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Monthly Archives: February 2018

Hello Fear

Hello fear.
How’s it goin’ buddy?
Okay. Here’s the deal.
You can stay in the car – ya know, the car being a metaphor for myself – but I’m not giving you the keys.
You can kick it in the backseat.
You can even act like a 2-year-old and throw a fit, if you’d like.
I’ll even let you ride shotgun once in a while.
But like, you’re totally NOT driving, is what I’m saying.
End of discussion.
So you might as well quit asking.

 

P.S Did I mention this gig I have coming up next week is a REALLY big stretch for me?! :)

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Posted by on February 27, 2018 in Creative Writing

 

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Runneth Over

I was reading the Fourteen Mindfulness trainings on Saturday morning and I guess this guy wanted to see what all the fuss was about :)

 

My cup runneth over with inspiration, information, and heartbreak for the people. I’m rather at a loss of how to reign it all in to fashion this post. Over the past week, I’ve had the opportunity to engage with a wealth of different people and topics that have given rise to a myriad of emotions, thoughts, and ideas.

Today marks the last day of our local 10-day 15th annual Big Sky Documentary Film Festival. During the span of the festival, I saw films highlighting a number of issues, including: domestic violence, the oppression of our LGBTQ community, Native land rights, coal mining and mountain top removal in West Virginia, and the plight of orangutans and loss of forested habitat.

As a representative of our Buddhist sangha and active participant in our local interfaith community, I also attended a couple of events with a retired Evangelical pastor who was brought to town by both our local Christian faith communities and the Sierra Club: Pastor Tri Robinson. Tri Robinson is a conservative, Republican, evangelical, pastor-rancher that is adamant that evangelical Christians should be working to address the climate crisis as part of their Christian calling. I attended the first U.S premier of the film showing of Cowboy and Preacher on Friday night, for which Tri was the focal subject. And last night my husband and I attended his keynote address on the university campus entitled: Creation Care and the Christian Church. Both events were simply fantastic and provided a great deal of nourishment and inspiration to me as a spiritual leader motivated strongly to help support others and care well for our planet.

And then there’s the issue of what’s been happening in the wake of the school shooting that took place in Florida recently. My 18-year-old stepson’s high school was the target of a number of threats this past week. As parents, we were alerted via email and recorded phone messages about each instance and kept well informed. On Thursday, I received an email stating that the school was on lock-down, due to a threat posed to the student body. And while, for better or worse – and probably for both – I didn’t regard the threats as being of a serious nature that would actually give rise to actual harm being inflicted, my heart broke for my stepson and the other students, teachers, and staff who were having to weather and situate themselves amid that atmosphere, however hollow and empty the threats might have been.

Over the past week, too, I met with a few different close friends and sangha members, some of whom were seeking support with a particular matter. I had the chance to experience the vulnerability of a few individuals in trusting me with their stories and struggles, which is a privilege and honor that humbles me deeply.

Yesterday, as part of my Mindful Morning Saturday routine, I watched a Dharma talk given on February 12th by Brother Phap Man, a monk in the Plum Village tradition who resides at Blue Cliff Monastery. His talk – which I watched in two sessions and finished this morning – was entitled: Healing Ourselves, Healing Our World, and focused on matters of racial discrimination, sexism, white privilege, and detrimental cultural biases.

I met with two hospice patients. I spent a day nannying for two young boys. I worked to pull together logistics for our upcoming spring family retreat, for which I serve as co-director, in charge of registration and also putting together and running the kids programming. I met with a good friend who’s offered to be my sound guy in the venue for my upcoming scary new adventure of having a CD release party and solo spoken word performance. And there’s more, too.

So much happens in the span of one week’s time. And some weeks, like this past one, involve a bit more than usual, in the realm of sensory input.

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Posted by on February 25, 2018 in Everyday Practice

 

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Direction for the People

Direction For the People

Sweet people, please listen.
Now is the time to get out of your own way.
To stop holding yourself back, reducing your worth as though you were somehow not enough.

Now is the time to stake claim to the powers invested and bestowed to you – the powers you’ve intentionally unacquainted yourself with: ease and joy and all-encompassing kindness.

There is no merit in hiding in the tiny box of self.

Emerge just as you are,
without footnotes indicating where the exceptions, carefully constructed excuses, and exclusions lie.
Now is the time to un-glue yourself from your own pockets of thought, where self is all that matters.
Now is the time to bust open wide your heart and your mind to include all beings both near and far away.

Continue to care well for yourself – YES! –
but do not stop there.

Tend to the matters of your dwelling place only so much that it propels you to help and assist and spread love to others.
Now is the time when individualism must give way to inclusiveness.
We are being called to action.
We do not – and cannot – exist by ourselves alone.

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2018 in Creative Writing

 

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Portrait of a Writer

Portrait of a Writer, A Discourse in Six Parts

One. Eyes open amid some dark and early hour, hanging in the fragile space between stars and first light. As though they’d been collecting for days, waiting to be tended to, words have gathered and piled up whilst in slumber – begging to be written – crowding one another to express themselves first through the pen.

Two. Tea awaits in the folds of white coated cupboards perched in survey over the sprawl of earthen slate tiles, cool to the soft padding of touch on bare feet.

Three. Unobtrusive bits of light are invited. A candle is lit, rocking its translucent flame from side to wavering side with the rhythm and sway of the ocean’s tides and wind licking through the towering swells of rock and roots and bones.

Four. In balanced harmony, fresh sheets of paper tremble in anticipation of fulfilling their intended destiny beside the only one worthy of being betrothed to inhabit its purity of empty space: the Pilot P-500 in blue ink, extra fine.

Five. Held captive by the spectacle of it all, a reflection of grace and ease mirrors back a fragrant reminder of how very precious this embodiment of the coming together of elements is. Careful not to disturb the din of quietude, the conditions are rich and delicious for savoring.

Six. Sometimes words string together like decorative garland, adorning the air that gave rise to their maturation. Sometimes words tumble and spill out like crude oil, unexpected and defiling. And sometimes words need to sit and settle before the time is ripe for them to reveal their buried truth.

 

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2018 in Creative Writing

 

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Choosing to Shine

A few years ago, I started on a journey to practice shining more. Shining my talents, abilities, and forms of creative expression. For me, shining means stepping into something and not letting fear run the show. I came to see how often I shirked back from shining – out of fear. Fear of ego and fear of out-shining others.

In a little under 3-weeks, the culmination of my journey thus far will manifest in a solo spoken word performance and CD release party here in town. To say that I am nervous would be a remarkable understatement. But, as I’ve been sharing with folks lately, I’m proud of myself because despite having feelings of doubt and fear and uncertainty, I’m still doing it. I’m still moving forward, one scary moment at a time. My tracks are recorded and mastered; my CD’s are ordered; the gig is set; my booklet of lyrics is at the print shop. It’s happening!

If you’re interested in checking out my event page for this upcoming gig: https://spark.adobe.com/page/hC5Y8cQ32xv1e/

Something I’ve realized over the years is that fear isn’t rational, which is a big part of what makes it challenging to work with. If fear were a rational process, it would be fairly easy to talk our way out of it. But we all know that engaging in an intellectual dialog when it comes to a certain fear we have is futile. For example, let’s say we’re afraid of flying. Would it reduce your fear, even an iota, if someone were to give you the facts and statistics about how flying is safer than driving? No, probably not. Fear cannot be addressed in the head, it has to be addressed in the heart of our experience. In order to work with fear, we have to get out of our head and into our heart.

So that’s what I’ve been working on. Since fear lives in the head, I’ve been breathing in and practicing to exhale and delve deeper into the fragrant and calming waters of the heart. I’ve been practicing to use gentle and loving speech with myself: I see you fear. You are present and part of my experience AND I’m choosing not to let you run the show. You can hang out and all – but I’m choosing to shine.

I love that the following poem is so well-known. I’ve encountered it in a variety of places over the years – my most favorite spot being the middle school my stepson went to a few years ago, where an excerpt hung in large lettering on a banner in the hallway.

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Posted by on February 18, 2018 in Everyday Practice

 

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Random Acts of Kindness Week!

From the RAK website:

TO CELEBRATE RAK WEEK 2018, we invite you to tell us about that one person who inspires you to be a better human being!

Was it a teacher who saw something in you when no one else did?

Is it a neighbor who mowed your lawn when you were sick?

What about a family member who always encouraged you to do your best?

Maybe it was your friend who comforted you during a difficult time in your life?

We all have someone who has gone above and beyond to show us kindness; someone who shifts our perspective, helps us through painful moments or inspires us to be kinder in our daily lives.

Snap a photo of that ‘one’ person and share their story with us (and the world).

Click here to share your person: https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/rak-week

_______

Inspired by this RAK prompt, I thought I’d mention a few acts of kindness that I experienced recently, which are fresh in my mind and on my heart:

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Posted by on February 14, 2018 in Everyday Practice

 

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Deer Park Wrap Up

Tonight at my local sangha, Be Here Now, Mike and I, and a few of our sangha friends who recently spent time on retreat at Deer Park, will be offering a Deer Park (DP) retreat sharing panel as part of our format. There will be 5 of us on the panel and we’ll each share for 5 minutes or so about whatever is alive in our heart and our practice in regards to our time at DP. I plan on starting with a short intro and background about DP and then after the panel we’ll open up for Q & A. If there’s time, I also plan on showing a 10-minute DP video montage I put together from footage I took in January during our 3-week stay. And if there’s not time, then it’ll be an addendum after we close the group, for those wanting to stick around to watch it. I’m looking forward to this evening and hearing from my other friends about their retreat stay!

Here’s what I plan on saying for my sharing:

The importance of sangha practice is not new to me but I did delve deeper into this insight when I was at DP this last time. Being in close contact and interaction with my sangha – whether it’s my local home sangha, larger statewide Montana sangha, or the community at DP – is not an additional component of my mindfulness practice, like adding parmesan cheese to the top of a bowl of pasta. Sangha practice is equivalent to the tomatoes needed to make the sauce. It’s a necessary and critical ingredient.

Despite how strong and diligent my practice is with peppering in a variety of mindfulness tools and exercises throughout the day, if I were to stop attending sangha and stop attending retreats, my practice would eventually fall off and take a nose dive. Sangha practice is not just something nice to sprinkle in to my life when I have time or when I’m really craving connection, sangha practice is the center of the wooden wheel, which all the spokes splay out from.

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