Dawna Markova

Each in Our Own Rhythm

February 23, 2018

Photo by Iulian Pana on Unsplash

“Most of us and our organizations still follow the old mythology, where we are thought of as perpetual motion machines, working at one speed—fast as can be, productive as possible—like stair-climbers in a gym, up, up, up, asking us to exert more effort but getting nowhere very quickly. Ascent, ascent, higher and higher. Never descent, never darkness or a plateau for regeneration.

“As a consequence, we become imprisoned in our own rigidities. What if, instead, we realized, like Ram Dass, that we go through many incarnations in this one life? What if we realized that instead of ‘things’ getting better and better if we work harder and harder, that, like a seed, we will each in our own rhythm, go through endless cycles of gestation, birth, growth, death, and renewal?”
—Dawna Markova, I Will Not Die an Unlived Life

Einstein

Falling

February 16, 2018

Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

Introduction by Ted Kooser: It seems that love poems have a better chance of being passed around from person to person than other poems, and here’s one by Richard M. Berlin, who lives in the Berkshire hills of western Massachusetts, that we’d like to pass along to you.

Einstein’s Happiest Moment

Einstein’s happiest moment
occurred when he realized
a falling man falling
beside a falling apple
could also be described
as an apple and a man at rest
while the world falls around them.

And my happiest moment
occurred when I realized
you were falling for me,
right down to the core, and the rest,
relatively speaking, has flown past
faster than the speed of light.


American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2011 by Richard M. Berlin from his most recent book of poems, Secret Wounds, BkMk Press, 2011. Poem reprinted by permission of Richard M. Berlin and the publisher. Introduction copyright 2012 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

Goals

Making Success Out of Habits

February 12, 2018

It’s mid-February—do you know where your goals are? Are you still working towards them, or have you become discouraged or distracted? 

The excitement of a new year has worn off by now, and most of us are faced with the reality of ongoing effort, of putting one foot in front of the other. Have we made it easy—or at least easier—to be successful in pursuit of our goals and dreams? Have we put in place habits and routines that support reaching them?

I’ve been thinking about habits and routines a lot lately for two reasons:

First, we now have little Luna to teach and take care of, and as we train her, we try to set her up for success—by walking her often, keeping her contained and under supervision (so she doesn’t get into too much trouble!), and praising her when she does things we like. We have a regular schedule, with feeding times (her favorite), play time in the back yard, short obedience training sessions, time she spends quietly in her dog crate, and plenty of praise, cuddling, and petting. We want to make it easy for her to do right, to reach her goal (which we set for her, because…she’s a DOG) of living happily with humans. Having a set routine not only helps her to learn what to do when and what we expect of her, it helps us shape her behavior.

Second, my own routine has been thrown off by the demands of Luna’s routine! At least for now, I have to create new habits and routines to suit my altered situation. It’s a great exercise in flexibility, which I admit I’m not skilled in.

Whatever your goal is, what habits can you develop that will lead to success? If you want to be an artist, are you sketching, painting, or sculpting every day (or most days)? If you want to write a book, are you sitting down with pen and paper or at your computer and getting the words down? If you want to be healthier, are you taking a daily walk, or eating more vegetables, or drinking a glass of water when you wake up? If you want to read more books, are you turning off the TV or computer and setting aside time to read? These habits, this dailyness, leads you forward toward the inevitable: reaching your goal of a finished sketchbook, a healthier body, or an enviable Books Read list.

So if you want to use habits and routines to reach your goals:

  • Choose a habit—it can be as small as you like, as long as you commit to doing it daily or almost every day.

  • Practice your habit until it becomes a routine. 

  • And when your routine is disrupted (which will happen sooner or later), do what you can to maintain some semblance of habit during the disruption. If this isn’t possible, don’t stress about it—just return to your established routine when you can.


What habits and routines do you find most helpful? What habits and routines do you plan to put in place in order to reach your goals?

Ready for action

Acceptance

The Particular Self

February 09, 2018


“…before we can be what we are meant to be, we must accept what we are not. This form of discernment asks us to let go of those grand fantasies that take us out of our nature, that make us work to be famous instead of loving, or perfect instead of compassionate.

“Yet the instant we can accept what is not in our nature, rather than being distracted by all we think we could or should be, then all our inner resources are free to transform us into the particular self we are aching to be.”
—Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

Chaos

Happy Little Things: We Adopted a Puppy!

February 05, 2018

Meet Luna, the newest addition to the Catching Happiness family:


It’s been more than two years since we lost our family dog, Scout. My husband especially has been missing the companionship of a dog. After months of discussion, stewing, and trolling adoption websites, we came upon this little face:


She was described as a lab/Jack Russell Terrier mix (though we think she looks more like JRT/beagle or hound). She and her four siblings had been abandoned. We adopted her from a rescue group about a week ago, and they estimated that she is about three months old. We plan to celebrate her birthday on Halloween!

Queen Prudy is curious but allows no unwanted advances.  Since we didn’t change her routine or territory, so far she’s OK with the new arrival. This morning she almost looked like she was ready to play. Fingers crossed they can be friendly, if not friends.

Luna is already sleeping through the night in her crate, and knows how to sit and stay for short periods of time. She’s doing well on housetraining.

(Clearly, she’s gifted J)



Her little tail wags a mile a minute and she greets a 30-second absence from the couch as though it were 30 days. She’s loving and people-oriented, and my husband is thrilled with his new buddy—I think it kills him just a little to leave her to go to work every day. They spent hours outside in the yard together this weekend.

So things are just a bit chaotic here. I work when she naps—just like when my son was a baby. She’s helping me to take breaks and go outside, to get out of my head and pay attention, to simply be without feeling I have to multi-task all the time. I know there will be many more simple pleasures and everyday adventures ahead for us and I look forward to them all.

Pooped puppy

What’s making you happy right now?

Courtney Carver

Perfect Isn't Real

February 02, 2018

Photo courtesy Iva Balk

“…your story doesn’t have to be perfect or complete to inspire others. After all, perfect isn’t real. We cannot connect with, or be moved or changed by perfection.
Courtney Carver, Soulful Simplicity


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