Wednesday, August 30, 2006

My obsession

My shoe obsession is not what it used to be but as a woman living in Fairfield County, CT, it is difficult to wear anything too..too anything. So, after years of refusing to show my midriff (thank God that style has passed), I'm LOVING the fact that women's fashions are finally becoming womanly. This whole thing about women in their 40s are as fit as (often more fit than) women in their 20s is great but I'm in my mid-thirties, I don't want to flippin' look like I'm in my 20s - I want to dress my age!

This fall's fashions are finally doing something for me! So, over the summer I became obsessed with Diane vonFurstenberg's wrap dresses. Is there a woman that doesn't look amazing in one? It is totally sexy without laying it all out there. Perfect. Pair it with some oversize glasses and simple sandles and a woman will feel & look like a million bucks. The whole point is that I splurged this spring and bought my first dress and over the weekend, bought my second - for the fall & winter of course. It was most of my winter wardrobe money but come on, its worth it...isn't it?

Where's my head?

My good friend, Britt came over last night for dinner and talk. I was a bit wound up from being at work all day and not exercsing regularly. I was showing her the plants that I bought (and she so nicely gave me) from her nursery and took her to the upstairs rooms where the giant geranium (?) now resides. I dared to show her the upstairs section of the house. We live in a typical 2-3 bedroom Cape Cod that was built in the 40s. It's, well, 'cozy'. I can't figure out how to live in this home and it looks like a bomb went off in a college dorm room. I've always loved modern design where everything has a place or purpose but this house is not that. It is filled with alcoves and doors that lead to attic space and closets that have sloping backs that butt up against the roof and seem to waste space and leave little wall space for furniture. It's driving me crazy. So, Britt was surprised to see that the rooms actually were as bad as I described them and it struck me that so was I. With everything going on with my friend in Seattle, blah blah blah, my mind is not where it should be. Actions speak louder than words and even though I'm pretty much thinking about what I need to do around here, I end up not doing enough. So, I am dedicating a day of this upcoming weekend to get organized. No more shopping for things that will help me 'get' organized - I'm going to work with what I have. And...if I have time maybe I'll paint a room. ;)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Before the rain stops we hear a bird.

We must have beginner's mind, free from possessing anything, a mind that knows everything is in flowing change. Nothing exists but momentarily in its present form and color. One thing flows into another and cannot be grasped. Before the rain stops we hear a bird. Even under the heavy snow we see snowdrops and some new growth. In the East I saw rhubarb already. In Japan in the spring we eat cucumbers.

-Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind
from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book

Friday, August 25, 2006

Break apart

At what point does one sever a relationship with someone because that person cannot stop a bad lifestyle? The level of tolerence and patience differs based on your relationship history and how much the person in despair is attempting to help him or herself.

My heart is aching again over seeing someone close to me do damage to himself. Although his words tell me that he is trying, there have been no changes in behavior - none, that I can tell. He is in emotional pain and turning to a doctor to be medicated. The doctor (or doctors) are supplying him with what he wants. I feel that I am too close to this person to cut off communication but if I do not, I am being pulled into this black hole of suffering and woe. I have empathy for people that have gone through things I cannot even imagine but when someone allows themself to be punished for over a decade without helping himself...I don't know how to respond. I'm tired, my body locks up and I want to clean up the mess for him - but I cannot. The mess I clean is only temporary and when I turn my back, it has reappeared behind me. Perhaps this is a life lesson that I haven't quite figured out amidst the fog of it all. My soul and being loves this person but I am crushed because I cannot help.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Path to Right Livelihood

For some reason lately - the past month or so, my head has been spinning trying to figure out what to do with my life. My soul is searching for something to do that will allow it to express and discover what it needs to in this lifetime. This past weekend, my friend and I went to the local rec center and I was teaching her some exercises to start building a program. Once again I was in my zone - I was teaching someone how to take charge of her health, squat by squat (as painful as it may be, sorry, Britt). If you don't have your health, you have nothing. The body may be a vessel for the soul but without it, the soul has difficulty attaining its goal. Your health is not something to be taken for granted unless you plan to go through life with blinders on.

Personal Training was really enjoyable but I got an office job and let my certification lapse. I still train friends (free of charge) when I can. I am passionate about health & fitness and love helping people find that passion within themselves. It is my way of changing the world in a positive way, person by person. I'm sensing that I need to get back into it but I don't exactly know in what capacity. I have a 'west coast' approach to fitness which is holistic. I don't know if simply training is enough so I allow my head to spin in the hopes that the answer comes to me.


Those of us who start on the path to right livelihood find that our lives are more balanced, simple, clear, and focused. We are no longer strung out in a meaningless cycle of material consumption. The contemporary economy focuses on this cycle of consumption. It doesn't really support our efforts to find meaningful work. Today, work is a means to consume or to pay debt for consumption already indulged in. How many people do you know who really love the work they are doing? How many feel bored and alienated? How many are simply earning the money to spend it on material pleasures? Right livelihood demands that you take responsibility for making your work more meaningful. Good work is dignified. It develops your faculties and serves your community. It is a central human activity.

-- Roger Pritchard, in Claude Whitmyer's Mindfulness and Meaningful Work
from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book

Monday, August 14, 2006

Summer heirlooms

Is there any scent that captures the spirit of August better than the smell of a fresh picked tomato and the scent from the vine that is left on your hands after digging through the plant? Unfortunately the intoxicating smell can't be found on a grocery store tomato.

Despite their late start, the heirlooms in my garden are now over 7 feet tall and I am running out of ideas on how to stake them! It's a problem I enjoy trying to solve.

Friday, August 11, 2006

It's good to be home

After 6 days in Seattle it is good to be back in Ridgefield, Connecticut.

Pike Place Honey

Afternoon cappucinno with the family

It was wonderful seeing friends and catching up with family affairs that you miss over the phone.

The best part of the trip was going to the outdoor cafe at Maximilien (81A Pike Street) in Pike Place Market. It is hidden in the corner by the Market Fish co. (fish throwers) and only locals really know about this relaxed restaurant & bar. It has not only amazing French food and service but one of the best views of Puget Sound. It is a wonderful place to have a cappucino or glass of wine, and watch the ferries come and go while the sun sets.

I was reminded of a few things on my trip - Facial piercing are a way of life and are welcomed in most places; khaki cargo shorts are a staple for men and women along with Tivos sandals; The air is fresh and much drier than the humid northeast; Without the deer problem, flower boxes and yards spill over with incredible beauty; Most people talk on their cell phones while driving in heavy traffic AND often with a cup of coffee or Frappiccino in hand. And, my favorite observation: lots of people ride their bikes to work!!

It is always awkward to go home after being away for so long and I'm still trying to make sense of it. It was 2002 since the last visit to Seattle and I didn't spend much time with my family as this trip. As my friend Connie says, we are now at the age where our parents are starting to have physical ailments and it is up to us to help them manage it. We are now adults whether we like it or not and we need to start behaving that way. It doesn't mean we can't have stupid fun, it just means that there are responsibilities that need to be tended to. I'm not sure if it makes sense, its just a thought I have right now.

Anyone can build a house of wood and bricks, but the Buddha taught that sort of home is not our real home, it's only nominally ours. It's a home in the world and it follows the ways of the world. Our real home is inner peace. An external material home may well be pretty but it is not very peaceful. There's this worry and then that, this anxiety and then that. So we say it's not our real home, it's external to us, sooner or later we'll have to give it up. It's not a place we can live in permanently because it doesn't truly belong to us, it's part of the world. Our body is the same, we take it to be self, to be "me" and "mine," but in fact it's not really so at all, it's another worldly home.

-- Ajahn Chah, in Samuel Bercholz's Entering the Stream
from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book

Friday, August 04, 2006

Chasing sunsets

The Sartorialist is on vacation in Chicago and I just didn't know what to do with myself. So, I'm headed to the airport with my box of black & white cookies shortly and will be arriving tonight into Seattle for some time with my family. I'm looking forward to not only seeing friends and family but especially the sunsets over the water which, being on the East Coast, I have really missed. Enjoy the weekend!


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Perspective for the Ladies

This is a message to the Bella's in your 40s and beyond. Keep perspective on your priorities. Perhaps the media is to blame but the way I see things, those of us under 40 are still looking to you to set the pace.

No matter what, if we are fortunate we will get older. The alternative is not so good. Just as women that have given birth to a child will say, your body takes on a life of its own and you have no control over the changes. That is life and we are genetically programmed to age. There are things we can do to slow the process and there is no silver bullet for that - pure and simple discipline. Exercise, eat right, good sex, lots of sleep, spiritual studies through meditation or church, for example, and minimizing stress or choosing to react objectively and peacefully to lifes challenges.

Recently, I was talking to a good friend about aging. An inspiring experience happened when I was in my 20s on a weekend road trip in Monterey, California. As I walked on the beach with friends on that brilliant fall afternoon, we could see a wind surfing competition out in the distance. The racers were starting to come in from open ocean into the bay to land their boards on the beach. As one wind surfer approached, I saw the sillouette of a woman in a wetsuit and her hair was messy from the sun & salt water. She landed her board on the beach and I looked up to see a beautiful and radiant woman in her 70s. She looked exhilerated and worn from a great workout in the ocean air. She was the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. She had strength, independence, sensuality and guts to get out there and take on the ocean. As she packed up her gear she talked with us about her board, the weather, the ocean's current that day and her joy for it.

I have to wonder if in this convenient but busy life of ours we lose perspective on life. Is feeling bad because we are aging really about missed opportunities earlier in life? Is it about not taking full advantage of what was given to us and now we regret it? It isn't really about the body at all, it is about the spirit encased in the body. As our bodies age, our spirit and lifes should improve and become more peaceful and joyful. Life goes on and every day we have an opportunity to move in the direction of our life goal. Whether we choose to do that or not is up to us but to have regret is wasted time.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Awakening of the West

One finds that no matter how sincere one's intention to be attentive and aware, the mind rebels against such instructions and races off to indulge in all manner of distractions, memories and fantasies....The comforting illusion of personal coherence and continuity is ripped away to expose only fragmentary islands of consciousness separated by yawning gulfs of unawareness....The first step in this practice of mindful awareness is radical self-acceptance.

Such self-acceptance, however, does not operate in an ethical vacuum, where no moral assessment is made of one's emotional states. The training in mindful awareness is part of a Buddhist path with values and goals. Emotional states are evaluated according to whether they increase or decrease the potential for suffering. If an emotion, such as hatred or envy, is judged to be destructive, then it is simply recognized as such. It is neither expressed through violent thoughts, words or deeds, nor is it suppressed or denied as incompatiable with a "spiritual" life.

In seeing it for what it is--a transient emotional state--one mindfully observes it follow its own nature: to arise, abide for a while, and then pass away.

-- Stephen Batchelor, in The Awakening of the West
from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book