Sally in the Zen

Confessions of a Befuddled Zen Buddhist

Early Arrival

He’s coming!  He’s coming!

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Unprecedented Events – Part 2

Click here for Part One.


We believe that animals are quite intuitive to the goings-on in the world. If only we have the eyes to see and the ears to hear what they have to say.

48 hours later – Tuesday, August 23, 2011:

I was at work when the earthquake hit.  My first.  Ever.

I was on the phone when the woman on the other end started screaming that her building was shaking.  As soon as she said that, the floor underneath my own feet shook.  It started out slowly but gained in strength until I actually felt as if the building was rolling on a wave. 

A wave on Terra Firma!


I was caught in an earthquake!

Later I would find out that the East Coast suffered a 5.8 earthquake, originating from Mineral, Virginia.  But at the moment, I was living through my first earthquake and my first thought was to call Zen Master and Zen Mum.

And the phone just rang and rang.

Strangely enough, although the cell phones weren’t working, I finally got through to them by land-line. 

Zen Master had been in the kitchen, reading his Chinese newspaper.  Zen Mum was in the living room, watching TV.  When the earthquake struck, the house trembled.  Thinking that a neighbor was getting carried away with renovations, Zen Master didn’t pay it any mind until things started falling off the table.

And that was when he jumped up and raced to the living room to get Zen Mum. 

However, she didn’t move from the sofa. 

“What was that?”  she asked as she watched Zen Master race into the room. 

“Earthquake!  Earthquake!”  He grabbed her by the hand and dragged her to her feet.  “We got to go!”

And they stumbled out into the street, joining neighbors who had reacted faster and were already outside.

I thank God that they were all right.

I, on the other hand, wasn’t thinking to get out of my building. 

I actually stayed.

I don’t know why I did that.  Maybe because I was in denial, because there wasn’t supposed to be earthquakes here.  I live in Maryland, for goodness sake!

Maybe it was because I believed that I was not in harm’s way.

Maybe it was because it couldn’t possibly happen to me.

When all was said and done, I did what any sane person who survived her first earthquake would do.

I went to Happy Hour and devoured an order of Truffle French Fries.

Later that same evening, finally safe and sound at home with Zen Master and Zen Mum, I stood by my bedroom window and finally heard them.

The crickets were chirping loudly. 

The evening sounds of their song, Nature’s night music had returned.

Where had they been?


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I do not want the peace which passeth understanding, I want the understanding which bringeth peace. ~ Helen Keller

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Unprecedented Events – Part 1

Sunday, August 21st, 2011:

It all started with one seemingly innocent statement.

“It’s so quiet.”  Zen Master muttered with a slight frown.  He said this a moment after we left the house, but I wasn’t really paying attention.

Zen Master, Zen Mum and I were out and about, doing our usual nothings on a bright, sunny Sunday.

In the midst of our power-walking around the high school track, Zen Master glanced around the trees and remarked again about the quiet. 

While we were grocery shopping, while I was lugging bags of foodstuff out of the shopping cart into the car trunk, Zen Master looked up at the blue sky and mumbled . 

While we were window-shopping around the mall, again as we stepped out into the parking lot to go home, Zen Master tilted his head towards the sky and paused.

This was happening all day long.  It wasn’t until we finally came home that I finally bit the bullet and asked.

“What’s so quiet?”  I watched him look back up at the sky and glance around for something.  “You’ve been acting funny all day.  Are you okay?”

“There’s no birds.”  Zen Master  remarked.  “There hasn’t been any birdsong all day.  No crickets singing.  No anything.”

That was when I became aware of his observation.  There was no sound.  No wind.  No birds.  No crickets. 


“I wonder where all the birds went.”  Zen Master murmured.  “It’s just so strange.  I wonder what’s going on.”

This reminded me of the Chinese folklore that he loved to tell me about once in a while.  The condensed version was that on the 7th day of the 7th month of each year, all the birds would disappear and there would be utter silence across the land.  They all were helping the children of a Goddess visit their immortal mother in only that one day out of the entire year.

I’ll tell you about it sometime.

But that Sunday was like a page out of that Chinese folklore.

Except it wasn’t the 7th day of the 7th month of the year.


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A Sentimental Fool

Riddle me this.

What is bright, golden white, something that I crave with a fiery passion of a supernova that leaves a scorcher of intense color?

Why, the beach, of course!


There’s absolutely something about the the warm sand and the cold ocean under my feet that leave me speechless in awe.  The salty air.  The ocean wind, the mouthwatering smell of greasy broadwalk fries and grilled onions wafting on it. 


I can honest-to-goodness almost smell those onions!






Ok, I’m finished now.



Zen Master, Zen Mum and I recently spent a glorious week at Rehoboth Beach, DE.

It was wonderful.

On the morning of our last day, Zen Master and I woke up at 5:00 AM to catch the sunrise.  When I asked Zen Mum if she wanted to join us, she just grunted at me before rolling over and falling back to sleep. 

Call me a romantic sentimental fool, but I just wanted to breathe in the morning salt air and witness a sunrise on our last day at the beach.  Zen Master certainly thought so.

Until he started walking the broadwalk with me that early morning.

We didn’t speak much.  We just meandered in the cool morning air, listening to the sea gulls screeching, the ocean waves crashing. 

It was relatively empty, except for the occasional jogger or power-walker.

It was lovely. 

So after strolling up and down the broadwalk, it finally was time for the brilliant sunrise.

According to the weather almanac, it was supposed to rise at 5:58 AM. 

And was it brilliant?

Did we witness the fiery ball of golden nature?!

Was the sky blazing with phoenix fire?

Uh, nope.

Not this morning.

C’est la vie.

“This is the first time that I’ve seen a sunrise at the beach.” Zen Master said.

“Really?”  I asked.  Although it really was quite overcast and nary a hint of orange sunlight.  We watched as the skies lightened.

“Since I’ve been in the United States.”  He murmured.  “The last time I saw a sunrise was when I was still in China.”

That was food for thought, really, because he’s been in the US for over forty years. 

To be a witness to a first for my Dad.

Yes, I am a sentimental fool.

And I thank Grace for allowing me to give that to my Zen Master.

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The Question

I am officially one year old today.  YEA ME!

I read somewhere that in order to truly move forward, one needs to reflect back and remember where one came from. 

A year ago:

  • I was a year younger.
  • I was blogging regularly.
  • Zen Master and Zen Mum puttered along with me, when they’re not working at their schools.


  • I’m a year older. 
  • I blog not so regularly because I’m in between mini-projects.
  • Zen Master and Zen Mum are going to be grandfolks in a couple of months.
  • I’m going to be a first time auntie.
  • Zen Master and Zen Mum are still puttering along with me, when they’re not working at their schools.
  • According to Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News, we’re living in a year with record-breaking weather-related events, such as the most hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes ever in history.

The other day a friend and I were at the gym, chatting as we stood in line to get into the Zumba class. 

She (discussing her reason for going back to school for nursing):  I’m 30 years old and I was going nowhere.  I hated my job and I just wanted to do something that would give me meaning.  I mean, time was just going by and if I didn’t do something about it now, it was just going to fly right by me and I’ll never get another chance like this again!  I mean, I’m 30 years old!

Me:  Wow.  That’s great.

She:  I mean, my husband and I had a long talk about it because I would have to quit my job and go to school full-time with student loans.  It’s going to be tough on us for awhile, but I mean, it’s a long term investment.  I just had to do it!  I mean, I’m 30 years old!

I’d wondered how she would take it if I told her that I was ten years older than her?

But that’s beside the point because what she was saying was the point.

I’ve actually been pondering on my own direction for the last few months.  Hence, that’s why I’ve been throwing myself into a handful of personal projects that have been eating away at my time away from blogging.

All for the purpose of trying to figure out the answer to the Question.

Question:  what’s next?

Which has ultimately lead me to think about my bucket list.  Maybe I should stop thinking about it and start doing something with it.

Am I going through a mid-life crisis?

Maybe, but here begins the pursuit of answering the Question.  Is it a coincidence that I start this on my one-year birthday?

So, what’s next?

I’m going skydiving.


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I need to share an observation.

In my younger years, people would ask me the usual coming-of-age rites of passage life questions. 

What do you want to be when you grow up?


When are you going to get yourself a boyfriend?

Why, next week.  I penciled it into my calendar.  Thanks for asking.

When are you going to get married?

As soon as Jet Li or Keanu Reeves pop the question.  I’m quite patient.

How many kids are you going to have?

Sorry, nothing gonna squeeze out of this puppy.

But I’ve found that I’m not getting those questions anymore.  Instead, the one constant inquiry that’s replaced all these questions is: 

Do you have kids?


When I’m standing in line at Starbucks…

Do you have kids?

When I’m sitting there minding my own business…

Do you have kids?

When I’m getting a filling done at the dentist office…

Do you have kids?

I guess it’s a way to make polite conversation, but it’s fascinating! 

Can you imagine if this was a pick-up line?

How would it rank against the others?  (Not that I’ve ever got asked any of them.)

Hey Baby, what’s your sign?

Man, you got a hot body!  Would you hold it against me?

Do you have a map, ’cause I keep getting lost in your eyes?

Do I know you?  ‘Cause you look like my next girlfriend!

Do you have kids?

Nope, nope. 

Doesn’t have quite the same panache.

Ah, well.

Story of my life.

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Morning Glory

So I’m sitting there, minding my own business, when I hear a chirp! chirp!

Glancing down at my phone, I see that someone sent me a text message.

I didn’t recognize the number but I still click on the message and open it.

See the penis sticking out?  He’s proud and showing off his penis!


Some sick pervert just spammed me!


I opened a message that probably had a virus and was now bugging my phone!


What the *&^%$ is this crap? 

Then I scrolled down further on the message and a black & white picture rolled up.

I squinted at it, completely confused and truly befuddled.


Then I realized that I was looking at an ultrasound, with something highlighted in white in the middle of the shot.

And then I remembered that just a few minutes before, my brother had texted me that he and E were having a boy!  They had been at the doctor’s office and finally found out the gender.  It’s official!

It’s a boy!

Hello, my nephew!  Thank you so much for flashing me with your morning glory.

Uh, I didn’t mean to call you a sicko.

Or a pervert.

Nephew:  Auntie, what’s a pervert?

Me:  uh…

Nephew:  Auntie, what’s *&^%$?  What does it mean? 

Me:  uh oh

Nephew:  one

Auntie Sally in the Zen:  zero

Kid’s not even here yet and he’s winning.

What’s up with that?

Happy Monday, Everyone!

So glad to be back.

Sally in the Zen

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