Tag Archive | interconnectedness

Community

It was too hard to not add another image in the missing mountains series. We got another eight inches of snow overnight and it kept falling off and on all day. This was the view this morning. All day long there were big and little puffs of scattering crystals as loaded tree boughs dropped their snow. There was a hint of sunshine just as it set but I never did see the far side of the canyon today. I’m grateful for community: knowing there are friends across the field, up the driveway, through the woods, and down the road, being able to text or talk with them, offer comfort or conversation, receive assistance. Even in this silent isolation we are all connected. Let us pray, though, for sunshine tomorrow!

Light Amid Darkness

How it feels sometimes…

I realize just now with dismay that not only did I not post last night, but neither did Robert Hubbell. I hope that readers of the world managed to start their days without benefit of either of our insights and wisdom! I rely on Hubbell to get me through the dishes each morning and start my day with a compassionate and wise view of the previous day’s news.

I tried to post last night and I just couldn’t do it. My own small gratitude practice couldn’t seem to bring enough light into the darkness. I felt petty feeling good about anything. The two mass shootings in a row in California cast such a pall over the days of so many Americans, between the unfathomable grief of those communities, and the trauma that revisits every survivor and victim’s family of the incalculable stream of mass shootings that has unspooled with burgeoning obdurance since Columbine.

But this morning I rallied and brought myself to this day with presence, gratitude, and loving kindness, with patience and even some joy. For what good does it do the world for me to dwell in sorrow and despair? We can each only do what we can do, and to greet each day with gratitude and the intention to make it meaningful through good works and right thinking has got to be enough. There is far more in this world that I cannot control than I can. The only thing I can control is the attitude and the action I bring to each day, each moment. I can be of more benefit in this fleeting life to myself and others with resilience and kindness than with grief and anger. I can bring light to my own small sphere of influence, and try to help others do the same, and our efforts will ripple out to reach even more people.

This is the principle underlying the Four Immeasurables: loving-kindness, compassion, empathetic joy, and equanimity. When we fill our awareness with these, there is less room for their opposites: hatred, cruelty and ill-will, jealousy and envy, and attachment and aversion. This is my practice. May the fruits of my practice ripple out and be of benefit to all beings.

I’m grateful for the light amid darkness however it manifests…

So many components of mindfulness practice help me to hold both the joys of living and the immense sadness of being human in my heart at the same time. Among these are self-compassion, and choosing where I place my attention, so that I do not deplete my energy over things that are beyond my control. Another component is awareness of how we are all interconnected. With this awareness we can understand that working together we can create positive change. The majority of Americans favor banning assault weapons, and reasonable gun control. The minority holds the country hostage and we are the worse for it. I’m grateful for the citizens working their hearts out to bring attention to ways we can hold our governments accountable. One of these is Jessica Craven, an amazing activist who publishes a newsletter five days a week with easy actions you can do in five minutes to make your voice heard–she even includes scripts. A Sunday bonus edition bundles the week’s good news into an uplifting quick read. She is truly a light amid darkness.

Drag Queens

Bob the Drag Queen, winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 8, performing at a recent ‘Say Gay’ rally in Florida.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m grateful for Drag Queens. Over the past six or seven years they’ve taught me so much about compassion, kindness, authenticity, inclusivity, and shattered so many of the negative biases I was raised to believe. They’ve opened my heart, broadened my mind, and enriched my life immeasurably. My love affair with drag queens started when on a whim I decided to check out RuPaul’s Drag Race on Amazon Prime. For awhile it was an obsession, then merely an addiction, and for the past few years it’s been simply a joy.

The other day I tripped over another drag queen show unexpectedly, ‘We’re Here’ on HBO. I’ve only watched two episodes out of the three seasons currently available. The first was filmed in Grand Junction, Colorado, the closest big city to where I live, and the place I go to see the dermatologist, pick up visitors from the airport, the nearest Natural Grocer, and once upon a time a shopping or restaurant destination when I used to drive up there once a month or so for errands. Just before Covid hit the US, friends had plans to take me to a drag show up there for my birthday present. Oh well. This episode was a consolation prize. The other episode, which I watched tonight, was ‘Florida-Part I’. In the series, three drag queen stars, Shangela, Eureka, and Bob the Drag Queen, travel to small towns in the US mentoring queer people and putting on a drag show starring their mentees.

Shangela, Drag Race legend, at the central Florida ‘Say Gay’ rally, as seen on ‘We’re Here’ on HBO.

‘Florida-Part I’ was a fabulous representation of the ramifications of the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill popular there now. The episode is culturally and politically relevant, inspiring, moving, and hopeful. The three queens mentor a ten-year-old trans girl whose mother is a schoolteacher now prohibited by law from mentioning ‘gay’ or ‘trans’, a 58-year-old gay man living in conservative bastion The Villages, a 75-year-old recently trans woman and her wife of 50 years, and a Pulse survivor who brought his celebratory party of twenty friends to the club that night where four of them were soon shot to death. Imagine living with that: it was your idea to move the party to the club, and four of your friends died as a result.

Ten-year-old Dempsey has known she was a girl for as long as anyone can remember. From the age of two, she was choosing girls’ toys, girls’ clothes, anything sweet or sparkly. She has been socially transitioning for five years. Her mother is prohibited from speaking about her or others like her at work because guess what? She’s a schoolteacher in Florida. So they take their conversation to the street.

The intolerance, hatred, misrepresentation, and fear that perpetuate tragedies like Pulse, Club Q, and any other culture-wars mass shooting have got to stop. Obviously, me saying that won’t accomplish anything if governor after mayor after governor saying so hasn’t stopped it yet. But all of us saying it, time after time, in our homes, our communities, our churches, and our ballot boxes, can finally make it stop, or at least slow it way the hell down. LGBTQ people are people. We are all people. In my world view, deer, mountain lions, juniper trees, even skunks are people.

Why can’t we live and let live? We are all connected. Whoever you are, someone you love is gay or trans or differently gendered or sexually oriented than you think is ‘normal.’ Anyone who votes for ‘Don’t Say Gay’ legislation is hurting or killing someone they love. This isn’t the time or place to go into it, and also I don’t know enough to proclaim but the research is out there; I do know that throughout human history and across cultures, gender and sexuality have never been purely binary. Let’s learn from the drag queens, and just love each other how we are.

Beautiful Citrus

I’m grateful for this box of beautiful citrus that arrived today from a dear friend in Florida. Four grapefruits, three satsumas, and two Meyers lemons. And I’m grateful for the other box too, with even more. A few of those satsumas were smashed and leaking, but they had a long cold trip.

I’m grateful for these generous gifts and the causes and conditions that got them here. As I think about all the steps involved in their journey from seed to tree to fruit, from High Springs to here, how they made it through or before the ‘once-in-a-generation’ winter storm, I’m considering that roughly 60% of the US population is experiencing extreme cold tonight, including blizzards, and lethal windchill temperatures. I’m grateful I’m safe and warm. I’m sadly aware of those many humans and other people who are not. Wild animals of all kinds, those in captivity, neglected pets, stray dogs, feral cats, and many more are also at risk from this massive storm. It’s tough to think about. And it’s just the tip of the iceberg of suffering across this fragile planet. I’m grateful for people of all species everywhere who make time to be kind, to support and care for each other.

Simplicity

I’m grateful for the simplest things. And even the simplest things rely upon countless unknown others to bring them into existence. Two slices of fried sourdough: the canola oil, the seeds, the harvesting and extracting machines and their fuel and the people who grew, harvested, extracted oil from the seeds and oil for the machines; the pan, the manufacturers and those who made those machines that smelted the metal and shaped it, those who invented the diamond-ceramic non-toxic nonstick surface, the cardboard it was shipped in and all the people involved in every step in between; the wheat and all the people it took to grow it, the mill, the bag, the paper, transportation all along the way to the store, the sourdough starter started years ago, and the teachers who taught me to bake. The spare time to fry two pieces of bread, the stove, the propane, and all those involved in those things getting into my house, the driver who pumps propane into the tank outside every now and then and the office people who let him know when to come, the truck and the hose, the county road crew, the federal bills that fund the roads… All that is before we start on the avocado… And then there’s Havarti, just imagine all the people it took to get a ripe avocado and a chunk of Havarti to my kitchen. There’s the plate and everyone involved in creating the plate… the Himalayan pink rock salt and everyone it took to get that here, and the tri-color peppercorns… sigh. Yes, I’m grateful for the simplest things, and grateful for the perspective.

Moving On with My Life

Today I’m grateful for all the usual things: waking up alive, a morning with a festival of clouds, and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with potato chips for lunch–so simple, so delicious. I’m grateful that I know how to make bread, and learned to let it cool overnight before slicing–these were pretty thick! It was too soft still warm to slice thinner. Grateful that I know how to make jam, which couldn’t be easier. I’m also grateful today for meaningful interactions with many people.

Kudos to Kelli at the clinic for giving me an absolutely painless injection, and she was kind enough to come out to my car to do it, though I was planning to go inside. I’m grateful I brought an attitude of ease and interest rather than fear or resistance; it led to a good conversation about the local Covid surge, and us each giving just a bit more kindness and attention to the other than two strangers needed to. I dropped off some cookies with friends I haven’t seen in person for awhile, and enjoyed a cautious stroll in the sun. We also talked about Covid, as well as efforts to save our local library, an essential community resource. There were some text and phone connections, and I’m grateful to have spent a couple hours in mindful conversation with my Foundations class that’s about to graduate next week. The day wrapped up with a spontaneous zoom cocktail with Amy, always a warm fuzzy.

Throughout the day, though, there was something niggling in my mind. A number of people have told me recently, in talking about Covid, “We’re moving on with our lives.” There’s a very subtle perspective in there, an implication I’m inferring, that disturbs me a little bit, and I’ve been trying to tease out what that’s about. Whether I read it in an article, hear it in an interview, or hear it face to face (usually prefaced by “I respect your precautions, but…”), there’s an implied judgment, an unflattering comparison. As though I, and people like me who are still taking Covid precautions seriously, are stuck–as though we are not ‘moving on with our lives’ but frozen in time, frozen in fear, frozen in some lesser state than those who proclaim that Covid is over for them.

It seems to me that many of them are not moving on in any way, but have simply gone backwards to living the same way they did in their pre-pandemic lives. No shade intended… but also there’s no need to be smug about it, or think it’s a superior way to live to those of us who have made substantial changes in our lives. In many ways my life is more satisfying than it’s ever been; in some ways more limited. It’s complicated. But I’ve definitely been moving on with my life these past few years in a positive direction. Lots of people reassessed during the pandemic and chose to move on with their lives in meaningful ways: to leave unfulfilling jobs, to work from home or to move, to simplify their lives; chose to explore other aspects of life’s many riches besides ‘business as usual,’ the paradigm btw that got us into the climate crisis in the first place. For awhile there, the Earth itself enjoyed a reprieve from the impacts of our collective human lifestyle, although that, too, is complicated. Ironically, the 8 billionth human was added to the current global population this week. The minority of humans, those of us who suffer largely from ‘First World problems,’ really do need to figure out a new way to move forward–as this pandemic proceeds, as climate chaos increases, as our interconnectedness simultaneously deepens and frays–rather than simply going back to business as usual.

Plagiarism: Special Election Day Bulletin

   Maybe no political party is as virtuous as it wants to claim. But there was a time when the Republican party could at least bill itself as the party of financial responsibility, small government, defending democracy, supporting the troops, paying your bills, family values and even telling the truth. These values are now gone from the Republican party. And they didn’t fall, they were pushed.

Maybe until now you’ve stayed with the Republicans hoping once Donald Trump was gone the Republican party of old would re-emerge. But two years later it’s clear even his sizable loss didn’t open the door to the party returning to its values but instead somehow managed to only accelerate the decline.

Every political party through history has had its more extreme elements, but few have allowed the extremes to seize power and control the agenda. You saw with your own eyes what they did to Liz Cheney for keeping her word and honoring her oath to uphold the Constitution. This isn’t just not your father’s Republican party anymore, this isn’t your Republican party either.It’s been said elections have their consequences. Part of this is who gets elected, but equally important is how our votes define who we are as people. Who are you? What do you stand for? Do you really want children to have to carry their rapist’s children? Do you really want no exception for abortion to save the life of the mother? Do you really want gay friends and family members to fear for their marriages? Do you really want birth control to be a conversation between a woman, her doctor, and her local politician? No, of course not.

So maybe this is the day you stop voting for all these things you don’t believe. Maybe today’s the day you stop waiting for a miracle and simply admit you are done with the nonsense, done with the cruelty and that you really just aren’t a Republican anymore.

So what next? If you are in a spot where you feel safe to do it, I’ve heard from customers making the leap and telling the world the Republican party is no longer for you can be quite freeing. People will be excited to have you on our side.

For those of you living more complex lives in less liberal communities with all the scary bits about what Republicans have become, there’s something to be said for starting out with a slightly stealthier approach. Maybe borrowing a page from the LGBTQ+ rural teen handbook and living a double life for a while is your safest bet. Ultimately this is more about who you are than about who others see you to be. Today who you vote for is far more important than who people think you voted for.

I know this isn’t easy, but I think you may be surprised just how many of your old values have found a new home in the Democratic party. At the heart of conservatism is the belief in passing on an at least as good of a world to future generations as the one we inherited. To achieve this we must preserve the environment, education, and equal rights. To think, the Republican party was started to end slavery. Times change.

Please don’t let yourself be locked into continuing to vote for what you don’t believe in. Both our nation and our planet face serious issues that can’t wait another decade to be addressed. You being among kindred spirits where you no longer have to hide your empathy and compassion just to fit in is the first step toward preserving what’s good about this world. Come join in. You are welcome. Plus, our side has the tastier treats 🙂

Thanks for giving this some thought,
Bill

bill@penzeys.com P.S. Please forward this to everyone you know of who is far more kind than those you think they will be voting for. Thanks!       Penzeys Spices12001 W. Capitol Drive | Wauwatosa, WI | 53222 USview this email in your browser
 

With all the encouraging words out there from so many compassionate and wise leaders, this mini-essay from Penzeys exec Bill struck me as the one I wish I had written. Everything changes, all the time. The Republican Party has changed, dramatically, from the one I was raised to believe in. And I have changed. I’m not the same person I was yesterday, much less five, twenty, forty years ago. It’s no only OKAY to recognize the changes in ourselves, our beliefs, our perceptions, our needs, it is essential to our growth and maturing as a sentient being. If you haven’t already, please vote for women’s rights, human rights, and the rights of all those beings without human language who are being decimated by loss of habitat through destruction, poisoning, and other effects of human greed. Recognize our interdependence with each other and all beings, and vote for a real future: vote for love.

FedEx

Grateful that one chair at the pond is the sunniest spot in the yard at 8 am, and to sit down there with a cup of coffee and two little dogs…

I’m grateful for FedEx Ground, which I learned a lot about yesterday when a package got delivered to my yard gate. I’d been trying to update my delivery preference by phone or online for a month, after a 50-pound bag of animal food got left at the dropbox at the top of my driveway. It’s a bitch for me to lift that much anymore, much less into my car from the ground and then out of it again into a wheelbarrow. The dropbox is there for when the driveways are impassable in winter, but somehow that specification got lost over the years. But I wasn’t successful with the online or phone intervention, so when drove out last week just behind the FedEx truck and saw him pulled over a mile later, I pulled up behind him. He was courteous and friendly, and happily agreed to deliver to my yard gate from now on.

So I walked out to thank him when the truck pulled in yesterday, but it was a different driver, and she said, “It said dropbox but I didn’t see one so I hope it’s ok to bring it down here.” I was delighted and grateful, and explained again that it was an obsolete instruction in their route notes. Then we fell into a delightful conversation in which I learned that she and her husband bought the route–who knew? It’s a FedEx Ground thing–and it’s now their family business, she is the mother-in-law of the regular driver, she wasn’t planning to drive but it’s hard to find a driver applicant who can pass a drug test or has a clean driving record, five of her family now drive the routes from Cedaredge to Somerset, and so on. We ended up talking about raising meat animals with non-GMO feed, ethical eating, the challenges of gardening in this arid climate, and more. She was in no rush, which was refreshing, and she ended our visit by thanking me for supporting her family with my business.

I’m grateful for this kind of random interaction that illustrates for me, lest I should forget, the value of being open to authentic connection with strangers, and recognizing the interconnectedness that permeates all our lives. Other recent examples of this potential for meaningful connection out of the blue include developing a virtual friendship with The Hungry Traveler, and meeting an online mindfulness friend in real life today.

In the vicinity from his home in California, a previously virtual-only friend stopped by for lunch and a walk to the rim. In the online Buddhist and mindfulness communities where I spend some time these days, a few minutes of conversation once a week or so can add up over months and years to a genuine friendship, made richer with the added dimension of in-person meeting. I was grateful he chose to use some of his time to visit me, and extra grateful that he lent some muscle to digging up another iris patch, and extricating a rootbound rosemary from her ceramic pot.
Grateful to notice (how had I missed this?) some dramatic erosion on the slope across the creek, from some of our literal gullywasher rains recently.

Equanimity

The first Tabasco pepper ripens. I’m optimistic that most of the remaining peppers will ripen before the first frost, but it’s getting dicey.

It’s a bit challenging to be grateful that my friends and family seem to have escaped the worst of Hurricane Ian, though the fate of my brother’s house in Naples remains to be determined, and Charleston cousins await the second landfall. Of course I’m grateful for the safety of my beloveds, but this catastrophe really hammers home our interconnectedness on this planet: the destruction of so much habitat, humans’ and other species alike, affects us all. As I experience relief, many thousands of others grieve their losses; and many non-human sentient beings have lost their lives or homes as well. This is a spiritual conundrum that requires strength, courage, and equanimity to be able to hold awareness of both the horrors and losses, as well as gratitude for the joys and blessings, of life in the Anthropocene.

In this peaceable kingdom, in this peaceful moment, all is well in this moment.
Both ends of a rainbow that disappeared in dense clouds above…
…with aspens on Mendicant Ridge all gloried up.

Connections

Evening harvest of peppers. Two red bells (one unripe but wounded), two juicy Blots, five Aji crystals, six Chimayos, and a mess o’ jalapeños. I’m grateful for this spicy abundance from the garden, for the resilience of these plants that I started from the miracle of tiny seeds inside in early spring. Amazing!

I’m grateful for a day filled with loving connections with friends old and new, from down the road to Hawaii to the east coast. I’m grateful for Zoom Cooking with Amy, Instagram Edition. Tonight we opted for simple and quick, and prepared two recipes we’ve seen on Instagram. We started by halving and scoring some small potatoes as the butter melted in a sheetpan in the oven. We grated parmesan and tossed in spices of our choosing, mixed those with the butter in the pan, then pressed the potatoes cut side down onto the yummy goo, and cooked for about half an hour at 425℉.

While the potatoes cooked, we of course mixed our martinis, and then chopped leeks into one-inch lengths, and seared them in butter.

First one side…
…then the other
Then we steamed them in stock for about five minutes, removed the lid, and mixed in some miso (I used red, she used white), tamarind paste, and a splash of Dijon mustard, stirring until the sauce coated the leaks and thickened just a little.
And that was our dinner. So simple, so delicious.
I read to harvest jalapeños by holding the pepper at the base and pushing up: turns out when they’re ready the just pop right off the stalk that way. I checked a few and ended up harvesting a lot. Also read to harvest them often so they’ll keep producing. We’ve got at least a month before first frost, so I’m hoping this huge harvest will result in more by the end of the season.
Since peppers are one of the few veggies that freeze well without being blanched, I halved all the jalapeños, scooped the pith and seeds out, and laid them on a tray to freeze. This way I can grab a handful whenever I want to make some poppers. Apparently you can just load them with filling straight from the freezer and put them right in the oven. We’ll know more later!