My Favorite Things

I responded to a friend’s internet challenge, to post a list 3 positive things a day. When another friend started as a result of my challenge, I committed to an additional seven.

Here’s the first batch of positive things, and I hope they brighten your day.

josh waiting 1

Day 1:

  1. I’m grateful to my son who mowed the yard even feeling crappy and in intense humidity — it was a pleasure to drive down the street to home.
  2. I’m happy that I knit. I could give all 21 slots with a knitting related post.layout2_r1_c2
  3. I’m with Kim that cats make me smile. The world is better place because of our feline companions.

Day 2: 

  1. My garden has given us fresh tomatoes, potatoes, and zucchini, as well as lots of Tomatoesonvine2basil.
  2. I am lucky enough to have a granddaughter.
  3. Evenings are getting cooler in Asheville–so much less need for AC, and more chance for open windows, bird song, and breeze.

Day 3:

  1. machine-bestI appreciate breathing…all through the night. I got a loaner C-PAP machine and sleeping is true rest again. What a joy!
  2. I woke early this morning, and one of the first thoughts was “what am I grateful for?” — I attribute that lovely waking to this challenge, which has re-focused my mind on the positive in life.
  3. I’m grateful for metaphoric and literal “off buttons.” There’s a time to walk away from drama and ugliness (as well as a time to act) and knowing when that it lifts a weight and frees the mind and heart. That’s a miraculous thing.
  4. –Oh, and a bonus 4) — I’m grateful it’s Friday after a good week at work.

Day 4:

  1. beautiful bird croppedBirds — when I step out my back door each time I leave the house, there are always birds there — in the trees and scrub, on the feeder, winging by. Bird song and that exquisite flash of upward wing never fail to make my own spirit soar. What a gift that is, through good and bad times, just a bird can make me smile.
  2. Jon Stewart is always guaranteed to make me laugh. He reminds me (in a good way) of my late husband, Dennis, who also could always make me laugh.
  3. barilla3Good Gluten-Free Pasta is no longer a contradiction in terms. There are several mainstream brands making gluten-free versions and this puts some old favorite dishes back on the menu.

Day 5:

  1. zen051Celebration (1)Friends! I could leave it at that, but especially the unexpected close friendships of adulthood. Good friends laugh and grieve with you, make meals, trade favors, secret jokes, and masses of understanding and acceptance. God Bless Good Friends.
  2. With said friends, we drank a bottle of cheap (3.99) red wine that was good!
  3. There’s a new produce stand in my neighborhood. An enterprising older man from the Islands, or even perhaps Africa (lovely lilting accent, gracious and warm manners) has taken a vacant building and desolate lot over — he’s put up a large roofed area and has tables and tables of beautiful fresh produce. I stopped for the first time yesterday and bought 4 tomatoes for $2! We talked about things for a bit and then he gifted me with a giant organic tomato and wished be a great evening.

Day 6:

  1. I love the way Facebook helps reveal social connections and make them visible in ways I never paid attention to before social media. The spread of this lovely challenge and the interesting variations it has taken fascinate me. Like an old-fashioned game of telephone, spreading the message changes the message and the messenger.telephone game (237x136)
  2. When I stop and think of it, I realized I have been much loved in my life — many of those have left the planet now, but the love doesn’t go away. It lives in me and my memories and I can continue it on by loving others. What beautiful magic that is!
  3. It’s Monday morning and I feel no dread or sorrow or anger at the prospect of going to work this morning and the rest of the week. That’s a blessing — if you’ve ever experienced those feelings in response to work week, you know. It’s also a privilege to have meaningful work in a pleasant setting with good co-workers. It’s one I pray every worker can have. When I center myself around the thought of how blessed I am to have that, I feel the glow of gratitude and joy seep through me and a smile spread across my face.

Day 7:

  1. Gorgeous George

    Gorgeous George

    Pretty much the whole internet agrees with me that kittens and cats are an endless source of fascination: more personality and energy packed in those springy bodies than can be contained, so it leaks out in extreme cuteness and apparent wisdom. When I need to laugh, a silly kitten attacking something harmless with such zeal can always do the trick. And isn’t it great that there’s no prescription cost, or anything….

  2. It’s the last few days of August and I’m not dreading September. Between world events and personal losses, the 9th month had assumed a pretty bad rep in my mind. This year, it’s pretty much just another month — I’m excited to see fall arriving while I mourn the loss of fresh tomatoes and basil. I see the sky lightening in the morning a few minutes later each day. But I don’t want to take to my bed with the covers over me! There’s a song “Wake Me When September Ends” that used to match my feeling, but now it’s just a song again. Since I loved September and its promise of autumn and new starts, I’m grateful to have it back.
  3. Sisters. I have only one official sister, who I love and adore and hope to continue laughing, playing, cooking, knitting, arguing and hugging for decades yet to come. I also have several sisters of the heart that joined my inner family over the years, and they too are a whole bouquet of graces.


With special thanks to Kim for starting me on this, I say with joy, And So It Is.

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Searching for Gratitude

transf029GratefulnessSometimes it’s hard to find that grateful place. The inner “ping” that eases the constriction, lets a sigh slip out and opens the heart again.

I deal with a lot of chronic pain, and once in a while it gets to me more thoroughly than I’d like. Today was one of those. I spent much of the morning with my knee and lower leg hurting like a rotten tooth, barely able to take a step.

A visit to the doctor’s and a sonogram eased some of the fear I was feeling — no blood clot or blockage — but simply bursitis on top of the usual arthritis and tendonitis in my knee and — and don’t all those “itis” endings tell tales of dreary misery! But without the tightening of fear, there began to be a little room for easy breath. A new anti-inflammatory gave me a bit of pain relief this evening, and I am now fairly comfortably sitting at the computer, watching a Netflix show and finishing a deep purple hat..

And there it is. That whisper of gratitude. First: it’s my knee — not my hands, so knitting remains a joy;. It’s not my mind, so thinking these things is still easy and fluid; It’s not a loved one’s loss, so tomorrow holds its usual promise.   Once again, gratitude has done it’s work, and I’m smiling as I write, even laughing at myself a little, because I fell for the “con” that I am my pain.  It’s a kind of mesmerism that creeps up a bit at a time, and the weariness that daily pain brings with it leaves little vulnerable cracks in my identify as a multi-dimensional being. I am not my pain, or my fear, or even my joy.

And with the reminder of the truth, that knowing opens the flood of gratitude for the whole shebang of human embodiment. Pain or no pain — living still beats the hell out of the alternatives.

 

Blessings to all.

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Revisiting an Old Favorite

Sometimes the important things you read as a teenager or young adult make you wince when you come across them again years later.

I was (big surprise) browsing in an antique store this past weekend and came across an old favorite that didn’t disappoint me forty-five years after I first read it. In fact, I bought the inexpensive framed poster and just need to figure where to hang it. Anyway, I thought I’d share this and see how it strikes others, whether it’s an old friend or a new:

Desideratagreen road

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
woman singingBe yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

brigitTherefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

© Max Ehrmann 1927

As always,

Blessings to All

Just Watching

I have a magic box that Dennis made for me nearly 40 years ago. It says “You’re Standing on a Bridge, Watching Yourself Go By.” The drawing and quote are from the book Be Here Now by Ram Dass. The box, naturally, is a little the worse for wear. The lettering obliterated in places, the edges of the fabric cover frayed.

I keep little treasures inside. A special letter from a friend. A spike of lavender, a feather, some bits of jade, amber and seashell. A photo of my son when he was six. There’s a button with the Sanskrit symbol for “aum” and a star-shaped, handmade Christmas ornament. All meaningful and full of memories.

What I treasure most though, is the moment of “ah-ha” that the box first brought me when Dennis gave it to me that long ago birthday. Was I really just standing on bridge watching myself  go by? At age 17, I certainly thought I was the prime player in a very important drama. But I never thought of myself as the audience, the director, the star and the author all at once.

As I re-embrace some of the concepts of mindfulness and presence I first learned as a young hippie (gentle laughter here), I realize how embedded that ability to step back and see has become. It’s hard to take yourself too seriously when you make that inner move. It’s also hard to be too critical, too harsh, or unforgiving, when seeing from that broader perspective.

All the sorrows, all the fears are swiftly brought into a clearer focus; seen for the fleeting emotions they are, embraced in the moment, and released to the next. After all, under that bridge I’m standing on is a swiftly flowing river of moment-to-moment-to-moment. And I’m watching in delight, amusement, compassion, and eagerness. . .what will flow by next?

Scattered like the Leaves…

I’ve been seriously scattered in my energy and attention recently. So many changes. Like the weather and seasons, the paces of my life keep shifting on me.

My attention wants to turn inward right now, but the demands of daily life prevent that focus from happening as I need. So I stay scattered. My attention lighting on one activity and desire after another.

I wondered if the Tarot had any wisdom to offer, so I went to my favorite Osho Zen Tarot site.  And it didn’t let me down.  I guess.

“Trust” is a challenging concept for this situation. I want to deal with such an array of issues, that I can’t settle.

So to what am I to trust? Trust life? I’m not sure what that means for me right now.

Am I ready to take such a plunge — into change, into what’s next? I suppose I’ll see….

Trust
Don’t waste your life for that which is going to be taken away. Trust life. If you trust, only then can you drop your knowledge, only then can you put your mind aside. And with trust, something immense opens up. Then this life is no longer ordinary life, it becomes full of God, overflowing.

When the heart is innocent and the walls have disappeared, you are bridged with infinity. And you are not deceived; there is nothing that can be taken away from you. That which can be taken away from you is not worth keeping, and that which cannot be taken away from you… why should one be afraid of its being taken away? It cannot be taken away, there is no possibility. You cannot lose your real treasure.

(from Osho The Sun Rises in the Evening Chapter 9)
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Commentary: 
Now is the moment to be a bungee jumper without the cord! And it is this quality of absolute trust, with no reservations or secret safety nets, that the Knight of Water demands from us.

There is a tremendous sense of exhilaration if we can take the jump and move into the unknown, even if the idea scares us to death. And when we take trust to the level of the quantum leap, we don’t make any elaborate plans or preparations. We don’t say, “Okay, I trust that I know what to do now, and I’ll settle my things and pack my suitcase and take it with me.” No, we just jump, with hardly a thought for what happens next. The leap is the thing, and the thrill of it as we free-fall through the empty sky.

The card gives a hint here, though, about what waits for us at the other end – a soft, welcoming, yummy pink, rose petals, juicy…c’mon!

Just Keeping On

Sometimes, “Moment to Moment” is the only way to keep going. Regardless of mood, of experience, of good or bad, just doing it is sometimes all you can manage.

But look! Our intrepid figure to the left doesn’t just keep moving, he does it with grace and poise.

How? When it so often seems that obstacles and obstructions are the rule of the day. “When if it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have any luck at all.”

How? He lives in the moment. Each foot is delicately but firmly placed because his attention doesn’t waver. He’s not dwelling on the past, or anticipating the future. He’s planted in the present moment. Look! It’s gone….but here it is again.

The great Ram Dass (aka Dr. Richard Alpert) wrote Be Here Now back in the early 1970s and his gentle, good-natured chiding still is Truth — with an intentional capital “T” — That’s all there IS. We imagine, we attach, we linger, we avoid, but we can only experience being here now.

When we are present in the moment, the moments flow, each to the next, in harmony and discovery, and yes, joy.

From the Osho Zen Tarot:

The past is no more and the future is not yet: both are unnecessarily moving in directions which don’t exist. One used to exist, but no longer exists, and one has not even started to exist. The only right person is one who lives moment to moment, whose arrow is directed to the moment, who is always here and now; wherever he is, his whole consciousness, his whole being, is involved in the reality of here and in the reality of now. That’s the only right direction. Only such a man can enter into the golden gate. The present is the golden gate. Here-now is the golden gate. …And you can be in the present only if you are not ambitious–no accomplishment, no desire to achieve power, money, prestige, even enlightenment, because all ambition leads you into the future. Only a non-ambitious man can remain in the present. A man who wants to be in the present has not to think, has just to see and enter the gate. Experience will come, but experience has not to be premeditated.
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       aaaaaaa                      Osho The Great Zen Master Ta Hui Chapter 37
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Commentary: As this figure moves across the stones, he steps lightly and non-seriously, and at the same time absolutely balanced and alert. Behind the swirling, ever-changing waters we can see the shapes of buildings; there appears to be a city in the background. The man is in the marketplace but at the same time outside of it, maintaining his balance and able to watch it from above. This card challenges us to move away from our preoccupations with other spaces and other times, and stay alert to what is happening in the here and now. Life is a great ocean in which you can play if you drop all your judgments, your preferences and the attachment to the details of your long-term plans. Be available to what comes your way, as it comes. And don’t worry if you stumble or fall; just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, have a good laugh, and carry on.

Sitting with my Feelings

The Outsider

I’ve had the sensation lately of being out of balance, off-kilter, or out of synch. It’s uncomfortable, and my inclination is to seek — as quickly as possible — to get back to a place of balance and comfort.

Sometimes, though, it’s not possible to do so. Sometimes, the right action is to sit with the discomfort, let it ride itself out, and see where things end up. Since I’m still in the middle of the ride, I don’t know where I’ll end up, but I have to trust that everything will be okay.

The Outsider portrays my feelings perfectly, and as usual, the Osho Zen Tarot commentary is full of wisdom for us.

So you are feeling yourself an outsider. This is good. This is the transitory period. Now you have to be alert not to fill yourself with pain and misery. Now that God is no longer there, who is going to console you? You don’t need any consolation. Humanity has come of age. Be a man, be a woman, and stand on your own feet…. The only way to be connected with existence is to go inwards, because there at the center you are still connected. You have been disconnected physically from your mother. That disconnection was absolutely necessary to make you an individual in your own right. But you are not disconnected from the universe. Your connection with the universe is of consciousness. You cannot see it, so you have to go deep down with great awareness, watchfulness, witnessing, and you will find the connection. The buddha is the connection!
aa         Osho God is Dead: Now Zen is the Only Living Truth Chapter 3
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Commentary:
The small child in this card is standing on one side of a gate, looking through it. He is so small, and so convinced that he cannot get through, he cannot see that the chain holding the gate is not locked; all he has to do is open it. Whenever we feel ‘left out’, or excluded, it brings up this feeling of being a small, helpless child. It is not surprising, as the feeling is deeply rooted in our earliest childhood experiences. The problem is that, because it is so deeply rooted, it plays over and over again, like a tape, in our lives. You have an opportunity now to stop the tape, to quit tormenting yourself with ideas that you are somehow not ‘enough’ to be accepted and included. Recognize the roots of these feelings in the past, and let go of the old pain. It will bring you the clarity to see how you can open the gate and enter that which you most long to become.