Yoga Competition

What??

I read in the local paper about an young girl from town who won a yoga competition.

Yoga competition — oxymoron.

Yoga competition —  I never would have thought there could be such a thing.  Competition seems antithetical to any concept of yoga I have ever had.

Yoga competiiton — I googled it and there is such a thing.

Why?  Why does everything have to be turned into some kind of competition?

This has made me very sad.

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O, Eleanor Oliphant

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine  I loved, loved, loved this book.

Sometimes I read a book that I get so into that I am franticly turning pages, reading as fast as I can to find out what happens.

Sometimes I read a book that I skim hoping just to get to the end.  Sometimes I decide it is not worth getting to the end because I just don’t care and there are so many other things to read.

And then there sometimes comes along a book such as Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine by Gail Honeyman.  I read a chapter and clutch the book to my heart.  I parcel the reading out for as long as I can . . . because I love the writing so much or I love the story so much that I just don’t want it to end.  Eleanor Oliphant unfolds in such a way and it was both the writing and the story that held my attention.  I did not want the book to end and When I read the last page and closed the book I felt a pang of loss.

Birthday Reflection

I went to a combination retirement and 70th birthday party this past weekend.  Since I just had a 70th birthday myself, my friend suggested that I enjoy the festivities kind of like coat tailing.  I think she was sorry that I did not do anything major to celebrate a big O birthday, but my response was, “Why?”

I have been thinking about that since then because the “Why?” really came from a place of denying that I could possibly be as old as 70.  My father was 72 when he died.  I thought at the time that was pretty old.  I was thirty-five at the time.  My grandparents both passed away in their early 70s.  I thought that was ancient.  I was a teenager then.  Mike was a month short of his 70th birthday.  I thought that was too soon, but I was 65 then.  I thought of my own 70th birthday as a long way off even while dealing with the pain of too soon.  Then my 70th came and it was . . . nothing, really.

I retired early.  I think I wonder if I might have been feeling old if I just retired this year, although that certainly was not the case for my friend.  I look at her and see youthful vigor and she’s had knee replacements.

I was out on a scooter keeping pace with my grandson on his skateboard just after my birthday.  How’s that for denial? Or is it recklessness?

My weeks are filled with creative endeavors, exercise, family,  socializing with circles of friends, and my spiritual practices.  I have much to hold in gratitude.

Celebration

IMG_20180701_151749814_HDRI went to a summer celebration at the monastic academy whose residents do the Sunday sit in town.  The academy itself is way, and I mean way, out in the mountains.

The group has been going for a fairly long time, housed in various places over the years, but just over a year ago they were able to buy a property and this was the second celebration.

There was meditation, of course, but also a tasty lunch, funny skits about monastic life, and play time.

IMG_20180701_150248847

This is not who we are . . .

Children taken from their parents — You can say this is upholding the law of the land. You can say those kids are just away at a summer camp. You can say the Bible mandates such action.  You can say there is nothing you can do about it, or you can say you just don’t care.

Children taken from their parents — You can say this is a travesty of justice, You can say this is a moral breakdown. You can say this is not who we are.

Not who we are because we have forgotten?

  • Interment camps during WWII housing Japanese, German and Italian families
  • Boarding schools for First Nation children intended specifically to stamp out a culture.  It was not until 1978 that Native parents were given the legal right to refuse a child’d placement outside of the reservation.
  • Forced movement of peoples onto reservations
  • African slaves bought and sold without regard to family ties
  • Slavery

 

Can we say:

This is not who we want to be.

 

Curious

I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.

Albert Einstein

Are you a curious type of person, always trying to find out the whys and wherefores of anything that happens, seeking out new information and ways of doing things?

Curiosity was the theme of the yoga classes I took last week.  We were prompted to be curious about how our bodies were reacting to the various poses, what emotions popped up as we practiced, whether or not our minds had any particular opinions about the cooperation (or lack thereof) of a muscle being asked to move into a position and remain in stillness there.  These reminders helped to keep us mindful and present in the moment as we went about the practice.  The hope is that this calm curiosity will follow us through out the remainder of the day.

I was curious to know more about curiosity.

Curiosity is considered to be a part of cognition but it doesn’t seem to to be terribly well defined, researched or understood.  There is some evidence that curiosity about a subject  helps with learning and remembering.  Scientists who used MRI to assess students engages in a research learning task found that curious individuals showed increased activity in the pleasure centers of their brains (associated with dopamine production and anticipation of reward) and in the hippocampus (associated with the creation of memories).  Curious students appeared to learn more quickly and recall new information better than those who were not curious.  (Neuron, 10/2/2014)

What about the killing cats aspect of curiosity?  Author/astrophysicist, Mario Livio, wrote about curiosity in the 2017 book, Why? What Makes Us Curious.  He says there are different flavors of curiosity.  Perceptual curiosity is a response to something that seems unexpected and it is thought to stressful. Epistemic curiosity if the love of knowledge, more I think what the researchers noted above were looking at.  Specific curiosity is the desire to look up a particular fact.  Google comes in handy for that.  Diversive curiosity is response to boredom, like spending far too much precious time on Pinterest.

It’s more complicated a subject than I thought.

It did read that Orville Wright responded to a friend who remarked how much the Wright brothers were able to accomplish given that they had no real advantages in life.  Orville remonstrated that they had had a tremendous advantage — a family that encouraged them to always be curious.

Revision

This is an idea I had for a poem and I workshopped it last Monday
night:


RECURRING DREAMS
In restless dreams I am surrounded by clutter:
Clothes piled on the bed, waiting to be packed,
with no time to pick carefully —
just throw whatever into the suitcase.
Or there are boxes, boxes everywhere.
I can’t get around them.
I’m helping my mother move that last time.
Sometimes I am standing outside a house.
When I walk through the door I head down —
Down a long winding tunnel, well lit
although there are no windows.
It’s not a scary dream.
I never reach the end of the tunnel,
never find what might wait there.
Other times I am lost im my dreams.
I have a math class to go to —
almost always a math class — and I am late.
But I don’t know where to go,
I’ve lost my class schedule or,
sadistically, they have moved to a new building.
I’m failing that class I can’t get to.
Oh, and then there is the flying, of course!
I can soar above the trees and lakes,
maybe reach a place not even of this world.
Or I fly up higher and higher until,
dizzy, I bring myself gently to the ground.
I can float up to the ceiling, laughing,
unseen by those busy below me.
Does the spirit wander on its own at night?
Does the psyche re-spin stories
until the moral is unraveled?
Does the brain discard the same old chaff?
I wake from these familiar dreams.
I will not take flight today, but then
I don’t have a math class either.


I made revisions:

NIGHT WANDERINGS

Surrounded by clutter:

His clothes piled on the bed, 

my own suitcase already in the car,

packed with my impatience.

Or boxes . . . boxes everywhere, 

my path around them blocked

while my mother casts suspicious eyes

 on every thing I touch.

 

An inviting house:

Waking through the door

I head down a winding tunnel 

lit with a golden glow, not scary 

although I never reach the end, 

never find what waits there.

My heart sings anticipation,

“Maybe this time.”

 

Lost on the way to class:

Almost always a math class,

I’m late but can’t find my way, 

can’t find my class schedule,

can’t find the right building.

Why am I taking a math class?

Breath catches in my chest.

I’ll fail and have to do this all again.

 

A secret world:

There it is in the attic,

an alternative life my aunt lived.

I fondle a mink jacket there,

finger the satins and sequins, 

bright ball gowns hanging in a row, 

slippers that would not survive 

a walk to the barn at milking time.

 

And flying:

Soaring over hills and lakes,

free and unfettered, air rushing,

I may escape right out to space.

Like a lazy butterfly, I flit 

tree limb to telephone pole.

I float quietly to the ceiling 

unseen by those below me.

 

I ponder my dreams on waking.

Does the spirit wander on its own at night to places real, near or far?

Does the psyche re-spin  stories until the moral is at last unraveled?

Does the brain merely discard the same old chaff gathered though living?

I rise

    certain I will not take flight,

    grateful I do not have a math class today.





Poetry Workshops

This past Monday night I submitted three of my poems for critique at a writers’ workshop.

This is how it works: two people submit up to three poems.  The author reads a poem and it is then discussed by the other participants.  The author simply listens to the discussion without comment, essentially watching the show from the green room.  Once all the participants have had a chance to make their comments, the author can respond to any questions or comments and ask for further clarification if so desired.

It’s not as intimidating as it may sound. Or, perhaps I am just well used to the workshop process since I do participate in a number of writing groups. I did some revision to this poem to push it more into the style of Emily Dickinson, (Go big or go home!)

***

Single seed —
Dropped by careless bird in flight Sails on passing wind —
Its luck to meet fertile ground

Trembling sprout —
Aroused by ficlkle rain of spring Cradled by the earth —
Such wonder in its rising!

Tiny leaf —
Tender drop of green
Drawn by warmth of sunlight — Bold with surging life

Waiting flower —
Wound inside the bud Unfolds as blossom —
The beauty of fresh blooming!

Ripened fruit —
Sweet scented, heavy weighted On soft bent branch
Where a careless bird sits

6/12/2018

***

Well, the formatting got screwed up in the copying and pasting.  Each stanza should have four lines. I can’t seem to fix it here.

I can’t quite get the title yet either.

 

Movie Night

I watched Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri.  It was nominated for a number of Oscars and won two.  It received a number of other awards and was critically acclaimed.

I heard someone say it was based on a true story.  Well, not really.  I checked that out and it would seem that the movie story may have been inspried by a family that maintains a billboard in Texas to demand justice for a family member who was murdered.  However, the movie story line is not that case.  They only have the billboards in common.

Three Billboards was a rough movie to watch.  Rape and brutal murder are rough topics.  We don’t actually see that particular violence but we certainly see a lot of violence in its aftermath.  But for me, this movie was about bigger themes —  love, hate, suffering, and acceptance.

The main character, Mildred Hayes (played by Frances McDormand), is grieving the loss of her daughter whose rapist/murderer was never found.  Mildred has obviously had some hard knocks — alcoholism, spousal abuse, a child murdered — and she is angry.  She lashes out though the billboards, blaming the beloved town police chief for failing to make an arrest in her daughter’s case.

It was clear to me that she was stuck in her grieving process and stuck in the suffering from a desire to fix blame and exact retribution, but a brief flashback scene with her daughter confirmed for me that the person she blames most and cannot forgive is herself.

Sean Rockwell plays the part of a officer,  Jason Dixon.  He is reprehensible at first — ignorant, racist, intolerant, and violent.  He takes far more offense at the billboards than their target, Chief Willoughby.  Dixon turns completely (and this takes a bit of a leap of faith on the part of a viewer, but it is a movie) when he reads the posthumous letter from Willoughby.  Willoughby tells him he sees his potential, which can be realized only if he gives up hate and does his work out of love.

The ending is ambiguous.  I chose to see a softening of two hearts.

***

I thought Woody Harrelson was well cast and did an excellent job in this movie.  Who would have thought, way back when, that out of the entire Cheers! ensemble it would be Woody?

Quality of a Good leader

“A leader is best
When people barely know he exists
Of a good leader, who talks little,
When his work is done, his aim fulfilled,
They will say, “We did this ourselves.”
Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

We can forgive Lao Tzu his neglect of the feminine leader given that we are all, to a certain extent, the products of our time and we can honor the wisdom.

I have to consider that he experienced a blowhard leader or two and wonder what he might have made of a twittering blowhard leader — antithesis of the best, I would presume.