365. Life and Hope

Today is my birthday. I am so grateful to have lived this year, and to be here to welcome another year. This life really is a beautiful, mysterious thing.

I enjoyed hiking in my favorite East Bay park–Sunol–with Pauline today. Expansive vistas of rolling hills, quiet, the sweet scent of fallen leaves, breezes, and a magical combination of mistiness and sunlight.

364. This Blog

My first ever 365-day project. I loved having a frame every day for thinking about what I was grateful for. Some days I had to choose among many options; other days, I had to really think and consider. Always a valuable exercise. Even if crummy internet connectivity or extreme tiredness prevented me from posting on a given day, daily thinking about gratitude became an essential and welcome part of 2013 for me, and I managed eventually to post something for every day.

The blog had an unexpected, positive feedback effect on my life. If I wrote for a few days about things I considered relatively mundane, I would make an effort to go somewhere beautiful or do something specialish to keep it interesting.

363. An Art Day At Maria’s Studio

Today, Maria, Ivy, Margarita, Sarah, Lucia, Flavia, Nina, and I got together at Maria’s art studio to make colorful papers and postcards. We used to do this with a certain frequency, but people’s schedules have become buzzy, so it was very special and wonderful to gather and work with color and form together.

We discussed goals and personal themes for the new year. Some of us made postcards to mail to ourselves for arrival in 2014 to remind us of those themes and ideas.

IMG_3210

IMG_3212

IMG_3215

362. A Long Visit with Shoshana and Jake

Shoshana is the friend that I reunited with earlier this year after 27 years of not being in touch. Her nephew Jake is visiting from London and they came over this afternoon. I love these kinds of visits, where we all have time to sit, to talk, to laugh, to eat. They don’t happen often because of busy, buzzy schedules.

Turns out that Shoshana plays digeridoo and has been looking for a local teacher. If all goes as planned, she will join us in our circular breathing lessons with Elise Peeples. A welcome and surprising intersection of interests.

IMG_3203

361. The Digeridoo

Lucia, Flavia, Nina, and I took our first digeridoo lesson with Elise Peeples in Berkeley today. It was part of a package that includes the introduction and further classes in developing the technique of circular breathing, where you’re breathing in through your nose while expelling air from your mouth, so the digeridoo sounds continuously.

Our digeridoos are long pieces of PVC piping. At first, it was hard to get the deep, resonant sound characteristic of the instrument, but we definitely got the hang of it by end of the lesson. Our homework assignment, before we can start working on circular breathing in earnest, is to make the instrument sound for 10 seconds or more.

Elise was very knowledgeable about the instrument and its role in Aboriginal culture. Traditionally, digeridoos are made of big eucalyptus branches that have been hollowed out by a certain kind of termite (which we don’t have in California). Because the instruments were so heavy, Aboriginal people would create a mouthpiece on an appropriate hollowed-out log, play it, then move nomadically to another location where they’d fashion a new digeridoo from a different log. Talk about non-attachment.

Sound healers today use the instrument to promote health, and there are some medical studies supporting digeridoo playing in the control of sleep apnea. You definitely feel the vibrations of the instrument inside your head when playing, and its deep drone sounds are quite calming, creating a very meditative kind of vibe. All afternoon and evening after we got back, I’d hear somebody upstairs in my house producing that big, deep BWAAAAAHHH digi sound. Always surprising and welcome.

I had wanted to take a photo of us with Elise playing our digeridoos outside in Berkeley, but I got so engrossed that I completely forgot.

Later, Jon and Paul brought dinner over and we got to tell them all about our digeridoo adventures.

IMG_3202

359. Christmas

It comes but once a year. Up early-ish (a little later each year, merciful God, as the children have grown older), open presents, big breakfast, Christmas pinata, hanging out, and, in the evening, Chinese take-out with our dear friends the Rosenberg-Wohls.

I love Christmas.

IMG_3172