Tuesday, April 22, 2014

10 gifts from creation

Challenge from Brian McLaren: For Earth Day, I encourage you to go outdoors. Find ten gifts of creation to enjoy. 
Here are mine:

  1. Dandelion puff balls. Aren't they amazing and magical?
  2. The way the sun on my back feels like a warm hug
  3. How a spring leaf can be transparent and opaque, waxy and shiny, at the same time
  4. Tulips sort of look like candy, don't they? Like popsicles. 
  5. Each tree right now has it's own sort of blossom. The variety is stunning.
  6. Have you ever noticed how persistent creation is? If you cover the earth with pavement, plants will still break through. It's a perfect allegory for divine love. 
  7. Moss. Moss is one of my favorite plants. When I was little, I used to talk to it. Actually I used to talk to all the plants, but I had a special soft spot for moss. I would pet it and water it and sometimes transplant it. 
  8. The color combination of red bud tree blossoms, new leaves, and the sky 
  9. Taking a moment to notice and feel the ground beneath me is calming.
  10. The exquisite silence that comes from being near trees in a park
What are yours? No problem if you didn't do it today! If ten feels daunting, try seven or five or even three! 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Directionally challenged

I've mentioned several times how I am directionally challenged. Actually, the one time I usually know right and left is when I'm in a yoga class and the teacher calls it the "brick wall" side or the "front door" side. Or something like that. I was recently in a yoga class where the teacher got the sides confused and let me tell you - I was very messed up. I did a body stutter or something like that.

I also know right and left when I am driving. Because right turns are the easiest turns. And left are not.

But tell me which side of my face has sauce on it and I am one confused girl.

Caleb thinks this is very strange. To him, left and right are as standard as up and down. To me THIS IS NOT THE SAME. Right and left have no gravitational impact. I can not stand with my feet "up" and my head "down".

I've been trying to help the kids I tutor to understand right and left. To make sure I don't make mistakes, we practice in the car. "WHICH WAY ARE WE TURNING?" I cry out with glee. I am pretty sure they are just guessing half the time, but it's okay. You can get through life without knowing right or left. I am proof.

Now I am curious... are you directionally challenged? Did you cheat in school when your teachers tried to teach right and left? (Sorry Mrs. Jamison!) I always closed one hand in a fist so I'd know which way was right or left when we had to turn away from the right and left signs. If you cheated, I want to know how! Or maybe you were never directionally challenged. How is this possible? Were you just born knowing right and left?

Until next time! 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Increasing the percentage

Are you good at being still?

I am not. I read an article recently about a CEO whose friend bet him $15,000 he couldn't sit still in silence for 15 minutes. Do you relate to that? I sure do. After reading the article, I went home and set a timer. I sat still in silence for 10 minutes... except I itched my arm once. And cracked my neck twice.

It's really hard for us to be still. I've been trying, but I have an addiction to doing. When I am still, thoughts come racing in - did I take the laundry out of the washer last night? What am I going to wear today? How much money are we spending on groceries? Did I pay the water bill? I wonder if it's going to rain today, maybe I should check. Oo, I could do a guided meditation online!

(I like Sacred Space, a site run by Irish Jesuits. Usually though, a "guided mediation online" means I get "distracted" on the way there and end up Facebooking. But that doesn't happen to anyone else, right? ;)

Then, 99% of the time, I get up and do one of these 500 other things.

But this week, Holy Week, I am focusing on the other 1% of the time. The time I remain with those thoughts. The time I settle down to feel God's love swirling around.

Here is a Palm Sunday reflection: "Jesus triumphal entry ends with his willingness to take into himself all the pain and suffering of our world so that together we can celebrate the beginning of a new procession on Easter Sunday"

There is a simple practice where you inhale good and love and exhale all the things that weigh you down. It's lovely. There is another meditation called Tonglen - breathing in the pain and breathing out a prayer of love.  When I read the above quote about Jesus, I am reminded of that simple meditation. One way to walk with Jesus on his journey to the cross this week is to practice Tonglen. Breathe in my pain, your pain, my neighbors' pain, envision it hitting my heart and turning to love, exhaling this prayer of love.

A yoga teacher I know is always telling us that you cannot control your mind. You can only control your breath and that controls the mind. Maybe this is how I can learn to sit in silence this week. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Eco- friendly, gluten-free road trip: Nebraska City, NE

Back during the snowy transition from February to March, Caleb and I went on a road trip. It was a surprise road trip - more HERE

The destination? Nebraska City, NE. Home to Lied (pronounced "leed") Lodge:

Lied Lodge was built during the early years of my childhood en route to my grandparents' house. We celebrated my grandparents' fortieth wedding anniversary there. We all wore denim for the family photograph. Yes, I know. Denim. 

It's making a comeback now, but please don't wear jean on jean. Please. Just don't. 

In 1993, not many hotels left a card in the room explaining that changing the sheets every night uses lots of water and soap. Not many hotels offered (and still don't) in-room recycling. Lied Lodge did. As a child, I loved recycling all the things we brought in the various bins: plastic, paper, aluminum. I also loved the indoor Olympic sized pool, the park across the street where we caught frogs and played on the playground, and the apple orchard nearby. 
One-stream recycling 2014
The last time I stayed at Lied Lodge was almost ten years ago, on the way home from visiting prospective colleges. I really wanted to show Caleb.

He kept his eyes closed the whole trip, but he is very good at directions and correctly guessed we were heading north. When he opened his eyes, we were at a lodge in Nebraska, but he thought we were in Hermann, MO. 

I would have more pictures from the outside of the lodge, but it was in the single digits while we were there, so most of my pictures are indoors. We loved swimming in the giant pool and our very lodge-y room. All the wood was sustainably harvested. 
Guess what this is? It's the CEILING in our room. So cool.
All coffee at the lodge is fair-trade and shade grown. For more about Lied's environmental policy, you can check out their website. Caleb and I were totally amazed. 

One thing I was concerned about while visiting was what I would eat. Looking for gluten-free vegetarian fare in a small town can be daunting. No need to fear! Even in this small town, I was able to find plenty of food! 

Dinner our first night was at El Portal Mexican restaurant. Our food came SO FAST.

 We had breakfast at our hotel the next morning, tried to go for a walk, and went to the outlet mall instead. Not our typical way to spend some time, but it brought back good memories for me and it was warm! We had lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant in what used to be a KFC. There wasn't anything vegetarian on the menu, but they were more than happy to accommodate. We loved this place! I can't remember the name, it was a very new restaurant. The family that runs it drives in from Lincoln.

Before dinner, the lodge offers $5 wine tastings. All the wines are made from grapes (and apples and cherries) grown right on site! For dinner, the lodge dining room offered TWO gluten free-veggie options.

And for our last breakfast? I thawed out a waffle I had made and left in our trunk during the weekend. 

Roadtrip cooking?