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.
Can you see the number 11 as an upwards arrow pointing to ascension and light, as perhaps global leaders have throughout the years? Any idea why the major hostilities of World War I were first ended in 1918 at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month, or why Israel and Egypt signed the first Israel and Arab agreement for peace in 24 years — on 11–11 in 1973? What is the significance of the number 11? Just coincidence you say? Numerology begs to differ.
In numerology, the esteemed master number 11 symbolizes immense physical and mental power. According to Numerology.com, 11 has the potential of “pushing the limitations of the human experience into the stratosphere of the highest spiritual perception; it is the link between darkness and light, ignorance and enlightenment.”
Eleven is associated with calmly handling complex situations, steadiness, adaptability, a sense of order, mature thinking, understanding others and their problems, and doing everything possible to create a feeling of goodness. Other qualities associated with the number 11 are:
Higher spiritual insight
Loving and seeking freedom
Immense ability to see others more deeply
Can you envision the number 11 as two candles — the first one showing the brighter side of life and helping others, the second candle as the receiver of light?
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.
“What will people think if they see a mature woman on them?”
“Do you really think someone is going to arrest me?”
And so the dialogue went between my inner critic and the lure of a childhood thrill when seeing a swing set in a new neighborhood last Sunday afternoon. Quickly, it reminded me of this photo (appearing in my last post) and my carefree, youthful feelings of riding as high as I could on the swings.
Looking around to see if any neighbors were out — no one was, I walked up the hill toward the swings, paying attention for any signs indicating “adults not allowed.” The trodden, bare ground under each of the six swings stared up at me. Oh, yes, I remember now — stomping down the grass, pounding to push-off and ride higher and higher.
I sat down. Good, the swings can hold me. (I’m not overweight, but I’m not a slight child either.) I began to push-off. Again and again. Higher and higher. Soon my hair blew freely behind me, like the woman in the photo, cooling the perspiration off the back of my neck from a hearty walk through this new neighborhood. Gosh this felt good. Exhilarating, like when I was a kid.
As previously mentioned (Busy Body Meditations), I do better with movement meditation than attempting to force myself to sit still. Swinging on those swings was an in-the-moment, mindfulness meditation for me, unleashing pure light-heartedness.
Is there an activity you loved as a child but seems long forgotten? Have you given yourself permission to feel the thrill once more? Go ahead, tickle yourself with that sense of delight and see how much lighter you’ll feel.
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?
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.
Photo by Dave Clubb on Unsplash
Photo by Ian Scargill on Unsplash
Photo by Ian Scargill on Unsplash
Photo by Ashley Batz on Unsplash
Photo by Noah Silliman on Unsplash
“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.
Summer 2018 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:
Climate change – an increase in the frequency and strength of extreme events (storms, floods, droughts) that threaten human health and safety.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) characteristics – social-interaction difficulties, communication challenges, and a tendency to engage in repetitive behaviors.
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.
If you don’t start your own vegetable plants — like I usually forget to do in March, you’re probably like me and purchasing starter plants from a local greenhouse. The problem I always run in to — especially for cherry tomatoes and peppers, is they’re usually packaged four to six plants to a flat which is way more than I need. Luckily, another customer felt the same so I happily gave half of them away right at the checkout this year. Still, I ended up with too many, particularly when a few plants returned on their own. (I never have the heart to rip out and discard these orphans.)
But, I do toss tomatoes that split on the vine which turned out to be about a third of the crop this year. After giving plenty away, making some tasty bruschetta, salads, and popping into the juicer for some added Lycopene, I’ve frozen several bags for when I’m puttering in the kitchen on a cool autumn Sunday.
This week I added some of those fresh tomatoes and red bell peppers to a meatless version of a southwestern pie that I make this time of year:
cherry tomatoes, black beans, char-grilled sweetcorn off the cob, cilantro, onion, green chiles, red bell pepper, green onions…
grated Mexican cheese blend on top for last 15 minutes in oven
cooked southwestern pie
avocado/cilantro yogurt condiment
bite of southwestern pie tastes great with salsa too
Have fun with the ingredients. Try it for dinner tonight and let me know how you like it.