Saturday, December 29, 2007

In Which I Finish Another Book
I picked up Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life at the library on a whim. I read it chapter by chapter, at first plodding along with the usual spiritual language that one finds in these texts. Then I got not only into the rhythm of the text but into the teachings of it. I kept wishing, as I read, that I owned a copy of the book, that I could write in the margins, that I could explore the text more fully, more slowly, at my own pace.
I have decided to focus my spiritual studies and practice on Buddhism beginning with the new year. If I were to choose to stay with Buddhism after the six months, this book would be a must have for my collection. I would want to fully explore the text in the same manner as I had done with the Bible. There is so much food for thought in this book that I am unable to even share a favorite quote or section. To do so would border on copyright infringement because I would have too much to share and not know how I could possibly begin to pick and choose the best.
This book has been the most inspiring and potentially life changing of the many books I have read this year. I will definitely look for more books by the translator (Geshe Kelsang Gyatso) and I confess that I am now most inclined to read Pema Chodron's No Time to Lose as a complement to what I have just now finished reading. Then again, there is probably good reason for me to not choose that path but to instead read about another aspect of Buddhism.

Friday, December 28, 2007

In Which I Finish Another Book
I have accumulated a few books by Marianne Williamson and read a few of them with some pleasure. None of shook me to my core, caused me to really change anything in my heart or soul or thinking. I have given one book as a gift and given another away. And right now, as I type this, I cannot remember any deep lessons from anything she has written. Which is why it is no surprise for me to say that reading The Age of Miracles: Embracing the New Midlife was nice but hardly profound. I think a big part of it is my own fault; perhaps I should lower my expectations because lately a lot of these spiritual/inspirational books have left me feeling disappointed. I had hoped to read a lot about the changes that I, as a woman, would experience as I approach my own midlife. The insights Williamson shares are not life changing. At least not to me. I have a feeling that there are women who will read these pages and find themselves closing the book to pause. And this, in the end, is probably what I hope to find myself doing when I am reading books that are meant to explore spirituality in an inspirational manner—a moment of profound truth that makes me stop and need to pause before reading further. Saying that I did not do this does not suggest that the book is not good or even stimulating. But spirituality is like many things and perhaps I am somewhere else along the path. Either I am unready for the truths that are communicated between these pages or I am already further along the path and have built beyond these truths. I don’t know. I will say that there are some lovely sound bites throughout the book, quotes that are powerful and/or empowering. There are many popular authors who have cards on which there are inspirational quotes, including Williamson, and this book offers several quotes that would make good cards. In fact, often these quotes, when taken out of context, can be applied in more broadly drawn strokes. Rather than just being addressed to baby boomers about a period of our lives, there are quotes that can be applied to other times and situations in our lives. I plan on giving this book away. I also plan on reading the rest of Williamson’s books that I already own as part of my sifting out the clutter of books in my life and on my bookshelves. From The Age of Miracles: Embracing the New Midlife By Marianne Williamson
That we age, if we are lucky enough to do it, is a given. How we age is up to us (xx).
Finding out who we actually aren’t, we begin to understand at last who we actually are (29).
Every moment is an opportunity to exhale old energies and breathe in new life, to exhale fear and inhale love, to exhale littleness and inhale magnitude, to exhale grandiosity and inhale grandeur (45).
The only way I can know what I should be doing is if I focus on who I should be (47).
[N]othing that happened before this moment has any bearing on what’s possible now, except that what you learned from it can be fuel for a magnificent future (59). Our future isn’t determined by anything that happened 20 years ago, 30 years ago, or even 10 minutes ago. It’s determined by who we are and what we think, right here, right now, in this moment (60). You don’t have to be young to be fabulous (62). Unless you’re will to accept that you’re 100 percent responsible for your own experience, then you can’t call forth your best life (64). Forgiveness involves faith in a love that’s greater than hatred, and a willingness to see the light in someone’s soul when their personality has harbored darkness. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that someone didn’t act horribly; it simply means that we choose not to focus on their guilt. In focusing on it, we make it real to us and in making it real to us, we make it real for us. The only way to deliver ourselves from vulnerability to other people’s behavior is by identifying with the part of them that lies beyond their bodies. We can look beyond others’ behavior to the innocence of their souls. In doing so, we not only free them from the weight of our condemnation, but we free ourselves as well (63). The path to happiness is not determined by whether or not we made mistakes in the past. What paves the way to happiness is whether or not we turn our mistakes into catalysts for personal growth and illumination (68-69). God will always have the final say. And His say will always be how very much that you are loved (69). What happened to you yesterday might not have been wonderful or even under your control. But who you become because of it, or in spite of it, is completely up to you (73). Quoting Emerson: Whenever you meet anyone, remember they are going through a great war (101). When you’re young, you hold tightly to love in the hopes that it will last forever. When you’re older you know you don’t need to hold on because it does last forever. People come and they sometimes go. But love remains, if it remains in you (101). Perhaps you were let down by a love of this world so you would learn at last to lean only on God (103). Too often we inquire about a situation, “How can I change this?” when we should be asking, “How can I dwell within this circumstance in the highest possible way?” (114) Love doesn’t lose its edge and become boring as you get older unless you do (129). As a student of A Course in Miracles, I certainly understand that in Reality, all that exists is love. But the planet we live on is not ultimate reality; it is a mass illusion, as powerful in its effects as is the truth. And here, in this collective illusion, what-is-not love still holds sway. The ego, according to A Course in Miracles, is suspicious at best and vicious at worst (147). Our problem isn’t that we don’t think love is an important thing, our problem is that we don’t think it’s the most important thing (154). In truth, war only creates victims. The people who are killed are victims and the people who are sent to do the killing are victims as well (170). Quoting “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” by Julia Ward Howe: As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free (177).

Thursday, December 27, 2007

In Which It Still Hurts to Laugh

I am not exaggerating when I say that I laughed so much my ribs are hurting. We played Cranium WOW and there was so much laughter that I was hurting at the time. I knew that yesterday I would wake up still sore from how much we had all laughed but two days later I am still sore. Sheesh!

It was a lovely day. The children and I woke up later than usual. Rei was already making coffee and the two of us got the food and such set up just as Joe and Marc stumbled into the kitchen. We unwrapped our gifts and then broke up again. Rei settled down to watch her dvds. I made my bed and then lay down to rest a bit. The boys were hanging out in the great room and eventually took a nap.

Then the first of a stream of guests arrived. Thomas showed up and we were all hanging out a bit. Mostly I was lying down but Thomas did come in and talk with me a bit. Then Matt arrived and there was another layer of socialization happening. Thomas left but was soon replaced by my friend Rossana. It was pretty late in the afternoon at this point and I should have taken a nap but I didn’t. I forced myself to stay up and ended up making myself rather sick. Of course, this didn’t stop me from getting up hours later to play Cranium with the children. Rob came home just as we were getting ready to play.

We were up until 2am so needless to say yesterday I was in bed all day long. No need to cook because we still have much food left over from the buffet. I didn’t even take a shower. Not that I’ve done any sweating or work or anything to merit my getting stinky but showers are nice. I was just too dizzy to deal with one.

Today is another story, however. Ribs aching, I am going to do my morning yoga, spend some time writing quietly in my journal, then I definitely want to do some housework before jumping onto my bike and burning off some of the calories I shouldn’t have consumed on xmas day. Later I will collapse in my bed with a book or two or three but for now I need to get busy being busy with my day.

Aries Horoscope for week of December 27, 2007

When the Red Hot Chili Peppers released their fifth album Blood Sugar Sex Magick in 1991, it blasted them into rock stardom. They stopped performing at intimate nightclubs and appeared exclusively at large arenas. They won a Grammy, had a hit song at the top of the charts, and sold millions of records. Guitarist John Frusciante
freaked out at the success. As an indie artist intensely loyal to the underground sensibility, he was embarrassed to be in a band that had mainstream popularity. In the middle of the Chili Peppers' tour, he quit. You may very well have to deal with a comparable development in 2008, Aries. Will you opt to remain low-profile, as Frusciante did, or will you answer the invitation to get more professional?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

In Which I Am Still Seeking My Christmas Spirit

I wish you all a very happy holiday!

Monday, December 24, 2007

In Which It's Christmas Eve

I woke up in pain, stiff from the baking, shopping, and wrapping of the weekend. A headache is pounding its way through my body and then it hits--a stabbing shooting pain through my leg and up into my abdomen and through my hips. Ahhhh . . . not only is it that time of year but apparently it's also that time of month. Someone just shoot me. It is not yet 9am. I've already made breakfast for Rob and sent him on his way to KY. I plan on putting the first Harry Potter movie on in the background, building up to our traditional Christmas Eve movie which this year is Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. And I have a house of chaos I now need to organize in time for tomorrow.

This has not been an easy holiday for me. The worst was a few years ago and last year came in pretty close as a second place bad. This year is close to bumping last year into third. But the holiday isn't here yet and I can do what I need to get done while still making tomorrow magical. The truth is, I should stay in bed today. I feel the vertigo and will push myself into greater sickness if I do too much. Perhaps when Marc gets back from his errand I can get him to help me with some of the housework. In the meantime, I think I will update this post throughout the day. Perhaps after every movie I'll take the time to say what I have and have not done. But first, food for me would be nice. It's cold. I want oatmeal, something warm in my tummy. Instead, cold cereal so I can use up the skim milk before it goes bad.

Later Ugh. Cramps. Ugh ugh ugh. Marc has gone to fetch his siblings and I am about to settle down to another round of gift wrapping. I cleared off the kitchen table for this purpose to hopefully reduce the strain on my already aching back. However, perspective being what it is I have been reminded that things are not as difficult as I had thought. A virtual friend of mine has recently suffered the loss of her home. I mean, literally within the last few hours everything she owned, including her home based business, was burnt to the ground. She and her children survived and while there is reason to rest and rejoice in this knowledge the truth is that her new year will be more of a "new beginning" than most of us will have to face in our entire lifetimes.

Later Still I had to scramble to get all of the gifts wrapped and ready because there was a slight snafu in scheduling due to Rei's schedule being changed which meant that everyone would be back home earlier than I had originally anticipated. The domino effect of this is that I completely forgot to first grab something for my pain and instead of stopping to take something I continued wrapping relentlessly. In other words, ow ow ow ow ow!

I am off to now put Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban into the hellivision and take something for the pain. I wish I could lie down for a bit but I foolishly did two loads of laundry which now need to be sorted and folded. Three guesses where the pile of clean clothes is currently falling over in despair, waiting to be neatened and put away . . . *sigh*

And all the more later The children and pizza have arrived. We have already eaten and Marc's laundry is in the dryer while Joe's is in the washer. The house is peculiarly quiet. I am about to put Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire into the dvd player but I am in desperate need of a nap. Methinks I shall fall asleep before the movie even begins to get exciting. Thankfully, I have been able to lie down and rest which is more than I had expected to do at this point. Able? More like did in spite of myself. I had things to do . . . I mean I have things to do but my body had other expectations and made its demands.

Later and later The children are off to look at houses that are decorated for the holidays. This is a family tradition, something we usually do together but because riding in a car makes my vertigo . . . Well, I am home and I'll take a shower while they are out having fun. Then when they return we will all have a cup of hot chocolate before settling down to watch the fifth Harry Potter movie. I am still not feeling the holiday spirit. Perhaps later . . .