Rhapsodomancy (in honor of National Poetry Month)
Go. Go now to your bookshelf (do you have one in your home or office? I sure hope so.). Quickly glance at your books of poetry or literature, and pick the first one you find (no more than 5 seconds) Close your eyes (6). Open the book to a random page (7). Open your eyes, and wherever they focus, read (8,9,10). What hits you? What word or phrase stuck with you? Was there some magic or message for you? Just this act alone can bring a sense of peace very quickly. In 10 seconds. You might want to take more seconds, but the initial action to change the moment, the first ten seconds is the most important. You can change how you feel with ten seconds of effort. Evolving your mindset gets easier with practice.
This practice of randomly picking a poetic passage and finding meaning is called: Rhapsodomancy. Besides being an awesome word, it was once a great poetry reading series run by a favorite writer of mine, Wendy Ortiz. Rhapsodomancy captures two of my loves: poetry and random magic. I practice this kind of whimsical divination often; it is great for curing the blues.
Today’s 10 seconds–from the book I selected off my work shelf…
The Great Religions (by Hafiz)
Great religions are the
Poets the life
Every sane person I know has jumped
That is good for business
If you have never tried rhapsodomancy, try it today. It might just give you a little weekend peace!
Have you heard of Forest Bathing? Nope? Neither had I until recently. It’s a Japanese thing that is becoming a phenomenon in the states (probably urban areas). It is basically what it sounds like. Walking through a forest and letting it bathe you in sensations. Humans are a part of the world, and we need a connection to nature. Living in a dense metropolis, we can find ourselves metalled out in a digital world that gives us no sense of being. So it is little wonder that the LA Arboretum forest bathing tours are sold out through May.
However, never fear, with the right planning and practice, you can have a moment of this peace if you cannot get to a forest today. In this 10 Seconds to Zen, I want to share the wonder of essential oils and what they can do for your emotional well-being. There are physical health benefits as well (see this study), but today, I will share about the mood boosting benefits of breathing in the aroma of an essential oil, that only takes seconds to put a few drops in the corner of your shower in the morning.
I put three-four drops of tangerine, one of my favorite aromas, in the corner of my morning shower, and in ten seconds, voila– peace, calm, and a sense of joy come over me, and I can greet the day with a positive mindset. If tangerine is not your power aroma, it is easy to play around and find one that is. I have a friend who loves to put peppermint in her shower in the mornings– she has noted that her mood change is palpable. Find your Zen. It only takes ten seconds. 🙂
Peace in an ordinary world
Take a long slow inhale counting to four as you breathe in, stop. Now hold it for a count of three at the top, and then slowly let it out– three, two, one. Done.
It has been ten seconds, check and see if you have slightly more head space. In these few seconds you have made the way for a little moment of peace. Even better if you did this with your eyes closed, because then, when you open them again, you might see something new in your ordinary world: the bright green leaf on the rose bush outside your window; the way the cement smells just after the drizzle begins; the flicker of fairy lights atop your mantle, and the fire place is crackling and warm. Breathe and observe. Ahhh. That feels better.
Peace finds me when I delight in the ordinary.
When I am particularly peevish, this is my favorite ten seconds to zen: sipping on Relaxer tea (by Tiesta), fireplace on (it’s a switch on one, so it doesn’t take long to start) ambient scene on the smartv (search via YouTube), staring out the window to a little white rose bush. Dreamtime commences.
What is something ordinary that you can notice that will provide you with a moment of peace today?
Peace finds us if we prepare the way for it.
Peace, or a sense of calm/Zen had always eluded me as a child and younger adult. I used to think finding it was going to be outside my skill set– reserved for the wiser, more patient folks. I always had hope though– and that may be why I never gave up the quest. Hope, I am told, is a very human trait (emotion?), and I believe hope is what allows us to be creative problem solvers. Without hope what is the point of moving forward? Hope is futuristic and revolutionary. Hope, creativity, and skill is what drives innovation forward. Hope is not fluffy as some might suggest. It is downright necessary, and the stuff of radical positivity– it is the superhero battling entropy.
However, I digress. Back to the original topic: Peace. It IS possible to find a sense of peace or Zen (whatever you wish to call it) if you train yourself to be accustomed to it. You don’t have to be a Buddhist. You don’t have to spend all day meditating or doing yoga. All you need is a dash of childish wonder, and the willingness to begin a routine. I am no yogi nor master teacher, but I have found some calm in this ferociously beautiful and sometimes crazy chaotic world. I would like to share how I got there with you in an upcoming series of posts.
I believe all you really need is 10 seconds and regular practice. What your grandmother told you may be right after all, “Count to ten before you say anything you regret.” Great sage advice. In our hyper fast paced world, 10 seconds is a long time. I wonder when we will begin to divide time into nanoseconds. I am fairly certain it’s possible. Because all things are possible.
Today, I found peace in the ten seconds it took me to breathe in the sweet aroma of the fresh brewed pot of my ginger, turmeric tea while sitting quietly watching the date palms sway in the spring breeze. What peace will you find in your 10 seconds?
Our summer has been about adventures at home and locally. Swimming at friends’ or family’s homes, having (almost nightly) water balloon fights/competitions, playing (video) games at home and Dave and Buster’s – it has been a blast so far!
On one of the really hot, record busting, days last week, I decided I was going to try my hand at making popsicles with and for the kids. Right. Good fun. Check. Low Cal (mostly). Check. Ready, set, go!
The first batch (the orange ones above) tasted like mango smoothies. Not terrible, but really not so popsicle-y. My sons ate it out of duty (sigh). We can’t have that. I figured my problem was probably not following a recipe. Yep. Well, my grandmother trained me to be creative in the kitchen. This is a good thing when improvising with something you actually KNOW how to make. This is not quite a good thing when you have never made it before. So, round two I didn’t really use a true recipe and just poured root beer (my favorite popsicle flavor as a child) into the molds and froze them. The taste– excellent! The presentation, not so much. You kinda have to wait for the root beer to go flat.
What did I learn? Use a recipe! So round three (pictured on right above): Fudge popsicles from a recipe by Live Simply . Excellent smooth results. Presentation: Good. Flavor: Intense and very popsicle-y. Success! Next we plan to try a Dole Whip imitation popsicle recipe. Can’t wait!
Merry Christmas and Season’s Greetings to all in this celebration of light in the time of darkness. No matter where or from whom the message comes, this is the moment to savor and be grateful for the light. I am native to Southern California and we are drenched in so much sunlight, we can often take this truism for granted. Even on the darkest cloudy days, the golden orbs of citrus trees light the way. Truly, we live a charmed life.
Enjoy the image of The Annunciation– this is in my top 3 of favorite depictions of the Annunciation– the word of god/angel etched in the gold, and the entire masterpiece is encased on gold leaf. So much light! Do your own research on it here if you like. I simply like to stare at this image and use it to prove to others that the so-called ‘dark ages’ and/or medieval period in European was anything but dark. It was filled with communion, collaboration, and mingling of art and ideas. Change and transformation constant and roiling. I am happy to say that scholars have been upending our traditional ideas of the past every day with the vast amount of new research coming into the light. There, I said it. More light.
Just like always.
Enjoy the season!
Blessings to all!
The Reading Nook
Have book will travel. This is the summer of moving. We moved in June (literally the day after the last day of school) from our home of 11 years to a friend’s home for 7 weeks, and next week we will be moving to a new place that we will live in for one year as caretakers while the homeowners are away on sabbatical in an exotic country. It is an outstanding opportunity, and one for which we are grateful. Our children have been bold adventurers, taking all the vexing living situations (boys sharing one bed, as an example) in stride with not much more than momentary crankiness and the sometimes quietly uttered wish for a European trip or even just a plane ride.
And what have we done with our found time in this first new place? Well, visit a library of course. Nothing could steer us off track from the essential library visits during the summer. The thought of reading material for FREE is something I have never been able to get over. All the world’s information out there for the borrowing. I was enchanted as a child, and I still am. Of all the memories of my (not really great) grandfather, the one that stands out the most is of him sitting in the crook of a couch reading, reading, reading. A stack of books piled high next to him. He would read a book a day and power through 7-10 books in a week. This was excellent modeling. My mother also had this drive to read, and so I picked it up too (quite happily). Even though I continue this modeling for my sons, each person’s reading journey is his/her own. We will see what becomes of our son’s reading habits. Right now for them it is “Middle School: Get Me Out of Here!” (James Patterson) for Son #1, and Son #2 has just discovered “Goosebumps”, and though it is slightly out of his range, he is quite happy to nibble through what he does understand. And, yes, we still read aloud to our children. It is FUN!
As for me, I have a stack of books by my bedside and another stack of books on my Kindle all ready for me to devour, and this my second day of vacation leaves me wondering which book will draw me in. I have previewed Beautiful Ruins and am intrigued though many have said it is not what it presents itself to be. I have read half of The Wave, a non-fiction exploration of the power of rogue waves and what they mean for extreme surfers, scientists, and us in this day of climate change, but have lost momentum with it. I know this is a terrible reading habit: reading bits of 5-10 books at once. Bad form, but I have never been able to kick that habit. I guess it kind of works for me.
Other books that await my feasting you can see in this image (below), and the two that are calling to me as a main course are Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness and Graham Robb’s The Discovery of Middle Earth (about mapping the ‘lost world of the Celts’). I am looking forward to the rest of our (moving) vacation. We will see what kind of reading nook I will create at this second home.
Enjoy the meal of summer reads. Next up? Who knows…
Here it is folks, the annual “what I am reading” post. It is a summer of reading to be sure, and I am always excited to figure out what I am most in the mood for. I am habitual like most of us humans, so I have a pattern to my reading habits. As soon as the school year comes to a close you can always find me reading the latest Historical (Regency) Romance from a favorite author of mine (Gaelen Foley). This is my comfort food, and like comfort food, it is predictable and simple. It is a great way to decompress from all the work-stress that has built up over the school year. But after that, anything goes. I’ll read just about anything that moves me. Missing this year from the collection I have put together (see above) is poetry (!)…If any readers out there have some excellent recommendations, please do share. YA works are figuring prominently this summer (Wonder, Ninja Librarians, Curses & Smoke). But my favorite to represent is my friend’s just released memoir, Excavation. Go out and buy this must-read book. I warn you, though, it is not for the faint of heart.
If you are interested in a book oracle (of sorts) and are looking for something to read try this: What Should I Read Next. It works by you typing in a book you read recently and then it lists others that might be like it. It isn’t a complete database, but it is pretty good and can give you some ideas.
Enjoy the reading adventure!
See you in 2014…we will see what happens in the next 12 months!
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,800 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 47 trips to carry that many people.