Tag Archives: mental-health

Mary has left us – we will miss you

The Uses of Sorrow

(In my sleep I dreamed this poem)

Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift.

Mary Oliver

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Winter Charms

Winter months are long – days are short, the air freezes your ears and bites your skin till it’s pink and chafed.  Still, it’s beautiful to see a field of snow beyond the glass, or rooftops blanketed in white.  I would miss the site if it didn’t repeat itself year after year, returning like a family member for a mandatory holiday.

And winter invites us to slow down and turn our attention in.  To our interior thoughts, our interior spaces; we are all encouraged to indulge our inner introvert and embrace cozy — this is something the Scandinavians are expert at.   I happen to be Norwegian, so I am a subject matter expert in this area.  🙂

Listening to freezing rain pelt the window from the a couch, blanket wrapped around you, is a giant perk of being human in this day and age, if you are fortunate and resourceful enough to have a warm and cozy home.  It would be a shame to pass up the opportunity of indulging in winter’s delights.

Among them, hot drinks, giant sweaters, snowboarding, knitting, hearty soups, adorable winter hats and … books.

Here, books fill a 10 foot tall bookshelf arranged in a neat row and then bearing stacks layered horizontally along the top of the row to reach the shelf that hangs above.  There are also cabinets filled with books – some behind glass, some behind wooden doors.  Topics vary – Rumi, Shakespeare, Engineering, Emergency Medicine, spell craft, the classics – Hesiod and Theogony, the Iliad, et al., modern witchcraft, Islamic poetry and philosophy, Early Gnostic Christianity, Flaubert, Jungian psychology, history, gardening books, astrology, Arthur Conant Doyle, the Dalai Lama …  and it goes on…

Standing in front of them brings me feelings of comfort, happiness and security.  So many hours of pleasure there in those books just waiting.  All I have to do is select one and settle on a nearby couch, wrap up like a burrito in a throw blanket, crack it open, and settle in.

The weeks between Yule and Imbolg, when the first seeds will stir, is a kind of gestation time, a tide perfectly suited to looking inward to take stock of where you are.  What you can be grateful for, what challenges and adventures you wish to engage when the snow finally melts.

Because it will.  The days are lengthening.  So savor winter – enjoy it in whatever way it speaks to you – while it lasts.





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The Turnip Truck

There sure are a lot of bumps on the road to spiritual enlightenment.  Aside from all the bumps that led me to this road in the first place, that is.  I think I need handlebars.

First of all, I am very bad at keeping a meditation practice.  It’s not because I can’t meditate given the time.  It’s because by the time I’ve come home from work and done my various chores I am ready to sleep.  (Okay, I confess I did pick up a murder mystery that I couldn’t resist this week.)   But generally I am quite earnestly unable to stay awake past 9 pm, which is just about the time I finish settling the kids and house.

So I’m not approaching my desired state of peaceful equanimity at the pace I would like.  Still, I am making progress.  This weekend was a case in point.  I went to see a girlfriend on Saturday night.  We had a splendid little party in her very pretty backyard, making much of her Rose and tapenade.  I drank too much.   That is points away from my goal if I am keeping score, which I am not, exactly, but may be informally doing, even though that is silly and not helpful.  Still, I recovered myself and proceeded to avoid my usual self-depracations after a night of over-indulgence.  That does not really amount to points recovered since I’m supposed to avoid alcohol if I wish to cultivate clarity. All the same, I gave myself a pat on the back for not berating myself for my immaturity for more than a moment or two.

But, in trying move beyond a morning yoga routine and some rather undisciplined efforts at self-awareness to a regular meditation practice I’ve hit a bump.  From here the bump looks like a lack of time and energy resources but something tells me its more to do with my priorities.   So, as I near the end of my current commute-enhancing audio book (David Copperfield which, narrated by Simon Vance is brilliant and I heartily recommend) I’ve picked up Jack Kornfield’s Buddhism for Beginners.  My idea is that compassion and a disciplined state of mind pursued with dogged (if inconsistent) determination will deliver me from my usual unhappy state of crabbiness.

And we will see where this turnip truck takes me.  Even if I get tossed off the back after hitting a pot-hole I’ll have arrived somewhere new, I think.

Meantime, I’m working on another story (children’s, this time) and getting some really swell feedback on The Seventh Sister, which I am very grateful for.  And I will sign off to meditate (at least until I fall asleep).

In peace.

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