NaBloPoMo Day 18

It’s my 51st birthday today. I have very little time this morning before I need to shower and get to yoga teacher training, where I’ll spend most of the day. I slept in this morning, knowing I should prioritize rest over everything else, but that meant I lost two hours I’d normally have to meditate and write and take things slow. Instead, I got up and started working on my homework for teacher training. I was finished with it on Friday, but I keep futzing with it. There’s one part I’ll have to teach later this afternoon, and I wanted to run though it one more time, fine tune it. And knowing the way I teach (one part planning, one part showing up and responding to what happens), I’ll probably change it again while I’m actually teaching.

It feels a little unfair to be making so much effort on my birthday. I’d rather stay home with Eric and the dogs, relax, maybe go see a movie, go out to eat, but what I’m doing instead is important to me too. And I really can’t complain at all because I’m taking next week off from work. Don’t feel sorry for me for one second. Do something nice for yourself instead — it’s my birthday, I make the rules today and that’s what I want, kind and gentle reader. And if you can’t think of something nice to do for yourself, do it for someone else. Ease suffering, in yourself and in the world. That’s all I ever want, no matter what day it is.

NaBloPoMo Day 17

Four years ago yesterday, I took refuge vows and officially became a Buddhist. Five years ago today, I registered for my 200 hour yoga teacher training. Tomorrow is my 51st birthday. To quote myself,

You go through this ceremony which is like part baptism and part wedding and you expect to be born again somehow, cleansed or something, a new beginning, but really I’m just back in the heat of my own stew, laughing at how silly I was to think anything was going to be magically changed by it. I have to do the work, show up and practice, it’s up to me and that’s never going to change. This is my path, for sure and for real.

Gratitude Friday (NaBloPoMo Day 16)

1. I’m still here. For so many reasons, this is something I’ve been thinking about and feeling grateful for. The world seems to be burning down in all kinds of ways, but as that Buddhist saying goes, “practice like your hair is on fire.” It isn’t always easy, but I still believe it’s better than the alternative and I’m not giving up.

2. Teaching yoga. This has been a complicated situation recently — thinking about cultural appropriation and making my classes accessible to more people, starting a new weekly class, and spending every weekend working towards my 500 hour certification, as well as working towards two other specialized certifications. And yet, after all the effort and confusion, it still ends up being the right thing to do.

3. My boyfriend is better than your boyfriend. My birthday is on Sunday, and as he did last year, he ordered clam chowder base from one of my favorite places on the Oregon Coast. He made me a traditional old style meal — clam chowder, shrimp and cabbage salad, cheesy garlic bread, and berry pie. It got here early, so we got to have it last night, and he bought extra so we’ll get to have it a few more times. He also leaves me love notes on the kitchen counter. And he makes me laugh, and gives me hugs whenever and for however long I need.

4. Morning walks. The sky has been particularly pretty.

5. My boys. They are the best companions for just about everything.

Bonus Joy: bran muffins with dried raspberries, fall break, a new person in my yoga class who has a sense of humor enough like mine that I’m funnier when she’s there, sleeping in, my infrared heating pad, Pilates, morning owl songs, good TV, good books, my Kindle, good music, people who are truly kind, the gooseberry jam my aunt made me, my friend’s little dog who I met for the first time and am totally in love with (she looks like Ringo and Sam had a baby), the same friend had a health scare but it turns out they’ll be okay, being able to spend the whole day at home in my pajamas even though I’m not sick or anything, cancelling plans because I’m just too tired to adult or even human knowing people who really love me totally get it, a crisp gala apple with crunchy peanut butter, pie crust, getting all the laundry done on a Friday, the house in our neighborhood that goes all out and decorates their entire yard for Christmas.

NaBloPoMo Day 15

I forgot to post something yesterday. Or rather, I remembered when I was on my way to bed, when my brain was no longer really working, so I decided there’d be no post for Day 14.

What I did instead: Slept in, because with two days of yoga teacher training over the weekend, and a super busy Monday and Tuesday, by Wednesday I’m ready for a day off, but couldn’t take the day off this week so I slept in instead. Sam had an appointment with his physical therapy vet, so once I showered and ate and meditated and wrote, I took him to that. He’s doing good, and at this point we might have to accept he’ll never go back to what he was. I brought him home after and fed both he and Ringo an early lunch before going to my CSU office. I met for a bit with a friend, fussed about and researched and texted Eric about the “grain-free diet danger” for dogs (because of Sam’s chicken allergy and the food Ringo was eating when he came to us, for the past almost five years we’ve had them on a salmon based kibble that just so happens to also be grain free), and then went to the monthly meeting for the communicators in our college, which I’ve missed the past two months. I avoid as many meetings as I can now because they only seem to mean more work for me, and I really don’t want or need more. Then I had to come back home and walk the dogs. Eric wasn’t going to be home until 6 pm and even though we were most likely just eating leftovers for dinner, I had to go to the grocery store — it had gotten to the point where there were things in our house that could be cooked, but we were running seriously low on anything “grab and go,” which sustains us during the week, (“grab and go” for me includes things like apples, yogurt, soups, and bread for sandwiches). So, I threw the dogs in the car and got groceries. Home, I unloaded the dogs and the groceries, put away the food and it was already almost time to feed the dogs again. Checked my work email and caught up on a few things, then changed into my pajamas and fed the dogs. This is the time of day I typically am DONE and have to get on the couch with my phone or turn on the TV, because that’s all I have left.

A thought I often have is something like “practice, then the laundry.” It’s a reference to that popular quote from Zen Buddhism, “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.” As practitioners on a particular path, we study and serve and practice. We put a lot of energy towards spiritual growth, undoing our neurosis and habitual patterns of reactivity, cultivating sanity and wisdom and compassion – and yet, most of us are also “householders” and as we practice, life continues to happen and needs our attention too.

Three Truths and One Wish (NaBloPoMo Day 13)

1. Truth: The way to do more is to do less of what you don’t want or need to do. I’m getting really really good at this. Of course, it requires a fully developed sophisticated sense of discernment and deep clarity about what I really want, because sometimes the choices I need to make aren’t obvious at all, and possibly complicated by external forces who want something entirely different from and for me.

2. Truth: Taking a pause before acting is usually a wise choice. I find if I act too quickly, I’m acting from a space of reactivity and possibly even confusion, rather than one of clarity, wisdom, and compassion. Of course, if something is on fire or someone is choking, there’s no time to pause, and taking immediate action can be the wisest choice in that case.

3. Truth: Rest is a necessary component of action, an essential counter. I know you might read that and think, “well duh,” but so often I seem to forget this. I go and go and go and go and don’t build in any time for rest and recovery. I go until I hit a wall, until I collapse and rest is no longer an option but rather is the only thing I can do, the only way I’ll be able to get back up, the necessary medicine and the magic.

One wish: May we have clarity about our path and know the right choices to make. May we act from a place of wisdom and compassion, clear seeing and love. May we pause and rest when we need it.

Something Good (NaBloPoMo Day Twelve)

1. This Melissa McCarthy Story Just Might (Maybe? Possibly?) Cheer You Up from The New York Times Magazine. “The dynamic star is trying to keep comedy alive at a moment when Hollywood — and its audience — can’t seem to crack a smile.”

2. 4 Curious Traits Of The Enigmatic INFJ Personality.

3. Why your desk job is so damn exhausting.

4. On grief.

5. Yogi Jessamyn Stanley is So Over Wellness Shaming.

6. The Connection Between Mass Shooters and Malignant Narcissism, According to Psychologists. In related news, Deaths From Gun Violence: How The U.S. Compares With The Rest Of The World.

7. In this week’s edition of “People Behaving Badly”: White Man Chases Black Servicewoman Yelling At Her, ‘Take Off That Uniform, N*gger!’, and ‘What a stupid question’: Trump demeans three black female reporters in three days, and GOP Mississippi Senator Jokes About ‘Public Hanging’ and If You’re Offended, Well Tough On You, and Black Man Precludes Casualties in Bar Shootout—Only to be Shot and Killed by Police, and Hospital worker fired after wearing Confederate shirt with noose to polls, and A Black Teen Was Arrested For Wearing A Hoodie In A Memphis Mall And So Was The Person Defending Him, and Election Judge Tells Black Texas Voter to Get Out, Threatens to Call Cops Because Voter Had Questions.

8. Is ‘wokeness’ robbing us of compassion and replacing it with moral superiority? (video)

9. “Girl, Wash Your Face” Is A Massive Best-Seller With A Dark Message. “In her hugely popular book, Rachel Hollis asks women to interrogate the lies they’ve believed about themselves. But what about the ones she’s telling?”

10. Judge Blocks Disputed Keystone XL Pipeline in Setback for Trump on The New York Times.

11. How The Great British Baking Show helps me cope with Trump depression.

12. 19 things you can do to help California wildfire victims right now. In related news, Paradise Fire Victims in Need, a direct fundraiser by Janelle Hanchett.

13. People Are Posting Their Most Embarrassing Childhood Photos, And It’s Impossible Not To Laugh.

14. ‘Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism’ — Watch Emmanuel Macron rebuke Trump’s tough talk right to his face. (video) This kind of push back should be happening to him on the regular, from every direction.

15. 6 Things to Do If You’re Feeling Overwhelmed by All the Tragedy in the News.

16. Stacey Abrams Calls For A Count Of ‘Every Vote’ As Brian Kemp Declares Victory. I’m so glad she hasn’t given up. In related news, this is what she is up against, Georgia’s Kemp Purged 340,134 Voters, Falsely Asserting They Had Moved.

17. Thousand Oaks Massacre: Remembering The Victims.

18. NRA Tweets Warning To Anti-Gun Doctors: ‘Stay In Your Lane’. “Treating bullet wounds, telling parents their children have been fatally shot actually IS their lane, angry physicians respond.” In related news, The 18 most satisfying clapbacks at gun nuts in internet history, and America’s easy access to guns is enabling all these mass shootings, and Thousand Oaks and Our Peculiarly American Affliction.

19. Colorado Just Abolished Slavery … Huh!

20. This guy is trying to legally change his age to date younger women on Tinder. (video) In related news, White ‘Born-Again African’ Wins Grant Meant For Artists of Color.

21. Press Corps Backs CNN’s Jim Acosta, Calling Out Sarah Huckabee Sanders For ‘Complete Lie.’

21. 10 Ways to Be an Ally to Indigenous People.

22. Standing Rock sees record voter turnout in spite of voter ID confusion.

23. LGBTQ Candidates Record Historic Midterm Wins In Rainbow Wave. In related news, A List Of Firsts For Women In This Year’s Midterm Elections, and 19 Black Women Just Became Judges In Texas After Winning In The Midterm Elections.

24. Yemen’s Humanitarian Crisis: How to Help from The New York Times.

25. CNN’s Jim Acosta Denied Access To The White House. In related news, Press Corps Backs CNN’s Jim Acosta, Calling Out Sarah Huckabee Sanders For ‘Complete Lie.’

26. 2-year-old creates spooky popcorn.

Day of Rest (NaBloPoMo Day Eleven)

“Rested, we are ready for the world but not held hostage by it, rested we care again for the right things and the right people in the right way. In rest we reestablish the goals that make us more generous, more courageous, more of an invitation, someone we want to remember, and someone others would want to remember too.”

~David Whyte, from “Rest: from Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words. © David Whyte & Many Rivers Press 2015