Love Note to Myself: #aprillove2015 and The Kitchen: #aprilmoon15

April Love prompt, “love note to self.”

Dear One,
You are like the blossoms on a cherry tree — your natural expression of yourself such a wonder, such a welcome surprise. You don’t need to do anything but be as you are and you bring such joy, such beauty to the world.
Love you.
Love,
Me

clementinesApril Moon prompt, “The moment I enter the kitchen I feel”: happy, safe, nourished. It’s surprisingly the place the dogs are the most relaxed, content. They’ll sprawl out and snooze right in the middle, as we carefully step around them. Eric spends a lot of time there — cooking, reading, listening to the radio — and leaves me love notes on the counter when he knows I’ll get home before he does. It’s more his space, but it feeds me too. I wrote something about it a year or two ago and have never found a place for it, but it’s still true and this prompt reminded me of it so I’m going to share it with you here. I think it was in response to a prompt from Laurie Wagner’s Telling True Stories class. (Another session of that starts up May 4th. You should check it out.)

The Boy

Most of the time I can find you standing in the kitchen, or on the couch with one or two dogs, or in a lawn chair on the patio; almost always reading. The kitchen isn’t really that great of a space. We call it the Hallway. The technical term for the style is galley kitchen. Two people and two dogs make it seem even smaller. If you open the oven or fridge, there isn’t enough room remaining for anyone to walk past. We say “excuse me,” “look out,” and “move” a lot in that space.

We had the whole kitchen redone about a year after we bought the house. Not because we were unhappy with it, in fact we loved the early 60s style cabinets and retro look. But, a longstanding dishwasher leak improperly fixed by the previous owners had completely rotted the subfloor and we had to gut it and start over. However, we hadn’t planned for it and didn’t have a lot of money to spend, so though updated, it’s still a regular, pretty small and just okay kitchen. And some things, like the long block of fluorescent lights that you don’t want to update because you like the quality of the light, were left as is.

There are a few reasons you spend so much time in the kitchen. One is you do most of the cooking. I like to bake, but you’re the one who makes dinner every night, (that’s where you are and what you’re doing as I write this). I cooked for the first five years we were together, except for the bird at Thanksgiving, which you did because I couldn’t stand to, as it still looked way too much like the original animal. But then when I was in graduate school, I got too busy—teaching, taking classes, writing my thesis, so you took over. By the time I could have taken the chore back, we’d realized that you actually liked cooking. This is how many of the chores in our home have been assigned: you either don’t mind it or you even like it and the other might even hate it, so you do it.

You watch shows like Iron Chef: Japan, and America’s Test Kitchen, have a subscription to Cooks Illustrated, check books out from the library about the history of various foods and spices or DVDs about home canning or bread making, and request cooking gear (pans, knives, quick read thermometers) as presents. Sure you grill like the stereotypical man, but you also make an amazing peach tart.

Another reason you like it in the kitchen is if the oven got used, you like to open the door and lean on it, soaking up the residual heat, (we’ve had to reattached the handle on the oven door twice because you lean on it so much). Your radio is also in the kitchen, tuned to satellite stations playing radio shows from the 30s and 40s or NPR’s Splendid Table or Moth Radio. You often listen to the radio while simultaneously reading a book or magazine. You read a lot, making good use of the library and Al’s News in Old Town. You like mostly nonfiction—local or world history, stories about people climbing Mount Everest or crossing the Antarctic or hiking the Appalachian Trail, philosophy books, or how-to books about building fences. Currently, you are reading “Life in Medieval Times,” Outside magazine, and a book on how to build greenhouses.

Inspiring Person: #aprillove2015 and Collections: #aprilmoon15

spApril Love prompt, “an inspiring person.” Susan Piver. She’s a tenderhearted, brilliant, wise writer, teacher, practitioner, friend, human being. I adore her. I want to grow up to be just like her, specifically in the way she’s been able to merge her practice and her work. We are both introverts, 4s on the Enneagram, Buddhists, practitioners in the same lineage, women, writers, teachers, so I feel like the ground is there, that it’s possible I could one day offer something as meaningful, as helpful as she has. In the meantime, as I work towards it, I look to her for inspiration. I get to do a virtual retreat with her today, and I’m so excited to see her, to listen to her wisdom, to practice with her.

April Moon prompt, “I wouldn’t call it a collection as such, but I do seem to have a lot of…” Oh, I’m a collector, a curator of things, so this isn’t just one item but a list of them.

I collect books and journals (which at first are blank, but eventually full of my mad scribbles), precious containers for words written and empty spaces for those to be written.

journalshelvesbookspinepoembookshelfI collect seashells, rocks, and feathers. I try to tell myself that I don’t need to pick them up and take them home with me, and yet before I know it, they are in my pocket and then on the tiny altars I build everywhere.

workcomputercollectioncollectionwritingbodhisattvaI collect Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and malas, all of them reminders of who I really am, instruments of practice and inspiration.

officeshrine shrinenewyears shrineofficebeginI collect pictures with birds. I hadn’t realized this until one day I just saw it, that so many of my pictures had a birds in them.

The Heart of Things by Christina Rosalie

The Heart of Things by Christina Rosalie

buddhabirdI collect love notes from Eric, keep every note left on the kitchen counter, every letter and card. I always make him say “love you” when we part, so that no matter what ever happens, the last words we said to each other were that.

lovenotesI collect divination tools, books and decks of cards.

wildunknownfirstcardI collect quilts. My aunt is a quilter, so that might be part of it, but that’s not all. Maybe it’s something in our DNA that is drawn to the color, the pattern, the comfort.

japaneselanterngardenquiltshrinequilt

ringobluefeelingbetterI collect keepsakes from my dogs — baby teeth, collars, toys, adoption documents, ashes, and pawprints.

ringosbabyteethdexterspawprintlittled

Gratitude Friday

ladymoonmeadoweric03

Sam and Ringo hiking with Dad

1. Our internet at home is fixed, and the technician who came was nice and knew what he was doing and not the same one who jumped our fence the other day while we were at work, cut our line, and left a big mess (all while Sam was thankfully asleep inside and unaware, otherwise the situation could have been so much worse). I didn’t mind not being able to use my computer for stuff because I could use my phone or do things at work, but it meant we didn’t have TV, (since our version of “TV” is a computer hooked up to our TV so we can watch Netflix and Hulu and such). I’m not dependent, but it is a key way I unwind for a few hours after a long day of work and I missed it. Although, I did get to watch Lady Sings the Blues last night, one of my favorite movies.

2. Eric hiking with the dogs. Because he had to rearrange his schedule to be home for the cable guy, it left him free this afternoon and even though I’m a little jealous because I have a shit ton of CSU work I need to finish today and will be at it the rest of the day, I’m glad they get to go have some fun.

3. Going home for lunch. It’s only about a three minute drive, and if there is something there I really want to eat, it’s the best spot in town for a casual lunch, a little break from work.

4. Signs of Spring and 5. Taking a break: Walking back from returning something at the library, I stopped and went mad taking pictures of the cherry trees in bloom. I can’t pick just one to share, so here are a few of my favorites.

Bonus Joy: Laughing, walking with the dogs, making myself the best mixtape on SoundCloud, glazed lemon zucchini bread, hummus and sweet potato tortilla chips, a big glass of cold water, a retreat with the Open Heart Project Sangha, the Daily Dharma Gathering, the best BLT I’ve had in a long time, puppies both old and young, skipping yoga all week after teaching a lot, sunny weather, teasing our neighbor about the zombie proof raised beds he was building, letting my fear be rather than wishing it away or getting sucked into its story, selecting and sending birthday presents to my mom and dad, working and being done with work.

Superpower: #aprillove2015 and First Thought, Last Thought: #aprilmoon15

generosityApril Love prompt, “my superpower”: Generosity. Attention, love, help, gifts. What I give always seems to find its way back to me, in tiny offerings and grand gestures — from a love note left on the kitchen counter to an entire jar full of every reason he loves me, from a half dozen fresh eggs to sitting with me as I cry about the news that my dog has cancer, from feeding me lunch to making me a beautiful mala, from leaving a blog comment or liking a Facebook post to making me a tiny precious book or writing me a letter.

April Moon prompt, “It’s the first thing that comes to mind when I wake in the morning and the last thing I think of before I go to sleep.” It’s sad that my response to this is in direct opposition to my superpower. I am a giver, but my first thought in the morning and my last thought at night are of lack — there’s not enough time, I’m not getting enough done, I need to do more, but I’m so tired, what about me? I’m stuck attempting to work the same faulty math problem, believing that if I’m not getting what I want, what I need, then I need to work harder, do more, earn it. Generosity in this way moves from sanity — an act of wisdom and kindness, a deep knowing of what is needed and how to provide it — to neurosis. It shifts the feeling in my chest from a light, open, warm radiance to a constricted jittery panic, a weight and tension that makes it difficult to focus, hard to breathe. I’m working to shift this story, but it’s an old and sticky one that’s dug itself in deep. I practice generosity towards it too, giving it space, being soft and gentle, allowing and accepting it as it is, knowing that it isn’t as solid as it seems.

Five Years Ago: #aprillove2015 and Thunder: #aprilmoon15

nosetonoseApril Love prompt, “five years ago”: Sam was just a baby, five months old. He’d only been with us for two months. We thought we had so much time, but just two short years later we discovered Dexter’s cancer, learned it was terminal and there was nothing we could do about it. The year he had left together was a miracle compared to the two weeks – two months we’d been told we had, but it didn’t make losing him any easier. At least it gave him enough time to teach Sam to be so sweet.

buttpillowApril Moon prompt, “whenever thunder grumbles overhead, I think of”: that first summer living in Fort Collins, in the basement on Locust street where the back door was our front door and I planted a tiny flower garden next to the concrete step that was our front porch. Every afternoon around 2 pm, the sky would turn dark, the air hot and heavy, and the thunder would start to roll. Soon after, the sky would open up and it would pour down rain, soaking the ground. The temperature would drop 5-10 degrees in half an hour. Then, almost as fast as it started, the rain would stop and the sky would clear, done for the day.

I also think of how afraid Obi was of storms, how he could sense them coming an hour before they’d start and he’d glue himself to me until it was over, shivering and shaking so bad that sometimes his teeth would chatter, how it made me hate the summer storms that had always been such a relief, how hard I wished them away now that they caused discomfort to one I loved so much.

Inspiration: #aprilmoon15 and Where I’m Standing: #aprillove2015

April Love prompt: “from where I stand”: I can see what is possible, and the path to get there is clear (mostly). What is essential is the quiet, allowing stillness and space, and also patience, allowing it to come in its own time and its own way. I can help it by surrendering, letting go, relaxing into things as they are, showing up with my open heart. The magic is real. Magic is awareness, which is simply curiosity and connection, being present. It’s what Lodro Rinzler described as “tuning into our world without trying to change it.” If I show up with an open heart and without an agenda, I will know the truth, and I will know what to do. I will be able to “hear her breathing.”

April Moon prompt: “one of my greatest sources of inspiration has always been”: Books. And as technology changes, presents more and more opportunities to access content, I have to modify that to something bigger and say reading. And yet, it’s even more than just books or reading — it’s connecting with ideas and stories and people, it’s touching what it means to be human. I am inspired by other humans willing to be vulnerable and raw, to take a risk and tell the truth.