Good Question!

In her poem, The Summer Day, Mary Oliver asks,

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Well?

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Mindfulness as a Way of Life… Not Only When Being Mindful

Are you one of the mindful people?  I am.  Well, I try to be.  I love the ideas of presence and breathing and noticing and all those mindful things.  I know the best relaxation techniques; I use them personally and with my students.  I take time to notice those around me and the sensations within me.  Breathe.  Be present.

But what about the rest of the day?  If we can take 10 minutes to be mindful on purpose that is good.  How, though, can we keep mindfulness going as a way of life?

To begin with let’s stop being busy.  Some folks wear busyness as a badge of honor.  They don’t have time and can’t make time.  They fill their schedules and their children’s schedules with so much to do that there is no time to be bored.  I loved being bored as a kid- that’s when I was at my most creative, much to the chagrin of my parents.  We dug holes and drilled holes and played Evel Kenievel.  “Go outside and play” was never a punishment but a liberation: discover, wonder, create, and sometimes get in trouble.  How often do you go out and play, whatever that means for you now, with no plan nor agenda?

Then, let’s be aware of our screens.  How many screens do you have that keep you busy?  Computer? Tablet? Phone? Kindle?  Which Joneses do you feel a need to keep up with?  The news?  A TV show?  Facebook? Instagram? Twitter?  How much time does that leave for friends and family face-to-face?  In my case, not enough.  So, I am mindful of my screen time and am trying to reduce it.  It is hard, though, when the emails come at all hours and a friend is posting photos on Instagram of his new house in a new country.  With email at work I try not to send email from home or on weekends.  I cannot be present nor help others be present when I interrupt them with things that can wait.  Perhaps we can agree to fewer emails after hours and more face-to-face during hours.

Finally, let’s focus. We  know that multi-tasking is a myth yet we still try to do too much (if you are always busy you might be trying to do too much).  A Jack of all trades is a master of none.   Businesses speak of core competencies: what are the main products and services of your business?  If you try to do too many things you may do none well.  The core competency of schools is education.  Is your school doing too many other activities?  How many of them can be done by parents and members of the community so that teachers can focus on the education of the students?  Bringing in the wider community brings people together and actually builds community because it does take a village.

Let’s be mindful of how we live life: We only get one chance at today.  Name your priorities and live them knowing it is okay to say no.  Build community and make time.  Me?  I’m gonna go out and play and breathe and notice.

Ask the Question

___Ask the
Question.  Not the
     I got you
Question nor the
     I’m smarter than you
Question.  Ask the
     Tell me who you are today?
Question.  Ask the
     What’s difficult?
     What’s the best, most interesting?
     What’s surprised you?
Question.  Ask the
     Tell me more about…
Question.  Not the judge, jury nor executioner
Question but the
___build community and understanding
Question.

Answers are not lions (but may be thorns).
Answers are doors.

___Share your
Answers.  Then ask another
Question.

Is it Getting Warmer?

Did you ever notice that houses and factories have chimneys that carry the smoke, the exhaust, the fumes up and away from people?  I noticed the same thing about cars- no company makes a car with an exhaust system that brings exhaust into the car.  We do these things because no one wants to breathe in the toxins that are created by combustion and burning.  We know that toxins are poisonous, well, by definition. Can we agree to this?

If that is the case, that the toxins that are created by combustion and burning are poisonous, then what if there were a way to avoid the toxins?  Wouldn’t it be better for everyone to not create the toxins?  There is!  There are ways to create energy that do not pollute and those ways are becoming cheaper and cheaper through economies of scale.  There are now more people employed in solar energy than in oil, coal and gas.

We also know that not all resources are renewable; someday oil, coal and gas will run out.  If we are smart enough to prepare for a winter storm or a hurricane, we are also smart enough to prepare for a world without fossil fuels.

Maybe you do not believe that the earth is warming or maybe you believe that the earth is warming but that it isn’t caused by human activity.  (My reading and my personal experience tells me that the earth is warming and it makes sense to me that 7 billion people could be contributing to it.)   Either way, if we don’t want poison in our houses or our cars let’s not put it into the air.  If we know that fossil fuels will run out, then let’s get ready for what is next.  There is no reason not to.

Resurrection

A few days ago I received a phone call from a friend of mine.  He had recently learned that he and his mother will receive their social security cards and residency papers.  They will be able to stay in the United States.  Wonderful!  We are lucky to have them- good, caring people; hard working people.  Gentle.

This family was forced from their home country by negative situations beyond their control.  They moved to the US only to live in the shadows, experiencing violence both personal and systemic.  When you live in the shadows you cannot fully participate and share your gifts.  You live in fear – fear that you will be sent back, you might lose your job and a thousand other fears.  Those fears, though, are nothing when compared to the lived experience that sent you away from home.

Now there is hope.  There is hope of permanence and pertenencia, belonging.  Having grown up in the only city he has ever known, he will now be able to participate fully in all of the rights and responsibilities of belonging.  Moving out of the shadows.  May we hear the same positive news for many other immigrants so that they, too, may move out of the shadows.

This blog was started about 5 years ago as an Advent gift for a 12 year old.  The waiting of Advent has come full circle to an emerging from the shadows:  Resurrection.

You always belonged.  Now it’s official.

Happening in Peru: Flooding

Off the coast of Peru and Ecuador the ocean has warmed 5º C or more.  This warming is known as the Costal El Niño and it is wreaking havoc on the land and people of those countries.

This article from Reuters explains and shows what is happening.  Be sure to scroll down.  Here are some more images of the flooding.

Today is the 4th day of no classes for students in Lima, as directed by the Ministry of Education.  Because of the flooding, travel has been difficult if not impossible in some areas and most everyone has been affected by water shortages. The excess water, filled with dirt and debris, has overwhelmed the water treatment plants, shutting them down and cutting the water supply.  Schools cannot operate if there is not a steady supply of water.

At home our basement cistern ran dry but the water tanks on the roof still held water; we did not run out completely.  Three buildings down, where my mother-in-law lives, they were without water for about 12 hours.  This is to say that we have been extremely lucky!  A few hours with no water is nothing when compared to the destruction in other areas.

There are many organizations that are gathering items and money, the Red Cross being one of them.  Please help the international effort if you can.

Which Side?

Beside the freeway bus stop
the boys play soccer
with a piece of trash
(today it’s a tossed-aside
one liter water bottle).

The bigger one kicks off his
shoes, towards his mother
who is selling fruit to the commuters,
because the sneakers’ sole
became unattached
to the hole-y canvas upper
making it hard to beat his brother
at trash soccer.

“Put on your shoes,” sighs mom
as she takes a few cents for a
watermelon slice, all the time knowing
he won’t.

The commuters,
with purses, backpacks and briefcases
(and slices of fruit),
climb the stairs of the pedestrian bridge
that spans the freeway.

Which side will they come down on?