Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tuesday's Good Stuff

Seven strangers and their kindness played an integral role in my life today. Thank you to the older gentleman, the first to stop for us today when the car broke down in the middle of nowhere. His cell phone wouldn’t work, but he returned about 30 minutes later with water for both humans and dogs, and snacks for the children. Thank you to the group who stopped for us—to the man who was very concerned, the woman who loaned me her cell phone to call AAA and engaged my kids in conversation, and the woman I never met who waited patiently in the back seat of their car. Thank you to the state trooper who stopped while we were waiting for the tow truck, and gave us water and gave the children police badge stickers. His calm energy was reassuring, as was his promise to swing by later to make sure we’d gotten picked up. Thank you to the tow truck driver, who checked his rear view mirror frequently with a questioning look to make sure I’d give him a thumbs-up as we rode in our car on his flatbed. Thank you to the office worker who let me use her phone and was exceedingly patient with my combination of writing and whispering as I tried to communicate our situation through my laryngitis. All of these people brought goodness into my life today, and I hope they found goodness in their own days as well.


My life is often heavy on the yang, and the universe brought some unplanned yin to balance things out today. I had plenty of time to sit and breathe and wait and do nothing today. On the side of the road, waiting for someone to stop so I could call road service, at the mechanic’s shop while my car had an alternator transplant, and then at a big box store while they worked to get my cheap new pay-as-you-go emergency cell phone connected. Without a voice, I never even mediated in the kids’ bickering, nor sang them songs or read them stories, and as a result I was able to see just how well they can fare on their own, and how compassionate they were to me in my sickness. My down time today has only made me more eager to get home and tackle school, work, homeschooling, and more. Thank you, universe!

My children found joy in our travel day gone awry, and enjoyed the grasshoppers on the side of the road, savored the oranges given to us by a stranger, rode high up on the flatbed of a tow truck (strapped in their car seats, of course), luxuriated on cushy leather couches in a waiting room, and made sand castles in the motel’s volleyball court this evening. They all enjoyed our unplanned adventure today and never complained about the delay in arriving home, even though we have been gone for almost a month.

Haagen-Dazs. Enough said. Mmmmm.


Friends and family offered support and kindness and understanding, even when my day’s adventure resulted in inconvenience, disappointment, or expense to them. Money was borrowed, visits were cancelled, and whining was tolerated. You all know who you are. Thank you. I love you.

We are in a motel room with cozy beds and plenty of comfort. We loved this motel last night as well, and are making the most of the extra night instead of focusing on our lack of continental progress. Soft beds, content critters, full bellies, and a fresh start tomorrow. All of it very good stuff.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Clear the Way

I'm getting ready to sell my house and am preparing to declutter as soon as I get home. (I'm on my fourth week of being 1300 miles from home.) I came across the perfect passage in a book I'm reading (interesting how often that happens, isn't it?). Here are questions to ask yourself when going through the chaos in your home:

"Seven 'Clear the Way' Questions

  1. Do I love it?
  2. Do I need it?
  3. Does it support who I am now in my life?
  4. Does it act as an environmental affirmation for me?
  5. What positive and/or negative thoughts, memories, or emotions do I associate with it?
  6. Does it need to be fixed or repaired, and am I willing to do so now?
  7. If it's time to let it go, am I going to sell, lend, or give it away, and when?"

--Home Design with Feng Shui, Collins


Tao of Cats, I

"Of all animals, he alone attains the Contemplative Life. He regards the wheel of existence from without, like the Buddha. There is no pretense of sympathy about the cat. He lives alone, aloft, sublime, in a wise passiveness."

--Andrew Lang


Wabi Sabi

“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There's a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.”

-- Leonard Cohen

Wabi-sabi is the Japanese art of finding beauty in natural, imperfect simplicity. Wabi-sabi is quiet and modest, a humble beauty waiting to be discovered and appreciated. Wabi-sabi is in thrift stores, not Walmart; aged wood floors, not brand new carpet; wrinkles and blemishes and imperfect teeth, not the American airbrushed media model. Wabi-sabi is evident in the lines on your face that show all the times you have laughed, the stretch marks on your belly from the babies you have carried within, the age spots on your hands that show the years you have spent gaining wisdom. It is the misshapen ceramic pot your six-year-old made, the off-key songs you sang as a child, the marks outside the lines of a coloring page. It’s the cracks in adobe, the rust on metal, the frays on your grandmother’s quilt. It’s the patina of perfect imperfection born from age and wear, in art, in nature, in ourselves. Wabi-sabi is all that is modest, humble, and lovely.

Awesome kids’ book for all ages

What if you could learn to be content with your body, your life, your self exactly as they are today? What if you could see the perfection in all your perceived flaws? How would your outlook change?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Standing on Tiptoe

"He who stands on tiptoe
doesn't stand firm.
He who rushes ahead
doesn't go far.
He who tries to shine
dims his own light.
He who defines himself
can't know who he really is.
He who has power over others
can't empower himself.
He who clings to his work
will create nothing that endures.

If you want to accord with the Tao,
just do your job, then let go."

--Tao Te Ching 24, Mitchell translation


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Wednesday's Good Stuff

Three kids laughing hilariously and simultaneously with delight in their mother's antics.

The initially disappointing wine that tasted lovely when mixed with diet 7-Up.

A chubby-tummed water-baby thrilled with her first professional swimming lesson.

A big brother comforting his little sister.

A cool overcast day that left no droplets on my glasses.

The surprise of my favorite gluten-free cookies on the supermarket shelf.

Financial aid closer on the horizon.

A nine-year-old choosing to do math problems in bed at night.

Cute dogs leaning into under-the-collar scratches.

Stolen moments alone.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009


"Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy."
--Thich Nhat Hanh

I've found this to be true at times in my life, and would benefit from remembering it more often. When I first discovered the power of smiling at the world even when I felt no joy inside, I was in my early twenties and tired of feeling so down all the time. I implemented a "fake it 'til you make it" mentality as an experiment, since sharing the authenticity of my depression for years had gotten me nowhere. To my shock, my relationships improved, the world looked brighter, and my smiles became more and more authentic.

It hasn't always worked for me since then, but at the time it was a pivotal point in my life and I've never forgotten the power of smiling first, then feeling the joy that follows.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sunday's Good Stuff

The heat wave broke, and my clothes are no longer sticking to my skin.

My little redheads, giggling and running while holding hands.

The laughter of the big girl, and her bright blue eyes.

The smell of flowers on the air.

Eternal familiar cackling.

Comfortable and soothing re-runs.

Growing kittens with fat bellies and bright eyes.

The nap in the embracing recliner.

Communities changing and growing in laughter.

Kids everywhere in everything, learning and laughing and touching and thriving.

Favorite music.

Intelligent adult conversation.