STRUTTING IT IN MY STYLE

Saturday, my favourite day of the week. The sky and air are heavy, pressing their weight on me. It is difficult to feel at ease with the day. I am proceeding as best as I can. The time is appropriate to be reading Pema Chodron’s The Places That Scare You, A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times. There are many places and things that scare me but I am learning to sit and stay with them. I am learning to be a warrior-bodhisattva though I am at times quivering in my seat.

I should really come here regularly, more often than I have of late. I should but haven’t. I am really doing the best I can most days. I should give up the shoulds and just accept myself as I am. The complete acceptance of ourselves as we are is called maitri. The 4 qualities of maitri that are cultivated when we meditate are: steadfastness, clear seeing, experiencing our emotional distress and attention to the present moment.


It’s Sunday morning. It has drizzled overnight. The sky is overcast but the sun is trying to show up. I am, too. I am glad to have an art challenge to do. When the going gets tough, it is helpful to have a ‘chore’ to do. I’m doing Daisy Yellow’s annual ICAD (index card a day). It gives me a start to the day when I’m in stuck mode. I’ve been feeling stuck for too long now. At the end of the day I’ve created one thing even if it is the only thing.

Today is such a day. I haven’t even gotten out of my pjs. I should have used the momentum from the paint session to propel myself forward onto another activity. I didn’t. But I did learned that once I put a splash of paint on the card, it painted itself. The paint and brush had a life of their own. They were guiding and soothing me. I was infused with this exquisite feeling inside. My judgement and criticisms of my work and style evaporated. I was happy just pushing the paint around the card. I felt delicious just being me, painting the way I do. Perhaps I’m not stuck but just staying with being myself.

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WEEKEND MUTTERINGS

I’ve never ever found an optimum time for doing anything or an easy time for starting something. Truth be told, I’m a daydreamer, a doodler, lounger, wistful thinker. In short I’m a procrastinator, trying to hold life at bay. What is this fear of starting and living?, I ask myself. I have no clue, no inkling of an idea but just this physical discomfort of not wanting to commit. Laugh if you will but we all know that he who laughs first, laughs last. I am sure you have that procrastinator in you, too. Only you haven’t recognized yourself in the mirror.

I see myself as molasses in winter mode. It is cool this morning. I see my little cucumber plants shivering in the raised bed in the front yard. First the heat. Now the chill. I hope they make it. I’ve never had much luck with them except for one year. Now that’s something to aim for. Something to get my juices flowing and off my butt. It takes patience and persistence to succeed at anything. My cyclamen is such a testament. I gave it the attention it needed. I don’t have a steady supply of that either. It comes in sporatic spurts. I’m not good when the going gets tough. Sometimes I abandon ship. Now that’s another thing to work on.


It’s another morning. I’ve clearly abandoned ship yesterday before finishing this conversation. I’m going through a spell. I’m lacking motivation. Nothing turns me on but I’m working on it. I feel as if I can’t even get myself out of a wet paper bag. Sometimes I just have to put in the effort as if I do love it, whether I feel it or not.  That’s life. What is it that gets you up and going? What are your secrets for joie de vivre? What keeps you on the job till it’s finished?

I’m sipping on my cuppa, my favourite diversion for not doing. I’m glued to my chair but at least I am flexing my fingers, tapping on the keyboard. I’m trying to stay awake, thinking of how to overcome my inertia, how not to feel overwhelmed about our climate crisis. What else can I do not to contribute to the carbon footprint? How can I get outside of myself to help the world I live in. These are some of my thoughts on this sunny cool June morning. Perhaps I can bake some rhubarb crisp to warm up. I’ve been making rhubarb sour cream muffins the last 2 days but I’ve run out of sour cream.

 

 

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IN THE CUL-DE-SAC

I should listen to my own advice about starting. It’s not that I don’t want to. Sometimes I have to go through the period of being stalled, being hung in limbo, midair, not wanting to commit. Call it what you will. Maybe it’s my ritual of some sort. It’s good to have rest periods. I do feel an obligation not to waste time, to fill every moment of useful doings.

I’ve been caught in the limbo of not doing for days now. Every evening I catch myself saying, I will start in the morning. In the morning I find it is so much easier to sink into tomorrow is another day. It’s not that I’ve been a couch potato. On the contrary I’ve been on the ‘busy routine’ of living every day, doing the famous ‘busy stuff’ that everyone does.

It’s not that I have so many important things to do or to contribute. It’s that I’ve been  stuck in the cul-de-sac of lassitude, of not caring, of not having meaning, of not being important, of not being present. Perhaps it is called feeling sorry for myself or being in a depressive mood. My favourite excuse is that summer is not my favourite season. It brings out not so good memories of growing up in small town Saskatchewan. Everyone in town goes away to the lake or wherever on holidays, except the Chinese people who has the cafe. Oh, I remember those hot summer days of watching flies drone against the window screen and looking out at the empty dusty streets.

It’s strange how memories live in the very marrow of me. They are hidden deep inside and seep out on hot summer days. No need to worry about me. It’s just the way I talk/write. It’s healthy to be curious and investigate my feelings. It’s good to lay them down on the page in black and white. These ebb and flow of feelings are part of being alive. Feelings come and go like the tide. It’s like breathing in and out. Some are good and some not so. I’m still learning to accept them all, to sit with them as I must.

I’ve been reading Pema Chodron’s The Places That Scare You. I’m learning about Bodhichitta, being a warrior and staying in those scary places. It’s helping me to finally relax into life and not take things so seriously. Life is serious but things are not. I’m seeing the light now. Times when I don’t will come again. I have the words now. They could go away tomorrow. It’s all a cyle, the yin and the yan. That’s what I know for sure.

 

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JUST START

It’s friggin’ hard!

Beginnings are hard. How many times have I said that already? A zillion and yet I have found no easy solution. I just have to make a mark somewhere; say something, anything; make a decision one way or another; etc. etc. So often, too often, I’m frozen with indecision, speechless with no words, immobilized with inaction. Sometimes this is worse than doing and saying the wrong things. This is what I’m trying to push through today.

It is very disconcerting. I’m squirming with the discomfort but I’m learning to sit with it, however long it will take. I’m too addicted to the idea of speed, that it shouldn’t take time and effort to do anything. I’ve bought into the idea I can tap, search, enter, and presto! The thing is done. I’ve been short circuiting my brain and short changing myself the experience of doing, following through and completing. No wonder I’m absent minded and forgetful. I have no grooves to store anything. I flit from thing to thing, one idea to another in nana seconds. I do not allow feelings to sink in.


It’s been a few days since I wrote the above. I’m having a writer’s block. It could be I’m just lazy. I’m having a tough go finding meaningful ideas and words. In this moment I am hot and overcome with malaise. But I can still tap with my fingers. How strange that I could feel cold upon waking at 6 this morning. I don’t know what the temperature was then. By 10 am it was already 21 degrees Celsius. Now it is 28 Celsius. I’m feeling all the distress of daily fluctuating temperatures.

So what can I do to alleviate my distress? Coming back to this space helps. The rhythm of tapping on the keyboard is soothing. I’m flexing my small muscles. Asking the question starts me thinking about solutions. It lessens the feeling of being trapped and helpless. I’m quieting my mind and body, taking some deep slow breaths. Recently I came upon Dr. Weil’s 4-7-8 breathing technique where you breathe in to the count of 4, hold for count of 7 and breathe out to the count of 8 for 4 breath cycles. I’ve been doing this twice a day for a few days. I hope to keep it up for a month at least. It takes very little time and the benefits are huge.

 

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WHAT HAVE I DONE

What can I do? What have I done?  I use these 2 questions when I am stuck and I’m stuck often. So I’ve just finished the dishes from lunch. I’m sitting here with my cuppa green tea. Thought I would try something new besides my usual Orange Pekoe, especially when I have a cupboard full of all sorts. Some of them are from Sri Lanka. I see that Orange Pekoe is not a bad choice. It has many health benefits. But I am going to shake up my taste buds and experiment with different teas as well as food. Green tea is even better than black tea because it is not as processed.

I’ve been reading the ebook, Ketotarian by Will Cole from the library. I found it very informative and useful so I ordered my own copy from Amazon. It has many recipes that I want to try out. I was going through my closet the other day and was dismayed to find that my waist line has increased many inches this past year. My belly fat is out of control and is hanging over the waist band. It is not helping my blue mood. It is another thing I can do to help myself. I do not need to let everything hang out. I hope the book will help me to keep some things in.

Life continues to be hard. It is the next morning. I have problems finishing things as well. I am trying my best. What I can do is make a list of what I have done.

  • I’ve gotten up, dressed up and shown up here today.
  • I do my qigong routine most mornings. I have done it today.
  • I’ve folded and put away yesterday’s laundry.
  • Sorted out my pants in the closet. Experienced items that did not give me joy. Those have been taken to Value Village.
  • Struggled with sorting, cleaning and putting away seeds,pots and trays for starting the bedding plants.
  • Struggled to be in the present moment every day.
  • Taken Sheba to the dog park more often. It’s good for her and myself as well to mingle with other dogs and people.
  • Do blocks of art. Mostly it’s been embroidery on the machine lately.

Questions and lists can prod me from being stuck. I have to make physical evidence of them. Having them in my head does no good. They would be fuel for rumination. I do that too much already. I have to get off my fat ass and work it! But what would be good to chew on is the 4 mantras that I’ve learned from Thick Nhat Hanh this morning.

  1. Darling, I’m here for you.
  2. Darling, I know you are there.
  3. Darling, I know you suffer. I’m here for you.
  4. Darling, I suffer. Please help me.
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CONVERSATIONS, DEAD HORSES AND SLEEPING ELEPHANTS

It really is easier to keep the conversation going than to let it drop. It is like that with many things including relationships. Once dropped, it is difficult to pick up the thread of where you’ve left off. There are moments when I wondered if the dropped things are better left where they are. Is there any point in stirring the dead ashes of the conversations or anything else?  Dead is dead. There are no hidden golden nuggets. What was is.

 

But I am a bit of a fool and a tenacious one at that, especially when I was younger. I tend to flog a dead horse alot. I keep hoping against hope that I can stir it to life and we can ride off into the sunset together. I guess you can call me a self-abuser. It’s worse than somebody else beating on me. But I haven’t seen it till now. So I guess it is good to have these conversations. It leads to self knowledge. There are hidden jewels in the debris after all. I can stop beating on the dead horse now.

There’s only the elephant in the room to deal with. But maybe not just now though. It’s best to let sleeping elephants lie. I know there is room. Let’s enjoy the peace. Let us not stir up trouble when there is none. Maybe there is no elephant to trip over. He only exist in my head, stitched in brilliantly coloured threads. He’s there to cheer me out of my glooms, to lend me his trunk to lean on. He can take my weight, ease my burden, lend me his ears. He is strong, silent and infinitely patient. He is my perfect imaginary friend. Do you have one?

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WHEN THINGS FALL APART

Some days are harder to show up than others. I meant to come yesterday. When that didn’t happen I was trying for this morning but somehow I lost my way here. Distractions, thoughts, feelings, putting off and avoidance all contribute. It is always so much easier to go with the flow, not commit and not show up. But I am finally here in the after glow of supper and wine.

I have to admit that I’m feeling the boogeyman again.He shows up now and again. I’m awashed with the heebie jeebies. I’m ok though. I’m not off and running away to anywhere. I tell myself to stay. It’s just sensations.  I’ve been practicing and applying mindfulness. It’s such synchronicity that I am reading Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart at this time, too. She tells us that fear and anxiety are all part of being human along with all the other emotions. They all serve a purpose. I am learning to see my feelings in a different way, trying not to label them as good or bad and not trying to rid them.  I am the guest house as in Rumi’s poem.

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

I could say that I have been falling apart for quite awhile now. I do not consider it a bad thing. There was great pain with the shattering of what I was that no longer worked. Pain is a great teacher. It is also very cleansing. It sweeps out all the debris. After the pain subsides, I feel such sweetness and I can see so much clearer. It is a time for reconstructing, putting back the parts of myself that I like and the parts that works. This is not to say that I will live happily ever after or that the boogeyman is vanquished forever. I am sure there will be more falling apart. The next time the boogeyman comes, I will think of him as Mr. Sandman. He is less edgy and much more friendly.

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