Monday, September 30, 2013
Another year gone, leaving everywhere
its rich spiced residues: vines, leaves,
the uneaten fruits crumbling damply
in the shadows, unmattering back
from the particular island
of this summer, this NOW, that now is nowhere
except underfoot, moldering
in that black subterranean castle
of unobservable mysteries - roots and sealed seeds
and the wanderings of water. This
I try to remember when time's measure
painfully chafes, for instance when autumn
flares out at the last, boisterous and like us longing
to stay - how everything lives, shifting
from one bright vision to another, forever
in these momentary pastures.
~ Mary Oliver ~
(from American Primitive)
via Joe Riley at Panhala.net
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Blazing summer days: no force could bring them back.
Clouds suddenly rising off the river, lovely, so lovely,
ducks leave a bridge's shadow, paddling into fine rain,
and butterflies flutter out, frolicking in field breezes.
The willow won't survive nights and days much longer,
and waterlilies will only open two or three more times.
If the changing sights of a single year haunt your eye,
why wonder that a palace lake is ash among the kalpas?
-- Lu Yu
"Light Rain" from Mountain Home: The wilderness poetry of ancient China, translated by David Hinton
With summer's end comes finally the six-day retreat "Healing Yourself Is Healing the World."
I leave Sunday, Sept 22, with three girl friends (one of whom is Robin, GENKI_WARRIOR!) for Magnolia Grove Monastery, Mississippi, in retreat with renowned Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. We are going there in my little camper, Kurma (Turtle) Avatara, a 1984 Toyota Dolphin. Two of us will sleep in the camper and two in a tent. We will return Sept 29.
Thay, as Thich Nhat Hanh is affectionately known
Peace is present right here and now, in ourselves and in everything we do and see. Every breath we take, every step we take, can be filled with peace, joy, and serenity. The question is whether or not we are in touch with it. We need only to be awake, alive in the present moment.
-- Thich Nhat Hanh
Calligraphy by Thay
In other news, I will be participating in the Conway Fall Cycling Classic the day before we leave for the retreat. Unlike my biker dude friend Don, I will only be cycling 32 miles. No comparing though...I'm out there doing SOMETHING.
I have also managed to lose 17 pounds over the summer, every pound a struggle. I have six more to go to reach the desired 130 lbs. and I'm hopeful! And SparkPeople.com continues to be an important source of lively and supportive friends and tools which profoundly assist the process.
It is also my last semester in obtaining a BA in Spanish Literature at a local university, with a heavy schedule of papers and oral presentations between now and semester's end in December, scary but do-able, I think.
At the end of the Fall semester in December, with the beginning of winter, I am affirming a thought-dream of a road trip in my camper to California, arriving in time for a New Year's Retreat in Santa Barbara and then to visit Thay's Practice Center, Deer Park Monastery, in Escondido. My plan is to then (for an undetermined period of time) visit beloveds in the San Francisco Bay Area, dear friend Kathy north of Sacramento (Vivian too!), and then sell the camper there (a temporary antidote to my financial woes) before boarding a flight San Francisco-Quito, Ecuador. We'll see how it all shakes out!
Monday, July 01, 2013
Yeah, let's meet there to talk about this --
I have good news and not-so-good news: After embarking upon a conscious program (once again) of portion control, watching the types of foods consumed, tracking food, and exercising to begin getting rid of the 15 pounds that have crept up on me from about two years of careless eating, the good news is that I have maintained a month-long streak of daily exercise.
The not-so-good news is that after the first of June official weekly weigh-in that showed a decrease to 142 pounds, the scale popped back up to 145-ish and has been hovering there ALL MONTH, today included. Nor are my clothes even ONE SPECK looser. And I do NOT want to change the weight ticker back up to 145 -- NO! The major point I'm making here is that in 30 days I didn't drop an ounce! That just doesn't happen when I'm focused on losing...I've always lost an average of one, up to two, pound(s) per week, which should result in me being a minimum of four, maximum of eight, pounds down at the end of June.
Have I not been precise enough in entering food each day? That's the first thing that came to mind. I'm purdy obsessive about it but it's still possible that I'm under-estimating or forgetting here-and-there...but NOT.ONE.POUND in the entire month, with daily exercise to boot???
I'm drinking eight-ten cups of liquid per day. I'm generally doing a fairly decent job of portioning out carbs, proteins, and fats by SparkPeople standards, though my diet is not as protein dense as classic meat diets, nor do I feel we need the level of protein often recommended. I generally tend to be high in carbs, because I consume a high level of complex carbs -- yesterday is fairly representative, i.e. blackberries, apple, plum, cantaloupe, sprouted whole grain bread, toasted oats, yogurt, tofu, etc. My protein sources yesterday included yogurt (Greek), tofu, the bread, peanut butter, walnuts. My distribution yesterday was 48.5% carbs, 22% proteins, 29.4% fats, very close to recommended values.
I'm not losing.
This is NOT typical when I get up-close-and-personal with eating, exercise, and tracking.
I'm stumped and confused and not sure what to do.
Ok, ok! so that's not the answer.
I guess this is a good place to begin (again).
We're on top of this one!
Naw, this couldn't possibly have *anything* to do with it, uh uh.
I will not let a temporary set-back deter me...I will NOT give up.
Never hurts to review the basics:
Thursday, May 16, 2013
I hesitated to write this blog because it can be yet another way to be on the computer INSTEAD of "on the mat" or with the free weights or on my bicycle. But It will be short-and-sweet.
I'm pushin' 150 lbs. and that's scary...and moves me toward that "out-of-control" feeling that I dread so. I'm afraid I've been sliding down a slippery slope ever since returning from Ecuador, and not just in terms of food and exercise, but generally feeling lethargic and vacillating and unproductive. I have had this tendency for many years, and have always had to fight it...and the fight goes on!
I am using various strategies~~
~ specific achievable steps in terms of movement, which I will track
~ tracking ALL food
~ limiting computer time (working on a strategy here, it's harder than it sounds -- for me)
~ reading _Enough! A Buddhist Approach to Finding Release from Addictive Patterns_ by Chonyi Taylor, which I think hones in on the root cause of much of my dysfunctional behavior
~ practice daily gratitude, posting in the two communities if possible
I know it's up to me...to change my mind/behavior to change my life.
And I also know that self-blame and self-judgment are counter-productive.
Today is DAY ONE, the first day of the rest of my life.
Monday, April 22, 2013
As I get increasingly enmeshed with *this* altered state since returning from Ecuador March 19, the vividness of the experiences blur slightly and the matters that I just *had* to attend to have diminished in importance just a bit. But I continue to persist in pursuing the dreams that spawned during this odyssey (odyssey: a long series of wanderings or adventures, especially when filled with notable experiences, hardships; any long eventful journey).
In this last Ecuador blog I would like to share a few photos from my day-trips to Podocarpus National Park and Vilcabamba, as well as musing a bit, as I move forward into spring and summer in the good ol' U.S. of A.!
Podocarpus National Park occupies 360,000 acres in the low "V" of southern Ecuador, near its border with Peru (I reside one hour from the northern border with Colombia) and is the only protected area in southern Ecuador. The park is important for conservation, according to The Nature Conservancy, because of its high concentration of endemic species. The elevation generally varies from 6560 ft. to 9840 ft. Podocarpus takes its name from having the country's largest contingent of the Podocarpus or romerillo tree, the only conifer native to Ecuador.
Gonzalo, the noble taxista. I paid him $10 round trip upon arriving to the park (for the one+ hour round trip on a partially horrible unpaved road with potholes). We agreed that he would return for me in four hours, at 4:30pm, before the park locked the gates at 5:00pm. I implicitly trusted this man I got to know during the drive there, and knew he would be there as he promised...and he was! Good thing too, because the park is very remote and I would have been royally stranded otherwise. I ran into people only twice on the trail!
In a mindless moment as I left the hotel, I forgot to change my shoes and put on the much more appropriate hiking boots! This was after just a couple minutes of walking...already lots of mud splattered on my feet and sandals, which you really can't see, aka "Before." Too bad I didn't take an "After" photo!
The trail is generally well maintained.
Some parts of the trail are quite steep, and squishy with mud 1-2" deep, which made it quite *sucky* lol! After my initial horror, it got to be fun, though my sandals were trashed and it took me days to wash off the mud, which actually stained my feet and calves (seriously!).
Because of some recent severe storms there was also the occasional tree over the trail, although the worst problems had been cleared.
Lots of bamboo stands along the way.
And lots of moss too.
Air plants (genus tilandsia, the bromiliad family) galore!
One of the trails I loved in a full-on rainforest. The 20 min. is a joke...with the condition of the trail, it took three times that, but it was SO worth it. It reminds me so much of portions of the Kalalau trail In Kauai.
This beautiful, delicate little butterfly felt like my guide, as it hovered about and ahead of me, disappearing and suddenly reappearing, for probably 1/3 of the hike. It was quite magical!
Om my! I have way too many panoramic shots to post. I took one series of 12 moving the camera from left to right across the vista at one point high on the trail, so I'll post those 12, the first being far left and the last being far right:
Dusk as I near the trail head, and with this I leave Podocarpus. The next day was a day trip to Vilcabamba, a 45 min. ride in a taxi co-op from Loja.
Once again passing the entrance to Podocarpus, I continue to Vilcabamba. The valley (bamba, aka pampa) is overlooked by a mountain called Mandango, the Sleeping Inca, whose presence is said to protect the area from earthquakes and other natural disasters. The etymology of "Vilcabamba" apparently derives from "huilco pamba" (in Quichua, the Incan language, still heavily used by the Otavalan Indians where I live in northern Ecuador). Huilco denotes the sacred trees that inhabit the region and pamba is a word meaning “a plain.”
An interesting and unique village, with a controversial reputation for extreme longevity, Vilcabamba has often been cited as an area with the oldest inhabitants in the world. The claim has been called into question in recent years, though.
In any case, it is a beautiful with an abundance of agriculture, and this particular equatorial sub-area is said to have fruit, roots and herbs that offer some of the strongest anti-oxidant protection in the world.
The community has an overabundance of ex-pats from many countries, as well as an alive-and-well alternative community. For that reason, I easily found a vegan restaurant, owned by an American woman. I shared a table with Mia, a healer from Thailand. We enjoyed an exquisite lunch and delightful conversation. After lunch she took me to a bakery owned by a French couple, where I bought a delicious chocolate croissant. We had an espresso at another cafe on the plaza and then parted ways.
Concluding my day in Vilcambamba and my tenure in Ecuador are miscellaneous photos of my afternoon in the village, posted in order taken:
As I attend to the realities that confront me, my spirit whispers dreams to my heart that I am beginning to quietly explore -- as always, being called to...
I do not take for granted the freedom which offers me the joy unique to travel -- I never tire of strange places and new faces. Dear friend Don Doorn made reference to a musical hero of ours in his early blog comment, so for me it feels very fitting to close this Ecuador chapter with Richie Havens' legendary clarion call:
Richie Havens opening Woodstock in 1969
RIP, January 21, 1941-April 22, 2013
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