Wednesday, January 31, 2024

January 31--Symptoms and Causes

Mutual caring relationships require kindness and patience, tolerance, optimism, joy in the other's achievements, confidence in oneself, and the ability to give without undue thought of gain.  --Fred Rogers

    I agree, but what a tall order!
    Today we finish off the January theme of respect. Mr. Rogers gives a lovely definition of respectful relationships. 
    I've been thinking a bunch about the student doctors and the Encounters I did with them on Monday. The Encounters were 20 minutes long, longer than most doctors spend with patients these days. I was a well-behaved rookie patient and followed the script. However, I wanted to say--what about getting to the actual cause of my weight problem? We discussed poor habits (sedentary desk job, eating fast food) and ways to improve, all good stuff. The students sincerely want to help, otherwise they would be studying something else. But what about my relationships? Maybe my job is too stressful. Maybe I get no time to myself. Maybe my husband is abusive. There are so many potential contributing factors in such a situation. I realize that we couldn't go into all that in a short Encounter. However, it makes me wonder whether the students will eventually move past symptoms to dig deeper into causes. 
    We are all learning!
Barney, the Adorable Snuggler

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

January 30--Big Day of Connections

Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them--we can only love others as much as we love ourselves. 
--Brene Brown

    Today is a before-and-after writing about my Monday. 
    Before--I'm spending the day at KS College of Osteopathic Medicine. Part of the day is general training, then the afternoon includes my first actual Encounters with students where I pretend to be a patient who has gained too much weight. (Let's just say I don't have to pretend very hard!) I'm a little nervous, but mostly excited. It is a great environment with amazing technology, and I'll get to meet a lot of folks. A friend who works there tells me that the students are equally excited about these Encounters. 
    After--what a BLAST! I was a little stressed getting hooked into the Ipad to use for evaluations, and figuring out the procedural stuff around the Encounters. The actual Encounters were so much fun. I did four, with a pair of 2nd-year student doctors in each. There were two sets of women and two sets of men. They all did great overall, but I'd say the women were the winners. One of the men actually called me "obese," which was discouraged. The Encounters are recorded and also evaluated by the instructors and students. 
    The next Encounters involve baby-birthing, and yes, they have manikins for that. Stay tuned!

January 29--Twilight Zone

You will never say to yourself when you are old, "Ah, I wish I was not good to that person." You will never think that.  --Khaled Hosseini

    Well, I see that somehow I was in a zone wherein I missed a day of posting. I guess the angst of the weekend messed me up. 
    Back to this quote. I must say that there have been folks in my past about whom I thought the planet would be better off without them. Fortunately I was civil to them in my interactions, so there was no need for amends. Alas, these were "church people," who in public acted quite pious and polite, but in private they were anything but.
    Enough! Most people are wonderful, and I am grateful for that!

Monday, January 29, 2024

January 28--Everything's Fine

To belittle, you have to be little.  --Kahlil Gibran

    GOOD one! Not much I can add to that. 
    As I write this a day ahead, it is 6:30 Sunday morning, I've been awake since around 4:00 am, and I have been crying for about an hour. I would write it off to soul-rinsing as there has been a pile-up of general life frustrations. One of my favorite acronyms comes to mind: FINE = F%*ked-up, Insecure, Neurotic, Emotional. My weekend plans were ruined by a case of Covid (not me). The debate rages in my head--because I feel fine, how isolated should I be? Part of me says that Covid is simply here to stay, it's not bad, and life has to move on. I don't feel like I have to test every sniffle, especially since I am a person with frequent allergy symptoms. Despite being vaxxed to the max, maybe I'm a bad human to think that way. 
    I'm especially bummed because I had planned a small gathering of golf buds for a soup supper and game night. This was a big deal for me, as it's the first time I've planned to have folks over since we got Barney, and that was four years ago. He is very protective of my husband and me, and he barks at everyone. I had decided to give it a shot. When my husband has folks over, Barney does calm down eventually. Plus I had to invade my husband's kitchen to do some cooking. He was going to be out of town. Oh, well, the best laid plans...
    This, too, shall pass.

Saturday, January 27, 2024

January 27--Making Peace with Fear

The worst thing is to give yourself away in exchange for not enough love. 
--Joyce Carol Oates

    Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation of January 26 really spoke to me. It described perfectly my lifetime of fear, primarily related to the fear implanted at a very young age of losing my mother. 

Author Cole Arthur Riley describes how she has faced a lifetime of fear, ultimately praying to God for restful steadiness.

More than most things, I’m afraid. When I say this, people always seem to want to assure me that it isn’t the case. But we know. Since I was little, I would always find a way to imagine the worst possible versions of the future. Maybe on some level I’ve grown to believe if I prepare for it, it will hurt less when it comes. But it makes for an agitated body and mind. When you always expect a demon around every corner, your most mundane moments still feel like a risk….

What do we do when our fears are in fact rational? When fear and wisdom are enmeshed? When we would be foolish not to fear? More often than we realize, fear is a protective intuition. It is what stops you from driving with no headlights on, from touching your hand to flame, from going outside to meet the coyotes. We don’t have to demonize our fear to survive it. For this reason, I have an aversion to language of “conquering” our fears. We are not at war with ourselves; it is better to listen with compassion.

As a child, maybe you were told there is nothing to be afraid of. As adults, when we’re most honest, I think we know we have everything to be afraid of. This world, which has been so unsafe to so many of us, cannot be trusted not to harm us again. This isn’t pessimism, it’s confession.

Still, to live in a constant state of fear will keep you from the rest you were meant for. They are near opposites, fear and rest. It is not likely that you’ll relax those shoulders if somewhere within you feel the house is on fire. I want us to honor our fears without being tormented by them. Sacred intuition without restlessness.

This quote from James L. Farmer is at the front of my journal: “Courage, after all, is not being unafraid, but doing what needs to be done in spite of fear.” The implication, of course, is that if you’re not scared, it’s not courage. If there is any bravery in me, it is in my refusal to let fear eclipse my imagination for anything other than pain. To maintain imagination for both the beautiful and the terrible is to marry prudence and hope.

Arthur Riley offers this breath practice:

INHALE: I will not be silenced by fear.
EXHALE: A quivering voice is still sacred.
INHALE: God, my soul trembles.
EXHALE: Steady me in your arms.
INHALE: I will meet this fear with rest.
EXHALE: God, steady me in your arms.


"Consider the lilies of the field..."

Friday, January 26, 2024

January 26-- Displaying Your Best

You your best thing... You are.  --Toni Morrison

    I must share the "Note from the Universe"  by Mike Dooley from Jan 25:

Perception Management for Very Advanced Souls:

The next time someone upsets you, think, "Thanks for pointing out that I've begun depending on your approval. Time I lose the expectations."
And the next time someone doesn't take your view into account, think, "That's okay, I was once like that."
And if someone steals from you, think, "It was nothing, my supply is the Universe."
Or lies to you, think, "I'm sorry you feel that need.
Violates you, "All for my growth and glory."
Is rude to you, "Cheer up, dear soul, it'll be okay."
Judges you, "Thanks for sharing your truth."
Drives by you like a bat out of hell, "Be careful, my friend. You’re loved."
And the next time someone greets you with a smile, smile back, like you're sharing a secret.

The Universe 

    This presents quite a challenge, huh?

We have had lots of gloomy, rainy, gray days,
so I am dreaming of the beach and sunshine.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

January 25--Plenty of Good Humans

In the long run, the sharpest weapon of all is a kind and gentle spirit. 
--Anne Frank

    January is still with us and already this year I have been to the dentist twice. There are few places on the planet where I dream of hanging out less than the dentist's office. I'd rather be nearly anywhere else. The first visit was to crown a broken tooth. The second was for a cleaning and check-up, which revealed a cavity that I will be getting fixed in March. Right here with these very words, I am convincing myself that I am GRATEFUL to have an efficient, competent dentist, because (drumroll...) I want to continue to EAT!
    Back to "kind and gentle spirit"... I'm thinking this morning about the melting pot of folks who show up to play pickleball at the West YMCA. The variety of race, ethnicity, age, physical size, capability, dress, and personality is delightful. Some games may not look like "kind and gentle spirits" in action, but that is what is happening. It is lots of folks just having fun, with no agenda or cross to bear (other than "dang, I shoulda had that one!"). 
    Let's multiply good interactions!
It's a THING... June 2, 2024

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

January 24--Lower the Volume

Raise your words, not voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.  --Rumi

    Who hasn't yelled at their kids? Possibly Jesus, but that was because he didn't have any (apparently). 
    Yes, I have been guilty of yelling at my kids. Comically and belatedly, the whole "don't raise your voice" thing was really brought home to me with dog ownership. Barney loves it when we yell. He gets wound up, excited, racing around, ready to play! That is generally the exact opposite of what we want. So I've learned to stay calm with him, most of the time. 
    Then there are times when one simply has to move some energy. If I am very frustrated, I enjoy the practice of yelling when I am driving alone in the Spaceship (our RAV4). Roaring like a lion is my favorite style of private venting. I can release a lot of random annoyances that way, which helps to keep my interactions with others in the more pleasant range. 
    Both flowers and humans grow better without yelling.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

January 23--What's Your Approach?

When we approach with reverence, great things decide to approach us. 
--John O'Donohue

    I like the idea of approaching "with reverence." What if we encountered everyone and everything with reverence? With respect? With an attitude of "we are all in this together, so let's cooperate"? I believe great things would happen then. 
    Reverence implies to me actually paying attention, really seeing what is in front of us, rather than overlooking or taking for granted. People need to be seen and heard, and approaching with reverence encourages that. When I'm walking in nature, reverence comes more easily for me. I'm especially fond of our Mother Earth, plus I'm looking for interesting photo opportunities. Nature is infinitely interesting.
    Reverence to me also includes a "live and let live" attitude. I may not agree with your choices, but they are none of my business. Reverence kills judgmentalism. 
    It's a lovely practice to remind oneself that every step is walking on holy ground.

I approach the beach in Jamaica
with extra-deep reverence!

Monday, January 22, 2024

January 22--Good? Bad?

Good thoughts and actions can never produce bad results. Bad thoughts and actions can never produce good results.  --James Allen

    I don't know about this one. Oftentimes I think I am being helpful ("good action") and my husband heartily disagrees. Also, many times in my life I have uttered these words, "Sometimes a bad example can be a good thing." "Bad thoughts and actions" can at least teach us how NOT to behave.
    I get the idea, however. The truth always comes out eventually and shines light on every sort of behavior. Motivations become clear. 
    As I continue to ponder this quote, I see that the problem is defining "good" and "bad." We need look no further than our current political landscape to see that these terms are defined very differently by each individual. On a personal level, I consider it a good thing for people to make choices relative to their lives and bodies without the interference of the government. Others consider this a bad thing. 
    Resilience enables us to live with differing opinions.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

January 21--Pretend Fun

Love can often be misguided and do as much harm as good, but respect can do only good. It assumes that the other person's stature is as large as one's own, his rights as reasonable, his needs as important.  --Eleanor Roosevelt

    I had a training session on Friday for my first simulated patient (SP) gig at the Kansas College of Osteopathic Medicine. We get to be pretend patients with assorted conditions to give the med students practice interacting with real people. Comically enough, in this encounter, I play a patient whose doctor is discussing the uncomfortable subject of too much weight gain. Let's just say that this one won't be a tough acting job for me 😉😉
    This opportunity is WAY "outside my box," and I am so excited to participate. What fun to meet a bunch of aspiring doctors and help them with patient interaction! We do a dry run on Monday, then the actual encounter the following Monday. 
    More to come...

Flu shots in London...
does "jab" make it better or worse!?!?

Saturday, January 20, 2024

January 20--Dumb Stuff Happens

Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.  --Mark Twain

    Mark Twain had a good understanding of human nature. 
    I had my first injury at pickleball the other day, and I was not even playing! We were setting up the nets, and I was bent over working at the middle section. A piece of metal hit me in the eyebrow. I said "OW!" and continued on my merry assembling way. Soon I noticed that blood was dripping on the floor. What the hell?!?!?! Head wounds bleed a lot, but really--this is a quarter-inch minor scrape. I got myself cleaned up and played for a couple of hours. Now I have a shiner that looks like I have eye shadow on one eye. Fortunately the wound did not prevent me from wearing goggles and swimming. 
    Minor. Goofy. Comical. GEEZ!
Just colorful, doesn't hurt.

Friday, January 19, 2024

January 19--Good Value Every Day

Value yourself more.  --Oprah Winfrey

    The Richard Rohr Daily Meditation of January 18 offers this sentiment expressed by a Georgia elder: "I'm living between Oh Lord and Thank You, Jesus." What a great way to express what we are all living through these days--nearly incomprehensible horribleness intermingled with the goodness of humanity trying to shine through it all. 
    A huge part of "value yourself more" is self-care via a daily spiritual practice. This keeps us connected to Something Bigger, the essence of goodness within all of us. The practice enables me to acknowledge the "Oh Lord" without falling into complete despair. The goal is to stay focused on "Thank You, Jesus." It's not a blind Pollyanna attitude, simply being able to hold bad and good, and not be crippled by the combination. 
    Note that the practice of "value yourself more" does not include "value others less." 
    Let us lift each other up.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

January 18--ONE WHOLE!

You must live life with the full knowledge that your actions will remain. We are creatures of consequence.  --Zadie Smith

    One of the challenges I have faced as a MELT Method and yoga instructor is helping folks acquire the mindset that our bodies are one magnificent whole, not a bunch of separate parts attached to each other. This mindset is behind the common statement, "If your feet hurt, you hurt all over." Gil Hedley, explorer of the human body, offers these words:

In our love for these particular structures (Gil is referencing the vagus nerve and fascia or connective tissue--what I teach about in MELT), we do well always to remember that in our whole bodies, and in our whole person, we have operating a unity of differentiated structures that all, and always, work in the concert of the whole. Nerves are embedded in fascia, including the vagus nerve, and fascia are innervated, vascular, and living aspects of the whole body.

"Things" are only separate from the whole in our mental constructs, not in reality. And so a quest to "bring them together" and identify "connections" comes from our predilection to imagine things as separate in the first place.

    "Separate" happens to us at birth. We come from a unified whole consciousness into a human body that is separate from every other body and everything else. But we are one whole in essence, and we do well to remember that, both related to the individual body and our earthly family, human and otherwise.

Gil Hedley is currently on The Nerve Tour offering a five-hour journey into the human nervous system. He is taking this to 111 cities, offering an in-depth look at our magnificent WHOLE bodies. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

January 17--More Goodness Please

Simple, genuine goodness is the best capital to found the business of this life upon. It lasts when fame and money fail, and is the only riches we can take out of this world with us.  --Louisa May Alcott

    "Simple, genuine goodness" is all over the place, but it doesn't make the news. It is kindness practiced with those we encounter in daily life. It is offering a ride to a person who no longer drives. It is donating blood. It is taking care of one's family, home and property. It is helping those in need. It is visiting a homebound person. It is raising independent, useful children. It is expressing oneself in some creative form. It is the understanding that we are all in this together, and together, practicing "simple, genuine goodness," we are a resilient and uplifting current for all. 

Simple, genuine goodness makes for
a peaceful flow...

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

January 16--Where Is Your Happiness?

I don't see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness.  --Hunter S. Thompson

    I'm learning this. It has been lifelong learning, but most intense over the past year and a half. For me, for a long, long time, happiness came from THAT direction, and rather suddenly and unexpectedly, it stopped. That was quite disorienting, and it has taken me a bit to redirect myself. That process is ongoing. 
    I believe each of us has within all the resources needed to create happiness, regardless of what is happening "out there." This is not necessarily an easy task, because "out there" likes to have a lot of influence.
    Today is normally the day I would start tax prep work. I did that for eight years. I've let that "mini-career" go, and now in the January-April time frame, I have considerable time to fill. My happiness shall include at least one trip to somewhere warm and plenty of pickleball. 
    Revisiting my 2024 intentions goes along with today's quote: 1) Stay healthy and active. 2) Encourage and allow myself to be a happy human. 
By Karin Zeller

Monday, January 15, 2024

January 15--Womb to Tomb

Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb, we are bound to others. Past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future. 
--David Mitchell

    I wish more people knew this, and that I would be better at it. With this knowledge, how could people start wars or shoot up a school or church? This quote explains why I (and many others) are so terrified at the prospect of another round of "President" Trump. His whole mode of operation is on the crime end of the spectrum; there is no kindness involved. What kind of future would that be birthing?!!?
    We can't harm another without also hurting ourselves. The sooner we embody this, the sooner we will be living in a kinder, gentler world. 

Sunday, January 14, 2024

January 14--Spiritual Practice

When you come right down to it, the secret of having it all is loving it all. 
--Joyce Brothers

    I believe the secret to loving it all is to have a consistent, rewarding spiritual practice, staying regularly in touch with Something Bigger Than Me that I know loves me and all of creation. The 12-Step programs base recovery on this with the oft-heard statement: "What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition." There is good reason for the word "practice" in the phrase "spiritual practice."   
    Just like all of us are unique, so are our practices. I have several "daily readers" that I use, plus I write the blog. It is a wonderful energy charge to open a new post with no idea what to write about, and yet something comes through me. I'm working on another straight-line painting, and the process of allowing that to develop is very spiritual for me. Much patience is required, not my strong suit. I review my intentions and hold loved ones in my heart, my version of prayer. I work in at least a subset of this practice even when I am traveling, because the chances of having a good day without it are slim. 
    Consistent spiritual practice is an act of self-love that enables us to bring our best selves to the world.
Painting progress

Saturday, January 13, 2024

January 13--Complication Unnecessary

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.  --Dalai Lama XIV

    As I write this, I am enjoying breakfast and coffee at MOXI Junction in Maize, Kansas, my favorite coffee shop. I am upstairs and there are two sets of fathers and daughters up here playing games together. This makes my heart sing. It reminds me of all the precious time I had riding in the lumber truck with my dad making deliveries. We didn't have GPS in those days, but somehow that truck always knew where the ice cream stand was on the way home. 
    I also learned yesterday that I am going to be a great-great-aunt again. JOY!
    Back to today's quote. I appreciate the simplicity of the Dalai Lama. I have officially (to myself anyway) become a "none." That is the term in use these days to describe folks with no religious affiliation. My spiritual practice is rich and rewarding. I don't need someone telling me what to believe or what I can or cannot do to "get into heaven." I'm fully aware that everything I believe could be complete bullshit, but that knowing keeps me humble. 
    I believe in ice cream,
Black raspberry custard,
my favorite choice on the truck rides with Dad.

Friday, January 12, 2024

January 12--Words of Wisdom

All I'm saying is, kindness don't have no boundaries.  --Kathryn Stockett

    I have come across two additional quotes to share with my blog readers. The first is for a chuckle to brighten your day. It was expressed by Stephen Bardo announcing the Penn State v. Northwestern basketball game from Bryce Jordan Center in State College, PA: 

It is so quiet in here you can hear people change their minds.

    The second quote was the absolute bulls-eye describing the angst I have been through the last 16 months. It is an utterance of Jiddu Krishnamurti:

The primary cause of disorder in ourselves is the seeking of reality promised by another. 

    I'm going to spare myself the gory details of writing any more about my disappointment. I am making a determined effort with my 2024 intentions to pull myself out of that disorder. 
    Lesson learned, I truly do hope, 

Not one of mine, darn it! Artist unknown.

Thursday, January 11, 2024

January 11--Choose Words Mindfully

Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.  --Don Miguel Ruiz

    This is one of the Four Agreements described by Mr. Ruiz in his book by that name. The actual Agreement is "Be impeccable with your word." 
    I appreciate that he specifically mentions gossip. This is one of the very common character defects of addicts (as well as everyone else, though I would claim that every single one of us is addicted to something). While it is easy to oppose the practice of gossiping, it is not necessarily easy to stop. We all love those "tidbits of information."
    I also love the admonition of not using our words against ourselves. We are much too critical of ourselves, and we take ourselves way too seriously. Our bodies, minds and spirits take in the words we use on ourselves. It really is just as easy to use kind words as it is nasty ones. 
    "Say only what you mean." OK, winter sucks. We had a lot of rain, then a couple inches of snow on top of it, and now, with our cold temperatures, there is ice everywhere. Parking lots are a mess. I've turned around and come back home twice from the YMCA because the parking lot is treacherous, both for driving and walking. I zoomed my Tuesday night MELT class from home due to the hazardous conditions. 
    Ready for spring!

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

January 10--Small World

If you want to be respected by others, the great thing is to respect yourself. Only by that, only by self-respect will you compel others to respect you. 
--Fyodor Dostoyevsky

    One thing I am noticing as I get older is that with age, one's world tends to get smaller. Friends and family pass or move away. We can't do as many things physically so we drop activities where we had been interacting with others regularly. We don't venture far from home. Simple daily activities that we used to do without thinking wipe us out for the day. Health issues can bring even further isolation. The pandemic certainly exacerbated this trend. 
    I have watched this happen to my brother, who is now in a memory care unit with multiple health problems. It is gradually happening with my in-laws, who at 94 are still living independently. 
    The idea of my personal world shrinking scares me. Fortunately at the moment, I have a choice in the matter. Having a couple sets of folks to play pickleball with is a big world-expander. Travel plans with friends are underway for 2024. I am making a conscious effort to see folks I haven't seen in a while. 
    I LOVE time by myself, but I don't want too much of it!

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

January 9--Great Potential

The truth is humbling, terrifying, and often exhilarating. It blows the doors off the hinges and fills the world with fresh air.  --Augusten Burroughs

Miraculous things occur when we leave our reality and move toward our potential.  --Jeffon Seely

    "Our reality" tends to be "I can't" for a multitude of reasons. "Our potential," i.e. "the truth," is that we can express and experience whatever we set our minds to. One of my realities used to be "I can't paint." The truth is that I can paint, and I have created several paintings that I am quite fond of. (This is going to be my dangling-preposition post 😉) 
    It is an act of self-respect to learn, to go for it, to try. Every endeavor may not be a resounding success, but every move toward expressing more of our potential is a win-win for all.

The fresh air of central PA

Monday, January 8, 2024

January 8--Turning Point

To free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves--there lies the great, the singular power of self-respect.  --Joan Didion

    Self-respect is not something that you didn't have, and then suddenly you have it 100%. It is, like most everything in life, a practice. I believe encouraging and growing self-respect is one of the many rewards of working a 12-Step program. There is a valuable concept in the program known as a "turning point." This comes from the A.A. mediation book titled "Daily Reflections" (page 15): 

"Every day I stand at turning points. My thoughts and actions can propel me toward growth or turn me down the road to old habits... Sometimes turning points are beginnings, as when I decide to start praising, instead of condemning someone. Or when I begin to ask for help instead of going it alone. At other times turning points are endings, such as when I see clearly the need to stop festering resentments or crippling self-seeking. Many shortcomings tempt me daily; therefore, I also have the daily opportunities to become aware of them."

    Willingness to change is a key aspect of self-respect.

Sunday, January 7, 2024

January 7--"Four Deep Problems"

What's terrible is to pretend that second-rate is first-rate. To pretend that you don't need love when you do; or you like your work when you know quite well you're capable of better.  --Doris Lessing

    I was gifted this morning with the "Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation" written by Brian McLaren. I have been looking for a succinct description of the problems we face on this planet, and Mr. McLaren writes this:

Way back in 2007, I wrote a book called Everything Must Change. I wanted to understand what our greatest challenges and threats and problems were here on Earth as a global civilization. I spent a year researching the literature of global crises, and I came away with an understanding of four deep problems that we face.

First, we face a crisis with our planet. We are literally destroying our life support system, disrupting our climate, destroying our oceans, depleting our soil, polluting everything, committing ecocide against the whole web of life.

Second, we have a crisis of poverty and unequal distribution of wealth and power, concentrating more and more wealth and power among a tiny minority of people.

That leads to a third problem: the crisis of peace. We know we’re in trouble, so what do we do? We disseminate more and more weapons of increasing kill power. We set on fire all of our divisions: racial, economic, religious, social, gender related, and more.

We have the crises of the planet, poverty, peace; the fourth crisis is religion because all too often our religious communities are remaining on the sidelines. As Thomas Merton said, they’re “guilty bystanders.” I think much religion has been selling people an evacuation plan rather than helping them participate in a transformation plan.

Every day Jesus would follow that same rhythm: withdraw for solitude, but then come back to engage by healing, feeding, caring, welcoming, binding up the wounds of this world, and implanting in people a vision of resilience, engaging with a world on fire.

    We can go all "doomsday" on this, but I myself am encouraged. I believe we are blessed with more folks who want to solve the problems rather than those creating the problems. We humans are resilient.
Friday's backyard winter wonderland,
all gone now.

Saturday, January 6, 2024

January 6--Endless Learning

Watching great people do what you love is a good way to start learning how to do it yourself.  --Amy Poehler

    I started making a list of the things I've learned to do by watching great people:
  • yoga teacher training
  • MELT training
  • 12-Step recovery
  • pickleball
  • painting 
  • crocheting
  • tax work
  • gardening
  • cooking
As I thought about it, don't we learn most everything in life by watching great people--those being parents, mentors, teachers, friends--the "regular" folks of life? This list could become quite long. 
    My younger son left college many years ago saying, "I can learn anything I need to know on the internet." He lives this. My husband has saved us thousands of dollars learning to do stuff himself via web videos and discussion sites. 
    Folks want to be helpful!

A great person posted how to do 
this pattern on the internet,
and I learned it.

Friday, January 5, 2024

January 5--Not a Good Practice

When you are content to be simply yourself and don't compare or compete, everyone will respect you.  --Lao-Tzu

    Comparison and competition (C&C) are some of the horrors of our current civilization. They are everywhere. They make news. Our entire sports industry is about competition and we love it. C&C are the whole life of our politicians. There is even a rating system for different levels of pickleball skills. 
    C&C are hallmarks of perfectionism. If one's mission is to be perfect, there is a constant need for C&C to determine if one is "measuring up." It is easy to get into the unfortunate game of comparing one's insides to other peoples' outsides.
    Comparison always leaves us lacking, especially if it puts us into "I'm better than..." mode. 

London, from the Eye

Thursday, January 4, 2024

January 4--Doing One's Part

Each one of us matters, has a role to play, and makes a difference. Each one of us must take responsibility for our own lives, and above all, show respect and love for living things around us, especially each other.  --Jane Goodall

    I participated on New Year's Day in an intention-setting workshop led on Zoom by my friend, Sonya Nelson. She gave us three questions to ponder to come up with our intentions. (See Dec 28 post.) Of course, I wrote too many at first. Looking at my list, I whittled it down to two; if those manifest, it will likely include the remaining ones. My two "umbrella" intentions for the year are these: 

Stay healthy and active.
Encourage and allow myself to be a happy human. 

    I have listed these in bold in a place where I will see them each morning as I do my spiritual practice. 
    So far, so good, four days into 2024!

Painting progress...

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

January 3--We Are Folks

I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks.  --Harper Lee

    I love this! What a fun way to express that we are all one, all here doing the best we can to live in this world in a motley assortment of bodies and living conditions. 
    I have especially run into this idea of "folks" at pickleball. I've played in several locations and I love the assortment of folks I encounter. Some are young and agile, some barely lumber around the court, many are seniors who move fairly well for their age. I've seen participants wearing cute outfits and jeans and everything in between. It's simply a bunch of folks moving and having fun. 
    I was raised in a family with a strong mindset of "us vs. them." The idea that there was "just one kind of folks" only applied to WASPs. Fortunately for me, I ended up with friends in all sorts of "folks" groups, so I have been able to release most of the prejudices of my youth. 
    Seeing everyone, including oneself, as just folks is, of course, a practice. 

Our Mother's morning artwork in
Wichita yesterday 

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

January 2--Just Be Kind

What I want is so simple I almost can't say it: elementary kindness. 
--Barbara Kingsolver

    One place I would like this to show up in others and myself is driving. Reckless hurrying really is not necessary, with the possible exception of someone giving birth in the car. I am an impatient driver, I know, and I remind myself often that there is no hurry. Please stop running red lights! Also, there are no STOP signs on highway entrance ramps. Elementary kindness means you keep moving, accelerate and merge smoothly into traffic, where elementary kindness has allowed you some space. 
    "Please"    "Thank you"    "Excuse me"    "I'm sorry"  
    Don't be a Karen or a Ken,

Mother Nature's kindness is infinite!

Monday, January 1, 2024

January 1--Let's Go for a Car Ride!

If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it.  --Marcus Aurelius

    I certainly wish that our politicians would follow this practice.
    The January theme in "Daily Kindness" is respect. The 12-step programs talk about humility as seeing oneself neither above nor below anyone else on the scale of life. This is an essential aspect of respect, because if I think I am better than you, I have no need to respect you. Alas, we see too much of that these days. 
    In random online scrolling the other day, I saw a t-shirt with this saying:

We are all dogs in God's hot car.

What a great inspiration entering a new year! Nothing gets our Barney wound up more than the prospect of a car ride. Big smile, big excitement, doesn't matter if it is a trip of two miles or 500. There are new things to see and do and smell and taste! He gets to be with his humans whom he must keep in a neat "herd." Maybe there will be a drive-thru with a treat, ice cream being the all-time favorite. Let's go, go, go!
    Can we enter the new year with this dog/car-ride level of excitement despite facing the unknown? I suspect maintaining such an attitude would make for a mighty fine year!

This isn't Barney. Our Barney won't stick
his head out an open window!