Sunday, November 27, 2011
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Friday, November 25, 2011
The other day I heard the mind referred to as a sensorium. At first, I truly thought it was just a clever, made-up word conjuring some kind of fabulous arcade of the senses. I imagined a sensorium to be a Willy Wonka-like fantasy place where a person could pay admission and then wallow at will in stupendous, supersized experiences of hearing, sight, touch, smell and taste. But to be sure, I looked up sensorium and was surprised to find it defined by Merriam-Webster as 'the parts of the brain concerned with the reception and interpretation of sensory stimuli.' Which led me to the conclusion that we are all actually our very own sensorium. Sure, you can regard this purely in medical, psychological, physiological terms. Or . . . as an emporium requiring not one penny of admission, in which you are given the endless opportunity to revel, every blessed day of your life.
I'll take the latter. On a Thanksgiving platter.
The feast on any table pales in comparison to the feast of senses that is Thanksgiving. This is likely why we have such a collective affection for the homegrown holiday that happens on the fourth Thursday of November. Even though it is so rapidly railroaded by the Polar Express that I sometimes jokingly refer to it as Thanksmas. But that does such a disservice. To the sound of a loved one's voice. To the sight of a loved one coming through the door. To the softness of the dog's fur, the pungence of wet leaves, the hint of cinnamon and cloves in the pie.
This year Thanksgiving came on the heels of another daunting surgery for a best friend who has relinquished so much to cancer. He will never again run to catch a perfect spiral on the football field or labor years on end to build a perfect stadium. He can no longer lift the familiar weights at the Y, bales of pine straw for his vegetable garden or even the suitcases his youngest child will pack for college next fall. Each month seems to bring with it some fresh loss to which he simply responds with grace for the gift of another day. Another breath.
Some nights I lie awake so sad about it, trying to ward off that sleep robber, despair. And the only thing that brings me back to my senses is this idea of a sensorium. That even though everything may feel like loss, the senses have a mind of their own. To hear a friend's funny story. To see the full moon, touch a loved one's cheek, smell wood smoke and coffee brewing. To taste life. To these five, I would add a sixth, transformational sense. One which, if we are aware of it, has the power to elevate the other five to joy.
I'm talking about a sense of gratitude. That, when cultivated, makes every day Thanksgiving.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Monday, November 14, 2011
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
The Art of Letter Writing:
A workshop for children
In the age of email, a handwritten letter is more dear than ever. It's an envelope filled with love and creativity that can open up a world of happy for both writer and recipient. Put your personal stamp on life by becoming a letter writer! Artist Laurie Richardson and writer Julie Marr are longtime pen pals who will share wonderful examples and discuss what makes a letter fun to write and a pleasure to read. They'll show the supplies a letter writer needs to have on hand for convenience and inspiration. Participants will put pen to page and jot a note or two, then even create personalized stationery! To register, please email Laurie at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Sunday, November 20th
3 - 5 pm
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Saturday, November 5, 2011
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
In order to make this crazy world work for you and not against you, you must decide what matters to you most and focus your attention on that. - from Crazy Busy by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D.
I had the great fortune to hear Harvard-educated psychiatrist Ned Hallowell speak this past Sunday. He's brilliant and eloquent, kind-hearted and totally down-to-earth. While he's written several excellent books, probably the best-known is Crazy Busy. Here are just a few nuggets of insight from his talk:
1. We are conditioned not to linger, ponder, reflect, go deeper.
2. If we are not careful, our lives will become superficialized.
3. Nothing can match the human moment. It is 1000x more powerful than an electronic moment. Make judicious use of it. Commit to connecting to one another.
4. We need daily megadoses of Vitamin C (connect!) which is free and infinite. It helps us feel better, live longer, sleep better and do better at work, school, etc.
5. Getting rid of anger and resentment frees you for other things.
6. Saying 'no' allows for 'yes' to things that matter most to you. Just one cancellation can offer rejuvenation.
7. The biggest change in our world today is the obliteration of boundaries.
8. Your pain can be your biggest source of learning. Befriend it.
9. Create time. If you don't take control of your time, it will be taken from you.