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inspired living

Gratitude, Guest Posts

Enough Is As Good As A Feast. By Amy Roost.

February 22, 2014

Enough Is As Good As A Feast. By Amy Roost.

I know a young man. From the age of 5 he was raised in the foster system, moving from home to home.

Last year, at the age of 18, he was “emancipated,” meaning he cut his ties with the courts and they with him. Since then, he was accepted into a group home, graduated high school, started classes at Palomar College and got a dishwashing job. Then he slipped up — got in some trouble. Whether he’s to blame, it’s hard to know. The good news is no charges were filed and his record remains clean. The bad news is he lost his job while he spent time in the county jail.

Last week we had lunch and caught up. He told me about his girlfriend: She’s outgoing, works as a carpet cleaner. Her dad died last year from alcoholism. Her mother likes him. He also told me where they live — in the back of a broken down van in Carlsbad.

They have a friend who lives in a house around the corner from where the van is parked. She lets them keep food in her refrigerator and use her shower. They’re eligible for food stamps, so they at least have food.

We had pizza for lunch and he took the leftovers to go. I drove him to the mall to get him a new skateboard deck. The van needs a fuel pump so the skateboard is his primary mode of transportation for now. We went to Costco so I could pick up a few “staples,” like wine, Pellegrino, aged cheddar, tomatoes. I bought him a case of ramen and some Cherrios. As we were loading things in the back of my car a $1 bill fell from his pocket onto the ground. He was pleasantly surprised.

As we waited at a stoplight on the way back to his “place,” we saw a woman standing on the corner with a dog and a sign that read “God Bless. Anything Helps.” The young man reached down into his pocket and handed the dollar bill to me, “Here, give this to her.” I rolled down my window and did as he told me. He then leaned across me and asked of the woman, “Are you hungry?” “Yes,” she said. The young man then reached into the backseat and grabbed the box with the leftover pizza and handed it out the window to the woman. I was surprised by both gestures, but especially the pizza because he’d already called his girlfriend on my phone to tell her he was bringing home dinner.

As we pulled away, the woman asked me, “Are you taking good care of him?” I said I was and she said, “Good. I’ll pray for you.” I told her I’d pray for her too.

When we were down the road a ways, the young man said, “Do you know who that was?” Surprised and wondering what I missed, I answered, “No.”

“That’s my girlfriend’s mother,” he told me.

A little further down the road we saw an older man rolling up the sidewalk in a wheel chair. The young man said, “That’s Danny.” I said, “Oh, how do you know Danny?” He said, “I help him get around when he needs pushing. I know most of the homeless people in Carlsbad. We all look out for each other.”

As I process the interaction in the warmth of my home overlooking the Pacific Ocean, I’m not entirely sure what to make of it. One thing I am sure of is that a young man who is struggling to make his way in the world and helping others make theirs schooled me in a few of the heavenly virtues, namely liberality (a nobility of thought or actions) and humility. I’m also sure that enough is ofttimes as good as a feast.

On this, the 50th anniversary of the declaration of the War on Poverty, may we all learn to share what we have, our leftovers, and found dollar bills. And no matter what we possess, be it a feast or just enough, may we all look out for each other.

Click photo to connect with Amy.

Click photo to connect with Amy.

Her multi-dimensional suchness, Amy Roost, is a freelance writer, book publicist, legal and medical researcher, and vacation rental manager. She and her husband are the authors of “Ritual and the Art of Relationship Maintenance” due to be published later this year in a collection entitled Ritual and Healing: Ordinary and Extraordinary Stories of Transformation (Motivational Press). Amy is also Executive Director of Silver Age Yoga Community Outreach (SAYCO) which offers geriatric yoga teacher certification, and provides yoga instruction to underserved seniors.

Click here to connect with Amy.

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Jennifer Pastiloff is a writer based in Los Angeles. She is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Jen will be leading a Retreat in Costa Rica at the end of March and her annual retreat to Tuscany is in July 2014. All retreats are a combo of yoga/writing and for ALL levels. Read this post to understand what a Manifestation retreat is. Check out her site jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Jen and bestselling author Emily Rapp will be leading another writing retreat to Vermont in October. A lot. Next up is a workshop in New York City on March 15. Book here.

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The Only Currency In Life Worth Protecting.

November 7, 2013

The Only Currency In Life Worth Protecting. By Lindsey Mead.

My life has simultaneously narrowed and widened.

People ask me, with some regularity, how I “do it all.”  Of course, I don’t.  There is plenty I don’t do.  And I have been thinking about that a lot lately, of the immensely different ways we each populate our hours and what they say about what we value.

Every hour of our life is a choice, a trade-off between competing priorities and desires.  We are all given the same number of hours in a day.  What do you prioritize?  What do you care about?  Where are you spending your time?

In the last several years my own life has simultaneously narrowed and widened.  It has narrowed because I have substantially cut down on external (non-job and non-family) commitments.   I say no much more often than I say yes.  And even beyond commitments about my physical presence, I’ve withdrawn in a real way: for example, I spend much less time on the phone catching up with friends.

But even in this narrowing my life has startled me with an unforseen richness.  It’s like I stepped into a dense forest but then I looked up to see an enormous expanse of the sky.  Somehow, in my turning inward, I have learned to see the glittering expanse of my own life.  Maybe it is not having the other distractions.  Maybe it is that is training my gaze I have opened my heart.  I am not sure.

I spend my time with my family, I spend my time writing, I spend my time reading, I spend my time with a small number of people I entirely trust and wholly love.  I run at 5:30 in the morning because that’s the only time when the trade-off isn’t too steep for me.  It is very rare for me to have dinner, drinks, or lunch with a friend one-on-one.  The same is true for Matt and me with other couples.  On the other hand there are many evenings where I sit and read to the kids while they are in the tub, when I get into bed at 8:15pm with a book, and there are a great many days full of work.

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. – Annie Dillard

Let’s all decide to no longer hide behind the excuse that we “don’t have time.”  The truer response would be “I don’t care enough to really protect the time.”  This may be harsh, but I think it’s also true.  Let’s take ownership of our choices rather than bemoaning their results.  Do you want time to meditate?  Time to go to yoga?  Time to spend reading with your children?  Well, something else has to go.  Unfortunately time, at least in the framework of a day or a week, is a zero sum game.  The ultimate one, perhaps.

Think long and hard about how you spend your precious hours, the only currency in this life that I personally think is actually worth anything.  A lot of these decisions are made instinctively, without deliberate thought or analysis.  But that’s how life is, isn’t it?  We know what we care most deeply about, and we run towards it, chins ducked.  We protect fiercely time for those things and people and events we truly value.  And those things, people, events we never seem to have time for?  Well, that tell us something important too.

I believe that if you look carefully at the map of your hours over a week or a month, you will see a reflection of what it is in this life you prize most highly.  Do you like what you see?

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Lindsey Mead is a mother and writer who lives outside of Boston with her husband and two children.  Her writing has been published and anthologized in a variety of print and online sources, including the Huffington Post, Literary Mama, Torn: True Stories of Kids, Career, and the Conflict of Modern Motherhood, the Princeton Alumni Weekly, and Brain, Child.  She blogs regularly at A Design So Vast and loves connecting with people on twitter and facebook.