April 30 – Z – Zen
I find myself often using the phrase “This is so zen” or “I feel so zen”. Buddhists would chastise me, I’m sure, for negligently and ignorantly using this phrase, and I fully admit that I really don’t understand the meditative or religious depths of the word. I use it when I feel ease, flow, focus, calm, peace, bliss, and enjoyment – many experiences that I have in Argentina leave me often afloat in this feeling, this zen. And I like it! Now I haven’t found the art of meditation, but I have found the art of being, living and loving it.
When I see so many friends doing the #100happydays challenge, I feel saddened by it actually because I know that in the chaos of my real life in Canada with commutes, weather, stress, no sleep, demands, etc., that I too need to be mindful to stay focused on being happy. Then, I will likely sign myself up for it so that I manage to maintain and recapture this Zen state that I generally live in while living in Argentina. Now don’t get me wrong it isn’t all zen living – there are definitely challenges, frustrations, and fears – such as driving around the city (a harrowing daily experience of survival). But generally I have found the zen from hanging the wash to dry in the sun to the writing of these blogs!
One thing that I’ve learned is that I’m truly an introvert. All personality quizzes always label me as such, but generally no one believes me. However, I savour the solitude and when know social time is coming I need to gulp away the anxiety, even though I truly love the warmth and love from friends and family time while here. I find that zen state of being when I get to be just quiet and alone through the days, and these solitudes have reinvigorated my soul and spirit.
When I walk down the Costanera in the mornings, I feel such a blessing is bestowed on me. The sun is usually warming my skin, the light wind whispers through the palm trees, the green parrots squawk in the eucalyptus trees, the sweet smell of cedar lines the fences of the tennis club, the stray dogs run along side me for a few hundred yards after I tell them they’re good dogs, the fallen flowers and leaves from the trees canopy across the walkway, and the water of the lagoon laps the camalote along the beach. There are a few people taking in this delightfully zen time and activity, but I am usually alone in this venture and I do enjoy it.
Rarely in my adult life have I engaged in much of a daily walking habit, and I know this opportunity to do so, along the coast, is fleeting, so I enjoy this paradise many mornings, and sometimes in the afternoon or evening. I enjoy the peace of solitude mixed with the energy of walking.
I also find my zen in the solitudes of sitting on my patio or in my home just reading. I have been given the rare gift of time and I am using it well. I’ve engaged with some great stories from Calvino, Ocampo, Garcia-Marguez, Mankell, Lindhout, and countless others. I’ve also loved being able to have the time to read professionally from Kittle, Lehman and Roberts, to Romano, Hicks, Burke and Gallagher, as well I’ve done some great PD in terms of Quantum Learning to improve my teaching in the fall. I also have read so many blogs and news articles from inspiring writers (including a former student) and educators. My Flipboard on my ipad is well swiped with readings from Canadian news agencies, Argentinian news, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, etc…. I’m always reading something that launches my imagination into the time travel of various places and time periods, as well as pieces that enlighten my mind.
Writing has been so much easier than I had expected and I feel the enjoyment of “flow” as my thoughts fire onto the page – whether it is in my journals or my computer. Initially, I struggled to take the time to do it and was often struck with the silences in my head, which was fine too, but I’ve come to enjoy the habit of writing, especially blogs, thanks to this A to Z Challenge that comes to a close today. But has fuelled my fingers on the keyboard, so I’ll keep at it, just not daily. I have also been writing for my professional blog thehunni with the Blog A Month Challenge – although I have yet to post April’s blog, but that’s okay because I refuse to give into any type of stress, as all good things will get done when they do! Thirdly, I’ve been participating in a writing course with my neighbour who is a retired literature teacher; it is at the Catholic University that is merely three blocks down my street – hopefully this work will result in a short story before I leave, but for now has offered some expository writing about my name – this work will be posted on thehunni when it is completed, in both English and Spanish – gulp! Finally, I’m doing a MOOC (massive open online course) through Coursera that deals with “Achieving Expertise” with professional writing. So writing abounds, but as I said, it flows. It is freedom to finally feel the weights in my brain find voice onto the page – and that brings the bliss of zen from process to product!
Time has also helped me find the zen of yoga twice a week in the mornings, as I mentioned in the last blog, and the zen painting two other mornings a week. I have never in my life painted a picture, beyond childhood play. I am a sincere lover of art and love going to museums, and I am always envious of those who achieve bliss via the brush, but now I too have come to discover this bliss. I would never say I’m all that talented, but I sure do enjoy the process, and have surprised myself that I’m not as bad as I had condemned of myself all these years. Finding the bliss in the brush has been a gift!
However, zen has also smiled upon me as I get to just be a wife and mom! I love being with these really cool kids and my wonderful husband. We’ve always been a tight family, but this journey has brought us even closer. I just enjoy being with my family. The other day the kids and I were all sitting on the patio reading together – heaven – ZEN! But I also love the small things of tidying up, cooking recipes I’ve never tried before, and I really feel that hanging laundry on the line is just one of the most zen things to do as the sun kisses down on the laundry patio (yes, there is a separate house for lanudry and hanging at the back of the yard) and the space is fragrant with fresh
linen and honeysuckle vines that wave in the wind.
Alas, I have come to love this experience where zen came to me in Argentina, when I stopped and found joy in the simplicity and creativity of life; next, I just need to maintain my zens when I return to reality in a mere few months!