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Sunday Morning Reflections

Self-created meme with a verse I wrote this morning

Sunday morning reflections, penned this morning:

So much unfolds on its own accord, without cause for input or advice. We could pitch a fit and throw it in the direction of so many a thing, but it would be akin to trying to flood the world with a garden hose. Absurd.

How much time is wasted on matters we have no sway over? How much hardship is generated by shirking responsibility over that which is entirely in our own hands and of our own making? On both counts, the answer is: a lot.

The combined daily total of world births and deaths a lot; the amount of times I’ve apologized in my 39 years a lot; the number of stars in the sky a lot.

Remember, a bird has cause to sing and a flower to unfurl each on their own time. If we were to attempt to take over the sun’s job as conductor, the world would be flung to the wolves for rapid devouring.
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My morning writings bear the brush strokes of my current influences. And since right now I am reading Mary Oliver, the grace of birds and flowers are finding their way onto the page.

And this simple exchange gives me ripe pause.

We often think of children as sponges and adults as stubborn, who become more set in their ways as they age. Yet, are we not just as susceptible to input?

Yes.

The answer emphatically is yes.

______

 

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Winter Saunter

Thankfully, I’m not easily intimidated by winter weather driving – I mean really, I have a Subaru for goodness sake, this is, in part, what they’re made for. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are times when it would be ill-advised to venture out, but I did not deem today to be one of those days.

Instead, I labeled today’s blustery conditions and smoke-machine-esque ice-marbled roads as a prime time to uphold my self-proclaimed status as a gal who enjoys pushing against the commonly held feminine norms, such as exists around: traveling solo, driving in inclement weather on sketchy roads, and eating out in public with only the company of a good book and writing supplies.

After an hour spent at the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas in Arlee, I landed at the Dixon Mercantile, a place so delightfully quaint that I instantly felt right at home.

There’s something extremely satisfying and life-affirming in skirting collective modes of operation, such as heading north on a solo saunter on Sunday February 3rd in near white-out conditions, and living to tell the tale.

P.S If you live in the area or are ever in the area of western Montana, the Dixon Mercantile (in Dixon, MT) is only 40 miles from Missoula and they are almost solely only open on Sundays from 9-2 for brunch. The owner Laura is super great, the food was really good, and they make homemade fresh bread and pastries. Need I say more?

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Yesterday, I spent 5 uninterrupted hours writing, pretty well glued in the same spot the whole time with only the occasional tea making and bio break to incite bodily movement away from my keyboard. It was glorious.

Today, I road on up north, as any asphalt adventurer knows, it’s unwise to disobey the call of the open road when it summons thee. I followed tire tracks instead of painted lines and in an area thick with mountains, I managed to see none all the way to Arlee and then Dixon.

To be fair, I did consider not heading out on my drive-about prior to leaving the house, once I was confronted with the state of weather happening outside. But it was only about 2% of me that sat in question; the other 98% urged me eagerly onward ho.

Besides, I DID go to all the trouble of running a brush through my hair like two times before putting a winter hat on AND putting on cold-hardy clothes over the top of my pajamas. I was also well equipped with the essentials of winter travel: a fresh Contigo full of tea, my camera, writing supplies, a Subaru, and a good attitude.

And, I figured, one never grows familiar and accustomed to a thing, if said thing is never done.

Sometimes, what’s called for is to foster connection with members of my beloved tribe of humans, as I did last weekend. And sometimes, what’s called for is to bolster the relationship I have with myself, as I’ve been doing this weekend.

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Groundwork

This morning, I woke up earlier than usual (3:30am). I did some writing, followed by some dancing and exercise involving hand weights, followed by 30-minutes of sitting meditation, which I conclude with a daily gratitude practice that I do. How wonderful it was that I had ample time for all three before heading out to work! And it occurred to me:

Writing affords me the ability to prepare well my mindscape for the day. Dance/movement/exercise affords me the ability to prepare well my body for the day. And meditation affords me the ability to prepare well my heart for the day.

Input = output. For me to continue to show up in the best way possible for: myself, others, the world, and each moment as it unfolds, I must continue to guard well my senses and the input that I allow and bring in. I must be aware of how I lay the foundation for my day each morning when I rise.

 

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2019 in Everyday Practice

 

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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

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Arkansas

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

 

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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.

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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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Beep-beep, Beep-beep

Operating on daily habit and my fond affection for my morning routine, I woke at 5:02am, just as my alarm intended.

As soon as my eyes popped open, however, I remembered that our all-day venture to the east coast will situate us at our final destination around 11:00pm, with still an hour plus drive to go before a bed will be a sight for sore bones.

With two layovers, a time change, and the fact that we’re in the seldom held position of needing to check our bags, I figure we have about a 14-hour day in which to spend in airports and airplanes and it will likely be close to 1am before we see the start of a proper rest.

So, I attempted to go back to sleep, re-setting my alarm for 6:02. I tried twice, even. And each time, my alarm saw fit to not properly receive the message. Beep-beep, Beep-beep, Beep-beep, my little bedside watch chirped.

It was as if, from a great sense of duty, it were saying: Nicole, get up, get up. Don’t worry buddy, I won’t let you fall back asleep. You can count on me!

And I was all like: Thanks friend, but, like, actually, I would dig another hour’s worth of sleep. Is that cool?

But, like what happens with myself more often that I probably realize, my alarm was unable to listen, stuck-tied to its own agenda.

 
 

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Restoring Balance

 

I wear a green shirt and brown pants every day that calls for me to leave the house and mingle with the weather and/or the people, which is to say, most days. My lounge-about/sleepwear, however, is slightly more varied, with purples and whites and grays. I have hoodies in brown and green but in the early mornings when I rise, perhaps in solidarity with the color of sky when I wake, it’s the black hoodie that makes the most sense to me to wear.

Yesterday morning, I grabbed a green hoodie because it was there and easy. I put it on, zipped it up, and set to making my tea and boiling my eggs, as though I hadn’t just monkeyed with the normal order of things.

I sat down at the table, next to a bobbing candle flame atop a beeswax base, and read the first few crisp pages of a new book I acquired the evening prior. But something wasn’t quite right. Like entering your house to discover a light left on that you knew you turned off, something was amiss. I knew straight away what it was: the green hoodie.

I got up and replaced it with the black one. Balance was restored.

Now, some might deem this an attachment I would do well to work on or an OCD moment I should tend to with greater skill. And if it weren’t for the fact that I was operating with self-connection in a spirit of befriending, verses that of compulsion and anxiety, I would readily agree. But I used my intelligence and made a conscious choice, and that makes a world of difference.

Thay (Thich Nhat Hanh) is often instructing us to use our own intelligence when it comes to the use of the teachings and practice tools. This means that we would do well not to think that any one course of action can be applicable in all situations. This means that we must come to understand that to actualize the full breadth and spirit of the practice, we must be able to tune into our present moment experience and ascertain what’s called for, from our own perspective and knowledge, with clarity and ease. As our local dharma teacher Rowan says, and I just love: The classic Zen answer to any question is “it depends!” And it really does. The practice is not static or fixed in place. It’s alive, like the relationships we have with our dearest beloved.

My morning routine of communion with the greaterness that occupies space and time and joins us all miraculously together, is not something I find wise to mess around with. And if a black hoodie helps me in this process, then…shoot, I’m good with that.

 
 

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