It has been eight years since the last time I fasted – it was in late 2001 – and for that fast I practiced in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters by fasting from sunrise to sunset for a couple of weeks.
Recently I was sharing about a personal relationship issue with a monastic friend and teacher and he suggested I start with a period of fasting. I was not completely clear on how this could help or be related, but I trust my friend and know that fasting is a common practice in the monastery. The intention here is not a detox fast, but one of a more spiritual nature. I started practicing with the fast for a 1-2 weeks by fasting for dinner. It wasn’t too difficult to eat two meals a day, the most difficult time being late afternoon. This did raise my confidence and understanding in fasting.
I typically am not a huge fan of exercise. However, while staying at the Deer Park Monastery I usually get more than my fair share due to the size of the property and the hills. In addition, we frequently have a time of recreational exercise including volleyball (my favorite) and basketball. Check this out from the recent visit. A very peaceful, fun, and non-competitive basketball game with my monastic friends.
It is a sweet opportunity and gift from my lovely wife and partner. Thank you. Every time I plan and attend a retreat, a few questions arise from friends. Where are you going? What is it like? Is it silent?
I leave Friday morning for Deer Park Monastery in Escondido, a Buddhist monastery in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh. The monastery sits on about 300 acres of open land next to another preserve. Very beautiful. I typically spend 4-6 weeks per year at the monastery as an ordained member of the Order of Interbeing (we’re asked to do 60 Days of Mindfulness per year). This particular visit is different because the first 19 days will be without my family. We usually go as a family but Leslie suggested some time for myself and they will come at the end for the Family Camp Annual Retreat.
It was twenty years ago today that I took my last drink of alcohol. I was 21-years old at the time and it was my third or fourth attempt at stopping. Today I am living on grace, and though I don’t speak publicly of this very often, I want everyone to know how proud I am of being sober for two decades and to thank those who have helped me along the way. This is a day to remember the goodness in suffering.
This is about ubiquitous file management. Do you work on multiple computers, maybe even on different types of computer platforms? You may carry a USB drive or email files to yourself, but there are slicker options available. Dropbox is a tool for storing your files on your local machine and in the cloud. It is a free service, up to 2GB of storage, but also has premium accounts for additional storage needs. I have been happily using Dropbox for about nine months and find it meets my needs of ubiquitous file management.
I typically work on two Apple Macs, two Ubuntu systems, and one Windows XP system (plus my iPhone). How can I keep all my files in sync and also available on my local hard drive (for when I’m without internet)? Dropbox.
Aside from providing access to your files anywhere, even from your iPhone (viewing only), you can also save files securely, share any folder with a specific group, or put items into a public shared folder. Other features.
The first step is to download the Dropbox application. Second, copy your files into the Dropbox folder on your local computer. The files will automatically be uploaded to your Dropbox account online. If you install Dropbox on another computer, all files in the online account will be copied to the new local machine. Your files are now located in three places: original computer, online, and second computer. If a change is made on either of the computers then the file will automatically sync with the cloud and the other computer. Keep in mind that if you are uploading/downloading a huge number of files, it may take a while the first time but then only files with changes will sync.
In all it took about 6-hours to install Ubuntu on its own partition on my two Dell laptops and most of that time was unattended while running defrag on the Windows machines. The process is simple and I find the speed and power of the Ubuntu system to far outweigh my Windows environment. For now, I have kept Windows installed on the system because there are a couple applications I’d like access to and I’m not sure how well they will work in a virtual space. Perhaps at some future point I will recoup the Windows space too.
Here are the steps I took to install:
Download and create Ubuntu CD. Just follow their simple directions for creating and testing the installation CD (1-hour).
Remove any unnecessary applications from my Windows environment to free up space. Useful step on a smaller hard drive systems like mine (30-minutes).
Defrag Windows environment (4-hours).
Restart computer and boot to Ubuntu CD to begin install (30-minutes).
During the install, I manually created three new partitions (2 GB swap, 10 GB root, and 10 GB home) from the Windows partition.
Reboot and choose the OS to launch (Ubuntu or Windows).
That’s it! The Ubuntu install comes with Firefox, Open Office, Email application, and many other software options.