Tag Archives: health

Go to the empty places

January is empty for reservoirs. They hold the void. There is no water, wake, or waves. Hardly anyone is there. You’d see them if they were; there’s nowhere to hide.

I tromped around wondering about the emptiness. Which reminded me of the importance of being empty.

My friend recommends going into a room empty. Especially when offering support. Hold the space, but don’t fill it.
Here in this expanse void of water, I fill up on empty. I also feel it. It’s sort of nice to jump into. It radiates something, even if it looks barren and not promising at first glance.

January is not the same as July. No fishing, paddling, skiing, or swimming is happening. It’s a forced stop of action, or yang. The reservoir is taking a break, restoring its yin. And by being here now, I follow. I move in step with January. This is what’s happening.

What is there to do? Visit it. See it in its current state.  Without. This leads to about one thing- walking around and observing what is contained in the emptiness.

Things seen were old shoes,  wood, grasses, rocks, tires, beer bottles, plastic bags. Mud.

What to do when something doesn’t float our boat? Out of water? It does not fill any expectations.

When the water is low, or mostly gone, we can see the bottom. It’s a good reference point.  What I like about this connection is it feels closer to the Dao. The ancient advice went something like, “be low, like water. Be close to the lowest points.” Walking a more humble and quiet route was encouraged, nothing much about running up mountains, pumping your fists. Instead flow like water, adapt to whatever shape you encounter.  Just my loose interpretation.

The bits of wood gathered around the edges are connected to the earth this time of year. They lie there exposed. They are not covered by the muffle of water. There is no light and liquid creating beautiful illusions to mesh with. Most will float up again in a few months and ride the water and watch the sky.

What I like about the seasons is it’s not about me. It’s about everything. The status and state of everything, of which I am just passing through. I can appreciate it or I can complain about it. It’s a choice.

 

Kombucha: taste and perspective

If you asked me, here is what I’d tell you about the tastes of kombucha.

Pomegranate white tea brings out a burst of hope from each pomegranate seed involved. It’s a mix of blissed and blessed; straightforward and non-complex. A great one for the card-carrying kombucha naysayers out there. It is sweet and light and uncomplicated as well as non-threatening. It’s humble and doesn’t need to shout out its worth to you or anyone else. It knows its value and doesn’t beg for approval. This is an honest drink ready to make anyone’s glass half full.

Toss in pomegranate seeds for festive fiber and color

Assam has a great depth, a history to it. It’s the finely earned sweat from the sides of a muscled quarter horse pressed against your clenched legs. It then becomes the steam off that same horse. There is a kiln-dried, slight hickory flavor, as soft and soothing as a vapor from your higher self. The lighter side offers a sweetness- akin to an heirloom apple from 1905 Washington state. Lastly, what follows is a reminder of a root cellar somewhere in the Oregon coastal hills, maybe Chitwood- with a dark and fruity taste that comes from the underground and bugs.

A blend of pomegranate and white peony met, due to low tea supplies in the house. The main body of this drink is mystic over intellectual. It is a meeting of bold cheerfulness and wise sage. Combined, the elements of the liquids blend toward a field trip through honesty and freshness. You miss it once it easily slides down the esophagus. It absorbs into the tongue, triggering a sense of mature vision with a hint of playful mischief. It doesn’t incite trouble, it emboldens creative thinking. You just can’t get enough.

Not bad, but a bit much, Lapsang souchung tastes like smoked stable chips washed down with a coastal slew at low tide. It includes a backsplash of fossilized golden soil with a million ancient comments echoing past centuries. It finishes with horse hoof trimmings brushed with a light glaze of organic sugar.

Bad kombucha tastes like:

  • Bubbly brackish pond water
  • Foul fermented moss mold with a fizz
  • Carbonated sour plums that finish with a dirty thud punch
  • Sparkling swirling dervish sledge
  • Barrels of babbling bellicose berries battling good taste
  • Surly swill of swirly saturated sourness
  • Moist mushroom moonshine musty with regrets of the past burping forth from a murky muddy spring.

Set up your own station and make a brew that tastes like the smell of the tender paws of a spaniel that just ran through an heirloom tea shrub field. Or a swig that reminds you of a hot air balloon ride over a sweet and salty ocean on a planet yet to be discovered.

The possibilities are endless.

 

Adopt. Cats. Meditate.

Taken moments after the Oprah and Deepak 21-day meditation series, day 15. The theme: Being in the flow is effortless. Sanskrit: Sat Chit Ananda-Life is absolute bliss consciousness

I went out and got two cats the other day. I looked online at the local shelter and though the goal was one, I chose two. They did not know each other.

One radiated sweet, the other appeared cute and playful. After we got home, one was naughty, one was nice. The cute and playful one became moody and distant.

I saw her walking away a lot. At home, she was an emotional mystery prone to getting upset quickly. As in, don’t touch me, don’t pick me up. DON’T!

Neither cat actually behaved badly. I just had to get to know them.

She was a mystery, her personality and story taking form each day

I AM cute, yes, and thank you for noticing!

The sweet cat is the orange boy cat.

Lord Byron

After a couple days of being scared of a new place, he set his loving gaze upon me.

He approves of me. It’s a done deal.

How do you suddenly have two grown cats? Who don’t know each other? You follow the directions. The shelter offers tips and instructions on how to gradually introduce. The cats did great and I was committed. It took my attention. It’s not a “let ’em work it out” thing I remember hearing people say years ago. As the tribe leader, the human in the house needs to keep things respectfully organized and safe so the kitties can feel cared for in their new surroundings.

I learned to meet the cats where they were. I’m still doing that, about a month later. All this is a lot like getting to know anyone, even people. Time, space, place, boundaries, bonding, habits, preferences- these have meaning for all creatures.

Meditation turned out to be the best bonding activity, even equal to play. Spice Girl, named for personality and her hues of cumin, coriander, turmeric, chili, and ginger, likes meditation. She isn’t moody, she just needs stillness. She would rather sit in peace with you than bite and scratch, given the option. Really.

She wanted to connect but didn’t know how.

So, we learned.

The other arrived with peace and love, this was his truest nature.

Lordy

If their nature is not peace and love, that is o.k. This invites close attention! Observation.

Lesson #1, don’t do what they don’t like. When cat says no; not that; not here; not there; not this; oh hell no!….. listen. Because next they will tell you what they do like.

Yes, I like that toy! Yes! Yes! I like that touch! There, under my chin! By my ears! Yes! I like sweet talk directed at ME! Yes, I love the food you offer! Yes, I love the meditation when I sit with you and you don’t pet me but we are touching! Yes! Thank you! Yes, that purr is for YOU! O.k., I have to go now!

Cats have a great ability to relax if they think everything is basically o.k. It’s a good enough reason to keep a habit of creating a basically o.k. environment.

Big thanks to my loyal dog, Lily. She is an unlikely zen master with cats. Seriously, she diffused all feelings of worry and angst when introduced. It’s not that she particularly likes cats. It’s just a non-issue for her. She adapts to adoption. She was once adopted herself.

Lily likes leaves.

We are at one month now, and everyone is getting along well. There is still an occasional hiss, but it’s more of a warning than an aggressive act. More often I hear chripy recognition hello meows with a purr follow-up. Our daily meditation brings a contented silence, which naturally spills into regular non-meditation time. It’s great to share peace with all creatures!

 

The editorial board

What is mental health?

We went from headaches to mental health fairly quickly. I asked him what he did for his own mental health? His answer: “I don’t know what it is.” Fair enough. An honest answer! A few beats passed and he asked, what do YOU do for your mental health? Touché!

I told him that for my mental health, I exercise, hang out with uplifting people, do arty stuff, meditate.

He perked up about the meditation. He said he tried it but it didn’t work. He had done it twice, each time for 2 hours. I told him that was very ambitious! How about shorter, like 10-15 minutes a day?

He asked how does it feel, when you are in the zone of meditation? This is a good question and I wasn’t sure how to answer. English was not his first language so when I used words like peaceful, it didn’t fly. So, I motioned like I was unscrewing the top of my head, and said, “it’s like if you took the top of your head off and poured fresh water through it; rinsed it out with water and light.

His eyes lit up and he said, “oh!”

He left with a new approach to meditation.

© Mary Ann Petersen. Albany, Oregon

What is good mental health?

Here is a list of eight things I was told in school (Oregon college of Oriental Medicine, Portland, Oregon).

Signs of good mental health could be the ability to:

  1. Develop emotionally, creatively, and spiritually.
  2. Initiate, develop, and sustain healthy relationships.
  3. Face problems, resolve them, learn from them.
  4. Be confident and assertive.
  5. Have awareness of others, ability to empathize with them.
  6. Use and enjoy solitude.
  7. Play and have fun.
  8. Laugh at yourself and at the world (takes tremendous amount of self esteem and inner strength to laugh at oneself).

*We need enough life force to initiate and develop ourselves. Always look for and find ways to cultivate your life force.

The above list came from an academic course, which was directed toward working with addiction and mental health.

© Mary Ann Petersen

These are guidelines, points of reference. I think we need to identify in writing some concepts of good mental health. It’s time to be concrete rather than vague.

Why don’t more people have answers for good mental health? Why does it seem slippery? Lately, I see a need for solid footing in this subject. Let’s start somewhere. And go beyond, “see a counselor.” Some won’t get there, so what are common sense concepts in the meantime? As in, let’s get some movement on the ground floor, within our reach and not make supporting general mental health too confusing.

© Mary Ann Petersen. Dublin, Ireland.

My point is, we all need to bring this care into our own lives, even if we are not in the middle of a mental health crisis. If we wait for that, it’s a harder place to set up aid and self care.

© Mary Ann Petersen. The temple.

The next list is from a Quaker group I attended, so it has a spiritual leaning. The topic was Universal Spiritual Elements.

Universal Spiritual Elements

  1. Awareness of the “other.” What is valued or sacred? What do you value over yourself?

2. Sense of responsibility. How am I responsible for the world around me? How do treat my space, surroundings, people, pets?

3. Sense of vocation. What is my reason for being? What gives meaning or purpose?

4. Sense of community. Is there a sense of caring and being cared for? Who are my people? Who do I trust?

5. Sense of repentance. What is my capacity for reconciliation with self and others. Mistakes are entry points for healing forgiveness.

6. Ability to be present. Is my focus past, present, or future oriented. Soul lives in present. Past: ego. Future: ego.

7. Faith. What is the relationship between my small story fitting into the bigger story. To connect to a sense of the transcendent, what do you relate to?

Having trouble figuring out how to integrate all this into your life? That’s o.k., pick one thing and start there. Remember to have fun. Practice, practice, practice.

In my view, we should be having conversations and taking action everyday toward cultivating good head and heart space.

Leave a comment to say which or what called to you.

Back to meditation, if you want a great kickstart, go to https://chopracentermeditation.com/experience.
It’s a great 21-day simple guided meditation. It fits into any schedule! It starts Monday the 30th. The theme is Making Every Moment Matter.

New territory: The Colonoscopy

“Think of it as a cleanse,” a friend advised.
I had already thought of this. But, I liked hearing it from an outside source. The colon is the exit, the place to discharge things from the body. It’s the solid waste disposal. What else could be disposed of?

Is there a holistic angle to a colonoscopy?

I decided to use this as a cleanse and purge, additionally, for internal things like emotional/spiritual beliefs that I don’t need to keep within. The top of the list: discharge disempowering perceptions. Out, bye-bye, be gone!

I also decided to restart my eating habits, get back on track to a more mindful diet.

Part 1: The Consult
It’s unsettling to me to take a drug so that my awareness is off wandering the lawn of my unconsciousness. I am not really “there,” yet not all the way gone. Instinctively, this feels not good in my gut. But, that’s what they suggest before you belly up to the colonoscopy bar.

I asked the PA who was arranging this thing if she could explain a little more about this state and why I should be in it. She said matter-of-factly, “it’s conscious sedation.” New phrase for me, I had not heard those two words put together before.

Does this make me like a fish on ice at the market, frozen, eyes wide open, but nobody’s home?

I agree to a light sedation with a shot of something to reduce nausea, because most drugs make me nauseous.

I’ve asked several people about their colonoscopy experience. They often say, “I dunno, I don’t really remember,” with a slightly askew grin and a far-off expression of fish on ice eyes.

The fast begins
It started out boring. Drinks are limited, reduced options as they say no red, orange, purple, or blue. No pulps. I have ginger ale and some correctly colored Gatorade.

I rest, listen to podcasts. I go into my slow moving frog Zen state. I feel as if immersed in a still pond, just my eyes and top of head peak out of the surface. This is how I chill when I’m scared.

Photo credit: Tim McMahon. Thanks!

The purge
About 30 minutes after starting the drink… I feel the promise of the first movement. It feels hopeful. A slight stirring at first, a low vibration of change from deep within.

I am a little impatient for things to begin.

Not impatient for long: first discharge occurs and is swiftly successful! I can now feel and hear my bowels singing the song of Suprep bowel prep.

The gates have opened! The purge has begun!

Near a path on Ashland’s Lithia Park

Part 2
They are all really nice at the Colonoscopy Station.

The IV insertion was what I dreaded most. The nurse was expert, got it on the first try. I felt fine, it wasn’t bad at all and yet within moments I started to feel weak, not good. Suddenly, I was like a stunned sparrow just bounced off a window. I had to lean the recliner chair all the way back and have the light off and breathe and concentrate on not fainting. I guess I am a frail bird in these situations. Things going into or pulling out of my veins bug me.

I felt a little sorry for myself. I then asked myself how often am I in a hospital gown, sitting on a recliner, hooked up to a bag of fluids while staring at geometric print fabric curtains? Very rarely. It was simply my turn. I’d be free and out zipping around on my bike again soon enough.

Poster from Rena Fitness

Part 3
I am asked to walk a short distance while carrying my bag of IV fluids along to the next place. This place has the scoping gear, TV screen, and a poster of the colon near the foot of the treatment table. The doctor is friendly, perky, and gives a brief description of what we are doing. He remarks on my tan, saying he would like one too, and I told him to just get out on the water a lot.

The procedure suite looks efficient, tight, though not crowded. Sort of like an Oil Can Henry shop, but in a medical way.

I don’t remember anything after I am told to turn on my side.

Part 4
My parts show no wear or tear; no signs of anything happening. Yet, the film shows the journey from start to finish! All the way to the terminal ileum! That’s the start of the small intestine. What a funny thing to look at- your colon. I didn’t feel any relation to it, which is sad as it works hard for me.

At the initial consult, they had three names to choose from for the procedure. I didn’t know any of them. I asked, who is the kindest one, the sweetheart from this list? Without hesitation, she pointed to one.

“Put me on his schedule.”

He was excellent. I’ve been hearing that kindness matters in the ways of healthcare. Once these people learn the insertion and driving the gadget, which looks a lot like a fancy video game set-up, it’s on. I figure they can all do this, so I want the kind one.

Humor is important always, and this nails it:

For a great and more serious illustration of What Happens, this is helpful:

Always good to have this on board

Stand-up paddle the urban Willamette

Sellwood bridge, just south of the launch site

I pushed off at Sellwood Riverfront park. The plan? Paddle the board toward the city. I wouldn’t make it all the way, but the journey looked good. I parked on a street nearly under Sellwood bridge and headed toward what I thought was a boat launch. It seemed that it had been one a long time ago. As I approached, I saw a vague hazard sign. It didn’t explain much and there was no fence. I couldn’t see anything scary, so I went in. After launching, I looked back over my shoulder to see a warning sign about a cable and 11,000 voltage! I paddled much faster. Note to self: don’t exit this way.

Between Sellwood and downtown Portland

Going north toward town was a push against current and wind. The water was a little choppy, not too bad, no white caps. I dropped to my knees a few times when I came upon cross currents, water stitches, surges, and bucks. I absolutely did not want to fall in. Too cold. This was more of a workout paddle, not a cruise. I really wanted to get a good view of the city and the first bridge, so I didn’t take the side route through calmer water that diverts east, just off the yacht club.

Also on the east side, just before the yacht club, is Oaks Park. Sounds of people screaming on the roller coaster bounce out and off the water.

I was glad to not have my chihuahua mix hood ornament dog with me. She would have hated the water splashing across the front of the board.

After close to an hour of paddling, I pulled into a small gathering of snags in the middle of the river. A perfect rest area and a place to sit down and take a few pictures of the still far away city. I noticed a small board held between roots and branches. I plucked it out- my next sign! It was imperfect in perfect ways- part lumber, part river wood. It had aged and ripened in the river.

From the river: Holy. Sacred, divine, blessed, nature.

The only other boaters out were people fishing and kayaks. I like to throw a friendly wave and hope that doesn’t cause me to pitch off my board.

Evening on the water- almost out

It was getting late or I might have pushed it farther. I needed to get off the water before dark, and that meant I needed to turn around. Two hours of solid paddling is enough anyway. Coming back was faster with the wind and current; however, the river still had surprises in movement. For example at random times, there would be drops and surges, or it felt like the board was goosed and pushed me forward toward the nose. No idea what that was but it made me laugh.

The way out? Just take the stairs. Right before the last dock prior to Sellwood bridge, dart left, and there are two different sets of steps leading out of the water. Incredibly civilized. Sort of like Venice, only concrete rather than marble. Close enough to make for a magical water outing.

Easy access to Riverfront park

 

Be the tree, strong and flexible: spring is in the air.

Wood is the element of spring. What are the conditions of spring and how do we notice, align, and incorporate with this season? This blog churns up a few notions about Chinese medicine from an elemental/seasonal perspective.

This is the time!

We are all of this earth, so we have earthy elements. Studying the elements is a way to integrate with nature. It’s a way to channel the current element, thus align and sync with the season.

Spring sun warms the shell to bring forth movement

Each season gives us a chance to notice where we are, how we are moving, where we are going, and generally what is going on. What is our place?

A long time ago, in China, they talked of wood and fierce growth. It quickly got a little more detailed.
To see the elements of spring through the lens of this theory, look at the list below.

The featured organ of spring is the liver.
season: spring
direction: up
planet: jupiter
weather: windy
direction: east
sense: vision
flavor: sour
secretion: tears
orifice: eyes
tissues: ligaments and tissues
color: green
wild animal: tiger
instrument: compass (direction)

Buttercups! A free spring flower!

pathology of this time of year:
pain in chest or sides of chest
redness, swelling of eyes
depression, anger
muscle/tendon inflexibility
irregular menses
vertigo

Personality of wood:
We have the wood element in us all year long, some more than others. Strong wood personalities are often leaders, people who get things done.

Fallen limbs from winter ice storm transform into feeding structure for hungry spring birds

Like all the elements, it helps when wood is in balance. If out of balance, it can lead to extremes on either end. Too much wood: argumentative, short tempered, overbearing, inflexible. Too little wood: lack of drive, direction, vision, and hope.

Time to look at new flight patterns

People who lack woodiness are looking for a plan, structure and vision for them to feel the strength and flexibility inwardly, to then manifest outwardly. They need to harness direction and movement forward.

Those with too much woodiness, can be overly controlling and pushy; therefore, could use softening, flexibility, and a willingness to not demand so much control.

Imagine we are all trees. Different trees, tall, short, bushy, bare, smooth, rough. Our human bodies and tree bodies are blended in this season, and one message is: be strong, yet flexible. Allow your branches to bend. Bending is favored over breaking. Try not to snap.

Trees and humans are both seen as connecting heaven and earth, dirt to sky. Branches and limbs are like tendons and sinews. We want to have a good supply and flow of sap, like healthy trees. This goes for emotions too. We can see and touch rigid sore muscles, but what about rigid attitudes? Short tempers? This makes for a dry and brittle personality that turns to fiery anger quickly (extreme anger is called “liver fire”).

In school, we were taught that it is best to be moveable, changeable, bendable. How do you balance growth, or try new things, while also maintaining a way of creative adaptability- to thrive more readily with what is. For us trees and people, we need unobstructed fluid/sap circulation, bendy limbs, flexible attitudes, and branches that let the air and light flow through.

Try to encourage supple muscles/ supple mind.

This is an active season. Growth! It is not a passive or reflective time of year.

Questions and tips of this season

  1. what makes me feel alive?
  2. what can I do to be a more fully alive person?
  3. Am I moving my body enough? It’s time to move and disperse stagnation.
  4. If you feel you are off-track somehow, it’s time to get back on. Don’t worry too much about mistakes, just try things and move on.
  5. Stretch your tendons and sinews. Move stagnation, yet remain stable.
  6. Organize and restructure routes or habits that are inefficient, or no longer effective.
  7. Grow toward the light. Follow light like plants do. Be aware of your direction.
    * List from Thea Elijah, LAc., from her wood integration series.

Spring is the season of birth and growth…. it also has its share of death and decay. Yet, in spring, grief and fear are overtaken by the sheer force of optimism and vitality.

It’s a great time to make massage oil with spring elements to soothe tendons and sinews. Soften the limbs, relax the attitude.

Mood boost massage oil:
Base: sunflower oil
Add: bergamot, lemon, and orange essential oils. Amount added depends on amount of oil. If it’s 8 0z., I’d recommend 10-20 drops of each. Experiment. Start small if you don’t like a strong smell.

Balance massage oil
Base: sunflower oil
Add: orange, patchouli, and ginger essential oils.

I chose sunflower oil as the base, but you can choose something else. I love sunflowers, their booming vitality, color, and sunniness. They provide beauty, pollination for bees, and fuel for birds. Sunflower oil is also rich in vitamins A, D, and E.

In conclusion, I’m told that horses do these three things the most in the spring: buck, fart, and roll, sometimes as a sequence. Go for it!

References:
J.R. Worsley, Classical Five-Element Acupuncture
Thea Elijah, LAc.

Tend your life

The fuzzy gray blooms are called catkins.

It’s pussy willow season, did you know that? I’ve been out the last two evenings collecting gorgeous bundles along a nearby creek. I like harvesting them because you have to notice them, time it, pay attention. It feels old and sweet and real. While slogging around in my rubber boots tonight, I noticed two hawks, several ducks, very crisp air, and two guys smoking pot, also next to the creek.

I’ve been thinking about the importance of tending one’s life. The last post was about living with inspiration, living with passion.
Where does it come from?

I think it comes from tending. Tending what? What you love or like; what calls to you.

Fermentation brings forth the goods

I tend a garden. I didn’t start out a gardener. The head gardener was my mom. It took years before I actually felt compelled to create my own garden. Now it is my grounding, my tether to the earth and seasons. It is my balm when pleased or not pleased with events around me. It is not necessarily a passion, but more of an inspiration, a reason to be present. For me, gardening helps me simplify my intent, and clear the path for other thoughts or feelings to come up.

Poet Mary Oliver says: attention is the beginning of devotion.

I once dug in the dirt every day for weeks and it was neither passionate or inspiring, but it settled me down, put me in a more pliable mood. It caused me to be more open to input, and more willing to dispose of unnecessary burden.

Tending just takes interest, focus, and care. You have to notice what you are tending. Does it need water? Food? Protection? Care? Love?  This is beyond plants, now we are talking mammals. I think we learn to care, and even to love by tending.

Tending flat-out leads to more tenderness.

To get to passion and inspiration you have to start somewhere, with something or someone. Maybe it’s a lover or a loved one. Or it could be painting, singing, swimming, cooking, animals, hiking, reading, writing, paddling ….. O.k., those are my things. Find your own things. And then, here’s the big thing: MAKE TIME FOR IT. Whether a hobby or a person, make the time. Ultimately you’re investing in yourself, your own heart.

Tending to what calls to you makes you more alive and more aware. Rumi put it best, “Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.”

Tend, as a verb, means to stretch, extend. It became a word around 1300-50. It means to attend by action and care. Another example used it in a different way, as in, “the particles tend to unite.” I’ve got it: I wish to unite my particles to attend to my life and those in it with action and care. It is one way to find purpose and direction to recognize and awaken the passion within.

Recently, at a Quaker garden work party, we shape shifted dirt into new raised beds. We wanted them to be level and true. Have you stood in wood chips and mud and known for a fact if your surroundings were plumb and level? What is true? Brian brought out two glasses of water, which were set on opposite sides of the frames. This was illuminating! We were all wrong as to what actually lined up with the laws of nature.

The water levels in the glasses led us to what was true. I think tending helps us to find our own truth, our own nature. Finding threads to personal truth is exciting. It makes a heart beat with more aliveness.

 

 

Field trip for the soul

A place with room to wake up.

I was feeling a little bummed out. I needed some different scenery. I had some things on my mind and they weren’t all happy things. What to do with a melancholic half day off? Leave town. First stop, the bird refuge. My spirit needed a rinse of water, sky, birds, rain.

This is a story with pictures about moods, inspiration, letting things be, and beer. There might be some Buddhist stuff squeezed in here and there.

This represents an empty mood.

This is how it feels to me when things don’t work out. I saw it from the highway and knew it was the perfect shot to illustrate melancholia. Here is a structure that was a home, a base, but now it’s abandoned and not functional. When I am dealing with my own perceived tragedies, I am forced to go through loss and pain. Oddly enough this is a good exercise.

Through reading The Way of the Bodhisattva, I kept hearing the same message: self-absorption is the main source of suffering. How to get out of self absorption? Expand expand expand. I was constricted in my thinking. I was thinking small. The ancient book recommends that we connect with our expansiveness in order to gain access to tenderness and compassion. This can move us beyond a self-centered point of view.

I pull from all directions for guidance. Yesterday I listened to a vlog about lots of cosmic things, but the best part of it, for me, was: Live with passion! Live inspired! I immediately felt my recently repressed passion awaken. I can do this. How could I forget this?

He also emphasized letting go of the superficial. We are bombarded with the superficial ALL THE TIME. Chuck it.

How to expand? Go outside. I laced up my kick-ass boots and hit the road.

You need the right footwear to balance the mood, sturdy the spirit.

In a short time, I was at the bird refuge. Grass, mud, and water was in every direction. Clouds and sky and the sound of singing frogs and red-wing blackbirds filled the moist air. That was more than enough, but then I got to see a bald eagle, a kestrel, and a swarm of killdeer. I know they’re not technically called a swarm, but I like it.

Next stop, a small town. It is small but there is room for poetry. If at all sorrowful, one must hit up poetry. It just works!

Soul waves must be a good thing

Love the imagery of the erosion of rigidity. I can see the salt and water softening the rock and soil, from millions of waves.

You must be prepared. Sometimes it’s really o.k. to stop.

I’ve heard recently of a concept that we have to empty ourselves. This could mean many things, but I think the idea is that we clear out internal space. It’s a little like spring cleaning or Feng Shui for the head and heart spaces.

I’m reading Ilene Cumming’s book, The Truth is at My Front Door. She talks about her experience as a hospice volunteer. Among the tools needed–compassion, presence, emotional stamina–what stands out to me is “the courage to simply enter the room empty.”

I was a hospice volunteer. I was on the roster to supply acupressure touch and acupuncture. I remember arriving at the door, just before knocking, and having a holy shit moment. What can I possibly do to help this person? Oh no oh no oh no oh no oh–what have I done?! Too late, I have to go in.

I think I’m going to practice being empty more in regular life. Just show up. And that takes expansion. It takes remembering the sky is really large. I don’t need to contract because of my own, or others’ expectations.

I wrapped up the field trip with beer. There are no pictures of the beer. I was at Sky High brew pub in Corvallis with a window seat looking at clouds and light.

I’m just passing through
Should I expand or contract
I choose my next breath

Spring is coming. Be inspiring. Be passionate.