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Mindful Morning Saturday

I awoke just before 4:30am and turned on my Mighty Bright book light made in China, patents pending, and slid out from under a mismatched set of sheets, one fashioned from organic cotton made in India and the other I got from the Goodwill, who’s tag I was unable to locate while groping around in the dark trying not to disturb my sleeping husband.

After reciting my daily morning verse: Waking up, my smile greets a brand new day, I padded into the bathroom where I proceeded to use recycled toilet paper, glide on some Tom’s of Maine unscented deodorant, made in the USA, wash my face with 85% organic ingredient soap “made with care in Missoula, Montana,” and run a brush through my hair that I bought in Paris upon realizing that I had managed to hop across the pond without a detangling stick. A brush, I might add, that must’ve been made outside of China, due to its lack of stamped mention of a country of origin.

I then found myself in the kitchen turning on the electric tea kettle, made in China and sporting the words “Do not immerse in water” in five different languages engraved on the bottom, and readying my morning gunpowder green tea, which I order online and has Chinese writing emblazoned on the packaging. And I sip said tea slowly from my most favorite hand-crafted clay mug made by my friend Drew (see pic above), as I ease into the day.

And the day will proceed onward in this fashion – I will use and encounter an endless array of items and products, from both near and far flung places. My day-to-day activities will be due to an endless sea of people having created, fashioned, and made possible my way of living.

What most struck me this morning, as I was fine tuning my attention to my routine, was how much the presence of water factors into my day – and how often I take it for granted. In operation of the toilet, washing my face and hands, preparing tea, boiling eggs for breakfast, filling the cats water bowl, washing dishes, drinking, showering… Being able to turn a handle and have clean water dispensed is a miracle of convenience I don’t think enough about.

So, today, among other things, I celebrate water :)

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2017 in Everyday Practice

 

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Discomfort Practice

The more we attempt to regulate our environment to suit our preferences, the less resilient we become in managing fluctuations when they occur. This week: practice weathering (and perhaps eventually embracing) small discomforts by doing such things as:

  • not putting on the AC in your car when running a short errand around town
  • eating a meal without being on your phone/laptop/TV
  • foregoing your favorite morning beverage for one day
  • doing something you’ve been putting off because you don’t feel like doing it
  • eating something that you tend to generally avoid
  • listening to a song you would otherwise thumbs down on Pandora
  • doing something nice for a co-worker who you don’t particularly like
  • voluntarily standing in the longest check-out line at the market
  • walking much slower than your normal pace when going a short distance from one place to another
  • not falling asleep with the TV on for one weekend
  • intentionally leaving the house without your phone for a whole day (or 1/2 a day – or even 1 hour!)
  • not using your phone to kill small increments of time (when stopped at a red light, waiting in line, in-between errands or bites of food…)

We’re becoming a culture unable to forge strong, intelligent relationships with our own selves – so quick are we to run, distract, intoxicate, ignore, and fight against even the slightest of uncomfortable situations. If we are incapable of managing the small stuff, how will we be able to sort through the big stuff, like dealing with grief and loss, handling stress, or going through emotional/physical/political/societal upheaval?

Valuable practice: Start small so you can work big.

 

 
 

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On Marriage

Photo Credit: Bill McDavid

 

On Saturday, my husband and I attended the wedding of one of his oldest friends from high school. I wrote this for them:

When I was a little girl, I thought marriage was all pleasantries and rainbows – the sort of which I would reenact with my Barbie and Ken dolls, in their fancy attire and meticulously well-groomed hair, not a stitch affray.

When I was a teenager, I thought marriage was both what you were supposed to do and what drove those, who would otherwise be considered delightful people, a little crazy.

On the cusp of adulthood, just as I was about to open the door to my 20’s, I met the long-fabled, mystically-entrenched, and dangerously-romanticized creature, commonly known as “the one.”

Armed with culturally passed down crappy-ass misinformation about what married life was slated to be and look like and what I, as wife, should do and not do, it’s sort of miraculous we weathered those early seas as well as we did – what with my unpleasant, controlling, passive-aggressive energies steering the ship and all.

But when “the one” and I got married, we made a loving and binding contract. We vowed to grow up together. And that’s what we’ve been doing ever since.

I’ve learned that marriage isn’t something you “do,” it’s about entering into a perpetual state of becoming – becoming someone who’s committed to cultivating their own inner landscape, guided by what’s in the best interest for their most cherished and beloved one. It’s about learning how to be together…and stay together, even when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard.

Marriage has been, at times, the most painfully challenging endeavor I’ve ever encountered, and will always be the single greatest decision I’ve ever had the great fortune of making.

And even now, all these years later, whenever I stand alone and bear witness to the great and awesome spectacle of a sunrise (which is not uncommon given that I’m a morning person and my “one” most assuredly is not), he’s who my heart calls for to share it with, every…single…time. And this is my fervent wish for you both: that your hearts continue calling for each other, whether you’re near or far apart, happy or sad, sleeping or awake, for the rest of your days.

 

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2017 in Creative Writing

 

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Inspiration

A few self-created images I thought I’d share :) Read the rest of this entry »

 
 

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Time

Last week I turned 38 years old. On the eve of my birthday, a sangha friend passed away. Alison Matthews, age 63.

63 is an age generally considered to be on the younger side of someone passing away. 63 is not old age. I am continually reminded about the preciousness of life, especially in the wake of others who have passed on. Earlier today, I was visiting with a hospice patient. During our weekly visits, I’ve taken to bringing a newspaper with me and reading aloud the news. As I was reading the Today In History section I came across this: In 1937, American composer and pianist George Gershwin died at a Los Angeles hospital of a brain tumor; he was 38.

One never knows when our time will expire. So often, we live as though we have a limitless supply of time. In reading world news and local obituaries, however, I routinely come across people who’ve died at all ages and stages in their life. For me, this serves as an important reminder: there’s no guarantee that we will see old age. And that applies to myself, as well as my beloved family and friends.

Being in touch with death and dying keeps me in close contact with my gratitude for life. Volunteering with hospice affords me the opportunity to train in the art of living life well, with however much time I have. And I am deeply touched and nourished by all of the patients I have the honor and privilege to meet with, who serve as my teachers in this regard.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2017 in Everyday Practice

 

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Fireworks

I think part of why I love to watch fireworks is that they can express how I feel about life in a way in which I am unable. The overall sentiment being:

What a miraculous vibrant spectacle this one precious life is!

 

 

 
 

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Childhood Cornerstones

Today, in my early morning writing session, I stumbled upon two particularly crucial elements of my childhood, which serve as vital cornerstones of my spiritual life now, as an adult.

The first of which is my having been raised in the rooms of recovery, as the only child of a single mother who committed to getting clean and sober when I was 3-years-old. Growing up going to AA and NA meetings alongside my mom, hearing hundreds of personal, hard, heart-wrenching, and inspiring stories trained me in developing a deepened sense of empathy, compassion, understanding, connection, openness, and authenticity. It also taught me how to be a good listener and afforded me a different perspective and a more genuine way of seeing the world.

The second one has to do with what may sound like an unlikely and strange catalyst for creating a positive foundation for a spiritual life: acne. Here’s what I wrote this morning in my journal:

I have a weathered face from so many tortured years plagued with acne – a scourge which still continues, albeit with less vigor and frequency – and I think, though it somewhat pains me to say (given how much torment it put me through), that it made me a better person. Sure, my ego could get embroiled by my long hair, but it was always cooled right down when I looked in the    mirror – it’s difficult to feel vain and over-inflated when the face you greet the world with is riddled with red swollen peaks and distressed pits and valleys, ravaging you in despair. But now, looking back, I think it may have been a good thing that my formative years were spent under such facial duress, as it put me in touch with something…more, something…greater.

Accruing acne so early in life (around age 11), and maintaining it steadily through early-adulthood, trained me in the art of developing humility. And it gave me countless lessons in looking beneath the surface, in relation to both myself and others, to find what cannot be ascertained by one’s deceptive outward appearance. It also taught me about impermanence. And the importance of cultivating a rich, full, and joyful inner landscape.

Thinking about these two elements in this specific context just arose for me this morning, so I look forward to further processing this new insight.

Thank you for reading, as it inspires me to continue on the path of writing – which is the best internal processing agent I know of.

 

 
 

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