MY BLOG

A Taste of Guided Imagery

Belleruth Naparstek feels like family to me (but I have a feeling thousands of people feel that way too.)

I’ve taken Belleruth’s downloads with me everywhere. I was listening to a download of Belleruth’s trauma CD at the precise moment when my mother died.

What more can I say? Belleruth gets me through any kind of day.

National PTSD Awareness Day is this Thursday June 27th, and as we focus on people’s suffering, we can also point out ways in which they are being helped. Guided imagery is a powerful tool for alleviating symptoms of PTSD, panic & anxiety. It’s also a great way to support any meditation practice. Or just to relax.

Here’s an easy way to feel what I feel when I’m listening to Belleruth’s guided imagery: Click on this link, and you can listen for free to Belleruth’s CD on relaxation and wellness:

http://www.healthjourneys.com/Main/Listen/RelaxationWellness

Goodbye Riva

My mother’s long struggle with Alzheimers is over.

She died on the morning of January 6th, 12 1/2 years after her diagnosis.

I thought I’d said goodbye to her hundreds of times, as she slipped away from me slowly.

But this last goodbye was by far the hardest.

I took many videos of her over the years, and they are a comfort to me now, as I try and figure out how to live in this world without my parents, with grace and gratitude.

Here’s one of my favorite videos, shot when I walked into Riva’s room and woke her up from a nap a few years ago:

Why 60 is the new 60

I’ve been sixty for a month now, and I feel pretty damn good.

I wrote about my experience facing my 7th decade (yikes) for The Huffington Post.

And I enjoyed many slices of birthday cake, including this beautiful lemon one, made with love by my friend Carolyn…

Gifts

I’m turning 60 in a week, which is a significant milestone, since my father died shortly after his 60th birthday. I’m noticing all the other gifts that surround me, like these strawberries my friend Linda gave me fresh from her garden.

Letting Go

Clearly I’ve had no problem letting go of writing posts on this blog! But I’ve been struggling to let go of other things in my life. When I came across Ernest Holmes’ words online today, I felt a shift. Thank you to Lindsey Meade, as always, for your wonderful, wise blog. And thank you to Sue for posting this there:

She let it go:

She let go.

She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.

She let go of the fear.

She let go of the judgments.

She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.

She let go of the committee of indecision within her.

She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons.

Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.

She didn’t ask anyone for advice.

She didn’t read a book on how to let go.

She didn’t search the scriptures.

She just let go.

She let go of all of the memories that held her back.

She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.

She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go.

She didn’t journal about it.

She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer.

She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper.

She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.

She just let go.

She didn’t analyze whether she should let go.

She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.

She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment.

She didn’t call the prayer line.

She didn’t utter one word.

She just let go.

No one was around when it happened.

There was no applause or congratulations.

No one thanked her or praised her.

No one noticed a thing.

Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.

There was no effort.

There was no struggle.

It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad.

It was what it was, and it is just that.

In the space of letting go, she let it all be.

A small smile came over her face.

A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore…

– Ernest Holmes

Sound Meditation

I’ve started making Breathtaking Moment videos again.
When it snows in March, over a misty Long Island Sound, it’s very easy to be inspired.
And lulled into a meditative state.

The Guest House

This human being is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain then all!
Even is they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

-Rumi
with thanks to @JenSchelter

Is Alzheimers a Meditative State?

Today I paid a visit to my mother, who has been living with Alzheimers for twelve years. It takes me three hours to drive to her nursing home. I try not to go with expectations, but that’s hard, since the drive itself is a commitment (kind of like sitting down to meditate) and I want my visits to go well.

But it’s hard to define “well” when my mother doesn’t know who I am, and when she seems to deteriorate in between my visits. I try to slip into a zen state when I interact with her.
Sometimes (as with my meditation practice) I fear that I have made a mistake. I fear that I’m veering out of a meditative state. It’s challenging to make conversation with my mother. After complimenting her on her haircut, kissing her hand, and noting that her cough didn’t seem too bad, today I found myself asking “What are you thinking about?”

Oops.

That’s certainly a question I try not to ask myself when I’m meditating. I’d slipped out of my zen state, but my mother stayed right where she was. “It’s hard to tell,” she answered. Closing her eyes, she drifted, or meditated, or noted the thoughts passing through her mind.

Or not.

It’s hard to tell.

The Dog Ate My Writing Mojo

Why haven’t I been blogging here?
I’ve been taking care of our puppy.
And one puppy can make a late-in-life mother very tired.


But I vow to blog more in the new year…

Puppy Power

It’s amazing what one little puppy can do.

Months ago we’d arranged to adopt a puppy sired by our cousins’s wonderful dog Koji. We had no idea just how much we’d need this soothing, sweet golden retriever we named Charlotte aka Charlie. She is really boosting our spirits.

There’s nothing like a puppy’s soft face against your cheek. Her belly is beautiful. Her puppy breath divine.

We are very happy puppy parents.

Oh Happy Day

Today is our son Jack’s birthday.
22 years ago, he came into the world when I was still missing my father, two years after his death. “You’re the boy who made me happy,” I often tell Jack.
So after a period of mourning for my father-in-law I am thrilled to be happy today, on Jack’s Happy Birthday.

Epitaph

My father-in-law died last Saturday at the age of 91. Thank you to the hundreds of people who came forward this week to extend their sympathies and share their love and memories with me and my family. At the end of a long week, this Merrit Malloy poem, which I first shared with readers of The Faith Club, brings me comfort:

EPITAPH by Merrit Malloy

When I die
Give what’s left of me away
To children
And old men that wait to die.

And if you need to cry,
Cry for your brother
Walking the street beside you.
And when you need me,
Put your arms
Around anyone
And give them
What you need to give to me.

I want to leave you something,
Something better
Than words
Or sounds.

Look for me
In the people I’ve known
Or loved,
And if you cannot give me away,
At least let me live on your eyes
And not on your mind.

You can love me most
By letting
Hands touch hands,
By letting
Bodies touch bodies,
And by letting go
Of children
That need to be free.

Love doesn’t die,
People do.
So, when all that’s left of me
Is love,

Give me away.

Drinking Diaries

I’m honored to have an essay, “My Flask” published in this anthology:

Swan Family

Even the swans in Italy are sexy (and they like Italian bread crumbs):

Lake Como

My husband and I visited friends at a house they rented on Lake Como, Italy. This was their back yard:

Turkey Sangha

Many people gather in meditation groups called sanghas. This family of turkeys meets all over our cousins’ home on Martha’s Vineyard.

Spaghetti and Clam Sauce

My husband loves to go clamming, shuck clams, and make the very best spaghetti with clam sauce, from my father’s recipe.

Dune Path

“You cannot follow the path until you become the path.” – Buddha

Quansoo Road

Watching summer sunlight on a dirt road is a sublime meditation:

My Birthday Presents

I received the perfect birthday card this year (above!) And the perfect birthday presents – all the wonderful comments people posted during my week-long celebration/gift giveaway.

And the winners are:

Joell Stebelton – My Handmade Buddha bracelet
Wesley Jeanne – Tibetan singing bowl
Kay Mack – Nirvana Belgian chocolate
Jen Martin – Belleruth Napartsek CD

I also decided to pick four more names, and the following people won my book:
Ashley J, Helen, Suzanne Roy, Joni Path

THANK YOU AGAIN TO EVERYONE FOR MAKING THIS BIRTHDAY SO SPECIAL!

Martha’s Vineyard Ferry

Happiness is a ferry ride to visit beloved friends and family on a perfect summer day:

Happy Priscilla

Thank you to everyone who commented during my birthday week!
“It’s great to stumble across your life,” someone said.

And I realized that because my blog is chronological, instead of organized around themes, anyone reading the last few posts might think this about me:

Priscilla struggles with panic attacks.
Priscilla doesn’t like the desert.
Priscilla’s not as enlightened as she thought she was.

All of these things about me are true – at least for the past few weeks.

But feelings come and go.

And I sound like a bit of a downer – to myself, anyway.

So I’m going to post some beautiful pictures and video over the next few days. Pictures that make me happy, that reflect the happiness I often feel, and that I hope will make readers happy.

My husband made me a beautiful book full of photos of our honeymoon 31 years ago. Here’s one of my favorites. I really do love Jimmy (and the way I looked in a bathing suit back then!)

Happy Birthday to Everyone!

“I want to do something meaningful on my birthday,” I told Rabbi Jacobson, “my soul doctor,” a while back.

And Rabbi Jacobson responded: “Some of the greatest things in life don’t have to be so dramatic. Remember that. You can do something modest. When a mother cradles her child, fireworks don’t explode. That’s the secret of all life. Some of the most beautiful things happen below the radar. Not on Wall Street, not on television. Not with all the hoopla. It’s in the quiet moments that our lives are shaped. In homes, in cribs, in bedrooms, in the little things,” my soul doctor said to me sweetly. “That’s where it all happens.”

Today is my birthday and I’m giving away presents!

I’m hosting a Learning to Breathe blog party with a birthday twist – rather than receiving gifts, I’d like to give them.

So I’m gathering up some of the beautiful things that have helped me along my journey, and I’ll host a giveaway for readers. I’m giving away one of my Buddha bracelets, a Tibetan Singing Bowl, My favorite Nirvana Belgian chocolate, and a CD by my favorite guided imagery teacher, Belleruth Naparstek.

All you have to do is comment on this blog post or the blog posts of my wonderful friends participating in this party (listed below) I’ll put all of your names into my singing bowl, and I’ll pick four winners out at the end of my birthday week. (Birthdays should last a week, yes?)

Thank you to the following friends for hosting my birthday party on their beautiful blogs, and thank you all for coming to my birthday party!

Judi England

Katrina Kenison

Lindsey Mead

Nancy Alder

Unenlightened

For years, I thought inner peace was a destination. But it’s turned out to be as fleeting as any other moment in my life. The panic attack I suffered in Las Vegas terrified me. Everything I thought I’d learned over the last few years seemed suspect.

But now I’ve begun to see my panic attack as a series of terrifying moments, that came and went.

Fortunately.

One minute I’m a buddha, and the next minute I’m back to being Priscilla.

Fortunately.

Leaving Las Vegas

I had a panic attack in a gigantic, brightly lit Target store on the outskirts of Las Vegas. My first one in four years. I’m not the mellow monk I thought I was. I was dehydrated and overwhelmed after helping my son move into his apartment in 106 degree heat. I was also very scared. But I managed to get into my car and drive back to my hotel, talking kindly to myself, trying to calm down. Sylvia Boorstein, one of my favorite teachers, often recounts stories where she talks to herself. “Sweetheart,” she’ll say…as she teaches herself a gentle lesson of some kind.

Now that I’m back home in New York, I’ve taken to calling myself “sweetheart.” I’m also trying not to judge myself too harshly, or worry about whether I’ll have another panic attack.

I miss my son very much. But I don’t miss Las Vegas.

Desert Palms

Finding beauty in a Las Vegas parking lot:

Red Rock Canyon

I drove out into the desert by myself one late afternoon, parked my car, and took this video.

The desert scares me a little bit. It’s unforgiving, not to mention hot and dry.
“Should people live here?” I keep wondering.
Lizards, yes.
But me? I’m not sure…

Desert Plants

Las Vegas is very hot. And dry.
So am I.
And I’m fascinated with the plants who can thrive here: