How Long Do Birds Live?

The truth is, I never really thought about it. I never wondered. Even though I am attracted to birds. I watch them. Talk to them. Welcome them into my day as messengers from Spirit. I never wondered about them.

So as I sit on my couch, watching a Red Headed Woodpecker bang his head against the same old tree, I wonder what else is in front of me, every day, that I look at without seeing? Without understanding. Without curiouslity. When did I stop wondering?When did I stop asking?

As a child I drove my parents MAD with my wondering-unfortunately, that wasn’t the only thing about me that maddened them. I wanted to know where God lived? And if Heaven was in the clouds, and planes could fly though the clouds, why didn’t all the people in Heaven fall through the clouds? I wanted to know how to decide something when there were always at least two choices? And, what makes something Good or Bad? And, if the earth was spinning why couldn’t I feel it? And, where do birds go to die? I never saw a bird just dead from old age. A cat may have gotten it. Or a car windshield. But I never saw a bird fall dead from a tree limb, or drop over mid step.

I think my curiosity resurfaced because I was sitting still. Warm cup of morning coffee in hand. No where to go. Nothing to do. (I delude myself, it is 5 days before Christmas and there is a ton to do. Denial is a beautiful thing!) But as I sat, I began to wonder about the New Year. How/what did I want to live, feel, do in 2016? As I wondered, looking out of the front window, I began to see. Really see. The birds.

I remembered I love to wonder. I love to move slowly, take time, ask questions. And, I really love the answers!

So, with Google at my literal fingertips I Googled “how long does a Robin live?” I was so fascinated, and so enjoyed that feeling of satisfied curiosity, that I Googled “how long does a Bluejay live?”

Birds live much longer than I thought. Robins live 4-5 years. The oldest banded robin lived 13 years 11 months. Blue jays live about 7 years, the oldest studied by researchers in the wild lived to be 17 ½ years old. One captive female lived for over 26 years.

Now you know too!

Have a WONDER FILLED Holiday,
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Will you make the coffee…sweetie pie?

Tom and I drink our coffee in bed each morning. We use this time to talk about the day ahead, plan vacations, up date grocery lists, book get-togethers with friends, finish fights from the day before or sit quietly saying nothing. It is our morning ritual.

We take turns making the coffee. He likes his coffee stronger and with more caffeine than I do, so we custom blend our freshly ground beans, using separate ceramic cones, to make our first cup of morning joe.IMG_0026

This morning was my turn.

I put the water on, filled the cones with precise scoops of caffeine to decaf ratios, filled our mugs with hot tap water to warm them — something I learned from my dad — and sat down to meditate.

Last year, when I was taking my meditation class, I meditated every day. Sometime this year I stopped. I don’t know why, exactly, especially since I felt better when I began each day with mindfulness. Less bugged me, I moved slower and seemed to get more accomplished, and life made more sense in some bigger picture way.

Strange how we drop the things that support us. At least I do.

So recently, while on vacation walking the beach in the early morning, I made a resolution to begin my meditation practice again. I make resolutions two times a year. Once at the New Year and then again on vacation, when I am my-best-relaxed-self.

In keeping with my vacation promise, this morning as the water heated, I sat myself down, straightened my spine, yielded to the chair beneath me and took some slow deep breathes.  I began my meditation practice, again.

My mind cleared.

What a relief!!!

I maintained this for about 3 seconds. Then my to-do list took over. I took another deep breath, found my spine and let go into the chair, again.

So it went for the next 10 minutes.

Mindful awareness. Breathe. Clear mind. Relief.

Then… I need to remember to call about Jena’s student loans. Oh, and I want to get some more flowers for the pots on the deck. And I need to call Susan. I should get up and write this down. No, you are meditating. Don’t get up.

Breathe. Release into the chair. Ahhhh, I love this feeling. I should do it more often.

Do I want to get another dog? I miss having a pet, but none will be like Jeff and we are gone so long during the day, but I think small dogs can be left longer and their poop is smaller, so if they had an accident it is easy to clean up…

OMG. Breathe. Clear mind. Release.

The water kettle began to whistle.

I slowly left my spot, feeling a bit refreshed and proud of myself for following through with my promise-if only mildly successful- and brewed our morning coffee. I carefully carried the full mugs up the steps to the bedroom.

As we sat sipping our coffee, Tom looked over at me and said, “ You look beautiful this morning.”

I startled. “Really?” I asked, aware of my bed head hair, unwashed face, and sleepies in my eyes.

“You’re glowing.”

“Really?” I am not very articulate in the morning.

As I moved through my day, feeling the residue of mediating, I wondered if what Tom was seeing was my few moments of internal quiet, my breath reaching the bottom of my lungs, my bodying giving-in to the support of the chair, and my spine lengthening to open my torso.

I never thought of meditating as a beauty regiment.

It’s another good reason to keep it up.
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This is it

When the parking lot at the Nuin Center was packed full, and street parking was at a minimum, I accurately deduced there was an event in the conference room.  As I made my way to the front door of the building I saw a sign directing people to The Living Peace Retreat, taught by Darma Teacher Chan Huy.

After saying my Good Mornings to co-workers standing around the front desk, I walked to the kitchen to deposit my egg salad into the frig. As I passed the conference room I noticed the participants shoes lined neatly against the walls of the hallway. They were all sizes and degrees of wear, but they were, mostly, comfy looking shoes. I saw no stilettos. I also noticed an alter was set up in the middle of the room. Brown robed monks sat quietly on the floor. Participants were also sitting quietly; some on chairs, others in lotus positions on the floor.

I know all this because the two sets of double doors were wide open. Typically, workshop leaders holding events in the conference room shut the doors. They post “Be Quiet” signs outside of the room letting non participants know they don’t want to be disturbed. The open doors piqued my curiousity. Hmmm, I wondered, “Why?”

I decided to answer my own question.  I made up the story that leaving the doors open was purposeful. I concluded it was to teach that we can’t close the world out, but that we must not allow the distractions of the world to interrupt our mindfulness. So as I rubber necked my way past the room, headed to the bathroom, I assumed I was helping  teach their point. My distracting presence gave them the opportunity to practice this lesson. Some looked up. Others did not.

Life is full of distraction. It is what you do with them that matters, I assumed…

On yet another trip past the sacred space, to retrieve my lunch, I noticed the group was eating their lunch in silence. I imagined myself sitting with them, eating in silence, chewing slowly, mindfully, tasting my food. I was thoroughly enjoying my fantasy until, in it, I forgetfully asked someone to please pass the salt. I immediately felt mortified with myself, even in my imagined scenario. I auto-corrected by concluding that my imagined table mates smiled warmly and silently handed me the salt.

Mistakes are a part of life. It is what you do with them that matters, I supposed…

IMG_0974I began to notice, midday, that I felt peaceful, that my movements were slower, that I had more grace in my body. Just being in the presence of such peaceful monks and the space they created had calmed me. I noticed a frame that had been hung above the registration table, It said, This is it. 

I exhaled, feeling instantly relieved. What if this is it? And, what if that is okay? I felt my hold on the future relax. My low grade tension of planning how-to-get-it-all-done eased.

On my last trip to the conference area for the day, to make my afternoon tea, I noticed one of the brown robed monks wearing wooden beads around his neck, sitting outside of the conference room. He was very engaged in texting or surfing the web on his cell phone. He didn’t look up, he wasn’t distracted by me. I wanted to laugh out loud as I watched his small, tedious movements, getting his man sized fingers to manipulate the small screen.

We are all so human. It is what you do with that reality that matters, I guessed…
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