Cold Reality

January is so cold. I have no inclination to do anything but endure. As I sat wearily in my chair this morning, I thought of how seldom I write humor these days. I conjured up Swami Z when my husband was dying and he got me through some horrific years. I haven’t seen him in quite some time. You know he is imaginary, don’t you?

Since he is imaginary, I thought I would see if I could persuade him to visit us for a few paragraphs, just to see how it would feel.

I begin to type.

“Vicki, Vicki, Vicki,” was the first thing I thought I heard him say.

Grumpily, I moved over to make room for him on the couch. “You sound like Julius Caesar,” I said.

Swami looked exactly the same. Tiny little fellow with skinny ankles and a bald pate. He has never been known to be what a guru should look like.

“I can’t write you anymore,” I said.

He regarded me dolefully as he slung his feet onto the coffee table. “I know you can’t,” he said. If you could have, you would have. In the old days you would give anything to get a laugh.”

“Remember Larry and Ruin and how I said Ruin was the real guru. Well, I was right.”

“You always thought you were right, Vicki. That is why I came to live with you.”

Now I was beginning to feel the old irritation with him. Just like that, he could turn me into a raging inferno of frustration. “Get your feet off the coffee table,” I yelled.

Sadly, he obeyed me. And then he embraced me in all of my wrongness and I begin to weep with joy and sorrow. That is how I always experienced him in my head.

Swami reached into his old robe and handed me a clean white handkerchief. I blew my nose. “Say something funny!” I ordered.

“When I said something funny, you always got mad at me, Vicki,” I typed.

“That was the fun of it,” the old coot said. Now that you don’t need me anymore, I can’t be funny when you tell me to.”

I had to admit that he was right. And I hated that. I mean, I am the one who always has to be right.

Before I knew it, he had evaporated into thin air and here I am alone again, in all of my rightness.

At least I knew that you can’t get rid of anything that wasn’t real. At least that is what most gurus say.

All I can say is that they never met Swami Z. He seems to be permanently installed. I sure feel a chocolate chip cookie attack coming on. I’m just sayin’….

Vicki Woodyard

The Mind and I

I am faint of heart in January, as so many of us are. The country is crippled by cold and inertia arrives after the frantic speed of December.

I sit in my favorite chair grabbing hold of the truth and clinging to it for dear life. “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Yes, the Jesus prayer holds water on so many different levels.

If you try to argue against it, you are doomed, for it is the way back into the sacred heart from which all of life arises.

I have a tattered copy of a book I found in Arizona many years ago. In it, the unknown author says that “All prayers that seemingly go out into the universe are really answered within one’s own heart.”

This discovery is made again and again by me, the perpetually anxious one. I sit there with no inclination to move, feeling jittery and unsafe. I murmur the prayer and feel its power.

My own heart knows itself and my mind forgets.

How can I ever hope to transcend the forgetful mind?

Only by the route of this prayer said in a state of anxiety and a real sense of doom.

I know I am doomed; we all are. The mind is too delicate a thing to last more than a lifetime. It begins to betray us at middle age.

However, and I cling to this, I am known only by my heart. The mind and I have never met. That is a very good thing.

Vicki Woodyard

What is it that we want?

What is it that we want above everything else? We want to feel okay, blessed, secure and loved on a very deep level. We think we don’t know how to have this happen unless it comes to us from outside.

Well, it is raining buckets outside today. I find that very unappealing and even unfulfilling. I wanted to go places today and now I am just surveying the dreary January grayness.

Something tells me that my wants are going to go unfulfilled today. I have read all of the books on how to manifest what I want and need. They don’t work.

I have admired and respected those who claim to have had their needs fulfilled on a very high level. They have nothing to give me that I don’t already have within.

So how do I shake myself down for what I want and need? To ask that question is to make the gods laugh and indeed they should.

Underneath the whining is a desperate cry for healing of the whole situation and that only comes when the weary hallelujah of Leonard Cohen is uttered.

That is when change happens. When we run out of gas on a deserted country lane and we know that no one is coming along to save us.

We see our rage for what it is, a suppressed cry for the love that can never come to us from outside, for we are it. We are what we seek.

I know. I know. That is not what you wanted to hear. Neither do I. That is why music is written, to comfort us in the night of our negativity, to lift us up to higher healing than the ego can ever supply. I listen to Leonard as I fall asleep at night. It wakes me up, but not on the physical level. It wakes me up to my own insufficiencies and I fall asleep in the arms of surrender.


Vicki Woodyard

The Crack in Everything, Especially in January

The Crack in Everything, Especially in January

Today was a day of seeing the cracks. First off, I drove to get a new pair of frames for my glasses. It was overcast and I was grateful to arrive there without mishap. The eye doctor’s office is just one left turn away from where I ended up going the wrong way yesterday. Whew.

Then I did my grocery shopping. There was someone both ahead of me and behind me at the pharmacy and I didn’t look at the receipt. Oops, I should have! It was about a hundred twenty-five bucks for a 3-month supply of one of my maintenance drugs. When I called about it, I was told that medications are not returnable. So I protested. The pharmacist said she would take it up with her manager. I waited by the phone but didn’t get a call back. So I called again. This time they said I could get a refund as a “one-time exception.” Another whew. Now I have to get it filled mail-order to save money.

Rob drove me back the second time and I said, “Return this bag of chips. It’s ripped.” And he did and then he filled up my car with gas. The station I use is out.

Back home I took a walk, the first one in January. I am totally out of shape. Tomorrow will be warm again, so I have a list of errands to run.

It is hard to see the light getting in between the cracks, but it can be done.

I am happy to be at my blog making words turn into pixels. Sometimes someone says, “I can relate,” and then I know we are all totally human despite our deep interest in enlightenment. By the way, enlightenment is something fashioned out of something so ethereal as to be non-human. Although some claim it, others know better and deeper than that.

I am happy to be barely escaping January alive. It has ever been thus. See you tomorrow, Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise.

Vicki Woodyard

Worth my salt?….

This is my second salty note today. Insert weak “heh heh” here. I got up with a neck ache so I went to the Chiro for an adjustment. I told him I still had voice problems and he ended up recommending I see his chiropractic guru. Seems he is great with any diagnosis or undiagnosed mystery ailment.

After that I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond to replace my trusty microwave neck wrap. Of course, they didn’t have it, so I bought another one to try.

I wanted to go by the credit union to get my 2018 date book and suddenly I found myself in a construction lane with oncoming traffic headed right at me. How did THAT happen? I started motioning to the car about to hit me to “Don’t hit me!” And fortunately, she was able to miss me and drive on.

I pulled off the road, got out of the car and asked a random construction worker what to do. He said, “Back up, turn around and I’ll stop traffic until you get back in the right lane.” And I did that, quite shamefacedly, and came back home.

But not before stopping for gas, only to find that they were temporarily out. What a day! Then I watched Stephen Colbert interview the guy that wrote the anti-Trump book. And so I can tell you, which is no surprise, that Trump is also in the wrong lane. He just doesn’t have anyone to stop traffic while he backs out and corrects himself. I’m just sayin’….

I love how I am writing the truth these days. You can’t make this stuff up. Or can you? Don’t feel I am wasting your time. The time-wasters are those that tell you that you can wake up and never go back to sleep. Now that’s a bald-faced….

Vicki Woodyard

A Grain of Salt

What I do and who I am…..with a grain of salt

Someone in all kindness left a comment on my blog but they used “advaita-speak.” Some of you know what this is. If you don’t know, here is a loose definition, speaking as if you were born in India and had studied under a master and were now trying to ‘splain it to Lucy Ricardo. It would be an experience in futility for quite a few reasons. And it wouldn’t have the comedic punch, either.

I have read all of the books and listened to all of the teachers. Nevertheless, I do not stoop to complicated words and phrases or try to mimic great teachers. Sometimes I quote them; most people do.

What I do here is be who I am by nature and by intent. I write from the heart to a handful of folks that get me. Not by the words I use but by the affect the words have on them.

If you don’t like me, you will know it very quickly. Same thing if you do like me. I just write my heart out and let the chips fall where they may.

I am a human animal and a work in progress. Complicated words about awakening do not float my boat, which always seems to be sinking in spite of my best efforts.

So apologies are not being given here, just a rather rudimentary explanation of what I don’t do. And sometimes I “don’t do it” very well. Ha ha ha ha ha.

Vicki Woodyard

Lucy Sees the Self

In every hello, there is a goodbye….

In every hello there is a goodbye. We are free falling through time, sometimes aware, more often not. We are riding the Law of Opposites, hanging ten on a tsunami of the heart.

I woke up this morning feeling like January. Gray and cold and rather hopeless. Before I could think about it too much, I got dressed and took myself to lunch. I didn’t know where I would end up, either. But I pulled into a local restaurant and was seated, after being told “anywhere you like.” My usual choice was by a window, but that felt drafty so I moved to the front of the restaurant.

I sat there in a booth that could have seated eight. When the server appeared, I told him I wanted a fried chicken sandwich but with the thinnest possible piece. It was so delicious. Not only that, the coffee was hot and the server friendly.

He called me sweetheart, which was probably because of my age and solitude. He asked if anyone would be joining me and I said no. “Do you want me to take away the other menu, then,” he asked.

“Sure,” I said, “Let’s remove all evidence that I could possibly be joined by anyone.” I giggled. What he didn’t know was that I have 3 guys I picture eating lunch across from me. I won’t name them because you can probably guess who they are.

I no longer take my life literally. The words arise from the foamy edge of an unknown sea. I don’t know if I am coming or going, but today the chicken sandwich was awfully good.

Vicki Woodyard

Warning: You may see yourself here.

I think this is an important note to write. I am sick of myself. I watched The Golden Globes to the bitter end. I found them boring yet there was nothing else to do. I champion no causes, having more sense than to think we can make the world a better place. If that were possible, it would already be that.

Here, the best we can do is find our voice and then realize how senseless being mechanical is. To do everything by rote out of fear and trembling of what others can do to us. And they will find new ways to do it, despite the propaganda machine.

It is time to laugh and cry about it all, as Leonard Cohen says. I sum up my life easily. Nothing worked out and I am determined to stay at the helm of a sinking ship. I do it so well. If the ship sailed to exotic ports, it would not be mine.

My port is tiny and I hug the shoreline due to the advancing sea. Erosion happens. Undermining is a fact.

Increasingly I notice how poorly I have managed my life. Sometimes all I can do to feel better is to dust the furniture and straighten out the clutter. (And there isn’t much of that.)

On rare occasions I have a good day. It is then I fall victim to hope and remembering better days and happier times. A good cry is therapeutic.

I put one foot in front of the other and am positive of how little I know and how much power the world has over me.

Jesus wept. But He also rose from the dead. I take courage in that, at least.

Down with the online purveyors of finding inner peace so easily. They are sleeping the soundest in a cemetery of bare beginners.

Vicki Woodyard

Embracing Loneliness

Embracing Loneliness

It’s good to occasionally be trapped in one’s own head. This happened to me today. One of the side pieces on my glasses broke so I have been trying not to read. I get a little seasick if I do. Monday. I will get them replaced, but until then….

There is nothing I want to watch on TV, either. It’s too cold to stay outside and you can only take one nap a day—at least I can’t.

I have eaten more food than I should have and done my Tai Chi. Not only that I have watched things online and done some serious inner work. For me this means one thing, the Jesus Prayer.

Ultimately there is no one in my head but me. It is time for another powerful mantra, “This above all, to thine own self be true….”

I had rather be alone in my head than in the company of people that don’t vibrate on the same string that I do.

I am sometimes a lousy musician in that respect, but at least there is just one jarring note.

I started this note by saying that it’s a good thing to be trapped in one’s own head. Because when you are, there is nowhere else to go but here.

It all starts and ends with me, myself and I. Jesus knew that; He just said it better.

I didn’t know how to end this, so I exited my writing file. Suddenly I find myself listening to Leonard Cohen in an old video saying that “you find your self-respect in your work.” Ah, that’s it. That’s it. No matter how much I may fight myself and my aloneness, I find my self-respect in my work, this work I share with all of you.

Rest in peace, dear Leonard. You live in all of our hearts. You said what all of us feel. It gets very alone but it doesn’t have to be lonely.

I wrote this note last night and today on my favorite Leonard Cohen site, I read this:

“I was never working to master my loneliness…I wanted to liberate it, to ravage the land. Now I can embrace everything with my loneliness.” Leonard Cohen

There are many tracks left in the solitude, some of them worthy of following….

Vicki Woodyard