Monday, February 28, 2011

Life = Changed

Well, we did it! We made it through our silent retreat yesterday.

We had heard some testimonials from MBSR alums who said the silent retreat was the hardest thing they've ever done -- even a cop said it was worse to him than boot camp/basic training.

I don't agree. Compared to the really hard things I've experienced in my life (like taking a chance and moving away from everything I know multiple times or selling disability insurance door to door) this was a breath of fresh air! (Actually, it was a little ripe in there by the end of the day - feet and farts!)

It definitely wasn't easy. Sitting with yourself and your thoughts is difficult.

But the letting go felt so good.

Throughout the day, when faced with thoughts that normally would haunt me, I simply opened the front door to let them in and then kindly showed them out the back door. And I didn't search them out later. I just let them go.

And it felt good.

I've likened my previously uncontrolled cyclical thinking to knitting. (Stay with me here.)

It's like taking on a huge knitting project (one that is completely overwhelming in scope and skill for me) and laboriously working it from every angle. Pulling, tugging, skipping stitches, cursing myself and getting frustrated. Emotions fly and the knitting project gets substituted for something more pleasant like petting the dog or quaffing a beer. But then I just can't let the knitting thing go. I think "so what if it's a fucked up sweater that will never fit anything or anyone? I want to scrutinize it some more." Then I attack myself with the knitting. Judging and criticizing. "So and so is an idiot and they can do this! What's your problem, dumbass?" Seeking out that pile of shit over and over and over to only find the same fucked up mess over and over again with no solution in sight. And so the cycle continues, just like my shit storm of thoughts.

However, now the practices and disciplines I've learned in the MBSR clinic allow me to kindly acknowledge, without judgement, that the sweater I'm so worried about isn't really that important - it's an unsolvable problem -- let it go.

I'm learning not to lament over the past because it doesn't exist anymore, to stop worrying about the future because it hasn't happened yet and to really look at what I have in my hands to work with right now.

Because this moment is all that we have and I truly understand what that means now.

Life = Changed

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Quiet Please

Jason and I have our 6.5 hour silent retreat today for our MBSR clinic.

We've been practicing meditation, mindful movement and yoga for 6 weeks and today is the ultimate test.

It's not really a test though, because the best thing about this school of thought is that there is no right, no wrong, no "supposed to be", there is just life as we live it this moment. Noticing distractions, thoughts, and feelings without judgement or harshness and kindly dismissing them.

Today we will spend 6.5 hours at the yoga studio practicing sitting meditation, walking meditation, body scans, mindful movement, and yoga with 15+ other people WITHOUT SPEAKING OR MAKING EYE CONTACT.

This should be an interesting, enlightening day.

It takes a lot of courage to sit quietly and calmly with yourself for any amount of time but this will be the ultimate challenge.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Cat in the Box

So we've had Derville for a few months now and since this is my first experience having a cat, I wanted to capture a few of my observations and tell one hilarious story.


I get up earlier everyday now than I have before. Every morning around 4:30 or 5am I feel a little booomp (cat jumping on bed) and then deet de deee dee dooo (cat walking up my back) and them buuuunmfph (furry cat face smash into my face). This means "Feed me or I will EAT you!"

That cat makes me laugh. He does some of the silliest, nibbly-bimbly shit I've ever seen. He can play with a piece of spinach for hours -- batting it around like it needs to be taught a lesson! He also loves anything tiny like miniature dinosaurs, tiny post it note pads, magnet refrigerator numbers, etc.

He loves to lick my toes...and then bite my ankle like a starving raptor. Both sensations are pretty unpleasant so I'm sure to keep bare feet under wraps.

My favorite cat toy is the stick with the shiny-jingly thing hanging on the end of a string. I spin it real fast and the cat's head spins around like some shit from The Exorcist, then he launches his entire body in the air trying to catch it, misses and lands on the linoleum, sliding head-first into the refrigerator.

Derville and Clancy love each other and the love to play. They are especially rambunctious when Jason gets home because they want to show off for the Big Dog. They race and chase up and down the hallway. Derville jumps on Clancy's neck as he's running and then rides on his back. It looks like a pet rodeo version of the barrel pickup!

Hilarious story:

We were getting ready for bed last night -- doing the animal roundup. We couldn't find Derville so we shook his jingle toy all around the house. This usually brings him out from wherever he's hiding, but not this time. Then I remember that when I was getting a blanket out of the hall closet earlier (like an hour earlier), Derville had snuck into the closet. (He does this all the time so sometimes I remember to get him out, sometimes I try to teach him a lesson and leave him in until he meows to be let out, this time I totally forgot about him being in there.)

So I say "Oh, hey check the hall closet."

I hear the door knob turn.


Turns out Derville was in the closet and had climbed up to the shelf that is face-level. This is also the shelf with all the miscellaneous first aid stuff and tons of other crap.

According to Jason, as soon as he opened the closet door, Derville sprung out at him like an insane, tightly wound Cat in the Box directly at his face! He said all he could see was fur, claws, and eyeballs along with all of the contents of the shelf flying at him explosion style. Luckily, as soon as the cat saw Jason, he changed his trajectory mid-flight and didn't even lay a paw on Jason. Poor Jason almost "soiled his linens" when he saw the crazy cheetah-monkey cat flying at his face.

I was already in bed, listening to this whole thing unfold. I laughed really hard and it felt good.

I'm so glad we have this merry prankster addition to our little furry family!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I'm still re-reading Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins and, just like every time I read it, there are passages that just scream out to me.

Here's the most recent one bouncing around in my head:

"The price of self-destiny is never cheap, and in certain situations it is unthinkable. But to achieve the marvelous, it is precisely the unthinkable that must be thought."

I've always been able to dream the unthinkable and then go for it without doubt or self-judgment. But over the last few years, this has become harder and harder. I can still dream (oh, and do I dream!) but the self-actualizing part of it has become more difficult. I don't have the make-it-happen-come-hell-or-high-water confidence that I used to.

I think it comes from so many years of desperately seeking approval and instead, receiving (what I perceived to be) validations of unworthiness.

But I'm slowly learning that the approval of others doesn't matter.

There is no right, there is no wrong.

It's life and life only.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Weeping Willow

These have always been my favorite trees.

Today the weather is mostly clear, blue and beautiful but still very cold.

Great weather for a brisk walk and a quick nature pic!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Dervillian Effect

Look deep, deep into my eyes...


You are under my command now!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Birthday Snow Globe

I got a snow globe for my birthday.

Not the normal paperweight type snow globe -- but a real snow globe and we were inside of it.

We pulled the curtains this morning and saw snow.

Not normal snow. Big fat snow fluffs.

Like bad Hollywood effects.

Like snow created by a PA who spent his whole life in the Valley and has never actually seen snow.

Poly-fill falling from the sky into my delicate tulips.

Our house has huge east-facing windows --

and a sliding back door directly behind looking into the backyard --

so when it snows, it feels like being inside a snow globe, which is an unusual experience.

The snow is pretty much gone now, but it's still my birthday.

My lived-years number is 33. I'm convinced I've been miscalculated.

I believe my life-years number is at least 1000.

My physical-years number must be closer to 20-something. (This is based on the fact that I still get carded every time I order/purchase alcohol and also, that I don't feel 30-something.)

So yes, I believe I have been miscalculated, which makes my birthdays seem paradoxical --  because they never really feel age-appropriate.


I'm going to have to meditate on this because I think I just blew my own mind!

(I'm reading this book again and loving it in whole new ways. It's definitely a birthday special for me.)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Things making me smile today...

Fresh flowers (from hubby) -

Pop-up Garfield card (from hubby) -

HUBBY  (my sexy hard-working man getting ready for work) -

(I love this picture because of its Drugstore Cowboy-Matt Dillon-Factotum-Barfly-Bukowski-esqueness.)

And always the animals -

Hope you're smiling too.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Distortion and Clarity

With the impending Spring bloom upon us, I've been craving fresh flowers and bright colors, so I sat down the other day and painted a bouquet for myself.

I've been using a new technique for painting recently and I think it's pretty unique (read: I made it up to suit my purpose and I don't care if it's right or wrong).

I use water soluble oil pastel crayons, 140# textured watercolor paper, (cheap)brushes and water.

I use the crayons to draw outlines and lay down a fill color. After I scribble the crayon over the area I want to paint, I dip a brush in water and start to "scrub" over the crayon.

This spreads out the color and allows me to create different shades by adjusting the amount of water and the amount of scrubbing. (Note: using cheap brushes comes in handy here because the scrubbing will destroy your bristles. So if you plan to use the brush at another time for fine lines and definition - forget about it.)

Then, I continue to create elements in the painting by drawing directly on the paper with the oil pastel crayons -- scrubbing over them with a wet brush to clarify and distort the lines -- mixing the colors together.

Blurring the lines of where one thing leaves off and another begins (like life).

Beauty through distortion and clarity.

(My assistant)

Tuesday, February 08, 2011


Quaff - /kwäf/ Verb: Drink (something, esp. an alcoholic drink) heartily.

This term has been part of my vernacular since I could speak.


"We stopped in at Tilly's and quaffed a few cold ones."

Well, imagine my surprise when we are over at our friends and they pull out a pair of "Quaffers." Not being of Yankee descent, they pronounced it kwAY-fer. It wasn't until I saw the inscription on the bottom that I made the connection.

Ah ha! These are the tools with which a person properly "quaffs."

In this case, we put cola in the bottom reservoir and rum in the the top.

Jason and T quaffed a few. They said that right when the rum starts to feel like too comes the cola! Take the whole thing in one quaff and you're golden!

And now I have a richer understanding of the act of quaffing.

However, I'm not sure how these things would hold up to a cold beer - guess we just have to keep guzzling (the less sophisticated cousin of quaffing).

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Mindfully starting the day

Started the day with an early morning mindful meditation practice - 30 minute body scan. Listening to the brass bowl bong and calm voice leading meditation. Checking in on toes and checking out on everyday woes. Moving up the left leg - hey there shin bone, doing okay today? Nice. Breathe. Notice temperature of the air as it passes through the nostrils - cold, dry. In and out, rise and fall. Checking in now with eyes, ears, teeth - kindly acknowledging and dismissing distractions as they present themselves. Got an itch - wait a few seconds - don't react so quick. Live life this way. Brass bowl bongs again. Stir a little and start the day.

Opened the front curtains to see this -

Like lava being poured.

What a great way to start the day!

Here are some pictures from yesterday. I took Derville for a walk in the backyard. He's been watching Clancy go outside for awhile now and was getting jealous. He was literally mad-dogging Clancy and I through the front window when we got back from a walk the other day.

So we got a tiny harness and a little leash for him. He tolerates the harness and loves to go outside. We think he's too young to roam around free outside so we're going to do the leash thing for now. The ultimate goal is to be able to tether him to the small maple tree in the backyard while we are outside this summer working in the garden.

He's off to a good start and Clancy is being a great big brother and fabulous role model.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Sunshine, tulips, and vampires

We awoke to sunbeams again this morning!

(Sunrise this morning)

 There are some low lying clouds making it a little hazy, but I'm not complaining. The local forecasters say it may take months to burn of all of the moisture collected in the valley over the rainy season. Until then, it will show itself as a wispy foggish type cloud cover.

It's funny because I kind of feel like a vampire when the light comes in while I'm sleeping. At first I'm like -- hisssss -- what IS that? And then I realize it's the glorious sun beaming in on us and I jump out of bed to bask in the radiance. After so many months of waking up in the gray damp drizzle of the Northwest, I have come to understand why the people here practically lose their minds when the sun comes out -- Vitamin D overdose!

I'll admit, I find myself moving around the house with the animals, vying for a warm sunny spot to lay in. Taking off socks, pulling up pant legs, pushing up shirt sleeves, titling my face so that it catches every drop of Vitamin D raining in on me. Feeling the warmth, energy, life provided by our solar friend in the sky.

Also, these sun blasts are exactly what the plant life needed. I planted tulips and hyacinths before the first freeze so that we would have beautiful flowers to enjoy in the Spring. They're finally busting out from hibernation. Even the rose bushes in the background are starting to bud.

I planted a variety of tulips so it will be very exciting to see them all come up.

Right now, I'm so happy to see the sun and signs of life returning to our neck of the woods. (Although it seems to be at the expense of the rest of the country -- interesting how everywhere east of  New Mexico got blasted with winter weather right as we start to thaw out.)

Gotta love good ole Mother Nature - she definitely has a unique sense of humor!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Cielo Azul Dulce

The sky was clear this morning -- no clouds today!

It's been awhile since we've been able to see the sunrise.

We were lucky today so I had some fun with the sun and my camera.

Here's the sun coming up through the cedars.

Reflections of the world on window water blobs.

The Pane Constellation.

Other worldly.

Celluloid living.

Sweet blue sky (Cielo azul dulce).

Beautiful day for a walk but VERY cold outside.