In January, after Improvised Life had been down for several days, with no way of communicating except Facebook, I sent out a message to Friends with Benefits members whose email addresses I had. The message said, in essence: “The site is down, I hope it will be back and that years of writing and images have not been damaged; please send whatever personal magic you employ my way.” Then it seemed, my only option was to wait and practice Improvised Life’s principles

I knew that even if Improvised Life’s vast archive did disappear, that I would be okay. I have written about, and know, many people who have lost homes, years of work, health; they all found their way. I would too. A path would present itself.


In the meantime, a big, heartening reminder came in via email from readers and friends: we are a community and we are THERE for you!

Mira Keras sent a wonderful Tumblr called Dealing with the Worst Case Scenario which lent some perspective (click on the original post, to follow the links). I’d already experienced quite a few in my life, including a serious car accident…I am STILL here…

Ever-wise performance artist Fast Forward (with whom I became friends through Improvised Life) wrote a compelling view of this potential loss:

I ‘imagine’ all will be restored, but of course that is unpredictable at this point.

BUT what I will say is that re-addressing, or starting afresh is a rather exhilarating experience.

A clean palette, a breath of fresh air and a wide open road ahead. Something akin to leaving the congestion of NYC and finding yourself driving in the along in the mid-west with the sound of insects in the air, the wind rushing through the window and the cacti whizzing by.

What’s not to like . . . . .?

road trip

Over the course of several days, I got a big lesson in community. Many readers —few of whom I’d actually met in person – sent deeply affirming messages and “personal magic” that was palpable…including a little miracle to take my mind off things:

…The tracks left by a group of otters, running and sliding — just for fun, it seems — on the ice as they crossed the lake. You can see one “slide” in the trail on the left and how each otter’s tail dragged in the snow behind it….

Thank you for all the magic you deliver to your readers.


Some sent more tangible offers of help. Tim Slavin, creator of Kids, Code, and Computer Science, that teaches kids (and adults) about all things technological, alerted me that the site was down and “anything I can do to help“. The most surprising was from Kate Conklin a highly accomplished singer who teaches Alexander Technique:

I’m a big fan and subscriber, and have a designer/ web consultant significant other who may have insight about your plight. If you’d like to run your setup by him, he’d be happy to advise about going forward and preserving content. (This would be a thank-you for all the ways you brighten our lives.)
I took her up on her offer and Bryan Landers, her brilliant fiancé, strategized a unique plan for safeguarding the data. In saying YES, I came to know two extraordinary people who have become friends and contributors.
What was the essential practice I followed?
Reaching out to ASK for help, in this case, moral support and ‘personal magic’
And then seeing what unfolded.
It was something pretty new to me, though I’ve believe, as Mister Rogers advises, in looking “for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”  Since that wild time, I’ve been exploring the “challenge of asking” via performance artist/musician Amanda Palmer’s illuminating book The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help.
With thanks to all those who answered…

If you’ve found illumination, joy, or inspiration in this post, please consider supporting Improvised Life. It only takes a minute to make a secure donation that helps pay our many costs. A little goes a long way towards helping Improvised Life continue to live ad-free in the world.

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6 replies on “A Practice for Dire Straits

  1. Just listened to God’s Cricket Chorus again before having to see yet another doctor. It is so beautiful and calming. Thanks for sending this glorious work of nature!!

  2. Beautiful article! There’s a little exercise I love to use when I’m running therapy groups and discussing the importance of tapping into support. I ask “how many of you hate asking for help?” Almost all of the hands go up. “OK, how many of you really get a buzz out of helping other people?” Again, almost all of the hands go up. “So you see,” I say, “people like to help, they want to help, it makes them feel great – why would you deny them that? Please, please, please ASK FOR HELP!!!”

  3. Beautiful! Thank you for the perfect thoughts with which to begin this wonderful, miraculous gift of a day!

  4. Beautiful on so many levels. Finding a community when one feels alone – a community nearly invisible until asking – for help of whatever kind might come. Having the courage to ask when at one’s most most vulnerable and powerless. the new perspective and possibilities that grow out of these seeds of connection and offerings. Thank you!

  5. Yeah, it certainly knocked me out to see the wonderful community that is Improvised Life. Asking is still a challenge (:

  6. Kate, Thank you so much for your comment. What an interesting lesson from your group! Essential.
    And thank you, too, for including Improvised Life, on your own site A Cultivated Life. I am honored!

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