Sunday, June 19, 2011

Staying Sane

when all about you are loosing it!

Yes! It's been one of those weeks. Little unpleasantnesses. Traffic snarls (what else is new), had to pay taxes out of my LOC - clients are also dealing with financial shorts, the housekeeper twisted the vacuum cleaner chord so I must replace it and the dog has allergies. Sigh. How do I keep my head above water when there doesn't appear to be a raft to grab?

Well, don't swallow the water. Keep dog paddling. Watch for the logs floating by and hold on to the one that will keep me afloat. In other words, make do with what is available. Don't get overwhelmed by the annoyances because there will always be something to challenge the evenness of life around me.

To prepare for the week I took myself to a special gathering this morning and I have just made gazpacho. Yum. The treat was a gathering at The Church in Ocean Park celebrating Juneteenth - the day news of the Emancipation Proclamation reached Galveston, Texas in 1865. While the Proclamation was actually signed in January 1865, the slaves of many states did not learn of this action until June and because that news reached various communities on different days, it is celebrated as Juneteenth, rather than on the 16th or 19th of June.

Recipe for Gazpacho in the next blog.

curiosity counts - A year of the moon’s movement in 2 minutes   (via)

curiosity counts - A year of the moon’s movement in 2 minutes   (via)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

I Owe Taxes!

OMG! I never thought I would be sufficiently proficient at my work that I would owe the IRS. While the actual payment is not an easy experience, the fact of having to make that payment is rather amazing. I never thought my skills, my business, my very own self-employment would be so effective that I could be making tax payments.

If only paying these sums would insure that schools would be better, that clinics would not be closing and especially that this payment could in some way lower the tone of the angry dialogue that continues throughout this society. I like to think that the monies I will pay the IRS might contribute to lowering the intensity of the negative discussions I hear from each political group these days.

Sigh. Perhaps my small step of covering my own debt can generate some better feelings for the resources I may be supporting with my small payment.

Oh, well, as we are always advised, keep thinking those good thoughts. At least thinking in a neutral manner won't add to the worry and sadness found today.


Saturday, June 4, 2011

June Already!

Semester is complete and the schedule for the next semester has been shared. Now I've got to find a spot for a real vacation. Every break I've taken this year has been for family events or for continuing education activities and there has been little time for me to sit and simply breathe. As I suggest, taking time to have "nothing to do" is a true luxury we forget is a key element of good health. I have been running so much, taking care of so many tasks that I have been unable to do more than a brief sitting (meditation) every day.

I wanted to go to Tassajara - a lovely retreat center run by the San Francisco Zen Center located about 60 miles east of Monterey. I was advised that summer is NOT the time to visit - it is HOT and there is no air conditioning. Then I planned to visit my favorite simple and not expensive spa in Mexico. It's closing! Sob. The political situation in Mexico and the economy have impacted the program terribly. They don't plan to re-open.

What does one do when the options are daily becoming more limited? At this moment a "staycation" holds great appeal. Low cost, there are innumerable resources in Los Angeles that I have never explored and I won't have to worry about passport, air fare or hotel rates.

Taking care of the therapist is as essential to providing good services to my clients as it is to supporting my own good health.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Grading papers, paying bills and watching birds

Yep. It's been one of those days - weeks. The papers are great and I have to finish all the reading before 5pm tomorrow. Sigh. I also have three appointments and in the midst of all of this work I have learned that a special friend has died.

She was funny and energetic and she introduced me to birding. I never thought I would enjoy standing in the tall grass waiting for that single winged creature to light on the branch hanging over our hidden spot. She took me with a group of serious birders and I discovered following those creatures could be an exciting adventure.

For most birders, it's about collecting a list of birds they have actually seen. For me it has become a much simpler venture - proof that the world is filled with creatures that I can actually find and view even in my own backyard. I am always amazed when I have seen a feathered friend that is rare and generally not found in this location. I love the feeling that I am part of something so much larger than myself and completely out of my control. After a morning (it is always very early when you can spot those unique birds) waiting for a specific creature to land, I am motivated to be more aware of how my behavior impacts their world. While it may sound trite, birding is a powerful influence on my environmental consciousness.

So this message is a thank you to my friend who died this week. She will continue to live through the birding I include in my days.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Summer Plans!?

Already? I've been told it's important to have an activity or event to anticipate. It could be going to the JPL open house next week and satisfying that part of me that has fantasies of exploring a whole untouched and in known world.

And then there's the plan to take a five-day retreat in the forests near Monterey and Carmel. Such a beautiful area in which to sit quietly with no access to phone or internet.

In today's world of constant conflict, it is important for us to take care of ourselves in every possible way. We live in very stressful times. Our relationships are challenging and the world outside our safety zone is constantly changing. We must be strong enough to tolerate those unknown events that we confront daily.

Even something as simple as listening a a favorite piece of music or looking at a favorite piece of art provide a momentary sanctuary from the intensity of the world in which we are living. Choosing simple pleasures regularly make it possible to manage those challenges that are also thrown at us everyday.

Today as I walked the dog I passed a van for a floor finishing business. The van was covered with a famous impressionist painting that is one of my favorites. What a spark of pleasure and humor viewing that truck gave me. And because I was aware of that moment of positive feelings, I was able to handle the three intense calls I have managed this afternoon.

Be aware of those moments of pleasure when they happen. It is those moments that make the rest of the intensity tolerable.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A whole Semester!

I have been so lax - I have spent the past four months preparing for, writing for and teaching my classes in the School of Social work at USC(So. Cal.). Classes are complete for this Spring semester at USC and all that's left is the grading. Sigh.

It has been a truly wonderful semester that taught me as much as I offered my students. Now I get to sort through all the lessons in order to understand what I gained and to enhance the courses for Fall. There is nothing as exciting and simultaneously, as satisfying as participating in the development of new members of the health care community. It is in this experience I get to offer my own experiences as examples of what to do and what to avoid when supporting our clients.

And, yes, the clients - it's always two steps forward and sometimes two steps back. Sometimes it's only one step back and sometimes my clients actually graduate from the hard work of learning how to make the strong choices that demonstrate they are taking good care of themselves.

More later about my lessons and the skills my clients have learned and the next steps in the changes that are ingrained in the work I do.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Putting things off, waiting for the right time and looking for the correct tools for the job. All because we expect certain things of ourselves.

All the descriptions used to explain why a task is not completed, a call not made or a decision is postponed. There are so many pressures on us to perform, to participate and to be present for too many things. Everyday.

Now that we are looking forward to the twelve months ahead isn't it better to look at the possible and the doable and remember that we can perform very well when we do the very best job possible at this very moment.

Expectations are terrible. They get in the way of simply being present and doing the most effective job possible. When we expect a specific outcome we are projecting our view into the future and we are not staying in the present with completion of the task at hand. Expectations are based on something that may have happened in the past and may possibly happen in the future BUT is not happening at this very moment.

Allow yourself to stay in the present and enjoy the process of performing a task with the best skills we have at this moment.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Now to Make Repairs

These past few weeks have been filled with all sorts of nasty little incomplete tasks. First, the new chair that looked wonderful but arrived in parts, then there's the printer that still doesn't work and the bathroom that really needs to be painted.

Nuts and bolts, literally do not respond to the pressure I use to put them into their assigned place, drilling usually requires a couple of tries before (third time is a charm, hmm) I get the item installed and plumbing - well it's better for me not to get involved in anything that requires more than a plunger or reaching into the disposal (yes, it's off).

So the new year begins with several items requiring greater skills in construction than I have ever wanted to have. On the other hand, I have become articulate in describing broken furniture, non-functioning cable lines and computer frustrations. I have even become best friends with a few service people in India (not that I ever wanted them to be an intimate part of my life).

All of the above is to say, the best way to manage our lives is to stay in the present, do the best job possible and don't judge ourselves for being human. Forgive yourself and be kind to the people in your life.


Oh, yes, today this terrible new screech started sounding every time I open the refrigerator door.

Happy 2011.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A New Year: Optimism

A fresh beginning, a new plan, untried options. All of these phrases describe the multitude of possibilities a new year brings. These words can be encouraging AND they can feel like a burden.

Give yourself to permission to not know what may come with this new year. Take the burden of achievement, of all the "musts" and the pressure of completing all those projects, activities and contracts away. Think of the instructions you hear so often: stay in the present. Use one moment at a time. Breathe and allow what is happening simply to happen.

We live in very stressful times and sometimes the only way we can get through the pressures we experience, is to recognize those pressures and NOT respond.

Breathe. Stay in this moment and let go of judgment about anything even yourself.