Summer Reading

My Kindle Fire has been, well, on fire. Over the past three weeks I’ve had the joy of reading: The Year We Left Home, The Great Gatsby, State of Wonder, and The Sun Also Rises. I spent time in Iowa, West Egg, The Amazon, Italy, and Spain. With people I like, I don’t like, and with those I would never meet otherwise. Depending on the book, I was the confident being told a story; a fly on the wall; or, my favorite, privy to private thoughts and motivations.

Kind of a quirky list. And yet. Each book transcended me beyond my tiny little world of me. While at the same time, illuminating the tiny little world of me. And making it better.

Reading good books makes you get stuff. It makes you not feel all alone in your questions and doubts and mess-ups. It allows you to understand the impact of our human transgressions, big and small, from pettiness to war, through generations and generations. The consequences levied by how we deal with relationships, politics, work, pleasure, greed, generosity, love are all fabulously illustrated and brought to life through character, setting, tone, and plot.

Spending time with a good book allows you the amazing insight to know that everywhere in the world, throughout history. People are people. Just like you.

Awareness

A cloudburst while the sun still shines.

Drips escaping over the edge of my patio umbrella send me indoors.

Out the window. Steam rising off the neighbor’s roof.

The peace broken by the roar of a too-big lawn mower grooming a tiny urban yard.

The 5 o’clock train

Rest in awareness.

I don’t really like to recommend much. You may want to disagree. Or make an argument.

But here I will anyway.

Practice awareness. By sitting. And being aware.

If you’re restless.

By walking and being aware.

Oh my goodness. It’s that simple.

The benefits are endless.

It is said that in difficult times, it is only bodhichitta that heals.

“Bodhichitta is a Sanskrit word that means “noble or awakened heart.” Just as butter is inherent in milk and oil is inherent in a sesame seed, the soft spot of bodhichitta is inherent in you and me. It is equated in part, with our ability to love. No matter how committed we are to unkindness, selfishness, or greed, the genuine heart of bodhichitta cannot be lost. It is here in all that lives, never marred completely whole.

It is said that in difficult times, it is only bodhichitta that heals. When inspiration has become hidden, when we feel ready to give up, this is the time when healing can be found in the tenderness of pain itself. Bodhichitta is also equated, in part, with compassion – our ability to feel the pain that we share with others. Without realizing it we continually shield ourselves from this pain because it scares us. Based on a deep fear of being hurt, we erect protective walls made out of strategies, opinions, prejudices and emotions….

This tenderness for life, bodhichitta, awakens when we no longer shield ourselves from the vulnerability of our condition, from basic fragility of existence. It awakens through kinship with the suffering of others. We train in the  bodhichitta practices in order to become so open that we can take the pain of the world in, let it touch our hearts, and turn it into compassion.”

Comfortable with Uncertainty, Pema Chodron

Today’s headlines. Make us so angry.  Anger begets anger. Begets violence.

You know what? Forget the headlines. What about your everyday life? What about mine? I was having a conversation with a very angry person. They continued to heap their poisonous thoughts on me. Trying with their every word to get me to join in with their righteous indignation. Finally, when I wouldn’t bite that hook. They turned to attack me personally. By golly. If they were angry they wanted me to be angry too!

Why?

To join in the fight? In the war? To what end?

I’m so tired of being angry. Of our angry world.

Aren’t you?

Francheezies for Dinner

I just came in from the steam-bath that is the great outdoors. You can see the air. You can taste the air. You can feel the heat and humidity sucking out your vital energy. And curl your hair. And make you surly if you are looked at sideways.

Ahhhhhh. Summertime in Chicago!

Nevertheless. Max was three hours on the baseball diamond this morning. Henry two hours on the soccer pitch tonight.  I walked the dogs a mile or two earlier today. And yesterday,  had a good long hot 15 mile run. Ok. So at one point during that outing, I did sit down under a shade tree. What a lovely idea, I thought to myself. And it was.

And Tim? He’s making Francheezies for dinner!

These badboys are being wrapped with bacon as I type. Then on to the grill. And hot dog heaven for the Honzels.

You know. Tim cooks most of the time. Because he really enjoys it. Lot’s of grilled goods. On both our super grill and the Big Green Egg. During every season. Like the postal people. Rain. Snow. Sleet. Hail. 110 degrees. Tim will grill through it all and deliver the goods to the table.

But I will tell you here. Although he has chirped for years about Francheezies during his fraternity days. He has never, not once, prepared them for his family.

Until today.

Ahhhhh. Summertime at the Honzels!

To Assume Makes an Ass out of U and Me

I’ve always believed it was Dear Abby or Ann Landers who first said this.

To assume makes an ass out of u and me.

However, not wanting to give credit to one twin or the other – assuming nothing – I did a quick Google – and now – turns out – perhaps – Oscar Wilde came up with this gem.

And so.

What do you assume?

While you’re pondering.

Let’s take a look at a few things that I assume.

And even better put. How about I list the things that I’m going to stop assuming.

What I won’t assume any longer:

1) That what you say is what you mean.

2) That you care how my butt looks in these shorts/skirt/jeans/yoga pants

3) That what arises in my thoughts is true.

4) That what arises in my thoughts needs attention.

5) That what I see is real.

6) That it matters because I’m right.

7) That sometimes my best is not good enough.

8) That I should because…

9) That this is the way things are.

10) That I should list 10 assumptions.