Last year, in an effort to do more of what I rarely do, socialize, I combined two things I love — my friends and great food — into Second Friday Evening Dinners. Each month, fifteen of us (less those who can’t make it) bring food or drink to share based on a theme. Sometimes, we decorate. While sending out invites for the next two (we’ve started planning ahead!) it occurred to me that others might enjoy creating their own FED2. Although coming up with the theme is half the fun, here are the ideas we’ve had so far:
- New England cookout: outdoors, flowers on the table, candles for after the sun went down, lemonade in mason jars.
- Hookah, henna, and tapas: hookah, henna painting, and unique dishes passed as many courses.
- Mancave: ate out because the host (man) didn’t feel like cooking.
- Gratitude: food based on the menu at Cafe Gratitude, a gratitude jar holding scraps of paper naming things we are grateful for (read aloud at the end).
- Grilled meat and evil: delicious grilled meats and mushrooms, side dishes, Cards Against Humanity.
- Crepes and Jacques Brel: crepes (gluten free, regular, collard greens for vegans) with fillings, dessert crepes with chocolate sauce, French music and a scarf.
Coming up, there is:
- SMB2: Sunday brunch: brunch food, mimosas, jazz.
- Everybody’s birthday: white elephant gifts (this is a very creative group), favorite foods, party hats, birthday cake.
I’d love to hear more ideas for upcoming Fridays!
* Thanks to Leah Mason for the lovely picture
I suck at endings in writing because I suck at them in life. Grace often evaporates as I face a major transition. I collapse in confusion and overwhelm, needing escape and solace and (sometimes) support. I know why this is so: I’ve always stayed too long. Always, when the endings are the hardest, the reason is the same. Speaking metaphorically, I have over invested in whatever garden I was growing, be it a piece of writing, a relationship, a situation, a habit, whatever. I’ve been attached to creating a positive outcome, drawing water to sustain the garden from an empty well. The weeds that need pulling are tall, their roots deep, and the work to uproot them exhausting. Real, nourishing plants are suffocating, and I become desperate to uncover them again. Yet, I am overwhelmed and stubborn about letting go of my effort. Why not simply move the essential plants to a patch of more fruitful ground?
Everything I’ve ever let go of has claw marks on it. — David Foster Wallace
Today is Friday, my weekly letting go challenge day. On Friday, I decide which TODOs, issues, and concerns I will carry into the weekend and which I will leave behind. Some weekends (most of them lately) the DO vs DON’T DO wrestling match continues until Monday and I never, really, let go. I surrender, avoid, attend, dramatize, and fail to do the one thing that will renew me — let go and become fully present. I starve for relaxing moments while surrounded by the fullness of time.
Choices: I can work all weekend, attempting to stay on top of things. Removing tasks from that giant pile of “things to do” makes me feel less anxious but also leaves me exhausted on Monday. I can spend two days trying not to work, all the while, stressing. I can overdo socializing when I really need solitude. I can isolate myself when I really need connection. I can blunt my feelings with activities that numb instead of renew.
I can escape or let go and come home. It’s up to me.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou
Last Friday night, I hosted a dinner gathering. My intention was to create space — a time and physical environment where we could share food and each other’s attention in a warm, relaxing, connected, and joyful way. I don’t know if I succeeded, the measure of success is other’s experience, but I got more than I expected from hosting. I gained a new insight: creating space is central to my current practice.
We create space for every encounter. When I begin sun salutations, I am creating space for my practice and I to meet. When someone comes into my office at work, we create space to talk, problem solve, or gain insight. At night before bed, my partner and I create a playful, reconnecting space where the joy that lives between us can blossom. Every email, every Facebook post, every grocery store check out moment, is a created, shared space.
When I write, I create space for the words. When I code, I create space for the resulting application to be born.
I avoid grief. I am curious about most feelings but rarely sadness. I believe that sadness makes me weak. Authentic grief (as opposed to unnecessary drama grief) makes me vulnerable. Expressing sadness did, as a child, make me vulnerable to shaming, dismissing, and chastisement. But I’m not a child now and in my adult life, I grieve the necessary losses that attend the choices I make. Even as I enjoy what I keep, I grieve what I let go. I feel sad when things change.
Since beginning the 40 day challenge, I cry more. I’m not proud of this but I should be. Rather than getting trapped in the chaos of avoidance (Oh, the chaos of avoidance), I drop down just a little bit deeper and experience grief. The tears don’t last long, certainly not as long as the avoidance did.
I can lose entire days wandering (dramatically) in Avoidance Land. Twice this week, I’ve been trapped in that netherworld and discovered tears under the frozen landscape. Both times, I was interacting with someone I trust. I seem to need that safety, the comfort of knowing that I can be sad and it will be okay, in order to risk feeling it.
But I suspect, as I become more familiar with the letting go process, daily practice will become my own best comfort.