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whatmatters

First, thank you, thank you to last week’s yogis.  Donations went to the Red Cross for disaster relief in the Philippines.

There will be two more Thursday night yoga classes this year before I head into the depths of the cave for hibernation.  See dates and details below.

 Thursday, November 21 @ 7:00 p.m. This is a pay-what-you-can donations class with 100% of the proceeds going to the Memphis Union Mission.  $50.10 will provide 30 Thanksgiving meals for those seeking food and shelter at the mission.  If you have gently used coats to spare, donate those too as they are currently having a coat drive.

Thursday, December 5 @ 7:00 p.m.  This is a pay-what-you-can donations class with 100% of the proceeds going to Church Health Center.

Both classes are in my cave, fireside.  Expect a slow, restorative practice focused on relaxation

For more information e-mail valetar@aol.com

Kozo of everyday gurus is focusing on art in this month’s peace challenge because

“…art has the ability to transform the soul. If art can change a soul, then it can change the world.”

The challenge: Explain how art makes you a more peaceful person.

When words fail, dance explains.

Here our paths converge despite the differences in generation, life experiences, linguistic and cultural backgrounds, and gender.  These things could separate us, but we have come together to dance. 

And so we begin. We circle this way and that. Sometimes we avoid near collisions, and sometimes maybe not.  When one collapses to the ground, the other lends a helping hand up; this is the lesson we demonstrate to others as much as to ourselves. 

In this dance, this sacred dance called life, we learn to move and breathe as one.

…Oh, just watch the video!

…and another opportunity to promote peace and refuge:

yoga may 2013

Dear Readers,

 

Let me introduce you to Beth Ann.  She’s a wonderful lady  with a generous spirit who writes a blog called “It’s Just Life.”  She writes about happy things, teapots, crafting, books, and recipes. One of the coolest things about Beth Ann is this: for every comment she gets on her blog she donates 50 cents to a cause.  This month she is helping a family out with medical expenses.  She wants to give even more, so she’s set up a Giveaway basket for a lucky reader to win.  Do a good deed — please go visit her blog today.  You will find the link below.  Be sure to leave her a comment!

Giveaway with an Ulterior Motive.

 

Thank you!

LE

hohoyoga tree

HoHoYoga! Christmas “Tree” and Tea

 

Healthcare is more than just prescribing pills and procedures. [It is] personal stewardship of the wonderful bodies given to us by God.

–Church Health Center

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all who donated to “HoHoYoga” this month.  It was an evening of bendy goodness and tastey flavors of warm tea.  We created “yuletide by the fireside and joyful memories there.” With your donations Church Health Center received $222.00.

Know that your presence and giving is greatly appreciated.

To those who were not able to attend, but who dropped off donations – thank you. The stories you shared about how the Center has helped you or someone you know, confirm how well and widely the Center serves a need in the community.

I leave you with a few songs (Christmas and otherwise) from the evening…

Dec 2010 037

A couple years ago, after a several year streak of holiday grumpiness, I decided to take charge of my own Christmas experience. Once I changed my approach to the holiday I found that it worked so much better for me than my old way of relating to the season.

My former approach could best be described as a frenzied scramble to meet the desires and expectations of others (or at least my perception of them) combined with my own unrealistic notions about what the season should be.  You may even be familiar with the old routine — the frantic shopping for the “perfect gift” while simultaneously complaining about the commercialism and crowds of Christmas; the furtive listening to news

Peace was a blurry, distorted vision...

Peace was a blurry, distorted vision…

reports of people being trampled on Black Friday with a secret little twinge of schadenfreude; the excessive spending of money on gadgets and gifts too quickly forgotten; the overabundance of food, family, and friends at near-toxic levels.

Mixing and mingling with that off-note jingling was the most stressful time of the year in the life of an academic: the semester’s end.  By December, college students are as high strung as the lights at the Rockefeller Center’s annual Christmas display. They come to your office shedding tears about their grades and their grandmothers — or worse, they sit and cry silently without telling you why at all. In class they band together and plead for another extra credit assignment, in spite of the fact you’ve told them repeatedly there will not be extra credit this semester.  If you stick to your word and practice “tough love” you get creamed on student evaluations. You are an ogre and a curmudgeon and administration frowns. If you have a kind heart, extra credit makes double the work for you as you scramble to invent something for students to do at the last minute that is educational and relevant…and then scramble to grade it along with the mountain of grading you have for final projects and exams before the grades are due. After all that you’re still just as likely to get creamed on student evaluations.

It wasn’t exactly what I would call the most wonderful time of the year and definitely not the happiest season of all.  Obviously, things needed to change.

So, I started working on me and my own inner Scrooge to align my deeper values with my behavior. This required a little soul-searching to work out exactly what my deeper values were. The process revealed a few changes I needed to make.

First off, the “perfect gift” ideal had to go. I had to break the shopping bag shackle to find more fulfilling experiences to share.   This act alone opened up considerable space. Once I reduced the time spent in stores, and online shopping, I had more time and energy to think about and deal more productively with the end of the semester angst of my students.  Freeing up that time also allowed me to pursue a much more relaxing pastime – knitting.  The manual arts have a meditative, calming effect that work wonders on my disposition.  I knitted in much-needed solitude and I knitted surrounded by knitwits and nutters (aka SoKaN), who provided a social support group, not to mention entertainment.  Of course the manual arts also result in tangible and useable things – a happy byproduct.Dec 2010 089

I also came to the conclusion that I needed to give in ways that honored who I am at heart.Dec 2010 072 On the gift-giving front, I admit, I have become a bit more selfish. For example, *I* wanted to take a holiday carriage ride in downtown Memphis, so I forced the parents to go with me for their “present.”  But maybe Ayn Rand is right and there is virtue in selfishness. In the selfish spontaneity of this carriage ride adventure, a meaningful and memorable moment unfolded.  We unintentionally wound up at the place my dad proposed to my mom and I heard this story for the first time. Of course, we are talking about Nanook the Barbarian and the Angry Russian here, so their story was couched more in terms of Archie Bunker comedy than romantic rhetoric.  In fact the two did not agree upon what happened at all, which is no surprise really if you know them. Theirs was not quite a love story, but it was a story of a unique love, and a Christmas gift I’ll always treasure.

The most devastating blow to my inner Scrooge came last year when I refused to listen to media reports about 12-11-2-12 011Christmas mayhem in the community and decided to start expanding my own sense of community. One of my holiday highlights last year was wrapping presents at a local bookstore for contributions to Literacy Mid-South, a local nonprofit organization that helps increase the literacy rates of adult learners.  There are 125,000 adults in Memphis who read below the third grade level.  Literacy Mid-South and their volunteer tutors are helping reduce that number.  I have served with them in the past, but time and logistics were a barrier to continued service, so I jumped at this chance to wrap presents for donations. I drug the Indentured Servant/Resident Teologist and Nanook along for the ride and it was a beautifully wonderful morning of do-gooding awesomeness spent surrounded by books! We were all up in other people’s present buying business, wrapping gifts for stranger’s grandkids, and drinking coffee. It was GREAT! Nanook told me to pick out a book for her present to me, so I scored a copy of Jill Bolte Taylor’s book, which mom wrapped so pretty that I couldn’t bear to open it on Christmas. It stayed wrapped for a whole year before the story called to unwrap it.

Nanook's got present wrapping skillz

Nanook’s got present wrapping skillz

This year, I am all about Christmas…but that, dear readers, is a different post.

So how about you? Any stories of Christmas past – or Scrooge slapping you have to share?

This is a repost from October 6, 2010.  This needs to be where I can find it because I need the reminder. 

————————————————————————————————

I am in good health. I have a stable job. I have a loving family and a supportive network of friends. I have good food and more than ample shelter. I have leisure time.  I live in a country of great wealth. I enjoy freedoms and liberties that others in this world do not. I am well educated. I have the ability to communicate, to walk, to run, to dance. My life overflows with an abundance of blessings great and small.

Yet when confronted with your need, I am still so selfish, so arrogant.  I judge myself as somehow better than you.  I tell myself, “I have made better decisions than you. I am more determined, more motivated.  I work harder. And I give you so much already.  So…why can’t you work harder? We share so many of these same blessings. Why do you squander yours? Why do you make excuses? Why do you waste your time? Why do I need to give up my rightful earnings for you? What have you given me?”

I will help you, yes, because that is what a decent, responsible person does.  But, oh, how I will resent giving away this piece of what’s mine! It makes me downright angry. 

How easy it is to pretend that I am somehow deserving of my many blessings. 

And then Luke reminds me:

To whom much is given, much is required.

And Dorothy’s word’s ring out:

Love in action is harsh and dreadful when compared to love in dreams.

And Thomas says:

Peace begins when the hungry are fed.

Anger is an acid

that can do more harm to the vessel in which it stands

than to anything on which it is poured.

In the struggle rewards are few. 

In the fact, I know of only two,

loving friends and living dreams. 

These rewards are not so few it seems.

Peace is the work of justice indirectly,

in so far as justice removes the obstacles to peace;

but it is the work of charity (love) directly, since charity,

 according to its very notion causes peace.

And Frederick shares his perspective:

Your life and my life flow into each other as wave flows into wave,

and unless there is peace and joy and freedom for you,

there can be no real peace or joy or freedom for me.

To see reality

–not as we expect it to be but as it is—

is to see that unless we live for each other

and in and through each other,

 we do not really live very satisfactorily;

that there can really be life only where there really is,

in just this sense, love.

And finally the message from my teachers sinks in this thick skull of mine. I am not as bright as I sometimes think I am. My blessings are undeserved. These gifts must be shared, not begrudgingly, but with a glad heart.  That is love in action.  And I am slowly learning: if charity doesn’t hurt, I’m not doing it right. The sacrifice that burns also purifies.

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