Chop chop

DAY:  Wednesday

MORNING MEDITATION:  Nonexistent in the formal sense. (I’m worse than Bridget Jones with her pounds lost/gained and her cigarettes. 

TDC:  Today’s Daily Cure is an image that has stuck in my head since I last wrote. It’s winter here, and it’s been cold and dry. Mud is frozen. Grass is as short and compact as a berber carpet. The air crackles. It feels clean. When I walk in the park each morning, I’m struck by the work that’s been done pruning and neatening, making the garden winter-ready. It’s an image I relate to. Editing back, while—inside, under, beneath, hidden from view—strength gathers for a springing forward at the right moment. We speak of the dead of winter, but it’s not dead at all. It’s just watching and waiting.

IMG_3790.jpg

 

 

| 5 Comments

Remembering when

DAY:  Tuesday

MORNING MEDITATION:  Quick, only ten minutes. But that was an important ten minutes as it is the beginning of starting again. I haven’t meditated in a long, long time, and my mind is both desperately in need and all over the place. 

TDC:  I’m not an expert at this. I’m just someone looking for tools close at hand to help me feel better, live better, perhaps see more clearly, understand myself…coax myself gently into being a gentler person. I use Headspace, when I use an app, but otherwise, I go it alone. This morning was a Headspace morning, and the meditation ended with the suggestion of actively remembering the last time I felt relaxed and stress-free. My mind reeled. I can’t remember, I thought. And, honestly, I couldn’t. My mind lurched so far back in time in search of a stress free moment; it was almost laughable. Let’s see. I think I was stress-free about 11 years ago, lying on a hammock on Pawley’s Island in late June. The girls were small… Or no, maybe it was four years ago that summer in France, walking in the fields, picking Queen Anne’s lace…yes… Except it’s not laughable at all. Stress-free—eleven years ago? Four years ago? This is a recipe for disaster.

IMG_4804.jpeg

And then I remember the beautiful tea I had with a friend last week. And the moments strolling — albeit rather briskly — with my daughter last night, running last minute errands through the lovely darkening streets of Milan. And I remember watching my dog run and sniff over the frozen wasteland of our neighborhood park yesterday morning, his breath puffing into the crystalline air like clouds of vape. Happy doggy.

It’s been hard the past few years. That’s why I haven’t been here. Always something to worry about, fix. Giant upheavals in work and relationships. Hormones! Ha! Employment, lack there of, too much employment. And most recently—and also most profoundly—my mother dying in December, setting off tidal waves which continue to crash and which I’m not entirely at peace with. I’ve spent a lot of time reacting to the unforeseen, accepting new challenges, saying “yes” with less caution. I’m 56 now; I’m not ready to settle or give up or stop learning, and I can see that if I don’t take work opportunities as they come, they will dry up, and I’m not ready for that, couldn’t afford that. And yet, the price of all this is having much less control, less calm, less me-time. And often, sadly, less sanity. Are any of you experiencing this?

I had hoped to be wise by now. But I’m a long way off from wisdom.

I need to reconnect to the connective tissue…those moments with friends, those precious times with my children, the quiet times with my husband listening to music. I need to protect them and nurture them and plug into them. I need to let my mind settle in these quiet, wordless spaces. A bit more. A lot more. So hopefully, the next time I am trying to remember when, it will be easy to say, “Yes, I remember—”

 

 

| 12 Comments

Marble

Nothing to report about meditation. Let’s just say I am far from yogi status. Just wanted to share yesterday’s trip to the “marmista” in search of the right countertop. I love raw materials. I loved the dust in the air. The years and years of accumulation adding up to a family’s business, passion, knowledge. A life spent handling the most beautiful stone in the world cut from the mountains that look out over the Tuscan coastline.

| 6 Comments

In our midst

DAY:  Yesterday, Tuesday

MORNING MEDITATION:  Effective. Still good, though I find myself in a sort of doldrums. Does that happen to you other meditators out there?

TLC:  A tree. I was walking in the park and absolutely taken by the enormous trees near the castle. Many of them bear identification tags like endangeeed animals who’ve been ID’d for tracking. When I first moved to Milan and was suffering depression induced by culture shock, a Romanian healer named Elena (more about her later) told me I needed to hug a tree. I didn’t follow her advice at the time…I didn’t even know where I might find one, and I was too flabbergasted by her “expert advice” to look. But she had a point.  A tree does so much for you. It shades and shelters you. It breathes life into you. It gives you something immense and trustworthy to lean on. And there they are, gentle giants, in our midst. I just needed to look.

| 10 Comments

My land. Your land.

DAY:  Friday.

MORNING MEDITATION:  Good. Very good. Felt almost stoned.

TDC:  A song that keeps playing in my head. A certain version of that song. Sharon Jones’ singing “This Land Is Your Land”. She died recently, which makes me sad, but her voice lives on giving these lyrics absolutely new, fresh, forceful meaning. Yesterday was her birthday. Listen and watch here. You’ll see what I mean.

ACL3407SharonJones.jpg

| 4 Comments

Eye to eye

DAY:  Tuesday.

MORNING MEDITATION:  Good, though sleepy. I’m working on a series of meditations about relationships. It’s a prolonged visualization exercise that I have in no way mastered. The thing I’m supposed to visualize is elusive, and other images keep cropping up instead. Like I’ve wandered into the wrong movie theater. But I shall soldier on. BTW, the meditation DID help with the flying to the US and back. Funny how you can unwire the mechanism of fear just enough to get on with your life smoothly. Well, it’s not really funny at all. It’s great.

TDC:  Spent some time with the family rabbit this morning. She’s a fiercely independent animal who does nothing better than seem totally uninterested. And yet, this morning, she was all for a little intimate nonverbal communication which she’ll only allow if she senses that you are utterly at peace. My blood pressure drops in her presence. So between the meditation and the rabbit-style R&R, I’m mellower than any girl has a right to be. How are you today?

IMG_7713

| 12 Comments

Where meditation fails, coffee is victorious

DAY:  Tuesday

MORNING MEDITATION: Well, “morning” is stretching it a bit. I squeezed it in just before lunch, regrettably. The benefits weren’t the same, having rushed from sleep to walking the dog and straight on into work without giving myself that wee 15-minute gift. My brain was too far into its grind by that time. Lesson learned. And yet it was instructive just to observe what that mental grind really looks/acts like.

TDC:  So without inner peace, where does one turn? I suggest a coffee and a conversation with a dear friend as an alternative. Or at least that’s what I did. This time, at the Milanese institution Pasticceria Marchesi, recently bought by Miuccia Prada to save it from the usual fate of outdated institutions. Think what Jackie Kennedy did for Grand Central Station. Because the truth is, they aren’t old or out dated, these beloved places, they are iconic, and someone needs to save them.

This was my view from our corner table. Four tables in total. I love small.

| 8 Comments

It helps

DAY:  Wednesday.

MORNING MEDITATION:  Well, I’ve upped it to 15 minutes. An eternity, for someone who was not really even finding time to sit still. But, then again, no, it’s not an eternity. It feels good. The guiding is dwindling away, and there are longer expanses of “being there” alone. But I need that. It helps. I don’t know how or why it works, but it does. Long after it’s over, it’s still helping. I’m thinking I’ll try it on the plane when I fly home in a couple weeks.  I loathe flying.

TDC:  It’s that time of year again. The Salone del Mobile in Milan. Design and furnishing shows absolutely everywhere. Positively spilling out of courtyards, passageways, palazzi, public spaces, schools. I love it, but I’ve had my head too far up the * of work to be able to enjoy it much. Out in the courtyard, though, just for good measure, flowers, plunked with lovely neglect, in the fontanella. Any Place is a good place for beauty. And Any Time is a good time to take a deep breath and say, “Well. Look at that.”

FONTANELLA

| 10 Comments

Neither hurry nor dither

DAY:  Monday

MORNING MEDITATION:  Today’s went well. In fact, I did two. First, my usual 10 minutes of sitting in “silence.” And then, my first walking meditation. I walk all the time so adding a layer of awareness was a beautiful thing. Turned it into something more amusing and cinematic. Had to double up, because the weekend was an awareness wasteland and my brain craved escaping to its wide, open space.

TDC:  A week or so ago, the meditation guide used the most lovely turn of phrase—again. (He’s good at that.) This time he was referring, simply, to bringing awareness into the activities of the everyday. And he said, quite poetically I found: “Neither hurry nor dither.”

IMG_7359

I was instantly hooked on the soundness of that advice and the poetic texture of the word “dither” (zither, feather, whither). I have tended, in years past, to do both—hurrying to meet those incessant and heartless personal and professional deadlines,  and dithering to give myself a break. The thought of moving purposefully forward, in working or walking, appeals to me. Without a racing mind and a racing heart, but with faith that the pace is fine for getting wherever it is I am going.

Walking this morning, feeling my feet roll into the pavement and back out of it, I felt connected to everyone else who was walking. Our rhythms merged in the chiaroscuro landscape of bright, early sun.

 

 

| 11 Comments

Let there be space

DAY: Sunday, but I’m a bit behind here…there was all of last week after Monday. Hmm. Where did those days go?

MORNING MEDITATION: Today’s was lovely. Calm. Ample. Do you know what I mean by that? As if the mind actually feels free to expand and knock down its own barriers. As if it dares to abandon center stage all together, leaving nothing much in its place but…space. The modules stop chattering between themselves. The thoughts of what to do next recede. For the past few days, the guide who is saying less and less as time goes by, has spoken about allowing the mind to be spacious. Such a lovely idea! When so much of life is closing in on us, in our heads we can be open. And free. I’ve struggled this past week with the idea. It seemed more a celestial concept than an achievable reality, and yet today, the clouds cleared, and there it was.

TDC: Spotted in the neighborhood furniture store run by the two tall sisters—the proverbial doggy (theirs) in the window. He sat propped upon the back of the chair which is—yes—for sale even though he seems to already own it. As I passed, just another character in this bewildering weaving of reflection and reality, I wondered: How spacious is an animal’s mind? How open and free must it be in that little skull where competing concepts are likely few? What feelings are arising in his canine heart? What urges lie in wait? How open, how free in that little mind…

IMG_7161

And as I type that, I realize what an apt metaphor he himself is— in his glass corner— for the experience of mindful meditation. He is the mind, watching things come and go. Hearing the sounds of the world, slightly buffered, but there. Aware. Awake. Calm.

IMG_7166

 

| 8 Comments