Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

falling on your butt & other vacation mishaps ~

I’m on vacation. And when I’m on vacation, I wear comfy shoes. Not that I wear killer stilettos at any time. But on vacation? I wear my favourite New Balance slip-ons. Because I can :).

The other day we went on the #1 foodie tour in the country: the Portland Epicurean Excursion. It was wonderful ~ began w/ ‘drinking chocolate’ (AKA hot chocolate so thick you can almost chew it :)), moved through Pearl Bakery’s breads (yumm…gibassier), then had local mustard & catsup and amazing pizza and olive oils and… :) All incredible.

But at the bakery I was walking in my comfy shoes and fell flat on my butt. Skidded in wet flour (isn’t that stuff supposed to be gluey?) and landed on knee, butt and leg. Totally ungraceful. Made me remember how I flunked ballet.

There have been times in my life when this would have totally humiliated me. Today it didn’t :). I’m fascinated by that. I know — who cares?? Well, I do. I find myself, as a result of having the time to do so, thinking. Reflecting. Wondering why things — including me — are the way they are. And I thought about how much it has to do with growing older.

Wasn’t it Bette Davis who said aging isn’t for sissies? It really isn’t! Things stop working much earlier than I thought they would: the running, the dancing, the things I did in my misspent youth, turn out to be not so good for your aging body :). Joints hate repetitive motion. They go south :). Literally migrate one away from the other.

So when I landed on my butt, I found myself actually grateful. NOT that I went kersplatt, but that the two dysfunctional joints that sometimes work as my knees weren’t trashed. Are they black & blue? Yep. But they still work. And that’s the difference :). 20 years ago, I would have been worried about the effect of my tumble on my audience. Today? My concern was only that I could get up, continue on the tour, and not miss the amazing food ahead.

And to me, that seems like a real improvement. Maybe I’m finally growing up…?

what I’m learning on vacation ~

I’ve been spending time w/ a five-year-old. It’s been enlightening — literally :). Alysia is one of the best Buddhist masters I know ~ she is teaching me how to see.

I think I’m pretty observant. Writers — especially poets :) — generally are. Birds are individuals to me, as are their songs. And I know leaves and trees and a lot of flowers, even animal tracks. But it turns out that’s not really ‘seeing.’ It’s not being in the moment, if that makes sense…Alysia has taught me that.

The other day there was a hummingbird outside the doors to the deck. It was hovering at the door, scoping out the fuchsia in the corner planter. Alysia was ecstatic.

“OMG!” she almost screamed in delight. “I never saw a real hummingbird in my whole life!” This is her standard response to so many things I take for granted that I’m rethinking most things — not just seeing. She proceeded to draw the dun-colored female hummer from the moment’s glance the hover offered.

The drawing looked amazingly like a hummingbird, especially for a five-year-old. In that brief moment, Alysia had absorbed its colour, the curved beak, the stubby body and the slender wings. How did she do that? I can’t imagine trying to draw a hummer from memory.

And that’s part of the problem. I can’t imagine even trying. Why not? What happens between 5 and 10×5 to change our attitudes? Why wouldn’t I try? Who’s judging me? Who cares??

Thanks to my five-year-old Zen mistress, I am trying to really be present. I am trying to see a hummingbird, a snake, a leaf and a piece of blue Playdoh as clearly and with as little baggage as possible. I can’t tell you how many books, articles, essays etc. I’ve read on ‘being here, now.’ But it took a five-year-old to show me. You have to have a truly open mind: you have to stop ‘thinking about’ and be. It’s so much harder than it sounds…

So thank you, Alysia. I may actually remember this time :)

lost journals, Alzheimer’s and hope ~

I lost my journal yesterday. Now, in the spectrum of griefs, on a day when almost 100 people lost their lives in Norway, this is a very tiny blip. It’s just paper, w/ some words and drawings and pasted-in ephemera.

Perhaps because so many of the elders in my family had Alzheimer’s, losing memories is a big deal to me. That’s what losing my journal feels like — as if the past month has somehow slipped from my mind. Does the loss of the wedding invitation to my son’s wedding, pasted in to the front cover, mean I will forget this important day? Of course not.

Nor will I ‘lose’ the week I spent w/ my best friend and her lovely granddaughter. But I have lost the precise words that came to minnd when she told us about ‘anguished muffins’ (AKA English muffins), and the house that seemed to fly in the low clouds that shroud the Tillamook valley.

And I lost the drawing of the mountains, although not the memory of sitting on the deck. My family is sympathetic, but as non-writers, they don’t get why I’ve been wondering around in a funk on vacation. After all, the sun is out. It’s incredibly lovely here in Oregon — street musicians playing classical violin, children splashing in fountains. An almost impossibly blue sky.

So I compromise: I went to the art store down the street, bought Aquarelle water colour pencils and marbled turquoise paper to put in a new journal. I may be grieving, but I’m still hopeful about the general state of the universe :). And I still have a lot of memories to record…

invitations ~

For those who wonder — this post has nothing to do w/ my son’s upcoming wedding :). For which I’m currently far from Oklahoma home, in Oregon.

Nope, the blog is all the fault of my horoscope. And yep: I read my horoscope. Not daily, but occasionally. And it can RUIN my day when it’s bad…

But for this week it had a very good point. The powers that be remind me to invite in what ‘deserves to be fostered.’ I like that. My default modus operandi is oppositional… Sigh. Year of the Dragon, and all that. So I have to work at not letting NO take over. It’s so much easier to say a loud, resounding NO than figure out a way to make Yes work…:)

So what  is it that deserves to be fostered? Kindness, certainly. There seems to be a dearth of it these days. And a sense of humour — in the past it’s saved my marriage, won my heart, made me friends, and broken impasses much more often than ‘talking things out.’ Of course we need to talk. But a kind smile and an affectionate joke go a long way to helping folks know you care about them as people.

I wish I could write funny. I wish I was the kind of person given to witty written banter, instead of whatever it is I’m given to :). But that way lies self-doubt, and we’ve already discussed how that’s not a good place to go!

More walking :). I’m open to more walking and less sitting. More writing — although where I’ll find more time I can’t imagine! And more letters — I need to send more. Even if they’re the online kind.

More reading of books I already have on my bookshelf (instead of buying more books!). More train trips! More chocolate (I had to put that in) and more sunlight and more rain and more wind and…

And there I go doing it again. Wanting ‘more’ when what I have is amazing, wonderful and ‘more’ than enough…:) this whole invitation thing is a lot more difficult than it sounds…:)

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