Saturday, May 31, 2008

Open Letter to All Publishers

To Whom It May Concern; I am tired of reading poorly edited books and, because I am also unemployed, I am offering myself as an employee to any and all takers. In the past few weeks I have read books in which the following errors have been found:
  • blond (should have been blonde) in Martyn Pig
  • a (should have been as) in Not Time to Lose
  • lightning (should have been lightening) in Spoken Word Revolution: Redux
  • different than (should have been different from) in Reiki for Dummies
I am frankly appalled that I have not read a single book that was published in the last ten years that does not have some obvious grammatical and/or spelling error. I think it is safe to assume that the writers themselves know better so I have to assume that these mistakes are somehow occurring during the editorial process. How has this become acceptable? I find it completely unacceptable and am willing to work for you as an editor for any and all future manuscripts being considered for publication. Please feel free to contact me via email and we can work out the details of my employment as a telecommuting editor on your staff. Sincerely, Satia

Friday, May 30, 2008

Quote of the Week and more . . .

I used to think that the brain was the most wonderful organ in my body. Then I realized who was telling me this.-Emo Philips

Okay. I know I usually pick something that is intellectually interesting but ths made me chuckle. Which is why I am also going to share this poem which I "discovered" in my newsletter. Letter to You by Jenni Pahl You know who you are I hope. Light washes dirty windows. I've had enough of love, my fill. Finished, I'll walk out onto the still green grass and keep on walking. There are many ways to leave, the gravel road pocked with ruts. This is my last love letter. Better poets have said it better. What letter might end love? At first I thought X, the in and out of declarations. Now I know it ends in why. I remember talking with someone about love and the opposite of love. There is the saying, "There's a fine line between love and hate." This person argued that hate is love's opposite. I disagreed. I said, "Hate is not what stops love. So many people have a love-hate relationship with one another and people move from loving someone to hating them to loving them again in mere moments. The oppositive of love is I. I am love's opposite. When I put my needs, my expectations, and my wants above those of another, there is no love. So in any relationship where I matter more than you, there cannot be love." What? No new pics of Snowdoll and Romanov. Nope. Sorry. I tried to get Rob to take one for me of how the two of them will corner me into the desk but he couldn't get his camera out in time. I also tried to make a sound recording of her telling us she needs to go outside, which has earned her a new nickname: Woo Woo. But I couldn't figure out which of the many buttons on my phone is for voice recording. I know I can do it because I've done it before but for some reason yesterday no matter what button I pushed, I could not get the recording to start. And I couldn't just let her woo woo at me and not take her outside where she desperately wanted to be. *sigh*
Aries Horoscope for week of May 29, 2008 Ernest Hemingway said that his best work was a very short story consisting of six words: "For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn." Alan Moore's brief masterpiece of fiction is, I think, just as good: "Machine. Unexpectedly, I’d invented a time." Here's another gem, written anonymously: "The last man on earth heard a knock on the door." Your assignment in the coming week, Aries, is to be as pithy as these terse geniuses. Proceed on the assumption that your effectiveness will thrive in direct proportion to your brevity and conciseness. Assume that you will be most likely to get what you want if you use the fewest words and the most minimal actions necessary.

I Don't Mean to Be Morbid But . . . .

Long ago I said I wanted this song played at my wake. I don't actually want a funeral although I understand that the ritual is soothing. If my loved ones needed to have a funeral then that would be fine. I certainly won't need one, all things considered. But if there is a wake or any form of celebrating my life, I want this song played. Lie In Our Graves by Dave Matthews.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Silent Retreat Q&A

Since you did not enjoy your retreat, would you do it again? Yes. Absolutely! In fact, as soon as I see another opportunity (when Rob will be out of town), I fully intend on indulging in another retreat. Do you think that being at home hindered your experience? While I am sure that it would have been easier to get into a retreat frame of mind if I had somehow removed myself from my home, I know enough to say that even going to a retreat space doesn’t guarantee a retreat experience. I have seen people go on spiritual retreats who never have a moment of spiritual experience. (I am recalling a women’s Bible retreat, in particular, which I found to be quite lovely but others found to useless.) What would you recommend for someone who wants to try this at home? I think that starting with a planned schedule is an excellent starting place. Whether you use the one I used or another, be open to working within the schedule the first time. Later you can look back on the experience and ponder what changes you would make to make it a more personal retreat experience. If, however, you have done retreats before, I see no reason why you couldn’t try to create a personal retreat experience from that foundation. If you had still been studying Catholicism, how would you have modified this retreat? Here is the modified schedule with some personal suggestions/notes. FRIDAY 06:00-07:00 Journaling This time of writing would focus on my intention for the retreat and include writing a dedication of the retreat to God, including some praise and confession. 07:00-08:30 Dinner/Clean Up 08:30-09:00 Read a passage from the Bible and meditate upon it I would probably choose a very short book from the Bible, like I John, and read one chapter. I would then choose a specific verse or passage (or even a single word) and meditate upon that. I might even stop reading at the chosen word/verse/passage. 09:00-10:00 Bath (with essential oils) 10:00-10:30 Rosary SATURDAY 08:00-08:30 Rosary o8:30-09:00 Read a passage from the Bible and meditate upon it Again, I would continue as before, picking up where I had left off the previous day. 09:00-10:30 Breakfast/Clean Up 10:30-12:00 Contemplation/Rest There are a couple of options here. Either I would read from a piece of classic Catholic literature or I would do a personal Bible study, without using any Bible study aids, of the chosen Bible book. I would use the inductive Bible study methods I had learned in the past to help me draw out my own meaning from the passages. I would record anything I read, either in the classic literature or the Bible, into my journal. 12:00-02:00 Lunch/Clean Up 02:00-02:30 Rosary/Prayer This might be a lovely time to sing praises to the Lord, chanting hymns or even chanting from the Bible passages I have been reading. Or, this might be a time to lift others up in prayer, beginning with myself and moving outward to everyone in the world. (Love your neighbor as you love yourself.) 03:00-04:00 Meditation Walk (weather permitting) If the weather is prohibitive, perhaps I would change this into a gratitude practice, first sitting at my window and just thanking God for everything I see. If I were to actually run out of things (which I highly doubt would happen), I would close my eyes and see what things I hear but maybe cannot see. If I again run out of things, I would look around me, at the room in which I am sitting, and thank Him for the many blessings in my physical surroundings. Naturally, at any point I choose, I would close my eyes and express my gratitude for those many intangible blessings in my life. 04:00-05:00 Tea Break 05:00-06:00 Free 06:00-08:00 Dinner/Clean Up 08:00-09:00 Contemplation/Rest Again, as before, I would read and take notes. 09:00-10:00 Bath (with essential oils) 10:00-10:30 Rosary SUNDAY 08:00-08:30 Rosary o9:00-09:30 Read a passage from the Bible and meditate upon it 09:30-10:30 Breakfast/Clean Up 10:30-12:00 Contemplation/Rest 12:00-02:00 Lunch/Clean Up 02:00-02:30 Meditation Walk (weather permitting) 02:30-03:00 Dance before the Lord This is something that many Biblical people did (Miriam, David, et al) but seems to have fallen out of popular favor. This is unfortunate and I can think of no better way to thank God for the marvel of our human bodies than to dance before Him. 04:00-05:00 Tea Break 04:30-06:00 Free 06:00-07:30 Dinner/Clean Up 07:30-08:00 Read a passage from the Bible and meditate upon it 08:30-09:00 Prepare Space for Transition 09:00-09:30 Journaling In Buddhism, there is the practice of “Dedicating the Merit.” This is a sort of sealing of the experience, an intention of carrying the moment into our daily lives. I believe that this like the Amen of a prayer and I would take this time to write out my feelings about my retreat experience, what blessings from it I hope to carry forward into my daily life, and thank God for sanctifying the retreat experience for and through me. 09:30-10:00 Bath (with essential oils) Retreat Resources: Bliss in a Box by Susan Piver (not recommend and out of print) How Not to Be Afraid of Your Own Life by Susan Piver (highly recommended) Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There by Sylvia Boorstein (recommended especially for Buddhists) A Woman’s Spiritual Retreat by Joan Borysenko (I really should add this to my wish list but I keep hoping to find it on ebay)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Silent Retreat Revisited

As I explained in my Satia's Progress Blog, for my silent retreat I used The Bliss in a Box kit. I was tremendously disappointed in the results but would rather not focus on what did not work during the retreat. Instead, I would like to think about what I learned.

On Friday and into Saturday, as I tried to sit through the meditations, struggling with the pain I was experiencing in my body and wondering why I was unable to breathe through the pain as I have done in the past, I realized that I may have lost some inner strength somewhere along the way. Here I am exercising and working my muscles, my core, my body, but the strength I need to sit in meditation is gone. No matter how I sat, whether I sat with my legs crossed or in virasana (hero's pose, which is my usual means of sitting), whether I used a zafu or a blanket to bolster my body, nothing could keep my back from feeling as if it were on fire or stop the shoot pain from skrying it's way throung my shoulder.

I need to practice meditating again. This is the First Lesson I carried away with me. A little over a year ago, my mother and I did Tricycle magazine's Commit to Sit challenge, a 28-day commitment to sit and meditate. I found it to be a lovely experience and I think that I need to recommit to the challenge because I am no longer able to sit in meditation as I used to do. Because the challenge goes from initially asking for 15 mins per meditation, gradually increasing to longer meditation sessions by the end of the 28 days, it is ideal for me, a way for me to develop the ease in sitting I once had.

The Second Lesson is a little more complicated. I read during my retreat and I realized that I miss intellectual stimulation. I am reading increasing amounts of fluff because there is no need to discuss fluff. But when I read something that is intellectually challenging, something that provokes me to want to discuss the ideas further, I am at a loss. One of the books I "brought" with me into the retreat lends itself to a slow and close reading, one in which there is much discussion about the text, how to apply the information, etc. And even as I finish the other book, a less intellectual text, I find myself aching for a discussion of these things. I miss spiritual dialogue but nobody I know is on my spiritual path and when I try to share these things with anyone I have to keep it superficial because it isn't like I can say, "What do you think about Shantideva's discussion of hell and isn't it interesting how many people point an accusatory finger Christianity as if Christians had cornered the market on using fear as a motivation?" Without having read Shantideva's The Way of the Boddhisattva there is no way to discuss it and I would love to talk more about what I am reading but since it's all one-sided, I just dump it in my journal and leave it there unexplored.

Which brings me to the Third Lesson and how journaling serves little purpose in my life anymore. This is harder to explain but it does beg the question: If we are to live in the Now, how does one incorporate journaling into that? I am still an advocate for journaling, knowing full well from personal experience that being able to journal about my life, my experiences, helped me work through a great deal of pain and reach a place of strength. But like crutches or leg braces, which serve a purpose at a time and place, perhaps there is a time and place when journaling is no longer necessary.

There are other things I learned. For instance, as I found myself disappointed with the materials provided in the kit I had a clear choice to either sink my teeth into the feeling or find a way to work through or around the material in a more personally beneficial manner. Replacing the meditations was an immediate and obvious move. In fact, I would like very much to take the retreat schedule and modify it to meet my needs. I think it would be fun to create a Chakra Retreat and even plan a menu that incorporates a rainbow of foods, maybe even one that is juicing based because there are so many foods that juice into beautiful colors. I would also like to do more Reiki and talked about that with the boys and Rob (in other words, everyone living under the same roof as I). I know that Reiki is not something that necessarily works for everyone. Like accupuncture and other forms of energy work, it may be something that does not resonate for everyone but I would like the opportunity not only to give Reiki to myself but to others. Who knows?  Maybe I won't be the only one who has a positive experience with Reiki.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Quiet Strength by Tony Dungy (with Nathan Whitaker)

As part of my 101 Things List, I have adopted the Indianapolis Colts as the football team I will follow—at least for the duration of the 101 Things List anyway. I managed to do just that, falling in love with Joseph Addai and even rooting for the Giants when they reached the Super Bowl because Colt's Quarterback Peyton Manning’s brother, Eli, is the quarterback for the NY team.

I also grew to admire Tony Dungy’s coaching approach. Committed to the team’s success, he never yells at them, always seems to retain his cool, and doesn’t yell because of unfair calls or anything else that seems to inspire ire from the sidelines. Which is why I wanted to read Dungy’s memoir, Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices, & Priorities of a Winning Life. I was not surprised to see that Dungy is a Christian and I enjoyed reading how he has chosen to live his belief not only professionally but personally. I have met so many professing Christians since moving to Georgia but I have known very few true Christians. I believe Dungy has proven himself to be a true Christian.

The truth is, most of the names meant nothing to me. Perhaps if I were a football fan, I would have been ooh-ing and ahh-ing my way through the pages. Instead, I tried my best to comprehend the details of football, trying to remember what I had seen this past football season and relate it to what I was reading. The game is complicated, as any football fan will tell you, and when Dungy explains why he chooses to go for 2 points rather than the easier 1 point it now makes sense to me. In fact, had I read this memoir before the season had ended, I would not have understood the many mentions of various rules at all. (Those that still went over my head did not preclude my appreciating what I was reading.)

Although I completely respect Dungy’s choice to keep his private life private, because I am not a football fan (and possibly because I am a mother) I wanted to know more about his family, his marriage, and his home life. But I respect and appreciate his choosing to keep the focus mostly on his more public life. Nonetheless, there are moments in his personal life which he does share and how he shares them is honest without being exhibitionistic. What I especially find remarkable is that he doesn’t suggest that his faith made things easier for him. There are so many faith based memoirs that imply that all things are possible but Dungy is blunt and clear when he says that there are some experiences that we will never move through, where grief may never end, while still assuring the reader that his faith is unmoved, his strength still coming from his God. This is a man of deep faith and conviction and his memoir does a lovely job of communicating what he believes, why he believes what he believes, and how he applies this belief to his life.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Retreat Cut Short

Joe moved back in the first of April. He says he has not seen the neighbors since he moved back in. I share this bit of information to give some inkling of how rarely we see our neighbors. Which is why the timing of their inflatable pool party, complete with Harley Davidson rumblings and puppies running all over the place is, to say the least, ironic. I could try to continue my silent retreat but the dogs seem to think that tearing at the window to get to the party is more important than my having a quiet time. Besides, I suspec that soon we will have music and loud laughter and more noise coming from the next door neighbors' yard. As a result, Joe and I have to take Romanov and Snowdoll out for walks on the leash because we can't just let them "run outside" the way we normally do. Thank goodness I am not here alone with the dogs. I can't even imagine how I would have resolved this issue otherwise. I'll write more about my retreat experience later. Suffice it to say, if the experience had been more positive, I would probably be struggling with not resenting the neighbors right now. Imagine the dilemma--what purpose would my retreat have served if, after hours of reflection and meditation and feeling centered, I was completely thrown off course by a party next door? So in a small way I suppose I welcome the abrupt conclusion of what was not the most enlightening experience.

Silent Retreat Weekend Day Three

Note: I am post-dating this entry to appear on Sunday, the third and final day of my silent retreat. 08:00-08:30 Yoga o9:00-09:30 Meditation 09:30-10:30 Breakfast/Clean Up 10:30-12:00 Contemplation/Rest 12:00-02:00 Lunch/Clean Up 02:00-02:30 Meditation Walk 02:30-03:00 Yoga 04:00-05:00 Tea Break 04:30-06:00 Free 06:00-07:30 Dinner/Clean Up 07:30-08:00 Meditation 08:30-09:00 Prepare Space for Transition 09:00-09:30 Journaling 09:30-10:00 Bath with essential oils