Friday, June 18, 2010

quote to remember

This week I'm reading Karen Maezen Miller's wise and wonderful Hand Wash Cold for the third time. With each reading something new leaps off the page at me. This week it was this:

'Meditation is misunderstood as something you envision in your head, when in fact it is something to be seen with your own eyes. What you begin to see is that the place where you thought your life occurred - the cave of rumination and memory, the cauldron of anxiety and fear - isn't where your life takes place at all. Those mental recesses are where pain occurs, but life occurs elsewhere, in a place we are usually too preoccupied to notice, too distracted to see: right in front of our eyes. The point of meditation is to stop making things up and see things as they are.'

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

as easy as abc

A few weeks ago I posted a recipe for a banana chocolate chip cake and mentioned some abc (apple banana chocolate chip) muffins which are a favourite when we have a few ripe bananas lurking in the fruit bowl. Anika and I have just whizzed up a batch (see photo of 4yearold expert hand whizzer!) so here at Phil's request is the recipe:

Turn the oven on to 200degC
Mash 2-3 large ripe bananas (to make 1 cup)
Add 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 egg, 1/2 cup milk, 1/4 cup oil, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips and whizz together in a bowl.
Now peel and grate 1 large Granny Smith Apple and add to the mixture (make sure not to grate 4-year old knuckles).
Finally add 2 cups of self raising flour (or 2 cups plain flour + 2 heaped tsp baking powder) and fold in gently.
Spoon into greased muffin pan (makes 12 large muffins) and bake for approximately 15 minutes.

Lick bowl while waiting for them to bake.
Eat warm with a cup of rooibos tea, sitting on the floor playing Silly Sentences.

p.s. today's best silly sentences 'The shy man runs under a happy leaf.' and 'The brave mouse swims over a scared crocodile.' :-)

Monday, June 14, 2010

poetry on monday

I love this poem by Maya Stein (thanks to Patti Digh at 37 days for sharing it).
As we create, so we grow. As we grow, so we heal.

irreverent baking

I should be upstairs with the others, drumming up ways
to heal the world, save the animals, pray for water
in a far-off continent, devote the remainder of my days
to a catalog of restorations. But this morning, it was the matter
of scones that drew my gaze, and my feet remained
planted in the kitchen. One must never ignore the instinct
to create, is what I told myself, and soon the counter was stained
with flour, my hands sticky with dough, the house inked
with the smell of blueberry possibility, and I knew I was not wrong.
This was my prayer, my act of healing, my offering, my song.

- Maya Stein

Sunday, June 13, 2010

on fear

Friday was day 4 of 21.5.800. Bindu prompted us to write about fear. Since I live way out east in New Zealand, it was already day 5 when I read her post - but still it started me thinking about what it is I fear. What is it that holds me back, keeps me awake at night, makes me want to run away from what is staring me in the face?

It wasn't an easy thing to do. I almost abandoned the whole thing (and seeing as it was already day 5 I felt I could get away with skipping it quite legitimately). It seemed to me that writing down my fears would somehow make them real, make them come alive, give them more power and quite possibly, make them come true!

To be honest I was afraid of writing down my fears!

So I put that at the top of my list.

And suddenly it didn't seem so scary anymore. So I continued. When I'd finished I'd written 964 words about all the things I fear. I read through the list and it seemed to me that now that they were there in front of me, in nice neat Garamond size 12 font, out of my head and on the screen, they all seemed a little less terrifying. Most of them were downright petty. I felt lighter, freer, and less afraid.

And the most significant thing I learned through the process and I can honestly say that it took 964 words for me to figure it out was this: I always thought my biggest fear was of not being good enough, of being rejected, criticised or even worse, ignored. I do (like most members of the human race) have a certain amount of fear of being abandoned. But what I learnt yesterday is that I have a bigger fear - the fear of not being authentic. I am petrified of being a fake, a carbon copy of what I think I 'should' be. I will risk ridicule, criticism and even rejection as long as I am true to who I am and what I believe in. So I realised that it's time for me to stop wasting so much energy(/fear) on whether I am good enough - and just get on with the essential task of being me. Something which isn't really scary at all. It is after all what I was born to do!

It does require a certain amount of daily excavation though: a persistent and determined digging through all the stuff that doesn't fit; a huge amount of honesty with the ones we love; a willingness to say how we feel even when it makes us feel vulnerable; the courage to shed the masks that cover our real selves; the curiosity to keep growing in new directions, to keep redefining who we are; the patience to forgive ourselves and begin again when we veer off course; a readiness to step out of the shadows and into the light.
Nothing less than a lifetime's work.

Thank you, Bindu for this valuable prompt!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Day One

I've signed up for Bindu Wiles' online community project called 21.5.800 (you can read all about it by following the links). Basically what it entails is 3 weeks of practicing yoga for 5 days a week, and writing 800 words per day.

What was I thinking??

I like a challenge. And I tend to sign up for this sort of thing rather impulsively. But I do think that being part of a community and committing to something publicly does help one to follow through, and keep going when it gets tough. So I am hoping it will be the necessary shove that I need to get back into a writing habit. The yoga part will be relatively easy for me. It's the writing that will be a challenge. Earlier in the year I made a writing commitment which as you can see I haven't managed to stick to - even though it was small somehow life got in the way. I could come up with a string of excuses but I know they are irrelevant - there are people with a lot more on their plates than I have, who manage to make the time to write - because they make it a priority.

So once again, I am committing to this process because I know that practice is the only way to make progress. And practice means time and repetition, in order to create a habit. Our habits are what make us who we are.
Chefs must cook. Painters must paint. And writers must write.

As BKS Iyengar so wisely said:
'Change leads to disappointment if it is not sustained.
Tranformation is sustained changed, and it is achieved through practice.'