Helpful wisdom, compassion and care for you

Living in the smallest slice of now

Photo Credit - Autumn Mott

As we know, life’s challenges can quickly overwhelm. A diagnosis. A disaster, natural or manmade. A death. A divorce. (Now I’m just getting tickled by how many “D’s” for disasters there are.) You get the picture.

We know so well the clenched stomach, the tensed jaw, the fierce inner focus, the search for solutions. There’s got to be a way, an answer, some logical plan. But… what if there’s not?

What if we just take a breath?

My kind of health insurance

Magic Mineral Broth - Rebecca Katz

A reminder for those of you who know about it, and an epiphany for those who don’t: It’s the time of year for Magic Mineral Broth!

This time of year, with colds and flu swirling about, I feel naked without it. And that’s a simple problem to fix. A trip to the farm market or grocery store for a sack full of everything on the list—sweet potatoes, red-skinned potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, leeks, parsley, garlic, a strip of kombu—a few minutes to wash, roughly chop and toss into the pot—several hours of cozy reading time while the broth simmers and the kitchen fills with a rich, savory aroma—and you’re good to go. One recipe makes quite a lot of broth, and it’s easy to freeze in quart mason jars for those moments when you need a mineral-rich pick-me-up. My kind of health insurance.

In the thick of it: maintain buoyancy

“Maintain buoyancy” was a favorite expression of my friend Sharon’s father.

I love it. I love the way it feels.

Certainly we all have plenty of opportunity to reference it, as we face life’s ups and downs. In Buddhist practice we say, “This,” holding out one palm, “and this,” holding out the other. The dark and the light. It’s not personal; it’s the human condition. C’est la vie.

Enlightenment at the Courthouse

I’ve had several ecstatic, transformational, almost out-of-body experiences. They are rather hard to describe, and I don’t know what they are (if you do, please fill me in!).  But each has been intensely beautiful and powerful, and in each case I’ve felt like I was on a different plane of existence.

The most recent occurred on one of my numerous visits to the Family Court Self-Help Center (JM-570 in the Moultrie Courthouse at 500 Indiana Avenue, NW) while representing myself in filing a petition for divorce.

Talking about being mortal

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

Last winter I attended a screening of Being Mortal with a panel discussion at American University. It was a strangely beautiful evening.

As a culture we’re not great at talking about death. We fear it, but rarely refer to it. Nothing will change our inexorable progress toward death; as AU Chaplain Mark Schaefer commented during the panel discussion, the ratio of those succumbing is ever the same, 1:1. Yet we, our families and our doctors very often lack the skills and traditions to communicate well, lovingly, effectively and supportively about this mysterious endpoint on our horizons, exacerbating the fear, avoiding our need to plan effectively — in the end often causing more, rather than less, acute pain. Yet on this evening there were people honestly, genuinely attempting to do their best to share helpful thoughts on the topic. It was… great!

A lens for self-knowledge

Photo Credit - Markus Spiske

In 1999, I attended a week-long residential training with the National SEED Project. SEED, an acronym for Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity, was founded by Dr. Peggy McIntosh at the Wellesley College Center for Women to train teachers to be leaders in social understanding and change. I became a leader in SEED education for parents at several local DC schools, something I did for 10 years, with my brilliant and dear partner Sau Yang.

The SEED training gave us masses of resources, experiences, exercises, questions, filters, and concepts through which to view people’s lives. Out of that raw material, Sau and I created curricula for our monthly seminars, 3 hour sessions which ran 9 months of the year.

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