Thursday, October 14, 2010

Checking In

Hello, readers.

I've been a bit absent for a while, and just wanted to check in. I must admit, with Susan's regular posts, I've grown a little lazy...every morning, she has an entry sitting in my inbox, ready to go, and all I have to do is put it up on the blog. I have been rationalizing that at least there is plenty of activity....but the truth is, I've simply been caught up in my own whirlwind, and slacking.

I have been enjoying Susan's posts, and hope you have been, too. They are refreshingly simple, and often heartbreakingly honest. I encourage you to make comments, if and when you have the time. She'd love to hear from you.

It has been nearly a month, and our three-day sesshin, which marks the end of Susan's practice period as shuso (head student) is only two weeks away. We will be journeying to Black Mountain Center near Cazadero, a quiet, redwood retreat high above it all, to sit and settle into the stillness.

It will be a huge departure after my crazy October. My YWCA events, the series of author readings for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, are in full swing. We had our first event last Friday in Sebastopol, and it was a perfect evening - about 30 people in attendance, the writers all read well, the audience was appreciative, the words were powerful. It was even more than I had hoped for. Tomorrow night our second event takes place in Santa Rosa, and our third and final event happens next Friday in Cloverdale. I am still frantically composing my own pieces for that event - I have written one poem, but hope to pen two more.

I have never done event planning before, so the whole thing has been a huge learning experience for me. There have been so many little details: readers with special requests, event venues with quirky rules, etc., etc. But all in all, it has been truly a wonderful team effort, and very satisfying to feel part of something that matters.

My work schedule has continued unabated, with the last two weeks having deadline nights lasting until almost 3 a.m., and no end in sight for that, due to our reduced staff. I have vacation hours on the books, but no one to fill in should I actually take a day off. Still, once again, I am grateful to have a job, enjoying the work, and feel part of a team.

That team thing - kind of a theme, isn't it? It's amazing how much one can withstand when one doesn't feel like one is doing everything all alone.

Which brings me to perhaps the hardest part of my week - all of us in the Russian River Sangha are reeling with the news that our beloved teacher, Darlene Cohen, has recently been told that her cancer is worsening, and that she now only has a few months left to live.

When I read the email from Darlene late Tuesday night sharing this information, I could not even respond. It is only now, two days later, that I am even beginning to find a space to open up and let in the hurt.

What sustains me is knowing that I am not alone. I have my teachers, Darlene and Tony. I have my sangha. I have my partner Sabrina. And somehow, together, we will comfort each other through this, and manage to infuse the pain with love.


  1. Thanks Michelle,

    I like your blogs. I appreicate the reminder of the whirlwind - getting caught up for me rationalizes avoidance. I've been a cranky, out of sorts kid & mean critical judge for 2 days, just not enjoying anything. Late yesterday I started to make some space - for my sorrow, and my joy and gratefulness of being a part of such a world of people - connection. I appreciate sangha so much, and am grateful for this place of sangha you create.


  2. Catching up with you via your blog, and am saddened to hear the news of Darlene. I know what she means to you and so many others. My thoughts are with you all...