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Too much!

say and learnI drew this up this in my head the other night when I couldn’t fall asleep. This is my brain on overload.

So you can see that I had this post in mind before I read Danae Wulfe’s brilliant post Too Many Books but she gets full credit for getting me to sit down today and write this. I am bursting out like the weeds on my front lawn. I am filled with ideas to write about. Blogs, short stories, and wonderful new twists for the book I am working on now all pop in and out of my head. Are they all that great? I’m sure they are not, but I wouldn’t know because I haven’t found the time to write down half of them. The point is that I have SO MUCH to say I can’t contain myself. It must be the spring air.

Then I walk into a book store, or have a conversation with another writer I respect. (I did both last week and I think that is what set me off.) Suddenly, I realize that I haven’t read anything recent. Or important. Not to mention keeping up with the news which any sensible person should be doing these days. Then there is research for my volunteer position, professional growth in my real life job, studying up on how to grow a garden in the mountains and okay, you get the idea. How can I possibly be this old and still not know so many things?

life lessons14My yoga/qigong brain tells me to take a few breaths, it will all be okay. The problem is that my monkey mind is considering staging a coup because it is starting to suspect that all these meditative arts are the main reason I don’t seem to have enough time to write or learn as much as I want. A rebellious faction tucked deep in the cerebral cortex thinks I need to be quiet and learn more. I seem to have a populist revolt going on over in the right brain that favors running away to an obscure foreign country and just writing my heart out. The parent in my head thinks I really out to finish unpacking the rest of my crap before I do either. And the child in my brain would just like to sit down and color for awhile.

It’s a nice problem to have, isn’t it? There are too many things I want to do. People rely on me. I’m curious about my world. Okay, okay, I recognize that there are worse situations in which to be. Still, what I need is a forty-eight hour day in which to get everything done.

A tiny voice in the back of my brain whispers to me. “You can have a forty-eight hour day, you know, any time you want. Just cram two days together and call it one day. What’s to stop you?”

I have to laugh. Yeah, it’s not really the same but I could do that and maybe I’d feel better; like I just had a long nap and got a whole lot more done that day.

“It’s kind of brilliant,” I say to the tiny voice. “Maybe I should put you in charge for awhile.”

It whispers back to me. “Don’t worry. I already am.”

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2016 in being better, writing

 

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Wise and quiet

Days aren’t what they used to be. About a year ago, I did the math and decided that If really wanted to, I could retire. I was a little young to do so, and of course one can always use the extra money from working longer. But my husband, who is a few years older, was a retired teacher already and I was discovering that being employed is harder when your spouse no longer is. Besides, I have this crazy dream of writing more speculative fiction, much more speculative fiction in fact, and I was beginning to realize that was only going to happen if I didn’t have to go into an office every day and try to figure out seismic signals bouncing up from the earth. I was ready to be an early retiree.

Psychedelic 13So I gave my notice at work, and we sold our house and moved, and I woke up in a strange new place with boxes everywhere and spent about a whole month unpacking and tying to get my arms around what sort of life I now had. All my reference points were gone, and I was far too discombobulated to post a blog, much less to write fiction. Hell, I could hardly sleep or eat. In spite of a fair amount of careful planning, this was not the dream life for which I had hoped. Nothing, other than the slowly shrinking mess of boxes, was wrong. But nothing was right either and I didn’t even know why.

Something deep inside us knows what we need. Apparently, I needed yoga. I already have a little daily qigong routine I do, and that practice helped keep me grounded through the house sale and the move. But once I arrived in a strange place and found myself with no job and no schedule, I seem to have overloaded my circuits well beyond what my solitary qigong sessions could handle. So I spontaneously signed up for a monthly all-the-yoga-classes-you-care-to-attend program in the small town that is my new home, and it probably saved my sanity.

wise and quietIt got me to breathe slowly. It got me to sit with other people who were breathing slowly. It gave me a reason to bathe and go into town and know what time it was. And, thanks to several wonderful instructors, it gave me bits of wisdom to ponder.

When I wrote x0 four years ago, I had very little idea about how to write a novel. I only knew that I was compelled to tell this story, the tale of two women who shared a special gift. In the world of x0, everyone broadcasts their emotions all the time. Only the gifted can receive that information. Only the very gifted become telepaths, because they are the ones who have the rare ability to listen well. My two heroes were gifted because they knew how to listen.

During a yoga class last week, the instructor encouraged us to be wise enough to listen to our inner selves, and to let our minds be quiet enough to hear. I decided right there on my yoga mat that this advice needed to be carried further. I needed to be wise enough to listen in general, and quiet enough to hear that which was worth hearing. I was overcome with believing that this wonderful advice was good for writers, good for would-be telepaths, good for yogis and very good for newly retired people. In fact, it is probably wonderful advice for everyone.

For one thing, if you listen, you will hear what you need to hear. Like in my case, when I heard that I needed to listen more.

(For more thoughts on retiring early and pursuing a dream, see my posts If you’re going to be an old car, Am I a Shape Shifter Now? and Greener Grass.)

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2015 in telepathy, writing

 

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Finding Forgiveness in Costa Rica

I’m once again in Costa Rica, experiencing a week of mountain views, fresh food, water and air, and a recharge of the qigong practice that I began a year ago. The week has gone well, and I feel isolated from the troubles of the everyday world. On this last day, our sifu, or teacher, has chosen to focus on spiritual qualities such as gratitude and forgiveness.

Gratitude goes well, but forgiveness hits a glitch. Not everyone defines the word the same. To some it includes an element of reconciliation, forgetting or moving on and several of us agree that defined that way, some acts are unforgivable. We get into a discussion about the meaning of the word, and several well meaning people pull in child molesters, sexual predators, genocide in Africa and, of course, Hitler. I find the images disturbing and enter the next exercise with a churning mind.

beautiful life1Others have been harder hit than me. Two women in the group who identify strongly with their fellow Jews are angry and disappointed at having been pulled into the forgive Hitler discussion. Their reaction is not to be taken lightly. One fled Europe as a child at the start of World War Two, and still bears scars the rest of us do not comprehend. The other has been following the news and is dismayed by an out pouring of hatred in Europe that most of us did not even know was happening.

There are tears and harsh words. Our teacher was using examples he has used dozens of times, meaning no ill will, only trying to make his point. An angry student jumps in to defend him. Stances turn from gentle to hostile. His wife tries to offer an olive branch of no harm intended. A student from Mexico offers understanding. There are examples from the drug wars that would have been just as difficult for him he says. The positions soften just a little.

“Can I have a hug?” Sifu asks the woman who has expressed most of the anger. She hesitates, then stands a little stiffly and lets him hug her. “Hugs all around’ someone says and pretty soon everyone in the circle is hugging every one else, one by one. Eyes meet. Skin touches.Words of understanding are muttered quietly, person to person, until all is soft again.

Nothing we can do will dent the pain that these two women carry, and no one in the group is naive enough to think so. But we have diffused our own little crisis of understanding, and will at least all part with mutual appreciation for each other.

It works for twenty or so people at a mountain retreat. It would never work in the harshness of real life, of course, filled with all of its deep wounds and long-standing fears. Or would it?

For more on my own personal story of my Costa Rica qigong experiences please see
1. Embracing the Yin in Costa Rica,
2. Breathing Deeply in Costa Rica
3. Many Paths in Costa Rica  and
4. Animal Play in Costa Rica

If you would like to know more about qigong, please visit Flowing Zen
Please also visit the Facebook page of Your Beautiful Life and drop off a like for the great image above.

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2014 in peace

 

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Passion

growing bolder 2I tend towards vehement feelings anyway, so giving me inspirational material that encourages me to follow my passion is a little like giving gasoline to an arsonist. At the very least, if you’re going to do it, get away quickly.

Over the past year I’ve developed a beginners love for a form of Chinese moving meditation called qigong, and I’ve also come to enjoy the blog of my sifu, or qigong instructor. Recently he wrote about his own decision years ago to leave a comfortable normal life in New York and pursue his dream to teach an ancient Asian art to the of people in Florida. He asked his readers for any similar stories of waking up one day and deciding “I’m meant to do something totally different” and then doing it. There were a surprising number of responses and interesting, even inspirational tales.

word porn 4I mostly prohibit myself from responding to the blog posts of others. I know, I know, that’s against all etiquette and advice for how to be a successful blogger, but it’s a black hole for people like me and I have to just say “no”. I granted myself an exception on this one, though, and told my own story of deciding one day that I’d waited long enough in my life to write the stories in my head. I started an outline for six books and a schedule for finishing them over the next three years. It was a goofy and unrealistic plan, but as it has morphed into something I can do,and now that I’m working on book five it’s pretty certain that I will do it. Why? I’m not sure. Meanwhile, I’ve been learning and growing and improving as a writer and as a human and I’ve never been happier in my life.

Writing my simple response to that post reminded me how lucky I am to be doing what I am sure I am meant to do. There is an incredible power in a such a belief. Where will pursuing my most deeply held passion ultimately take me? I have no idea. In fact, I have a pretty strong suspicion that it might not even matter.

Check out the blog post at Flowing Zen that got me starting on this subject, and drop by Facebook and like Growing Bolder and Wordporn, the sources of the two wonderful images shown here.

 

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2014 in writing

 

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Qi — the best Scrabble word ever

scrabbleI used to play a lot of Scrabble as a child and I always hung on to a U until the Q showed up. It was a strategy that paid off.  Then I took a break from the game for a few years, until I discovered various online word games that approximated Scrabble (close but not so close that there is copyright infringement, you know the ones). Not only could I now play any hour day or night, but I could find opponents, good opponents, willing to do the same. Better yet they were from India and Australia and all sorts of exotic places and some were happy to chat with me about where they lived and what they thought about life.The world was now my oyster. Wahoo!

The very best part, however, was discovering all the wonderful letter combinations that were now considered words. ZA.  Acceptable as short for pizza though I have never heard anyone of any age actually use it. KI. A plant from the South Pacific. But the very best has to be QI. More useful than QAT, QAID, QOPH and QWERTY combined, I used it happily for over a decade without having much of clue as to what it meant.

Meanwhile, my online words games began to shape my writing as I began my first novel x0. My relationships with my community of unseen kindred spirits gave me ideas for the worldwide organization x0 and helped me design its imaginary website. An accountant in England who I play with regularly served as a model for the British tax accountant who shepherds Lola and Nwanyi safely on to a plane at Gatwick Airport. One British woman who beats me regularly was even a beta reader for x0, and her husband chipped in with an amazing job of proofreading. My world of happy telepaths was a reflection of my own happy hours spent making words worth lots of points while chatting with people I enjoyed.

Click here to visit flowingzen.com

Click here to visit flowingzen.com

But I still didn’t know what QI was.

And then last week I spent five entire days learning about my qi. Turns out qi is the modern spelling of chi, an Anglicized attempt to capture the Chinese word for the life force or energy within all of us. While I am only a beginner, I did learn enough to understand that moving ones qi in healthy ways while meditating and doing light rhythmic exercises is both invigorating and relaxing. At least it is to me and apparently it is to many others. So it turns out that I’m a real big fan of QI, I just didn’t know it until last week.

Kind of ironic, isn’t it?

For post-vacation thoughts on change, click here.

For post-vacation attempts to hold on to the joy, click here.

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2013 in oneness, x0

 

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Not thinking in Costa Rica.

I get it. Thinking about not thinking does NOT constitute not thinking.

Costa Rica 1Apparently I have persistent chatter in my head, which I have agreed to refer to by the rather unflattering phrase “monkey mind”, at least for the next few days. Friends have talked me into joining them on this week-long retreat in beautiful Costa Rica for an introduction to the ancient art of Qi Gong.  It is related to Tai Chi and King Fu, all of which involve understanding and ultimately manipulating the flow of energy through one’s body. I’m a long way from doing anything impressive, but I am finding the concept cool and the exercises alternately invigorating or relaxing. Originally we were planning on a girl’s weekend in San Francisco shopping, and I’m not sure how it morphed into this activity instead, but oddly enough I am glad that it did.

We are entering into the meditation phase of the day’s session. Be quiet, monkey I say to myself. Luckily I talk to myself a lot anyway so this isn’t a problem. You’re a person of words my inner monkey replies. You need your words. You use them to write books, remember?  Well, the monkey has a point there.

Costa Rica 3Just to demonstrate her worth further, the monkey begins reciting back to me the post called Feeling Gratitude in Costa Rica that I just wrote for my other blog. It is true that as I write, I stop every so often and recite the words I have written back to myself, listening to their sounds and turning them over in my head, analyzing whether each has conveyed my thought or feeling in the best way possible. See, that’s me and you writing, the monkey says.

Really? Because when the words themselves are being created, once I’ve gotten going, I don’t say the words in my head and it often seems as though I’m not in my head at all. There is this sort of odd peace inside me while ideas flow all mistyped onto the screen and although sometimes I anticipate what I am going to type, more often I don’t. It’s a state in which I can be startled by everyday sounds and can’t easily function for a few seconds after an interruption. It’s dynamic and yet peaceful and it feels as good as anything I know. In fact, it is very much like meditation, but with me being a lot more active.

Then it occurs to me, and I have an answer for my monkey.  I mostly write without you, dear monkey mind.  What you and I do together is called editing. You’re my internal editor! And  you’re a great one. I’m so glad I have you.

Costa Rica 2I give my internal chattering monkey a mental hug of appreciation and then send her off for a nice nap. We’re not editing now. We’re meditating. Not thinking. Not … no not that thought either. Not anything. Not any thought. We are.

Read more about my novice attempts at meditation here. Read about other changes this week has wrought here.

To learn more about Qi Gong and what I have spent this past week studying, please visit Sifu Anthony’s website called “Flowing Zen” here.

 
6 Comments

Posted by on July 25, 2013 in oneness

 

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