Monday, December 17, 2012

Loving awareness

I'm getting married in less than a month! In four weeks from today, Jeff and I will be waking up early for breakfast and a few special moments in Key West, before heading to the courthouse for our wedding certificate. Then we'll split up for the day and meet at sunset on Smathers Beach to exchange our promises. I'm finding myself residing in these anticipated moments a lot lately!

This moment, I'm at work, sitting behind my elevated counter. I'm alert and friendly this morning. I've got two customers in here that don't really know what they want or what they can get based on our contract's terms. This sometimes irritates me. Sometimes I just want to sit here and do my own thing, and customers piss me off simply by coming into the store. This is pretty silly. These guys just need to get some items, and my store is a pretty reasonable place to start when trying to figure out the hoops and loops of material acqusition around here.

This moment, I'm blessed to be full of food. We baked all day yesterday as part of our annual baking tradition, and ended up with clean-eating sausage balls, puppy chow with Chex, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and some rolled Christmas cookies. I love pulling those cookie cutters out each year. This year's moment was especially warm.

This moment, I'm ancy. I slept an extra hour this morning instead of working out, and I feel like moving. I like to use my cigarette breaks to walk back to the pipe yard and back, because it takes the perfect amount of time and I love the idea of moving my legs around since they stay pretty still throughout the rest of the day. I'm thinking of heading over to the gym at lunch for a little movement. Even though I left my ipod at home today, doh!

This moment is kind of ordinary in some ways, but it's extraordinary in some, too.

This moment is illuminated by loving awareness.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Some helpful affirmations for today

I am a wreck. I thought that I'd be immune to the pre-wedding stress, since our plans are pretty simple. I was incorrect. I'm not so much worried about the potluck, wedding, or vacation, as I am worried about staying un-crazy throughout the rest of this month and during our Key West trip. Maintaining composure. Not embarrassing myself or Jeffrey. Not being mean to anyone. Certainly NOT having a huge, crying hissy fit. These are the things I am worrying about. I'm feeling unstable and very, very frightened.

There's the usual pre-wedding and holiday stress: Our guestbook bench isn't finished, and I'm nervous about it being painted and dried long enough to allow everyone to sign without smudging paint. I still have no idea how the "ceremony" will be led at the potluck, and I just don't feel like thinking about it. Jeff and I are both trying to curb giant portions and snacking, but we still want to have our annual baking weekend. My stepdad needs us to clean the gutters on all four houses and the garage on Grey's Point. I have a holly bush that needs to go into the ground pronto. The Christmas craft that I'm working on for my friends is JUST. NOT. WORKING. OUT. All these are small inconveniences. But they're being overshadowed by some pretty dark BIGNESS that I can't seem to shake.

One of my sisters moved back to the area about a month ago, and some discussions with her and my other sister opened up a lot of old wounds. A lot of old wounds that I thought several years of therapy would have healed for good. Does any of it every truly heal for good? Will it ever be possible to remember certain things without attaching my own anger, grief, and blame, and without brooding over those negative feelings?

Will there ever be a time in which I actually feel like doing the tough work that I know is required for me to stay emotionally balanced and out of an institution?

Lots of thoughts like these have been swarming through my head. I've been practicing a few techniques from my self-help toolbox. I'd like to outline some of them and provide some of the positive affirmations I'm using to remind myself about the True Nature of all this experience.

  • Daily mindfulness pauses - First off, I need to be sure that I'm staying present and mindful about my experiences, instead of just trying to rush through them and stashing them away without honoring each as part of my whole, part of my ever-changing manifestion of Soul. I added a mindfulness bell app to my phone. It rings (actually, gongs) every 2 hours or so if my phone isn't on silent, and when I hear the bell, I'm reminded to take a moment, put my hand over my heart, recognize what experience I'm having in that moment, and honor it. I also use an affirmation each time the bell rings.
  • Body scans - One of my biggest struggles is calming down once I've gotten emotionally worked up. The most effective technique that helps me escape the spiral of thoughts and stories about my experience, is to pause and scan my body for tightness. There's almost always a tightness in my shoulders, hunched up to my ears. I frequently notice a tightness in my neck or chest when I'm upset. There's a huge knot in my gut when I know I'm ignoring my intuition, but don't want to admit it. The more I pause to scan my body, the more I'm familiar with what each sensation can mean about what's going through my heart and mind. Yoga helps a ton, too.
  • Positive affirmations - Some people swear by them, some people think they're rediculous. I think they're a huge help with refocusing my attention towards the possibilities in my uncertain future, rather than the fears and dreads. Here are a couple of the ones that I'm keeping close to my heart this week:
    • I give out love, and it is returned to me in multitudes.
    • I am letting go of old patterns and illogical thinking in order to see True Nature.
    • The loving awareness in my heart is healing my Soul.
    • My friends and family still love me even when I don't feel proud of myself

So I go out into the world, unable to control how these future moments will turn out. But I can control my present moment, and my attitude in this present moment.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Reminder Moments

I struggle often with being fully present in any given moment. Most of us do. Here's a scenario: I'm walking down the street in a small town, holding Jeff's hand. Here's what I'd like to be going through my head:

Wow, this is a great moment. I can feel the warmth of Jeff's hand, the breeze on my face, and the firm concrete underneath the heels and then balls of my feet as I stroll. There's so much to be grateful for in this moment.

Here's what usually goes on in the ol' noggin instead:

Wow, this is a great moment. I enjoy this so much more than sitting at work. I can't believe that guy at work got so angry the other day. Anger is bad! No, wait, no it's not. I don't have to freaking judge everything. I don't have to label it to give myself an illusion of control. I wonder if the control knob on the oven is going to break soon; it's acting like it. 

... and then I trip over a crack in the sidewalk or something.

When I'm able to be fully present in a moment, I feel truly open to life. OPEN. All the barriers are down. I want to embody this presence as much as I can, whether it's in a good moment or a moment of suffering. Almost all of the pain I incur during my times of suffering are a direct result of the thinking I do about the suffering. It comes from resisting the suffering and believing that it doesn't belong in that moment. But it does. Shitty things are going to happen, and it's only normal to be sad or upset about them. If I can really OPEN up to that pain, even inviting it, I can hold it in a loving space inside myself, letting it take over that moment, without letting it take over who I am or any future moments. When I resist the pain, it nearly always creeps into future moments, when I could be opening up to that hand-holding or something else beautiful.

So, my mantra this week has been, "This moment too. I allow this moment (or emotion/pain/thought/urge/craving) to move through me in this moment, and I know that this moment (emotion/pain/thought/urge/craving) does not define me or my future moments." It gets shortened to, "This, too," after a few rounds. It reminds me that I have control over how I react to life, even if I can't control what life's throwing my way.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Let Someone In

I followed a great daily email challenge from Get Buttoned Up throughout October. It provided daily prompts with small tips and actions that all came together and helped me really get prepared for the holiday season. The prompts helped me get my gift list together, my craft list, my budget, my food plan, and my Chrismas card list all put together. Pretty neat! Speaking of the holidays... I have very strong feelings against the growing focus on consumerism and the use of Christmas as a huge marketing tool for so many companies... but I feed into it. Big time. I put my tree up earlier and earlier each year. I seriously would have already had it up and decorated if I hadn't promised Jeffrey I'd hold off at least until November 1st.

I almost pulled all the decorations and the tree out this morning before leaving for work. Ha!

However, I'm not a huge fan of Christmas carols. I'll probably put some on while I decorate the tree tonight and through the weekend, but I'll be tired of them after that.

With October's success, I happily signed up for November's Buttoned Up challenge. November's daily prompts are arriving with a focus around giving and gratitude. The prompts will give me suggestions on how to give a little bit to someone else each day. This idea lifts my spirit. I love being generous, and I love brightening up others' lives. But... I'm kind of lazy sometimes. And I'm coming more to terms with the fact that I have a LOT of only-child symptoms that have stuck with me into adulthood. I pretty much spent my entire childhood and teenage years fine-tuning the art of getting what I wanted. I learned how to manipulate people to make them think that giving me what I want was what they wanted to do all along! A lot of times this seems harmless - me getting to watch a program on tv rather than the one Jeff wants to watch, my group of friends meeting me at the bar that I choose for happy hour. However, I recognize that it's a strong, recurring pattern in my life and in my relationships. At a conscious level, I love all beings and want to put collective benefit over my own desires. But my actions don't always reflect those wishes.

This morning's email prompted me to let somebody cut in line today. At the bank, in traffic, wherever. And I thought about my drive in to work. At least five cars made me cringe with their inconsideration. Someone in front of me in the right lane suddenly realized they needed to turn left, so they held me and a ton of other cars up while they figured out how to use their blinker and nudge the steering wheel to the left. While keeping pace with the fast cars in the left lane, one of the giant Guinea pickup trucks rode my butt for a few miles with their headlights shining directly in my mirrors. Then, they tried to hop around me in the right lane just to move one car ahead in line. I didn't let them in. That was pretty inconsiderate. Most of the time these folks are just assholes (like I'm being when I get aggressive). But sometimes they're not. Maybe that timid lane-changer was in a horrible car accident recently and is trying to become comfortable behind the wheel again. Maybe the jacked-up truck is being driven by a person who can't sleep well at night, but if they're late to work one more time, they're fired.

I get so wound up and tense during most of my commutes. I think often, "If people would just recognize that we are all trying to get somewhere, and that none of us are individually more important or better than another, then driving would be so much easier!" That's what I convey when I'm being a pushy, aggressive driver: that I believe that I and my time are more important than You and Your time.

The truth, from about six years of hour-and-a-half-commute experience, is that the best drives are the ones when I'm not stressing about anyone else out there. I'm not stressing getting anywhere in any amount of time. I'm just chilling in the right lane, leaving space in front of me for anyone who needs to hop over, and enjoying the scenery. Enjoying the moment. I'm not in the past, analyzing the way my boss said something to me earlier that day, and I'm not in the future, in that moment when I'll arrive home and walk in the door to cuddles from Jeffrey and kitties. I'm in that present moment - right there.

I'm going to let someone in today.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Lazy Sunday

I woke up at 7am. I wake up at 3:30am on weekdays, so I usually can't stay in bed much later than sunrise on the weekends. Jeff was snoring so peacefully. He'll usually get up around the same time that I do, but I could tell he needed some extra rest so I corralled the meow gang out of the room and shut the door. I spent the next two hours watching workout videos that we have saved on the computer. I wasn't working out. But watching them is motivating sometimes.

I was building up a pretty ferocious appetite watching all these lunges and squats. Thankfully, Jeff came padding through the house around 9am and I volunteered to cook breakfast, as long as he didn't mind toast instead of pancakes. Jeff is the pancake man. I, however, am fantastic at toasting bread. I fried up some sausage and eggs and pigged out next to Jeff on the couch. He realized that they were going to show the space jump live on Discovery, so we watched an episode of Mythbusters while waiting for the winds to die down.

At some point, I dozed off and caught a nice two-hour nap. Jeff worked on our slow cooker chili. I woke up and snuggled up next to him while he got anxious and excited about the man in the little silver cylinder rising up into the sky. The next two hours seemed like only a few minutes, and then he was standing on the edge of his little step, telling us about how sometimes you need to be up that high to realize how small you are.

It was a beautiful Sunday morning. A day later, I still feel very close to the divine.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Week Love

Here are some random things I'm loving this week:

Jar salads! - In theory, I try to avoid being wasteful. In reality, I throw more vegetables away than a kid tosses under the table to its dog at supper. My partner (Jeff) and I always intend to eat fresher, healthier foods, and I even figure up a weekly meal plan before we do our shopping each weekend. But somehow (Oreos), the fruits and veggies in the crisper usually deteriorate before we get around to enjoying them. We're almost always lucky enough to find them before they liquify. Anyways, so I made four jar salads on Monday and I'm hoping the freshness will last until Friday. Today is Wednesday, and the tomatoes and cukes and carrots taste like they've just been chopped. So woo! So far, so good with the jar salads.

Fitocracy - I heard about Fitocracy a few months ago on a blog I read regularly, Zen Habits. (I'm also loving his post this week on living without goals.) I've used a ton of websites that let you track your exercise, and I usually just use the tool for a few weeks and then forget about it. Fitocracy is different. I have no idea how the "points" I'm rewarded are determined, but I know that I MUST GET MORE POINTS!! There's a strong, open community and I love the folks I'm following there. Fitocracy is mainly focused on strength training and weightlifting, but there are still lots of options to log other activities, and being a member has really increased my focus on strength training. Which leads to...

CLX (ChaLean Extreme) - I freaking love Chalene Johnson. TurboJam was the program that really got me started on the long-term fitness change. I'd done a ton of different programs, regimens, videos, classes, but the fun in TurboJam kept me coming back to the living room, and eventually led me to branch out and try a few other DVD rotation programs. Jeff scored CLX for me a few months ago, and when I finally tried it out, I was hooked. I'm doing the first phase and I'm on week 3. The program focuses on work with dumbbells (though you can use bands or create your own imagined resistance) and low reps - super slow reps. Super slow, TOUGH reps! I feel pretty badass when I finish up a workout. Breaking each move down and logging it in Fitocracy gives me a bajillion points, too!

Jeff's homemade strawberry jam - Wish I had a link to give you on this one. He's just magic and he just makes magical yummies. This batch was made in our breadmaker. Nothing but strawberries and sugar, mmm!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


I'm blogging! In a blog!

I left LiveJournal a few months ago after having my account sit idle for nearly a year. I held onto it for so long because it was interesting to look back in the archives and see what I was doing at this time last year, or the year before, or in 2006. I was usually pretty drunk in 2006.

I finally deleted the entire journal without archiving into any saved format. Letting go of the past has always been difficult. I won't remember that inside joke from college and my 10:10 girls! I won't remember that one time that Kristin and I told the funniest joke at Hat Trix! I won't remember that I became super pissed off at Jeff for bringing me a soda when I was trying to stop drinking sodas on a random Tuesday afternoon! I won't remember that Mom called me twice in one day to bitch about one of the tenants!

Here's the thing: I'm doing something different. I've slowly been focusing my attention, my devotion, and my love to the present moment. Have you ever heard that saying, that when you've got one foot in the past and one foot in the future, then you're just pissing all over the present? I love this saying. I love it because it's funny, and because one of my very favorite other things is peeing on the ground. So I get a pretty cool visual that satisfies a lot of my very odd likes.

(Peeing on the ground is really freeing and makes me feel closer to nature. Also, I read a book, I think the author is Regina McBridge, and the female protagonist was a gypsy taken in to a nice manor who still insisted upon going outside to "make her water in the grass." I like thinking about how I'm "making water" while I'm peeing in the grass. Little things make me smile. Much more when I'm fully engrossed in that present moment.)

So this slow transition has been going on for about two and a half years. I'd go into the major life events that sent me down the path to the present moment, but it's a really long story that all occurred in the past. And while it hurt to delete my LiveJournal and recognize the potential to forget so many good memories, it felt good to also let go of the stories I'd written about the past.