The Goodness of The Day

June 25, 2013

Sunsets grant us the opportunity to pause and reflect on the movement of the day. They remind us to take time to be still and quiet as the passage is made from day to night. To experience gratitude for the goodness of the day.

“When the sun is setting, leave whatever you are doing and watch it.” 
-Mehmet Murat ildan

sunset2

(photo by me, Oregon coast. Sunset)

In our daily lives we often participate in many things that might not fall under the category of “good”, or “pleasant”, and too often it so easy for us to hang on to those things as if THEY were our life threads, our defining moments. They are not.

At the end of the day the sunset comes. It has no judgement on our day. Yet the sunset can give us that moment to reflect on all the wonders and beauty in the world, and in people, that we may not have noticed during the day. The sunset reminds us of things that are greater than our evaluation of how we did during day. Greater than our evaluations of how we think others did during that day.

Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.
– Rabindranath Tagore

The raging colors splattered across the horizon, the muted sorbet wisps translucent against the day blue sky: the sunset. It reminds us to give pause and notice the beauty and harmony in the natural world. To reflect on the goodness of the day and to be still and fully present in the beauty of the moment. THIS moment. A time of transition from day to night. Where there is nothing but the sunset. Events , struggles, pain, sorrow, laughter, joys of the day are gone…behind us. The next moment has not yet come. This is what is. It is natural. Ever changing. Impermanent. Beautiful. Miraculous. Inspiring. Healing. Breathtaking.  This is the cessation of the things that maybe are not so important. This is the interlude between misunderstanding and truth. This is the respite that says “Stop. Be mindful of the goodness of this day as it passes. Be present to this stillness and let the silence of the stillness echo throughout your body.”

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What The Hell Is Water?

June 22, 2013

Please just watch this.

http://www.christinecarter.com/community/blog/2013/06/friday-inspiration-this-is-water/

From a commencement speech.

Have a beautiful weekend.

Planting Kale

June 14, 2013

A few weeks ago I was talking with a parent at the school where I work. We had finally had a chance to work in our gardens and were comparing notes.

Laura made the comment that she didn’t know what people did before the internet….how would they have known how and where to plant the kale seedlings? Shade? Sun? Part shade?

Then she paused and said, “Well, I guess if she were alive, my grandmother would have been able to tell me how to plant kale.”

I felt a little pang. A sense of sorrow and loss.

kale2

While the internet in all it’s cyber wizardry is wonderful and brings people closer (sort of), and makes the world smaller (sort of), and provides information about everything (real or imagined), it seems to also be responsible for the loss of person to person collective knowledge or information sharing. As in the kale. Are any of us learning about gardening and growing our own food from people who genuinely depended on growing their own food, or are we reclaiming a lost skill that is dying, almost dead, or dead?

Do you garden, grow your own food? Whether yes or no, do you care where your food comes from? If it’s been genetically altered? Organic?

Going back to grandma, what did you or have you learned from your grandmother? Or grandfather? My own grandparents didn’t know a darned thing about growing food. However, they did remember the Depression and food rationing. I learned a great deal about plants, all kinds, from my step mother. She also taught me how to cook.  She taught me about herbs and plants that could be used medicinally. I’m sure it’s a false sense of security, but I feel like I could grow food to supplement my family’s needs if it was ever required. Maybe even enough to share.

That begs the question, is that a valuable skill? I mean really, it seems more and more people barely know how to cook…so why bother growing food? What would they do with it?

“The first supermarket supposedly appeared on the American landscape in 1946. That is not very long ago. Until then, where was all the food? Dear folks, the food was in homes, gardens, local fields, and forests. It was near kitchens, near tables, near bedsides. It was in the pantry, the cellar, the backyard.”
Joel Salatin

Anyway…I still have that pang of sorrow even after a few weeks. I admire Laura for even thinking about her grandmother and what she might have been able to learn from her.  I wonder how many of us really know what we could learn from our parents or grandparents if we just began a discussion. I wonder what we are at risk of never knowing if we don’t have the discussion?

War Is Not The Answer

June 8, 2013

There is a woman in my community who is a member of the local Quaker Meeting. She is at least in her 70’s and maybe in her 80’s. Her body is slowly becoming shorter, and there is a slight hunch in her back. She walks with purpose, but a little slower than she used to. Her hair is all gray and it looks like she may snip at it herself.

At Meeting she is usually fairly quiet, sometimes her head is tucked down and I find myself wondering if she is asleep. She is very social before and after. Her eyes light up when she greets people and she is always happy, smiling and seemingly internally at peace with herself and her God.

Every Thursday afternoon she stands alone, rain or shine, sleet or snow, at one of our town’s busiest intersections holding the blue and white sign with the dove that says “WAR IS NOT THE ANSWER”.

War not answer

What is the answer? What’s the question?

On the way home from work yesterday I listened to an interview that had been originally aired a year ago.

http://www.npr.org/2012/07/09/156454241/the-life-that-follows-disarming-ieds-in-iraq

Brian Castner spoke eloquently and thoughtfully. He has lost parts of his memory due to traumatic brain injury from serving in the war. He had an unimaginable job. He described something he saw often: “the pink mist of blood that hovered over everything”.  It made me cry. It made me angry. Angry because those of us who sit here in our homes have no idea what war means. We have no way of understanding the way war changes people. Hurts people. Even Brian didn’t understand for a long time.  Having a name for his “illness” helps he says. But, not really.

War IS NOT the answer. But, I wonder,  are we asking the right question?

I live a life that mostly revolves around my job. I work with preschoolers….little 3, 4 and 5 year olds. There is a daily routine, a fairly unvarying menu of social, emotional and developmental scenarios. There are the predictable dramas of someone not wanting to be friends with someone else, someone calling a 4 year old a three year old, and similar grievances.

My days are very ordinary. Predictable.

Yet, as I reflect back on the day’s events I am often amazed at how clearly, how assuredly my own perspective has a direct impact on whether my ordinary day is, well, ordinary, or whether my ordinary day is magic. It’s all me.

So now, as I go about my morning at home I give myself a pep talk. “What surprises will there be today?”. “How am I going to get so-and-so to do such and such”. “How can I make someone laugh, or light up their eyes?” We have to remember:

 “You may think that in life, a lot of things happen to you along the way.
The truth is, in life, you happen to a lot of things along the way.”
–Dr. Shad Helmstetter

Sometimes the pep talk includes reminders of traps I don’t want to fall in to. Familiar ruts that take me to the same dull places. We have to break free of established patterns of response and thinking in order for new ideas and solutions to be born. Some days I feel like I am on auto-pilot…..reacting the same way to every situation, and it doesn’t always work in life. Some days I have to make the conscious effort to turn the auto-pilot OFF.

I ask my self “Why?” or “why not?” more often. Why do I do the same thing over and over the same way? Why am I surprised when I get the same response? Is that the response I was looking for? Why not approach the same thing differently and see what happens? Why not try something outside of the box?

I give myself reminders:  pause before responding so my responses are not reactionary, but of value. Reminders that everything that happens is not a personal attack on me…on my ego. Funny to think that a 3 year old could make me feel that way….and sometimes it’s the adult co-workers!!

“How you choose to respond each moment to the movie of life determines how you see the next frame,
and the next, and eventually how you feel when the movie ends.”
–Doc Childre

Reminders to pause as to whether my response brings something to the table (necessary) , is it kind, is it truthful?

“When words are both true and kind, they can change the world.” ~ Buddha

When I am thoughtful about the choices I can make during the day, my day is “different”. When I practice patience and kindness, compassion and creativity, others respond differently too. It isn’t hard. It just takes some practice and being mindful. It requires I give up reacting, and instead respond with something thoughtful.

Ordinary days become magical. Ordinary days become extraordinary days. Ordinary days become a gift. Something to look forward to.

Ordinary-Day