Tasting squirrels

Note: I wrote this on Friday, but I chose not to post it because (a) it was still Mental Health Awareness week and I was concerned that reading it within that context wouldn’t really bode all that well for me and  (b) it wasn’t very interesting.

Now it’s Monday so everything is different because (a) my mental health is no longer in the spotlight and (b) it is still not very interesting but then there was some serendipity on Saturday, so here we are.  Read on, and be prepared to be thoroughly underwhelmed.

grey squirrel on tree look

On the walk home after taking the kids to school this morning, there were a couple of squirrels chasing each other around the base of one of the huge boulevard trees.  This of course is not an unusual thing.  What was unusual was for the first time ever I thought, “I am so close to this squirrel, I can almost taste him.”


Not it. I didn’t mean it metaphorically.   I actually had the wet squirrel fur smell and sensation in my mouth for a lingering moment.¹

The serendipity part of the experience happened the next morning when we were walking back from piano lessons, and Elder (aka the 3rd grader) had the exact same wow-I-am-so-close-to- a-squirrel experience (without the tasting sensation, I’d assume), and declared “I am so close to this squirrel.  I cannot even believe how close I am to this squirrel.”

The truth is, I think we have both been in closer proximity to squirrels, I think we were both simply very mindful of the squirrel and for some reason I would say that we both felt a certain affinity with the squirrel.

Apparently the mindfulness meditation class is having some spillover into my regular life, in the paying attention to things realm.  Truthfully, I would prefer to be more mindful of pleasant things, rather than the taste and mouth-feel of a squirrel, but you see that is the tricky thing with mindfulness–you just accept whatever is, whatever comes up, without judging it or wanting it to be different, not grasping for a better taste, like Oreos or Doublemint Gum or whatever–no, you just say Here it is, squirrel sensation in my mouth.  Interesting.

Can’t you just sense my greater sense of well-being and calm?  Me neither.


¹This might be less alarming to you if you have already read Flora and Ulysses, which I have not (but I have heard an excerpt on MPR).  Please don’t think that I have any interest in eating or tasting a squirrel.  It’s only in the context of saving a life via mouth-to-mouth resuscitation that I imagined the squirrel mouth sensation.


Ulysses the squirrel, from Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by K. G. Campbell


The Other Thing I Wasn’t Going To Tell You

The other thing I wasn’t going to tell you on Tuesday is that when I accidentally saw the Twenty Four Million dollar house for sale on EdinaRealty.com, I naturally thought “Who the hell lives in a Twenty Four Million dollar house around here?” so I did what I always do which is to go to the Hennepin County Property Taxes website and look it up. (I know this isn’t a good thing to do, and I’m trying to practice loving kindness and be less judgy about things like money and wealth and materialism since I am doing meditation now, and practicing non-judgment is one of the main things about it.  Which is why I didn’t tell you in the first place.)


But then, this morning’s headline was “Viking fans to pay hefty seat fees at new stadium” so I took that as a sign that maybe I should have told you that the (albeit former) owner of a professional sports team like the Vikings is exactly the kind of person who might own a Twenty Four Million Dollar home in Orono, and maybe all of the professional sports team owners have gazillion dollar homes, and yet they still always go around acting like they shouldn’t have to pay for the new stadiums because they are too broke, which is not exactly honest.

I’m not sure where I’m going with all this, but the story ended with even a Republican saying “I think that should make Minnesotans very angry.  It makes me very angry,” and then told how one guy even threw his shoes on the table and said “This is fricking ridiculous, man.”  So I guess it’s not just me and maybe it’s okay to get a little pissed off instead of try to just meditate all the time.


I wonder if he really said “fucking ridiculous” but they couldn’t print that.  I totally would have wanted to say fucking.  And throw my shoes.

Mindfully watching the toilet overflow

I invite you to read this toilet meditation in a calm, slow, gentle voice, almost as if you were reading a poem. If you are able to, lie down on the floor of your office, allowing your body to completely relax as a friend or co-worker reads it to you aloud.  Think of it as a time for self care.



Toilet Overflow Meditation

Feeling, now, the cold, sweaty steel of the toilet handle . . . the warmth of your index finger, or thumb, or whatever parts of your hand are touching the handle . . . as you press down . . .and at the same time, noticing . . . now, for the first time . . . in this moment. . .that the water was already almost to the top of the bowl . . . even before you flushed.

Seeing now . . . the pale yellow water . . . the loose shreds of white toilet paper swirling about on the surface . . .dancing . . . disintegrating. . .Staying with the breath . . . noticing as the water and the swirls of white rise . . .Rising, rising, slowly . . . steadily . . .  to the top of the bowl.

Just listening and watching the water . . .rising up to meet the rim. . . spilling over the rim. . . and down the sides of the bowl . . .Not a mere trickle, but large cascades, splashing . . . flowing, rushing onto the hardwood floor that was just installed last year.

Just breathing  . . .Noticing how your mind might wander now, to the next door neighbor . . . and their goddamn tree roots . . . that back up your sewer each autumn . . . or perhaps, to your six-year-old . . . and his propensity for using far too much toilet paper . . . most times . . . this time . . . and then flushing . . .sometimes quickly, to get rid of the evidence. . . or sometimes obliviously . . . either way . . . each time . . . denying it . . . Pretending he has no idea what you are talking about . . . when you ask if he did it again.

Just noticing these thoughts, how your mind has  wandered again and then gently, without judgment, bringing awareness  back to this moment . . . now . . . here . . . this water rushing onto the hardwood floor . . . this waterfall . . . not the waterfall your mind remembers from the past, but this water, toilet water . . .here, now, gushing.

Allowing yourself to feel whatever you are feeling. . . . maybe a surge of energy shooting through your body . . . perhaps anger . . . or rage . . . or whatever feeling you are having . . . just noticing . . . Noticing your desire to shout . . . and to scream . . . and to swear . . . and to blame . . . and to cry . . . because you have no towels at hand . . . your hands are empty . . . and there must be two fucking gallons on the floor. . . and the six year old is pretending like nothing is happening . . . and is in fact asking for more toast . . . not asking very nicely . . . Not saying please . . . kind of a whiny voice today . . . in this moment . . .

And again, noticing how the mind has wandered, and bringing your awareness back to the body. . .bringing yourself to this moment . . . this toilet . . . so much water . . .

Imagining now the toilet water’s journey . . . soaking through the hardwood floors . . .behind the radiator, beneath the baseboards . . .flowing into the dark empty space beneath the subfloor. . .into the floor joists . . . beneath the joists. . .into the basement ceiling . . . just following its path. . .

Listening carefully, and now hearing the drip drip drip of water so much like the first drops of rain . . .yet it is not rain. . .it is the sound of the water, the toilet water . . . the pee water . . . that is now dripping into the basement. . .the water has flown through the bathroom floor to the ceiling below . . . is likely pouring from the can lights . . .and now onto the basement floor . . . flowing . . .

Noticing any judgment, perhaps wanting it to be different. . . or wishing you hadn’t so carelessly flushed such a full bowl . . . without realizing what was about to happen . . . and letting go, with kindness, and compassion . . . letting go of your desire to judge or blame yourself . . . or your child. . .or your neighbor. . .and to just accept what is here . . . right now . . . in this moment . . . just being with the toilet . . . and the water dripping . . . and the possibly ruined floor . . . and the continuing requests for more toast . . .

(and so on)

Four spots still remaining.

Four spots still remaining.