Not much of that the last two weeks.  The city is tearing up my street, both streets on my corner.  The crew port-o-potty adorns my terrace garden bed. From 6:45 a.am to 6:00 p.m., 6 days a week—scrapers scrape, diggers dig and hit stuff in the ground, pounders, earth movers, buriers of huge pieces of metal and all of it beeps mercilessly when they back up.  I complained to whoever listened and grumped to myself often for days. Then I stopped insisting that my daily round remain the same and got out of the house as much as possible.  After awhile the persistence to hold fast to my daily round and the desire to escape as much as possible settled into some middle space—I stopped complaining and reclaimed the house when I needed it, mindful of my tolerance.  I needed to open windows and turn on fans and welcome (almost) the road dust.  I started greeting the crew outside my windows and they’ve been helpful making some space for me to get my car out of the driveway and out of my street.  I am on the verge of baking them muffins. Continue reading

present moment

355B6050-7478-471F-8B9B-EEC9ED3632C2This is a picture of Julia walking to class.  Her case manager sent it to me yesterdy.  He wrote:  “Hey, I was following Julia and a peer in the hall, talking like best buds.  Not sure who her friend is, but I’m happy she has made strong connections with reg ed peers.”

It is a great picture.

When I looked at it, my first impulse, after a good hearted motherly smile, is to race to the story of Julia making a friend, going over someone’s house, talking too long on the phone, telling secrets to someone (not me), going to a sleepover, having a party.  And then, I stop.   Continue reading

capturing focus

When my friend, Cindy, wrote “What’s sparking joy?” on her Blog, Yarnstead, she asked the question:  “So, how to get back to that top ten, how to recapture the focus I came back from Alaska with last year?”

Good question!  So much on my mind.  I wanted to call her for coffee and chat, I expected her to be at Saturday service at FUS but instead, days later, I write.

I know, I know. Yes, yes!  I know.  How?  And not just how to recapture the focus for sparking joy, but also, how to hold focus in the midst of whirling chaos.  How to recall and return to it when the immediate fires are put out?  How not to dissipate that wonderful energy on those immediate fire that inevitably flare up.

Yes, good question. Continue reading

travel hangover

Plant fossils at the Museo di Storia Naturale in Milan 

Almost mid-day on day 3 at home.  Julia is still asleep.  I thought she had no jet lag/long day travel effects at all.  She seemed to go to bed at relatively normal times, wake up pretty early and go-go all day.  Not sure what switched but she has finally crashed.

I’ve been crashing for three days!  I wake much too early and want desperately to nap midday and then crave bed by 9.  During the last two days, I’ve gotten out of bed hoping that I could climb back in as soon as possible which is something I haven’t felt for a long time.

And I am grateful that I recognize that the last time I felt that way was for emotional, not physical reasons.  Those physical reasons fade quickly.  Blessedly quickly. Continue reading

IMG_2616“Sometimes in my own practice I use the image of holding something very fragile, very precious, as if I had something made of glass in my hand. If I were to grab it too tightly, it would shatter and break, but if I were to get lazy or negligent, my hand would open and the fragile object would fall and break. So I just cradle it, I’m in touch with it, I cherish it. That’ s the way we can be with each breath. We don’t want to grab it too tightly or be too loose; too energized or too relaxed. We meet and cherish this moment, this breath, one breath at a time.”

#RealHappiness: The Power of Meditation

~Sharon Salzberg

For me the fear floods in when it is the past the I regret I and the future that I dread.  Paths not taken, leads not followed, hands rejected, potentials unfulfilled.  Futures unknown and unknowable, filled with loneliness, poverty of the spirit and mind, an inability to build anything new or permanent.  Stagnant and still.

My learning is to hold today as the delicate, ephemeral bloom it is, touch its beauty and richness now, and cherish it as it is.  However bruised and imperfect.  Not for what it was or will be.  Observing the now, living the now, fully present in the now.

My resolve is to do this for only this breath.  Now.


I meant to go to bed early tonight.  Well, I did go to bed early, found a pleasant movie, watched most of it, started dozing off, turned it off and turned over to go to sleep.  And then, every worry in the world descended.  Or no specific worry.  Unspecific anxiety took over.  It has been coming on all day, starting this morning when I set aside time to write email queries about teaching meditation.  I managed to get off one email and then panic took over.  Tonight I decided that I am not ready to offer services and need time and some kind of practice.  The dukkha or suffering here is secondary.  I worry that I am anxious because I will never be ready to do anything!  A bit of hyperbole but in alignment with my feelings.

Living with this inside all day, growing and fermenting.  Finally tonight with this sleeplessness, it dawns on me that this is about transition and graduation.  I set a number of goals for myself this school year and I have met them.  And now what??  The “now what” is my fear that I will allow fear to overtake me and not DO anything.  That I will freeze in place or move sideways.  It is so very hard for me to rest in completion.  Rest and allow what is next to come to me.

Rest and allow does not come naturally.  And there is the planning of Julia’s summer and the transition to middle school to stress and worry over.  No, there is no reason to stress and worry.  I have support, good support, and some very good options, but there was no convincing myself today that worry was not the only way to deal with it.

I would like to write that after writing and sitting with this suffering that it has dissolved and I am at peace.  Well, not so easy but i am willing to be with it, willing to feel it and let it have its way for the time it needs to.  It is irrational and transitory.  It will move on.  i am much closer to observing without judgment on this one, not all the way there yet, but closer than ever before.

eggs, tarantulas, travel

I begin blog entries and get dead ended after a paragraph or two.  I’ve been writing letters and trying to complete a scholarship application for the online course that I want to take next.  Also, it is tax time.  I have my way of preparing and I usually get down to it at exactly this time of year.  How predictable is that?  I always imagine that I am getting started this year much later than last year, but looking at my prep documents from previous years . . . Yes, same process, same time.

Julia and I are making eggs in the evenings a few nights a week.  Julia finished her first egg and I cleaned off the wax.  She was satisfied with the result, not astonished, not disappointed.  She had already started a second egg and while that was in dye last night, a third.  She has no interest in looking at pictures — I’ve said this before.  I am so dependent on the traditional designs.  Julia has her own ideas.  I’ll post pictures soon.  I’ve made three eggs and ready to begin challenging myself.  I am not using any guiding elastics on the eggs to begin designs this year.  It is changing what I can and want to do.  Again, I’ll put up pictures. Continue reading

course work

The fundamentals class at Mindfulschools.org is finished.  The last question asked is, “please think back over the last 6 weeks and reply to this question: What have you noticed is different in your life now than it was at the beginning of the course? Does the intention you set at the beginning feel real – even if just for moments here and there?”
I began the course with a lofty and long intention:

“I am safe and grounded.  I am joyful and grateful for the joy and love I experience.  I am peaceful, accepting of myself, my daughter and my community.  I am present.”
Reading these intentions at the close of the course, what jumps out at me was my desire to experience joy and gratitude.  For much of the time since my husband’s death, joy was elusive.  I wondered if even a desire for joy would surface.  I have kept my head down, working towards my goals.

Now, looking back, I think that movement on the joy front had already begun before the course began.  The organization of the practices in the course nudged the process further along.  I am not the ‘cock-eyed optimist’ of my past but I have begun to be grateful for the extraordinary experiences that are part of living and from the gratitude blossoms joy.

daydreaming & ego

Random thoughts through morning meditation and now during breakfast.

Last weekend’s conversation with Julia before meditation:

Julia: Can I think about Harry dancing with me at the Yule Ball?
Me: No. This is a time to think about your breathing.  In and out.  Blue and green.
Julia: No daydreaming?
Me: You can daydream after we meditate.
Julia: Ok.  I’ll do that.

And it dawned on me that she knows, at least on some level, how to control her mind.  I have wondered about this.  Wondered if Julia was doing anything close to mindfulness when we sat in the morning.  Sometimes we are quiet, sometimes I ask her to visualize colors and track her breathing but I don’t really expect that she does.  A long time ago I decided that sitting quietly with me would be enough.  This is not lowering my expectations for her but deciding that practice, whatever it was to her, would come far before meaning.  Intention in this case starting on the outside and perhaps working in.

A simple exchange and perhaps something amazing.

I got an email today about a research project that is looking for participants.  It is focused on caregiving for the caregiver and includes meditation.  For a moment, it was like a knife through my heart.  Umm, just a bit of hyperbole.  Someone else is doing what I want to do!!  And there must only be room for one project of any kind — that success will mean my failure.  So, most of that was hyperbole but in the direction of my feelings.  I live in fear of the scarcity of grace, I can’t yet trust abundance.  My friend, Steve, post a quote on Facebook:

“Man, my friends,is frail and foolish. We have all of us been told that grace is to be found in the universe. But in our human foolishness and short-sightedness we imagine divine grace to be finite. For this reason we tremble. We tremble before making our choice in life, and after having made it again tremble in fear of having chosen wrong. But the moment comes when our eyes are opened, and we see and realize that grace is infinite. Grace, my friends, demands nothing from us but that we shall await it with confidence and acknowledge it in gratitude. Grace, brothers, makes no conditions and singles out none of us in particular; grace takes us all to its bosom and proclaims general amnesty. See! that which we have chosen is given us, and that which we have refused is, also and at the same time, granted us. Ay, that which we have rejected is poured upon us abundantly. For mercy and truth have met together, and righteousness and bliss have kissed one another!”  ― Isak Dinesen, Babette’s Feast

So, I will rearrange Friday’s schedule a bit, send an email to the organizers, and join the focus group workshop.  When I went through Andy Paulsen’s workshop, Pockets in the Rocks, last year, I was both enthusiastic and jealous as all get out.  I wanted to be leading it!  My walk away added to my ideas and I learned from his leadership style.  In truth, it probably doesn’t interest him to run workshop after workshop.  He seems to be a big picture person.  I saw plenty of room for both of us.

Why after demonstration after demonstration do I need more affirmation?  I sense that deep down I want to the “fame” of being an innovator, but deep down I also just want to do the work.  How much is stale and ineffective ego?  Part of me can celebrate.