Three Pounds of Zen

“Once we have learned to look with equal joy upon the movements of a butterfly as we do upon travel to distant lands, we can forgive the world for those things it has withheld for us.” —Kent Nerburn.

My dog Junie B. is a wee one, but very wise.

She finds her bliss in the early morning hours on our back porch listening as the cardinals call her name.

And watching while the butterflies dance their figure eights.

There was a time when this former 3 pound stray was full of wanderlust.

Though Junie B. found excitement, she soon learned that living life as a stray in dark alleys of the big city offered little.

These days my girl is content to just live in the moment. And this moment she has propped herself up on her soft quilted pillow, waiting for a daily belly rub.

That may be her favorite moment of them all.

And I do believe it could be mine as well.

Our morning light

It’s dark and misty gray outside my window, with a November sky beyond.

Except it’s only September.

As I struggle to open my eyes, I find I’m unable to see the clock due to this heavy drape of morning gloom.

I’m guessing it’s somewhere between 3am and 9am as Maddie, as my lame senior corgi, continues to converse with me through gentle, muffled barks from the kitchen.

My other two pups continue to sleep and snore, until they hear me open the squeaky gate to the kitchen where Maddie looks up to greet me with a smile.

She’s comfortably centered on her dog bed anticipating a visit to the backyard
and her first bite of today’s kibble.

Terrier Tuck, and Rex, my renegade chihuahua, slowly trot their way in to join us.

I turn on the light and discover it’s 6:30. It’s time for all of us to get a move on, and for me to get ready for work.

After a spin around the yard, we return to the kitchen where I watch Maddie devour her morning meal with gusto. Tuck and Rex soon follow her lead.

I note what a happy girl is Maddie, be her hopping around the grass with her remaining two good legs or enjoying that breakfast.

It’s as if Maddie has a message for us all: “Savor each gift, and every moment.”

Maddie then licks her mouth after the last bite and returns to the middle of her checkered dog bed for a nap and a snoring session.

I smile with admiration as I look down at her, thinking how she keeps us all centered.

And how she brings such light every day to our lives.

Though simple gifts, what special ones both truly are.

Simple Needs, Simple Gifts

While grabbing the mail a few weeks back, I noticed one oversized envelope with a stamped New York return address.

“5th Avenue” it read. It was sent from a suite in in the Empire State Building.

Yet my Minnesota address was handwritten.

I smiled for a minute, thinking of the many trips I made to the city when I was young.

I thought fondly of one employer who’d put me up in a particularly posh room at the UN Plaza, overlooking the Chrysler Building.

I remember sitting cross legged on my oversized bed at 3:00 a.m. gazing up at that skyscraper shining brighter than the stars overhead.

I was so overwhelmed with the beauty of it all.

But I never quite made it to the Empire State Building.

Was this some kind of a fancy invitation now, I wondered?

Well, sort of.

Inside the envelope was an offer to select a gift to thank me for my many years of service from a more recent employer. They provided me a with a password to use on an internet site.

I retired back in the fall.

The selections they presented me with were dazzling though I couldn’t find any new car batteries or gift cards for dog food included.

Instead I saw regal looking clocks with chimes, delicate diamond bracelets, circular saws, and 24 piece flatware sets.

Nice merchandise indeed, but I couldn’t help but reflect on the fact that more than 90 percent of possessions I owned when I retired are no longer around.

In order to downsize to an 800 square foot cottage that same month, I needed to pare down quickly. And I was also in the process of paring down to a 30 hour work week with a non-profit.

It’s pretty clear my lifestyle’s changed.

And I have as well, I was thinking as I took a second look at each of the possibilities before me.

I quickly rejected the handsome clocks. My time on earth is too short to sit and watch each minute tick by.

And diamond bracelets aren’t a must for my current wardrobe of three pairs of faded jeans, two sweatshirts, and a salt stained winter parka.

I then consulted my neighbor who advised me that deciphering the detailed instructions for a circular saw would clearly have me running in circles.

And once my late husband was diagnosed with dementia, I threw all formal dining out the window and became a permanent fan of plastic knives and forks.

I finally decided to set the big envelope aside for a while.

Instead, I stopped over at the local thrift store to take a look at a small rocking chair for $4.00.

I’ve downsized so much I don’t have chairs anymore for my grandkids to sit in when they stop by.

I found walking through the shop was like walking through my own personal history museum, as I’d donated so many items there.

To my left I saw my husband’s colorful collection of silk ties, neatly displayed next to several of his crisp blue checked shirts.

To my right were lovingly crafted pottery pieces that used to sit on our coffee table.

And in front of me was a display of our old crystal pieces.

There stood my tall Tiffany candlesticks, our beautifully etched bowls, and all my elegant vases.

I saw my favorite vase where I once displayed the yellow roses I received each anniversary.

I became a little melancholy.

But only briefly.

I know all the goods I donated will find the homes they deserve.

And I’m helping out a worthy local charity that does a great job of helping clients find food, housing, and jobs.

Today I went back again to view the gift website of my old employer.

And this time I saw something new that had been added.

The gift was described as a ‘creative vision’.

An ‘evolution’ of sorts.

One encased with color ‘creating a dramatic presence’.

The words made me think of what I want for this late chapter of a life.

I quickly hit the ‘send’ button.

An aqua infused crystal vase will be coming my way in 10 days.

It’s a simple gift really, yet shining with light.

And it will bring back color to a landscape once cloudy as it frames the yellow roses I’ll be growing in my new little garden.

What more could I possibly want?

What more could I possibly need?

Not one single thing.