Archive | December, 2008


21 Dec

It’s been said that there are no coincidences. While I don’t believe that every coincidence in my life is a sign, I tend to be a bit pragmatic and note that coincidences only have the meaning that we give them. I have though, come to embrace the idea of synchronicity. The possibility that everything in this world is interconnected, and that connectedness often manifests itself in a beautiful string of events. If we pay attention, we can see that inter-connectedness. Other times, it hits us over the head.

My friend Sarah lost a long-time friend of hers in September. She went to the funeral and said her good-byes. It’s hard to lose a friend, especially one who seems too young to die. This week, Sarah got a post-card from her friend. Apparently it had gotten lost in the mail and re-routed, arriving this week.

The postcard said, “I am OK.”


Spirit Rock

15 Dec

Two weeks ago Dan, Julie and I went to Spirit Rock for a daylong vipasana meditation retreat with Jack Kornfield. Spirit rock is gorgeous, peaceful and has an energy so supportive of contemplative study. I invited Dan to join me on a whim, and was so surprised when he said he’d be up for coming. Julie? No surprise there, she’s always up for a little spiritual awakening.

The day was mixed with 3 activities: dharma talks with Jack, followed by seated meditation, then walking meditation. We repeated that pattern probably 4 times. It’s amazing how powerful it is to simply be in a room together with so many people meditating at once. Then there’s the land. Nestled in the hills of San Rafael, the place is stunning and there are trails to walk during the walking meditation. At the risk of sounding like a new age hippie, I have to say honestly, there seems to be an energetic pull about the place and a peace that sucks you in.

I was surprised how busy my mind was for a Saturday. I spend the first half of the day going over my to-do list, noticing I was going over my to do list, and coming back to my breath. I did that over and over and over! After lunch, I walked up to the peak of one of the hills, and sat in meditation for quite a while. I was able to do what I call “dropping in” to a nice deep meditation of quiet mind.

I left feeling so refreshed, so centered, so whole. I had many insights felt changed when I left. What a great reminder that I can tap in to that feeling whenever I want, it’s always waiting underneath my thoughts.

I asked Dan to write something about his experience, and this is what he said:

“I had no idea what to expect, so I expected nothing. Eight hours of meditating in the hills of Marin County? Had a loopy, only-in-California vibe to it. I was intrigued. So I figured that best case, I would get some amazing new insights into my own self and a better understanding of many of the things Laurie and I have talked about for years. Worst case, I figured I would get a day in the quiet away from the kids, with the price of listening to some New Age crap for a bit. Sounded like win-win to me.

Therefore, I can say that I was pleasantly – very pleasantly – surprised by how much I enjoyed the experience. I found the sitting meditation rather difficult, being in a room of 300 people with your eyes closed for that long. Funny the sounds you pick up; feet shuffling, itch scratching and stomach growling – mostly mine. Walking meditation was great. Getting out into the quiet, focusing only on your steps and your breath. Brought me back to my youth in the mountains. And Jack is easy on the ears, with lots of interesting stories and insights. In the end, I found it strengthened my belief that we don’t have to be slaves to our thoughts and feelings; that we can experience them without being controlled by them. Sort of a spirit-being-in-control-of-the-body thing, I think.

Serenity Now!”

I learned a lot talking with Dan and Julie about it afterward. Dan shared that while my mind was running through business and to do lists, his mind kept replaying funny SNL sketches and jokes and he was struggling not to laugh. He also had to suppress the urge to ask Jack if Mr. Costanza’s mantra “serenity now” really worked.  I could have guessed as much! It’s great to have a partner who brings a light-hearted balance to my intensity.

My favorite part of the day was Jack’s last Dharma Talk. He spoke about taking refuge in three things: this moment, the breath, and the dharma. He is as fabulous of a speaker as he is an author. I love the idea of refuge – especially right now!


7 Dec

When I grow up, I want to be an acro-yogi.

Tree Pose

6 Dec

The day after Christmas we went to Placerville with my sister’s family to cut down our own tree. We have a vaulted ceiling now, the trees were all $20 and gorgeous, and we got a bit greedy, bringing home a 12 foot tree.

Last night it took Dan and I probably 3 hours to wrap lights on that sucker. The kids feuded their way through decorating it, arguing over who could hang which ornament and where they should place them, and who got to be on the ladder.

‘Tis the season to be dramatic.

And dramatic we’ve been. This morning I was determined to be organized and on time – I have to teach the first class, drop off the kids early for carpool and have my zen going or I’m sunk. I was doing so well, getting lunches made in the kitchen when I heard this:

“That’s my crystal train”

“it’s MINE”

“It doesn’t go there”

“leave me alone”




-silence- (what no mother ever wants to hear)

enter me…

“Shit!” (Mad) What happened? Who did this? Hurry, Brandon get towels, Crap we’re going to be late, the rug! How did this happen?!” (Drew is on the couch, hands over her eyes)

“It wasn’t me”

“I didn’t do anything”

Brandon and I start cleaning and I hear that voice in my head say “chill out” so I start laughing and simultaneously yelling at Brandon who helped me upright the tree, which was now crooked on the stand.

“Shit – we don’t have time for this” (Laughing this time, performing a double apology to Brandon for both yelling at him and swearing.)

We managed to be on time, and even seemed to regain some of our zen by the time we hit the car. The kids learned some new vocabulary and hopefully I haven’t screwed them up beyond repair.

Most of all, I learned that our tree, like many of my students, needs a wall anchor!