Why Lemony?
(the “About Me” page)

February 28, 2004


That means it's the Baha'i gift-giving, being with family, serving each other time of year. Four or five days (depending on leap day) of fun and good stuff. It's been an up and down time for our little family this year because of Maya being sick and teething a molar too, poor thing, and the rest of us feeling just a little bit sick here and there. But today we're all doing great and we spent the day cleaning up and fixing up our backyard with the nifty new gardening tools Billy gave me for this fine holiday. I can say that I've never been so excited about a wheelbarrow in my life. We found more green things coming up all over the place while clearing away leaves and brush. Billy put together the kids' playground thing. I don't know what to call it. It's like really big legos that you snap together at the edges, and build a house-ish thing or a tunnel-ish thing, and then it's sturdy enough for at least little kids to play on. And when the kids got tired of that, we went for a picnic in the park across the street from our house. We had a great spring reunion with the swings and slide and monkey bars that we haven't seen since fall.

Ooops, Maya just woke up from her nap screaming with teething pain, gotta go.

Ok, after a bottle (bahm boom) of Winnie the Pooh juice (they put calcium in apple juice now, bless them) and a little cuddling and rocking, Maya is soothed and I'm back. There are parties galore happening around here this Ayyam-i-Ha, so we're off to play. Here are some pictures of Maya on the swings- she's already figured out the idea of pumping! She's got the coordination already, she just needs slightly longer legs. She's so cute doing such a big girl thing at age 1 and a half. She's been excitedly trying out the potty too. Yee-haw!




Here are the girls finding themselves in mommy's magna-doodles.


Here are some pictures of the Ayyam-i-Ha party at Katie and Martha's house!




Posted by Bahiyyih at 04:52 PM | Comments (4)

February 25, 2004


Maya's a sickie today. She's got the stomach flu and is sitting, groggy, wide-eyed, and passive in my lap, watching computer movies like 'Field Guide to Snapping' and home movies of Georgia playing miniature golf, while I type around her. She's up to taking 2 tablespoon of Pedialyte every 15 minutes, and she's kept it all down so far, so soon she'll be on to little cups of water every half hour. It just about broke her to watch Georgia eat her chicken bits at lunch. But she's a strong kid, so I expect a very quick recovery. And she doesn't get fevers as high as Georgia so she doesn't worry me as much when she's sick. It's still shocking to have to deal with the amount of nasty liquids that come out of a little kid with the stomach flu. And all the laundry! Luckily for me, that's Billy's department, and he jumps up to super service mode and strips the icky wet bed and does loads of laundry and goes out to buy medicine all before he leaves for work. Good man.

So much for the surprise Ayyam-i-Ha caroling we were going to do tonight. Maybe it will become surprise 'the Fast' caroling- so watch out!...and...stay home!

Posted by Bahiyyih at 01:08 PM | Comments (1)

February 24, 2004


This is Montessori Education Week, so we're supposed to bring friends to come look through the one way window at Georgia and her class doing their 'works'. Georgia corrected me today when I said she was playing there.

Me: 'I watched you through the window today and I saw you stringing beads.'

Georgia: 'I was doing the bead work. You can't take that one home. '

Me: 'and I saw Benjamin playing with the pink blocks on a rug.'

Georgia: 'He wasn't playing with blocks. He was doing the pink cubes work. He was putting them into patterns.'

Apparently, I need to work on my Montessori terminology. Good thing it's Montessori Education Week. If anyone wants to go with me to watch this great educational philosophy in action, let me know. Georgia would be thrilled to have someone else to educate.

Posted by Bahiyyih at 05:04 PM | Comments (2)

February 22, 2004

pictures and picture picture

Here are two websites that the kids and I are loving these days. One I just found is a part of a mother's weblog. It's a photoblog- it's just pictures that she's taken and then you can comment on each one if you wish. What a great idea! It's like an online photo album. Even better because you can more people around the 'book' to look at the same time and share impressions and stories or whatever! I love it! And she's got all these pictures of her twins and their babyhood, which I love, being a twin myself. Here's the link: SLOlane Photoblog.

The other great thing is Mr. Roger's Picture Picture. Remember that, where he sticks a video tape in a hole in the wall and a little movie comes on in the picture frame of how people make crayons or sneakers or construction paper, etc.? I loved that as a kid, and remember thinking, not too long ago, how cool it would be to see those again. And then Georgia was surfing the pbskids website and found it, right online on the Mr. Rogers page. Here's the link: Picture Picture.

Posted by Bahiyyih at 06:52 PM | Comments (1)


My head has been spinning since Friday after I finished facilitating the second session of a Parent Training (talking about spiritual parenting and the skills involved for such an endeavor). I am still getting over a weird slow cold, so that contributes to the head spinning, but mostly my mind has just been whirring with thoughts and emotions generated by the parent training and the intensity of that experience for me. The balance between making sure my kids are happy and ok with new babysitters and trying to focus more than all of my attention on the wonderful things all these dear friends are saying so I can facilitate (make the way easy) is really important to me and I can feel myself growing already with the effort of trying to rise to this task and all the implications that it has for my lifestyle are very far-reaching. It keeps me very aware of my own parenting which is a good thing. And the level of organization required is higher than I have reached before (and I consider myself a fairly organized person). And the whole experience is dominated by this great love that is just coming from everyone involved in the parent training which makes it so easy for me- they are facilitating my growth as a facilitator! And it all feels really big in my head and keeps it spinning, thinking, and other areas of life get pulled into the vortex and so I'm planning out the whole summer's gardening in my head. All the changes I want to make, all the ideas it would be fun to try. Trying to figure out priorities since not half of them will actually get done. Trying to guestimate costs of each project and pick the cheapest ones. I wonder if I should try to slow down or if it will just subside on its own. Or if the hope of spring has a quickening effect that will just keep going and growing faster. I feel a little dizzy, but elated too.

Posted by Bahiyyih at 11:28 AM | Comments (2)

new words

Here are Maya's new words of this week:

doublebop (somersault)

Posted by Bahiyyih at 11:02 AM | Comments (0)

February 19, 2004

something green

The girls and I wandered outdoors today like a family of sleepy bears just up from hibernation, awakened by the fact that the toy room (the coldest room in the house) was actually bearable to play in. Outside, they immediately found mud and covered themselves in it, and I went around theraputically pruning last years growth from roses, sage, a bed of perennials (sp?), and sawing off the bottom round of limbs from our monster christmas tree in the back yard. It felt really good to muck around hacking at things and smelling my favorite piney smell from the branches I was cutting. And I saw something green, maybe daffodils and some other small bulb that has naturalized there, poking up from under that fancy pink flower tree- it's been so long since summer that I've forgotten the name of it! Anyways, those little green things were pretty brave to put their heads out here before its even March. I hope they don't get blasted when it gets cold again. Maybe I should cover them up a little to protect them. But I sure am glad they came out. Foolish, brave hope in the melting snow. My little friends cheering me along to make it through till spring.

Posted by Bahiyyih at 05:03 PM | Comments (7)

February 18, 2004

triplets and wild turkeys

I finally got to see 'Triplets of Belleville' last Friday with the Quinlans. Karen just got back from her trip to Belgium and France so it was an especially French evening. I have been waiting to see this movie since October! And I had despaired of it ever making its way across the Atlantic when Billy and I spied that it was playing in a theatre in NYC, so we knew it would come soon. I had grown used to watching the trailer, where all the scenes are smushed together from 1.5 hours into 2 minutes, and it made a great music video. But there were a lot of quiet moments when it got stretched back out to it's original size. I couldn't really relate to this movie. I felt uncomfortable a lot of the time in this movie. Maybe it's a French flavor that I don't get, but the tempo was weird for my American eyes. It was really fast in parts that I wanted to see more of, or even played over and over (whenever the triplets were 'singing'), and really painfully slow in others that seemed really dull (like the chase scene and all the dog vs. train scenes). And there were all these really insanely fat people and then a few really scarily thin people, and not much in between. And those poor frogs. But some of it was really funny and there was a beautiful scene where madame Souza and the dog follow the kidnapped Champion's ship in a little paddle boat and made it all the way from France to NYC themselves. And there's this great ethereal choir music as they make this impossible journey over huge waves and get a little help from a friendly whale. I definitely want the soudtrack.

I have this weird dream to share because Liz shared one of hers on her web log recently and Husayn told me his weird dream today which reminded me of mine. Last night I had this dream where I was attacked by a pair of wild turkeys (not that I would know what one would look like, but in dream logic, that's what they were) that were defending their territory. They were really huge, kind of emu-looking, but they could fly (unlike emus). One of them flew after me and pecked me as as I was running away. Then my handball coach (???) called from across the field that I shouldn't run away because that would only make them chase me more and then they would think they needed to.. um finish me. So I'm thinkin, 'what, I'm supposed to fight back with my bare hands?' and the coach says, 'yeah yeah there's only one way to stop him. It's either you or him.' Then I woke up and tried to think of ways to kill a turkey with just your hands. It was a strange way to wake up. But that reminded me that I really was 'attacked' by a turkey once. It was in Guyana and I was visiting a friend's house. Her name is Lena. I walked up to the outer gate of her house and called the standard greeting, "Inside!" "A who dere?", came from inside the house. "It's Bahiyyih! Is Lena at home?" "Yes. Come." As I opened the gate I saw that I was entering the yard of a huge tom turkey who was just coming out of his turkey house. He puffed up all his feathers till he looked just like the Thankgiving icon with all the tail feathers in a half circle and started straight for me with a loud 'GOBBLE OBBLE OBBLE' (that doesn't sound very scary in writing, but it sure was when it was live) . I ran as fast as I could to the inner gate but he was faster and nipped me on the ankle as I got past him. I guess that's all the damage he could have done. I don't know what I thought he was going to do. I don't think turkeys even have teeth! but I knew I wanted out of there, teeth or no.

Posted by Bahiyyih at 03:22 PM | Comments (3)

February 15, 2004

Georgia on marriage

Here's an compilation of the conversations Georgia and I have had about marriage lately.

Georgia: Girls are nicer.

Bahiyyih: What about boys?

Georgia: Boys are sillier.

Bahiyyih: Is that a good thing?

Georgia: Silly is good. William is silly. (a boy in her preschool class)


Georgia: Mom, Husayn and Suzanne met each other at school and they loved each other so they got married. Liza and Brent met each other at work and they loved each other so they got married. I'm going to marry William.

Bahiyyih: Oh yeah?

Georgia: Yeah, he's the silliest.

Maya: Aung! (meaning- ME!)

Georgia: No, you can't marry William. Only I can.

Bahiyyih: Well she could marry David.

Georgia: No, David's already married. But she could marry Devyn. Maya, you can marry Devyn!

Bahiyyih: No, Devyn's already related to her. He's her cousin. You can't marry your cousin. I meant David from your school.

Georgia: Oh yeah. Maya you can marry David, and I'll marry William. Mom, I'm going to have children when I'm married. I don't want to be a teacher. I'll just have children.

Bahiyyih: You can have children and be a teacher too.

Georgia: Oh.

So it's all figured out. At least for today. If Suzayn or Briza want to tell Georgia you're real 'how we met' stories, she would love it to add to her repertoire.

Posted by Bahiyyih at 04:19 PM | Comments (3)

February 11, 2004

Georgia and Maya update

Today Maya said the words 'me' and 'elbow' for the first time. She's learning at a furious rate. It's so much fun for a mama. Georgia says that the silly way to spell her name is 'thirty dollars one hundred percent' and that our phone number is 'gia-orhioia'.

Posted by Bahiyyih at 07:09 PM | Comments (1)

billy makes me laugh

Billy sent me this really funny comic strip that made me laugh really hard out loud. If you end up needing to look in the archives for it, the date on it is 2/10/04.

So put this on the February list: discover new hilarious comic strips that you didn't know existed.

Posted by Bahiyyih at 02:50 PM | Comments (0)


If anyone has a good reason to like February (besides Ayyam-i-Ha) please let me know. Please really do. I need a list of wonderful things to do and think about in February to get me through it. We've exhausted our list that we made in the fall of all the things we would do to overcome the winter blahs. And by now in the winter I've just about had it with the finger-and-toe-scicles and ice and lingering colds. Here at home with the kids, we get pretty tired of the winter routine. I was thinking about this on my way to drop off Georgia at pre-school and the sun that's out today started started something good in my head. When I stopped into Strawberry Fields for my staples of hummus and hearty vegetable soup, I noticed that the produce department is looking really colorful, and I started noticing, as I put these colorful things into my basket, that my mood was getting lighter and lighter. Then I smelled the strawberries, all summery and red flowery, and I was feeling all good. So I brought it all home and took a picture of it, and with the magic of digital cameras, here it is.
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Thank you truckers and all transportation types for bringing me a rainbow in February. I really appreciate it.

So that's my contribution to the list of good things to do in February: bring a bunch of brightly colored produce into your house with every intention of eating it to get yourself healthy. What else?

Posted by Bahiyyih at 02:23 PM | Comments (4)

February 09, 2004

more Buddha goodies

So I've been reading this book, 'Loving-Kindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness', by Sharon Salzberg, and there's this great quote that sums up the first part of the introduction:

The English writer E. M. Forster began one of his novels with a two-word epigraph: "Only connect." These two words perfectly express the shift we must make, from one worldview to another, if we are to find reliable happines. We must move from trying to control the uncontrollable cycles of pleasure and pain, and instead learn how to connect, to open, to love no matter what is happening.

The difference between misery and happiness depends on what we do with our attention. Do we, in the midst of water, look for something elsewhere to drink? Transformation comes from looking deeply within, to a state that exists before fear and isolation arise, the state in which we are inviolably whole just as we are. We connect to ourselves, to our own true experience, and discover there that to be alive means to be whole.

Consider how the sky is unharmed by the clouds that pass through it, ...

I feel so comfortable reading this book, it's so in line with the Baha'i Writings. There must be some universal Truth going on here for these two different sources to say such similar things. Consider the following Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah:


Ask not of Me that which We desire not for thee, then be content with what We have ordained for thy sake, for this is that which profiteth thee, if therewith thou dost content thyself.


My claim on thee is great, it cannot be forgotten. My grace to thee is plenteous, it cannot be veiled. My love has made in thee its home, it cannot be concealed. My light is manifest to thee, it cannot be obscured.


Sorrow not save that thou art far from Us. Rejoice not save that thou art drawing near and returning unto Us.


Should prosperity befall thee, rejoice not, and should abasement come upon thee, grieve not, for both shall pass away and be no more.

Posted by Bahiyyih at 08:28 PM | Comments (4)

children's book magic

I picked up 'Bread and Jam for Frances' by Russell Hoban and Lillian Hoban (Illus.) at Zivar's house and read it to Georgia and Billy. It's a great book that I haven't read since I was a child about a family of very human-like badgers and their daughter who only wants to eat bread and jam. She likes the predictability of taste and doesn't want to eat any other foods. There' some great parenting here, as the parents deal with her by letting her try eating bread and jam all the time. She eventually gets sick of it and asks to eat spaghetti and meatballs like everyone else at dinner. But the great thing about this book for me are the school lunch scenes. Frances' friend Andrew brings out a very elaborate lunch when she just has bread and jam. He's got a fancy sandwich and a pickle and soup and a hard boiled egg and a 'little cardboard salt shaker for the egg' and a cup of custard and I don't remember what all. He sets all the parts out carefully and then takes a bite of each thing carefully so that they would all come out even and be finished at the same time. At the end, when Frances folds and is willing to eat more than bread and jam, Frances' mom packs her a lunch to rival Andrew's, complete with a little vase of violets and a doily to put it all on, and she sets it all out carefully and takes bites of each thing so they will all come out even too. When I read this part, I realized that I used to do this whenever I got a plate full of all really great things, like a turkey dinner or something. And I still do it sometimes now. And here's the origin of that- it's from Frances! I think this is also where I got my fascination with arranging groups of small things in a pleasing way. When I was little, I used to collect little tiny things like tea sets and little rocks and glass animals and arrange them into little scenes on top of my dresser. When I was a teenager I got embarrassed about that and gave it all away (I would have thrown it away had mom not asked to keep them for me). But I recently started a collection of little bobble-headed animals that I have hot-glued to my dashboard. It is very pleasing to me and I'm happy to be just a little more how I want to be.

Posted by Bahiyyih at 09:57 AM | Comments (4)

February 07, 2004

Bedtime Stories (Guest Author: Billy)

Bahiyyih asked that I write down tonight's bedtime story that I told to Georgia. I usually tell her a story each night to help her go to sleep. Here's our usual pattern:

  1. Somebody decides it's time for bed. Usually a parent, but sometimes a child. Tonight, both Georgia and Maya started telling us that it was bedtime around 8 pm, which is earlier than usual. I think they were both
    1. tired out from the trip, and
    2. happy to be back home to their familiar beds.
  2. Pajamas are donned, teeth are brushed, potty is gone, last-minute snacks are eaten, teeth are re-brushed.
  3. Maya: lie down with Mommy and nurse to sleep. Usually it takes two tries.
    Georgia: lie down in bed, have a prayer, and have a story that lasts until Daddy can hear snoring or is snoring himself.

So tonight's story was part of a long continuing story about a Prince. His princehood is more of a magical, faery-related princehood than anything related to other people, but he's a Prince nonetheless, someday to be King. The story started with a frog, maybe a month ago, that was under a curse. It broke the curse when it protected a squirrel that was stuck in a tree that fell into its pond, and the frog turned back into its natural self: a castle. The Prince's castle. (Georgia had requested a story about a King and Queen.)

The goal of the story is for the Prince to get married and become a King. His wife, of course, would be the new Queen. What they are king and queen of is less important. The castle -- the Prince's ancestral home (his parents, the current King and Queen, are off travelling) -- is situated in a small woods that is touched somehow by some small magic. There is a Witch -- the one who cursed the castle -- who is only slightly antagonistic, but who also provides counsel to the Prince from time to time. There is a squirrel Princess who was briefly changed into a human accidentally when the castle's curse was lifted, and who chose to return to squirreldom rather than become the new Queen. But that's about all we've seen of the magical woods. Most of the story has taken place in towns and countryside and cities as the Prince has gone out to seek matrimony and establish a livelihood.

As you can imagine, it's a wandering story with many curlicues. Many influences pull it and stretch it like some fractal taffy:

  • Georgia's interests
  • My interests, imagination, and level of alertness
  • Whatever moral seems important at the time
  • Fitting a chapter into an evening's story time
  • The characters take on lives of their own

This is getting pretty long. Click below to see the whole thing.

The character we're following at the moment is Emily. Emily is 17. She grew up on a farm but always wanted to leave it. So when she was 13 or so she went into town and asked the local mason (who shared a shop with the local well-digger) if she could become his apprentice. Enter the theme of the equality of men and women. The mason is our Prince, by the way -- when he was looking for a livelihood, he noticed that there was no mason in the town near his castle, and since he'd been repairing and maintaining the darn thing (the castle) his whole life, and since it was made of stone, he set up shop as a mason.

I think Emily came from the movie Mulan. The main character is a young Chinese woman who runs away from home to take her father's place in the army. She has to conceal the fact that she is a woman, since only men are allowed in the army. Her family is required to supply one man to help defend China, but her father has a lame leg (he's an old war hero -- must be an old injury), and Mulan is an only child. Georgia had watched the movie, and I think I wanted to help her make sense of it, since it is kind of a large story for a four-year-old, touching on all sorts of topics: ethical, moral, familial, historical. So we get Emily.

When Emily asked to be his apprentice, our Prince, who had been thinking that it was about time to take an apprentice, noted that she was a little older than usual (I think -- I'm not sure, historically) and that she was a girl, and that boys were usually apprentices. Oops! I realized that I had to explain historical differences to Georgia. Probably a good idea, with Mulan and all. So one of our curlicues was about historical changes in the status of women.

Mr. Prince (he still doesn't have a regular name) asked Emily's parents whether that was all right with them, and eventually they assented, due mostly to his gentle and considerate nature. Another moral! Being loving and considerate towards people helps make a better world! Ha! Now if only I could internalize that moral some more :)

I guess I'd better add another influence on these stories:

Often, the stories will contain some grownups in the background going over some moral lesson that I'd been thinking about during that day. In this case, the Prince changing the hearts of Emily's parents, who are initially skeptical. Hey, it's a lot easier in a story than in real life! I think it helps me practice for when a real situation comes up that requires real use of the lesson.

To continue our story:

Emily, who started out as an apprentice at 13, has worked hard and learned masonry from the Prince, and is now 17. She is searching for a journeyman project or, as Georgia prefers, a journeygirl project. She has travelled to another town, called McCloud ("It's okay, Daddy -- if you forget the name of the town, you can just make up a new one"), and is about to leave to continue her search, having found no suitable project here. She wanted to rebuild a two-room schoolhouse that had burned down, but the school principal is reluctant for reasons that have not become clear yet (I think they probably will become clear eventually).

She has met a friend named Faroe, who has shown her around the town, in search of a project. He's a teenager too, a son of the merchant class. In tonight's episode (we finally get to it -- see there, was a lot of explaining to do), Emily and Faroe are saying goodbye. They've known each other for about two and a half days, which has been, I think, three bedtime stories. They go check on Emily's horse, who has been in a stable for two days without getting to run around much, and who is getting antsy.

Faroe convinces Emily not to just leave, but to go horse-riding together first. Faroe has been learning how to ride a horse, and Emily has been riding horses all her life, starting on her family's farm, but entirely out of utility, rather than recreation. The curlicues of tonights story took up most of the time:

  • The different gaits of a horse (and of people, too).
  • What's a Lord in medieval England? Note: this is what actually put Georgia to sleep.

Anyway, Faroe leads Emily for a ride to one of his favorite places: a small waterfall on the land of a Lord that his family does accounting for. And that's where tonight's episode ends (I heard snoring during the explanation of what a Lord is).

Tomorrow, or the next time Georgia wants to hear more of the Prince story (also called the King and Queen story and the Master Mason story), we'll continue from there. I'll do my best to remember the names of the characters (Faroe's horse is named ... argh, trying to remember ... Roan! and Emily's hometown is Lancastershire (pronounced LANcashur) ... Emily's horse doesn't have a name). Georgia will reassure me that the names aren't really that important, and will listen attentively and eventually fall asleep.

Bahiyyih has pointed out that these stories will provide a bond between Georgia and me for our whole lives. "Even if she's not speaking to you" when she's a teenager for a while. I will be interested to know what she remembers about them, and what was important. It will probably not be the subtleties of medieval Lordship. (But "Lord" is a vocabulary word from a prayer that we often say before bed ...)

Thank you, Bahiyyih. This has been fun!

Posted by Billy at 10:12 PM | Comments (3)

trip pictures

Here are a few pictures from our trip to NJ and NYC.
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Georgia with her new swimming gear

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Look closely! Can you see the Empire State Building across the Hudson?

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An NYC sign that made me laugh

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Zivar, Amy, and Maya sandwich

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Mariah with scarf knit by 'Aunt Judy the Great'

Posted by Bahiyyih at 08:19 PM | Comments (3)

February 03, 2004

NYC and the Buddha

Rush downhill on the narrow streets of Leonia and Fort Lee, NJ past shop windows with mostly Korean names on them, vaguely reminisent of downtown Tokyo. Walk fast across George Washington Bridge. Enter the grime and bustle of New York City subways. Buy your metrocard from a computer screeen that asks you to 'dip your credit card' for payment. Through the turnstile, push through the subway doors and hang on for a swaying half hour. Burst through the doors at 42nd street, and emerge into Times Square at rush hour. Lights are huge and everywhere, a 15 foot high lava lamp above a doorway advertising Target, a beefy Jack and the Beanstalk vine complete with castle on top grows from another corner, all lit up and huge. Walk against the traffic of all kinds of people hurrying by with pink mowhawks and cell phones, pushing handcarts with ironing boards, a sea of black coated business people rushing home from work. Pass Madame Toussaud's wax museum, with Robin Williams in the window. Enter the catacombs of the Times Square Flea Market and see a paperweight memorial of the World Trade Center with molded plastic fire trucks in front. Emerge onto the cold street again and hurry back down into the subway to ride down to Canal Street. Get slightly lost in Tribeca looking for Min's meditation class, then suddenly find it and burst into a bare room of New Yorkers putting down bags, taking off shoes and coats, noisily turning off cell phones and sitting down in a half circle around their Buddhist meditation instructor, Peter Durbinin. Sit down on a little pillow on the floor next to Min (Zivar and Dan's friend from Burma and a very kind Buddhist) and suddenly come to a ringing silence, toes still cold and damp from melting snow puddles and all of me glad to have found a nest of stillness. Whew!

And then we are to meditate to begin class starting and all too soon ending with the ringing of a brass bowl. Ahhh..a mental spa. Then the instructor starts saying all these amazing things and I am so happy that I came here instead of wandering around Harlem trying to find that Guyanese restaurant (Flavored With One Love). Let's see. He says: The practise of this meditation involves being still, awareness of your breathing, awareness of the sensations in your body (the felt sense), and this particular kind is called metta, which means loving-kindness in Pali. So you say these phrases slowly to yourself and let them drop down into your body and awareness like stones dropped into a pond: May I be happy. May I be free from suffering. May I be healthy. May I live with ease. And if you find your mind wandering, you just notice that and come back to the phrases. And when it gets hard to do this, when you encounter resistance to this inside yourself (and this is where it gets good) you try with 'courageous effort' and being a 'spiritual warrior' to battle the five things that keep you from engaging in the practice of meditation. Those five things are: desire, aversion, dullness, restlessness, and doubt. And when you meet those enemies inside yourself, you notice them, but you don't react to them. You meet these thoughts with loving-kindess and you respect them, you bow to them because this is where you are blocked from going forward and opening your heart, and so this is where you need to 'lean into it instead of backing away' so you can grow and so the closed places can open. Ooo...I like it, I like it. There's tension, it's like tuning a dulcimer so it's notes will be pure and true. But it's all very still. Noticing the swirl of thoughts that are all happening above the neck, and then letting that go and feeling down in the rest of your body and in your heart that there is a deeper feeling to be had of stillness and openness from whence can come a wish for yourself of happiness, freedom from suffering, health, and ease. And then, when you've learned to say these phrases for yourself, you can say them for other people. And not just anyone, but specific kinds of people: the benefactor, the close friend, the neutral person, the 'difficult' person, and then all beings. Ooo, this sounds good. And the goal is to open your heart to feel loving-kindness for all beings. I asked Min lots of questions about all this on the way home, and he said that there are four states or qualities you are supposed to attain in Buddhism: loving-kindness, compassion for people who are suffering, sympathetic joy for people who are happy (as opposed to jealousy), and equanimity (kind of like detachment, serenity, etc.). That Peter Durbinin was really good. I learned so much in just an hour and a half, even if my leg did fall asleep.

P.S. So here's a very weird thing. You know how Maya just started calling herself Aung before we left for this trip? Well that's Min's last name. It's even spelled the same. What are the chances of that? He must be her fairy godfather or something.

Posted by Bahiyyih at 04:02 PM | Comments (10)

February 01, 2004

We're there!

We made it to Zivar's house! And just as I predicted, a lot of ballet dancing and giggling and pretend is happening here. Our travel plan worked out well- the kids were excited to get to a swimming pool, and then excited to get to the cousins the next day. Now we're pondering what to do in NYC. Any suggestions; things we must not miss? Ideas so far are: Statue of Liberty and associated Liberty Science Museum for the kids, World Trade Center site, Guyanese restaurant (if we can find one), some children's theatre performance.

I was so happy the whole time we were driving through PA. I just drank in the mountains and remembered all the fun adventures I had hiking and playing in their foothills in years past. (More on that later)

Posted by Bahiyyih at 04:24 PM | Comments (1)