Sinfully Sloth-full

Is it any wonder why Sloths always seem to be smiling?

It’s that time of year again where–for this gal–there is a short window of pure enjoyment of being outdoors.  I’ve inserted that qualifier (short window) on purpose of course. It’s what comes next that often makes me lose sight of being in the present moment; I am already gritting my teeth in anticipation of the derrière-freezing, frost-bound cold hands, of winter.

But for now, dear reader, I pledge my focus on the many delights of autumn as well as the promise of warm pumpkin bread, steaming hot cappuccinos and the luxury of slipping my feet (beaten up from years of long distance running) into UGG’s®.

I know. There is a certain camp of folks who opine mightily on the subject of Ugg-wear: As in, Ugg’s are ugly. These are the same folks, I believe, who have a particular disdain for Birkenstocks and Crocs too. Oh sure, I’d love to pull on a pair of fashionable European leather boots with fancy buckles and just the right heel that mold to my feet in perfect comfort, but that has yet to happen (the perfect comfort part, that is.). As you can surmise…I’ve thrown in that towel…

My Ugg’s, standing at the ready….

So who knew that today is International Sloth Day?!  I’d never have known such a fascinating tidbit of information if not for Alexa.  If you don’t believe me check out the following link: https://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/international-sloth-day.  Apparently the holiday was drummed up in 2010 as a way of bringing much needed attention to the animal which appears to be in danger of extinction.

Though it took quite some time today for the sun to break through gray clouds (perhaps She was feeling sloth-full as well?) I felt it was my duty to comply with Alexa’s order of the day:  “…so go ahead, slow down and relax.”  And, reading just a bit about International Sloth Day I could only chuckle over the validity of learning from animals…other than the human-kind, of course.  The Poodle, for one, has opened my heart ten-fold more in the nearly ten years he has been with us.

What bliss it was this afternoon then as I slid bare feet into Ugg”s and spent a few sinfully sloth-full hours after yard work out on the screened-in porch reading, enjoying cups of coffee, and generally thinking about–and doing–absolutely nothing.

So, take notice dear reader to consider an excerpt from the International Sloth Day page.  It is sage health advice (nothing of course that you have not heard before):

Excerpt from International Sloth Day page: 

“….Make sure you get enough sleep, take a walk through the park or a long bubble bath, make a real dinner instead of just popping some frozen lump of food in the microwave for 3 minutes. We humans should realize that although we may be the most intelligent of the species, that does not mean there aren’t things we can’t learn from other species. And who could possibly teach a better lesson about how to relax than the sloth? Exactly!”….

They are not lazy, nor stupid....They are creatures who are remarkably tender with each other and they know how to "just hang."
Remarkably tender creatures who know how to “just hang.”

I’m thinking perhaps we should all adhere to a new October 20th tradition and enjoy being sinfully sloth-full, if only for an hour.  Mark your calendars now for 2019!

Feeling deliciously sloth-full on this fine October evening.


Simply. Perfect. Now.

Ten days until the end of November…. and It’s about time.  Truth be told I’d nearly given up.  In solitary fashion they’ve been sitting on a shelf in the closet waiting for their time to serve.

Ugg time, that is.

It’s finally gotten chilly enough in middle-earth Alabama to warrant Ugg boots.  Some would say they are UGLY boots to which I’d vehemently disagree.  While they are not uber-cool, calf-hugging, Italian leather fashion statements they are pure heaven to my perennially cold feet. That makes them beautiful to me.

Until the last few days, we’ve had uncharacteristically warm weather in the South.  We’ve also had less than ten drops of rain for quite some time. In fact, 46 of 67 Alabama counties are in a drought emergency.  This will not be the best of Thanksgivings for farmers.   Still, folks around here are more optimistic than I ever could be given the same circumstance.  They are polite as can be and quick with smiles as well as good cheer…as in: “Y’all have a blessed Thanksgiving.”

I’m bundled up for this morning’s walk with The Poodle.  It’s only 30 degrees but there is a breeze which makes me shiver with those first few steps out the door. The crisp autumn air feels wonderfully invigorating, clearing cobwebs out of my mind. I eschew music preferring instead to listen to the crunch of leaves under my feet and the rustle of leaves still stubbornly clinging to their branches.  My heart sings when I see pops of bright red Maple trees in a yard just down the hill.  Though still muted in color compared to places more north and east of us middle-earth is finally showing some autumn beauty .  Perfection would be the magnificent yellow-gold of Colorado Aspens.  Ah…I did it again!  I erase that thought immediately.

Perfection is now.

It’s all too easy to find something negative to break the spell of this morning’s walk.  I worry about my son…I worry about a Trump presidency….I worry about my sis and family traveling during the holidays.  I worry about my husband’s mother who is declining….

But I’m determined to focus on the perfection of now… this moment.  A Poodle at my side.  The sun shining. My daughter happy.  Three brilliant red maples in front of me.  Rocket-man is home. And, as soon as this power walk with The Poodle is over I’ll swap Nike’s for Uggs.

On this day it is simple things that make for a grateful heart.  Simply put, its perfect now.

Bliss ❤️🍂🍁🍂❤️

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Working on… Joy

My azaleas are still happily blooming, in October!

My azaleas are still happily blooming, in October!

My azaleas are still blooming and here we are into October.  Crazy, I’m thinking.  Still, like most things Southern (meaning SLOW) it is beginning to feel like fall.  While fall foliage in “Bama”-land is varying shades of boring brown the temps are finally inching down.  Just the other morning the chill was enough to kick my walking pace up a notch so as to keep my hands warm.

“Time to get the Uggs out,” I happily say to The Poodle. The sun has just poked its head over the mountain in the distance as we walk down the hill in the quiet of the early morning.  It’s also windy, so The Poodles’ ears are flying straight back.  He looks like he is ready to take flight.

As soon as that thought passes my lips I let out a heavy sigh.  I can feel my mood already taking a turn and not in the direction that I want.  The changing season means swapping out summer clothes for winter.  In my glee for our anticipated move, back in March I packed away books, odds and ends and winter clothes filling three small wardrobe boxes.  I taped and marked those boxes with the full expectation that the next time I opened them I’d be moved.  Well, we know how that’s all going.

No Bueno.

In an effort to soothe my soul, I marched myself over to Barnes & Noble®.

and yes….
I bought another book.

What spoke to me this time?

The Book of Joy: Finding Enduring Happiness in an Uncertain World, published by Doug Abrams.  The book is co-authored by two great spiritual leaders: Archbishop Desmond Tutu and His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama. Apparently, they’ve been friends for many years.

What I'm reading now.

What I’m reading now.

So far, it’s been a good little read.  These two souls have certainly endured adversity and hardship in their lives and yet they are filled with joy, wonderment and deep compassion for all souls. How do they live joyfully given the pain and suffering all around them?  I want to know!  The conversations between the Archbishop and the Dalai Lama are refreshingly sweet and simple, their banter back and forth playful and even mischievous, like two little boys playing in the schoolyard.   I’ve been reading a page or two every morning over coffee in an effort to step outside of my head more and to gain greater insight into how best to cultivate more joy and gratitude—and therefore less complaining about things great and small.

It seems deceptively simple: Joy and happiness are both within reach at this very moment if I simply look within (not externally).   Intuitively, I know this.  Consistent application and execution of a few commonsense principles (including meditation and even prayer) seems to be quite another matter, especially now as I look at those packed moving boxes with heals dug in: I WILL NOT UNPACK THESE BOXES BECAUSE WE ARE MOVING.

Lately, the more time I spend in my head the more stress there seems to be.  Well duh, right?  Running everyday was my one and only “drug” of choice that kept most tension at bay.  Running allowed me to zone out.  Well…I can’t do that anymore so it’s a bit more challenging to keep stressors at bay…especially as my life seems to continue to be in limbo.   It doesn’t take long for a single thought about my parents or former friends, (ex-anyone!), or even my children to spiral into past-centered thoughts.  So too, when in the wee hours of the morning I find myself almost dizzy from some video-loop playing in my head… filled with notions and emotions that certainly don’t do anyone (especially moi) one bit of good.  And, when I’m stuck in my head I’m also reminded of that stark reality that there are—and always will be— assholes just around the corner and around the world.

Nothing is gonna change that so… breath deeply… get over it…forgive (not forget)…and then move on.

The Dalai Lama says that “the only thing that will bring happiness is affection and warmheartedness.”  IMHO, I’ve got those attributes covered—most of the time.  It’s when buttons are pushed that the little Purple Minion monster surfaces in a snap-of-a finger-kind-of-moment.

I’ve clearly got work to do…but so do about seven billion other people on this planet.  I am not alone!  Yoga—and well, OK…. a punching bag too—helps knock the purple beast to the curb.   The moment I close my eyes and take a deep, long breath, releasing it with slow and purposeful measure, that Purple Minion moment passes and centering (and forgiveness) returns.

And, when I’m in a complaining rut, I’m comforted knowing that even the Dalai Lama complains.  It cracked me up that he thinks the Japanese can be “too formal”:

“The worse thing is the formal lunches.  I always tease them that the meal looks like decoration, not food.  Everything is very beautiful but very small portions!  I don’t care about formality so I ask them more rice, more rice!  Too much formality, then you are left with very little portion, which is maybe good for a bird.!”

 

Made me smile.  Made me laugh out loud.

There you have it.  A moment of bliss (been lots of them today) and even better… JOY.

My Ugg boots are not packed in a box!