All posts by Yolande Grill

Are you afraid to die?

This video was at the end of a blog post 7 Lessons Thich Nhat Hahn Taught Us.

For me, he has been a living example of a way of being that serves as a guiding light on my path.  When I’m walking through the airport, I’m mindful and I observe my steps.   I have yet to manage to allow enough time as he recommends.  I will continue to practice.

In difficult situations I breathe.

I found myself contracting this morning against the news of his brain hemorrhage and I had to remind myself to breathe.  But despite the breathing, I still felt that I had to do something even when there is nothing to do.

I continue to breathe as I write this.  I know that there is nothing to contract against.  I know that the light on my path is still there regardless of form.  I know these things and yet I find that my breathing is not enough.  I am restless.

So I’m going to walk.   And I’m going to continue to breathe.

Breathing in I feel gratitude, breathing out I know that all is exactly as it should be.

Building a Healthier Democracy

I’m going to share a few links here that give me hope.  With the Federal Government of the United States in a shutdown state, many people are feeling tension and the blame and name calling is at an all time high.  I have yet to come across a situation where name calling led to anything good.  So here, I offer some words by some very conscious people.

I came across most of this on facebook.  A place that has allowed me to practice tolerance for differing views.

A question was put forth to Parker Palmer – founder and senior partner at The Center for Courage and Renewal and author of  Healing The Heart of Democracy.  The question was this:  “Please let us know when you figure out how to talk to the teaparty.”

He welcomed the query and offered this: “Here’s a site where you can watch my friend Joan Blades, co-founder of MoveOn.org, in dialogue with Mark Meckler, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots http://tinyurl.com/b527zbt. I’m involved in Joan’s “Living Room Conversations” project (click on the “People” tab on their home page to see my statement about it), and I highly recommend it as one way of responding to your implied question. Thanks again. But please, don’t wait for me to figure it out! We’re all in this together, and all of us working together are smarter than any one of us working alone—certainly smarter than I am!”

Although I only just came across the Living Room Conversations project, and I’m not in any way involved in it, and don’t yet know the participants, I wanted to write about it here to raise awareness.  I personally believe in this process and I have seen how deep conversations can bring about peace, healing, and a connectedness beyond what any of us dreamed possible before sitting down in that field that is beyond right doing and wrong doing.  I practice this with my neighbors, with my husband, with my children and with my co-workers.  I know it works.  It gives me hope.

I follow Parker Palmer on Facebook.  You can check out his page here.

Thinking about The Day After Tomorrow

When the movie The Day After Tomorrow came out, it really scared me.  I believed in it’s possibility.

Every time I get in my car, I feel the shame of our humanity.

Most days, I choose not to drive anywhere but I don’t live where not driving could be a sustainable practice.  I don’t want to move and I negotiate with myself about trade-offs.  If my hair looks clean, I will wear a shower cap and not wash it.  A small savings but I’ve arrived at the understanding for myself that there are no such things as small actions.  Every action counts.  So when I drive, even being mindful of how aggressively I speed off from a stop counts.

I repeat to myself: “I am responsible”.

For two years now, I’ve been looking at the flat roof on the house and trying to figure out a way to harvest the water from rainfall.

I realize that this is not leading edge thinking.  I realize that two years sounds like a long time to be thinking about something.  I realize that many have made strides towards living in self-sustaining households but I’m only a step closer to these many and only just taking the first steps and emerging from the overwhelming mass that makes up the rest of us.

Despite good intentions, there seems to be an overwhelm that I experience when I consider stepping out.  So I talk myself into it slowly.  One tiny action at a time.  One less shower.  One less take out meal.  No more plastic water bottles, only re-usable ones… If I make a list of all the things I’ve done, however small they may seem on their own, over time, collectively, they are something.  I try not to make the list of all the things that I still have to change.  I just try and notice every time I’m exercising a choice.  And that is all the time!

Every action is a choice and I want to be mindful.

So when I find a behavior that I can change , I practice that one thing until it becomes part of my life.  No matter how long it takes.

And, to this day, there are moments when I’m conflicted about having seen the movie.  Because it confirmed on the big screen what we all know in our gut.  What I have known from dreams.  Climate change is real.  And, the tipping point is closer than what most of us believe.  What I don’t like is the fear factor.

Occasionally I feel scared and when I do, I talk myself through it until I’m no longer scared.

I tell myself that we are all in this together.

I tell myself that I’m a drop in the ocean and if I change, then the whole changes.

I am responsible.

I praise my little successes in order to encourage more of the behavior that makes a difference.

and, I take steps, and walk mindfully by putting one foot in front of the other.

In the end, I believe that the Earth will be fine.  She will recover if we stop our madness.  We owe her that.  As for us, the humans that walk on this Earth, it may or may not be too late.  Only time will tell.

Happy Mother’s Day

Mother-Teresa-Peace-card-by-Y

Today is Mother’s Day and I’m feeling grateful to have my babies home (one back from freshman year at College for the summer and the other spending the summer at home before venturing out to College in the fall).  I will be an empty-nester soon… soon, but not today!

Today, the house smells wonderful – of eggs from the chickens in my garden, fried in olive oil.  Cooked for us by my daughter.

I remember a Mother’s Day when the kids were much younger when my husband asked me what I wanted.  I asked for the day off.  He took the kids to a museum so that I could bake a loaf of olive bread from scratch.  That’s what I really wanted.  I wanted to be left alone.  For one day, I didn’t want small messy helping hands around – touching everything – touching me.

While the dough was rising, I didn’t want to answer the repeating chorus of “is it ready yet?” and “why?”

I didn’t want to learn or teach.  I didn’t want to talk.

I baked two loaves that day.

~

This week, has been a week of contemplation for me.  Since the beginning of this year, I have felt the urge to do something with my life.  I’ve had that feeling all my life (except when I committed to mothering)…  If I think rationally, and take inventory, I know that I’ve done a lot with my life.  But lately there’s a real, primal, unsettling urgency to do something more…  I can’t explain it.  Maybe it’s just the anticipation of the coming change.  Maybe, it’s the need for change.  I don’t know.  I just feel like time is speeding too fast and running out.

Of course it isn’t.   Time is time.  It is not linear and it does not run out.  I know this.  And yes, I also know that this lifetime is finite, but that’s not what I’m talking about.  At least I don’t believe that’s what it is.

There’s an urgency about something that is difficult for me to pinpoint.  The urgency feels real.  The sensation is stopping me from functioning and putting one foot in front of the other while tolerating the status quo.  And so of course I am pushing through – putting one foot in front of the other anyway – doing more – despite all instincts – and people are commenting about how “different” I am.  They prefer the old me; gentle, peaceful, spacious and giving.  Lately, I have been moving too fast, giving too much and demanding more as if that would somehow slow things down.

In anticipating the change, I’ve become the change, resisting, and being resisted.

This isn’t new for me.  I’ve been on this edge before.  This tension is familiar to me.  And, before, when I thought it was the end, it turned out to be just another beginning.  I remember the first time I showed up to the edge but refused to jump, I was pushed and I learned to fly.

Who would have imagined that more can be achieved by doing nothing – resisting nothing – dissolving into the moment presenting itself?

The most recent time I was at this edge, I didn’t jump off.  I did the opposite.  I collapsed inwards.  I stopped, stood still and curled in towards my center, my silence, the earth, and nature… And, the quieter I became, the more ready I was for life.

And, when I emerged, everything was right with the world and I carried on.

Is it time to be quiet again or it is time to talk?

~

On the sleeve cover of the DVD Beyond Right & Wrong – stories of justice and forgiveness by Article 19 films, there is a quote from a bereaved mother of a soldier

When the army came to tell me that my son had been killed, the first thing I said was, “YOU ARE NOT TO KILL ANYONE IN THE NAME OF MY SON.”

I shivered when I read that.  Yes.  That’s what it takes.  Our need for peace must be greater than our thoughts of revenge.  And, now I know that I’m not alone.

I watched the movie earlier this week and it gave me hope.  I know we can have peace in my lifetime.  All we have to do is choose to have peace in my lifetime.  I have personally already made this choice.

Check out www.beyondrightandwrongthemovie.org 

It seems appropriate that on Mother’s day, I find myself contemplating peace.

In the Huffington Post, there’s an article from Matthew Albracht entitled ’From the Bosom of the Devastated Earth,’ a History of Mother’s Day for Peace.

Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts, whether our baptism be that of water or of tears!… We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says “Disarm, Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.“ ~Julia Ward Howe, 1870
From her Mother’s Day Proclamation for Peace

You can read the whole article here.

~

This morning started with my daughter handing me a printout about the life of Julia Ward Howe and in the spirit of honoring her, she had hand made something for me – a painting that I’m not allowed to share with anyone.  She’s in the midst of studying for her finals but she took the time to paint something for me.  She too must be feeling the fast approaching milestone.  I’m a mom.  I can tell.

Perhaps, like me, she too feels the need to leave something of herself behind.