Flow · Garden · Kajal · Meditate

A Pop of Color

Just finished working and realized I needed to enter my post. I had all these pictures I had set aside for my blog but couldn’t figure out how to move them from the file where I had saved them, until just now. Hence my posts not having any images all these weeks!

The first thing I thought when I closed my work email, I need a pop of color, something that makes me happy. And flowers do just that. There is a meditation technique called the “Heart of the Rose” where you take a rose and look at it starting at its heart or center and then notice its color, texture, fragrance and design (Source: The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma). Let thoughts come in and out and bring yourself back to focus on the flower.


Doing this for just even a few minutes, helps to calm your thoughts and cool your mind.


P.S. Thanks to Rachel for her kind words about my posts last week. While I would always miss her posts, I figured she was out or just got busy with kids or work. I’m super-glad that she felt she could step away and not feel any pressure – that is what is so great about doing this. Otherwise the process of writing becomes burdensome and loses its joy. When I was at Dartmouth, I think I lost some of that joy as a Creative Writing Major (that and being surrounded by a lot of literary egos). Through this process, I’m slowly starting to regain that joy with every shaky phrase and awkward stumble of a sentence. For me, I had been wanting to write the post about Tao for a while, it’s so nice when your peer/colleague/writing buddy sees an “expansiveness of voice,” I certainly was trying for more, so to speak, and it is so nice that it was noticed!



Garden · Rachel

A Metropolis of Sundays



I am trying to be better about dropping my nine-year-old son Wally off on time (a little early that is) for Kung Fu class. Part of Kung Fu is the structure and discipline. You don’t show up exactly when the class starts and then mosey over to the changing room and start scrounging around for your belt.

On a recent Sunday we left early enough so we could walk and enjoy the New York morning. The sun was bright and the streets were quiet and the plant stores in the Flower District were unloading gorgeous Hydrangeas and Bromeliads.

What a treat, not to be rushing Wally down the street. With the rush he is always–of course, who wouldn’t be?–stressed and a little cranky. Today there was a feeling of calm. The space we had walking, that is, in a way, the physical space not to hurl ourselves down the street and the mental space to let our thoughts roam, meant we could be in the moment. But that being in the moment depended on the focus we had earlier to leave on time. The patience we had earlier to get out of whatever Sunday-morning-moment we’d been in and get ready. All of this planning that allows for freedom is tied to yoga for me, to its constant insistence that rushing is rarely the fastest way to get somewhere.

As we neared 7th avenue, I turned to Wally and said, “Nothing beats Sunday morning in New York, right? It’s the greatest.” He shook his head to indicate he did not agreeSimply shook his head. Nothing hostile about it. Just did not agree or at least not in that moment.

Usually I would have pushed at his response. Dug at it. Why not? Why aren’t you enjoying this walk as much as I am? What’s wrong?

Whatever reasons he offered, I would have immediately challenged.

Perhaps he wanted to stay home and relax.

Oh, but you can relax later! This will help you get your energy out.

Perhaps he prefers the streets overflowing with people and music and pretzel vendors and chaos.

But—I would have rushed to negate his experience, flat-lined it over with mine—this quiet gives you another perspective, this emptiness allows you to appreciate all that commotion. Right? Don’t you see? Do you get it now? Isn’t Sunday morning in New York City the absolute best?

But that repartee would be to satisfy me, to get him to agree with me. And that would not allow him to feel whatever it was he was feeling. The practice of yoga is helping me see where to put energy into persuasion (where I can, hopefully, help stir others to action), and where to withhold it, like here. The word “allow” rose up and seemed fitting. Allow.

In some way it feels selfish to say—I’m enjoying myself, I don’t care if you are or not. On the other hand, empathy un-contained can become tyrannical.

After Wally dashed off to Kung Fu, I remembered the lines of Major Jackson I’d read the day before on the subway. “All we want is a metropolis of Sundays, an empire of hand-holding and park benches” and the New York as I used to know it swelled up before me and I think Yes, that is it. That.



Garden · Rachel

A Single Day

Our radishes started out so promising this year.

WP_20170524_08_00_01_Pro.jpgThere’s no sign of them now.

Five years ago on my main blog (Last American Childhood), I wrote these Lessons from Seeds.

  1. Take your time.
  2. There’s a lot of potential stored up inside you.
  3. You’ll have a better chance of growing if you separate yourself from the pack.
  4. Protect yourself.
  5. Don’t be afraid to travel far from home, but once you land, make the best of where you are.
  6. Put down roots.
  7. Drink water everyday.
  8. No matter what happens in life, ask yourself, “Am I growing?” That is the one essential thing.
  9.  Use whatever resources you have on hand.
  10. Head toward the light.

As I begin this blog, the second official week, I wonder which of these lessons I’ve managed to learn, even a little bit.

Number three about separating yourself from the pack jumps out at me as I struggle and kvetch and circle around social media unproductively, sometimes participating, often criticizing, unsure if I can stay in “the” conversation or any conversation without it, then wondering if that kind of bite-size, fleeting, uncomfortably public conversation is I one I want to have. I stormed off Facebook, returned five years later, (just recently), can’t decide whether I should post these posts there and Twitter, or let them simply live here and hope others will find them.

I don’t know. But in this is space I’ve allowed myself not to know. Am I growing? Yes. Can I take my time? I find that hard. But the task is a post for today. In mindfulness training, today—right now—is everything. But today is a single day.

Kajal reassured me over email last night when we discussed the logistics of the schedule and reviewing the Guests Posts and other effluvium of running even a very simple site. “We’ll find and set into a rhythm,” Kajal wrote, “And it will be good!”

Something mysterious took over most of the garden. I thought it was a zucchini plant with no zucchinis but then I realized it was maybe Morning Glory. See it hear, with the pink flowers closed? And I don’t know if the orange and yellow are Mums or what. They all came from a packet of mixed wildflower seeds my friend sent from California.


My mistake—one I’m sure of many—was not giving the radishes enough space. You can’t just plant them and hope for the best. And you especially cannot do that if you are going to let young children sprinkle wildflower seeds anywhere they like.

But it depends on what you are seeking from the garden. Are you focused on the harvest? On the process? On the chance for something to grow? On impressive presentation? On experimentation?

As a student of yoga, I would be asked merely to observe the garden as it is, not what it could be.

Those early radishes are gone now, like a first draft that’s been all but destroyed by revision. But the garden is a palimpsest, as we are too. Perhaps if I dug through the tangle of maybe-Mums and maybe-Morning Glories, I’d find traces of the early radish days.

I have never seen a Morning Glory—or any flower—open or close. “It’s very rare to see them,” my nine-year-old Wally whispers in my ear one late summer evening in the garden.

Through a simple Google search I learn the flowers open only and close only once. Other flowers replace them the next glorious morning, but each flower on its own lives only a single day.