Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Small Miracle

While I was holed away in my study the other night, making my way through my workload (yes, I was actually working despite my whining!) and complaining about my therapist, my wonderful husband was being an extraordinary father. He and the girls were in the kitchen, making cookies from a recipe we found in a library book. As I typed, the rattle of pans and the clinking of spoons mixed with their chattering and floated in to soothe me.

I just wanted to tell you in the interest of balance. It's easy to get to a place of venting or complaining, but life is always more rich and complex than that alone. And more happy.

I finished my work and was rewarded with oatmeal-chocolate rich warm cookies and cold milk. I am so incredibly lucky!! and grateful!!

The recipe follows below if you want to try it out at home :)

Sophie’s Cookies

From the book
Believing Sophie
By Hazel Hutchins

Cream together:
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar

Mix in:
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt

Lastly add:
2 cups rolled oats
1 overflowing cup of M&Ms

Stir until well mixed.

The dough may be crumbly, but if you use your hands it will form easily into balls. For large cookies, the balls should be golf-ball sized or bigger. Smaller cookies are also very good. Set cookie balls on a greased cookie sheet and flatten them gently with your fingers to a nice cookie thickness. Bake at the top of the oven at 350 degrees F for 10-12 minutes until a pale golden brown. They are best when cooked through but not overcooked or hard.

Makes at least 1 dozen large or 3 dozen small cookies. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Are We Breaking Up?

I just had an awkward conversation with my therapist. I'm not seeing him anymore. Not last week, not this week, not for I don't know how long into the future.

I just need some time and space. Ironically, I'm not in a mood to talk about it.

Not at all.

I know that sounds like repression or denial or something vastly unhealthy. But I don't think so. I think I just know myself. And what I need now - more than anything else - is time. Time and space to sort out for myself who I am and where I'm headed. I don't want to be prompted into playing any roles -not the sniveling victim, not the noble survivor, not the wounded child. I just want to sink slowly into myself and settle into a peaceful and loving space.

My therapist sounded a bit panicky on the phone. It's always threatening when it seems like a long term relationship might come to an abrupt end. He's unprepared. He actually pleaded a bit - in a therapist-like way -- pointing out the depth of the connection we've built between us. I feel his pain, and I know that he legitimately cares for my well-being. Oh, the irony.

But I can't bear to hear anyone tell me how to think or feel or act. And if I'm just going to be sitting there telling the story, there's no point. This is a story I know well, and I can tell it to myself for much less fuss and money - and with just about as much result.

If not more.

Just is the Wheel

Came across this quote today. A concept I had tripped over and circled back to repeatedly in the last few bits of my life. Something I had decided was core to me being who I am. Just sounds more authoritative that a famous writer said it. :)
Sincere forgiveness isn't colored with expectations
that the other person apologize or change.
Don't worry whether or not they finally understand you.
Love them and release them. Life feeds back truth
to people in its own way and time.
--- James Thurber

Writer's Reluctance

Because it's not Block, really. It's just dragging my feet. Wishing I didn't have to write what I do, and preferring either to write something else or to go and take a nap. Or to go outside in the sunshine where all of my on-vacation family is gathered in the street with the neighbors, having nothing better to do on a Tuesday afternoon than shoot-the-breeze. Apparently we're a neighborhood filled with people working on flexible schedules!

But I do have to write.

This grant for this organization. It's my first draft, and it's every bit as daunting as sitting down to write a 15 page paper for a class without having done enough research or having a clear topic. Which is pretty much how I always used to write my papers and I made it through college just fine. Got myself all the way to here. Where ironically I use pretty much the same process.

I don't honestly know which I prefer - the grade or the pay. Money is useful and it makes me a "professional." But the clean clarity of that letter on the front page of your writing was so crisp and final. You either did it well or you didn't, and it was over. No one was counting on your description of their work to get them the money that they need to stay in business.


Part of the distraction is sitting right here, asking me charming questions about renting her favorite movies from Blockbuster and telling me what her Dad is doing (standing out front, I know that already.) Yes, both kids and husband are on Spring Break, and every time I come close to creating a mood of concentration or flow, someone pops in to ask me something or to complain. My youngest even managed to get bitten by one of our dogs - all a mistake and it didn't break the skin - but still enough drama that I had to leave the keyboard. When they are all at school, I am often lonely, but it IS deliciously quiet and still here in the house.

This might be about the best I can do - for now.

Friday, March 20, 2009


You can
in terms of loss
Or gains
Not surviving,
But flourishing
The tight bright green that curls
Newly in the bare-brown
Branches of the trees, as yet
All the past - a gift
More joys yet to come
Think the way the robin
Flies in the sun-filled sky
Of winter

Monday, March 16, 2009

A While without a Post

A longer time without writing. Too much happens for me to keep up with it. I can't process quickly enough. Every day I have one job and another and another waiting for me. I am impatient to get through them. But what is on the other side?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Pose of the Day - Dandasana (Staff Pose)

We spent a good portion of the weekend focusing on Dandasana, as the first active seated pose in the Ashtanga Yoga series.

It's easy and very complex at the same time. It's also great to balance all of our chair sitting. It's a handy pose to learn because you can do it almost anywhere, in any clothing, and it's not very noticeable. It's perfect to sneak into your workday or while watching TV.

Sit comfortably on the floor. You don't even need a mat but being barefoot is good. Stretch your legs out in front of you and bring them pressing into each other.

Ground your sitbones firmly into the floor and let the backs of your legs extend to push your heels away from you. Now bring your feet active, halfway between pointed and fully flexed. Let space spread your toes apart.

Firm your thighs and the tops of your knees. If you have shorts on, you'll actually be able to see your kneecaps firm. Roll your legs inward toward each other and press the backs of your legs toward the floor, pressing your inner knees toward the floor. (If your hamstrings are tight, you might not touch the floor. That's fine. Just get the feeling of that pressing action only to the edge of discomfort and not past it into discomfort or pain. If it hurts, breathe and ease back a fraction!)

Bring your hands flat on the floor alongside your body. Press through your hands to lift your torso and roll your shoulders back and down from your ears. Let your sacrum tilt up through your back toward your navel. This will lift your chest and heart.

Relax your neck and bring your chin gently forward and halfway down to your chest. Imagine creating a little catcher's mitt out of the curve of your throat. (If you care, that's activating Jalandhara Bandha, or throat lock position.) As you breathe, feel the energy move up your spine into that mitt and then back down your spine to the ground.

Up and down. Breathe in and out.

That's Dandasana.

Meditation Practice

An advanced Buddhist Meditator instructed a portion of our Yoga Teacher Training this weekend. She led us through three short meditations, an experience so enjoyable that it has only strengthened my desire to embrace meditation as a form of play and prayer. ( I say play because I don't want to approach meditation with goals and agenda - it's counterproductive.)

During the first session, I was so focused on calming my mind and following the breath in and out of my nostrils that I didn't notice my legs slowly, very calmly, falling asleep. When the gong ended our 15 minutes, I tried to unfold myself only to find that I had no sensation whatsoever from the pelvis down. Complete absolute numbness. I had to move my legs with my arms. No pain, no tingles, just nothingness from half of my body.

Which proves what I've suspected- my legs are way more advanced than my mind!! :)

It was an interesting experience. I stayed very calm and feeling came back gently over the next few minutes as I let myself stretch out.

The three Poisons that lead to suffering, according to Buddhist teaching:
1. Desire (as in greed, longing, dissatisfaction, and also clinging and attachment)
2. Aggression (violence, but also Resistance which is a subtler form of violence)
3. Ignorance (not knowing or recognizing, but also Ignoring)

Sitting in meditation doesn't achieve the goal of wiping the mind clean or stopping thoughts. Thoughts simply don't stop. What it can do is teach us to have that bit of space, that Equanimity of mind that lets us stay a bit more balanced as the chaos of life arises.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Today's Pose - Bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

Bridge is a mild inversion pose. Because it inverts our normal orientation, it gives the body a gentle break from gravity and relaxes the mind.

Come lying comfortably on your back with your feet firmly on the ground about foot length away from your butt. Arms come along your sides with palms up. Open your chest and root your shoulder blades into the ground, rolling your upper arms out.

Now use your hamstrings (back of legs) to draw your thigh bones toward the ground as your pelvis lifts. Lift through your pelvis and spine as your chest continues to expand and relax. Breathe deeply and comfortably.

Hold the pose, letting your heart move ever closer to your chin and throat. Heart higher than head, pelvis higher than heart, knees higher than pelvis. Your face, chin, throat, shoulders, neck and arms are completely relaxed.

If you like, you can support yourself in this pose with a block or firmly rolled towel below the sacrum (end of your backbone). Play with different heights. Play with letting yourself relax against the support. See how long the pose is comfortable for you. Can you feel your hips relax open as you breathe? Can you feel the inversion of fluids nourishing your heart, face and mind?


Wednesday, March 4, 2009


On today's walk, a robin chirrups in the yucca. This morning my daughters asked when spring would start. Looks like it has.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Breathe In, Breathe Out

*** If nothing else, our initial experience of meditation usually teaches us one thing: it is difficult to sit still and do nothing. In fact, we often get confused just trying to imagine how we ought to approach such a thing. For this reason, it is best to begin each session of meditation by counting the breath. Breath counting calms and clarifies the mind. It is the perfect vessel in which to cross the stormy seas that rage inside our minds and bodies in the midst of a busy day. After a few minutes of focusing ourselves in this way, we find it less difficult to concentrate. The body and mind are brought together under one common enterprise.

Thus it becomes easier just to be where we are (p24). ***

from The Wooden Bowl - simple meditation for everyday life by Clark Strand