Saturday, May 31, 2008

Busy times

I have been busy day after day. It doesn't show signs of letting up until the last week of June.

On May 2nd, I went to my friend H's confirmation, as well as her sister C's. It was lovely to be inside their historic church. Their confirmation was presided over by the Archbishop, as their Bishop was overseas.

The Archbishop questioned the confirmed, asking what spiritual gifts they could find in their lives. Such Christian things as the holy spirit and communion were mentioned, as well as grace, love, and empathy. I was slightly disturbed that it took a long time for someone to say compassion, and no one said kindness, two things that I thought a Buddhist would say right away. I say these things just to point out that I noticed that some things rubbed me wrong as a non-believer, but some of course we could share. If I do have a problem with Christianity of any kind, it is that salvation through Jesus Christ is placed above all other spiritual qualities in importance, above kindness, compassion, and love.

Another thing that I began in the beginning of May is set up appointments with contractors for estimates on a new roof. Today that culminated in the tearing off of our roof, and the discovery by the contractor that just about all the plywood base was no good, adding at least $2600 to the bill.

I've been doing all kinds of support for the Buddhist Festival in the Park. More groups than ever are involved this year, which is cause for happiness, but at the same time for more anxiety. The bureaucracy of permits means I have to tell people "No, you can't do that." As if I didn't have enough to keep me busy, at a meeting with one monk, I learned a Burmese group could be persuaded to participate if they could raise money to help victims of the cyclone. Of course, bureaucratic rules say absolutely no donations allowed, but we can sell things related to the event. So, I willingly thought my group could sell buttons and bookmarks and other little crafty things as fundraisers for Burma. So I set up a Buttons for Burma event.

Then I found out that the group could actually be connected to SLORC. Oh wow. We don't want to give money to them. But we still want to give money to cyclone victims. I verified the source of this expose is to be trusted. We'll just give the money directly to an agency suggested by Project Maje.

I've read quite a few books, and watched the first season of The O.C. It's easy to do something while watching, like making buttons. I have yet to write up little reviews of all those books. I've needed to take a break from that. Goodreads helps me keep track. (Be my friend on Goodreads.) Among those, The Jungle, which we read for my library's book group. I loved that book. More later.

I've been to a few farmers markets. My new day to go is Wednesday, and I have a choice: People's, or the South Park Blocks. People's is cheaper and more homey, and in the afternoon, but the other has many more vendors to choose from. One week I got a couple of bunches of asparagus, and decided to grill it. Folks, this is surprisingly easy. First, bend the spear near the bottom, find the spot where it breaks easily. The bottom thick part of the stem doesn't break easily because it is woody, you don't want to eat that. I never ever see that in the cookbooks, but that is the lore I grew up with, where every spring we hunted wild asparagus in the ditches of rural Wisconsin. Drizzle the asparagus with olive oil or other vegetable oil, and put on a hot grill. It only takes a few minutes, about a
minute per quarter side. I discovered it's easy enough to roll the asparagus en masse with the edge of a tongs. Brown, but don't char.
My friend H and I went on the river cruise on Memorial Day this year. We took along her little sister D. Because the water was high, our boat caused the bridge to rise. I took a couple of little movies. Eventually I'll upload that to youtube, as well as the many photos I've taken this spring. Maybe that's something I can do when I watch the second season of The O.C.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Weights a little lighter

My thanks to those of you who checked in with me after my last post. Krissy sent me this useful article. I do need to cut back on something of the voluntary things I do for others. Also, since the list on paper thing isn't quite working for me anymore, I'm going to try one of the online to-do and prioritization tools. I'm going to give a try. This is partly because I like the printable booklet they offer for your "hotlist." Of course, the things I like about it are available if I upgrade to Pro, but that is only $15.00 a year. I'll use it for a week or so, and if I like it, I will.

If any of you reading this decide to subscribe, please do so from this link, then I get a freebie for a few months.

There was another issue lurking underneath, and it did reveal itself. Here's what I said in email to Krissy the next day:

After I wrote that last night, this morning I woke up with a dream where I'm in my grandma's house. She's alive, but me, my mom, and mom's husband are taking care of her and we are also sorting through her things because she is also dead. My thought this morning was that I still need to do some grieving, so of course I'm over-emotional.

I also thought about her house being the center of my inner landscape. It has always remained pretty much the same in real life, and it has always been a place of refuge. Now the stuff is sorted and sold and the house is being sold, and maybe my foundation is being shaken in a way I didn't expect.

I feel better today, not so depressed.

I've been using tv to escape. I need to cut back and cut it out. It sucks time too.
That was Thursday. Since then I've felt less inclined to escape via TV, and my despondent mood has lifted. Friday morning I had another inner landscape of those places that re-occurs and grows and reflects my changing psyche. I dreamt I was at college, but unlike many past dreams in which the buildings have grown like a hive and I'm returning to school to continue my learning, it was more like I was there to collaborate with others, and I seem to recall there was something to do with a fundraising sale. The spiritual me was meeting up with the learning me, and some kind of shift happened. It was more like I was taking my place not as a learner, but as a do-er.

Speaking of the learning me, something that needs to go lower on the priority list are my continuing blogs on Pema Chodron's No Time to Lose. Teaching related to my despondency is certainly found in Chapter 7, and I knew so as I read it. G talks in the class about needing to find enthusiasm in the translation itself to make the work come alive. The one I am linking to, perhaps more scholarly, not so down-to-earth. She said, "Refusing to look at problems does not make them go away." That is just why I posted what I did. I hoped that if I voiced it, some answers would come, and that is what did happen. She went on to say that this refusal to look leads to despondency. "It is the very thing that makes things worse."

And I say the antidote to despondency is to look at it straight on, as I did with my spiraling emotions. A gentle questioning, "What is this?" allowed a door to open in that wall that was keeping me from acting and keeping me procrastinating. I will write more on this when I get back to the blogging on the book.

I feel loads lighter, and I was again able to have that questing mind, and look for ways in which I could handle all the tasks that I need to accomplish. The nice thing about toodledo, I can use Jott to send myself items to do. Toodledo provides helpful info on accomplishing projects and goals. One aspect of all this weighing on my mind is that there are so many little things I need to do. Worry about remembering them makes me anxious. Toodledo gives me permission to forget. If I send a message as I think of something, I can forget right away.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

self-imposed weights

I have so many things I have responsibilites to do, and so many things besides that I've wanted to do, that I've crashed and become overwhelmed. Usually when I feel like I have an overwhelming to-do list, I make that list, and pick out the thing that looks easiest or most fun to do, and then the thing that is most important.

For some reason that is not working for me. So the to-do list is even more menacing and weighty and there's this wall that I can't seem to get around, especially around plans for the annual Buddhist Festival. There is a person involved that seems determined to make every step difficult, and I worry that his self-promotional efforts include sabatoging others to make himself look better. (OK it looks slightly less weighty now that I looked at the permit and I have until May 22, not May 19 as I was thinking, to get those permit tasks done.)

I've been depressed over this, and asking myself is there something else going on, something I'm not looking at, and no, I can't find anything, just this loop of not living up to intentions and feeling bad and thus not living up to intentions. And I have to remind myself that sometimes the root cause cannot be found, maybe sometimes there is no psychological root cause and I'm just depressed, maybe it's the long cold lightless spring, maybe it's low seratonin from various chronic pains.

I'm not usually depressed, so it's harder for me to find that still center to cope, I think. People who are usually depressed, if they've adjusted, they know where to find the inner reserves to ride it through.

I finished Pema Chodron, but part of this weight is the posts I didn't get a chance to do. They're still coming. I read chapter 2 of People's History. That too is waiting in the wings. Even the last write-up of Unnatural Causes, still waiting to be distilled from notes. The list goes on. I went to see HH the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu, among others. Those notes also await writing. Even further back, notes from our BPF presentation on Burma and how to help Burmese refugees (that was in January). Oh, and I haven't mentioned my Dharma School writeups, sooooo behind on them. Then there are photos. I went to my mentee's Catholic confirmation, and have thoughts about that. All things I want to do, but so many that as soon as I sit at the desk, the energy saps into the floor and I just can't click on "create post." OK, then there's Buddhist articles due next week. Those, I think at least I will get done. I'm better at following through for others.

I just had to say that. Maybe if I confess, the silliness of this wall will dissolve, and I can again move forward out of this malaise.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

New Haunts

Besides The Daily Coyote and Salazmeyer, here are a few that I look forward to reading in my bloglines feeds.

the effing librarian
Somebody mentioned this one when we were doing web 2.0 stuff at my library. It is a rare writer who can write with sardonic wit and still read as a caring person. When it is not done well, it just comes off as negative and mean. He? is funny and effing right.

the New York Public Library blogs
There's a lot of cool info to be found here, and you don't necessarily have to live in New York to imbibe. I found something I may do when I visit New York in June. (Did I mention I'm taking a little detour before I visit Wisconsin for my twin nephews' high school graduation party?)

Practical Polyamory
It's exactly as the title says. There's an educational website attached. I think it will be a good place to point folks to.

I noticed I don't really keep up with the Buddhist blogs I have in my bloglines feed. I'm more attracted to certain book blogs and non-monogamous or polyamory blogs. Maybe that's because the Buddhist blogs that I know of that focus on Buddhism tend to cover ideas I already know about, or can't really cover Buddhism in depth perhaps because they don't know enough yet. I used to like the quotes blogs, but not so much lately. Then I remembered my dharma sister...almost forgot her because she doesn't post very often. I wish she did more. I could add her, as well as Woodmoor Village. I'll pounce on their posts as soon as I see them.

I am also always interested in the Friendly Atheist, though sometimes it's a bit dry, and has a limited view of Buddhism. I read his book end of last year. Lately I am also keeping up with Feministing.

Reading blogs can really be a procrastinator's downfall.