Happy New Year

Happy New Year! I hope the year has started off well for all of you.

I spent the winter solstice at Spirit Rock, my first ever overnight meditation retreat. It was so hard! I had expected it to be challenging but it way exceeded my expectations. After some recovery and processing I decided that I would do it again. The opportunity to get away from my daily routine, the often heightened holiday pace and just general business was “priceless.”

One of the concepts introduced at the retreat was “dana”: the payment of the retreat teachers and staff by donation. In very lay-person terms, you are to give enough that you notice the sacrifice but not so much that it hurts. It’s an interesting concept in a land where many of us have so much (and here I’m thinking of my peers in Marin County).

I’ve been thinking too about a New York Times article last fall on Tracy DuVivier Gary, a philanthropist who supports women’s issues and gay rights. Born into a wealthy family, she received a trust with 1.3 million dollars when she was 21 (1972). She donated 90% or more of that money, and for the past 30 years she has donated roughly half her income to charities (which she estimates at 100k). While this won’t be my story, it is inspiring to read about her and think of the possibilities.

For those 5 nights I spent at Spirit Rock my needs were very stripped down: I had a small room with a tiny bed and folding chair. A sink. A few items of clothes. It was incredibly peaceful and serene (except for some chatter in my head). Anyway, it’s a vision I want to take into 2017.

Happy New Year everyone.