Monday, August 13, 2012

Peach meditation

Once again, I had one topic in mind and another decided it was going to be written about instead. This morning, I saw a lady in a sensible pencil skirt hanging a sign for a church thing and I had some jealousy and anger because that would never be me because I'm Pagan. It was another reminder that I'm a second-class citizen because I don't get to devote my life to being a clergy person in the same way that the mainstream religions do. There aren't any accredited seminaries that would be appropriate for pagan clergy and there's not sufficient infrastructure to support full-time clergy. Maybe we'll see this in a hundred years, but not today and I hate that. I wanted to be a church lady and a preacher.

But, I have the life that I have. I wouldn't give up my career as a scientist for anything and I'll serve my gods as best as I can in the ways that are available to me.

I'm working right now on redescribing thirty someodd species of butterflies and one new one. After a long day of this where I actually started and finished a description (four to go!), I come home not terribly long before Husband takes Kiddo to dance. This means that I have the house entirely to myself. Considering that I also have two big baskets of peaches to freeze, I thought I'd work on them. Peel, cut, slice, sweeten, freeze. I'm not yet far along in the process, having taken a break to eat one of them.

The house is quiet, so I took this as an opportunity to meditate while slicing peaches. It's really hard to find time to meditate, so I do it while I'm doing other stuff. I meditate while driving, cooking, walking, gardening, and even when visiting the euphemism. Any few minutes I can grab on to my brain, I try to meditate. Now, before you freak out about me meditating and driving, the kind of meditation I do is neither the close your eyes and go "Om" kind nor the kind where I zone out in blissful peace. The kind of meditation I do is actually some hard work, but it helps me keep from turning into the She-Hulk and rage-smashing everything; it keeps my brain in good, healthy, working order.

Awareness meditation is pretty much just what it says on the box, so a driving meditation would include awareness of the sounds of the road, positions of the cars around you, and the interactions between your body and the car. If you were gripping the steering wheel too tightly, you might remember to relax your grip some or you might adjust a little in your seat so you can see your mirrors better. You might even be aware of the thoughts going through your head and letting them pass on by you instead of getting all caught up in your brain like a song on repeat. Put simply, awareness meditation is doing what you're doing while you're doing it.

So, back to my peaches.

And having finished freezing said peaches, back to the blog. There's quite a lot to be aware of while peeling and slicing peaches in a quiet house. There's the position of the knife and the curve of the fruit. This is very important to be aware of. There's also the smell of peaches, my sitting posture, the sound of the dryer going, the occasional movement of a baby still gestating, a few traffic sounds, and the little aches and places where muscles have tensed up. In addition to that, there are the thoughts passing through my head, most of which have nothing to do with peaches, so as those thoughts leave, I think of peaches.

I think of how this is a true labor of love. Simple awareness has turned toward metta practice. Metta means, more or less, "loving-kindness." It's the kind of no-strings-attached love you might feel for a big-eyed purring kitten or a tiny helpless baby because it's a living thing and living things are deserving of love. When you are a kitchen witch, feeding people becomes one of the most powerful acts of love and therefore one of the most powerful acts of magick you can do. By putting back peaches, I'll be feeding my family and helping them thrive and grow.

And here's where we ratchet up the woobie a bit. I'm a Pagan and I love the Earth, so I bought fruit from a local grower who chooses sustainable farming practices. I want the Earth to thrive and grow, too, so I practice metta toward the Earth as well. Good sun, clean rain, and rich earth all help the food to grow. These are the gifts of the gods and I feel so much love and gratitude toward them for that.

It was a good meditation for today. I'd had a bad case of the crankies and to end the day on a note of gratitude and metta is what they call a good thing.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

What are you going to do about it?


Awesome in Aviation!
Never married.
I had written most of a post about revising your idea of success, but it got eaten by the internet. I thought about throwing up my hands and giving up on posting something today, but I think I'm too stubborn for that.

This is still a post about success and what that means. Olympic athletes and great inventors have one kind of success, but that's not the kind of success I'm able to aim for. That's not my arete. I can't give up parts of my life to focus intensely on success at one thing. My kind of arete is to continually try to improve my skill at being a human being, to be the best kind of mom I can be, to be the best priestess I can be, and to do my best work when I'm doing science. My attention is divided, but I'm not sorry about it.

I wouldn't give this up for the world.

I've always wanted to be a scientist and a mom. Well done, me! Being a priestess was an unexpected surprise, but I'm not sorry about that, either. It helps me be a better mom, a better scientist, and a better human being.

In order to improve my skill at all of these things, it's important for me to remember that when I am feeling ennui or having some difficulty or another that sitting and bitching about it does nothing. Doing something, even if that something is "just" prayer, is the only way to get through that. Michael Phelps didn't get to be an Olympian athlete by crying in his beer when things were hard, he got up and swam and then he swam some more. Orville and Wilbur went, literally, back to the drawing board when things didn't work out.

Gratuitous picture of flowers in my garden
for no reason other than they're pretty.

I was having ennui and was worried about not having worked enough on all of the things, but remembered that I'm an Action!priestess. If I feel bad, I need to do something about it. Am I eating right, resting enough, have I had enough water, would a cuppa coffee or a couple Tylenol help, is there something I can do to fix the problem? And this is how I minister to others on the rare occasions I'm asked to put my priestess hat on. I'm not great at listening to other people talk about their feelings. I admit that it makes me a little uncomfortable because I don't know what to do with emotions. So, I'll ask the other person, "What can you do about it?" and "What have you done about it?"

"Nothing" is not a great answer. I rarely accept it from myself or others. If the problem is "I haven't been knitting," the answer is "Well, knit then, if you're able." If the problem is "I'm tired," the answer is "rest." There is always something you can do, even if you can't see it right away. To quote the David Wilcox song "Down Inside Myself"

Hey the cure is very simple
And it works in half an hour
Get some sleep, eat some broccoli
Run a mile, take a shower

For me, I tend to ask myself, "Would a nap, a couple Tylenol, a bite to eat, and/or a cup of coffee help?" Often, the answer is "yes." So, have you been down about something? Dismayed? Dejected? Other words that start with D? What are you going to do about it? Do you have a checklist of easy things to do that might help?