TEN TOOLS TO STAY CALM AND FOCUSED DURING A POLITICAL SEIGE

Needing no stretch of the imagination, North Americans everywhere, including those that have left the country recently or long ago, are startled at how quickly the political landscape has changed and how frightening the future looks only a short time into the presidency of a game show host with a bad haircut and a foul mouth. And while there’s plenty of blame to go around on this one-the media who gave him airplay, the single-issue voters who ignored all but what they wanted to hear, the self-righteous who complained the Democrats didn’t offer a “good enough choice”, not to mention the big pharma that’s dumping opioids all over rural America-the toxic cocktail that brought him to power must be swallowed by all of us, like it or not.

Be brave my friends. 2017 is the Chinese Year of the Fire Rooster. Things are getting hot fast and there will be blood. There already is a shitload of blood that most of us aren’t exposed to in our schools, in our prisons, and in our ghettos. Many of us live outside of this chaos and can pretend it doesn’t exist but Jim Crowe lives on, gang violence is just beneath the surface in every community, while the most dangerous villains invoke religion in the quest to control their oblivious followers.

But while the marches continue, job layoffs increase, fuses shorten and the stock market will soon be so overvalued that it will self-correct, it is up to all of us to find ways to contribute to the solutions instead of be part of the problem.

So what does preparation look like?

  1. Arm yourself with spirit, patience, and courage-you’ll need an ample supply
  2. Keep breathing & help others stay calm (put your mask on first as they say on the plane)
  3. The answer to any crisis includes self-reflection so set aside 10 minutes each day to care for yourself
  4. Decide what your contribution will look like-writing, protesting, feeding the hungry, caring for the elderly, disenfranchised, sick, etc.
  5. Pay attention to news from reputable sources you trust
  6. Be proactive – it will help your spirit (bitching on social media doesn’t count)
  7. Surround yourself with family, friends, community and pets– support is critical
  8. Show up early and often and encourage peaceful change
  9. Things will no doubt get bloody – be prepared for that and stay alert
  10. Your calm brain is more powerful than your angry brain – don’t fool yourself

The above won’t be easy in the presence of the fear that will increase. Soon the threats will intensify and not only will the marginalized communities live in fear but the rest of will be tempted to acquiesce to the rhetoric. There are already large sectors of the population that believe the Hitler references are simply “post-war propaganda”. The white supremacists are well organized and lurking just below the radar. The last 8 years have taught us that racism isn’t even hiding-it lives right next door and targets anyone that doesn’t fit in. Fear and hatred toward gays and transgender is encouraged in many of the so-called Christian places of ‘worship’ in this land of the free. Slavery has been replaced by prisons where we isolate the marginalized unless we’ve found some excuse to shoot them before they are even brought to what is still called ‘justice’ in this country.

The good news is that most of us who threatened to leave this country if the circus came to town and won the election stayed put to fight the good fight. Running from our demons never works anyway and we know that from our history. Our ancestors already did that-they left behind homes, families, and the world they knew to strike out into the unknown for a better life. We are being asked once again to leave the comfort of our sanctuaries and venture into the unknown. Many of us stood up during the Vietnam war to protest an unacceptable situation. But we have been lulled into believing that just because they no longer show our bloody, dead children on the 6 o’clock news that no one is dying in the global turf wars. We’ve become immune to the terrorism justified by our eloquent leaders in expensive suits but let’s call a spade a spade.

My father, my husband, and my brothers, my relations on every side have all fought for their country because many of us have bought into this noble truth of ‘defending our homeland’. It keeps the population in check on the backs of our young and penniless. It gives the illusion that we are powerful and invisible. But our history is littered with dead bodies, broken communities, and a false sense of superiority. Worse yet, we do this in the name of God. Not only in this country but around the world. ‘Thou shalt not kill’ is an edict in every religion however all faiths have “exceptions’ it seems. Between you and I, that’s BS. These exceptions are convenient, aren’t they?

It seems many of the systems that have defined us in the past are being destroyed and will need to be rebuilt. Let’s not do this violently people. I invoke Jesus, Gandhi and Martin. Let’s not start throwing things but I understand that some will feel it’s necessary.  We already have that violent and ignorant world and we need a better model. Step up Boomers. This will be our legacy. All the women and men that marched 1/21/17 around the world could form a perfect coalition and be leaders here. There is no one else, there is only ourselves to do the hard work.

 

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FINDING PEACE IN AN UNCERTAIN WORLD

unknownDuring these times of great uncertainty and radical change, people everywhere are struggling. The shifting landscape demands that we remain centered and balanced, all the while embracing what we need to change within ourselves. When faced with great challenges, we must stretch ourselves beyond previous boundaries and self-doubt. This is precisely when the potential for inner growth is greatest. While the inclination is to hold tight and fast to the past, we no longer have that option and are forced to dig deep within ourselves and live ever more consciously.

While it’s impossible to change others, looking within for the opportunities to affect change will empower ourselves and others to do the same. Left to our own devices, it’s far easier to rest on our past success and dream of the future. However comforting that may sound, this is not the reality we face. Complacency is not an option for any of us. And for those that have reached the age of maturity, it’s also impossible to pretend that the answers lie with the behavior of others. Each one of us must navigate the twisted corridors of our culture by relying on our well-honed instincts. Muster all of your courage and put your best foot forward for the good of all you hold dear.

“It’s called The American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it.”        Comedian George Carlin

The beloved Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron reminds us that this dynamic process called ‘the life we lead’ is never predictable or stable. She asks:

“How can we relax and have a genuine, passionate relationship with the fundamental uncertainty, the groundlessness of being human?”

Pema often talks about shifting sands, the unpredictability of stability, and the uncertainty of what is to come. And that it is our resistance to it all, even though change is the only constant. Lean in dear friends. Embrace and expect that just when you think you’ve got everything under control, one block shifts and the castle is on the ground once again. The expectation that we’re in control is the cause of our suffering. We are very attached to wanting life a certain way. The more we resist, the more we struggle. Before we know it, we’re stuck.

But if we were to look at these moments as opportunities to grow and change, perhaps we can begin to relax a bit with all of this uncertainty. At first, maybe it’s just a ‘noticing’ how often we are comfortably leading our life and oops…didn’t see that one coming. Or we’re enjoying an afternoon in the hammock and oops….. really? The neighbor must use her noisy blower again? Take these opportunities to catch yourself creating your suffering by resisting reality. Soon you will move to the next step beyond awareness and begin the letting go of annoyance. The practice of opening your mind and heart to these experiences is without judgement will begin to set you free.

Another great teacher, Thanissaro Bhikkhu, offers the following about safety:

  •  To find some safety in the world, you first have to give safety to the entire world. If you’re determined to observe the precepts (moral guidelines) in all situations, you’re giving a gift of safety to everyone, in that all beings, universally, will be protected from any harm you might do. In return, you get a share in the universal safety coming from your present actions. If, however, you follow the precepts only in some cases and not in others—if, for instance, you can rationalize lying … in certain situations, for whatever the end—it’s like building a fence around your property but leaving a huge gap in the back. Anyone, with any motive, can walk right in through the gap.
  • You can protect yourself from the results of your past unskillful actions by training the mind. The fact that we’re born in the human realm means that we all have some past bad karma, so simply avoiding unskillful karma in the present isn’t enough to protect you from suffering. Fortunately, though, while we can’t go back to change our past actions, we can weaken the effect of any past bad actions by training the mind.
  • The primary danger from other people lies not so much in what they do to you but in what they can get you to do. Their karma is their karma; your karma is yours. Even when you’re mistreated by others, their karma doesn’t become your karma—unless you start mistreating them in return.

In Gandhi’s words “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”. If I want the world to be different, I have to participate. Stop hating my neighbor for using fossil fuels to micro-manage the leaves in the neighborhood. Stop shutting down every time overbearing opinions displease me. Stop it already!! Hating on the bitch in the car next to me isn’t the path to a more peaceful world. Spewing garbage at those professing ignorant ideas I’m certain will bring us to ruin is divisive and there is never a good time to draw lines in the sand and cut off communication. Nor is it a good time to go back into your room and close the door and hope the world improves while you nap. Hope will only contribute to suffering. There is only action now.

Shore up your support groups and gather your friends and family. Do whatever you’re good at – cook for the hungry, call your elected officials, donate socks to the homeless, publish articles, comfort the dying, rock cranky newborns at local hospitals, write letters to those in power, volunteer. Inaction breeds fear and panic. This is a time when we need boots on the ground and voices that won’t be silenced. There is strength in numbers and there is peace in knowing you are doing all you can to affect positive change in the world. Go forward and prosper, Vulcan or not.

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The Possibility of Changing Your Habits

UnknownAs a teacher, not to mention human with a few habits needing attention, I became fascinated with brain science 10 years ago while watching a short clip on addiction. The explanation of brain functioning was not really that complicated. I was also curious about the human will during this time and why we do what we do and continue to do what we shouldn’t. Simply put, I came to realize by exerting the will, similar to exercising a muscle, it becomes stronger and stronger thereby changing behavior and  altering brain pathways.

Let’s say the information highway in your brain looks much like the image above. The red dots are sensory/chemical impressions and the green rivers are neural pathways. (thanks to Cathy S Mendola and her beautiful textile art http://cmendola.blogspot.com/2010/05/neural-pathways.html) When something catches your attention or makes an impression – a headline, a brownie, a person, a picture – the brain, being an organ of habit, immediately fires unconscious connections setting your course down the green river. Before you know it, you are traveling the same path as usual – you read the headline and the story even though you have a desk full of fire drills, you eat the brownie even though you aren’t hungry and don’t need the sugar, etc. etc.

BUT the neuroplasticity of the brain is precisely the reason why habits CAN be changed. You not only get to decide WHY you want to change but the HOW of it is you interrupt the cycle. Now this isn’t about “just say no”. That didn’t work out for Nancy Reagan and drug clubs either. It’s about raising your consciousness to realize that mindfulness – being mindful of your actions and making conscious not unconscious choices – is the key to living your life instead of having your life live you. One decision at a time, you interrupt the way you’ve always done things and bring awareness to your previously unconscious behavior.

There are helpers along the way of course.

  • Make a plan and write it down – this helps with reinforcement.
  • Start with something small – you’re strengthening the will.
  • Build reminders into your day- write them down.
  • Write down your challenge, your motivation, and how you’ll reward yourself.
  • Decide how you’ll defeat the inevitable urges to procrastinate or cheat- write it down.
  • Develop some mindfulness with slow deep breathing, alleviating stress.
  • Don’t do it alone – get a buddy or two.
  • Know your triggers and how you’ll overcome them-write them down.
  • Commit to the process for at least 30 days- consider a journal.
  • Review your written motivations every day – check in with yourself.

A successful life isn’t one huge great decision, it’s a lot of little ones every day. Each moment is a chance to start new – do so with kindness toward yourself.

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Forgiving Ourselves for Our Helpers

occupyearth copyI am the first one to admit to overwhelm. Since the time I was a small child and remember saving a delicious moment until I was home and alone in my bedroom to give it thought, I realized I’m easily inundated with too much information and too much stimulation.  I’m pretty sure you can relate on some level- more or less. But what about the persistent temptation to self-medicate to alleviate the stress? For many of us, that’s never too far off. Age has helped me navigate the complexity of all of this but mindfulness has been the most useful tool by far.

I’ve noticed however that some people are quite forthright with terms like ‘wasted’, ‘smashed’, and ‘hungover’ to describe this temporary lapse in judgement whereas in my day (when kids walked 10 miles to school in the snow) admitting to such shortcomings wasn’t something you’d discuss in public.

But backing up a step or two, let’s discuss options for when you do become buried by the expectations of life and you are desperate for relief. You’ve once again made decisions you aren’t necessarily proud of but have awakened the next morning nonetheless. Should you:

  1. go back to bed after a quick check to make sure your phone and car are where they should be
  2. get up and have another drink before getting ready for work
  3. turn on something loud enough you don’t have to think about last night
  4. Flog yourself mercilessly all day, telling everyone about your bad judgement
  5. drag your ass out of bed, vow to do better next time and move forward

So all of the above are options – some better than others of course. But meditation has at least taught me one thing – it isn’t necessary or helpful to judge your behavior. You’re probably not so proud nor does your body feel great and chances are that this type of thing is happening a little too regularly. I won’t tell you you’re a victim of your culture however there is some truth to that. All the more reason you really have 2 choices along with #5 above (possibly the best choice) – get help or help yourself. And they are both just as valid and viable.  You decide what’s best.

But action IS required unless you intend to wake up on another morning, years from now, and realize that this destructive pattern has been with you way too long and needs to change. So don’t beat yourself up – in fact congratulate yourself for being wise enough to realize there’s a problem. And don’t ignore the issue if you even have a glimmer of self-discernment.

We are humans and we are far from perfect. We must accept that but also forgive ourselves for our actions. There’s nothing to gain from a self-inflicted flogging. Growing up and taking responsibility is a long process and it isn’t linear.

The practice is the same, day in and day out. Get up and start anew. Some days will be better than others but the will becomes stronger with practice.  It’s called will power for a reason. The will is like a muscle – the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets.  One foot in front of the other, again and again.

 

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Leaders Needed- Step Forward Please…

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The Care and Nurturing of Humanals

In this series, we’ll be exploring the area of self-care. In Western culture, we pay lip-service to the idea that we indeed take care of our bodies, minds, and spirit as we should however when questioning folks about exactly what rituals and activities this includes, how do they truly alleviate stress and bring their systems back to whole, I get blank stares.  My informal research, based really on the adults in my life – both young and old – indicates that women and men alike are doing a pretty poor job setting up routines that support good mental and physical health.

Women, undoubtably, are raised and wired to be care givers and we do a fantastic job of proliferating the species and raising those children to adulthood. So we nurture everyone else in our lives but not necessarily ourselves. This is nothing to beat ourselves up about but I have a sneaking suspicion that this is a contributing factor to PMS, postpartum depression, migraine head aches, and a whole host of other hard to define, explain, and treat ailments.

And with most men, the mainstream expectation that you will provide for the family and bring home the bacon becomes primary and family is a close second. Men have their own list of vague ailments that Western medicine finds difficult to explain.

And I will admit that nothing in my upbringing helped me to understand this topic nor did the older women in my life set a good example or provide a role-model to show me this path. I was probably raised like most boomers in the 60s and 70s. Both of my parents were busy with raising a family, working outside the home, volunteering as scout leaders, with the occasional family vacation – by car of course – thrown into the soup pot. Neither seemed to do very little to nurture themselves short of going out to the officer’s club occasionally, attending parties, and 45 minutes of mass once a week. They didn’t seem to have stress relievers in their life yet any household with 9 children has plenty of tension.

So where in all of this do we find not only the time but the energy to insert anything else? It wasn’t until my own children were much older that I became interested enough to investigate and admittedly, it was because my own systems were broken and not serving me well. The PMS was probably the first indicator but before that I was relying on other substances and activities to alleviate my stress. By the time I had the migraine headaches my marriage was already in trouble. So life really forced this all on me and it took years of questions, healers and practitioners of all sorts, trial and error, and of course time to assimilate what I now realize was a completely new way of living to begin to make changes. And life began to get better starting day #1 – the key is to start. Start somewhere, start somehow, just get started.

We hear a lot about stress in the press today. We know that it’s inherent in life, that the body is uniquely designed to handle it and in fact, that we need some of it to keep us on our toes. We also know that too much will kill you for sure, and that learning ways to relax and renew are critical for a well-balanced life. But many of you reading this article will admit that you have limited ways of alleviating it. Like dust collecting in the corners of your home, you don’t notice stress until you are faced with a crisis and you are desperate for relief. Perhaps it’s a drink or two … maybe 3. Perhaps there’s a pill that takes the pain away. Perhaps it’s someone that helps you forget. Or a shopping trip. We all have our methods however many of them come complete with some madness on the other end. See https://zendances.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php But as I matured, I began to realize that everything I thought I was doing to dull my pain seem to magnify it the following morning. Not only was I faced with the original crisis but I had this renewed awareness that my coping mechanisms were failing as well- they were simply becoming yet another problem.

 

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The Under-Rated Bath

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

I visited one of my oldest friends at her place in beautiful Southern Utah last year and was amazed that not only did she and her tall spouse live in the small confines of a trailer (long story) but even more so that she could survive without a bathtub. As a former dancer with a well-honed intensity to all my physical pursuits that typically result in some kind of pain the following day, that’s just not acceptable in my idealistic world. I’d even trade my house for the trailer if it meant the difference between having and not having my tub. So naturally, one of the most expensive upgrades I’ve treated myself to over the years is a large tub big enough to submerge my well-seasoned body on a very regular basis. And when I go to that zen place/my bath, when I allow myself to leave the real world behind for at least 30 precious minutes of a day, I’m continually amazed that more people don’t sing the praises of bathtubs. Practically speaking, I’m not even sure my body could function without that monstrosity in my life but by now you’ve guessed I would never go without.

But really this brings up a much more serious issue in my mind that is even larger than my indispensable tub. Here in the US anyway, we seem to be a culture that refuses to calm down. Our ideas around wellness lean so far into the ‘beat yourself up’ realm that it seems obvious to me that there are A LOT of things we don’t want to talk about. And yet stress related illness not only is killing us off at a rapid rate but our ‘health clubs’ promote the idea that you must have sweat drenched clothing when you’ve finished a work-out or you just didn’t kill it like you should have.  And not only are we doing a poor job of integrating health and well-being into our crazy lives but we flock to classes with names like Bootcamp and Insanity! Indeed!!

A young friend sent fathers’ day accolades on FaceBook mentioning that he and his dad spent the day before working 40 hours straight setting up an outdoor performance venue- what a legacy to leave your children….. my dad taught me the importance of being a workaholic 😦

They say there are very few activities that effectively calm our parasympathetic nervous systems – yoga, meditation, mindfulness, taking a bath (*wink) – but sages of all sorts agree that the balance between that and the sympathetic nervous system is critical for good health. Ya see where I’m going with this-today’s break neck speed of chaos and conundrums has us wound tighter than a cheap watch and we haven’t enough of these habits to find balance. 

Ariana Huffington’s book, the third metric gives me hope that I’m not the only one perplexed by this – AH worked herself into an emotional collapse before realizing that there might be a better approach to life than all work and no play. I heard her interviewed on a sounds true podcast and was gleeful to hear this giant in the business world state she now has nap rooms in her offices so employees can rest when necessary-blew me right out of the water it did!

So what to do??? I often ask my kids when they phone- you know things are really bad when they actually phone you-how are you taking care of yourself these days? Tell me one nice thing you’ve done for yourself today? You might ask yourself those questions and make sure you like your answers because you’re growing older and there’s no backsies in life, or not many anyway.

I come by these small bits of wisdom honestly as it took me years of high cortisol living to realize I too could change. Stress is often a silent killer as in my case. I was smart enough to know I had much to be grateful for but not clever enough to know that stress was winning. Until the migraines started and they weren’t backing down easily. So while there is a lot of stress is our lives we can’t easily change- traffic, climate change, world peace- you can take control of your habits. So make that list of all the things that make you feel pampered, loved, and cherished. Share it with your beloved. Talk about it to your children and wear it proudly. Say no to half the things others expect from you and you have my permission to have at least one rest day a week. I’m pretty sure that was in the Divine plan, right?

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vindicated

…by an astrologer, this morning, no kidding! Ecstatic! (Tho folks, I’ve put time into this spirituality search like you but more now that I’m pushing ‘the new 40’ wink~~~ hmm.) But all the intuitions I’ve had in my life were being spoken back to me in a google hang-out by a young astrologer living in Sweden, originally from South Africa. It was a great morning!!!!!

Evolutionary Astrology…I was ready for you and so happy to meet you at simonvorster.com to move beyond some constraints in this iteration and move onto the fascinating search to see where we’re going, right? After years of fog I dare say I see a light. thank you, thank you. I’m typing here today saying that if you’re overwhelmed or in a fog, visit the talented Simon.

Listening to Chaney / Polica’s Dark Star https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6WgWCIkH9U – 2014 is looking stellar!

 

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Break Away From the Crowd / Get In Front of Your Small Thinking

imagesI’ve done this test before, but now that I’m, um.. mature, I’m getting serious. I’m no longer using the secret just for small things like finding bangle bracelets at the Goodwill or programming a parking spot downtown. No more screwing around!! I’m thinking big from here on out. Because I know it works!

There’s a reason I started small. The time I set the goal for a sabbatical in 10 years and both my husband and I were out of jobs 10 years later! Folks, this shit doesn’t mess around – it’s for real! If you haven’t been trying it, give it a go. During my divorce, I was the wealthiest I’d been in 20 years (see Leaving the Narcissist Before Life Leaves You Behind) simply by using the laws of prosperity. Susie Orman says that you can see people’s ill health in their money and cash flow problems first because money has nowhere to hide an energy imbalance. WOW!

I’ve tried, unsuccessfully I might add, to make myself small to fit inside other people’s boxes. I try to keep my opinion to myself, my mouth shut, my beauty hidden, my intellect quiet, but it never works. So forget  trying to fit my larger self into a smaller box. Both men I’ve been married to claim/claimed to love and support me but every big idea has been met with serious trepidation so I’m keeping these ideas to myself from now on until it’s too late to turn back. If small thinking is working for everyone else- great-have at it. I’m moving on.

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Finding Enlightenment in the Age of WalMart Organics

…the name of my book no doubt, and the story of my life.

yoga group forest bwI live in a 3rd ring suburb of Minneapolis US, where hanging laundry on the line, and shopping for organics is….we’ll say…out of the ordinary. My home is on a wooded lot, and since I’ve lived here 18 years, very comfortable by my standards. By any standards really. And I work hard to walk my talk, to make ends meet, and sustain a meditative practice. But the culture we live, the communities we’ve created in this country anyway, seem to thwart efforts to make enlightened choices.

Life in this country has become a series of crazy-making observations. Why do multi national conglomerates care to own some of the, formerly anyway, best whole food options in the world? Why do clothing companies that offer organic fabrics have goods made in 3rd world countries by children? And why can’t the populous see that voting with their almighty dollar is really the only way a singular human can impact outcomes? It isn’t possible to reject the capitalistic world entirely but it’s a struggle to maintain any type of balance in it’s midst.

And then there are my own expectations.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been an overachiever…super-wife, mom, teacher, daughter, artist. And now I’m trying to be a super single working mom of 3 kids.

I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m misunderstood in this culture…just have to search hard to find community. I remember being relieved when I was reminded that my community isn’t necessarily the folks next door, or the ones at the grocery store. Your community of people share your values and beliefs…those that don’t shop at WalMart, even though they sell organics.

 

This spiritual wandering isn’t an easy journey, but at least, long before I knew I had chosen the path less traveled, I had heard many times to turn back unless I was prepared for complete upheaval in my life. I often feel frustrated that the places I shop, my beliefs, my preferences in holistic care, composting my food scraps, avoiding salt on my driveway in the winter, etc., all require an explanation. And as my own kids lament that our family is “different”, I knew even as a child that I was marching to the beat of a different drummer.

But at the same time, it’s important to remember that we are all woven from the same cloth. Most of us struggle for balance in our lives, we toil for a better world, we all want some peace. The global village is not so large, and it needs the energy of each one of us to thrive.

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Is This A Mid-Life Crisis??

Yoga waterI awoke this morning to a twitching lip…seriously. And rather than wonder what strange, mysterious trick my body was now playing on me, my mind went straight for the ailments of muscle abnormalities (to the extent of my very limited knowledge, that is). And of course from there, I can no longer work, am bored to distraction- voila! I’m parked in a nursing home for the rest of my hopefully limited days. And damn, I haven’t figured out yet how I’m ending it all. Unprepared again!! Continue reading

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The Accidental Dance Teacher

Honestly, I worry about the continuance of dance as an art form in this country, about the ignorance of adults who pay for training from unqualified instructors, and the sight of small children on stage shaking their bodies in midriffs and boas like strippers. Seriously, a little perspective here from parents would go a long, long way!  Continue reading

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Nine Things More Important than Capital by Jim Rohn

When starting any enterprise or business, whether it is full-time or part-time, we all know the value of having plenty of capital (money). But I bet we both know or at least have heard of people who started with no capital who went on to make fortunes. How? You may ask.

Well, I believe there are actually some things that are more valuable than capital that can lead to your entrepreneurial success. Let me give you the list.

Continue reading

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Living With Less As A Way Of Life- more than a dozen tips

As a life-long, self-employed artist and teacher, there are so many reasons I should be living like a pauper, except that I have been both lucky and maybe clever. My neighbors think I’m a kook no doubt, and I’m sure my friends are mystified, but I have lived large by knowing what I can and cannot live without. And I track every dime I spend! But that’s another post. Here goes:

  • Perhaps I’m the only one who’ll tell you – it’s not clipping coupons! The food they issue coupons for is the lowest quality, highest priced processed ‘food’ available. Your time is better spent elsewhere unless you must. Continue reading
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Ten Ways To Avoid A Tax Audit

money dogYah! It’s that time of the year again where, for a short time, all Americans are united in their distaste for filing these forms that pay for our freedoms. Sure, you can find those who go one step further and believe we shouldn’t pay at all. Most of them live in states where they pay no personal income tax and their educational levels are a testimony to that!! Or better yet, people like the Minnesota snowbirds who live in those above states just long enough (6 months and 1 day) to claim residency but still get all of the services as those who pay our way do. They think themselves clever. The rest of us Continue reading

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Life’s Three Essential Questions

 

threeThe filter in which we run all our decisions thru….. the yardstick we measure our success by… the thought process that enables us to formulate responses to some of life’s most difficult decisions… what does your process look like for you? How do you know you’re making the best possible decisions? When do you know you’ve said what you needed to? Where do you draw the line when ethics are involved? Ultimately, it may determine if you can comfortably look at your reflection in the mirror although at the end of each day, many of us answer to a higher power that keeps us on our toes. But it helps to have a toolbox nonetheless. If the quality of your life is indeed based on the quality of your decisions, read on! Ask yourself:

 

▪   Does this decision/action fit my values? Does it reflect who I am?

 

▪   Does this empower me to be a better person? Will it energize my soul?

 

▪   Can I be proud of my actions/decisions around this subject?

 

So whether it’s which grocery retailer to be loyal to, what car to buy, or whether we’ll toss the recyclable can or bring it home to recycle, run the questions and sleep better at night.
In Reaching Our Highest Potential https://zendances.wordpress.com/?s=reaching+our+highest+potential,  as well as Disasters Big and Small https://zendances.wordpress.com/?s=disasters+big+and+small – we saw that although potential is determined by the collective of all of our decisions, ultimately our goal includes accepting our behavior as we’ll see it in the rearview mirror. Years from now, or tomorrow when the consequences of today’s decisions need answering to, we’d like to say “I made the best decision possible in that situation”.

 

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"my friends, the enemy…"

..a famous quote by the Dali Lama, referring to the oppressor of the Tibetan people, the Chinese government. The point at hand, of course, is that our teachers often present themselves in the most unlikely forms. Sometimes it’s with a gentle nudge, and then there’s the club.  Continue reading

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15 Reasons To Start A Meditation Practice

For years, I talked of beginning a meditation practice. I figured it wasn’t anything to plan ahead for- I had heard that once you start down a spiritual path, there’s no going back. Wasn’t sure what that meant but it was too late anyway. By the time you read that phrase, such as now, you’re already a committed seeker.


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In Meditation, 6 Rules About No Rules

So it’s been almost 19 years that I’ve been meditating, and I’m still in my closet. Literally folks. When I went searching for a place that was quiet, felt safe, had a door to hide away from the chaos of the kids and family, bingo! This was a no-brainer. And over the years, I’ve tried to acclimate to a ‘proper’ meditation spot, but nothing else fits the bill. Continue reading

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The Power of the Desert

There is this strange, rather surreal feeling I get when I think of returning to the southwest that I can’t really explain. It’s as if the power and mysticism of the desert scares me a little bit, perhaps because I came of age there. I know it is no longer the place of my youth since so much has changed, yet when I return, I feel haunted by a feeling it will never let me go.

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You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Perhaps this was a lesson I just didn’t learn well enough in kindergarten, but I find myself struggling now with the same concept..all these years later. So let my lessons guide you

  • accept that decisions made by others that you have no control over, may dictate that    you will not get your way
  • don’t stew and become angry, adults should be beyond temper tantrums
  • stop distressing/ boring those around you with your verbosity on the subject Continue reading
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Busyness

Again, it is below zero, the bathrooms need cleaning, I’m concerned about money and the holidays, and the sun is once again not shining. I know for some, this would inspire a frenzy of busyness and planning, but this morning, all I can think of is sitting in a soft chair with a cup of coffee. I don’t even drink coffee!

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Seriously Kids – Pay Attention: A Dozen Reasons To Be Cranky

OK people, even if the term global warming is a semantics nightmare, we got a sick puppy on our hands and we better put on our grown-up pants and ALL do our part! I am so tired of the excuses, of the downright ignorance, and the apathy. And I’m calling on you millennials and boomers, especially those of you who have street smarts, are well-educated, know how to read, and are good at getting what you need in most areas of your life. I can’t believe how many Americans aren’t paying attention, not staying informed, and not doing their part. In all fairness, there’s plenty of blame to go around but I want to piss people off enough to rattle them into action.

  1. No – just because you’re buying your groceries at Whole Foods doesn’t mean you are doing all you can. There’s education, action, and leadership! Start somewhere.
  2. And no, the organics you buy at Whole Foods or the fact that you shop at Trader Joes mean nothing. Trader Joes (owned by Aldi) barely sells organics, packages all of their conventional produce and can claim nothing more than being a hip place to shop. It’s the same food as Aldi, higher priced, and repackaged in a way they KNOW makes people feel cool. The organics at Whole Foods are not owned by small, do good/feel good companies. Most are owned by multi-nationals who spend millions a year at present trying to defeat laws which enable you to know if you’re eating food engineered by laboratories that are not only messing with your immune system but raping the environment at the same time.
  3. Inform yourself – while it’s true that my generation did a big disservice by ignoring the patriarchy a long time as they pillaged the environment and stole from the mouths of babes, millenials will inherit this disabled planet for yourself and your children and will have to get your head out of the sand sooner or later.
  4. Your SUV is NOT good for the environment. Justify it any way you like- you need to transport the neighbors kids sometimes so you need all those extra seats even though it’s usually only you in that behemoth, your family likes to camp, you live on a dirt road- whatever! All these gas guzzling vehicles, millions of miles of tar, and the oil for it all – this is not a sustainable model. Do the calculations! And stop driving everywhere – walking and biking are good for you, good for the environment and you can spend some time with like minded people like your family- it’s a win win!
  5. Just because it says “all natural” on the front label doesn’t mean you don’t have to read the back label. If you can’t pronounce it, you don’t want it anywhere near yourself, your spouse, your kids, or your animals.
  6. Round up and fertilizers (unless they came from an animal source) aren’t harmless. Neonicotinoids are disseminating the insects in our environment that pollinate our food. It’s in the paper every day and on the news but some of my well-educated young professional neighbors have never heard of this- really??? The same ones who have the ‘professionals’ come poison their lawn and then let the kids play in it. “We’re not sure where he gets that skin condition.” Pretty sad.
  7. Get a life and start some sort of mindfulness practice. Running yourself ragged with shopping, socializing, drinking, is fine in college but then it’s a good idea to grow up and pay attention to what’s going on right now, right here. You’ll wake up at 50 and wonder where the heck your life has gone with “I was going to take the world by storm” regrets. Trust me, the people around you would love you to be more mindful. They might try it themselves. Everyone would be better off. Really
  8. And what the heck- would it kill everyone to recycle everything? Is it really that hard? Almost everything you use should either be recycled or composted except freezer containers. Do your part! My mom was doing this in the 60s and she wasn’t even a hippie!
  9. There’s no reason not to compost- you can do it underneath your kitchen sink! http://www.gardeners.com/ Maybe you don’t need the fertilizer and thus see #11
  10. Newsflash- we have a population problem! I know the Catholics and the Mormons would have you think otherwise but if your employer can dictate your birth control I can tell you  the planet is struggling to support all the people we already have here. Not saying don’t have kids, just not 5 or 6.
  11. What is it with the lawns??? Fertilize the bejeezus out of it, disturb your neighbors not once but twice a week mowing it, and, icing on the cake, use a louder than a monsoon gas-powered blower to take care of the clippings. And let’s not forget the daily leaf-blowing exercise that’s popular with my neighbors in the fall lest we have, god forbid, a leaf sitting on our turf over the winter! Enough already!
  12. I know clothes lines are WAY out of style but your clothes will last longer and it’s cheaper to not dry every piece of your laundry at the expense of the environment.

It’s true I’m frustrated – everyone who is keeping themselves informed is. You’ve heard ‘if you’re not mad as hell you aren’t paying attention’ right? And it isn’t that I want you to be frustrated, I’m just ready for the shift. This apathy is driving me nuts!

So for more on the three eyed fish below, don’t flush your meds…that hasn’t worked out so well for those lower down the food chain. Ask the frogs.

 

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1.8 billion cups of tea per day …

 

When my kids were little, and I realized that patience was not my strongest suit, I stopped drinking coffee on a daily basis because I thought it made me too edgy. (Allow me to introduce my selves.) Everything I’ve read supports that some people can drink that beverage with little negative side effects, but constitutions such as mine cannot. So I turned to tea instead.

There is so much to know about tea- its medicinal value, it’s popularity, it’s versatility, and the taste.  Just the fact that this beverage is the most widely consumed beverage in the world next to water is pretty fascinating. 1.8 billion cups are consumed worldwide each day!

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Navel Gazing and the Inquiring Mind

This term, navel gazing, has crossed my radar a few times in the last few months, allowing me to do some inquiry into whether introspection and a life of self-inquiry is indeed indulgent.

Since the beginning of recorded history, all great religions and philosophies have encouraged a contemplative practice. And don’t all of our decisions require a run through our filter? And to act and not react to the elements we’re faced with each day demands a quiet mind that has, at least, considered a mature approach to many of life’s sticky situations. Know thy mind.

So it seems we come, once again, to the question of semantics. What does navel gazing really mean? One would guess it might mean narcissistic self-indulgence, which might have negative connotations if we are judging. But the term self-inquiry has different implications perhaps…certainly it is language often used to face challenging issues before us.

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The Trouble With Meditation

I started meditating years ago, when my children were toddlers and sanity seemed as elusive as a bathroom break. My closest friends know that my small walk-in closet was the only closed door my children never guessed I’d be sitting behind, so with coffee mug in hand, I would steal away in search of serenity.


All these years later, I still bring the mug, now with more healthful tea, and sit on a cushion in that closet. The space can be light or completely pitch black, it is very quiet, and is just big enough to lie down if I need to stretch my body out.


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Opening To The World…

“The only reason we don’t open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don’t feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with. To the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else’s eyes.”


Pema Chodron
When Things Fall Apart

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The Teens!

Impermanence..along with suffering and ego, are said to be the three truths of our existence. And although I often pay lip service to the understanding that the only constant in life is change, living this reality has never been easy.


I’m in the process of sending my second child off to college. After experiencing this difficulty once before, I thought this time might be a bit easier. But as the graduation looms, and the celebrations are arranged, I find myself, once again, caught in the grips of suffering.


For many years now, my son and his many friends have tracked mud, garbage, and other questionable items into my house. They have awakened my sleep, disrupted my peace, and consumed large quantities of my food, patience, and time. My home has been the gathering place for dozens of these kids, their parties, and activities- sanctioned and otherwise. Yet in spite of all of this, I am faced with overwhelming sadness that they will be leaving me as they begin life on their own. Continue reading

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Reaching Our Highest Potential

I went dancing with a friend a few weeks ago, and was surprised at one point during the evening when the lead singer announced a song he’d written about his desire to help change the world. Listening to his music in that dank, dark bar, I was struck by how many of us have these altruistic thoughts. It was one of those moments where it was impossible to deny that we are all cut from the same cloth.

My musings soon wandered to how this rock and roller would accomplish this task, and then to my own process around the subject. Do we really believe we will do this single-handedly? Certainly there are instances of great minds who have developed ideas and activities that lead to the dynamic and successful betterment of our world community. But for the majority of us, it may be something altogether different.

Some information that has altered the course of my life includes the rather enormous idea of ‘reaching our highest potential’. After years of struggling to discover what that one, singular event or series of actions would look like, I stumbled across a profoundly insightful piece of writing. It suggested that our highest potential was not a single event, but rather each and every decision we make on a daily basis. The places we shop, the consumables we purchase, and the manner we invest our time, energy and resources, all contribute to the impact we have on society. Ultimately, this may be our largest opportunity in this lifetime to affect change.


So the idea of  reaching my highest potential’ has been reduced to a size that I can now not only understand, but can feel relatively successful at. Though this hardly means that I make flawless decisions or that mistakes haven’t been made, I can begin each day with the intent and the knowledge that I am doing my best. All of our small, seemingly insignificant actions do add up to progress in shaping the world we live in. And when I question whether the world isn’t perfect exactly the way it is as designed by some far superior power, I realize, again, that I am ultimately servicing the evolution of consciousness.

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Consider It A Privilege

Consider it a privilege to be living this day. And you’ll connect yourself to this day’s most valuable and positive possibilities.

  • When there is something that must be done, consider yourself privileged to be in a position to do it. Then step forward and make it happen with a thankful heart.
  • If a difficult obstacle blocks your efforts, consider yourself privileged to be able to work through it. It is an opportunity for you to grow stronger and more experienced.
  • Whatever life may send your way, consider yourself privileged to be living it. For that is an attitude that will surely enable you to get the most out of every moment.
  • Consider it a privilege, and your eyes will be opened to the best opportunities. Your thoughts and actions will be focused on creating real, meaningful value.
  • Consider it a privilege to be right where you are, doing precisely what you’re doing. And you’ll find opportunities for true fulfillment in every direction.

thank you Ralph Marston
http://greatday.com/motivate/index.html

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6 Critical Questions About Life On the Streets

I’ve always had problems with opportunists. I’ve known this all my life. Situations where one person is taking advantage of another jangle my nerves in inexplicable ways and cause me a great deal of stress. Strangely, I’ve wondered if, in another incarnation, I wasn’t oppressed myself, and the sensitivity is due to that. But for whatever reason, I really struggle with holding my tongue when I suspect a friend is being mistreated. And sadly, I find myself in a place where I lose respect for the victim as well, I assume because I expect them to see the world the same way I do. Questions:

  • Isn’t everyone is doing the best they can with the skills they have?
  • Aren’t I attached to an outcome here and need to let go of?
  • More importantly, it’s not my business and I should stay out of it?
  • Isn’t my judgment is as unskillful as that of the opportunist
  • Am I guilty myself of victimizing?
  • Is my ego trying to challenge that of the offender?

They say awareness is the first step toward enlightenment, but I can tell you, I hardly feel superior when a friend leaves me, walking toward the lion, knowing it’s not my battle. I seldom change any one’s mind, of course, and their plan of action, or inaction, sends me to this place of frustration and anger.


If all situations are indeed neutral, and our perception of them as either ‘good’ or ‘bad’ categorizes or paints the picture, why can’t I surrender to this more easily? After all, I don’t know the experiences that will shape the destiny of another. I’m not the choreographer in this scene, I am simply the audience. This is a lesson I’d like to move beyond because I’m allowing the opportunist to strike twice.

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Is It Simplifying or Is It Embracing The Largeness Of Life

It occurs to me that the navigation of this complex life and the promise of serenity if I truly succeed is not a matter of “simplifying my life”, as I read so often. I suppose I could say “no” more often, leave my woods and home and downsize to a condo, sell most of my earthly belongings, and even be happy spending the majority of each day in meditation.

But growth conjures up the idea of increasing, not decreasing. It seems my process is more about becoming a larger personality…one that can encompass the sizable responsibility I’ve willingly taken on in my life..one that accepts the uncertainty of my future…and one that embraces the risks presented to me as opportunity. And although the word fearless comes to mind as a necessary ingredient for this mission and I know it’s appropriate, surrender may be the spiritual concept I’m trying to come to terms with here.

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What If Hell Is

….when you die, the person you actually were in life meets the person you could have been in life?

Thanks to my friend Joy for sharing this gem.

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Health and Fitness -A Series

By far, the singular question everyone asks the dancer is “How can I lose some weight?” So this series of questions and answers that I’m often asked will start here.

The human body is an amazing machine and you can’t possibly not believe in a Divine force if you understand the mechanics even a little bit. And scrambled into the human condition of body, mind, spirit marches the ego and its all-powerful wants and needs. All of us know that weight is simply calories in and calories out and that no weight loss occurs unless we expend more energy than we consume. So we are left with the simple challenge of changing our habits since, obviously, if you’re asking the question, your equation isn’t working for you.

I’m unable to tell you what you are willing change. Only you can do that. But any one of the following will work-FYI. In other words, do one of these consistently, or better, a combination of them, and you will lose weight!

  • Will it be different eating habits?
  • Will it be a different fitness routine?
  • Will you give up driving and walk, bike, or run everywhere?
  • Will you stop eating dairy products?
  • Will you stop eating meat?
  • Will you stop eating processed foods?
  • Will you vow to not eat after 7:30pm every night?
  • Will you give up alcohol?

Professional dancers are considered some of the world’s finest athletes. Physical endurance training six days a week all day year-round necessitates learning about the body, specifically your body. Everyone is wired differently but we know what we want and what we don’t want. Or do we? The discipline required to study an art form is unique in this culture but anyone can master their own mind but not without effort.

  1. First develop a plan (or follow someone elses)
  2. Find a buddy, a partner, a trainer, or a sergeant to hold you accountable
  3. Follow the plan
  4. Achieve results

So we see the process is simple to understand, uncomplicated to devise, BUT (there’s alway a but, and yes, you will always have a butt) discipline is the magic element.  If I told you this bottle of 500 pills I’m giving you would drop the pounds, you’d take the pills consistently, wouldn’t you? That requires discipline. And hopefully you’re in the habit of brushing your teeth each night before bed. Habituated patterns come in both the ‘good’ and ‘bad’category. And we’re all capable when we engage the will, which, like any muscle, needs exercising. 

  • Do you have other areas of your life where you’re disciplined?
  • Can you develop this discipline?
  • How badly do you want this?
  • Are you willing to devote some time, energy and resources to it?

Changing patterns is hard for everyone. We aren’t, culturally, prone to caring well for ourselves. Most of us alive now have lived well, in the moment, accustomed to instant gratification. But we can grow up, change ourselves, lead healthier, fuller lives.

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Which Virtue Is Most Needed in Today’s Society?

According to Maya Angelou, speaking at the Greenville, South Carolina Peace Center in April, 2007…

“Without courage, you can’t practice the other virtues”.

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The Purposeful Life

A friend sent an exercise intended to discover your true life’s purpose.

  • Get a piece of paper and write ‘A purposeful life includes (you fill in the blank)’
  • On the next line, write ‘A purposeful life includes ( another thought or action)’
  • Continue in this manner
  • Instructions suggested writing until you cried, and your mission would become clear.

After several pages and no tears, I gave up on the exercise. I later decided that living a purposeful life might be more important to me than knowing my true life’s purpose, since that didn’t seem available at this time anyway.


For me, living a purposeful life includes a clear understanding of priorities, which changes regularly of course. With so much demanding our time and attention- community, our spiritual quest, career, family, financial necessities, and our health- it is critical to spend our time and energy wisely. All teachers and sages suggest a regular time each day of setting priorities, seeking clarity, and reviewing intentions.

Architect Sarah Susanka, author of The Not So Big House has written another book, The Not So Big Life: Making Room For What Really Matters. She writes “The real living is being there completely in whatever we’re doing..”, which is difficult to do if we are torn in many directions with unclear priorities.


Clarity is a precious thing, and however we can manage that in our busy lives, it’s worth the effort. This seems to be yet one more instance where age and experience is a blessing. It’s more clear now than when I was in my 20s and 30s where my energy is best directed, how to gracefully say no to a distraction I don’t need, and why to be spontaneous. But that is less about age than about the practices I’ve adopted that require an effortful focus on my values, my priorities, and my spirit.

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Love Only You

Thanks to my friend Tawni for sending me the following:

Love Only You
 

Love only you.
Take all the love you want to give to
others, and share it with yourself.
There is no need or purpose to try
and love anybody else.
When you truly love yourself, you will inevitably
resonate love for everyone and everything.
Love cannot be bounded as a gift and then given.
Rather, love is limitless freedom and can only be
expressed, and this sole expression
comes from
you loving you.
 

from The Resting Sage (2006)
by Chad Christopher Cobb

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Disasters, Big and Small

Integrity seems to be a concept that we humans need to reassess and examine on a fairly regular basis to determine if we are truly functioning within our boundaries and those established by our community. But as we strive for a life of inner peace, we need to shine the bright light of introspection on the following questions:

*Does this decision enable my highest potential?
*Is this the best I have to offer?
*Am I giving 100% and if not, why?
*Are my actions in keeping with my values?
*Will I be proud of my conduct tomorrow, next week, next year?
*What are my other options in this situation?
*Would I be proud of my children if they reacted this way? (personal favorite)

These questions are worth examining. Otherwise we are left with the fall out of our bad decisions, viewed from near and far as those we don’t want to claim. To truly take responsibility for our behavior, the filter needs to do a good job of considering all sides of an issue. We are then able to act rather than react.

Mistakes are bound to happen along the way. Everyone’s life is filled with inevitable pain, and hearts will be broken. But we can prepare ourselves with an introspection practice that supports our values, and a lifestyle that honors our worth. Is it the daily walk you take, the quiet time first thing in the morning, your meditation practice? Can you find some quiet time playing with the baby, petting the dog, or in the bath tub? In our crazy busy lives, you have to have some activity that allows your brain to rest. This isn’t the time you spend staring at a screen for any purpose, your workout time, or when you do the dishes. This is a time of rest, true repose. You aren’t hoping for a revelation, the answer to some question, or the means to solve your life’s current riddle.

Growth is incremental for us all. Teachers are everywhere yet the most powerful is the one within. The willingness to hear the lessons is half of what we need in order to follow the enlightened path. But the other half of the equation is the discipline to practice.

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Discipline

I rise each morning before dawn, prepare a cup of tea, and sit on my meditation cushion. Whatever happens after that is inconsequential. I’ve made the most important decision of the day. Or should I say, I avoided giving myself the choice of not showing up.

Discipline- an activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill…this is almost a foreign concept in our world today, yet we have these expectations of ourselves that we will regularly __, ___, and ___ (you fill in the blanks). But disciplining ourselves to exercise regularly, or eat properly, or take time for ourselves, etc, refers to imposing our will, and if you’re commitment is weak, you can expect to fall below your expectations.

For years, I have been trying to change habituated patterns that don’t serve me well. For awhile, it seemed like every time I opened a book, a magazine, or heard a wise speaker, the subject of will came up. It was spooky!! Finally I realized that this was a lesson I needed to learn… and even though my training as a dancer has served me very well in committing to daily rituals and routines, making the best choice in every situation remains a challenge.

The will is like any muscle apparently, and needs to be exercised on a regular basis. This is how it becomes strong and serves you. Ironically, for me anyway, discipline seems to require eliminating the choice and just doing. 

When I was younger, I remember thinking that to be a great person required some huge AHA type of experience – like discovering a vaccine or leading a nation. But with study and attention, it seems that greatness is more about making consistently good decisions. I’m sure it would be wonderful to end suffering or figure out a way to feed the hungry and end homelessness. But this type of thinking allowed me to ignore all the small decisions I needed to make each day. It allowed me to not pay attention to the mundane tasks that all required good decisions on a daily basis. Now that I’m older, the path is more clear. Discipline is more about making hundreds of smaller decisions well rather than waiting for that gigantic life-changing event that may or may not come.

I’ve also grown up a lot of course. With the help of many fine teachers, many of them that will never know me who I befriended in print and helped me through some of the darkest nights of my soul, I’ve needed some stern, in-your-face kinds of lessons about growing up. We live in a community here on planet earth which therefore requires there be some common practices and rules. Sometimes these are called laws, sometimes it’s simply good etiquette or manners. It’s a bit astounding that this is in such short supply here in the 21st century but we do live in difficult times – there’s a shortage of good role models and in many cases sound parenting, not to mention admirable leaders.

So keep an eye out for all things discipline related in your life – be proud when even the smallest of accomplishments demonstrate your progress even if it’s just the daily flossing, and forgive yourself when you fall a bit short with some of the rest. Tomorrow is a new day of course and another opportunity to work that muscle.

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Giving Reverence

It’s springtime in Minnesota, and it seems there’s no better time to witness the abundance around us. The sage wisdom outside my haven inspires all that I write here, and due credit is given. And all of the other teachers in my life, too many to mention, are with me here today and every day. I give reverence to the Divine teacher, the saints and healers that guide me, and the pure and holy teachings themselves.

 I have disciplined myself to begin each day with meditation, prayer, reflection, and gratitude…except when I don’t. Often I am distracted and ungrounded and simply go through the motions, knowing that it’s better than doing nothing at all. At several periods in my life, I have felt my tools are not serving me as well as they could, but I never question the methods. I realize it’s the practitioner and not the practice itself.

I am off to spend some time with my 15 yr old daughter, my truest test of patience and love. Someday, when I am old and crabby, our roles will be reversed.

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