Guest Blog: Julie Peterson: Edwin’s Hat (revised from 2008)


Ah, Death
Flesh stripped from bones
Left bare to shine in the moonlight
Knocking together like
Mah jong tiles on the table,
Old wise women
Suck tea through their teeth
And laugh at the sound.

It’s a shame old men are the only ones
Who wear fedoras and
Cover their heads, like I should,
To hide from my own judgment.
The skeletons in my closet
rustle behind the coats and umbrellas
my father left behind
when he died.

I couldn’t find my feet beneath me to
Walk to the graveyard to say goodbye.
Instead, when I left him on his deathbed
I said, “See you later”
My suitcase bumping into my heels like a drawbridge
Snapping up behind me.

Now, years later
I dream of a blanket of hats.
I am comforted by tweed and herringbone,
Corduroy and felt,
Parisisal and scally,
The fine lace cap on a baby
Asleep in the castle
Of her own making.

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Guest Blog: Christine O’Neill: Pray? (The Newtown Massacre)


Pray?  You want me to pray for these victims of horror?  Pray?  Okay, let’s look at this logically.  Praying to something implies that something has power.  A God by its very nature is ALL powerful.  Omnipotent, ineffable.  Remember those words from Sunday school?  They mean God has an inconceivable plan for us, and can do anything.  I personally do not believe in God.  I believe in the power of human kindness, in empathy, in decency but I believe all those things are generated by the strength of the human mind. I cannot pray to an entity which, if all powerful, has allowed 26 people to be killed because someone had a bad day.  If it turns out that I am wrong if there is a divine being, He/She and I will have words!  There will be a reckoning.  How dare they have the power to stop this, to heal the mind of that young man, and not do so?  I believe, I have always believed, that Gods were created in the human mind to help us explain the inexplicable, and survive the insurmountable.  Gods, to me, are imaginary beings who soothe us in our times of trouble.

Praying, to my mind, is reaching out to an imaginary being to help us find what is already inside of us.  I simply cut out the middleman.  In some respects, if praying helps you do what you need to do, then fine, who does it hurt?  But what if it makes us complacent?  Something horrible has happened, and this morning I am seeing “repost this prayer on your Facebook.”  Is that it?  What does this possibly DO?  If this is simply a kind gesture of support for those families, of course it is a good thing.  My heart aches for them.  But then what?  God if one believes in him (let’s go with the male pronoun for convenience, I’m too tired to fight THAT battle today) ALLOWED THIS TO HAPPEN, and now we’re praying to him?  Folks, HE ISN’T LISTENING! It is our responsibility to step up, to fix things, to change our world so that while this doesn’t happen anymore.

Here is the danger of prayer.  You repost that FB thing, or you go to church or you walk at the beach and commune with your God.  You send out your sympathy to the cosmos.  Then you feel better, and you go about your daily life, you’re done, thank you very much.  NOTHING IS FIXED.  If you combine prayer with action, fine.  Have you called your senator?  Your congressman?  Have you found out how to start a petition to put laws on the ballot that will make the changes you think will help?  Have you thought long and hard about what needs to change?  If you have, and then you pray, or if you pray while you are trying to figure it out, perfect.  But what if all you do is pray?

I am angry.  Am I angry at the tortured individual who took innocent lives yesterday?  Only a little.  And a little at his parents, because being a Mom or a Dad is the most important job in the world, and somebody somewhere screwed that up.  Hitler had a Mom, she failed.  But as a Mom, I know that kids don’t come with a user’s manual.  The most important job in the world, and they don’t teach it in schools, they send you home with a little beautiful life and say, “Hey, wing it.” So I’m a little angry at his parents, but sometimes you do everything you can, and you just don’t have the tools to help your children.

I am angry that this has been happening for years, and we have done nothing.  A young man in my kitchen last night remarked that this isn’t that big a deal and it happens all the time.  The media just makes it a huge deal.  WHAT?  Then I thought a little.  Columbine was when he was two years old.  Since he was two EVERY YEAR on average 84 people in this country alone, are killed in inexplicable people on some personal rage filled quest.  I can remember when this was not normal, but to the current generation of high school kids, this IS NORMAL, he’s wrong, it IS a big deal, but he’s right, it happens all the time.

I am angry at myself because up to now I have been saddened and horrified, and made empty noises about what must be done.  Then nothing.  So I am asking you please DON’T PRAY, or at least DON’T JUST PRAY.  I’m not sure how to go about it, and I don’t (contrary to my own overinflated ego) have all the answers, but I must do something. I will start Monday morning with calling my congressman. I will move on from there.  Please, whatever you think will work to fix this, do something, work for it, and change this. Please.

Revolution


The headlines overwhelm me. The financial markets. The NATO rioting. Our own politicians’ posturing about the debt “crisis.” I have grown weary of the political forums on Facebook and elsewhere. The caricatures of Obama as monkey. The tar baby references. The Right tells gays they are abominations.  The left talks loudly about dildos in response. The Right blames Obama. The Left blames eight years of George W. Bush. For everything. Believe it or not Ayn Rand is STILL being talked about though she never had anything to say. Every year teens “discover” her and use her as an excuse to not clean their rooms or take the trash out or babysit their little brothers and sisters.

A pop singer’s nipple was exposed during Good Morning America. Why do I care? We spend $13 billion on porn every year in the United States and girls are sold into sexual slavery  in an alarming number of countries and I’m supposed to care about a nipple? I see people’s faux outrage and it makes my whole body tense.

Everywhere I go, I am marketed to. Advertised to.  Movie theatres. Driving. At baseball games. Even high school football games. There are ads in the back of my church bulletin. Capitalism drains me. With every purchase I make I wonder who is being exploited and where my money is going. If my money is being used to support things that I don’t believe in.

I ignore celebrity culture as best I can but unfortunately during the Academy Award season in 2011 I did discover who James Franco is. I regret that.

There is a frenzied layer of fear and banality frothing at the rim of our popular and media culture.

So with the above litany you would think that I would be ready for a revolution. Corporations own our government. The tax code is ridiculous. The Pentagon has misplaced billions of dollars but our service men and women still aren’t paid enough and don’t have enough health care and psychological care when they come home after serving.

We have become fat, distracted, vacuous. Seemingly uncaring of almost anything as long as we can have a quesadilla burger at Applebee’s Sunday night, watch Monday night football and American Idol on Tuesday night.  It doesn’t matter that the 400 richest people in the United States now control more wealth than the bottom 40 percent or that we are now stripping basic services to that 40 percent to pay for further tax cuts for those 400 people.  It doesn’t matter that people financed mortgages that they never should have been approved for and that “short sale” has become a verb. It doesn’t  matter that the free market isn’t free and it hasn’t worked. If you say a word against capitalism, you are Un-American. Does every American really think our GDP can expand on and on into infinity? Our whole society is built on economic growth. On us buying things. Do we think we can keep that up forever? I’ve seen episodes of Hoarders. I think that answer would be no.

I am 44 years old and I no longer think a revolution will solve this problem. Perhaps it’s the 16 years of parenting or the 35+ years of reading. Perhaps it is the fact that I have been to way too many funerals.  I read Tom Hodgkinson’s The Freedom Manifesto and I concur with him. That whenever revolution takes place, the people who rebelled end up, within a few generations, being just as bad at the people they rebelled against.  We slaughtered our native people. Our industrial revolution exploited working men, women and children for generations. And now 400 rich people have taken the place of the former aristocrats who ran our little colony. Go United States!

Also in a revolution (as in our current political system) one side is TOTALLY wrong and one side is COMPLETELY correct. Facts are twisted, overstated, ignored. People are pigeon-holed and forced to talk from a script of what America supposedly stands for.  Do we realize when we read our left wing and right wing blogs that things are more complex than they seem? When we watch Fox News do we realize that we are being talked down to? This partisan “debate” is a smoke screen which encourages our society to maintain a dangerous status quo.

My family and I recently visited the Frederick Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park  in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I know that the Meijer family is Republican. I also know that Frederick Meijer donated the 132 acres which houses the park and many of the sculptures throughout it. Sculpture displays and shows are offered in the sculpture gallery inside. In the “carnivorous” green house, families and elementary school students can ooh and ahh over pitcher plants and Venus fly traps. In the indoor tropical gardens, bamboo grows meters daily and tropical birds hover at the top of banana trees.  The children’s outdoor garden is an enchanted place with a castle, a log cabin, a story garden, fountains to run through, colorful wolf sculptures and sly, sleepy dragon keeping watch near fences. Title I schools and their students can visit the gardens for free. The gardens charge three to five dollars per student for other field trips. The “cafeteria” offers healthy, delicious food and drinks served in compostable plastic cups.

Depending on how the stock market is doing, Frederick Meijer is worth between four and five billion dollars. Does Frederick Meijer sound like the caricature of a Republican to you?

* * *

The idea that once America was better, purer… perhaps before Watergate…the idea that we once believed in our government and our process and that capitalism was checked by public servants of honor? Those ideas appeal to me but I am not entirely sure they are true. I have fond memories of Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill but I also know we have always been human beings, muddling through. And in the public arena of the United States, money has been and perhaps always will be, more important than human beings. The only importance human beings have had recently in our federal government is to the extent to which they can be controlled and manipulated as consumers.

If we rule out revolution, what does that leave? It leaves you. It leaves me. While the Right  preaches on and on about personal responsibility, especially whenever federal money is involved, I don’t care who you sleep with or whether or not you go to church. What I do care about it what kind of world you want to live in. And if you want to live in a better world, you’re going to have to think about what you’re buying and why. Global capitalism has gotten too big. It has created an unsustainable structure for our planet, for our workers and for our system of government. I’m not against socialism and many European countries seem to have made this work in conjunction with capitalism but in our current political environs I don’t see this happening to the United States any time soon. Now the Supreme Court has even given corporations the rights of people. This does not bode well for socialism replacing King Capitalism in our decaying empire.

Much of the time when we buy things, we buy them out of fear. Or to feel better for a moment. Or to forget that we’re going to die one day. Or to try and get more sex.  These are in the very things advertiser’s use to pry our money from our wallets.

Think about what you buy. My weaknesses are books, movies, technology, espresso. Can you cut back on anything? Can you buy what you need locally from the farmer’s market? A smaller shop?  Like Hodgkinson suggests in The Freedom Manifesto, can you make your own bread? (It’s easier than you think.) Can you go to the library a bit more? Can you axe your cable and get Netflix or a deal at your local video store? It’s not that buying things is bad or evil, we just don’t think enough about it. And we don’t think about the system we’re buying into. The system we’re paying for. Think about your favorite designer. I see Coach bags wherever I go. Why do we want Coach bags? Coach’s website says ,“Coach seeks to be the leading brand of quality lifestyle accessories…”  The linking of those two words together is oh-so subtle. If you have a Coach bag, you will have a better quality of life.

It seems so small in the midst of this cacophony for me to tell you to mind your spending habits (and I need this reminder myself) but I fear our revolution must be quiet and personal to be effective at all. The more we push or pull against the status quo, the larger the rebound will be bringing us back to the status quo.  The Tao instructs us to “do nothing in order to do more” and “He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still.”

Tip O’Neill, who I earlier said I have fond memories of, also is credited with the famous “All politics is local.” Can you go to your PTA meeting? Your city council meeting? Your public works or zoning hearing? Can you read about these meetings online or in the news after they’ve happened? Most committees and councils have to place their minutes online. This is how the world works. Your school board is just Congress in a microcosm.

I know how mired we can be in our misery. I, too, have been mired. Financial problems.  My dad dying of cancer. I thought I did not have time or the emotional energy to be involved in the world. Even in these dark times in our lives, we still make decisions every day. We still choose what to place in our refrigerators. We still choose where to put gas in our car. We still choose how to speak to people and whether we act or sit with things and see what happens. We still choose whether or not to be violent. Our hallowed American Revolution was an act of violence and we have become a violent nation in return. We are at war most of the time. We own more handguns than the rest of the world combined.

Hodgkinson says in The Freedom Manifesto not to vote. To ignore the whole thing entirely and go and live your life and drink and be merry and try to get by on the bare minimum of work.  I think we need to still participate in our system but we need to not reduce things to talking points we’ve heard others say. We need to read. We need to read what our founding fathers really said and not just have Glenn Beck tell us what they said. If you want to read conservative thought, read William F. Buckley, not Sarah Palin. We need to re-explore the works of Nietzsche, Schopenhauer. We need to understand the psychology of buying and pick up Thorstein Veblen’s The Theory of the Leisure Class and give it a read.  These things will not be taught in our high schools.

We need to let go of our anger. We must know that Republicans and Democrats are both to blame for this current sham of public discourse. Neither side is the demon that the other makes them out to be. For every Republican that screeches about baby killing, another one understands that abortion is a deeply personal decision and that the government has no place in telling women when, where and how to have a baby. They just can’t say it out loud. For every Democrat spouting that more money will fix our broken education system, another one speaks out that the home, too, must foster a sense of learning and a sense of wonder. Teachers cannot repair students that keep getting broken at home. Teachers should not be punished for poverty, divorce, abuse, hunger, or parenting ineptitude. We need to stop trying to be right and start being compassionate.  When I hear a homophobe talk, I know it is fear. Fear of the world changing. Fear of their own sexual feelings toward their own gender. Fear that someone else having something will take away from what they have. Fear of difference. We can reduce these fears to “hate” but it does nothing to help the homophobe understand his behavior and accept the consequences for it.

When we hear a politician say “America is the best country in the world.” That is also fear.  Patriotism, with its monuments and flags, is a form of fear. We do not want to admit that we are one human community with one fragile planet and one set of resources that are being steadily depleted. We want a sense of righteousness, justice, uniqueness. But we are all the same, unique only in the form of our human misery—be it starvation or psychological isolation and depravation. We all start to die the day we are born. And as hard as we try, nothing we can buy, no political virtue we espouse, no “team” in Washington we cheer for, can prevent that.

* * *

I hear my own preachiness here. I hear the tone of this essay that I, somehow, have all the answers. I don’t. My own relationship with our society echoes my relationship with myself.  Most of the time I try to cultivate the habits that will bring me peace and happiness but I also spray Round-up on stubborn weeds in my yard. I eat too much. I think unkind thoughts. I like to watch Hoarders and post-apocalyptic movies. I’ve questioned the need for monogamy. The fact that I know there is a better way doesn’t stop my humanity from creeping through.

Yes, part of my tiredness is the exhaustion of my moral outrage. And this comes from the fundamental way I have chosen to view the world. We can either try to make the world a better place, and ease the suffering of our fellow inmates, or we can live with our personal gain forefront in our mind, smashing through life collecting things and running from our fear and death. Perhaps my moral outrage doesn’t stem from people wanting things or liking to watch TV for hours on end, but the inauthenticity of it all. That most people turn away again and again from the dark vastness that exists inside them and dark vastness that exists above us that Hubble telescope documents without pity.

Perhaps I don’t want to change the world one person at a time. Maybe I just want more fellow sufferers, gazing inside and out, to see as I do, nothing but pain and beauty and mystery.

Telaina Eriksen holds an MFA from Antioch University Los Angeles. Her writing has appeared in The Feminist Press’ Under the Microscope,  Hospital Drive, Marco Polo Quarterly, The Truth About the Fact, poemmemoirstory, Recovering the Self, and in other online and print publications. She was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2010 and 2011, attended the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in 2011, and is a visiting assistant professor in the Department of English at Michigan State University. You can contact her at telaina@yahoo.com or visit her through the Yahoo! Contributor’s Network.

Guest Blog: Ed Cook: Blissful Solitude


Mel’s retreat to the Porches set my mind to thinking of the peace one gets all too infrequently.  I love alone time.  I really do, and I miss it. At this point in my life it gives me the rare opportunity to think and write, but I stay very mentally active when alone. I am an only child so I had plenty of opportunity for solitude growing up.  However, at that time I hated solitude.  I wanted a brother to play ball with or at worst a sister, somebody, but I had to settle for the dozens of kids on my street to play with.  The same theme ran through High School and my first job.  I enjoyed being with people maybe too much.

When working at a local restaurant in my teens I would drive or ride my bike across town and just hang out with my work friends.  It got me some extra money because if there was a rush of customers they would draft me for an hour or two.  It also got me closer to the manager, George, who kept giving me more duties outside cooking and waiting on tables.  He had me do inventory, meals tax calculations and forms, and his bookkeeping.  After another year or two he made me his Assistant Manager.  But that started because I wanted to be with people.

In my last two years of college, while living in the Washington, DC area with a roommate for the first time I realized that all that solitude I grew up with was something I craved, I just did not realize it at the time.  I found that I enjoyed when my roommate, Tom, was gone.  He was my best friend so it was not that I did not want him there at all, it was just that I enjoyed my alone time.

It was while living in DC that I made my first trip to the Shenandoah National Park.  I was instantly in love with the area.  The scenery was beautiful, the people around were mellow as if intoxicated by the beauty of the area.  I was in this same tipsy state as I went on hikes on or near the Appalachian Trail.  When I got home from DC and back to classes I found that I studied better when I cloistered myself in my room at home.  It sounds funny now, but I lived at home during college because I could not afford the $600 room and board.  I achieved all A’s from the middle of my Junior year to graduation.  Ahhh….I had discovered a formula for success…Solitude.

The following year, after graduating, Tom and I went to the Shenandoah for vacation for 10 days.  We had several adventures while hiking but I fell more deeply for the beauty of the panorama I looked out on all day.  (Some adventures I cannot remember, after discovering the moonshine they served at the restaurant.) Over the next several years in the 1980’s I went to the Shenandoah every year for my own solitary vacation.  In the days prior to laptop PC’s I did practically nothing while I was there, but I loved it.  It was Blissful Solitude.  I remember writing letters to people and stories describing the beauty of the place, heartfelt letters to my parents but mostly it was a week of hiking and soaking in the beauty.

When I got married I was getting my MBA. We bought a house and I set aside a spare bedroom for study and study only so I could re-do the cloister concept, for and came out with much better grades than during my undergraduate days.   Solitude did the trick again.  Then the 3 children came in rapid succession, my solitude days were gone.  I visited the Shenandoah with my children in 2006, but it was instructional not relaxing.    We even saw wildlife I had never seen when I was there including a bear cub up close and personal.  My wife does not like nature and stayed home.  Her idea of “roughing it” is a mall without a roof.

 

My children are all 16 or older now and are out of the house frequently doing teen-age stuff, whatever that includes these days, so by default I have less to deal with and more time to do it.

My teaching gives me more time that a full-time job affords me too.  I am able to whip off ramblings like this, which make me day-dream of times when I was much younger and had big dreams of material acquisition and great accomplishments. Among those day-dreams is a return to the Shenandoah on a regular basis so I can leave civilization in my rear-view mirror for a week or two to recharge, to the Blissful Solitude.

Guest Blog: Esther Bradley De Tally: Having My Druthers


If I had my druthers about being another person, it wouldn’t be a mud flap girl, proud of my rear parts and body, represented as a “silhouette” on the dark, dark flaps of trucks moving Miller’s Draft Beer, stopping in a San Bernardino Truck Stop where the air hangs heavy and super-sized Cokes

Nope. I’d be like my Uncle Bill Johnson, who wasn’t really my Uncle.

Uncle Bill Johnson, visited us every week and wrote letters and wrote a poem about our dog being made of bones and meat with head and tail on either end and neatly wrapped in skin and hair.

I’d draw cartoons and miniature figures, a combination of whimsy, verse, art, causing adults to lie down on the floor and clutch their sides laughing.

I’d sort of have a James Thurber, E.B. White side of me, and whimsy would be like a mosquito netting covering my psyche.

I would eat the sun.

No, I would eat words about the sun, trillions and billions and skillions of words about the

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sun. I’d tan and shrink to a charcoal briquette, and like Icarus go splot into the ether. Icarus’ wings melted. I would briquette out. Either way is  extinction.

Was I a whisper on the stairs, conceived with a twin who said, “I’m going out first. You have to wait.” Did I begin my journey, moving towards the Unknowable Essence, metaphorically parallel to moving towards the sun? Was I hard wired to know and to love my Creator?

I know now that faith is conscious knowledge, and that knowing and loving qualities express themselves into action. I know now that words can never wrap around loving this Ancient Force, this Creator, but knowing and loving will be enhanced by recognizing the Prophets, the Divine Luminaries, the Messengers, the Manifestations, and learning the attributes of God. It’s a highly personal journey, and this Creator is closer to us than our life’s vein.

I found out the physical world has its divine counterparts. Lordy, how can an old girl who flunked Geometry and slept through 3rd Year Algebra twice, explain this? You can’t ever know the essence of the Sun. Okay, I get that, but boys and girls, I can learn the attributes of the sun. So, let me see, that means my soul receives its light from the Sun, which is the Creator, whose essence is unknowable. I can understand the attributes of my soul, and understand attributes of my Creator by learning the Word of God.

I think that boils down to, there’s no yellow brick road lit up with a straight “go here from there” sign. That’s where I am today in my understanding. I do know this. I wouldn’t choose to live in any time but now, because would I have been brave enough, strong enough to live in earlier days? Nope. I think my small contributions and large quests belong right here in the here and now. So that’s the door to another world, the world of the inner journey, the collective process, the tension of the opposites. Everything, everything, is grist for the mill.

Just out is The Courage to Write, An Anthology.  She is editor of this book, and writing teacher to those within its pages.  The Courage to Write is published by Falcon Creek Books and is a publication of the Pasadena Public Library, The La Pintoresca branch/Pasadena READS.

Her writing is whimsical, spiritual, serious, laugh out loud funny and offers themes with keen observance of what it means to be human. Someone once said her stuff was “A refreshing read that combines a depth dimension with the tragicomedy that is life.” She is a Baha’i and has a passion for making oneness a social reality, and is fascinated by ordinary people transcending their own inadequacies and limitations in homage to a vision.

She jumps out of airplanes to visit pug dogs, and her best times are with Mr. Bill, her husband, pal extraordinaire, family, friends, and communing with her inner circle of 700 friends.

Guest Blog: Jeannine Bergers Everett: Letting my thoughts run – Meditation for the Fidgety Soul


I’ve read that regular meditation alleviates everything from depression to high blood pressure. It’s free, doesn’t require any contact with a health insurance company, and has no negative side effects. Pretty impressive stuff.

I’m fairly crunchy for a city girl. A few years in California left its imprint. I’ve followed a regular yoga practice for years, I eat organic as much as possible, and I’m a huge advocate of acupuncture. Meditation, however, does not come easily to me. I can’t sit still with my thoughts for very long. I am a restless spirit.

I went to a guided meditation session, hoping to find the solution to my inner-antsypants. It didn’t work. I listened to five or six breaths, and the ideas began to intrude.

It started with little things. What should I make for dinner? The car probably needs an oil change. Don’t forget to pick up the dry cleaning.

The thoughts grew more complicated and stressful. There’s no way I’ll have the client report finished in time. We really need to redo our will. Am I giving my son the right dose of Tylenol? Does he take child or infant?

And then the doom loop started. I’m going to get fired. Could my husband be having an affair? What if my son got hit by a bus? What if the asteroid is coming and Bruce Willis isn’t there to save us? None of these thoughts made any sense, but they barged in anyway.

While the outer world was totally silent, I couldn’t stop the noise inside my head. It buzzed and whirred until my ears were pounding.  The room began to feel small and airless. Soon, I would collapse, like a star, and drag everything into the black hole along with me. I started hyperventilating, sucking in great gasps of air. The adrenaline was rushing through my system, and I was pretty sure I was about to pass out. This didn’t feel like inner peace.

The seminar leader took me outside so that a) I could get some fresh air and b) I would stop frightening the other participants. She asked me what I was experiencing, and I told her I thought I was going to fly apart. I was coming unglued, literally–the force that bound my cells together was failing and I was going to explode.

I asked if this is what it was like to experience the universe.

No, she said. It’s what it’s like to experience yourself.

When people repeat things over and over, it’s generally because they feel voiceless. Sure, the squeaky wheel gets greased, but the emotion is not about the wheel, it’s that no one hears the squeak until it gets really loud. My psyche had become a very squeaky wheel.  I had ignored it for too long, and without the rest of my life there to drown it out, it saw the opportunity to be heard.

The seminar leader took me to a walking mandala, where I counted steps and breaths, and made peace with my thoughts, promising never to ignore them again. It’s a work in progress.

I still cannot sit still to meditate for more than a few minutes at a time, so I run. My husband, also a runner, lives by the stopwatch, trying to get the fastest 2 mile time he can clock. Pushing limits is congruent with his personality, intense and determined.

I run slowly, but for miles and miles, until I’m exhausted and sweaty and empty. I put on music, lock into a cadence, and let the thoughts go where they will. I don’t ponder them, or hash them through, I acknowledge them—Namaste—and let them go.

I get home, ice my knee, and write. This is my meditation. It is also my saving grace because I love carbs in any form. If one could achieve inner peace by eating Ciabatta with a good Cabernet, I’d be dining with Buddha. Since that’s not going to happen, I’ll pop on my headphones and lace up my shoes.

Mindfulness, a quiet recognition of one’s thoughts, however crazed they may be, is a beneficial practice. It doesn’t, however, have to be in lotus position inhaling patchouli incense, although I know a fair number of people who actually do it that way. Maybe your meditation is gardening, or an evening prayer. Maybe it’s just watching light shine through grass, or clouds drift by. Whatever works. It’s all good.

I don’t know if I will find satori at some mile marker, but I have found peace of mind and endless writing material, including this piece. I run every day, which means I have a lot more, so come visit my blog mobyjoecafe.com, and I’ll share my rambling thoughts with you.

Namaste. Hope to see you again.—Jeannine Bergers Everett

Jeannine is a mother, writer, musician and Red Sox fan. An escapee from corporate life, she now blogs essays and poetry at http://mobyjoecafe.com/ and http://momaiku.com/. Known for her humorous haiku on parenting and life’s other absurdities, she’s recently completed her first novel.

What I’ll do on My Summer Vacation


My summer schedule began in earnest yesterday and I started it by oversleeping. Of course. For the next five weeks I will be teaching five courses. My schedule will drop to four classes for the following month. And then for one brief (and truly terrifying) week in August, I’ll have eight classes.

Just for a week.

In addition, I will be tutoring on Thursday afternoons throughout the course of the summer.

And I intend to keep up my writing.

This is going to take amazing time management skills, finesse even. The courses, in general, offer nothing completely new: three sections of Composition II, one upper level critical thinking/written analysis course, and a career orientation course. The most challenging part of this is the Comp II classes—each has a different set of objectives, requirements, and assignments. Yay.

My days will be very regimented. Up at 5, coffee and reading. By 5:30 I’ll be checking numbers, how many readers at WordPress? Yahoo!? How do I increase readership? Earn a penny? By 6:20, I am getting ready for work. Drinking more coffee, mentally sorting my day…

  • 7:45: agenda on the board.
  • 8 a.m. individual work/warm ups.
  • 8:30 lecture/introduce new concepts.
  • 9a.m. attendance, break.
  • 9:30 discussion…

And on it goes… In class: writing, watching YouTube videos, talking about the Wizard of Oz, APA formatting—no MLA allowed, how to pick topics, create a digital story, PowerPoint presentations, resumes.

On Mondays and Wednesdays, my workday ends by 1 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, are long with morning (8-1) and evening (6-10) classes. It’s too long a drive home between classes, so I stay in town. Faculty meetings Tuesdays, and tutoring Thursdays. I have Fridays “off” well, as off as possible. Anything I need to get done needs to happen on Friday. Saturday, I have a class from 9-12:30. The Midlothian Writers’ Workshop meets every other Saturday from 1-4 p.m.

And on the seventh day, I will rest; probably not, but it sounded good. Don’t judge me.

Because of this new schedule, my writing schedule will change. The majority of my writing time will happen on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. It is my intention to continue blogging, Yahoo!, guest blogging, and writing essays. I have something to say! In April I created an editorial calendar; a sort of map of my writing plans. I will have to redo that based on my schedule for the up-coming months.

There are many things on my plate besides teaching and writing. I will be away from home for nine days at The Porches with some amazing writers. Lots to do to get ready for that. Groceries, Office Max (ink), the chocolatier, the farmer’s market, laundry, packing, reading, critiquing, get classes covered, create hard copy lesson plans (something outside of my head for the sub to follow), pay bills, have the internet turned on, on my phone…

Clean out, wash, and pack my car.—Oh! Have the oil changed.

My goals for the summer include posting to my blog (here) five times a week, with a additional posts made by guest bloggers (interested? Click the link above, Be my Guest). I intend to do five or six guest blogs for friends (2 down, 4 to go), submit at least four pieces per week to Yahoo!, and submit essays to various journals.

Nap.

Write a textbook on writing. A writers’ conference I want to do in August.

It’s a lot on my plate, so I need to sort out when I am doing what. I work better under pressure: deadlines, limited time, short notice. I thrive.

In the mean time, I have two books to read in the next ten days (that’s five days per book, doable) and a third book to read…soon. Ian and I are continuing to watch Star Trek: Enterprise. I need to write a whole post about that. I doubt we will finish the series before it’s time for my trip, but we’re trying.

While I’m busy with all that you should go read the things I’ve got up over at Yahoo, recommend the posts to friends, be my fan…