Like a Good Neighbor

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Impromptu date night.
My sister had watched the kids while I taught yoga earlier in the evening,
and she was willing to stay so that mommy and daddy could go out.
The kids were in bed,
and the hubby and I sneaked out for a dinner at the local tavern.
Rock star parking, right out in front,
and then bam!

Our neighbor called.
They’re a one car household,
and his wife and son were stranded a couple of miles away with a flat.

Without hesitation, we made a U turn,
and drove back to our street to fetch him.
He was so relieved and grateful to see us.
I squeezed between our kids’ empty car seats in the back seat,
our neighbor hopped up front,
and we were on our way.

I saw the flares first, and then the blinking hazard lights.
There they were, just waiting in the car, at night,
waiting for someone to help.
My neighbor leapt into action, jack, wrench, a few curse words.
We stayed with them the whole time.
I was the one who noticed the long screw stuck in the donut spare–
We were hopeful anyway.
The wheel was stubborn, didn’t want to come away from the mount,
but with lots of persuasion (male brute strength)
our neighbor finally got the thing off and mounted the spare,
which was also nice and flat.

So we drove behind them to the nearest gas station,
hazard lights blinking, 25 mph max,
where he discovered that the spare would hold no air.
One can of Fix a Flat later,
and we were once again following behind him
hazard lights blinking, 30 mph.

We drove like this all the way home,
and as we pulled up, my belly rumbling,
I thought, “How good it is to really help.”
The gratitude in my neighbor’s voice was priceless.

We had a fine feast of leftover pizza and pasta,
a meal fit for a king and queen.
My husband looked at me and said,
“I had a good time with you anyway, honey.”
It was a perfect date.

Simplifying

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My work schedule has been out of balance for quite some time.  I have been missing my family, missing my husband, but wanting to further establish myself as a professional yoga teacher; priorities were skewed.  I tripled my number of classes in less than a year, and the strain on my marriage was growing more and more apparent.   I finally realized that it fell to me to make some changes in my yoga teaching schedule in order to regain balance with my family, with my husband.

Last night I wrote and sent an email to the studio manager, informing her that I would be giving up my Thursday evening classes and my Sunday evening class,  essentially cutting my schedule in half.  They are all  good classes with regular students; it felt a bit painful to have to give them up.

But then I thought of the fun things I’d be able to with my family with the additional free time, and I remembered that no amount of money could bring back the experiences I would continue to miss if I were keeping my focus of my career development.

Tonight in class I let my students know that I was rearranging my schedule in the effort to be home more with my husband and kids.  A few expressed disappointment, but they all understood.  One more week of Thursday night classes, and then I’ll be free to be with my family, to go on an outing to the library, or invite some friends over for a cook out, or take extra time reading my kids bed time stories, or craft, or just veg and watch a movie with my husband.  No amount of money is worth the time I spend with my precious family.

Cliff seems to be quite relieved that I woke up and realized how important it was to restructure our routine.  I’m glad I finally found the courage to do it.  I’m looking forward to the new adventures ahead, as I invest even more time into being present for my loved ones.

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Come home to your self
Come home to your true nature, always waiting.
The changeless self in you wants you to come home.

Take a deep breath and remember who you are.
Remember the beauty that glows within.
Remember the changeless self.

Nothing in the outer world can satisfy you.
Don’t wait until your children are grown,
your family is gone,
before you realize that true wealth lies in your heart.

Share the love that you have
come home to your self,
the changeless self in you wants you to come home.

Slowing Down

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And why was I running anyway?
Why do any of us run?
How did we get so speeded up in the first place?

When I slow down,
take a deep breath,
and look around with open eyes,
I see a beautiful life, my life,
watching me, wanting me to awaken.

Just observe how a dandelion seed floats on the wind,
or how the surf glides back along the wet sand into the ocean.
See the gentle ambling of a wide lazy river,
the way the willow leaves are rustled by the whispering summer breeze.

Witness the perfect unfolding of the sunrise, sunset,
the way the darkest of nights gives way to the light of day,
the way the coldest of winters melts into spring,
need I say more?

If I slow my body down
and move with my breath,
I notice subtle sensations I would’ve otherwise missed
in the hurried pace of the workaday world.
I see the gift of my body temple,
I am grateful beyond what I can say.

It’s in those little subtle places-
in those tiny little spaces-
where dance the mysteries of the universe.

Can you see them?
Those who hurry can not.

Let us slow down then,
and come back home to our true nature,
and remember that joy is here, now,
exactly where we are,
as we return to self,
as we once again embrace our own human being.

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My husband told me about “hypermiling” the other day, how some guy holds the Guinness World Record for the highest MPG achieved in a vehicle.  Having traded in our gas guzzling Dodge Durango for an extremely fuel efficient Toyota Prius V just one week ago, I was intrigued to see what I kind of MPG I might be able to reach if I were to employ some of the hypermiling techniques.

Call it the inner nerd.  Call it the Mother Earth lover, who is feeling repentant for years of Type A driving.  Call it the kid who likes to play games with numbers…whatever you call it, I’m now amazed at the power of slowing down.

The most basic idea of hypermiling is to accelerate gradually and to anticipate traffic.  Take your time getting up to speed when the light turns green, and don’t exceed the posted speed limit.  If you see a red light up ahead, just allow your car to gradually slow down, which will save some wear on the brakes and decrease fuel consumption.  Take your foot off the gas going down a hill…

First of all, coming from where I come from, this is an entirely foreign–even scary–way of driving.  Both of my parents were pretty overt road ragers…and I’m exaggerating only a little.  Short of pulling out a gun and shooting people, or knowingly running people over, they pulled out every road rage trick in the book. As I child I would routinely hear curse words directed at other drivers, contempt for their choices, comments about their intelligence (or lack thereof), the assumption that they were actually trying to piss off the people around them.  I’d see my parents get red in the face often, make impolite gestures on occasion, and in general drive in a way that invoked fear the other passengers of the car.  I actually thought this was pretty normal, and would lash out in defense of this kind of behavior out of some kind of twisted loyalty to my upbringing whenever anyone would call me out for driving in a way similar to my parents.  It’s a miracle I haven’t gotten very many speeding tickets in my life time as a driver. I should have gotten way more than I did.

One of my spiritual teachers, Eknath Easwaran, recommends slowing down as an essential aspect of spiritual evolution.  He believed slowing down is so important that he made it one of the eight points in his system for spiritual living.  Whenever I have read about his idea of slowing down, I have thought, “Yes, I can do that. Yes, that makes sense.”  And I have  slowed down in many ways–while I’m attending to household chores, while I’m interacting with my children, when I’m listening to a friend, or grocery shopping, eating a meal, or teaching a yoga class.  But I never really managed to slow down my driving–not in a consistent manner anyway–until I learned about hypermiling.

Epiphany time, and pardon the crazed enthusiasm:  OH MY GOSH I AM ONE THOUSAND PERCENT MORE RELAXED IN MY CAR!  I CANNOT BELIEVE HOW PLEASANT DRIVING IS NOW!  WHY DIDN’T I LEARN ABOUT THIS BEFORE?

Yes, it was precisely the moment that I decided to try this hypermiling thing out, and adhere to the speed limit, and coast along whenever I could, that I discovered how peaceful I can feel when I’m behind the wheel.  Whereas before I was pretty much a constant bundle of nerves, suspicious of other drivers, uttering curse words under my breath when alone and inside my mind when the children were present–now I’m taking deep slow breaths, listening to peaceful music, and seeing life around me.  I’m feeling more integrated with the other drivers, more in the flow of LIFE even.  How could this be?  But there it is.  I’m discovering that by slowing down I’m arriving no later than I was before, but I certainly am arriving more calm and collected.  And wonder of wonders, I’m actually enjoying the drive.

Yay, hypermiling.

 

 

If you’re interested in learning about hypermiling stats and techniques, check out Wayne Gerdes site, www.cleanmpg.com.  Fascinating stuff.  Be sure to check out the rebuttal Wayne wrote in 2008 after AAA suggested that hypermilers are dangerous.

 

 

Just When

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Let’s not fool ourselves–
Life will not wait for us to wake up;
Life will not wait for our genius to be expressed.
We must take life into our own hands,
and awaken, and express, because what else is there really to do?
We are not entitled to anything, not even ourselves–
but let’s search for the deepest self,
and discover the universal self within.

Let’s please remember–
once we have all the toys we think we need
once we have had all the experiences we’re craving
once we have been recognized,
once we have furthered our own interests,

what waits for us is the feeling that we get
when we help someone else,
when our life energy has benefitted someone in some small way,
when we realize that all of the world’s treasures pale in comparison
to the vast treasure of consciousness within.

Let us join together on this arduous path of awakening.
Let us help each other remember who we are.
Let us hold each other up if one should stumble
and together reach for the self we already are–
wise, loving, bright, clear, and kind–
infinite awareness, the universal mind.

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Just when I thought I’d settle down to my writing at a reasonable hour, I looked around and noticed many things that needed to be done. I picked up all the children’s toys that had been mercilessly strewn around the back yard, I took out the trash and the recycling.  I picked up the living room, I cleaned the table, put away the remaining food from dinner, put the children to bed. I put away my son’s laundry, I went downstairs and got the next load from the dryer and put the basket near the dining room table to be folded.  In a life where there is always something to do, where does one draw the line and reclaim the energy to attend to one’s creativity?

I take a deep breath.  For tonight, just to ask this question–this is enough.  Now it is time to meditate and then dance my dream among the stars and moon hiding behind my eyelids.

Doing the Work

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They were having trouble navigating the seas of married life
Doing fine as parents, a cohesive unit,
with two beautiful children to show for it.
But when it came time to be with each other,
there was disconnect, and unconscious mistrust.
To remedy these navigation difficulties,
they called in the aid of an advanced skipper,
someone to take the wheel for a while
and relieve the couple of their arduous task
of just trying to keep the ship afloat.
In that space of relief,
everything they’d been holding back came tumbling out.
One became adversarial
and the other withdrawn.
One pointed fingers
and the other cried.
It was painful
and it was scary
and when the skipper’s time drew to a close
there was more than a little panic.
The couple once more had to stand at the helm.
One felt sheepish
and the other depressed.
There was silence, heavy and thick.
But as they stood there together
surveying the turbulent seas,
one reached out and took the hand of the other,
and wordlessly proclaimed connection.
Now they do the work of listening
to calm the waves of intense feeling.
At some point the seas will be clear and calm
and there will be smooth sailing once again.

Write Something Every Day

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It’s 11:59pm.

I’m supposed to be writing something every day.
One minute to write something and publish.
HURRY!
Time is…

Oops..it’s 12:00am.
It’s already tomorrow.

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This is the way I reassure myself when I don’t think I’ve met my own expectations for writing and meditating every day:

I remind myself that back before people were so neurotic about minutes and seconds, when the sun rose it was morning, when it set it was evening.  Birds sang, waves came crashing on the shore, the stars shone, and no one needed to measure this precious moment with little ticks of a clock.

So I tell myself that if I can write before I lay my head on the pillow, I have written today.  If I can sit on my cushion and go inwards before bed, I have practiced my evening meditation.  It doesn’t matter if my writing and meditating are complete before the stroke of midnight.  Back in the day, midnight was an idea, not a precise measurement in GMT.

So I stick out my tongue at the numbers, and I say, “Yes. Today I have written. Yes, this evening I have meditated.”  And that’s that.

A Long Day, Heart Breaking, So Grateful

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How could you?
What were you thinking?
Was your heart beating, were you full of adrenaline,
Or were you calm when you pulled that trigger?
Were you just following orders?
Did you think twice before you let that missile fly?

I wish I could speak to you so that I could understand
what kind of mentality would incite you to such violence.
What belief of yours is so important to uphold
that you would sacrifice the lives of innocent people
to prove its validity?

Outraged, full of disbelief, shock…
But mostly just sad for the people on board that plane
and their families left behind to mourn them.
It makes me want to crawl into a dark hole
and fold inside of myself and hide forever
thinking about the things these people
will never again do:

wake up, put their feet on the floor, make a cup of coffee
walk outside in the summer sun, smell the breeze scented with flowers
walk upon the green grass in bare feet, pat their dog and listen to its panting
Share the summer’s bounty–cucumbers, tomatoes–with their neighbors, their coworkers
feel snowflakes falling on cheeks come wintertime…
caress the velvet soft cheeks of a baby
smell the pavement after a good rainstorm…

what incredible works of art, what achingly beautiful music,
what genius will the world be denied in the absence of these people?

I suppose I’m speaking from a place of resistance, because some people might say,
“This was meant to be.  This is life. “

But I can’t wrap my head around accepting this one, I’m just really confused.
So please tell me, how could you?
How could you willingly pull the trigger?

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Back home after another long day of teacher training. I’m so glad to have this time to learn–to be the student instead of the teacher–but sweet lord does it feel good to be back home.  I tucked my daughter into bed when I walked in the door after 9pm, and it was the sweetest moment of the day.  I told her I was so happy to see her, so glad she is here, and she looked right into my eyes and said, “I love you mama.”

My heart swells with gratitude for this privilege of being a mother. And my heart is grieving for the lives lost earlier this week when the Malaysia Airlines passenger plane was shot down in the Ukraine.  Just like my heart grieved when a young man walked into Sandy Hook elementary school and opened fire on young children and their teachers.  How can I skillfully process such incomprehensible tragedy and acknowledge it without letting the horror of it consume me?  Is there anything I can do to help ease the suffering of the world?

I think about my children sleeping safely in their beds, and I wonder if I can keep them safe. I feel incredibly grateful that my husband and I can provide them with their clean, warm beds to sleep in, this house, nourishment, fun experiences, but–I feel most grateful that my children are ALIVE.

My heart breaks thinking that eighty innocent children were on board that plane of nearly three hundred passengers.  That all of the people on board were denied their precious human lives, for what?  This being human becomes so complex.  Is it possible to simplify?

So complex, this human life, so many polarities–gratitude and grieving–but such a privilege this is, to think and to love and to be loved.  Maybe I can hug my children a little more tomorrow and love every tiny little thing they do.  What better way to help this world than to carry on the spirit of lovingkindness, sharing joy, warmth, and understanding with the people in my life?

Maybe those of us who love life will somehow raise the vibration of the planet so that one day horrific man-made tragedies  won’t happen anymore.  Meanwhile I’ll work in my corner of the world, tend to my small plot of earth, and continue to plant seeds of hope, faith and gratitude.