Lightness of Being, Simplified

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It’s so easy to over-complicate, well, everything.  See something you like, and buy it.  Hate to say “no” to good causes or good friends or, well, just about anyone or anything?  Easier to say “yes” and figure out later how to deal with it.  Want those around you to be happy?  Go along with what they would like rather than disappoint them.  Step by step, day by day, each purchase, each “yes,” each twisting yourself every which way so that you can please those around you creates a maze of complications, of stuff, of weight on your shoulders that presses you down, that depresses you.  Resentment builds and you snap over the simplest of things, when all you were trying was to do was to be good, to do good.  And what you end up with is complications, stresses, stuff cluttering your days and your life.

It feels so good to clean out your closets, to leave some white space on your calendar, to simplify.  It leaves space to take a breath, to take a nap, to soak up the beauty of this moment before you, without worrying about what’s behind or ahead.  I constantly strive toward a goal of creating more light, both in the sense of brightness and in the sense of weightlessness.  One path of achieving that goal is to remember that it’s the simple things in life that are often the tastiest, the most nourishing, the most satisfying.

My intention for the day – to Simplify.  Check in tomorrow to see how I do!

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Escaping into Dreams

Why is it that my dreams are so vivid, so imaginative, but during the day when I sit down to write I too often struggle with attempting to create the right character arc, or enough drama and tension, or an interesting dialogue.  Why does my mind have no problem telling an intriguing story when left to its own devices?  In my dreams I discover all these rooms I had no idea existed in the very house in which I’d lived for years.  I fly.  I seem to frequent elevators that fail to stop at the appointed floor and instead zoom up into space, sailing over the city until I land, somehow uninjured, in a field.  The ordinary humdrum of life is filtered out, leaving more excitement that I can conjure up when my eyes are open and my body upright.

Speaking of dreams, I had dinner in Bali last month with a man who told me he writes down his dreams every morning, and he has more than 1,500 dreams recorded, which he assured me was “more than any other man on earth.”  I myself haven’t had the discipline to write my dreams each night for 1,500 nights in a row, but I’m not so sure that my dining companion is the only man on earth who has done so.  And he takes his dreams to heart.  God told him in his dreams that he was the King that will bring back an ancient Kingdom for the Indonesian people.  And that he is from the moon.  And all sorts of other quite unusual things that made for a most interesting dinner.

Dreams are a mystery, a way to connect to ourselves at a deeper level, thought-provoking, so scary at times that they haunt us even after we awake.  Dreams are our imagination soaring large, uninhibited by the constraints society and family and responsibility and fear have placed on our consciousness, free to be who we are or who we want to be.

All this writing of dreaming has me thinking of bed, so I think I’ll sign off and snuggle under the covers and await what movie my mind has in store for me tonight!

 


Sing — It Helps the Medicine Go Down

Not literally, of course.  If you sing while swallowing medicine it might be impossible and certainly be messy.  But when you’re going through a hard time, or you are attempting to forget about something causing you pain, or you are bored to tears on a long drive and need something to occupy yourself with and reading makes you carsick, singing helps.

When I was giving birth the first time, not wanting to rely on medicine I turned to hot water and Lamaze breathing and singing to take my mind of my baby’s journey to the new world.  When the lab technician is drawing blood, which makes me faint if I think too much about it, I sing.  And I don’t have a decent voice, can’t even hold a tune much less hit the high notes.

When I want to feel connected to my Mother, I sing “The Old Rugged Cross” — a hymn she sang on every road trip through the south that was our annual vacation.  (After all, who wouldn’t want to tour the Vicksburg cemetery every single year of their life?)  As soon as I start, or hear someone else sing that hymn, I find myself back in the backseat of that Pontiac, fighting over space with my little brother and wondering “how much longer”? and if Dad will ever really stop for a bathroom break or continue saying “darn, I just missed it” past every exit.

And when I visit a new church to check it out, the preaching may be important but it’s the songs they sing that let me know if it’s a place where I will feel at home.  Growing up going to church Sunday morning, Sunday night and, often, Wednesday night service plus Choir practice every week embedded Southern Baptist hymns not only in my brain but in my very bones, and hearing those hymns brings me home.

I’m not a music person.  I rarely listen to music at home or in the car, preferring books on tape or podcasts.  I can count the number of concerts I’ve attended on my hands and I’ve been attending them for 40 years.  But I do love to sing.

 

 

 


The best part of my hometown? Brick

There’s a lot I don’t like about Tyler.  For a little town so full of Evangelical churches, the odd thing it seemed most to be missing was soul.  Tyler may be the Rose Capital of the World, home to the Rose Festival and the Rose Gardens and the fancy dress-up Rose Festival, but it isn’t the roses, no matter how sweet the smell, that pretty-up the oh-so-conservative town where no out-of-state plaintiff ever wants to find itself (but that’s another story).  No.  What gives Tyler its character, what constitutes, in my mind, its saving grace, is one residential area near downtown where the streets are made of brick.  Worn, deep red bricks, slick after the rain, bumpy to drive along, beautiful.  Tyler named those 29 blocks of brick a historic district and is determined to protect them, which makes my heart smile.  There’s an article about the almost 14 miles of brick streets, here.

The small, tree-shaded neighborhoods blessed with the brick streets give another gift to the town’s character.  The homes in this neighborhood feature wide and deep lawns of St. Augustine grass that provide the perfect backdrop for explosions of pink and white and red azaleas that every March burst forth their blossoms in an effort to make their brick streets proud.  Teenage girls dressed in pastel antebellum skirts carry parasols and pose for photos during the Azalea Trail each year, but the Southern Belles are outdone by the beauty that nature plus those brick streets provide.

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A few blocks away the asphalt paving threatens to overtake, with its easier and cheaper maintenance beckoning tax-conscious Texans.  If you don’t know where to look, you could easily thing the whole town is that same, conventional, asphalt paved, suburban subdivision, soulless place.  But drive near downtown, feel the bumps of the bricks, and luxuriate in those few blocks where brick has created character that prove beauty can be found anywhere.


Pensive

Contemplating Life

Peace in the Pacific

Where am I going in my life?  After 25 years of thinking about it, I finally took the leap of leaving the comfort and more-than-comfortable salary of Big Law and started my own, little-ole-me firm — the goal being to free up my life while still maintaining an income and taking advantage of the relationships and experience built up over all these years.

But I have no more time than I had before.  My “to do” list still includes a host of action items that come before the one I know my soul wants to do — work on my book.  That elusive book that exists in my head, in my imagination, in my soul but not on paper.

Am I just treading water?  Am I constitutionally unable to end my procrastination and step into my fear and just force myself to give myself time to write?  I find myself contemplating this quandary often, pensively.  I have no answer.  It’s easy as I lay down at night to plan a different day tomorrow.  Scarlett O’Hara still alive and well, living through me.  Tomorrow, it IS another day.  But every day so far it ends up as just another day that the way I spent my time conflicts with the way I say I want to spend it.

One foot in front of another, blog by blog, I will create a writing habit of butt in seat, writing even when I have no thoughts in my head.  I will be pensive no longer.  Contemplative, yes.  But putting the thoughts into curious, excited, motivated, positive action.

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Flourish

A joyful word, flourish.

Brings up images of spreading joy, gardens blooming profusely, joyous children — barefoot, eyes closed, spinning until they crumple in a heap on the grass in laughter.

Just as easily it can be turned around.  Pair it with “evil” and all of a sudden it doesn’t seem as nice.

Anything can flourish.  Good, evil, joy, heartbreak, love, hate … it depends on what you pair it with. It depends on what you focus on.  It’s a glass-half full test — do you look at the naked word “flourish” standing alone and conceive that within it are the seeds of despair?  Or do you see good starting from one space and growing, spreading, expanding, touching the sad, the heartbroken, the lonely and bringing light to their lives?

I’m sticking with joy.  Mind over matter, directing my thoughts, focusing my energy on what’s good, so that the little sparks of life and laughter and freedom and love and joy will spread, will embrace, will flourish.

Even when I can think of nothing to say, I will blog.  I will respond to the Prompt of the Day, today and everyday, just as I brush my teeth and dress myself and eat (even when I sworn the night before I am only going to have juice tomorrow, or fast — I still eat), every day.  I will grow, create, expand, blog.  I will  …

flourish.

 

 


I Should Be Doing My Timesheets …

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As an attorney who bills by the hour, timesheet are the bane of my existence (and I doubt my clients like them any more than I do). So here it is, Saturday morning, and I know I should be putting aside my reading, my writing, my research because I should be completing my timesheets. But first (the procrastinator in me readily pops out) I should do the filing of magazine clips and other miscellaneous papers that have gathered on my desk during the week. The first page I cut out to save? An excerpt from Elle Luna telling me to pay attention when I tell myself what I “should” be doing and, equally, what I feel I “must” do. According to Luna, at least as summarized by O Magazine, “Should is the expectations others layer upon us. When we pick Should, we’re choosing to live for someone or something outside ourselves.” True that. “Must, on the other hand, is who we are, what we believe, the things that call to us most deeply.” Hum, never that of it that way. Intriguing, though. “Pursuing our Musts as we move through the world is the journey of a lifetime, but even the first step on that road is a mini adventure all its own.”

Think I’ll go on a mini adventure of my own…
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Trying To Live My Best Life

I’m trying out the WordPress Blogging 101 University again. One of these days I will learn to blog better, at least I’ll keep trying!

Our assignment? To tell you, the Universe, why I’m blogging instead of keeping a personal journal. The answer? I do both, and neither as often as I’d like. I journal to let out my anger, record my thoughts so I can look back on them in later years and remember what this time was like, to explore private thoughts and learn about myself. I blog to share, and to seek feedback from you.

One day I was practicing Kundalini yoga using a DVD of Maya Fiennes and working on Chakra 5, my voice. I’ve always had trouble expressing my needs to others, or even admitting them to myself. In my memory I tried to express myself as a child but if my thoughts/feelings/opinions weren’t the ones my parents thought I “should” hold, then they were considered back-talking and more often than not I’d be in trouble for them. In fact for the most part the only trouble I ever got in was for back-talking. I didn’t drink, didn’t sneak off to the woods to smoke, didn’t steal, didn’t take drugs, didn’t fail to make good grades … but I did “talk back” i.e. say what I thought about a situation. Perhaps I could have tried a different approach, a different tone of voice, a different way of expressing myself but I just stubbornly insisted on speaking my mind. But over time I learned not to own my truth, not to speak my mind, just to think it but outwardly acquiesce.

I suffered from horrible sore throats — strep throat — as a child until finally the doctor said I was old enough to have my tonsils removed to cure the problem … and miraculously I never had strep throat again, at least for years. I always had such a high-pitched voice, even as a 40-year-old, that folks on the phone thought I was a kid. All these signs my body was sending me telling me to OWN MY VOICE.. to speak up, to open up. Determined in my late 40s to give it a try, I was dedicated to practicing the DVD that promises with 40 days of use to accomplish that goal of unblocking my Fifth Chakra when “an enriching life” popped into my head as a phrase that symbolized what I wanted. A rich life not with monetary wealth but with fullness, friendships, experiences, spirituality, and abundance of health, joy, and love.

so this blog is the result. As soon as my DVD ended I hoped up, signed up for the domain An Enriching Life and started to write about any subject I feel has enriched my life or might enrich yours. OK I haven’t done such a great job at it but it’s still a worthy goal and one I’m going to keep attempting to reach.

Blogging itself has enriched my life by giving me an outlet for my random thoughts and sometimes helping to put them in some sort of order. Here’s hoping I get better at it, for your sake as well as my own!
Blessings and Happy 5th of July!


The Sun Magazine | The Mystic And The Warrior

The Sun Magazine | The Mystic And The Warrior.

They got me at hello, or the magazine equivalent of it.  Just received my first issue of The Sun Magazine and turned to the first article and am hooked.  The story of the Mystic and the Warrior former priest Matthew Fox speaks to my soul.  It isn’t about original sin and questioning our existence on earth, but about God’s original blessing of life to each of us, at the divine within us, about love and the feminine as well as the masculine, about embracing science and God, about relationship, about a “regrinding of faith in a mystical, prophetic, cosmological worldview.”  Beautiful stuff.  In the article he quotes David Orr as saying “Hope is a verb with its shirt sleeves rolled up.”  Let’s get to work, let’s love God, let’s love life … let’s just exude, bathe in, celebrate and spread love.


A Day In Baltimore

Baltimore Harbor

Baltimore Harbor

Jack & I spent the weekend in Baltimore for his niece’s wedding. The little non-wedding time we had we made the most of, exploring. We stayed in a very cute B&B, the INN at 2920, which comes complete with everything from breakfast to a beta fish. The hosts are thoughtful and there are many nice extra touches to make you feel at home. And it’s just a block from Canton’s Square with a variety of bars and restaurants close enough to easily walk to but far enough away not to create noise.

Below is a photo of the lobby, where there is a cooler filled with fruit and soft drinks.  Up a short flight of stairs is the dining area where they serve you a delicious breakfast in the morning, and a small library with some books you can borrow during your trip.  It was one more flight up to our room.

The lobby of our B&B just off Canton's Square in Baltimore

The lobby of our B&B just off Canton’s Square in Baltimore

We had lunch at Plug Ugly in Canton Square, and I highly recommend it.  I had some very hot and crispy fries that hit the spot, and I almost tried the house specialty cocktail because it sounded delicious but also highly dangerous (I counted at least five kinds of alcohol). Maybe next time!

Lunching at Plug Ugly's

As part of my wedding preparations I also had a manicure at a little salon just off Canton’s Square, which was lovely.

Friday morning we explored the harbor and the Aquarium which, even though I’m not a huge fan of aquariums general, was one of the nicest ones I’ve ever seen (similar to the great one in Monterey, California).  There was one area with at least 20 exhibits of different types of jellyfish, from tiny to some with tentacles that could reach as far as 200 feet.  And, whatever the size, gorgeous.


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I’m not keen on seeing them when I’m in the water WITH them, but when they are safely behind glass I find jellies fascinating.

There were plenty of other fish to see at the Aquarium, of course, including this really cool shrimp …

Shrimp

and a dolphin exhibit that reminded me of SeaWorld.

After our time with the fish we spent some time in another of my favorite activities … shopping! There were plenty of shops from which to choose, and J Crew was having a sale, so I would say the day was a definite success.

The next morning we made it out to Fort McHenry, and we felt fortunate to be there the week after the 200th anniversary celebration.  (Apparently there were huge crowds the week prior, for the actual anniversary celebration, which I wasn’t sad to have missed.)

Of course I’ve heard The Star Spangled Banner hundreds of times and have heard the story about the writing of the song as well, and in truth I put Fort McHenry on my “to do” list because I love history, but I wasn’t anticipating much.  It exceeded my expectations — you enter into a small room where they show a video retelling the story of the battle Francis Scott Key witnessed and, at the end, the screen disappears and you have a perfectly framed view of the huge American flag just as he saw it “at the dawn’s early light.”  It brought out the patriotic bones in my body and if you looked closely you might have seen a tear in my eyes.

The Star Spangled Banner

To be there and see the relationship between the river and the Fort makes you appreciate the story much more.  The tour of the Fort was worthwhile; I hadn’t had any idea that it once served as a prison for captured Confederate soldiers during the Civil War, as well as holding Southern sympathizers and political prisoners.  In the rooms of the Fort they have exhibits from the various time periods, including the beds from when prisoners were held here, rooms set up as they were for the officers, etc.  From 1917 until 1923 the U.S. Army hospital was housed here to serve WWI veterans, before it eventually became a National Park.

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Jack was a little tired of all the touring, so he enjoyed the benches the Fort so thoughtfully scatters around its site.

Resting at Fort McHenry

After that it was all wedding, all the time.  So while there are plenty of other sites of interest in Baltimore, we had to save them for a follow-up trip.  And our little taste of Baltimore definitely left us interested in exploring more.  Until next time!