Jared Rice photo on Unsplash

In any yoga pose, even the hardest pose, you can release the hold just a little bit, relax the muscles only a fraction, and breathe a moment or two in a little less intensity, gaining the strength to go on a little longer, and stretching a fraction further. This is “resting in the pose”.

Resting in the pose is a good practice for life’s harder days as well.

The world right now is suffering from an elevated stress level- we are genuinely afraid for our future and our well-being. Every hard thing that was going to happen is happening, and…

Family knowledge, photo from the author

Like so many, I am bobbing on waves of shock and disbelief as the world unfolds into what feels like pandemonium. Fear, trauma, but also gratitude have been the rumblings of my gut since this began.

The summative word on my mind since early January is resilience — getting to the other side, bruised, wizened, but mostly intact while knowing that some won’t make it there, and most will never be the same.

Resilience is “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties: toughness.” …

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or beautiful. — William Morris, 1834–1896

I am not a minimalist. All that white space, and no proper sofa with soft pillows and a cozy blanket for burrowing into the evenings with my Kindle, and maybe powering through a few Downton Abbey episodes.

I come from a family of artists, and I have a colorful and sensual aesthetic to say the least. I need earthy colors, creature comforts, and warmth. I love luscious food, quality, and heavy-duty durability.

The architect should strive continually to simplify; the ensemble…

(Or, How to Accomplish Something Great)

“Geology had, in fact, become his chief hobby. I imagine it appealed to his patient, meticulous nature. A ten thousand-year ice age here. A million years of mountain building there…Pressure. Andy told me once that all of geology is the study of pressure. And time, of course.” -Stephen King, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption.

In the Shawshank Redemption Andy Dufresne, wrongly accused and convicted of murder, digs a tunnel over many years from the wall of his prison cell (covered by a Rita Hayworth poster) to escape the corrupt Shawshank Prison. …

Pork roast over a variety of salad vegetables & kombucha

Zen Soup is what I call real food.

Real food is not something your body must fight, rather, it gives your body the means to defend itself against external environmental challenges. Real food is medicine, rather than poison. I don’t exaggerate when I say that.

Look around — most people don’t get it — most people still believe all calories are food. Using sugar and junk foods as treats or reward is actually the antithesis of how the body is nurtured. People use cake and candy as something they have “earned” for exercising, stress, or dieting, rather than understanding it…

Chicken Walkabout- Photo by author

“Be curious, not judgmental.” — Walt Whitman

You’ll notice I didn’t say “Zen and ‘the art of’ Chicken Maintenance”. I suppose some might think maintaining chickens is an art, but let me just say right off the top that a bucolic-seeming farm setting is a lot of work. Farm animals poop, get sick, get eaten by bigger things, and occasionally wander off, in search of their own answers.

We have a small flock of six hens, going on year three. Chickens are not a companion animal, like say, a dog, though on occasion one will come along that is endearing…

Stones collected and polished by my grandfather, his wood block carving, an old bowl from Japan, repaired in the Kintsugi tradition, Gran’s folk art fish, all circa long ago. Pinecones from our trail.

If you believe an inanimate object carries no emotional energy, tell me what you did with anything a previous lover gave you when the relationship ended?

All things made from earth elements vibrate with molecular energy, and I believe we add an association that lasts until we and our object are parted.

Objects carry a history, and its life in our possession is only one chapter of that history. I have kitchenware my grandmother owned for forty or fifty years before she gave it to me. I can see the patina made by her hands over years of washing, mixing…

photo by author of an old Japanese print

You are a dragon hunter for the Laird of the Land. You have a modest home: a round cottage, with a hearth and larder. Something more durable than a wolf can blow down, perhaps made of stone, and inherited from your grandfather. You live among other skilled workers, cogs of the kingdom, maybe near the smithy, the baker, and the stone mason who works on the castle keep.

The question is: Is your home your sanctuary?

What are the essentials of a sanctuary? Let’s begin with a working door, a locking door. Perhaps yours includes a heavy timber brace that…

The Edge Effect is an ecological term used to explain the abundance and diversity of life at nature’s edges. Aldo Leopold coined the phrase in the 1930’s when explaining why quail and other game birds were more abundant along the water and land line than in singular environments like fields or forests. Life seeks the fertility of edge diversity.

Bosque del Apache, NM photo by author

The edge is between the shore and sea. It is between the forest and grassland, and between the savanna and the river. It is the edge between air and land, or air and water. …

Image © Antoinette Tapia

Chop Wood. Carry Water.

This is the quintessential Zen teaching about enlightenment. The student approaches the master, and asks for the secret path to all wisdom.

The master instructs: “Chop wood, carry water.”

Perhaps the student is a bit put off, pointed in the direction of doing his daily chores. But after some time, he discovers his own quieting in the rhythm of his work. Maybe while washing his dishes, in the sound of the running water, he finds the white space within the work; the simplicity and stillness reveals its nature during the repetition of a mundane task.


Antoinette Tapia

Chopping Wood, Carrying Water — Zen Living Without the Monastery

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