Tag Archives: mindfulness

(NaBloPoMo) #2: What you’d eat (& strike!)

graffiti (red on concrete): resistance is fertileYesterday, I said I was going to jump in to this National Blog Posting Month at BlogHer. For the rest of the month, I’ll be incorporating their prompts into my daily blog.

Good morning, good morning. Here where I am, the music is so quiet that I can barely hear it, and the birds are still asleep. I actually managed to get out of bed around the time when my (second) alarm went off at 4.30 today — I think I’m getting back on schedule. The puppy has taken to getting up when I do and coming into the office to sleep next to me, which I adore. (It helps, I think, that I put an extremely comfy pillow down there to entice her.) How is it where you are?

For NaBloPoMo Day 2, the prompt they offer is this: If you knew that whatever you ate next would be your last meal, what would you want it to be?

Here’s what I thought when I read this prompt — If I knew whatever I was about to eat would be the last food I tasted, all I would want is to be present, to really be there. No tv, no book, no distraction. Maybe this would be the hardest part, just focusing on the food, on the tastes, on the small explosions in my mouth. Of course, this is where mindfulness practice comes in, something I don’t include nearly enough of in my day: Meditation, deep attention. I would want the whole moment to come in to my body and experience, not just the meal, but the reality of it being a last meal. No, then again, maybe not — if we’re just and only in the moment, then the lastness doesn’t come into play. It doesn’t matter what comes next. What matters is this moment, this breath, this inhale, this aroma, this taste, this motion of teeth against food, this swallow, this noticing what enters my body, this small smile.

In this scenario, do I get to eat with someone else, or am I alone? If I’m with someone else, do I get to feed them with my fingers? Can they feed me with theirs? I think one of the last things I’d like to experience is someone feeding me with tenderness and deep care.

I don’t think the actual meal itself would matter so much — who cares? After this, no more food. Is it because I’m about to die, or am I going to a place where there’s no eating? I got lost in this train of thought for a little bit.

Then I think, well, maybe I do know what I’d want to eat. I would like some fresh vegetables, green beans, a bright salad, red onion, pomegranate seeds, roasted almonds, mango. Fresh, handmade, thick corn tortillas, warmed to soft-crisp. Sharp cheese. Jasmine green tea, then mint tea. These are the last tastes I’d want in my mouth. A little dark chocolate.

(Maybe popcorn, but just a little.)

What about you? If you knew the last meal you were going to eat would be the last meal you ate, what would you want to eat?

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Today, in Oakland, #occupyoakland has called for a General Strike. The link there will take you to a page describing all the many ways to get involved — not everyone there today will have taken the whole day off work; the organizers are working hard to bring in and create space for as many folks as possible.

I’m hoping to get over there toward the end of the day, even though I don’t live or work in Oakland. The energy that I experienced last week over at Ogawa-Grant Plaza is just too amazing, and I want to put my body in the work.

There’s good and necessary stuff to our sharing information online–social networking, of course, has significantly aided the movements that have erupted across the world over this year–but, for those who can, we also have to put our bodies in the place, on the ground, together, linking arms, raising voices, physically manifesting our resistance. For those who can and wish to, this is deep self care. We give ourselves the bodily experience of resistance together, of revolution, we allow our bodies the memory of solidarity, we give our hearts that message: we are not alone in this struggle. Look, look: we are not alone.

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So, these are the prompts today: What would you eat for a last meal OR write to the word resist. Give yourself, your writing body, these 10 minutes for your creative voice, and follow your writing wherever it seems to want you to go.

Thank you for all the ways that your body has manifested resistance, and for the ways you are tender to it (to yourself) now, in the aftermath. Thank you for your creative resilience. Thank you for your words.

everything is new

graffiti with the text, "Don't be afraid of art / Don't be afraid your mind"This morning, Sophie and I dodged a bullet — on our way back home from our short walk, while she was being very good and heeling next to my right side (waiting for the next bunch of treats I’d offer her as a thank you), I heard a rustling in the blackberry brush beside us to my left. Sophie may have heard it, too, or she may have been more interested in the possibility of treats. In any case, she stayed right next to me, and as we walked past the rustling, I looked over to the left, and there was a whole family of skunks — two adults at least, and I thought I heard more rustling behind them. As much as part of me wanted to hang out for a moment and get a closer look, the louder and more adrenaline-y part of me hustled us on down the road. I fed Sophie my whole hand-full of treats, letting the shot of panic ease out of my muscles. Whew.

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Yesterday we went for a long hike, the whole family, and I thought about how all of this is new for Sophie. She’s just about 7 months now; if she were a human baby, of course, she’d barely be out of her parent’s arms! Here we were, exploring trails, eucalyptus groves, shrubby vistas — every inch of it brand new to her. She shows all of her interest and enthusiasm, puts her whole body into it, her nose to the ground, her tail up and wagging. She bounds over to and pounces on the things she wants to see, or she trots, more cautious, watching with intent and focus.

Just imagine what this must be like for her, I thought. It’s all new. It’s all first. Today she was dancing for the man collecting the recycling, because that truck, the noise, the rolling, the beeping: all interesting, overwhelming, fascinating, new.

What if we allowed ourselves that kind of presence and exuberance? Writers, especially, benefit from the ability to go (back) to that place of wide-open-innocent eyes, taking everything in, allowing it to be fresh.

I have two prompts, in response to this noticing (maybe take 10 minutes for these, just to start):

1) Do you remember a time when you walked through a new place, fascinated by everything because it was all new to you? What about your characters? How do they engage in or with someplace new?

2) What would it be like to go through the day, paying attention to everything as though it were the first time you were seeing it (because, of course, it is the first time — whatever you see today will be the first time you’ve seen it today; and, too, it will be slightly different from how it looked, what it was, yesterday)? What’s required of us to be that present?

3) (one more!) What would it be like to pay attention to your own body like it was the first time you were experiencing it? Think about writing that story of loving discovery (consider allowing that story to be loving, if you balk at that phrasing — just consider it.)

Thank you for your attentions — they matter. We are all new, every minute: that’s the other thing. Thanks for your every-present creation, your brilliance, your words.

using what’s gone fallow inside her

photo of poppies by a wall, their shadows collaborating with the graffiti there.I missed you yesterday! After a gorgeous and intense workshop on Monday night, I wasn’t able to get up as early as I’d wanted — not til 7, which gave me enough time to do my morning three pages in my notebook but not enough time before leaving for work to do the blog. Thought I might do it from work, but work was, you know, work. Busy. And most days when I get home from work (since I spend all day on a computer), I don’t turn the computer on. Last night I got to have a quiet meal at home (miracle) with my honey, and then we spent a little time in the back art cottage, getting table and art supplies set up (finally), moving the storage around, bringing candle and incense and images for the walls, bringing a radio and red wine and human scent, so that the little visitors who maybe have been spending time there in that space know that they’re about to have some company. Felt very good.

Once I was done hanging pictures and consolodating boxes, I sat in the rocking chair and imagined myself working in that space. Then I picked up the copy of Jack Kornfeld’s  The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology, a book my mom lent to me when I was in Omaha the last time. After this weekend’s body mindfulness workshop, I was grateful to read and think more about the idea of mindfulness, and how constant and deep-veined busy-ness is the opposite of mindfulness (isn’t it?). I let myself just notice the places I was tense and achy, just notice, and maybe breathe into them a little bit, like Alex would suggest. I’m grateful for her guidance and leadership and friendship.

Last night I dreamed about my mother and sister and stepfather, again. Do you have those recurring, themed dreams? In this one, I was throwing things at him, feeling so strong, hating him cleanly, not pretending like everything was ok. At the end, my mother said she was going to leave him, but she was Bruce Willis (but only when she said that part) in the dream.  Maybe that was the persona she’d have needed to be able to go — I could analyze that further, but I just want to leave it alone.

Today I’ve got a prompt and a write for you.

On Monday I offered these four sentences as prompt suggestions:

1-They know she is capable of just about anything

2-We ought to hold on to what we’re given

3-I’m not one of those women who can…

4-I used to think my eyes were the problem.

The invitation is always the same, but I repeat it: notice which one seems to be choosing you, which one has some electricity for your writing self. Change it in any way that’s interesting for you: add a not where there isn’t one (or take one out that’s there), or change the pronouns (from I to s/he/ze or you).

Here’s my write in response:

We stop and make love for ourselves. They know
she is capable of just about anything. She tendrils her arms
around the wishy-washy, through the hesitation and the moldy
plants of whatever you want is fine with me, she sheds her green
through what’s begun to decay, sits quiet at the center
of a dark morning room and makes marks of chlorophyll
on the page, she suckers in the dew and the pollen,
she is seeding what’s gone fallow inside her —

they know she is capable of just about anything. Her mouth
is sewn shut, not with ribbon or lace or sutures
but with morning glories and sweet peas, she sweats
beneath the dense layerings of new winter
foliage, the plants are using what’s gone fallow
inside her. Someone sprinkles her back
with vetch, nudges alfalfa beneath her arms,
puts fava beans between her toes, and she takes
what gentle feeding these plants have to give

she can hear them whispering to each other, going
about their work, she doesn’t have to say a thing,
can feel the roots of their toes pushing into her,
peeking out what nutrition she can still offer,
beginning the cyclical work of land that needs
some healing. Her hands are nested down
into the grasses beneath tiny mouse babies
and her legs are taken up by anthills and grasshopper
perches — the sun is a thick grey green glow

on the other side of the vining that shades
her forehead and as the light fades she can listen
to the warbling, feel the douse of breeze that the bat’s wing
pushes to her cheek, she knows there’s a daddy longlegs
on her calf and she wants to rustle her own fur
back in its direction, releasing what’s gone
fallow inside her to all this tremendous artistry,
alchemy, that will make her whole again.

Thank you for your alchemy, for how you spin gorgeous possibility out of what others have called dross, for your quietnesses and your fierce voice. Thank you for your words.