Friday, July 31, 2015

Joy walking on a summer morning

Talking a joy walk this morning
Down to my happy place
Four days of cool, two with rain
And the neighborhood shines
I’ll amble on down toward the river
Past the church
And the duplex where the guy
Is always outside smoking
Past the roundabout
Newly repainted in its hippy colors
I’ll cross the two busy streets
And climb the stairs
In the old laundry
Inhale the age of the building
105 years at least
And settle in to painting
There’ll be joy in the return as well
For it’s a cool morning
And I’ll still have breeze at 11. 

Jill Kelly, 2015

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Loved this post from Leo Babauta

Posted: 27 Jul 2015 08:09 AM PDT
By Leo Babauta
This morning my son Seth woke up, gave me my morning hug, and then I told him that he and I are gods.
We’re the Gods of This Day, and we have the power to make today one of the most amazing days ever.
We don’t have unlimited power, but we have great influence. To make today amazing, we need to:
  1. Choose activities we love, or turn ordinary things into amazing activities.
  2. Really pay attention to each activity, and really appreciate its amazingness.
Or, we could just let today be ordinary and not care. We chose to care.
So we spent about 20 minutes thinking out what we could do today to make it incredible, and we came up with:
  • Breakfast: Pancakes (Noelle is going to make them)
  • Read Harry Potter together
  • The Gods & House-elves Great Cleaning Race (we are supposed to clean house a bit, so we’re turning it into a game)
  • Lunch: Home-made pizza (I’ll make the dough, Seth makes the toppings)
  • Ride bikes
  • Play in the park
  • Play chess
  • Read our novels (I’m reading American Gods, Seth is reading Candy Shop War)
  • Write / program (I’ll write, Seth programs on Scratch)
  • Dinner: Teriyaki tofu stir-fy
  • Evening: watch our favorite TV shows on our projector
The day will probably not go exactly as planned, so we’ll have to be flexible, but I love that we spent some time imagining a great day that’s within our power to create.
And as we go through today, the entire day will be an exercise in mindfulness and gratitude/appreciation.
Not every day can be planned — usually we have to take what comes, or we have constraints to work within. That’s OK, but as the Gods of This Day, we still have the power to make it amazing.
As a fellow God of This Day, what will you do with your power?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Camp Innerkid

Some of you know that on my spiritual director's advice, I am taking the month of August off from paid work, a first whole month off in 25 years. When I told my friend Penny about this plan, she asked me what I planned to do with the month. Not much, I said, my commitment is to just be with myself and treat myself and my inner children selves as kindly and lovingly as possible. She then asked me what I liked to do as a child and I told her I liked to go to camp (both Camp Fire Girls and Presbyterian Church camp).

On further questioning, I told her I liked having a bit of a schedule, I liked ritual, I liked craft time and swimming, I liked quiet time for writing home, I liked taking a nap. I liked singing around the fire. Hiking in the woods with mosquitoes got a pass.

So I'm making some plans for Camp Innerkid this next month. I don't yet know what all that will involve. I want to keep things low cost (no incoming revenue all month) and low key: no big travel plans, no big projects. I will keep writing and painting as they're very compatible with camp but productivity won't be the goal; fun will be. I can give my inner selves some choices of activities each day and see what I/we feel like doing.

At the same time, I will have some adult responsibilities to maintain. Going to the gym, attending webinars and phone calls for my money program, a doctor's appt. But I'm not putting anything much else in my calendar.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Intuition showed up and I almost didn't listen

Over the years, I've gotten better at listening to the nudge inside, which shows up mainly as a vague indicator of things to do or not to do. It'll indicate the best choice on a menu for what I claim to be wanting (better health) or suggest I work out a few more minutes at the gym. It even stays my hand occasionally at the grocery store or computer mouse when I'm eager to buy something I don't need.

I listen to these nudges and act on them only a small amount of the time. More often than not, I'm thinking Get away from me. I know what I want as if it were an adversary rather than an advocate.

Last May I met with a new client. I'll call him Chuck. He lived about 30 miles away and wanted to meet me in person, so I agreed to give him an hour of my time to answer questions. He showed up 25 minutes late without texting or returning my text. Told me he'd had to walk the dog. My intuition was saying "disorganized, inconsiderate" but I was saying to him, "That's okay."

Next, he kept me about 90 minutes chatting and asking questions when we agreed on an hour. I kept trying to leave and he had one more question and then one more. Intuition was still whispering "disorganized, inconsiderate" and I was still not listening.

You can guess the rest of the story: he didn't keep me posted on his progress, he asked for more time at the very last minute when I could no longer fill the calendar with another project, he wanted a special discount and a special payment plan other than what we had agreed to, and when I said no, he blamed me for changing our arrangements and threatened to find another editor.

In the end, I encouraged him to do just that. I didn't think much about the money lost. I didn't worry about the days without a project. I just thanked my intuition for its guidance and promised to listen better. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Elegy for Quincy

When I walk in the door
She bursts into tears
Two days of worsening news
Quincy's heart is failing
His lungs are full
The drugs of no use
She describes his fight to breathe
And my heart breaks for her
There is no happy ending ahead
Only release for the one to go
Only grief for the one left behind

We talk, we sit in silence together
We can feel death approaching
No grim reaper though but peace like
The fog in Sandburg's poem

I drive us out to the hospital
The night is too warm, uninviting
But we make our way
Toward the relief and release
Of love's contract

Oxygen has brought no change
Quincy is desperate, drowning
She steps up, she steps into
The responsibility of choice
She says her goodbyes
The vet slips the relief
Into Quincy's veins
He relaxes, he rests, he goes.

On the drive back,
No tears, no remorse
Just the presence of his absence
And the deeper bond of our friendship

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Scarcity vs. Suffiency or Where does the time go?

On retreat this week, one of the participants was talking about her chronic frustration with time and energy: she has some chronic health problems that impact her energy level and she feels she never has enough time or energy to do all the many things she would like to. While we can all relate in some way to this, her situation is more acute and she often has only 3-4 hours of energy in a day.

After she'd talked about this for a while, I mentioned the themes of sufficiency and scarcity that my money program often talks about, and how all that's needed to move out of this kind of suffering is an attitudinal switch, a reframing of your reality, not a change in your circumstances. We get to choose whether we maintain permanent residence in Scary City, as my friend Brian calls scarcity, or whether we move to Sufficiency.

The retreat participant was so intrigued by this idea that she took on identifying things during the day each day that were sufficient, satisfying, enough. She began sharing them with us each evening at circle. Bird song, sighting of a deer in the meadow, a good talk at lunch, solving a problem in her manuscript, walking 10,000 steps. Her lists were lovely and inspirational, and the change in her whole self was amazing. I was greatly inspired.

What satisfactions or evidence of sufficiency would be on your list today?

Friday, July 10, 2015

Gratitude for the cool

I don't do heat well. Never have. Even as a child, I would get miserably cranky and uncomfortable in any kind of heat wave. While other kids were frying eggs on the sidewalk, I was lying in the basement on an army cot reading. We've just been through the hottest early summer in 100 years with about 18 days of 90+, which is so unlike our climate of cool, rainy Junes, moderate Julys, and an occasional 4-day heat wave in August. We are all hoping this is not the new normal.

Fortunately for me, I spent 9 of the 18 days on Whidbey Island, north of Seattle, where the combination of moisture and breeze off of Puget Sound, many trees, and very little pavement kept the temperatures in the mid- to upper 70s. Today, in Portland, it is much cooler. We started off with marine clouds from the coast and are slowly warming to low 80s. My place is comfortable and I have energy for projects.

It does help to stay in the moment, be here now, but it is also wonderful to see the forecast ahead is for more moderate temperatures. I am so grateful.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The spirit of the Money Program

This article from the New York Times really captures the essence of the attitudes and practices we are learning in my money course. Plus it's just great advice.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

More on less

Give up the world; give up self; finally, give up God.
Find god in rhododendrons and rocks,
passers-by, your cat.
Pare your beliefs, your absolutes.
Make it simple; make it clean.
No carry-on luggage allowed.
Examine all you have
with a loving and critical eye, then
throw away some more.
Repeat. Repeat.
Keep this and only this:
   what your heart beats loudly for
   what feels heavy and full in your gut.
There will only be one or two
things you will keep,
and they will fit lightly
in your pocket.
~ Sheri Hostetler ~
(A Cappella: Mennonite Voices in Poetry)
Thanks to my good friend Maryann Phillips for sending this to me.