Becoming Buddhist

Attempting to Live a More Mindful Life


Reflecting and Regathering

Hello friends; long time. I’ll make the usual excuses: colds, flus, holidays, new year. I’d planned various kinds of new year’s posts, was going to write about how I woke up at midnight on New Year’s Eve (I’d gone to bed at ten), heard the teenagers whooping down the street, and felt an enormous sense of peace and excitement. It’s 2014, I thought. This is the year I’m going to have my second child and get my book published.

That lightening bolt thought totally thrilled me.

Trees on an island in Maine

Trees on an island in Maine

But before I could sit down to write about it, I got food poisoning–salmonella, I think. Last weekend and the early part of this week were awash in despair as I….worked it out of my system. At one point, I honestly thought death would be preferable. I was having flashbacks to the three months M and I spent in South America in 2004 and 2005.

But I’m back, almost like new, and it’s a beautiful sunny day in California, where we have never heard of the “polar vortex.” Everything seems to carry weight in the new year; habits new and old, relationships new and old, routines new and old. I keep thinking, maybe I should resolve to do X….and then the moment passes. And on the other hand, so many small changes already seem to be happening to me, and I notice them more at this time of year.

I’m reading a self-help book called Feng Shui Your Mind. First: I don’t read self-help books. Second: this one was written by my acupuncturist. Third: If I can get over the fact that I, you know, don’t read self-help books, I would say that there is this message in the book that has really reminded me of Buddhism and has really helped me to reframe things. The book is all about positive thinking, how opening yourself up to positivity can shift the very energy around you. I’ve been trying to replace thoughts like “I will never get published” with “How exciting that I finished a book and am in the process of finding an agent.” Does it sound cheesy? I think two years ago I would have immediately said yes. But somehow, in 2014, I feel like this kind of thinking could change my life. It could certainly help me feel more calm and positive about life’s challenges.

Truth: My meditation practice has been spotty. I’ve been reflecting on that. My sense is that, maybe due to my new positive thinking, I’ve been needing it less. But I know intellectually that that’s no reason to stop, that if anything, that’s when to go deeper. I’m trying to reconcile that.

It’s been almost a year since I had the ectopic pregnancy rupture and nearly died. I can’t, as you’d imagine, stop thinking about it. Part of the horror of the salmonella was that I kept having flashbacks to that experience, too. 2013 was a difficult year in many ways. But I’m not sorry it happened. Just happy to move on.


Feeling the Life Force

A fellow blogger named Natalie followed Becoming Buddhist, and when I went to read her blog, I discovered the site of another woman who recently suffered an ectopic pregnancy. I instantly felt oh, pity and understanding and sadness for her, and if you’re reading, Natalie, I send you lovingkindness and white light for your loss.

I noticed that Natalie had a poem on her blog. The poem expressed this huge grief, and ended with a line to the missed baby to the effect of “Mom and Dad will always love you.”



I sympathize, but my feelings about this loss are very different than that. That could be because I’m ardently pro-choice, and I see all the ways a baby could not come into this world. Or maybe it’s because I have a kid already, and to me that blastocyst that went with the tube was not, yet, something to love. It was an idea, a beautiful one, but still that: an idea. It made me think how much easier it is to lose a pregnancy at seven weeks than it is at 13, at 27, at 39. I know two people who lost pregnancies that late, and several who lost them about halfway along. That loss must be indescribable. This one is…different.

But as the days go by, I can’t tell if it’s getting easier or harder. For a while, the feeling of being so happy to be alive took precedence. Then the rude awakening–I wrote about this last time–that there are still bills to pay, memoirs to write, children to rear, bathrooms to clean. Life does, as they say, go on, and when you step back onto that Tilt-a-Whirl you nearly get thrown off with the shock of it (okay, I’m being super dramatic now). I went through an angry period; I’m sort of in an anti-social phase. And now, I’m also terrified of what else might happen. I spent Saturday morning in the ER staving off a potential complication of the surgery (I’m fine) and I found a painful lump in my left breast last night, which is terrifying me. We all have colds. My mortality, my fragility, seems to dangle in front of me, and with it, that opposing and equally irrational feeling: nothing bad can happen to ME; it already has!

But anyway.

What I really wanted to write about is my dreams. Since I got out of the hospital, since no longer being IV-dripped a cocktail of saline, anesthesia, morphine, anti-nausea meds, antibiotics, and Vicodin every day, my dreams have been full of creation. In them I play my guitar and sing; I was a backup singer for the Rolling Stones the other night. And there’s tons of sex, I won’t reveal any gory details, don’t worry–but just the idea of sex. And while I don’t write in my dreams, I wake up thirsty to sit down and work, so ready to get to work.

A collection of some of the fertility talismans that are scattered around my house.

A collection of some of the fertility talismans that are scattered around my house.

At first, with all that sex, I thought the universe was giving me a sign to try to make another baby. But I think, more, that I’ve been feeling life force, chi, prana, spirit, brio. I think my dreams are revealing to me what’s important and what’s vital: connection and creation.

I’m happy to be alive.

And also, quite close to the surface, at times very depressed. These things seemed at odds but you know, they’re not. I suppose you can be both happy to be alive and sad about the state of your life in the same breath.

I’m practicing again, in my achy-boned way. Marc’s been poking me in the morning and mumbling “go meditate.” This makes me laugh.

But off I go.