Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Deer Sanctuary

Today is a lovely sunny day, most welcome after all our rain, and so after getting to watch a spider and a slug while showering in the sunshine, I decided it was a good day to pick up dog poop.  Aside from the obvious benefits found in this occupation, I was thrilled to discover, as I approached the ravine area in my backyard, a lovely doe and her fawn.  The dogs didn't notice, so after getting them inside the house, I got my camera with telephoto lens and snapped some photos.  I'm posting my favorite here, but I posted all eight of them on my website photo of the day page, the link to which is at the top of this page for those who might enjoy more photos.  This certainly was a magnificent reward for doing a necessary chore!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Guru Wisdom

Look what happens when I don't post for a couple days--I've now done three posts today.  But one of the sites I follow, Daily Cup of Tao,  posted this today and it really hit the mark with me.  I hope you enjoy it!
The highest guru lives within. All other gurus are compared to this inner guru and in time the inner guru realizes its perfection.
So there is room for the imperfect guru. Room for all imperfection, all error, all the trials that may come your way - they are all encouraging the inner guru to realize its perfection. 
I and my imperfect guru will now find lunch and then get back to warping my loom.  Namaste!

Words of Wisdom

I found the following quote from Stephen Mitchell's translation of the Tao Te Ching and I thought it fit both my mood and my existential thoughts lately, so I wanted to share it.  Now if I could just remember this at times of stress it would be wonderful!

Chapter 29
   Do you want to improve the world?
I don’t think it can be done.
The world is sacred.
It can’t be improved.
If you tamper with it, you’ll ruin it.
If you treat it like an object, you’ll lose it.
There is a time for being ahead,
a time for being behind;
a time for being in motion,
a time for being at rest;
a time for being vigorous,
a time for being exhausted;
a time for being safe,
a time for being in danger.
The master sees things as they are,
without trying to control them.
She lets them go their own way,
and resides at the center of the circle.

Justifying One's Life

Ok, another existential question.  Does one's life need to be justified and if so, do we justify our existence by what we do or simply by our very being?  This past month or two have been difficult for a variety of health reasons, each relatively minor on their own, but which have combined to leave me in a state of near exhaustion at the moment.  But in spite of that, I have labored on with my quilting, which I do really, really enjoy, to make portable hug quilts (see the link at the top of this blog page if you want to view photos of them) for those in need.  And in fact, I have a request list from Vashon Youth and Family Services for 19 quilts which I know I need to get on with as winter is fast approaching.  However, the last few days since my second cataract surgery I have been particularly exhausted, and so I've not laid out the next group of three quilts yet.  Yesterday, in fact, I decided to warp my loom.  Back in mid-August I'd downsized my loom when the lady who'd originally owned my first loom (an 8 shaft) had seller's regret.  Truth be known, I am primarily a quilter, especially since I have a lot of charitable outlets for my quilts, and only secondarily a weaver (I'm also very new to that art form), and the 8 shaft loom was too large for my over-crowded living room in the first place, and too overwhelming for a new weaver in the second, so I was very happy to do a swap where I let the original owner have her 8 shaft loom back and I got a smaller 4 shaft loom instead.  I even had yarn already to wound to put on the loom, pink cotton for hand towels for me, but with all my quilting, the loom still hadn't been used over 2 months later.  All that changed yesterday when I decided I didn't feel up to the rigors of laying out more quilts, but that I could sit quietly at my loom (named Charlotte for Charlotte's Web) and begin warping her.  I could take my time, and no decisions were necessary, and I could just relax and enjoy the feel of the yarn, etc.

However, I still have the 19 quilt requests on my board.  Part of me worries that I'm not justifying my existence in this world since I'm not doing anything which is productive for others.  But a large part of me is just plain tired.  I suspect that as with most things, it is a matter of balance.  Taking time to nurture myself is a good thing.  Making something for myself isn't without merit.  As long as I find a balance, as I know I shall as I recover my health, between doing for myself and doing for others, I suspect it is all ok.  So for now, instead of doing at a frantic pace, I shall when I can, just be, in this case, just be a quiet weaver.  Of course, I will still tutor my student later this morning and then teach an SAT prep class at the library tomorrow, but otherwise, I shall try to listen to my body, slow my pace, and just take time to be kind to me and hopefully regain my strength.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cataract Surgery

Well, I do rather feel as if I've been put through the wringer, but my second cataract surgery, right eye this time, went well, and my vision is definitely much improved.  I didn't sleep well last night, and then got up at 4AM to get ready.  My good friend Blythe picked me up at 6:30 for a 7AM ferry ride to Tacoma, and we were at Pacific Cataract and Laser Institute at 7:50 for my 8:30 surgery.  I was the second surgery of the day and it took 13 minutes--I had a different surgeon who takes a longer time, but that was fine with me.  He said he also did some extra polishing so that I might not get the secondary cataract, or at least not so quickly.  We were on our way back to the ferry before 9:30, and I was home just ahead of 10:30.  By noon I could take the tape off my eye, and at first it was all really disorienting as I not only had double vision, but one of the images was rotated about 45 degrees, making things really like something out of Alice in Wonderland!  But by 2PM my vision was actually very good indeed.  I do have the astigmatism issues, but my distance vision is great, and I'm finding that I need less power in my mid-range and reading cheaters.  Blythe picked me up again just after 2PM so I could be one of the witnesses for her re-done will, but otherwise, I've just sat in my recliner, to Sasha's great joy!  I am really wiped out and I know I'll be in bed early tonight!  But I suspect I'll be better by tomorrow and that my recovery will go smoothly.

Monday, October 25, 2010

I Heard A Pinecone Fall!

I've written before about the joys of my outside shower, but this morning was another idyllic moment.  My friends have commented that they can understand showering outside on lovely summer days, but that winter would be another thing!  Well, this morning it was 45 degrees, with both rain and strong winds and it was quite wonderful.  I was out in my hot shower surrounded by rain, watching the majestic fir trees swaying when I heard a pinecone fall!  I'm not sure I've ever heard that before--I am definitely not an outdoors type, so my pleasure in showering outside is amazing.  It was just a miraculous moment!  Then I saw several small birds flying upwind from branch to branch and that was wonderful as well.  I did my yoga tree pose in the shower, standing still and tall and I hope very tree-like, but not swaying as the actual trees were doing as I figured that wouldn't be too safe!  And I wiped pine needles off my shower gel before opening it.  All in all, it was a fantastic way to start my day and my week.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Extinction Continued

This morning, as I was reading the blogs I follow I came across a quote from a podcast done by Scientific American: Biodiversity. The word can't help but fail to do justice to the myriad species of plants and animals, the fecundity of the natural world, the complex web of life. As a word, it’s easy to ignore.  But inattention equals extinction. Earth is experiencing its sixth mass extinction event, species winking out of existence before we even know them. And it is a mass extinction entirely caused by the relentless expansion of human habitat and agriculture, as well as human domination of the natural systems--such as the climate--that make life possible.
Then, as I continued reading in Google Reader, I came across another entry, this time from Tao Wow which states that: Suffering is a man made disease and it is a choice to live with it or not. If we did not look to alter the world (which we can never do) and instead look to alter our own viewpoint (which is easy) we can then each move to live with an appreciation of the magic and wonder that brings about this life. That is the only change that can actually come about: To change focus and reaffirm the world as wonder and not horror. When we escape compassion and dispassion and move to direct awe of being then we are not perpetuating the churn of greed, desire and poverty but all sharing the one thing that is infinite and absolutely equal amongst us all - Tao.
So what's a person to do?  Do I get upset by what our species is doing to the planet and all the other species?  Do I see this as horror?  Or do I move to "live with an appreciation of the magic and wonder that brings about this life," no matter how short that life may be?  I'm not sure, and I don't know if I can redirect my viewpoint (which the author of the second quote says is easy) to the awe of being.  I've always been a "fixer," who tried to find a solution to each and every problem, whether it was my problem or a friend's or a community's, etc.  Now, I'm beginning to realize that my fixes were not always helpful or even necessary and that the fixes I was so attached to frequently did more harm than good.  But I have a very strong sense of justice, and it is very hard to see the myriad injustices in our classist society and not want to try to fix the problems.  I suspect, deep down, that the writer of Tao Wow is correct--we can never alter the world, but I'd like to think that by being the change I want to see in the world that maybe I can influence the small corner I live in.  By being the change rather than trying to force the change, or fix the rest of the world, maybe, just maybe, I'll make a small difference.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


I'm sure it is the time of year as we are now into the season of quieting down and reflection, and I'm sure it is my exhaustion from my low energy levels combined with my increased schedule since the school year does not model Mother Nature, and probably it is also the blasted elections, but I've been pondering a lot lately about the nature of the universe, for lack of a better term.  What is the point of life?  We are born of the earth and return to the earth and what about the time in between.  I'm sure my spider is not pondering on the nature of her spinning and why she makes webs, but then I've always been one to think about existential type questions.  Soon I'll do a post on personality types as I realize that it isn't just the spider who doesn't ask existential questions--most people don't either.

Anyway, back to the topic.  It is the nature of the universe to change.  Life is constantly in a state of transition, as the changing seasons remind us.  And extinction is part of that process, whether it is the extinction of a life, a species, or I guess even a planet.  But why is ours the only species which seems absolutely determined not only to cause its own extinction, but the extinction of everything else on the planet and indeed the planet itself?  Other species have become extinct during the evolution of our planet and the life on it.  Before there were humans, the dinosaurs, for instance, became extinct for reasons which are still unclear or debated at least, but other life survived and evolved.  Homo sapiens seem to be the only known species which thinks it has a right (and many would say a "god-given" right) to rape, pillage, and plunder this planet, destroying any who might get in its way, taking whatever it wants with total disregard for any other life form, since obviously our species is the most intelligent, the most deserving, etc.

Now, of course, not all of us believe this.  But it is becoming more and more apparent that the majority attitude, especially of the first world nations, has in all likelihood already doomed this planet.  Personally, I am trying to live a gentler life, a more respectful life, and to "be the change that I want to see," but at least in my current frame of mind, I'm wondering if it isn't all too little too late.  But there is an entire universe, and the individual doesn't really exist as we are all part of the cosmos, the larger picture, and maybe that is true even of our species and our planet.  So I shall muddle onwards, trying to stay present and mindful, and meanwhile, it is time to give my dog Chauncey his weekly bath in my outside shower in the rain, and so starts another day.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Spider Web

As I was looking out my window this morning I was captivated by a lovely spider web!  What skill it must take to make such a thing of beauty!  I actually then noticed three more in my yard, but they weren't in good spots to be photographed.  However I did manage to get a couple nice shots of the first one I saw and I've posted those photos on my photo of the day page.  As I was thinking about this lovely start to my day I also pondered a post from dailycupoftao where the author states: The most advanced alien life, say a dolphin, lion, garden shrub, bacteria, fly, rat; all are actually as well advanced as every other. Only the human, feeling advanced with its tools, is in folly due to the wish to explain itself, where every other just is. I thought just how true that is and that the beauty of the spider is that the spider is just being, not trying to explain anything, not figuring that it is somehow better than every other species on the planet, not doing anything to justify itself.  The spider just is and how wondrous that is!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Trials of Living Alone

I live alone (well, with 2 dogs and 3 cats, so not really) and there are times when I can get myself into trouble trying to do something by myself because I don't have a large support group in the first place, since I'm relatively new to the island, and because I don't ask for help easily--I give it, but don't necessarily receive it well.  Anyway, that is one reason why I've been so very grateful to my friend Blythe for her most generous offer to take me to my cataract surgeries.  The first surgery went along just fine and we were scheduled to do it again next Tuesday.  However, Blythe's husband was just diagnosed with lung cancer and he has to have a biopsy next Tuesday.  Obviously she's had to cancel as my ride and now I'm left to find another way to my surgery.  I'm sure it will all work out just fine and I do have some options to pursue, but it certainly reminds me of the issues of living alone with no family close by.  I know that the longer I live on Vashon the more family I will make for myself, but I have to admit it can be scary.  However, as I was writing this blog post, my friend Blythe called and it seems her husband's biopsy has been postponed until Wednesday because he's on blood thinner, and she is actually eager to take me on Tuesday after all, so everything is back to normal, or as normal as things can be.  And I am very grateful to have such a good friend, and I shall keep her and her husband in my thoughts as they proceed on their paths.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Anime and Stereotyping

I watch a lot of anime--for several reasons.  I don't like the violence in most if not all current movies, and the violence in anime is either much less or certainly much less realistic.  Also, many anime deal with searching for identity and as I search for who I am, I find them fascinating.  And much of anime deals with champions of justice, near and dear to my heart.  Right now I'm watching Case Closed which has as its basic premise that a brilliant teenage detective is poisoned, but instead of being killed, he is changed into a 7 yr. old.  He now has to solve a variety of cases, in the style of Sherlock Holmes, but he gets absolutely no respect as a 7 yr. old.  He uses a series of inventions, including a voice modulator, so that he can solve the cases by pretending to be various other characters, adults of course.  It just made me think about how we all tend to "judge books by their covers," most of the time unconsciously.  And now, with elections just around the corner, the negative stereotypes are being flagrantly shouted in various commercials.  Hate crimes are rising, and I think they are directly related to the inability to see individuals as just that, unique persons of value.  One politician stated that no gays or unmarried women should be allowed to teach--how blatant is that stereotyping, not to mention inaccurate and evil.  The fact that the majority of pedophiles are straight males seems to have escaped this person.   Our world is so divided now.  We are living in a fear driven culture where difference is treated as a problem, rather than as a source of rich and wonderful diversity.  So, as little Conan solves yet another case, I am reminded not to judge anyone by age, gender, class, job, whatever, but instead to realize we all are one, and each individual is part of the universe, deserving of respect.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Comment Reply

Ok, I am really new to blogging and I can't figure out how to reply to a comment to one of my posts.   So I'm going to do my reply as a new post--lame, I know, but if any of my readers can help me, I'd appreciate it.  I've searched Blogger help, but it doesn't seem to answer my queries.  Anyway, thanks, Laloofah!  I used to live in Arizona, and in fact became Vegan soon after moving there and that was difficult enough.  But then I also realized I am gay and then was nearly run off the road by a homophobic driver shouting obscenities, and that was that--I moved to the Seattle area, eventually landing on Vashon, where I could have solitude among like-minded people.  I have heard of, but not yet read Estes book, but I'll sure do so now.  Thanks so for being my first follower and also my first interactive comment as well!  I've found your blog also and while so far I'm new enough to blogging not to have figured out followers, I plan to follow yours!  I'm sure your friend is a much more accomplished quilter than I if she's won awards, but mine (and I've only been quilting for just over 1 1/2 yrs) are fun, fanciful, and designed as portable hugs.  It is very rewarding--a way to give to the community, but work solo in the comfort of my own home.  Thanks for finding my blog and a hi back to you!

What is Family?

My father always said that being related by blood didn't matter at all.  He saw no value in "family for family's sake" and was quiet honest about the fact that he found his relations almost universally boring and stupid and not worth spending a moment with.  Others in my family of origin, in any and all generations, have discounted family for the same or other reasons, leaving me the odd duck who has always felt that family was a top, almost one might say, obsessive priority.  So what is the odd duck to do?

Well for years and years, I've tried various techniques to change the world, ie. my family of origin, and of course that has been singularly unsuccessful.  I've also worried, felt sorry for myself, etc. and mourned my loss of family.  This also has not helped me one whit.  Four years ago, in a desperation move, I landed on my beloved Vashon.  Little did I know that the move would prove to be the catalyst for so many wonderful changes in my own belief system and hence my own reality.  But now, with the changing of the seasons and the approaching holidays, my longing for a sense of family can absolutely blindside me without warning.  The old tapes are hard to reprogram and they can still be easily triggered.

But I'm realizing more and more that for those of us who are, for whatever reason, the odd ducks in our family of origin, the solution is simply (well in theory, but not so simply in practice), to create our own family.  When I was thinking about this, I realized that not only are most things truly working in my life, but the reality is that I now have, after just 4 years on Vashon, a significant number of people I can call friends, people who truly care about me, who love me and whom I also love in return.  Most of them do have families of their own, in my original sense of the word, and of course everyone is very busy, etc.  But that doesn't stop them from caring about me and for being there for me in some pretty significant ways (such as taking me to my cataract surgery, etc.).  I no longer feel so alone and isolated, and that is a wonderful thing.

As I approach my 65th birthday (and just received my Medicare card!), I realize that I'm just starting to find my own path, a path I stumbled on quite serendipitously when I moved to Vashon, but then I've always been a slow learner when it comes to the basics, the emotional and spiritual aspects of life.  But better late than never, and my search for my self and identity is one reason, I believe, that I'm able to relate to my students at some fundamental levels.  Anyway, I am just beginning to find or develop deeper relationships with kindred spirits, but I know that takes time.  At this point in my life I now have more friends on a variety of levels than I've had in my entire life, in totality!  I know I'm an introvert and developing relationships remains a challenge, but Vashon is truly unique.  Because it is rural and an island, we depend upon each other for a lot of basic survival needs.  But Vashon is also very liberal and diverse.  We have a bumper sticker that says "Keep Vashon Weird," and most residents take pride in honoring diversity.  So my purple house may not be the "norm" as such, but it is the "norm" in that it is "so Vashon."    I have finally found a place I can call home and for me, that is of vital importance to the very core of my being.  I've found a place where it is safe to discover just who I am, and now, I will be able to develop more relationships, deeper relationships with kindred spirits either here on Vashon or through the internet community or wherever, if I just keep my heart open, if I am receptive to change, if I can stay in the moment, stay full present, and be ready for whatever wonderful possibilities life has to offer.  That is my family, and this is my home!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

One Thing Leads to Another

One of my favorite blogs,, posted a list of the author's favorite sites and so I checked them out.  One of the suggested sites was, which I was pleased to read.  As I perused the site, I came across a posting of Mary Oliver's Poem Wild Geese, a poem which I hadn't read in awhile, but which really resonates with me.  If you haven't read it (or Mary Oliver's other works), I can highly recommend it and the direct link to the posting on AncienTrails is: Wild Geese.  With the arrival of fall and the migration of the geese, this is an especially good time for me to keep this poem and its message within my heart.  I now have my collection of Mary Oliver's poems (New and Selected Poems, Volume One) by my recliner so that I can dip into it often!  So thank you Rambling Taoist, for not only leading me to some cool websites, but also, via one of those links, to get me back in touch with myself through Mary Oliver's beautiful poetry.  One thing really does just lead to another!

Perfection and Failure

As I was reading through my favorite blog posts on Google reader, I was really struck by one from Tao Wow where the author discusses perfection and failure and then suggests the following meditation: 
I will not always be right, often I will be wrong.
I will not always do things well, often I will mess up.
But it is true that I will not always get things wrong,
and things will work out just right.
When I am truly honest I see that I have no control either way; I could only have done what I'd done, I will only ever do whatever it is I will do, I can only do right now what it is I'm doing.

Want life to be different? It can't be. It is this.

That is why: "You can not change the world, you can only change your attitude towards it."
I thought this was really an important meditation for me to remember.  I tend to have real issues with beating myself up when I don't get things right, and of course, perfectionism only leads to failure as we can never be perfect.  I would add that being perfect would end up being boring even it it were achievable.  So I shall try to remember this meditation and realize its truth, especially the line, I could only have done what I'd done!

Friday, October 15, 2010


According to today's post on, nature is always reminding us that everything has its season.  Ancient teachings show us that this continuing ebb and flow of life is an opportunity to practice non-attachment, an issue which I have a lot of trouble with, more so when I'm reminded of a loss.  The article goes on to say that instead of saying no to whatever feelings we have, we need to experience the full cycle of feelings which will send us on a journey of growth.  The writer continues, "Only when you give up resistance to what is happening can you be truly unattached from it. Let the tears fly and see how soon tears of joy follow. Cultivate your inner yogi by living honestly with your feelings. You'll experience both the dualistic nature of life and the means to step out of it."

I've gotten "hit over the head" by several of my favorite blogs lately on the issue of non-attachment.  One of the best statements on non-attachment that I've read lately was posted on The Rambling Taoist when the writer says, "Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu spend a lot of time writing about the danger of attachments. When we become attached to people, ideas, strategies and expectations, we can easily become disillusioned when life doesn't go the way we want it to or thought it would. When we are able to live free of attachments, then we meet each moment as it unfolds before us."  I'm trying to realize that especially in the area of family and personal relationships, I am still very attached to my expectations, my ideas of what my life ought to be like, and my life is so far out of the bell curve, and so many events have conspired through the years to change my life, that I need to let go of the attachments I have to what might have been, what I see in others and their more traditional lives, and instead, meet each moment as it unfolds before me. 

Lots of things are working very well for me, and even on days where my underlying melancholy surfaces and becomes more prominent, I need to stop resisting my feelings, but instead feel them fully and use them in positive ways.  Yesterday, for example, when I just didn't feel very perky and so my melancholy levels rose, I honored my feelings by staying home and immersing myself in my quilting, which served to make me feel much better and today I was therefore able to hand off those three quilts to Vashon Youth and Family Services.

The lesson of non-attachment is not something which is learned once and kept then for life.  Because of our basic natures as humans, this is a lesson which needs to be repeated over and over again, and I am trying to remember that, especially since I am all very new to the concept.  I shall now meet the moments of the remainder of this day without any attachment to any particular results, but just see what evolves as I begin working on the next set of three quilts for VYFS.  Namaste!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fixing Things--To Do or Not To Do

Well, today I thought, when I got up, that I'd be going off island to Pacific Cataract to get the secondary cataract in my left eye zapped with a laser.  Instead, the doctor called me and explained that since I had no symptoms accompanying the cataract and since my vision in the left eye is now much better than what they predicted, she would recommend waiting.  The cloudiness is there, but it isn't interfering with my daily life, and it would be better to get the right eye taken care of and then wait to see if the crescent glare I'm getting in the left eye occasionally goes away or worsens.  They have no problem working on problems which are causing symptoms, but without symptoms, their policy is to do nothing.  So I now have a free afternoon, and since I'm not feeling terribly perky I plan to spend it quietly at home quilting, rather than going to Study Zone after all.  I've already canceled that, so I'm going to rest instead.

But the phone call with the eye doctor got me thinking about an earlier post of mine inspired by one of the blogs I follow on whether life needs fixing in the first place or whether we actually muddle things up by trying to fix what doesn't need fixing.  I think this is a tough lesson for many of us.  I know it is for me.  If I see something I perceive as wrong or out of sync or whatever, I charge in like a bull in a china shop with various remedies, remedies which may or may not be appropriate, remedies which may or may not do any good and which in fact might make things worse.

And so, I'll take this lesson from my eye to say that just because I know there is cloudiness in a given situation, that doesn't instantly say that it is something in need of fixing.  I am exceedingly grateful for my improved vision, for the miraculous change in my left eye.  I shall look forward to similar improvements in the right eye after that cataract is removed.  And then I shall go forth, knowing that the secondary cataract can be addressed easily if it grows to the point of causing vision issues.  I shall attempt to remember that I don't need to rush in and rescue things which may be functioning just fine as they are.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Vision Returns

Wow!  I can see again and it is wonderful!  My glasses finally came in correctly and now I'm back in business, first time since my left eye cataract surgery and it is amazing.  The left eye is now quite fantastic!!  I am wearing just one pair of glasses--my own trifocals, and I can see clearly everywhere.  And things will only get better (although as with much of life, it may get worse before then) once I get my secondary cataract removed (tomorrow) and my right cataract taken care of (Tuesday Oct. 26th).  I can't wait.  It is amazing how one part of the body so governs all the rest.  Hopefully my headache will go away soon, but just having a clear world is nothing short of miraculous!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Spider in the Shower Poof

Today I shared my shower with a spider in an up close and personal sort of moment.  As I lifted my orange scruffy shower gel poof off its hook and prepared to squeeze my Tea Tree shower gel onto it (one of my favorite flavors, by the way), I noticed something dark and when I carefully worked through the layers of the poof I found a lovely spider!  I set her free, glad that she and I hadn't shared more closely!  I then noticed her web going from the top of one of my L shaped walls to the top of my shower head and then over to the other corner.  This was just another example of how lovely it is to shower outside in nature with various critters to help me start my day.  It was definitely cooler this morning--44 degrees, and I noticed that the shower gel was thicker and slower to move, so fall it here for certain, but after a very, very wet rainy weekend, it is now sunny and beautiful!

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Right after I posted my last post I read on one of my regular blogs ( that the way to fix the world is just to be the "peace you wish to see."  The author goes on to say that "
'Seeing the world as imperfect and requiring a fix is precisely the same attitude that lead (sic) others before us to screw the world up. Realize it as perfect and not something that can be shaped by human desire and melt back this very instant to that very perfection you desire in the future.'I know that seeing myself as someone who needs to be fixed is neither true nor helpful.  I am just fine, just as I am, in my totality.  I suppose the author of the blog is saying the same may be said of the world, and by being what I wish to see I've done all that is necessary, but there are times when I get so upset with the apparent injustices of the world.  I have a friend who just sent me an e-mail saying that she was heading out to Vashon Highway to do a silent vigil protest armed with a large sign, her drum, and her dog.  She is a political activist and she does a lot of silent protests and I applaud her efforts.  But part of me wonders just how effective any of our "fixings" are and if the blog writer is right that it is all the fixings that in the end mess things up.  If I could really see the world (or even myself) as perfect and not something that can be or needs to be shaped by my human desires I suspect I would have learned a great deal.  And so I'll think on that as I move forward with my day.


I've just started a new book, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson, and I realized that while I like Major Pettigrew and Mrs. Ali, I cannot stand the other characters for a variety of reasons, but mostly because they are so very self-absorbed and totally lacking in any feelings for anyone other than themselves.  This book, along with the horrible rash of GLBTQ suicides lately has gotten me thinking about bullying, which is way too prevalent in our world.  My therapist explained the development of the human brain to me a bit more last visit as a way of understanding what went so horribly wrong in the case of the Rutger's violinist.  She said, and please excuse any errors in the technical part of this, that as humans, our brains must change from a child's brain to an adult brain and so from the ages of about 16 to 25+ our prefrontal cortex is not anywhere near fully developed, and this area deals with social control as well as the ability to distinguish proper behavior, good vs bad, understand consequences, etc.  So the two students who videoed the violinist lacked even the common sense to say, would I want someone to do this to me.  They will have to live with the consequences of their actions for the rest of their lives, but it doesn't mean they were acting in an evil way.  They simply did not think things through and acted on impulse.  Unfortunately this is way too common in most people, even past the age of 25, so I wonder if there is a significant portion of the population whose prefrontal cortex never develops.  There certainly is in the book I'm reading!

And maybe the school bullying which was behind the remainder of the recent GLBTQ suicides was also a result of the same lack of development, but I'm also inclined to believe that for whatever reason many people think that they have the right to whatever they want and if that requires bullying someone else to get it, well that's fine too.  I have a friend who is being bullied by a jerk who is engaging in illegal business practices, but rather than clean up his act, he simply bullies anyone who stands up for their rights, as my friend is finding out.  And so far, he has won because he has money, power, and physical brutality which he has used successfully to intimidate the righteous and bribe the unrighteous.  One day, I have to believe, he will be caught, but right now he is able to make life unpleasant for an entire neighborhood.

I know I'm naive, and that has gotten me in trouble throughout my life, but I just don't understand why society can't run on kinder principles.  Even the very selfish should be able to figure out that they'd get more from honey than from vinegar as the old saying states.  I also realize that not everyone is like the characters in the book and I do know a good many kind, caring folks who do actually think before they act and when they think they do think about others, and thank heavens for such people.  And I know that we need to live the change we want to see in the world, so the more of us there are acting in caring ways, the more the world will reflect that, but there are days when it does seem to be an impossible task.  But as Aesop said centuries ago, "No act of kindness, no matter how small, ever goes unnoticed."

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Morning Routine

I'm searching for just the right morning routine, one which will enable me to get done what needs to be done without making me crazy or forcing me to rush.  All of this requires balance, and as with all balancing, that can be tricky.  Today I'm told (correctly, I hope) that a Century Link repair person will be here to see what's up with my internet connection.  I requested morning, and the person on the phone was unclear just how early that might be--he knew morning meant before noon, but he wasn't sure whether it meant 8AM or 9AM!  So I set my alarm for 5AM as this is Saturday which means that in addition to my usual morning routine of yoga and my own shower, I also had Chauncey's weekly bath to do, which needed to happen before my yoga and my shower.  That meant that Chauncey (and Poosa, who doesn't like being left out of anything although she has no interest in the shower and she had to find shelter since it was lightly raining) and I were outside in the relative dark at 5:45AM getting him bathed!  It actually was much nicer than I anticipated--almost zen like in the peacefulness and stillness of the moment.  Now that I'm feeling better I'm thinking of returning to the 5AM start to the day as I had a very lovely beginning to my day and I was totally ready for the repair person by 8AM with no problems at all.  Of course, the repair person still hasn't arrived, but nevertheless, I've had a wonderful beginning to my day and that is worth a lot!  As with all aspects of life, it is a question of finding the right proportions, the right balance between routine and flexibility.  Most of my life has been so rigidly structured, that now, as I'm finding myself, I'm discovering that I resent being pushed or forced to move or do things in a set order or at a fast pace, even when I've set up the schedule myself to enable me to do what I want.  Old patterns are so easy to trigger.  Therefore, I'm now looking more carefully at what actually works for me (which in itself can be difficult to discern!), and I'm also being as flexible as I can in discovering alternate options.  I'm not sure where my morning routine will settle or in fact if it even will settle into one pattern or if it will vary from day to day.  It will be an adventure to discover my balance in this as in other areas of my life.  Namaste!

Clarissa's Lesson Plan

Clarissa now has 9 dragons enrolled in her school and all is going very nicely indeed.  She's spent a lot of time mulling over lesson plans and trying to figure out just what has gone wrong with education.  Her students are all bright, but they have seen education as a burden, not a joy.  Clarissa is working hard to change that so her students discover how wonderful learning can be, that it is not (or should not be) irksome, boring, or in fact even difficult.  She devises schemes to keep each student engaged and to build their confidence levels so that they realize they can learn even the trickiest subject if they come at it from an angle that makes sense to them.  That angle, of course, is not the same for everyone, which is why Clarissa has tailored her lesson plans to each of her students.  This morning in her shower Clarissa was thrilled to see a soap bubble float up from her scruffy filled with Dewberry shower gel.  As she watched the bubble float beautifully away, shimmering in the early morning daylight, she realized that this would be a fun way to teach some physics, covering topics from viscosity through optics!  And then maybe she'd even move into an art lesson from there!  The day, like the soap bubble, was radiant with possibilities!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What is Meditation?

I've been attempting to do sitting meditation for 8 1/2 weeks now, and in spite of all the encouragement in the lovely book 8 Minute Meditation: Quiet Your Mind. Change Your Life by Victor N. Davich, I've not really managed it terribly successfully.  I've been sitting for 15 minutes/day every morning, following the directions in the book, trying not to be distracted by my pets, and then afterwords trying to cram in a few yoga poses in the limited time I had left.  For awhile I was getting up at 5AM so I could have more time to accomplish all this as well as the household chores, but that didn't allow me enough sleep, so I've had to rethink that.  This morning was especially stressful, and I realized that isn't what meditation is supposed to be.  I mentioned this all to my therapist and she let me know that there are lots of different types of meditation, and that sitting meditation isn't right for everyone.  She reminded me how much I enjoy my yoga, and that when done correctly, yoga is meditation, focusing the mind on my poses and my breathe.  This was very freeing to discover, and so starting tomorrow I shall set my cool pyramid timer for 20 minutes and spend that time doing my yoga, focusing and concentrating on my breathe and my poses.  The pets are not such a distraction then as they have learned (yes, even Poosa) that they can be close as long as they are not on my mat, and I don't notice whether they snort or sneeze or whatever when I'm doing my yoga.  So this is my plan, to be present with my yoga for 20 minutes each morning.  And by the way, thanks to the reader who posted a comment on my post entitled Balance, where s/he mentioned a website with a great video on Eagle Pose (  Feel free to check it out and meanwhile, thanks, reader, for the comment.  Have a great day!

Sunday, October 3, 2010


This morning I wrote my monthly letter to my daughter which will wend its way to her via a third party and which, so far, I receive no answers to, and this got me thinking about communication and relationships.  Has communication occurred when it appears to be one-sided?  I then thought about the blogs I read and one entry specifically where the writer commented that the point of writing a blog was not to be heard.  Casey Kochmer in his blog A Personal Tao said yesterday that the reason "to blog: is to hear life...I blog these posts because each entry is a chance for me to listen to life, to hear ideas and chew upon thoughts."  And I realize that he is quite right.  I read a number of blogs because they offer me a chance to chew on thoughts and most of the time I don't reply or post a comment, so the blogger then would have no idea what thoughts his/her post generated.  Does that mean communication didn't occur?  I think not!  And I know from Google's stats that people are reading my blog, but so far no comments have been posted, so I too have no idea what thoughts might have been generated by something I said.  But as with my letter this morning, I get a great deal out of the writing.  It gives me an opportunity to focus my thoughts and I hope to listen to life.  I make connections this way between various levels of my life, various aspects of my life.  Would I like an answer to my letters?  Would I enjoy comments from readers?  Of course, but as Casey said so succinctly, "To be heard is actually an after effect of blogging only...", and no matter how nice (or I suppose not nice) that after effect is, it is still not the reason for blogging, and communication is occurring in any act of writing, I think, whether or not the writer knows of the after effects or whether in some cases, the writer is only communicating with his/herself.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


I've been thinking a lot about vision lately thanks to my cataract surgery.  Life is certainly different when it cannot be seen clearly, but then I thought about more than just the physical concept of vision.  Certainly, my having to use three different pairs of cheap glasses just to get by and still not having anything like clear easy sharp vision is most trying.  However, it is also thankfully temporary.  Once my eye has healed, about 1 month from now, I will have significantly better vision than before.  But what about my outlook on life.  How clear is my vision concerning what's really important?  People frequently say that they have 20/20 hindsight, but how true is that?  I know that even with events I thought I recalled "accurately" that I've discovered over time that not only does my view of them change, but others who participated in the same events usually remember them very differently.  Once again, it is important to remember that my reality is determined by my belief system and as the belief system changes, so does the reality.  At the same time, while I might be able to delude myself about the past, it is obvious that my vision of the future is definitely fuzzy, hazy, cloudy, unclear.  While it definitely makes no sense to drive (as I did briefly yesterday) in a blur, guiding  the car between the yellow and white lines, the truth is that the future path does not have even that clarity.  How should I deal with that?  Well, what I ought to have done with the driving was stay put until my vision allowed for safe driving, and in reality, that is what I need to do with the future as well.  If I can keep my focus on the present moment I will have all the vision I need!  Therefore, I plan to use this time of transitional vision as a reminder to Be Present!