My First Book Group

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Yesterday was the first meeting of the new book group. We discussed Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. A dozen people showed up.  The discussion was (surprisingly) fabulous. I didn’t know what to expect, having never been in a book group before, but I was pretty flabbergasted by how deeply and carefully these people read this book. I already knew most of the people from yoga, but I now feel I know them on a whole new level. It’s very cool.

One man said that he wanted to join the group primarily because he’s an avid reader, but also because he lives in a pretty isolated place and needs to “get off the mountain and be with people.”

My heart melted when he said that.

Made me think that book groups aren’t just about books.

The best part for me was being witness to, and part of, a big rollicking discussion. Haven’t had that experience since college, and even in college it didn’t happen as often as I would have liked.

This particular book wasn’t my favorite, but the majority of the group really liked it and made a great case for it, so much so, in fact, that I thought I might go back and re-read at least parts.

But …I won’t.

That’s because I’m already deeply into A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami, which is the next book. Here, for the record, is my review of Lincoln In The Bardo:

Dear Lincoln In The Bardo,

It’s not you, it’s me. I’m the one who’s messed up and blind. You didn’t do anything wrong. You were great, in fact. Everything you said, and the way you said it, was beautiful and true and I loved that about you. All my friends liked you, too. You were creative and complex. I just couldn’t up-level to your world.

You and I, it seems, have very different minds, and not only that, our minds seem to want to play in different sand boxes. I really need a lot of light and a considerable amount of humor; you were a tad bit heavy, and a little too dark for me.

Even when you yourself made fun of your dark side, and could even laugh at it, I wasn’t amused. It was too much of a stretch. I had to try too hard. (You were kinda exhausting.)

So while I learned a lot from you, and don’t regret getting to know you, we’ll never make it as a couple. We just want different things.

I’ll let you hang out in my “Finished” pile for a while, but I can foresee the day when you’ll just take up too much shelf space and I’ll have to donate you to the library.

But at least that way, if I ever change my mind, I’ll know where you live.

Fondly,

Kath

 

The Bed Is Bigger Than The Kitchen

 The first day in a new place. 

Where to get food? 

How to organize time? 

What to do first? 

Who are these others? 

How to fit in?

Mostly, how to fit into this kitchen. Holy closet! (I am writing in the WordPress app for Ipad and I am having a little fit with inserting pics, so if they are huge or microscopic –sorry.)

This is G’s elbow to elbow wingspan in the kitchen.

  
Fun, right?

The bed is huge, though. What doees this say about where to spend time?

  
The day is hot and soft and quiet. The water is bathtub temperature, shallow and clear. Shells everywhere.

We went for groceries, and for breakfast.

Florida is weird.  By weird I don’t mean “bad” just not my tribe. But I wasn’t expecting that. It’s not a hip, vibrant, exciting place. It has a decidedly “Grandma” vibe. We didn’t come here for the vibe, though, we came here to be soft and quiet and warm and contemplative. And to drink gin and tonics (me) and beer (her).

We came here to rest and re-set, to get back to some deep, warm, elemental place. We came here to talk and read and nap and sup and walk and ride bikes everywhere. 

We came here to notice things, both exotic, and ordinary. 

At the entrance to the grocery store there were these huge cages scattered under towering palms,  each one housed an exotic colorful bird. The bird at the entrance said “Hello!” to everyone who passed his cage. Another one wolf-whistled when you walked by. 

We brought lots of books, and very little work. I kept my FaceTime appointment with Jennifer, and then I started a new book and then we went for lunch, and then we took naps, and now it’s time for dinner, and then a drive out to Bowman Beach to watch the sunset.

  
  

Sanibel Bound

Tomorrow we go to Sanibel Island, Florida.  Never been there. It’s supposed to have good shells.

I am looking forward to sitting under an umbrella, my toes in the sand, the sound of the surf in my ears, and reading voraciously, and then staring out at the horizon with equal absorption.

I am looking forward to being warm, and floating in blue water.

I am looking forward to walking on the beach.

I am looking forward to getting out of my routine.

I am looking forward to diving into books, and writing with a pen, and thinking onto paper.

I am looking forward to being quiet, and talking to G, and riding bikes, and sleeping, and eating seafood.

I am looking forward to exploring a new place.

I am bringing Resilience (which I am almost finished), Start With Why, The Power of Small, and Euphoria.

We shall see what gets read.

Yesterday  my daughter and son-in-law put a bid on a house, and today that bid was accepted. It is a sweet house bordering green-space with extensive bike trails. I am so happy for them. Tomorrow is Em’s birthday and this could not be a better present.

Tonight in Gentle Yoga I confessed what happened with my Apple Watch last night. I took the watch off and marched it over to the other room to the cheers of my class.

It had to be done.

Technology is wonderful, and magical, and helpful, and fun, but it is also intrusive and disruptive and a distraction in a yoga space.

There is a time and a place for everything, right?

(Right.)

Blessing the Space

There has been a frost warning the last 2 nights. I wore a jacket into the studio this morning and felt happy that I didn’t have any plans to go fishing today with G and her father. (Brrrrr….)

(As it turned out it was a beautiful day for fishing and they caught 5 trout.)

The studio was so warm and cozy this morning. And filled with sun. I took my spot under the skylight and did lots and lots of backbends. Not because I like backbends, or need backbends, but because I was entranced with the light raining on me from above.

Filtered light. Blue sky light. Early May light. The skylight is framed in white painted wood. The windows framed a perfect blue sky. It always reminds me of a lifeguard chair.

My mind suddenly flashed on a line from a John O’Donohue poem about “postponing dreams no longer” so when I’d had quite enough of backbending, I went and found it and copied it onto my mat:

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I haven’t made my Divine Contract yet, but each day as I sit in meditation, I get closer to envisioning who might be waiting for my offering.

Back at home, alone, I set to cleaning and organizing my bedroom, with a heavy emphasis on culling my clothing. My guiding thoughts were: Am I going to look forward to seeing this thing when I pull it out next fall?  And, Kath, You wear 20 percent of your clothes 80 percent of the time. Just keep the 20 percent you wear.

I culled ruthlessly. So proud of myself.

I also changed my bedding from the heavy velvet quilt, to the light, fluffy Zen-inspired duvet. I feel ready now. Ready for lilacs and viburnums and reading on the sunny deck.

Yeah, and I’ll bet money those trout will taste great done in foil on the grill.

Reading

I often catch myself wishing I could talk to someone who reads the same kinds of books I  read: non-fiction, self-development, new business paradigm-books.  Also, books about the latest in neuroscience or the positive psychology movement, or mindfulness, or the place where spirituality and technology meet.

Nobody I know reads those kinds of books. Nobody I come into contact on a daily basis reads anything, as far as I know. If they do read, they never mention what they are reading. What they are reading doesn’t seem to obsess them or it would probably come up in conversation, right?

I used to ask people what they are reading. I still do and it is surprising how few people are reading anything.

When I engage with a book for a while, writing in the margins, writing my own questions and thoughts about what I am reading, trying out those ideas in my life, I feel  enriched in ways that I never could be by just reading articles that happen to pop up on my Facebook feed.

I am reading Resilience by Eric Greitens now. I’m not even 50 pages in and already it is heavily marked up and dog-eared.

I am trying to muster energy to slay the resistance monster that is preventing me from finishing my book. I need to cultivate both focus and beginner’s mind again. Greitens says to begin with humility. He himself starts every day with this humility mantra:

“ I begin with humility. I act with humility. I end with humility. Humility leads to clarity. Humility leads to an open mind and a forgiving heart. I see every person as superior to me in some way; with every person as my teacher, I grow in wisdom. As I grow in wisdom, humility becomes ever more my guide. I begin with humility. I act with humility. I end with humility.”  ~P. 33.

Everybody has something to teach me. I need to approach people with that attitude, that orientation.

This is what is inspiring me today.

Namaste.

Time Warrior

I started reading Time Warrior by Steve Chandler this morning. It’s all about hacking time to avoid procrastination. The hack is this: forget about linear time. There’s no line of time extending into the future  like a receding perspective line, and there’s also no line running back into the past either. It’s all just a story, a faulty model that lots of us believe, trust, and bank on. But there’s  no such line, Chandler says. There is only now.

This, of course, is not a new time hack.

Eckart Tolle beat him to it, and Buddhist metaphysics beat Tolle to it.. What is new, as far as I can tell so far, (I am only on p. 36) is this Warrior notion. He says you have to Warrior-up.

He says you have to let go of any notion that there is a future you are heading toward. You can only act in the present . We need to be Warriors and read and write and do what needs to be done, in the present.

The present must be broken open, hacked into, revealed. And when it is, you will be free of time, and by extension, free of the whole concept of procrastination.

I think this is going to be a very important book for me. It is going to function to remind me of things I already know, but which I systematically forget.

How many of these books must I read before that great epiphany happens in which I just get it so hard, that there’s no going back? (Gretchen Rubin in Better Than Before, calls this event a “Lightning Bolt Moment.” She had one of them after she read Gary Taubes’ Why We Get Fat and it completely changed her diet forever and she has never looked back.)

Time gives me such a fit. Especially as I am getting older. There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of it left, and that means I don’t have that much wiggle room anymore to mess around with putting things off.

That’s why it’s really important that I learn how to park my ass in the present and do all my work there.  That’s why I’m praying for the Lightning Bolt, or in this book’s case, learning to become a Time Warrior.

Let’s sharpen the sword and begin.

This Analog Life

Woke up to a power outage this morning. No lights, no heat, but fortunately we have a gas stove and had the means to cook, and we had water.

Cobbled together some oatmeal in the dark, but didn’t risk taking showers. G walked the dog and went to the office where there was power.

I had a lot of computer work to do that I couldn’t do. The house started getting cold. I went up into my not-so-cozy lair and did a chilly 20 minute meditation.

Came back down, put the fireplace on, snuggled under a blanket, got out the  fountain pen and my book and wrote and read all morning.

It was heaven.

I love my electronics more than you know. iPhone, iPad, MacBookPro. Love, love, love. But they enslave me.

I have to say, I didn’t want the power to come back on. At least not for a while.  Without the hum of the fridge and whirr of the heating system cycling on and off, the house had no buzz, no pulse. Mine was the only pulse, and I could really hear it.

The gas fireplace emitted a little hiss, but that was it. Just the sound of my book page turning, and the little scritch of a pen nib across paper.

It was perfectly simple.

At first my inability to engage with my beloved gadgets was frustrating, but it soon turned into this unexpected gift: the gift of slow, unhurried time.

What would most certainly have been a morning of shooting off emails and getting through paperwork, turned into a throwback to a time without buzzy things screaming for, and insisting upon my attention.

I did have 2 appointment to get to however, so I had to get dressed and leave this “Little House on the Prairie” moment.

Soon after I returned, power was restored and I immediately dove headlong right back into my keyboards and my machines, and tried to catch up.

Now as I get ready to head up to bed, the house is warm and lit.

I just turned off the TV, and I am still thinking about my beautiful analog morning. I am not wishing for another power outage tomorrow morning –oh god no– I have a full day of busy tomorrow, but it is just too bad that it sometimes takes take a power outage to make me realize the power of my own power.