Category Archives: memoir

home!

My family is home, with power on in both locations. Perhaps the worst is over–for us. It’s clear others are still at risk, and I pray for their safety and their animals as well. I am deeply thankful to the firefighters who risk their lives protecting ours and our property.

Remaining wholly in the present made it possible to move through this time without debilitating anxiety. I only suffered those first minutes after the evacuation order came, waking me from uneasy sleep. Then I pulled out my metaphorical toolbox and put it to use.

Concern, of course. Planning, of course. We need the mind to navigate life. Distress is different–it takes an already difficult situation and makes it unbearable. Anxiety of that kind haunted me for decades until this understanding took root: emotional suffering is optional. It is not necessary when we embody where to take our stand, as the pure awareness that we are.

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checking the news

Here’s a form of perseverating–I can’t stop the urge to check the news for fire and air quality updates. Even during retreat meetings I’m aware of the pull, which I resist. My phone is turned off during our gatherings.

Of course, when I do check at meal times, it’s frustrating because there is no new news, only rehashing what we already know, although air quality shifts rapidly when wind direction changes.

My job: remain centered here and now, notice when the mind wants to leap into a nonexistent future. There’s no way to know, and “what might happen” isn’t a healthy place for me to spend time.

I’m grateful to be with 170 like-hearted souls, exploring the margins of human understanding and noticing our direct experience.

 

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wildfire

4 a.m. I stand in our home, quivering, awakened from restless sleep. Nixle text: mandatory evacuation order. Power has been off for six hours. Our go-bags wait by the door, including the one for our dog, Bodhi.

Time to go. If we lose our home, what can I bring that fits in the car to help a new place feel familiar? I grab ten pieces of art from the walls–the gorgeous color-pencil drawings our friend Suzette did of our dogs, and two others. My laptop, so I can write. Coats. I check for device chargers.

This is the new reality. Brain adjusts, body resists, then gets in gear. Destination: friends in Petaluma, seventeen miles away. We take both vehicles and enter the parking lot of evacuees. An hour later, we’ve gone two miles.

Drivers are remarkably generous, letting others into the creeping auto stream from side roads. I see no road rage and am grateful. The updated Nixle notice comes in–my son, who doesn’t drive, must evacuate as well. My husband peels off to Santa Rosa to snag him and his go-bag.

It only takes me three hours to travel the seventeen miles. Charge the iPhone on the way. I’m welcomed with a sweet hug from our dear friend. Power has been cut to Petaluma as well, but the gas stove works. Warm tea! Five hours later, husband, son, and dog finally make it.

There is no complaining, only attention to what must be done–keep devices charged, eat food before it spoils, send love and best wishes for the well-being of people and creatures closer to the fire than we. Await Nixle updates. Breathe. Count blessings. Be present.

 

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touchstone – take two

All my life, I’ve hungered for a touchstone–something reliable, constant, steady. Something that would not come and go.

The moment in September 2009 that I turned around–in a metaphorical sense–and took note of the unchangeable aspect of what I am, my experience rearranged. The moment itself was quiet, and the shift seemed almost imperceptible. Although I was alone at the time, I spoke my response out loud: “Really?”

At first the aftermath took the form of the tiniest aftershocks. About nine months later, the big one hit. The whole house of cards that people knew as Amrita collapsed. This was not easy, either for me nor those closest to me. Most of the cards simply blew away, never to be found again. A couple of cards remained, but not to be re-constructed into a house. They float on groundlessness.

Now I add other words to describe this touchstone: Eternal, Infinite. Peaceful. And this touchstone is forever “with” me–I simply hadn’t noticed. I can’t offer an image as a representation like I usually do with blogs, because it is not a “thing.” It has no objective qualities. It is unfindable–one cannot even turn toward it, because it is too close. Closer than close. Yet it-that-isn’t-an-it is knowable. Be-able.

© Amrita Skye Blaine 2015

 

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my memoir has been published!

My book, Bound to Love: a memoir of grit and gratitude has been published! Both the paperback and Kindle versions can be found here, at Amazon. Other digital versions can be found at Smashwords.

Usually my posts here have a different flavor, exploring nondual understanding. The memoir chronicles the pressure cooker journey that drove me toward unwrapping this deeper truth. Perhaps, without my son Thom, I would not have. I am very grateful.

Front cover with white text justifiedThe memoir won first prize in the Pacific Northwest Writers Association 2005 contest under the name Blood Bond. That was a very bad time to market memoirs, I discovered, because of James Frey’s betrayal of the form in A Million Little Pieces when he exaggerated his personal story, and was exposed.

I let my manuscript molder on my computer for seven years, then pulled it out and walked it through two more critique groups.

Bound to Love is the true story of a single mother who encountered and navigated a complicated nightmare for any parent. My child, the only child I could ever bear, was born with a life-threatening congenital heart defect, and suffered a more brutal health diagnosis soon after. Walk with me as I birth the courage and grit to meet Thom’s compounding challenges.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2015

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Filed under Awakening, memoir, Truth, writing