I read the other day that the refugees from Syria and thereabouts living in camps along the European borders live with only the limited food and water provided to them through charity. They often live in the camps for 10-12 months at a time without knowing where they will end up the next day. Will they be sent back to their country of origin? Will they be accepted to a country where they will have the means to seek and sustain employment and feed their families? Months of waiting for answers and assistance from more fortunate countries go by and they wait with uncertainty. I cannot imagine the anxiety of having to live through months worth of anxiety about such an important life or death transition when everyday uncertainties that are not life or death occasionally keep me up at night.
For the past few summer months, I have enjoyed unofficial beachfront yoga retreats every weekend. How? I signed up for a yoga teacher training (viniyoga) about an hour away from my house. During the first two weekends, several classmates found out I live an hour away and invited me to stay over at their homes every weekend of the training! It is such a kind gesture that I will never be able to repay as there is no way I could ever afford to live in the area they live in on their lovely luxurious beachfront properties. One classmate told me I could nap at her place if I needed to before my drive home on Saturdays. Two classmates invited me to stay at their homes with their families instead of driving back on Saturday evenings. One classmate has cooked dinner and breakfast for me and often brings us food from her organic garden. Every weekend, someone in class is sharing something or other with such generosity. So, because of the kindness and hospitality of strangers, I have been able to enjoy many weekends of relaxing yoga retreats away from the sweltering desert at home. I wrote of my gratitude in a homework assignment I submitted and my teacher is asking if I would be comfortable to share the writing. I do want them to know how appreciative I am but I do feel very shy at times and I know that I am ahead of everyone on the homework assignments which I have been told has caused some envy. Here is what I have been asked to share… Please have a look…Should I share it?
Write a short essay explaining your Dharma and what it means to you.
My dharma is:
- in continuing to discover and feel daily joyful reverence and gratitudes
- in sharing my blessings within our world
- to render kindness and unconditional love in servitude to our fellow living beings, as we are but branches of a single tree.
What does this dharma mean to me? It means that things either happen for a reason or we make our own meaning of life. As Emilio so aptly put it, life happens for us rather than to us. For life to have a purpose/ dharma/ meaning, we have to see what has been set for us and in so doing, we feel reverence, gratitude, joy, blessed, generous, kind, loving and connected.
An example of this in one of the most recent chapters of my life occurred only a few months ago. A coworker became very ill with cancer. Her doctor wanted her to take additional time off for further treatments. She did not have any sick leave left and had mounting bills. She looked to her coworkers for help. As a group, we all donated many days to her… I donated several years of sick leave and neglected to leave myself any as I figured she needed it more financially than I did. I experienced mild regret when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer on Valentine’s Day. I ended up taking many days off to see her to doctors’ appointments. The days I was absent from work were deducted from my paychecks and I was asked to resign by HR. The HR Manager gave me a speech about how teaching is a calling that I must continue when he explained that I could resign or be let go of, which I found strange. Maybe he didn’t want to feel responsible if I did not continue on as a teacher… I continued to tell myself that I did the right thing because my coworker needed the money more than I did. Then, my coworker wrote a “Thank you.” When she returned, she expressed her gratitude and said she would pray for me every day because the time we had collectively donated to her had not been wasted. While she had been away sick, her own mother had passed away from cancer. The time she had away from work had been used not only to heal from her treatments but also to spend with her mother on their last days together. “Things happen for a reason,” she said to reassure me that things will be okay even if I am jobless. Life has been good despite and perhaps because of the turmoil because life happens for us. I had time to pursue my yoga studies and hope to share my joy for yoga with others. I have time now to take my mother to weekly appointments and to help her at her job until she is able to return. My generous yogi classmates have opened up their hearts and homes to me. You have taught me more about yoga/ life than I ever expected to learn! There is no way any other yoga training would have provided so much knowledge to reflect upon. Giving brings about more abundance and I was mistaken to have felt regret.
Aside from the time I now have to spend with my mother, I have much appreciation for everything and want to share my blessings and joys so that others too may be blessed with love and joy. The cotton from the clothes I wear was picked by someone and spun and dyed by someone. Water and nutrients were provided to nourish the cotton plants. Someone made the lavender soap I used for the shower last night where there was also fresh water that came many years of precipitation and someone else grew that lavender. Many hands built the house I reside in. The wood came from trees that grew for many years. The cement was made from gravel and sand that took thousands of years to form. The oil in the car I drive formed for thousands of years from the energy of many once living organisms. The metal pieces from the computer I am typing on came from a mine deep in the earth. The plastics came from the oils that formed for so long in the earth. Somebody’s blood and sweat was poured into meals I eat daily as they toiled to grow it, sell and distribute it. Even the body I inhabit came from generations of ancestors before me.
The teachings you are instructing us upon came from generations of teachers: from the generations of teachers of Vyasa who made it possible for him to compile The Mahabharata, the generations of Aryans and the oral storytellers from whom Patanjali imbibed so many lessons and wrote them down. By teaching us what you know, you are planting many seeds that will continue to grow and transform as generations pass like a Mother Tree whose seeds are scattered across the mountain range where the forest takes root. I am honored to have the dharma to continue to disperse our joys and blessings.
It is summer. The homeless stand on the corners with their begging signs and cups as if the sun wasn’t there. I remain in deep gratitude for all of the twists and turns in the road over the undulating terrain of my life and I remain in deep gratitude for all of you!
What, my friends, are you grateful for in your life?
It has been five months since my last post. Yes, I’m still working on making more time to cook. Unless you have a tube in your throat or stomach, I hope you are doing better than I am in exploring the world of taste because it is such a pleasure to be able to learn […]
via — foodtrek
I’d like to give every young teacher some good news. Teaching is a very easy job. Administrators will tell you what to do. You’ll be given books and told chapters to assign the children. Veteran teachers will show you the correct way to fill out forms and have your classes line up.And here’s some more good news. If you do all of these things badly, they let you keep doing it. You can go home at three o’clock every day. You get about three months off a year. Teaching is a great gig.However, if you care about what you’re doing, it’s one of the toughest jobs around.
I have been reading such wonderful books as Adam Grant’s Originals- How Non-Conformists Move the World. This book actually made me cry! Who would have thought that a book filled with case studies would make me cry! It reminded me of when the author of Orange is the New Black writes about crying over Boston Red Sox winning the World Cup, a mundane moment that stirred something in her because she used to joke about being imprisoned if the Red Sox ever won. Sometimes it’s the most mundane moments that are the most cathartic….
I think all of one’s favorite books in the different phases of one’s life are a reflection of one’s inner most feelings. What have been your favorite books in the different phases of your life? Mine have been:
1980s?-Childhood- Anne of Green Gables
1990s?-Adolescence and various forms of love- And Their Eyes Were Watching God
2002? Young Love and Coming of Age- All the Pretty Horses
2008? Divorce/ Forgiveness/ Redemption- The Kite Runner
2012? Adulthood and transitions- The Ten Things to Do When Life Falls Apart
So it is that poverty becomes the mother of invention, accident and loss the matrix of spiritual depth, and frustration, exhaustion, and disgust the royal road to creativity. Instead of decrying the fact that life is requiring that you take some strange new steps, you might as well get with the program and simply bumble forward…You may not be able to see the final destination… A boat far at sea can end up at either North or South America just because somewhere in the middle of the ocean its captain turned the wheel just the teeniest bit in one direction… the hand of the universe telling you to change course.”- Daphne Rose Kingma
2014? Discovering travel and the world outside of school and work- The Geography of Bliss
2017. Now- Originals- How Non-Conformists Move the World
This book begins with the quote:
The reasonable man adapts to the world. The unreasonable man adapts the world to himself; therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
– George Bernard Shaw
I wonder what book will be my favorite next! Wherever life takes me next… Perhaps it will be a book of my own writing…
We have the capacity to design the lives that we want to live, and not the ones that were designed for us. -Ron Finley
Only about a month ago, I sat silently as if in meditation in front of the humming, banging and chirping MRI machine waiting for my mother wondering how I could sit for such a long time and how she would be able to lay without moving. Only a week later, I sat for hours longer waiting for her while she had her lumpectomy and thought to myself, “This is like sitting and waiting to get my destination on an airplane- only this is better because at the end of these hours, I will get my mom back.” Now she has begun chemotherapy and this too shall pass. Soon after a few weeks, she will have radiation therapy followed by hormone therapy and those too will pass. For me, waiting and sitting still has been so difficult but my mother makes it look easy and is always in a good mood. She is always trying to take care of everyone even though she is the one who has cancer. I appreciate her strength and positivity so much! She sees herself as very lucky because the county nurses, doctors and personnel take good care of her and it was caught very early. How am I so lucky to have such a positive, happy and strong mama? When she is given the wig at the hospital, she says she will look so much younger when her hair is gone and she has a wig on because the wig has no gray hairs!!!!
I did my yoga this morning. I don’t know what today will bring. Nor do I know what tomorrow will bring but in this moment now I am tired yet content.
Some of my earliest followers out there in the blogging community may recall when I was contemplating divorce and my mother-in-law was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. I didn’t want to make her life worse by leaving and bringing more stress to her life, but in the end I left and she survived and remains close to me to this day.
Two weeks ago, my mother was diagnosed with cancer on Valentine’s Day. Exactly a week later, I was told that my job contract would not be renewed… Quitting jobs and being told my contract won’t be renewed every few years seems to be a theme in my career so I obviously need to work on self promotion and management of the aides because my students do meet their learning goals each year and are happy… Before my mother’s diagnosis, I fantasized about taking a break from work, but now, I don’t want to worry her… I don’t want to give her life more stress; especially since my brother also recently left his job.
With the teacher shortage going on, finding work should be quick, so my plan this week was to find another job before telling my mom that I am leaving the current job, but I don’t know if I have the energy for that right now and would honestly enjoy spending my energy on my current students, staff and mom. The time I have with all of them is limited and I don’t really need much money as I always keep enough in my savings. I haven’t told my staff yet that I am leaving and dread telling them as I intend to tell them soon. My mom is still working a lot. I wish I could spend my days making her life easier by cleaning, cooking and thoughtful things… I am terrible at providing care to my parents though I do better at it than some by always choosing to live and work close to them so that I can see them often, which is something I work hard at since I love going off and exploring the world…
So I’m at a cross roads again…. Which way to go? Do I continue to live the life my mother wants me to live or do I take time off for myself and to spend time with her? Will she be disappointed if I do the latter?
It’s pouring right now. I am at home with my tea cup sitting on a coaster on the window sill next to me enjoying the sensory deprivation from all other sounds save the water dropping onto the floor and other surfaces.
It is 2017 and another life change is upon my family. That is what I am calling this now: a life change, not a tragedy. I am remarking to myself how different people react to life events differently. For instance, I have taught Special Education for a few years now and there are many mothers who are deeply depressed, hopeless and bitter by the fact that their child / children has/ have special needs. Then there are mothers who are so unbelievably loving, idealistic, generous and happy; you wouldn’t believe it! Life is truly what one makes of it. Maybe there aren’t any real tragedies in life: just mud (the messy yet nourishing events that one must suffer through) and lotus (the blossoms and growth that make us smile)…No real tragedies…just mud and lotus…transitions or life changes, albeit sometimes heart-wrenching, that come with the everyday lives of every being whether old, young, rich or poor.