Paying Homage to a New Year

calendar-3042204_1920This is a reblog of a poem I wrote for New Year’s Eve last year when my blog was brand new and had few readers.  I read it at a gathering of friends. We were all still reeling from the presidential election fallout.  As the poem as it was read caused a hush in the room.   Later, several friends told me how much it meant to them.  Feel free to share this at your gathering on this New Year’s Eve as we hope for change in 2018.  What better way to start the New Year than with poetry?

On This Last Eve

There are no more squares to fill

Nor pages to turn

Nothing can be changed

But how we act tomorrow

And how we think about the past.

It is done

A tapestry of memories woven in our minds

Events left to history.

In the morning

A new calendar will grace the wall

Waiting to be filled with commitments & adventures.

Let the glasses clink with their bright sound

Among this circle of friends & family.

Let us toast to the warmth of love & friendship,

A better tomorrow

& the chance to begin again.

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Why I Meditate

606-to-507-028For many, the word meditation conjures up images of Buddha- like figures sitting in lotus position, hands in prayer, dressed in monkish robes or yoga gear & chanting Om in long breaths. Find me in meditation & you would see a disheveled middle-aged woman propped up in bed first thing in the morning, legs stretched out under the covers, hands upturned in her lap, eyes closed & silently breathing.  It’s an unglamorous but serene picture.  This is how I prefer to start my day.

Meditation has been a part of my life off & on for over 20 years. I turned to it, as many do, during a period of great upheaval in my life. The liberal minded church I was attending at the time offered a free class.  It was a simple procedure.  Close your eyes, scan your body for tension, & then breathe observing your thoughts without judgement.  The teacher suggested picking a 2 syllable word, known to some as a mantra, to focus on while breathing.  This could be something like “om-sa”, “breathe in-breathe out”, “I am” or something that holds meaning to you.  You can visulaize a peaceful scene. That was it.  No need for a guru, a specially assigned mantra, or shelling out lots of money.  The deal breaker for me was the suggested 20 minutes twice a day.

I did start on that schedule & then could not stick with it.  Rather than throw out the entire practice this is what my practice looks like now- 12 minutes before I start my day.  It really helps for me to throw in a late afternoon practice before dinner but that is usually the exception than the rule.  Sometimes all I can muster is observing my breath 5 to 10 times during my day.  It all helps.

This is what I’ve gained from meditation- focus, grounding, & insight.  Previously I had the mistaken notion that meditation was about controlling my thoughts. I was wrong. It’s about observing the mind & body without judgement. If you find your mind wandering, just come back to the breath & note what you were thinking about.  This will happen over & over.  Eventually you will gain an awareness of your thought patterns throughout your day & a habit of self- correction.

One of my first realizations was that my default body position is with my shoulders scrunched up to my ears.  That may not sound like much, but relaxing my shoulders has helped relieved me of back & shoulder pain. Then, being a creative soul, my thoughts tend to be all over the map often wrapping themselves in a tight knot than constructive recognizable paths.  Now I am more able to develop ideas in a more constructive way. I can think in a more positive manner. It’s a defragging for the brain, a reboot for the thoughts.

Meditation is the ultimate reality check.  Slow down, stop, and go inward.  If you think you don’t have the time, all the more reason to start.  You will not regret it.

Why I started to Write

Odd things can happen in your 60s. I feel like that kind of yucca pant that blooms once a century or a prehistoric seed given the right enviroment germinates and starts to growwhy-i-started-to-write. All of a sudden this last year I felt like I had to write. It started out with an occaisional poem, then frequent poems to some short essays to now a blog. Probably what has contributed to this perfect set of conditions is now seeing more time behind me than before me- the need to document my experience on this planet. Then there’s the fact that this winter in Oregon has been so cold I cannot seem to motivated to work out in a ceramics studio that is heated only by space heaters. I needed a creative outlet. Whatever the reason, here I am, a writer.

In the past, I have written for classes & have kept a journal. But write for the sake of writing at 4 AM? Years ago I would have shut my eyes, pulled up the covers and waited for the impulse to pass. Experience has told me though, that unless I heed my heart, its whispering will become shouting and that ultimately leads to unrest and irritability.

This is my start of my writing journey. It’s surprisingly one of the most grounding things I have ever undertaken. I have benefited greatly from the writings of others. Now I have opened myself up to critical eyes but also to those that will benefit as well. It’s worth the risk.

The Last Eve

On This Last Eve

There are no more squares to fill

Nor pages to turn

Nothing can be changed

But how we act tomorrow

And how we think about the past.

It is done

A tapestry of memories woven in our minds

Events left to history.

In the morning

A new calendar will grace the wall

Waiting to be filled with commitments & adventures.

Let the glasses clink with their bright sound

Among this circle of friends & family.

Let us toast to the warmth of love & friendship,

A better tomorrow

& the chance to begin again.