Meditation, Mindfulness, Mindful Meditation…


I am the type of person who spends a good chunk of her time anywhere but in the present. I brood about the past and angst over my future. Is angst a verb? It is when it pertains to me, anyway.

I rely on my volunteering and my arts patronage to transport me into the present, to take me to a place where I am “being” or “doing.” But I want to be present more often. I want to be still more often.

I’ve started dabbling in meditation. I did a free meditation course sponsored by Deepak Chopra and Oprah a few months ago. I meditated for 20 minutes daily and I did feel more calm and relaxed. But then the course ended and life got busier and busier.

Recently, I found out about Mindful magazine through my health insurance provider. I liked the sound of becoming more mindful. Whatever that meant.

Cut to last weekend, when I volunteered at and attended the Boston Book Festival. Lo and behold, the “mother of mindfulness” was speaking at a session called “Conscious Choice and Mindful Living.” Ellen Langer, a psychologist at Harvard, is one hot ticket. She is whip-smart and very witty. She wrote a book about mindfulness 25 years ago and has been conducting research on the mind/body connection for decades. The tidbits of research she shared were fascinating. I’m planning to read all of her books.

She explained the difference between meditation and mindfulness this way (paraphrased): When practicing meditation, stray thoughts appear and you just let them float by. When practicing mindfulness, stray thoughts appear and you “attack” them. You engage with them and then let them go.

Her co-presenter, Peter Georgescu, was also fascinating. He overcame the experience of working in a labor camp in Communist Romania as a child to become the CEO of Young and Rubicam. His recent book seems to be part memoir and part philosophizing about the choices we make to be good or evil.

So I’m excited to see what works for me: meditation, mindfulness, or maybe a combination. Do you practice either or both? I would enjoy hearing about your experiences!


Baby Animals and Lion Hugs

It’s raining baby animals at the animal shelter where I volunteer and I can’t stand it! I’ll start with the most exciting baby animal:

Baby guinea pig










Yep, a baby guinea pig. Apparently called a pup. My brother and I had a guinea pig named Patches when we were kids. Unfortunately, I have a feeling she was not long for the world under our care. Mom, do you remember?











According to this website, baby rabbits are called kittens? Whaaa… We also had a rabbit, named Bunny, who either froze to death in her outdoor hutch or Grandma left her hutch door open so she escaped. Mom and I remember different final chapters of Bunny’s life.

THESE are kittens.
THESE are kittens.










Kittens! So cute, but so much work. We had two kittens while growing up, Tiger (whom we immediately started calling Kitty after we named him Tiger) and Kiwi. I don’t remember all of the work, probably because Mom was doing all of it.

THESE are pups.
THESE are pups.










There are three or four other pups hiding in the back there. So adorable. Well, I seem to have turned this post into a history of my childhood pets, so might as well mention Pooka. I didn’t know her when she was a pup. She was middle-aged by the time I was old enough to understand what a dog was. She was cute, but I don’t remember playing with her much. All I recall is her limping around the house and peeing on the living room rug a lot.

Soooo…while we are on the topic of animals, let’s look at some videos of lions hugging people. Just because I am obsessed with the story of Christian the Lion.  If you haven’t seen the viral video of Christian the Lion, grab some tissues. Every time I watch this video, I practically break down in sobs.

Recently, a friend showed me this video of a lion hugging a woman who rescued him and nursed him back to health.

And then I came across this lion whisperer chap, Kevin Richardson:

Isn’t it incredible to watch these huge predators return the love they received from these humans? You needed the tissues, right??


Girls’ Night Out: South End Edition

Last week, I checked off the seventh and eighth letters of my Alphabet Bar List, M and W. It was an especially fun night because I had five lovely ladies join me. I can’t remember the last time I went out with more than a couple of friends at the same time.

It made me feel nostalgic for my youth, because I recalled that going out with a sizable group of friends was the norm when I was in my 20s and early 30s. As the decade of my 30s has marched on, the majority of my friends have silently done an about-face, marching in the opposite direction to the ‘burbs and parent-land. And it’s even difficult to find a date that works for all of my single, kid-free friends. So suffice it to say that the stars aligned last week, and I sure hope they do again! We started out the night at Merrill and Co. I tried Jack’s Abby Copper Legend, a nice Oktoberfest beer.









The food was good (lots of comfort food such as mac and cheese and waffle fries), and the waitstaff was abundant and friendly.

The crew outside of Merrill and Co.
The crew outside of Merrill and Co.









When we finished eating, we walked next door to Wink & Nod. This is another yet another “speakeasy” place. I’m loving the speakeasies.

The entrance to Wink & Nod









I think the night turned out the way it did because the atmosphere was dark and cozy, and we were sitting on the most amazingly comfortable couches and chairs. The drinks just kept flowing. I blame the very low lighting and terribly engaging conversation on my inability to notice that I was brought the wrong beer! I had ordered a Notch Left of the Dial IPA, and as I went to order a second, I realized that I had been brought a Notch Pilsner. It was all good. I’ve met very few beers that I haven’t liked.

The pilsner
The pilsner












Eight letters down, eighteen to go.



One of My Life’s Little Mysteries Solved

When I was studying abroad in England, I bought a pair of ankle boots while shopping with a friend one day. They were black with no heel. They had elastic on the side and cute tabs in the back that you could use to pull them on and off.

I wore them out. It was a sad goodbye when I finally retired them. The boots eventually faded from my memory, until about four years ago, when I came across a similar pair. The style was a little different, but they had the same elastic and tab accents. I wore those out. Another sad goodbye was said. Once in a while, I wonder if I will come across another pair.

My wondering days are over. A few nights ago, I was killing time in a museum lobby and picked up a fashion insert from a newspaper. There, on the second page, were THE BOOTS.

And they have a NAME: Chelsea boots.

It’s funny that a pair of shoes can bring me such joy. When I slip on these boots, I’m 22 again, tromping around a sprawling, foreign university campus. I’m exploring nearby Liverpool and York and Dublin, walking down cobblestone streets and strolling in and out of shops. I’m drinking in pubs with adorable names such as the The Fox and Hedgehog or The Shoulder of Mutton. (Guess which of the names is made up.)

I feel very content now, knowing that I will never be without a pair of my beloved boots again.

Courtesy of
Courtesy of

Stop and Look at the Roses

The weather is dreary and gloomy, and I’m turning 40 in exactly eight months. Time to stop and look at the roses to cheer myself up.

I volunteer at the Kelleher Rose Garden a few times each summer. Because it’s surrounded by tall hedges, it reminds me of one of my favorite children’s novels, The Secret Garden. And I really enjoy working with the staff and other volunteers. It’s a beautiful and relaxing way to spend a summer evening.

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A view from the garden
A view from the garden
The garden at sunset
The garden at sunset