Posts Tagged ‘Hand Wash Cold’

8 steps to happy laundering

July 3rd, 2016    -    12 Comments

You might think I’m using a metaphor when I say that my spiritual practice is doing the laundry. Metaphor or not, laundry is the practice of seeing things as they are. Take a look at how to go from the hamper to happiness in eight steps.

Empty the hamper – Laundry gives us an honest encounter with ourselves before we’re freshened, fluffed and sanitized. It gives us a mirror to the parts of ourselves we’d rather overlook, and makes us take responsibility for our own messes. Self-examination reveals the pure wisdom that resides within each of us.

The instructions are in your hands – The tag inside a garment tells you exactly how to care for what you hold in your hands. Not just clothing, but very bit of life comes with instructions when we are attentive enough to notice. Doing it well may take more work than we’d like, but the effort is always worth it in the long run.

Handle with care – It’s inevitable: everything shrinks, fades and falls apart. Nothing stays brand-new. The most precious things we have are fashioned of flimsy fabric. Be mindful with each moment you have and you will experience your life in a different way. read more

the long way

June 4th, 2013    -    12 Comments

IMG_6002“Great words of inspiration. I really admire you for embracing your life as it is.”

She wrote it by hand in a card and then mailed it to the publisher named on the copyright page and then someone at the office tucked it into another envelope and mailed it to me and I opened it on Saturday evening when my husband handed me the day’s forgotten mail while I was sitting in the green chair in the living room, and what struck me was not the words, although they did make up in small part for the last jaw shattering one-star review on Amazon, “self-centered drivel, not worth my time.” No, it wasn’t what she said in the card with the picture of a yellow bird sitting on a blossoming branch, it was the faith and patience, the few minutes of time and trouble, the paper, the pen, the flowing stroke of the letters, the tenderness expended in doing a little something the long way and sending it straight into my heart.

I’m slowly gathering materials and supplies, robes, pillows, bells, things remembered and nearly missed, for a long drive north on Friday to sit with folks for two days in lightness and dark at the ocean’s edge. Honestly, I don’t much like this part. The packing and organizing, listing, thinking, all the thinking, the miles, the money, the time. But I do it. I do things the long way. Because when I finally get to that place in the room where the silence rolls in my heart fills with the fullness of peace and I come to rest on the good ground of forever.

The long way is the straight way to the human heart.

For anyone who ever wondered if I saved the card you sent. Yes, I saved it in a woven basket of forever.

talking the talk

May 23rd, 2013    -    3 Comments

This was such a nice conversation I wanted to include you in on it. Listen when you have the time.

Listen to internet radio with Real Sisters Talk on BlogTalkRadio

prayer for a wife becoming

October 15th, 2012    -    12 Comments

I’ve noticed that how we load the dishwasher says everything about the difference between my husband and me.Hand Wash Cold

May you be quiet
leave unsaid
let it lie
go to bed
crack a smile
pour a cup
find the toilet seat up
go the mile
Say hello say goodbye
share the kids share the cry
Come to know without proof
that the planets, aloof
Keep perfect orbit alone
by one light through one sky
never end
just begin
treat the stain rinse the dirt
let it drop
glass and plastic on top
scrape the plates
leave no trace
end the day in pure grace
find your rest
hearts be blessed
You can lose
You can live
You can turn and forgive
Then start over, always over
again.
Amen.

A companion to Prayer for a Mother Becoming.

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not the ending

July 8th, 2012    -    9 Comments

The beginning of Hand Wash Cold, because somewhere, for someone, the cycles are repeating:

By September everything was gone. Given away or sold, cheap. The entire living room to my sister, who hired movers to take it. Two garage sales to empty the shelves. My wedding crystal, still in plastic in the Lenox shipping box, for $35. The woman halfheartedly bargained, “Is this set complete?” before she laughed at her own question and handed over the bills. One Sunday night I invited the little guy from the rollerblading group inside and sold him the wine rack for $20. He’d wanted dinner and a date but he drove away with the rack standing up in the backseat of his MG convertible.

I kept what I needed and wanted. They’d become the same. The bed, desk, books and a chair, and about half of my clothes. I sublet one room, the smaller one, in a two-bedroom apartment from someone who seemed desperate for the company and the cash. Then I did what everyone else had already done from the big house on Avalon Drive. I left. And then it sold.

Hadn’t quite sold, but after two years in a falling market it was wanted, finally and fast, by a woman attorney new in town.

It was time to take care of the last bit of housekeeping. Just a day’s worth, a day in September.

There was stuff left in drawers and closets. The cabinets above and below the tiny wet bar between the kitchen and the living room with the blue-and-yellow tile counter. An understated spot that had made the house seem so authentic. This would make someone a lovely home, I often thought, realizing it wasn’t me. I surveyed the mismatched glassware and souvenir mugs, the army of half-empty liquor bottles my husband had brought home after doing beverage inventory at the hotel where he worked. We can’t use it there, he’d said. Never used it here either. I poured every bottle down the little sink and stuck the empties, like bones, into garbage bags. Dragged outside, the bags piled up behind the little white picket sanitation fence by the garage. Up and over the top, an embarrassing tower of unmade toasts.

Upstairs, I swept through the closets of empty hangers and leftover shoes, pausing over a stash of get well cards from the surgery five years ago, when the doctor said get pregnant now and, looking at my blank-faced husband, I knew I didn’t love him.

I pulled down the attic stairs and went up. In some ways, it was my favorite room. We’d bought the house from a surgeon, and that explained the precision of the place. No visible scars. The guy had actually done his own gardening and cleaned his own pool, installed his own sprinkler system and outdoor lights. Awash in aftershave, I imagined, with an aperitif in hand.

The attic was high-ceilinged and light. The span was clean and shadowless. The surgeon had put in a solid floor and neatly lain old doors and shutters across the rafters. In case someone could use them again. On one wall was a built-in shelf where I kept my small store of Christmas decorations. Not enough ornaments to cover a tree, but centerpieces and ceramics to set out in the years before I could no longer lift the sentiment. read more

talk to strangers about the weather

January 4th, 2012    -    10 Comments

Whenever I see something I’ve written reflected back this way, I know the message is for me. That’s the case with this excerpt from Hand Wash Cold, which is being recirculated right about the time I’d rather hole up with my own precious self, doing what I want, when I want, how I want. So right now is a good time talk to strangers about the weather, especially since it’s 88 degrees on January 4.

Do you want to live in friendship or fear? Paradise or paranoia? We are each citizens of the place we make, so make it a better place.

At the grocery store, give your place in line to the person behind you.

Ask the checker how her day is going, and mean it.

On the way out, give your pocket money to the solicitor at the card table no matter what the cause.

Buy a cup of lemonade from the kids at the sidewalk stand.

Tell them to keep the change.

Roll down your car window when you see the homeless man on the corner with the sign. Give him money. Have no concern over what he will do with it.

Smile at him. It will be the first smile he has seen in a very long time.

Do not curse your neighbor’s tall grass, weeds, foul temperament, or house color. Given time, things change by themselves. Even your annoyance.

Thank the garbageman. Be patient with the postal worker. Leave the empty parking space for someone else to take. They will feel lucky.

Buy cookies from the Girl Scouts and a sack of oranges from the poor woman standing in the broiling heat at the intersection.

Talk to strangers about the weather.

Allow others to be themselves, with their own point of view.

If you judge them, you are in error.

Do not let difference make a difference.

Do not despair over the futility of your impact or question the outcome.

Do not pass while the lights are flashing.

Trusting life means trusting where you are, and trusting where you’ll go, and trusting the way in between, as on a bus trip, the driving left to someone else. It’s bumpy but remarkably reliable.

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get to me

December 15th, 2011    -    2 Comments

This one got to me:
“I’m not sure if you remember me, but I attended your workshop in ——.  After the workshop, I told my mother how much I had enjoyed reading Hand Wash Cold and how special it was to meet you in person, and she decided to check your book out of the library to read.

Six months later, Hand Wash Cold is the one gift that my mom has requested from my sister and me for Christmas.  My mother is a former librarian who believes strongly in the power of checking out books – I don’t think I’ve ever known her to buy a book or to ask for one for a gift.  Yet, here that is and here I am wondering if it would be possible to purchase an autographed copy of Hand Wash Cold for my mom for Christmas.”

This one gets to me:

Beginner’s Mind One-Day Retreat
Sunday, Feb. 26 9 am-3 pm
Hazy Moon Zen Center, Los Angeles
Information and registration here

Photo taken by Lisa Braun Dubbels at Kowalski’s Market in Minneapolis.

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groupon nation

April 5th, 2011    -    75 Comments

Your writing will not save you. Managing to be published will not save you. Don’t be deluded. – Joyce Carol Oates

Every morning when I click on my email and see the daily offer from Groupon, I feel a little twinge. I may or may not read it. I may or may not know the business. But I definitely will not use it. I am heartsick over all the businesses that will not be saved by Groupon.

Your couponing will not save you.

This post is not about the relative merits or demerits of social couponing. Yes, I understand it is the latest big thing. It is the big thing that reminds me a lot of the last big thing. We have a remarkable capacity in this nation to make each other poor – and call it the next big thing. We have a remarkable capacity to demean and devalue each other, and degrade the decent work we all do. We might even call it progress. To want something for nothing, to take more and pay less, to come out ahead, as if we can stand taller on the cumulative loss from our cheap, daily deal making.

Don’t be deluded.

This treatise may be inspired by the bloodthirsty union-busting that passes as budget balancing in our statehouses, or the arrogant idiocy of the other side in Congress. Or it may have something to do with our income tax returns. My husband finished them last weekend, and in a sign of his unshakable goodness, he did not report that my net income last year had inched valiantly up, to the round number that is the very lowest of the low five-figures. He has, over these 16 years, made what amounts to a guaranteed, year-over-year, skyrocketing investment in my poverty.

Your writing will not save you.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not some big-timer. I am not like, say, Joyce Carol Oates, the Pulitzer Prize winner, author of bestselling books too numerous to count, collector of accolades too voluminous to mention, including several rumored Nobel Prizes, whose recent memoir from the abyss of her widowhood included the remarkable passage I quote above.

Managing to get anything will not save you.

At this point in my so-called life I feel like I did about a half-second after I got married, when I had a startling realization. Someone has to be the wife! And then a half-second after I gave birth: Someone has to be the mother! And now: Someone has to be the priest! Each of these revelations occurred after I’d made an avowed commitment to do something that I had no earthly idea how to do. That’s the way vows work: forever after, or they don’t work at all. read more

gift of the sea

February 18th, 2011    -    3 Comments

It’s been a week since I headed up the highway for my appointment with the Pacific at last Saturday’s Asilomar Plunge retreat. When I load up my flimsy suitcase; my papers, pens, electric plugs and machinery; my box of books; my well-traveled doubts and fears; when I load up the heavy cargo I say to myself:  I’m too old for this.

And then I meet a room of half-made friends and kind strangers, none of us knowing quite how every twist and turn and bend has led us there, and we sit together in open silence and close confidence, setting aside the load, the questions, the judgments that distract and divide; when I end up emptied, with nothing more to carry home I say to myself: There is no other way to live.

I’ll never know the good, if any, that comes. What comes is not always good – not for everyone, every time. But for a shining moment, before the next wave arrives, I can leave a footprint. We all leave footprints.

In that spirit, here’s a direction for you to follow. There’s a giveaway of Hand Wash Cold this weekend at Angela DiGiovanni’s blog. I hope you’ll visit and take the gift that’s been left behind.

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absence of explanation

September 16th, 2010    -    2 Comments

In the absence of an explanation, Amazon is currently telling its customers that it could take up to four months to get a paperback copy of Hand Wash Cold. Need I tell you this is a bold-faced lie? A scheming way to rev up backorders and Kindle sales?

I’ll simply tell you to go here, to the web home of of the artfully inexplicable Terri Fischer, to nab your own free copy. She has numerous gifts to bestow, and she’s not withholding them. There you will see, absent explanation, not only how to get the laundry, but your own life back.

unfailingly generous

September 8th, 2010    -    86 Comments

When I first heard that Lori Deschene of the hugely popular inspirational site Tiny Buddha was going to review Hand Wash Cold, I wondered how she would define my life’s work.

After all, plenty of people don’t like the book, and a goodly number don’t hesitate to say so. Compared to Momma Zen‘s sweetly sentimental musings about the transcendent love of motherhood, Hand Wash Cold can smack some people upside the head like a wet, stinky dishrag. As Deschene writes:

Most of us don’t want to be ordinary. We want to be special. We want to live bold, extraordinary lives punctuated by moments of passion, excitement, and adventure.

We want to fill our days with people, things, and activities that make us feel vibrant, and outsource the rest to someone else – someone paid to handle the mundane.

We want to discover something, uncover something, build something, invent something, found something, prove something – be something. We want to be extraordinary. We want to be excellent. We want to be great – or at least moving in that direction.

I don’t write about how to do any of that. I don’t write about the life all of us wish we had. You can read something else if you’re still looking for that. Almost anything else will deliver the promise of escape to somewhere – anywhere – else. Instead, as Deschene says about my approach:

She turns herself inside out to reveal her vulnerability, her ego, her humanity – everything you might assume doesn’t exist underneath the trappings of priesthood. She is unfailingly generous in sharing her own journey to right here and now.

Despite my failings, Tiny Buddha has inspired me to be unfailingly generous all over again.  I’m giving away a signed copy of Hand Wash Cold right here and now. Leave a comment to enter. Double your chances by tweeting the following.

RT @kmaezenmiller Giveaway: Hand Wash Cold http://bit.ly/a3rxE0

Note to Readers: Hand Wash Cold is on back order at Amazon, but personally signed copies are always available on the Books page of my website. Click “Special Friends Offer”

It’s giveaway week! I’ll be giving away books on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Check back and enter often. Winners for all three, including, Brad Warner’s latest eyebrow-raiser, drawn next Sunday, Sept. 12.

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just one life

August 18th, 2010    -    9 Comments

We were side by side in the spinning class this morning when she turned to me and spoke over the pounding pulse of the imaginary road beneath us. We got into it last night. I nodded, and knew. After I made my plans and sent out the invitations, he won’t take the kids that weekend. The lonely long stretch of it, the gaping ache of betrayal. You just can’t do that! At every turn, the shock and sudden crumble. I know what he’s doing. He’s taking her and her kids on vacation. Another raging tremble. It’s more than we ever think we can bear. And I thought to myself “she should read my book.”
We rode.
We all ride.
Sometimes it’s steep.
We sweat and cry.
A slope, and then it’s harder yet.
Farther still and finally
The last gasp.

Class over, we slide off the bikes and she says to me “I should read your book.”
I wish you would, I say, because there’s just one life and I want you to know.
It’s not over yet.

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flagwaving

July 5th, 2010    -    12 Comments

If you’ve read Hand Wash Cold or Momma Zen, unfurl your colors. Go to Amazon or Goodreads and enter a new rating or a review for either or both books, then come back here and leave me a comment telling me so. At the end of the week I’ll draw a winner from the comments here to receive two free signed copies. So you can have your flag and wave it too.

Edited to add: Winners of this giveaway are Shana and Jim. But the commenters have already given me the grand prize. Thank you, everyone!

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