Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tuesdays and Thursdays



This week is tipsandtricks' birthday week. I started tipsandtricks one year ago September 1st. I had gotten used to sharing personal experiences of mine and what I had learned from them every Tuesday and Thursday with my friends and students at this crazy place I used to teach. Around that time about a year ago, two of my dear friends started calling the encouragement I gave them "tips and tricks." That's when I decided to start writing a tipsandtrick online every Tuesday and Thursday. After that, my brilliant best friend pointed out the commonality of the Ts in tips and tricks and Tuesdays and Thursdays.

In the past year, I have skipped zero Tuesdays and 2 Thursdays. One Thursday was skipped because I was on a 14 mile hike in the Caribbean, and the other was skipped because I was on a silent meditation retreat where both writing and technology were forbidden.

Believe it or not, I haven't done tipsandtricks every Tuesday and Thursday for the past year JUST to be competitive with myself. I've done it to practice. Not every tipandtrick is good. Sometimes, all I have time to do is take a picture or put up a quote. But I do it anyway, because, someday, I want to be a good writer. And I believe in showing up. It hasn't been easy to practice in public or to get the dang thing written but I did it because I wanted to. A good friend of mine says: "Is is good? It is done." And dude, it feels good to get things done.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

"Speak only

when your words are more beautiful than silence." -Arabic Proverb


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

At Wounded Bee



As I was driving on the Hondo Seco Road this morning, I had the window rolled down about two inches. Suddenly, I felt something small, like a pebble, crash into the car, in through the gap of air, and hit my shoulder before falling in my lap. I kept my eyes on the road as I reached down to scoop it up with my right hand and throw it out the window. I looked down once I had it and was startled to find it was a wounded bee. I threw it out the window quickly, fearing it would sting me and my car would crash. That would blow.

Honestly, I think about bees pretty often. My boyfriend is a Beekeeper, and so is his best friend. My aunt thinks my boyfriend is the bees-knees because he keeps bees. The list goes on. But to have one blast in on me during a peaceful morning drive sent me straight to Animal Speak: "If a bee has shown up in your life, examine your own productivity. Are you taking the time to savor the honey of your endeavors or are you being a workaholic? Are you attempting to do too much? Are you taking time to enjoy the labors and activities you involve yourself in? The bee helps remind us that activities are more productive and sweeter if we take time to enjoy them."

I'm grateful for a silent meditation retreat I attended recently that helped me realize I like being busy. Continuing to work on becoming more present has helped everything: anxiety, digestion, communitcation, you name it; but to actually notice myself enjoying everything---because I do---is the next step.

Big thanks, bee.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

One Time On a Road Trip

I was standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona with my best friend. We walked around and we got back into our car and we listened to The Eagles song "Take It Easy" over and over again. There's not much to see in Winslow, Arizona, so I don't recommend going out of your way, but there is some wonderful wisdom in that song:

"Take it easy
Take it easy
Don't let the sound of your own wheels
Drive you crazy

Lighten up while you still can
Don't even try to understand
Just find a place to make your stand
And take it easy...

We may lose and we may win
Though we will never be here again
...
And take it easy,"

I like the image of our "wheels turning" to describe our thinker thinkin' because the circle of the wheels reminds me of a volume knob. I'm trying to turn down the volume of the storylines, assumptions, worst-case-scenarios, and lists in my head. And take it easy.






Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Books I am Unable to Lend Out




I have a few books I am unable to lend out because I open them so often. Whenever I am in need of inspiration or a reminder to let go or trust, Women, Food and God, The Tao de Ching and Just Kids are my resources. I open up to a random page and there are answers to questions I didn't even know I had.

The other day I opened up to a chance page in Meditations from the Mat, and there was the exact suggestion I needed from Thich Nhat Hanh: "When washing the dishes one should only be washing the dishes, which means that while washing the dishes one should be completely aware of the fact that one is washing the dishes. At first glance, that might seem silly: Why put so much stress on a simple thing? But that's the point. The fact that I am standing there washing these bowls is a wondrous reality. I'm being completely myself, following my breath, conscious of my presence, and conscious of my thoughts and actions. There is no way I can be tossed around mindlessly like a bottle slapped here and there in the waves."

I'm really very good at multitasking, maybe too good. At work, I've noticed I might try and return an email in the space of time it takes the printer to print something out, I can talk on speaker phone in the car on my drive back from Santa Fe and occasionally I'll paint my nails while I'm watching a movie. Ok great, good to know, I can multitask. Now I am interested in finding out if I can monotask. I've been practicing monotasking for a couple of days and I can tell you honestly: I am not bored on long drives, I do not need to think about anything but sleep when I lie down at night, and watching a movie without looking at Facebook in the middle is truly enjoyable.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Dear Writers,

if you are interested in finding your best stories, funniest punch-lines and greatest titles: I suggest going on a silent meditation retreat for a week or more. At Vipassana retreats, you are not allowed to talk, write or read. Based on my experience and the experience of others, it is highly likely you will have your most excellent, cleverest, and profoundest ideas yet. Most likely, you will silently crack yourself up with your own brilliance over and over again. A good friend of mine on retreat, broke the rules, found a pen, and secretly wrote her genius musings all over her arm under a long sleeve shirt. Unfortunately, I'm punctilious to a fault and I didn't break any rules on my retreat. Now, I've got nothing. All of the brilliant plans that kept me so entertained and excited to go home and start writing---are gone.

Julia Cameron weaves a lot of informal meditation into her advice for artists. She talks about paying attention as an antidote to pain: "In times of pain, when the future is too terrifying to contemplate and the past to painful to remember, I have learned to pay attention to right now. The precise moment I was in was always the only safe place for me. Each moment, taken alone, was always bearable. In the exact now, we are all, always alright. Yesterday the marriage may have ended. Tomorrow the cat may die. The phone call from the lover, for all my waiting, may not ever come, but just at the moment, just now, that's all alright. I am breathing in and out. Realizing this, I begin to notice that each moment was not without its beauty."

For me, paying attention to each day has helped me get over the loss of all of the sparkling ideas I lost to the rhythm of my breath that silent week . The number 7 follows me everywhere, there's a hummingbird mistaking my wind chime for a flower, and the moon's light, every night changes what is visible and left invisible.

                                                                                       Love,
                                                                                       Ashleigh

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Dear Cary

You may have noticed from my last couple of posts, that I've been going through it. I'm turning the corner on it, but there was a rough bit there. I consider myself a recovering control freak. And sometimes, my perfectionism rears its ugly head. During bouts of neuroticism, I'm inclined towards over-processing, my internal chatter is often about something like sweeping the kitchen floor again and I get competitive with myself about going to yoga or sweating everyday.

At these times, it is important for me to spent more time sitting still with my breath, rather than partaking in constant talking and doing. It's also important for me to re-read these words from this guy:

"You think if you don't have a relationship, or you don't have a car, or don't have a job, that things will just fall apart. But they won't. Or, to be more accurate, things already have fallen apart.

   So relax.

   Start paying attention to what makes you feel good and secure, and do those things that make you feel good and secure. "

I realize this friendly reminder that things have already fallen apart may not comfort everyone and I respect that. For me though--this is music, relaxing music.