I’m looking out at horses standing in the pasture. No, they are not at the farm in Rocky Mount. They are at my farm in Hillsborough. I am going through a divorce, and they are the first group that has come to live with me. Life is pretty crappy and hard right now, not just mentally but especially physically, but as I stand here, I am in awe of the beauty of it all. The pasture slopes downhill and is surrounded by woods through which I can see more of my hay fields. Despite the trials of daily life, I feel happy, blessed.
The next day, I catch the end of a Diane Rehm show about mindfulness and the power of thought. The day after that I listen to the show in its entirety: an interview with Ellen Langer, a Harvard professor who writes about mindfulness in a new book. She did a study years ago where she took a group of old men and isolated them for five days and turned back time. They only watched movies from a certain era and basically lived as they had in the past. When they emerged from the study, they were reinvigorated and stronger, with eyesight and hearing improved, and they looked younger. It was the power of their minds that gave them that strength. (I was also delighted to hear her describe this group as such old men that she actually wondered if they would make it through the five days, and here was the kicker: she said they were not like now, when 60 is the new 40. Does that make me 45?)
She also talked about how anger and despair can be so physically debilitating and how most of the things we struggle against aren’t true tragedies but merely inconveniences. If we can bring ourselves to a neutral place, we will feel so much better and be able to see more clearly ways to handle our demons. I have always been one to be thankful for dodging those bullets I didn’t even realize were there. Maybe I dodged a bullet by leaving my husband. No, make that a full speeding train, but that conversation is for another time.
I encourage everyone to hear Ellen Langer tell it herself. Here is the link:
Recently, I decided to get a manicure. It’s not something I do very often but I needed a fast and cheap escape while waiting for my husband at Verizon. He either lost his cell phone or had it stolen in Miami where he went to have back surgery in April. Buying a new phone should be simple, right? But, nothing at Verizon is simple. Since Len was not driving yet, I had to take him there but the thought of sitting in Verizon and dealing with his problems just felt too overwhelming. I’ve got my phone and it works just fine – thank you.
Off I went to Hollywood Nails & Spa at River Ridge shopping center. I had never been there before and was pleased to see how clean and shiny it was. As soon as I sat down, my manicurist gave me a bottle of water. A few minutes later she came back with two piping hot spring rolls on a little white paper plate and placed them on the table between us. I’m thinking it’s her breakfast, after all it’s only 9:30. The aroma is killing me but I pretend the spring rolls aren’t there. The manicurist (promise to get her name next time) begins to clean and prepare her tools . “Eat,” she finally says. I look around to see if anyone else is eating spring rolls but no one is sitting close enough for me to know for sure. Delicious.
I tell her how much I love her spring rolls and ask her where she is from. Viet Nam. I love Viet Namese food and tell her I wish Asheville had a Viet Namese restaurant – or at least a good one.
I’m devouring the second spring roll when the manicurist removes the empty paper plate and replaces it with hot soapy water. “Soak,” she says. Once my nails are polished and dried, the manicurist gently massages my hands and arms. Thinking this is it, I’m ready to get up and pay, but the manicurist says she will be right back. When she returns, she’s got two white steaming towels to wrap my hands in. So, so nice. Finally, I get up to leave and I notice several customers chomping on spring rolls. I asked the other customer at the cash register if everyone here gets spring rolls. Affirmative. OMG, this business owner knows a little something about customer service! Maybe she could teach a class at Verizon.
One more thing, the price was five dollars cheaper than my last manicure. Guess who got a five dollar tip?
It’s been a while since my last post, but with family emergencies, work, and trying to figure out the weather to be able to put my garden in, all I can say is, where has the spring-time gone?!
So much has been going on for all of us, that it’s nice to take some time to appreciate what happens all on its own in nature – without us doing anything.
Since moving into our house in 2002, I’ve been watching the way the light moves, seeing what can go here, what would look good there, and now, after all these years, the flowers and trees and plants are happy where they are and are just doing their thing – bringing a pure joy and happiness that makes my heart open.
Believe me, I am not going to enter any contests, nor will I be posting these on the hundreds of sites where I could “share” them.
I can’t handle the crazy things that are going on right now, I don’t want to comment and write about the things that don’t make sense…all I want to do is to share what I see coming up and blooming in my garden.
Enjoy this Beautiful Life.
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It was an important event. I wanted to look thin in my outfit—well, at least thinner! I’ve put some weight on recently in reaction to stress. (I try to eat stress away and am surprised every time it doesn’t work.) So, I squeezed into my Spanx, put on my fancy clothes and heels, and headed off to the gathering of nice people, where I was going to speak about my organization and convince them all to become members!
The evening started out fine. I nibbled on finger foods and drank a glass of wine. Then, it came time for my talk. Standing in front of people like that always makes my heart beat a little faster, so nothing seemed out of the ordinary at first. I simply started talking and thought, any moment now, I’ll hit my stride and feel comfortable. But the moment didn’t come. And yet I wasn’t really nervous; I simply could not breathe. My breath was coming in little gasp between words. I thought maybe I was having a panic attack. I talked faster, to try to feel more relaxed. Things just got worse. I could feel my face getting hot and flushed.
I looked around the room and could tell from their faces that a few of my friends in the room were a little concerned: this was not my usual presentation mode! Then, all at once, there seemed to be no air at all left in my lungs for breathing. The thought crossed my mind that I might be having a heart attack. I could picture myself collapsing in front of the gathering and being carried out the kitchen door on a stretcher. I wondered if it might be a stroke. I wondered if my husband would ever forgive me for working so hard that I died on the job. I prayed that, if it was a stroke, I would die quickly and not linger for years in a vegetative state while my children came for obligatory visits.
I love snow, in an illogical, childish sort of way. I can’t seem to get over it, even if I am 60 years old. When I wake up in the morning, and there is snow all over the ground, I never think things like, “the roads are going to be terrible today” or “I bet that important meeting will be cancelled, and it’s going to be hell to reschedule it.” Nope. I think, “SNOW!!! Wow! Maybe school will be cancelled!” None of this makes any sense. I’m not in school. I have only one child still in the kind of school that gets affected by a snow day. But I feel an excited rush when I start hearing the list of school closings. I always want to be the one who goes into my daughter’s room and announces, “Snow Day!” (I have to say that smart phones have taken away a lot of the fun, since my daughter almost always gets her little instant message from the school or the radio station before I can get to her.)
The other thing I like about snow is that it seems to slow things down, to make you
feel like the day can creep slowly by instead of roaring ahead. It makes me want to curl up on a couch somewhere and read a good book, while sipping hot chocolate. It reminds me that there are things in life that are a whole lot more important than deadlines, emails, and voicemails. It reminds me to look around and see beauty all over the place—since nothing looks ugly when it’s covered in fresh snow.