Realities of a Body

I am sick today. Boo hoo, poor me.

I made an extra garlic-and-oregano-y pesto, a near gallon of ginger/cinnamon/pepper/clove/lime tea, and am sipping some homemade chicken broth in hopes that it’ll somehow fix me up before tomorrow.

I don’t have time for being a vulnerable human!

 

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Are you my Pistachio ice cream?

This summer, I babysat a few kids.

Every time I drove to their house or to my home, I passed by “Baci Gelato.”

There was a clear voice in my head that said I should check it out, but somehow I kept putting it off until the second half of August.

Once I got in and saw that they had pistachio, that was the beginning of the end for me. (I gained 3 pounds in two weeks.)

Not only did they have pistachio, but the had the BEST pistachio gelato/ice cream/anything that I’d ever tasted. My drive home started to include a stop to get pistachio and another flavor. There was hazelnut, there was hazelnut-chocolate, mocha chip, cookies and cream, panna cotta, bla bla bla… and they were good, they were great even. But pistachio was always at the bottom of the cup, and I was always so happy to see it peek through.

Pistachio was always my favorite. Pistachio was always waiting for me underneath it all. Pistachio was what I chose every time, regardless of the other options.

And now I have to ask myself whether I have ever felt that way about a person. Have my relationships been the result of choosing my “favorite flavor” or being afraid to try the other flavors?

{This half-baked post is brought to you by getting pralines & cream and french pastry cheesecake ice cream at a different locale.}

 

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In other news,

I had a really hard day today because I spent the whole day and half of last night worried about something that didn’t even end up happening, even though I had every reason to think it would. Work was difficult and my mind was somewhere else and not helping the situation.

Then I went to teach my weekly yoga class and it ended up showing me how ridiculous my thoughts had been, how sick I was making myself. It also had a heart warming moment because one of the people in my class (now a certified yoga teacher) told me that my class was the first class she ever went to and it was the reason she got turned on to yoga. It’s an extraordinary honor to hear those words from another person. It’s so gratifying to know that my efforts accomplished something. I planted a seed in someone.

This morning, my niece was looking through a notebook in which I wrote a silly story for her about a year ago. She then asked, “Can we write another?” Of course we can, of course we did. But really, she wrote it. I gave some ideas and she put her words down.

So that’s my day in reverse. Watching two seeds planted over a year ago become something strong and beautiful. And ice cream. What a blessing.

 

 

Running Through Iceland

Last night I went for a run through a rainy Reykjavik. I  bumped into a few grannies on my way to the beautiful children’s museum where I met a couple of Polish men who I told I wanted to have a baby.

What a strange dream!

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Today on my way home from the bus stop, I composed this song just before I reached the front door:

“I’ve got butter on my toast, it is rad, it’s not gross.

I’ve got eggs on my plate, they’re not bland, they are great.

This strawberry and papaya smoothie is good, I’m not a liar (lie-ahhh).”

I was looking forward to breakfast…

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I tried explaining the state beyond mind to my lover. It was a comically frustrating experience. We tried exchanging out viewpoints on what constitutes art; it was pretty rough.

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so much to do…(but not really?)

 

 

Cycles

This morning, in the few minutes before it was time to send my niece off to school, I noticed that she was reading a 300-something page book.

I know she’s read the Harry Potter series, so it’s not like I didn’t know she can read, but seeing her hold this book in her hands, completely absorbed in it, I suddenly remembered that there was a time she was reading books with 10 pages. This is the same person!?

Then we walked over to the bus stop and stood with our faces turned toward the sun, waiting. Soon the other kids and some parents showed up, and in a moment the bus came around the corner. We hugged goodbye, and that was that, another morning gone according to plan.

As I walked back home, I walked toward the sun’s rays and realized that this was the first time I needed to put on a light jacket in months. Suddenly before my mind’s eye there were all the trips to and from the bus stop, in all the jackets, raincoats, sweaters, hats, shoes that have change with the seasons over the past few years…

There is this swiftness, this constant tick-tock, a growing awareness that the sands of time stop for no one, not even me.

And so the closing zen chant (evening gata) echoes through my mind:

Let me respectfully remind you
Life and death are of supreme importance
Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost
Each of us should strive to awaken…
Awaken…
Take heed.
This night your days are diminished by one.
Do not squander your life.

Source: Still Mind Zendo

Too much thinking/not enough doing

Hesitation;

staring into the hardwood floorboard soft with love and life,

watching invisible feet dance across, numerous hands dragging sopping rags,

sweaty, hungry men leisurely placing each piece down, 1939.

Holds us up, holds me up, holds me to the light to melt away the burrs

so i may be me, so i may be free, so i may be kind and give generously.

 

 

Walking with my Angels and Demons

Today I went on a moderately paced 8 mile hike through the southern edge of Harriman Park with a small group of people from the community college I used to attend (quite a few moons ago).

I breathed the air in and could suddenly recollect every other hike I’d ever been on this time of year. I concluded that this was my favorite time of year for hiking, that this is a intense time of year for me all around.

It’s the season of changes, vata season in ayurveda, and that means it’s easy to get carried away into the ether.

Somewhere in the process of my toes slamming into the fronts of my shoes and consistently dispersing the farts that were stirred up from deep inside me, I had a number of realizations about the darker aspects of my personality come through.

I am quick to be angry.

I’m not a fan of extroverts.

It takes me a long while to feel comfortable in the face of change

and related: I avoid doing things I would potentially like out of fear that I might break my comfortable routine. (aka COMFORT ZONE!)

It feels good (maybe I mean that in a masochistic way) to know where I fall short. I haven’t magically transformed as a result of this information, and it’s not the first time these thoughts have entered my mind, but they feel a little less serious, a little more manageable than before. That strikes me as a good sign.

All that meditation is finally paying off 😉

Aside from all that,

I thought of my grandmother a lot. I thought of my father a bunch. I thought of my mother a few times. I send my sister a telepathic message or three. I went through the rolodex of friends and acquaintances and wished them well. (Of course, they’ll likely never know, and would probably prefer that I actually contact them, but one step at a time…)

 

 

There were some interesting signs in Sloatsburg.

“God Bless America, God Bless Trump”

as well as

“Cops Lives Matter”

So there’s lots of that kind of stuff going on up there. It made me appreciate the cultural diversity I reside in day to day. In my suburban world, it’s easier to ignore the haters because they will very likely be shamed unless they find friendly ears to their sentiments.

I just… hate it all. Why must everything be politicized? Why can’t we speak with respect, even when we disagree?

I typed this whole paragraph of thoughts and questions on the matter but decided to delete it because I know it will not fix anything or clarify the situation. The best I can do is to practice patience and respect for those I don’t understand…and pray for understanding.

It’s a great personal challenge and I challenge you to the same!

 

Enjoy the grainy photos that I have shared from today’s adventure!

 

 

 

This is the moment, this is exactly what she was born to be

Somewhere between consciousness and sleep, I convinced myself that I had a brilliant idea for a blog post.

Then I pressed snooze three times and now that idea is long gone.

Then I went to work. Today is my favorite day; I get to teach meditation to people at a drug and alcohol rehab clinic.

Today we talked all about mindfulness.. mindful eating, mindful breathing, mindful listening…

We talked about how life isn’t just about chasing the stuff we like and avoiding the stuff we don’t like/makes us uncomfortable. It’s about inhabiting our bodies, accepting our thoughts, directly observing our present reality, non-judgementally.

It’s a tall order. It’s stuff that I surely haven’t mastered. It’s something that we know we “should” do but that sometimes seems beyond what is “realistic.”

Then, toward the end of class, someone raised their hand and asked me to explain the relationship between energy, vibration, healing, meditation, yoga, etc….

And so I leaped into this explanation of vibrating matter, of Shiva and Shakti, of the cosmic beat, of attunement, of harmony…trying to take all angles into account, trying to turn the very ethereal into something relatable…and amazingly, this is what got the most head nods out of my entire talk. This was something that everyone intuitively recognized and accepted. They knew that returning to the dance of life was what constituted healing, even if it wasn’t in so many words (I am good at ranting sometimes..if only I could be as fluent in my writing!).

Anyway, lots of internal epiphanies occur on Fridays when I am so lucky to speak about this subject and its many sub-branches, but right now all I want to say is this:

I am blown away, astounded, in awe, and forever in gratitude, for the blessing that it is to share my insights with others as an aid to their healing.

We’ve all been in situations which feel like very tightly wound and complicated knots. It’s very frustrating to then realize how much we’ve made that knot tighter and more complicated! The work is accepting our past errors, mustering the patience and understanding to approach those knots, and begin to slowly and tenderly unravel… And once we’ve done some unraveling, we can help others with their knots…and learn from others about the knots we’ve yet to get to…and help each other in this very grand tapestry.

In the words of brilliant poet Naomi Shihab Nye from her poem “Kindness”

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. You must wake up with sorrow. You must speak to it till your voice catches the thread of all sorrows and you see the size of the cloth.

Utilizing the Senses

Today I went to pottery class and made a small, strategically lopsided pumpkin.

This process began by making two identical pinch pots (aka small rounded bowl made by “pinching” the clay into submission).

The instructor said to me “Make the wall of the pinch pots evenly thick. It’s more about feeling than seeing.”

When she said it, I immediately had all these thoughts fire off in my mind. First, I was like “yeah yeah, I know that already, lady!” (there’s that fiery mind of mine on full display), then I thought “Wow, I never considered that not everyone would have access to this intuitive knowledge,” and then I thought, “WOW, this is yoga!”

This is a very visually oriented society in a visually oriented time in history. We live in a battlefield of advertisements that hook us in with extreme examples. I know I’ve never seen a before and after ad that said “You can’t see a difference, but the subtlety speaks volumes!”

We rely on sight to give us feedback about a great deal of our tasks. I don’t think that’s particularly helpful with many of the things that we accomplish day to day. I am a firm believer that our physicality expresses many things about us, but to shut out all other sensory input in favor of the being solely focused on what we can see means that we miss a lot of life. (Don’t judge a book by its cover and all that, right?)

For example, if I relied on my eyes to make my pinch pots “perfect,” I would really have a hard time noticing the thicker lumps of clay near the rim and the bottom. If I channel my attention to my hands and particularly the very sensitive finger pads, I can make a beautiful pinch pot with my eyes closed (think of Patrick Swayze in Ghost…;)), and I know I enjoy mushing my fingers in clay and experiencing the sensory input a lot more than I like starting at something and evaluating whether it is suitable.

How does this apply to yoga?

WELL!

Often, we see people doing all these poses, these beautiful poses, and we want to do them too, so we look at pictures, videos, instagram posts, read books, and keep an image of that pose in our mind. This is helpful and part of the process, but it becomes an obstacle when we are so chained to the image and appearance of the pose that we forget to feel the pose…breathe the pose…taste the pose…smell the pose. You know what I mean?!

What business do we have trying to imitate shapes like poorly trained/untrained acrobats? That can end in laughable fails or serious injury. When we EMBODY our beautiful bodies, feel our feelings, do OUR thing, then we arrive in shapes and mental planes that we never could have dreamed. No picture can show the internal experience, though some masters of photography, through skill and chance, come close at capturing that inner world at times.

I’m off to teach some yoga now. You can be sure I’ll be mentioning this string of thoughts. And someone will probably think “yeah yeah, I know that already, lady!” and I will deserve it.

Always learning…

Only Human

I just got back from a sweaty, fast-paced yoga class.

In the minutes preceding its start, I was convinced I had no energy left in me. I imagined myself rolling up my mat and walking out at least 5 times before we even started, and maybe 7 more times during the class itself.

This isn’t a feeling I get often.

At some point I found myself sweating through my pants, and realized that I am in it. I am not going to leave. And then it got much easier. I settled into the idea that I was going to make it into the end, and I did.

As soon as class was over, I went over to Ralph’s Italian Ices. I got a small with graham cracker, pumpkin, and strawberry cheesecake. It didn’t taste as delicious as my fantasies, but it was pretty good, I guess. I half-heartedly considered whether indulging in my ice cream fetish was immoral. I passed by two men eating their own ice creams and decided to let it go.

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After work today, I plugged in my electric ukulele and started to strum and sing. I’m not a brilliant musician, but music is for everyone, I’m convinced.

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Fall begins in two days, and I am filled with nostalgia and anxiety in the usual way that coincides with this time of year.

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I’m only human.