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A banner made for the Peace Fence in 2007 that is now on a tile in front of the Ashland library.

Inner Peace: Things to do and ways to think in a time of smoke

Note from Inner Peace editor Sally McKirgan: These two short articles come to you as a pair. One shows the difficult time we are experiencing with the smoke, along with some advice and encouragement, and the other is about the beauty of nature with the challenge of aging, yet, in the end, oneness surmounts all the world’s drama.

Coping with the smoke and fires

By Allan Weisbard

Fires and smoke have made this a very draining summer for many of us. I have developed suggestions to increase our resilience during these adverse circumstances.

I wish I had written this sooner but I had to go through my own stages of grief to get to the acceptance phase for creative options to emerge.

I know many of my patients and friends have left the area temporarily. The following are ideas to uplift those of us still here:

1) Indoor projects such as:

—Curating photographs both film and digital,

—Expand useful knowledge of the electronics you have.

—Declutter closets, bookshelves, kitchen etc.

2) Visit the public library. Magazine reading rooms offer comfortable chairs with a plethora of magazines and newspapers.

3) Read a book that transports you to faraway places and times.

4) Visit someone who is lonely or invite them out to coffee.

5) Learn in free on-line courses through Coursera or other universities. The selection is varied and you learn at your own pace.

6) YMCA is a great resource for physical activity as well as social connection. SOU gym has an indoor track available to the community. Take a walk at the Rogue Valley Mall.

7) Learn a new recipe to add to your repertoire and invite someone to share it with you.

8) “Tank of gas one day getaways” with blue skies and fresh air, such as the North Umpqua Waterfalls.

9) Many wineries have indoor venues for tasting and live music. Grizzly Peak has music indoors most weekends.

10) Go to a movie, bowling alleys, or coffee shop.

11) Put on a mask and take a walk in a park.

12) Gratitude list focusing on good things rather than losses.

13) Pray for rain!!!

Allan Weisbard is a licensed clinical social worker who counsels his patients to reduce stress while increasing their resilience. Check out his website at www.HealthyOptimism.com to read tips on how to become more resilient.

The Seasons

By Herb Long

Feeling stuck, uninspired, dry, naked, and from the depths — a scream — enough! I’m tired, feeling like a prisoner — locked up, yet free to move — a little paralyzed but not all over; like an old dam cracking under the weight of water held back. A memory accompanies the water seeping through the cracks — a time when the waters flowed freely; when life flowed; when this little “i” opened to the Oneness of Being. Even now in this fallow place I sense it.

Then there’s this garden. Sitting here surrounded by the sound of doves, tall grasses, shrubs, flowers and trees, I feel the One in the sounds, the cotton puffs and cobwebs shimmering in the early morning sun. That same sun warms my neck easing the pain triggered by the bony-fingered arthritis creeping into its nooks and crannies. Sitting here, the vivid greens and purple buds on a bush beside me that I can’t name remind me of the seasons.

Oh, the seasons. I feel them all as I sit here in nature’s late spring and the winter of my life. It’s spring and also fall. It feels like a gathering time — harvesting this life’s experiences as winter and death approach. Winter — that time when, consciousness resting, awaits the next body; the body in which the One that I also am will continue unfolding — discovering and perhaps birthing another bodhisattva.

Yet now, this aching, aging body sometimes hypnotizes me into feeling only one age. This neck, crackling when I turn it, evokes an image of an old door, creaking as it opens on a treasure room too long hidden. It’s a room filled with the memories of the ages — a cacophony of stories untold; symphonies unperformed; futures awaiting invention by actors till to arrive. How beautiful to experience autumn in the spring, winter in the summer, a treasure store in the pain and mystery in them all. I sigh, remembering again the One that we all are!

Herb Long holds a BA from Stanford, a B.D. from the San Francisco Theological Seminary, a Th.D. from Harvard University and lives in Ashland.

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