Meditation Challenge – Day 12


Mission Blue chronicles the life, loves and calling of ocean champion Sylvia Earle

TED Blog

Sylvia Earle is a fearless 78-year-old woman. In the new documentary Mission Blue, we watch her dive with sharks in the deep blue sea and fearlessly dodge fishing nets as she swims through the middle of a major fishing operation. The film offers a bold new view of the famed oceanographer whose relentless pursuit of saving the ocean takes her from the mythical expanse of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef to the swirling schools of the Chesapeake Bay menhaden fishery to the bustling fish markets of Tokyo.

Mission Blue premieres today on Netflix. Watch it here »

Directed by Fisher Stevens (The Cove) and Bob Nixon (Gorillas in the Mist), Mission Blue serves up visually stunning underwater footage. But beyond that, it weaves an inspiring storyline that focuses on Earle herself. Mission Blue could have easily been a documentary about the devastation of the ocean, but…

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On origami, Alzheimer’s & kindness: Global health expert Alanna Shaikh rethinks preparing for dementia

can one actually prepare for this?

TED Blog

Alanna Shaikh at TED2013, a year after her powerful talk about Alzheimer's disease. Alanna Shaikh at TED2013, about six months after giving a powerful talk about Alzheimer’s disease and the three strategies she was putting in place in case she should ever get it. Photo: Ryan Lash/TED

Global health expert Alanna Shaikh gave an unexpected and moving talk at TEDGlobal 2012, called “How I’m preparing to get Alzheimer’s.” In it, she told the story of her father’s struggle with the disease, and outlined some strategies she’d devised in case dementia struck her later in life, too. The TED Blog was curious: How is her experiment going?

While most of Shaikh’s goals haven’t exactly gone as planned, in the process, she’s had a lightbulb moment about how to think about dementia—and learned to be a better person, to boot. Here, a conversation about the relationship between kindness and health, and living an enjoyable life in the present while planning for the future.

What have you been up to since your talk went…

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I am often asked why I became a massage therapist.  Short answer, I went to massage school.  Longer answer, I lost my son and all my knowns.  Depending on the day, and the person’s energy on the table I decide how to answer.  If it is only my expertise that the body on the table wants to confirm, then the short answer plus the brief list of all other trainings is more than sufficient before quiet resumes and muscles relax.  If they actually do want to know the why then I start with, I lost my son.  Even that though requires more background.  To say you lost someone, means what?  A separation, a death, an inexplicable event in which sorrow is an angry god- a loss from whatever cause, is still a loss.  I don’t bother explaining the pull of wanting to be a parent, or the blows to both body and spirit that miscarriages cause, and there is no point in trying to weight the waiting and hoping in any measurable way.  I don’t explain the adoption process, with it’s pricking investigative questions and the feeling that you are only worth a certain amount by some kind of unavailable text.  I don’t explain the actual events of the loss except to those I feel close to.  Those are times gone.  What I say without explaining is that I lost my way and bodywork provided the grounding I so desperately needed at the time.  Not at first as a massage therapist, but as a dancer.  Sometimes, when words are impossible and anger and frustration threatens to bury you, the only thing possible is movement. Latin ballroom with its definite steps and definite responses allowed my mind to stop; pattern was first, thought that could be held gently, later.  When the boundaries of ballroom became too concise and the mind began to again scream, my instructor suggested Argentine Tango.  In Argentine Tango, the patterns become blurred and one is forced to let the mind soften and still and to listen, only listen at first to one’s partner in the dance, and then later to listen to your own inner voice.  Your eyes can close, and you can simplify all of the outer world to just that one moment when movement is speech, and you can trust again.  From that point I felt easier in my sorrow-and in it’s anger- it became endurable, blunted a bit and I became curious about what more my body and mind could say in one sentence versus having the conflict between the two.  Dance led to yoga and to several certifications, and then finally to massage school.  I am still learning, and moving in both dance, yoga and other wordless forms of communications.  In learning to be quiet, I was able to again speak in art, and poetry, and to allow for the possibility of pain from others.  Being a massage therapist allows me to address the pain in others, and in myself and to find a common communication in the healing and relaxation processes. It allows me to hopefully be of some help and to have hope. 



“In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion.”–Albert Camus

2014 up and running, and nearly halfway through…. I am trying to get some goals sorted out. Being sick this week, its easy to turn inward and away from the world…. I am not sure how to start, so first I begin by pulling up other blogs on the internet, sorting through my self help books, peering over my daily planner of 2013….

2013 was …indistinct.  there were alot of days that just rolled into the other…there was the long crisises of family…work days that didn’t seem to stop…just a very long cautious and exhausted drifting….I don’t feel as if much was accomplished…I don’t think 2014 should be like that…there should be more joy

I am looking for some kind of spiritual breath to rebloom inside of me…that kind of flow passing inside that suspends time…

I need tango dancing, writing, painting, gardening, being creative in general, giving massage, teaching yoga, being with good friends, making new friends- building relationships, being better at communicating clearly and compassionately and having the patience to listen, taking control of my health more proactively especially in diet and stress patterns

tango dancing…when you begin to dance, you learn steps, patterns, then gradually you begin to listen…to your breathing, to your body, to your partner’s intentions…time is compressed to a song…

writing because sometimes my mind is messy….no, most of the time my mind is a mess…like an unmade bed where someone has fallen asleep amid old quilts, reading glasses, poetry books, journaling pencils, magazines with recipes to try still….writing allows me to strip down the bed and go through all those things more slowly…sometimes more honestly…when talking I struggle…words have so much impact and I want to do it right…so slowing down to the written word allows me to be much more picky with what I want to say versus what blows out through my mouth

painting like dancing is meditative…and also like writing…but then finally something emerges…an imperfect affirmation of sorts

I really enjoy giving massage…I wish I had found this career a long time ago…I don’t have to stumble through words…I am reassured that my touch means healing and support, that I am able to give

teaching yoga…only one classroom experience and a few treasured clients…again, movement with soul, reassurance that the body can be a solid and positive place to be…I haven’t been as disciplined this year in my own practice despite knowing how healthy and supportive yoga can be… meditation has been helpful and I would like to continue to use it in my teaching practice

on to some writing…


eventually I will get down to it…I look outside and the sky is shining, everything seems expansive and more awake than the normal….I get some tea…sharpen a pencil…pull over my favorite journal….read a few lines…fidget with pillows…sit on the couch, return to the desk…sit on the rocking chair and rock furiously….eventually a word emerges…I write it down with the newly sharpened pencil…hmm not enough…it needs the inkiness of a fountain pen…more fiddling with filling the pen with enough ink, finding the blotting paper just in case…the sun pours itself through the windows, warming the carpet under my feet….

How to be a writer in the year 2014

okay…starting yet another list…. : )

Chicago Literati

1. Write a lot of lists.

Lists are cool. Lists are in. Lists are super easy to digest, and take very little of a potential reader’s effort, thought, or time. Throw a few funny gifs in there, and ignore the sinking feeling in your stomach when you realize gifs will eventually replace even the measly word count you’ve been assigned.

 2. Be famous for something else.

So, you wanted to write a novel or, god forbid, a short story collection? Who do you think you are—James Franco? Because unless you are literally James Franco, no one cares about your short stories. You better start filming those reality TV audition tapes, or pray to whatever higher power you believe in that your arm is bitten off by a shark.

3. Build your network.

For your sake, I hope you have a famous godfather in the entertainment industry, because if not you will repeat…

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