Thursday, May 29, 2008

On Retreat from Retreat

Strange as it may seem, this morning -- skipping class while Joe is in bed reading a book -- is the first time on this retreat that I have felt like I was on retreat! The days are busy with yoga class: 2 1/2 hours in the morning (which seriously feels too long to me), then breakfast, then an excursion, then 1 1/2 hours of yoga at 5, then dinner. The day can pass in a blur. A delicious blur, but a blur nonetheless.

It's gorgeous here and quiet at Casa Sagrada in Teotitlan del Valle this morning. Quiet is not really an apt description of the place, but right now all I can hear is birds. Generally it's a chorus of goats, turkeys, donkeys, dogs, birds. At night there's a bird we've dubbed the smoke alarm bird, since it gives a single piercing cry, then pauses, then another, then pauses, then just when you think it has flown off, another single piercing cry... And of course there is the sound of work during the day layered on top of the animals, and music at night.

Given that this is a group activity, the retreat, it is hard to get a moment alone to quietly consider all of the inputs. I laid awake most of last night plotting out my blog posts, which made me feel as though I was observing my experience in addition to having it -- which I like. In short order, I'll start writing and loading them, which will create not exactly a real-time record, but a record nonetheless.

So I'm musing on whether this is the right kind of retreat for me in future. It's been challenging to get the kind of yoga practice in that my body needs, since the level of the other students is so mixed (some appear not to know sun salutations?), and I am generally challenged by group activities. The trip has been enormously beneficial to me in other ways - some new friends, some deeper friends, and a long immersion in this place and in Spanish, which brings me back to something so central in myself. Right now I am so enjoying the morning sun on the bougainvillea (bugambilia, so much easier in Spanish!) and the silence while everyone else is in practice. More soon!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Victory for Love

What a sweet, sweet day -- the California Supreme Court overturned a voter ban on same-sex marriage, saying:
In light of the fundamental nature of the substantive rights embodied in the right to marry — and their central importance to an individual’s opportunity to live a happy, meaningful, and satisfying life as a full member of society — the California Constitution properly must be interpreted to guarantee this basic civil right to all individuals and couples, without regard to their sexual orientation.
Thank you, wonderful California, for this victory in the name of Love!

I write this post with tears streaming down my face, absolutely filled-to-bursting with joy about this. My amazing boss Jeanne Rizzo, one of the plaintiffs in the case, reacted like this:

Jeanie Rizzo, one of the plaintiffs, called Pali Cooper, her partner of 19 years, and asked, "Pali, will you marry me?"

"This is a very historic day. This is just such freedom for us," Rizzo said. "This is a message that says all of us are entitled to human dignity."

Hurray for happiness, hurray for freedom, hurray for love! Three cheers to Gavin Newsom and to all those people who hungered too long for this fundamental, inalienable right! Blessings on San Francisco for leading the way!

To all those people supporting the ballot measure in November that would overturn the Court's decision, let your hearts out of their cages, let them grow two sizes at least!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Earth Needs You to Work Less!

A great article in this month's Fast Company provides environmental reasons to work less. About time!

The United States leads the world in two categories: work and waste. American employees put in more hours and take fewer vacations than just about anyone else in the industrialized world, and our individual ecological "footprints" are much larger.

Coincidence? I think not. The way we work drives our habits of consumption and waste. The more we work, the more we drive, the more energy we burn, the more styrofoam to-go containers we use. At the end of the day, we're so tired, we devour more takeout and TV, often falling asleep in front of the latter. If we want to accelerate the recent trend of reducing waste, it may be time to consider the radical step of, well, relaxing more, consuming less, and living fuller lives.

If we worked less, our productivity would go up apparently and we'd consume less energy, not to mention that we'd probably be better human beings. That last bit can only contribute to improving quality of life right now and for successive generations. Check out the whole article at

I am ALL for this, and will be adding this 32-hour maximum work-week to my personal goals for the near future. Somebody's got to lead the way on this!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

First Principle: Open Wide and Say "Aaaaaaah"

The words of the teacher echo through the week. It was Danielle who said, "Open to Grace means staying open to life, to whatever comes. It doesn't mean you need to know HOW, it just means you say YES."