Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

generousity

via google

via google

My horoscope this week (and yes — I do read it!) says I should be generous w/ friends & family. Give! it says. Both gifts & compassion.

How fun is that! So — I bought my sister a trinket as a hostess gift, since I’m going to stay w/ her & her beloved in Dallas this next week. And I plan on taking her — and her beloved, and her BFF — out to (wait for it!) TEA. And we gave presents to another sister (her birthday is today!), and my nephew (his birthday was Saturday). It was so much fun!

But there’s something I will receive in return, my horoscope promises (along w/ telling me what to do , it told me why): generousity will ‘balance my karma.’

GREAT! Because who the heck wants out-of-balance karma, right??

Seriously — while it’s verrrry fun to receive, it’s also wonderful to give. My two other sisters, and the niece who knows my Dallas sister best (I have a LOT of sisters, folks, so don’t worry if you’re confused — sometimes so are we), all think she’ll love my trinket gift.

via google

via google

And I know she’ll love going to tea — who doesn’t? Her BFF is a fifth sister — one of several the four of have adopted into our women’s web of connection. My BFF is like another sister to me, as are my sisters-in-law. Giving any of them presents is, admittedly, hit-or-miss in terms of what to get, but it’s always fun to try to figure out just what they might love.

So yep, along with kind speech, service, and compassion? Of course generousity (and the rest) renew humanity. :)

But they also renew us, those of us trying to send kindness, generousity, and compassion into what sometimes seems like a void. Especially lately. And if you’re in ‘service’ — say, teaching :) — it’s beyond hard, as there are very few opportunities to fill your own depleted bucket of joy, of love.

So here’s to balanced karma, and the ineffable joys of giving. If you’re feeling down? Give. Whatever you’re good at — a present, a compliment, a hug. Each renews all of us. And that’s not astrological whooey, I promise.

 

taking care of the heart’s chariot

good health

The heart rides around in a body. Consider the mind the charioteer.

I’m not always a good caretaker of my chariot, this body I run around in. I do better some weeks than others, but I still don’t rock this w hole health thing. I don’t eat enough veggies, I know — although I like them. I do eat a lot of fruit. And I’m not nearly active enough.

via flickr

via flickr

So the stuff at the top of this post? Well, let’s just say I do breathe deeply. And I cultivate cheerfulness. And I’m absolutely fascinated by life. But the whole eat lightly? I had strawberries and pound cake w/ whipped cream for dinner the other night, folks!

I don’t have answers to people who ask how to live more healthfully. I know what to do (move more, eat more veggies, meditate), but I don’t always … do it.

How do we make the step — I don’t really think it’s a LEAP, although it certainly can feel like it — from thinking/ knowing to doing?

Like most of life, it almost certainly begins w/ small steps. The fruit smoothie w/ organic fruit & yogurt I make us for breakfast most mornings. The move towards fewer and fewer meals including meat, and that meat pastured and/or local. Eating more veggies — easy in the summer, when ripe tomatoes are a meal in themselves, whether made into bruschetta or sliced w/ basil & mozzarella. So it’s not like most of us aren’t trying.

via google

via google

But that moving thing…It’s a LOT harder when you have arthritis, and your passion is writing. Which is NOT particularly ambulatory. Which means I have to learn to accept assistance, lower my ‘standards’ — I used to be a runner, for cryin’ out loud! — and let go of that NOT being okay.

An  analogy that works for me is juggling. Right now, I can manage 1 ball all the time. I’m usually good w/ two, although every so often one falls. But three? Wow. That’s a skill I have yet to master.

But I’m working on it. I’m working on it. And it will be wonderful when I finally get it right!

 

thunderheads, and big sky mind

via flickr

via flickr

Some days it’s harder than usual to calm. To remember that the mind is really just a space where thoughts (& feelings) come & go. But this is the basis of my wisdom tradition, and I know it’s true.

So on days like today, when I’m trying (hard) to breathe through the small chaos of everyday life, it helps to watch the Oklahoma sky. Because when you watch, you realise: clouds move FAST.

And today? When the clouds in place are full of gloom? That’s a good thing. But sometimes — even when my big sky mind is vivid, cloudless blue, I pause: clouds move fast.

clouds-in-blue-sky-2

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Nothing serious is obscuring my sky. Not really — just another pointless shooting, another racial incident, another reminder that my life is one of incredible good fortune and privilege. And that I need to find more concrete ways to pay that forward.

No, my younger son is readying for a very well-planned world tour. My elder son is finishing up the first week of his new semester, happily recounting plans and new syllabi and schedules. My DIL and grandson are well, and my husband is recuperating in great shape from surgery.

Still, I worry. And worries, like clouds, can take over fast if you let them. Instead, I’m trying (hard!) to just watch them. Breathe through the movement, and watch as they pass. Because they WILL (and do) pass.

I just need to remember: big sky mind, Britt. Clouds come, clouds pass. Only the sky remains.

 

What did George Fox say? or, the Quakers vs. the Puritans

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately, trying to make sense out of the craziness rampant in too many American city police departments. The newest idiocy is the story of a St. Paul, Minnesota man who was, basically, tased for sitting while black. Oh — in a public space. And because he didn’t give police his name. (Note: there was no legal requirement he do so.)

Wow. Shades of the Puritans, whom I had to study for an entire semester in grad school. My own fault — I thought it would help me make sense of American lit. What it helped me with is the rationale behind so many of the apparently irrational actions of so many of today’s Americans.

via openclipart

via openclipart

I linked to the very witty — and great fun! — video of Quakers parodying Ylvis’s song ‘What does the fox say?’ to help Americans unfamiliar w/ the wonderful spiritual tradition of Quakerism understand its basic tenets. You can read The Scarlet Letter, or most of Hawthorne, or The Crucible to see the Puritans in action.

Suffice to say: Puritans believed in the inherent evil of human beings; Quakers believed in the inherent good. If you were a Puritan and good things happened to you, God was showing favour. If bad things happened? It was your own fault. N.B.: this is certainly at odds w/ poor Job’s story, isn’t it?

The Quakers believe that good fortune is a blessing, and nothing you necessarily ‘deserve.’ Big difference, but obvious still today.

If you get tased by a cop, Puritans would say, it’s YOUR fault. NOT the fault of the racially paranoid clerk at the store, or the racially motivated police. Yours, even if you’re following the law. After all, if you’re black? God must not love you as much. Or something.blame game

I’m only a tiny bit kidding here. This is certainly the attitude behind much of the random horror I see in American culture today. A woman who took on the notably sexist gaming establishment received so many death threats that she fled her home. She must be the cause of her own endangerment, according to several folks I’ve read commenting. After all, SHE spoke out.

What can we,working hard to love each other, working on fragile and easily ignited (at least in my case) beginner’s hearts, do? Is there anything to help me reframe the ugliness I seem to see in so many Americans?

There is. I can reframe: I’m can try to be more like a Quaker — assuming folks have good intentions, even when they do squirrelly things. Talking them to find out what those intentions are (although the guy w/ the 9-year-old girl and the machine gun still eludes me…) This gets increasingly complicated, as noted. So I’m implementing a news diet, cutting back on what gives me very bad heartburn. And reading more Friends Journal, which usually calms me with its lucid take on today’s moral dilemmas. You might try something similar. Blame is going to get us nowhere at all. Or perhaps, more accurately, nowhere I would want to go.

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