Lesson Two: $2.49 Mussels

I rolled my forehead on the cool bathroom floor. I breathed, trying to calm the violent nausea. After throwing up for three hours, I decided I could do nothing more than wait.  I knew that regardless of the ending, this would not go on forever.

Sometimes you have to accept that your body is in pain, but you don’t have to identify with that pain…accept your body is aging, but not identify with the aging body.  Sometimes you just have to accept imperfections, but recognize you are more.

 

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“You are imperfect, you are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.”
― Brené Brown

 

Seems more than coincidence that earlier that day, I’d lit my sage smudge and with a feeling of perfect peace, smudged myself.  I still felt a barrier, an old resentment to which I kept returning. I knew it was time to move on but something around my heart felt like a burnt-out light bulb. So I smudged myself prayerfully and went to the kitchen to fix those delicious $2.49 mussels I’d found on sale along with a light gluten free pasta pesto dish. I watched a short segment on Gaia TV enjoying my delightfully inexpensive supper.  A few hours later, I asked Barry to just bring a pillow to the bathroom for me.

That was Sunday night. I’m writing this Friday night and I still don’t feel 100% right physically.  BUT throughout this whole thing, I’ve felt peace. I think I vomited up a piece of resentment.

 

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Finally letting go of those things I cannot change..

So what is my point? There is always another obstacle. There is always a problem to overcome, a friendship that is lost, a body that ages…there’s always a resentment to release or a fear to face.

Life is like a sit-com series – it opens with laughs then a conflict arises. By the end of the show, the situation is resolved and more laughter erupts.  A week later you do the whole thing all over again. Sometimes you get a break during re-run season but usually there’s always another episode. And it’s ok…because all that stuff happening is kinda the whole point.

A dear friend sent me the following meme after she patiently listened to my constant yammering for the past few months. I think this beautifully sums up the Lesson of the Mussels.

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Lesson One: Watermelon

The Art of Watermelon
A neighbor gave us a watermelon after Barry put out a small fire for him. I should have photographed it. But I saw it and that memory is preserved. The watermelon existed for a moment the way we all do, I suppose. Art and beauty once created, are like truth. They can never be undone. And I think maybe like we and the watermelon are like art, beauty, and truth.
Anyway, I cut it up to put it in Tupperware (well Gladdware or whatever it’s called) and Winnie came begging. That dog will eat anything! Of course, Cupcake had to try it too but she immediately spit her piece on the floor. Don’t worry – nothing was wasted. Winnie swooped right in. I guess not everybody appreciates watermelon the same way.
I marveled at the smell and texture of the melon – the way the hard, thick rind housed such a delicate fruit that literally melts under pressure. Again I thought about how much I have in common with that melon.
I chopped the rind into small pieces. Before I sat down to enjoy my treat, I wanted to give the cows their treat. Pretty cow met me at the gate. She recognizes the grey bucket. She’s getting so old. She’s 23 now and actually calved last year. She has no teeth but she can gum up some watermelon rind. All the other girls came too, but Pretty Cow is Alpha Cow and gets the best of the best.
I have to brag – she’s so intelligent. A piece was on the ground and I pointed to it. Area 51 Cow and #68 both tried to bite my pointing finger but Pretty Cow actually looked at the place to which I pointed.
I came home, washed cow slobber off my hands and arms and sat down with my melon. I decided this was a chance to really practice mindfulness. I would sit in silence and savor my food. I don’t think I ever really tasted watermelon – not TRULY tasted. I tend to scarf food. Maybe it’s some primordial instinct – eat it all before the others come. But I settled into the safety of my couch and slowly savored each bit. I smelled it. I looked at it. I ate it. My hunger and thirst were both satiated, but something even deeper felt satisfied…I felt alive and safe. I felt unhurried. I didn’t have to think about anything but the melon. I think I felt “mindfulness.” So this was Lesson One. A simple lesson but it’s a good start for the journey.
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Pretty about 13 years ago…

 

The air I breathe…

(I took all the photos around Voca, TX  – – such a beautiful spring!)

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I’ve been lost . . . for a long time, I think . . .

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There is beauty wild messiness. . . 

Sometime during the last few decades, pieces of me died. Things that once burned brightly, faded. I can still feel a tiny flicker under my ribs, but it’s just a faint warmth.

I got caught up in being accepted…being loved…being kind…being like everyone else…

(How honest should I be in this blog? If I share too much somebody might feel hurt…but isn’t that the attitude that got me here in the first place?)

I SOLD OUT.

I traded my spark for conformity. I traded freedom for safety.  And I lost myself.

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No audience is necessary for beauty to exist… no approval needed.

I learned something the other day as I walked/ran (wan or ralked) with the dogs. The aroma of trees in bloom was bewitching.  I found myself inhaling more deeply than I usually do.  I realized I was being beautifully seduced by these wise, wild arboreal beings…actually by all things green and fragrant. As I inhaled the air, I benefitted from the oxygen and the enchanting scent. When I exhaled, I returned the favor as carbon dioxide. I visualized ribbons of CO2 rising to meet imaginary nostrils on leaves.

Without effort…without sacrifice…without losing myself, I was able to be a part of the circle simply by BE-ing. With a simple breath I gave easily and easily received.

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Pollination starts with a thirst…with a desire…

Creation Story

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My theory of reality/existence is based on personal experiences..on overwhelming feelings of oneness that changed me forever. Here is my take on…well…everything:

Once upon a time there was NOTHING except Supreme Love – God – Higher Power – Divine Beloved – the Creator – whatever you want to call Him/Her/It.  Since nothing else existed, this Creator had only its own “essence” to work with…and S/he exploded (BIG BANG) into fragments that became ALL THAT IS.

So every star, every planet, every piece of stardust is a piece of God. And to take it even farther…every being is a piece of God. Each cell is a piece of God…each atom.

In the Old Testament God is called I AM!  God ultimately IS…ALL THAT IS.

At the end of Yoga class, we use the phrase Namaste:  the divine in me sees the divine in you.

So here’s another thought that really blows my mind…99.999999% of each atom is empty space. So we are mostly empty space. We are empty space moving through empty space with a tiny fraction of matter… *note – this is not exactly accurate. See more information below if you’re interested.

What keeps us from merging into one another? Only electrostatic fields.  cactus

When I sit back under my Bodhi tree and contemplate all this, I start to see that we really are all connected. There is only a vagueness that separates me from you. Remember in psychology classes when we were taught that babies cannot distinguish between themselves and their environments…well, maybe babies are right.

What if there is such a thing as reincarnation but with a twist? We are EACH and EVERY being  – we are the killer and the one being killed, we are the mother and we are the child, we are the lover, the beloved, and the hater…we are the Democrat and the Republican, the Christian, the Jew, the Muslim, the Pagan…we are the calf that is slaughtered and butchered and we are the one consuming the flesh…

Our karma means living all sides of all actions.  Our hell is created by us for us.  BUT we are also our own heavens…Each act of love  actually affects every other being. When we feed a starving kitten, we nourish All Beings.

Cut and paste from Wiki:  *The space between atoms may not have much matter (other than a few electrons) but it is still affected by fields – wiki check quantum field theory – which fill the space and impact upon anything that enters the space! So, the 99.9999999% is not really empty in the ‘nothingness’ sense of ‘empty‘! 

What if we decide to call that other stuff…that 99.999999%….LOVE ENERGY? Isn’t that a cool idea!

This changes so much for me…just by concentrating on LIGHT and LOVE, I can change the world. I no longer have to fight…I can just love.  That sure takes the pressure off.

So we are all ALL…and we can each change the world because all that “empty” space is something…it’s the love, the energy, we each manifest and move through…we swim in, inhale and exhale…we are God floating in Love creating more Love.

Namaste

 

 

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Rain, Sleet and Joy

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“How can you tell somebody has run a marathon? Don’t worry, they’ll TELL YOU!”  

On March 1st, I did it.  I finished my second marathon and beat my previous time by more than 30 minutes.  A few days before the race the National Weather Service predicted a start temperature of 40 and a daily high of 55. Sounded like perfect running weather. As the race neared, the predictions grew gloomier. At 6:30 a.m. the morning of the race, the current conditions were freezing rain, 30 degrees and a wind chill of 23. Now for some people this isn’t a big deal, but I’m a true Texan. I love sunshine and prefer sweat to chill bumps any day of the year. As sleet pelted the windshield, I honestly considered leaving – – – nobody would blame me, right? But I knew I’d regret it the rest of my life, so I stepped out, shivering and muttering obscenities under my breath.

I shuffled off into the sleet, determined to make my goal time and prove to myself I could do better than I did in October.

PACING

One of the problems I had with my first marathon was pacing. I was so concerned with the finish line, that I didn’t run a steady, slow pace.  During a recent yoga class, my instructor explained that one of the problems beginners have with yoga is trying to hurry into the final pose.  Instead of concentrating on creating a strong base for a headstand, they start kicking their feet into the air,wanting to get UP…NOW.  It doesn’t work out well.  So I focused on my base…I concentrated on my steady pace.

COURAGE

Around mile 6 I saw a sign on the back of a man’s shirt so I ran a little faster to catch up and read it.  The sign read “Running off the chemo one mile at a time:  26.2” I ask him about the chemo. Last year he ran the Army Marathon. Shortly thereafter he was diagnosed and had been receiving chemo all year. And there he was  – out in the icy rain – running.  His courage took away every excuse I had for not finishing. In Harker Heights the sidewalks were crowded with Harker Heights firefighters cheering him on. I remarked that he had quite the fan club and he told me he was a firefighter.  What a motivation!!!

SELF-CARE

I trotted along, still at my pace (give or take).  I rewarded myself at certain points by eating gels and drinking sports drinks. I had failed to take adequate nutrition at the first marathon. The lesson here is that self-care is vital! We can try to be brave and tough and unselfish but the bottom line is unless we feed our bodies and souls, we’ll end up pretty useless to everybody around us (and we’ll post a terrible performance).

MINDFULNESS

I also focused on running one mile at a time. I didn’t think about how far I had to go or how far I’d gone. I tried to concentrate on that single mile under my feet. Step…step…step…focus on the step. Live in the moment. I reminded myself I can’t go back and run the last mile any differently and I can’t be at the finish until I’m at the finish. I tried to be mindful, living the race foot by foot, mile by mile.

ATTITUDE

Smiling…I smiled as much as possible. I thanked volunteers along the way. I made a game out of trying not to miss a single volunteer. Of course, when there were 15 folks at a water stop, I had to yell out a general THANK YOU.  But I wanted my heart filled with gratitude and joy on this run.  As I remarked to some of the law enforcement officers, I chose to be out there running in the ice. I’d actually even paid money to participate.  But these men and women were there out of duty. I felt gratitude and compassion.

I was affected by the positive attitude of those around me too. Somewhere between mile 18 and 20, I ran with a wonderful woman from Killeen. She was so full of energy that I felt revived talking to her. We laughed and shared for several miles.  I thought about how such exuberant energy is contagious…what a gift to the universe!

PURPOSE and REAL HEROES

Then I hit my wall…it started on the dam when the cold wind picked up and slapped me in the face. By mile 22 I was doing a lot of walking. Then I remembered why I was running . . .

When I signed up for the marathon, I was given the option of setting up a fundraiser page for one of several designated charities. After reading and studying, I chose Team Red White and Blue.  Team RWB works with veterans to reintegrate them into the civilian world. From the website:  “Team RWB’s mission is to enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity.”

Every day 22 veterans commit suicide…that’s one human life lost every 65 minutes.  Involvement in sports and physical activities has been shown to alleviate the despair in which these veterans find themselves hopelessly lost.

(A good article to read:  http://teamrwb.org/in-the-media/two-teams-unite-to-better-veteran-community)

As I ran, I started thinking about how so many of our veterans are living in darkness – in sadness, grief and despair so thick I can’t even imagine.  I was just running 26.2 miles. I was smiling and happy.  I felt some pain but it would be over in a few hours.  These men and women can’t see an end to their pain so they opt for the most radical of solutions.

I could endure for them…I only raised $1,420 on my fundraising page, but just maybe that would change the life of even one veteran somewhere. Just maybe he or she would wear the Eagle (the Team RWB logo) and find hope.

Thinking of these heroes, I finished my race….I was so overwhelmed I couldn’t decide if I wanted to laugh or cry so I did both.

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I was laughing and crying simultaneously.

And just as the Army Marathon promises, I did run with heroes…and I ran for heroes.  May God bless them ALL!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stay OUT of my Peaceful Place

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My mother-in-law had created a sanctuary in her backyard for birds, deer and all manner of creatures…except snakes. Snakes met some ugly fates.

“I don’t like your hair like that. It makes you look old.”         “Why would a grown woman dye her hair pink!?!”              “You really need to start going back to church. ”          “You really need to . . . (fill in the blank, the options seemed endless)”

The comments seemed to keep coming.  After a long day of criticism and unwanted advice, I ran by the grocery store for comfort food. The cashier was so rude I couldn’t decide if I should slap her face or cry.

I finally made it home and noticed my husband had made lunch and not cleaned up after himself. There were crumbs and smears of mayonnaise on the counter. The dishes were piled in the sink.  I went into the living to complain and found him soundly sleeping in his recliner, oblivious to the world and my complaints.

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Why stand in the storm when you go inside?

I needed to escape so I threw on my running clothes and headed down the road, but I couldn’t shake the ugliness inside of me. I was angry and hurt. The world wasn’t fair. My chest felt like it was holding back a flood of tears. My legs just hurt.  I thought my head would explode. I knew my blood pressure was getting higher and higher because my ears started ringing.

So what the hell is wrong with me???

I slowed down and focused on breathing.

#1 – Just because somebody has an opinion doesn’t mean it’s right! WOW! Sometimes I believe everybody has the right answers except me. For years I’ve listened my family members and people in positions of authority as though they held the secrets to the universe. Hey…maybe I hold the secret! At least I need to give myself a little more air time. I realize I can be wrong, but sometimes I can be right.

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You don’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.

#2 – Why should somebody’s opinion affect me? Another person’s opinions and thoughts don’t have to mean anything to me unless I want them to.  Maybe I do look ridiculous with pink hair but I like it and at the end of the day, isn’t that really all that matters?

 

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Even after getting into trouble, Cupcake isn’t the least bit bothered. She just takes a nap!

#3 – How important is it?  How important is it that hubby sleeps in his recliner? I get some tv time that way.  The dogs are acting crazy but do I have to get involved if nobody and nothing is being damaged? How often do I find myself stressed out by things that I could so easily ignore? Maybe I don’t “approve” of what somebody else is doing, but it doesn’t have to affect me…in the same way another person’s lack of approval doesn’t have to “harsh my mellow.”

and finally:   

#5 – MY LIFE! MY TIME! MY HAIR! What do “I” want? When I’m on my deathbed (hopefully a long time from now), what will I regret? What will make me smile?  If I quiet down just a bit, I can hear my soul whisper her desires and needs. I just have to listen. I choose to be happy today. I choose to be calm. I choose to stay in my peaceful place and you can only come in if I let you.

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Peaceful scenes are all around me – so often in the details.

Peaceful Places

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Llano River, Mason County

I’m looking for my peaceful places…both inside and out.

On the home front I’m clearing clutter. I started purging closets, bookshelves, and cupboards.  I hauled off two carloads of clothing, books, and kitchen “stuff”. I didn’t need three coffee pots, two blenders, an array of clothing two sizes too big, and magazines from the last decade. Incredibly I’ve only made a small dent. Why do I hang onto “things”? I’m sure there are reasons – some rewards I hope to gain.

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Of course not everybody can achieve the peace these two can.

I know sometimes I buy things hoping for some magical result. I look for the outfit that will make me beautiful, the self-help book that will dramatically repair my life, the trinket that will inspire, the kitchen gadget that turns me into Julia Child. Unfortunately, “stuff” seems to have the opposite effect. It only tends to constrict me and prevent me from growing.

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Dry Hole Creek in front of the house.

Funny how that goes for the “inside” too. The more stuff I have crammed inside my little head, the harder it is to grow or find any sliver of bliss

So I’m integrating meditation into my evenings and I’m considering a short meditation in the mornings as well. I know most of my suffering is self-imposed and beyond that,  any pain is usually imagined.  I can dream up horrific scenarios that agonize me. I can focus on physical and emotional pain, reliving it over and over. I can remind myself of resentments that had almost cleared up. (* interesting little tidbit:  I heard in a meeting once that resent comes from re-sentir or re-feel)

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So many leaves – I couldn’t focus on just one. Instead of being beautiful, they look a little “junky”

Meditation cures that craziness. I can focus on the only moment that is actually real – the current moment. In that space, I can’t get too carried away with torrents of thoughts.

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Focusing on one leaf at a time changes the whole picture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I do decide to veer from the present, I can make a point to be positive though.  The past is gone and unless it’s happy memories, I don’t need to re-feel any of that stuff. The future is just a prediction, so why not predict happy endings.

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Simplicity . . .

 

Peaceful places are right here – right now.