July 28, 2021

Diamond Quality


Diamond Quality

Earn my living honestly
Show gratitude in every way
Honor students, teachers, elders
Calm and patient as the garden
Compassionate as the gardener

This is my vision
My diamond
And there is nothing harder or clearer
Than my resolve

July 21, 2021

Thoughts on Negativity


Dear Dad,

Thank you for this article, For the New Year Say No to Negativity By John Tierney and Roy F. Baumeister

https://www.wsj.com/articles/for-the-new-year-say-no-to-negativity-11577464413

I found it quite interesting and have shared it with a few clients already.

Specifically, I liked "Post-traumatic stress disorder became common knowledge but not the concept of post-traumatic growth, which is actually far more common. Most people who undergo trauma ultimately feel that the experience has made them a stronger and better person." I feel that often my clients are pretty invested in being a victim, and part of my job is to get them to be invested in being a hero instead - ie, change the script, heal and deal, recognize the lesson in the trauma and then move on.

I disagree with "A single bad event can produce lifelong trauma, but there is no psychological term for the opposite of trauma because no good event has such a lasting impact." I would say that going to Wesleyan was not just a good event, but has still a lasting impact on my life. Interestingly,  I wanted to go to Georgetown but didn't get in, despite this being a "certain win" from the college counselor. I randomly had applied to Wesleyan which was "out of my league" again according to the counselor, but I had visited with Diana the year before and decided to apply as my long shot. 

I am thankful and aware of this good, and of the very good advice you gave me when I got divorced - always be invested in Amber's education. From early childcare doing Montessori the first seven years, Charter schools during junior/high school, to her graduating from UOP, I feel I totally see the good in these decisions and the lasting impact on Amber as well as my life. 

This paragraph is great -"Politicians and journalists tap into primal emotions by hyping threats from nature, technology, foreigners, political opponents—whatever will instantly trigger the brain’s alarm circuits. The presidency of Donald Trump has been a ratings bonanza because it has brought out the worst on both sides. Rarely a week goes by without some new warning that civilization is doomed." 

"The Rule of Four: It takes four good things to overcome one bad thing" was interesting. Certainly one of the strengths in Chip and my marriage is that we are constantly kind, considerate, polite, and supportive. We often talk about "the past" and how amazing our journey has been, as well as reiterate good experiences, mainly traveling together. "Engaging in nostalgia was long considered a sign of depression, but experimenters have repeatedly found it’s a tool not just for appreciating the past but also for brightening both the present and the future. One reason that happiness increases beyond middle age is that older people spend more time savoring good memories instead of obsessing about today’s worries."

Pretty much the only thing we fight about is our kids - which is why prenuptial agreements are our friend (another good piece of advice you gave me before getting married, with a lifetime positive impact). Anyway, besides for having a "don't ask, don't tell" policy, we've also been practicing a technique I adapted from a compassionate communication workshop called CAMRA - we each take turns to say 3 Celebrations, 3 Appreciations, 3 Mournings, # Reassurances, and 3 Action steps. One of my clients calls this "the shit sandwich - put the negative between slices of positive". However, it works because when we start with the celebrations and appreciations, the brain releases the feel-good neurotransmitters (serotonin, endorphins, dopamine). This makes it easier to hear the mournings, which tend to release the fight or flight hormones (adrenaline, testosterone, cortisol). There is an implicit agreement that as we listen to each other, it is not up to us to fix anything. This goes into reassurances, again it's not up to the partner to provide, just to listen. Last is action steps, which implies personal responsibility and the opportunity to stop focusing on the problems (negative) but the solutions (positive). It also has the 1:4 ratio, I notice.

I liked this - "Of all of Mark Twain’s aphorisms, the one with the most empirical support is a bit of wisdom from the title character of Pudd’nhead Wilson: “To get the full value of a joy, you must have somebody to divide it with.” Psychologists call it capitalization and have found that sharing good news is one of the most effective ways to become happier—but only if the other person responds enthusiastically, so make sure you rejoice in your friend’s good fortune (or at least fake it). Sharing good news makes the triumph more significant, so it’s more likely to be recalled later, which is another proven way to boost happiness." This is why I try to post something positive every day on my social media, rather than repeating bad news.

So, there are some thoughts. I hope it has a positive impact on your lawn bowling, just as you have made a long term positive impact in my life.

I love you, Dad,

Warmly,

Kayla

July 7, 2021

Thoughts on a Quiet Moment


When I get really quiet, this is what I hear... The hushed whir of the furnace and I set the thermostat to 65 degrees after going downstairs first thing in the morning. The slightly sticky sound of my feet padding across the kitchen floor. The bubbling of boiling water and the glass tea kettle, cabinet doors opening and closing as I find my favorite big blue mug with the waning crescent moon on the side, the rip of the tea bag packet, Earl Grey today. The sound of Poppy purring on my lap - June only makes wuff wuff sounds, ironic since her name is June E. Purr. 

There's the sound of satin as I tie back the curtains with the strips of ribbon that have been safety-pinned on. As the night fades into gray, I hear the start of the morning chorus - first the crows calling in the neighbor's oak tree, then the Canadian geese flying back to Neary's Lagoon, and if I'm lucky I'll hear my favorite hummingbird investigating the purple and white salvia right by the sliding glass door. I always pause when I hear that particular hum and whir, look for the flash at emerald wings or ruby red throat. 

When I concentrate, I hear the tinnitus ringing in my ears, but under that there's always some song, some background score. For some reason I get the theme song from  Big Bang Theory stuck in my head a lot, it morphs into " Now you're just somebody that I used to know" or the a capella patty cake cover of Adele song "Send My Love"."

Sooner or later I hear my husband upstairs, going pee, it always amazes me what a waterfall he releases. Maybe I'll hear the shower, or he'll come downstairs and start his own routine - The grinder is loud but brief, a faint noise of pouring water brings the good smell of fresh coffee into the room. I listen to his dreams, more aware of his rich voice and blue eyes than the actual content, which is often long and complicated. 

At this moment, there's the scratch of the pen, my sighing breath, and an inquisitive sound from the cat who wants more attention now that my journal is taking her place on my lap. I deeply appreciate these quiet, peaceful mornings.

Blessed be.

June 30, 2021

Momentary Sensations


Something Visible in the Distance

Up close is the cat, who meowed until I scooped her onto my lap. Of course, there's my journal, my blues ceramic mug with a white moon. I feel myopic at the moment. I'm very contained in the study, lace curtains offer privacy without sacrificing the light, a poster of a redwood tree gives me more inspiration to create a more far-reaching vision. Maybe in the distance I see myself doing Reiki again, here at the house or renting a space at the acupuncture clinic up the street at the Palm center. Maybe I see myself driving to Eugene to visit Amber, passing Mount Shasta which rises from the mist. Sometimes I see my parents' death, or Chips', or mine, but I don't like to look for too long. I take off my glasses. I have been nearsighted most of my life, and enjoy the fuzzy, more gentle view of my particular bubble of the moment.



Noises

Poppy's purr is an everyday noise. She purrs at the drop of a hat, constantly, it doesn't matter if it's 3:00 in the morning, she hums to herself, soothing and comforting.

I hear the trash trucks, which in my mind I refer to as the wheezing of the dinosaurs, groans of metal and sighs of the compactors, a brief acceleration between houses.

Now there's the turning of the page, the particular click of this particular pen, different from my usual sharpie which glides silently across the page. 

I hear Chips' tap tap tapping on the computer keyboard. There's no letters on it, which simply amazes me that he can touch type that well. A familiar staccato as he does whatever it is that he does on the computer, trading investments, making copious notes. In the distance, I hear a bird singing, probably in the Chinese Elm outside my window, as well as the neighbor's voice hoarse from calling his cat who, most likely, is hiding underneath my lilac bush.

Smell

We had another skunk last night do their due diligence outside on the deck. Not as bad as when the first time June got sprayed. Poor thing, she jumped in the bedroom window and instantly I knew. I put her in the hall and shut the door, it was probably 4:30 in the morning, thinking I'd deal with it later. After a few minutes I got up, took her downstairs, peruse the internet for solutions. 

I was out of hydrogen peroxide which had worked well the last time combined with baking soda. Both the little corner store and Safeway would not open till 8:00 a.m. I made a concoction of white vinegar and baking soda, locked her in the bathroom and proceeded to start wiping her with a washcloth dipped into the red foot bath bucket again and again. I was amazed at how patient she was, I hope it felt like a big tongue licking her clean. She must be so affronted, with her kitty sensibilities. 

At 8:00 in the morning, Chip went to the little store and scored a bottle of H2O2. Safeway has been out for weeks, because of the pandemic and people making their own hand sanitizer. It took almost a month for the lingering scent to finally disperse from her black and orange and white thick fur. Now she smells like my sweet cat again.

Hot

Back when I was living in Luxembourg, we got our first electric stove. "Is this hot?" I asked and put my full palm down on the burner. I must have been around 10 years old, I remember my mom just grabbing my arm and putting my hand under the cool kitchen tap water. The cold was as bad as the heat. There is a reason why now I prefer having a gas stove.

Now I struggle with hot flashes,four years to menopause. Not as bad as before, but still I turn the fan on 3, 4, 5 times a night, let the cool breeze evaporate the sweat from between my breasts, radiating off my thighs, caught in my armpits. Chip will come to bed later, put his freezing cold hands on the back of my neck, my shoulders and I get some relief. Both he and the cats want to snuggle, but I'm overwhelmed, I feel trapped like being in a too tight sleeping bag. I tried to fake myself to go back to sleep, but more often than not I just get up with the sound of the trash trucks, rationalizing I can always take a nap later, even though I rarely do.

June 16, 2021

Falling


When I was a young girl, I fell down the stairs,
On my chin, seven stitches put there, 
Then again, when I was about eight,
Fell on the ice when I was doing a skate.

Slipped when jumping at the public pool,
Four more stitches, feeling like a fool.
Once in college, on acid, feeling free,
Thought I was flying when I fell from a tree.

Fifteen years ago, broke my arm inline skating,
Still more fun than the joys of online dating.
About five years ago, sprained both ankles, 
Nothing rhymes with ankles except maybe cankles.

Then last year, my ugg boot got trapped in my skirt,
I ate a lot of concrete, sure wished it had been dirt.
Last Christmas I put too many bottles in the recycling bin,
After it got stuck, my hand was crushed and body pinned.

Falling as a child is different from being an adult,
There's so much more criticism, feeling at fault.
Then there's falling in love, some I  cherish, some  I rue,
But the hardest I've ever fallen, was falling in love with you.

June 9, 2021

New Beginnings


New Beginnings

How to be more aware when doing a chore,
Especially one that's repetitive, really a bore,
Get into that place of wonder, more like a child,
Do what needs doing, but at least with a smile.

Be a little more curious, kinda like the cat,
Be a little more investigative when it comes down to that,
Break down the old patterns, try something new,
A different way of doing things instead of feeling blue.

Doing the laundry or scrubbing the dishes,
Being more present instead of lost in my wishes,
That these endless tasks would magically go away,
When these are the details, the minutiae of my day,

All this and more is what I find,
When I remember to practice beginner's mind.



June 3, 2021

A Moment of Sweetness


Today we had a very lunch late lunch at the Mission Ranch in Carmel Valley. We sat at one of the little teak tables and played Flux, a very challenging card game where the rules change every single draw. 

Chip had the most amazing ribs while I enjoyed the goat cheese with sesame crackers. As I looked past the grazing sheep, the ocean much beyond, I noticed a gray hair gentleman who was clearly enjoying his just desserts as he spread the whipped frosting over the little bun and popped it into his mouth with so much relish. 

A moment later he glanced over and we made eye contact. I smiled deeply, grateful to have masks on, it was a sweet moment. I glanced back down at the ocean to give him his space. 

Time went on, we paid the waitress and tipped the server with the tiger's eye bracelets. As I walked past the gentleman's table, I said I noticed you've savoring your dish. He perked right up, blue eyes twinkling and had so much to share, more with Chip than I. That's when I realized that he was eating baked potato skins with bacon which he was smothering in sour cream, so what I thought was a sweet delicacy was actually a savory dish.