Zen There Was None


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            As
I intimated last week, last year was not my best. (Remember, teacher-years run
September through June.  July and
August are just bonus months, which we use to blur out the ten months in
between.)  So this year I was
determined to rediscover my happy place and live there with my rainbows and
unicorns as often as possible. 
Hell, I even wrote an entire blog post to psych myself up for new
beginnings and fresh starts.  I did
a pretty good job convincing myself, too, so much so I was almost bummed when I
received the call Sunday night to say that the first day of school had been
delayed…almost bummed.  But then I
awoke to sunny skies and realized, hey, this bonus day was just one more
opportunity to prepare for a Zenful beginning.  So Monday night I rolled out the serene green mat, cued my
a.m. yoga video, and went to bed thinking happy thoughts…An hour of worrying
about everything I had to do and two Tylenol p.m. later, I fell into a
medicated coma sometimes considered sleep and dreamt happy, though seriously
weird dreams.

            Ready
to start the year off in a state of serenity, I left the snooze button
untouched the next morning and stumbled into the living room ready to downward
dog my way to peace.  Okay, so the
buff half-naked hippie on the video may have been a stronger lure, but whatever
works.  At least while I was trying
to contort myself into a shrub or a snake I was not stressing about school or
students.  I was wondering why I hadn’t more seriously considered
dating a yogi, but that’s a topic for another day.  Only twenty minutes later I had achieved Zen.  I was focused, relaxed, and ready.  And then the cat threw up.  And I yelled–very unZen-like.  So she ran, puking, across fifteen feet
of carpet.  Namaste turned nasty real
quick.

            So
I arrived at school with a knot in my neck (Why must my chiropractor be the one
to remind me inversions and neck problems don’t mix?) and smelling of Resolve,
which I suppose was better than smelling like hucked-up Friskies, but not by
much.  But, really, I told myself,
worse things could have happened. 
I was determined not to be evicted from my happy place before even
getting to unpack.  But the
morning’s events reminded me, no matter how hard I worked to relax, stress
would happen.  I needed a back-up.  Not a problem.  I had a few secret weapons in my
arsenal, and I wasn’t afraid to use them. 
It was time to pull out the big guns.  Shoot me; I sound like Heston.  Wait, he might take that
literally.  Let’s clarify: no real
guns are allowed in my happy place, just metaphorical ones, in this case an
end-of-week message, a new sushi place, and a bottle of liquid Zen (I.e. red
Zinfandel, which you’ll need to pry from my cold dead hands).  A little internet surfing, a phone
call, and a trip to package store, and it was set.  No matter how the week went, it would end perfectly.

            Ah,
but the best laid plans of mice and men often hit the fan.  Okay, I’m taking liberties with the
expression, but when Friday rolled around, that was precisely what happened.  Remember me telling myself, worse
things could happen?  Well, they
did.  Or at least my family and I
was led to believe they did, long enough for me to panic and cancel all
plans.  As it turned out,
thankfully, the family emergency was actually just further confirmation that
even when nature and nurture remain fixed, the outcomes can be very
different.  So instead of heading
to the spa in search of Zen, I was heading home hoping to provide it to my
father, who both needed and deserved it more than I did.

            So
yoga turned yucky, and pampering my body turned into a fried food splurge with
Dad, and I literally spent Sunday trying to escape civilization by hiking alone
through the back woods of the boondocks. 
But wouldn’t you know cleaning cat bile, scarfing junk food, and
sweating through three applications of DEET, I found my happy place.   I should say I rediscovered my
happy places.  I’ve always found
comfort in my feline companions (even the evil ones).  They’re soft, cuddly, and I’ve never seen one roll their
eyes.  I’ve always been Daddy’s
girl and cherished even the mundane moments together, like dump runs or trips
to the grocery store.  My dad’s a
guy who understands ice-cream therapy and agrees with my philosophy that you’re
never too old to take the free cookies at the bakery.  And I’ve always felt calmer being outside–in the woods, by
the ocean, or just sitting on my sorry excuse for a deck.  I don’t think of myself as
granola-crunchy, but I do love me some sun, sand, dirt, and trees.  Basically, I know the people,
creatures, and places that make me happy. 
If I can only remember that they are what really matter in life, I don’t
need expensive pampering in candle-lit rooms or insanely flexible men in tight
clothing to find peace…but, every once in awhile, they can’t hurt.

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