Anger is a hard lesson.
With the recent political changes that are happening in the United States, I found myself full of anger. Anger towards the mid-west. Anger towards the white men who voted for him. And a huge anger towards woman who voted for rights to be shed.
I remind myself what I tell my classroom almost everyday. You do not fight anger with anger. My most repeated statement I give my classroom of fourth graders. I repeat to myself each time, I keep my mind calm and at peace.
Indulging in anger is never an answer. I wonder if I am seeing in my fourth graders what I refuse to acknowledge in myself. Am I the anger in the classroom? Am I carrying my anger from politics into the classroom?
In Zen Buddhism, anger is one of the Five Poisons. What comes out of anger? It is full of unnecessary suffering to all involved. Rather you witness it, feel it, say it you are feeling some degree of suffering from it. I found myself teaching cause and effect in literature. I could not help but make my connection in the mind to anger.
I go back to the people I was so angry with. I was reminded by a friend that they are here to be just like me. To become what they are. I needed to accept responsibility for myself. No one makes me angry. No one is responsible for my emotional well being.
So I learn. I take everything to heart and practice more loving kindness. I try to figure out my anger with the politics and how to let it go.
May was the one year anniversary of my father’s passing. It has been so much harder then I thought it would be. I think of him at random times – passing a herd of elk, seeing a moose, being in a beautiful patch of wildflowers. I thank him for the knowledge he passed on to me. I thank him for the passion of the outdoors and animals. I thank him after hugging a tree to prevent myself from sliding down a mountain. I sniff the tree trunk looking for the trees that smell like vanilla or chocolate. Always a huge smile when I find one.
This summer, my mother and I finally got to spread the ashes of my father. Last year was too smoky. This summer was perfect timing, so off we went. We decided to go up to Mt. Bross and not Elk mountain. Mom decided that while he liked he mother, space was a good thing as well. As he spread his mother on Elk, we went to the next mountain over to spread him. Hiking up about a mile on an old jeep trail, we found the perfect spot. It wasn’t at the summit, but wow was the views amazing. There was a light wind to carry him through the valley. My mother was at ease knowing it was the perfect place to let him go. So that is exactly what we did.
In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.
I have been thinking about my past a lot. I know that I am not perfect and it is unrealistic to think that I could be. But at times, I replay an argument or conversation over and over in my mind correcting where I went wrong. The case of the what if’s. It never gets you anywhere.
“The past is already gone, the future is not yet here. There’s only one moment for you to live, and that is the present moment.”
I went out to Colorado to go camping with a childhood friend. I was excited. I was going to make it to the lake I have wanted to for a long time – Bluebird lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. I spent a long time looking at the map. I was overly excited. As the time came closer, my friend asked if it was alright to invite friends. I was certain that a hike would be better with more people. When the time came, I was ready. We were going to go have fun. Then one thing led to another and I was camping with two other people, hiking by myself and a bit upset that it wasn’t even bluebird lake that I was going to be hiking due to the location of the campsite. My tongue got the best of me. I regret it, but also have learned even more about myself. So as I am still trying to mend a friendship, I find it hard to let go.
Even though it wasn’t Bluebird lake, which I have yet to make it to this year, I was able to see Bear Lake again, Bierstadt Lake and Cub Lake. I will be seeing more of the lakes next summer! I am making it my mission.
It has been a long time since I posted. I have completed my grad school, starting work Monday in an inner city public school and have hiked a ton! My learning has continued as I place myself in new situations and prepare for the unknown.
“A flower falls, even though we love it; and a weed grows, even though we do not love it.”
– Dogen Zenji
Life has continued, with ups and downs. But, overall I find myself happy. I have found I can do things alone. I can say things that I regret and I can admit my wrongs. Though it all, I embrace and learn from it. It has been overall a summer full of changes. But good changes. I am stronger and happier. So I’m back to share and hope you enjoy.
Lazily lounging on the couch, an occasional head lift is all I get. I have chosen to finish up my lesson plans and send them off, then just relax. It has been the best couple of snow days I could have wished for.
I was blue, thinking something was missing. It was February and I could still see the green grass. So when the groundhog decided spring was coming early, I think I was the only person sad. But then old man Mr. Winter finally decided to appear and two days off of school thanks to the snow which leads me to lazily lounging on the couch. Nothing has put a bigger smile on my face the being able to glance out of the window and seeing white outside. It feels so natural. So those winter pants, warm jackets, and snowshoes that I have been staring at so so long can now be used.
Tomorrow night, Deron and I will be going out running in our snowshoes. While this sounds like an extra special night, it has got my nerves in a bundle. But as long as my husband doesn’t leave me and sticks with me I am going to conquer my one of my fears if only for the time we are outside. You see I am terrify of the dark. I don’t go outside alone at night if I can avoid it. I go with my dogs, still nervous as crap and not venture far from the house. It seems no matter how much I try I have never been able to overcome this fear. So, tomorrow night I will set out to face the fear with doing something that I love in something I fear. I can’t wait.
Loving kindness are the two words that have made the biggest impact on my life to date. Not long ago I started to mediate using loving kindness and overnight things started to look just a little better. I started to be able to tolerate people just a little more, feeling more empathy and not getting caught up in the “me”. I found that my mental attitude has changed to more of a positive one from a negative one.
It has begun to teach me to remain kindly disposed and caring towards everyone with an equal spread of loving feelings and acceptance in all situations and relationships. While I still have a long way to go, I feel that I am on the right track and my awareness is more at kin with where it should be.
I try to be a compassionate friend. I share the excitement when happiness strikes. I try very hard to leave envy and jealousy behind. What is important for people to understand, is that my joys and sorrows are my own story to tell and that people will share what they will. I try to keep in check not thinking that I am better or worse then any other. With all this said, I am not perfect. Nor are most people. I have recently has a friendship come to a giant mountain to climb in order to keep it. Climbing this mountain, sometimes feeling alone at trying, I have found it has begun to be just as much a self discovery for me as well as the kind of friend I want to be. Only time will tell how this mountain will end up, but I certainly hope both of us will make it to the top.
While drivers are in a rush, not doing what they need to be doing, take a moment and think of those two words, loving kindness. When people are screaming, take a moment and think of those two words, loving kindness. Take a deep breath and picture it. Together we can change the world to be more positive.
There are times when life gets in the way of where you want to be. You no longer stop and smell the flowers or look at the little things. You focus on the larger picture and ignore what is around you. Unhappiness creeps into your life and yet you still look at that larger picture ignoring your feelings. You might acknowledge the unhappiness, but it is for the most part left to fester. It festers and grows until it is so mighty it takes over. And the larger picture you were so focused on seems so far away. You can no longer reach your hand out and think you are getting closer. You seem to fall backwards. It seems impossible to recover. You start to give up on that big picture and the little ones as well. You know you have to fight, but it feels like it is useless. Until something or someone comes innocently enough to show you or remind you that the little things help. The flowers and nature and giggles as well.
I have been traveling back and forth to Colorado every two to three months to check on my mother. I have been trying to do this ever since my father past away last May. I have convinced myself that it is to check up on my mother. This is the first time in her life she is living alone. While yes, I am going to help her and provide much needed company to her, I have to admit it is for me as well. These trips have come when I needed it most. My marriage was faltering a bit, I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, my MS started acting up and lastly I was in disparate need to just relax. In all of this, I found both a new friendship and a renewed friendship that has both made me feel equally just a little better.
It sometimes takes a child to remind you of the little things in life. My reminder comes every time I visit Colorado. My niece is a kindergarten cutie – if I may say so. I the fall I taught her to fake faint – she has taken that skill to whole new levels I never imagined. After we “fainted” we would stop and stare at the sky. She commented with great excitement that the clouds were moving. She loved laying down watching the sky. It was exactly how I use to be. I would spend hours staring at the sky. It was fun and beautiful and yet mysterious. But it wasn’t until my last visit that I truly was reminded how wonderful it is to watch the sky. After getting a whole new outfit for the snow – bibs, coat and gloves, I decided we needed to set out to explore the backyard. After a while, she decided to just lay down and look up at the sky. It was a bright day with not a cloud in the sky. I joined her as she said how wonderful the blue sky looked. I smiled at her and realized that yes indeed the sky was beautiful as well as my company.
On another visit, I rekindled an old friendship. I felt so happy to be able to have a friend out in Colorado when I visited. But not just a friend, but someone I knew from when I was knee high to a grasshopper. We instantly clicked and we just continued where we left off. All was good. We text daily still and best of all I have a hiking buddy. Almost every visit now, we go to Rocky Mountain National Park and hike. I have been able to see lakes and climb mountains and explore with him. If ever there was a place to cherish, this park would be mine. He understands and let’s me stop and close my eyes and listen to nature. Often with a big smile on my face. We are going out to be with nature, not to hike from point a to point b. And when I get lost in my thoughts, he makes me stop and look around. Never a complaint over how slow I am or how we need to get somewhere. Just being with nature is enough for us both.
So I guess we all need a check every once in a while. For me I have plenty. My mother, my niece and my friend all of whose I am grateful for. They all make me stop and stare at the lily in the grocery store or listen to the birds chirp or just hug me when I need it most. I urge you all to go outside right now, close your eyes and just listen. Listen to nature, listen to life and realize it is the little things that make happiness so much better.