September 24, 2015

Poem: Interrupted

Interrupted by
phone calls
Interrupted by
text messages
Interrupted by
instant message
washing machine chime
calendar reminder
"Are you sure you want to delete this?"
dog barking
oven timer
crashing breaking noise
Now, what was I doing again?

September 17, 2015

Going for a Black Belt in Life

My cousin had been going through a really rough time for the past couple of years. She had a really demanding job and the love of her life was very sick, in and out of the hospital. Emotionally drained, she realized she needed to take better care of herself, but wasn't sure where to start.

She read an article about the martial arts that, as she put it, "essentially reframed discipline as doing what you need to in order to protect what is most valuable to you". She thought about the things we do every day toward that goal, and decided why not work on earning belts for these life skills. Set a simple goal and achieve it. Then, when you've mastered it (whenever that is), you add another skill or set of skills to master.

For her, what she eventually decided she needed to master was "creative compassion and joyful justice." She decided to do at least 7 kind and compassionate things for herself each day to earn her yellow belt. The examples she gave were "eat healthy food and drink lots of water and tea, walk, spend some time in stillness, spend some time knitting, and spend some time with my sweetie."
And when she realized that she was doing these things without having to think about them or plan them, she awarded herself her yellow belt.

I thought this was a great idea, and thought about how I could apply it in my own life.
Where I often have trouble is watching out for my health. I don't get enough sleep, I eat unhealthy food, I forget to take medicine or vitamins, and spend too much time sitting. So I'm working on my yellow belt in health. I have a set of modest health-related goals I need to achieve each day, and once I've made them a natural part of my daily routine, I can start thinking about the next life skill I want to master.

In the martial arts, a black belt is never the end. Even black belts keep achieving new levels; there's always more to learn. So as my life and circumstances change, I can keep working on the things I need to learn to have a happy and fulfilling life.

If this idea appeals to you, think about what simple thing you'd like to make an everyday habit. What do you want to get your yellow belt in, and what do you need to do to achieve it?

May 26, 2015

Poem: The Spider

I found this poem while looking through some archived files from my old old computer. I wrote it back when I was in college at Sewanee.

photo illustration by S. King

The Spider

The other day I paused as I was walking down the hall;
I spied a tiny spider that was hanging from the wall.
Its silken thread shone slightly, its translucent body pale,
And it swung a little in the breeze I made when I exhaled.
I held my fingers out so that the spider hovered near.
It acquiesced to climb upon them without any fear.
From fingertip to fingertip, to knuckle, thumb, and nail
The spider spun its little web, and made my hand a veil.
I stood transfixed as I admired this fragile work of art,
This tapestry of gossamer of which I was a part,
When suddenly I felt the sting of brazen insect teeth;
I smashed my hand against the wall, the spider underneath.
It was a pity, but I feel no taint upon my virtue
For a thing of beauty is a joy until it tries to hurt you.