Sunday, May 6, 2012

Wisdom in the words of Rumi

"Whatever purifies you, is the correct road,
I will try not to define it."
—   -   Rumi
Ah, Rumi, you touch my heart. I only recently heard of Rumi in the past couple of years, when I found a quote that suited me and my love of hoopdance so well that I put it on my business cards: “we came spinning out of nothingness,
Scattering stars…The stars form a circle, And in the center we dance. --Rumi”
Where had I been? How had I missed Rumi? Was Rumi a man or a woman? A woman was my guess. I don’t think I’m all that well read, honestly, but I should’ve at least heard of her/him, right? I bought The Essential Rumi, a thick book full of Rumi’s poems on topics of human emotions, of life, death, love, of the Divine, and I pick it up and read it now and then.
And it turns out that Rumi, a thirteenth century Persian mystic, was actually a man (I was wrong).
Still, I hadn’t discovered this quote until the other night when I was on facebook. Ah, facebook, I’ve learned so much from your site and your faithful users! Sometimes people put their favorite quotes in their profile and I love to read those. This one popped out at me from someone’s page and it’s so apropos. One of my friends recently mentioned that the older she gets, the less she cares about what other people think. Right on, sister! That’s what this quote so perfectly embodies to me.
Whatever speaks to my soul, whatever road purifies me, that is where I want to go. Doesn’t matter what other people may think, they should not and will not be the ones defining my path. And conversely, neither should I be the one defining the paths of others. To me it’s also a lesson in letting go of judgment and, in the process, being free.

give your stuff away day

            As I was out gardening on a beautiful, sunny day last week I had one of those moments where I needed something and wasted too much time looking for it. I was pulling out a bunch of vines and other green ‘stuff’ (I don’t know technical names) from my flowerbeds and I needed a shovel for digging up some of the biggest dandelions I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t find the shovel in the garage. Had I left it in another flowerbed? I walked around the house and looked. Nothing. It had to be in the garage. I looked again. There it was, huddled by the three snow shovels. What? I thought, WHY do we have three snow shovels, especially considering the winter we just had?
            I had the sudden urge to overhaul the garage as I looked around and saw endless toys, bikes, scooters, yard paraphernalia, a broken chair, tools, kites, and on and on. I think we could survive just fine with half of all that stuff. But throwing stuff—good stuff—away makes no sense, and then I remembered the annual event coming up in May that is officially known as ‘Give Your Stuff Away Day.’ It’s a huge recycling event, and something I’d love to see in every community.
            It’s so simple. On Saturday, May 12, just set items you don’t want out on your curb or in your alley and they’re free for the taking. You’re gifting items to someone who can use them and you’re uncluttering and you’re treading lightly on the Earth. It’s a triple win. Plus, the next day is Mother’s Day (a holiday I’m not crazy about but that’s a whole other column). What do I want? A clean garage. Thanks in advance to my family, who’ll help make that happen!
            Some ideas:
            Put a sign out that says ‘FREE’
            Electronics, tools, toys, clothes are all acceptable. Even plants and potted trees!
Nothing that’s been recalled, and no chemicals or paint (these go to the Household Hazardous Waste Center)
Check out for more ideas.

Carrying joy inside

            “Whatever we once had that was beautiful, but is now gone…is inside us now. The ‘beauty of beauty’, the ‘joy of joy’ is never lost.”
            I love this quote by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. As I’m going about my days, full of energy and able bodied, as I’m digging in the earth or holding a child’s soft hand or teaching a dance class—all of these things that I love so much—I sometimes think of what life when be like when I can’t do these things any more or when my children are grown.
            What will fill my days then? Will I be sad, lonely, lost, without my kids in daily life and without so many of the pursuits that make me feel alive and that anchor me and give me purpose in my life?
            How did my grandma, who loved to cook so much and to show love through her cooking feel when she was unable to cook anymore? She never expressed outward sadness to me about it when she gradually lost the ability to make meals like she used to, or when she turned to heating microwave meals or making sandwiches. Later she couldn’t manage even that anymore, and later still I sat with her and spoonfed her as she worked to recover from a stroke. She lit up like a Christmas tree when my dad visited, her son and her tie to her life as a young wife and mother. I think she carried the joy inside.
            “All that has ever been beauty and joy and love in your life, no matter what happened next, no matter what broke, or became unable, or died or went away…all the beauty and joy and love in your life is inside you now.”
            I hope to dig a little deeper, hold on to a hand a little tighter, to dance just a little more and to soak up the feel of the breeze on my face and to carry that joy inside always.

Digging in the Earth

            It’s that time of year again—time to get my hands dirty and grow some things. It’s such a thrill to see daffodils blooming and tulips coming up. My lilacs are starting to bud! Everything’s ahead of schedule because of the mild winter, though I hope this doesn’t mean we have a scorching hot summer.
            A couple years ago we built four 4 by 8 foot raised garden beds and started a vegetable garden. This is something the kids look forward to and love. Most of us  probably live on suburban lots, so what’s great about raised beds is that they’re compact and pretty much an instant gratification thing sinceit only takes a couple of hours. Plus, it’s cool to eat food you’ve grown yourself. My kids think it tastes the best.
            I encourage anyone to try their hand at growing some of their own food, especially families with kids. Did I mention my kids LOVE it?
            Let’s start with building a raised bed. We built ours in a sunny spot in the yard with cedar boards and got some soil from GreenCycle to fill it. Building raised beds may sound like a lot of work, but I’m actually a lazy gardener and didn’t want to dig up all that grass (and then deal with where to put it). I laid down thick piles of newspaper, put the bed ‘frame’ on it, and filled it with soil. Voila! The grass dies and the newspaper composts. Raised gardens also dramatically cut down on weeds, which sounds good to the lazy gardener.
            Now, what to plant? I recommend carrots, tomatoes, peas, and/or beans. Herbs are great too. We started seeds indoors last week, so if you go that route now is the time to do that. I always buy heirloom seeds or plants, so that I’m not giving my money to companies that grow GMO crops.
            And if you buy seedlings later in the spring, also look for heirlooms. I like to buy from independent nurseries, especially Garden Thyme, who sells heirloom tomato plants in the summer.
            Since I’m a fan of keeping it simple, some of my favorite gardening books are those written for kids, like Garden Crafts for Kids and Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots, both covering ways to get started on your gardening adventure, composting, and easy projects to do with your kids. Happy Gardening!