A New Order

Last night we met and had our discussion about the soul traits, and our practice of them. I was going to move on and do the suggested 13, repeated 4 times in a year, equaling 52 weeks, but I’m going to hold off on going forward. I am going to concentrate on order, the trait I am so woefully lacking in.

On the ride home, my friend remarked how much satisfaction she gained from being orderly, from keeping things clean. That notion of satisfaction struck a chord in me. That is something I could work to attain. Satisfaction in how I live,  in what I allow to share my space, and in keeping just what is dear to me but letting go of the rest. If I could do that, I would be mighty satisfied.

I shall have to go about it in tiny steps as it is so foreign to me. Ask my children!

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So, last week I chose “Faith”. I’m a bit in Sharon Salzburg’s camp, “Faith does not require a belief system, and is not necessarily connected to a deity or God,  though it doesn’t deny one,” (from Faith, p.xiv).  The Buddha said “Faith is the beginning of all good things.”  I am a believer in the wonders and complexities of this universe and our small part of it here on earth. And I marvel in how really small the part each of us plays here, but it is what we have, what we are given, in being alive. It is what we have to work with. We each need to find what good we  can do with what we have been given.  And that is all I have to say about that.

And this week I chose “gratitude”.  I wonder if it is something more than being thankful, something other than counting our blessings. I think it should be something we send outward. Like Sam’s ‘light in your heart’, (instead of a sticker on one’s lapel). Or similar to a meditation blessing:


May all beings be well and secure!
May all beings be peaceful!
May all beings be Happy!


Perhaps this is more of a prayer for the well-being of all than an expression of gratitude; or are they somewhat the same?
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Work interrupts Order

I had a number of deadlines for Saturday and Sunday so have had to put in two and a half days working. Doesn’t equal a forty hour week, I know, but it is enough for me. And as I don’t switch gears easily, the order in the house has come to a halt. I did organize some things in the shop, but it too, like the house, needs a total re-organization and clean up. I’ll will never get it all done in this week of order, but I decided to sign up for Leo Babauta’s Sea Change program for July as the topic is “Get Organized”.  I hope for improvement; I don’t expect miracles!

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Order Blast-off

Blast-off? Well hardly, But I have begun. In the kitchen. I have taken care of the mail; thrown out some old spices and ancient condiments, used a box to corral the vitamins, sorted the books, and tossed bits and pieces. The table is down to about one layer: by tomorrow it should look tidy. And then I can tackle the counters.

I am not good at this. I once heard that true hoarders have a spot in their brain that should light up when making decisions about what to save and what to toss or give away, and it doesn’t fire. I must lean that way. I am not a clinically-labeled hoarder, but teeter on the verge. I don’t devote the time to orderliness that I should, and this week’s concentration on order is helping. I may have to repeat this week frequently.

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New Week, New Soul-trait

I am a day late getting into the next trait I have chosen, and I am going for order—-perhaps the one I need the most. I can’t even find the book to read about it. It’s here somewhere…….

I had to get the car worked on this morning, and after a scone to go with the coffee I had brought along, I sat for an hour on a shady bench watching the downtown of the little village of Salisbury. An English Sparrow immediately hopped up on the bench right along side me to see if I was eating anything I could share. Alas, my scone was gone, and he hopped away. (Why do little birds hop, and not walk one foot in front of the other? I may have to google…) Later a father and son AT hiking pair stopped to take off their packs and rest awhile on a nearby bench, and the son went in a store to get sodas and a muffin. The little begging sparrow hopped about beside him, and realizing he was not being noticed, he moved to the front, and chirped at the hiker’s feet and was rewarded by several crumbs from the blueberry muffin.

A crow flew and landed at the peak of the church steeple, and soon another came by and crow #1 flew off to let crow #2 have the spot. Playing King of the Steeple, I think. A horse whinnied as a trailer went by. A pleasant, almost meditative way to pass an hour. I read on my kindle when I got back to the garage: “Individuals that do not have a form of organization in their lives are bound to clutter.” From a book called Just One Thing by Rick Hanson. I need this week. First I must find the soul trait book.

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I am working on my little bit of property, and not seeing people much. So, how do I practice being humble when I’m all by myself? I don’t have THE answer, but what I’m doing is accepting that what I am doing in my yard is going to be nice, but no House and Garden spread. And maybe it won’t even be nice,  just nicer than it is now. Humble might be accepting that what is, or can be, is enough.



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Webster’s defines it here:

Definition of Humility

: the quality or state of being humble

Definition of Humble

1: not proud or haughty : not arrogant or assertive

2: reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference or submission <a humble apology>
3a: ranking low in a hierarchy or scale : insignificant,unpretentious
b : not costly or luxurious <a humble contraption>

But in my readings from Alan Morinis’s Everyday Holiness, it is also a matter of the space you occupy. Taking up just enough space, not too much, and not so little you disappear. This could be physically, like not hogging the sidewalk, or in a conversation where one talks and doesn’t listen. Being within your own space allows you to learn from others. Or it could apply to a role you play where you don’t delegate and feel you have to have control of all aspects  of a project.

I have found, in my whole almost-a-day trying to be aware of my level of “humility”, it also leads to more mindfulness. I’m paying attention to others around me, paying more attention to the flow of a conversation, and noticing the physical space I am occupying at any one moment. I am more “There”, in that moment. Something I did not expect. I do more than just say “okay” when the clerk at the grocery store asks how I am. I notice her in her space and reply more thoughtfully, getting a sense of what “clerk-ness” is for her. The words are humble, insignificant, but there is more of a connection. We are not strangers, although I don’t know her name.

One should go forward on one’s path, being the best one can at whatever it is, but never should one feel superior, never should one  brag.  That is the humble part of humility. Perhaps as the week goes on I’ll find examples of this in others and/or myself.

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Almost Summer 2013

I haven’t been active here in more than a year. Other things in life came up. I am making plans for the months to come and they include lots of Getting Things Done. I won’t be using David Allen’s method exactly, but I will have a notebook at the ready, and will be using my timer for The Most Important Things:

  • Clear the walkway and backyard meditation-garden-to-be of weeds so as to reduce how many deer ticks I find on me.
  • Practice the weekly soul-traits for our spirituality discussion group; first up is “humility”. (It was going to be “order” but that is way too difficult for me to start with.)
  • Get the vegetable garden looking good.
  • Tackle the most obvious clutter (note: this is not “ordering”, it is just things going out the door to someplace else.)
  • Keep up with the debt pay-down; this means more hours in the shop.
  • Participate in the summer memoir workshop, dedicated to putting a longer written piece in some kind of order — there is that word again!
  • Make lots of Gazpacho
  • Get over the d___d shingles.

That is enough for now: time to get busy. Here are a few of the Spring’s joys:

The above is Cool Spring, an award winning Siberian Iris my Dad hybridized so long ago. And below is a simple yellow daylily whose claim to fame is that it was grown by me from a seed sent from China.


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Day One

Well, I’ve hit my markers. It’s a tad after 8:00 pm and I’ve done 8198 steps and 15 floors. I’ve used my weights. And except for the leftovers from the freezer, I’ve been vegetarian.

I decided that I like to walk the dirt road behind my house, but not the paved state highway that gets me there and back. So, on my way to town, I tried turning left, not right, and drove down the dirt road and parked at the end. It’s just a half mile back to the farm, and then a half mile back to the car. I walked to the farm and back to my car, and then drove off to the store. On my walk I met a friend  out for a walk with his dog, and then another friend who stopped, rolled down her window, and we chatted. Pleasant.  One of the pheasants that escaped last October kept crossing the road in the middle, staking claim to his territory, I imagine,  and giving me the “squawk.squawk” from the field as I walked by. All in all a pleasant way to kill a half hour.

My hips, which hurt when I walk any distance, did burn on my way out toward the barn–but hurt less on my way back to my car. Good sign. I tried to walk with good posture, holding my pelvis at the right “tilt”, whatever that is (tuck tush and pull in stomach?), and that may have helped. New insoles may have helped. Walking on dirt, not pavement, may have helped. And maybe, just maybe, more moving equals less pain. I do so hope that may be true!

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Moving into the top 30%

I’ve decided to get into better shape. Now, so that I’ll hit 70 years old running. Or at least moving a bit faster, with less gasps for oxygen. I’ve got a year plus a few months to do this. I just took a seniors’ fitness test, described in an article by Dean Anderson on SparkPeople.  I’m still breathing a little fast, but passed all six parts, although doing least well on the more aerobic ones. (The tests are based on a book by R.E. Rikii and C.J. Jones, Senior Fitness Test Manual. It’s pricey, and best for fitness coaches, I think.)

The SparkPeople article states that only 32% of those over 65 follow a regular exercise plan. That’s the group I want to move into,  so I’ll need a plan. And regular follow- through.

I’ve been using my Fitbit, getting 5000 steps  and 10 floors climbed on most days. My first step is to up that to at least 8000 steps and 15 floors. After two weeks I’ll evaluate whether I should up that or not.

I’ll keep out the 5 lb weight I got out for the fitness test, and use it every day. Well, actually I’ll try to find the second one, and use them both. Curls and shoulder shrugs with weights. Again, for two weeks.

I’m turning somewhat vegetarian. There are a few sausages, some chicken and shrimp in the freezer. Once they are gone, I am going to try to do without buying any more meat. Maybe replace the shrimp, we’ll see.  I’ve tried seitan recently, and survived. Maybe I’ll find the right method to cook it, and like it better. At least I know I’m not sensitive to gluten. I’m relying on Tempeh, smoked tofu, grains and beans. And every vegetable I can.  Fruit I’ll add, but vegetables are my preference.

I’d like to say I’ll hike, but after going out into the State Forest last week with my son to see the yellow lady slipper in bloom, and coming home to find six deer ticks imbedded in me, I may wait until they calm down this summer. Or stick to well groomed trails.

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