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Video receipts included: That time I didn’t do laundry for a year or open the mail for two and a half years and why stepping over things is somatic healing genius

 The thing is, I was busy.


I was working a full-time teaching job for the first time in over a decade—I’ve owned a tutoring business all this time—and I was still supervising my current load of tutors and clients—and I still had Arden, of course, and goddammit, I need a housewife under the best circumstances as it is.


I was thrown. All of a sudden, 40 hours of my life each week were accounted for and sucked away, like, every week. And I had to get up and be dressed, like, every day. I was tired when I came home. (I did like the job a lot, though.)


At first, I just put off checking the mail. As the school year progressed, though, “putting it off” became stuffing it in the living room cabinet.


That was Year 1 of Not Opening the Mail.




Year 2 was, I was way too stressed to open the mail.


More specifically, I was too afraid, maybe too cowardly??, to see bills I couldn’t pay.


(Spoken in a loud whispery voice: I wasn’t cowardly. I was a genius, actually. That part’s coming.)


But I’d just been unexpectedly kinda fired/kinda demoted/had kinda left, the teaching job and had, at the literal exact same time, unexpectedly blazed through my savings because of unexpected and necessary legal proceedings with Arden’s dad, and Arden was experiencing big mood swings because of her upset about her dad and me, and I was tired because my iron was so crazy-low that I needed several iron infusions as well as a colonoscopy to make sure that my low mineral supply, as well as the mass I found behind my vaginal wall, didn’t signify colorectal cancer.  




The above circumstances could have been awful, especially since they all kinda went together.


Miraculously, they really weren’t.


I mean, it was difficult, yes, with some truly hairy moments; but quite wonderfully, all my tests came back okay, and the mass turned out to be poop. Never have I loved poop more.


Just as wonderfully, I happened to be in courses with Regena Thomashauer, aka Mama Gena, and Carolyn Elliott, both of whom, in very different ways, teach that pleasure is power, both of whom are real-life gangsters when it comes to pleasure. They live what they speak, they’re really not dicking about, and if you claim you’re serious about your studies, they’ll curse you out good and true and real skillful-like, which I can’t help but admire, if you’re waffling about what’s true in your body about your pleasure.   


I realized in Year 1, I could feel, that it was deeply and profoundly not in my pleasure—it was not in my bodily capacity, it would be profoundly going against my bodily capacity—to do the work of householding as I adjusted to this really really really big shift in my work schedule that was the weekly and daily mental, and physical, equivalent of  traversing-the-planet jet lag.


It was pleasing, I realized, my body realized, to lavish myself in so many Lush bath bombs and lotions and potions and balms and whatnot that I ought have bought stock in the company. Same thing with Uber Eats. I gave up cooking dinner—fuck cooking dinner—and thanks to Regena and Carolyn and their communities to which I belonged (still belong): I didn’t feel guilty at all.




To the contrary, I felt great.


I lit candles and soaked in my tub with all manner of bath products and listened to Book 2 of Game of Thrones and handed Arden the phone so she could pick out whatever godless meal we’d eat that night.


I knew it was worth the massive money I was spending at Lush and on Uber Eats and everything else that made my life easier and made it feel really really good during that Year 1.


I marveled at my unmade bed, which stayed unmade that whole year, and the pile of laundry that remained faithful by the side of my bed, the pile that I cheerfully stepped over every day that whole year. I video’d my kitchen sink that artfully overfloweth’d with a delicate pile of dishes I’d arrange and rearrange so they wouldn’t topple into sudsy water, the way one might proudly photograph and post a picture of a terrible painting they just tipsily completed at a paint ‘n sip place—one who hasn’t ever painted before, but here’s their first creation!


I didn’t allow visitors that year, but my friend, Bianca, dropped by one weekend. Bianca is the degree of friend I pee in front of as we catch up.


Bianca is a therapist. With a practiced eye, she surveyed my recent exploits in…well, they weren’t exploits in filth—I did soak the dishes in dish soap, and I did clear the counters of all the take-out debris when it got to be too much, after all.


“If I didn’t know you really well,” Bianca said carefully, “I’d think something was wrong.”


I grinned, told her to move all the Uber Eats paper bags out of the way if she wanted to sit on a surface, and offered her tea like the fine slovenly hostess that I was.



Here's a video I recorded of the mess. This was April 2022. The mess wasn't high-high level like it was when Bianca came by, but visuals always are nice, aren't they? Also, you're hear Arden yelling in the background--she was playing in her room.


I didn’t stay slovenly forever.


After I left the teaching job, the dishes cleared. I was able resume my Hello Fresh meal subscription and cook again. It took about six weeks after I’d left the job, but one day, one afternoon, after a year of them sitting there, I found myself folding the clothes by the side of my bed.


The house restored from extraordinary to regular levels of mess and messiness.


That was nice.


What was great, what I was proud of, was that I’d come through what I ordinarily would’ve labeled a “bad” time with so much pleasure and joy.


I didn’t know it at the time, but what I was doing, and what Regena and Carolyn were teaching, was nondoing.


Nondoing can look a lot like avoidance—or worse, it can look like—gasp!—the ever-dreaded and terribly misunderstood and misnamed self-sabotage.


Only one thing separates nondoing from self-sabotage and avoidance and all the other “God forbid” behaviors we so miserably guard against.  


That one thing is approval.


Approval is high-level shit. Approval is a superpower—maybe the superpower.


Approval is another word for nondoing.


Approval is what separates nondoing from avoidance and the God forbidden self-sabotage. (Self-sabotage, like manipulation, isn’t the horrible thing we think it is, but we’ll talk about that another time.)


Approval alchemizes any actual avoidance or self-sabotage or other judged behaviors and renders them benevolent blessings.


My approval saved me, elevated me, carried me to other amazing teachers who helped me soar during a time that otherwise would have demoralized me and made me think less of myself, and fuck every single iota of that unnecessary bullshit.




 A bit into Year 2 of Not Opening the Mail, though, I did begin to feel badly about the mail. It was beginning not to fit in the living room cabinet.


Fortunately, I’d begun practicing The Work, Byron Katie’s process, and so I had a way to sort out my guilt about the mail.


The Work is true genius. IM is made of it.


In practicing, I could see that, in the wake of my unexpected cliff leap into being broke as fuck, I simply did not have the capacity to open the mail.

I could see I was not being cowardly by not opening the mail but was in fact a goddamn fucking hero for not opening it, for maintaining the narrow focus and absolute presence of a rugged spaceship captain whose already harrowing journey to the moon has been made exponentially more dangerous by a spaceship wing that’s caught fire, and yet she is calm calm calm. The spaceship captain’s face is sweaty. Her biceps strain. But her gaze is steady, and her palms are dry on the steering wheel.


All our inner children are ingenious spaceship captains. They did get us here, after all. They made sure, despite the odds and no matter the cost, that we made it.


And because of The Work, I could see my inner child’s little sweat-beaded forehead and straining biceps. She wasn’t fooling with the mail because she was doing what had to be done to keep this household going. Not a wobble as she robbed Peter to pay Paul, her reflexes newborn foal-quick as she absorbed which bills could and could not be late, metabolizing with nimble dexterity just how late a given late bill could be stretched, and sticking “bitch the lights are still on” landings left and right, focusing, focusing, and not panicking. Like a fucking boss.


All our inner children are bosses.


The mail will hold. My inner girl, in true boss fashion, didn’t even look up from her captain’s seat as she spoke.


“It’ll hold a second year?” I asked her.


It’ll hold second year. Even a third. Even forever. For I am here. And I will take care of you.




Our inner children always are here for us. When we non-do, we become somatically conscious of them: we can see them. We can see how much they love us.


When we become conscious of them, then they can, and they will, protect us consciously.


And our inner children can protect us like no other because they are our connection to the divine, to the entire universe, to all of the multiverse. All right here in our bodies.




I’ll be butchering a quote now, and I cannot for the life of me remember the author’s name. But the quote was his response to how cluttered his home was because he wouldn’t throw anything out.

He said, “After a while, it’s simply a matter of not losing your nerve.”


This man might be pathologized as a Class A hoarder. Hell, maybe he is a pathological hoarder. I definitely wanna have lunch with him and learn his ways.


Because he has nerve. He carries sufficient approval. He has nerve, and that is what will save us. 



Another critical thing my inner child oversaw for me: 

She helped me be still instead of “doing something” to or about money and income after I mostly got fired from/a little bit quit my teaching job. Instead of grabbing after some terrible job out of panic and common sense, which surely would’ve kept me financially stable and killed me slowly: she helped be access the nerve to be truly still and descend into Broke Bitchness so elegantly, so softly, very sweetly. She brought me The Work. She brought me Kyle Cease. 

It was because of this nerve that I had the sheer time to practice, to submit myself in hundreds of hours of apprenticeship to, what would become Inquiry Meditation. 

My inner girl took my hand in hers and led me to something bigger than I ever could’ve seen without her.


It was to be another year and some change before I opened the mail—before I found myself opening the mail, that is.


(And yes, during this two and a half years, I’d check for specific things like tax forms, but I’d be in and out, quick as lightning. Also, mail miracles happened during this time—as in, I’d dip in for no seeming reason and find something that really had to be answered, or I’d find a big check. The big check thing happened three times. Shit like this happens with nondoing, I swear. Another post, another time. Anyway—)


One day, two and a half years into not fucking with the mail, I found myself opening the stuffed living room cabinet and cramming loads and loads and loads of mail into a huge trash bag. It just happened. I was cramming away and resolving to go through every piece as Saturnine reparations for all the time I had been given not to open it…when I felt a sudden stab of sadness.


Grace Paley has a short story called “Wants” in which the protagonist returns two  library books that are 18 years overdue. The librarian tells her she owes $32, and the protagonist writes a check for $32, gives it to the librarian. “Immediately,” Paley writes, “she (the librarian) trusted me, put my past behind her, wiped the record clean.”


That was what I wanted.


I looked down at the bulging trash bag and imagined the freedom of hauling it out to the outdoor trash can. What a caper that would be, to get away with not opening mail for 2 and a half years, the past behind me, the record wiped clean, just like that. But who gets to do that?


Behind me, I heard a whirring sound.


I turned.


It was a tiny, tattered little spaceship, tufts of aluminum foil and duct tape stuck out at odd places, one wing crispy-fucked-burnt.


The spaceship door opened to reveal my inner girl, dusty with caked sweat and triumphant. She’d done it. She’d landed her ship on the moon. It had been close, but it’s always close, isn’t it?


She winked at me. Nodded her assent.


This was to be her gift to me, she said. For all the nondoing I’d done for her. For not rushing her with the mail. For allowing her the space, the approval, to get to her moon. She'd take care of any and all loose ends.


It’s simply a matter of not losing your nerve.


You already know what happens next. How the story ends, how it had to, in order for it to be as truly magnificent and grand as it truly is.






Why so long, though?


Two and a half years to open mail? A year to fold a single pile of laundry?


Why did it take so long for my body to be in agreement with these seemingly innocuous acts? Why was doing these acts, which technically could be labeled as “not a big deal”—why were they such a strong no for my body?


I didn’t know. I don’t know.


I do know, though, that the body, does indeed keep the score. Perfectly.


The exact degree and frequency of non-opening mail and non-laundry-ing that had to be exacted—that my body needed exacted—matched perfectly the degree and frequency of some past act of violation, either self-inflicted or inflicted by another, that was corrected, healed, in my nondoing.


For the body’s integrity is perfect. As I’ve said before, the body cares not for “technically,” or “should,” or looking good or bad. The body cares only for its integrity, thank Goddess and God.


We are encouraged, we are taught, we learn by way of violence, to ignore, to violate, our bodily integrity over and over and over. As we get older, we are frenetically incentivized, mightily rewarded.


We are indoctrinated so thoroughly in hopes that we will forget that our bodily integrity is priceless.


In hopes we will forget that our bodily integrity puts us in in perfect harmony with God-Life Herself.  


You cannot really domesticate, you cannot use, you cannot profit off of, you damn sure cannot gaslight, a human, a body, who remembers she is in perfect harmony with God-Life Herself. And where two or more of these free bodies are gathered? Forget about it.


Our nondoing helps us, helps our bodies, remember.


Our nondoing returns and remembers us, remembers our bodies, to this state of perfect harmony, this state of conscious innocence also known as Absolute Power, or, as I like to call it, Pretty Fucking Unfuckablewith.




To non-do is to move at the pace of the body, at the pace of your bodily wisdom.


With few exceptions, no human is immune to bodily wisdom. No matter the abuse history, the trauma, how awful the parenting, the amount of sugar and American cheese and McDonald’s ingested since one’s childhood: no human is immune to bodily wisdom—otherwise known as the power, the goodness, the good-naturedness, the sweetness, of nondoing.


This is because nondoing isn’t of this 3-dimensional reality. Neither are our (seen) inner children. Neither is bodily wisdom.


And what is bodily wisdom made of?


It is made of nature itself. It is how grass grows. How constellations arrange themselves just so.


It is how the laundry, the dishes, the mail, and any and all of your life, will hold for you as you non-do.


And why will it hold for you? Why should it? What renders you worthy of everything holding for you? What makes you so special?


Because you are a card-carrying citizen of this universe, this multiverse.


And so, it will hold for you, all of it, the $32 check written, the past behind you, the record wiped clean, the spaceship landed.


The Universe, Goddess, God, Jesus, Buddha, Mary Magdalene, Allah, The Tao itself, the ancestors, all the Good Energy, all the stars, all our inner children: they wait.


They look at us, and they wait with baited breath and maybe sly and definitely very very very loving grins. And they pray.  


They pray we’ll go on this adventure of nondoing.


They pray we’ll let them help us along.


They pray we won’t lose our nerve.




One extended footnote

I hope to write more about this later—I plan to—but I want to state for the record that the indoctrination, the forgetting that I speak of above: it is not absolute. It’s supposed to happen so we can choose our freedom. So, in the ultimate sense—and I mean only in the most ultimate of all the ultimate senses—we have not been done wrong. It is, in the most ultimate sense, all happening for us to have the experience of choosing.


The only way, though, for the above paragraph to not feel like a spiritual bypass, or worse, some lightweight or subtle gaslighting, is for it to be true in your body. The way for it and other high-minded concepts like We are one to be true in your body, is to feel very gently, to see, all the precious pain, all the holy violation in your body, that is these concepts’ unconscious expression. Once you see this unconscious expression: it is rendered conscious. It is freed, and so are you. This seeing is what we are up to in IM, in each session of IM. What a joy it is to see.


In the relative sense, however, in our immediate here and now experience: the injustice and the pain and the suffering are real. It’s all real as fuck, I know.


And as I have stated, the way out, the way through, is nerve/approval/bodily wisdom. The way—one way—is nondoing.  


(P.S. added on March 14, 2024: Just in case you are curious, I happen to be in a season of rather neat neatness. Like: the bed is being made every day. The counters are kinda spotless. Some dishes sat in the sink for a week and some change, and I was feeling the pain of them remaining undone...and then, today, I found myself doing them.

I like the neat seasons.

And I know it is the messy seasons that undergird them.

So, I like them, too.)






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