Saturday, February 27, 2010

First Family Photo - 10 Years Later!

10 Years

Ramon's Birthday is today. Ramon is my life partner, work partner and, now, parenting partner. We have been blessed with more than 10 years together. Today, I am listing 10 wonderful memories from our life together in, more or less, chronological order

10. Our trip to Alexandria in 1999, which was when we first expressed our feelings for one another.
9. Spending Christmas together in Bethlehem, also in 1999.
8. New Year's at the Pyramids in Egypt 1999-2000.
7. Thanksgiving - 2002
6. My graduation from Harvard - I couldn't have gotten through it (or in) without you (June 2003)
5. Going to Fenway (in particular Derek Lowe's no-hitter), but in general this one represents all of the memories in Boston and my gratefulness to Ramon for sharing his city with me.
4. Running together at the park in Brockton - I loved doing that. (2001-2002) and the burgers and sausages you cooked for my "30"run (2007)
3. Our first Christmas with Sky (2009)
2. Our trip to the park - Dec. 2009 (first family photo)
1. Sky's birth, of course (Nov. 7, 2009)

On his birthday, I wish to Thank Ramon for sharing so much with me and I would like to encourage all of you to thank those special people in your lives and to treasure each moment you have with them and not just the "top" memories.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I know that we don't know enough - the power of meditation

Oprah: What do you know for sure?

Nhat Hanh: I know that we do not know enough. We have to continue to learn. We have to be open. And we have to be ready to release our knowledge in order to come to a higher understanding of reality. When you climb a ladder and arrive on the sixth step and you think that is the highest, then you cannot come to the seventh. So the technique is to abandon the sixth in order for the seventh step to be possible. And this is our practice, to release our views. The practice of nonattachment to views is at the heart of the Buddhist practice of meditation. People suffer because they are caught in their views. As soon as we release those views, we are free and we don't suffer anymore.

Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk who is largely responsible for this entire blog and the actions connected with it, was on my mind and his teachings on mindfulness and deep breathing flowed through my day. In the morning, I noticed that my friend (and fictive brother) Chris had posted a link (on facebook, of course) to Oprah's interview with Thich Nhat Hanh. I did not, at that time, read the interview. I have only just read the interview now. But, I have read several Thich Nhat Hanh books over the last 7-8 years.

At the after-school program, two students had a difficult day today. As I was dealing with the students' anger and pain, I thought of Thay, the Vietnamese word for teacher, which Thich Nhat Hanh is often called. In thinking of him, I led these students through deep breathing. One of the students, the one who was hurting, was effectively calmed by the time we got to the tenth breath and discovered that she wasn't really hurt that badly (which I knew to be the case) and ran off to her class. The other student, who struggles daily with his anger and frustration with the world around him and with his peers, tried the breathing exercise with me.

It was more difficult for him. Tears filled his eyes. His reasons for being angry kept rising to the surface. I realized that deep breathing would not be enough and thought of Thay's walking meditations. He had so much angry energy. So, I had this student walk with me to the copy room - taking five steps for each breath in and five steps for each breath out. Pretty soon (after about 20-25 steps) he was completely calm and eagerly shared everything he knew about prehistoric tigers and birds (which is a lot by the way).

It was an interesting experience because I have often thought that I would like to institute/integrate meditation into the after-school program, but had felt overwhelmed as to how to do it. Did I need a specific teacher? Where would we get the funding? Would the students respond well to it? Etc., etc., etc. Today, I realized how much I was overcomplicating things. I don't need a meditation "class." I just have to recognize the opportunities when they arise and share meditation practices with the students. Thank you, Thay for all of your wonderful teachings. Thank you, Karen for introducing me to Thich Nhat Hanh's work and for the opportunities you have given me to hear him speak in person. Thank you, Chris, for posting this interview in your Facebook status. Thank you, Kyle for your practice and commitment to mindfulness as it reminds me, on a daily basis, to continue down the Good Long Road.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

My Heart

Clearly, I am not that great of a blogger. I go way too long between posts. Life can do that. I decided last fall, though, to focus in on the theme "Ten," which is significant to my life. As I mentioned before, I just celebrated 10 years with my amazing life and work partner and, now, parenting partner, Ramon, and I have a film project entitled "Ten" that I would love to get myself together and bring to fruition.

Now, about 5 months after my last posting (that's half of 10), I'm back with 10 things that nurture my heart (in no particular order). Ramon and I don't exchange gifts at Valentine's Day. We do, though, work on valuing, loving and appreciating one another 365 days each year. So, this posting is my only act in recognition of Valentine's Day.

10. My family (Mom, Dad, Kyle, Brent, Ramon, Sky, etc.)
9. My work - I love nurturing and encouraging young people . I don't always have all the answers regarding what the students I work with need, but my mantra is always -- when in doubt, give more love (also my parenting motto).
8. Ideas - whether I find them in a book, in a conversation with a friend or family member, in a song, in the joy on Sky's face when he discovers something new
7. Music - listening to it and, definitely, playing it. On Tuesday, I was playing the piano with Sky in my lap and he starting cooing along. My heart certainly got a little bit stronger on that day.
6. Fictive Kin - all of the wonderful people who have been in my life and supported me as if I were family, despite the lack of any "blood" connecting us
5. A good meal with friends or family. I love cooking (in fact, I'm starting a new blog, ironic since I'm so bad at updating this one. It's called Cooking with Love. I believe food (and breaking bread with others) can warm the heart and soul. I recommend reading Roger Ebert's blog about meals. It captures the value of breaking bread with others, though he himself can no longer eat.
4. Yoga with Sky - I'm sure avid yoga practitioners would find our routine lacking in its accuracy as I don't really know that much about yoga and only really started doing it when I was pregnant, but Sky and I love it.
3. Sky
2. Sky My goal was to post Top Ten Lists (not like David Letterman's). This approach was supposed to get me to write more often. I actually had notes on lists, some completed lists and some partial lists in my journal (my goal was to post, of course, every ten days). Well, during the busy month of August, I lost my journal, which as anyone who has ever lost a journal knows, is a pretty unfortunate thing.

1. Sky

So, maybe I'm cheating by listing my son, who is now just over 3 months old, 3 times, but he nurtures my heart and fills my life with joy in a way that I can't put into words. I feel so blessed to have him in my life. He represents so much possibility (hence the name Sky) and contains within him, Ramon and I believe, pieces of those we love who have passed on. Thus, he represents so much that I think listing him more than once is only appropriate because it is also a way to list those individuals and to reference the possibilities, hope, and peace found in my 12 pound bundle of joy