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Showing posts from November, 2014

day twenty five: 27 days of gratitude

All questioning is a way of avoiding the real answer which is known already. –Zen Saying The most dangerous thing in the world is to think you understand something. –Zen Saying The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. –Marcel Proust If you understand, things are just as they are. If you do not understand, things are just as they are. –Zen Saying

day twenty-four: 27 days of gratitude

Friends on the trail….just when the separated sense of self is busily spinning its tale of isolation I look up and see friendly faces everywhere, birds singing overhead and the gentle hum of life all around.  Ah! Truth is true even in times of forgetting.

twenty-three: 27 days of grateful

I wish I could show you, When you are lonely or in the darkness, The Astonishing Light Of your own Being! Hafiz This sky where we live is no place to lose your wings So love, love, love. Hafiz Ever since Happiness heard your name It has been running through the streets Trying to find you. Hafiz

day twenty-two: 27 days of gratitude

Thanks giving. I mistakenly thought "Thanksgiving" would provide a no-brainer  gratitude post during this 27 day challenge I set for myself.  Not the case.  I spent the better part of the day heaving sadness from a bottomless pit of longing (dare I say self pity)…for family, to be wanted or to simply belong.  Many holidays have come and gone without a warm family welcome or a feast and they all came rushing back to me today, each competing for a seat at my table and vying for attention, each one bullying out the good memories. I cried often. And still I found myself at a beautiful gratitude celebration in Mile Hi sanctuary from 10-11, then spent the day surrounded by dear people who invited me to various homes and family gatherings.  I was surprised by the heart open welcome I received at each stop.  I was humbled by the generous outpouring of abundance and food in celebration: men watching football, brothers sounding off comic parodies with the practiced familiarity pa

day twenty-one: 27 days of gratitude

Whew…Thanksgiving is fast approaching and no children…no family.  Thank goodness for all the kind offers of generous hearted people who have welcomed me into their holiday traditions in the day ahead.  I was feeling a tad self pitying today and so I took myself up a mountain to breathe the fresh air of a clear, cool day.  I had to bring my busy, babbling monkey mind along because it refused to wait in the car, but all in all it was an afternoon worth giving thanks for.  

day twenty: 27 days of gratitude

Love. I read the other day that we can build our spiritual life on "love alone".  Our impatience, irritation, unkindness, narcissism and all the unsightly human foibles when consciously observed, are humbling gifts that allow us to recognize LOVE flowing through us-  not because of us, or something we are doing right or even a knowledge of how to love.  We, at best, are a window open onto love and love shines through. I am grateful for love.

day nineteen: 27 days of grateful

Today I am grateful for this damn 27 day gratitude challenge or I'd be hard pressed to focus on my gratitude's in light of a great number of present "bummers".  So here goes…I am grateful for: Mile Hi Church and the community that I am very slowly getting to know after nine years of attending. The incredible women I am blessed to work with who care deeply about the children, education and one another. Netflix on demand, since we don't have cable and hardly ever watch movies, I am grateful for the ease of access when I need a break from my overly reflective brain…or just need to entertain Bodhi for half an hour so I can drink a cup of tea in silence. Sprouts grocery store. My gym and the ability to work out, however slowly, whenever I want. Hot tea with almond milk Almonds---I LOVE raw almonds.  They are my personal version of the potato chip. Cell phones, that allow me to stay in touch with my big boy while he is in Illinois. Hope, that promises, aga

day eighteen: 27 days of gratitude

I am grateful for Bodhi who wakes up full force at 5:00 AM and says, "Mom, we need to make some art!"  We spend the next hour making mandalas to welcome in our intentions.  Then we make pancakes, or I make gluten-free  banana protein pancakes and Bodhi rolls around the floor singing the wonders of bacon, which reminds him how much he loves to sing. And so he loads up his ukulele, grabs a stool, quickly makes a sign that reads, "Tips Accepted" and heads to the sidewalk in front of the house.  Where he plays music for the next 45 minutes in 42 degree weather. When he was finished he came in and proudly showed his earnings, $2.68. I can only hope to learn from his courage, tenacity, enthusiasm and confidence. He really is a rock star!!!!

day seventeen: 27 days of gratitude

Today I am grateful for loneliness because it has been knocking and knocking on my door (Yes I see the Poe reference, quoth the raven) and it is time to just open up and let it in.  Thank you for this visitor, loneliness, and whatever gift it brings with it.

day sixteen: 27 days of gratitude

A new day.  A new beginning.  A fresh start.

day fifteeen: 27 days of gratitude

Time.   I am grateful for time, it's weathered hand and constancy.  I am grateful for the changing seasons and the transience of all things, experiences and ideas (even though I cling to them with uncommon veracity).  When I walk the trails I find beauty everywhere, in the young bloom, the withering petals moving toward seed, the dry remembrance.  I see that same beauty all around me, on the streets, at my work, in the store.  When I see magazine covers advertising one fleeting phase of life's grand display as "beauty", I want to cry, "REVOLT! REBEL!" .   What is the modern equivalent of bra-burning to signify anti-ageist, anti-sexist, anti-sizeist, anti-bullshitist, pro-being, pro-shining, pro-breathing, pro-aliveness?  If I could come up with it, I would surely start a movement or at the very least create a memorable scene.  As it is, I quietly remind the reflection in the mirror that she is no less beautiful than the various stages of life blo

day fourteen: 27 days of gratitude

My bedroom, with its iron bed, down comforters and African woven bed covers, with buddhas and incense, with meditation chair and comfort, is my sanctuary.  I am grateful.

day thirteen: 27 days of gratitude

One year ago, today, I had heart surgery. One year ago. This heart, that still beats erratically is MY heart; my beautiful, big, loving, caring, open heart. I have been carrying it around for forty years like it was some kind of liability.  Believing its intensity was too much to bring to anyone's table, that my heart was somehow deficient because it cared and felt and beat to its own tune.  I no longer believe that is true. To my beloved heart, I commit: I will no longer apologize when I am mistreated, feeling that the fault must lie with me. I will no longer hide who I am in an attempt to be enough. I will no longer love in excess in the hopes of convincing others of my worth. I will recognize that anger is not an enemy to be feared, but the first feeling to arise in the primal brain when a boundary is violated.  I will learn to respect its wisdom. Today I am grateful for my heart, exactly as it is, beating beautifully to its own unique rhythm, since this body drew it

day twelve: 27 days of gratitude

Holidays... as a single mama, I share the holidays with a wider circle of family.  This translates into spending many of the anglo-christian glory days alone.  Adaptable as ever, our little family developed the tradition of celebrating holidays whenever we decide and so Sunday was THANKSGIVING at our house!  Our time together, between Owen's Thanksgiving and Christmas trips to Illinois, is short, so with a desire to maximize on holiday cheer we put up our tree serenaded by Frank Sinatra singing Silent Night. We spent our afternoon preparing a delicious feast consisting of requests made by each of the boys: Owen wanted mashed potatoes and gravy with homemade cranberry sauce and Bodhi wanted turkey and Grandma Mojo's special steamed red cabbage recipe. For dessert Bodhi helped make his favorite gluten-free peanut butter cookies (he always leaves one cookie "unsmashed" to remind him which one to eat first). We watched the documentary Happy , sipped

day eleven: 27 days of gratitude

When I began this post I wanted to write about faith, but faith implies a belief that doesn't rest on proof, it's the evidence of things unseen.  When the road ahead is shrouded with a heavy mist of unknowing, I want a faith rooted in experience.  Our busy minds tell us all manner of horror stories, could-be scenerios, terrifying possibilities and the like.  On this very hike, photographed above, my mind piped up with all manner of tid bits about hungry mountain lions lurking in the tall grassland nearby, shrouded in cloud and intent on a sinewy meal.  Minds do that.  They have accepted the unfortunate dictate to keep us safe and free from pain.  Which is of course an impossibility and an utter waste of 99.9% of our time.  If I really examine the bumps and pitfalls of my life I can see that within them were great gifts, sometimes requiring a great deal of perspective, time and vantage to appreciate them.  Today I am grateful for faith and its foundation in trust (confidence

day ten: 27 days of gratitude

I find that gratitudes are cairns of a different sort, they remind us to focus on the seeds of good already present in our life and through our attention the seeds grow.  And so for today, along the trail of life, I will build a gratitude cairn.  I am thankful for: Bodhi for all he is and his vibrant approach to life.  Last night when I told the boys that I had read a great little quote about the meaning of life, Bodhi looked at me like I was thoroughly daft, and said, "The meaning of life is Living".   Owen for all he is and his depth of vision.  A few days ago Owen texted me, "You're an incredible mother.  You love too much.  It surely can't be good for you.  But still, you somehow continue to manage and that is what I believe your purpose is, to love unconditionally.  And you are one of the few people capable of that kind of love.  But dont' forget you are loved and that you deserve to be loved.  I love you immensely and take this opportunity to t

day nine: 27 days of gratitude

I am grateful for life, even in the coldest months and darkest hours, even when the weather plummets and landscapes are bare bones of spring, even in the face of illness, loss or pain.  Life is. I don't get it or even pretend to, but I am grateful for LIFE living my life as me.  

day eight: 27 days of gratitude

With a high today of 12 degrees, the thing I am most grateful for is HEAT, a warm home, a warm job and a warm heart.

day seven: 27 days of gratitude

I work everyday with some of the best teachers I could have ever hoped to find.  I refer to the children age 18 months to 6 years old that I encounter daily (though the incredible women whom I work alongside are phenomenal too).  Every week I am humbled by what the children teach me through their honesty, openness and enthusiasm.  This week the children explored self portraits and feelings.  As they finished their work, they lined up to tell me (and one another) about the big feeling they chose to illustrate. One boy told me, "I drew happy.  Happy feels like white clouds in a blue sky.   When I'm happy all I need is food and water. "  A five year old girl said, " I drew jealous. Jealous feels like wanting to do stuff funner and better than anybody else. Jealous feels like a tight tummy. Jealous is green. When I’m jealous I need to feel like I’m enough." A four year old girl said, " I drew sad. Sad feels like an empty house. Sad feels like not hav

day six: 27 days of gratitude

I was feeling soul parched yesterday, lonesome and thirsty for care when something remarkable occurred to me.  I want the love I give.  That's when the rains began to pour, salty tears spilling in rivulets down my cheeks in a beautiful down pour. My love, the love that pours forth through me, IS the love I have been seeking. Today I am grateful for my love.

day five: 27 days of gratitude

Love   I have been told (by men), "You love everyone and no one in particular".  While I'm sure that I neither warrant such praise nor censure, LOVE seems like one of those words that can have as many interpretations as there are voices yielding it.  When I think of love (which differs in my thinking from "in love" )  it is generally devoid of sentimentality and syrupy affection .  When I lean into LOVE , I lean into an encompassing spaciousness in which nothing is excluded. Here is another story that I recently encountered: When the zen teacher Bankei held his meditations, pupils from all over Japan came to attend. During one of these gatherings a pupil was caught stealing. The matter was reported to Bankei with the request that the culprit be expelled. Bankei ignored the case. Later the pupil was caught in a similar act, and again Bankei disregarded the matter. This angered the other pupils, who drew up a petition asking for the dismissal of the

day four…more: 27 days of gratitude

Sundays! Sunday is our family day and it begins with a delicious breakfast chosen by whomever is awake at the time (aka Bodhi).  This morning he woke up and asked for french toast with turkey bacon (he says bacon emphatically,"BAAAACON!").  Bodhi sat on the floor and mashed bananas till they were soft then he stirred in eggs, brown sugar and cinnamon.  When it was ready he dipped pieces of bread in the mixture and placed them on a hot skillet.  Together we cooked the bacon and toast, then arranged them on plates, topped with maple syrup and whipped cream, and enjoyed. Every Sunday generally involves some combination of nature, Mile Hi church , good food and exercise with the two incredible people that I give thanks for with every breath I take, Bodhi and Owen. For supper I made balsamic chicken with green rice (using the last of the garden produce) and broccoli.  We lit a fire and enjoyed the final days of warmer weather before the thermostat finally plunges toward f

day four: 27 days of gratitude

How does an apple ripen? It just sits in the sun.  - Thomas Merton There is a zen story that goes something like this: One day a young Buddhist on his journey home came to the banks of a wide river. Staring hopelessly at the great obstacle in front of him, he pondered for hours on just how to cross such a wide barrier. Just  as he was about to give up his pursuit to continue his journey he saw a great teacher on the other side of the river. The young Buddhist yells over to the teacher, “Oh wise one, can you tell me how to get to the other side of this river”? The teacher ponders for a moment looks up and down the river and yells back, “My son, you are on the other side”. For years I identified as a broken self, somehow fractured off from life and intent on reparation.  By the time I was seventeen I had become an avid seeker; seeking beauty, degrees, intelligence, safety, security, stability, lovability, health, youth, style, enlightenment and much, much more.  I fashioned

day three: 27 days of gratitude

Grateful for my body and health exactly as it is…exactly as I am…right now. I lay on the grey-carpeted floor of Denver Place in downtown Denver, curled against a wall in a private meeting room, listening to the conversations of the larger group attending the symposium of which I was a part. I  waited for my heart to regain a normal rhythm and the nauseus feeling to retreat. I felt again the sadness of possessing an unpredictable body, that neither medicine nor I have been able to “fix”; a body that, in truth, I don’t even understand.   As I lay there, I wonder, “Could this experience be an invitation?”   This body with its stammering heartbeat, dizziness and pain, is my body.   It is my body now, exactly as it is.   After years of doctors, careful diet and healthy lifestyle this body can’t be pushed away or denied or solved.   I began to wonder, as I lay humbled on the floor, if perhaps the time has come for it to be allowed, deeply in this moment, exactly as it is.   We, con

day two: 27 days of gratitude

Hiking with gratitude! Hiking,       solid ground underfoot,     one      step      at      a      time. . .          Breath in , breath out .   Alive .

one: 27 days of gratitude

I was swimming in feeling, immersed in emotion, when something quite enlightening pulsed through my consciousness: I have always felt my way through the world and although I have a wonderfully useful brain, I don't seem to rely on it as much in times of emotional distress. I am one of those INFP, feeling oriented people.  When I am around thinkers entranced by their own thoughts it is easy for me to realize, "It's only a thought.  That doesn't make it real".  But suddenly, while swimming in my own emotional current, it occurred to me that the same could be said to those of us who live our lives through feelings, "It's only an emotion.  That doesn't make it truth." And so, I am committing to a twenty-seven day gratitude plan to short circuit this operating system. Thoughts and feelings will always arise in the ocean of our life but if we dwell on the waves of sadness or thoughts of loneliness or whatever the next wave may be we are likely to m