Monthly Archives: April 2012

Mending My mindfulness

 I clearly remember times when as a child, my thoughts uncluttered, I could sit for hours marveling at the

intricate workings of nature. I would watch a caterpillar nibbling away at a leaf bite by tiny bite. I could stare at moss so closely I could imagine that it was a miniature forest within a forest, perhaps home to it’s own tiny world invisible to the human eye. Especially in nature I would immerse my senses with every element of my surroundings and I experienced complete peace and harmony in those moments. I didn’t know it as such at the time, but I was practicing mindfulness.

I feel as though I frequently talk about living mindfully or practicing mindfulness, but in my own adult reality it is something that I struggled with for years. I learned about the concept of mindfulness, in stages throughout my life as a recurring theme that has evolved throughout the years. I was initially introduced to the concept  from my mother who is a practicing Buddhist. In later years it cropped up in books and articles I was reading about spirituality or self help. In therapy I was taught mindfulness practice as a method to quiet the racing thoughts and cravings that hijacked my mind and even my body driving me to moments of panic and fear. In my weekly yoga class, I learned from my wonderful instructor that mindfulness is key to getting the most out of one’s practice. Finally in my training as a counselor I was mentored and trained to assist my clients to use mindfulness in their healing process.

Yet even with all this wonderful advice and information,  I often felt I had to really push myself, to remind myself to be mindful. It wasn’t something that came naturally to me as it had when I was very young.

Now after years of “practice”, a funny thing has happened. Suddenly, it’s coming back to me. In fact in the past week or so I have spent little time writing and very much time listening, observing and sensing the world around me. I’ve also been mindful enough of my own state being to know that for whatever reason, this is what my whole Self needs at this time. It’s like craving a certain food, if you suddenly have an unquenchable taste for greens your body probably needs calcium.

Thinking back over the past couple of months I realize I have had a sort of spiritual craving, a sensory craving to take in all that is in my environment, to observe, to listen, to feel. There is something I need, there is an unnamed desire.

 

I have come to a point in life where I am now living alone, my youngest child now almost 19 is on his own. I am unemployed along with all of the paradoxical freedom and restriction that accompanies that status. I am not involved in a relationship of the romantic sort. The Occupy movement which I had devoted a considerable amount of time and energy to is undergoing a quiet transformation. I have recently hit the point that I can safely say I am fully recovered from my Interferon/Ribavirin treatment and physically and mentally as good as I’m gonna get. I have had the feeling of being at a crossroads wondering where I go from here. I feel like I’m on the threshold of…something. I’m just not sure what. Yet.

I think this ‘craving’ the need to listen, to observe, to absorb the world around me is a message from my higher self. It’s telling me that if I am to make choices about what comes next, starting a project, connecting with people in my community or maybe even something I haven’t imagined yet that I need to pay attention to what life has to offer. I also know from past experience that a door that is open to opportunity needs some monitoring. In case you haven’t guessed by now I have been known to be somewhat impulsive in my decision making at certain times in  my life; sometimes with disastrous results. And even when not walking blindly into disaster I have sometimes missed out on the beauty and joy of the simple things life has to offer, all because I was so busy chasing that crazy train that ran in circles around my mind.

To follow up on my last post, one of the joys of getting older is being able to slow down, to get off that train and suddenly mindfulness climbs into your lap like a well loved feline.

 I also recently talked about procrastination, but I don’t think that’s the case, yet. I will trust my heart and mind to work together and to let me know when to take the next step…and then I will most likely procrastinate just a little bit. If I’m lucky now that I’ve put that out there in the Universe, someone will let me know. You will, won’t you?

© 2010-2012 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard


Flowing with the Seasons

Here in Wisconsin spring is a fickle maiden. One day she tempts us with the promise of summer, teasing us with warm whispers and the scent of new blossoms, an alluring perfume. The nest day she is cold, snippy, she spits rain in your face contemptuously; the date you made yesterday is off, no picnic for you, stay at home and find your own source of warmth and comfort.
Is it no wonder then that those of us who are sensitive to nature and her moods find ourselves grappling with our own rollercoaster of emotions.
I have always been subject to the whim of the seasons.  The winter blues or cabin fever can plunge me into the depths of an existential crisis. Summer brings a sense of freedom and joy, but by August I begin to feel like the party girl who has had a bit too much to drink, I just want to go home and sleep.
Spring typically brings a renewed energy, a sense of hope, and inspiration.

Therefore I feel a slap of disappointment when little miss Spring decides to withdraw her affection and warmth, such a tease! But like most sassy girls when she’s good she’s good, and today she was kind and flirty. I was lured by her charms to my little garden plot to pluck some weeds, I reveled in the nostalgic aroma of her Lilac blooms and my dogs trotted along happily as we walked to the co-op to buy some early greens.
 Life can’t always be like a perfect spring day just as we can’t always be happy, hopeful or inspired. We have our rainy days, our own fickle moods and throughout life we have our seasons. Nature is authentic, gritty, beautiful, terrible and yet she moves with grace through her changes. She makes no apologies for the sudden thunderstorm, but she brings renewal and growth in it’s wake. Every mood serves it’s purpose, to cleanse, to nourish and sometimes to destroy in order for healing and renewal to take root. Like Nature we can flow with the changes and seasons of our life fully alive in the expression of of the moment and  aware of our purpose.

© 2010-2012 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard


Vote 18

In the 1960’s and before, a kid could be drafted into war and all its horrendous possibilities without even having a voice in the electoral process. I’ll just put aside, for the purposes of my story, the issue of whether or not any of us who are not billionaires have a voice anyway. 

 It was in 1970, when the “vote 18” campaign was in full swing that I found my political voice. I had been peripherally involved in anti-war and civil rights actions in tow along with my parents for as long as I could remember. I saw Martin Luther King, Jr. sitting on my Fathers shoulders peering over a sea of heads in Chicago. My Mom and I went to Quaker meetings and sat in silence with Conscientious Objectors. But the issue of 18 year old’s right to vote was a fire that was kindled in my own soul by a 5th grade teacher, Ms Solberg, whose words of encouragement and empowerment still live on to inspire me over 40 years later.

 “Vote 18” was my first cause. It was the first action that was fueled by a passion I had seen in my parents and others but never quite grasped in my own heart. It was my activist coming of age. The spark that was ignited by Ms Solberg, caught flame and burned brightly when a schoolmates older brother, who was only 18, was killed in Vietnam. I had met this kid. He had hung out with my babysitter in my living room, laughing, joking being just an average teenager. I remember sitting with them feeling pretty cool to be hanging with the big kids, pretending to know what they were talking about when half the time I didn’t. There were hippie kids, they listened to Zepplin and Hendrix and were exotic colorful clothing. They were what I wanted to be. And then his number came up he was ripped away from his carefree life of flowers and rock and roll and dropped into a strange country thousands of miles away and killed. 

I was already anti-war but the additional insult that this young man could be used as fodder for this senseless war without even having an opportunity to vote was unconscionable.

I wore “Vote 18” buttons and responded with sassy defiance to adults who patronizingly asked me if I even “knew what that meant” (the story of my friends brother generally changed their tone) I wrote letters to politicians, I graffiti’d “vote 18” in parks and in public restrooms with all the flourish of Zorro embellishing his notorious mark. I attended rallies at the University of Illinois campus where my Mom was taking graduate classes and experienced the exhilaration of being part of the unified energy. I did everything an 11 year old could do.

The following year in 6th grade a male teacher scoffed at a bunch of us ” once you kids turn 18 you probably won’t even vote”. As I recall I held my tongue on that one (not always the case when I was a kid) but I carried those words with me every time I went to the polls as an adult, an 18 year old ‘adult’.

Every election I feel a commitment to my 11 year old self who, with trembling hands and a pounding heart stubbornly faced the derision of certain adults. I also take with me the memories of the women and minorities who fought for the right to vote, not only for themselves but for future generations, for us.

Corporate America, ALEC and greasy palmed politicians may have made a mockery of our electoral system and there are many people who feel that it is beyond repair. I have to believe that it is not. I have to fight for an 11 year old Flower Child.



The 26th amendment lowered the voting age for elections in the US. It was passed on March 23, 1971 and officially ratified on July 1, 1971. 

 

Text of the Amendment

Section 1. Lowering the voting age 

The right of citizens of the United States, who are 18 years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the united States or by any state on account of age. 

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation

http://wiki.answers.com/

 

 

The Nineteenth Amendment (Amendment XIX) to the United States Constitution prohibits any United States citizen to be denied the right to vote based on sex. It was ratified on August 18, 1920.

http://en.wikipedia.org/

 

copyright Jennifer Hazard 2012Image


Mending My Mindfulness

 I clearly remember times when as a child, my thoughts uncluttered, I could sit for hours marveling at the
intricate workings of nature. I would watch a caterpillar nibbling away at a leaf bite by tiny bite. I could stare at moss so closely I could imagine that it was a miniature forest within a forest, perhaps home to it’s own tiny world invisible to the human eye. Especially in nature I would immerse my senses with every element of my surroundings and I experienced complete peace and harmony in those moments. I didn’t know it as such at the time, but I was practicing mindfulness.
I feel as though I frequently talk about living mindfully or practicing mindfulness, but in my own adult reality it is something that I struggled with for years. I learned about the concept of mindfulness, in stages throughout my life as a recurring theme that has evolved throughout the years. I was initially introduced to the concept  from my mother who is a practicing Buddhist. In later years it cropped up in books and articles I was reading about spirituality or self help. In therapy I was taught mindfulness practice as a method to quiet the racing thoughts and cravings that hijacked my mind and even my body driving me to moments of panic and fear. In my weekly yoga class, I learned from my wonderful instructor that mindfulness is key to getting the most out of one’s practice. Finally in my training as a counselor I was mentored and trained to assist my clients to use mindfulness in their healing process.
Yet even with all this wonderful advice and information,  I often felt I had to really push myself, to remind myself to be mindful. It wasn’t something that came naturally to me as it had when I was very young.
Now after years of “practice”, a funny thing has happened. Suddenly, it’s coming back to me. In fact in the past week or so I have spent little time writing and very much time listening, observing and sensing the world around me. I’ve also been mindful enough of my own state being to know that for whatever reason, this is what my whole Self needs at this time. It’s like craving a certain food, if you suddenly have an unquenchable taste for greens your body probably needs calcium.
Thinking back over the past couple of months I realize I have had a sort of spiritual craving, a sensory craving to take in all that is in my environment, to observe, to listen, to feel. There is something I need, there is an unnamed desire.

I have come to a point in life where I am now living alone, my youngest child now almost 19 is on his own. I am unemployed along with all of the paradoxical freedom and restriction that accompanies that status. I am not involved in a relationship of the romantic sort. The Occupy movement which I had devoted a considerable amount of time and energy to is undergoing a quiet transformation. I have recently hit the point that I can safely say I am fully recovered from my Interferon/Ribavirin treatment and physically and mentally as good as I’m gonna get. I have had the feeling of being at a crossroads wondering where I go from here. I feel like I’m on the threshold of…something. I’m just not sure what. Yet.
I think this ‘craving’ the need to listen, to observe, to absorb the world around me is a message from my higher self. It’s telling me that if I am to make choices about what comes next, starting a project, connecting with people in my community or maybe even something I haven’t imagined yet that I need to pay attention to what life has to offer. I also know from past experience that a door that is open to opportunity needs some monitoring. In case you haven’t guessed by now I have been known to be somewhat impulsive in my decision making at certain times in  my life; sometimes with disastrous results. And even when not walking blindly into disaster I have sometimes missed out on the beauty and joy of the simple things life has to offer, all because I was so busy chasing that crazy train that ran in circles around my mind.
To follow up on my last post, one of the joys of getting older is being able to slow down, to get off that train and suddenly mindfulness climbs into your lap like a well loved feline.
 I also recently talked about procrastination, but I don’t think that’s the case, yet. I will trust my heart and mind to work together and to let me know when to take the next step…and then I will most likely procrastinate just a little bit. If I’m lucky now that I’ve put that out there in the Universe, someone will let me know. You will, won’t you?
© 2010-2012 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard


The Gifts of Getting "Older"

A funny thing happens when I hear individuals being referred to as “older”. My ears always perk up and I immediately scan the conversation for clues as to the age of the person in question. If the conversation involves people in my age group, most likely older means elderly. I happen to be in contact with younger adults on a fairly regular basis however and often “older” refers to, well somewhere around my age.
Funny I don’t feel older. Or do I?
There is a part of me that will always be young at heart, as the saying goes. In my heart, or my soul, I feel, well, youthful. I am generally optimistic, idealistic and free spirited. I prefer jeans (not “mom jeans”), t-shirts and sneakers; I don’t try dressing like a teenager but I do. I don’t try to look like a teenager and maybe that’s the difference between looking ok in jeans and looking desperate.
Physically I sometimes forget I’m “older” but that happens less often, each time I injure myself doing something that reminds me I’m not 20 anymore, like trying to climb a fence to avoid walking all the way around a parking lot. Or roller skating.
If I strain my back it takes weeks, not days, for it to heal.
There are other things that remind me, since I do seem to forget, that I am “older”
Getting out of bed in the morning hobbling to the bathroom on feet that are stiff and achy (why? I haven’t done anything with them for at least 8 hours!) and those feet can barely carry me quickly enough because my bladder capacity is not what it once was in my younger beer guzzling days.
Not having a period. It’s been over two years now and I hardly remember what it was like, really. I can wear my “good” undies any day of the month (unless of course my bladder fails)
Not knowing what music is popular.
Walking through neighborhoods where every store has changed ownership at least several times and I can remember most of the previous businesses and how they were superior to what is now in place.
Walking though neighborhoods that used to be houses and now are condos.
My notions of classic cars and classic music are different than the dominant culture. Most of the cars I have owned would now be collector’s status.
I call people “honey” and “sweetie” and not because I’m coming on to them.
I understand the concept of patience, and am able to put it into practice.
My only thoughts about Mr Right are the hopes that my daughter will meet him.
I am at last truly happy with who I am and really do not care if other people are not. And that, my dears, is the greatest gift of growing “older”
I know my readers have other “gifts of age” to share, I welcome anyone to add to the list, call it a virtual stitch n’ bitch.
Peace,
Jenny Nanakoosa

Image courtesy of Photobucket, http://media.photobucket.com/image/older%20women%20funny/shymartinez1/_%20FUNNY%20QUOTES%20AND%20SAYINGS%20_/FUNNY.jpg?o=1
© 2010-2012 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard