Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A great post from my wise friend Rabbi Brian Mayer

Anger is ok. Hate is not.
(Please read and share)

Over the years, I have written a lot about ANGER.

I have written about the proper ways to be angry. I have written about not taking in other people's anger. I have written about how even enlightened-minded folk have anger. I have written about the natural and distorted ways of expressing anger. I have written about the harm of repressing anger.

In light of the upcoming inauguration, I want to add two things about anger.

1) The cause of anger
There are two causes to all of the anger in the world:
We get angry because we don't get what we want.
We get angry because we get what we don't want.

This is from Shantideva, an 8th century Indian monk.
I often ponder and think, wow, in the realm of human operations, nothing much has changed.

I am not getting the president I wanted.
I am angry about that.
But, I don't need to act out on anger.
I don't need to be filled with hate.
This brings me to my second point.

2) The difference between hate and anger
Anger is a natural emotion. We feel it. Babies feel it.
But, hatred, bitterness, and rage are distortions of anger. These are not something that babies – or any animal except us humans – do.
Hatred is holding on to anger.
The desire to retaliate. To make ourselves feel bigger. To act out in anger. This causes harm.
To quote Michelle Obama,
"When they go low, we go high."
Do not give in to hatred.

Buddhaghosa, a 5th century commentator on the works of the Buddha, wrote,
"Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned."
So, what to do instead of hate?

Take your anger, feel it. But, then find love and put it into action.

Let me conclude with words from Dr. Martin Luther King – who is celebrated today in the United States,
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
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Friday, January 27, 2017

Three thoughts from Anne Lamott

"Awe is why we are here."

"Unto us, much is given. We just have to be open for business."

"If we stay where we are, where we're stuck, where we're comfortable and safe, we die there."

Monday, January 23, 2017

A wonderful and funny book on prayer

Help! Thanks! Wow! is Anne Lamott's lovely and heartfelt conversation about prayer. She's an advocate of keeping things really simple (much of her languaging comes from her 12-Step experience), and she explains that these are all the prayers we need.

  • Help! for when we're in trouble or at the end of our own abilities
  • Thanks! for what we are given and blessed with
  • Wow! for all the beauty and glory of the world
As a recovering intellectual cynic, I struggle with any kind of ritualized prayer practice. I do believe in a Higher Power, in the ineffable Mystery of creation, but I don't believe in religion. However, her practice of Help Thanks Wow is one I can get behind.

Her book is funny and straightforward and a delight to read.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Working with my 2017 possibilities

For the last nine years, I've spent the New Year's holiday on retreat with friends up on Whidbey Island north of Seattle. One of our rituals is to write a list of our accomplishments for the previous year, all the things we're proud of doing or being or completed. We include this celebration as part of our New Year's Eve gathering and I really love hearing about what my friends have been up to.

On New Year's Day, we gather in circle and create lists of what we're wanting for the next year. We used to create to-do lists, and then we shifted to goals, and now we've come to our senses and we create lists of possibilities. Possibility allows us to be outrageous in our thinking, always a good thing at the planning stage.

This year, my list has 31 items on it, 31 possibilities for projects, dreams, practices, rituals, connections. It's a wonderfully rich and full list. Here are a few items:

  • Stay abstinent from sugar, flour, and snacks.
  • Get to my goal weight.
  • Publish novel #5 (I finished the last set of revisions on retreat). 
  • Travel to Ireland and Amsterdam.
  • Change my relationship with the phone.
  • Take bigger risks in  my studio.
  • Get just the right car.
My next task is to create a list of ways and means to make these happen. So I've headed a page for each in my creative journal and I'm beginning to brainstorm those.

What's on your list of possibilities this year? 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

10 Acts of Resistance for Inauguration Day

It seems most important to post this link.


Friday, January 13, 2017

Poem evoked by South Africa

A good friend of mine travelled last fall to South Africa on what proved to be a magical trip for her. She wrote this poem and shared it with me. I loved it so much I wanted to share it with you.

Nancilee Baker

As dawn awakens from undivided darkness

Look at Kariega’s cliffs like suspended prayers

Contemplate the emerald green
The quiet cilantro outcroppings

The still shades of tangerine
And canary in the wildflowers

Look at the prickly pear cactus
An invasive question mark to winding wonders

Listen to the termite tunnels
Sing silently the veld lullaby

Remember the fragrance of rain
After a thunderstorm

The earth echoes in the ebony night sky
Stars reveal the way a heart holds dreams

Distances dance deliriously
To give rise to a collision of sacred breath

Surrounded by this holy ground
Mystic sweet communion is delivered

Monday, January 9, 2017

Remembering my mother

Today, January 9, 2017, is my mother's 100th birthday. She only lived to be 80, done in by mini-strokes, too much alcohol, and the dementia that probably came from both. Her life was not what she had wanted (a career, freedom); instead she was married for more than 50 years, gave birth to five children and raised four. She struggled to find her way to use her considerable intelligence in a world that wanted women to stay home and be companions to their husbands. She was deeply loved by my father, who also wanted her to stay home, and I don't think he understood her. Maybe it's hard to get both things.

My relationship with her was complicated. I was born less than a year after her first daughter died of sudden infant death syndrome. She had no support for grieving that loss in 1945. I didn't know about the sister who died until I was 12, a well-kept family secret. My mother and I never discussed it. But I always felt wrong in my relationship with her somehow, even as a small child. I knew she loved me but I always felt tolerated, not accepted. And sadly, by the time I got sober, she was losing her mind and we got no real reconciliation.

She taught me many things: to love books and reading, to love clothes and color and beauty (although our tastes diverged wildly), to include discipline in my recipe for a happy life, to give away what we don't need, to be kind to animals, to take good physical care of myself. I also learned a great deal from what she herself was unable to do for herself.

I'm one who believes that we choose our parents, that we choose the family to be born into and so I offer my gratitude today to my mother and a fervent wish for her to be in peace.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Being Elemental: A poem for the New Year

Ethel Gullette wrote this beautiful poem last November. I asked her for permission to share it with you as I think it's a wonderful expression of hope for the New Year

Being Elemental

Be like air
living lightly on the earth,
deeply empty
but powerful in movement, in change,
hiding your glories
but spreading your grace
on all who need you.
Know how to bend
around obstacles;
disturb the still waters
when the times demand it,
and rock gently
the chairs that hold the weak.
Fly bravely through schisms
and know how to settle into stillness.
Save yourself
for the next day’s journey
and pace yourself in the dance.

Be like water,
balancing your tides
in response to the quality of light,
to the deepness of the dark.
Be buoyant for beings who need
to float and rest.
Content to be still,
be ready to ripple, even to roar,
on inevitable route toward the unifying ocean.
Do not waste your time on debris -
let it be irrelevant; push it to the side.
Gentle and resilient,
know to find ways
around, over, under, through
the barriers,
always willing to alter course.
Be sleek and soft as down,
prone to quiet,
but not incapable
of murmuring a warning,
of pounding out a roar,
strong enough to roll with rage,
cutting a gorge through mountains of injustice.
Flow with ease,
unresistant to change,
unperturbed by disturbance,
undaunted by obstacles,
clinging to nothing but freedom.
Be thankful for tears.

Be like earth,
solid, despite all changes in weather;
accept disruption,
blessing the rain, the sun, the heat, the cold.
Be willing to break up and reconfigure,
melt and congeal,
adjust as needed, without resentment.
Provide for other beings
a place to take root and grow,
nurture beauty
and soften a path for the footsteps of the needy.
Fear nothing
and welcome transformation.
Stay firm and calm in the winds of turmoil,
being patient with cracks and tears,
dislocations and realignments.
Believe in balance and restitution.
Know equanimity.

Be like fire,
burning slow, bright and true.
Shining with clarity and kindness,
knowledge and forgiveness.
Show a path to plenitude and strength,
cheering those who need the light to find a way to faith.
Be a steadfast beacon, faced with weakness and need.
Shed warmth when surrounded by despair,
by cold and loneliness.
Present an antidote to fear.
When needed, burn hot,
incinerating lies, greed and cruelty;
purify infections,
and hone intentions to the good.
Burn whitely to combat the dread of darkness,
of illusion and of doubt,
etching images and hope
of enlightenment and peace.

Ethel Gullette, November 2016

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Bright Line Eating Discount Coupons

The next Bright Line Eating Bootcamp is coming up and it has a new reduced price to make it affordable to more folks. The full price is $497 now and I have coupons for $100 off that. If you're interested in a coupon, please email me at sobertruths@gmail.com. If you struggle with food the way I did, you might want to consider this program.


Monday, January 2, 2017

Three months of Miracle Mornings

For the last three months, I've been participating in Hal Elrod's Miracle Morning idea. Here are the basics: We pick six 10-minute activities to do first thing in the morning that will move us on into a great day. I am finding this a really wonderful practice to do.

Here are my six: meditation, Grid Diary, Paper 53, reading, affirmations, and reflection. Grid Diary is an app for iPhone and iPad that lets you ask yourself up to 8 self-designed questions about the day before and type in your answers. You can also email them to a buddy as I do. Every three weeks or so, I change the questions though there's usually always one about what I was curious about and one about where I was generous in my day, two things I like to track. Paper 53 is a very fun sketching and painting app, also free. I'm attaching one of my sketches here.I generally read something thoughtful and reflective, take notes, and then do my reflection time. I end up with affirmations.

I don't always spend 60 minutes. Sometimes I set a timer and sometimes not, depending on my day. But I do approach the hour with a spirit of restfulness and ease. The few days this quarter that I haven't had time to do it have felt off. If you're looking for a peaceful change to make this New Year, you might want to give some version of this a try.