The Cook Awakening

When the Rubber Hits the Road

September 15, 2017
Posted in: Health and Nutrition, Life on Life's Terms, Living with Health Challenges, Meditation, Spiritual Practice

Having babies in my early 40s was exciting. I had given up on the idea of having a family of my own— a committed partner, raising kids together. After years of mostly single life, interspersed with intense but short-term relationships, and long-term spiritual practice, I was honestly to the point of considering taking monastic vows. I was already basically living the life of a mendicant— cooking for and managing meditation retreats for half the year, and the other half of the year living in India, studying with spiritual teachers and burning in the transformational fires that only India knows how to create.

Aging lotus plants


I was happy. Not always in a pleasant way, but in a deeply congruent way that was the gift of that long-term spiritual practice. I knew that life was a journey, and I was less attached to goals. More presence, less future and past.

That fateful meeting with my now husband is a story in itself, and not what I want to focus on here.

Having babies in my early 40s was exciting… and exhausting. The relentless requirement to satisfy other beings’ needs (particularly the first, who was born 10 weeks prematurely), the constant daze of interrupted sleep, never having time alone, always being touched (particularly challenging for this introvert), was utterly depleting.
Read the rest of this entry »

The Fruit of Practice

September 12, 2017
Posted in: Grief, Life on Life's Terms, Living with Health Challenges, Meditation, Spiritual Practice

A powerful, ongoing process was taken to a deeper level when I went on my annual retreat last September with my teacher, Adyashanti. This has been important for my personal and professional development, which is why I haven’t been posting very often. These inner movements need to be honored.

Kwan Yin, Goddess of Compassion and Mercy, statue by Janet Lee Seaforth, photo by Michael Floyd

Spiritual practice is not always easy. There’s often a honeymoon period that you experience when you begin to truly attend to your spiritual life – whether that’s by taking on a committed meditation or prayer practice, or listening to or reading about particular teachings, drinking them in with strong intention to learn and grow.
Read the rest of this entry »

A Rapidly Changing World

February 1, 2017
Posted in: Events, Grief, Life on Life's Terms, Living Into Death, Living with Health Challenges, Meditation

It can feel challenging to know what to do these days. Where should I put my attention? What causes should I give my energy to?

Cold comfort for St Francis

I have read some great advice that I will share briefly – choose a couple of causes to give the majority of your time and money to, and trust that the other very important causes will have their champions. It’s the collective that moves change forward – no individual can be active on all fronts. And, make your phone calls about as many issues as you are able.

Continue to do your personal work. The more you understand about how your psyche works, the more you learn to sit with and manage your grief, the deeper your spiritual understanding is – the more resourced you will be to respond to the world in a grounded and effective way.
Read the rest of this entry »

Dying to Live

December 20, 2016
Posted in: Events, Life on Life's Terms, Living Into Death, Meditation

With all the urgency and polarized emotions in the world now, how can we contemplate doing “personal work”? Isn’t spending time coming to terms with our eventual death some kind of navel gazing? Wouldn’t that be a distraction from what’s really important right now? We have to DO something!

I’ll be honest, after the election I just couldn’t think much about my business, about getting the word out about the Your Year to Live group starting in January, and my counseling practice. It somehow felt trivial compared to the needs of the larger world. I felt paralyzed.

There is beauty in the obstacles

There is beauty in the obstacles

As I wrestled with a mounting anxiety in my body, I turned more and more to the spiritual practices that have been core to my life for 25 years. The practices I teach in Your Year to Live. Meditation. Radical honesty. Saying YES to whatever is, even when it feels intolerable.

I realized that finding the courage to contemplate death is actually vital in these times. Not because I think the changing state of the world is going to hasten death (although it may for some, let’s be honest), but because the fear of death can grip us, subtly or obviously, and prevent us from acting with integrity. And, because not knowing how to work with fear and anger skillfully can lead to action in the world that may not get the results you are hoping for.
Read the rest of this entry »

Your Year to Live Again!

December 12, 2016
Posted in: Grief, Life on Life's Terms, Living Into Death, Meditation, Seasonal Change

For the last 10 months I’ve been leading and participating in a group called Your Year to Live. We’re walking through a year together as though it is our last.

I’m starting a new cycle this January, 2017. I do hope you will join us.

Ice Storm

Ice Storm

Stephen Levine wrote the book A Year to Live nearly 20 years ago. I remember hearing about it, and wondering… why would anyone want to do that?

I wasn’t ready.

As many of you know, I midwifed my mother’s death 4 years ago. I’m grateful that she trusted me to do that. It was a painful, profound, rich experience. And, it brought me into a willingness to contemplate my own, inevitable death.
Read the rest of this entry »

Coming Home

April 6, 2016
Posted in: Grief, Life on Life's Terms, Living Into Death, Meditation

Today is my mother’s birthday. 4 years ago today, minus one day, she stepped off the plane in Portland with her faithful cat Izzy, and began her last months in a strange city and state.

I’m convinced the main draw for her moving here was the fact that Oregon has a right to die law in place. She did not want to live a long life. Her poor pride was decimated. She never meant to be so dependent, broke, sick, fat, and basically alone. (Please, don’t judge my use of these words. I am voicing what I’m sure was her inner critic’s attitude.)

FullSizeRender

Backyard nettles

In choosing to treat this year as my last to live (I’m facilitating a group based loosely on Stephen Levine’s book A Year to Live), I am encouraging myself to look at the lessons of those who have gone before me in death. I am examining my judgments. I have many. I would dearly love to lay those judgments down, to allow them to compost the way my body will, one day. The way all the ideas anyone who has died before me might have had about what SHOULD have happened. Who they SHOULD have been before death caught up with them. What they SHOULD have accomplished in their lives.
Read the rest of this entry »