Friday, August 29, 2014
The Mindfulness Path to Self-Compassion by Christopher K Germer
Forgiveness is essential in life because we make mistakes all the time. (156)
Hatred corrodes the vessel in which it’s stored. (161)
Negative feelings toward others tend to separate us from ourselves and from others—they trigger aversion. (161)
There are traditionally six categories of people with whom we train ourselves in the art of loving-kindness. The trick is to start with an easy target, reinforce the loving-kindness habit, and work up from there.
- Self—Your personal identity, usually located within the skin.
- Benefactor—Someone who makes you consistently smile, such as a mentor, a child, a spiritual guide, a pet, or a piece of nature.
- Friend—A supportive person toward whom you feel trust and gratitude and have mostly positive feelings.
- Neutral—Any living being whom you don’t know and therefore neither like nor dislike.
- Difficult—Someone who has caused you pain, or toward whom you have negative feelings.
- Groups—Any group of living beings, for example, everybody listed above, everyone in your home, workplace, or city. (167-168)
The most natural time to practice loving-kindness toward others is when you’re genuinely happy—when you have loving energy to spare. It’s easy to wish happiness for others when we’re happy. (180)
Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris
To one who stands outside the Christian faith, it is utterly astonishing how ordinary a book can be and still be thought the product of omniscience. (62)
The truth is . . . the conflict between religion and science is unavoidable. The success of science often comes at the expense of religious dogma; the maintenance of religious dogma always comes at the expense of science. (63)
The core of science is not controlled experiment or mathematical modeling; it is intellectual honesty. It is time we acknowledged a basic feature of human discourse: when considering the truth of a proposition, one is either engaged in an honest appraisal of the evidence and logical arguments, or one isn’t. Religion is the one area of our lives where people imagine that some other standard of intellectual integrity applies. (64-65)
While believing strongly, without evidence, is considered a mark of madness or stupidity in any other area of our lives, faith in God still holds immense prestige in our society. Religion is the one area of our discourse where it is considered noble to pretend to be certain about things no human being could possibly be certain about. It is telling that this aura of nobility extends only to those faiths that still have many subscribers. (67-68)
Any intellectually honest person will admit that he does not know why the universe exists. (74)
Further Out Than You Thought by Michaela Carter
The past. It’s like it has nowhere to go. It’s like that [May] pole. We’re all tied to it, we all keep walking around and around. Or else it’s like the earth—the earth spinning, but also how it builds up, a layer at a time. It’s what we bury. What we succeed in not thinking about, so long as we think it’s gone. But it isn’t gone. It’s never really gone. And then it just bubbles up, like the tar pits, or like pus in a zit. (197)
Outside the bar . . . night was coming on like a hopeless, drunken come-on, tequila on its breath, red neon signs and, outside the shops, strings of colored Christmas lights hung fr)om the eaves like the sad close-lipped smiles of boys who would lure you in with their loneliness, that melancholia you’d try and try to fix. (211)
How easy it was . . . to take oneself out of the picture. (221)
The light at the end of the tunnel . . . on never thought it’d be red. At the beginning of the tunnel, maybe, but at the end, one presumed, the light would be white, bluish white, if it had any hue at all. Red wasn’t transcendence, but return. Red was home. It was a stove and a fireplace, a cup of something warm to wrap one’s hands around. (229)
Her waking dream would be lucid and the magic in her life, real. (266)
The Lady and the Peacock by Peter Popham
Quoting Pascal Khoo Thwe: People who had been silent for twenty-six years now wanted to shout, or at least endlessly to debate. (61)
Once the waters of a revolution start flowing, you can’t push them back forever. . . . (118)
Quoting Ma Thanegi: With the exception of very few I would like to hit poets who are writing poetry, usually very bad, about doing this and doing that . . . and reading them aloud. . . . (134)
Every nation is defined by the holidays it marks; it is the way the story of the nation punctuates the passage of time. (146)
Quoting Ann Pasternak Slater: [M]ost of us were neither laid back nor laid. (193)
The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt
Her notebooks became the ground where her conflicted anger and divided intellect could do battle on the page. (6)
Life is walking tiptoe over land mines. We never know what’s coming and, . . . we don’t have a good grip on what’s behind us either. But we sure as hell can spin a story about it and break our brains trying to get it right. (13)
Nonexistent, impossible, imaginary objects are in our thoughts all the time, but in art they move from the inside to the outside, words and images cross the border. (26)
There are many stories and as many reasons for leaving the feminine behind and adopting the masculine, or dropping either one for the other, as was convenient. (33)
What interested me were perceptions and their mutability, the fact that we mostly see what we expect to see. (33)
Thursday, August 28, 2014
I don’t which of us noticed first but every time he was on the screen, all I could see was Sam. The same arching eyebrows and plump lips. The same way his wavy hair sort of flopped over his eyes. The eyes were different though. Sam’s were grey but this actor’s were brown. Still, I caught my breath every time his character was back on screen, only realizing that I was holding it when he was on the screen for more than a few moments.
Just as I was trying to convince myself it was my imagination, Gelsey leaned over and said, “OMG, Linz. He looks like Sam.”
So it wasn’t just me. She saw it too. And then she sighed, exaggerating the exhalation. You know, how those fangirls do when they are oohing and ahhing over someone. The rest of the movie, I had to sit there as she giggled and gushed whenever the pseudo-Sam showed up on screen. I just followed along because that’s what we did.
We were friends, best friends, and this was our last movie together before school started. It was the end of summer and we’d be going to school together for the first time since we were kids. It was the end of what was supposed to be The Best Summer Ever. But it was a summer where things changed for me, for us, and she didn’t even know. Gelsey just sighed and giggled while I played along and all I could think about was how Sam hadn’t emailed me or anything. Not that I should have cared but I did care. I cared and I cared enough not to let my best friend know what I was thinking about. Instead, I leaned in and giggled and, when the movie credits ended, the theater lights came up, I sighed in sync with her.
And we giggled together again, like old times, like we did when the summer was starting and everything was different.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
It’s funny, the things that will spark conversation. For instance, Justin Schwamm writes a fascinating blog about his teaching experience where he often gets philosophical. Maybe my life experience has little-to-nothing to do with his Latin Teacher experience; nonetheless, it’s surprising how often his insights leave me feeling reflective.
For instance, this post in which he writes about what is mine and not mine and should. The other day, I wrote a reply to an email from Erin. You see, we’ve been working our way through Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain together and, the other day, she shared a drawing she did that was not one of the exercises. I was overdue with some of the exercises myself, having fallen a bit behind. Maybe I was feeling guilty for not making time to do something I am honestly enjoying doing because, when Erin emailed me and said “I know this isn’t one of the exercises yet but I did this,” I wrote back:
This is what you should be doing.
Now, I meant this to be encouraging, to suggest that sometimes an exercise will feel a bit uninspired or time won’t allow for more than a few minutes of quick sketching and, on those days, it’s okay to draw something else. But that isn’t what I said, is it? Instead, I had inserted this judgmental and implicit word: should.
Now, maybe I should try to keep up with Erin. And maybe I should make time for drawing. But who am I to tell her what she should do? I had clearly overstepped a boundary from mine to not mine, as Justin writes in his blog. I was projecting my own should onto her.
So I corrected myself in another email, apologizing for my faux pas. Not that she even noticed or cared. She’s gracious like that. But I needed to own what I wrote even if I didn’t mean quite like that, because it is not for me to tell her or anyone else what they should do or how they should live their lives. Half the time I’m resisting my own burden of should. Which reminded me of a quote from an episode of Sex and the City in which Carrie Bradshaw is thinking about “the S-word”:
Carrie voice-over: After Miranda used the S-word twice, I wondered if “should” was another disease plaguing women. Did we want babies and perfect honeymoons? Or did we think we should have babies and perfect honeymoons? How do we separate what we could do from what we should do? And here’s an alarming thought. It’s not just peer pressure. It seems to be coming from within. Why are we should-ing all over ourselves? (Season 6, Episode 15, “Catch-38”)
"Why are we should-ing all over ourselves?" I have a theory about why I should all over myself. I too often weigh myself down with what I should be doing (and, by association, should not be doing) when I don’t make the time to know my why, which is something else Justin’s been exploring in his blog. When I know why I should be doing something, I remove the guilt and blame from my action and find myself doing something because it is a choice. More than that, it is a choice rooted in a personal integrity that has nothing to do with an external should but is driven by an internal want, a desire that is connected with who I am.
I’m going to try to remember this, to catch myself when I am thinking/saying should, whether about myself or others. When I’m should-ing on myself, I’ll ask myself why. And if I’m should-ing on someone else, I’ll just let it go. After all, I don’t like it when I should all over myself so I think it’s safe to say I shouldn’t do it all over someone else.
Sunday, August 24, 2014
|Stress free dog's life|
Relief at last.
On Monday I went to have an MRI and mammogram and, on Thursday, with the MRI results in hand, the orthopedist said I should have a cortisone shot, which would relieve the pressure, reduce the pain, etc. I was warned that the next day or two could prove to be uncomfortable. Fair enough. But if I could hope for relief by Sunday then two more days of pain was nothing to concern myself over. The pain never returned. Once I had the shot, it simply diminished slowly, ebbing and flowing but mostly ebbing.
Can you imagine my joy, waking up Friday morning without a limp? It returned but only slightly. And Saturday, when Rob had a day-long gig, I was able to take the dogs out into the back yard with only the slightest bit of difficulty. I’m so close to back to normal, I wish I’d had the shot sooner. But I know that this is not a solution, that using cortisone is a quick fix that comes with a cost. So I’m committed to continuing with the physical therapy exercises, building on them gradually over the rest of the year with hopes that by the year’s end I’ll be back to exercising fully.
One is on back order.
Any day now.
Fully but with limitations. In the coming weeks, I’ll describe some of the modifications I’ll be making to keep up with the exercise regimen I had been doing which was helping me to lose weight. Fingers crossed, I can get back on track and back to losing weight. I won’t lie: I worry that by holding myself back I won’t see any results. But I’d rather hold myself back than be in pain. The pressure to lose weight is increased, of course, because less weight means less stress on my joints and I must limit the stress on my joints whatever else I can do.
I did not gain or lose weight this week.
|Our first pizza choice|
was super crowded
so we were looking for
an alternate pizza place.
You would think that my being pain free would be the highlight of the week but it wasn’t. Nope. I wrote all about what made my week extra special in this blog post. And we had a great time. Afterwards, she said something about how nice it was to be able to talk, something we are unable to do when we all get together. I have been feeling I need more one-on-one time with my children and what Shira said confirmed what I’ve been sensing. My children and I need time together, to just be the two of us. It gets harder as they get older, however. Joe and I have been talking about the two of us going out for lunch or something as soon as my knee is better. Not quite there yet but I’m getting there. So any day now, me and my son will have some time with just the two of us.
It’s hard to believe that one week from today I’ll be writing my end of month post. How is it possible that August is almost behind us? The rest of this week promises to be good. I’ll do my prescribed exercises. I’ll read and write and plan.
By the end of the week I’ll be free to walk on my own two feet. Oh boy!