Salix's Shiny Things

A magpie blog.

Some (hopefully) keepable resolutions. January 7, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — LP @ 9:59 am
Tags: , , , , ,

I haven’t really thought about making New Year’s resolutions for a very, very long time, but this year, I’ve been inspired to actually set some doable goals linked to “Big Intentions”, in a formal, thoughtful fashion.

Big Intention #1: Become a Better Community Member/Citizen

Doable Goals: Volunteer at events like the Rotating Winter Homeless Shelter.  Get involved in meetups/classes.

Big Intention #2: Become a Kinder Person (to myself & others)

Doable Goals: Meditate every day.  Exercise at least 3 times a week.  Do at least one thing every day to make my habitat more habitable.  Do at least one creative thing a day (crochet for a bit, paint, draw, make a dessert, write).  Commit to doing a hour’s worth of resume revision/CV revision/application stuff every business day.  Commit to doing an hour’s worth of bookkeeping and budgeting every business day.

Big Intention #3: Be In and Connect With the World More

Doable goals: learn to drive stick-shift. Make new friends and connect more with old friends. Practice self-metta – making new friends will not be as easy as it was when I was a kid, but people need friends like me who are loyal and kind.  Be careful not to let Jerkbrain derail attempts at connecting with others.  I may not be able to give people rides or meet them at distant locations for a while, but there is a lot that I can do, like listen and lend emotional support.  I am a damn good listener, if I do say so myself.

Big Intention #4: Beat Back the Jerkbrain

Doable goals: Meditate every day for at least 5 minutes, doing whatever style of meditation feels right at that moment.  Ask for help sometimes.  Be habitual about checking the accounts, entering receipts, and invoicing. Find and keep up a good to do list app. Spend more time in the garden. Be conscious about social media use, and limit it to certain times of the day.  Journal more. Write poetry. Read a bit of fiction every day. Give love. Watch Star Trek when necessary.  Go on walks/hikes with C.

Here’s to a wonderful 2016!

 

 

 

Joy in my skin. October 28, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — LP @ 3:29 pm
Tags: , , ,

So I did something that is totally kind of weird and crystal-new-agey-hippy-drippy for me, and I loved it.

Yep, I achieved approximately this level of hippy today.

Yep, I achieved approximately this level of hippy today.

pic credit: http://nemharapa.blogspot.hu/2013_05_01_archive.html

It was totally and completely unplanned, which may be what made it work for me.

What did I do?

I meditated for 15 minutes, buck nekkid in the sun.

Why did I do it?

Well, for a few days I’ve been going braless at home.  As I have a large bust, this wasn’t all that comfortable at first, but I had to because I was having some awful allergic reaction to deoderant and laundry detergent (thank you, delicate Northern European skin!) that was making me miserable, and having as much airflow as possible is the best cure for me.

And as I’ve written about in previous posts, I have a love/hate relationship with my breasts, which is usually more on the hate side.

But today they felt nice.  And as I leaned over to pick something off the floor, they felt lovely, and they looked adorable to me.  +100 for self acceptance and love!

So I was getting ready to meditate, and I started sitting in the sun inside the back patio, and I thought – gosh, what would it feel like if I sat here naked, in all this warm sunlight?  Pretty great, I’m thinking…

(Yep, I am super lucky to work from home, folks!)

So I did.  I checked to make sure I couldn’t be seen by neighbors, got comfy, and sat there in delightful nudity while my guided meditation app talked about joy and compassion and white light.

And I didn’t try to ignore or transcend my body.  I tried feeling every piece of it.  I took enormous joy in feeling the heat of the sun and the breezes playing across my skin.

I felt amazing, and it still feels amazing to just simply delight in the presence of my full, shiny body.

Today was a good day.

 

Loss and gain – coming to terms with where my body is taking me September 25, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — LP @ 12:52 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

For the past couple of months, I’ve been pretty disciplined about keeping up an exercise routine, and my body is starting to look and feel different.  Additionally, I’m in the beginnings of a new relationship, and for me, that means lots of butterflies in the tummy, most of the time.  Personally, I can’t fit much food around those butterflies, so I’ve been eating much less in general, and more fresh fruit and vegetables than I had been eating. I feel better, lighter in my heart, more energetic.

And my body is starting to look a bit different too.

On the one hand, I’m so happy to look down and my hands and wrists and see more definition and less puffiness.  They look like my arms again.  Strong but graceful.

Does that mean I disliked they way I looked before?  I want to say I was ok with how I looked, I had come to accept it, and that’s true up to a point.  But then again, I feel more like I’m looking at myself, my arms, when I look down and see my less puffy wrists.  Perhaps that’s mostly an artifact of history, that I’d had stronger, more defined, arms for longer than not.

And I’m losing enough weight that my pants are all feeling looser.  That makes me happy.  But again – does this mean I was unhappy at a larger size?

I had come to accept my size for what it was.  It didn’t define me, my size 16-18 body was/is my body, and I love it for all the amazing things it can do – high kicks, long horse’s stance times, crazy dancing.

Now I have to keep that in mind, and not fall into the trap of feeling like I’m a better person now that I’ve dropped a size.  That’s a big trap in this culture, huge, deep trap.  Easy to fall into.  Very difficult to get out of.

I am building a bridge and a net with my meditation practice to keep me from falling into that trap, and into the well of depression and self-doubt that be found when I cling to external things like body size for a sense of self-worth. By cultivating acceptance and love, accepting impermanence, and cultivating my beginner’s mind, I think I can make a pretty strong bridge, and weave a good safety net for when I have a bad day and fall a bit.

This place in my life I’m in right now is full of flux, lots of changes of all sorts are happening right now and it’s difficult sometimes to feel grounded and safe.  But that, in itself, is ok.  Even hurricanes don’t last forever.  But this is one storm that, while intense, is washing out a lot of built up trash, helping it break down and become fertile mud to plant seeds of wisdom and happiness in.

 

New and old – beginning and returning. September 10, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — LP @ 10:02 am
Tags: , , , ,

The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind.  So many things have happened, good things. 

I have been keeping up with my exercise routine.  I am now up to 60 crunches on the exercise ball, plus around 20 squirms and 20 flutter kicks.  For upper body, I’m doing about 15 push-ups on knees, and 5 full push-ups, plus around 10-15 reps each of bicep curls, tricep lifts, and lateral deltoid lifts with the exercise band (which is a lower resistance one, but not sure what its actual resistance is because I got it at the thrift store).  For legs, I’ve been walking about 1 – 2 miles a day at a brisk pace, practicing my blocking set in horse’s stance, and plie-releve sets (about 20 in first position).  I stretch carefully and thoroughly and practice leg swings and kicking – front and side kicks, mainly. But my left hip has been giving me trouble, joint-wise, so I’m working on building up the muscles around the hip and keeping limber with lots of deep hip stretches. 

I’ve lost a bit of weight, as evidenced by my waistbands getting looser, but I’m also seeing and feeling the muscle definition in my arms, especially my biceps and wrists.  They’re starting to look and feel like my arms again.  My own strong, capable, agile arms. 

So I’m slowly returning to my body after a long, long time away.  I’m loving my body again, good and proper.  I’m enjoying my body in ways that amaze and astound me.

And I’m cultivating my “beginner’s mind” as best I can.  Every moment is a new moment, every moment is a perfect moment of life. 

Practicing meditation, especially metta meditation, has been a critical component of this process.  It shores up my mind-body connection, and it gives my mind the space to allow emotions to come and accept them for what they are.  And I can see so much more clearly now how emotional states and body states are connected.  The experience of emotion is not just in the brain, of course, but now I’m so much more aware of how my heart and guts and muscles dance in tune with my emotions.  Meditation allows me to fine-tune that awareness so that I can cultivate the seeds of well-being.  

And what a beautiful garden I can cultivate with those seeds!

 

 

 

 

Metta – Learning about Lovingkindness August 9, 2014

Filed under: Buddhism — LP @ 11:24 am
Tags: , , ,

I am at the very beginning of learning about lovingkindness.  My meditations so far have been mostly breath-focused, mindful breathing, as I think (and so the books tell me) that cultivating that ability to focus on a single thing is a critical component to all meditation.  And if there’s one thing I need to learn, it is how to steady my mind, my very active, flexible, overthinking, mind.

I have started to work in a little metta, which is basically lovingkindness.  According to the Wildmind website,

The Metta Bhavana is a meditation for developing lovingkindness.
“Bhavana” means “cultivation” or “development,” and “Metta” is a word that means “love,” “friendliness,” or “lovingkindness.” So this is a meditation practice where we actively cultivate some very positive emotional states towards others, as well as to ourselves.
This meditation practice helps us to bring more harmony into our relationships with others, so that we experience less conflicts, resolve existing difficulties, and deepen our connections with people we already get on with.
This meditation helps us to overcome anger, resentment, and hurt.
It helps us to empathize more, and to be more considerate, kind, and forgiving. We can also learn to appreciate others more, concentrating more on their positive qualities and less on their faults. We learn to be more patient. 

(emphasis mine)

http://www.wildmind.org/metta/introduction

It is important to cultivate metta towards yourself, and expand outwards.  Now this is a bit difficult for someone like me who was raised in a culture that tends to see any such emphasis on “self” as suspect, a road towards narcissism.  I was socialized to understand that self-criticism is a good thing, otherwise people would think you’re “above” them, a snob, a bitch.

But on the other hand, how can you be truly kind to others if you cannot grant yourself the same kindness?

So when I meditate, I say these words in my mind, and notice the sensations evoked by them:

 

May I be well.  May I be happy.  May I be free from suffering.

It helps.  I do feel less angry, resentful, and hurt.  I am more able to see the patterns of others behaviors and predict them, so that I do not feel personally injured when they lash out at me, understanding that their behavior comes from a place of deep pain and suffering for them.

Not that I’m good at that yet, but it’s a start.

tumblr_n08n432CAL1qirutbo1_400

pic credit:  http://38.media.tumblr.com/aeac828eef1e19ffa2495b63c5786640/tumblr_n08n432CAL1qirutbo1_400.jpg

 

 

 

Suffering, pain, joy, peace. August 8, 2014

Today I hurt.  Physically.  Mentally, I feel joy.  I’ve started an exercise routine and I’m sore all over.  And, for the first time in a very long time, I love the feeling of physical pain earned from good, hard work.  It feels good to ache, deeply good.

I’ve known for a very long time that physical activity is good for the mind as well as the body, that it can help depression and anxiety, and I have tried to get into an exercise routine, but it only went so far.  The exercise (mainly walking 2 miles to the store and back) was a good thing, it was helpful, but it seemed to have only superficial impact.

And now I’m beginning to understand why exercise hasn’t felt as good as it should, or as I remembered it feeling in college when I was on the fencing team (NCAA athlete!  Yes I was!) or in school when I was doing serious amounts of dance (ballet, mostly).

The bruises from my years of emotional abuse went deep.  My mental pain made me super-sensitive to any kind of pain, and it was overwhelming.  Therefore, I avoided all other pain as best I could.  The psychological pain turned me into a walking bruise, and everything hurt.  I could not find much joy or pleasure in exercise because it was mostly like pain on top of pain with no relief.

My mental and emotional and spiritual suffering was like a fog that made everything around me into more sources of suffering.

It has taken a lot of work and time to get to the point of truly recognizing that fact, and being able to do something to change it.

Beginning a formal meditation routine has been key, but what inspired me to begin meditating?  Those roots begin in the decision to get my son into Karate.  Then, being the nerd that I am, I decided to check out what the library had on karate, and martial arts in general.  That lead me to the connection between the martial arts of Asia and Buddhism, as the martial arts were said to have started at the Shaolin Buddhist monastery as a way to help the monks endure the rigors of meditation.

So a few weeks ago, I decided it was time to meditate for real, waking up early and getting down to it first thing (even before coffee!).  I can’t say that I’ve been perfect in keeping my schedule, there have been slip-ups, but more often than not, I’ve practiced meditation.

Meditation has allowed me some space, some freedom of mind, to be able to face myself and realize that I don’t need to suffer all the time.  I can find peace.  Maybe not every day, maybe not every minute, but peace and joy can be found.  And that’s enough.  Even a small opening can let light into a dark room and illuminate it.

My son and I have also been exploring martial arts movies, and have discovered that they can be real sources of inspiration to him.  Learning karate or sinawali is not easy, and it takes courage to persevere.  Martial arts movies, especially anything with Jackie Chan, whose characters my son can relate to, inspire that courage in my son.

And also in me, as it happens.  Watching the classic Jackie Chan movies from the start of his career, I find myself remembering how much I love that kind of physical activity – the stylized fights are not unlike dance.  And fencing as well – facing your opponent, knowing that he or she is probably going to hurt you at some point in the bout, but launching into it anyway, using your training and reflexes to parry blows and deliver ripostes.

A real turning point happened a couple of weeks ago (July 25, actually, as I posted the event to Facebook).  I had a dream in which I had been transformed into Jackie Chan, and it made me so happy.  Not just in the dream, but throughout the day, I was happy.  I have been carrying that happiness and cultivating it since then.

I am realizing that, to be whole, I need to recover that joyful fierceness, that part of me that loves a good fight, the scrappy me, the me that likes to dish it out as well as take it.  I think I’ve been afraid of that, of my “fight”, because, for one thing, it connects me in uncomfortable ways with my ex, who was quick to anger, and quick to lash out, and wanted to fight to put others in their place, who punched cars because she was angry at their drivers who were driving or parking in ways she thought were bad (mainly, getting in her way).

But that’s not my kind of “fight”.  I fight to defend, to dance with an equal, to compete, to challenge myself, to grow, to understand my abilities and my weaknesses, to overcome those weaknesses.    I fight for myself, not to punish others.  I fight because there can be joy in the dance.

Thank you, Jackie Chan, for showing me the way.

Jackie Chan, Legend of the Drunken Master

Jackie Chan, Legend of the Drunken Master

pic credit:  http://www.lovehkfilm.com/reviews_2/ab5734/drunken_master_2.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding my voice again. August 5, 2014

On meditation, healing though goofy crushes, and the crazy beauty of the path.

It’s been a funny path through the wilderness.  I don’t think I’m actually out of the wilderness yet, but I’m beginning to see the path more clearly and enjoy the journey more.  Even those giant, dark, tangled root masses of depression and fear that have seemed to block my way have started to retreat from the path itself and become more a part of scenery.

I’m beginning to recover my voice.

It’s a fascinating thing, this rediscovery of myself.  I had been required to repress so much of myself when I was in relationships.

I have started a proper formal meditation routine, and that’s been very helpful.  I’ve been keeping a journal of my reflections on meditations, parts of which I plan to post here in the future.

I have also found sources of healing and strength in the unlikeliest places.  I never could have imagined the positive effects of having goofy crushes on celebrities would have on me in general.

I’ve been crushing on Peter Capaldi and Jackie Chan.  Big, goofy, sparkle-eyed, Tumblr-obsessing  crushes which I’m enjoying immensely.  The crushes are allowing me to learn to love again, in the safest way possible.  There’s no real risk, no one to hurt or be hurt by.  And to discover that I don’t want or need a romantic relationship with another person in the flesh right now.  I had been mourning the loss of companionship so much this last year.  And raging against the unfairness of it, desperately jealous of my friends who seem happy in their stable relationships.  Depressed by my lack of ability to find a decent partner of my own, and how that made me feel unworthy of any relationship at all.  Unworthy even of living.

Someone once told me that what you love in another person can be a reflection of what you love in yourself.  Having crushes on celebrities is allowing me to explore that:  what do I love about Peter Capaldi?  Does that exist within me?  Can what I find beautiful about him become part of myself?  Can I rediscover my own sense of generosity, my own quick wit, my own enjoyment of my physical being, by seeing them and loving them in Peter Capaldi and Jackie Chan?  Can I relearn to inhabit my body, to take proper care of it, to excercise and train by loving what Jackie Chan does with his own body?  Can I learn to appreciate and embrace my own goofiness and exuberance by enjoying Jackie Chan’s?

Yes.  Yes, I can.  And I am.

It’s a bit crazy.  A bit beautiful.  It’s me, it’s my path, and I’m grateful to be on it, and grateful that there’s no one to push me away from it anymore.

So really, perhaps Peter Capaldi and Jackie Chan are less crushes, than spirit guides.

Yeah, spirit guides.  Thanks, guys!

Peter Capaldi

Peter Capaldi

peter capaldi credit:  http://geek-news.mtv.com//wp-content/uploads/geek/2013/08/peter-capaldi-tardis-575.jpg
Jackie Chan

Jackie Chan

Jackie Chan credit:  https://www.facebook.com/jackie/photos/a.98876792317.90092.30382852317/10152367422782318/?type=1&theater