Monday, May 31, 2010

California Stars

I find I have nothing to say today. So let's just dance around to this great tune:)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Oh, that magic feeling!

Nowhere to go! Can't tell you how happy I am to have tomorrow off and not have to leave my house. What does this image have to do with that? Well, it's from in my house:) And they don't look like they're going anywhere, either. A big thanks to Rodg for letting me use this favorite image here. Have a wonderful day off everyone!

Saturday, May 29, 2010


I learned about the Unphotographable website through an interview Jamie Ridler did with the wonderful Susannah Conway last year. Soon after that, another blog I read had a post where they mentioned it, although I really can't figure out where that was.

The idea of the "photograph that got away," as Susannah described it, has been haunting me lately. There are two images I can't get out of my mind. So in the spirit of Unphotographable I thought I'd share them here:

This is a photograph I did not take of a homeless man who approached me when I was at the Central Parking machine paying for my parking spot the other day. I've noticed this gentleman before. We've exchanged greetings as I've walked down the sidewalk where he and his buddies hang out in front of a church. He stands out a little as he's missing most of both arms. I'm guessing he's a Vietnam veteran. This morning he gestures toward an abandoned State Department building that used to house TennCare. He asks if that part of the parking lot looks better. I say that it does look cleaned up. He says that he's spent the morning picking up the trash that's collected there. And that's when I look down at his bare feet and see that's he's carried pieces of broken glass to the garbage can next to me and is picking them up off the ground and dropping them into the bin with his bare toes.

This is a photograph I did not take of the backyards of the houses along the Harpeth River that were flooded weeks ago and are likely mostly still uninhabited, waiting for the construction teams to install new drywall, appliances, etc. There's a trampoline set up in one of the yards and a girl in her early teens is jumping higher and higher in the beautiful spring air.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Less outrage more outrageousness

I received an email today from a Shambhala center where I did a couple of weekend meditation programs a few years ago. It contained a letter from Paul Kelway, a member of Shambhala who is a regional manager of the International Bird Rescue Research Center, which has teams in the Gulf of Mexico. One line has really stuck with me this afternoon since reading it:

"I am also realizing, more powerfully than ever, that our response to this oil spill, as a community, should be less about outrage and more about outrageousness."

In the Shambhala tradition, outrageousness is represented by the garuda (pictured above), a mythical bird with human arms that is hatched from space, ready to fly. The quality is described on their website as:

"Unencumbered by the need to manipulate reality, we can use whatever happens to radiate compassion without bias."

That does seem pretty outrageous, but I like it! I also liked this part of the message:

"From all the emails and phone calls we have received, not just from across the United States but from around the world, I know that people beyond the Gulf are experiencing this violation to the marine environment as if it was an assault on their own body. It is an energy that seems almost impossible for people to hold and, more often than not, I see it manifest either as blame and anger or as utter hopelessness at the degradation that has occurred to our planet at the hands of human beings.

"As a Shambhalian I have been trying to reconcile all of this with my relationship and allegiance to basic goodness. More than ever before I realize that this journey is not for the faint hearted. I also realize that it is what the world needs more than anything else. It needs people who can hold this incredible amount of pain but who know that the energy of this suffering and sadness must be held with fearlessness and gentleness so that it does not become the fuel for further wars on whomever we decide is 'the other' to be blamed for this event."

If this interests you, you can read the rest of the message here.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Filling the well

No mud for me:) (Please, please, please let it work!) Instead my day off today was filled with pop-up pals, streaming movies, and a great Elizabeth Gilbert video. Check out the links below:

Peter and Vandy
On the Edge
Long Life, Happiness & Prosperity
Elizabeth Gilbert's Talk from O's 10th Anniversary

Also, I watched this wonderful video earlier in the week and it, too, has fed my soul. If you haven't seen it yet you'll want to -- Brené Brown at UP.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Six word story 10

Not so blue. Still miss trains.

Monday, May 24, 2010

30 Days of Yoga

I’ve signed up for another awesome online class! Isn’t it wonderful all the cool stuff out there? This is a yoga class, 30 Days of Yoga, with Marianne Elliott, an amazing instructor (and human rights advocate) in New Zealand. It starts on June 12th and I absolutely cannot wait, especially after reading her response to a question on her website today. The question was about how Marianne is able to do the kind of hard work she does. This part of her reply really hit home for me:

“Another option is to keep our eyes and hearts open to the world around us and to allow ourselves to feel deeply the suffering as well as the joys of that world. This has always been my approach, but for a long time I followed this approach without the stability that I needed to make it sustainable. My heart was open but my roots were shallow. I was blown about by my heartbreak, like a reed in the wind.

“It wasn’t until I was on a yogic meditation retreat in March 2008 that anyone really explained this to me in a way I could understand, which is to say, in a way that made sense in my body. He was a yoga and meditation teacher, a man whose career training had included a 50 day silent retreat in a Buddhist monk’s cell in India and a period as the personal meditation and yoga trainer for Olympic athletes in Australia.

“’Marianne,’ he said, ‘you move through the world with your heart open. Your compassion is a beautiful thing to see. But until you release your weight into the ground beneath you and trust that the earth herself will hold you, you will continue to be blown about by the joys and heartbreaks you encounter.’

“‘This is what we practice in yoga,’ he said, ‘trusting the earth to hold us, releasing our weight into the ground beneath us and finding a stability even in the midst of the turmoils of life. Without compassion, stability can become rigid, but without stability, compassion can drown us.’”

In the version of the class that I signed up for, Marianne puts together a yoga practice geared toward the answers the student provides to a questionnaire, so it’s specially geared to what you need. I’m picturing lots of wonderful opportunities for getting more grounded. Have I already mentioned that I can’t wait?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Today's streaming hit -- Paris

Loved this beautiful film set in Paris. You can watch the trailer here.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Beauty of Different

So much to be inspired by these days! Hope you enjoyed the video of Father Greg Boyle yesterday. If so, he has a book out: Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion. Looks like an amazing read!

And here's a gorgeous trailer for another book that's due to be published soon, The Beauty of Different, by Karen Walrond. It's so true!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Father Greg Boyle

Learn more about "G" and the current need to help save Homeboy Industries here.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

No Huli

I still can't get enough of Joy Harjo. Happily found this video today. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Dare you

Is it possible I haven't posted this wonderful Kelly Corrigan video here yet? Well, let's remedy that!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Am I the only one

who thinks the 7th Ave entrance into Nashville's War Memorial is hilarious?

I know. You can't take me anywhere:)

Monday, May 17, 2010

A comfort list

I loved reading Katherine Center's post today about a "comfort list" one of her characters makes in her book Get Lucky that I just so happen to be reading and really enjoying. It made me want to write one of my own, so here goes.

Things that are comforting:
jazz ballads
walks in nature
Chinese takeout
open windows on a spring day
smiles from strangers
the smell of fresh laundry
snuggling up with a good movie
hearing the voice of someone I love

What's on your list?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Awesome thing #5


The birds are back! Every day things get a little more normal here and Rodg has started feeding the birds again. It feels so good to see my little feathered friends again. I had no idea how lonely it felt not to have them around. (Thanks to Rodg for another awesome bird picture!)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Love letter

There were so many things to love about Jon Bernie's spring retreat earlier this month where I was enjoying gorgeous California weather while mostly unbeknownst to me terrible things were happening in my hometown. Now that things are getting a little more back to normal every day here (rumor has it Highway 70 just re-opened - I'm so excited to try it out) I thought it would be fun to reminisce a little and tell you about some of the reasons I loved it so much.

Let's just start with the Santa Sabina retreat center itself, full of relaxed and beautiful spaces, inside and out, including a gorgeous papermaking studio that was a welcome haven one evening as I just sat and gazed at all the beautiful paper art surrounding me. And I have to mention the unbelievably delicious food. The retreat was silent(ish), so I'd make all kinds of gestures of rubbing my stomach in rapture. Plus no cooking or cleaning up! This may be the closest to heaven I've been in a good long while.

If one felt the need to get out into more nature, there were wonderful trails just steps away with huge, majestic eucalyptus trees. Huge.

And then the people. Jon Bernie has the biggest heart, as I've mentioned here before. It was so wonderful to get this much time with him and to see how present and compassionate he is with everyone. I feel so lucky to know him. And he creates an amazing container for the group. It's a pretty charged environment, but so full of love. There were many, many people I never really met that weekend, only smiled at when passing in the hallway or listened to in satsang, but I knew I would miss them and I do. There were several people who I didn't know before the retreat, but felt I knew them well, having listened to podcasts of satsangs where they joined in the dialogue. It was such a treat to get to know them better.

It felt so good to be there with dear family members and old friends, too. And to be supported by family who weren't physically there, but so kindly accept my need for things like silent retreats, even if they don't really think it sounds so fun:)

I love living in Tennessee, this is my true home, but there aren't many opportunities for this kind of experience here. So to be in such a beautiful place, with everything pretty much taken care of for us, surrounded by people who are also drawn to this type of experience just filled me with happiness. It was just exactly where I wanted to be for a few days.

So thank you, Jon Bernie's spring retreat 2010. I love you, I miss you, and I can't wait to come again next spring!

Friday, May 14, 2010

And so it goes

Another big highlight of our trip to Kansas was getting time with my beautiful and talented nieces and having the rare pleasure of getting to see (and hear) one of them in a delightful evening of music. This song was my favorite of the evening. Couldn't find a video of her group performing it, so we'll have to fall back on another excellent performance.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thank you

Thank you so much to the wonderful people who reached out to help me through my blues! It helped just to get the words out, and your kind responses really warmed my heart. As did these pictures. They reminded me of the sweetness in the world. These adorable smiles put a big smile on this auntie's face. I'm sure the blues will come again, but having this support system of lovely family and friends really means the world to me. So thank you all so much.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I've got the blues

I have to admit that the flood in Nashville has really shaken me. At the same time that there's been a heartwarming outpouring of help in the community, there's still a heavy feeling. Friends and friends of friends lost a lot in the flood, in some cases parts of their homes and in some cases family members. This doesn't feel like a 500-year or 1000-year flood. This feels like global warming and something that could happen again, anytime. I look at the sky and instead of feeling my worries fall away I feel betrayed. I love that Mother Nature is stronger than all of the human beings ignorantly destroying her, but the soft animal of my body absolutely does not want to be destroyed either.

So I'm doing what I can to take care of myself as I ride out the blues: making sure I'm getting enough sleep, staying to my usual exercise routine, trying to eat healthy, reading The Sun magazine, watching the birds Rodg fed tonight, breathing in, breathing out, keeping my feet on the ground, in short, trying to nourish my soul. If any of you are in a hard place, too, know that I'm sending lots of love to all of us as we make our way in this sometimes overwhelming world.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Workplace Zen

I love this quotation. Would be good if I read this on a regular basis...

May 7, 2010
Tricycle Daily Dharma
Workplace Zen

If you “think neither good nor evil,” you can just be present and reveal your innate wisdom. If you are constantly thinking about how your colleagues or bosses are evaluating you, you are putting a filter between you and yourself, and between you and others. You will be in touch with neither yourself nor your situation. Thinking neither good nor evil is the same as forgetting the self. “To forget the self is to be enlightened by the 10,000 things.” When we can truly let go of our attachment to the self, every activity in the ten directions is the enlightened action and every place is nirvana, including the boardroom or the laundry room.

- Gerry Shishin Wick Sensei, "Zen in the Workplace: Approaches to Mindful Management" (Summer 1996)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Love this place

Had a wonderful visit with family in Kansas this weekend. One highlight was a trip to the Nelson-Atkins. Had to capture this favorite corner.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Hooray for mothers!

Katherine Center's video for Mom 2.0 seems like the perfect video for Mother's Day weekend. Pretty moving. Happy Mother's Day to all the wonderful mothers in my life! I love you all so much.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Awesome thing #4

Cute neighborhood dogs!

Maybe the only good thing about the crazy storm last weekend is that in his wandering around Rodg got this fabulous shot of one of my favorite things on our street: the small dog pack. In the country people are funny about their dogs and sometimes you'll see packs of dogs around. This was more worrisome when we had pit bulls living next door. But one thing that never fails to bring a big smile to my face is this pack of small dogs, including a dachshund with attitude. I'm pretty sure that they don't all live in the same household. I love the idea that these three (missing one in the picture) little dogs are buddies that meet up and strut their stuff around the neighborhood! (You can click on the photo to make it bigger and really soak up the cuteness.)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

what i thought i knew

I'm on a memoir roll, apparently. Really loved this book. I'll let the jacket blurb for what i thought i knew speak for itself:

"Alice Cohen was happy for the first time in years. After a difficult divorce she was engaged to a wonderful man, she was raising a beloved adopted daughter, and her career was blossoming. Then she started experiencing mysterious symptoms. After months of tests, X-rays, and hormone treatments, Alice was diagnosed with an abdominal tumor and sent for an emergency CAT scan that revealed the cause of her condition. She was six months pregnant."

And I'll let Alice speak for herself, too, in this fabulous video:

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Unless that sky is dumping water on you...

Well, that's the funny thing about writing posts in advance and scheduling them to appear while out of town. A huge storm comes and washes your town away and you have a beautiful blue sky on your blog. However, on Sunday where I was, the sky really was that beautiful. This was my view on Sunday morning:

And this was my view on Monday evening when I (finally) got home:

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Awesome thing #3

How all your troubles tend to fall away when you look at the sky.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Awesome thing #2

Tasty "exotic" food from the deli section of the grocery store. Where have they been hiding this Israeli Couscous my whole life??