Goodbye, 2010

Life

Why hello there! It’s New Years Eve, and time for me to take a look back at the past year.

The past couple of years on this day I have tended toward the negative. And, rightly so. There were some crazy-bad things that happened. 2010, though was pretty darn good. I honestly can’t think of a single thing that was bad about it.

  • I originally declared 2010 the year of the Banjo, but I ended up learning the Ukulele instead. One of my Summer Reading Performers, Cinda Tilgner, brought hers to the program and I fell in love with it. One thing led to another and I ended up buying one and performing in Cinda’s Uke Orchestra. It’s been lots of fun!
  • I was invited to a meditation group in April  and I  haven’t been the same since. In a good way. I’ve written lots about this experience this year, so no need to go into detail. But I’m very glad my friend had the instinct to invite me. I’ve made some fantastic friends through this group and am so happy that they are a part of my life. And I’m so happy to have finally developed a Zazen practice.
  • Raf became a Tattoo artist! If someone would have told me ten years ago that my husband would become a tattoo artist I would have told them they were crazy. But it was something that he wanted to do and he did it and I’m proud of him. And now I have my own personal tattoo artist in the house. I’ve always loved tattoos and have wanted to get more of them but I, generally, don’t like being touched by strangers. I hate the dentist, I don’t like getting my hair done, I don’t like doctors, and I especially dislike massages. So now that Raf has his tattoo license I can get tattoos and not feel uncomfortable. So I got a few of ’em this year.
  • I had a blast exploring the area. We went on a number of really fun hikes.


My favorite reads this year? I’m so glad you asked!

In short: 2010 was pretty killer.

Be safe tonight and I’ll see you tomorrow.

Advertisements

Christmas

Thoughts and Opinions

Raf and I decided to spend Christmas at the Beach. This was prompted by my desire to try to get away for Christmas. I’m going to tell you right now, I hate Christmas. I have come to this realization. I hate the holidays. I’m not sure what exactly it is about it that I hate so much but I’m pretty sure much of that hate has to do with the consumerist culture surrounding it and all of the stress that comes with it.

So I wanted to get away. We decide to go to Ocean Park, WA. We’ve visited Ocean Park for years and love it there. We go at least once a year. We drove over on Christmas Eve, arrived at around 5:00 PM (it took way longer to get there than I thought).

We didn’t bring any food with us to prepare so we went to the store. Guess what? Everything was totally locked down until the day after Christmas.

I was kind of irritated at that point. I actually said, “I want to go somewhere where Christmas doesn’t exist.” I think I bummed out my poor husband when I said that (He really puts up with a lot. He’s a trooper).

Things ended up being great though. We had a really yummy dinner of Thai food. We stayed up late watching scary movies. And the next morning we got up early and walked on the beach. Which is all I really wanted to do in the first place. Walk on the beach. It was really wonderful. I brought my camera with me and took some pictures and had lots of fun doing it. I have missed my camera these past few months and am thinking I should bring it with me more often.

Emilie, one of my friends from my mediation group reminded me that there are lots of places in the world where Christmas doesn’t exist. Most of the world, in fact. So Raf and I talked about it and I think we may go visit one of those places next year. We were talking specifically about Thailand. I’ve never really had a huge desire to go to Thailand but Raf wants to go and I’m always up for an adventure. So. Perhaps we will spend next Christmas in Thailand?

Highlights

Random

Shipwreck found on the beach in Santa Cruz in 2005

I’ve been spending some time updating the photos on older blog posts and have been enjoying the walk down memory lane.

Some of these old posts document some really great quotes I’ve heard from random people over the years. Here are a few highlights:

“I died in Spring and was resurrected in Winter.” – guy on a bike at Santa Clara University.

“This is about me proposing to Chloe’s ashes at the memorial isn’t it?” – Heard on Days of Our Lives in April 2005

“But when I listen to music it is transmitted to the whole world.” – guy at public library listening station when told to turn down the Britney Spears. November 2005

“Hey, I think that’s the library lady..Is that the library lady? Yeah, it is! That’s the library lady, guys!” – kid at the bus station. December 2005.

on coming out of the Buddhist closet

Thoughts and Opinions

If you read this blog you know that I’ve been interested in and studying Zen for a few years now. However, I’ve been reluctant to come right out and admit to myself that I’m Buddhist. For some reason I haven’t wanted to put myself in that box. I freely admit to being a Zennist, but I’m not sure I want to go “full Buddhist” you know? I think part of this has to do with the fact that Christianity is so ingrained in my psyche that it is almost a part of my D.N.A. I come from a very Catholic family, first of all. I could recite the Nicene Creed to you without even thinking about it. It is, seriously, etched into my consciousness.

Secondly, I had a “born again” experience that felt very real to me at the time. There was a short time in my life when this was very important to me. While some of that experience was damaging psychologically, some of it was positive, too. The best thing that came out of that experience,  I think, was that I actually read the Bible. So I know what the Bible says. That has been fairly useful.

So  this Christian background is  the reason why I’ve been reluctant to just come out and fully embrace Buddhism. I think that I feel that Christianity is part of what makes me who I am today and there is some fear of letting that part of me go.

Also, I’m worried about offending my Christian friends and family. There is fear that they might look down on me and think I’m “going to hell” or whatever. And I feel really bad about offending people regarding religion. It’s a touchy subject. I don’t want them to worry about me or waste time “praying for my soul.” I certainly don’t think I’m going to hell and am not worried about it. Why should anyone else worry?

But the past few days I’ve been listening to Brad Warner‘s Hardcore Zen podcast and really eating it up. I’ve been home sick a couple of days this week and I spent much of my time listening to the episodes and drinking tea (and knitting).

At some point (I can’t remember which episode it was) he talks about this idea that Zen Buddhism is a “religion” that is faithless.

This little idea got me thinking about it. This is stuff I know but never really gave serious thought to before. You don’t have to have faith in something to practice Zen Buddhism. Zen Buddhism is not about believing in something “out there” or “up in the sky” or whatever. It is a “religion” in which one does something. Specifically one does zazen. Really, that is all it boils down to (at least that is how my newbie mind is interpreting all of this).

It is just me, sitting on a cushion, and breathing.

You do this everyday and develop a practice. And out of this practice really neat things happen. You find that cobwebs are dusted away in your brain and you can pay attention to things right in front of you. And when you pay attention to those things right in front of you life becomes more meaningful and happier.

I remembered that I have a zazen practice. I take time out everyday and sit and breathe.

I’m also, as it so happens, learning about and interested in following the ideas of Buddhism. Because how could you not, when you learn them? (There’s an end to suffering? Sign me up!)

I am practicing Zen Buddhism. Thus, I am a Zen Buddhist.

it is so simple. as it always is.

There I said it. I am a Zen Buddhist.

Whew.