On our first day in Las Vegas, my son and I looked at 5 different apartment complexes, took his car to be repaired, rented furniture, and paid a visit to Bed Bath and Beyond. All in 100 degree heat.
When I pulled into my parking spot at the end of the day, I felt like this very busy, hot bird, working hard, looking for something in the desert.
I flew out to Nevada with my son, to help him get settled. He’ll be starting a new job. I’ll be trying to stay calm, knowing that hundreds of miles and millions of clouds will separate us.
But clouds can be comforting.
Our youngest son graduated from college. As thousands of other students and families poured into The Big House in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I paused to take in the moment, which felt enormous, long-underwear-cold, and exciting.
“What if you started a meditation flash mob on twitter?” a friend asked me. “Take a picture of yourself meditating, invite others to do the same, and see what happens…”
So here’s a picture. I felt a little strange taking it.
I wish I looked a little happier. I don’t feel sad when I meditate. Actually, I do sometimes. Sometimes I even cry…or smile…or…
I’ll go back to meditating.
According to the American Psychological Association, May is Mental Health Month. I’m taking this opportunity to thank all of the wonderful teachers and therapists who helped me to heal so profoundly, from panic attacks that had haunted me for decades. I’d also like to thank all of the people who’ve written to me, sharing their stories honestly and courageously. It’s very hard to speak out. But it’s harder to feel alone. Writing my book, exploring and exposing my pain, has brought me to a very happy place, and I am very grateful to everyone who helped me get here. This picture of my son Jack is one of my favorite definitions of happiness:
1) Pin the LEARNING TO BREATHE cover to one of your own Pinterest boards.
2) In your pin description include: “I’ve pinned it to win it from @Priscilla Warner.”
Priscilla Warner will select 10 pinners at random to win a copy of LEARNING TO BREATHE in paperback. You can enter as many times as you want but can win only once.
Winners will be announced on our Priscilla Warner’s Pinterest board periodically.
Good luck and happy pinning!
General contest rules: To enter, you must be a U.S. resident and at least 18 years of age. You must participate on Pinterest. No purchase necessary. Winners will be randomly selected and announced on Pinterest. Void where prohibited.
Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara, a Zen teacher in New York City, taught me about the significance of cherry blossoms in Asian culture.
“The Japanese see cherry blossoms as a symbol of our lives,” Roshi explained. “They come at the very early part of the spring, when it’s cold. Their beauty makes you want to cry.”
I thought of how much I love meditating beneath the cherry blossoms in my front yard.
“One of the reasons why we cry is that these blossoms are so ephemeral,” Roshi continued. “They will fall,” she said simply. “And to watch the cherry blossoms fall is like watching ourselves die. We start off young and beautiful. Then we become middle-aged and beautiful in a different way. Eventually we’re old and beautiful, and finally we’re dead and beautiful.”
At their peak, these cherry blossoms are bursting with beauty:
My friend Kira Walton urged me to make an interactive meditation video. Thank you to Jimmy for filming me:
It’s Opening Day of the cherry blossom season in my front yard. Come take a stroll with me:
Last year, I was very busy during cherry blossom season. This year, my battle with bronchitis has forced me to slow down. I’ve been very conscious of the nuances of my body’s healing process. And every day I’ve checked the trees in my front yard to see what they’re thinking and feeling as well.
They are gracefully giving birth to new blossoms:
The trees in my back yard are watching the cherry tree buds along with me. Waiting…
The first tree in my yard to burst into full bloom is this weeping cherry, which makes me very happy:
I’m meditating in my back yard, soaking up some much needed Vitamin D, with my eyes open, just in case that robin comes back…
A beautiful robin appeared on my front lawn today, his plump red chest brilliant against the green grass.
I fumbled around in my pocketbook. Where was my camera? I needed to capture this moment.
I rummaged through old receipts, new allergy medicine, half eaten chocolate bars, cherry cough drops and…
Finally I found it!
As quietly as I could, I turned on my camera. I pointed it at the robin.
The moment was gone, his grey tail a reminder.
Moments (and robins) come and go.
Easter Sunday is a very relaxing day for me, since I’m Jewish. No church. Just chocolate.
I sat on our lawn meditating, watching the first tree in our yard to blossom this spring. I thought of my mother, fading steadily, entering her 12th year struggle with Alzheimers. “She will die, and I will live,” I thought, watching brand new Magnolia blossoms dancing in the wind.
Medication I’m taking for my bronchitis is causing hallucinogenic dreams. But when I wake up in the middle of the night I surf the web and find the most extraordinary images for my Pinterest boards, including this fabulous video of an art installation by TILT, in Marseilles, France, called Panic Room. Reminds me of the bad old days. Although I’m wondering: did my panic fuel my creativity? Maybe.
It’s been unseasonably warm in New York this spring.
Still, the cherry trees in my front yard are bare, and I’m waiting, along with many vocal birds, for spring to arrive.
I’ve been sick with the flu for almost two weeks, and have only left the house to go to the doctor or take my son to the airport. Life has slowed way down. Sunlight flickering on my bathroom floor tiles looks beautiful.
I’m still sick, resting, drinking tea and recovering from bronchitis.
I was also just interviewed by Conscious Talk Radio. I had the loveliest conversation with Brenda Michaels and Rob Spears, and their producer played Mario’s How Do I Breathe in between my segments. Perfect.
I’m lying in bed with a wicked bad cold, as we used to say in Rhode Island. I’m looking for moments of joy.
So I placed these Buddha bracelets I made a while ago on top of my sheets and photographed them. “My work is extraordinary” my mother used to announce repeatedly. Hmmm, I think I know what she means…
Our flight home to New York was smooth. The skies over New Jersey were clear. And the lights below us sparkled like diamonds:
The Ann Arbor Arboretum is a perfect place for reflection, especially on the banks of a half-frozen pond: