Happy Tuesday, as my friend Dr. Marnie would say.
I am on the self-improvement plan to prepare my heart and head (and I suppose body too) for the coming six weeks or so of final edits on my new book (or at least I hope they will be final...) I did the January no wine thing, and now I'm practicing a daily meditation with Sharon Salzburg (It's not just the two of us or anything, and while she kindly blurbed Find the Good and her quote is on the cover, we have never met. We've never actually corresponded. She is sending a big group email with the guided meditation in it.)
So, this morning, after my mindful meditation (Day 5, which seems like a milestone to me) I climbed on the bike and pedaled while listening to the news and then decided to text my daughter in Dutch Harbor, but kept sliding on new bike shorts and almost wrecking. Could I break my collarbone while falling off an absolutely rock-solid stationary bike? I know, there is a lesson here. Which I ignored. I kept writing and slinking forward and hitching back and needed to drop a hand on the bike stem every few words.
But what I managed to tell her, is what I want to tell you now, too is this. First, she is the principal of the elementary school out there, and sent me a link to a radio show on special needs children and services available in Unalaska, and I had listened, and so told her that I loved when she said that everyone can help children and improve communities by the example we set with words, actions, and by the choice we make, especially when children are present, to be kind, generous, and helpful to each other. (And I would add maybe even when no one is watching. When I'm babysitting for my daughters' kids I pretend that their parents can see us on a hidden camera. Also, I'm taking the ferry to Juneau today for a week with the red-headed grandchildren so you may not hear from me for a week.)
My daughter's words also matched up so neatly with the mediation challenge, and of all crazy-good things, the message on a bench that Pizza Joe built that I see on the Chilkat Center porch when I go to yoga , church , or to do a radio show at KHNS. Last week I passed it four times. The words Joe carved on it are: "You are better than you think you are." That speaks to me in the same way the mediation leader did this morning . Sharon said to listen to the voice in my head when my concentration lags , like when I can't seem to follow the whole,breath, peace, love thing -- when I start wondering what's for dinner or how's the dog's cut paw-- How do I speak to myself?
She asked if I was kind? Forgiving? She wanted to know if I am as nice to myself as I would be to someone else who was fumbling a simple task.
But maybe I can become better than I think I am, at this and everything, and what is the harm in trying?
I'm certainly not as brave about self-love as a way to love the world and make some sort of peace with it all as Marnie and Melina and Sarana --the yoga teachers in my life, are. And now Sharon too, whose voice is 100% New Yorky and zero New Agey. She sounds like my old second grade teacher.
All of these teachers are (and were) so positively kind and open-minded without a hint of irony or apology -- they are all in: body, soul, and mind, for good thoughts. For kindness.
Here's another not so weird coincidence. Yesterday I was reading a daily affirmation from Bishop Steve Charleston, formerly of Alaska, and in it he wrote that all life begins with the breath of the holy spirit, so breathing is prayer, and connecting to our own breath is to touch the divine in us. And then, and honestly, is someone trying to send me a sign?-- In the pool, Ike, a retired trooper who swims in the lane next to me, said that he had a rosary for me that the Catholic priest brought back from Jerusalem, there were plenty to share, he said, and thought of me, because it's olive wood and string, no metal, so I can go through customs with it. I do like to fly with a rosary.
When I told my elderly and very practical neighbor about all of this, or most of it anyway, and especially about how being kind to yourself can make you happy, and everyone else you care about a little happier too, and how maybe she should try breathing in and out for five minutes or so into her shaking hand or sore back with love for herself and her aging body, and that she may find she even feels better......
She snorted and said that was stupidest thing she's ever heard.
And then she laughed, and I laughed, and I ask you-- who is to say the spirit didn't move us toward happiness, kindness, and understanding?