Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

heroines, news and if a tree falls…

Here’s a news story I’m betting you haven’t seen. I refuse to speculate (at least in print!) as to why not. But a good friend and colleague reminded me I could remedy that. So here’s the story:

It’s a story of heroic rescue, of risk and rescue on the quasi-high sea. It’s the story of Hege Dalen and Toril Hansen, a married lesbian couple (you can do that in Norway :)) who rescued 40 teenagers from the massacre in Norway. A big thank-you to the blogger who brought it my attention. And to the generous editor who reminded me that I’m still a journalist :).

tea & happily ever after ~

I confess: I am indulged (there’s a reason this blog begins w/ a queen bee :)). My husband spoils me to the nth degree :). Today, for instance, I made reservations for my sister-in-law & I to have tea. You all KNOW how much I love tea. And tea at the Heathman, in Portland, is amazing ~ from the fragrant blueberry scones (fresh from the oven, brimming with Oregon blueberries) to the pillowy homemade marshmallow (much more wonderful than it sounds, trust me), it’s the acme of tea. Even better than tea at the Waldorf or the Peninsula in Hong Kong, both places that know tea.

For a number of reasons, the women in my family (in town for my son’s wedding) couldn’t go. I was disappointed, but I had a lovely tea w/ my bff in Tillamook last week, right? Still, true love means (apparently) going to tea w/ your best beloved. So my husband, who has a pinched nerve and isn’t much of a tea person, volunteered to escort me. Apologising for his blue jeans (he always looks wonderful to me :)), he walked me over to the Heathman and we had high tea. It was (not in any order :)) delicious, romantic, exceedingly sweet, and just plain great.

I traded him a chocolate devil’s food teacake for his salmon profiterole. He gave me 1/2 of his marshmallow. I had English breakfast; he had Darjeeling. I take milk & sugar; he takes his black. It was wonderful. We haven’t had tea together since the son who’s getting married was… oh, maybe 3? :) And that would have been long ago and far away…Hong Kong?

 The moral to this vignette? Beginner’s heart is often about not saying no to generous gifts :). I worried about his back; I worried he’d be bored. And if I’d kept worrying, I would have missed a perfect afternoon: sunlit walk through Pioneer Square, high tea at the Heathman, and a romantic interlude w/ the best husband in the world.

Sometimes it’s good to be the object of the exercise :). Sometimes, having fun is a gift in return. And it’s sooo much more fun than worrying!

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 :)

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