Category Archives: transportation

You Are Spring Too

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I’m ready.
Ready for life now.
Like the spring,
jumping up now,
opening now,
blossoming now,
fragrant now.
Wind rustling,
petals scattering,
trees that were pink
two days ago
are now green.
Everything is changing,
and I am part of that change.
my petals will scatter,
my leaves will be green too,
stirred in the breeze
giving music to all the trees.
Now just breathe,
just breathe,
just breathe.
You are spring too.

He Was Late to Work

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He could’ve died
It would’ve been his fault,
but still, he could’ve died
and this thought keeps coming back to me.

I saw him from 100 feet away
A cyclist meandering down a shopping center road
wedged between a parking lot
and Panera Bread
I slowed down to make my turn
to meet my mom for lunch
just seconds away from parking
to take my kids to lunch
and just as I was passing him
he made a left turn into my car

I heard a sickening thud
stopped
punched the hazard lights on
put my car in park
both kids in their car seats
I jumped out
ran over to him,
Are you okay?

He was getting up.
He was picking his bike up.
He was taking his glove off
to look at his hand.
Yes, I’m fine. It was my fault.
He looked shaken.
I wasn’t paying attention.
I’m calling the police, I said.
I couldn’t believe he was just standing there.
You might need an ambulance.

You don’t need to,
he said
I’m fine.
But I’ll give you my name
if you need it.

I took his information
first and last name
phone number
address
Can I take a picture of your license?

He shook his head.
I don’t have a license.
I’m late to work
.
I have to go.
Call me if you need to.

And he rode off,
this young man
who almost died.
He rode off down a busy street
because he was late to work.

Relaxing Into Contentment

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Slow down,
please slow down,
and take a deep breath.
Yes.
Take another deep breath.
Now look.
Do you see what lies before you?
Look again.
Do you see what lies within you?
Now breathe again.

Do you feel this life?
Can you dance with the uncertainty?
Can you love what you have
even when you think you deserve something else?
Can you live with the disappointment
until it reveals to you what you need to know?
Can you reach for what is good and true
and then change your ideas of “good” and “true”?

How can you notice all this subtle beauty
if you are constantly rushing, breakneck pace, no pause?
Come home.
Come home to yourself.
Nothing is more important than your homecoming.

So slow down please.
Stop.
Take a deep breath.
Now look.
Do you see?

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Since trading in our gas guzzling 2012 Dodge Durango for a much more fuel efficient 2014 Toyota Prius V and completely changing the way I drive, I’ve noticed some pretty incredible shifts in the way that I experience my every day life.

An eight cylinder hemispherical engine packs a lot of power…back in the days of driving the Dodge, whenever I was stopped at a light on my way to work, on my way to an appointment, or really just on my way, I would plan to quickly leap ahead of anyone I could so that I wouldn’t be stuck behind some unfocused cell phone using ninny who didn’t boast the same strategic driving skills as yours truly.  I would feel my system flooded with adrenaline as I anticipated the light changing and putting the pedal to the metal to take off from the intersection as quickly as possible.  I would still give a quick glance left and right when the light changed to make sure that the intersecting traffic had stopped, but I would take off as quickly as I could and feel satisfied by the roar of the engine and the pull of the g-forces as I left the other ninny drivers in the dust.  Oh, the beautiful torque. Boy–what a dummy I was with that Dodge.

Such behavior left me hurrying everywhere I went.  Such behavior cost me a great deal of peace of mind,  put a strain on my body, trickled into my parenting, my marriage, my housecleaning, my meditation practice, and most especially the way I perceive my personal evolution:  my growth into the person I most want to be.  I was living a glaringly obvious breach of authenticity and it left me feeling uncomfortable on a very deep level. I mean, come on–I was teaching my students to be gentle with themselves, to give themselves time to notice subtle sensations and make mindful choices about how they transition from pose to pose–and “All of this can be achieved,” I told them, “by slowing down”–yet I was unable to slow down in my own life, and this left me feeling like I was living a lie.

And then one fine blue sky day my husband drove away with the Dodge and came back with the Prius.  I was resistant at first, thought I’d miss all that power.  I didn’t even want to drive it at first, out of some kind of weird loyalty to the Dodge.  But then my husband told me about hypermiling, gave me a rough estimate of how much money we’d save by fueling up less often, offered me a few tips about how to drive more fuel efficiently, and my whole outlook changed.

Okay, I told myself…I have been feeling uncomfortable about my aggressive driving for years now, afraid that one of my students or colleagues would see me behind the wheel and feel shocked and disappointed and lose respect in my teaching because of what they witnessed.  I have been acutely aware of the stress reaction in my body in response to my driving choices.  I have felt guilty about the toll my fossil fuel consumption is taking on the earth and her resources.  I was exhausted by all of the hurrying around, by the anger I directed at other drivers, assuming that they were out to get me, to hold me back.  Maybe I’m not losing out by giving up the powerful car.  Maybe I’m actually gaining something precious.  Maybe something will change.  I think it’s time.

So I started slowing waaaaaaaaaay down.  I began playing a game with myself called “Get the best MPG possible” everywhere I went.  Because I wanted to consume less gas, I was taking my time accelerating.  I was watching the cars up ahead and anticipating stopping well before I needed to use my brakes, so that I could coast to a stop and save gas and my brakes.  For once I was consistently going the speed limit, so I wasn’t worried about being caught by police officers who were looking out for speeders.  And I discovered that driving felt calming, relaxing, soothing even, meditative even…

I stopped worrying that someone I knew would see me driving and be appalled.  That was a relief.  I began to take myself more seriously when I would once again encourage my students to slow down in their yoga practice. I started feeling like I had more time…I wasn’t arriving any later than before. Well, maybe a minute or two later max–but how ridiculous it was to think that I was saving myself time by driving like a maniac!!  I leave the same amount of time to get where I’m going as I left myself before, and without speeding at all, I’m arriving at the same time. Epiphany.

And then I noticed that I was slowing down around my kids.  When I held my two year old son up to the sink today to wash his hands, I wasn’t just trying to get it done as quickly as possible so that I could get on to the next thing.  At first we were just there, the water was running, I was pumping the soap onto his hands, and I noticed suddenly that I was being a little brusque, a little too fast; so I slowed down.  I used a gentler touch… and it struck me how precious his little hands were, how soft, how tiny his fingers were, how much of a privilege it was to hold him, and there was this outpouring of love coming from me…and whatever thing he was doing two minutes before that was annoying the crap out of me had suddenly melted out of my consciousness.

As I have started to see myself relaxing while driving, while parenting, while teaching, this miraculous thing is happening where I have more space to see and appreciate all that I have.  Because my mind isn’t cluttered with a list of to-dos, with the urgency that I have to get this and that done so that I can rush on to the next thing, there is room in my awareness to just be present and enjoy the sound of the keys on this keyboard as my fingers tap them.  There is room to hear my son’s breathing as he concentrates deeply on fitting a puzzle piece into its proper position.  I can listen to my daughter singing, I can watch her light steps, and I’m not waiting for her to be bigger so that she can stop making messes.

How can it be that one little choice can have such far-reaching effects?  But isn’t this what the greatest thinkers of all time have been telling us forever?  That God is in the details, that the little things in life count, that every thought matters, that all of our actions have rippling effects…

It feels good to live my way into this knowing.  It feels good to adapt to a way of being that promotes health and deeper connection.  How about my decision to give up half of my yoga classes so that I can spend more time with my family?  This happened because I became so acutely aware of my frantic drive to develop myself professionally, and how this drive was leaving little room for my loved ones.  My hurry sickness was giving me tunnel vision, and once I slowed down, I saw the bigger picture and realized that nothing is more precious than my family.  I could’ve told you before that my time with my family was precious, but I wasn’t living it until now.

So there it is.  I slowed down, it helped me to relax, and now I’m feeling this great sense of contentment welling up in me.  It wasn’t some groundbreaking event that happened.  I didn’t win the lottery.  I wasn’t nominated as best yoga teacher in the universe.  I didn’t teach myself how to levitate, or see remotely, or read other people’s thoughts.  I’m not living in my dream home, we have no plans to go on my dream vacation, and there are still dirty dishes in my sink, crumbs underneath the table, and cat litter on the floor right by my bed. No major explosion of genius or windfall of material wealth has happened.  There’s only this gentle realization that slowly dawned on me, and a feeling of being so incredibly grateful for it.

Thank you life for revealing how awesome you are, and thank you for being patient with me as I toddle my way into realizing what really matters.

 

 

The Gift of Slowing Down

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Slowing down has taught me some things…
I have learned that I don’t arrive any later,
but I do arrive more relaxed, more peaceful,
and I’m saving a lot on gas.

I see cars whipping around me,
drivers in a hurry,
hurrying up to wait
and I’m ambling along,
coasting to the red light,
catching up to them.

I slide into the spaces those who hurry leave behind.
I see the world around and I am peaceful.

There is much more of a flow now
as I am no longer swimming upstream
having given up the frantic pace,
the fight to keep up,
the fight against the current.

No more fight–I have let go.
I have allowed myself to be absorbed in the great ocean of being.

This is the gift of slowing down.

Like a Good Neighbor

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Impromptu date night.
My sister had watched the kids while I taught yoga earlier in the evening,
and she was willing to stay so that mommy and daddy could go out.
The kids were in bed,
and the hubby and I sneaked out for a dinner at the local tavern.
Rock star parking, right out in front,
and then bam!

Our neighbor called.
They’re a one car household,
and his wife and son were stranded a couple of miles away with a flat.

Without hesitation, we made a U turn,
and drove back to our street to fetch him.
He was so relieved and grateful to see us.
I squeezed between our kids’ empty car seats in the back seat,
our neighbor hopped up front,
and we were on our way.

I saw the flares first, and then the blinking hazard lights.
There they were, just waiting in the car, at night,
waiting for someone to help.
My neighbor leapt into action, jack, wrench, a few curse words.
We stayed with them the whole time.
I was the one who noticed the long screw stuck in the donut spare–
We were hopeful anyway.
The wheel was stubborn, didn’t want to come away from the mount,
but with lots of persuasion (male brute strength)
our neighbor finally got the thing off and mounted the spare,
which was also nice and flat.

So we drove behind them to the nearest gas station,
hazard lights blinking, 25 mph max,
where he discovered that the spare would hold no air.
One can of Fix a Flat later,
and we were once again following behind him
hazard lights blinking, 30 mph.

We drove like this all the way home,
and as we pulled up, my belly rumbling,
I thought, “How good it is to really help.”
The gratitude in my neighbor’s voice was priceless.

We had a fine feast of leftover pizza and pasta,
a meal fit for a king and queen.
My husband looked at me and said,
“I had a good time with you anyway, honey.”
It was a perfect date.

Slowing Down

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And why was I running anyway?
Why do any of us run?
How did we get so speeded up in the first place?

When I slow down,
take a deep breath,
and look around with open eyes,
I see a beautiful life, my life,
watching me, wanting me to awaken.

Just observe how a dandelion seed floats on the wind,
or how the surf glides back along the wet sand into the ocean.
See the gentle ambling of a wide lazy river,
the way the willow leaves are rustled by the whispering summer breeze.

Witness the perfect unfolding of the sunrise, sunset,
the way the darkest of nights gives way to the light of day,
the way the coldest of winters melts into spring,
need I say more?

If I slow my body down
and move with my breath,
I notice subtle sensations I would’ve otherwise missed
in the hurried pace of the workaday world.
I see the gift of my body temple,
I am grateful beyond what I can say.

It’s in those little subtle places-
in those tiny little spaces-
where dance the mysteries of the universe.

Can you see them?
Those who hurry can not.

Let us slow down then,
and come back home to our true nature,
and remember that joy is here, now,
exactly where we are,
as we return to self,
as we once again embrace our own human being.

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My husband told me about “hypermiling” the other day, how some guy holds the Guinness World Record for the highest MPG achieved in a vehicle.  Having traded in our gas guzzling Dodge Durango for an extremely fuel efficient Toyota Prius V just one week ago, I was intrigued to see what I kind of MPG I might be able to reach if I were to employ some of the hypermiling techniques.

Call it the inner nerd.  Call it the Mother Earth lover, who is feeling repentant for years of Type A driving.  Call it the kid who likes to play games with numbers…whatever you call it, I’m now amazed at the power of slowing down.

The most basic idea of hypermiling is to accelerate gradually and to anticipate traffic.  Take your time getting up to speed when the light turns green, and don’t exceed the posted speed limit.  If you see a red light up ahead, just allow your car to gradually slow down, which will save some wear on the brakes and decrease fuel consumption.  Take your foot off the gas going down a hill…

First of all, coming from where I come from, this is an entirely foreign–even scary–way of driving.  Both of my parents were pretty overt road ragers…and I’m exaggerating only a little.  Short of pulling out a gun and shooting people, or knowingly running people over, they pulled out every road rage trick in the book. As I child I would routinely hear curse words directed at other drivers, contempt for their choices, comments about their intelligence (or lack thereof), the assumption that they were actually trying to piss off the people around them.  I’d see my parents get red in the face often, make impolite gestures on occasion, and in general drive in a way that invoked fear the other passengers of the car.  I actually thought this was pretty normal, and would lash out in defense of this kind of behavior out of some kind of twisted loyalty to my upbringing whenever anyone would call me out for driving in a way similar to my parents.  It’s a miracle I haven’t gotten very many speeding tickets in my life time as a driver. I should have gotten way more than I did.

One of my spiritual teachers, Eknath Easwaran, recommends slowing down as an essential aspect of spiritual evolution.  He believed slowing down is so important that he made it one of the eight points in his system for spiritual living.  Whenever I have read about his idea of slowing down, I have thought, “Yes, I can do that. Yes, that makes sense.”  And I have  slowed down in many ways–while I’m attending to household chores, while I’m interacting with my children, when I’m listening to a friend, or grocery shopping, eating a meal, or teaching a yoga class.  But I never really managed to slow down my driving–not in a consistent manner anyway–until I learned about hypermiling.

Epiphany time, and pardon the crazed enthusiasm:  OH MY GOSH I AM ONE THOUSAND PERCENT MORE RELAXED IN MY CAR!  I CANNOT BELIEVE HOW PLEASANT DRIVING IS NOW!  WHY DIDN’T I LEARN ABOUT THIS BEFORE?

Yes, it was precisely the moment that I decided to try this hypermiling thing out, and adhere to the speed limit, and coast along whenever I could, that I discovered how peaceful I can feel when I’m behind the wheel.  Whereas before I was pretty much a constant bundle of nerves, suspicious of other drivers, uttering curse words under my breath when alone and inside my mind when the children were present–now I’m taking deep slow breaths, listening to peaceful music, and seeing life around me.  I’m feeling more integrated with the other drivers, more in the flow of LIFE even.  How could this be?  But there it is.  I’m discovering that by slowing down I’m arriving no later than I was before, but I certainly am arriving more calm and collected.  And wonder of wonders, I’m actually enjoying the drive.

Yay, hypermiling.

 

 

If you’re interested in learning about hypermiling stats and techniques, check out Wayne Gerdes site, www.cleanmpg.com.  Fascinating stuff.  Be sure to check out the rebuttal Wayne wrote in 2008 after AAA suggested that hypermilers are dangerous.

 

 

Afternoon Thoughts

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Breathing in this moment,
I remember this is the only moment,
nothing to fear, all is well.

When I breathe again and create space in my body,
I feel full of this life, all my needs are met,
this moment, all is well.

Breathing yet again,
I see that I can let go of the past,
I can let go of my hopes for the future,
I can come home to my true nature and remember:
all is well.

Let me breathe.
Let me breathe again and again and again.
Let me breathe until all of the painful places are healed,
until I know who I am at the center of my being,
until the self within is expressed outwardly
as kindness, generosity, compassion, forgiveness.

Let me breathe in this moment,
only ever this moment,
let me know that on the deepest level
all is well.

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Another weekend of my 500 hour yoga teacher training begins tonight at 7:30.  After this weekend, half of the training will be complete.  To be honest, I kind of dread these weekends as they get closer; I never finish all of the assigned reading, and I don’t feel mentally and emotionally prepared to be away from my husband and children for so many hours of my life.
And yet, when I’m there, I appreciate the shared energy, the connections being forged, even the sometimes awkward group dynamics–it’s another slice of real human life happening now.  I wonder if any of the other trainees will become a friend who I’ll want to reconnect with after the training is over.

My husband traded in our 2012 Dodge Durango yesterday for a 2014 Toyota Prius V.  I secretly cried as he drove off with the Dodge to the Carmax in Laurel.  The reasonable part of my mind completely agreed with the decision:  saving tons of money on gas with the smaller engine, better for the environment because it’s a hybrid, amazing ease of maintenance, the dependability and longevity of Toyotas.  But damn, did I love that V-8 hemispherical engine. VROOM VROOM. Amazing torque, and lots of ponies.  Not so with the Prius.  I mean, it’s actually a really nice car, but it doesn’t fulfill my need for speed…and that is probably a really good thing. But still…the V-8 hemi…sniff sniff.

Last night when I got home from teaching my husband asked if I wanted to check out the new car.  I was exhausted and said, “Tomorrow.”  He seemed a bit surprised that I wasn’t all excited about it.  I didn’t divulge to him that inside my mind I was being loyal to the memory of the Dodge, allowing myself a moment to mourn before I allowed a new car into my heart.  I guess I’m pretty weird about cars, but I think they have souls too.  I wonder if the Dodge misses us.  I hope it goes to a good home with people who’ll love it and take care of it.

And then there’s the yogini in me that stops and takes a breath and remembers that attachments cause suffering.  So for this moment I relinquish control and welcome what is.  I breathe again.

This morning I was more excited about exploring the new car.  My husband and I went back and forth about who was going to drive it today, and I argued that I had not yet had a chance to drive it and wanted to take it for a spin with the kids.  After putting up considerable resistance, he relented and installed the kids’ car seats in the Toyota.

After breakfast I figured a trip to the playground was in order.  It was a surprisingly pleasant day for Baltimore in July; usually the temps are in the 90’s and miserably humid.  This morning they hovered in the delicious high 70’s, so I packed up a pretty great picnic of PBJ sandwiches, cucumber and carrot sticks, sugar snap peas, sour cream and onion potato chips, champagne grapes, strawberries, and plenty of water to drink.  I told my daughter we were going to a surprise place.  She guessed where it was on the first try.

The drive over was pleasant.  It occurred to me at some point that a new car is a fresh start, and I wanted to tame my tendency toward frustration bordering on road rage, and drive with peace.  I wanted to imbibe the seats, the windows, everything in the car with a serene vibration, so  I decided to be okay with slowing down, to tell myself that we weren’t in any kind of hurry.  I was mostly successful.

Once at the park, I spread out a blanket underneath a young tree with just enough shade, and the kids and I ate our sandwiches and veggies while we watched the other children playing.  What joy there was in that simple moment;  for just that moment I realized how truly rich I am to have these beautiful children in my life and the means to provide them with good food and good experiences, to have a husband in my life whom I love and appreciate, who works hard for our family to provide for all our needs.  My yoga teaching certainly does help, but we’d be living at poverty level if that’s all the income we had.  Thank goodness for my husband’s job.

That’s about it for now, just a few thoughts coursing through my brain this afternoon.  I’ll try to complete my meditation before the babysitter arrives; that way I won’t have to drag myself to do it at 11pm when I finally get home from my teacher training.

Toodle-loo!