Friday, May 31, 2013

Minneopa Falls

I saw a bird while taking a walk at dusk on the prairie. It had a cool distinctive wing shape and erratic flying pattern and thanks to a bird identification website and Wikipedia which had the sound they make, I've determined it was a nighthawk. However, it is not actually a hawk but rather a member of the nightjar family (never heard of it). Apparently, it is sometimes called the mosquito hawk. It was captivating.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Yoga, Kirtan, Music, Life

When I was 24 years old, something pushed me, that something was painful and persistent and unknown. I took a leap and headed to a month long "self transformation" program at a yoga and meditation center on the East Coast. I had only done a little yoga at that point. It began with a Kathy Smith exercise video in college, and then the following year a once a week class at a little yoga center near where I was living. I soon thought it was a joke to expect to transform your life in one months time, but tonight I'm not so sure. The seeds of transformation sometimes take a long time to root.

I was first exposed to kirtan (devotional chanting) at that yoga center. I was sitting in the back of a large room listening to this strange music/singing and my eyes and my attention were held by a young woman, my age, in the front who was completely absorbed by the experience. I remember looking at her and wanting what she had.

At some point in my path I found it, and lost it, and found it again.

Every once in a while, I google Krishna Das (kirtan musician) to see if he is coming to MN. The last time I did so, I listened to a recent interview...and suddenly I understood why I love kirtan.
Krishna Das said,

 "I don't sing to the 'so called' Hindu Gods and Goddesses, that's not what is in my head, those are the names for sure because these chants come from India, but I am singing to love. I want to be in that presence, the presence of that love, and chanting moves me into that space and opens/widens my heart."

After I listened to this, I decided I needed to go to more local kirtan. Tonight I did.

#1 - I had never been to the meditation center where it was held, but when I arrived I realized it was affiliated with the place on the East Coast where went at age 24. As I stood in the lobby looking at the bulletin board beforehand, I saw a flyer for Amma. Amma was another seed planted, in this case, at age 25. At the time some of my friends/housemates were going to see this "Amma" woman I had never heard of. I don't remember what they told me about her, but I do know that I didn't understand it and I didn't join them. A few years, later I watched a movie and got to know a little more about Amma, the "hugging saint". She blesses people by hugging them, and apparently it is a very powerful experience. I am not sure what to make of it, but I know it is possible. You could call me an open skeptic at this point.

Anyway, she will be in town next week. I wasn't ready to see her at 25, but I may just check her out now. It would qualify for "doing something that scares you" - the good kind of fear that leads to growth.

#2 - Kirtan was beautiful, a little poetry, a lot of singing to love and a very attractive man sitting behind me. I stayed for the soup afterwards, unfortunately hot guy left so I didn't get to talk to him, but I still appreciated his presence, and maybe he'll show up again in the future.

#3 - Being able to stop in time to not run over the Canadian Goose family that jumped in the road in front of me, and the car behind me, which was not tailgating, so it didn't rear end me when I did.

#4 - I took a half hour nap underneath the trees in the top photo. Today was my once a week 5:15am wake up, so at 4:30pm I was tired. After 1/2 hour of rest I felt so quiet inside. I went to the co-op to buy some more plants for the garden. I looked up rhubarb recipes before I went (there is rhubarb in the garden I often don't use) and I picked out a strawberry rhubarb bar one and strawberries were on sale. Yeah.

#5 - My friend told me about this song last week. When I first heard it on the radio today, it made me feel proud to be a part of this movement.  And the video is even better.

"If you want to know if you are making progress on the so called spiritual path, see if you are kinder to people, see if you are a little easier on yourself, see if you obsess about your own self and all the stuff in your life a little bit less, see if you are happier during the day, a simple day more content, see if you are treating people more like you would like to be treated, 
that means it is working."

  - Krishna Das

Here is a bonus - new Mraz song -

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Reflections on Simple

Simple - I can't say it is one of my favorite words because it is so lacking in glamour, but I've seen more and more recently how much it is one of my values. My email inbox has a total of six messages right now that I am not ready to erase, and I love that simplicity.

I told a friend recently that linking "simple" with my employment was a revelation to me. It doesn't seem that simple jobs are often valued.

Upon further discussion, my friend didn't think the way I ate was simple. "Simple is opening a can," she said. This made me reflect that simple does not equal easy.

Right now it is so quiet where I sit and type this. I hear the hum of the refrigerator. The window is open and there is the occasional sound of a bird or a car, a gentle breeze, a light scent from the flowers on the table.

I just responded to an email from a friend that lives what most Americans would call a very simple life, but is it easy? Certainly not easy in what is expected in us or in our desires.

I've heard people mention recently small ways in which they did not want to be different - strands of grey in hair or compost in a back yard and I wonder about this pull - this pull towards belonging I suppose is what it is. It doesn't end at 15.

This pull towards belonging is a simple aspect of what makes us human.

And I would say that the more I feel belonging and the more I see my values reflected in people I know, the more easily I can honor those with different values and life aspirations. So what this makes me wonder right now is about the groups with such hard edges - the groups to which people can be so PROUD to belong, whether that is a nation-state or a religion or an occupation or a leisure activity - if those groups are condemning and judging another group, does this stem from a basic lack of a sense of belonging?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Click on Senator Dibble

Sen. Scott Dibble and husband Richard Leyva celebrate the success of passing the same-sex marriage bill. 'I'm gonna be a married man in Minnesota!,' Dibble declared.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Legislation Station

#1 –Each day I google to see if they’ve scheduled a gay marriage vote for the MN house. I was told when volunteering that it could be any day and if they wait too long it will be unlikely because it gets too close to the end of the session and it means it doesn’t look like they will have enough votes. Meaning, they aren’t going to bring the bill to a vote unless they think it will pass.

So each day I check and no news – so not enough votes. Until today. Today I searched and it said the vote is scheduled for Thursday

and I burst into tears.

#2 – I don’t know where that emotion came from, but it just kept coming. And I went back to working and then I looked up another article on it a little later and I cried again.

#3 – And then while I was making dinner I watched the live coverage of the MN house and they were talking about the Clean Energy Omnibus Bill – another beautiful positive piece of legislation.

#4 – Melissa Hortman is the sponsor of the bill. I wasn’t familiar with her, but I was so impressed listening to her answer questions, and it passed the house!

If you live in MN and would like to help this awesome legislation, you can call your senator by finding their # here. That vote is coming up soon.

Just leave a message saying your name and address and that you’d like their support for the Clean Energy Omnibus Bill.

#5 - At some point I no longer enjoyed jogging and for the most part stopped. When I am in a new location I can get myself to go, but otherwise I am just bored with it. Last May I was wishing I got more aerobic exercise. I wanted to get my heart rate up, and running is such a simple way to do that, but I just had no motivation. If I could only find someone to run with me… Don’t I know anyone? I had a friend or two who runs, but they didn’t live close enough to think we could go regularly. Eventually I came upon my only real possibility a friend that lives 4 miles away. I’d known her for over 20 years and we had never gone jogging together (at least to my recollection, maybe she’ll remember differently). Anyway, she did exercise, but I didn’t think she ran, so I doubted she want to go weekly, but I sent an email. It was worth a shot.

She said, “Yes!” So last year – Memorial Day to Mid-October we jogged together once a week. Despite this, I was highly uncertain she would agree to continue this year.

Tonight we began again. And I have to say my primary gratitude from this activity is not the aerobic exercise, nor the time outside. My primary gratitude is spending a little time each week

talking to my friend.

So she already heard about gratitudes 1-4, now I'll send her this one.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Targeted Kindness

Just like I knew about the daily practice of writing five gratitudes years before I ever tried it. Maybe this is a seed that will one day bare fruit if not in my life, in others who hear it.

The Kindness of Strangers

It's a 6 minute audio on

Daily Acts of Targeted Kindness