Pema Chodron

http://video.pbs.org/video/1383845135/

I'm not Buddhist, but I must say that this is one fascinating person.  If you can spare less than an hour from your frazzled, hectic, overwhelmed life.....   click on the link above.

Post-Christmas Woes

Do you like UNdecorating after Christmas?  I don't. 

Do you run out of ideas for how to use the leftovers?  I do.

Do you find yourself groaning when faced with anything sweet?  I most definitely do.

Do you discover pine needles in the strangest places?  Yeah, me too.  But that doesn't happen only at Christmas.  With an outdoorsy, rugged Sweet Hubs like mine, there's a constant stream of twigs, leaves, pine needles, sawdust, gravel....you name it.  It varies by season, but something is always migrating into my house as a stowaway in his boots and clothes.

One Christmas Morning....

My Mom is a very loving Mom, but she was never an especially demonstrative Mom.  I don't recall Mom ever sitting down to play with us, or coloring with us.  If we got a bedtime story, it was generally Dad who read it.  Mom showed us her love in other ways, but she is not playful or impulsive.

My Mom is also an insomniac.  (Thanks for passing THAT on, Mom!!)  You might find her up and about at any time of night.  One very early Christmas morning, when I was about 14, I got up to get a drink of water. 

It must have been about 2 in the morning, and as I tiptoed down the stairs, I noticed the glow of the Christmas tree lights stretching across the room.  Wondering who left the lights on, and knowing that we always shut them off at bedtime so to not dry out the tree, I quietly went downstairs intending to unplug the tree and get a drink..

There was my Mom, sitting cross-legged on the floor, ever so gently...............holding presents up to her ear one at a time, and shaking them.

I turned around and went back upstairs, my thirst forgotten, and wondering about this side of Mom I had never guessed at.

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Snapshot

Sometimes, there simply isn't enough time in the day to eat all the potato chips you want.

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A Perfect Christmas

I don't exactly love the holidays.  I used to love them.  I want to love them.  I think I could learn to love them again.  In actual practice, though, I am thwarted in my quest to love the holidays almost every year.

When I was a child, we had a lovely tradition.  We had many nice traditions, but this was one of my favorites.  We children would get up on Christmas mornings, open our stockings, and then we would set the table with our Christmas china and prepare breakfast for our parents.  The sun rose late at that latitude, so we would have a candlelight breakfast.  Mom and Dad got to sleep a little later, which I'm sure was the origin of the tradition, my big sister did the majority of the cooking, I set the table and we all had a lovely quiet breakfast together.

We received nice presents, but I don't recall Christmas being about the presents.  We looked forward to the whole experience, not just the gifts.  We went to midnight mass. We spent time together, both the immediate family and extended relatives, too.  We laughed a lot.  We listened to carols and feasted and enjoyed being together on that special day.

It was that way everywhere, even in school.  People looked forward to Christmas as a holiday, instead of an opportunity for some competetive shopping.  I can remember hearing adults humming carols in the grocery store and then hearing other adults join in.  No, they didn't stand around and sing together (magically accompanied by an orchestra) in the store, but there was a definite sense of joyous expectation at the coming of Christmas.

Christmas doesn't feel that way anymore.  We still love getting together with our loved ones.  But Christmas as a HOLIDAY isn't about that anymore.  Turn on any radio, tv or web page and it seems like someone is demanding that I buy something for someone.  

Our National notion of the Christmas spirit isn't about the birth of a Savior anymore.  In our culture, Christmas has become about shopping.  And conspicuous, ostentatious displays of decorating.  I honestly do not remember my Dad hanging any lights on the outside of our house.  I expect he did, but maybe not.  We lived way out in the woods and no one would have seen a decorated house anyway.  Mom decorated the inside and that was always fun.  That was decorating for US, not the neighbors.  Who do you decorate your house for?

I think I want to recapture the Christmas of my childhood.  I want to see the light of childlike joy and anticipation in my sweet hub's face.  I've never seen that.  I want to be excited to see the visiting relatives.  I want laughter and love and joyful singing to fill my house. 

I want Christmas to go back to being about miracles, love, redemption, joy, reverance and wonder.  But I want it to be that way everywhere, not just at home with my family and in church.  I want to hear children singing Christmas carols, instead of asking for a Wii and a big screen TV of their own and an Ipad.  

Wouldn't it be cool if the gigantic superstores of today had window displays and decorations and Christmas music playing, but the expectation was to find simple, meaningful gifts instead of bringing them into the black for the year?  I mean REALLY.  Does anyone need another boxed gift set with flavored coffee and unusable mugs shaped like penguins?  Did anyone ever need a singing bass to hang on the wall?

Giving is a joy.  I'm not against giving;  I love giving!  I love finding that perfect gift for someone I care about.   It doesn't HAVE to come from a store, because giving and shopping are NOT interchangeable ideas.


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Many A Truth Is Said In Jest

I thought I was only half-kidding.  I used to tell people that someday, they'd see my name in the Barnes and Noble.  This isn't exactly what I meant when I said that, but it's getting close!!

"A Gathering of Light" is now available at Barnes and Noble (.com)!

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Nagging Question

Isn't there a way we could require some minimum level of intelligence or common sense, before we permit people to vote?

On Silence

There was an interesting post I read a few weeks ago.  It's a post about silence. 

Are you good at silence?   Can you stay content, not talking and no one talking to you, no music, no artificial sound, for more than a moment or two?  A lot of people find silence very uncomfortable or even downright scary.

On Tuesday morning, I was sitting (once again) on a hillside, looking for elk.  The sweet hubs was there, but we weren't talking.  Not that we "weren't talking" as in not speaking, we were both just silent.  We sat there, a few feet apart, for several hours and said very little during that time.

I admit I spent part of that silent time thinking how cold my toes were.  Mostly, I listened to the silence.  There were a few birds hanging out in the scrub oak, busily doing bird things, but other than that it was silent. 

It's amazing how much thinking you can do when you aren't distracted by the ordinary trappings of daily life.  There was no phone to answer, no chore to attend to, no refrigerator to raid.  When your thoughts turn inward, you might find that you have time to examine your life, yourself, your motives, your ambitions, your desires, your joys and your sadness.  You might become reacquainted with your strengths and your weaknesses. 

My normal life contains quite a few opportunities for silence.  On the weekends I am often alone in the house and I usually spend part of that time with the most perfect silence I can achieve--neighbor dogs notwithstanding.  But during that time I am also distracted by making battle plans for attacking my housework, deciding what to make for dinner and the myriad of other little bothers and blessings of life.

It puts me in mind of Henry David Thoreau.  "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately."  Sometimes, we need to get out of our regular environs and get reacquainted with our own hearts.  We need to put away the distractions of the day and reconnect to ourselves.   Our modern lives are so full of attention-grabbers that we seem to get caught up in the whirlwind of demands on our time, effort and focus. 

Stepping back away from television, cell phones, newspapers, Internet, people, problems, pets, stores, traffic....... (it's a long list, isn't it?) helps us embrace the silence again.  It helps us become re-centered. Henry David Thoreau decided that he couldn't live deliberately, giving his full measure of attention to each moment of the day;  he died in 1862!  How much more attention-diverting is life today?  We all need to find a little space to breathe, to think our own thoughts without distraction, and just BE.

Sitting on a frosty hillside, dressed in camouflage, might be just the way to do that.

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Another Day of Hunting

You might not know this about me, but I'm short.  Some people don't notice because I usually wear high heels.  Some people don't notice because I am generally seated at a desk.  But I'm short.  A short, middle-aged woman with a desk job.  In other words, I'm not exactly a graceful gazelle out there in the wild.

My sweet hubs and I were sitting on yet another hillside, looking for elk.  The two previous days of hunting were fruitless for me, so we were at it again.  At last, Sweet Hubs sees an elk a long way off;  we put on our packs and pick up our gear and plan to trudge over there, close enough to try to get a shot.

This is central Arizona we're talking about here, folks.  We grow two basic kinds of brush:  the kind with stickers and the kind with BIG stickers.  Most of it grows about up to my neck, which is oddly appropriate. 

We are picking our way down a steep, brush-covered, rocky hillside, when I, with my pack on and my rifle slung on my back, get my size 6 feet tangled up in some of that thorny brush and slowly...slowly....ever so slowly......... over I go. 

The barrel of the gun sticks down into the mud like I was trying to turn it into a fence post.  My pack is caught under the small of my back, pitching my legs way up into the air and my head is on the downhill side of the slope.  And there I laid, like a giant overturned turtle. 

If momma had signed me up for ballet lessons, maybe this wouldn't have happened.  I wallowed around for a minute in the rocks and mud and thorns, chuckling to myself because this is all so damn ridiculous, while my sweet hubs tries to clean the mud out of the barrel of my gun.  OK, it's actually HIS gun, and he can keep it.  It carries no luck at all for me. 

Just call me "The Turtle".


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