“Don’t explain your philosophy. Embody it.”- Epictetus
Why write? Why draw? Why yoga? I’m in the process of reinvention (again). I must not be the only one thinking about this though because both the January issue of Psychology Today and the March issue of Outside magazine are about change and reinvention. Change in the self, change in the global workplace and change in how we define ourselves is in the wind. This sort of thing used to be devastating for those in past generations who really bought into the idea of a single lasting career for the husband, or a single husband for a wife. And, for some, this was a reality. For others, who built their personal identity around this external thing called “career” or “husband”, it was crushing.
I can’t romanticize that past too much, however, because as I get older and see how the 70’s and 80’s are romanticized now I can attest it was not ‘safer’ then to, for example, hitchhike around the country or for children to run free in the streets around the town. It wasn’t smaller then. It wasn’t simpler. People weren’t happier. There weren’t more fields of green (well, maybe there were more fields of green).
"Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply." --Stephen R. Covey
I open with this quote because most people know Stephen Covey for his smash hit 7 Habits. The fact the book series was such a success is attributed to our inner desire to improve, to grow and for personal advancement.
In Arianna Huffington’s book, Thrive, she says that empathy is being able to listen and to take the time to actually put ones self in a place of understanding for what is being told.
Not only would this help us build empathy, but by stretching our minds it is like studying text or reading a book - we learn and imagine and expand our thought.
So, why is it so many do not listen? Our ego takes over and before time runs out we must assert our opinions and be right or be heard and get noticed. Patience has no place in this hurried society. This is how we get ahead in the world, not by understanding, we justify.
"Most of the successful people I've known are the ones who do more listening than talking." --Bernard Baruch
After my yoga class yesterday I did the usual: I dropped my towel and mat in the bins for cleaning, entered the locker room, searched briefly for my locker (as I almost always forget which one is exactly mine since they all look alike with digipads rather than individual locks), changed and went outside to unlock my bike. There was a girl on her phone with her back to me while I was minding my own business looking up the address to the New Movement Theater and getting out my lock keys.
"Hi!" she exclaimed enthusiastically with a bright smile, "I'm J - I was helping out in class today. How did you like class?"
"Oh, hey!" I returned and I thanked her for her assists.
The instructor had given a metaphor about his flowers looking kind of sad at home and how his mom told him he should just talk to his flowers to perk them up a bit. Like Masaru Emoto spoke to water, she suggested he speak to his plants.
I'm laying in my bed, awake, staring at the ceiling. The sun is up and peeking in my blinds. I want my book to focus my mind on something, but it's on the desk. I don't want to disturb the dogs by getting up and getting it.
To want. The implication of lacking or needing something outside the moment, that the moment is not perfect and to accidentally instill a cycle of dependency.
"I want to feel better."
"I want to be healed."
"I want that book."
"I want my mind to be still."
It is perfect, however, this moment. Everything is how and where it should be right now, right here, right in this moment.
May 19, 2017
I'm realizing as I sit here how it is time for a shift. Maybe it's going to sound selfish or petty or obvious, but I am realizing how I need to be strong for me.
It's isolating to say that, but at the end of the day, we die alone. Honestly, I feel alone anyway so I might as well work on me cultivating the things and person I want to be. If I look at myself and my habits again, am I happy with where they are? Am I treating people well? Am I as elegant as I want to be? Am I versed in the things I want to know about? Am I growing spiritually and intellectually and am I sharing that with others in a loving way? Am I drinking too much? Am I eating enough vegetables? Am I exercising enough?
For so long and yet still I care for others. I hide a lot of the work of that from others as I think we all do. But that has been my primary work for the last twenty some years. When that shifts, for you see my youngest son is graduating high school and my mother just died May 10th, I have to ask myself who I am and do I like it? Believe it or not, I don't like confrontation. I feel I have been polarizing in many instances in my life especially in the last ten to fifteen years, but I don't like confrontation. I cannot even imagine being a politician where that happens all the time - where you have to fight to be heard and you become the target of so much ridicule.
I say this, yet I long for positive change in society and in myself - yet it often defeats me. The world violence, the societal prejudice, the quiet domestic abuse, the lack of respect for life (animals and the wilderness is very much included here), the unbending opinions of pontificators driven by politics and religion, the self abuse, the addictions, the short sightedness, the greediness - it all overwhelms me at times.
Well, I am here now to validate for anyone who feels this way - it is overwhelming. Some people ease the feelings of being overwhelmed by suicide or smoking or drinking or some other addiction. The term "having fun" isn't fun at that point. I saw it in people close to me - and that is why I had to leave.
June 3, 2017
So this is the first time I am sitting at my antique claw foot tiger wood desk in my new home - a home not a house and a desk I haven't sat at for about two years. I'm looking at the title of my entry: in lieu of flowers. When I first wrote that, I wrote it because in lieu of flowers, what my mother and I want is for you to be good to each other and to be good to yourself. Just be self aware enough to listen to those healthy choices always. Sometimes, it is not easy. And for some, it's not natural habit - but trust it will be habit and it will become natural. Just stick with it. I have had some people ask me about how to change habits - because that's what it's all about right? Living the best life ever right? Then, suddenly, you realize you're caught in habit's web. A friend of mine I met climbing accidentally ordered two of the same book called Vertical Mind - As I read it I realized there is much more in there than just how to retrain your brain for climbing. And that's the thing, isn't it? A great sport - or maybe great athletes in the sport - provide this depth, these metaphors and useful wisdom for life not just the sport. I've read Brain Training for Runners by Matt Fitzgerald which is also good, but you have to glean the psychology and same with Push by Tommy Caldwell which isn't a training book at all, but rather a really great story that is just raw and honest. Through watching Caldwell obsess as well as soften and make the various changes, I aspire to push also more than I would have had I not seen his struggles and how they were overcome.
All that said, I still have moments where I'm sad my mom couldn't have come here with us. You see, I'm emerging from a two year darkness which I didn't know I was entering into at the time. I have flashes of memory of sitting at Potter's Place having a conversation which would be the start of witnessing a fluidity of bourbon and pills and self denial. It caused such a rift in myself to be so physically close to something I could not change and could not help. The lack of influence I had on the huge amounts of wasted restaurant food from random take outs or styrofoam in the fridge not to mention the shock I felt when I saw the boxes of bleach and round up ... from someone who claimed to be a 'no excuses' environmentalist. Then there was the drunken hovering over me ranting hot breath in my ear while I tried to watch a tv show or movie. Just stop. Couple this with an aging demented mother who eventually would break a hip and require 24 hour help. At least she was so thankful and sweet ... even if she did yell at me because the water IS cold when you first turn it on. But it warms up. Doesn't it? Then it's okay. I did what I could to keep my cool. In the end, it was ten thousand square feet of hell. There is SO MUCH MORE crap (haha literally .. as in dog and cat) to tell, but it's time to move on. Just goes to show, you can take an insecure, twisted human to money, but you can't make him rich. Prayers to St. Jude, patron saint of the hopeless. May this experience humble me and leave me thankful.
The fun little things that have happened since being here is watching my dogs completely adjust and my son become an accidental cyclist. There are so many things that I just take for granted having all the thousands of miles riding around Illinois and Wisconsin and a few other places. Being a bike commuter in Austin with my son means carrying a backpack a lot, possible rainy rides, keeping computers dry, bike cleaning, keeping a chain clean, minor tuning adjustments, keeping eyes on the bike lane of the road which isn't always swept, teaching non verbal communication, definitely wearing eye protection and learning new territory. It's good hot sweaty fun and I am sleeping better than I have in a long time.
Have to say I had a very smooth and easy move down here despite my worry. The first weekend here was full of friends and family and was just lovely. I feel like we got so much done not only for the household, but filled ourselves with soul food. I was so glad my daughter could be here and also that my lovely sister in law and my children's great aunt. It was really a special time.
One of the things I love is the idea of getting up and out regardless of the weather. I am loving the heat. I guess there was a reason I was at a hot yoga studio for five years. I am also loving the cacophony of birds all day every day and the smells of the jasmine or honeysuckle or whatever weird plants I walk past. Sometimes there's a nasty smell - I mean it is a city. And sometimes it can be dirty or unorganized in some places. But I kind of like it - and my neighbor has chickens and ducks and a pig and I can probably grow vegetables in the one small patch of sun in the FRONT yard if I wanted to .. because, you see, there are HUGE oak trees in the front and in the back yards which keep us a little cool in the shade. I still have much straightening up to do inside and out and I have way more stuff than I'd care to admit to, but it'll all get done. Right. After. This. Run.
Drinking more water. Drinking less coffee, beer and wine. Eating less quantity, but more quality. Being honest and outright. Exercising more. Sending loving vibes and being kinder - to myself and to others. Forgiveness. All these things are coming together now along with your daily tasks and errands. Lastly, my mothers ashes arrived in the mail yesterday. In lieu of flowers, be good to yourself and to others.
May 10, 2017 11:54pm
For Emiko Oka Mottys October 10, 1931 - May 10, 2017
Survived by her daughter and three grandchildren.
It’s so difficult for me to believe this is the last time I will see you.
And now you are gone. I turn around and I think you are there still laying in your bed. I tiptoe as if not to wake you. I wake up as if my alarms I set to caretake for you are still needed.
All I ever wanted for you was to be happy. Your happiness was my happiness. I loved you and looked up to you so much. I was proud of you. I am sorry for I know you struggled so much in your life. I know with all my heart you were let down over and over again by people you were supposed to be able to trust.
We don’t always say the right thing, do we? And we learn valuable lessons way too late. I am sorry for leaving you and resenting you and really just not appreciating you for who you were - your crass and tough exterior did not hide your frail and kind soul inside. You had probably been pulled and pushed in so many directions you didn’t even know who you were anymore and so you lost your mind. I am sorry I could not make you stronger.
But you were strong. You worked so hard for our livelihood … which, actually, wasn’t very lively, but you did it. You did a great job taking care of me. I wish I knew then what I know now. I would have enjoyed the little things and more importantly, I would have helped you enjoy the little things or maybe done them with you and I would have forgave your obsession with doing dishes and keeping house and working long, long hours. All the gardening you did and walking is free and cooking that you loved and your tasteless humor - and I wouldn’t have wanted more. Not for you and not for me.
I know the feeling of being alone and of having nothing. I tried to show you how much I loved you and I tried to be a good daughter.
Do you remember when I washed your car in the parking lot of Truffles while you were at work to surprise you? I think you said I’d missed a spot or two after careful examination of the mint green 1973 Cutlass Supreme. Or what about the time I left school at lunch to bring you flowers? Was that your birthday? I took so long I got in trouble when I got back. But maybe we we can never be perfect in our mother’s eyes? I wanted your friends to know you were not alone and that you were loved.
That little girl is gone now and I don’t know who I am sometimes. But I’m glad you died peacefully. I know I didn’t get everything right and I know I’d get frustrated, but I think I got this right and when you were ready to let go you were in no pain and surrounded with a boisterous crowd of family who loved you at home. You were in no pain when there was nothing more to do here on Earth. But I will miss you.
I’ll miss all the scrambled egg and smoothie making, all the card games and tv shows. Remember when you broke your back and you were in that horrible rehab the first time? Those nurses were so surprised you could play cards! Oh how we underestimate people. They saw you as nothing more than a bed number I suppose when you were a multidimensional human being with varied interests and hobbies that they really didn’t even bother to get to know! But … we all do our best, don’t we? Maybe - to quote a friend - good enough isn’t good enough after all. Yes, we can do better. I’m still traumatized from the last time you were there. The quality of care has declined rapidly.
I am 45 now and you were just 5 years younger when you had me and just 6 years older when you decided to venture out on your own with me. I know that was scary for you. For the next coming decades you worked your ass off so we could get by. I am glad you got to see and spend time with your grandchildren and to know your in-laws. I can still hear Dan’s voice when they’d come over, “EH-MEH!” like a loud thundering boom. They always had something to share, a new quilt or new recipe or game or memory jar full of cut up strips of paper because she saw it on Oprah. Joan was always so loving. So loving to you. To all of us. You too were so loving and so generous of the heart. We were lucky. I don’t think anyone could have asked for more.
I keep thinking, How could you die?! You know you’ve been saying that to me for 30 of my years? Maybe you said that because you were so depressed or stressed - and with good reason. How could you die?! You’ve been saying that for so long and you never died before! How could you … just … I mean, what am I going to do without you to worry about, to call me home, to BE THERE for me? How could you die? Part of me just doesn’t understand. I mean, after all this time. You are free.
I imagine a thousand white candles burning and a thousand paper whites blooming and a thousand white roses at your feet and at your head and your eyes are closed and you are restored to your self again and at peace. And I know when I look at these pictures of you that you led a wild and crazy youth and you lived your life - those were just never things I saw when we were together in this short time. I'm glad you led a good life despite the struggles you endured. These good and sweet memories I will cherish. You will be so missed. You were my rock. And now you are my sun and moon and star and you are the love in my heart. I love you , mom. Know that I love you.
If anyone has ever made me feel "normal" it is Nicolette Niman of Niman Ranch. Thats right, Ranch. Being a vegetarian from 8-24 years old, I am very good at cooking vegetables. Nicolette Niman wrote a book called Defending Beef. She also was a vegetarian. What made both of us change back was the resurgence of the family farm. (I highly recommend looking for her TED talks also btw which I have not seen, but if you don't have time for a book and want the cliffs notes, could be the way to go).
That all said, I am really liking the word 'inclusive'. My son and i had a conversation the other day about the Herbivorous Butcher and he said, "Yea, its a shame so many people hear the word 'vegan' and automatically think it's gross." It is unfortunate, isn't it? Yet most omnivores still don't really know where their animal products come from and that is perfectly OK. I wonder, are people just trying one thing one time and throwing that label on it? Are people just really unwilling to try because it's 'weird' stepping outside the ol' comfort zone? Whatever the reason is, I don't really care. I just find it strange and somewhat annoying. That said, we're going to do a little product sampling of this Herbivorous Butcher ... but it isn't because we aren't perfectly happy with the colorful variety of lovely vegetables! We are just going to try something new. And I cannot wait! All these little experiments and food adventures are kind of like Christmas morning.
Now back to the word 'inclusive'.
I have a friend who started a private school. Honestly, sometimes I think she started it because she is as outside the box as I am and equally as frustrated with the blind conformity. I mean the horrible lunches and school foods and the lack of eco consciousness. My kids couldn't even bring their own lunch boxes to their fine Naperville middle school. Each of my three children were given lunch boxes and in middles school each of them asked me to give them brown paper bags because of peer pressure which is exactly where our story gets complicated. You see, it is a cultural issue, not a policy issue. So, where were the adult supervisors? I don't know.
She told me that at their school they even offered a Christian bible study if the students were interested. Of course, they also offer meditation and crystal energy study and so on. The point is, they were inclusive ... despite the criticism from say, local Christians. Why is one party inclusive and another so afraid?
I have a lot of questions, don't I? I know. I wonder, do you have a lot of questions, dear reader? I bet you do. Well, there is hope. Tairi, the founder of the school, is creating her own answer and I am lucky enough to know her, despite our differences, and also interview her about how she found and created some of her own answers ...and I will be writing about it here, in the Peace Planet Journal.
Now, that complicated question of cultural issues is a sticky one isn't it? There are no easy answers, but we're tough. We don't need easy. We could settle with intelligent, however. Thats why I love the Herbivorous Butcher. They also are creating their own answers. Another dear friend of mine who was also sweet enough to let me interview her is Dianne Peterson. She and her husband Bob had lived in Sweden for a while. Bob, aka Robert Nishikawa, PhD, is a professor at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. "He wants to save lives," she modestly says. They lived and he worked in Sweden and what she found was that the people there didn't know it was strange to ride their bikes in the rain, or haul their recyclables with a load of children in tow on bikes, or rush off to school or work ... even when late ... by bicycle. She said there was a saying, there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes. Is it equivalent to say, there are no such thing as bad people, just bad choices? There is a correlation between cancer and environment. We know this. What a downer, right?!
So, when will the cultural shift occur? What will we continue to tolerate? When will we say enough is enough? Yep. I do have a lot of questions, but I believe we have the answers. And I love it that so many people are out there creating their own answers.
The Biology of Belief, report for curriculum
The Biology of Belief is a book about cellular healing and manipulation by the mind by Bruce Lipton, PhD. Lipton explains how our thoughts can trigger healing - or illnesses - in the body. He received his Ph.D. in developmental biology in 1971 and taught at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and St. George’s University of Medicine and from 1987 to 1992. He also was a researcher at Penn State and Stanford University Medical Center. He has several published works on this including white papers and essays on cellular biology and epigenetics that have appeared in Nature magazine, the University of Wisconsin, Stanford University and many others. He has written four books on epigenetics and the power of belief to change your health and to change your mind. He has lectured at conferences such as the Institute of Noetic Sciences conference and made guest appearances in films and on television shows regarding the impact of love and fear on your body. In 2009, he received the Goi Peace award for his work in the “New Biology”.
Despite all of Lipton’s awards and accolades, his work is still often criticized by skeptics which you can sense pays a toll on his own psyche. He mentions in the Biology of Belief, which was republished in 2015 as a ten year anniversary edition, his awe and disappointment in a more recent publication on epigenetics in Nature magazine where they repurpose his words and findings without siting him and his article written years earlier. These ideas are not new - that of healing the body with our thoughts or even that of channelling energy from what is known as God for lack of a better word - but what makes Lipton different is his tracking of cellular change using the scientific method. Today we have the technology to see and track changes in the body more so than ever before. Lipton has documented the cell changes in amino acid behavior due to signals generated in the mind to create behavior (healing or dis-ease), much like what Masaru Emoto has done with talking to water crystals and photographing the result as evidence (see Masaru-Emoto.net).
"Human Rights are an inconvenience. They are seen as inconvenient to progress by governments, corporations, or organizations. They are seen as obstacles and only valued by a small portion of citizens, who are often the victims, the marginalized or the forgotten. It is up to us, as to remind our governments and our communities that human rights confer the very basic dignity and respect that all humans deserve." ~ Benjamin Wolf
A Lasting Peace will be partnering with Alive Center in Naperville, Illinois on March 5th from 5:30-8:30pm for a special event and vegan potluck.
Diana Piedra created ‘A Lasting Peace’ which is a community based on the idea and desire to create something sustainable and real in our society. Here, especially in this part of the world, there is a false sense that everything is perfect, she says.
“It isn’t perfect and it doesn't have to be. It is our rough spots and our differences that create the character of our culture and I believe we should celebrate all that,” Piedra states. “But there is animal abuse and sex trafficking and all kinds of real issues that need to be addressed.”
The Professor of International Human Rights in Chicago, Benjamin Wolf, will be the main speaker for the event as well as presentations from Hesed House, World Relief and Reclaim 13.
Benjamin Wolf is a U.S. Congressional Candidate from Wicker Park in Chicago. Hesed House is a local organization whose goal is to end homelessness, World Relief "envisions the most vulnerable people transformed economically, socially, and spiritually” and Reclaim 13 fights human trafficking.
“It is our hope that many will come to support these amazing organizations and to learn more about them. This will be very informative,” says Piedra. “T-shirts and tanks are for sale and donations will be accepted. All proceeds will benefit Hesed House, World Relief and Reclaim 13.”
Date: March 5
Time: 5:30 pm - 8:30 pm
500 W 5th Ave
Naperville, IL 60563