Being a rabbit

People born in the Year of the Rabbit share certain characteristics: Keen, wise, fragile, tranquil, serene, considerate, fashionable, and kind. Generally, they are quite calm, do not exhibit aggressive behavior, and will avoid confrontation at all costs. When angry about something, they will approach it calmly and considerately, hardly ever raising their voice. And they are quite keen and pay close attention to the situations developing around them. They are intelligent and quick, and can talk themselves in or out of most situations with no problem.

The Rabbit is a symbol for mercy, elegance, and worship of beauty. People born in the Year of the Rabbit are kind, loving persons, and dislike any hostile act. They give others an impression of being frail-looking because of their gentle appearance. But, in fact they are strong-minded and have strong wills. They pursue their ideals all their lives in a precise and orderly way. They do things slowly and deliberately because of their cautious characters.

There is no need to worry about their lives. They are nimble, clever and good at avoiding harm to themselves. They are talented and like artistic ventures, such as painting and music and are generally quite present in these worlds. They are also very hospitable, good hosts and warm-hearted companions. They never embrace others in public places. They know the art of saving face and giving consideration to the interests of both sides.

People born in the Year of the Rabbit are apt to be sensitive to ailments and to have bad allergies. Stress or conflict will detriment their health. Exercise could take off unnecessary stress and strengthen their physical condition. They have to learn to incorporate more action into their everyday routines.

They will become depressed and withdrawn if their homes do not consist of beautiful possessions that make them comfortable. Their homes and offices usually are clutter-free. They have really good communication skills and are best utilized in positions of management. They make great teachers and counselors because they are so diplomatic and well-organized. They can also make great painters or musicians due to their sense of beauty and their love of creativity.

Rabbit people are usually relatively careful when it comes to their finances. They use much of their money for possessions such as their homes, cars or furniture. They love hunting for antiques, arts and crafts and will tend to make sound investments in these types of things.

Yes, 2011 is a Year of the Rabbit. And yes, I am a Rabbit. And yes, this description is for the most part me, almost exactly.

Reading this on one of my favorite blogs several weeks ago, I was profoundly moved at the synchronicities not only of this description but of the rest of the description of what the Year of the Rabbit represents.

It is a year for catching one's breath, realigning with one's values and creating a lifestyle that is calm and peaceful. I have sensed this deep need in myself, to simplify, to prioritize, to focus and to find my breath again. I have not been able to stop thinking about what it means to be a Rabbit in a Rabbit year.

For now, I am treading slowly and calmly, trying to heal that which needs to be healed and give attention to that what needs attention. I am aware of my home space and how I might be able to make a few adjustments so that it feels more aligned with me. But mostly, I am sensing that what I can do again is find my breath.

{image found on etsy}



There is something going around - something bigger than the flu that keeps on lingering and the sore throat that won't go away. It is something bigger than the darkness that comes with days of rain and the contraction of cold weather. It is something bigger than the sadness of grieving and the despair of saying goodbye, for now.

And then this arrived today in my email, via my dear friend Simona. And, it says it all far better than I ever coul

by Naomi Shihab Nye
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.

What you hold in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between regions of kindness.

How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.

You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.

You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.


Can you feel it?

A week ago Sunday, it was here. That thing called Spring. And everything about me wanted to run out and get my toes painted.

And just like that, on Monday morning, it was gone and I was reminded again that it is February and technically still winter.


An apple a day.

Something kind of big happened here last week.

And really, as I knew I would be, I am in love.


There's a new man around town...

And he likes himself a Crusher and Goldfish crackers.

And he knows what he wants and what he doesn't want.

And his face looks different.

And he is so not a baby anymore.

Guess that is what happens when you are about to turn 2.


Plunging in...

I have been to this beach a thousand times - with my surf giddy high-school boyfriend, with our water crazy family dog and with European relatives who were seeing the California coast for the first time. But on Saturday, as I walked down Asilomar all by myself, I realized that in the many thousand times I had walked this beach, I had never walked it alone.

So this time, I watched. I saw owners with their dogs and children with their mothers and men with their girlfriends. I saw locals and I saw tourists. I saw people embracing the art of doing nothing, except perhaps listening to the rhythmic breathing of the ocean - slow and consistent, steady and never faltering.  I saw naked baby bums and sun screen coated noses. I saw sand and sea. I saw the water clearer than I had ever remembered it.

I was alone this first time at a Asilomar because I was talking part in Karen Maezen Miller's Plunge. She is the author of the books Momma Zen, (whichI have referenced more than a few times) and Hand Wash Cold, which I have now added to my library of books to read. She is a mother, a wife, a Buddhist priest, a retreat leader. She is what brought me home, to Pacific Grove and to Asilomar.

There was divine poetry in the fact that her day long retreat was in the place where I grew up and even diviner (if that is actually a word) intervention that it came at exactly the time that I needed to learn something really important: my motivation for meditating.

Yes meditating makes you calmer and quieter and more peaceful and more pleasant and more joyful. And I would imagine that most people want these things but I don't think that that is motivation enough. There has to be something profoundly personal that is affected for you to see how deeply transformative this practice can be. For me, my first experience with meditation transformed a few things, most importantly my relationship to and with my husband. And that change, well that motivated me to get on the pillow everyday, everyday until I was about 7 months pregnant and then that motivation that had initially gotten me there, well, that didn't motivate me anymore.

And that was over 2 years ago.

But on Saturday, I realized that I have a new motivation. A motivation that is all mine and nobody elses. The reason I need to get on the pillow is a profoundly important relationship in my life that needs me to accept it for all that it is and for all that it isn't. It is the one relationship that causes me great suffering (in the Buddhist sense) - suffering that is caused because I so desperately wish it to be different. I so desperately wish for the person I am in relationship with to be different too.

So, the reason that I meditate is to practice accepting this relationship exactly how it is.

This is my work.


Just like that...

Yesterday, life looked like this...

All smiles and barefeet and water and 75 degree weather in February and play.

And just like that, today looks like this...

And all the choices of yesterday start to collide in my mind, each one triggering their own questions of self-doubt and uncertainty and "I should have known better" and "Of course, we were at the Discovery Museum yesterday and this always happens" at the same time as I start to change appointments, cancel calls and strategically change my schedule for my usual work day.

Should I have not let him go barefoot? Was his shirt wet too long? Did we do too much this weekend? Are there germs at the public museum that I have no control over? Do toddlers get sick? Are all his little friends sick? Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

So I realized that if I spent too much time on judging my choices as a parent yesterday I would not only waste vital and important energy that I don't have to waste, I would also stay checked out to the fact that I just got to lay on the living room floor looking at tractors on a Monday morning when everyone is still trying to be at work, be efficient, be driven, be on time and be useful.

Just like that, this week is not going to look the way I thought it was going to be 24 hours ago. Just like that I am asked to show just how flexible I can be. Just like we are looking at tractors. Just like that today is a stay inside day. Just like that.


Saying goodbye

"In one of those stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night. And when your sorrow is comforted (time soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me. 
You will always be my friend...I shall not leave you."

-Antoine de St. Exupery

There is sadness and loss today in the hearts of three of our close friends - who all unconnected and on different parts of the globe are saying goodbye to a brother, a father and a mother.

One might think that someone who has experience with death, especially the death of a parent, will know what to say. But guess what, I don't. I still don't, even after all of this time. But I know what not to say and that less in fact is the safest bet.

Someone gave me a card of the Little Prince, with this quote when my dad died, and it is the only thing that has ever stayed with me. Perhaps in its simplicity, it says just the right thing.

To the families who tonight are lost and blindly navigating the strange and unreal first hours and weeks after the death of someone you love, I am thinking of you and sending you the strength to simply go one day, one breath, one moment at a time.


Curiosity : Inspiration from Family Day at Spirit Rock

{image by permission of dominique nom de plume, found on flickr - click here}

Imagine a room with 100 adults.

Imagine a room with 100 adults and 15 teenagers.

Imagine a room with 100 adults, 15 teenagers and 45 children.

Imagine a room with 100 adults, 15 teenagers, 45 children and 5 toddlers.

Imagine a room with 100 adults, 15 teenagers, 45 children, 5 toddlers and 1 baby.

Now imagine it quiet for about 4 minutes, maybe even longer.

Had I not been there myself, I would never have believed that it was possible to quiet so abundant a crowd, let alone one where the nugget and several other bouncing little boys were in attendance. But indeed, even the nugget melted into his dad's arms as we sat and simply paid attention to our breath.

It was joyful and almost a bit strange to feel the vibrant energy of youth and families at Spirit Rock on Sunday, a place that for me is usually eerily silent, reserved and introverted. This was our first Family Day, and though we did not make it to the end of the day, it was a profoundly important reminder of what is possible. Children can listen. Children can breathe. Children can express their feelings. Children can be heard. Parents can listen. Parents can breathe. Parents can express their feelings. Parents can be heard.

I didn't leave on Sunday with an idyllic version of unrealistic family life that will never mean raised voices or short tempers or unkind words. I left instead with a renewed sense of how I could parent, even a toddler whose blossoming personality and attachment to just about anything he is not supposed to have has been pushing me to the edge of my patience, tolerance and compassion. I left instead with the word curious in my mind (as it was the theme of the day) and I wonder how the concept of being curious could get me past this somewhat challenging milestone called toddlerhood. I realized, it is the nugget's deep curiosity for all that is new and out of reach and enticing and alluring that is causing me the most frustration. Oh the irony.

So tomorrow I will ask myself this: Can I be just as curious as he is? Can we be curious together and still get lunch on the table?