Thursday, April 21, 2011

Saying Goodbye to a Friend

I donated a car this morning...a Chevy Geo Storm that had been in my life since 1998. That car got me to Texas, thru my second husband and thru most of my college career.

I've had a new car for a couple years now and a friend of mine has been driving her for a while but still, she's been a part of my life for a long time.

Years ago I had a friend who traded in her old Toyota Tercel for a new Toyota Tercel. She cried when she handed over the keys. She explained to me that her old car had been in her life for 12 years. Even though she was getting a brand new car, it still hurt. I didn't understand at the time.

I'm not going to lie, I cried a little this morning. The tow truck driver was a real sweatheart. He assured me that she would be auctioned off and someone would buy her and give her the love and care she needed. That really did help. All I can do now is hope she ends up somewhere where she will be appreciated.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Mindful Weekend

As mentioned from my previous blog entry Being Punched in the Emotional Junk by the Dalai Lama, I spent last Sunday at the San Antonio Art Museum. What you do not know is that either at the museum or shortly thereafter (possibly while reading some of the literature I picked up on Buddhism and Tibetan Dieties), I picked up a new friend.

At first, all I felt was some subtle vibrations, unlike any entity I have met before but by Tuesday he has made himself known to me...the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. This deity is very well known throughout the Mahayana Buddhist world. He is a complex character with a multitude of names and aspects (both male and female). One of his female guises is of course the popular Guanyin. Needless to say, I have spent these last few days getting to know him and reading extensively about him.

Avalokitesvara is extraordinarily compassionate for all living things. It is said that he halted his own progress to becoming a Buddha so that he could help the rest of humankind reach their own enlightenment. While he has aspects of both sexes, I feel that the aspect hanging out with me is male, so I am referring to this being as "him."

So, besides spending this weekend learning all about Buddhism, I have also tried to be mindful of all my actions. The idea of mindfulness is to live in the present. Most people live either with their mind in the past or their attention focused on the future (or both). Very few of us are able to be present in each and every moment. I had many things I wanted to get done today, so it was the perfect opportunity to try and be mindful.

First, I went to my gym for a yoga/tai chi/pilates class where I was successfully mindful of the fact that I was getting ass handed to me by our instructor. Luckily, from the moaning and groaning going on from my classmates, I believe the rest of the class was also very present in the same painful moment (or in this case, hour). I then dragged my tired self to the rest of the errands on my list, including going back down to the museum to finish taking the pictures I didn't take last weekend. While I didn't get everything done, I feel good about what I did finish.

My days have become so busy with the "have-to's" on my to do list that I find myself unable to finish the "I-want-to's." This leads me to feel guilty about all the things I feel that I have been neglecting. I got a lot of stuff done today and I feel good about it. Maybe being more mindful of each and every task will help me feel more joy in what I need to do, leaving me some energy to do all the extra stuff.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Being Punched in the Emotional Junk by the Dalai Lama

Yesterday my husband and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary by having Thai food and sushi and then hitting the San Antonio Art Museum. This is what we did for our first date many years ago. Lunch was excellent. I had sushi and he had Domino Tofu and we split a spring roll.  The restaurant has a gorgeous water fountain of the Buddha's face so I snapped a pic before we left.

We headed to the art museum. I had brought my camera because I wanted to take some pictures of the Greek and Roman statuary. Once we got there, we decided to view the special exhibit first, The Missing Peace: Artists Consider the Dalai Lama. First off, the exhibit was outstanding. While we enjoy art, we aren't the sort that's spends alot of time studying the pieces but some of the works were stunning and it took us a while to wander through it all. It's starts off with paintings, pictures and other items of his holiness, the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Buddhism. Then, as you continue on there are more Buddhism-inspired abstract works. The theme then shifted and the art works became about change, pain and suffering.

While the entire exhibit was powerful and moving, I ran into one particular piece that really socked me in the heart chakra. The painting is called "Abu Ghraib by" Rupert Garcia. It is based on one of the terrible pictures of the prisoner abuse scandal that came out of the Abu Ghraib prison during the Iraq War. I started to cry when I saw it. As a human being, the things that were done by our countrymen is horrible and as a former soldier my heart aches in shame for what was done by people that wore the same uniform as me.

Oh and one more thing...I served in US Army from 1988 to 1991 and I was stationed in Darmstadt, Germany with the 165th MI Battalion, which was one of the battalions in the 205th MI Brigade. The 205th MI Brigade was directly involved in the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib and has since been disbanded (along with 165th MI Bn). While I nor did anyone I know have anything to do with these atrocities, at the same time I can't help to make it personal. The unit patch that I am wearing in my picture of my myself as a PFC is now a patch of shame.

All of this and more went through my head at the museum yesterday. Both my husband and I were pretty upset so we cut our trip short and skipped the rest of the museum. I came home and worked on an artistic response to what I had seen.

I took the face of Buddha from the fountain picture and put it on a green background of lotus blossoms. I am trying to focus on this image, instead of the one I saw yesterday.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Making Bread and the Pomba Gira

Two and a half weeks ago I was at my wits end. Work had become insane (a certain federal agency had changed some very important rules effective immediately), everyone I knew seem to be having personal issues and I had just had enough. I came home, threw an altar together and prayed to the Pomba Gira for some fast help. I promised her that if she helped I would bake her some Portugeuse sweet bread (her favorite) before the spring equinox.

Needless to say, the next day that same federal agency not only changed it's mind and rescinded the changes but issued something dangerously close to an apology.  Problems that have been around for months have completely cleared up and most of my ohana seems to be doing better.

So last night, I started the Portuguese Sweet Bread. It is actually the most complicated bread I make. Multiple steps, lost of ingredients and I make the whole thing by hand for maximum ache'...oh and it takes about 18 hours total. As I was kneeding the dough, I was working so hard that my yoga pants were falling off my butt. I'm covered in sweat and flour is now stuck to the sweat so I am looking REAL sexy and I don't want to stop until the 15 minutes of kneeding was done. As my yoga pants fall down to my ankles, I couldn't help but laugh at myself and how ridiculus I must look.

At that moment I felt happy. Maybe it was just being in the absurdity of the moment. Even though I was making that bread for her, I may have gotten just as much out of that loaf as she did. I baked that bread this morning and carved three chunks out of it so I could insert three candles. It ended up looking really cool.

I'll let sit for a day and then go feed some birds with it.