Barb's bountiful body blog part 2

An ongoing series of contemplations of life on this evolving world

May 1, 2020

The stay-at-home order has been continued in Arizona until May 15, so I have decided to continue to blog. The year is 2020 but I have been looking at a calendar I saved from May 2016 because it was a "Reading Woman's" Calendar and I am a reading woman. More about that later. What I noted in this calendar is how ordinary life was in 2016. I was busy teaching yoga, discussing poetry, getting a haircut and a pedicure and of course, having dinner out at a restaurant.  I also went on a field trip with the Poetry Center Docents, went to the Oro Valley Marketplace for a live outdoor concert, and attended a big neighborhood party. That was just the in first two weeks of May. I don't know if any of those things will return, but if they don't I will continue to cherish my life. There is a little sign in my office that says "eat to feed your body/read to feed your mind." I mentally add, keep moving and do some form of exercise each day. Perhaps this is what people mean when they say, "Hang in there." 

May 2

 As I sat for my morning meditation outside in the cool of the morning, I heard a bird chattering away in the tree next to my patio wall. He was carrying on the way my mind does when I am wrestling with a problem, as indeed was the case. There is talk of removing 11 trees from the landscape in our neighborhood. This is unfathomable to me. Trees are living beings and I consider them friends. Looking at trees always lifts my spirits. I am grateful to them for that and for the vital role they play in keeping us alive. So I have been busy making sure my neighbors know what will likely happen if we do not speak up to save the trees. There was an email I needed to get out to our HOA board and I kept trying to find the words and like the bird incessantly chirping, my mind would not be silent. So I went in, wrote my email, put it on hold and went back to meditation. This worked. When I returned to my email I added a closing thought that came to me through my meditation and sent it off.  I have also been thinking about the books I have read regarding trees. So here are two I highly recommend: The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben, and The Overstory by Richard Powers. Many books I read and then donate to the library. These two are keepers.

May 3, 2020

Have been trying to write, but so far nothing seems right. Probably best not to force it. As I say in yoga, no forcing, just allowing. Allowing myself now to take a deep breath in. Relaxing, I begin again. I write with gratitude for this day and for the beautiful short hike my husband and I enjoyed this morning when the sun was just starting to heat up the cool air. We went to a little canyon nearby where it feels like being in another world. It is an easy hike on a dry wash, through a hole in an old dam, to a space where walls of rock rise steeply on either side. Then the wash opens up and a trail appears that loops up a hill and down again. There are great views of saguaros and other desert plants in all 4 directions. It is good to be surrounded by nature. Very few people go to this place, so we went without our masks. We only came close to one other person (also not masked), so we simply stepped by the side of the trail and let her pass. For which she thanked us. I hope this is the way it will be in the future.  I hope for a world where we are open and unmasked; where we show simple curtesy and respect for one another in everything we do. 

May 4

Having a little more  time on my hands during  this period when so much of my usual life has been shelved, I am finding more time to be in touch with my bountiful body. In touch, not in the sense of noticing its physical discomforts, but more time to listen to what my body has to say about  my day by day activities. There is an intelligence in every body cell and together they seem to know when I am on the right track and when I am not. In the past, my big old brain has tended to take over and give directions. Now because I can spend a little more time quieting my thoughts, my somatic (embedded in my body) intelligence has more input in my daily choices. I have more confidence and I act with more conviction. Right now I am on a mission to save a beautiful line of mesquite trees at the entrance to my community from being removed. The gut reaction I had when I heard this idea coming from the heads of our landscape committee left no doubt that I had to work to save the trees. On May 26th I will find out if I have been successful. In the meantime, I'm on it! Please, if you are reading this, pray for the trees.

May 5, 2020

Something extraordinary happened this morning while I was leading a little group of 3 people in yoga in our driveway. An email arrived from the chairman of the board of our community association. It said that the landscape committee decided to drop their plans to remove 11 trees from along the street leading into our community. I am so grateful for the people who sent letters and emails standing up for the trees. I am grateful to the trees as well. They have strong spirits and may well have been working behind the scenes. Another dream I have for the future is that we will learn to work in harmony with trees and all beings on this planet.

May 6

Upon digging into one of my old diaries (something to do when not getting out much) I discovered that in 1992 I was reading Born to Love by Leo Buscaglia, a professor at USC and prodigious writer, also known as Dr. Love.  I found lots of quotes from his many books on line. The following quote may or may not have come from the particular book I was reading, but it seems apropos for this time. "We must treat each other with dignity. Not because we merit it, but because we grow best in thoughtfulness." So true.

May 7, 2020

Even though these days are strange and sad in many ways, there are still moments of delight. This morning I met a friend in the park. We refrained from the usual hugs, sat six feet apart in a picnic area and had a lovely talk.  We talked about the the things we missed and the blessings we still enjoy. We did a little yoga stretching with breath. We laughed at a little ground squirrel who scampered up, stood on his back legs and did the best he could to give us a namaste sign with his front paws. At that moment of delight I realized that the sadness that veils my heart had lifted and I felt happiness. Breath in and acknowledge how you are feeling without judging, breath out and lift the veil of your heart just enough to let in the light of something that brings you delight, if only for a few moments a day. 

May 8

Creed for Life (sent to me by a friend some time ago):  Show up, pay attention, tell the truth, let go of the outcome, keep breathing. During these days of the covid 19 virus I think this creed has more meaning than ever. We may not be going out to meetings or events, but we really must show up for each day and pay attention. I also think we must tell ourselves the truth by acknowledging the seriousness of the situation. There is no point in pretending that everything is ok.  After we follow all the protocols for avoiding the virus, the only think we really can do is to let go of the outcome and keep breathing. These two are necessary to live as fully as we can day by day.

May 9 2020

The only continent where there is no Covid-19 is Antarcitca. If it takes that much cold and isolation to be safe, I think I will elect to stay here (as if I had a choice) and count my blessings. The blessing of the cool mornings when walks are delightful combined with the blessing of air conditioning in the heat of the day make my home with my husband a wonderful place to shelter in place. It has seldom been just the two of us because we have always shared our shelter with one or more cats. Our last cat died two months ago and today we concluded it was time to look for another. So we ventured out to the Humane Society of Southern Arizona to meet a cat. The cat we had an official appointment to meet was not the right cat for us (for allergy reasons), but another one called to us from her cage. Someone else has an appointment to see her tomorrow. So now we wait. But there is a blessing in the waiting too. We know the right cat will come along and we will share our home with him or her. This gives us something to smile about which truly is a blessing.

May 10

On this Mother's Day my husband and I went to a local park to take a walk and to do a little yoga stretching in the playground. Then I sat my little old grandmotherly body on a child's swing and requested a push. Oh what joy! My inner child rejoiced.  And I experienced how a sense of playfulness can temporarily lift some of the heaviness that weighs on my mind and spirit these days. I know that playfulness is out of reach for someone who is gravely ill, or who knows someone who is gravely ill.  I know my moment of joy was fleeting, but it feels important to send that little bit of lightness out into the world and so I do.

May 11 2020

In a Zoom meeting our neighborhood book club discussed a book by John Zada, In the Valley's of the Noble Beyond.  Zada, a travel journalist, goes to the Great Bear Rain Forest in Canada in search of Sasquatch. What he finds is a wild and remote landscape which he calls "an infinity for the wanderer." He hears many stories from indigenous people and other settlers who have had encounters of various sorts with the shy giants who seem to seem to have a symbiotic relationship with nature. There is no proof that Sasquatch exists. Zada concludes that in the end that it doesn't matter. What matters is what our desire to find such a creature tells us about ourselves. As we become increasingly aware of our separation from the wild places in our world, we are searching for an aspect of our own nature that is disappearing too. It is a search for meaning in our lives, and "Meaning, Zada tells us, is a compass and rudder for our lives. It helps to make our suffering more tolerable." This seems particularly poinant in this time when scientists are pointing out that our destruction of the natural world is a contributing factor in the ability of the corona virus (or any virus) to jump from an animal species to us humans.

May 12

I started this Blog part 2 with a reference to a Reading Woman's calendar I saved from 2016, because I am a reading woman. My taste is very eclectic. I am now reading Stephen King's The Outsider. You may scoff, but my defense is that King is a very good fiction/horror writer who developes his characters well and builds suspense that keeps me turning pages. Also, no matter how bad things get in this world, they are always worse in Stephen King's. I rest my case.

May 13, 2020

There are 2 cats in our home this afternoon. They are brother and sister and one is very shy and one is very outgoing. We are welcoming them with our whole hearts and hoping they settle in and enjoy being with us. That is all for today. It is enough. "Be not heedful of the the morrow, but rather gaze upon today, for sufficient for today is the miracle thereof."--Kahlil Gibran


Second day with the new cats. What can I say? They are adorable and so playful. When we watch them we are in the moment and feeling their playfulness. What a great way to let go of the feelings of sadness and helplessness engendered by watching the news. Praise cats!

May 15, 2020

These days when I am mostly at home, I am taking time to read some old diaries that I wrote in the 70's when my children were young. There are some places that are hard to read and others that bring a smile to my face. What amazes me is how much I have forgotten. It seems at times as if I am reading about someone else's life. I am not the same person I was then, although parts of her are still parts of me. I think of Shakespeare's line, "We are such stuff as dreams are made of," and wonder if it is all a dream.  Yet I accept that the words I wrote then were about events as I experienced them in my waking life. Consequently, I have no choice but to accept the reality of life as it is now with the changes and stresses that are all around me and going on within me. I have been in tough times before and have gotten through them. Mostly they related to myself and my immediate family. In these times the distress is not mine alone, but envelopes the whole of the planet and all people everywhere. We must be united in our resolve that we are in this together. Together we shall emerge understanding that we are part of the whole. That is the only reality we can truly know.

May 18 2020

Things are quieter in our home this morning. The new Kitties have settled into a routine with us so that we all know what to expect. That is what is so perplexing in this time when the virus runs rampant in so many places. No one knows what to expect. I feel disquieted when I think about the big picture.  Social restrictions have loosened up and I am concerned that it is too soon, yet understand the restless energy that drives us to mingle with others. It is our way of reaffirming that we are not alone. The hope on the horizon is that scientists are working on a new way to create a vaccine that may be available sooner than we thought. Until this protection is available and distributed to billions, it is best to seek quiet, when and if we can. 

May 21

I am not writing every day as I did in the beginning. And this format is degrading. I am not sure what I can do about it. Maybe this is a message to let go of this blogging, at least in this space. For what may be my last entry, I would like to share some thoughts from Jon Kabat-Zinn from his Zoom meeting as part of the Mindful Healthcare Speakers Series. He was talking about meditation in this time of Covid-19 when so many are sick and dying and the health care workers are stressed and even sobbing at the end of a day's work. "The real meditation", he said, "is how we live our lives." That is how I feel about yoga too. In the midst of the storm of this pandemic, we can learn to live our lives by being present in the moment as we are in yoga and meditation. Indoing this we may become a positive force for change. Then we can unite with the common purpose of healing the world.  As Jon says, "It is time to wake up collectively."