Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

the blues ~

feeling blue

artist Mats Eriksson

Sometimes I get incredibly blue. Blue as in indigo, deep and dark and find a hole to crawl into. Today has been one of those days…

It began — as far too many days do — with aches & pains. Middle age sooo sucks with the whole arthritis thing. Yuk. So I went outside, my medication of choice. Grabbed a pair of work gloves and snippers and decided to kill grapevine. Murder is sooo freeing.

Here’s the problem: when I hit these slumps (maybe I should, more accurately, call them abysses), I need affirmation. A LOT. So when I had reduced much of the creeping crap smothering the Japanese maple and the dwarf crape myrtle to debris, I needed someone (enter: long-suffering best`beloved) to clap.

Oops. Forgot to script best-beloved. Who promptly asked me why I’d filled the yard w/ debris… I spent the next half-hour sniffling on the deck.

I’m not normally that touchy. Or sensitive. Like I said, I’m just blue today. And probably part of yesterday, as well. And no, I have no idea why. But what I do know is that it will pass. Big sky mind, grasshopper: the clouds come and the clouds go. Only the sky remains.blue sky mind

That’s hard to remember. But when I’m sitting outside, watching a mockingbird decide which of the two water dishes to drink from, and three chickadees chase each other through the trees above the feeders, tears dry far more quickly, and my first-world life  regains its knowledge of blessings.

My advice for the day: get outside. Even in the heat. Remember what it was like to be 7 years old, and half the summer — with its endless sunny days, and brilliant sky, and happy boredom – still stretching ahead. I promise it will fix many things. Even turn the blues into that summer blue sky ~

Sunday runaways ~

sunday runaway dogWe found a dog today. She was romping in our driveway as my two sisters and I loaded the car to go to breakfast. Friendly as a politician, she came up and promptly rolled over for a belly rub (warning: do not attempt this on the campaign trail…). Of course I obliged.

Since it’s hot today (already 97 degrees!), and we live on a very busy street, we let her in the air-conditioned car with us. Had I normal, friendly dogs myself, I could have just taken her into the house. But noooo; my older Frenchie would have her hide. Or at least pieces of it…

So we called her owner. No response. We called again, and texted. Sure ’nuff, Owner replied to the text. After an exchange of where and what, we were able to off-load the very friendly dog at her home. No one answered our knock, so we did the Okie thing and just opened the unlocked door and let her in. Another text confirmed that was fine.

Breakfast seemed sooo much nicer! We’d possibly saved a life! We’d made a canine friend! (I have the short white-hair-covered slacks to prove it :) ) And that, I think, is beginner’s heart 101: do something nice that has no possibility of helping you. And you’ll reap untold good feelings. It’s really that simple. At least it was today. :)

race in America, and the dilemma of forgiveness ~

black-white-handsI’ve never cared for Paula Deen. Didn’t watch her on TV more than once or twice. Didn’t buy her cookbooks. Don’t even care for her kind of cooking, these days. I also think that people need to NOT use the n-word. And that the ‘lost days of the Confederacy’ are unlamented.

So I was flabbergasted to realise I feel sorry for her. WHY, in the name of tweet? (I’m reverting to my grandmother’s idioms here; sign of my discomfort?)

If you haven’t read about her fall from grace, Google it. Suffice to say that she used the N-word many years ago (and possibly more recently), and evinced the legacy of the Confederate South we all wish were interred with Lincoln.

But here’s the deal: does Deen deserve to be ruined for this? And would we have been as quick if she was a man (I’m remembering the sexism explicit in Martha Stewart’s conviction for ill-doing)? The Supreme Court just said we’re not racist anymore (to justify its own refusal to acknowledge the very real issues of race in this country). So what to do about Paula Deen?

Does having her cooking empire crumble around her serve any purpose? WalMart, Smithfield, et al.; Random House isn’t even going to release her book, even though it has projected great sales!

What’s the deal? Just what does this dog-pile-on-the-chef-rabbit gain us? Will it make Paula Deen less racist? Does it make Walmart — home of longterm allegations of sexism and labour inequitites — somehow a ‘better’ company? What if Deen really IS sorry? racism ruins lives

I HATE racism. And I hate even more — if possible — the N-word. It was never said in our home when I was a child, and my own son didn’t know what it meant until he was at least 9. He’d never heard it. I count that as a small victory, considering we live in the city w/ the 5th worst race riot  in Amerian history.

The corporate reactions to Deen’s ignorance seems … well, a bit smug. But in truth? I figure ALL white people are racist until they prove otherwise. I also assume that even the best -intentioned of peoples — regardless of  race, religion, ethnicity, et al — harbour forms of ignorance. Myself included.

Certainly Paula Deen used the N-word. She said so (and give her credit, folks: she was under oath). Certainly there’s no excuse for that. But what happened to forgiveness? What happened to grace? What happened to conversation about the whole thing?

A couple of years ago, a student in my class said that when she was in high school a white female student came in blackface to a school costume party. A black male student came in white face. Those are the salient facts. The white student was suspended, and lost her pending scholarship to a prestigious university. The black student was valourised in the student yearbook.

blackfaceWho among us thinks the way the school handled this situation was well-considered? What a lost opportunity to open a conversation among the students, the faculty. Think of the ways in which students might have learned — from each other, from speakers brought in — about race, and the history of blackface and race in this country. I had students who had no idea that blackface was insulting, nor why.

What if this country had used the Paula Deen incident to talk about race, and the history of the N-word? Might we at least have had a flying hope that Paula Deen might ‘get it’? Because I sincerely doubt that ruining the woman financially has accomplished anything positive at all. Unless you count the smug feeling of self-congratulation a few corporations may be feeling…

Regardless, my beginner’s heart is deeply saddened by the whole thing. What Paula Deen did — and said — was wrong. And yet… When is the annihilation of someone’s livelihood — hard-won as hers has been — ever okay? I can’t help but think we accomplished nothing at all. Except to ruin Paula Deen…

 

 

 

 

 

wonder, and loving strangers (even mean ones??) ~

imageMy grandson — one month old, today! — cries when I hold him. A LOT of the time. It’s embarrassing. Not to mention depressing. I do NOT have this grandmother thing down. Tonight my son & DIL are out to dinner. I have Trinidad. And after a devastating explosion of screaming, he finally let me rock him to sleep. We’re both exhausted…

So what do I do when he cries? Well, I practice beginner’s heart. Really. I think love at him, try to breathe through my spiralling heartbeat, and rock him gently. Listen to my son & DIL for advice about what works for them. Try to find m own way. And it’s HARD.

Not because I don’t adore my grandson, obviously. Just today I watched him as we sat outside, in the misty Portland morning. His large eyes followed the watery sunlight, full of wonder. That’s a whole other lesson

No, it’s hard because I want to fix it. I want to save the day. Make him happy. Instead, I can offer him a bottle of mother’s milk. But he’s way smart enough to realise that I’m not his mother. Or his dad, a close second. And Mom & Dad are  what he wants. He can go from a sweet puddle on his mother’s lap, or a smiling coo in his daddy’s arms, to a stiff howling monkey prince in mine, arms & legs whirling. Again, talk about embarrassing…(and did I mention depressing?)image

Digression: My son says I like everyone. But he’s crazy :). I do NOT love everyone. No way, not even close.  I do try to have compassion for them. Even the mean, horrible ones (knowing even as I write this — who am I to judge? But I do. I think people who want to cut education and the arts and help for the less blessed are mean-spirited. Cut war, folks. Cut your salaries, if you make more than $200,000.00 annually. Who NEEDS more than that??

See? I just go off…

So today’s post is about how I work on that. Because it’s HARD. Even HARDER than being calm for Trinidad, and not taking a baby’s vagaries personally — just trying to be there, and learn. And I forget ALL THE TIME. What helps most — with Trinidad and the world at large — is tonglen. Breathing — both for Trinidad and for folks I can’t stand. Remembering (in the case of my beloved grandson) that he will grow, and that I’m NOT his mother. I am only who I am, and  sometimes that’s just not what’s needed. :)

imageAs for folks who make me crazy? Who can’t stand my beliefs, whose values war with my own? Well, I can’t stand them either. So I think about how that makes me feel. Because when I breathe for others, what happens is that I really heal myself. Ideally I’m healing all of us, breathing in the pain and dislike and fear that feeds on polarisation. Breathing out compassion, peace. Balance.

With Trinidad, it’s hard enough. Not because I don’t love him enough ( :) ). But because of my own ego, my fears, my baggage. So when I hold him, and he howls, I breathe. Deeply. Steady. Reminding myself that I may not be what he wants, but I can still be here. Full of love, breathing. I think that’s excellent beginner’s heart ~

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