Thoughts

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I am not my thoughts. I repeat, I am not my thoughts. What a liberating thing! I don’t know about you, but I can have some dark, snarky, petty thoughts. Sometimes they play in my head over and over again. That isn’t the real ME. It is my brain at work doing what it does…thinking.

As Judith Hanson Lasater says in “A Year of Living Your Yoga,” thoughts are just neurotransmitters locking into receptor sites: they are not the truth. Just as “movies are flickering pictures that appear to have form; so are my thoughts,” says Lasater. Our job, if we choose to do the work, is to become the master over our thoughts. We do not have to be ruled over where our mind tends to go. We can become aware and choose a more conscious path.

Our mind and our breath are linked together. If you notice during times of stress, thoughts come quick and breath is shallow. For many of us, this is our constant state due to stressful jobs, high anxiety and fast-paced lifestyle. In this place of stress, thoughts tend to gravitate to the negative.

When a dark thought comes to mind, become aware of it. You have the power to flip your own narrative. Notice where your mind went and think of an alternate, positive idea. Rather than react to a grumpy server with anger in your mind, consider how overworked and underpaid they might be.

When I first sit to meditate, my thoughts tend to be quick and constant. Then, I take my awareness to my breath and watch the flow of inhale and exhale. I link my mind to my breath as a focus. As my breath becomes slower, so do my thoughts. I feel as if I have hit pause on the incessant tape recorder of my mind. Even if you don’t have time to meditate, taking a break to breathe consciously can be an easy way to take control back from the chatter of the mind. By the way, folks that don’t have time to meditate would benefit from it the most.

“Simply by slowing down the mind- the first purpose of meditation- much of this tension can be removed. Then we are free to respond to life’s difficulties not as sources of stress but as challenges, which will draw out of us deeper resources than we ever suspected we had. A one-pointed mind is slow and sound, which gives it immense resilience under stress. With a mind like this, we always have a choice in how we respond to life around us.” Eknath Easwaran in “Words to Live By, Short Readings of Daily Wisdom”

Fall Haiku

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A change in the air
Leaves turn and cascade to earth
Signs of fall's entrance

Sweaters, boots and scarves
Darkness comes earlier now
Wet leaves under shoes

Apples, pumpkins, squash
Chilly days and cozy nights
Football and tailgates

Cycle of seasons
Transition to turning in
Earth's prep for Winter





Time to Save Our Home

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“I have learned you are never too small to make a difference.” Greta Thunberg

We have been experiencing extreme weather conditions for some time now. This hurricane season has been brutal. Polar ice caps continue to diminish. We are losing species of animals. And climate and conservation experts around the world agree that this cannot continue without a devastating result. We are slowly destroying our beloved and beautiful earth.

All of this can feel overwhelming. I agree with the experts…if we all pitch in and be more thoughtful , it can make a difference. We are reaching the point of no return, where our planet will not recover from our choices. So why not try to add a few more “green actions” into our daily lives. I think we all want to save this place we call home for future generations to enjoy. I have listed a few things below that are simple to employ and might have the trickle down effect for the planet.

Use cloth napkins. Rather than one time use of paper napkins, why not use cloth napkins at your kitchen table? They can be used for several meals and then throw them in the laundry with a load you are already doing. Why save them for special occasions when you can reduce the use of paper by employing them daily.

Swedish Dish Towels. Same idea as cloth napkins. Swedish dish towels are reusable paper towels that can also be thrown in the washing machine. Utilizing them can replace dozens of paper towel rolls per year.

Cloth “make-up remover” pads. These are soft flannel pads perfectly sized to help remove make-up. They too can be washed and re-used.

Dryer Balls for your clothes dryer. Rather than dryer sheets, why not employ dryer balls instead? They actually improve drying times by separating large clumps of clothes, which allows air to circulate more evenly and shorten the time needed to dry the clothes.

Use non-bleach coffee filters or re-usable coffee filters.

Keep the bags you get at the grocery store and take them back and re-use them.

Walk or bike to errands that are close by. Cluster errands into one trip out. Carpool when possible.

Make use of the library for your books. When I see a title I want to read I add it to my request list. I have enough requests on my list that I almost always have a book to read. Or just explore the shelves and find a hidden treasure.

Use re-fillable water bottles or canteens. Limit the use of one time plastic water bottles by refilling re-usable water containers. You can even add lemons, limes, or hydration tablets to give your water more flavor. This might have the side health benefit of drinking more water.

Avoid using styrofoam packaging whenever possible. If it is what your favorite restaurant uses for take-out say something to the manager. Styrofoam is one of the the most harmful types of waste that exists today. It breaks down into small pieces that can choke animals.

Re-use receipts and other paper as scrap paper for grocery and to-do lists.

Shop Goodwill or other resale stores for casserole dishes and left-over sized dishes rather than using plastic. When sharing food with someone, say at a funeral, use these repurposed casserole dishes. That way they don’t have to return your dish and can keep it for themselves or re-use for a time when they might be bringing food to someone in need.

Adjust the thermostat by one or two degrees. You might be surprised that your body will adjust to this slight change pretty quickly. Sleep with the windows open when possible.

If we all chip in just a little, it can make a difference.

“You must take action. You must do the impossible. Because giving up is never an option.”

Greta Thunberg

Some green companies to explore:

Marley’s Monsters (https://www.marleysmonsters.com/ )Re-usable eco-friendly non-paper products for home and beauty

ARA water bottles (https://www.giveara.com) For every re-usable water bottle you purchase from this non-profit company, one is donated to a homeless person. The water bottle donated is insulated and 64 ounces. This is the amount of water that is considered the healthy amount that should be consumed everyday. This charity was begun in the Phoenix area where there can be as many as 300 deaths a year due to the heat.

Teachers

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“When one teaches, two learn.” Robert Heinlein

Fall is coming, it’s back to school time for kids, and I have been thinking about my favorite childhood teachers. These people taught me things that no ordinary teachers possibly could. I learned not only from their instructions, but from their actions and examples. It’s often said that children learn not from what you say, but what you do.

Parents are our first teachers. I was blessed to be surrounded by love, and shown great examples of the benefits of hard work by my parents. We were a family of the era, my dad working and my mom staying home with us. My mom had been brought up very traditionally, and knew how to cook and clean and entertain.

At some point during my late elementary years, my mom took a job with an interior design company. She had always had an eye for style. When I look back now, it’s pretty impressive that she was even hired. She didn’t finish her college degree and had zero previous design experience. But she loved that job. And while I may have pouted about not having her around as much, I was secretly so proud. She taught me to find a venue for my creativity. She taught me it’s ok to have something for yourself and still love your family.

My aunt Phyllis was a wonderful example for me as well. She graduated college with a teaching degree and had taught several years before having her kids. Then, when her babies were a bit older, she decided to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor and applied to medical school. She was not accepted to a few schools because, back in the 1970’s, a married woman with children just did not go to medical school. She was finally accepted by a school to study Osteopathy. She worked her tail off and was a successful family practice doctor until her retirement a few years ago. She even ended up working for one of the medical schools that had turned her down. She taught me to go for your dreams, no matter what anyone says, and that it’s never too late to learn new things.

Ms. Powell, my fifth grade teacher, was my most influential teacher in a school setting. First of all she was a “Ms.,” which was a fairly new thing in the early ’70’s. She had short black hair, a la Liza Minelli, and wore the most stylish of clothes. I am sure she was a Gloria Steinem devotee, or as we used to say, a women’s libber. She was a young teacher with new ideas, and she taught in a way that challenged you. Your words mattered in her class. As a fifth grader, I didn’t have a true understanding of what it meant to find your voice until Ms. Powell helped me find mine. We held debates and mock trials. She lit a fire in me to look at things from all angles and see another person’s point of view. She also taught me what a strong independent woman looks like. None of these things were a part of the curriculum.

Teachers are undervalued in our society. I have seen first hand what it takes to teach in the public schools through our daughter, who taught for 5 years after graduating. She gave her whole heart to her fourth and fifth grade classes. Today, you not only have to teach the curriculum, but also manage student’s behavior plans, be a social worker, lead shooting drills, assemblies, crafts, and state testing programs also get thrown into the mix. And all of this with 30 or more students in a single classroom.

Teaching is hard. I was fortunate to have some great ones, and I am sure many of you did. So I would ask that if you know a teacher in your public school system ask them what they need to make their lives easier. Chances are they will welcome your help!