Saturday, November 30, 2013

gratitude {№15}

for all these things:

  • imagination
  • intuition
  • reason
  • everyday beauty (and the ability to see it)
  • cameras
  • paint brushes
  • a kiss on the top of my head
  • paris
  • uncontrollable giggles and inside jokes
  • a man who smells like soap, wood, cardamom and honesty
  • wildness

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

gratitude {№13}

seriously, i don't know how any human gets through life on earth without dogs.  i am so grateful for the love and laughter these two bring into our home.  luca is a wire fox terrier and simon is a corgi.  they fight some days but mostly love on each other.  in the photo above, luca is cleaning simon's ears, a daily event.

we lost our roxy dog this last summer which makes my gratitude for these two lovedogs the deepest of deep.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

gratitude {№12}

grateful for the little things like eyeglasses.  mine broke last week and i had to search high and low for my spare pair.  during the hours i was without, i was so frustrated and felt really lost (in my own home) and even cried a bit.  i can't imagine how it would be to not have these extra set of eyes that allow me to see details of this beautiful world and read words on a page that fill my heart and move me to engage in the world.

thank you eyeglasses inventor!

paying it forward here.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

gratitude {№11}

  • raking leaves in the sunshine
  • doggy heads poking out from leaf mountains
  • gouda and apple on rosemary bread, grilled
  • afternoon naps
  • the first of what i hope to be the complete collection of vintage penguin poets paperbacks (d38, the metaphysical poets)
  • the very last of the beautyberries trumpeting the final hurrah of autumn on gypsy hill
  • home

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

gratitude {№10}

eye candy on a cold day.

and the beautiful lady who risked glue-gun-carpal-tunnel-syndrome to create it.

paying it forward by supporting local shops and small businesses this holiday season.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

sunday grace: being well

i got sick a few weeks ago; fever, sore throat, exhaustion.  my immunity tends to get fragile around change-of-season times and this year the weather has been radically swinging back and forth from summer to winter. add to that the classroom battle i have to fight with students who covertly turn the thermostat up to 78 degrees (i don't even understand this!) and most of us wilt away while two or three happy students sit there in short sleeves and open toed shoes in november all cozy and shit.

i mention that i was ill because i haven't been ill in over two years.  and, despite the sneaky students, illness struck me at a time when i wasn't taking the best care of myself.  i was travelling a lot and neglecting to take the time and effort to do basic self care.  it was a wake-up call.  and also a reminder that wellness and health are such precious gifts.

i'd love to share some things i do to stay well.  it may seem like a lot, but it's totally worth it.  i haven't had a flu shot or antibiotics or any other prescription med in five years or more.  i have strong feelings about the pharmaceutical industry and, while i am grateful for the lifesaving aspects of modern medicine, i generally feel that our western medical machine is happiest when we are collectively unwell.

so here are my favorite wellness friends (clockwise from top left), with links:

  • buddha nose keeps my nose clear and moisturized.  i keep this at my bedside and rub it on before i go to sleep.  i also sleep with a humidifier.
  • old-school herbal ricolas are my go-to throat/cough drop.  no frills.
  • i put honey and lemon in my tea.  this turmeric/honey goo from the lovely heidi swanson is new to my repertoire this year.  it takes a while to get used to the taste, but this is one of those things that i can actually feel working instantly.  i use mine in tea but you can also just melt some into hot water.
  • i could go on and on about coconut oil.  the lovely meg worden introduced it to me a few years ago.  i melt one tablespoon into my coffee each morning and i also do a twenty-minute ayurvedic oil pull a few days a week.  the oil pulling seems weird, but i believe it's one of the most effective detoxification routines around, it keeps sinuses clear and removes nastiness from the mouth and throat.  it also gets rid of dark circles and whitens teeth.  (oil pulling was one of the practices i had been neglecting prior to my recent illness.)
  • yogi cold season tea.  i have tried every herbal tea known to man and this is hands-down the best wellness tea.  whenever i feel a bit of a scratch in my throat, a heaviness in my ears or stuffiness in my head, i drink a double-bag hot cup of cold season.  and then have a great sleep with awesome valerian dreams (if you take valerian, you know what i mean) and wake up clear and light.
  • i make my own thieves oil because it makes me feel like the mad scientist i was meant to be, but you can purchase this essential oil wondermix already made up for you here.  i mix a few drops with purified water to spritz the air and make a handwash by mixing ten or so drops with this soap.  speaking of handwashing, i am not a fanatic about it.  i refuse any of those hand sanitizers (unless i just touched someone with obvious contagious symptoms and no other soap is around).  i also do not use commercial antibacterial products on my body or home.  just keep your hands clean and if you can't, don't touch your face.  i make a point to wash my hands after the supermarket and before any food handling.
  • i take a hot bath every single night.  i make it detoxifying by adding one cup of epsom salts, one tablespoon ground ginger and one cup of organic baking soda.  i close the door to make the bathroom all steamy.  i often add a few drops of essential oil.  in the winter i use juniper, eucalyptus and grapefruit (it smells like california to me).  
  • new to my regimen this year is bone broth (in the center of the photo).  i use this crockpot recipe and add a knob of ginger, a head of garlic and one dried guajillo chile to the pot, this really raises the heat factor to further clear breathing passages.  whenever we finish a rotisserie chicken i put the bones in the freezer.  same with (washed) eggshells.  bone broth is not the same as regular chicken broth or vegetable broth, the long cooking time pulls the gelatin and minerals from the bone.  it's thick and gelatinous.  

other lovely things not shown:
  • daily movement:  a little yoga, a nice walk in the woods, kitchen dancing
  • kombucha
  • green juice, this is my winter favorite.
  • keeping stress low (easier said than done, i know)
  • sunshine
  • staying hydrated
  • clean sheets and pillowcases and a spritz of thieves on my pillow under the case
  • getting enough rest, and by enough i mean probably more than you are getting
  • opening the windows a few times a week to get fresh air circulating in the house
so tell me, what are your favorite ways to stay well?

Friday, November 15, 2013

gratitude {№9}

  • lunchtime walks in bright sunshine.
  • eating sushi under a blindingly yellow canopy of ginkgo trees.
  • sketching a leaf.
  • guessing at the proper name and only missing the spelling by a few letters.
  • lunch.
  • a job from which to break for lunch.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

gratitude {№8}

i am so grateful that all we really have to do is think it, live it, send it.  we are powerful beyond measure.

paying it forward here, here and here.

Monday, November 11, 2013

gratitude {№7}

grateful for the small things:

  • mercury goes direct 
  • spaghetti squash
  • how wearing gold boots makes you feel like wonder woman
  • a quiet safe neighborhood
  • yogi tea cold season (this stuff keeps me well when i am surrounded by germs)
  • new ideas
  • the crunch of leaves beneath my steps
  • woodsmoke

Sunday, November 10, 2013

sunday grace: big buddha

while i was at creative joy in breathtaking upstate new york a few weeks ago, i wandered away from the monastery at garrison on a whim to visit another monastery a few miles away:  the chuang yen buddhist monastery, home of the largest buddha in the western hemisphere.  (for size perspective, see tiny live human head in bottom right corner.)

i went to see the big buddha and he is awesome.  but i discovered so much more about the buddhist traditions.

on the walls surrounding the building, there are a thousand tiny buddhas, each with his own golden light and a label printed in chinese.  i couldn't find an english-speaking person to explain it to me, so i just enjoyed the light show.  i imagined they are akin to lighting candles in a catholic church:  sweet little prayers for loved ones.  i have a thing for prayers that glow.

the base of the big buddha is encircled with beautiful boddhisattvas.  the hands of each form different mudras.  (it's true, i am all about the hands and the feet.)

ten thousand peaceful buddhas are sitting en masse to create the illusion of giant white lotus petals.

the center is a school and there is a small library of literature to browse or take home.

the grounds are spectacular.  i sat outside on a bench while troupes of (softly) laughing children played.  i watched a tour bus tai chi lesson as i sipped hot jasmine tea in the crisp autumn air.  i whispered a note of gratitude that there are tour buses that bring americans to places other than outlet malls and off-track betting.

there are countless buddhas on the grounds as well.

up the hill from the main campus, there is the beautiful and peaceful thousand lotus memorial terrace, where ashes of loved ones are placed.  pots of burning incense are at every turn, as are children and families honoring their deceased parents and elders.

on the second terrace a young man stood in a deep bow for what seemed like an hour before the urn of a loved one.  at his feet were a few white boxes of take-out and two sets of chopsticks, one set for his respected elder. what a lovely tradition, to bring a favorite meal to share.  it was so touching and tender.  i sensed lightness and joy from all the families who were present.

i will never forget this sacred place.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

gratitude {№6}

grateful for the company of good, strong, smart, talented, peaceful women.

(creative joy, garrison, ny; october 2013; photo by tracey clark.)

Friday, November 8, 2013

gratitude {№5}

caution:  life is good after meditation.

it's true.  since (finally!) committing to meditation on a pretty regular basis:

life has clarity.

life has rhythm.

life has abundance.

life has kindreds.

life has answers.

life has questions.

life has space.

life has breath.

life has beauty.

life has truth.

life has love.

life has grace.

life has......

thank you meditation.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

gratitude {№4}

grateful for the way the sun streams in through the windows on quiet sunday mornings.

grateful for the scent of coffee laced with cardamom.

grateful for the wee forest behind the house and how it explodes with color each autumn.

Monday, November 4, 2013

gratitude {№3}

so grateful for healthy food grown by neighbors who care about the earth and each other.

grateful for access to markets and so many choices.

grateful for those who work each day toward safer and more environmentally-friendly food production and distribution.

grateful for my improving relationship with food and understanding how to be nourished.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

gratitude {№2}

today is dia de los muertos, a day on which departed relatives are honored in the mexican culture.  growing up in the central valley of california, my childhood was infused with mexican culture, so i am naturally drawn to celebrations such as this.  plus, the color.

this weekend relatives are visiting.  i have some anxiety about this.  i don't have a particularly close family of origin.  one person in my family with whom i felt particularly attuned to as a child was my grandma dee.  i write about her often in this space.  i imagine that she felt the same otherness in the family unit when she was with us.

today i am grateful for my grandma dee and her love of a simple quiet life that was curiously juxtaposed with her fierce apache spirit and the courage to be different.

Friday, November 1, 2013

gratitude {№1}

hi loves.  once again i want to focus on the month of november to practice gratitude.  of course, to live a truly joyful life, we practice gratitude as we move through each day of our year, but i like to use the month of giving thanks to really drive it home.

in the days post-creative joy retreat, i am walking through my life in a love and beauty rainbow haze, with awareness that i became a kinder more beautiful version of myself, taking space and time to re-enter the sometimes-harsh real world.  i am lucky to have big spaces of silence and stillness in my life (part luck, part design, part sacrifice).  i have room to stop and remember a bit from the monastery and integrate it into my real life and actually see it working.

i struggle with this luck, this privilege.  this always comes up for me at retreat and other moments when my life reflects back to me in glittery and complete opposition to the lives of many of the women and children with whom i have worked.  the brightness of privilege is shadowed always by a profound sense of injustice.  and then guilt.

we talked about this at retreat and our lovely leader jen louden wrote about it here.

so this year my november gratitude practice will include additional practice in noticing the privilege guilt when it arises and moving into moments of service and connection with the spirit of love rather than obligation-slash-penance.

i hope you will do some sort of gratitude practice too, either on your blog, instagram, facebook or in a more private way.  if you are, please share so i can follow along.