Monday, April 28, 2008
My basil seedlings, taken on 4/28/08 (planted on 4/19/08)... so far, so good. I'm so excited! Can't wait to have homemade basil pesto, panzanella, or just the simplicity of summer tomatoes and fresh basil drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil and rustic artisan bread from Shadeau.
Most of us live in such a responsible, self-contained way. We do our duty as citizens, attend to everyone else's needs, show up for work, get the job done, and so on. That's all commendable--except when we're following the expected path for no better reason than we're in a well-worn rut. Then our diligence can come at the expense of our own true desires, the ones that live outside the realm of what's normally considered acceptable or appropriate.
In the spirit of unleashing a few hidden desires of your own, why not make a resolution to live more boldly?
Outrageous Act #1: Take a step towards radical self-improvement.
Outrageous Act #2: Make a big, bold life change.
Outrageous Act #3: Stop doing what you hate.
- by Cheryl Richardson ( Body + Soul magazine, Jan-Feb 08)
If you do follow your bliss,
you put yourself on a kind of track
that has been there all the while waiting for you,
and the life you ought to be living
is the one you are living.
When you can see that,
you begin to meet people
who are in the field of your bliss,
and they open the doors to you.
I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid,
and doors will open
where you didn't know they were going to be.
If you follow your bliss,
doors will open for you that wouldn't have opened for anyone else.
- Joseph Campbell
Somewhere between the life you have and the life you want lies the quiet seed of potential.
- Terri Trespicio
Sunday, April 27, 2008
I am dust particles in sunlight.
I am the round sun.
To the bits of dust I say, Stay.
To the sun, keep moving.
I am morning mist,
and the breathing of evening.
I am wind in the top of a grove,
and surf on the cliff.
Mast, rudder, helmsman, and keel,
I am also the coral reef they founder on.
I am a tree with a trained parrot in its branches.
Silence, thought, and voice.
The musical air coming through a flute,
a spark of a stone, a flickering
in metal. Both candle,
and the moth crazy around it.
Rose, and the nightingale
lost in the fragrance.
I am all orders of being, the circling galaxy,
the evolutionary intelligence, the lift,
and the falling away. What is,
and what isn’t. You who know
Jelaluddin, You the one
in all, say who
I am. Say I
Monday, April 21, 2008
I'm starting to see a recurring theme running through my recent posts.
I think these thoughts have been inspired by the class I've been attending at this yoga studio, called "World Peace Yoga". It takes an asana class to a deeper level -- creating and cultivating intentions of peace and compassion, towards yourself and ultimately towards all beings. I find it to be a truly powerful class (plug: first class is free).
I'll be the first to admit, even if I always talk about being present in my yoga practice, moving with intention, etc etc., there are days when my mind just wanders: "oh, I should add this or that to my research paper...." or "I should remember to call so-and-so tomorrow..." or, even better, "I think I want to bake some chocolate cake tonight." So in all honesty, there are times when my yoga practice becomes.... routine. Mechanical, even. (Guilty as charged.) Then I have to snap out of it and bring myself back to the intention of listening to my body, listening to my breath.
So it really helps to be part of a class, with an instructor who takes you through the sequences. Every now and then she includes quotes and reflections to guide your meditation. As I move through a challenging pose I am reminded to release any judgment about myself, to let go of negative energy, and allow peace to enter... and by allowing peace to enter, we can radiate that same peace to others.
As I've written in my previous posts, we truly are SO connected, in more ways than we think we are.
"Resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and the wrong. Sometime in life, you will have been all of these."
-Lloyd Shearer, 1986
image from www.art.com
Saturday, April 19, 2008
“Each of us comes to care about everyone else’s children. We must recognize that the well being of our own children is intimately linked to the well being of all other people’s children. After all, when one of our children needs life-saving surgery, someone else’s child will perform it. When one of our children is harmed by violence, someone else’s child will commit it. The good life for our own children can be secured only if it is also secured for all other people’s children. But to work for the well being of all children is not just a practical matter—it is also right!”
- Lilian G. Katz, Professor Emerita of Early Childhood Education, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
One of my classmates in grad school talks about the "impostor syndrome" -- referring to the feeling of an overwhelmed first-year doctoral student; a "syndrome" characterized by thoughts of: "How long before they figure out that I'm not that smart after all..?" or "I'm not supposed to be here..." Or, my favorite one: "They mistakenly placed my application in the "in" stack and not the "out" stack...."
I go back and forth through periods of self-doubt, moments of clarity, and everywhere in between.
But at the end of the day, I am reminded again about why I do what I do... and how my life's work can reflect my own personal spirituality.
I strongly believe in the fact that we are all connected in some way. Our thoughts and actions have a pay-it-forward effect, whether positive or negative, intentional or unintentional. Will the decisions I make when this child is 2 years old have an effect when he is 10, 18, 21 years old? How will his actions at 21 affect those around him?
I know I've made many mistakes and I've experienced how it is to fall short of my goal of meeting a child's needs. But I've also learned from each child. I've learned from each family, and I stand in awe of these parents who commit and persevere to ensure that their child receives the support and education she or he needs... to move one step closer to their long-term vision and dream of their child one day contributing to society. In reality, however, these children already are.
I've heard educators say, "You are only given one chance to educate a child." And yet, I am given many, many chances to learn from each one I meet.
Childhood happens in a blink of an eye... my hope is to make every moment count. To "make room for the miracle of a child." (Beth Kephart, A Slant of Sun)
photo: my wonderful nephews, baking cookies
I've just had a wonderful afternoon!
After being cooped up all morning in a sterile-looking room for this work-related training, it was so refreshing to have lunch with a new friend in this restaurant, and spend the rest of the afternoon in Spring Grove, immersing ourselves in our love for photography.
Afterwards I felt so inspired, and wanted to maintain that feeling of peace that comes from being in nature and re-connecting to the earth. I spent the rest of the daylight hours in my balcony and I finally planted that packet of basil seeds that I got from a store several weeks ago.
(I don't have a green thumb, so there might be a future blog post on the demise of my basil. Or maybe not.)
Today I feel grateful for:
- spring blossoms
- newfound connections
- great conversation
- comfortable silence
- closeness to the earth
- a feeling of deep peace
"It was enough just to sit there without words."
- Louise Erdrich
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
"When it's over, I want to say:
All my life I was a bride
married to amazement."
- Mary Oliver, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet
(as you can probably tell by now, Mary Oliver is one of my favorite poets!)
Greet each day with wonder... and find something that amazes you. :)
But all my life--so far--
I have loved best
how the flowers rise
and open, how
the pink lungs of their bodies
enter the fore of the world
and stand there shining
Here's to the miracles of spring!
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Well, it was one of those days. On a typical day, I'm a calm, happy person (just don't withdraw my daily dose of dark chocolate). Usually I'm able to take things in stride, and life is good. But sometimes, especially after a long bout of peace and quiet, life gives you a tidal wave.
Admittedly, I am an emotional eater. On a typical day, I make fairly healthy choices. But tonight, dinner consisted of ginger snaps and dark chocolate (thanks, Meredith!), a couple of mandarin oranges, and green tea.
And my yoga asana practice today consisted of the following:
Yes, you read that correctly. Savasana, or corpse pose. That's it. That's the only yoga asana I did today. On other "terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad days", sometimes I feel the need to run and release energy. But today was just exhausting. Physically, mentally, and emotionally. So I did not want to sweat through a power yoga or a vinyasa yoga practice today; nor did I want to do even a flowing Taoist yoga practice. A long savasana was in order.
Savasana is one of the highlights of my yoga asana practice. After doing moving sequences such as sun salutations and other poses, savasana is the time for final relaxation. You just lay there, close your eyes, and breathe. It's the time for just letting go, of releasing control. Those of you who know me well, you'll say this is a departure from the other controlled areas of my life. There's no pressure to achieve anything (Again, if you know me well, this is a departure from my sometimes over-achieving self.).
But this is why savasana is so needed. Over-achieving or not, anyone can benefit from this practice. Whether you lay here for 5 minutes or 50, it can do your body and mind lots of good. In savasana, just be.
Interestingly, savasana can also be one of the most challenging asanas. Letting go can truly be challenging. Every day, we stick to schedules and commitments and exert control over our activities and choices throughout the day. Every day, we are connected to our phones and computers. Disconnecting from that can be hard, and re-connecting with yourself can be hard as well. We are constantly bombarded by thoughts. Do you find yourself going through long stretches of time in which you just can't quiet the mind? I know I do. We go through our days talking, sending emails, doing chores, surfing the Internet, watching TV. One day, it just hit me that I have 4 email accounts. Quieting the mind can be so elusive! It helps to really "set the stage" for true relaxation.
In savasana, I just lay down and use props to make myself as comfortable as possible. Using props can make a world of difference in yoga, and you can use what you already have around your house:
- a bolster or pillow to place beneath the knees, to elevate the legs slightly; this also helps those with lower back discomfort
- a blanket
- an eye pillow (I have one that is filled with seeds and dried lavender for a relaxing scent)
- soft music
Just close your eyes... allow your body to become heavy, almost like you are sinking or melting into the ground. Thoughts naturally can come into your mind, and just acknowledge them, then let them go... without really attaching to them. Sometimes, when it's extra difficult to quiet the mind, repetitive phrases (mantra) can help. In my savasana practice tonight, I repeated this mantra in my mind: "I am safe. I am whole. I am loved." What a great affirmation -- I need all the positive energy I can get!
Then, release all control of your breath -- let your belly naturally rise and fall with every inhale and exhale. You can visualize your stress, tension, or negative energy leaving your body as you exhale, and let it just float away into space.
I just did a long savasana. It was like being in the eye of a storm, where everything is quiet and completely still. And I can't erase the fact that it truly was one of those days, but my mind is a bit fresher, my energy a bit more positive. Perhaps, despite the terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day, I can go to sleep peacefully, thinking about positive affirmations. Tomorrow is another day....
And tomorrow, I'll be looking out for spring blossoms. It WILL be a better day.