Blogging as a Spiritual Workout

16_Provoke_Blog Spiritual-croppedThe world is awash in words. Words meant to inspire, encourage love, espouse hate. Words intended to inform or designed to deceive. Words unrestricted by paper shortages; digitally unlimited.

Bloggers number in the hundreds of millions. Social media allows us to reach out and touch others. How far our reach goes depends on whether or not what we have to say resonates for others and how good our marketing is.

I’ve joined that blogging world. Twice.

I started my first blog, Pursuing Podcasts, last year. It was about podcasts. About other peoples’ work and thoughts. It continues to exist, albeit lightly used.

My second blog, Walk the Goats, I started on March 1, 2018. This year. Fifteen days ago. Walk the Goats is about my thoughts, thoughts from my inner landscape.

I write about things Bubba and I talk about: relationship stuff; “divine” versus “relative” selves; internal “characters” who show up to deliver their lines and take their positions when they hear their cues. I write about things I think about and want to share, including observations on personal growth and life and aging and random other stuff.

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About WTG

EcuadorI added a new Page–About WTG–to my blog and updated picture headings in a couple of places; check things out.

The new page provides more background to what this blog is about. So today’s blog post is this link to that new page. Enjoy!

The Judge Shows up in the Bathroom

10_QC CharacterHow is it I have character-epiphanies in and around bathrooms?

My Quality Control character stepped up when a lock in a wheelchair-accessible stall was mounted in a stupid place [more here].

My Judge character showed up in a different bathroom setting. This time I wasn’t alone.

I was in an office building that had a bathroom for its tenants and guests. It was accessible only with a key and contained a toilet, sink and some shelves; no stalls.  Once you went in, you manually locked the door with a sliding door lock, preventing anyone else with a key from coming in.

Needing to go to the bathroom, I got a key, went to the hallway, and tried to enter the bathroom. The knob turned but the door wouldn’t budge. I tapped lightly and heard a woman’s voice from within respond, “occupied!”

I stepped back a couple of steps to avoid hovering. As I retreated, I heard the sound of another voice; a man’s voice. “Huh?” a voice in my head sputtered.

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Which Character is Gonna Appear?

12_Which CharacterDriving the country roads of Sonoma County is a joy, regardless of the weather. It calls to me, and the mystery of a shrouded day brings particular pleasure. On one recent outing, the clouds were low in the sky, some stuck on the treetops. The road was damp; it meandered. Trees curved over it like a cathedral ceiling. The autumn leaves had succumbed to the winds and to age and were scattered along the roadside and in the woods.

A dirt road—likely a driveway—appeared on my left, curving like a shadowy “S” away from the main road, before disappearing into the woods. I glanced over and noticed an old, large oak had fallen across the drive, blocking access.

My first thought was that life can block our way, as quickly and solidly as that tree blocked the drive, preventing any car from passing by as long as the tree was there.

How we respond to those moments fascinates me.

My own response falls into two parts. One involves practical, “external-landscape” factors; the other involves more emotional, “inner-landscape” factors.

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“Quality Control” Character and the Bathroom Stall

10_qc_character-2-e1520730768748.jpgLast October I was at a friend’s 80th birthday party in Northern California. The party was held on the top floor of an old three-story building that looked as if it had been there a while, confirmed by the cranky elevator.  Having driven 5 hours to get there, I went into the ladies’ room before joining the party.

The stall I entered was large, designed for a wheelchair. I turned to lock the door, reaching out to the normal place a lock is located, about mid-waist.

My hand flailed. Nothing. No lock.  I swung my eyes across the door and—surprised—discovered the lock was installed on the top left edge of the door. The top left edge. Above my head. In a stall designed for a wheelchair.

On that cue, one of my characters showed up.

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“Scared to Write” Character

9_Wonder-3I want to share my writing with Bubba. And what I want from him is supportive enthusiasm that I’m writing. I don’t want suggestions for how I might write something different or better.

It’s not because I think my work is brilliant and doesn’t need editing.

It’s because writing and sharing my work scares the living daylights out of me.

And in that place of fear, anything that discourages me feeds the fear. And stops the writing.

Which is why I’m looking for swords of light that encourage the what of what I’m doing–writing–rather than the skill with which I do it.

The thing is, when I share my writing with Bubba, I’m also sharing it with his mother, Jan.

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Possessions and Marking Ownership

A friend used to engrave his name and phone or social security number on things he owned. He painted tools with yellow, clearly marking them. He lent things out and these markings increased the odds of them being returned. Hard to miss the yellow shovel handle.

His Aunt used to have her name engraved on jewelry and mementos bought during her travels. I doubt she lent those things out; yet her items—inherited after her death—are almost all engraved with her initials or her full name, carefully etched, sometimes in tiny letters.

I wonder if it was a family thing?

Or do we humans simply want to make sure our possessions are clearly identified—mine! —and we creatively come up with different ways to do it?

 

Daily Post-Inspired: Wonder 

 

Mindfulness Money

8_mindfulness.jpgA little over a year ago, I decided to pick up coins whenever I found them. Quarters, nickels, dimes and—yes—even pennies. I wanted to practice mindfulness and planned to use the coins as reminders of the moment. In the process of doing this, I discovered five benefits:

1. Mindfulness Wake Up

Every time I saw a coin, it was a reminder to “wake up;” an invitation to mindfulness. I would stop, breathe, look at the sky, appreciate the moment. Rather than being seen as “just coins,” they became tokens of something bigger.

2. A Reminder of the Divine

U.S. coins include the stamp “In God We Trust.” People hold the idea of God in different ways. For me, the phrase reminds me that Spirit is ever-present. As the Bhagavad Gita says, “seeing all life as my manifestation, they are never separated from me.” Pausing as I picked up coins, I would think of that phrase, and use it to reconnect to that great majesty.

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50% Off & the “Frugal Character”

7_50-off-e1520468849673.jpgThe catalog arrived with 30% Off emblazoned on the cover.

30%! Yes! A good bargain.

But it was only October; Christmas was still two months away. Would the company up the ante as the holiday got closer? I waited; a few weeks later a new catalog arrived. This one had bold, blue lettering announcing…40% Off!

This was more promising. But was it the best they would offer?

The risk of waiting for a better bargain meant the risk that the only sizes they’d have in stock would be small or XXL. But the frugal voice inside—a voice with tremendous amount of sway—said, “hold out; they’ll increase it. Just give it a few more weeks.”

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The Last of the Photo Albums

6.2 Branch-cropped

Martha sat with the photo album in her lap, a thin layer of dust drifting from the faded leather. She flipped it open to the first page. Behind yellow plastic she caught a picture of three children—the oldest 7—staring dutifully into the camera, solemn looks on their faces.

She lightly touched the face of the middle child, a girl with braids and dark eyes, before glancing at the photo to the right. In this picture, the solemnity of the moment was gone, the formality of the scene broken as the camera caught the older boy tugging his sister’s braid, her head jerked slightly to the side. The three-year-old had slid off the chair and turned his back on the scene.

Slowly she flipped through the pages, pausing here, lingering there, absorbing images of children at birthday parties, swimming in the lagoon, saying prayers at their bedside. Mostly the pictures reflected a happy time. After closing the last page, she set the book carefully on a settee, then turned to a pile of similar, dusty-leather-bound books and picked up the next one.

For hours she sat there, going through page after page, book after book, until the last one was closed on her lap. The children in this volume were older, 27, 29 and 31. In this one, joy was the exception.

Even when a smile was present, it felt fleeting, ephemeral, glimpsed; captured on the edge of the lips, like a bird pausing on an overhead branch, before flitting off. In those photos—where many frozen faces peered out—the smiles were few.

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Bubba and the Mormons

Typical

Bubba was out weeding one day. Nice day. Sunny. Cool. Two young men approached, dressed in Mormon Missionary costume, and greeted him politely.

“Good afternoon, Sir. Have you heard about Jesus?”

“Hell, I live in the US, I’m in my 60’s, how could I not have heard about Jesus?” Bubba thinks.

He ponders the scene; considers two possible paths: one, sweep them on; the other, engage in the moment.

He decides to engage.

The boys won’t get a typical conversation. Bubba, a student of many religions and New Age spiritual beliefs, talks to them. About being in the moment.

“This moment,” he says, “this moment right now.”

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Fabric-ated

2018-03-04-09-59-59.jpgHope Hicks, the ex-White House communications director, admitted to telling “white lies” on the president’s behalf.

White. Lies.

Often thought of as…minor…polite…harmless…trivial.

But…still…

Lies.

And lies are false statements; untruths.

“Made with deliberate intent to deceive.” [dictionary.com]

Fabrications are also untruths.

Hope Hicks fabricated stuff. She fabricated answers to questions that weren’t truthful.

I suspect Hope Hicks considers herself an honest person.

So when she told those white lies, who was doing the lying?

Clearly not “Honest Hope.”

So then…who?

Daily Post-Inspired: Fabric

Characterological Mess

Messy2

When all the world’s a stage and the characters know their lines, the show usually runs smoothly.

But when it’s all improv, practiced by people untrained in improv, it can get…

Messy

Rarely do we have a script in our daily lives. We’re winging it; making it up as we go along.  We may or may not know the improv rule: “Yes, And.”

The Golden Rule might be buried beneath a stack of old catalogs.

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I Don’t Like Coffee But I Drink it Anyway

2018-03-03-14-46-59-e1520118172793.jpgI drink coffee.  Not because I like it but because I learned to drink coffee. Learning to drink coffee did not require me to like it.  We learn to do things we don’t like.

Who likes their first drag on a cigarette?

Their first taste of hard liquor?

Their first sip of black coffee?

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Walk the Goats: Blog Name Origin Story

“Cute dogs,” I tell the person in front of me walking their pets, partially hidden by the tall grass framing the dirt pathway.

They turn. I get a better look. They’re not dogs. They’re goats. Two miniature goats. On leashes. Being taken out for a walk in our local park.

What unexpected and surprising things life can serve up, I thought.

That is the birth-story behind this blog’s name.

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