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Saying Goodbye

Our one of two cat food bowls sitting empty this morning took on a whole new and sorrow-filled meaning. We put our cat Juba down yesterday.

14-years ago, almost directly after filling out the paperwork to buy the house we still reside in, we went to the Humane Society to fetch ourselves a cat in which to accompany our fresh purchase. Over-run with a new litter of orange kittens – to the point of being out of cages to put them in – they offered us a two-for-one deal. After some minor hesitation, we accepted their offer and left with two brother kittens, one in each hand.

Over the years, we’ve often pondered how terrible it would’ve been had we gotten only one, as we had intended (though we wouldn’t have known it). Our 2 brother cats have been great company and friends to each other. A couple of years ago, I finally got around to something I’d wanted to do for a long while. I sent the Humane Society a card, thanking them for their generosity in giving us a buy-one-get-one-free kitten and providing such a wonderful service to our community.

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Posted by on May 30, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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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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Today

The four aspects of the Plum Village Tradition (Thich Nhat Hanh’s practice) are: study, practice, work, and play.

Today:

Let us study our relationships with one another.

Let us practice to enfold the quality of mindfulness into as many of our daily activities as we can.

Let us work to be fully present in the here and now.

And let us play in the fluid motion of joy, as we train in the art of not taking ourselves so seriously.

Having a sense of humor, being able to delight in simple pleasures, and not taking oneself so seriously is of great benefit. Here’s a 1-minute video I took yesterday – may it help you to train in the fluid art of cultivating joy.

P.S. In case you’re wondering, the little toy in this video is solar powered. Prior to yesterday, I had no idea it could dance with such vigor!

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2017 in Everyday Practice, Fun, video

 

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The Good Ole Days Are Here & Now

The good ole days are happening right now and the answer to every question is: It depends.

I feel as though the above declaration could serve as an incredibly rich and powerful guiding statement to life. It pretty much sums things up. Life. The pursuit of whatever it is we’re looking for.

If we can crack open our hearts and know with every tendril of our understanding that this moment is it – if we can expand our consciousness to the point of embracing the truth of there being no one right way to do anything or be in the world – then we’ll find ourselves in the midst of living a full blown good life, the best life.

The best time of our lives doesn’t have to have happened already – it doesn’t have to get regulated to sometime down the road in the future. The best time of our lives really can be right now, today. With our thoughts we make the world, as the Buddha said.

If you think your life sucks, then it does. If you think your life is good, then it is. If you think you have great abundance beyond measure – that every day is a gift bestowed upon you – then the freedom to enjoy each moment is boundless.

And, it doesn’t hurt if every once in a while you find yourself wearing matching chicken hats with your cat, too. Just sayin’.

 

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2017 in Everyday Practice, Fun

 

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Cat on the lap

 

In only the way a cat can, I was commandeered – in the best way possible – unable to break free. And, as we were sitting outside, I was afforded the luxury of time to look up and ponder the merits and inspirational value of the two towering elm tree friends posting guard in our backyard.

So, it was just this morning that I was able to determine, without wavering, that while they are cause for dismay and require great efforts of manual labor at times, their beauty, wisdom, and fortitude offer far more benefit.

I realized, too, that the one directly overhead of me had a sense of humor, as it was pelting me occasionally with small bits of twigs and leaves as I was writing.

P.S I thought it worth mentioning that I have mild-moderate levels of hesitation in fashioning and posting this photo array from pics I took this morning, as there is a part of me that wants to stay in close personal accord with not becoming one of “those” kinds of cat people. But after careful consideration, I decided it was worth the risk.

 
 

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Time Well Spent

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Today, in the folds of early morning darkness, the quiet of my sitting meditation session was interrupted by the familiar and awful, guttural groaning of my cat preparing to toss his cookies.

I didn’t need to open my eyes to know which of my two cats it was. We have one who’s earned the honorific title of Head-Wound-Harry, and then we have Sir-Throws-Up-A-Lot.

In a small victory, I managed to spring up in time to shoo him off the couch. Unlike dogs, who throw up in conveniently concentrated piles, cats have the need to create long, unscripted trails, which inevitably require the cleaning of both hard and soft surfaces.

It would’ve been easy to have labeled this experience solely as un-welcomed, un-favorable, and gross. But, I thought, isn’t this life, too? Isn’t it the unanticipated, messy occurrences that happen which help constitute life itself?

If it isn’t in this very moment that I’m being called to apply my mindfulness practice,                          what moment am I waiting for?!

After settling back into my meditation, upon completion of haz-mat clean-up detail, I spent the remaining majority of my time, as the impassioned writer that I am, crafting how to encapsulate what had just happened into words I would scribe down when my sitting meditation timer went off. It was time well spent, if you ask me.

 

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Present Moment

presentcats

My cats :)

I wanted to share a poem I came across today in an old journal of mine:

Your Reading this, Be Ready

Starting here, what do you want to remember?

How sunlight creeps along a shining floor?

What scent of old wood hovers, what softened

 sound from outside fills the air?

 

Will you ever bring a better gift for the world

than the breathing respect that you carry

wherever you go right now? Are you waiting

for time to show you some better thoughts?

 

When you turn around, starting here, lift this

new glimpse that you found; carry into evening

all that you want from this day. This interval you spent

reading or hearing this, keep it for life—

What can anyone give you greater than now,

starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?

–William Stafford

 

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2014 in Creative Writing

 

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