Tuesday, January 01, 2013

An Unconventional New Year

photo courtesy au.tv
Monty Python and The Holy Grail

Unconventional. How else can I describe anything about my life? I who wanted to be more conventional than anyone ever. My goal in highschool was to get married, have lots of babies and collect tupperware. I have not a single piece of tupperware.
So, this year I rang in the new year in the most unplanned, unreflective way.
A friend posted that the way you spend your New Year's Eve is the way you'll spend the rest of the year. In some ways, I hope that's true, and in others....not so much. The not so much is the crazier part than how I chose to ring in the new year...I'll get there.
 My Numero Uno is on the other side of the world, so I really didn't care what I did. I stayed with my friend's teenager while she went away for the holiday.
I'm so glad I did.
He is probably old enough to stay on his own, but something about this particular situation told me to go, and I knew it made my friend feel better.
The first night, I was so cautious about intruding on his life. I tip-toed around and basically passed out I was so sleepy.
But last night, we immediately started talking about everything. His Mom, Aunt and Uncle have been dear friends for over 20 years; I know a lot about this kid and his family. The words came pouring out of him. Before I knew it, we were sitting on the living room floor snuggled in blankets laughing and watching the time fly. He is one cool kid.
After a while, a good long while for a teenager and a "grown up" to have a conversation, we decided to watch his new extended edition Lord of the Rings. Our tummies were full, and we settled into the movie. We both fell asleep midway.
Here's the crazy part. They have an attack cat. You sit there smugly thinking how bad can a cat be? Do you remember the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog from Monty Python and the Holy Grail? Worse than that. It wants to tear any visitor to shreds. It doesn't wait for you to get too close for comfort, it comes after you, scratching and biting. Sometimes, I think it has wings. My first night there, we locked him away. But last night I felt sorry for him, and suggested we let him out, the creepy fiend. He patrols the room all slinky and slow. It was fine when we were awake, because if he got too close, the kid could shoo him away. The kid is the only one who can handle this cat.
But then....I was asleep on the couch, and the kid had carried himself off to his own bed. And I was alone. With the cat. Stalking me. Lurking. Sticking his face in mine with a menacing growl. Jumping up onto a high shelf cocking his head sideways like a Gremlin sizing me up. When he got too close, I lifted my down comforter like a shield.  We'd watched Lord of the Rings, I knew how to take action. What I didn't know how to do is go back to sleep with Jaws, I mean the cat in the room.
So I sat up and started reading on my computer. I used my phone as a light to keep track of where the cat was, because he likes to sneak up. Then I realized the kid was up playing video games. It was a relief to turn a light on, and know where that cat was. We started the new year being awake at 4 in the morning laughing about his crazy cat. Not at all how I'd imagine starting the year. But perfect.
This year....I'm going to turn a light on. I'm going to illuminate that which scares me and face it, that which is beautiful and that which brings joy and magnify it. And I'm going to continue caring for the people I love and be open to wherever the wind may take me; with the light on. Happy 2013!


Monday, December 17, 2012

Grief Beauty Strength

Thoughts are like waves. See them, acknowledge them, then let them pass. (paraphrase) ~Ruth Riffe

I haven’t posted anything in a long time. I have so much I’d like to say, but not sure how to construct it, well, constructively. These words ache to come out.

The past several weeks have been rough; add the tragedy in Connecticut, and I’m a regular waterworks. I’ve been bouncing back and forth between raw grief and ordinary life and it sometimes feels weird. I even struggle now and then with guilt. How can I go on living and laughing and eating cookies when families are ripped apart, never to be the same?

Yesterday, I attended a fundraiser for a dear teacher Ruth at my yoga studio. Ruth called in sick just over a month ago and a week or so later was handed the diagnosis of cancer. All over. She could try treatments, that would maybe extend her life, maybe. And, she’d be miserably ill. She opted to let it take its course. You see, Ruth watched her own husband fight the same cancer just 2 years ago and she knew what lay ahead. Our vibrant Ruth, who sometimes had so much energy I thought it was going to vibrate right out of her and the very walls would start dancing.

We gathered together for her yesterday. We dedicated our class to her. Normally, a teacher leads us with their words, but yesterday, only the names of the postures were called, and we moved into them silently. It was such a beautiful dance. We were all moving for Ruth. I think we were moving for something even larger.
I marveled as tears flowed down my face that I could be so heartbroken as memories of Ruth splashed across my mind, as well as images of the sweet babes in Connecticut, that I could still move and my body could still bend backwards and forwards and dare I say do amazing things. I marveled at everyone’s strength and beauty. I know I wasn’t the only one in the room with a tight heart, not for the aerobic activity, but the sadness welling up and out. And yet, we all followed along, wordlessly and with purpose. It’s one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve had.

It strikes me now that that is how we move on. (Or at least one of the ways). In strength and beauty, we go about our business, and we cry when we need to. It’s very simple, and yet I at least struggle with it.
Ruth will always be with me. The things she taught me both actively and passively will always be with me. The crying and grief will slowly fade out. Hearing Ruth’s voice during class will fade as well, I am sure. But the way she has touched me, just as I’ve been touched by others who have gone before Ruth, they will always be a part of my being, whether I consciously know it or not.
We take time to remember, we take time to honor and then we move out into the world with grace and strength and do each thing to the best of our ability and in love.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Judgement

I have been threatening to write a post on judgement for some time. This is not that time. I'm just going to post a few synonyms to the word judgement, and continue to ponder this word that I think is perhaps misunderstood?


perspicacity


1. keenness of mental perception and understanding; discernment; penetration.
2. keen vision.




Discernment is a term used to describe the activity of determining the value and quality of a certain subject or event. Typically, it is used to describe the activity of going past the mere perception of something, to making detailed judgments about that thing. As a virtue, a discerning individual is considered to possess wisdom, and be of good judgement; especially so with regard to subject matter often overlooked by others.


I'll perhaps cite sources at another time.


Do I even dare to tackle judgement (again)? 






Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Shallow

Something has been on my mind lately. Shallow. Actually, a lot has been on my mind. So much so, that sometimes I can only speak gibberish.
Judgement has been heavy on my mind....but I'm not ready to tackle that, so I'll stick in shallow waters. Shallow waters can be lovely. Coral reefs need to be in shallower waters, so they can receive light. You can snorkel in shallow water, and cruise around with clown fish.
This crossed my mind as I was talking to a friend the other day, and this friend described someone else's lifestyle as shallow, quickly followed by the no judgement disclaimer. I didn't take it that way. But to really seal the deal in my mind, I started thinking about the beauty of things that are shallow.
Not everyone needs to go deep. Not everyone needs to be a philosopher. Not every observation is a judgement. I'm grateful for all the different people in my life, each displaying their own unique beauty on so many different levels.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Icharus

I haven't had much to share lately. Lots to say, not much to share. Life hasn't been very funny lately.
It isn't funny that I am so afraid of rattle snakes and tip toe around the ranch with my head bent low making sure I don't step on snakes. It isn't funny that I am so cautious. Until I am not. Thankfully, the writhing mound of snakes under the tarp that had been untouched for 2 years until I crouched down and studied the puddles of water still present after all these warm days....they weren't rattle snakes. Lucky me.
Because I pretty carelessly poked around until I was too close for comfort.
Not funny.
It's also not funny that the day after I told my Mom I should be running a company instead of what I do, my boss pointed out a very inconvenient mistake I'd made. Not funny at all.
I was sick about it all day. Except when I was laughing at myself.
It's not funny that I can parallel park my beast of a car in a teeny tiny space as if I'd just slid it in sideways, but I can't make a U-turn on a mostly soft shouldered spacious road without hitting the one random panel of sidewalk and putting a gash in my tire. Not funny. At all.

But really, it's all pretty funny. Life is funny, really. We all make mistakes. We all get a little puffed up, and then maybe taken down a peg. I am sorry I inconvenienced my boss, but I'm going to go with a little humility rather than wounded pride.
I'm going to learn from my mistakes, and slow down a little. And then maybe pick up the pace again. And maybe make some more mistakes. (maybe?) And I'm going to laugh at myself. And stay away from tarps. I'm really going to stay away from tarps.

This guy is the last man standing. The others slithered back under the tarp.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The one about tanks, or me, it's difficult to say


Since this blog originated with the concept of extending grace, more and more I find, the person to whom I need to extend the most grace is um, Me.
I'm a complete mess most of the time, and the only reason I write at all is because I must.

So, here's guilty confession number 237: I am not of strong character. I am a people pleaser. Ooohhh, that's 2. It's ironic, since I am also very outspoken. But there it is. I am an outspoken people-pleaser of weak character. I bet you're jealous.....I am a walking oxymoron. (But definitely not a moron.)


Here's the stage; I've just sat down to a picnic lunch with a handful of acquaintances and friends I have not seen in a while. I am eager to impress. Especially since one of said acquaintances can only recall me based on a very unfortunate crush I had years ago. Gosh, I hope I gave him a better association today. I'm thinking maybe no.
The table is spread with wine, cheeses and bread, olives, pate and prosciutto. A discussion on the humaneness of pate arises. I didn't bring it up, but being the know it all that I am, and only after the question was asked, I contributed to the conversation that pate is often the result of inhumane treatment of animals, look across the table and realize aforementioned friend is spreading generous portions of pate on bread. Shortly thereafter, it was pointed out, not by me, that I am a vegetarian. I felt on the spot. When asked why, I gave my stock answer that there's many reasons, I'm not a militant vegetarian, and I really just don't like meat. I was so anxious to not offend, that I wanted to wave it all away. I felt all sorts of wishing I wasn't such a big-mouthed introvert.
I shared funny stories of the "vegetarian" friend I traveled with in Israel who ate lamb every chance she had. Who can blame her? I shared how, as a child, I often was sent to bed during dinner because I would not eat the meat on my plate. In my haste to control the attention placed on me, I missed out on something. I missed out on hearing that my  friend's new husband is also a vegetarian, and that he and I probably have a lot in common. I missed out on hearing his perspective, and maybe being the richer for it, and perhaps others would have been the richer for it as well. He was about to share his perspective on industrialized food, but the discussion of whether or not we had to eat everything on our plates as children took over.
None of that really resonated with me until much later. That night, I was doing what I do. I read blogs. Other blogs. I don't just read the blogs, if it's a good post, I read the comments. Last night, I read hundreds of comments on a couple posts. What I discovered, which is really not news, is that people just don't listen, or rather pay attention. Comment after comment revealed the reader latched onto one teeny portion of the whole and completely misconstrued the post or the previous comment. Time and again, the author would have to retell what had already been said, and said clearly the first time in my opinion. Commenters preached and pontificated, and I realized I'm not the only misunderstood person on the planet. I get frustrated that I am often misunderstood, but how can I be surprised when I see it happening to others and I'm so busy crafting a pleasing persona, my real person is lost. Everyone has a paradigm from which they operate. Everyone. Some are more aware of this than others. Some can step outside and understand another's point of view. Others cannot or will not. And there's the rub.
What I really take away is to talk less, listen more. Which is really difficult, because I love to tell stories.
That is why I prefer reading blogs and comments. It affords me the time to really hear other people. I am richer every day from the insights and stories others are willing to share. Now to figure out how to apply that in person.
Meanwhile, if you want to know, I will tell you why I am a vegetarian. And, if you eat meat, I am not judging you. Well, mostly not. Maybe a little. No, I'm not.
If you can't make a clear connection between the photo and this post, refer to The Oatmeal.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

The one where I use the "F" word

As I fiddle with the color balance levels on one of my camera apps, it occurs to me how much we are responsible for the color of our world. I altered the color balance so much on a photo that a blue sky turned bright orange, and the brown grass turned lavender. The photo may not have any artistic merit; I may be the only person who appreciates it, but for this moment, for something as harmless as a photo, I don't care what other people think.
I do care (what other people think) when it concerns my well being, or the well being of others. What was initially going to be a post about balance is turning into many thoughts on how we color our world. In word, deed, thought and action, we all have a paintbrush. Finding that balance is tricky. Life is about balance and contrast. Day/night. Sleep/work/play. Trust/self-protection. Dark/light. What would you add to the list?
We spend about a third of the time in my yoga class doing balancing postures. I wonder if that translates into real life.
Every facet of life has been challenging my notion of balance lately.
How do we find our balance? How do we find balance in a world that seems to be spinning off its axis?
I feel things acutely. It's part of my genetic code. Sometimes it leaves me wondering if I was the only one who felt the earth move, or if the whole world did. I'm not yet able to decipher that out. For instance, that awkward moment when people don't know if they should clap or not, and then the awkward moment of when to stop...am I the only one who wonders about these things? What is the perfect balance of time to clap? Not so long you're a lone cheering section and not so brief you're the sourpuss barely able to rub two palms together. As a dear friend says "stop thinking." I can't help it. Sometimes, I have vertigo of thought. Spiraling thoughts make me dizzy, and I want to find that firm leg to stand on.
I've been really enjoying a new favorite blog; Recovering Yogi. Usually the stories crack me up. Often, they are self effacing. People have forgotten self effacing I think. They translate it into negative self-talk. But that's another blog post....Recently, someone tackled manners. I have long wanted to tackle manners, as many people around me already know. What I found interesting is the responses to this post. This is all about being in a yoga community, but I'm sure it translates across life.
I'm going to get gross here. Real gross. Leave it to me to use gas as a launch pad for deep thoughts. There was your warning word. I'm going to talk about farts. Right now. Follow me here (if you can stomach it): the author suggested one leave the (practice) room until they can get their gas under control. To which several  responded in different shades of how terrible she is to judge the accidental fart, to which the author responds she wasn't referring to the accidental fart. She understands those happen. Are you so turned off now? Because I'm taking it to the next level. The next comment had me rolling on the floor. "What about the accidental shart?" Yep. I went there.
Where do we draw the line in our collective prudishness/open-mindedness?
Because, this probably isn't a news flash, I would die if that happened to me in class. So should we shame people for bodily functions? No. And, I think we'd all agree that we'd all like to just not have to think about any of the above. But what about the guy who rings out his soaked towel so you can hear a rush of water on his mat while the room is still and quiet? Is that necessary? I've gotten really acceptive of the sweat that happens in hot yoga class. I've accepted gas happens. But if you can help something, do.
Today, I complimented a new (to my studio) woman's top. She thanked me, told me she made it, and that it was the least amount of clothing she could get away with. Followed by, "wouldn't it be great if we could practice naked yoga?" Um, no, no it would not be great. I'll tell you right now, that thought offends my sensibilities way more than the above conversation about gas. But, I can choose to go or not go to a naked yoga class. I can choose to go or not go to a hot yoga class; knowing there will be things that are not my favorite. I can also choose to be mindful of others. I can choose to try not drip all over others. I can choose to not shave my legs when 10 women are in line for the shower. I can choose to respect other people's time and space. I cannot choose whether or not my nose is going to start running. I cannot choose if I have gas...though really friends, I never do that.
Sometimes, I feel like we've gone so overboard in being love and light or being irritable that we don't really know which battles to pick. What I think is okay and not okay is not what you'll think. Somewhere in the middle is balance, no? I think the key is: do no harm, within balance. Be mindful that we share a space in the yoga room and on this planet. I confessed in my last post that I talk about things. It's true, I do. I talk about what's funny, what I want to see change, what's obnoxious. I talk. Here's my choice; if you can't change it, I'm not going to talk about it. If you had a rough day, you've got all my grace. If you're new to something and don't understand, no judgement from me. If you're a selfish prat, then I'm probably talking about you. And when I'm done, I probably still like you. I just don't like that thing you did. The longer I practice yoga, the less annoyed I am in general. But I still expect people to show up and realize we live together and share space. The balance I struggle with is realizing you can't change other people; and realizing you can.