Monthly Archives: January 2011

Word for 2011: JOY

Over the last few years, I’ve become more aware of how just how thick the barriers are between myself and my lived experience. And how that keeps me from fully experiencing the wonders of the world.

For example, I don’t allow myself to become “too excited” because I don’t want to be disappointed when real life does not live up to my expectations. Too often in the past have I experienced heartbreak when I got enthusiastic about something that ended up not happening.

Over time, I learned to hold myself back, keep myself in check, and not invest too much emotion into what might be, what could be. Birthdays. Holidays. Vacation. Heck, even just going to see a movie that I was looking forward to.

It was bad enough that I felt the burning tears of disappointment. But when others witnessed it, I feel such shame and humiliation. As if I should have known better. As if I should have known that some sweet and good could never have happened to someone like me.

So, now I’m not only disappointed, but I’m beating myself up!

Yeah, that’s my cycle.

So, when you curb your enthusiasm, you maybe protect yourself from a direct hit, but you also lose the ability to truly feel. Period. You miss the pleasure of anticipation. You miss the comraderie of getting excited with others. And then, on the off-chance that it actually turns out as good as you would have hope–had you let yourself hope–you miss the emotionally high you  could’ve felt. You have to fake the happiness.


Yeah, I have been there repeatedly, and I am sick of it.

So, this year’s word to bring a focus to my life is JOY. Simple joy. Just looking for it in unexpected places. And opening to it when my better judgment tells me not to. Allowing a few cracks here and there in the metaphorical armor so that joy can wiggle its way into my heart.

Underneath the clear recollections of disappointment lies a hazy, dreamlike memory of childhood joy.

I want it back

How Thick Is Your Seed Coat?

I meant to post this a few days ago but had trouble with my web site, which I am still working through. My new year’s post will be up in the next couple of days. 

(c) Deborah Koff-Chapin,

One of the ways that anthropologists determine when a particular crop became domesticated is by looking at the thickness of the seed coats or casings. Wild seeds have a thick coat that protects the tender shoot during the cold, dark winter months between harvest and germination in the spring. When humans domesticate crops, they determine where to plant the seeds and nurture the young plants through the growing season—and they save and care for the seeds from one year to the next.
The tended seeds are not exposed to the same harsh conditions as wild seeds, and more seeds survive to be planted in the spring. Seeds with thinner coats sprout more quickly and overshadow those seeds with naturally thicker coats. The “wilder” seeds either don’t get enough sun and other nutrients or they don’t germinate at all. Over time, more and more seeds have thinner coats, showing evidence of human care.
All of this has me thinking about this quiet time of dark winter and the “seed coat” that protects my soul and my life force. Some of us have thicker “skins” than others, and whether that is advantageous for our growth and survival really does depend on our environment and the care and nurturing we get from others—our community.
In this time of reflection, I am wondering if my seed coat is thick or thin, if I am built more for pulling in to survive during the hard times or taking advantage of the warmth and growing quickly.