January 10, 2017

First Stickies of the New Year...Brrr!


Yes, that poor baby is standing on what is usually liquid. It has been so cold this winter! The canal at our beloved beach house froze so much that we could throw medium sized rocks on the top and they would bounce! 

Along with these cold temps, I started my last J-Term at PLU, and my last official  religion course. Gosh, I have taken so many religion courses, but there are so many more I would love to take! But, alas, it is time to wind up this chapter of my life by intently studying medieval Christianity (a favorite of mine, really). 

************


Speaking of Star Wars, (and who isn't!), check out those sticky note pads! Cool, eh?

We went to see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story for the second time - love it! What a great back story to take you right into A New Hope (Ep. IV). I really resonated with the Jyn Erso character, and the blind martial artist/monk, Chirrut Imwe. I won't say anymore, and won't give spoilers, but I think if you like Star Wars at all, you would enjoy this one.

a sweet little Jyn to live in my speeder...
So much techy-love:

The app Bloglovin' - what, you haven't heard of it?? You really need to jump on that iPhone and grab this one. Then load it up with your favorite blogs. Pure technological love!

Another app I really love is Quartz - but, I have mentioned this one before. Check it out for a more 'controlled' news source. And, it will make you smile, too.

And, one more: Gaia online; this is not a freebie, but at $10/month, it is a good way to stay fresh with your yoga practice, and guided meditations, if you are into that. I just gave Cameron Gilley and some Yin Yoga a test-drive - pure love! You may love it, too.


***********

So, since it is so cold, and we are fighting the sniffles around here, how about some yummy soup? I found this tasty recipe (that is not labor intensive) called Detox Immune-Boosting Chicken Soup. It will be great cozied up with a blanket and a video...how about Ben Hur? That is our choice for tonite. Or perhaps something a little more medieval...like Cadfael? OK, tell me you love Derek Jacobi! I know, right? Loved him in I, Claudius, too. Highly recommend both.

Both Brother Cadfael and Claudius had it pretty easy when it came to clothing choices, to be sure. However, unless you wear a toga regularly or don a monk's tunic, that is not our lot. I am currently reading The Curated Closet, by Anuschka Rees - this woman is a genius. I firmly believe that every woman, and even some men, would benefit from this book filled with fashion wisdom. She won't be telling you what to buy, or what your 'capsule wardrobe' should consist of, but it is more of a workbook-type affair that leads you to your own personalized style and direction for dressing that is fun and stress-free. It builds wonderfully upon Marie Kondo's Magic of Tidying book, too. Another high recommend!

***********
OOOOOooooh, looky!


Isn't it great?? 
My honey has been working so hard on this display quilt for my graduation.
It is even better in person...

*************


And, one more sticky for my dear friend Kevin, who just was gifted a Vitamix:


Salsa Mexicano, the Liz-version


1/4 to 1/2 medium yellow onion (dependent on your taste)
2 cans stewed tomatoes (Mexican style, if available)
jalapeno peppers (optional, amount to your taste)
1 small can diced green chilies with juice
2 T white vinegar
2 T tomato paste
1 T dried cilantro
1 T chili powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
black pepper, to taste

Place onions in food processor (I use a Vitamix) and pulse until just shy of puree. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until well mixed but still chunky. You may need to scrapes sides to integrate ingredients halfway through mixing. Do not over mix.

Bust out the chips.



And now, off to study.
Until next time...

December 30, 2016

Clearing the Deck

I love this blog. It seems to be a refuge in a way other venues just cannot. It is no wonder that throughout history people have withdrawn to writing as a way to both record moments and history, and to think deeply about their human experience. And, what's not to love about that?

As the fog moves up the canal this late December morning, I am again awed at the place I find myself. Call it fortunate, or blessed, or just plumb-ass lucky...I am so very grateful for my circumstances. I think the seagulls that bob along with the winter migrating ducks agree.



So, a bit of clearing the clutter is in order, I suppose. I took the luxury, during this school break, to clean out my closet. Gosh, I have another bag to give to donation; at the risk of sounding redundant, have you checked out the Fast-Diet yet? It is neither a fast nor a diet, but I have been quite successful in dropping pounds and improving my health - which is the major benefit. Anyway, it was nice to clear out the old in anticipation of our final move down here in June. I can tell you one thing: I will be re-reading Marie Kondo's tidying book prior to that endeavor. No need to bring extra baggage with us!

Other cool things worth sharing:

Have you ever tried TokyoMilk perfumes or products? Lisa and I discovered it in the coolest little shop in Centralia called Shady Lady - what a find...both the perfume and the shop! I actually walked out of the shop and then had to turn around and go look at things again! That perfume came home with me...

Another product that is enjoying a lot of popularity is handmade soaps. I even saw some made by-men-for-men using beer, of all things! However, if you are looking for some really high-quality handmade soap made from goat milk, check out a local Ocean Shores producer named Laura Brannon. She and her husband run Gaia Blends Natural and Organic Soaps, Salves, and Candles. The salve is definitely worth trying, especially if you suffer from any dry skin ailments. She will be back in Ocean Shores in March, in case you are near-by. If not, check out her link above.

Under the heading of techy stuff, since I am no longer on facebook, I needed some way to keep up with at least the bare minimum of news. I tried the iphone app Newsify, but it seemed a bit cumbersome and not very adaptable to my needs. Then I tried Quartz, and I absolutely love it! With the appearance and tone of a texting friend, I get just the facts, or I can get a bit more. If I need even more information on the subject, I can follow the link to the actual article they are citing. Very cool! If you are like me, and not wanting to be inundated with our next president and his every move, check out Quartz (I actually have it as an app on my iphone, but if you follow the link, it takes you to the ability to subscribe for email updates. Very handy.)

And, speaking of scary news nobody is considering, how about THIS?

On that happy note, I just want to say that I am back on instagram under the moniker OceanShoresJedi, if anyone feels so inclined to follow. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em...right?

The appropriate music at the right time:



I cannot clear the clutter without mentioning the sad fact of the passing of Carrie Fisher (and her mother, Debbie Reynolds the very next day). The world of Star Wars fandom is in mourning. She will be greatly missed.

in Force Awakens

I love these two shots...



Well, I cannot end on that unhappy note...so how about some words of wisdom?

"You can say anything you like, as long as you say it the right way."

And, this one:

"Are you building up or tearing down?"

Definitely things to think about when considering relationships of all flavors. Our words have meaning, and what you say has the potential of reverberating in another's head long after the conversation has ended. It is wise to be mindful with our words; they may outlive us!


Well, that's all for now. The sun has come out again, there are a couple of geese swimming casually by my window, and the hummingbird just checked in to see what we were talking about before taking a sweet sip from the feeder.



December 22, 2016

A little bit of reminiscing - 2016

So, here we are at the end of another year - I can hardly believe it!

I left my beloved religious community and said goodbye to my mother in 2010, and then left my relationship of 20 years in 2012. I entered university in 2013 and now am getting ready to graduate with honors this coming spring. And, best of all - I am privileged to live life with two of the sweetest, most loving souls alive. Who could ask for more?

I am grateful to come to this time healthy and the most happy I have ever been.
I am grateful for my children, and their continued health and happiness.
I am grateful for a beautiful and peaceful home on the coast.
I am grateful for things to learn and for those who are willing to share their knowledge.
I am grateful for an innate curiosity and motivation to learn.
I am grateful for the wisdom that is available.
I am grateful for good food to eat, and the joy that comes from preparation and sharing.
I am grateful for life's necessities - power, heat, running water, soft beds, and laughter.
I am grateful for the nature all around us.
I am oh-so grateful for life.


December 19, 2016

A Little Slice of Heaven

Dante's view of heaven - God as a point of light surrounded by angels

Define heaven.

Heaven, the heavens or seven heavens, is a common religious, cosmological, or transcendent place where beings such as gods, angels, jinn, saints, or venerated ancestors are said to originate, be enthroned, or to live. (wiki)

I would define it a bit different...

Heaven is a physical state of relaxation, freedom, and acceptance.

Heaven is a state of feeling comfortable, safe, and at peace.

Heaven is a state of mind - at rest and free from worry or fear.

Not so much a place where anyone, supernatural or otherwise, actually lives, but an experience. Perhaps heaven and home could be defined similarly. I guess it would depend on if you felt all those things at the place you call home. I am very fortunate and privileged to say that our home at the beach is very much those things. A sanctuary in a world that can seem like it is spinning out of control. It has been said that we create both heaven and hell in our own hearts, minds, and lives. I believe this to be true.

Time off from school is a slice of heaven, as well. However, I can never just stand completely still (although I do try!). Did you know that there are free classes from Harvard Divinity School that can be accessed online? We are embarking on a wonderful series that features each major world religion through their scriptural texts...here is the LINK, if you are interested. Another goal is to read through the texts required for my next class; currently learning about St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Benedict is on deck immediately following. Medieval Christianity is fascinating, without doubt.

Speaking of Christianity, I was doing a bit of pondering on the bit of wisdom that is (currently) featured in the sidebar:

To study the Buddha's way is to study the self;
To study the self is to transcend the self.
To transcend the self is to be enlightened by all things.
To be enlightened by all things is to remove the barrier between self and others.

~Dogen

First of all, Dogen, born in 1200 CE, was a was a Japanese Buddhist priest, writer, poet, philosopher, and founder of the Soto school of Zen in Japan; in fact, he promoted the sitting practice of meditation called zazen. But, really, all that is fascinating but beside the point. My pondering focused more on his words than who he was. Basically what he was saying was to study the self, to gain self-knowledge, is to transcend the self, resulting in being "enlightened by all things." Enlightenment dissolved the barriers between the dualism of 'us and them' or 'you and me.' This all reminded me very much of what St. Catherine of Siena taught; that one needed to develop a "cell of self-knowledge" in order to know and commune with God (by solitary contemplative prayer, not so unlike sitting meditation). When knowledge of self was known in relation to God, then one would understand how to fully and selflessly give love to others; in essence dissolving the barriers between you and your neighbor. Both teachers, separated by about a couple centuries, thousands of miles, and religious doctrine, were saying the same thing: one must somehow rise above self-centeredness (call it either self-knowledge or enlightenment) in order to understand the reality of ourselves, our circumstances, and the ultimate goal of giving unconditional love to others. It is in this endeavor that we truly live. 

And with that, we are back to the concept of heaven. Giving selflessly, with no motive other than to give happiness or rest to someone else, is creating heaven in ourselves, and possibly for others. Some might question whether this is even possible - can someone act without self-serving motivation? I suggest giving without any expectation of return is possible.

The sun rises without getting anything in return.
The flower smells sweet without receiving anything but a short life.
The wind carries rain to water the land,
and the birds spread seeds and give pleasure to the eyes with no pay.
I think humans can be selfless, as well;
giving without expectations of return.

I guess this is my radical idea of heaven.

December 13, 2016

Thoughts Run Amok

"Thought and intellect are good servants - great tools, but poor masters...Our restless imaginings, obsessions, and incessant anxieties, uncertainties, and worries run amok, leaving us not a moment's peace." ~Lama Surya Das

I laid in the bed this morning two whole hours later than I have been for the last 14 weeks of my life. For me, taking an intensive Latin course, or any language for that matter, required me to rise early to take advantage of the quiet - a quiet world and a sleepily-quiet and somewhat refreshed mind. It took all that I had to survive my second intensive ancient language course. I indulged my mind mulling it all over, again.

It was so awful...14 weeks is just too damn short to memorize such volume. It is just plain ole difficult for an older mind to retain so many disparate charts and conjugations (although, the younger minds struggled, as well!). It is beyond uncomfortable to be called out every day to perform publicly to the excessively high expectations of retention. It left this student feeling discouraged and rather resentful. The final was excruciating, to put it simply. I watched as one of the students worked the exam for about 45 minutes of the 2 hour time allotment, then gave up. When I handed my paper in, I stated flatly, "that's enough." It was enough. I had given, studied, and agonized enough and felt completely defeated. Yes, I let my mind rehearse and play with all these thoughts, again.

I am so very grateful that it is over. But, it is true that these thoughts really are poor masters - do I let these thoughts control my outlook, my attitude, or how I perceive life around me? Are my worries, random opinions, and rehearsals of the past so vastly important that they can be like a master dictating my actions and reactions? I sure hope not. But, the real question is how can I get a handle on my hard-to-control mind.

The answer lies not in the conditioned thought patterns and solutions of a dualistic society - it is not that I need to control my mind to be either disciplined or not - that would require value judgments that are just not appropriate nor helpful. If that was the answer, I would have experienced much peace and happiness long before now! Perhaps the answer is turning to face the situation straight on; observing the thoughts as they come and not attaching them to myself or owning them. Watching them arise, bloom, and age - then allowing them dissolve into the vapor from which they came. Just like pain, emotional hurt, or anger that arises, they all fade if we don't give them value and life.

And with that, I am back to the (much-ridiculed, but highly insightful) Jedi philosophy of holding that which occupies your mind in your hand, looking deeply at its nature for understanding, then letting it go. Attachment happens with the act of defining ourselves by our thoughts - I am my pain, I am my emotional hurt, I am my performance, I am what others think of me. These are the labels and assumptions the esteemed Lama refers to as "restless imaginings, obsessions, and incessant anxieties, uncertainties, and worries" that really do cause our happiness and peace to evaporate. I can easily say that the last 14 weeks of this intensive Latin course has caused my happiness and peace to evaporate as I had taken on the prof's perceived disappointment in the class' performance. And with that I say "enough."


December 6, 2016

Bookmark that.

In hectic times, I tend to create a lot of bookmarks, and also send myself a lot of found online gems. All this results in clutter! Let me share a few...

this is pretty awesome! Check out more of this ARTIST

Well, my application is being reviewed at Lesley. While I wait, I can practice mindfulness, of course! Try this MEDITATION from Nancy Waring, director of the Mindfulness Studies Masters Program at Lesley. Maybe it will help you, too. Ah, come on...it won't hurt, I promise. :-)

Weird happenings:

Somehow, I ended up with two of the same book for my J-Term class. How the heck did that happen? It's a good book, but I don't really need two...

probably the most important questions...
************
I am fully enjoying reading 365 Tao Daily Meditations by Deng Ming-Dao - it is one of the most impacting daily reading books I have ever had the pleasure to read (and, I have read quite a few of these daily thoughts types of books). I have to share another entitled "Healing":

Fire cools.
Water seeks its own level. 
No matter how extreme a situation is, it will change. It cannot continue forever. Thus, a great forest fire is always destined to burn itself out; a turbulent sea will become calmer. Natural events balance themselves out by seeking their opposites, and this process of balance is at the heart of all healing.
This process takes time. If an event is not great, the balancing required is slight. If it is momentous, then it may take days, years, even lifetimes for things to return to an even keel. Actually, without these slight imbalances, there could be no movement in life. It is being off balance that keeps life changing. Total centering, total balance would only be statis. All life is continual destruction and healing, over and over again.
That is why, even in the midst of an extreme situation, the wise are patient. Whether the situation is illness, calamity, or their own anger, they know that healing will follow upheaval.

What a thought. And yet, even walking is a process of falling and catching ourselves.


*************

On another stickie, looking for a way to brighten up for the winter? How about THIS?
I am loving it.

Oh, and have you tried THIS? Morgan got me some as a gift - looks interesting! She also made me a lovely lavender candle and sugar scrub - just what I needed!

Ah...lavender. Makes me long for summer. We, my gardener-in-crime buddy and I, are really hoping that our lavender bushes are over-the-top healthy for our visitor in May. Here's hopin'!!



************

On the car radio...and how about a little tour?




Here is some INFORMATION about that wonderful place. And then, some PHOTOS! And MORE!

Isn't that lovely?? Wanna go with me?

OK, you're right...I have finals to take yet. No travel for me quite yet. For now, it's putting the final touches on my literature review presentation and studying for a Latin final.

And, one final thought...



ps. I watched the PBS documentary below back when we were in Greece, and absolutely fell in love with the production - the music, the descriptions, the beautiful animations. I have put the link in the sidebar in order to find it easily again...perhaps you would enjoy it, as well, if only for educational purposes. :-)


December 2, 2016

Just a Few Quickie Stickies


Welcome to 4:30am at my house...

The 13th week of this term is ending, and the last full week starts on Monday. I am truly trying to stay in the here and now, but I cannot wait until this term is on the transcript. Anyway, I have a few stickies...(or is it stickys?)...to get off my desk:

First things first:

On the bookshelf

I am going to grab a copy or two of this BOOK to help out a fellow traveler. Maybe you would like to, as well? Gift giving time is upon us, y'know.

And, a couple of interesting tidbits from the Latin student:

betcha didn't know that, eh?

And, then there is this intelligent ARTICLE about safety pins, yard signs, and all that jazz. 

What else...oh yes, I applied for grad school. That's a sticky, for sure.

On the car radio, and now on the wish list:



Can't you just feel the hot, sticky Mississippi heat on your skin when you listen to that? It not only makes me want to travel, but takes me back to George County where a dear, old soul lives. May she be well. I heard there were tornadoes down that way; hope everyone fared alright.

Brain seed (aka ponder-fodder from the wordie):

Religious doctrinal religions are prescriptive (proscriptive?), while practicing contemplative mindfulness is descriptive. Much to ponder, indeed.
definitions (from wiki):  
Prescribe means "to set down authoritatively for direction" or "to set down a medical procedure in order to cure or alleviate symptoms." 
Proscribe means "prohibit or limit" or "ostracize or avoid in a social sense."  
Describe means identifying or classifying without expressing feelings or judging.
******************

depiction of Catherine of Siena
My literature review draft has been reviewed for editing; thankfully, (unlike some in my class), I don't have to rewrite the entire 25+ paper. Getting down to the wire...presentation next week!

And, on that note, it is time to study for one of the last Latin quizzes...sheesh, I will be glad when twice a week testing ends! I have crammed so many verb conjugations and grammar rules into my brain, I am afraid some important stuff, like where I left my car keys, is starting to fall out!

Happy Weekend!