Tag Archives: buddhism

Happy August!

Hello August!

Hello to my brand new niece, born today!

Hello to a month where I will be in town the ENTIRE month. This might have happened in March? And perhaps the previous October? In other words, this is rare.

What do I hope for this fine month?

1. Relaxed Motivation toward Work

There’s a lot to do at work. I even want to do much of it, as we’ve just dreamed up a cool project that weaves together so much of what we’ve been dreaming about since I started a year ago.  I want to find both motivation and relaxation – not striving too hard, not lazing around too much. Remember the 7 Factors of Enlightenment as a tool for balancing relaxation and motivation!

2. Refrain from judging things as “good” or “bad” – especially when it comes to dating

Because I’m no longer clear what I want from online dating, it’s felt kind of confusing as some people I was excited about fall away and other people I found so-so seem more interesting. It’s hard to know whether some of these things are temporary or permanent, whether they are good or bad in the long term.

I’m reminded of this great story from Buddhism:

Once upon the time there was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.

“Maybe,” the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.

“Maybe,” replied the old man.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.

“Maybe,” answered the farmer.

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.

“Maybe,” said the farmer.

3. Get Everything Settled for Italy

I leave for Italy September 13! I need to brush up on my language skills, reserve a rental car for part of our trip, get a new suitcase, and probably a hundred other details I’m not even thinking about yet. It’s time to think about all the tiny details!

4. Have a BBQ

I’ve been slowly working on the back yard. It’s time to get some patio furniture finally, and pick a date to host a little party.

This makes me panic a little – what if I pick a date where no one can show up? Ahhhhh! Get a couple of people lined up, and the rest will fall into place. It will be fun even as a small party.

Till Things Change Enough that We Should Part

Insights from meditation are notorious for being both obvious and profound at the same time.

One of the key insights Buddhism offers is that “everything changes.” Look anywhere, and it’s obvious this is true. Yet every day, we live life as if this is not true, as if there are things we can count on to last forever.

This is one of my (many) beefs about marriage. “Till death do us part” leaves little room for the change and growth two people might go through in their lives. In the examples of long term marriages I’ve seen, too often it appears to be that one or both people make major sacrifices in their happiness and self-fulfillment in order to maintain the relationship. My independent self chafes at the thought.

Yet I’m also unafraid of the kind of commitment to working through hard places that marriage requires. I have been in several long term relationships which required challenging, emotional conversations. I’ve learned to enjoy digging in to these messy places as “the goods” – this is where trust and intimacy and connection are forged.

My initial forays into online dating have been focused on casual connections with people who seem interesting, attractive, and fun to spend an evening with. My profile is playful, focused on meeting new people, detailed about the activities I’d enjoy having a partner for, short on qualities I possess that might be interesting to people seeking a longer term relationship.

My beefs about marriage have had me turning my nose up at the thought of a long term relationship, something even more than the serial monogamy I’ve practiced most of my life. Yet I have other models. Some friends of mine say that their long-term partnership will remain, as long as it’s still better to be together than to be apart.

On my meditation retreat, James Baraz talked about love and lovingkindness. In his book Awakening Joy, he talks about his marriage, and how his commitment with his wife was to use their relationship as a vehicle for growth. In his talk on love, he asked (as I remember it), “What beliefs do you hold about love that might not be true?”

I was able to see instantly a core belief about relationships. My belief that “Marriage = Stagnation of Self” has had me ignoring all the other forms that long term relationships can take. If I stop believing this is true, what forms of relationships might I really want?

I’m not entirely sure of the answer to that question yet, but I think it’s going to require an entire rewrite to my online dating profile!

I Hate Richard Gere

I have a deep and abiding hatred of Richard Gere.

It started the day I got stuck watching that terrible movie, where he’s in a beach house on the coast, and there’s some woman, so it gets all romance-y, but builds no interesting tension, and I’m stuck wishing it would please God turn into a horror movie so they can both die a bloody death when they get eaten by sharks that bypassed 6,000,000 years of evolution and grew legs just so they could walk out of the ocean and kill Richard Gere and put those of us watching the movie out of our misery.

Nights in Rodanthe? Did anyone I know actually like that movie? (Maybe you shouldn’t answer that. I might not be friends with you anymore if the answer is yes).

But my hatred of Richard Gere goes beyond this crap-ass movie. I hate him because I DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHY WOMEN OF A CERTAIN AGE SWOON OVER HIM. He is not sexy. He’s a total douche in Pretty Woman – asshole businessman hires escort and saves her by falling in love. Ick.

I should be able to live a peaceful, Richard Gere-free life. It shouldn’t be that hard. I avoid his movies. I don’t click on gossip articles about him.

The damn problem is that he’s a Buddhist. He’s even FAMOUS for being a Buddhist. And I work for a Buddhist organization. We get the occasional book to review, “with foreword by Richard Gere!” Gah! Get out of my life, Richard Gere!

The last time we got one of these books showcasing Richard Gere, I went on an epic rant in front of one of my co-workers. The evolution-bypassing sharks are a mere glimpse at the depth of hatred I spewed that day. She tried to convince me that he was the hotness in An Officer and a Gentleman. Given my hatred of Richard Gere, I don’t think it’s wise to try to watch it and find out if I agree. People could get injured. Sharks could bypass evolution and grow legs.

The universe played a funny one on me this week when I finally set up my first online dating profile.

One of the first messages I got from an interested suitor:

I really like your profile very smart and funny
I did know there was such a thing as a radical Buddhist is Richard Gere one?

Bwahahahaha!

I’m trying to decide whether or not to respond to the potential suitor. If I do, I think I’ll just send him a link to this blog post.

Diving Deep

New insights on what I’m up to right now!

I’m diving in deeper with the things that brought me to the Bay Area – Buddhism, activism, and hanging out with queer folks. I’m getting more precise about exactly what I do and don’t want to be doing, who I want and don’t want to be hanging out with, how I want and don’t want to be doing it.

(Precision isn’t exactly a new thing in my world. But I’m diving deeper into precision).

 

 

 

 

 

Fig. 1: My post-it note reminder to seek precision while I’m diving in to explore things!

What does this look like specifically with this month’s goals?

1. Practice the energy of destruction

Destruction is an important part of precision. I have to be willing to cut away what’s not right to focus on what is right.

I cancelled some plans with folks – things I thought I would enjoy doing, but am realizing are not precisely what I want. I decided I would rather spend the evening on my own, reading and journaling, then doing something with others that wasn’t precisely right.

My initial project – fixing my iTunes library that is an organized mess – had a major hiccup when I deleted most of my library accidentally. Thank goddess for back up!

Part of getting comfortable with destroyer energy is getting comfortable with that hiccup of, “OMG, I totally just screwed that up.” To stay calm and present and able to look at options for remedying the situation.

I’m glad to say the music is back (Ani DiFranco! Aimee Mann!), but I’m feeling cautious about jumping back in to deleting music. There’s a lot more confusion about multiple folders than I thought. It’s turning into a project that needs thought about, not just one I can do mindlessly.

I do think the next steps are to keep deleting the songs I know are duplicates. That feels like it will keep the energy for this moving.

2. Play with online dating

So, I found a couple of people I’m interested in messaging. But I haven’t finished my profile yet! How will they evaluate me if my profile is incomplete?

In the meantime, I’ve just left tabs open with their profiles. It feels like so many steps to message them!

  1. Finish my profile
  2. Worry over and edit my profile some more
  3. Re-read their profile 429 times
  4. Draft a message to them
  5. Send it to 3 friends, asking “Would you want to meet me if you only read this message?”
  6. Edit my profile some more
  7. Edit the message some more
  8. Get drunk and finally hit send

I have to remember that I will be more interesting than this d00d, who just wrote me, “hi im horny.”

Oy, welcome to online dating.

3. Do what I love at work

I am not sure that happened this week. I put some fun projects near the top of my list, but they got sideswiped by meetings and emails and a push for fundraising.

I did some interest writing on Tuesday. While at the beach, trying not to work. Part of my dilemma is that I want to do more than I’m actually getting paid for.

Part of this is resolved by my decision to dive deep, including into Buddhism & activism. I’ve decided not to count my work hours so closely, to not stress out so much about keeping things to 30 hours per week. To think of my pay as a stipend, and do what work I can and want to during the week. To track my work loosely, so I know how much I’m working and to make sure I’m at least working 30 hours. But to embrace the work as all part of what I love.

I think in that, there will also be precision about what I don’t love, and either ending or changing it.

4. Play with incorporating other activities

I noticed this week that I have the most ease in having a balanced life when I’m busy.  This week, I have been writing blog posts, getting to dance class, reading, getting outside a lot. Meditation has been part of the week too. And it’s felt rather easy instead of strained.

Getting the Hang of Level Two

This month’s goals looked different than I expected. I rewrote January’s goals, wanting to deepen into them. I got what I needed, even if I didn’t exactly achieve these goals.

1. Meditate for 30 minutes every day. Including (and especially) while on vacation with my family.

While I found it hard to maintain meditation while on vacation, I meditated two more times than I normally would have. Progress.

Even more exciting was how easy it felt to return to meditation after I got home. I’ve meditated every day, a minimum of 15 minutes, and 30 minutes or more most days.

I’m finding it hard to talk to people about how easy meditation feels right now. For folks who are struggling with meditation, it touches their pain at how hard daily practice can be. People who have been meditating daily for ages don’t remember when their practice solidified. I’m so excited about this, and it’s hard not to easily talk to people about it.

2. Use the even greater cuts at work to focus on what is absolutely essential.

At my mid-month check-in, I changed this to “How do I relate to work in a way that is sustainable?”

In addition to meditation, I also started some daily practices to help with entering work mindfully, and finishing the day by releasing it. Some combination of these practices are allowing me to interact with my work in a different way. While the work is still impossibly hard, I feel a lot more spaciousness around it.

I review these phrases daily:

  • I forgive myself for any pain and suffering I have caused myself or others due to my own ignorance and confusion.
  • I ask forgiveness from all those whose pain and suffering I have caused due to my ignorance and confusion.
  • May I show kindness and patience for the world by being kind and patient with myself.
  • May I show love for the world by loving myself, just as I am.
  • May I learn from any mistakes I made today, and use what I have learned to benefit all beings.

3. Ask (everyone) for help.

I am getting a lot of help. It’s sometimes hard to fully take it in, as I am not getting help from some key places where I am expecting it. It’s easy to get sucked into the stories of pain that come up when I’m told help is coming and it doesn’t appear.

But that’s not all of what’s happening. There’s a lot of help coming from unexpected places. And there’s even more help available, if I just ask for it.

I’m noticing I feel a lot more ease in asking for help, in identifying who to ask for help, and taking it in. I think it’s about time to drop this story that I’m bad at asking for help.

In the spirit of receiving for help, I’m looking for a few good folks to step up as my posse in my latest journey.

4. Be Nourished By Everything

In my daily practices for entering and exiting work, I start the day with five things I’m grateful for and end the day with five things I have learned.

Naming the small, beautiful things in life reminds me to be nourished by all that is good in my world. Framing the hard parts as lessons learned helps me remember how fucking up nourishes me too.

If Only All of Life was Apples to Apples

In July, I started sharing my Sunday ritual of monthly goal setting and the weekly or mid-month check-ins. I have a bad habit of forgetting how much change happens over the course of a month, so this check-in helps me remember to celebrate all that I do!

OCTOBER Goals

1. Clear priorities for political campaigning

It’s the final whirlwind month before the November 2nd election. I’m terrified that crazy tea party candidates like Ken Buck will be elected here in Colorado. But I barely have time to do more than post on Facebook about how Ken Buck must be defeated. I’m swamped with organizing against 60-61-101, a trio of ballot initiatives that would devastate Colorado. More jobs lost on top of those lost in the recession, the state would take over control over local schools, and we wouldn’t be able to build basic things like roads, bridges, or state buildings. Anyone reasonable (read: anyone not in the tea party) thinks these are a terrible idea. Unfortunately, the tea party are energized and fired up and ready to vote. The rest of us are a tad bit apathetic.

So it’s been hard to set boundaries around the political organizing. Because OMG. What if our state and country are taken over by radical extremists? It’s freaking me out. I’m doing a good job at least of setting priorities for the work that needs to be done, and I took all of Friday off because I was burnt after a week of long days and nights. Well, most of Friday off because I was incensed to come home to a Vote Yes mailer, paid for by the “nonprofit” group Active Citizens Together, a known front for Douglas Bruce to hide campaign expenditures from the public. GAH!

Noticings for the next time I’m this engaged in a political campaign: the final weeks require a lot of quick response time. Make sure to leave time for that, and to develop agreements with your team beforehand about how to make quick decisions about how to respond to crazy mailers like this one.

2. Apply for fantastic jobs in San Francisco

I applied for a dream job with Spirit Rock Meditation Center. There is no timeline listed on the announcement, but it’s still up so I’m going to assume that means they are still in the accepting applications stage of the game. I’m also in conversations with another Bay Area nonprofit about providing some help to them.

I’m occasionally scanning the job ads, but only applying to the perfect jobs at this point.

3. Post some of the great writing I’ve been doing on the blogs

Yes! This week, watch Rooting Nonprofits for a series on Buddhism and nonprofit management. I wrote SO MUCH for this job application at Spirit Rock that had to be cut down to a cover letter. So the cuts are going up on the blog instead! I’m posting segments of an essay I wrote that helped me flesh out how my experience led to my philosophy of leadership.

The process was a good lesson in how hard I have to work to write what I want to go on my other blog. It’s a lot of rounds of editing and re-editing. But I have hope for more writing over there now that the dam has broken again!

4. Maintain the things that sustain me – meditation, eating well, an organized house, and time with friends

Gorgeous hikes to enjoy Colorado’s fall colors. No pictures sadly, I was just out enjoying myself. I struggled with eating well – too many 5-8pm meetings. I need to remember to have more quick food available when that schedule is my life. There was just no time to cook. I’m enjoying the Essential Dharma class, and have turned my house into something manageable again. I’m sure it will be a wreck by Tuesday.

Apples to Apples is the best game ever. Pure giggles & laughter.

May You Live With Ease

Ease at expressing just what is there.

Ease at naming your bare experience before it gets all wrapped up in a story.

Ease at knowing without a doubt the next right thing.

Ease in the transitions.

Ease with the hard parts of life – pain, loss, disgrace.

Ease of enjoying the good parts of life – happiness, gain, joy.

May you live your life with ease.