HydrangeasMy  stomach has been queasy  for the last few days and so I've settled on the chaise on our deck overlooking the island of Alameda and San Francisco Bay.  Licorice tea is at my elbow and my husband has gone to a biology lecture at UC Berkeley.  The house is quiet.  I hear the sound of traffic, though it is far enough away to be a low hum.  Occasional police sirens remind me I live in Oakland where violence is part of the landscape.

I am one of the privileged ones.  I live in the hills among other houses with big decks overlooking the Bay.  My deck is also my garden.  Miniature petunias in purple dance with pink geraniums and purple verbena.  Tiny white flowers hang from the edges of my taller pots and a camilia bush hugs the edge of the arbor which shades the dining table.  A wind chime, given to me by one of my co-authors, rings softly in the breeze.

I can feel my breathing slow.  The traffic hum is my Ohm.  Birds sit on the railing observing me curiously before plunging into the birdbath placed at the edge of the deck just to attract them.  I have not been to this place of peace in so long, I cannot remember the last time.  My life has been ruled by things I must do--must finish grading, must change the sheets, must prepare for guests.  Then there is a different set of wants--want to see my grandchildren and help my stepdaughter, want to try a new recipe, want to do the webinar about mentoring, and want to talk to my daughters in Minneapolis.  And, oh, there are the shoulds.  Should exercise at least three times a week.  Should watch my carbohydrates and alcohol.  Not much time for nothing--no thing.

This is the first spiritual practice.  No thing.  Peace.