Friday, November 27, 2009

The blog has moved!

Yes, I migrated.

The year ahead will be in Wordpress. Numerous people have told me it is better, and worth learning. And, my buisiness web site is in Wordpress, so I need to learn the details. What better way to learn a new skill than by sharing the exploration with my faithful reader.

So. Put on your coat and boots. Come over to Wordpress with me.

McFloozy lives here, and has a LOT to tell you.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The New, Improved, Renovated Blog -- A Year of ...


Hello readers,

After watching Julie & Julia, I realized I needed to renovate my life, get a grip on my health and mission, and (of course) prepare for my book and move tour. I suspect Sarah Palin will be through with her bus by the end of the year, so that's an option...

And now, of course, the question is... What exactly am I going to write about for the next 365 days? Julie had 524 recipes. Well, that's been done. So I'm thinking of what my year of pondering and progress will focus on.

Several ideas have come to me. None have fully solidified as the Feature Focus. Here are some of the possibilities:

A Year of Mindful Living
Walking to Gatsal. 365 days, 30 pounds, one lifetime
Your Daily Soup
Creating an Attitude of Gratitude, one postcard at a time

I even considered getting a hookup thingy ding so my sneakers can talk to you, my devoted reader, on a daily basis. Actually, those talking sneakers are real chatterboxes, so they twit out this and that all day long. Not much for plot though.

Of course, I could mix all of the above in A Year of Living Out Loud With Slippers On.

And now, for today's special message. It is Thanksgiving. We stop in our tracks and appreciate the people around us for a day. We appreciate our food, and where it comes from. We enjoy fine wine. And we reflect a little bit about what we appreciate. Here's my tip of the day. Appreciate everything tomorrow too. Look people in the eye and listen to them, even when they make no sense (like Beatles lyrics). Give your attention generously. And notice that you feel more alive. And one more thing. I try to remember every day that life is precious and fragile. Cancer, bridges, earthquakes, trucks take lives away every moment. I'm lucky to be here right now. And right now. And in a minute. Yeah. I'm focusing on that good fortune and wonderful adventure of breahing. Enjoy!

Well, pleasant reader, what would you like to hear about for the next 365 days? What do YOU want to accomplish? What do you want ME to accomplish? See that comment box down there? Use it.

And Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Strawberry Parable

Buddha told a parable in sutra:

A man traveling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself down over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him.

Two mice, one white and one black, little by little started to gnaw away the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted!

- Paul Reps, from Zen Flesh, Zen Bones (Tuttle Publishing)

Today's Walk

On November 1, I made a deal with myself. I agreed to walk half an hour every day for the month of November. Thinking that maybe, just maybe, I could sustain the discipline of a small commitment for a short time.

So far, pretty good. There were a couple of days I didn't get out, a couple of days I walked extra, and a few days I went to the gym. Definitely progress. So much for the report card.

The gift here is a bit of discipline, and some moments of observation. When walking on the bike path, I can notice things, the changes. I am pretty isolated from the seasons in my windowless office and TV chair. On the path, I saw the golden leaves, almost luminescent with the sunlight shining through them. Then, another day, the tall ornamental grass (is it wheat? do we care?) backlit by the sun was pretty stunning.

Today, the milkweed pod. As usual, a metaphor for life.

Bursting, and releasing all those winged seeds. Some just fall down. some lost their little seed, and defy gravity (sing along here if you like!), some are tangled up and stuck in there. And some just drift off and settle down, get covered by leaves and debris and grow into a new milkweed next year.

So. Isn't that just like life? When you're dry and wrinkled and kind of falling apart, this new generation of life just explodes into the scene in a kind of amazing way.

Yeah. Look around. It's probably beautiful.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Slow Cooker Applesauce

Crockpot Applesauce

6-7 small golden apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 strip lemon peel/skin
1/4-1/2 cup water

Combine all ingredients and cook over low heat 6-7 hours. Remove peel, and mash or blend to desired consistancy. Refrigerate, and enjoy.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Giving up Gossip

Seven Tips for Giving Up Gossip September 21, 2009

Posted by Philip Ryan in : Buddhism, Buddhist Teachings, Tibetan Buddhism , trackback

by Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron

1. Recognize that gossip doesn't undo the situation you're talking about. It only puts in motion another situation based on negative feelings.

2. Know that comparing yourself to others is useless. Everyone has his or her own talents. In this way, give up jealousy and the wish to put others down.

3. Be aware of and transform your own thoughts, words, and deeds rather than commenting on those of others.

4. Train your mind to see others' positive qualities and discuss them. This will make you much happier than gossiping ever could.

5. Forgive, knowing that people do harmful things because they are unhappy. If you don't make someone into an enemy, you won't want to gossip about him.

6. Have a sense of humor about what you think, say, and do, and be able to laugh at all of the silly things we sentient beings carry out in our attempt to be happy. If you see the humor in our human predicament, you'll be more patient.

7. Practice saying something kind to someone every day. Do this especially with people you don't like. It gets easier with practice and bears surprisingly good results.

(from Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron's "The Truth About Gossip," Tricycle, Summer 2006 )

Sunday, June 07, 2009

The Katamari Principle

Sandy explained to me about The Katamari Principle. And, on further reflection, I see how it applies to many, many areas of living.

As she prepared to go to Costa Rica, to teach English to children, she wondered (with some anxiety) how she would teach them everything they needed to know. English is so complicated, so irregular, and teaching... a challenge.

Then, with calm, she explained The Katamari Principle.

[NOTE to Readers -- If you have not played Katamari on PS2 (or whatever), well, you will not understand this at all. Maybe the picture will help.]

The Katamari is a sticky ball. As you roll it over things (in the video game), it picks things up. It starts as a small, sticky ball. It can only pick up small items. It will pick up a paper clip, but roll right over an eraser. As you pick up small items (paper clips, thumb tacks, etc.) the ball grows larger. As it grows larger it can pick up larger items (erasers, juice boxes). It grows larger still, and you can pick up even larger items (buckets, dog houses). And as you pick things up, the ball grows larger, and can pick up houses, and factories, and elephants (who are never injured).

Well, teaching English, she explained... would be like that. She might be just teaching them simple, small things (like the paper clips in Katamari). But they need those things in order to (later) absorb larger things (like verb conjugation, or ... dog houses in Katamari). Yes. So Sandy discovered a peace and comfort in knowing that teaching those simple things, while not the entirety of their need for English understanding, is foundational, and essential for them to proceed to learn the more complex things.

And in that, she found comfort, knowing that she would be able to give them what they are ready for, even though there would still be much to learn.

And as I go through my days, with challenging situations galore, and so much to learn and do. I realize that, in many ways, I utilize The Katamari Principle.

When making a change, I sometimes need to implement it in small steps... because the audience (or me) can only handle those small (paper-clip-like) steps initially.

And often, in my work and life, I get frustrated because I (in the all American way) want complete results quickly (as shown on TV!). I try to reflect on The Katamari Principle, and realize that my results now are small, but that is what I can accomplish now. While they are small, they are important predecessors to larger results, which may take time (and many, many paper clips of learning).

The big problems of the world -- health care, peace, an end to genocides and ethnic cleansings and civil wars (whatever name you apply to mass extinctions of cultural groups) -- I can do less than a paper-clip level of impact on these problems. But, in the Katamari ball of life on our planet, the accumulation of paper-clip actions prepares the world for a larger action (eraser, dog house, factory). And collectively, we are building a Katamari world that may (one day) actually fulfill the larger tasks of peaceful, safe, healthy living.

Yes. The Katamari Principle. It's a good metaphor for life, for learning, and for action. It is an infrastructure that encourages patience, and recognizes the value of tiny, tiny, steps. Those tiny steps are the ones we can actually take to change our world.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Trekking the Mind...

When Effort Comes Naturally

Trekking any spiritual path is a balancing act. As you gain effort and mastery, you also gain ease. That means that while you may work harder, the effort will come more naturally. While you will certainly encounter new distractions—and who does not?—you also have the means to overcome them. Do not be discouraged. There is always a new moment in which to experience living kindness.

–Donald Altman, from Living Kindness (Inner Ocean Publishing)