Tuesday, March 29, 2011

When I Already Know

Most often my answer to uncertainty is education. Don't know what to do next? Take a class. Want to change careers? Get another degree. Feel unsettled in my life? Go back to school.

Then, eventually, I get to the point where I know I can stop looking outside myself for the answers. I know what I want to know if I pay attention and listen.

It came to me this week that I am at that point now in my spiritual life.

This is the final week of Buddha Chick Flight School. It has been an interesting twelve weeks, not because of new information I have learned but because of what I have learned about myself. My response at the beginning of each new module has been Oh, I know this. I have read/heard/believed this before. This is a review, so let me see what I think about it now. Then I read further and realize that I have ideas and opinions about the subject that make sense to me. I finish the lesson and feel grounded in the material and satisfied that I know what I want to know.

Again and again I have done this over the last 35 years. In my search for all I can know I invariably go one step further than I need to, but I don't know that until I get there and realize I already know...

and that what I needed was to trust myself and the knowledge I already have.

It's interesting that this lesson became crystal clear as I finished another course on being calm, clear, and wise. I was already feeling those things, so what more did I want?

As Joanne often says, Own it. That phrase came to me loud and clear this week. I want to own my calm, clarity, and wisdom. I want to own my feelings and trust my responses.

I already know what I want to know. Now I want to live like I believe that.

Friday, March 25, 2011

I Am Here

I am still riding high on interview afterglow. This doesn't always happen, but in this case I really am glad I was asked to interview even if the opportunity for me goes no further than this.

I taught in a program at the same alternative high school six years ago. Today nothing is the same in that program ~ new director, teachers, program, curriculum, expectations, and goals. I was so excited to hear about all the changes and how well everything was going that I smiled during the entire meeting, which included the director of the entire school and staff from another program in the school which continues to be successful.

The job opening is for a position that hasn't been entirely created yet. There has been a need for a position such as this at the school since I was there all those years ago. The person hired will help define the job description over time because there are more changes coming for the school. Again, I was very excited! Two questions, asked more than once, were if I am able to travel and if I am flexible. Yes and yes.

The most surprising thing I heard myself say was that at this point in my life I don't want to walk on pins and needles, that I want to be able to be myself. I want to bring all that I am to the table to work with others and their strengths and weaknesses, too.

First interviews are this week and next. Then there will be follow-up interviews, so it will be three to four weeks before I know anything. I left the meeting delighted that I had been invited.

On the way home my mind was all over the place. I reminded myself that I was driving and needed to pay attention to what I was doing. I asked myself, "What do I really want?" Without hesitation the answer was, "I want the most qualified person to get that job so that the school can continue to flourish." I want the job, and I want to be the most qualified person, but if it's not meant for me I will be okay with that.

Then I said to the universe I am here. If this path is meant to be, I will take it. I am ready. A recent post of Laura's came to mind and I said Here I am. Present. Aware. Prepared.

I will wait and see what comes next.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Leo On The Green

Leo has once again changed his preferences for where he would like to nap. The padded boxes in the corner of the living room and in the garage near his food dish no longer meet his approval. Neither do the chairs, the corner of the carpet, or either of our laps. Instead, he would rather spend his time in the garage perched on an old quilted mover's pad atop an overturned crate. As for in the house, he circles the island in the kitchen and has had a hard time finding a place to settle in. So, at his request, he has been spending increasing amounts of time in the garage between partaking of his meals of wet food in the morning and at 5:00 each evening. Then this week we noticed that he likes the space under a small table in the kitchen ~

More and more often that seems to be his "go to" place when he is in the house. This evening Ken suggested that if we padded the area with the fleece blanket that my daughter's dog uses when she visits that maybe Leo would settle down there. Don't worry, Mazulah, when you visit the blanket will still be yours to use ~

It is our job to figure out what makes Leo comfortable in the autumn of his life, which is keeping us on our toes!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Winter Returns

After a beautiful weekend, snow arrived yesterday afternoon. At first we thought it might just be flurries, but the large wet flakes coated trees and walkways into the night. This morning there are three and a half inches of fresh snow on the deck. We call it "poor man's fertilizer" because it's great for the bits of bare ground that have emerged from under the piles of winter white. We know it won't last long because warm days will return sooner rather than later.

It does cause a pause in our celebration of spring. Last year Ken took his first motorcycle ride on March 20. This year he wouldn't be able to get safely down our dirt road for the deep muddy ruts left as the ground begins to thaw.

I will stay put today because my all-wheel drive vehicle with studded tires is still in the shop for bumper repairs after last November's bumper thumper. There was enough damage to the rear bumper for it to be replaced, and it looked like the front just needed a new piece of bumper inserted ~ three days work, four tops. This is day six; as repairs got under way it was obvious that there was damage to the impact bar behind the front bumper, which put into motion another round of estimates and work that needs to be done.

As usual I have plenty to do here at home, paperwork and sewing and catching up on laundry that has gone unattended due to pre-emptive spring fever late last week. I do need to get organized before Friday because I have a job interview Friday morning.

A job interview. The call came yesterday afternoon, after I told my daughter earlier in the day that I had given up on hearing from the school where I applied one month ago. Two weeks ago a revised job description was posted, so I guessed that my qualifications did not fit what they wanted. I had already put my best foot forward, and stunned would best describe my reaction when I answered the phone.

There are interview slots all week so who knows how many people they plan to talk to. I have as many questions for them as they have for me so I look forward to a good conversation. I will just have to wait and see how it goes because in the meantime I have to get busy around here.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Asking Different Questions

I woke up at 5:00 a.m. Friday with a thought. Now this was unusual because I am rarely awake at 5:00 a.m., much less awake with a thought. There it was in bold letters, "The questions have changed." I don't remember what I may have been dreaming about, but this thought was interesting enough to keep me awake for awhile. When I woke up again later it was still with me.

The questions have changed.

The day before, on Thursday, I saw my doctor who worked on my right leg, sacrum, back, head, and chest. She said we are getting to deeper layers with each visit, working on old "stuff." I shared with her that I have been thinking about my body now in relation to other times in my life. As a child I felt awkward and uncoordinated. I jumped rope, roller skated on the sidewalk, and rode my bike with all the other kids. My knees were perpetually skinned, I sprained my thumb, and I had at least one concussion by age six when I tripped over a rope during hi-lo. Another time a friend was teaching me to sled and I barreled down a hill headfirst into a brick wall.

I explained that I didn't feel at home in my body until I was all grown up and pregnant. It was as if my body knew what to do and felt comfortable doing it for the first time in my life. It was the same with childbirth and breastfeeding ~ it was natural for my body to do those things. I never had a battle with weight, and other than the normal aches and pains I have been able to do pretty much what I want to do.

Now I have a middle-aged body that is changing gears...just like my life. I have written before about how my body often leads the way when change is coming and, while I didn't know exactly what it would be this time, I expected there was more than a sore arm and a kink in my lower back.

The questions have changed.

Due to scheduling challenges, I had had a massage on Wednesday. I wouldn't have planned those two appointments in two days, but it may have been that arrangement that made some things clear. She worked for 45 minutes on my right shoulder and asked me how my body felt; then she asked if there was anything else I wanted to know. Two memories came to mind ~ as a toddler I was walking between my parents, who lifted me by my arms and my right arm was dislocated; at age four I was helping with the laundry, when I pushed clothes through a wringer washer into the kitchen sink and my right arm went through the wringer, too. Neither incident broke my arm but it was sore and bruised, according to my mom. It may be that my arm has been bearing the brunt of my activities for more than 50 years.

As hard as I try to believe otherwise, my body is changing. I told my doctor that I want to be able to keep moving for the rest of my life, and she said I'm doing all the right things. What I ask of my body has changed over the years.

I realized Friday morning that the questions I ask myself about life are changing, too.

Instead of Why did I do that? I ask What do I want to do right now?

Instead of What will happen tomorrow? I ask What would feel good today?

Instead of Why don't I get more accomplished? I ask Did I remember to stay present?

While my body is getting in shape for this stage of life, it feels like my life is shaping up, too ~ because the questions have changed.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Eat Cake

I had coconut cake for breakfast. Yes I did, and it was delicious. Carolynn asked in a post last week if we would share our "guilty pleasure." Coconut cake immediately came to mind, and then I couldn't stop thinking about it. I bought one on Friday and enjoyed a small slice each day until today when I cut up what remained [three quarters of the cake after sharing with others] and froze eleven pieces to enjoy in the future. That left the odd-shaped piece that just had to be consumed on the spot with a cup of coffee. Mmmmmm...

That coconut cake has been my answer to trying to fit the square peg in the round hole. In other words, if all else fails eat cake. As hard as I have tried to remain mindful, in the hopes that that would spread good karma, many things have not gone smoothly in recent days.

I am on a town committee that has invited our two state legislators to speak to townspeople this Wednesday evening. It has been a comedy of errors from the beginning ~ from the state senator not confirming with us that he will attend and his name still going out on flyers about the event, to people within our own group not keeping track of changes in each other's email addresses which means important communications are lost in cyberspace.

So eat cake.

I have McAfee anti-virus on my desktop computer. For some reason McAfee periodically eliminates my Google toolbar, where I keep "bookmarks" that are my vehicle to get to all the sites I regularly visit. Last time this happened I made a phone call to McAfee and they walked me through a process to reinstall my Google toolbar, all the while making sure I understood that it wasn't McAfee's fault. I could go through that again but there is no certainty that the toolbar won't disappear again; my daughter says McAfee sees Google as a threat, probably because it doesn't own stock in the big G. McAfee doesn't seem to care about the list of bookmarks that show up on my iGoogle homepage, so I can get to the sites one at a time, I just can't move from one to the other without going back to my homepage.

So eat cake.

The job I applied for two weeks ago has been re-advertised. That means they have not gotten the type of applicants they were looking for.

So eat cake. Then climb on the treadmill and walk it off.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


The main theme of my current Flight School course is mindfulness. The idea is to pay attention ~ to what I say to myself, to the thoughts I have, to my emotions, and to how I respond to these words, thoughts, and feelings. I have the choice to speak to myself kindly. I can dismiss the thoughts that do not serve me well, just let them go. The key here is to remember that I am not my thoughts, in the same way that I am not my emotions. I may be feeling one way or another, but that feeling does not define who I am. Feelings can move through me if I choose to let them go.

I have been introduced to the work of Sylvia Boorstein through the Buddha Chick courses with Jan Lundy. Sylvia says that every moment of mindfulness is a prayer for peace, an act of compassion for myself and others.

An assignment for one of our Flight School modules was to listen to a talk recorded by Sylvia on the topic of mindfulness. The ideas she shared have been helpful in recent days. I feel like there is little I can do to make the world a better place. I want peace and justice for all. I want people to be able to live their lives with equality and fairness. Any action I might take seems inadequate....

Then I review Sylvia's words:

I cannot stop wars; I can't do much more than control the habits of my mind.

I can't finish the job, but I can't not start.

What is happening is the only thing that could be.

It's a lawful world. There is no blame or fault; there are causes and conditions. Things happen.

When I ask what should I do, the answer is mindfulness.

Every moment of mindfulness is a prayer for peace.

I am reminded that I can control only myself. I make a difference when I am mindful about what I say to myself and others, what I think, and what I feel.

Those feel like small things, but they are things I can do. They are ways to be that make a difference in my life, which in turn impact how I am with others.

Each moment I am mindful I am saying a prayer for peace.