Friday, December 31, 2010

Loosely Coherent Thoughts on the End of One Year and the Beginning of Another

 I sit here on my couch, lights off, but a candle and Christmas lights glowing. I just finished my last yoga practice of 2010. I did Yoga for Stamina by Rodney Yee (a lot of my videos are Rodney Yee- I really like the way his sequences flow). As I stood in tree pose, I tried to make it extra strong- hoping that strength will carry over into 2011.

There are so many good things that happened in this decade, many happy things which make me feel truly blessed. There are also those things that, although I don't spend a lot of time dwelling on them anymore, I will be happy to leave behind. I am looking forward to what the next decade has to offer.

One thing I am really happy about is that in the last six months I have really made strides toward actively being the person I want to be. There are many components to that statement- I have mentioned some of them here- and I think my two Months Of Yoga in November and December really helped solidify those positive changes, bring them all together, and keep them moving forward. Even the last two weeks have produced more personal evolution towards the positive. I am grateful.

I had sort of a bummer morning, but I am feeling much better now. I think I needed to get the crying out so that I could release the negative and usher in the New Year focusing on the joy. There's really so much more Joy than Blah, but it's so easy to become bogged down in Blahville. I'm glad I cried my way out in time to enjoy the rest of the day. :)

This New Year, I am not making a resolution, but I am making a statement that I will continue my six days of yoga practice per week. It has been so very beneficial and I would be doing myself a disservice by letting it fall to the wayside or by being 'too busy'. With two months down, I would like to complete a year.  Not a year from tomorrow, but a year from when I started this journey which was November 1st. That's why its not really a new year's resolution, but more of a resolution to continue. To continue to practice the positive and life affirming changes that I've begun to implement; and to continue shedding things that aren't productive or beneficial to me anymore.

On this last day of 2010- both the year and the decade- I wish you joy, blessings, and peace. May your next year be better than the last, and your next decade be the best thus far.

Thanks for reading, I hope you continue to do so.

Best wishes for the New Year,


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Life Smells Like a Rose When I'm in Tree Pose

For Christmas, I got three new yoga DVDs, which is fantastic since I'm doing yoga six days a week. The three others I had were getting a little tired. I still love them, but it will be nice to have variety. Two of the ones I requested I owned long ago, but which have since disappeared or are too scratched to play. It was one of these I did today- Yoga for Stamina with Rodney Yee. Since I lost my old copy, its been awhile since I did this practice, and it was so great to do it again. It was like hanging out with an old friend.

Two of the things I love most about it is that it includes bow pose and tree pose, which my other practices don't include. (I know I could do them on my own...but...I don't.) I love tree pose. Even though at the moment, I can only lift my one leg to the knee of the anchoring leg, it was still great to be in this pose. I know that eventually my bent leg will move up higher, and that will be cool, but I'm not in a rush. It was good to just be back in this pose. I will have to look up what this pose is good for- I'll get back to you on that. Maybe I love it so much because my body needs it. (Note to self: Look up Tree Pose)

Its really nice to have new practices and I don't know if it was the practice, or the Joy essential oil blend I had dabbed on my temples before I started (thanks dad!), or both- but I feel super relaxed and re-focused now.

Yay for Yoga!

Monday, December 27, 2010

If I Can Do It...

For any of you out there that think that yoga is just for flexible, skinny, single people with lots of time and money, I would like to tell you otherwise. I am none of those things, but for two months I've had a very successful renewal of my yoga practice from long ago.

First: Flexibility

Flexible I AM NOT. I never have been. For example, in college I was in my dorm room stretching as far as I could go, when my roommate came in. "What are you doing?" she asked. "Stretching." I said.

She LAUGHED at me. "You can't even tell!" That was in college. When I was supposedly young and supple. Yeah, things haven't improved in that area as I've aged. You don't need to be bend-y. Just bend as far as you can. The benefits will still be there.

Second: Skinny

Lets just say sometimes my belly schlub gets in the way. We'll leave it at that.

Third: Time

I have very little time for my practice, but since I committed to my 'Month of Yoga' in November, I had to MAKE time. Every day. Most days that meant rolling out my mat in the living room, next to the dogs, kid, and Little People Farm and Zoo sets and taking the time to practice. Here's a visual for you. This is from directly after today's practice:

Dog one wants to help!

Dog two wants to help!

The Little People Animals want to help!

Is it pretty? Not really the adjective I'd use. Is it peaceful, well...I've realized that peace comes from your MIND.

Take today for example. I'm sitting on my mat, trying to bend forward as far as my lack of flexibility allows, and the Sweet Baboo figures out that if he blows on the back of my neck, it makes a fantastic fart noise. That's right. There I am, trying to do a relaxing yoga sequence, and my son is making snotty fart noises on the back of my neck. Peace comes from your MIND.

Yesterday, this same kid decides that when I'm doing relaxation pose at the very end of my practice, it would be hilarious to stick his finger in my belly button. So, first of all, I am distracted by the fact that he can stick his finger ALL THE WAY into my belly button. Like, so it disappears (See point #2). Second, I have some one's finger stuck to the hilt into my belly button. Peace comes from your MIND.

Fourth: Money

I ain't got much. Funny how kids and pets suck all the extra funds out of you. This means that I can't really get to a 'real' yoga studio and practice very much. I have videos. I do one of them everyday. Do you need a lot of them? Not really. When I first started my practice way back when I was a poor grad student...I only had one Rodney Yee video with two 20 minute practices on it. (I also had to walk to school uphill both ways.) I did one of these two everyday for months. Did it get a little boring? Sometimes, but the benefits were so great- even with just one video, that I kept it up. I'm glad I did.

I still have that video. I still use it. Thankfully now I have a few more, but you don't need a lot. There's also a lot of resources on the web. Look for don't need a lot of money.

So if you're interested in yoga but held back by various worries or concerns, don't worry!  I am the perfect non-flexible, non-skinny, non-rich, non-time having example. So if I can do it, you can definitely do it.

The benefits are so, so worth it.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Holiday Reflections

It's the day after Christmas and I sit in my over sized chair with my dogs, watching the snow and the football game. I'm happy and content. I had a wonderful holiday relaxing with family and friends- it was so fun to see the Sweet Baboo open his gifts and then spend the day playing with them.

I was really happy with the gifts I got everyone- I didn't overspend, but got things I really thought each individual would like. Some of them I made, some of them gave back to indigenous artisans in their country of origin, and some were from regular ol' stores. I was a good balance.

Of course, not overspending is a learning process and which this year required a drive to four different stores with a toddler in tow to return things I went overboard with. Doh! Granted, that part was a pain, but the end result was that I got that money back, and that I didn't give people a bunch of 'extras' that weren't really necessary, and didn't add to anything. The gifts I did end up giving were well thought out and appreciated and that made me happy. Maybe next year I can do that without visits to various return counters. Ha! Goals, I got 'em.

I hope you all out there in your own homes, with your own families, after your own holidays, are feeling content and peaceful as well.

Here's to a happy end of 2010.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I need to stop being an apologist when it comes to my creative output.

Most of the time, I am painting, drawing or writing for Myself- and Myself thinks the products from that creativity are awesome in every way. No problem there. However, more and more frequently, I am commissioned to do something for someone else and am therefore getting paid for that creativity either by someone buying the finished product, or by someone commissioning something. That is when the ugly horns of Low Self Esteem attach themselves to my head and refuse to budge.

I am not, in general, a person for whom low self esteem is a problem. Not since I got out of college, became comfortable in my own skin, stopped caring what everyone else thought, and started realizing that, well...I like myself. So why is it that when I paint something for myself, I think its great; but when someone else is paying for it, I feel like its not good enough, or I feel the need to apologize for it in some way. Sometimes, the price I think my time is worth starts getting lower and lower in my head until if I let it go, I would be paying them to take the finished product.

Why do I feel like its good enough for me, but not good enough for someone else to spend money on.

All of this makes setting a price difficult for me. "I mean, just because you spent three hours of your time on it, doesn't mean that someone would want to pay what you feel your time is worth", my Head says, "because what if it doesn't look like you spent that much time on it" or "What if the finished product isn't exactly what they had in mind when they commissioned it?"

My time is important to me. At this stage in my life, if I'm working on a project for someone, most of the time I'm doing it at the expense of time with my son or family. This is a beneficial trade off- because my creative life is important and nurtures my soul- so I'm not begrudging that at all. I'm just saying that my time comes at a price, and I should honor that price by charging accordingly.

I paint well. Things look like what I intend them to be, and the finished products are quality. I should honor that by charging accordingly.

Not by overcharging, but by charging what's fair, and most of all- by giving the finished product its due respect in my own mind.

I'm reading a book right now, that I got years ago, but recently rediscovered. Its called Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of The Wild Woman Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. I will discuss it more in a book post, but she has a chapter devoted to the discussion of creativity that is especially relevant to this issue of undervaluing one's creative life. I will probably read this one chapter again and again- hoping that the ideas will sink in replace the current negative revolving thought patterns, ones that undervalue the products of my creativity and pick at imagined artistic faults. 

Here's to running with the wolves. 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Beauty In The Simple

Today has been the kind of day that I would describe as delicious. Deliciously cosy and calm, yet rejuvenating in it's simplicity. I spent the afternoon helping my aunt roll out balls of cheese and shaking a bag filled with paprika and chili power to coat them. We put them in little plastic gift bags festooned with snowmen and fastened them with colorful twisty ties. I helped unload the dishwasher, load it again, and measure out ingredients for cookies.

She gives these cheese balls out as gifts every Christmas, and it used to be my uncle's job to help; but since he died two years ago I make sure to help. Nothing seems lonelier to me than doing something festive alone after being used to having the company of someone you love, so I like to help her. Plus, I enjoy it. This is my special aunt, the one I feel closest to. 

We laughed, talked, and just were. Sitting in the comfort of a warm kitchen, one that hasn't changed much since my childhood, enjoying the easy company and shared history of another woman, helped to maintain the holiday spirit I've had going since Thanksgiving- just what I needed before the coming week's festivities. 

After the cheese balls (which are completely wonderful by the way), I came home, full of holiday spirit and warm fuzzies, opened a can of soup and sat and watched You've Got Mail, which is one of my favorites. I worked on pillows I'm making for family, and enjoyed time on the couch with my husband and our dogs.

It was a wonderful and blessed day.

I hope that your holidays, which ever one (or ones) you may celebrate, contain at least one day like this. Simple- yet oh so wonderful.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Lessons from Yoga: Be Present

Today I had a life/yoga moment. Well two of them. One when I gave myself some advice and then again when I realized that what I was trying to do in my yoga practice is exactly what I was telling myself to do in life. Did that make sense? No you say?

Ok then, let me 'splain.

First, background: I am not fond of the 'going home' process. I never have been. I love the fact that my day is over and I get to go home, but I don't like all the things I have to do to get there. Like drive home, and walk up the sidewalk, and put my coat away. Stupid- I know- but for some reason I have always been this way. These things don't bother me on non-work its work day specific.

Now that I have the Sweet Baboo, I add all the things that precede picking him up from daycare to that list. Again, I love the fact that I get to see him and take him home, I just don't like the things leading up to getting him there. Walking up the steps to his provider's house. Putting on his coat. Putting him in the car seat. I realize this is weird. I accept it.

Well, where yoga comes in, is that I don't dislike any of these actions as I'm doing them. I dislike them when I think of them before they occur- at 4:30 when I'm getting ready to get up from my desk and leave for the day. So today, I said to myself:

"Self, you don't have to do all these things right now. You only have to put on your coat and walk to your car. That's it. That's all you have to do right now. The way you can not get overwhelmed by "all the things you have to do" in order to get home and relax, is to only think about the step you're engaging in right NOW. Notice, dear Self, that I put "all the things you have to do" in quotes because "all the things" is a bit of an exaggeration on your part. I mean 'walking up the sidewalk'? That's being a bit dramatic is it not?"

I have done this kind of thinking before, but I sometimes forget, and it was good to remind myself. I mean, walking up the sidewalk? That is not a problem, and its not like when I'm facing the sidewalk I'm all "oh my goodness, I can not believe I have to walk this right now." Obviously it's not the steps themselves, but when I think about them at 4:30 when I'm still at work and they are standing between me and the inside of my house, that's the problem.

So when I was doing my yoga today, I found myself doing the same kind of thing: "ugg, I still have 15 minutes left" or "aw man, I still have those two hard poses to go". I realize that part of the problem is that I've done the videos I have so many times that I anticipate what's left, but that shouldn't matter, because each pose should stand alone. Yes, yoga poses flow from one to another, but each one should be valued and concentrated on while its being done. My problem comes when I am not present in the pose I'm doing at that moment. Once I started concentrating on the moment, I stopped anticipating future discomfort, and enjoyed where I was.

That's exactly how it works in my life. I enjoy the drive to daycare. I listen to the radio, I may or may not embarrass myself by singing along so people next to me at the stop light can see me, I look at the pretty colors in the sunset. It's only when I take it as one of many steps, instead of on its own, that it causes anxiety and 'blahness'.

Don't let the anticipation of future blah (which most likely will not even occur) cause the present moment to be blah. At the risk of being cliche, each moment is precious, I should savor them individually as much as I can!