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Tag Archives: Montana

UM Hate Crimes Forum

Last night, I attended a forum on the University of Montana campus, as part of an annual event called DiverseU. It was a forum on hate crimes and there were three sets of panelists, totaling 12 speakers all together. Unfortunately, I don’t think they advertised it very well, as there was relatively poor attendance. There were maybe 75-100 of us to start off, scattered out around 400 chairs or so. After the first panel was done, over half of the people left. By the time the third panel started – running well behind schedule and beginning their session at 9:00pm, when the event was set to end – only about a dozen of us were left to give them our sleepy-eyed but undivided attention.

Who knows. Maybe they did advertise it well and people just weren’t drawn to the topic, knowing full well that it would be a hard evening to endure. For me personally, there are some things I am willing and glad to do even when I have something else scheduled that requires cancelling; even when I’m tired; even when I’d prefer to haul up at home; even when I know my heart will ache deeply in unison with the people when I go. This forum was one such occasion.

As a spiritual leader in a Buddhist community, I want the people who come through our doors to feel welcome, safe, cared for, supported, loved, and accepted. And anything I can do to better educate myself and expand my understanding and compassion, the better.

Here are some notes I scribed down last night:

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Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana

I recently completed a solo 10-day road trip loop around the states. Here are the stats:

I left home in Missoula, Montana on Friday October 12th at 5:40am (camped over night in Medina, ND)

I arrived in Stillwater, Minnesota on Saturday October 13th at 12:30pm

I left MN on Tuesday October 16th at 5:00am and arrived in Bull Shoals, Arkansas later that same day at  6:08pm

I left AR on Friday October 19th and arrived back home in Missoula on Sunday October 21st at 12:19pm (camped over night in Paxico, KS and in Kaycee, WY)

Grand total of miles traversed: 3,834.3 miles

________

Arkansas

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Posted by on October 25, 2018 in Travel, writer's life

 

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Fall Retreat

Breathing in, I feel gratitude for the opportunities that I am so richly afforded, and the spiritual community of friends I get to share my practice with.

Breathing out, I feel refreshed and energized.

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This past weekend, I had the great fortune of attending our Montana Open Way Sanghas fall retreat on the Flathead Lake, with visiting Dharma teacher Leslie Rawls. Each of our two annual retreats start on a Thursday evening and end on a Sunday afternoon. I feel so very grateful to have access to these opportunities twice a year, so close to home. Our local retreats are truly a gift.

Thursday, a northern drive which lulled my two travel companions to sleep, revealed a trusted tender sweetness I’d not shared with them before.

Friday, our first full day of the fall retreat revealed cohesion of the part of me that wanted to be somewhere else this weekend, with the part that wanted to be here.

Saturday, the water pitching and heaving under gray skies, revealed how similar the mind is to the lake’s surface and how quickly things can change.

Sunday, a 2-hour car ride with a friend, revealed another lovely layer of understanding and celebration for how other people’s experiences sculpt and enrich my life.

 

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Posted by on October 1, 2018 in Local Retreats, video

 

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Warmth and Flicker

There’s a sigh of relief that only a campfire can foster;

a certain person we become – or rather return to – in the company of its flames;

and a unique opening of the heart that is only possible in its warmth and flicker.

_________

Having gone to bed a little earlier than usual last night, I woke naturally just after 4am this morning. It was 47 degrees outside, as I sat on the back porch, bundled up in a hoodie and blanket, sipping tea, and writing by lantern light. This is what I penned in my journal:

Quietude is more than the slowing down of surrounding sounds. It is an internal settling of our mental chatterings, too. Of course, each is affected by the other, but I reckon it is more realistic – and often more beneficial – to take charge of the latter.

To still the din around us is typically not a matter of choice. We can dampen it. We can ward it off for a bit. We can tuck into the woods and perhaps leave it behind for a while. But the clamor of living, sifting beings will be there to greet us upon our return.

There’s a quietude that can remain, however, amid even the noisiest of places. There are skillsets we can develop and hone, which will enable us to stay accompanied with a calm that is not easily tossed out to sea when a siren wales, or we find ourselves smack dab in the middle of a throng of people.

_________

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Posted by on September 16, 2018 in writer's life

 

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On Comfort Zones, Waiting in Line, and Home Touristing

The Missoula chapter of Tenacious Dames (Montana’s only all female motorcycle club)

So, there’s a good chance that this blog post will only track well from my own vantage point, given the last few days I’ve had. Translation: I’m fixin on covering a few topics that might not string together in a neat and orderly fashion from an outsider’s perspective :)

On Thursday, I decided to try something new and step outside of my comfort zone. I joined the Tenacious Dames (TD) – Missoula’s chapter of Montana’s only all female motorcycle club – for their monthly ride. I just recently found out about them from a woman rider I met at a car show in Phillipsburg, a couple of weeks ago. I looked them up on Facebook and reached out. Jeanette, the Dame of Affairs – seen up close in the pic above – got back to me and warmly invited me to join them for their August ride. So I did!

Normally, I’m a solo rider. And now that I have a bigger highway-worthy bike, I’ve been getting out quite a bit. I’ve had my new bike for about a month now and I’ve put over 1,200 miles on it already. I decided to join the TD partly because it was outside of my comfort zone. I’m someone who intentionally seeks out things to do from time to time which allow me the opportunity to expand my perspective and bubble of familiarity. And it’s also good to mingle and mix with folks I wouldn’t otherwise get the chance to know.

Not only do I usually ride solo but I also have an irrational aversion to joining groups which are designed for women only. So saddling up with the TD was a double whammy, in the stepping outside of my comfort zone department. The TD were super welcoming. And I really enjoyed the pack ride experience and meeting other women that were as much into riding as I am. I’ve done only one other group ride before, just a few weeks ago with my husband and stepdad in Glacier National Park. I’m realizing that pack riding blends something together that I really enjoy but don’t often get the chance to engage in, which is to share space and energy with others amid a certain level of quietude and personal spaciousness. For instance, I love meditating and sharing silent retreats with others. It gives me the best of both worlds: being with others and also being with myself. In short: I like being amid others without the added activity of conversating. So pack rides are great! I’m able to share energy with others on a different, more personal level.

The TD were great, and I’m sure I’ll join them for another ride soon.

Lesson I continue to learn: Stepping outside of my comfort zone is the only way I grow and become more resilient and dynamic.

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Yesterday morning I found myself – for the second time in the past month and a half – waiting in line at the Motor Vehicle Department (MVD) at the courthouse. The first time was to transfer the title into my name for my new/used Subaru. This time it was to do the same action for my new/used motorcycle. Having been to the MVD a little over a month ago, I knew to expect a long wait. I arrived about 40-minutes prior to the office opening at 8am and I was the 11th person in line. The dude behind me came supplied with a folding camp chair. People are getting hip to this waiting line epidemic here in town at the ol’ MVD. All in all, I spent a little over an hour and a half at the MVD.

As someone who is intrigued by observing human behavior – my own and that of others – waiting areas offer unique and ripe opportunities. We can learn a lot about ourselves in moments of waiting, such as: what our patience level is, how kind we are to others when our system is taxed, how we occupy our time and minds, what our quality of heartfulness and connection is to those around us.

There was an array of line conversations I overheard and a menagerie of reactions and responses to the whole waiting game that I witnessed, ranging from light-hearted to angry-ridden. Some knew what to expect and seemed to have a certain level of acceptance (and humor) about the situation, while others were clearly not anticipating the MVD to be such a hot spot at 8 in the morning and were quite affronted.

How well-balanced we stay amid such conditions as waiting in line, speaks directly to how we show up in all sorts of places in our life. If we regard waiting in line to be separate from life, as something we’re not “supposed” to encounter, then we’re setting ourselves up for pockets of misery and discomfort whenever we find ourselves waiting for something, which is to say: a lot of the time. The more I can infuse my mindfulness practice into all the things that I do, the more ease I experience as a result, and the more open and expansive my life becomes – whether it’s when I’m doing something I enjoy or something I’d assume avoid.

Lesson I continue to learn: There is no such thing as an insignificant moment. I am always practicing something.

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Posted by on August 11, 2018 in Everyday Practice, Fun, Travel

 

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Squirrel Meditation

Our campsite on the Flathead Lake

This past weekend (Aug 2-5) we had our sangha summer campout with our meditation community Be Here Now – it was our 6th annual! We’ve been using the same campground each summer: Big Arm State Park on the Flathead Lake in northwestern Montana. For the past 3 years, we’ve been managing to reserve their one and only group site, which wonderfully allows us to be all together in one spot AND right on the water! So great!!

Each campout is a nice social/community building/relaxing hang-time on the lake opportunity for our sangha. It allows us to be joyfuly together, whilst revelling in the lake, each others company, and the practice of having nowhere to go and nothing to do. We spend our time: reading, floating/paddling/swimming, conversing, laughing, playing games, drinking tea/coffee, sharing community meals, napping, and hanging out around the fire at night. Given that we had a smaller group than usual, and Saturday afternoon was a bit blustery, we even took a field trip this year during our campout: cherry picking!

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Journal Entries from Lake Como (Montana style)

I got back yesterday from an overnight excursion to Lake Como – the Montana version, not the one in Italy. Here are some of the (unedited) journal musings I penned while out on the water and camping in the woods.

Friday July 13th

Not yet 8pm. Shadows grow in the forest, as the sun wanes and the sky fades to pale blue, like an after-thought. Cowboy Junkies on the portable speaker prove the perfect accompaniment to my cup of tea and the creek beside me, small but surging mightily, just like me.

A bluebird day on the lake coats my skin and sits tangled in my long hair. And I’m the sort of tired that I remember from my youth, after a day spent sunbathing, running from ocean waves, and flirting with bronze-glazed boys thick with intrigue. A delicious tired, sugared with a communion with something bigger.

There’s a certain aliveness, in this flavor of winding down, following a day that leaves your face awash in the reds of summer. And I reckon I’ll sleep good tonight, rocked in lullaby arms by the song of the water making its way over rocks downstream.

_______

I breathe just a little bit deeper in the woods, befriended by my rooted brethren.

I breathe deeper when gazing at mountain peaks, as a witness to stellar beauty.

And I breathe deeper whenever I look up – at trees or buildings or sky – as it helps me to remind me that I am part of a whole big and wide open world.

_______

9:18pm

I feel asleep with my friend Ashly’s book manuscript on my stomach and just awoke. The forest is darkening to muted greens and flat tones of ash. I smell of insect repellent and sunscreen and solitude, a mixture I take solace in more than words can properly convey. Still finding my way venturing on solo overnights in the woods, an inner stirring of uneasiness arises, when I think of how the babbling creek would drown out the approach of ne’er-do-wells I try not to imagine are thrumming through the night on back roads, looking for a fresh target to mess with. (Added side note: For the record, ne’er-do-well is a word that I like the sound of far more than the dictionary definition of, as it means a worthless person, which I don’t at all subscribe to as being a possibility. I think of this word as referring to a person who is up to no good.)

In my evening cat nap, I think I may have dreamed in color, rich in the dalliances of friendships past and those I hope soon will come. Though, it’s hard to say for sure. Dreams are tricky that way. Sometimes they scoop me up and swallow me whole, rendering me awash in memory’s twilight. Other times, I become a false impression in their wake, stumbling around within myself for hope of grounding in a truth I can bite into and chew.

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My mind kicks up storm clouds, like the haze left behind on a dirt road in the heat of summer. And sometimes, despite my best efforts to redirect my focus, it is undeterred from its obsessions of thought.

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