Saturday, November 29, 2008

Every Day: An Opportunity for New Beginnings

Treat every day as a new beginning.

If you need a break from winter weather, open to life's mystery with openhearted abandonment, and enjoy the support of community members who envision a more peaceful world, explore volunteer opportunities at Kalani on the big island of Hawaii.

I highly recommend the sunsets, black sand beach, clothing optional hot tub and vegetarian food. Here’s my plug for a lush slice of paradise.

Aloha to Health, Wellness, Forgiveness, Compassion, Kindness and New Beginnings.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It’s Time

What time do you have?

“Time heals what reason cannot.” - Seneca
“One should count each day a separate life.”

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” - Andy Warhol

My personal favorite:

“There is no great genius without some touch of madness.”

Perhaps that gives me an excuse for disregarding the clock, often to my own demise. Thank you Seneca.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

What does life mean to you?

Mental Negotiations

I have always been interested in how the mind negotiates with reality, fantasy, hallucination, desire and dreams, but I usually approach my fascination from a literary standpoint. After I read Roger Ebert’s review of the film “Synecdoche, New York," I realized I needed to see that film. Ebert spells out how life is supposed to work in his review, yet the hollowness of his definition echoes down the hallway of my doubts and uncertainties: Shouldn’t there be more to this entity that human beings narrowly define as life? I feel as if I don't get anywhere when I ask the question, but at the same time I can't escape the pondering.

“Synecdoche, New York"
(excerpts from a November 5, 2008 film review by Roger Ebert that enticed me to the theater)

Here is how life is supposed to work. We come out of ourselves and unfold into the world. We try to realize our desires. We fold back into ourselves, and then we die… The job, the name, the race, the gender, the environment, all change. The human remains pretty much the same.

Here is how it happens. We find something we want to do, if we are lucky, or something we need to do, if we are like most people. We use it as a way to obtain food, shelter, clothing, mates, comfort, a first folio of Shakespeare, model airplanes, American Girl dolls, a handful of rice, sex, solitude, a trip to Venice, Nikes, drinking water, plastic surgery, child care, dogs, medicine, education, cars, spiritual solace -- whatever we think we need. To do this, we enact the role we call "me," trying to brand ourselves as a person who can and should obtain these things.

In the process, we place the people in our lives into compartments and define how they should behave to our advantage. Because we cannot force them to follow our desires, we deal with projections of them created in our minds. But they will be contrary and have wills of their own. Eventually new projections of us are dealing with new projections of them. Sometimes versions of ourselves disagree. We succumb to temptation -- but, oh, father, what else was I gonna do? I feel like hell. I repent. I'll do it again. Hold that trajectory in mind and let it interact with age, discouragement, greater wisdom and more uncertainty.

Charlie Kaufman is one of the few truly important writers to make screenplays his medium. David Mamet is another. That is not the same as a great writer (Faulkner, Pinter, Cocteau) who writes screenplays. Kaufman is writing in the upper reaches with Bergman. Now for the first time he directs.

It is obvious that he has only one subject, the mind, and only one plot, how the mind negotiates with reality, fantasy, hallucination, desire and dreams.


[Synecdoche: A form of the metaphor in which the part mentioned signifies the whole.]

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

I have nearly finished reading the book The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (less than 50 pages of the 609 remaining). In addition to making me miss the neighborhoods of Tokyo, I am stunned by Murakami’s ability to capture the haphazard uncertainty, displaced sense of reality, disjointed spontaneity and humanity’s disconnectedness boiling brain recipe of fate and free will in each of the character’s movements through a thick paste of internal monologues, which become a large part of the setting.

The characters forced me to examine demons churning around in my own glob of energy- subconscious and conditioned responses- and ask myself the question: How does my free will intertwine itself around the thick and viable vine of fate swinging me for a ride in the night sky?

All of these questions. And where was that damn cat, Noboru Wataya, for an entire year?

I want to write the screenplay for this book. If I had only one scene to compose, it would be Lieutenant Mamiya’s story. Mamiya is a World War II vet who tells Toru, the book’s hapless hero, of the atrocities he witnessed on the Mongolian front including the skinning of his companion from shoulder to groin.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

pineapple-juicy groovy

Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes

countdown turned on to affirmatives

pineapple-juicy groovy

clothing-optional sunshine sweet

coqui frog-croaking dinner bell

and stars in my purr

I’m squishy with possibilities
in the Kingdom of Yes.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Where is your center?

I love the idea of restoring my life for balance and settling my day with meditation. I want to be aware of the powerful crouch of my cat while he waits for goldfinches to perch on dried coneflowers to nibble the seeds. I want to see the cotton candy gray clouds violating the blue optimism of the sky with threats of assault. I want to notice my world, rotate my tires and roll evenly through the world with eyes wide open.

November 14, 2008 - Tricycle's Daily Dharma

Settle Your Day

It is not merely enthusiasm that erodes when practice declines. Your body and mind can go out of tune. You are no longer a vessel of insight. The cardinal can sing; the wind can move the ironwood trees delicately; a child can ask a wise question--and where is your center? How can you respond? It is time to put yourself back in tune, to be ready for experiences that make life fulfilling. Take up the advice for beginners. Put your zazen pad somewhere between your bathroom and your kitchen. Sit down there in the morning after you use the bathroom and before you cook breakfast. You are sitting with everyone in the world. If you sit only briefly, you will have at least settled your day.

-Robert Aitken, Encouraging Words

from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book

Thursday, November 13, 2008

assert your voice

I am reviewing assertive communication styles for my midterm exam, and I know positively that this is the style I want to add to my intellectual wardrobe.

An assertive communication style is:

appropriate to the situation;
responsive to my own best interests;
resisting of coercion;
AND, best of all

results in helping me build healthy, constructive relationships.

my journey: the catalyst

Catalyst to Dreams

My fellow reader Greg, who is also an intensely missed conversation partner of mine, is currently teaching at the American University in Cairo. Jim is jetting off for spiritual growth in India, and I am preparing for my body, mind and soul re-fueling mission. I’ve purchased the airline ticket, contacted fellow travelers who will be there as well, and I daily whip my body back into swimsuit shape.

Ms. Body is ever so grateful for her chance to shine and serenades me daily in appreciation for the cardio and fat-burn sessions. “Push me harder,” are three of her favorite words. “Feel the burn," she hums in delight as I peel off my sweat-soaked sports bra and toss it into my gym bag.

As I prepare for the trip, I ruminate on Barbara Coloroso’s words, which simplify my life and make my ethical decisions easier to execute in my relationships with others.

“Don’t manipulate another person’s behavior. Positively influence and empower others to be successful, to feel confident, to identify what they need in order to feel safe and secure in their world. Be a catalyst for their sense of self-discovery. “

That’s how I want to see myself today.

I am a catalyst for my own sense of self-discovery.

This leads me to a place where I am ready to cooperatively explore creativity and empowerment with others.

Monday, November 10, 2008

wet, slick and relaxed...

Anger Management in the Sauna at 80 Celsius

I have discovered that I have almost no anger or frustration festering in my mind and body after a cardio workout followed by weight lifting and about 20-25 minutes in an 80 degree Celsius sauna. Let’s hear it for sweat- slippery, slick and sexy! There isn’t any space left for negativity in my pores after that experience.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

forgiveness, feeling safe and letting go

Forgiveness is a tolerance of mistakes, the ability to forgive each other for defections. Everyday acts of forgiveness among people who know each other in the real world are incredibly common.

1. Human beings forgive people who make them feel safe. To forgive we must know that the offender can't and won't harm us again. (Personally, I have found this to be painfully true. If I don't feel safe, I can't forgive.)

2. We are prone to forgive if the relationship has value to us. It is easier to forgive than to destroy the relationship and start over again. (As much as I value a relationship, if I don't feel safe, I can't trust. Since trust is the essential ingredient for forgiveness, safety is the key to everything.)

3. If we want to forgive, we need to have a conversation with the person who harmed us. The conversation should be about reassurance that safety can be restored in the relationship. It's important to talk about practicing behavior that will restore respect. This conversation can get messy and emotional, and the hard work starts after the conversation ends as people begin to re-establish trust once again. "Forgiveness is a brawny muscular exercise that someone with a passion for life should take on," according to Michael McCullough.

4. So much of forgiveness is about interacting with the person who hurt us and seeing him or her in a different light. Without this interaction and discussion, forgiveness is more difficult.

From NPR Speaking of Faith, November 9, 2008, "Getting Revenge and Forgiveness"

Synopsis of the program: Michael McCullough, Director of the Lab for Social and Clinical Psychology at the University of Miami, describes science that helps us comprehend how revenge came to have a purpose in human life. At the same time, he stresses, science is also revealing that human beings are more instinctively equipped for forgiveness than we've perhaps given ourselves credit for. Knowing this suggests ways to calm the revenge instinct in ourselves and others and embolden the forgiveness intuition.


Buddha is not a personal name and the concept is NOT a man.

"Buddha" is not a personal name; it is a title, meaning "awakened," "enlightened," and "evolved." A Buddha's enlightenment is a perfect omniscience. A Buddha's mind is what theists have thought the mind of God [or the human mind at its height of perfection] would have to be like, totally knowing of every single detail of everything in an infinite universe, totally aware of everything--hence by definition inconceivable, incomprehensible to finite, ignorant, egocentric consciousness.

- Robert A.F. Thurman, Essential Tibetan Buddhism

Saturday, November 08, 2008

say NO to censoring the arts

Be it wholesome Christians, pure Muslims, pious Hindus or missionary Mormons, followers of diverse gods, goddesses, prophets and so-called saviors of the human soul fight for their right to censor artists in the name of the crusade. I ask you this question: Is an $11 million dollar reward for anyone's head really necessary?

excerpt from The New York Times online, October 8, 2008
"An Artist in Exile Tests India’s Democratic Ideals"

Mr. Husain [the painter of the naked Hindu goddess above] is a Muslim who is fond of painting Hindu goddesses, sometimes portraying them nude. That obsession has earned him the ire of a small but organized cadre of Hindu nationalists. They have attacked galleries that exhibit his work, accused him in court of “promoting enmity” among faiths and, on one occasion, offered an $11 million reward for his head.

end note:

I read in the November 1, 2008 issue of the Economist today that the Red Cross predicts that at least 17.5 million people may face starvation in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia. Where are our priorities people?

Who stole the cement elf?

Note to a Thief

My mother lives in speck on the map community in the middle of the United States- visualize corn, soybeans, and rural gossip- and one community tool that keeps the 5,226 people in town informed and united is a news/advertiser published every Wednesday. Inside the pages of this newspaper, readers discover who is selling a John Deere lawn tractor for $500, who will be having garage sales on Friday or Saturday afternoons, and what the special of the week is going to be at the local pizza place: a mini pizza and iced tea for $4.00 on Thursday.

In the Wednesday, November 5, 2008 edition of this newspaper, the following note to a thief appeared.


To whoever took our keepsake cement elf from our backyard in Dakota City, if not satisfied with it, please bring it back or send a thank you note!

H. & D. Dale
20 4th. St. So.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Two Random Thoughts

Two Disconnected Thoughts

1. I attempt to run away from cool temperatures and chilly winds. It’s true. I run because the cold hurts my skin, and when I breathe the nippiness into my lungs, I want to escape, so instinct urges me to run. I am certain that in my past lives I have not been exposed to bitter cold, snow or the wind’s chill, so I run. Do you run?

2. For those of you who were bullied in elementary, middle or high school, you might appreciate these research findings. According to the findings by Ballard, Argus & Remley, 1999 and Dunn in 2001, “Bullying is an early predictor of lifelong antisocial tendencies, often leading to criminal activities.”
Perhaps that unruly bully who made you pee your pants is now behind bars frittering away slow moving hours and bullying other prisoners.

Monday, November 03, 2008

what to tell inquiring minds about the Buddha

People often ask me to define Buddhism for them, and I can't do it. This lack of a clear, clean agreed upon definition of the practice is the reason I enjoy what Buddhism has to offer me; Everyone must interpret it individually. This means that people are required to think, actively engage with the text, and make their own decisions about the teachings.

Today, however, I found a passage that will help me explain why I practice.

Depending on which part of Buddhism you grasp, you might identify it as a system of ethics, a philosophy, a contemplative psychotherapy, a religion. While containing all of these, it can no more be reduced to any one of them than an elephant can be reduced to its tail.

--Stephen Batchelor, Buddhism Without Beliefs

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Miss U and her crazy umbrella

LJ - Journal Entry 6
Phonological Awareness
Unit 3 – November 2, 2008

Childhood is where an appreciation or disgust for letters all starts, and my love of language, literature and poetry today is partly due to Miss U and my alphabet book.

I remember the alphabet book that I made in first grade. I loved each of the 26 cartoon characters in that book with their individual personalities and bright colors. Miss U was an umbrella, and she had a rather reserved personality that I crafted in my head. Miss U was never wet, but rather shy and standoffish from the other letters, using her umbrella as a social shield. Mr. R and his arsenal of rubber bands was a rude dude who would pull each rubber band taut and fire it at the back of the other letters’ heads. Ouch, Miss U squeaked when she felt a sting near her hairline.

Each phoneme was more than a sound for me. Sounds, letters, words and books merged into a rich mosaic that flew off the page and interacted with my own internal emotional dialogue. Words were contextualized through my school’s reading program because I could imagine myself singing with each letter, creating joyous rhymes for our secret entertainment as we marched around my bedroom. By allowing each letter to personally shine, the letters were friends. Words united with visuals to blend the medley of literacy skills into thoughts inside of my head that organized my world. I loved it.

Even now when I read about building phonological awareness in children, I substituted my name in “The Name Game” song.


Lori, Lori bo Bori
Bonana fanna fo fori
Mee my mo Mori, Lori!

I don’t remember my teachers having any influence on my adoration of rhyme and word play, which leads me to believe that I was a devotee of literacy and linguistics when my father’s sperm met my mother’s egg. Even today, as I write a poem or compose a sentence in my journal, I recognize the pleasure of separating words into syllables to create a rhythm to my work, blending sounds into words that cause surprise or disbelief, and selecting words that start with the same sound to soothe or annoy my readers.

There is no stopping a true reader and writer.

Linda Hogan had this advice for writers, and I think she is correct: “If someone is going to be a writer, they'll be a writer no matter what they do. I don't think I have any advice. I used to think I did, but if somebody loves to write they will be a writer.”

Saturday, November 01, 2008

I could never see the Big Dipper and so what...

I never want to look for the damn Big Dipper because the sky is calling me. I would much rather appreciate the wholeness of the night twinkles, the chill in the autumn air and the sound of my companion's voice as we discuss life and our place in it. I'm glad I'm not looking for the Big Dipper because I would much rather experience the mindful whole.

Perception and Mindfulness

When perception is stronger than mindfulness, we recognize various appearances and create concepts such as "body," "cat", "house," or "person". . .

On some clear night, go outside, look up at the sky, and see if you can find the Big Dipper. For most people that is a familiar constellation, easy to pick out from all the other stars. But is there really a Big Dipper up there in the sky?

There is no Big Dipper up there. "Big Dipper" is a concept. Humans looked, saw a certain pattern, and then created a concept in our collective mind to describe it. That concept is useful because it helps us recognize the constellation. But it also has another, less useful effect. By creating the concept "Big Dipper" we separate out those stars from all the rest, and then, if we become attached to the idea of that separation, we lose the sense of the night sky's wholeness, its oneness. Does the separation actually exist in the sky? No. We created it through the use of a concept.

Does anything change in the sky when we understand that there is no Big Dipper? No.

--Joseph Goldstein, "Insight Meditation" from Everyday Mind

About Me

My photo

What do I do? That’s a question with more depth than the deceiving three-word construction would lead us to believe.

I live on planet earth with other folks, and I’m involved in the field of education and learning. I’m a life-long learner with a passion for knowledge and the process of bending bits of ideas into new constructions of beauty.