June 27, 2012

Dear Kerry, Some Reminders.

I have a terrible memory. This is not as much a character trait as a medical condition. Instead of being sympathetic and enlisting me in treatment, my family has simply decided that I am a liar.

Because my memory is skewed, I admit that I have a tendency to recount stories far differently than the way things actually happened. I don’t mean to make stuff up, but because of my condition, the details become quite fuzzy.

For example, I spent eight months recounting the story about how Alex and I got engaged. For those of you who haven’t heard it, I would have told you except for the fact that when Alex heard me recall it, he stopped me halfway through, looked at me sympathetically and said, “Kerbear, that’s not what happened.”

“What do you mean?” I said, wide-eyed and prolonging my vowels in disbelief.

Alex then walked through his version, which, after he mentioned it, did seem to ring a bell a bit more than my version. And the matter was settled. At this point, I don’t even get defensive any more when people challenge my memory. I usually just let them win, which probably makes me vulnerable to mass manipulation, but so be it. 

Anyway, where was I?

Reminders! Because of my poor memory condition, I need to constantly remind myself about how to live my best life. Everyday. Over and over again. My new thing is using my voice recording on my iphone and sending “Dear Kerry” voice memos.

Because the sound of my own voice annoys me at times, I thought I’d transcribe my most recent “Dear Kerry Memo,” and share with you my daily struggle to be mindful.

Dear Kerry,

Mindfulness is not sitting on the toilet and reading your emails.

It is not texting while you cross the street and almost getting hit by a bike-riding chambray-wearing hipster.

Mindfulness is not talking to your mom while also checking your facebook status to see whether you have any more “likes” on your Mindful Mentors page. (P.S. have you liked the page yet?)

It is not listening to music, writing a blog entry, planning your honeymoon, checking your email, and intermittently doing pushups wearing a skirt.

Mindfulness is not scarfing down your cake batter vegan ice cream cone and then mourning the last bite because you got distracted on bite two and forgot to taste what the flavor actually tasted like.

It is not rushing to the subway scrolling through your mental to-do list and forgetting to exhale for a full five minutes. 

Mindfulness is not listening to Alex and then half way into his spiel on the current state of the health care industry wondering whether you should eat sushi or gluten-free pizza for dinner.

It is not getting defensive when a family member calls you out on something and then reactively telling that family member the seven flaws you see in them. 

Mindfulness is, however, realizing when you’re not being mindful. Good luck kiddo.    


June 20, 2012

I am not a monk.

As a wedding gift, Alex’s close family friend sent us a six-foot tall gold encrusted Buddha. Because I’m a spiritual materialist (meaning I want to buy all things that serve as a reminder that I don’t need to buy all things), I was giddy when Buddha arrived, squealing as I ripped through six inches of saran wrap encasing.

After discussing whether Alex should move in with his brother so that the Buddha and I would fit more comfortably in the bedroom, it was decided that the Buddha should remain in the living room, staring at all who enter.

Like most people who display religious or cultural artifacts, I had high hopes that the Buddha would serve as a constant reminder of simplicity, peace, and love. Instead, the Buddha serves as a constant reminder that . . . I am not a monk.

Well, this is obvious. Let’s just say they don’t call it “Bu-DUH!!” for nothing. (That was a terrible pun, but I’m not sorry for it). But in case you had any doubts, I am not a monk because (1) I do not renounce anything, (2) I don't think I'm a Buddhist, and (3) I look terrible in orange and therefore could never don the robes.

Because of the Buddha’s prime location in our living room, he is privy to all my fallibilities. He notices when I steal a piece of pork to gnaw on from Alex’s plate. He greets me when I walk through the door holding 4 large Bed Bath and Beyond bags filled with kitchen stuff that I don’t actually need. He overhears when I vent to my mom on the phone about people who drive me crazy. He observes when I try to sit for my mindfulness practice, and then sneakily check my phone when a text message beeps in. He sees me run back and forth from my bathroom to my bedroom in multiple different outfits because I can’t decide which article of clothing looks best. He looks over my shoulder when I’m trying so hard to mono-task on The Mindful Mentors, but then seek distraction by checking whether the Huffington Post has any new juicy liberal sensationalism.

In sum, the Buddha sees all my flaws that arise in our tiny NYC apartment. Lucky for me, he never says a word of judgment to make me feel bad. (I’m not sure whether any one sells a “talking elmo” version of the Buddha, but if they do, I don’t want it). Rather, the Buddha’s presence alone brings attention to the fact that I still have much to learn.

Because I can't lug this shiny gold statute around to keep me on track, I'm trying to learn how to be my own buddha, bringing a nonjudgmental awareness to my flaws with the hope that the recognition leads to positive change. Then, maybe one day, I'll look better in orange.

June 11, 2012

When Stupidity Leads to Meaning

As I have discussed in prior entries, I have self-diagnosed speech dyslexia, which means I consistently pronounce words wrong.

I also have spontaneous moments of stupidity, where I suddenly forget how to spell simple words like "or." Yesterday morning, my stupidity crept up on me again. As I wrote about about my need to better accept where I am now, I kept writing HEAR, instead of HERE.

Be hear now.

After noting that I don't reade gud, I scanned my brain lapse in search of meaning (which is usually a vain attempt to feel better about myself).

Aren't here and hear one in the same?

When we are fully present, we are open to truly hearing the subtleties of life. We actually hear what people are saying (with or without words). We hear the voice in our head or gut that may not get as much attention. Maybe we hear birds chirp in a moment when our own spiraling thoughts usually drown them out.

Maybe it's no coincidence the two words sounds exactly the same.