Monday, April 14, 2014

I Dreamed of an Eagle

                                                                           
Last night I dreamed there was a young eagle
in the open window above my kitchen sink,
 just sitting in the window sill

As I got nearer,
 by the site of his beak, his orange beak
I knew he was an eagle
And I knew he was young
Just by looking in his eyes

I wanted to hold him
Because how often do
You even glimpse site of an eagle
let alone a young one
Let alone in your house

And some how he perched upon my arm
And I carried him as if he was a parrot
Casually
And I wondered where he came from

And as I walked into the living room
I see where he came from
Lindsey, my daughter, is standing there
With the mother, perched on her arm
Her arm bent at her hip,
its talons conformed around her arm

She carries it as if she has a scarf draped over her arm
the weight and power
it bears no burden
And I wonder why they're here.

Because it's spring
and the windows were open?
Because they perch near by?

I can't speak

They are emotionless
Yet knowingness
I accept that they're here
And wake up

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

How to Be Bold: 10 Habits of the Bold





The latin proverb, "Fortune Favors the Bold" is a powerful proverb. Essentially, it referred to Fortuna, the goddess of fortune, bestowing graces upon those who were bold. What is boldness? What makes a bold Sharpie the correct implement over a fine line?
It's Bolder. It stands out more. How often do you use a pencil on a school poster board project? You may use a pencil to draw out your plan, but to give your project 
the attention that you want it to get
you want it to catch the eye. You want it to be bold.

You want it to stand out.

When you look at this blogpost as a whole, where does your eye go? I bet it focused in on the bold Italic print. Because it was bold, it stood out. Because it was in an italicized font, it appeared different, and it caught your attention. Because the type was larger than the rest of the type, it got your attention. You may have even read that part first, before you read the post as a whole.


The Sharpie company itself, originally Sanford Ink,  began in 1857, as a manufacturer of ink. in 1964, it changed its focus. That was a bold move. No longer was its focus ink alone. It dove into the  manufacture of markers.
Sharpie was the first Pen-style permanent marker.
They were the first, because they took a risk

Being Bold is a the result of many practices:

1. Taking Risks: there is the possibility you'll fall flat on your face. But there's also the possibility you won't.

2. Having Faith: When you take a leap into new territory, Faith is knowing that either one of two things will happen. There will be a net to catch you or you'll be taught to fly.  If there's a net to catch you: no harm, no foul. You get back up. If you're taught to fly not only are your spirits lifted, you have a new vantage point. A twenty thousand foot view: you can see more from way up there! and you're Free! once you've learned to fly, you can carry others on your back, until its time to take their leap.

3. Wearing Blinders: In order to make big changes, innovate, or introduce something entirely new, you've got to wear blinders. Naysayers will abound, distractions will rear their heads, and the prevalence of convention will tempt you to back down. However the more risks you take, and the more faith you have, the more comfortable the blinders become.

4. Being Free Spirited: Are you a free spirit? Then you're well on your way. Free spirits are adventurous. Willing to try something new. Willing to diverge from the norm. Free Spirits are open to the possibility that something new may in fact be good! A Free Spirit may walk into a new store, and find a new friend, a favorite new food, or a lucky penny on the floor. Like Forest Gump, they never know what they're going to get, which is what drives their spirit on.

5. Being Open Minded: Perhaps the most common trait of a free spirit is Open mindedness. With an open mind, free spirits encounter many new adventures and ideas and are willing to let this things guide them into other things. they are willing to see possibility in a way that may be other than what they've ben taught.


6: Being Spontaneous: At the Very heart of boldness lies spontaneity. They are very close relations. If you're  listening to the radio, and the DJ announces that a band you like is in town and their concert is tonight, If you are apt to shift gears, you've given yourself an opportunity, and perhaps the friend you encourage to be spontaneous too, to enjoy something that makes your spirit soar. And not only that, you open yourself up to any number of experiences you may not have otherwise had.

7. Dwelling in Possibility: You are much more apt to be bold, and spontaneous, open minded, and free spirited,  if you Dwell in Possibility. Nothing drives creation and innovation and progress more than the possibility of something better resulting from those things. And it's much easier and take risks and have faith,  and wear blinders, if we dwell in possibility.

8. Being Courageous: If we have our blinders firmly on, it's much easier to be courageous. Because we block out that which might cause us to back down. Courageousness resides behind fear in the back of your mind. To be courageous we have to believe that what ever happens, it will be ok.

9. Being Optimistic: If you believe, whole-heartedly that what your focused on will come to fruition, It has a much greater chance of happening. Because if you entertain any doubt at all, you're more apt to quit. period.  It means you have a greater belief that it will happen than it won't. 

10. Having Vision: Can you see the outcome already actualized? Vision can be active or inactive. As a dreamer, you may see yourself already in the role you aspire to, in your daydreams, or as an idealist, you may actively create scenarios in your mind that have the potential to result as an outcome of a desire you hold dear. Vision, inactively can be an inner knowing. There is a mindset of certainty in those who visualize their goals. They have the audacity to believe.

Committing to any of these things, (and we all engage in at least one)  involves initiative. Initiative is a force, that once in place, allows for the unfolding of what can be considered providence, or as Basil King said, on the subject of overcoming fear, "Be Bold, and Mighty Forces will come to your aid."  The mighty forces capable of unfolding might therefore encourage:

"Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, Begin it. Boldness has genius, power and Magic in it."(attributed to both Goeth, and William Hutchinson Murray)

 “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”



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"Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid"
-Basil King
















Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Rubber Duckie Bookbags and Earth Shoes

                                                                                   


When I was in first grade, my mom sent me off to my first day of school, trailing behind my 5 older brothers and sisters, with my peter pan blouse, my freshly pressed uniform and my Yellow naugahyde Rubber Ducky book bag. I was crying. I had just turned six and I hadn't been to kindergarten. Sesame Street had done what it could.

When we got to school, having walked up our street and crossed Euclid avenue, it was time to get in line. In Catholic school, you're always getting in line. Lines to come inside, lines to go outside, lines to go to the bathroom. Everyone goes to the bathroom at the same time, whether you have to or not. But that's a story about second grade.






Apparently, a yellow Rubber Ducky book bag is for babies. Not first graders. That's how I was greeted by someone in line. I don't remember what their book bag looked like. I only remember I wasn't getting a new one. First grade proved to be challenging. In all regards. Apparently, I wasn't much for sitting still, or much for keeping track of my Easter Seals box. But I played a mean triangle! and I wasn't bad a the sticks either. No one mentioned that.

Despite these things, I did get chosen to portray Mary, the Mother of God, in our first grade Christmas Pageant. Perhaps Mary wasn't good at remembering her homework, or sitting still either.  Steve Gay, the cute boy in the class, who was the Librarian's son, got to be Joseph. He couldn't keep track of  his Easter Seals box either.


The Christmas of first grade was a memorable one. That year, I got a much coveted gift: Earth Shoes! I don't remember what else I asked for, but I know I asked for Earth Shoes. So Did Katie Carroll, my next door neighbor, best friend. Katie had more experience at First grade than I did, so she might have been a little more compliant. She had a practice year of first grade under her belt before I got there. Katie was the 6th child of 8 kids. I was the 6th child of 7. Katie weighed 29 lbs in first grade. We all carried her around.

I got suede Earth Shoes. Katie got leather. We probably got new socks too. Knee socks. There wasn't anything but knee socks in Catholic school. The fact that we didn't have to wear saddle shoes was more progress than we realized! The first day back to school after Christmas Vacation, wearing our Earth shoes was a day I remember. For some reason, Katie and I were still allowed to sit beside each other, and no doubt we were comparing and admiring our Earth shoes, shoes that made you feel barefoot. It was heaven on earth that one day in Catholic school. Until....A certain unnamed girl, who didn't get Earth Shoes for Christmas, wanted a closer look at Katie's. She touched them--without permission,  her nails dragging along the outside edge, scratching Katie's prized Christmas gift. Katie was dashed. I was dashed.

We still talk about it. Katie's  nemesis, OUR nemesis, hadn't yet developed the potential for sympathetic joy: The joy you feel in someone else's good fortune, or happiness, or achievement. I guess you could call the opposite, jealousy. Jealousy might be defined as wanting something someone else has. Whether it's a skill, or a personal strength, looks, or something material. But I don't define it that way anymore.

I think Jealousy is more rooted in the absence of recognition of our own personal gifts, and attributes, unique qualities or posessions. It isn't that we want something we don't have, it's that we forget to recognize what we do. Maybe it's because we're expected to get in line so much. Do what everyone else is doing. Get the same book bag as everyone else. We loved our Earth shoes, but what we probably loved more, is that we BOTH got what we wanted for Christmas: 
Joy.

                                                                     


Friday, April 4, 2014

Apples are to Oranges, as Beans are to Flour.


I recently tried a new recipe for Chocolate Chip Blondie Bars. They were delicious! But I knew they were going to be before I even baked them. They weren't your basic Blondie bars. They were amped up a little. They had beans in them. Yes, Beans. Garbanzo beans.
And absolutely no flour. Or sugar. Or eggs.
But they had lots of peanut butter, and Maple syrup!

When I saw the recipe, and the picture that went with it, I knew I'd like them. I  am committed to eating nutritionally dense food. Variations like this one resonate with me. It makes sense to me, so I do it. I'm invigorated by creativity, and most of all possibility. 

There's beauty in the tried and true, no doubt, 
but there's also beauty in the possibility that 
something new may ring true. 

But, of course I expected it to. 

I also expected them to turn out right the first time. I mean why go in thinking they might not? And I am almost always satisfied with the results. Not because I'm any great chef, just because I've already decided to. It doesn't mean I might not tweak it next time. I dwell in possibility! Next time I may add nuts! or use dates instead of maple syrup. The possibilities are endless.

I love the challenge of making the food we eat good for us. I just do. So I'm always experimenting with ingredients. Substituting one for another, creating all together new things. The more ingredients I become familiar with, the more things I can create. My family isn't always as eager to try things like bean brownies. 

But you cant compare bean brownies to traditional brownies. 

Well, you can, but they just aren't the same animal. It's like comparing apples to oranges. 

But if you look at them based on what they are, they stand on their own merit. 

The dough  looked exactly like blondie dough, and if I gave you it to taste- by the looks of it, you probably would have thought it was blondie dough. But it wasn't. And it doesn't have to be.

It is what it is. A Cookie bar made with beans.


There's beauty in the tried and true, no doubt, 
but there's also beauty in the possibility that 
something new may ring true. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

An Idealist's Point of View: Waiting for Optimum





 As an Idealist, I can often see the optimum. And since I try to make the most of all my opportunities, I often will wriggle around, to reach for my best.  My practice of yoga reflects this.. When we move from pose to pose, I like to take the time to settle into the pose, wriggle my hips or my shoulders, or my head or hips into as optimum of a position as I can. Partly, because I think in geometry, and partly because as a therapeutic measure, I know there is an ideal version of the pose that will suit my individual need within that pose. A version that will help me release more, will offer me comfort, and most importantly, will encourage my awareness and presence. I decided a while back, after realizing how good the practice was for me, that I was in it for the long haul, and for me, this means being thoughtful in my movements.  It's how I honor myself, and the expression of the divine through me.


Inspired by Tao Porchon Lynch, the 95 year old Yoga teacher who has been named by the Guinness Book of World Records as the World's Oldest living Yoga teacher, I am encouraged, to try new poses, and believe in myself.  Her mantra is, "There is nothing You can't do."  

Recently, I tried a new form of yoga at a new fitness studio called Purenergy. It's called Aerial Yoga. It's just what it sounds like, Yoga poses suspended in the air, from a hammock like swing, made of a silk -like material. Both deeply relaxing, and seemingly deeply daring, Aerial Yoga challenges you in different ways. In the relaxation poses, the silks are fully spread out beneath you and surround you fully, either cocooning you in an upright sitting position, or completely enveloping you in a supine position. These challenges exist in yoga positions on the floor as well. Restorative Yoga is a similar feeling, where the use of props allows you to relax deeply into the pose. Letting go, and allowing the floor to support us fully, without holding back can be one of the most challenging poses of all. In the air, there is a certain weightlessness that is apparent, in allowing your body to be fully heavy and the freedom that can be gained from it, enlightening. 

And then there's the daring poses: upside down poses, where your feet are reaching for the ceiling and your shoulders are held in the shawl-like embrace of the hammock silk, legs wrapped around each side of the silk, neck and head reaching towards the floor. As I try to get my ankles and legs in an optimum position tho, intuiting the intention of the pose, I notice something. In reaching for the ideal, I may be missing an opportunity. An opportunity to  practice it, even when the conditions aren't optimum.

Waiting for all the stars to align, I may miss an opportunity to experience the sky as it is.

 It's another thing I became aware of through the practice of yoga. 

I could never have let go of 
as much as I'd held,
 if I hadn't become aware I was holding it.

And as our awareness deepens and we notice more, we have a another ideal to reach for. We can label it as one thing or another, or acknowledge it and get back to being present. There's another pose to experience, like another cloud that passes, and as subtle as that movement might be, the more present I am, the more I appreciate it. 

As an Idealist, I can often see the optimum. And since I try to make the most of all my opportunities, I may reach for it. But there is a certain weightlessness that is apparent, in allowing your body to be fully heavy and the freedom that can be gained from it, enlightening, when you notice it then move on.

                             Next up: Yoga on a paddle Board. Yes, floating on the water.

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Monday, March 31, 2014

With Encouragement and Support



                                                             

Towards the end of a yoga practice, as we lay on the floor getting ready for shavasana, or corpse pose, the pose of rest, we often take a spinal twist. As we lay on our backs with our knees bent, using the breath, we allow the knees, to fall softly to one side, our arms spread out on each side of us in a T shape, and our head to the opposite side.

 Depending on your level of lower back flexibility, there are varying degrees of depth to the pose. For me, I have an ongoing level of discomfort in my lower back. It's just something I have to work with.  I attend to to it in all poses with care, as it's an awareness I have that heeds my attention. I generally place my hand on my knees as I focus my breath, and slowly and surely, as I focus my attention on the areas of concern, my lower back releases a little more. As with any discomfort, whether it's ongoing or something new you're nursing, there's a degree of holding- of protecting, as we want to be therapeutic in our attention to our areas of concern.

The longer we lie in a pose with attention on the area of focus, directing our breath to that area, the more able and willing we are to let go of the holding. We use our breath as we allow our knees to fall closer to the ground. Often, the instructor will will come around to each student and gently offer assistance to further the pose. This can be welcome or unwelcome depending on your level of holding, and your level of discomfort. If the Instructor is intentional and follows your breath and her own breath, you may realize an opportunity to release a little more. With a hand on your shoulder and a hand on the opposite hip, knowing you have a hand to support you, you can get a degree of release you may not have gotten on your own. With support, you can always do more than without. With support, you allow yourself  to let go more, and to fully express what  your body wants to, but resists. With support, you make the conscious decision to release, and you reach a potential you might not have reached on your own.

Encouragement and Support are invaluable.

                                       

Thursday, March 20, 2014

I Showed Up

Showing up with what you have
and doing what you are capable of is all you can do. 
It's what I expect of myself each time I attend a yoga class. 
I start by showing up.
Sometimes this is the hardest part of all.
Various reasons rear their heads for not showing up.

Not motivated.
too tired.
It's too late.

But when I get the showing up part taken care of,
the rest of it takes care of itself.

When I've been absent for a while 
as I often am, 
most often in the Winter
When I have a tendency to succumb to the blues,
I congratulate myself for doing it. 
I start there.

But before that, 
in order to even get that far,
sometimes,
I have to urge myself the night before
to get out my clothes and set them out. 
I feel that gets me one step closer.
One step closer to putting them on in the morning
After prying myself out of bed.

Prying my stiff self out of Bed.
47 is too young to feel so stiff, so sore.
But when the day comes
That I pry myself from the bed
and put on the clothes I set aside
I'm one step closer to showing up.

I tell myself it doesn't matter which class it is,
I'm going anyway.
Even if it's a "level 3".
Not because I'm tough
because I am to be the yogi that is in me
whatever class I go to
Wherever I am.

But if  I've committed myself to showing up
I show up, nonetheless.
The Spirit of Yoga within me
is the same whether its been
3 days or 3 weeks or three months.

I do what I can do with the outer umph I have that day.
But The way, the Spirit of Yoga 
is expressed through me
is the divine reminding me
It's ok.
It's all OK.

I belong wherever I am
I do what I can.

I practice with the same heart I have when I am feeling well
With the same heart I have when I am feeling sad
The same heart I have when I am strong.

I am strong.
I am here.
I showed up. 


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Navigating Social Media, Navigating Life


                                   (From the Book "The Gift of Nothing" By Patrick McDonnell)
Navigating the world of social media can be overwhelming. Something new is emerging every day. Seemingly, you need to be onboard every latest new thing since they're outmoded as quickly as they're developed. Remember MySpace? But such is life.

While wading through the Twitisphere I decided to weed out all the twits I wasn't necessarily interested in anymore. It turned out to be quite a job. Do I really need to follow 1200 people? 1200 people have an awful lot to say! I'm finding myself doing this in all elements of my life at the moment. Nothing holds me back more than clutter. I'm by no means a hoarder, but I can understand how it happens. I'm the daughter of a packrat. Not my mother, my father. My mother's Mantra is "Every day, throw something away." She knows the value of simplicity. 

Heaven help me. I think I'm equally both! Neither of my parents want to waste things. they were born in the Depression. My father's mindset is, "I might need it someday." My Mother's mindset is "When and if you end up needing it, Get it."


  I read a great book by Julia Morganstern on organizing. It was called Organizing from the Inside out. What I got out of that book was this. Go through your stuff and put it in Piles:

*Stuff I want to Keep
*Stuff To Get Rid of

Of course it's much more involved than this. Or is it?  The idea is to keep what's necessary. What we really need. Ultimately, we are editors. Great Mathematicians. Subtracting everything that's no longer relevant, and ending up with the Difference, which should end up being enough. Just enough.

Related Post: Enough is Enough

                                (From the Book, "Just Like Heaven" by Patrick McDonnell)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

When Basil tastes like Mint




I think it's funny
when Basil tastes like mint
Because where I come from
Basil always tasted like Basil
and nothing else.

Perhaps it was because we didn't use too much mint growing up
Even though it grew with abandon in the back yard

Of course I knew the taste of mint-
Peppermint, Spearmint--
all the best gums boasted it

But in college I really learned the taste of mint
Because on Wednesdays
on Wednesdays
the Hari Krishna's opened their doors to the students
And shared the most wonderful warm mint tea
or maybe it was cold

But I remember it
I remember it well
and the meal
a vegetarian meal I cant put my finger on

But they shared it 
without expectation
that we join them 
in any other way 
beside food
and sharing

But 
sometimes
now
I notice Basil 
tasting like mint
in a place
where it's not invited
like Roasted Tomato Mascarpone Bisque


But who am I to say
where Mint is Welcome
Who am I to say?

I eat the whole thing anyway

And I remember the day
When Basil tasted like Basil
and Mint was Christmas Candy
And the Day our Friend Cam 
accidentally 
made Mojitos with Basil
And they were wonderful



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Monday, March 3, 2014

A Regular Customer





Sitting in my Rollie chair
at my Thrift store job
in perfect silence.
No customers.
A stack of books before me....
A sip of coffee left in my styrofoam cup.
I hate styrofoam cups.

I am here alone today.
My working partner Sue,
she had a mild stroke
and can not drive yet
But she called me
early this morning
Cheerfully
To tell me.

The phone rings.
It's 
A regular customer 
Whose last name I do not know.
He is calling to tell us
He won't be in today-
Because of the snow.
He calls to tell us
when he'll be absent,
In case we wonder why

Last time he was absent,
he himself had a stroke.

He's always well dressed,
With a shirt and a tie;
A tweed jacket of some sort;
A messenger bag
across his chest
Which holds the Trader Joes bag he uses to carry his purchases home
and the books he's reading. Always reading books.

He buys ties
Colorful ties
And he wears them in ways
That many wouldn't.
He's got panache.

He carries one of those black leather wallets that's on a chain
The kind Harley riders use;
The kind that has two chrome snaps.

And as he takes his money out
( to pay for the things he's collected and left on the desk while he shopped for 2 dollar ties),
He rethinks each item
to keep within budget.
But he's one of our best customers,
Spending 30 dollars or so each time.

His face, very small for such a large beard,
his eyes deep in his face, below the silver and black preened nest;
a contained pompadour
The effortless kind.

He comes from a large Catholic family
But is largely alone.
Sometimes he brings his art to show;
A sketch or two,
Something he did at the senior center,
Something he drew in his youth,
A photograph of a
well dressed small faced young man in a college sweater

He brought in a sketch of a girl he once knew.
A sketch he had drawn.
a sketch he had given to her
but she had given it back.
And he didn't know why.
He wasn't sure if she didn't like it
or if keeping it might imply something else.

Sue thinks he has a crush on me.
I don't.
I think he's just out there doing his best with the life that is his
And that he enjoys conversation.

He tells us that his brother has moved in with him,
and he doesn't know how that will be.

He thoughtfully chose
an ethnically-colorful sweater once,
and a long black skirt for, who he called his "lady friend."
And he got her a fabulous hat.
The kind of hat I think is fabulous.
And I was glad it ended up with him.

I'd call it an outback hat, of sorts; oiled leather
with leather-twisted braided-strands
secured in back by an etched silver cabochon.
On second thought, maybe it's a Western hat,
or a Mexican hat.
He knows a lot of things, so he might know.
But what he does know,
or seems to know,
or hopes-is-so,
is that it might be his lady friend's style.

I hope he's right. In my heart, I hope he's right.

He walks slowly but upright
his right hand on his cane, but on the other hand,
The one with the pinky ring,
he's young.

He seems younger than the story his body tells.
Today on the phone, he tells me his
aortic abdominal aneurism
will be fixed on Thursday
because the last time it was scheduled was before he had his stroke.

I knew that.

As he says this, I notice a slight slur in his words,
And that the cadence of his delivery is more punctuated and purposeful
even than the last time we spoke,
and I wonder
if he's had another stroke since.

But he tells me he's in "thurapy",
at home, he's in "thurapy."

And He tells me his neighbor brought him a turkey dinner yesterday
"With the snow and all-"

But he says he's ok
It's warm inside
and he has food.

He mentions that
the other day
he went to stand up
and collapsed.

He went to the emergency room
Only to learn
that muscles atrophy quickly with disuse,
"With the snow and cold and all-"
But he's got thurapy
at home, he's got thurapy.

I tell him that when he returns
we'll still have ties and jackets and books.

He buys an equal amount
of books and ties,
Fewer sweaters
An occasional hat
And Sue wonders how many clothes he must have at home.

We talk about food choices
And He looks at my lunch
He wonders what I'm eating.
It's something I've hastily concocted,
to get out the door-
like yogurt with buckwheat groats,
and millet and hemp seeds

We talk about super foods
And I tell him about all the articles
I've cut and pasted
online
About foods-
and health
about well being
and healing

I've saved them in umpteen documents
and created a file for them,
since I'm not the kind
who retains everything I read
and I need to reread things often.

I decide I'll print them out and
Bind them in a volume
And give it to him
next time he's here as a gift,
And I do.

The next week,
he returns.
He's gone through each
of the hundred pages
In that volume of my saved information
And created an index
So the next person I share it with
can find what their looking for with ease.

I realize how little I rely on indexes,
How audible my inhale was 
and how long my exhale is lasting.

I offered him some Goji berries that day
and Sue shares her dark chocolate
And
I think about the first time
I saw him
How I thought he was a professor.

That was the day he dropped his cane
and I bent over to get it.

He said, "no thank you,"
His pride.

But asked
if I might re-tie his loosened shoelace,
If I could,
As it would be more difficult
To get up again once down.

He drops his cane each time he's here
and it's hard
To keep
from picking it up.

A regular customer called to tell us he won't be in today.
He calls when he'll be absent
In case we wonder why.
                                                                        And we do.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Solitaire: A One Man Game




When I was little, our Uncle Lenny, when he came to visit, taught my little brother and me games with playing cards. I remember him building houses of cards and revealing the fine art of solitaire,
 A One Man Game.

After shuffling the cards in a most entertainingly flashy and adept way, he'd show us how to lay the cards out. The first card, on the top of the deck was placed on the table face up. 
This first card was always important, and he'd
  build the anticipation in us as we waited to see what it was. Him sitting in the middle, my brother and I lying on either side of him, our chins resting on our hands, eyes fixed on his eyes, then his hands, then the turn of the card.

An ace, of any suit, was, as in many other card games, a good first card, as was any face card. The next six cards were then placed side by side by side, face down, and like the return of an old fashioned manual typewriter, He'd return to the second face-down card in the line up, placing a face up card on top of it. The next cards that followed were placed face down upon the cards in the line up, continuing until all of the face down cards are covered with a face up card, and
Each successive card pile gets larger as you go along. 

Once the cards are laid out, you hold the remaining cards in your hand, turning over 3 of these cards at a time, to see if you can use the third card you are dealt, each time repeating the process until you are unable to play the remaining cards. The intention is to get all of the face-up cards, in order, and divided by suit, from the aces on up.
It is a hard game to win. 

He also taught us another version of this game, where instead of skipping three cards, playing the third card only,You play each card, one by one, but you are only allowed to go through the deck ONE time. You get only one chance.
 Uncle Lenny Told us this was a casino version of the game, where each of the face up cards represented $5.  In this Case, Getting a well shuffled deck was top priority. 
The stakes were high.


We didn't see Uncle Lenny often, but he shared with us a game that he found challenging; this one man game; a game that brought him joy. Sharing it with us seemed to make him happy, as he had no children of his own and he lived alone. As a child in a large family, there were two things you valued most: the ready made entertainment that 6 siblings offer, and solitude.


It was a good game for a kid like me to learn, this one man game. Although we had lots of kids in our neighborhood, and I was never hurting for neighborhood companions, the game of solitaire taught me to appreciate individual pursuits, like reading, electronic memory games, jumble puzzles and drawing. 

Enjoying solitude can be a skill. It's a one man game just like solitaire. Your little brother might be looking over your shoulder as you play, wondering what you'll do next, or even making suggestions, but in the end its all about you.  You may have to rid yourself of preconceived ideas to bask in its full value. 

And it's not in the hand you're  dealt-- After all, It's the hand you deal yourself. 
Shuffle till your heart's content, but by all means, make sure all 52 cards are there. 
Get showy with it! There are as many different techniques to shuffling as there are to life-living.
 And that's exactly what we're talking about here. Life. 
Shuffle a little, shuffle a lot. 
Plan out your shuffling before you begin, or make it up as you go along. 
It's your card game.

When YOU decide it's time to lay your cards out, begin. 
You won't have to wonder if its really time, or if the cards have been shuffled enough. 

You'll just know.

You've built your own anticipation in the shuffling, 
and in that moment in time,  you just knew it was time,
 like My Uncle Lenny looking out of the corner of his eye 
to get our attention before he placed the first card, 
you'll begin. 
Did you straighten the cards neatly into a perfect stack before you began to lay them out?
 Or did you leave them as they landed after that last defining shuffle? 
If it matters to you, then it matters. 

Did you line them up neatly making sure they were evenly spaced,
 and that the cards in each pile were evenly stacked on one another? 
Or maybe you didn't pay attention at all to the way the way you laid them out. 

Either way, you laid them as you saw fit. 
Next time you may lay them different. or you may lay them exactly the same. 
Either way, its time to play.

As you scan the seven piles
 of successively larger piles forming the solitaire playing field, 
you may take a big breath before you begin. 
You may not even notice you took a breath. 
You may scan the cards, sizing up the game's outcome before you even begin....
Did you?

I hope you see a Win! 
Did I convince  you earlier when I said it was a hard game to win?

I hope not.
I really.
hope.
not.

Hard is in the eye of the beholder. 

I've lost, and I've won. 
I hope you always go in with the intention of winning.
I really hope you do.

You have 52 cards to play and 7 successively larger stacks. 
7 days in a week and and 52 weeks in a year. 
52.

You can play each card ever so thoughtfully, 
or play with utter abandon.
You may miss a defining move, 
you may make a defining move.

If you miss a move, so what. 
If you had seen that move
 you would have made that move.
There will be other moves as you move through the deck.

If you were lucky enough to begin with an Ace, you're already down to 6 stacks left. 
Days and stacks go by in the blink of an eye,
 or they may seem as high as an elephant's eye. 
Seem is the key word.
Have fun with it! 

You're  a little kid lying on the floor, your chin in your hands
your feet wagging from side to side, 
waiting for your Uncle Lenny to place that first card.

Three by three, you turn the cards up. 
some you can use and some you can not. 
Each card you can use reveals another beneath it. 
Another potentially useful card.
Each one you can't hides cards beneath it 
which may or may not be of use.

No use wondering
 if the cards beneath it are ones you can use: the top one isn't. That door is closed. 
No use looking at the closed doors.

When Open ones come along, you'll walk right through them. 
Once you get a flow going, You're on top of the world! 
In the end, there are either cards leftover, which you can not use,
or 4 equal stacks of numerically ordered cards which reveal your singular success. 

Either way, Congratulations.
Either way, you're bound to play again. 
If you're successful, you want that feeling again, 
If you weren't you want another chance. 

You're a Chance taker.
 It's a game, take a chance! 
The stakes aren't as high as they seem. 
This isn't the Casino version. It's the living room version.
You can build your house of cards as many times as you like and in many configurations. It's a one man game. It's your game. 
Start Shuffling.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Caretakers of God's Creation: God's Stewards were Here





I like to think of myself as a Care-taker.

The image of caretaker might be one like this- 
someone who's responsible for a piece of land  and everything on it;
 All of its functional and beautiful  parts. 
Or the image of a mother embracing her babe.

 I think when we look at our lives this way-
 see ourselves as called  to be caretakers- 
we stand up a little straighter- 
and take a little more pride in everything we do
.
 From raising our kids to what we feed ourselves-
  -physically and spiritually-
 to how we keep our homes, 
how we connect with one another and nature.
From the careers we're paid for to the dishes we do.

Everything we're in contact with, we've got a responsibility to.

It's our craftsmanship-
 -our pride in who we are-
 and how we care for ourselves and others-

 that special stamp we leave on everything
 that says 
"God's steward was here."

 I see a smugly smiling cartoon character laying on a lush green swath of grass with a pair of exaggerated scissors trimming it just to his aesthetic.  

I like the idea of stewardship.
 Taking responsibility for our part in everything- in outcomes where we've been present. From picking up a Nature Valley Granola Bar wrapper from the ground
 to comforting a wounded soul.
 From reassuring one of your own to conversing with a passerby.

We are called to leave our mark upon everything we do.  

The  Mark that says, 

"something she said, or something she did had an impact"

In some way we'll remember she was here.

So if I fold some clothes for you or share my joy somehow with  you
- the mark I leave is my stewardship for you.

 I am called to be a steward, and you are too. 
We are caretakers for God's creation
 and we've got work to do.

 It's  Craftsmanship and Pride
   but it's awe and  gratitude too.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

There's Always another Train




New trains  leave the station throughout the day, going various places. 
Some are direct and some take detours. 
Each day you step up to the ticket box to get your ticket. 
A  snap decision may wind you in the wrong neck of the woods.
 If you fall asleep in transit, you may miss your stop. 
But a new train leaves the station each day,
 indeed many times a day, 
and if you're lucky,
 you'll see many destinations.
Some you'll like , some you won't.
 Some you'll visit more than once.
You may miss your train if you stop
to catch a cup a'joe.
so you'll catch the next train-
and you'll meet people on that errant trip you may never have otherwise  met.
Next time you may grab your joe at home.
 But remember there's a new train leaving tomorrow morning

and Whether or not you've reserved your ticket, you're going somewhere- 
and your train may or may not arrive on time. 

There's  a seat on every train That could be yours.
It may be in the front it may be in the back.
It may be somewhere in the middle.
You may be the only one on the train! 
You may like that. You may not.

 It might be a rickety train that rattles and rolls. 
Or a high speed Accela that gets you there in half the time.
Some  passengers are deep in conversation. 
have their headphones on, 
 are reading the paper. 
Some are fast asleep.
They may miss that awesome sunrise casting a reflection on their cheek
with the rhythm of the steadily moving train .  
All are on their own individual journeys  aboard the same train.
Same train. Different destinations.

 Getting off at different stops.
  Going SOMEWHERE.

Somewhere always gets you to the next somewhere.
 Just get up and catch your train.
It's leaving.