Sunday, November 25, 2007


I had to take my Mazda 626 to my mechanic AGAIN. It was the thermostat, which was replaced when the radiator was replaced earlier this fall. The radiator broke while I was in the drive through line at the dry cleaners and the big SUV in front of me would...not...move. The car was towed. I'll admit it, I haven't always been the best with automobile maintenance, but I've gotten better with each successive car and I have been very darn good with this one. So much so that my mechanic actually commented on it. I've got a great mechanic. A little garage that has been in business for at least four decades. My Dad took the family cars there when I was growing up. I actually drive my car across town or some times get it towed across town to take it to Jim's Car Care. So recently, when I noticed my thermostat doing the reverse of what it has done in the past (going above half way toward the H) and actually going down toward the C, I stopped by the mechanic. After a check and being told there is nothing to worry about (let's all take a second to knock on wood here), I decided to cut through the neighborhood to get on my way to where I was going. Before I knew it, I was right in front of the house I grew up in. I had heard it caught on fire this summer. Apparently, the fire started in the garage which was turned into my Dad's den a long, long time ago. There was a work crew redoing the house and it was wide open. It looked like a scene from one of those house flipping shows on HGTV or TLC. I parked looking for a long moment before deciding to get out and go inside. I'm almost never on this side of town and when I am, seldom go past the house. This day though, I felt compelled to see it. I explained to one of the workers that I had grown up in this house and wanted to take a look around. I stepped through the threshold into the entry and was surprised by how small the house was. I didn't remember it being that small, nor did I remember the back yard being that big. The shag carpet was gone, replaced by very nice hardwood floors. The den where my Mom had painstakingly chose just the right shade of burnt orange blinds,from the Decorating Den, for the window was gone. It was knocked down to make a great big kitchen with black granite counter tops. The whole house was painted the colors from any current shelter magazine - taupe and green. There was the ceramic dark green tile floor in the kitchen replacing linoleum. I stood in my old bedroom and all these memories came flooding back - of being a little girl there. As I stood in the living room I could see in my mind's eye my Dad sitting in the chair reading the paper every morning. I could see my Mom studying for her Masters in the bedroom - her books and papers all over the bed. Lots of different memories, lots of feelings from a long, long time ago. I talked with a neighbor as I was leaving. She'd been in her house for 28 years, so she would have lived there when I was a girl - we didn't remember each other. But, we did have a nice little visit. She thinks the house's owner is the second since I lived there, for some reason, I think it's the first. It doesn't really much matter. The girl I was, the woman I am, the person I am becoming started there.

20 Minutes

That's my goal - 20 minutes of meditating twice a day - every day. When I decided to make a commitment to this goal a couple of weeks or so ago, I had to drag myself kicking and screaming to the chair and sit my happy self down (okay, not so much happy) and all but tie myself to the chair (now, that would have been a real trick). I've attempted this in fits and starts over the last few years. I took a six week class and at one point worked with a meditation teacher. I'd read his book, Build a Better Buddha: The Guide to Remaking Yourself Exactly As You Are. It's a very thorough, although dense book. He fired me for being a dabbler, for not developing a consistent and regular practice. Rightly so, I wasn't ready to make a commitment at that time. The work with him though helped tremendously in the short-term in letting go of fear and calming down. There was an insight in being aware of thought and bringing attention back to the breath that made a hugh difference as well as understanding that thoughts, feelings, physical and perceptual are the four distractions when meditating. Now as I've started again, I can tell a difference when I start my day with some time just breathing and when I do it again later in the day. I haven't made it to twenty minutes consistently yet, but I have done it more than I haven't which is progress. The question then is, if I know it makes a difference, why don't I? Back again to that little matter of choice.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Garth Brooks

I was in WalMart late a couple of Thursday night's ago. Actually, it was early Friday morning around 1:30 a.m. It had been a long day with a little surprise that I didn't see coming and that had turned it upside down - not in a good way (or so I thought at the time). So, desperately needing to be a sleep because I had a 9:00 a.m. meeting, I found myself at WalMart in the middle of the night. I go to the music department with the intention of picking up the new Eagles CD and end up with the Garth Brooks CD, The Ultimate Hits, instead. What a bargin two CDs and a DVD for the everyday low price of $11.88. I was listening to it the next day, singing along in my car - funny how my brain remembers the words to songs I haven't heard in forever, yet I have to stop and think about my cell #. Anyhow, they were familiar songs like Friends in Low Places, Learning to Live Again, That Summer and The Dance. The lyrics from that last song, in particular the phrase that goes "...our lives are better left to chance, I could have missed the pain, but I'd of had to miss the dance", made me think about the whole concept of pain and suffering. In the midst of some emotional turmoil, I was struggling with the idea that you could be in pain and not suffer. I just wasn't getting that while within the internal chaos that comes with emotional turmoil you could be in pain and not suffer - that suffering was a choice. And, that I chose or was choosing to suffer. I denied it, I didn't believe it, I coudn't admit it - wouldn't look at it from another perspective. That I chose to suffer didn't make sense to me. That I had a choice not to, to be with or even befriend the pain was a concept I just wasn't grasping. Around then I thought to myself I can wallow in this current little bit of angst (which didn't feel so little) or I could do something else. I chose something else and made plans for my weekend. At breakfast on Saturday with a friend, we got to talking as well as laughing. And, then brainstorming about starting a little project together. Late in the day, I'm listening to that new CD again. When I hear those words and it begins to dawn on me in the midst of my turmoil, I laughed and planned and made a choice not to suffer. I realized then, it's about choice and that I very much have the capacity to choose. Whether or not I do so, is my responsibility and my choice to be aware of. I realized too, that I didn't want to miss the "dance".