Change. Being entirely ready to try something new.

William Wegman, Intirely, 1990. 
His blog. The Wegman store: cards, calendars, T-shirts, books, more.

I’m thinking about change.

Not the kind of change that is focused on another person, an organization, or thing. I’m thinking about one thing to change in myself.

It’s not that there’s only one thing I need to change. (I have a list.) I’m starting with one thing at a time. I’ll practice before I add new ones.

Here’s a short list:
  • Instead of sleeping in, wake early enough to sit quietly and meditate. Consistently. (I added the word consistently after talking with a dear friend over the weekend. She said her change is being consistent. I'm joining her.)

  • Become aware of bells ringing during the day—another person’s phone, a train whistle, school and church bells. When I hear a bell, rather than ignore it, stop and take three calming breaths.
  • Rather than eat standing up or in the car driving to an appointment, eat at a table.
  • Instead of taking big bites and gulping my food, take little bites and eat slowly. Way slow. Thirty chews a bite slow. (I'm working on kindness to my eroded digestive system from chemotherapy.)
  • When someone…oh, let’s just get specific. When someone like my daughter tells me about grandbaby Dylan, do not, I repeat, do not tell her what to do. This is based on my vast (choke) experience. Listen, mama Susan, listen. (Listening means my mind is quiet and focused on what she is saying.) Refrain from giving advice. (That means listening with my heart, both ears open, and my one mouth shut.)
  • When Terry doesn’t choose an outfit I like, rather than offer my insight on fashion, I want to mind my own business.

There are other things but they’re on my private list.

Choosing and getting clear on the one thing I want to change is a first step. 

I begin anew by choosing the opposite of the behavior I want to change. 

And I need to be entirely willing.

Willingness paves the way to bring about the long hard work of practicing change.

This is a poem about the challenge of willingness. I wrote it in response to William Wegman’s photograph, Intirely, which is pictured above.

Head down, tail up.

         She’s encircled entirely in tire.
         So she thinks.
         Hey, your limbs are free!

Tell me lady with your head down,
What are you doing?
Are you having fun or are you stuck in a tire trap?
If you are trapped, who is holding you?
Oh, you are not held, you want to stay to play. Why?
Hey, try this: just move your head an itsy-bit. You’ll have it—freedom.
Do you want it?
You do? You want it?
Well then do something. Take that inch.
Why don’t you? 
You don’t want freedom?
Oh, I see. It is more fun head down and tail up?
No? What, bark up, I can’t hear you!
You can’t see up with your head down 
and up might be less and more.
I know about you, she you, you don’t know what to do with freedom.
You are she and you don’t have to be the tire.
You can BE the tire, the wheel.
See, you can go, can’t you?
Go grrrrrr!

Susan Michael Barrett, 2011.

(Barrett. T. "Writing and Talking About Photographs." Criticizing Photographs. Fifth Edition, p. 219-220. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2012.)