My Seven Daily Sanes

I’m so different than I was ten years ago. I am reminded of this daily when I look at the top shelf in my office where the shadow box sits that Grant made me for Christmas ten years ago. It contains  pictures of me finishing my first marathon complete with my hard earned and nearly died trying to acquire necklace medal. Honestly it was all I could do not to put that thing around my neck and saunter around every day ALL day for people to see. I’m not a jewelry person but THAT bling? It has stories to tell! Like when I thought my friend Bill was a medic on a bicycle at the top of the hill nearing mile 13. There he was practically shimmering like an angel and I thought “Thank GOD because things are not going how I planned.” It turned out he was Bill instead, which was even better, offering flat Coca-Cola and inspiration. “Meet you at the next mile marker and you can have another drink of this.” My friend, without a doubt is responsible for helping me cross the finish line, one mile at a time with sugar nectar and pep talks for incentive, so that I could experience Grant and our cheering kids waving and clapping  at the end like I was some kind of princess warrior. My eyes still water over that feeling. 

I think it would be funny for Grant to make me another shadow box at the end of this year to show how hard I have worked to reshape my marathon mentality and physicality. There would for sure be a picture of me first thing in the morning showing off my Fitbitch that says I already burned 636 calories and I HAVEN’T EVEN GOTTEN OUT OF BED YET! I mean, how great is THAT? I’m awesome without even trying!

I’m currently not running due to a very long battle with bad ankles. Right now I have frozen peas strapped to both sides of my ‘good’ ankle that I sprained when I fell down the bleachers when I was trying to take a picture of my son David at the end of his last home JV Football game. It was below 30 degrees that night and I forgot I had a blanket wrapped around me. I went down with a very large and painful crash. I’m pretty sure Grant was trying to pretend like he didn’t know me because he just kept walking. Two lovely older-than-me people tried to help me up but I was literally frozen solid and would have taken them down with me. “No. I’m good. I’m pretty sure I sprained my ankle but my husband will eventually notice I have fallen and literally can not get up, and come back for me. He promised until death parts us.”

Some days it’s easier said than done to not comparison shame myself to the me of ten years ago. Sometimes I dream about it, the running.  Long distance running is a powerful thing and the experiences of my marathons have taught me so much about myself and continue to give me insights and new perspectives in my daily life. The other day I had an ‘aha’ moment that I will share before I get to the point of this post, which I’m pretty sure is not about marathons. 

I was reading this beautiful novel that was just…mmmm…so yummy….see? I was deeply absorbed in the words and the story and the magic it takes to write a novel when I felt my left brain say to my right brain something really nasty “You will never write a novel. Blogs are easier. Short.  Simple. Not a lot of effort. You’re just not smart enough or disciplined enough to write a whole book, especially a novel. You should give up on that idea.”

WTF left brain? First of all, you are an overly analytical naysayer. Second, I  can remember when blog posts were super hard to write. Mainly because it was YESTERDAY that I was struggling to get one finished before the WSU Cougar Football game started. But here’s the thing:  I can also remember how hard it was the first time I ran three miles without stopping: huge accomplishment! A marathon is simply a series of short runs, that when gradually and methodically put together, becomes a marathon. Perhaps novels are of similar nature. So fuck you left brain.  

Which brings me to the point of this post, though without much logic (because I just pissed off the non-dominant side of my brain):  my seven daily sanes. 

At the beginning of the year I made a pact with myself to try and adhere to seven simple daily actions to at least keep me PAR with my current state of being a content and mostly at peace, inappropriately tight size fourteen, moderately energetic, non-running,  successful business owner, hippy chick goddess. I call them ‘My Seven Daily Sanes’.   

  1. Pages
  2. Grats
  3. Yoga
  4. Medication (whoops I mean MEDITATION)
  5. Veggies
  6. Water
  7. Walks

Now I’m not gonna lie, this list has been much harder to check off each day than last year’s list: 

  1. Grow my hair

I have been doing number one of the seven pretty regularly for over 14 years. Julia Cameron taught me in “The Artist’s Way” how important it is to check in with myself with morning pages (or what I sometimes refer to as morning vomit). Three pages of handwritten words unedited (especially by the asshole left brain) and unfiltered. I notice, on the rare days I skip this ritual, that I feel like I do when have two different colored socks on or a black bra with white panties: off kilter. The first two pages are almost always whining yucky stuff, but usually by page three I have some kind of weird little break through, like “maybe I should stop eating cookies at midnight” or “you really need to quit this job and form your own business and here is the first step toward that”. 

Grats is a newer thing that has helped center my thoughts on positive things in my life (especially after the nasty brain vomit). Every day: ten things I am grateful for. Then I write thank you ten times at the bottom of this list. I think these journals will be a good thing for my kids to read when I’m dead. Unlike the morning pages which really need to be burned. My grats contain things like: “I’m thankful I didn’t kill Grant yesterday because today he is so much nicer.”

Everything feels better when I practice yoga: my brain, my bones, my skin, my muscles, my joints, my soul. That’s all that needs to be said about that, except that it is my running from ten years ago: life saving. 

I have written a few posts about meditation as holistic medication. Some days I have time for a nice long guided mediation. Most days I just try and remind myself to breath in and out: 4 counts in, 6 counts out. Repeat until calm again. As a catholic, I have found the rosary to be a good form of prayerful medication. Keeps a person off the ledge.

OH VEGGIES. I know I need to eat more of you gross fuckers. It’s a quest I’m still working on. When I feel shitty I consult the last few weeks’ checklist and say to myself: “dummy, cheez-its are not veggies. This is why you feel bad.”

Water is often on my daily grats list but it’s usually in the form of being grateful I can wash my hair or take a hot bath/shower whenever I feel like it, something so many people don’t get to do. Those very people would willingly hydrate every day if they could. So this needs to be something I never take for granted. I have rarely known real thirst. But when I don’t drink water my face looks like a dried up old hag. So.

I added walking to the list because my Fitbitch is a total nag. She says I need to move more. Plus I have this new puppy Bella who needs to move or she gets grumpy. Right now I’m a gimp but the walking thing is wonderful. She and I have these amazing conversations about the best places to poop when you are a dog (she prefers the middle of the street with cars coming for a nice adrenaline rush), the scary house that she refuses to walk past (we now go around), and how some day soon she and I will maybe do some running but for now we will just piece the short walks gradually into longer ones. 

See?

Do You Know Where You’re Going To?

In March I signed up for a free 21-day online meditation experience with Oprah and Deepak Chopra entitled “Shedding the Weight, Mind, Body and Spirit.”  

Don’t laugh at me.

I signed up because:

  1. Duh. It was free.
  2. The last year and a half of my career has been very stressful but I can’t afford nor do I have time for therapy. This deal was only 20 minutes a day and I could do it in my nightie before sunrise.
  3. As a result of the stress, I have eaten the entire city of Spokane trying to sooth my bottomless pit of anxiety and do not want to move to a new city just to feed my stress baby. My PEOPLE live here.  And while I am pretty comfortable with my body, this shit has gotta end at some point.   
  4. Because I really don’t want to buy bigger pants. Clothing shopping stresses me out.

So. Since I have been doing some regular chubby yoga and learning a little about how to heal my messed up Chakras and have yet to be struck down by lightning by whomever punishes people for breaking the Catholic rules, I figured I’d be safe to listen to what Deepak had to say about why my ass has gotten so big. He IS, after all a doctor, in addition to being a new age, alternative medicine, metaphysics, spiritual healing gazillionaire.

Besides. I’m a Catholic CONVERT. We have different rules. But that is waaaay off topic and for a different blog post.

I have always loved Oprah, despite the fact that we have opposite views on a lot of things. I really think she has been good for the world and has helped so many people with her gifts of giving, sharing and opening our eyes to new ideas. She certainly changed my life when she did a show years ago on how a good bra really DOES make a difference in how you look. I had never before paid attention to the fact that one of my bras gave me “double boob syndrome” which is just “AAAAGH!!!!!!” once you are no longer blind and SEE. Now, yes, that’s maybe one of her more shallow topics. But that particular episode of “Oprah”  caused me to begin paying attention to myself.

Which is powerful.

I’m not saying being all obsessed about my physical appearance is powerful. Nor is it my jam.

For instance, I came across this funny post on Facebook called “How High Maintenance are You?” where you gave yourself points for things like:

  • Wears High Heels
  • Wears Makeup Daily
  • Nails are painted
  • Brows are waxed
  • Wears a lot of jewelry
  • Shaves Everyday
  • Gets Massages Regularly
  • ETC ETC

If you got 20 or more you were high maintenance;  50 and you’re SUPER high maintenance; 100 you’re pretty much a supermodel/queen of a small country.

I scored a “2” out of a possible 119 points. Which is quite frankly a little embarrassing. I would have gotten a ZERO if my two point opportunity had said “Colors hair more than three times a year”.  I suppose I should put out a little better effort for the people in my life who have to look at me.

But I probably won’t.

Whatever.

What I think IS powerful is when you  pay attention enough to KNOW yourself and can still be comfortable hanging out, whether you wear high heels and jewelry or are someone who doesn’t really MIND five-day old stubble on your legs.

Because everywhere you GO, there you ARE. So why not make the relationship as enjoyable as possible? 

It was with this thought in mind, plus the fact that I was starting to develop TMJ from all the chewing, that I started my 21 day morning adventure in my nightie with Oprah and Deepak. I tuned in religiously. Every single day for 21 days,  I lit my candle, put on my headphones (so as not to wake up the home front at 5 am) and sat on the comfy meditation pillow that my bestie gave me a couple of months ago.

In each session, Oprah goes on first for a couple of minutes. I have to admit that in the beginning, it was hard not think about my double boob conversion experience when I heard her voice. Or how I should change my sheets at least weekly and throw away my pillows after a year on account of the terrible yuckiness that happens to pillows from our dreadful heads. (Another life changing episode of “Oprah” and one I wish I was still blind to). But I knew she was the perfect person to have empathy for my steadily growing girth and help me to either heal it or accept it. She had her own background music, kind of upbeat and perky, while she spoke about her own experiences about meditating and shedding the weight that we let harm our spirit. She would usually end with a bible verse or line from a favorite poem leaving me almost every time thinking “Yes, that.” Then she would introduce Deepak and the background music would get more serious and mystical.

Enter Deepak with his mesmerizing Indian accent, which gave me the giggles for the first few days. (Being serious is a struggle of mine.) He would start with a centering thought. One example:  “I let negativity and darkness dissolve in my light” and we would repeat it a few times together. Then he would speak of the burdens that we let weigh us down and how we can release these burdens, which are of the ego, when we go to our true self, which is pure love and light. He didn’t focus much on my (or anyone’s) excessive back fat. Which was comforting.

THEN he would say the mantra which, according to Wikipedia is “a sacred utterance, a numinous sound, a syllable, a word or phonemes, or a group of words”  which in this case were in Sanskrit, that help to “induce an altered state of consciousness”.

‘Aham Prema’ was one mantra, which means “I am love.” He would repeat it several times. speak a little more, then say the mantra a few more  times to help launch the meditation portion, which started at the sound of a soft chime and continued for about twelve minutes, the mystical music playing softly.

One morning during the meditation portion, despite me trying to focus on repeating the mantra and breathing, I couldnt stop thinking that the background music sounded like a song from my younger years “Do You Know Where You’re Going To”.  

So things went a little cattywampus inside my head for a bit.  Only a few of you reading will understand most of this:

  • Do I like the things that life is showing me?
  • Oh I really do!
  • Who sang that song?
  • Dionne Warwick
  • No. She sang “Do You Know the Way to San Jose.”
  • Wo wo wowo wowowowo
  • I haven’t been to San Jose in years. Since I was a kid with my dad.
  • It was Diana Ross.
  • She was so pretty.
  • Did Deepak plagiarize her song? Would he DO that?
  • Interesting: all three are D names and I think they are all in their 70’s now. I wonder if this is significant.
  • I’m so sad Donna Summer died. How long ago was that? She’d be 70ish too…
  • I miss Diamond Lake and Donna Summer playing on the 8-track in the ski boat…
  • “I Feel Love.” That was one of her songs.
  • I am love.
  • Aham Prema.
  • Breathe H

Now. What I have learned from my past experiences meditating is that I have a monkey mind. And what I KNOW is that this is perfectly okay. Thoughts and emotions flow in and out of our minds at whatever pace our current state of being is in. They are not good or bad, they are simply THERE.  And then they are not there. And then they are there again. I like to pretend that my thoughts and emotions during meditation are feathers floating around me. When they get in the way of what I need to see, I just gently blow on them (Breathe H) until they float softly out of my current line of vision.

And here’s the thing: if we have the power to do this, then the things we believe to be burdens can become blessings. It really and truly is up to us to let our light dissolve whatever is blocking our ability to sit with ourselves in total loving acceptance, which in my case usually comes with giggles, monkey thoughts and at least for now, some jiggly fat.

It’s amazing how light a person can become in such a short period of time just by breathing on a few feathers. And while I might not know where I am going to, I know it will be amazing getting there. If I let it.

Twenty one days sitting mostly quiet with myself (and the Oprah/Deepak team)  helped me to know this more clearly. I’d recommend it to anyone. Even to people who scored 119 on the high maintenance test and are clearly getting regular massages. I’m not jealous of you at all.

Namaste brats.  Ha!

 

 

 

 

Rabid Hyenas are Chasing Me

148

I did something that I have never been able to do before: I meditated for thirty whole minutes. I sat on a chair in my office, feet planted, hands in my lap, back straight, eyes closed and just focused on my breathing. Good air in, bad air out; repeat. There is something quite nifty about breathing. It turns out that it’s important. For living and such. I know that I have pretty much been breathing all of my life but after focusing on it for thirty minutes and actually noticing my belly move as air sucked in, then feeling the warm air run back out through my nose, I can’t help but wonder if I have been holding my breath more often than just during temper tantrums or when trying to get rid of the hiccups.

My doctor suggested meditation to me. I had gone in to see her because I hurt my back and literally could not stand up straight. “I think I have M.S. or possibly Polio” I told her as I hobbled onto the exam table “and I absolutely do not have time for either one. I need some kind of emergency pill ASAP. I have an out of town convention next week and I have to play GOLF one of those days and golf is hard enough for me when my back DOESN’T hurt and I have fourteen heavy boxes of samples that I need to load into my car and my house is filthy and the laundry has piled up, and my work lap top crashed two days ago and I have three hundred and forty two emails to return but I can’t even sit at my desk without pain, not that I CAN RETURN THEM ANYWAY because as I mentioned my LAPTOP HAS CRASHED and corporate hasn’t fixed it yet and my iPad and iPhone have been acting funny ever since that stupid ISO update, I suggest that you DO NOT DO THAT UPDATE IF YOU HAVE an iDevice, though I think somehow our internet provider is to blame for some of this and I mostly am annoyed with everyone, even my children and husband who mostly don’t deserve my annoyance, but the people who work at the internet company, THEY DO, just saying, and these mid-forties hormones are KILLING ME and NO ONE SEEMS TO UNDERSTAND THAT MY LIFE IS CLOSING IN ON ME LIKE A STAMPEDE OF MAD-COW-DISEASED COWS except I don’t think that cows with mad cow disease are capable of stampeding, they would be more floppy and drooly, plus that just sounds funny when you say it outloud, so let’s call it a PACK OF RABID HYENAS and I think ANYONE would have panic attacks, even the calmest coolest of people, if they had a pack of rabid hyenas chasing them. Don’t YOU think? DO YOU SEE? I AM GOING CRAZY and NOW, as if crazy isn’t bad enough, I have POLIO! I used to be such a GOOD person and I KNOW I should be grateful for my life and that I should be writing my gratitudes down every day like ‘they’ say I should, but I say F gratitudes! I’m TIRED and my back hurts and I don’t FEEL grateful right now.”

At my pause for a breath, my doctor, she is actually a nurse practitioner, and a healer, gave a sing song giggle (on account of the F-Bomb) smiled and then gently hugged me and soothingly said “You are not crazy. You simply have a lot going on in your life and your back pain is not helping you any. Have you ever thought maybe that you don’t have to do it all, all the time?” And then she talked about how stress can lower immunity and leave you more susceptible to injury, which can be your body’s way of saying “Slow the hell down for a minute or two!’. She said we would first figure out how to help my physical pain and then work on some tactics for taming the rabid hyenas. Meditation was one of the tactics she suggested.

I have always believed the best place to be is right in the moment, in the now, where we are best connected to ourselves and our God, but I have never been very good at being there. There’s always so damn much to DO that it’s easy to just plow through the now, ignoring its potential. But my unexpected vomit of hysterical honesty on the exam table made me realize it was time to try and settle down some, for the sake of humanity, or at least for the sake of the people in the path of my panic attacks, including my very own self.

I got through my convention week with the help of muscle relaxers and just chipping and putting on the golf course (it was a scramble). Each night, after the evening’s festivities, I did some reading on meditation and started with just trying to make sure I was actually breathing which was questionable by the third evening. Tired, hungry and over-socialized, the panic hit me so hard it felt like I could not exhale. My lovely girlfriend asked “do I need to bring you some carbs and a puppy?” and my husband softly said “why don’t you take a hot bath and calm yourself and then decide what you want to do tonight” and I suddenly realized I could opt out of socializing that night, that the world would not end if I took a bath and went to bed instead of going to the grand finale party. It had never occurred to me that I didn’t always have to push through my exhaustion and do what I thought was expected of me by others. After my bath, I focused on breathing, in and out, until I fell asleep, at 7:45 pm.

And no one really cared.

And the world kept spinning.

And I woke up rested and ready to start listening to my mind and body.

Enter Saturday, my usual day of getting all the shit done around the house that didn’t get done all week and I could feel myself clenching up and watched my family members all walk by me hesitantly. It was a yucky feeling to realize they were all preparing for the regular Saturday H Tornado. So I decided that I would give meditation a real chance before I did anything else. I sat down in the chair with an open mind and no expectations except to just focus on my breath. I set the timer so I would not glance at the clock every thirty seconds.

Someone knocked at the door once but I ignored whomever it was, staying still instead of screeching “I’M TRYING TO MEDITATE YOU JERKFACE!’. At least they knocked right?

A few of the children were loudly carrying on upstairs, making obnoxious thumping noises and clearly not doing their chores. But this did not disturb me, too much.

My mind chattered with all kinds of thoughts: would I be able to resist that bag of Doritos (I didn’t if you must know) and why on earth was I selling carpet for a living when I was clearly meant to be a meditation Guru (this was euphoria from all the breathing). A few thoughts put a sick feeling in my stomach, thoughts that started with “have to”, “should have” or “wish I wouldn’t have” and I simply noticed what those thoughts did to my body and it was okay. They are my thoughts and they don’t need to go away. I just need to learn to not be harmed by them. I breathed in and acknowledged them and breathed out. I didn’t expect to instantly quiet 47 years of monkey mind in the first real sit down with myself.

But when the timer went off, I was shocked how fast the thirty minutes had gone and that I had been still the entire time. I felt as though I had gone for a run AND taken a power nap at the same time.

When I returned to the chaos that is my life, things somehow seemed less chaotic and more humorous. The house didn’t seem as dirty. My second born asked if I would proof a paper for him and I felt interested instead of annoyed by “one more thing I had to do”. (The paper was spectacular by the way. He is a very good writer.)  Even my back felt a little better. I was able to pinpoint a few things around the house that I wanted to do, and did them without frenzy and let the rest go for another day.  And for the first time in a long while it felt like a few of the hyenas had been given rabies shots and fat steaks.

So there is THAT. For NOW:)