Living Without Television

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The reason we moved to a rural area is to get away from the “rat race” of living in a metropolitan city. If you ever sat in traffic on any of the Southern California freeways, you know what I mean. Even when we were home there was constant noise; daily fireworks from Disneyland which was five miles away; fireworks from neighbors who had nothing else to spend their time and money on; the sound of police helicopters hovering overhead, looking for God-knows-who…and on and on.

Hubby and I have wanted to own a small farm and animal sanctuary for years now and we aren’t getting any younger…so we made the move this year. Everything fell into place; the Gods were on our side.  We aren’t living on a farm but we are in an unincorporated town. We are surrounded by 80-100 foot tall pine trees. Our neighbor has a property with some farm animals. I met their miniature horse and turkeys when I walked to their fence.

Hubby and I are from the city. I never lived in the country. He lived and worked on a dairy farm thirty years ago. Before we moved, I watched videos about living off grid. I wanted that. We wanted to be of service and leave the smallest footprint on Mother Earth. Living off grid made sense… in theory. Actually we aren’t off grid but we do get our water from an underground spring and we have a septic tank. I know… that’s not anywhere close. Maybe the Universe is helping us adjust slowly.

When we moved, we did what 99% of Americans do; we signed up for cable, phone and internet service. That’s pretty simple. Right? Not if you move to the country. Competition is limited. OK, there is no competition for internet service. There’s only one company and they still have dial-up. You want the Internet? You have to sign up for their phone service too because that’s how the Internet comes to your home. So, we signed up for all three…the bundle to save money… luckily I was smart enough not to sign a three year lease to get a discount. The contract stated “If for any reason, service was cancelled before the lease was up, you will be charged $350.” No way was I agreeing to that!

We got our first bill and I almost had a heart attack. There were all kinds of “hidden” charges that were never told to me when I signed up.

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I dropped the cable and kept the bare minimum phone service so I had Internet. At first I was upset…but I have now had time to think about it. “Things happen for a reason” (I usually roll my eyes when I hear someone say that but I am coming around to that concept).

We moved to the country and are renting for now, but our goal is to network with like-minded people and own that farm. We will have that animal sanctuary! I also wanted more time to write; to read books; to learn about herbs; to spend time in nature and be more creative. I won’t do as much of those things if I’m distracted watching television. We have plenty of DVDs, CDs for music and there’s a video store five minutes away. We can make watching a movie, a special event, not just mindlessly watching whatever crap is available on TV that night (and there is a lot of crap that calls itself entertainment these days).

So, I will change my perspective. Losing the cable was a good thing. We will now be more focused and keep our eyes on the prize; the animal sanctuary.

Another thing hubby brought up is; what are the chances of us moving ten hours away and finding a place next door to people who are living the lifestyle we want? Of all the places to rent, we got this one.

That’s something else to contemplate…

Namaste,

ingebirds

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Jane

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Jane showed up about six weeks ago. The rumor is she was left behind when a resident at our condominium complex moved. There is no evidence to support that, however she wants to come indoors and is friendly to just about everyone she meets, including me. John named her Jane… as in Jane Doe, since she hasn’t told us her real name…yet. You know how cats are. They like to be mysterious and remain anonymous if they can get away with it.

I am a huge animal lover and last year I took in another cat who wasn’t abandoned but rather kicked out of a house when the “new” baby arrived. Her owners stopped feeding her, hoping she would just go away. The neighbors next door figured out what was going on and came to me, asking if I would either take her or find the cat a new home. Of course I said “yes.” Annie has been part of our family ever since. Everything worked out perfectly because she went into heat two weeks after she moved in. If she was left outside, we would have many more kitties to find homes for. Annie made herself at home right away. She had no desire to go back outdoors (do you blame her?) and my other kitties quickly welcomed her to our family.

Jane is a different story. She has been in my home several times, sniffing and looking around. I keep her in a separate room because Annie seems to be jealous. Jane is welcome to be part of our family but she seems to enjoy visiting and then going out to roam the complex. At first I was upset and worried about her. There aren’t many outdoor kitties who live here and the ones who do are territorial. I don’t want Jane to get hurt.

All my pets are indoor, except for the dogs who go outside to do their business and get exercise. So why doesn’t Jane want to live with us?  Everything she could possibly want or need is provided by me. I meditated on this a few times and finally figured out… Jane is me. She’s a free spirit. She wants to live life on her terms which means coming and going as she pleases. I’m the same way. I don’t like any kind of restrictions placed on me by someone else.

Now that I understand her, I have to respect her choice. This is her life and she gets to live it the way she wants. She likes coming inside, napping on my bed but a few hours (sometimes minutes) later she wants to go back outside. She is happy living outdoors and that’s all that matters. And isn’t that what life is all about?  Happiness. We all want to be happy and happiness looks different for all of us. For Annie and my other cats, happiness is basking in the sun as it streams in the window, and playing a game of chase with each other. Jane prefers lying under the fern bush in the afternoons and sitting on my porch, a few feet away from the screen door, while my kitties sit on the other side watching her. They seem to peacefully hang out, respecting each other’s space, although there has been the occasional hiss.

All of Jane’s needs are met. A neighbor keeps food in a bowl outside her front door and I’ve watched her catch a cricket now and then. I guess you could say she’s become semi-wild. If Jane changes her mind and decides to come inside to become part of our family, she is always welcome, but for now I’ll respect her wishes and be happy she chooses to be my friend.

Namaste,

ingebird

Create Your Own Soil

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The one thing I’ve noticed missing lately when I sit in quiet meditation is the sound of birds chirping outside. There aren’t as many hummingbirds either. In the spring, finches serenade me with their lovely songs most of the day, especially in the morning. The place where I live has lots of trees, and birds come to build their nests.

I think the finches fly somewhere else in the summer. If I remember correctly this happened last year. They raise their young and when the baby birds are old enough to fly, the family relocates.

We are also in year four of a severe drought. We are only allowed to water our lawns two times a week now. The grass is dying. Several trees are too but I think they were in bad shape before the drought. I’m guessing most of the trees and plants around here are not native. People want what they want and that includes growing plants and trees that do not belong here, then they complain when the plants die. Maybe that’s why the birds go somewhere else. I’m guessing when the plants die, there aren’t as many bugs to eat. There certainly isn’t much water running in the gutters. I now have a small bowl of water sitting outside my front door for any thirsty sentient being who walks or flies by.

Doesn’t it make more sense to work with Mother Nature and grow plants that do well in the climate they were intended? We seem to want to force a lot of things to adapt to our will. For instance, lets take our society. There are tacit rules requiring us to behave like the pack. Our kids are forced to all learn the same way in school, even though we are unique individuals. I don’t do well on multiple choice tests, but I excel on written exams. I have trouble learning how to do something from a book but I understand and catch on faster if someone shows me. I am very visual.

How many of us judge someone as weird who looks or acts different from what we believe is the norm? Now that I am a woman of a certain age, I’m expected to dress accordingly. Just look at the older women fashion magazines. They are full of airbrushed models wearing unbelievably boring outfits. There was even a TV show for a while that taught women to dress “appropriately.” These women were chosen to be on the show by their friends and families who didn’t like how these women dressed. I hated that show! At the end, all of these women who, in my opinion were expressing their unique selves, ended up looking like Stepford Wives. In other words, they turned out boring! That’s how society seems to want us all to be. To conform. To be boring!

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The greatest lesson I learned from going through cancer is to live life on my terms. I decide how I act and how to dress. I stopped caring what other people think of me. I am luckier than trees or plants. I can move around and grow in soil that is conducive to me. The soil I am referring to is my inner being. My true self. I cannot grow in soil that someone else thinks I should grow in. My number one goal (ok it’s a toss-up) is to be happy and healthy. They go together. If I’m happy, I’m healthy. If I’m healthy, I’m happy. A big part of that is to be true to myself, inside and out, no matter what society wants me to be.

Namaste,

ingebird

Living My Authentic Self

you know the truth by the way it feels

Lately, I have been attracted to different spiritual blogs and videos. The main message they have in common is to find your authentic self. Authentic self? I’m just me. That’s my true self. According to these spiritual teachers, the majority of us aren’t living as our true, authentic selves. We are living according to the rules imposed on us by our parents, our work place, friends and society. Most of us work jobs with the sole purpose to collect a paycheck. The time for fun and fulfillment is after work, weekends and vacations.

We wear clothes and hairstyles that are age appropriate. We look to magazines to see what is currently “In.” We want to fit in and be accepted, so in our minds, we think we have to be just like everyone else. We forget each of us are unique.

I forgot I am unique.

My authentic self has shown up several times throughout my life, although I didn’t understand it at the time. I know I never felt that I fit in with the people (mainly women), I wanted to hang around. I forced myself to be interested in their conversations because I thought I was supposed to.

Now I get it.

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How do I know when I am being my authentic self? It’s when I am doing something that feels good to me. It’s wearing clothes that feel comfortable to me. It’s reading spiritual books that I resonate with, even though they aren’t mainstream.

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I am drawn to meditation; to holistic health, wearing crystals, smudging, astrology, and the paranormal. When I experience them, I feel like I’m home. I am expressing my true self. I am a bohemian. I am different than most people my age, at least in the community where I live. My tribe is out there. I’ve met a few. I feel it when I am around them. I know them intuitively. I am an empath. I am a healer. The first day I took a massage therapy class, I knew it was my calling. All those other jobs I worked over the years was only a way to earn money (to buy things I didn’t need). Massage and healing comes naturally to me. After that first massage class, I learned everything I could about healthy living; at the same time I still tried to be like everyone else when I wasn’t at work or home.

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For the last year my authentic self has been coming out more and more when I’m in public, but I still didn’t understand that I was actually living my true self. I didn’t understand the significance. The clothes I wear, the rituals I do (smudging, writing and sending my desires to the Universe); the books I read, the videos I watch — they are all me. The real me. The me that has been hiding for nearly 58 years. The Buddhist teachings I am also drawn to, do not conflict with any of the other interests I have. In fact they encourage me to pursue them and to be my true self.

I no longer worry about fitting in. I am happy with who I am. I am unique. I am finally living my authentic self.

Namaste,
ingebird

Zen and the Art of chopping Veggies

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“Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes.” ~ Alan Watts

I saw this quote a few different times this week, so today I decided to “just chop up the veggies” for my stir-fry dinner. It wasn’t easy (at least for me anyway). My mind kept talking to me, trying to distract me from just being in the present moment… cutting the veggies.

Another quote from Alan Watts popped in my head, “thoughts are just noise.” Yeah, there is definitely a lot of noise in my head sometimes. It even wakes me up in the middle of the night (which is really annoying).

After I was finished preparing the veggies, I thought about my mind wandering, chattering away and thought, Isn’t wanting to get rid of chatter and wanting to be in the present moment, a form of attachment?

When I get frustrated for not achieving my goal of “quieting my mind”, then isn’t that a form of suffering?

Looks like I need to contemplate that some more…

Namaste

Ingebird

Don’t Let Idiots Ruin Your Day

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I meditate to become a better listener and hopefully a better person. When that doesn’t happen I beat myself up. Alan Watts (in one of his dharma teachings) has given me another perspective. Believing that meditation would help me improve my listening skills and/or help me be a better person, is nothing more than staying hung up on the future (which he says never comes) … instead I should just be “Grooving with eternal peace.” In other words, live in the present moment.

Ok, I will do that but I am “stuck” when it comes to how I can stop myself from getting pissed off about the behavior of others. There are certain “triggers” that set me off.
Examples: 1. People who hurt/neglect animals or other humans who cannot defend themselves (kids, elderly, disabled)

2. People who want to impose their will on to others by force (legally or otherwise by creating rules that they think we should all live by… because it makes them feel better)

These two behaviors make me crazy (I already know I have no control over someone’s behavior except they are sometimes successful at controlling mine, via creating and enforcing rules) and I have trouble not getting myself sucked in. I find myself coming to the rescue and end up getting so angry I think about the situation all day or for several days. I end up allowing those idiots to ruin my day… well, that may be an over statement, but I do allow them to hang around inside my head far too long.

Any suggestions? I can’t be the only one with this problem…

Namaste

Ingebird