Monday, January 26, 2009


Anna: I told Marya because she is frequently excited.
Me: Did you say frequently or freakishly?
Anna: I said frequently but I meant freakishly.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

suze orman challenge

day in the life: lunch money, originally uploaded by emdot.

A week ago Suze Orman issued Americans a challenge.

  • For one day, don't spend any money
  • For one week, don't use your credit card
  • For one month, don't eat out in restaurants.
We are up for the challenge!

The first two challenges are pretty easy for me. One day? No problem! No credit cards? No problem.

But a month without eating out? It's safe to say that I have not done that in 30 years (and I am not exaggerating). One week would be a challenge for me. One month? HUGE!

I'm for it. We started yesterday. Wish us (me!) luck. :)

again, note to self

see, Jesus, no big thing, originally uploaded by emdot.

From Christine Kane's blog:

Here’s my theory:

1 – The amount of dread you feel is directly proportional to the feeling of relief you’ll feel once you simply complete the dreaded task.

2 – The longer you put something off, the more perplexed you’ll be that you just didn’t do the thing you were dreading sooner.

3 – Anyone reading this article thinking of some dreaded thing in their life – this is the week to do it.
This photo is from Friday. Steve and I drove up to Monterey for his birthday and hit the aquarium. From the deck (?) outside the aquarium I could see this egret way off in the distance, seemingly standing on the water. I'd never seen that before (and egrets are practically the national bird of er, the county at least. ha.). He flew off after a while and found another kelp stand. And then another. Smart bird.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

immediate access to cutting through your (MY) bullshit (a note to self)

It might be a somewhat depressing prospect to realize that you are so thoroughly soaked in this greasy, heavy, dark, and unpleasant thing called samsara, or confused existence, but that realization is tremendously helpful. That understanding alone is the source of realizing what we call buddha in the palm of your hand -­ the basic wakefulness already in your possession. Such vajrayana possibilities begin at this point, right here, in realizing your samsaric anxiousness. Understanding that anxiety, which is very frustrating and not so good, is the key to realizing where you are.

The only way to work with this anxiety is the sitting practice of meditation, the taming of your mind, or shamatha practice. That is the basic idea of pratimoksha, or “individual liberation”: taming yourself. The way to tame yourself, or to talk yourself out of this particular anxiety, is through the concentrated practice of shamatha or meditative discipline. The beginning of the beginning of the about how you can actually save yourself from samsaric neurosis. — Chogyam Trungpa

When you take your Refuge Vow the teacher with whom you take your vow gives you a Tibetan name. The same thing happens in Tibet -- when the people there take their refuge vows they get a new name and I believe they actually go by it.

The name represents something about you that the teacher sees. I don't know very much about it, and actually see it as some kind of magic. Names are Tibetan but come with translations. For instance, Pema Chodron, the famous nun/teacher; that name was given to her at some point. And it means something.

My name (english translation) is Powerful Shamatha, which is a very uncommon name (many names run in the pack of peaceful, graceful, all-encompassing, lotus, ocean, warrior, etc). Often these names are double-edge swords -- your obstacle and your liberation. Your stumbling block, your talent.

As one who seems to have an extraordinary gift of anxiety, perhaps the Sakyong gave me my name as constant reminder: sit your butt down, Figueroa, and meditate.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

with a measure of grace

with a measure of grace, originally uploaded by emdot.

Before enlightenment — chop wood, carry water.
After enlightenment — chop wood, carry water.
— Zen Buddhist Proverb

I think you would be 100% safe to say about me "she doesn't really cook."

I think you would be 100% safe and kind of understating it, actually.

I don't cook. I don't like to think about cooking. I don't like to grocery shop. I don't like to think about ingredients. And don't even get me started about the pit of whirling, churning anxiety that curls itself inside my stomach if I think that something that I cooked would have to feed other people. Please, put me out of my misery (and yours!) and just let me go back to bed, turn out the lights and perhaps a get a prescribed shot of demeral (or some other anodyne).

So, if you were to know this than you would have been as surpised as I was when a cookbook jumped out at me on my last day in Flagstaff, Arizona. It didn't really leap as much as greet me open-armed and warmly; beckoned me with a wide smile and encouraging lifted brows that said "wanna be friends?"

I'd found the book in the back of a mountain sports store, aptly named The Mountain Sports Store. It was across the street from our hotel and I liked (no, loved!) everything inside its doors. The clothes, the atmosphere, the shoes, the water bottles. If I'd been a wealthy woman I would have bought it all.

When I saw the book I didn't so much see it as find it in my hands. And then my body in a chair. And then me opening up the pages. I perused it for 15 minutes or so, decided that I was still on a traveling budget and put the book back on its shelf and tried to memorize its name (Hells Bend Grill was what I came up with later when I tried to recall it. That and "In a State of Grace," equally ineffective when trying to find the book later via Google.).

About four hours later I went back to the store. Of course the book was still there. (It was there with 7 of its twinned brothers and sisters). This time I really did memorize its title and again left the store empty-handed.

15 minutes later and I was back again for a third time, which as we all know is a charm. So the book has come home with me and for some unknown mysterious reason I find myself really, heartily, sincerely and with anticipation, wanting to cook every single recipe in the book. And so I might. I might. I'll start small with something from the Winter section and we'll see how it goes. Regardless of outcome, I like the idea of shopping for the ingredients and spreading things out and mixing them together, and then sharing them with others. (Who AM I? I am still wondering.). (This is not the self I've known for many years.).


It's a new year and I am really excited about it. Open and relaxed excited. Not wind-up poodle excited. :) Hello 2009. It's good to meet you.


It's been hard to find my "word" for 2009 as it seems that I am striving more for a practice, than a word. A commitment of sorts to a routine that I know will bring me more time and health and creativity. But how to sum that up in a word? I thought of SURRENDER, as in surrendering to this practice. But surrender seems to come with some baggage and baggage I don't want.

Then I thought of ACTION because this routine is really about me getting out of my head and gently shifting from talking to doing. But for some reason action seems wrapped up with frantic motion, which I don't want. I don't want re-action either. More like easy-does-it this is how we approach the day god-damn I love my life doing than some kind of squeezing motion into meaning.

Then I thought of RELEASE and this one actually comes the closest. Release is a sequal to last-year's word which was declutter and is actually still a process I find myself very much in. I find release corny, but also succint and pithy. Anxiety? Release. Old stuck habits? Release. Jumping to conclusions? Fear? Numbing out? Dumbing down? Release release release.

Release just may be the word.

But then this morning, while perusing my new wonderful cookbook (which is really so much more than that), I turned a few pages and I found myself looking at the proverb at the top of this post. Chop the wood, carry the water. Chop the wood, carry the water.

As a Buddhist, this proverb holds dear meaning to me. I've also heard it as "after enlightenment, the laundry." I love that as well. To me it means, all that is well and good, but now get back to the basics. Keep going forward. Don't get stuck in the whirlpool of dwelling or fretting or making mountains out of molehills. Or, "yes Marya your ideas and plans and schemes and visions ARE brilliant. Now go to work and don't forget to brush your teeth."

And so there it is:

The word: Release
The theme: chop the wood, carry the water
The surprise: baking something
The future: Warm and welcoming and hello 2009


This photo was taken on our last day in Flagstaff. 7s had gone on a photowalk. I was sitting on a stool in front of this wonderful picture window, sipping a hot toddy and finally finally finally catching up on Life Online (those of you who follow me on Twitter experienced my glee that day in a barrage of silly tweets). And I was crushing on my new book so I decided to photo it in the lovely town of Flagstaff, Arizona.

Thank you Flagstaff. :)