From the heart- a 15 day journal exercise Part 12: the moment of death

I am re-reading Stephen Levine‘s A Year to Live- how to live this year as if it were your last as a personal exercise schedule to take time to slow down and truly listen to my heart.


Part 1: Catching Up with Your Life

Part 2: Practice Dying

Part 3: Preparing to Die

Part 4: Dying from the Common Cold

Part 5: Renewing Evolution

Part 6: Famous Last Words

Part 7: Fear of Fear

Part 8- Noticing

Part 9: A Commitment to Life

Part 10: Fear of Dying

Part 11: Fear of Death

Part 12: The Moment of Death

1. Journal exercise:  What are you saying goodbye to today in order to expand?

I am saying goodbye to NYC 2017.  Can’t afford it. Wasn’t meant to be.  But I say hello to what NYC truly means to me.  Deep in my heart.  For I am an artist.  That is my NYC.


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2. Capture chapter highlights:

Some say the moment of death occurs when the heart stops.  But the heart never stops, for when it is no longer contained between opposing ventricles it expands slowly into its inherent vastness without missing a beat, expressing the truth it has embraced for a lifetime…

Death like birth is not an emergency but an emergence.  Like a flower opening, it is nearly impossible to tell exactly when the bud starts to become the blossom, or when the seed-laden blossom begins to burst and release its bounty.

– Stephen Levine 

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3. Explore another source regarding listening to the messages from the heart:

Everything involves sacrifice. Everything includes some sort of cost. Nothing is pleasurable or uplifting all of the time. So the question becomes: what struggle or sacrifice are you willing to tolerate? Ultimately, what determines our ability to stick with something we care about is our ability to handle the rough patches and ride out the inevitable rotten days.

If you want to be a brilliant tech entrepreneur, but you can’t handle failure, then you’re not going to make it far. If you want to be a professional artist, but you aren’t willing to see your work rejected hundreds, if not thousands of times, then you’re done before you start. If you want to be a hotshot court lawyer, but can’t stand the 80-hour workweeks, then I’ve got bad news for you.

What unpleasant experiences are you able to handle? Are you able to stay up all night coding? Are you able to put off starting a family for 10 years? Are you able to have people laugh you off the stage over and over again until you get it right?

What shit sandwich do you want to eat? Because we all get served one eventually.

Might as well pick one with an olive.

– Mark Manson


4. Today’s angel card(s):



I’ve given myself space-time.

This week started with some bristling uneasiness.  But instead of falling into fear and trying to figure out next steps, I decided to give myself this week to take time– to NOT FIGURE THINGS OUT.  To give myself some space and time.  Some space-time.

Be in the questions, yes- but allow whatever comes- to come.

I asked myself- what if I trust fully?  

What if I don’t try?  What if I trust that all is aligned and in place now?  What if I trust that I simply need to make a space in which to be and breathe?  To not force?  To do good work?  Not desperate work?

I am in the midst of this taking time time- and my heart is beating a bit easier.

Time does not mean making more time- it’s about allowing the unknown.  If a question comes up- I won’t fixate on fixing, but allow the answer to come in its own time.  It doesn’t add to the to-do- it allows for space.

Space-time today included moving myself out of my studio/bedroom/living room— and into nature.   I had a hunch that if I walked with a don’t know mind, allowing myself to discover treasures in the park- that I would get some clarity on some research I was stuck on.  Knowing that once I looped around the lagoon, I would know what I needed to know.

Some treasures in the park:

I looped back to my block, and indeed- an aha! answer came.

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” ~Lao Tzu


You had the opportunity last month to end up not recognizing yourself.

This past weekend I have had a bit of that existential-post-trip-out-of-body-kind-of-weirdness-needing-to-contract feeling.

[Thanks to my soul sister, Patti Henderson], I check in with the Power Path regularly (especially when I feel like this) as a tool/guide.  I am reminded of the July 2016 forecast:

“Radical personal transformation is possible. Start with taking care of yourself, loving yourself, giving yourself the time and space for emotional assimilation, clearing, healing, and allowing yourself to prioritize your life according to what matters the most to you. Give yourself permission to be irritated and cranky as long as it does not affect others. Be careful of impatience and judgment and always move yourself to a place of compassion and forgiveness.  You have the opportunity this month to end up not recognizing yourself…  This is a higher centered time of emotional revolution, of seeing things differently, of having a new unique experience of your life, of access to more power, bliss and inspiration and to really feel like you are setting your life on a satisfying path.  If you are not there yet, have patience. Perhaps there is something that needs to be completed first in order to free you up for transformation or perhaps there is still fear. Just keep working at it, chipping away at the armor of attachment and falling more deeply in love with yourself and others.” – The Power Path July 2016 Forecast

I am working at it.  If you are not there yet, have patience…  When I am tired and need to rest, I tend to resist.  This resistance then creates an unease I liken to fear.  So instead of saying YES- not only to possibility and life- but to rest and stillness, I resist.  I am learning, however, that this seems to be a new (or at least more obvious) pattern to my creative process:  

observe, listen, inspiration, research, plan, prepare, create, OUTPUT!, experiment, collect, document, reflect, clean up, put away, stop, anxiety, fear, existential crisis, contract, fatigue, retreat, solitude, ponder, more fatigue, reflect, journal, rise up, abuzz, observe, listen, inspiration, research, plan, prepare, create, OUTPUT!, experiment, collect, document, reflect, clean up, put away, stop, anxiety, fear, existential crisis, contract, fatigue, retreat, solitude, ponder, more fatigue, reflect, journal, rise up, abuzz, inspiration…

So each part of the pattern is essentially essential- without one, there would not be the other.  The PROCESS has a PATTERN.

“The creative process is not just iterative; it’s also recursive. It plays out “in the large” and “in the small”—in defining the broadest goals and concepts and refining the smallest details. It branches like a tree, and each choice has ramifications, which may not be known in advance… The creative process involves many conversations—about goals and actions to achieve them—conversations with co-creators and colleagues, conversations with oneself.Source: A model of the Creative Process

And so back to the Power Path: You have the opportunity this month to end up not recognizing yourself…  This is a higher centered time of emotional revolution, of seeing things differently, of having a new unique experience of your life, of access to more power, bliss and inspiration…

Certainly this recognition of pattern and process and allowing the process to unfold, even the fear- is NEW and TRANSFORMATIVE for me.  Being in the journal portion of my creative process yesterday, I took some paper and a pen to a bench in the park and just wrote, knowing I am carrying some many insights and personal lessons with me from last week’s trip.  But I knew i just had to write.  To keep the pen moving, writing nonsensically, without thought, without curiosity, without censor… just move the pen and let the verbosity out.

July 31, 2016 Stanley Park [unedited]

Sometimes you require, crave, demand solitude.  I am spreading.  Folds of flesh start to fall.  No longer am I fetus, infant, toddler, child, pubescent juvenile, young adult, adult, daughter.  My skin has slipped from its hinges and is askew.  Existential downtime when home from a trip.  The glow stick is snapped and the heat spreads upward from the heart- the peritoneal lining feels acidic- the heat spreads onto the face  and the sweat creates a hovering layer not quite touching the skin.  The hands cool, clammy, wet, wrung, wringing.  The brain turns 360 degrees in its cavity before settling back.  It is requesting something and I am not sure what.  I want to debrief and talk deep but dialogue feels futile.  The birds will have it.  Sitting in the park, the putter of Sunday life the soundtrack.  I request and require solitude, I write in my mind, observe the human, like on the bus this morning, and I feel so disconnected.  The birds will have it.  Three robins sprang up in front of me as I walked towards the bus stop.  The meeting?  The meaning?  Are they guardians?  Souls?  

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As the flesh comes off its hinges and becomes papery and fragile, it peels away, revealing the skeleton underneath.  The flesh no longer the nurturer.  The bones though still provide structure, framework.  There is a child playing with his little sibling and he keeps repeating “Stop in the name of love!”   Meet it all with love.  I must gather myself, my thoughts and my to-do’s and remind myself to trust the permanent change.  To celebrate every breath, to make sure I make the right agreements.

A gentle journal vomit session tends to cleanse the nooks and crannies of the mind and heart and spirit.

“In the world of YES, Fear = Contraction.  When we contract, we become closed or restricted.  This can cause us to retreat or give up.  Take a look at what causes you to contract or expand with regard to your creative dreams.  Creative dreams themselves are natural expansion devices.  They contain energy, motion, and desire.  We can learn to respond to change creatively by studying our habitual responses and making adjustments.  It can feel natural to respond to change by contracting or saying no.  Contraction is not bad, It just slows expansion.  What makes you feel expansive, open to change, and like saying YES?” – SARK

Source: Make Your Creative Dreams Real: A Plan for Procrastinators, Perfectionists, Busy People, and People Who Would Really Rather Sleep All Day by Sark, Simon & Schuster 2005

So did I end up not recognizing myself after this month?  Hell, yes!