Archive for the ‘spirituality’ category

Fasting

October 5, 2022

fastingToday, I am fasting.   Why, you ask?  It is Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement on which it is traditional for observant Jews to fast all day.  Am I a Jew, observant or otherwise?  No, I consider myself spiritual but not religious but Judaism is as close as I’ve come to a religious landing place since I left my childhood religion at 18.  That is a result of raising my children Jewish, taking several classes on Judaism and attending services for about 20 years.  During those years we belonged to Temple Beth Sholom in Santa Ana and I became fond of the notion of a Day of Atonement during which you took stock of the previous year, atoned for you mistakes and started anew.  The Yom Kippur liturgy leads us through an inventory of the year, along with an ample helping pf praising God, thanking God and asking God for forgiveness.  My wife and I no longer belong to a temple or attend service, but for years we’ve gone to a park on Yom Kippur with prayer books in hand and read the liturgy aloud.   And fasted. (more…)

Writing for What?

August 14, 2022

writing penOver 30 years ago, I started free-form journaling nearly every morning.  Back then, Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way (which was the hot self-help creative guide) recommended this writing these Morning Pages as part of her program to recover your inner artist.  The secret ingredient in Morning Pages is that you write the stream of consciousness, no thinking please and let whatever shows up find its way to the paper.  Accoutrements like grammar and spelling don’t matter.  Nor does what your inner critic and your conscience disapprove of … it takes some practice but eventually you can shut them down or ignore them, a useful life-skill few of us are taught. (more…)

Tapestry

November 2, 2021

tapestryAs I get older (and older!), I find myself more philosophical, thinking about the nature of things and what, if anything, it all means.  Friends who seem to have found faith, or at least a view of life that works for them, say I am an over-thinker.  I plead guilty.  I am a very lucky man, happily married for over 50 years, living in a beautiful community in Utah, financially secure and ten minutes from my grandkids.  But at seventy-seven, it is impossible to ignore the fact that there are substantially fewer years ahead than behind.  Friends suffer senior maladies and sometimes leave this life.   My maladies are relatively minor but bothersome and its easy to imagine that my latest ache or pain will usher in my turn for something serious.   Friends tell me God’s in Charge.  I believe that … but why does God make life so difficult sometimes and require that we say good bye to those that we love?    Other friends say Nothing is Good or Bad.  It is what we think about it that makes it seem good or bad, a notion borrowed from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Sorry.  I can’t buy that losing a friend … or contracting a nasty illness … is neutral, nor is it Good Appearing Bad. (more…)

Wisdom

September 21, 2021

Bernie says

Mindfulness

July 4, 2021

meditationThe other day I was taking a shower and I reached for the soap.  To my surprise, I found I was standing on our patio trying to decide what plants would look good in place of the Russian Sage that our builder planted, which I don’t care for.  No, I wasn’t really standing naked on the patio but I might as well have been because that is where my mind was.  If you’ve ever roamed the self-help aisles at Barnes and Noble … or tried to learn meditation … or followed any of an assortment of online gurus, you’ve heard of Mindfuless.  If you Google it, you will find an endless assortment of definitions and promises of its benefits.  Psychology Today says Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention to the present. This state is described as observing one’s thoughts and feelings without judging them as good or badMindfuless.com (who, one supposes, should know) says Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.  It is a combination of attention to the present moment and acceptance of whatever is happening in that moment.   And in today’s world of multi-tasking and sensory overload, I think it is a rarity … something that is a contributor to the state of our society these days. (more…)

High Maintenance

April 25, 2021

Over the almost 77 years of my life, I have discovered that I am High Maintenance. Like an old car, I need regular care if I am to keep running.  But instead of oil changes, spark plugs and the occasional lube job, I need maintenance to keep me from turning into one of the grouchy old curmudgeons I swore I’d never be.   Fortunately, I am mostly High-Self Maintenance. Unlike our vehicles, I can change my own oil and give myself a tune-up, figuratively thinking (sounds a little dirty, doesn’t it?). As to whether my wife Muri thinks I’m high maintenance, you’ll have to ask her.  But here’s the thing … just because I know I’m High Maintenance doesn’t mean I always do it.   My personality (and my ego) really like to be spontaneous (sometimes known as undisciplined). Therefore, just as the maintenance manual in my car’s glove box reminds me when service is required, I have a self-maintenance manual to remind me to take care of myself. In keeping with being a modern old goat, my maintenance manual is stored in my phone. It is stored in a cool little app known as Daily Checklist in which I can check off each item as it is completed.   Every day at midnight it resets, but keeps track of how regularly I do each item.  No pesty reminders or notifications … just a helpful guide that I can look in on periodically.  So, what is in my maintenance manual, you might ask.  Well there are 5 categories.

The first is what I call Morning Practice, a list of things I try to do every morning: Morning Pages, two pages of stream-of-consciousness journalling;  prayer; a gratitude listreading from several inspiring daily readers; and meditation.  Meditation is my challenge … it lubricates my life like nothing else but doing nothing for 15 minutes challenges my personality. 

The second is Social.  In this year of the COVID, isolation can turn me bitter so I need to:  talk to someone (besides my wife and my cat and more than just hello).   This year that has usually meant phone calls or zoom meetings); and write or text someone (I have several prolific e-mail pals).  

The next is CreativeWrite something (usually, on this blog);  Draw or paint something; Photography (often birds); and the catch all, Create something (some days that is a computer program).  I would subtitle the Creative category Feed My Soul.

Then there’s Spiritual, a tricky category for a spiritual but not religious curmudgeon:  Pray; Read something spiritualdo something that touches your soul (usually involves nature or music); and accept something that’s hard.  I could write a whole post on this category and probably will.

Finally, there’s ServiceChores; Take a Contrary Action (do the opposite of one of your bad habits);  Do something for someone (and preferably don’t get found out);  Contribute to something; and Tell someone you love them.

Do I do it all every day?  Nope.  Every other day?  NO!  Do you think I’m Obsessive-Compulsive?  But if I do some of it each day, it keeps me on the rails.   And that’s what making it through your seventies happily is all about.   Do you have a self-maintenance list, either written down or in your head?

Almost Daily

March 7, 2021

One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words – Goethe

Most mornings, I remember to read a Daily page from David Kundtz’ lovely book, Quiet Mind: One Minute Mindfulness.  It is part of what I call my Morning Practice … I’d call it Daily Practice but that would be a lie.  I am easily distracted, especially in the morning and Almost Daily Practice sounds dumb.   What I like about Goethe’s list is that each item takes only a few moments , in keeping with the title of Kundtz’ book, where as my Morning Practice takes over an hour.   But I do listen to music as I write in the morning (hear a little song, check).  At the moment the song is Cast Your Fate to the Wind by the Vince Guaraldi Trio.

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Easter. Passover. Pandemic

April 13, 2020

20200413_005227It is Sunday morning. Easter Sunday Morning.  Easter hasn’t meant much to me personally since I gave up Christianity years, although I will occasionally indulge in a dark chocolate coconut egg or a few licorice jelly beans.  I used to like Peeps, too, but they are too sweet for me these days.  It is also the middle of Passover, which I have more or less celebrated since I married my wife, Muri.  In our house that has meant a nice dinner in lieu of the Passover Seder with which many Jews mark the beginning of the holiday, followed by a week following (more or less, in my case) the dietary restrictions.   Just in case you’ve lived on another planet … or in Utah, where Jews are hard to find … that means only unleavened bread (matzo) and no legumes or grains.  I have never really adopted Judaism even though in many ways it lands closer to my spiritual inclinations.  This year we attended a Seder with the family of some dear friends online using Zoom.  It was good to see the faces of friends in the midst of the Pandemic.  Zoom has become a lifeline for many people as we (more or less) shelter-in-place while experts and politicians scramble to save us, the economy and themselves.  I’m sad to say it is not one of the finest moments of our country.   I remember after 9-11, for an amazing few weeks we stood together, cried together, and prayed together, even though we lapsed back into partisanship after that.  There’s been no such coming together against COVID-19. (more…)

Thanksgiving #75

November 28, 2019

thanksgivingMy 75th Thanksgiving finds us living in our daughters house in Utah, waiting for our new house nearby to be finished. It has been a long week. The buyers of our California house were slow in signing certain documents, making us concerned that they’d back out. As a result, escrow is 5 days late and counting. We are assured that the delay is a bank issue but I will feel better when the deal is done. Some $&@#(& in a Honda rear ended me on the 15 Freeway in Vegas then left the scene, leaving me to drive a damaged but drivable vehicle the rest the way to Utah. My daughter will undergo extensive … expensive … surgery after the holidays with a long recovery. So, Thanksgiving at 75. Can I not be in the mood? (more…)

Stones

September 18, 2019

stones

My Dad was a man of few words. He taught us mostly by example, unless you count, Don’t you back-talk to your mother. My Mom, on the other hand, not only set an example, she would verbalize her views of what constituted a good boy. I remember her telling me at some point, probably in my adolescence, that Life is for growing as a person. When you stop growing, you might as well be dead. She probably didn’t say exactly those words but the message was clear. Obviously, she wasn’t talking about growing up or about growing rich. She was talking about becoming a better person spiritually, socially and personally.

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