Amy Ward Brimmer

mother daughter wife teacher writer dreamer sister worker seeker activist minister healer student human


2016: Being Simple, Curious, Loving

     Lordy lord, 2015 has been one hell of a year. The painful stuff was hugely painful and the pleasant stuff was supremely pleasurable. Not a lot of in-betweens. When I was clear, I was totally directed and on point. When I was confused, I was in a fog, just lost and wandering about, hoping for a familiar landmark. I established some personal discipline at a new level for me, which really paid off. A few times I forgot or ignored key facts about living as a human, which really cost a lot. Destiny will bitch-slap me when I pretend the rules don't apply to me. Mostly I worked my ass off this year, on both the outside and the inside (because there's not much difference between them). I just kept showing up, which is all person can do, really. The rest will take care of itself, if I can release the death-grip on my agenda for every single second that unfolds in my life. If I can soften, trust, choose faith, open to my innate freedom.

     In 2016 I desire to keep it simple, get curious about what is real in any given moment, and love myself. I really do want to love myself as I am, as I move through each day. When I consider various challenges for the new year, this is the one that seems the most daunting, the most radical. It goes against everything I was taught or learned or am being conditioned to believe.

     I bow deeply in humble gratitude to all the teachers who came into my life this year, whether you intended to help me learn or not. Thank you in advance if you will keep walking with me in 2016. 

     Thomas Merton wrote, "My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone."

     Not knowing is crucial; my happiness depends on it, in fact. When I move through life thinking I know what to expect, or how things should be versus how they really are, or precisely what the outcome of anything will be, I am miserable. I don't mean the instinctual kind of knowing, like when I can sense something true in my gut. I mean the kind of knowing that closes me off, decides what will happen before it has actually occurred, produces reactions in me that are habitual and stale and often inappropriate to the situation. The kind of knowing that believes the story I tell myself, over and over and over again.

     To say, "I don't know" is a little scary, like liberating things tend to be. To shift the perspective and say, "I sense that this is real and I know what I am doing and where I am going, but the truth is, I don't honestly know." Can I let go into that way of being, that open-hearted warrior stance? In 2016 I plan to test the theory that moving through life in faith is a way to love myself, and that loving myself is an act of faith.

     Namaste, dear ones. All blessings as we turn the page and create another year together.


The Grateful Days

Each day in November I posted on Facebook something for which I'm thankful. I found it easy most days, but occasionally I needed to choose to feel grateful, which always produced something significant enough to name. I noticed that the act of choosing gratitude led to a sense of lightness and ease, and more connection to my immediate environment. My intention was to strike a balance between the general and the specific, neither too shallow nor too heavy duty, so the list contains a range of reasons to be thankful.  These are the 30 things I came up with.

1 & 2 - My two lungs

3 - The right to vote      
4 - Health! Health Militant! (Oliver Sacks)

5 - Leading midday meditation each Thursday

6 - My kids and their generation of activist-warriors

7 - Love songs

8 - Yoda fortune cookie: "Do or do not. There is no try."

9 - My warrior nature

10 - My Alexander Technique students

11 - My job at Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting of Friends

12 - Bucks Quarterly Meeting

13 - Moving and leading others in movement

14 - The people who joined me for Moving Into Mindfulness

15 - Love Saves the Day, a universal truth

16 - The little objects of comfort on my kitchen windowsill  

17 - My amazing husband, J. David Brimmer

18 - Ben & Jerry's

19 - Favorite movies like "O Brother Where Art Thou?" and the love of good friends

20 - Feminism

21 - Interdependence

22 - A beautiful sunset and the ability to see it

23 - A warm fire on a cold evening

24 - Hot and cold running water and modern conveniences

25- Teachers in the classroom, making a difference

26 - Companionship along the way

27 - Mild temperatures, a gentle walk with my family

28 - Doing nothing. And naps!

29 - Choosing to be thankful produces gratitude

30 - The wise ones who have come before to show the way

I have myriad reasons to be thankful, and this exercise leaves me feeling humble and very, very lucky. As we move through the coming weeks of increasing darkness, may I be grateful for everything, just as it is. May I trust in the abundance that surrounds me without needing to see very far ahead. May I let go of my agenda and rely on mindful, whole body sensing to navigate.

Advent, the Christian season of preparation and expectancy, has begun. Here is a poem from an Advent book by Jan Richardson, Night Visions:

There are other senses,
you tell us, 
and when the darkness
obscures our choices,
we must turn
to the other ways of knowing
you have given us.

In the daylight
we can get by on sight,
but for the nighttime
is our hearing,
is our tasting,
is our smelling,
is our questioning,
longing touching.

A thousand messages waiting
for our sensing
you have given us,
O God.

May beautiful expressions of gratitude light your way as we move toward the Winter Solstice. May you know the ease of well-being.