Tuesday, February 24, 2015

May I be happy...

May I Be Happy and Free
I have begun most every day for years on the mat (or the floor or the bottom of my bed or the balcony) with these words. They are followed with
May I be Safe and Protected
May I be strong and my body supports me
May I flow through this life with ease

I then repeat these phrases for all people to be happy and free...etc, etc. It helps me think about where I'm at first thing, to set an intention and to think about putting that out to all people everywhere. Visualizing first my own peeps, sending love to them and beyond.

(Metta is a Buddhist practice in which you repeat intentions of good will toward yourself, others and the world at large. It bridges meditation and chanting, and its power comes from the repetition which serves to focus the mind and intention on a central thought or theme, in effect shutting out distracting thoughts and giving your full mental energy to the intention at hand.)

Today I sat with my face to the sun. I had cracked open the door to my balcony so I could hear the birds. I was aware that I just felt calm.
After I repeated those familiar words I stopped. 
I opened my eyes.  
Then I had the amazing realization... I am happy!  
I just caught myself smiling from a deep contented place. Even when I awoke in the night and wondered why I wasn't sleeping, I had the thought how nice that it didn't really matter. I was more curious... I knew that I can nap later (such a luxury) and just wonder did something wake me? Did I have something I wanted to think about? Or do? So I laid there thinking about it and soon fell back to sleep. And I woke to the sun rising over the vineyard. 
Yup, this sure seems like happy.  
Sure, I can let my mind can wander to unhappy places. It's true I have to go back to real life some time. I do in fact have bills to pay and a house that needs to sell soon, I do have a husband who seems to have forgotten our 20 years of happiness and yes, my son is a heroin addict and the list goes on. And on. But me? Right now? My own little self? Yep, could be construed as happy. I look down at my lap filled with croissant crumbs, I take another sip of my favorite tea. The sun is shining. On this table there are flowers blooming that I picked! I am not shoveling snow(or hauling wood).  
-The decadence and plenitude of good happy-inducing things in this one morning blows me away.-
 My nails are polished for crying out loud!(thank you Courtney) If happy means being good with where I'm at, feeling supported by people who love me and ensconced in a beautiful part of the world doing what I like to do everyday then holy shit, it's true- I am happy. I'm going with it. This is what happy feels like and I like it.
Me being me, I had to explore a bit further...So I considered the next part- “and free”.
And yes, you know, I do in fact feel quite free...
Free from all kinds of things. 
Obligations- there is no hungry baby needing me, I have no job to get up and go to, I have no mortgage that I'm worried about (at this exact moment in time).  
Perhaps I'm even learning to be free from disappointment. One little tiny nanosecond at a time. 
If this isn't free what the heck is? Free to sit here with endless cups of tea and write my little heart out.  Free to wander these hills and valleys for miles and miles. Free to dance around this house. Free to get a bit drunk and color my hair later (or not, just a thought). Free to stay up late with four good books on my bedside and thinking about how to help a friend (I am so sure you will find the just right person to rent the space, Chris!)  
Perhaps the key is to be “in this moment in time".  And I'm free to consider extending my time here in the south of France. No, no hand-wringing or proselytizing needed. No arguments with self to the contrary. Free in this very minute, this day, right here. Yea, free is good.

Safe and protected”... as I lay there awake in the wee hours of this day I was thinking about how much I like this cocoon of a house. I like that there's a (locked) door in the wall of the terrace, and that there are shutters on the french doors and window of my room (me, that never locks anything and tends to leave keys in my truck, kind of funny). I like that it's just open to the hills and valley across from me, no houses, no people. I feel the love of my friends and family who have helped and supported me so this could happen. And will continue to do so if I decide to stay longer. I'm starting to trust my own knowledge of when I'll be ready to go home. And I will go home. I'll be ready soon, just not yet. I know I need to rest quietly a bit longer. Yes, I feel safe and protected in a way that maybe I never have before.
“May I be strong and my body supports me”... oh, this has been one I wish for so hard. 
But in this moment I do feel strong. I don't think my body in this life will ever be the lithe workhorse I will it to be. Sure I am achy this morning and my left knee is a bit swollen. Yesterday I was laughingly accused of showing up the other workers in the vineyard- I was shocked. I then had to realize that I not only am I a hard worker (I knew that) but that while I was chatting away I was also quite fast and efficient, and strong! When I'm not thinking about it my body can surprise me with bursts of really good work with no pain. I think that is so exciting. I think it's time to realize that this body of mine may always have pain but for the most part it always does what I ask of it. 
Huh, what a bloody breakthrough that feels like.

“May I flow through this life with ease”... that's a thought provoker for sure. 
 All that goes right along to the aforementioned return to reality. All that that entails. The online course I need to do with no internet (yea, I know). The future for gods sake.
This all has potential for great dis-ease.
I'm no Pema Chodron or That Nich Hanh to be sure, but what if sitting on my mat and repeating these few phrases, doing a little breath work and sitting quietly every day helps me to believe what my new friend Linda said to me last Friday. We'd been chatting for hours, kids long since tucked in, her husband Chris kept refilling our glasses with delicious wine and she said to me "I have friends who've been through half of what you have and they're a mess, and to me you seem really solid" (I do?)
and then she said "you've chosen to be the person you want to be".
it helped actually... to think ok, these people think I'm solid.
Well, I actually do feel pretty solid.
Yes, perhaps I am choosing to be the person I want to be.
I wrote to my sweet bro about it and suggested that maybe this choosing is enough,
his response....

It's not just enough...it's all that matters.”

My god,  I love him.

So maybe flow with ease doesn't mean there are no potholes in this path. No, on the contrary- they are fucking everywhere. Camouflaged with daisies and smiles and promises. Perhaps it just acknowledges that we all fall in potholes, all the time. That we get hurt and dirty and we cry and then take a soaky bath and call someone who loves us and can make us laugh. Sometimes we wake up the next day and run right into the same pothole and are so surprised all over again to get quite hurt and get our favorite sweater really dirty. But then we remember to start the bath and go get the phone. And leave a note to self about where to step tomorrow.

May all beings be happy and free
may all beings be safe and protected
may all beings be strong and their bodies support them
may they flow through this life with ease...

Because maybe happy and free for this one day is enough and all that matters.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Castles, cathedrals and croissants with Courtine

Oh, what a great week I had with Courtney. She inspired some amazing day trips some far, some close but man did we see some amazing things. It was great fun to travel with someone who thinks a window full of pastry, a distant castle or a flowering weed in the path are each just as photogenic.
 We visited some famous places- ie. Carcassonne, a fortified french town that's the second most popular tourist destination in France (after the Eiffel tower).
Happily it's off season so although we didn't have it to ourselves it was a much diminished crowd and we could really enjoy this masterpiece that dates back to some Celts in 600bc. With ramparts and drawbridges and two outer walls to guard the city, we had much to point our cameras at. We learned a smidgen of the intense history of Romans and Visigoths and Cathars. We read of sieges and surrenders, the inquisition tower(!), and disrepair and eventual restorations.

Then the real wandering began...

 with a hundred stops for photos, for chocolate croissants, and for digging up roadside herbs.

we followed the Orb river for the better part of a day

those are olive trees in that vineyard!

signs of spring everywhere!

you can't quite see the crazy kayakers up there

I just cannot stop the vineyard photos, I love them all.

And on to Montpellier!!

starting the day out right

And onto Bouziques for oysters!!

Narbonne market
It was back to sunny Narbonne for Courtney for some great shopping (red shoes!) and to catch her train to Barcelona and make her way back to a snowy New England. I feel such gratitude to Courtney for making this happen for yourself and for me too!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Valentine's Day

Oh, what a sweet day it has been... it's Saturday, so of course I took Courtney, (darling wife of son Jesse) who surprised us all, including herself by making this visit happen, to my favorite haunt in Pézenas. Only to learn that with the advent of spring the market is much bigger! As we walked through the old parts of town, we found even more vendors just lined up in several more little squares. It was wonderful and made more so by having someone so eager to share it with. 


So, I had made this into a sweet little slide show with fun music. Clearly I don't actually possess all of those skills so please peruse the pics and hum a nice peppy french tune ok? (If "frère jacque" is all you got, no worries just hum away and pretend you're there with me)

yes, I do stalk this guy in his adorable Citroën

"Deux pains au chocolat se il vous plaît"

Until today I had only read of violet nose gays

My favorite Valentine, right here

A lovely way to end the day...

It's possible that you may be able to see said video here, though no guarantees...