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I was thinking about how much I love Pema Chodron, David Whyte, Buddhadarma magazine, anything India or Hindu or yoga related, my energy healing school… why don’t I just join a religious order someday?

I can’t speak for someday. I may hit a yoga retreat or an ashram or visit a Christian religious order just to clean up or get new clarity. I want to visit (almost) every place of worship with every loved one who will invite me, from the Hindu temple with Vidya for puja back to Christchurch in Rugby or Epiphany with my mom. Maybe I’ll take the Art of Living course for my birthday.Maybe I’ll go back to work for some difficult, bureaucratic, profitless agency that lets me help people and stresses me with the hardships of our clientele and staff.

But I could not just walk away permanently. I realized that I love this world, and that is why the answer is no. Spiritual practice must not be something that just sits off to the side waiting for an acceptable time. It is where the rubber hits the road– when someone pisses me off, when I am afraid, when I am celebrating, when there is injustice, mendacity, thoughtlessness, hurt, waste, pain, violence whether in words between family or warfare between nations– that tests what I believe and what I am growing to be.

My Tassajara would be a bed and breakfast where travelers can find family meals from my own garden and welcome and comfort. My 29 Palms is the beach at my Mom and Dad and Grammy’s house, Kim’s back patio looking out over the little lake, or Station Camp in Big South Fork, until such time as we can afford that second home in West Virginia near Granny’s house. I find so much to be grateful for each day, I just have to remember to see it and be grateful.

I don’t need a retreat. I need to be mindful. I can find a walking meditation counting flowers as cars roar by on the smelly city street that is the way to and from my child’s school. I know wine shrinks your brain but ‘this is the blood shed for thee’, and I love to taste it and cook with it. I can find a meditative joy in cooking mindfully, trying to nourish my family with healthy food, swimming upstream against the food industry. I can find a meditation in cleaning and organizing and FitTV. There is so much music to enjoy on YouTube or alternative radio or someday when we have a babysitter again in clubs.

I have about ten vocations… for one of them I might learn Buddhist counseling methods– just read a wonderful article about that in Buddhadarma magazine. I’d love to do that with a fat helping of Jungian study in San Francisco and Kabbalah from the School of Healing Arts in Nashville. I don’t have answers any more than anyone else does… and the answers are right within us, within our values and hopes and need and dreams. And this is our life, our kingdom come.

I love this world. Some parts of it hurt– people do nasty crappy things here in LA, as I know they do everywhere (though maybe not quite so often or willingly!). I think about losses and griefs. I screw up, judge, feel anxious, get irritated. I struggle with giving up unhealthy behaviors– all legal, but not healthy. Travel has forced me over and over again to reframe in a way that has been hard but good for me. How I handle these is constant opportunity for meditation without abandoning daily life. Spirituality can be a retreat, an abandonment of real life… I will never retreat. Meet me right here.

In that spirit, with my usual dedication to reverence and irreverence, here’s one of my theme songs. Stop right here if you don’t like ugly words.

The Bill O’Reilly Dance Remix used to give me a much needed laugh and relief from tension when I was working at the library. Okay, we don’t live in Darfur or anything, but outside of that… simple daily things were so hard I cannot describe it. F* it! I can’t do it! What a joy to have Bill express how I felt so eloquently every single day. I laughed my head off no matter how many times I watched it.

Now the video still gives me great joy– Kim R. just posted it on her fb page this morning and I’ve watched it about five times already and will probably watch it five more. But now the line that speaks to me is F* it! We’ll do it live!

Doing it live…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5j2YDq6FkVE

As we were leaving DC last week we were listening to the testimony of Edward Liddy, who came out of retirement to try to get AIG back on track– manage all that bailout money– for no pay. He sounded like a decent guy to me. Here are the three thoughts that occurred to me  as he talked about those bonuses.

1. they were an infinitesimal percentage of the total bailout package– getting them back isn’t even a drop in the bucket.

2. Legacy knowledge is an all important form of capital. you lose productivity big time when you lose the folks who saw it go down before the shit hit the fan. you lose productivity big time when you lose folks ever. retaining staff is so important to the wellbeing of any company. provided they are honest and have true honest professional intent. Only a very very small group amongst AIG’s vast divisions is responsible for this mess. The many honest people who were there before are the best ones to pick up the pieces and bring the company back.

3. We, the American people, are a bunch of sheep. Know what a derivative is? That’s what caused this mess. If we– the working or middle class with decent careers, decent homes, our health or at least health insurance, and decent opportunities for education– whether in school or through self education and lifelong learning–  willfully choose ignorance about how our economy works, we deserve what we get.

Come on. This is f-ing ridiculous. All this mess comes from our acquiescence to the huge pyramid scheme that is our economy. As long as we are scraping by okay, screw the rest, right?

We don’t teach our children about debt and compound interest rates (whether in our favor or racking up on our credit card debt). Every child should know how our economy works and how personal finance works.

I have a dear little colleague, a very sincere financial advisor. She is urging folks to attend the latest Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University. My husband and I used Dave to crawl out of I don’t want to tell you how much debt, accrued through years of near constant life change and increasing salaries.

But here’s the thing. I love Dave. LOVE HIM. But if we all adhered to his principles, paid cash and lived within our means our economy would collapse! I said as much to my friend and she said yeah… yeah that’s true.

It is in banks’ and lenders’ best interest that we little people should live outside our means, not understand the consequences, and fail– or at least fail just enough that they can levy insane finance charges and ruin our lives.

That whole ‘derivatives’ thing… I heard it explained and defined on Marketplace on NPR, though i cant quite tell you now what the lady said. See what I mean?

So we go on. we fail to pay our bills or invest poorly– we pick up the pieces, if we are lucky enough to have pieces. We can’t get a car loan. Financial giants like Enron or AIG make it look so easy — and when they screw up–no worries! The government will bail us out! Oops, sorry about all those retirement investments that weren’t even there.

But the bottom line is, our economy is at any and all times a bubble ready to burst. This has got to stop. Corporations,  lenders and elected officials have us all by the short hairs. We are too scared to say no, afraid to rock the boat– and refuse to give up the giant houses (like mine) with the insane heat and cooling costs. And we refuse to educate ourselves about what, personally, locally and nationally, would provide us personal and national security. We let our finances, our food, shelter, health, happen to us.

STOP it! Get educated– the economy, local agriculture, local energy, renewable energy, walkable and sustainable communities. Think about how it affects your family, your community– yes, I am asking you to look at the big picture, at what would be good for human beings and families across town and around the globe– and our national security– or you get what you get.

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I wholeheartedly agree, and this is serious business! I am so happy to see that someone, anyone, can offer support in something I’ve always believed!– Kim

Men & Women

“I object to anything that divides the two sexes.  My main point is this: human development has now reached a point at which sexual difference has become a thing of altogether minor importance.  We make too much of it; we are men and women in the second place, human beings in the first.”
-Olive Shreiner (1884)

The “battle of the sexes” was an issue back in the 1800’s and we’re still talking about it today.  Clearly, there is a difference between men and women.  But maybe we’ve come to the point where we can understand that our similarities far outweigh our differences.  Rather than look at what divides us, let’s look at what binds us.  We aren’t Martians and Venusians, we’re here together on the same planet.
 -Lissa Coffey

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