Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Choice

Spring in Minnesota can be an enigma:
unseasonably warm and balmy one
day, snowflakes and bone-chilling
air the next.

As Forest Gump so famously said,
You never know what you're
gonna get.

Hurrying into cycling class on one
of the chilly days, hugging my
arms around my down vest, I spied
an old man in the parking lot,
coming towards me at a brisk pace,
aided by his cane.

Wearing a khaki jacket, blue slacks, 
sturdy orthopedic-type shoes, and a
baseball cap, this bespeckled man 
called out to me,

Do you know where there's a bar 
around here?  The liquor store is 
closed, he added, head nodding across
the lot at said establishment.

It was 7:45 in the morning.

Sorry, I don't, I responded, moving
quickly towards the spin studio.

He asked two more of my classmates 
the same question as they headed in
behind me towards the warmth of
the building.

One man simply dismissed the old man
with a curt, No.  

Inside, as we were shedding jackets
and putting on our bike shoes, I heard
this man say to a woman, Could you
believe that guy?  She nodded in
agreement.  He doesn't need a bar,
he needs a detox center, she added.

As I stepped outside after class, I
spotted the old man again, waiting
patiently for the liquor store to open.

Instead of the disdain my classmates
felt towards him, I just felt sad.

He wasn't derelict, as evidenced by
his neat attire, and he'd walked there,
since my car was the first to pull into
the parking lot.  His gait was steady
and he didn't slur his words.  And, he 
wasn't from the area, or he wouldn't
need to ask about the local 
watering holes.

I weighed all this as I unlocked my
car and saw the man sitting on a bench
adjacent to the store, cane by his side.

But instead of contempt or judgement,
I chose to send him a blessing.

Perhaps he was staying with a relative
in the apartment building next to
this strip mall.  Maybe he was visiting
for a funeral.  Or, he might be a recent
widower, who relocated to be near
family.....Maybe a war vet who'd been
up during the night with bad dreams.

A person looking for comfort, courage
or something else.

Glancing over as I pulled away from
the curb, it occurred to me that this old
soul had once been someone's baby boy.

I hoped he'd been, and still was, 
loved by someone.

It's impossible to know the stories 
behind the many faces we see each day,
traveling this life with us.

But it's entirely possible to meet
them with compassion, instead of 
judgement, if we make the choice.

Would you?


{Both images my own.}

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Waste Not

{This is an encore post, slightly modified and
dedicated to my little brother. ♥}

When we are old, our lives become 
the sum of all whom we have loved.

It is important not to waste anyone.  

~ Bernard L. Lifshutz

I discovered this quote engraved on a
bench plaque, where it attached itself
firmly to my heart and has nested 
there every since.

I love collecting things, and I love 
reading about the collections of others, 
too. But when it comes down to it, the 
most priceless collection of all is 
truly those people who we have loved,
and who have loved us in return.

The sum of us.

Walking Gracie dog on evenings when a full 
moon seems pinned to the night sky, I'll 
gaze up at it, thinking of people from my 
own collection of cherished relationships 
who are no longer here to experience 
its beauty with me.  And yet, they will 
always be part of that unique equation 
that is mine, alone.

For them, and for those I am still lucky 
enough to share this journey with, I don't 
want to squander full moons or bear hugs, 
bare feet in the grass or early morning 
sunlight caressing my face.  I want to 
recognize and remember it all. I'm 
determined not to frivol anything away.

The changing seasons have a way of
sharpening the senses and refocusing
the lens on this glorious planet that we
call home. My friends, I hope that you
revel in that magic with someone 
special in your life, or perhaps, sit
quietly in the sunshine with the memory
of another, who was integral to 
the sum of you.

It is important not to waste anyone.


{photo by me}

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Silent Self

Meditation practice isn't about trying to
throw ourselves away and become something
better. It's about befriending who we are,


~ Pema Chodron

Have you tried meditation?

I know, I know.  Who has time to sit and do



For some time the word meditation kept 
crossing my radar; on TV, at doctor's
offices, at yoga, in newspaper articles and
even on a magnet I saw at a gift shop.

Alright, alright, I finally told myself.

I'm listening!

Much evidence exists praising the benefits
of meditation:  increasing grey matter in
the brain; increasing immune function and
life satisfaction; decreasing pain and
inflammation in the body; increasing memory,
attention and focus; and improving empathy,
compassion and resilience, to name 
just a few.

I'd dabbled in guided meditation before, with
apps that play mellow music and include the
voice of a soothing instructor who takes 
you through the process of letting go while
you are stretched out on a bed or mat.

Those are very relaxing and the meditation
generally ends with me falling asleep.  While
this sounds ideal, I don't usually have
that kind of time, especially during
working hours : )

I'm sure you don't, either.

Recently I read about an introduction to
meditation called 5-5-5.  You sit comfortably
in a chair or on the floor and set a timer
for five minutes. {For me, this is key.}
Closing your eyes, you inhale slowly to the
count of five and then exhale to the
count of five.

The idea is to focus on your breathing, and
let all other thoughts, worries or
preoccupations simply float away.
Once you've mastered 5-5-5, you work 
 your way up to 5-5-10.

Surely we can all give our best friend 
{ourself!}five minutes of undivided
attention that can lead to so many 
 rich enhancements in our daily life.

I have a brain that is difficult to quiet,
but I'm finding that the more I practice 
5-5-5, the easier it is to calmly coexist
with and befriend my silent self. 

I can't control worldwide terrorism,
airline pilots who purposely crash their
planes, or the trajectory of the economy,
but I can take five minutes to befriend
my spirit, making it a little bit 
easier to cope with the dramas unfolding
on a planet spinning blissfully
unaware of any of them.

Your silent self, like mine, craves
quality time with its best friend. 

Will you answer the call?

With peace and love,


{All pictures my own,
taken on spring break in 
Palm Desert, California.}