new insights. To Simona Aronow for inspiring me to bring movement and the spirit of dance into this work.