Shadows on the road
are like those moments in the future
you cannot yet see.
Shadows on the road
are like those moments in the future
you cannot yet see.
What do you think about when you think about squirrels? Ravaged bird feeders? Acrobatic acts? Rabies? The park? Nuts? Well, yes, nuts. That also comes to mind when I think about the December holidays.
Not just the type of nuts we eat — like roasted chestnuts, walnuts on that sumptuous apple pie, or honey coated peanuts in the snack dish, but nuts as in gathering frantically like a squirrel, and nuts as in foolishly excessive holiday behaviors. It’s a bountiful season for sure, but will it fill us up or leave us feeling exhausted, robbed and empty?
Filling Up More than Stockings
Each of us can choose to step back and celebrate in simpler, more meaningful ways. You can create a holiday celebration of choice and one that enriches, rather than depletes, you or loved ones — physically, emotionally, and financially. Take time to think about what Christmas really means to you.
Do your actions make sense? Do they seem a little nuts to you? Be honest.
If you own a bird feeder, you’ve witnessed a squirrel’s analytical creativity accessing it — including those supposedly “squirrel proof” feeders. Be as innovative.
If others are involved, ask each person to select the one thing about the holidays that makes their heart sing. Avoid the inner critic’s beleaguering to add just one more thing then another because you’ll be right back to the overload you tried to lighten. Determine what is absolutely necessary then sew those pieces together to broaden smiling faces around a more joyful holiday. You may be pleasantly surprised to discover it’s not a holiday of lack but one of overflowing abundance from the spirit within.
Apply Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh‘s sentiment to the holidays… “Once you identify your deepest intention, you have a chance to be true to yourself, to celebrate the kind of holiday you’d like to have, and to be the kind of person you’d like to be.”
Trudging through Tradition
Several years ago I happily exchanged some traditional activities for what means most to me. Quieter gatherings, tuning in to nature and the gifts she generously offers day in and out, gladden my spirit. (This is not to say I don’t host or attend holiday parties. But I keep them manageable, not falling prey to Madison Avenue’s message that I must decorate my house with a thousand lights, bake cookies, and overextend my bank account purchasing lavish gifts.)
A friend, looking frazzled and slumped in her chair, told me yesterday how overwhelmed she felt filling out 300 Christmas cards! Three hundred cards? Who wouldn’t feel overwhelmed? But, was it really necessary? It’s important to connect with others and tell them how much they mean to us but if it adds a layer of stress it doesn’t make sense to me — it’s nuts.
All in a Nutshell
Make the holidays what you want them to be and create cherished memories. Don’t worry or fret. Otherwise you may become like the red squirrel whose coat turned grey from stress. 🙂
December often conjures up complaints about the cold, snow shoveling, and dangers of falling on ice, but just as often I am awestruck by winter’s beauty contrasted against a backdrop of barren starkness. And so is life. One is necessary for the other.
So, rather than more of the usual holiday hype for this month, I’m focusing instead on Mother Nature’s vivid gifts. What comes to your mind this season…?
And a time to rest.
The frozen pond
and ice encrusted grass.
Seeing these rounded hay bales in expansive green fields began to stir something deep within a few years ago that felt strangely comforting.
I hadn’t observed this prior to practicing Qigong where I first felt a gentle, circular energy flowing between my hands. The movements soon enriched my gardening activities and evolved my thinking about continued life which led me to the Tao and a spiraled understanding of nature and our connectivity to the universe.
Yin-yang‘s circular energy symbolizes life’s continuum and oneness; that nothing is 100% black or white, right or wrong; we need one to have the other. Hours accelerate around the clock transforming day to night through the calendar of winter to spring, summer to autumn, season to season, year to year, era after era, wrinkled newborn to withered senior. This energy of oneness incorporates ourselves, others and the universe.
It is said that with Qigong (or Tai Chi) practice, you begin to view all of life as part of this circle. I have and am grateful for it. I see the circular trees, the ever lasting round sun and moon, the flowers that know to return year after year, the rounded hay bales at harvest. I use to fear death as a finality of life. But Qigong, gardening, and being in nature have taught me otherwise. This freedom from despair over my eventual death or that of loved ones is healing. Perhaps that is why the hay bales are like Mother Nature’s hugs, offering a soothing kinship with nature and all that is around me.
It’s an off season
but natural in its own right.
There’s no familiar summer, winter, spring or fall anymore
except for dates on a calendar.
Can we explain it away,
simply say the weather is as diverse as people, places, life —
that to live, to be alive, is to change?
Reduce. Recycle. Reuse they say.
But the seasons?
I am a child of four seasons
picking springtime bouquets
chasing summer fireflies
rolling in leaves
and sledding til numb.
As I matured, adult responsibilities pushed childhood activities to the recesses of my mind. But, I never dreamed the four seasons of my youth would become a distant memory, something to read about in history books of a time that once was.
As a child, leaves fell in September.
A few years ago they began in August.
This year, my yard was covered in July.
Thunderstorms previously endured in June and humidity that marked August are now daily occurrences commandeering the summer I use to know. Look forward to. Love.
The seasons have faded like leaves…
Is it a natural progression of time
the human disregard for the natural order of things
or Mother Nature’s retribution?
Spring and Autumn have silently been waving good-bye
but we were too busy, too greedy, too self-centered to notice.
Reduce. Recycle. Reuse.
Two seasons: hot and cold.
Hot and cold.
Every now and then my passion for gardening and appreciating nature is punctuated by technology’s increasing thirst to control our lives. To me, these cold and calculating ways are the antithesis to nature’s infinite beauty and serenity. That is why this topic pops up on my blog now and then (no pun intended).
I bumped into an old friend recently who said her eldest child is retired (at age 35). After making and investing his millions as a technological entrepreneur, he and his wife now live in an Airstream, traveling cross-country to hike and explore nature’s magnificence. “He meditates quite a bit,” she added.
This gave me hope that those so addicted to devices will realize the hours they’ve wasted not living real life, or freedoms they’ve willingly discarded by allowing technology to think for them.
My concerns about the ethical crises in technology were confirmed by best-selling author Yuval Noah Harari, and executive director of the Center for Humane Technology, Tristan Harris who explained how people, corporations and governments are using technology to hack human beings. (Harris previously studied the ethics of human persuasion at Google.)
In their When Tech Knows You Better than You Know Yourself interview, these philosophers raised the question: “Whose best interests should technology be serving — individuals or corporations? Should apps be as successful (and profitable) as possible which equates to addiction, loneliness, alienation, social comparison…”
“There’s a reason why solitary confinement is the worst punishment we give human beings. And we have technology that’s basically maximizing isolation because it needs to maximize the time we stay on the screen,” Harris said.
Think about that. Really let it sink in. So many have imprisoned themselves with technology. Remember, a prior post on my friend whose brother is addicted to gaming and barely leaves his room anymore?
Hearing that some children would rather do chores or homework than play outside, baffled me. Was it a fear of Lyme Disease, Zika Virus, or the extreme humidity of global warming? I didn’t want to go outside either in the humidity this summer but didn’t stay tied to a device either.
Instead, I discuss the Tao and hand drum with friends, attend Tai Chi classes, concerts, live theatre and art exhibits. At home I’m nurturing flower and veggie gardens while playing with my beloved border collie or practicing Qigong. Experimenting in the kitchen and reading a great library book enhance my time. Yes, I love those page turners (literally and otherwise)!
I was thrilled to find Blogtasticfood.com where Nick’s mission is to “post super awesome recipes and get peoples butts in the kitchen.” I love it. Real cooking feels (and tastes) wholesome and nourishing to me. I’d much prefer devoting my time to creating a delicious meal than being consumed by social media, texting or the internet (while eating packaged preservative-laden processed foods). Tactile, personal connections mean more to me than an addictive device.
Frankly, I don’t want Amazon to know right before my light bulbs burn out (so they can sell me more). And I don’t want them to deliver groceries to my door so that I can isolate, and not get any fresh air, exercise, or interaction with my external environment. “Don’t use it, you lose it,” still rings true.
However, as much as it sounds like I detest technology, I don’t. It’s the addictive aspects and loss of privacy and relationships that concern me. I agree with Harari that, “The system in itself can do amazing things for us. We just need to turn it around, that it serves our interests, whatever that is and not the interests of the corporation or the government.” In that regard I can understand Amazon delivering food to an immobile person who lives alone.
To reduce the risks of your personality being hacked, Harari suggests first getting to know yourself better and exploring your choices more deeply. Of course, someone who meditates two hours a day and doesn’t use a smartphone is less likely to be hacked than someone addicted to their device he says. Then join an organization of activists for a more powerful voice in making society more resilient and less able to be hacked.
Harari and Harris emphasize, “They’re (corporation or government) about to get to you—This is the critical moment…So run away, run a little faster. And there are many ways you can run faster, meaning getting to know yourself a bit better. Meditation is one way. And there are hundreds of techniques of meditation, different ways work with different people.
“You can go to therapy, you can use art, you can use sports, whatever. Whatever works for you. But it’s now becoming much more important than ever before. Protect yourself by getting to know your self.” This sounds perfectly natural to me.
The National Day of Unplugging is March 1-2, 2019. I say, “Why wait?” How ’bout you?
Rainy. Grey. Humid. Rainy. Grey. Humid. Flooding. Scorching heat. Rainy. Grey. Humid. Flooding. Scorching heat. Bugs extraordinaire. Make me run inside for shelter. AC. A spurt of sun appears. Some tomatoes wear tough rain jackets, many others split on the vine while unlucky peppers turn soggy rather than red and basil’s aromatic gifts are non-existent this year. The grill waited to be fired up but the fire and enthusiasm in me drowned out.
What to make of this autistic summer? Although many people disagree on the “causes” of autism and of climate change, they both exhibit blatantly foreboding signs:
Rainy. Grey. Humid. Rainy. Grey. Humid. Flooding. Scorching heat. Rainy. Grey. Humid. Flooding. Scorching heat. Bugs extraordinaire.
Six full days at best I could work in the yard this summer, and grill on two. Tall grass is as unkempt as the autistic’s personal hygiene. Weeds are poised to take over. They know I will not be tugging at them in the rain or with mosquitos biting my neck. Arms. Legs. Scratching for relief. Scratching. Scratching. Where is the relief? Summer use to be a break from the long, cold, stressful winter but Mother Nature’s fighting, hitting, kicking, biting, throwing objects from her autistic corner. Does she feel cornered?
Autistics struggle with severe anxiety, sensory dysfunction, and deficits in social communication. Half are considered aggressive toward others, and nearly one-third of autistic adults are unable to use spoken language to communicate.
I hear the thunderous banging and wailing. Her words trail behind the clouds…the rain, and tears of desperation. I see her utter frustration.