It is nothing short of empowering.
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Sometimes I do things that others wouldn't dare to try, simply to fulfill the need to feel extraordinary.
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
How often do you see a cute puppy, purse, pair of shoes or even a car and immediately think, "I NEED that!" As humans it happens to us on a daily basis. Something in us triggers the greed switch and we must own the object we love. It's not always a bad thing. Sometimes it serves a real purpose. And it's not surprising, considering that we are bombarded with advertisement every time we turn a corner. We are conditioned to want. I think a real issue arises when that conditioning transfers to our view of the people around us. I have a sweet friend whom I adore. She moved into my neighborhood about 5 years ago, and the first time I met her I couldn't help but think, "I want to keep her!" From accumulation of past experience, I know that it doesn't work that way with people. My friend and I spend a lot of time together for a few months, and then when that didn't work well, we saw each other rarely, and felt awkward when we did. Then one day as we talked, we realized we could adore each other intensely, see each other periodically, and still live our separate lives. We didn't have to get matching t-shirts, adopt each others hobbies, and go to yoga class together to have love and admiration between us. People aren't objects. You can't buy them and carry them around in your pocket. That's not love, it's selfish in every sense of the word. The problem is that our consumer society is conditioned to work that way. Why are divorce rates so high, and physical and emotional abuse so rampant? When you look at it simplistically, and for the sake of making my point, marriage is our only legal way of owning a person. My husband is mine, and I am his- willingly and happily in our instance.
We must love a person enough to allow for their needs. We must allow them to learn and struggle. We can be there when they need us, but let go of our need for control.Learning and experiencing this principle of unconditional love has not only brought me the most nourishing, lasting and beautiful friendships I have ever had, but has strengthened my relationship with my husband. He is secure in his place in my heart and my life. It is not a slot to fill, to be changed out at will. Our relationship exists because of the two of us.
When I realized that people were not objects there to fill the slots- best friend, husband, neighbor, acquaintance, etc. - my world expanded. The 'slots'- those places in my life, are infinite and beyond definition. As infinite as the number of people I may ever come in contact with.We can let go of requirements, and realize that just because we don't share views or don't see each other often, it does not make that person unworthy of care. We can also have everything in common and love intensely without the obsession of ownership and without endangering the relationships that we have.
When it comes to personal relationships, the choices aren't own or shun. There is love enough.
Monday, October 22, 2012
Last year I bought an online Italian Language course. It seemed to me like a perfectly normal and rather exciting thing to do. But when I told friends and family about it, the first thing they asked me was, "Why?" My gut reaction was an incredulous, "Why not?" Why wouldn't I want to be able to communicate with more people in a country that I'm dying to swallow whole? I'm a chronic and insatiable learner. I've had friends joke that they think I know everything. I just laugh at the absurdity and counter that I Google well. When someone asks me a question and I don't know the answer, I have the instant need to research ad nauseam. I like to know things. I like to know what to plan on and what to plan for, how things work and why they do. No, I was never a boy scout (though I did scout for boys back in the day), but do I like to Be Prepared. It has been a recurring struggle for me that life is full of not knowing. It doesn't matter how much I research, there will always be mitigating factors, unforeseen changes, and inaccuracies. The older I get and the more professional and well-educated people I meet, the more I realize just how much we don't know. We are so busy trying to convince each other that our way is the way, that we don't stop to think that there are an infinite number of ways, and while our way works well for us, all we can do is make our suggestions, let others take what suits them and do with it what they will. Even the "facts" are just educated guesses anyway.
We are all winging it.One could easily take this realization and spiral into panic, flailing madly in anxiety, worry and depression over what may or may not be to come. But what good would that do? If I worry over something, does it change the outcome? If I throw enough time and stress into it, will I get an inkling of what is to come? And even if I did see what might happen, would I go forward with it? And If I backed out of that particular experience, would I have any clue of the wonderful things that might have happened or the lessons I would have learned? I think we can safely answer all of those questions with a resounding NO. In worrying, we waste energy and miss out on the present moment.
If you can solve your problem, then what is the need of worrying? If you cannot solve it, then what is the use of worrying? ~ ShantidevaWhy are we all such silly control freaks, when there is so much we can't control anyway? Don't get me wrong. There are efforts to be made, planning is good, and being prepared is nothing to sneeze at. But we must do all of these things with those infinite unknowable possibilities in mind. We need to acknowledge and even find comfort in the fact that we don't know, we can't know, and life will almost always surprise us. But no matter how brilliantly or badly things go, they go on. We come down from our highs, we brush off the dust, and we keep going. I find comfort and wonder in realizing that, "This too shall pass." Not just the hard times, but the good times too. It helps me to revel in the moment and love where I am, and when I am. Rather than mourning what is gone while it is still here, be where you are. Be ALL there.
When you can embrace uncertainty and sit comfortably in your "I don't knows", that's faith. Faith in yourself, faith in the goodness and intelligence of others, faith in higher purposes, and faith in God. Faith that the world has gone on before you and will go on after you, and faith that you are what and where you are supposed to be.
Friday, October 12, 2012
On Wednesday night, I attended yoga class at Mindful & Embodied. I hadn't been feeling 100%, so I thought I'd take it easy and just be kind to my body. The studio can barely be called such- it is tiny. Attendance was definitely at maximum for the limited space. By the time we started class, Natalie, our instructor, was chuckling over rearranging mats and using students as guides as she surrendered her own mat space. The mood was light and comfortable. It was obvious that most of us were fairly experienced in yoga and a few were her current or former trainees. As Natalie inquired as to our bodily well being and felt out what the practice for the evening should entail, the word that made my heart jump was ASHTANGA. I was in for it. I know my own propensity to challenge myself, and I knew I wouldn't be content with child's pose for half of practice, but I shucked my fear and dove in with a smile. It was a challenging, intimate and fantastic practice. By the end I felt I glowed from the inside out, but what truly left residue in my mind were words of thought from our instructor. Just as fourteen sweaty bodies steadied into a shoulder stand in Baddha Konasana, she spoke of Gentle Persistence. I don't know if she meant to reference it solely from a physical standpoint, but it lit a spark in my mind which shed a ray of enlightenment and brought to mind my sweet daughter, and another word: Patience. Of my four children, my first daughter has been as much challenge to me as joy. She is bold, questioning, bright. She is the embodiment of my own control issues and she is shaping me at least as much as I am shaping her. I find myself snapping at her persistence even as I know how well it will serve her in life, and angry in my own parental insecurities. In that mindful moment the words Gentle Persistence began a soothing echo in my soul. I am faced with stepping back from myself and my own issues, and seeing her for what she is- brilliant, powerful, full of raw potential in need only of love and gentle nudges of guidance as she makes her way. As she makes her way. My job as a parent is not to mold her every move and perception until she follows suit. I am not raising her to be me. Yes, I have influence as her mother, and she will probably adopt some of my habits, for better or worse, and maybe curse me for it someday. But this sterling little soul is the only one of her on this planet. To stuff her into my limited mortal view of what she might be would be sinful- not to mention painful for the both of us. I must love and let be. Her mistakes are hers to make, and the only claim I have to her talents is the right to nurture them. Like all children, she does need guidance, but the funny thing about persistence is that too much of it creates forceful resistance, while too little leaves us directionless. When we find that sweet spot of Gentle Persistence, magic can happen. Elasticity, guidance, discovery and growth. Considering a gentle aspect allows for kindness- to others and to ourselves.
Whether in parenting our children, expanding our knowledge, or improving our bodies, there is great value in an approach of Gentle Persistence.
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Why You Shouldn't Burn More Than 4,000 Calories a Week in Exercise
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
I recently was privileged to go on a trip to Zion National Park with some of my very favorite people. It was, in every sense of the word, inspiring. I'm not sure what exactly flipped the switch, but I've been on fire since.
I am finally going to fulfill my dream of more than a decade and certify as a yoga teacher.The details are uncertain and I still have to finalize my studio choice and find a way to pay for my training, but I have faith that it will all come together as I work it out and follow this path- My path. My current students and I are so excited!!
Monday, October 8, 2012
When we respect the ins and outs of our bodies, and do all we can to facilitate proper function, we cannot help but improve every aspect of our lives.I have had my own past struggles. Acne, obesity, hormone imbalance, depression, and injury to name a few. I was raised in a very health conscious manner, and after a dark and confusing time in my life, sought to return to the relative health I'd enjoyed growing up. My life so far, like many of those seeking health, has been a roller coaster. Highs of "I think I've got it!" give way to lows of, "I don't even care anymore." And despite efforts and following the marketed advice, we give in to the sad little voice that says, "It must just be me." Sadly, many never see the variables involved- the way our environment has been tampered with, the profit-driven bad science that has been pushed into our consciousness. For far too many, the game has been rigged, and we haven't a chance of winning with the rules we've been given. I've come to believe through my own experience, that our physical health and well being is a powerful fulcrum in the balance we all strive for. Unfortunately, with so many variables thrown in, this means far too many of us are in complete disarray on a daily basis. I'd like to share a few points that have helped me immensely in making sense of it all. (Please keep in mind that I'm not a doctor, nor am I intending to dole out medical advice, these are based on my personal research and experience.)
1- What you eat effects your hormone production. Hormones are how our body communicates with itself. You screw with hormone production, you screw with everything. Did you know that inadequate saturated fat and cholesterol intake impairs your body's ability to produce hormones? WHAT?? Yep. I just said that. Fats and proteins from healthy, happy animals are a must for the healthiest me. Our "fat-free" revolution has messed us up big time. And our obsession with poly-unsaturated fatty acids (vegetable oil, corn oil, canola oil, soybean oil... notice the only oil that can come from these has to be chemically extracted?) has our essential fatty acid balances way out of whack. What's this mean? Depression, feminine issues or low testosterone, weight gain and/or hard loss, skin issues... and much, much more! There are plenty of other food substances that can knock your hormone production out of whack, including too much soy consumption, GMO foods, and excess sugar/carbohydrate intake (this includes anything that turns into sugar in your blood stream like grains and starches). The bulk of our food should be unprocessed- Veggies, fruits, meats, eggs, fish and nuts. 2- Become a food snob. Quality food matters. Check your labels. I go organic whenever possible. I try to get my meat and eggs pasture fed and free range. I get my fish wild caught. This is the best way to keep my toxic load low. I'm not perfect at this, but every little bit helps! If I am going to splurge once in a while, (which I highly encourage) I make my chocolate high quality and dark, and my ice cream of whole, high quality ingredients. 3- It's not just what we eat. Our skin is one of our largest and most absorbent organs. The shampoo, conditioner, lotion, makeup, etc that we use is often laden with petrochemicals, xenoestrins and cancer causing agents. I discovered my own significant sensitivity to parabens in particular when my periods became horribly heavy and irregular, my weight hit an all time high, and I just felt beaten all of the time. Consider simplifying your skin and body care and going with more natural alternatives. 4- I love essential oils and plant medicine. If you aren't familiar with them, I suggest you become so. Essential oils are gentle, effective, and have few side effects. I use them daily. They have the power to cleanse, support the immune system, alkalize the blood, aid in hormone balance, and fight the bad bugs without taking out the good ones. Get educated and become your own first defense against illness. 5- There is such thing as too much exercise. If you are killing your self for an hour or more every day, in my opinion, you're doing it wrong. As they say, "abs are born in the kitchen". Fuel matters, and exercise should be enhancement to health, not the driving force. I had my phase of eating vegetarian and waking up early to beat myself up for over an hour every day. Did I lose weight? Yes. Was it sustainable? No. Was I a hormonal and exhausted basketcase? You betcha. I think that rest is just as important as movement. I am in nowise meaning to insinuate that I don't advocate exercise. I do!! And how!! But I think getting more bang for your buck so that you have time to sleep, rest, play and live is a smarter way to go about it than hitting the treadmill and hating it. For me, once I got my food in order, the exercise thing fell into place. I have enough energy that I need to move and I love it! I trail run a few miles once a week, I do yoga, I do High Intensity Interval Training or lift heavy things once a week, and I play a lot- climb a rock, try a balance pose, chase some kids (preferably ones who know and trust me). Short and intense is what my body loves. I also let my body rest. I'm a big fan of Mark Sisson's Primal Blueprint and Primal Blueprint Fitness. You can subscribe to the free newsletter and download the free e-book at Mark's Daily Apple. 6- You have to be able to live this way and love it. If you are on a "program" and counting down the days, it's almost a given that you won't stick with it. Whatever healthy lifestyle you choose to live, it needs to be one you love, that allows you to live. This means habits need to be consciously and mindfully changed so that you are working with your body, not against it.
Our body chemistry is intricately interlaced with our emotions and thus our spirituality. To master the heavenly, we must honor and respect the earthly.
Saturday, October 6, 2012
Just let yourself be happier.This very happy fellow in the picture above is my cousin Tyler. That is one happy kid, with a smile so bright it could knock the worry right out of you. He passed away 5 years ago in an accident at a rather epic family reunion. We watched as family members and paramedics fought to keep him with us. We all said a tearful goodbye before they turned off his machines. I've never been so utterly traumatized. It was also one of the most peaceful and reassuring times of my life. Tyler's parents, my Aunt Deb and Uncle Dave would probably say the same thing- times a million. Their hearts were torn open. Their pain was palpable, but so was their peace, their joy... their happiness. They had faith. They let it be. There was trust there, that this was an intricate part of their journey. They tapped into their divinity. They embodied their sorrow and their joy- let them coexist. They spread that peace like a balm over all of us. Deb and Dave drew us together in that tragedy and taught me an invaluable lesson that took me months and years to fully process. It was the beginning of a beautifully metamorphic journey for me. I think I will be learning from that instance for the rest of my life. You see, having a rough day, or even a tragic life-changing one, does not define who I am. I can feel frustration or pass through sadness without being them. The tough emotions don't cancel out all that is good in me and in my life.
I am coming to realize that my happiness is not contingent upon circumstance.
And that is freeing.
Friday, October 5, 2012
"People change for two reasons; Either they've learned enough that they want to, or they've been hurt enough that they have to."Change is inevitable. We are brought up expecting to become someone. To "come into ourselves" and find who we want to be, as if there were an end game. A final, shiny self to display for the world to see and declare, "I made it!" I feel that this is a flawed concept. As humans we are inconstant. There is nowhere to arrive to- the journey never ends. Our surroundings are constantly changing, the variables are endless and we choose whether to act upon them, or react to them. The act of learning is a privileged choice. It is the only control we truly have. All else is illusion. Pain comes from resistance. If we only change when we've left ourselves no other choice, we are in for a painful journey- a stagnant and stuttering journey. We must choose to bend and flow, to reinvent, and to constantly redefine. Plans, interests, talents, passions, they all change. This is not a matter of loss and gain, but a natural and necessary flow of growth. Six years ago I started a photography business. I was good at what I did and irresistibly passionate about it. I thought that I'd finally found what I would be. My best friend at the time, in the interest of loyalty, passed word to me that a dear loved one whose opinion I valued highly had expressed rather flippantly that it "wouldn't last long, because Kakes can't stick to anything." I was incensed. Couldn't she feel my passion?? Didn't she know this was it for me? I was a photographer. I determined there and then that I would prove her wrong. I was so adamant that this was my definition, that I clung to it for four years until I hated it. Every time I got a new client I resented them. I couldn't even appreciate the work of other photographers without feeling bitter. I couldn't think of attending a photography workshop because I was already a photographer! I was stuck. I wanted to run, screaming. I am just now beginning to be able to pick up my camera without flinching in fear of it's chains. What I am learning is that life is not all or nothing forever. I am what I am at any given moment. At times I am passionate, bursting and ready to strive greatly. Others I am content to be deep and still. We are all fluid. We must learn to stop trying to hold water still in our hands. Life will flow with or without our resistance. When we look forward rather than futilely thrashing about, then we might get to steer.
"Thus, flexibility, as displayed by water, is a sign of life. Rigidity, its opposite, is an indicator of death." ~Anthony Lawlor