two things: 1/12/17

1) The Wake Up Project is an Australian-centered mission to promote kindness and mindfulness. Five years ago I followed them but somehow I lost track — maybe in one of my occasional email subscription purges, which I regret. Click the link above for more information; I’ve signed up again. One of my dear, dear friends shared the most recent email from the founder, and I thought it was so great I wanted to share it here, and say why/more . . . but first, the email:

With all that’s happening in the world, I see 2017 as a profound call to personal leadership. More accurately, I’d call it an invitation to spiritual warriorship – to train and nourish our heart’s tremendous potential for kindness towards ourselves, each other and the earth.

To me, this means stepping up and honouring the ordinary magic of our daily lives. Learning how to protect our minds, listening for guidance and living from our hearts.

May I offer three areas to focus on this year:

Feed Your Mind Beautiful Things: Never has this been so important. Feed it truth. Feed it inspiration. AKA uplifting literature, wisdom, poetry, comedy, music, podcasts and good journalism. Surround yourself with people who nourish your mind and open you to new possibilities.

Adopt a Practice of Intentional Stillness: Set aside 5-15 minutes a day to relax and rest in the unchangeable part of you. The method doesn’t matter – sit, journal, pray, swim, stretch. It’s all about calming your mind, befriending yourself and listening to what life wants from you.

Once a Week, Pause and Ask Yourself “Who Can I Be Kind To Right Now?”: Really listen. It could be a friend, lover, family member, stranger – or it could be the same person each time. It doesn’t need to be big – e.g. send a text, make a phone call, leave a note. Or it could be big and risky. Step by step, kindness becomes your #1 spiritual practice. Set a weekly alert in your calendar to keep this practice alive.

Always remember….

“There is a LIGHT in this world. A healing spirit more powerful than any darkness we may encounter. We sometimes lose sight of this force when there is suffering, and too much pain. Then suddenly, the spirit will emerge through the lives of ordinary people who hear a call and answer in extraordinary ways.” ~ Sir David Attenborough

So there it is. This is your year to Wake Up the best in you. To befriend yourself through unapologetic gentleness. To discover a profound rest in your human imperfections. To awaken the revolutionary (and essential) qualities of kindness, courage and creativity. This is spiritual warriorship.

OK! The reason this struck me the way it did is that like most of us, I’ve been just so scared of the incoming government, and a big part of that fear is that we’d all just get worn down and quit fighting. That the media will cave (as they have already done to a large extent), that the fighters will be loud at first but gradually they’ll (we’ll) subside because of exhaustion or because they’re systematically shut down, and that those of us with truly little power will find our powerlessness too hard to accept so we’ll start saying things like, “well, I’m just going to be kind/ paint/ write/ knit” and without diminishing those things AT ALL, they are too easily, I fear, a transition to acceptance of the situation. I’ve been scared of that, and I’ll just claim it for myself: I’ve been scared that will do that.

Te-Ata, Chickasaw

But this letter orients that effort in such a powerful way: spiritual WARRIORSHIP. My mother is descended from a Chickasaw woman named Ela-Teecha, so I am going to imagine myself a spiritual Chickasaw warrior. I found this beautiful photo of a Chickasaw woman named Te-Ata (Bearer of the Morning) and since I don’t have a photo of Ela-Teecha, I will instead hold her in my mind as my spiritual warrior image. (Wasn’t she so beautiful?) The Chickasaw belong to the Five Civilized Tribes, and were relocated, along with the Cherokee, on the Trail of Tears.

And so I will follow the guidance of the Wake Up Project and do the things I’d planned to do, but as spiritual warriorship. Somehow that feels different to me — and I will march and protest and write emails and make calls, too. And that is enough for one powerless person.

2) Speaking of Ela-Teecha, here’s what I know about her:

A friend did a quick exploration for me through Ancestry.com and uncovered so much information — often thrilling, sometimes painful (slave owners in Georgia) — and in the documents, she found this. I read it again and again, and adore “married into the great Choctaw family of Leflores.” The description of Ela-Teecha sounds exactly like my mother, exactly: straight black hair, very high cheek bones, and small black eyes … — medium size and slender build. That description can of course look a lot of different ways, and she undoubtedly looked nothing like my mother, but my mother fit the description too and that’s a bit eerie.

Ela-Teecha, my ancestorOH!! I found her! After she married Smith Paul she went by the Anglicized name Ellen. She lived from 1797 to 1871, and if I joined Ancestry, I could also see her grave, and probably find out exactly where she is buried. Wow. For a rootless person like me, that feels utterly amazing. I was able to snag her tree without joining:

I love that one of her sons was named Tecumseh, and another Mississippi. I’m unsure which of her children led to me, but I think that must be knowable. My father’s paternal line is a series of abrupt, violent stops, but that’s not my whole story. I know my father’s mother descended from a line of Alabama Coushatta, so on both sides I am descended from native people and their toughness and resilience live through me.

This is not really of interest to anyone but me, but I’m glad to stash this here for later finding.

Find your own model, if that will help, or maybe you don’t need one, maybe you are ready and able to fight your own way, just out of your own core. #resistance

better than ever

See the twinkle? This is at Millay's home, and he was tickled pink to be there.
See the twinkle in his eye? This is at Millay’s home, and he was tickled pink to be there.

I have a great friend in my monthly poetry group named George. First of all, George is the most knowledgeable person about poetry I have ever met. Ever. And he can recite huge swaths at the drop of a hat. He’s older than me, I don’t know his age, but man I enjoy his ability to do that kind of recitation. Last year he took a road trip vacation to Steepletop, Edna St Vincent Millay’s home in Maine. That’s what he did for his vacation. So George is definitely 100% my kind of guy. And his eyes twinkle and he’s very funny in a sly way that you might miss if you aren’t paying attention. (And he does yoga! There doesn’t seem to be much of anything you might randomly mention that George doesn’t do.)

Every month when I see him and ask how he’s doing, he answers, “Better than ever!” I hadn’t noticed the pattern; last month in my delight at his answer, I commented on it and he said it’s always his answer, and it puzzles people. Once a grocery store clerk said, “I wish could say that,” so George told her to stop what she was doing, immediately, and look at him. Then he said, “OK, repeat after me. Better.” “Better.” “Than.” “Than.” “Ever.” “Ever.” With his characteristic twinkly smile, he then said, “Now you know how to say it!” He said that it’s an important way he helps himself feel good, and when he gives into the various troubles of aging, and dwells on them, he does not feel very good at all and starts going downhill. So “better than ever!” is not just a verbal trick, a magic mantra, it’s a way of orienting himself to this day of his life. His shoulder might ache, but hey — today he is better than ever.

That aspect of George resonates with me, although I don’t say that phrase. What I do say, though, is “wonderful.” Oh, this is wonderful, that’s wonderful, you are wonderful, the day is wonderful, my sandwich is wonderful, that ice water is wonderful, YogaGlo is wonderful, my friends are wonderful (or gorgeous, or beautiful, or amazing, or magnificent). A lifetime ago, when I was getting to know the members of the very large family I married into — and before I realized that ‘wonderful’ is my most characteristic word — I was talking to one of my husband’s brothers, and after a while he leaned down, frowned a little bit, and said, “Really, Lori? Is it wonderful? Is everything wonderful? ‘It’s just wunnerful!’” And then he cackled. I still am not entirely sure if he was making fun of me, but I think he was.

This occurred to me as I was re-reading my last post about my. . .well, ok, I’ll say it. . .wonderful week. (But it was!) I saw what any editor would identify as the gross overuse of those words. Gross overuse. Anyone can see that, come on, it’s egregious. For heaven’s sake. Bad writing, leaning hard toward purple.

But here’s the deal, and I just mean this from the bottom of my heart. My friends truly are beautiful, and brilliant, and amazing, and wonderful, and gorgeous. My daughters truly are all those things, and magnificent, and loving. The sky really is wonderful. The things I mentioned really were extraordinary. I think I share the impulse with George, and I think it is probably why we are happy people. I don’t know if George has always been this way, but I have always been this way. My former brother-in-law commented on that when I was 21 years old and I’m still unconsciously at it.

So maybe it’s not your automatic way of being in the world, and maybe you 100% love the way you are in the world and so good on ya! Maybe you enjoy a bit of a grump (my husband in NY has a daily need to mope) now and then, and that’s just fine. I do too. But I think that if you just pause for a second and notice that sky, you’d see that it’s wonderful. There it is, just doing its thing, putting on a dramatic, ever-changing show for you, and you’re probably not noticing it. And then I think you’ll feel a little spike of happy. I think if you paused for a minute and really tasted your food and thought about it — wow (oops, another of my oft-used words, wow), that salad is really wonderful, so fresh and crunchy, and the pepitas just make it all work, and blue cheese ohmygod, it’s really wonderful — another little spike of happy. Really see your friend when you’re talking to her, just really see her and you’ll see that she is super wonderful. Magnificent. There she is, being herself in your life. Wow.

Those teenagers danced all the way across the bridge going over the highway. Maybe it was that wonderful sky.
Those teenagers danced all the way across the bridge going over the highway. Maybe it was that wonderful sky.

But really — just pause for a second. LOOK AT THAT SKY! Is it not wonderful? (Also: George is wonderful, and so are you.) Right on.

going rogue

With gratitude to my friend (and former health coach) Jeff for that phrase in the post title, I too am going rogue with my meditation and mindfulness practice. Last night I went to Shambhala to listen to a public talk on the “Culture of Awake.” (“As more and more people introduce principles and disciplines of wakefulness into their lives, such as mindfulness or yoga, we are together cultivating a culture of awake. In this talk, we will explore some of the basic principles of this culture that can give deeper meaning to how we live our lives and help transform our world into a better place.”) I’ve been feeling heavy and blue, and hoped that listening to the talk would lift my spirits in some way.

Of course that’s an unfair expectation of a talk — it’s not the speaker’s job to do that for me. He was a perfectly lovely smiley man who waved his hands in circles the whole evening, and he did do this one exercise that I found meaningful, and I’ll come back to it at the end.

mindfulnessBut he opened by saying that the whole world is becoming awake, isn’t it wonderful. And he had this blissful smile on his face. He reminded us that mindfulness made the cover of Time Magazine, and you can’t be more mainstream than that! And I felt thrown out of the room by his opening premise. No it isn’t! The world is not becoming awake! Just before I left for the talk I watched news of ISIS destroying ancient art, and a report on the discovery of the identity of Jihadi John, the Brit responsible for beheading so many people.

We’re freezing and the global climate is transforming dangerously and too many Americans (and others) laugh and mock and say “then how is this ‘global warming'” with idiotic gaping grins betraying their stupidity. Morons are in charge of important subcommittees. The world looks pretty dangerous and stupid and threatening to me, and I am in pretty deep despair about the cruelty of the Republicans in charge. (The Democrats have their own problems, including naivete and being bought and all kinds of things, but they don’t tend toward the same breathtaking cruelty.)

The world does not seem like it’s waking up to me. However much the affluent white people sitting on cushions in gold-painted rooms might say it is, it just isn’t.

What is the point and purpose of meditation and mindfulness? Is it to become smug in your own practice? Is it to delude yourself into thinking this is how the world is? Surely not; that seems the very opposite of the point, at least as I understand it. Isn’t the point of it to see more clearly what is?? To get rid of the story as much as possible — and this seems as dangerous a story as any other. This is like any other delusion, surely, even if it’s dharma-ed by a dude on a cushion in front of an altar.

And so I do the exercise he taught, which he called “Finding Home:”

  1. Feel my weight
  2. Move the center of gravity from my head down to my heart. Feel my embodiment.
  3. Open my awareness out to the world — from which I’ve never really been separate.

And from that position, I try to encounter the world as it is, not as I really wish it were. I continue my own meditation practice alone, I remain mindful as much as I can, I find value for myself in these things, and I think I let the rest go, the institutional parts. I seek the lightness and kindness and compassion that meditation and mindfulness can bring, but I will do that on my own.

And sheesh.

ecstasy, then laundry

laundryThe post title is a straight-on reference to the title of a book by Jack Kornfield, After the Ecstasy, the Laundry.  I was thinking about this yesterday when I woke up, actually, and then as my challenging day unfolded it came front and center. I’ll start at the beginning.

I’ve been staying up too late the last several nights for a variety of reasons, and then sleeping a bit late each morning. It’s not my best rhythm, and when it’s combined with the incessantly gloomy skies we’ve had, it’s not my best head, either. So I woke up late and as I lay in bed doing my morning ritual, reflecting on what I wanted from the day ahead, I felt so flat, so uninspired. Even less than that. So I was thinking about this as a natural part of life: the exciting newness of a change is gone now, and the days are still the same kind of days. Of course. That’s one great thing about change at the beginning — at least the kind of change you seek out on purpose — it revitalizes you and disrupts the ordinariness. For a while, until it also becomes ordinary.

And while I am so very far from enlightenment, I do sit at the foothills of the trail that leads to the path that eventually takes you to the highway that ends up, eventually, at that bodhi tree. At least I have some new skills to help me deal with things. That’s enough.

So I finished my morning ritual, went into the kitchen to make my coffee — another very pleasurable ritual, that — and then turned on my computer, only to find that I had been pretty seriously hacked by someone in Germany. My browser was changed to google.de, and I had been locked out of all my email accounts. While I was in the midst of dealing with all that, which brought its own traumatic memories of our being hacked so horribly in NYC, a friend called with a personal crisis that was just close enough to one I’d had in my life that it rattled my bones. Like a 10 on the Richter scale level of rattling. When I hung up the phone with her, my whole body was shaking and I couldn’t stop pacing in circles. Marc called and I talked to him and broke down crying, remembering my own situation from 2005.

When we hung up, I knew what I needed to do. I changed into my yoga clothes and hit the mat for a vinyasa flow class. I needed to find my way back to the present, back to now, and back to my own body and breath. At the beginning of class my mind wouldn’t stay with me, despite the fact that the class moved quickly and demanded a lot of me, required me to think carefully about positioning my body and breathing. By the end of the hour, as we moved into savasana, I still wasn’t there all the way. I lay there and my old experience was in me so deeply that tears ran down both sides of my face, just missing my ears, in a steady stream. I tried to relax into the earth and just be, and my mind was not still. Then the teacher told a story I’d never heard, about the origin of the pose:

shivashaktiWhen Shiva first saw Shakti, he was so completely struck by her beauty that he fell backwards and lost all desire for anything but that moment. She walked towards him and danced on his stomach, and he had no awareness beyond the moment.

I can’t find that story online anywhere, but it’s so lovely, and it helped me in my roiling moment. I felt Shakti dancing on my own stomach, I felt the ground under my shoulders, and head, and bottom, legs, feet, hands. I felt my breath raising and lowering my chest, and my face and jaw relaxed. It was better.

But it wasn’t behind me all the way, and my shower didn’t move it, breathing didn’t relax it, just feeling the feelings didn’t relieve me into the present moment, a pizza and craft beer at my favorite place in Austin didn’t wash it away. I came home, did the laundry, opened my computer, worked, and lived another day of my life.

022515And that’s what it is. Life is sometimes like that. Inner experiences can whammy you, sucker punch you, just when you least expect them. Spiritual efforts like mindfulness, yoga, meditation, (pizza and beer…..consumed mindfully!) don’t magically wipe everything away. They aren’t magic wands, they don’t eliminate difficulty. But they do help, and they do give me a way to approach difficulty so that I might get something from it instead of just being tormented by it — a seed of wisdom, a connection to the suffering of others, a deeper awareness of my own experience, a more peaceful body. An ability to hold it and know I can hold it, and still engage the world with openness and kindness.

And that’s pretty good.

it’s so poignant

A few evenings ago, there was a piece about Glen Campbell on the nightly news. He’s in stage 6 (of 7, the final stage) of Alzheimer’s, and he can no longer speak. Of course during the piece they included bits of his old music and performances, including Gentle On My Mind, a song I’ve always loved so much. It lifts my heart somehow, and sends it outside. I remember him, and that song, from my late childhood, and remembered what he looked like. Seeing him on the news, after not seeing him since he was so popular, was a little bit surprising, but not all that much. Decades have passed, of course he has aged. He is dealing with a brutal disease that always wins. I felt sad, aww, Glen Campbell, I always liked his music.

But then I tracked down the song on YouTube and saw what he actually looked like back when that song was popular. Oh how young, how baby-faced, his hair trimmed and styled so neatly, the show so innocent, really, his lack of sophistication in performance at that early point. Everything stretching out in front of him, all possible and unknown. It kind of wrenched my heart. My sadness for him got into my heart, instead of just being an idea of some kind.

lifeIsn’t it our ending that makes the whole thing so very poignant? We have our time in the sun, our time where we flower and bloom, our time of long strides and loud voice, and then the road inevitably takes us along to its end. And looking back from that perspective, it all takes on a different cast. All the things we worried about — if we can even remember most of them — were just ephemera. The things we took such pride in — careers, accomplishments, our stuff — were also just ephemera. But they meant so much to us, we lived our short lives with our eyes, hearts, minds, focusing on those things. The troubles we had, mostly small and forgotten but some we weren’t sure we would survive, those look different too. There’s a kind of tenderness toward life, and ourselves at those hard times, that we just don’t have the perspective to hold when the troubles are hitting.

None of this is to say that therefore we shouldn’t worry about what feels worrisome, that we shouldn’t pursue careers and accomplishments and stuff — that’s just not my point. It’s that those things that feel SO very important bloom and then pass away too. The whole of our time here, sitting up and looking around and chasing butterflies, touches me so deeply it makes me cry. We’re really something. We love anyway. We give of ourselves to people we love and sometimes to complete strangers. We reach out. We try to make our stands, to leave something behind. We care for each other, sometimes tenderly and sometimes very inadequately. We’re lonely, we ache. We have deep longings, some of which are never met. We screw up, sometimes royally, and sometimes we didn’t mean it and sometimes we did. And then we’re gone. Most of the time we live as if we have all the time in the world, and only recognize the brevity of it all when our hands are forced.

It’s just impossible to hold that awareness all the time. We have groceries to buy and errands to run and bills to pay, for heaven’s sake. But I always think it’s worth pausing for just a minute to look at your sweet life, and the landscape around it — friends, family, towers you’ve built, life you’ve nurtured — and see it for what it is: a short-lived experience that is more precious than we usually acknowledge. It passes through our hands and into others’ hands, and then into others whose hands we might not be around to see. And then into others who won’t even know our names, what we loved, what gave us anguish, how we smiled, that funny little quirk of ours.

Notice it. Be present. It’s passing through and away right now, catch it now. Look out the window, see the breeze in the leaves, or the lights in the building across the street. See the sun heading up, and down, and trading places with the moon. Go out and look at that moon, let the stars dazzle you as they used to when you didn’t know anything about them but their beauty and wonder. Put your phone away and look gently at the person across the table from you, and ask how they are doing, and listen. It’s all over way too soon.

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there’s always more than one way

you can find any image on the Internet
you can find any image on the Internet

Hey, yesterday’s post was number 1,400. What a nice number, and how nice to notice it, like when you happen to see your odometer rolling over a nice round number. And wow, 1,400 posts, that’s a lot. Posts from my old blog, Thrums, have been pulled in here (and wordpress just categorized them all as “big picture stuff” instead of taking the categories I’d originally assigned), and from the previous Queen of the Pillbugs blog over on squarespace. Even though I ebb and flow, and even though my blog has shifted focus — it used to be primarily a knitting blog — I am always glad to have this place to record my thoughts, and my life. So here’s to the next 1,400 posts. OY.

Over the years I’ve tried in spurts to do meditation. I wanted the benefits I heard about, wanted the stillness, wanted to find the clarity that meditaters seem to have. And of course it’s hard; people will say, “I tried, but my mind kept jumping around.” Yeah! Of course, that’s exactly the point! Your mind keeps jumping around. They call it monkey mind. That’s the point, learning how to discipline your monkey mind by noticing that it’s doing that, and bringing it back — no matter how many times you have to do it. I found it hard in a different way. When I tried to meditate, I dissociated or had flashbacks. It was very frightening, actually. And it’s not just me; many people with trauma histories cannot meditate.

I heard a very moving piece on NPR in 2009 about a psychiatrist named Michael Grodin, who works with traumatized Tibetan monks. Meditation is obviously such an enormous part of their lives, but when they tried, they had flashbacks to the torture they’d endured by the Chinese. Regaining the ability to meditate was essential to them. Eventually he found a technique that lived within their own experience. They held a singing bowl in their hand and gently struck it when they began to meditate. Of course that’s part of beginning a meditation for so many people, but not IN YOUR HAND. What it did for them was to connect them to the moment, to connect them physically to the moment. The bowl’s vibrations linger in the hand for a long time, and feeling those vibrations allowed them to remain in their body and in the moment.

So yesterday afternoon I was doing my daily yoga practice and had an insight. I was moving from upward facing dog to downward facing dog and my body felt like it was moving at “the great hinge,” which is how I experienced my hips in that movement from one pose to the other. I felt so fully in my body …. that’s not right, it’s more like my insides and outsides fully meshed or something. That’s not right either. I don’t know how to say it. Maybe it was just a different way of being fully present.

I’ve always had a very strange relationship to my body. It was invaded so frequently when I was a child and a young teenager; it was not my private body. I kind of separated myself from it in a strange way. Here’s an example: sometimes I’d say, “No don’t worry, I’m not crying, just my eyes are crying. It’s just my eyes crying.” It was so separate from me, and of course it makes great sense that I would come to feel that way during my childhood. So what occurred to me on the mat yesterday, as I felt so wholly connected in and with my body, is that being fully present during yoga, bringing my mind back when it wanders, back to the movement, to the pose, to the position, and being present right there with my muscles and bones, blood and heartbeat, well that’s a mighty good way to learn how to be present too.

So if meditation is hard for you and you want to get some of the benefits, you might try yoga — and keep bringing your wandering mind back to the pose. My mind wanders like this: “ooh, look at how the skin sags above my knees now, like my grandmother’s used to do…” Back to the pose, Queen. Mind back to the pose. Of if yoga’s not your thing, find another. There is a Zen saying, “Before Enlightenment chop wood carry water, after Enlightenment, chop wood carry water.” Lots of ways to find your way to being awake.

boring-ness

It’s really funny — when I was going through the very long year and a half of unrelenting terribleness (all of 2012 and the first ~half of 2013), I worried that my posts were so heavy or dark that you would get sick of it and just quit reading me. Again with the introspection, again with the suffering, jeez enough. On occasion I thought I’d better write a different post, a “happy” post, but decided the whole point for me is to be as authentic as I can about my life, so that’s what I wrote.

Now I’m on the inverse side of that. I’m in a period of reflection, change, growth, and joy (except for the damn days-long headache) and I imagine that you’re getting so bored with that. As much as I love that you read my posts, this blog is really for me, to say “I was here and this was my experience of life.” And so I hope you stick around no matter what’s going on, even during prolonged runs of trouble or joy.

Yesterday was extraordinary, and the very best part of that is that the extraordinariness was in the ultra ordinary. I wasn’t sitting on Borobodur, in Ubud, on a boat in the Mekong, prowling Hanoi, panting for breath in Borneo, looking at clouds on Macchu Picchu or Lake Titicaca. I woke up, made coffee, went to the farmer’s market, did some yoga and later some meditation, tended to my life, listened to music, made a delicious dinner, read, and slept. ORDINARY. And yet it really, really wasn’t. You’d have to be me to appreciate some of these things:

  • I woke up later than I’d intended but had a night of completely uninterrupted, dreamless sleep. (for the win!) Instead of freaking out and jumping up, throwing clothes on and racing out the door at high speed — after all, I’d wanted to be there when they opened!!!! — I thought it doesn’t matter when I get there. It just doesn’t matter. Take your time. My kids will understand how startling that is. And so I did my morning ritual as I always do, I made my French press of super dark coffee, I dressed (red shorts!) and put on my normal tiny bit of make-up (i.e., mascara and lipstick), checked that I had small bills in my wallet, lingered a bit with my coffee and put the rest in a thermos, and walked out my door. Stood in my breezeway and saw what a beautiful day it was. Smiled.
  • There were a lot of slow drivers on the road — Sunday morning, I suppose — and each one taught me, reminded me to take it easy. My temper flared up with the first one and I literally gasped….why! I am in no rush! Put down your shoulders, breathe. And when I came up behind the next one I smiled. Thank you for the reminders. I am in no rush, it’s a beautiful day, just be here, look around. (Kids, can you believe it?!)
  • such a beautiful day
    such a beautiful day

    Got a great parking spot and didn’t race to the market — and not just because I got there 10 minutes before it opened. (Lesson learned there, in light of the first point above!) I stepped out of my car, got my market bags, and stood in the sun with my face turned up to it. Wondered why I haven’t gone swimming. I live in Texas! We have amazing places to swim here. Noted to myself: go swimming. I wandered through the park on the way to the market stalls, enjoyed the reflection of the clouds in the lake. Isn’t it a beautiful day?

  • At each stall, instead of just buying the stuff quickly and moving on (and I always did that because I didn’t want to be annoying to them, they’re busy), I instead moved slower than I usually do and looked each grower in the eye and paused just a couple of minutes to talk to them. And each of those conversations made me so very happy. They were without exception warm and friendly and gracious. I left each stall feeling a little taller.
carrots of all colors, peaches, tiny sweet figs, tomatoes, pesto (cilantro and pecan!), okra, and farm eggs.
carrots of all colors, peaches, tiny sweet figs, tomatoes, pesto (cilantro and pecan!), okra, and farm eggs.
  • Slow walk back to my car, feeling the rising heat on my neck. Isn’t it a beautiful day? I arranged my purchases in the car so the tender stuff wouldn’t get crushed, and pulled out of the parking spot. As I got on the busier road I saw a ladybug on my windshield and it made me laugh and cry at the same time. Hello, sweet little ladybug, how ya doing. It hung on all the way home. I played Man, by Neko Case — an amazing hard driving song that you can’t listen to once, so I listened to it the whole way home and felt so much joy I thought I might leave my body.

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Really do listen to this fantastic song. And not for nothing, I was in the audience at this performance, dancing my brains out. Her music was vibrating in my bones. IT WAS AMAZING. 

And all that was before 11am. I felt so happy I could not stop crying, just grateful for this amazing life, this amazing day, and I thought about the horrors, the bombings and death and starving, the terror, the fear, the imbalance of the world, and it broke my heart too. Those things were happening right at the same moment. Children were being tortured and abused by their parents here and there, right at the same moment. Women were being raped and tortured, right at the same moment. And just for the day, just for that one sunny day, I got to taste some of the joy. If I don’t taste it when it presents itself, I am a complete idiot. For my turn will come again, and it may come in ways that are so terrible I cannot even imagine them. It may break me. But for that day, joy was on my tongue and I am so grateful for that.