Don’t Get Even – Get Even Better

#resist

cropped-bur-oak-acorn

Sometimes we get to learn the hard way, as long as we learn.

Has a bird ever dumped on your head? I apparently have an attractive head for bird shit. At least three times if you include a head/shoulder combo. Also, once in my upturned palm, incidentally, I received two acorns in the same fashion; an acorn that dropped into  the palm of my hand as I was standing there. Not on the same day.

The point I am attempting to make is that Things Occur which is my polite way of saying saying Shit Happens, for my more delicate readers, but literally it’s actual shit for me.

Some people have actually horrific lives, from start to middle and even to finish. While many of you have had truly horrific moments/episodes, your life has not been horrific, especially if you are reading this. That said, it’s what you do with it; it’s what you choose to do with it that is important. Lemons to Lemonade, right?

Whoever we have been raised by, does NOT get to have, the final say in who we become.

We do.

We can take the marvelous things, if any, and spread fairy dust and compassion. We can take the dark horror and multiply that.

We can use the kindling we have received and ignite whatever we choose to. It’s all energy. Expend it, form it, waste it.

100% our choice.

 

A prominent American figure related the story of how his mother ran a big con, making a big show grading papers that she required from her sons. Only later did the boys discover that she was illiterate.

WE can take over the world using Guerrilla Kindness like the 167+ strong army that took down Father’s Day with their pay it forward  campaign that lasted into the night. Conversely, we can have the greatest honor bestowed upon an individual in what is arguably, or rather, historically was considered the greatest nation in the world, and choose to shit all over it and to shit all over the people who call it their home or haven.

Who do we wish to be? Our highest or our basest selves? 

 

Raze The Temple

Simplicity

I’ve been thinking about destruction. Sometimes before we create something new and beautiful, we have to annihilate what’s taking up space.

“If I am what I have, and if I lose what I have, who then am I?”

Erich Fromm

When we plant a garden, for example, we remove the existing plants, upturn the soil, add fresh medium and then plant anew. When we rid ourselves of what’s there, we launch into new terrain (pun intended).

Recently, I talked about a curious storm, which turned out to be a harbinger of several others. Phrases like lives were destroyed have been repeated like mantras. A few actual lives were lost but lives were destroyed was generally used to describe the loss of accumulated possessions and of course, people’s homes.

debris pile htx 2017

Those who experienced these losses remark on what they’ve gained: The outpouring of support by friends and strangers alike; a sense of excitement as they contemplate how they will remake what their lives are about; a renewed faith in their fellow humans; and a needed break from political happenings, to name just a few.

A buddy and colleague of mine who’s starting from scratch said “This is an amazing place to be in my life!! I’m very grateful.” This, after she and her husband lost their beloved home of many years, their cars, their cat and virtually everything else they owned; after being helicoptered (I can’t even – the dangling in air) to a quickly appointed area shelter and spending weeks sorting through soggy, molding debris. They still have a long road ahead to rebuild, but seem struck with a sort of giddy anticipation in spite of it.

“Anything you cannot relinquish when it has outlived its usefulness, possesses you. And in this materialistic age, a great many of us are possessed by our possessions.”
Mildred Lisette Norman

Many of us are realizing that who we are isn’t about what we have. We are deciding to just say ‘no’ to the rampant consumerist mindset and yes to fuller lives with less to bog us down. We are also concluding that the new generation is way ahead of us and truly doesn’t want our stuff either. There’s a lot of momentum and inspiration if you want guidance, want to find like-minded people, The Minimalists can help you light the fire.

If given only minutes to decide, as so many of us have these past few weeks and months, what you cannot do without, how heavy is your load? You serve as the beast of burden to your accumulated belongings. Consider shaking them off and running free.

Division Is Tearing Us Apart

Uncategorized

pass it on

To be silly, and because I adore a good truism, a term which purportedly was coined by the clever Jonathan Swift, i.e., May You Live All The Days Of Your Life;

I posted the statement Division Is Tearing Us Apart on some of my social media accounts. It stirred something in many people, and one, even got the haha I had intended when I wrote it – or did I? Maybe my defense mechanism, humor, kicked in by way of this axiom, to reveal the frustration I was feeling very deeply.

In the U.S. and around the globe, the divide is growing at a voracious pace, consuming our sanity. The safety of our online distance, the protection of the automobiles we ride in, seem to have the effect of removing our common decency. We’d almost never attack one another in person the way we do sitting behind our keyboards or steering wheels. The Golden Rule, which exists in every religion in some form, or the guidance of a good elder as we are growing up, teaches us decency, civility, manners – or at least that’s how we have created workable societies.

We are not only disagreeing anymore; we are figuratively ripping out one another’s throats. I’d like to blame the media or the leaders but we take their bait, we drink their kool aide. When we choose for entertainment, abhorrent subject matter, and imbibe it so often, we lose every standard of decorum. I have a test I put things to in my mind/heart: Would I say/do/watch this with my grandmother? If the answer is no, well, it is not aligned with who I am or who I aim to be. No exceptions. This said, I am far from practicing what I preach here. It is more of an ideal for me. The fight or flight response can be strong and physically and literally dumbs down one’s brain. Learning meditation or other ways of operating more often from one’s Parasympathetic Nervous System instead of the Sympathetic Nervous System, a breath or moment at a time, is a start.

So, help me spread this truism Kindness Never Hurt Anybody, in the hope that it will take hold, become a “thing” and help us become our better selves.

**********************************************************************************

I leave you with the best truism, from one of my favorite writer/humans, Sir Master Knight McSweeney Pirate Dave Eggers

You Will Not Be Disappointed. Unless Of Course You Are Always Disappointed.

In Which Case This Will Be Yet Another Disappointment For You.

I use this Eggerism with absolutely no permission but with the urgent request that you tattoo it on your chest, immediately.

 

Two Feet

#Self #Love #SelfEsteem #IveGotThis #GirlGang #Shoes

two feet pic

Paper Darts – Paper Darts Micro-Fiction Award Submission 

On the topic of Separation 

                                                                    Truly

I couldn’t care less what you think; one part of me means this from time to time.
I stand in my voice, take me as you find me, love me hate me. There is only one being
on this planet who can express me-ness, MY me-ness. To tone her down or hide her
amazing light would be a tragedy. I have a duty to disregard others’ opinions about my
manner, my style, my take or my shape. Call me assertive, confident, boastful or fast. I
don’t hear you because I’m too busy rocking this. Love thy self and the rest of love comes.

                                                              Madly, Deeply 

I care what you think therefore, I create compassion inside myself and offer it to you.
Society works best when I listen to your stories without trying to judge them. You have
my unfailing belief in how much things matter to and affect your life experience. I can’t
feel what you feel so I feel you. I breathe you in. Also, it’s nice when I feel you like me;
frankly, I am not always self-assured. At times, I’m not convinced that I am lovable. Your love helps me be sure of myself.

8/16/2017

#Self #Love #SelfEsteem #IveGotThis #GirlGang #Shoes

GIVE ME STUFF! MORE AND MORE NEAT THINGS!!!!

Mindfulness, Uncategorized

control

One of the great gains a simpler lifestyle brings, in my opinion, is increasing your sense of social responsibility.

When we buy less, we often buy items of greater quality when we do buy. We realize that the initial cost may be more than that of more common, readily available, cheaply mass produced items.

Once we get past that, we find they are also more likely to be (1) of better quality, (2) ethically sourced and manufactured, (3) more durable and lasting than less expensive ones and maybe, hopefully, are made and sold in ways that (5) make our world a better place.  Using business models like these companies is a good start. They not only help by providing better working conditions and, of course, the livelihood that goes along with it but while promoting their wares, they can even raise the quality of life for people.

Another practice to consider is being more conscious when you accumulate new things. Bring your own reusable bag(s) and give feedback to companies that overdo their packaging. They want you as a consumer and more often than not, will appreciate your input.

Be more aware in many areas of your life. I work for a law firm a few days per week, notorious for eating trees (using paper), and manage to keep things digital whenever possible, we use paper on both sides, recycle much of what we do generate, and use reusable mailers for document delivery/return.

If you’re reading this post, I may be preaching to the choir (Amen, Awomen) because you’ve got your reusable bag(s), water bottle, coffee cup and perhaps cutlery! I love you, Man/WoMan. People are taking notice as you move and groove through life and adopting these habits is infectious. You wise soul, you.

Sometimes less is more and sometimes more is more.

For me, personally, I get more time because I don’t have to replace items very often;

I have more money because I rarely buy on impulse;

I have more resources to give to causes I care about;

I have more worthwhile experiences because doing more things trumps constantly shopping; and

Lastly, I have more contentment because I live as I choose and choose as I live.

Applying Mindfulness is always a good practice and remember, it’s all practice; remember to stay malleable.

 

 

 

 

Harvey To Be Humble

Uncategorized

 

Houston hasn’t a problem. At least for now we don’t.

To some extent, we’ve temporarily stripped ourselves of political scuffles, race and gender biases, and economic castes. The wealthiest and the poorest arrived by boat and helicopter and ate the same oatmeal, slept on the same quickly constructed cots in the convention center, et al. The difference now, days after our Hurricane Harvey, is that those who started without much have no where to go, while the rest are beginning to rebuild their lives.

In the thick of of the storm, heroes were born and then sprung into action. Daredevils were living their dreams, taking greater risks than they should and loving it. In the days that followed, people who had never worn a pair of work gloves, donned face masks and began pulling down drywall, insulation and demolishing cabinets. Bands of teenagers and adults went home to home to help anyone who needed it; others went home to home passing out food and water. As my friend, extreme volunteer and Facilitator of the Houston Minimalist Chapter put it “You could tell who was gathering supplies or donations if they were buying 10 brooms.” While many of us have returned to work and volunteer only on our off time, she is picking up the slack. With any extreme event, there is an outpouring of support in the hell and high water of the moment and then people move on; the hard work and dire need do not stop there.

Spread the word: Climate Science is Not Political. As I write this, Irma Jose and Katia asked me to mention this.

Any Guru worth her siddhis will tell you “Don’t think you can put one over on Mother (Nature). She will show you when she’s tired of your arrogance.”  The way we danced around in funny glasses to watch the eclipse less than two weeks ago, remember? That thing nature fixed to scar your vision, a hint maybe? If Medusa asked you to turn around to see her newest hairdo…..? Okay, now you are wondering about me (you should). We modern asshats know everything, just like teenagers! Earliest humans had respect and fear of such events. Perhaps our new Director of FEMA should scout for hurl-able virgins.

Now: I am hard on myself and I can be very tough on others; you know who you are, so watch it! Therefore, being less judgmental is the bane of my existence. I work to achieve, practice and to become, Grace. I believe wholeheartedly that this can make our life experience so much more wonderful. I am nowhere near there but visit from time to time.

As such, I can state the following things that are biting me about the Harvey Experience.

  1. Persons who try to sell their not damaged/flooded off casts – because they could donate the items.
  2. Persons who complain that their recycling service is disrupted – because the less vocal neighborhoods cannot get their hazardous debris removed.
  3. Persons complaining about traffic, which is horrendous – because these folks are simply trying to get to work (or ?) and the roads they normally traverse are under water.
  4. Lastly, persons who parrot negative reviews of the Red Cross – because they are repeating, re-posting dubious information and are not acquainted with the facts.

Quit complaining on social media and actually Be the Change!

Within this time of material loss is an opportunity to discover what is meaningful. My daughter (another tireless volunteer) asked if I need help at home during the storm. The water was all around, my roof leaking, but I was really good, comparatively. I replied that the heartbeats (she and her bro) were safe and the only thing I needed to evacuate besides me, was the purple folder (PF). Incidentally, if I lost the PF, no one would die and the world would not end. The PF has the paper things: family birth certificates, passports, property records, et al.

I know wonderful people that have kayaked back into their Atlantian homes to retrieve important stuff, putting themselves and first responders in perilous situations. I have also been excited to hear others talk of streamlining their lifestyles. Embracing a less is more existence.

We are baited to be more and get more (our culture, media). We are imprisoned by the culture of get more – do more and lose our moment to moment connections with one another, with what has meaning.

I don’t care how you get here…..my wish is that we will define and get to what is important. Working together, despite our differences, to the things we can agree on and tabling the rest. Get here if you can.

 

Packing Like A Mini

Uncategorized

Let me begin by saying, I just returned from a trip. Prior to travelling, I began a blog post called:

SIMPLY TRAVELLING

Here’s where it began :

There’s a Minimalist Movement, which in the olden days was a Voluntary Simplicity Movement; in every era, it is a drill it down to what you need/use lifestyle, because it is easiness and more so, because it is effective. It’s doing more and over thinking less. It frees you, opens you to EXPERIENCE your life’s offerings. It is also, IMO, your own to define and express.

I lured you here with talk of travel.

For many that entails, buy stuff that shows you were there. Go on with your bad self, with my sincerest blessings, because to me, the pursuit of happiness is an ENORMOUS FALLACY and being happy with your choices, is CLOSE TO SPECTACULAR. Yet, if that is not what it’s bringing you…………move forward. If you went to take in the sights but spent time arranging and filling up your Instagram account rather than your dreams, fuck that.

This post is about travel. Packing for Travel Tips, in fact, so here goes:

1. Travel

2. Return from traveling and make two piles from your suitcase(s) no impending judgment

3. Pile One – Everything you used, touched during your trip; and

4. Pile Two – Everything that you toted about, never even using you get where we’re headed

5. You’re home. Take care of your life, you’ve been away. Get yourself together!!!

6. Plan and pack for your next trip

7. Leave out everything from No. 4 see above….

8. Add something.

This should be something frivolous. Include something that you are afraid of doing , perhaps a thing you dare to dream about but never take on. For me, it was this water color kit. I made it a few years ago. The idea was to put down my smart phone (I dumped the actual camera years earlier) and pick up the paints. Water colors, being my least favorite medium but awfully portable and the ‘pods’ are refillable (find the link). I reincarnated my toothbrush travel holder into a paint brush carrier. This keeps your old paint brushes, mine are ancient, in excellent shape. I’ve had most of these for over 39 years. With gentle cleaning, proper use and storage, and the occasional trim, they have lasted this long.

9. Now, check out what you’ve ended up with. Be brave and decide to try venturing out this way.

*****************************************************************

Now reader, this is where blog post No. 1, was derailed. The planned trip was to be with a buddy, on certain dates. A family funeral occurred instead, buddy couldn’t switch travel dates, but I was really motivated to go solo and as quickly as possible. I had skipped refundable options for airfare and lodging, but persevered. I took some deep breaths and called actual people; I explained the situation and ended up finding that the person to person connection was all it took to not only get there the week following my original dates, and both entities threw in perks. Hot Damn.

I discontinued the blog post due to lost time and decided to complete it while on the trip. Imagine here: photos of my clothing, my toiletries (this one is below), and finally, of the packed bag with a post trip follow up showing all the things in No. 4, Pile Two (what was never used on trip), that was going to have finished off the post. Alas, I was having serious good times and didn’t with continue the blog post.

SERIOUS GOOD TIMES

Going with the flow cannot be over recommended. Nor can synchronicity be discounted. Here are just three examples, listed in the order of their occurrence:

  1. My Uber driver turns out to be a young Libyan guy (Hilal), whose Aunt I had met 20 years before in Sfax, Tunisia. We sang songs, I practiced my awful Arabic and it was delightful.
  2. I find an Off the Beaten Path restaurant for dinner, where I doubted other tourists would frequent. Fifteen minutes in, while chatting it up with some new folks, the passenger I was seated next to on the flight there (Lorin), walked into the place. Rabble rousing ensued.
  3. A friend and yoga teacher (Meagan) that worked for me in the 90’s came in for an evening with her beau and we picked up right where we left off the last time seeing one another. This was planned from the start, but just wanted to mention it to light my heart for a moment. Whole Lotta Love

Back to this PACKING LIKE A MINI blog post. In my toiletries kit I have a small laundry suds container. Granted, you can buy suds anywhere but it’s convenient for me this way. It oftens comes home never having been used. Not this time.

I had planned for a casual attire only experience and all of my clothing was short/above the knee. For flying and/or in the event of unexpected chilly weather, I had one pair of trousers. More about dressing for flying another time 😉

EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED

Day Two of my stay was rather rainy; each time my clothing dried, another sweet shower came in and soaked me. No worries, I had two pair of walking shoes and extra socks, shoes are hard-to-dry items.

Final Day of my stay, I donned the trousers, blow dried the driest shoes and checked out of my lodgings, stashing my bag there for a later flight home. For the first time in my memory, I had worn all of the clothing I had packed, as the heat, rain and humidity meant changing clothing more than once per day. Everything was going well in my I’m Such A Dandy Minimalist, Look at Me world……….

SATCHMO FESTIVAL FLOOD

A couple of hours into a terribly Southern storm, the drains couldn’t handle the rainwater, the cars couldn’t navigate the floodwater and the planes were a no-go. Naturally, I was wringing wet. I checked back into to my digs with no clean clothes and a guest bought me drink. Prior to my giving up on leaving town, she had offered to iron my clothes dry! Bless her heart and I didn’t know you could do that! I passed, but after I checked in, I used a combo blow dryer/iron technique after hand washing a change of clothes and one for the road 😉 She was right!

So, in the end, the blog post lost and I won. Here’s a nice blog about minimalist packing from Lonely Planet. I couldn’t leave you empty handed.

Living, Dying, and a Story of Interaction

Uncategorized

The scene is a neighborhood in Houston, Texas, about 17 years ago. Two rambunctious boys about three years old are playing outdoors, this is their exchange. “We went to see granddad.” “Uhuh?” “He was dead.” Yeah?” “He was so dead; you couldn’t poke him or nothin’.” “Coool.” The playing resumed.

My maternal grandfather passed away in Utah and was buried along with his second wife, who predeceased him, in the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona. Although there is much to tell of his 85 years of life, including his work as a forestry ranger, his service as Colonel under General Patton in World War II and the pride and joys his three marvelous daughters and their families brought to him; I shall concentrate on what occurred between his death and his burial.

He lived a life as independent as any, but in his last years, Granddad had gone to Utah to be near his youngest daughter and her family. I recall my last visit with him. The kids pounced on his bed as he smiled and cooed back at them, and he told me of a resident who was stealing everyone’s shoes. He was living in a senior care facility and I assumed he was imagining things. I told him so but he insisted it was true. We agreed to disagree but I discovered when passing the woman’s room, rows of neatly arranged men’s and women’s shoes and slippers were indeed inside her doorway. As had happened many times over the years, I learned not to be such a know-it-all and that most older folks do, in fact, know-it-all.

So after a fuller life than most, he left his earthly body. It was arranged that he would rest in the military cemetery where his second wife was waiting for him. His first wife, my mother’s mom, had passed away when they were newly married and my mother was a year or so old. Granddad’s sister, had lost her fiancee in the war and for a few years the two came together to raise my mama. Granddad and my Great Aunt were both young, good looking and bright and each soon found the love of their lives, remarried and grew families.

Back to my story. My uncle was bishop and therefore, obtained permission to transport Granddad over state lines to his final resting place. In the back of a pickup. With one of those tops covering the bed, and in a coffin (of course). Okay, not to say his final resting place was in the pickup, but you get the idea.

The families traveled from many places around the country and converged at a La Quinta motel in Arizona for the service. Like many, including Granddad, we arrived the night before. What follows, is worthy of a Chevy Chase movie. We held impromptu visitation in the La Quinta parking lot. Gathered around the back of the pickup. We did the normal stuff, looked at him, remarked on how at peace he appeared, traded stories and tears. In the parking lot. My children had known him all of their little lives so I thought it fine to let them see him too. Not everyone agreed it was a good idea, but out to the truck they went. They hopped right in back with his open casket and peered at him as I explained that he was dead and at peace and watched for a reaction. They simply hopped out and played in the parking lot.

You might think that now you have heard it all. No.

It was October and traveling home in that truck was sure to be a haul. The weather was sketchy and  it was decided that the truck really needed a brake job before attempting the trip. Scheduling made it impossible to do this after the service. That’s right. My uncle took Granddad for his final brake job. The staff at the repair shop gave them ‘no waiting’ service. We all remarked that “Granddad would’ve loved that.”

Finally, visitation, check, brake job, check; we met on a sunny day for his burial. With many religious traditions in the bunch, we had a Quaker style circle after the military service, and traded stories about our time with Granddad. Seeing him through other’s eyes was interesting, so many facets of one person. Now he rests for eternity atop his beloved. Granddad would’ve loved that.

Originally Published 3/4/14

I’m Your Fan

Uncategorized

My little Leonard Cohen is never very far; he was in the palm of my hand, but now he’s in my car.

It began this morning, with a necklace.

A tiny pendant from New Orleans, a manhole cover, from my darling trip mates.

The chix next door and I took a trip to see Leonard Cohen at the Mahalia Jackson Theater Read review from Times-Picayune . At 78 years old and with decades of polished style, Cohen and his impeccable ensemble wowed us all; transported us to an ethereal world where sensuality and spirituality were never closer. Watching as Cohen prayed in his Tower of Song on bended knee I wondered if I could, at 49, do this a dozen times an hour on stage without faltering or vocalizing each ascent.

The next day I was taking in the morning air outside the Cotton Exchange in typical NOLA fashion, when a band of bicycling boys (adult boys) wearing tutus and tiaras,; cocktails in hand, headed out for a local race. At the time, I thought it might really be something; alas, this is NewOrleans. Next I watched as a cautionary tale was written before my eyes; two police cars pulled up and extracted a man wearing only a black garbage bag, from one of the patrol cars. I wondered, does the hotel double as an overflow jail? Or is it, perhaps, a local clothes-lending center?! I waited in vain for the ‘party’ to exit the building. Early, though it was, I decided to track them down and ask some questions. I found the officers having breakfast in the hotel.

What follows is the cotton exchange exchange.

ME: So, is there a jail somewhere in here? (I had previously noticed that a side exit through a curtain in the dining hall went to a 24 hour bar next door)

NOLA’s FINEST No. 1: Not that I am aware of.

NOLA’s FINEST No. 2: Nomnomnomnom.

ME: A secret passageway to the actual jail?

NOLA’s FINEST No. 1: Nope.

ME: Well?!!!!

NOLA’s FINEST No. 1: We aren’t going to tell you that.

ME: Pleeeeeease?!!

NOLA’s FINEST No. 2: Nomnomnomnom uhem.

ME: You’ve gotta! Did you arrest him?

NOLA’s FINEST No. 1: Nope; took him upstairs to his wife’s room.

ME: No mercy, man. Have a nice breakfast. Thank you.

NOLA’s FINEST No. 1: Yep.

So back to Leonard Cohen. I just read the Holy or the Broken by Alan Light. Can a book about a single extraordinary, much re-interpreted and beloved song make a good book? Yes. It sent me youtube-ing to listen to each version and countless remixes. I was aware of  Buckley’s, but not Cale’s “I’m Your Fan” part in the drama that rescued Hallelujah from obscurity……Shrek, k d lang, Idol, et cetera, ad Nauseam.

My Hallelujah for today, a shiny manhole cover that catapulted me to a wonderful mini-break, with my wonderful chix.

originally published 7/24/2013

Monotasking

Uncategorized

Do what you’re doing while you’re doing it. This is what we tell our meditation students. Regardless of what it is you find yourself doing, like Nike says, Just do itIn other words, be present.

Meditation is one letter away from mediation perhaps not coincidentally. In mediation we bring two sides together and hold them in a place of objectivity where if successful, the two sides can find their common ground and resolve whatever dispute(s) they may have.

Very often people come to meditation because life has become too full; or at least feels like it is bursting them wide open. The rub is that meditation shows us that we first must deal with the accumulated ‘stuff’ before we can get rid of it. You dredge up and experience fully what you have avoided and pressed deep down inside you. We may come to meditation because we feel conflicted or otherwise divided. The life we are living may feel as though it is running counter to our core beliefs.

This is the same thing that we encounter when physically transforming our lives; we have taken on too much ‘stuff’.  We get bogged down. We feel that the things we have are not in line with the life we want. They serve no purpose for us. Liberation comes rather instantly when we eliminate some of what we have brought into our lives; yet first we have to bring it all out into the open and physically go through it. As my co-minimalist pal reminds me ask yourself ; does this object serve a purpose, if even to bring me joy?

I currently do much of my work at a desk in front of a computer, right now, for example. Because I work at a faster pace than the people I work with and even the software my computer uses; I have learned to play with the social media that is available. Alternatively, I take mini-breaks to stretch, do eye exercises or walk in the sunlight.

I think although popular social media allows us to connect with others it does it on certain queen-of-the-mountain terms. I can toot my horn, I can say my piece and that is that. If I like, it can be one-sided. If I choose, I can listen to your views and opinions but I am the monarch in this domain baby. All powerful and full of me!

I edit my contacts lists frequently and I don’t always follow back. I can here you deleting, unfriending, unfollowing me now. Gasp. It is a type of spring cleaning of my virtual closets. I highly recommend this practice and that of scheduling a media fast.

One main cause of stress in our culture is that with all the marvelous ways we are interconnected and instantly aware of so many things in so many places, we also attached a sense of immediacy to things that are truly not urgent or even vital to our lives. Our oldest brain functions kick in and we are in fight or flight  mode so much of the time it feels like fight and fight mode. Physically, this increases blood pressure, cortisol and myriad other physical effects that keep us agitated until they wear us out and shred us emotionally.

PANIC, PANIC ALL AROUND

When my babes were in elementary school, we walked to and from school together each day. While they were in school I ran my yoga & mediation school. Once at my job, I checked email and returned phone inquiries and then for class, our phones were off. In the spaces between classes, I followed same routine of email, phone, et cetera.

One particular day between classes, I listened to frantic messages from the elementary school. This was in 1997 and I was a cell phone hold out. I responded as soon as I retrieved the messages, and mind you, the kids had been in school approximately 2.5 hours so far that day and I worked a mere 4 blocks away from the school. I ascertained that there was no actual crisis except their reaction to having to wait.

My parenting methods were questioned because I had the audacity to not be available each and every moment. I indicated, plagiarizing from the emergency alert system; If this had been an actual emergency…  the police could have come to inform me. I shifted the attention back to the staff (who btw I adored ) and indicated that I entrusted my most precious babes to them 7 hours a day, 5 days a week. That in an actual emergency, they should call 911 because I was unskilled at reattaching limbs, heads whatever, in the event of an actual emergency.  We agreed to disagree.

I knew that due to the super connected times we live in, theirs was a rather common reaction. These reactions, however, maintain the stress levels we experience.

SCHEDULE A MEDIA FAST 

Want to sleep more peacefully? Don’t finish your day with the news. We all know that it is designed to keep us agitated, excited. This is why we stay tuned and why we buy products. Do yourself a favor and end your day with something sweeter, nice music, love-making, practice deep slow breathing or meditation. Better yet, a whole day with no phones, computers. (Yes, you can).

MEDITATION 101

People will say “I’ve tried to meditate but I can’t”.  I understand that they tried a technique and got frustrated. You have a brain, you have senses, emotions, thoughts and an ego. If you are alive and not in a coma, these will come into play. You might see all the input as distractions or impediments to meditation. As a marvelous sage Ram Dass puts it, it’s all  Grist for the mill.

I tell people to think of the way a child tugs at your skirt hem or shirt to get your attention. It is not the child’s ‘fault’ it is the child’s nature to insert themselves into your moments, perhaps to reassure themselves. When you are in good adult mode, you softly turn your attention to the child, even if to explain “not now”. When you are NOT in good adult mode (because you’re trippin’) you may react in anger to their longing.

So in meditation, we attempt, while not always succeeding, to be the good parent. The tugging child is the thought, the siren you hear outside, the pain in your back or whatever is pulling you from the focus of your mediation.

CREATE A SPACE BETWEEN YOUR THOUGHTS AND LEARN TO EXPAND THAT SPACE. 

In meditation we have a base or focal point that we return to each time. That is how we meditate. If we are distracted 700,000 times, we return to base 700,001 times. We may notice what comes in and out and we learn to minimize our reactions and simply return to base.

Base might be our breath Breathing In-Peace Fill Me and Breathing Out-Pure Peace

If we are more visual, base can be an image Wide Open Sky and everything else just Clouds Moving Across we return to Wide Open Sky

WHY MONTASKING

When we are pulled in many directions, we miss our moments. If we are sitting to share a meal with others but distracted by our phone or by thoughts of work and finances, we lose touch. Base is Enjoying the food before us, the smiles of the person next to us and the dog asleep at our feet.

Even in the busiest times of your day, find ways to touch base, frequently. You will feel more at ease and create better health. Perhaps before opening each email Breathing In-Peace Fill Me and Breathing Out-Pure Peace or shuffling kids around in your car all day, before opening the doors Breathing In-Peace Fill Me and Breathing Out-Pure Peace

WHAT YOU NURTURE IS WHAT YOU WILL GROW

Isla Mujeres 2014
Originally posted 8/27/14