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Dawn Downey's Blog: Stories About Mindfulness, Gratitude, and Transformation

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Dawn Downey's Blog: Stories About Mindfulness, Gratitude, and Transformation

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  • Dawn Downey
  • December 01, 2014 11:49:52 AM

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My outlook on daily life will inspire you and make you laugh.

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Thomas's Last Day

Computer on my lap, I sit in my writing room, participating in a Zoom meditation group. Over a hundred of us from around the globe gather every morning for half an hour. We tune in from bedrooms, kitchens, back porches—strangers, who share intimate spaces.After we stir out of silent contemplation, some offer up joys and sorrows to our collective consciousness.A man’s face grows larger on my screen, as he leans in to his computer’s camera, a murky room in the background. Lines...


Computer on my lap, I sit in my writing room, participating in a Zoom meditation group. Over a hundred of us from around the globe gather every morning for half an hour. We tune in from bedrooms, kitchens, back porches—strangers, who share intimate spaces.

After we stir out of silent contemplation, some offer up joys and sorrows to our collective consciousness.

A man’s face grows larger on my screen, as he leans in to his computer’s camera, a murky room in the background. Lines crease his face.

“Hospice nurses,” he says, “are usually very good at their jobs.” He touches his cheek. “And today … they tell us this is Thomas’s last day.” He takes off his glasses, wipes his eyes, and then sags back into the shadows.

I sag, too. His absence leaves me in suspended animation until the meeting ends.

I carry the laptop to the living room where my yoga mat is already rolled out, sandwiched between the couch and a bookcase. In the virtual class, the teacher directs us into tree pose. I tighten abs, engage the muscles in my left thigh and calf. My left foot is firmly planted. Stretching toward the ceiling, I’m a redwood, or at least a birch. Toward the end of class, she tells us to lie on the floor. My lower back kinks—an unexpected ache.

And this is Thomas’s last day.

In the kitchen, I pour cereal into a bowl—whole grains, fiber, and protein, according to the box. I eat it because it’s sweet and crunchy, like kettle corn for breakfast. I wash down vitamins with a glass of orange juice. It’s a noisy meal in the early morning quiet. Spoon clinks against bowl; crunch explodes inside my skull; orange juice glugs down my throat.

And this is Thomas’s last day.

Our master bathroom is barely big enough to fit the shower stall, and even then the translucent doors don't slide open their entire width. I turn on the shower, starting the water on it’s long trip from the water heater. I stick my foot under the stream, a cat who doesn’t want to get her paws wet. The bar soap lathers into a whipped cream froth. The scent of lavender rises in the steam. Lavender lulls me into a sense of well-being. As the foam slips down my skin and swirls into the drain, I bend forward to let the water pound my lower back.

And this is Thomas’s last day.

I drag the hamper out of a closet. It’s heavy. Clothes weigh a ton, and require all this upkeep, week after week, year after year. I toss jeans into a pile, but there aren’t enough to make a full load. I go scavenging for more laundry and add a thick velour bathrobe to the pile. Descending three flights to our unfinished basement, I traverse varying terrains: fuzzy bedroom rug, smooth hardwood, spongy linoleum. At journey’s end in the basement, the unforgiving concrete floor shocks my slipper-clad feet. Leaking through a crack in the foundation, tears of rain trail down one of the walls.

And this is Thomas’s last day.


Worst of Times?

It was the worst of times. It was the best of times.It was the new normal. It was business as usual.It was a pandemic. It was a hoax.It was cataclysmic. It was dynamic.It was historic. It was history repeating itself.It was reimagining the future. It was destroying tradition.It was the end of democracy. It was democracy in action.It was a riot. It was civil disobedience.It was the wild west. It was the right to bear arms.It was isolation. It was solitude.It was a disaster. It was a...

It was the worst of times. It was the best of times.

It was the new normal. It was business as usual.

It was a pandemic. It was a hoax.

It was cataclysmic. It was dynamic.

It was historic. It was history repeating itself.

It was reimagining the future. It was destroying tradition.

It was the end of democracy. It was democracy in action.

It was a riot. It was civil disobedience.

It was the wild west. It was the right to bear arms.

It was isolation. It was solitude.

It was a disaster. It was a meditation.

It was an invitation.

It’s always an invitation.


A List of Happy

I enjoy being a cynic, because it feels a bit ornery, but cynicism stands no chance against a List of Happy.  My face breaks into a goofy grin, when I think about these things: A giant panda named Mei Xiang had a cub. Pandas are cute. Cubs are adorable. Even the word “cub” is adorable. What makes this even cuter is that the mother panda is cuter than the cub.A couple I know is packing up and moving abroad, just because it makes them happy. Proves that ordinary people can...

I enjoy being a cynic, because it feels a bit ornery, but cynicism stands no chance against a List of Happy.  My face breaks into a goofy grin, when I think about these things:
 
  • A giant panda named Mei Xiang had a cub. Pandas are cute. Cubs are adorable. Even the word “cub” is adorable. What makes this even cuter is that the mother panda is cuter than the cub.

  • A couple I know is packing up and moving abroad, just because it makes them happy. Proves that ordinary people can make their dreams come true, without the intervention of a fairy godmother.

  • In his spare time, my brother the college professor made a quilt, a gorgeous quilt. He’s a Renaissance man for the twenty-first century.

  • A stand-up comic hosted a political convention. The juxtaposition of silliness and deadly serious politics is metaphysically satisfying. Metaphysical satisfaction makes me bust out laughing.

  • A woman I recently met makes croissants. From scratch. In her own kitchen. In real life. She talks about baking croissants the same way I talk about making toast. Pretty sure my cooking got better just because I know her.

  • I looked out the window just in time to watch a hummingbird hanging around.

  • My cousin has a sign in his house that reads, “We’re not half. We’re not step. We’re just family.” Which causes my heart to do a hummingbird thing.

  • People are commuting to outer space and living on a space station. In the past, there were badly produced television shows about this sort of thing happening in the future. In the present, I’m living in my own future.

  • A worm builds a coffin around itself and comes out a butterfly. Looks like a magic trick to me. Or a miracle. Or maybe they’re the same thing.

  • Dark matter. Science says 85% of the universe is made up of nobody-knows-what. It makes me happy that 85% of everything is a question.

  • The first time Susan Boyle walked onstage and sang. For a couple of minutes, a bunch of us felt the exact same open-mouthed stupid astonishment. Astonishment is a uniter, not a divider.



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