Category Archives: Mindfulness

5 Stars: Daybreak

January Sunrise

Five stars.  Not merely enough for January’s morning quiet, for the dark time when the slightly waning Wolf Moon, the Lakota’s Stay Home Moon, shines high in the western sky surrounded by handfuls of random flickering stars.  Accept the invitation to throw a blanket over your shoulders, open the front door and step barefoot on to the deck and you’ll not be disappointed.  Stillness will penetrate you, possibly more deeply than the cold rushing up through the soles of your exposed feet or the frosty air seeping slowly in through your nostrils, winding down your windpipe into the tiniest of your alveoli. 

Here in the sacred, bracing temple of the passing night, you will stand appearing to do nothing and doing everything.  You will blink trying to train your eyes upon Mother Moon’s subtle rings, already aware that Father Sun is gently scaling the mountain behind you.  Night into day, into night, into day.  A ceaseless tempo, a never-ending wheel, a dependable rhythm to be counted on like death and taxes.  Seen today, yet present even in invisibility. 

Here there is only silence which is why you rise earlier and earlier to catch this morning quiet.  After the coyotes have howled, before the prairie dogs stir and the Colorado blue birds begin to twitter.  When the shivering starts, as it inevitably will, it is best to turn and place your chilly hand on the door’s steely cold handle.  It is also advisable to look over your shoulder one last time as you push that handle down, but not the sadness you feel at saying goodbye to Mother Moon and her attendant canopy of stars.

You move lightly with only the moonlight to guide you, your cold bare feet caressing the bamboo floor gently, before stepping on to the thick red carpet.  Cautiously, making as little sound as possible, you remove the blanket from your shoulders and lower yourself into the chair, feet now poking out of the blanket that covers you on the footstool that doesn’t match.  In a moment, your hand will reluctantly drop to the floor, searching sightlessly for the paper lantern’s switch.  With a quick inhale, you will push the button and yellow warmth will fill this corner of the room.  The furnace’s heavy puffing will cease; all you will hear is the gentle hum of the refrigerator.

This is your time.  Morning quiet before the day and you begin.  Take a few minutes to sink into what will soon be the remnants of this precious silence; letting the stillness pirouette in your ears.  Savor these moments of wonder.  This is not the time to hurry.  Plenty of time remains to straighten the blanket, to cover your seven exposed toes.  To pick up your pen and notebook.  Choose instead to bask in the pulsing stillness knowing that before long you will reach down to turn off the paper lamp, look up one more time to notice Mother Moon’s reflection on the chrome deck rails, and note the gray clouds of day rushing in.

The Fine Art of Appreciating You . . .

How much can you appreciate you? Make your appreciation as big, bold & beautiful as you are . . .

Recently as I was planning my day, the words “appreciate you” bubbled up. I jotted “Spend the day appreciating you” in my magical day planner with a few, but not many, other items to do. I just knew that I didn’t want anything to get in the way of my day of “appreciating me.”

Appreciating myself, not my accomplishments, but just me, isn’t something I was taught. I wasn’t taught that I wasn’t worthy of appreciation. It just wasn’t something we made time to do. There were so many “important things” at hand.

And so, on this Sunday morning, I decided to devote the day to “appreciating me.” I began by reflecting on my qualities, way of being, perspectives, strengths, weaknesses, basically the whole spontaneous, beautiful, messy package of me.

There’s no right way to appreciate you. Follow the guidance that comes to you . . .

I immediately wrote out a list of 31 things I appreciate about me. (Sounds like alot, I know.) Next, I appreciated each and every item on the list and the list-making process. I planned to take “appreciation pauses” throughout the day, which I promptly forgot and which I notice I’m remembering more often as the days go by. I read “My Appreciation List” every day during my morning mintues — quiet time I devote to me.

According to a post by The Purpose Institute on Nov. 13, 2015, to appreciate can mean:

  • To be fully conscious of,
  • To hold in high regard,
  • To be grateful for,
  • To increase.

Let’s play with “appreciating us” and see where it leads, what we notice, what surprises us. Whether you create an appreciation list, poster, love song, rhyme, jar or some other wonderful way of appreciating your gifts and grace, happy appreciating!!!

“Patience,” she laughs . . .

I used to ask nuns to pray for me to be more patient.  This is funny because I’m not Catholic.  However, one thing I’ve learned in life is that if you have a hard task ahead that most would dismiss as hopeless, the nuns have a better than average chance of getting it done.

Knowing how busy the nuns are and being an independent sort, I waited to make my request until a myriad of other attempts (meditation, relaxation, visualization, yoga, walking, dietary changes, reframing, etc., etc., etc.) produced only lackluster results.  I had an “impatience” problem and was pretty much at “my wit’s end” when I turned to an often-overlooked strategy:  prayer.  I prayed and I sought assistance from some of the foremost leaders in prayer in the world — the nuns.

My impatience tended to coalesce most quickly around gender injustice, although race and socioeconomic issues could also set me off.  In my estimation, my impatience was entirely justified.  After all, had patriarchy not been a social system in parts of the world for 5,000 + years?  Be that as it may, the rage my impatience induced was unhelpful, exhausting, and taking a toll on my well-being.  The “p-word” was winning again. 

A memorably troubling moment occurred when a wise friend who worked with gender disparities globally (not a nun) patiently explained that impatience was “a western problem.”  Gulp.  The inherent truth of her words hit me in the gut.  Who, but members of the most privileged societies, would be arrogant enough to assume that an issue that has dogged and impeded humanity for thousands of years could be resolved in a single lifetime?  (Overdue or not.) 

Healing an impatience problem can feel like walking on cactus . . .

Being a pragmatist, I realized that if patriarchy was not going to be vanquished any time soon, I had best turn my impatience problem over to higher powers AND look more deeply at the privilege inherent in its roots.  This journey began 18 years ago.  I’ll always be recovering from my impatience problem and there have been more relapses along the way than I can count or care to admit.  Happily the two-pronged approach of letting go and asking for help while compassionately exploring my accountability seems to have strengthened my patience muscles and freed me to engage in steadier, more productive courses of action.

Hopefully, you don’t have an impatience problem. Since you’re human, there may be something that’s causing you and the people around you to suffer more than necessary. If you’re lucky perhaps you know some nuns who can help.