Ready to Give In

It’s day three and I’m ready to throw in the towel.

I’ve been cleansing, as I have done for several years now, with the seasonal change from Summer to Fall (and also Winter to Spring).

I walked by the brewery and a cute guy from the rooftop was smiling at me. I wanted to go in. I was on my way to Yoga, to practice, not teach. Something I made sure to schedule in this week. The silks class was great, by the way, and exactly what I needed after a full day! Yesterday, when driving by the brewery, I also wanted to go in….hmmm…..is it about alcohol? I don’t think so, but what I notice is my desire to give in has to do with socializing.

I’m standing in the kitchen, warming my kitchari on the stove while listening to my dog eat his own dry processed food (I do want to make his own someday; it’s an aspiration without a plan). My plan to eat a mono diet for 3 or more days feels challenging this year. I scoop my supper into a bowel and silently say to my dog,

“it’s ok, I’m eating dog food, too, this week, the same thing every meal.”

 

Hold up! I have a choice, people.

I talk to myself as if my own crowd of witnesses! And, I have Himalayan sea salt. The vegetables I’m eating I grew on the farm where I worked summer, and my food is warm, cooked, and I actually like it!

What’s happening here is I am craving company. Cleansing inevitably slows my social calendar. My roommate is at dinner with a friend, and a part of me is envious. Another friend considered a night on the town, and my commitment to 10pm bedtime and no alcohol for these several days, stops me from joining her.

Over the past few months, I let the wind carry my cares, and now I’m intentionally getting back to business. Fall is like that. It’s a good time to recommit and settle into a groove.

What About Self-Judgment?

I catch myself though, with the judgment. I point out to myself too often where I lead myself astray. Instead, this week, I will remind myself that I am grateful. Grateful for these few days of discipline, for the great sleep I am getting, the work I am accomplishing, the complete elimination (and then some )I am experiencing (yes, we talk about poop a lot as Yoga Health Coaches!), and also the opportunity to watch my thoughts, let them go by, or catch them and ask them what they’re really trying to tell me.

My thoughts of resistance this week tell me that I’m a social being, who can benefit from a break here and there, AND that being a people person is a blessing. It’s something I love about me, not something to criticize, rather to support with ample down time for reflection, lest I get carried away and ungrounded, feeling lured into bars handsome, bearded men I might meet, rather than lured into my kitchen with the promise of my own deep and nourishing love.

It’s a journey, friends. One we are all on. When we pause to cleanse, stuff comes up. Whether it’s craving for food or friends, or back talk to ourselves about who we are or how we are taking care of ourselves, we all face it. Part of cleansing is turning the camera around to face ourselves.

It’s a true selfie opportunity, no stick required.

 

Advertisements

Whatchya Readin’?

img_8603It’s autumn, feels like winter somedays. The election has us harried, disconnected, eager for solitude and safety, unsure we’ll get it, fearful some will be left behind either way.

In the summer, many libraries have read-a-thons for kids. Beaches and airplanes host millions nose-in easy reads. I wasn’t able to stick to just one novel at a time this go ’round, too much chaos, not only in the country, but in my heart, my head, the space around me. This is a season of change, a season of plenty in my life, and my nightstand chock full of teachers’ and inspirers’ words, as well as my own sleepily written in a journal atop them, reflects that.

As a toddler, my father reports that I preferred to sleep with books than stuffed animals. I will note that I, too, loved the fluffy cuddly inanimate creatures and still have my beloved Blueberry Bear stashed away for safe keeping. My living stuffed animal, my dog Porter, is ne’er far from my side when I read from the current stack at my bedside.

img_7400

I collect them. I could spend a full day in a library or bookstore reading backs and inside covers, absorbed in awe of all the stories and knowledge out there. Books for me, words for me, are like friendships, are like people. I love nothing more than growing deep in knowledge of another being, listening, feeling, smiling, taking in what they offer, giving what they’ll receive. My brother once pointed out, as he hugged in shoulders, not surprised when I told him excitedly of a new friend I’d made on a plane ride, that everyone I meet becomes a friend. I’m not so sure that’s entirely accurate, though I do greatly value my connections with people, with story, with the life we share when we connect. They have benefitted me more than any amount of money or knowledge. And yet, I yearn for quiet– to hear a one-sided tale now and again.

Finding my way into quiet, with or without the company of a good book, has been the most healing journey of my life thus far. Much like Shauna Niequist describes hers,

“My life is marked now by quiet, connection, simplicity…I fail and try again more often than I’d prefer. but there is a peace that defines my days, a settledness, a roundedness. I’ve been searching for this in a million places, all outside myself, and it astounds me to realize that the roundedness is within me, and that maybe it was there all along.” (Present Over Perfect, p. 27)

That  said, what I glean from a good read, is similar to a good friendship:

  • A reflection of truth, often the authors, but one in which I see my own humanity reflected, and therefore have compassion for the story teller
  • A meaningful challenge, a reflection of the writer that sparks me to see a different perspective, or yearn to
  • An affirmation of goodness, the value of life, the connection we have to all of life, and the inspiration to care
  • An inspiration to write, to record, to document, to process, to play creatively with words, oh I do love words.

As a kid, I chose I know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Number the Stars over Baby Sitters Club and the Boxcar Children, which I carried home from book exchanges and left untouched until the next swap.

It wasn’t until after my college years of studying social movements, inequality, and the unjust education and criminal justice systems, plunging my nose into beloved tellings, like I’ve Got The Light of Freedom, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, and The Skin That We Speak, that I got the novel fix. I plowed through historical fiction, All the Light We Cannot See, and the trendy dystopia, The Hunger Games. I found my way, eventually, back to true stories, real lives, steeped in hopeful, heart-breaking, spiritual and transformational goodness.

Some FavoritesAnimal Vegetable Miracle,  No Baggage, Carry On, Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life.img_7495

This season of change, I keep clearing my nightstand with a weekly room sweep, but the stack grows within the week to these below that I seem to need to keep open all at once:

You Are A Bad Ass

True Refuge

Body Thrive

Present Over Perfect

The Dance of the Dissident Daughter

Shadow Yoga, Chaya Yogaimg_7434

Cat’s Eye

The All True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton

The last two, novels, beckon me like a dream, but it’s only a few reads before I yearn again for reality, grit, tangible tangy truth that reminds that I, too, am real.

So, what are you reading?

It’s time again to reconnect with what inspires you;)

Non-Negotiables

A few months ago, my teacher and Ayurvedic Health Counselor, Larissa Hall Carlson, recommended that I make a list of non-negotiables: daily practices that are mine, and that I will stand firm on in order to prioritize my self care and cultivate my desired quality of non-rushing. It being one of the toughest months of my life thus far,  with many traditionally stable aspects suddenly out of balance, it took me a several days before I made a list. It was a long list, a laundry list. Many of those listed were ideals, that would not become daily realities, and I soon realized that my own list had set me up for failure. I wasn’t going to put my foot down (with myself) about meditating every morning at 6:15am! There are probably about 3 days each week, at least, at this moment in time, when I really need the sleep instead. By listing this on my non-negotiable list, and not fulfilling it, I was making it impossible to meet my own goals. I already felt so low in many ways, and so this was not helping. I also wasn’t going to never use the phone in the car, nor always avoid multitasking. While these are great goals I aspire to, I recognize now that they are negotiable. If I am sick, or up in the middle of the night attending to that wonderful time of the month, sleep is key; attempting to meditate while tired often leads to sleep anyway! In the case of an emergency (physical, emotional or spiritual) using the phone in the car may be a lifesaver! And multitasking, unfortunately, is a life-long challenge to overcome. Stress often leads to rushing for me, and doing several things at once often results. If I have this as a non-negotiable, I am in a way denying my own emotion of stress by telling myself I cannot feel that way, because I will likely then break a non-negotiable. I had written a far too strict list of commandments, many of which did not make it out of my notebook and into reality.

A few months went by and I received an email from Anna Kunnecke, who is all about declare[ing] dominion over your beautiful life. In it, she encouraged her readers to be “very very gentle, and very very fierce.” She had a list of Daily Non-Negotiables, followed by a list of Bigger Non-Negotiables. I have no idea if these women (Larissa & Anna) know each other, but I took it as a sign and remade my list. This time, I was gentle with myself; I refused to list anything that would be impossible to do at least 6 days each week, but almost always 7, on my daily non-negotiables. I also got clear with myself and fiercely considered ways in which I had sacrificed my own self-care and made a pact to follow through with myself. My list is shorter, simpler and contains the gems that I now cherish when I catch myself following through, which is, I am proud to say, most days!

 

Daily Non-Negotiables:

  1. Poop (preferably in the morning after a big glass of warm water, or before the water)
  2. Wash the essentials (showers everyday in the winter do a number on my dry and sensitive skin. That’s my skin saying, “what, you rolled in mud naked again? How is that possible, snow is covering every inch of existence as far as the eye can see!? Oh, you didn’t, then get the heck out of the hot shower, and put some oil on instead. It’s only a few parts of you that stink!”)IMG_4496
  3. Eat at least one meal with utter gratitude and conscious presence (avoiding reading, cell phone, violence—in conversation, literature or media, etc)
  4. Snuggle with my Black Lab-Pitt Amazing Dog
  5. Go outside willingly even on days the weather sucks. But, if every outdoor trip is a must, at least look at the sky or a tree and soak in the beauty for a moment. It makes it is so much easier to go outside when you have to, and lessens the complaints and judgements that infiltrate mind & body in the 4 months of Michigan winter.
  6. Write a list of 5 gratitudes before bed
  7. Go to bed content and in acceptance of the days events, with love in my heart for my loved ones

Non-Negotiables for Life:

  1. Get in bed with enough time to sleep 8 hours, in order to get up in time not to rush off in a huff
  2. The price of healing (local, organic, fresh, unprocessed) food is more than worth it! Even when it means that buying groceries takes precedence over going out for a drink with friends—have them over instead!
  3. Drive as little as possible, but don’t sacrifice your sanity or your health either
  4. Prioritize Rest. The feet up reading, lounging, snuggling, task-free kind of rest.
  5. Go with your gut. It’s always right if you are truly listening. Just make sure it’s your gut and not fear you are hearing!
  6. Move deliberately and with peaceful intention. 6 days each week, when not fighting a cold, flu, etc. practice yoga, take a walk, go for a swim, or play– dance, hike, kayak, frisbee…
  7. Cook! It’s the best medicine. You love it. And nearly always brings solace.
  8. Bite your tongue long enough to let another person finish their thought. This is one that I have to write down to remind me how important it is, and how unfortunately easy it is to forget!
  9. Tell the truth! And all of it, to a few trusted friends, mentors and/or a therapist.
  10. Limit work to 6 days/week, maximum.

Ahhhhh. It’s a breath of fresh air to read these again and feel content with the list. I encourage you to make your own. You may have more or less than I do. Its not about the numbers or how lofty your words may appear to others (I listed poop as number 1, remember…if this is surprising to you, let’s book a diet & lifestyle consultation right away!!)  And it’s certainly not about how humble, strong, peaceful or together the list makes you appear on paper, rather this is all about getting clear with what you find essential for connecting to your true self, honoring and serving that divine soul so that you can live your dharma (your life’s purpose, your spiritual practices, your life).