Self-care

There are many kinds of people. Some more than others are able to handle their affairs.

If you’re blessed with the ability to be able to manage your circumstances, it’s very likely at some point you’ll be asked to lend a hand.

While I think that everyone should be willing to help, you must be careful when allocating yourself to others. You can easily overextend yourself, leaving very little time for keeping up your health, wealth, or mental well-being.

It’s hard to see the limit before you cross it. But once you have, you know it.

It’s also difficult to bring yourself back to the other side of it. Caring for yourself is paramount, as you’re no good to anyone (yourself included) if you’ve lost your ability to manage your affairs.

Deep Peace Gaelic Blessing

Deep peace of the running wave to you
Deep peace of the flowing air to you
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you
Deep peace of the shining stars to you
Deep peace of the gentle night to you
Moon and stars pour their healing light on you
Deep peace of Christ the light of the world to you
Deep peace of Christ to you

Day hikes

I’ve been taking some day hikes, clearing my head, getting out of the house, etc. And what strikes me about this pandemic is that, while I or others will step far to the side to let each other pass (six-foot rule), it’s all very pleasant. There’s no sense of discomfort or fear. It’s just caution and a shared understanding of the experience.

As the Nation’s leaders try to sort out this mess, we on the ground just have to keep on any way we can.

The Generation Defined

Each generation has a crisis it must face. (While honestly, it seems more like each decade has an accompanying crisis, and at times it’s even more frequent than that…)

It was twenty years ago this September when I understood the heartache of a Nation for the first time. I watched as the conversation changed from one of grief and confusion to that of unity and retaliation. I didn’t fully understand the terrorist attack, much as I believe no American could truly understand it. But I could grasp the pain of Americans. We all could.

The great crisis of the present moment isn’t one of hijackings or explosives. It’s an assault on the human condition, and it defies borders or boundaries. Again, terror grips the Nation, but we are not alone in our discomfort.

While most will say the response was slow to take root, and others still pronounce fearmongering, the truth is that in suffering we pull together more than in prosperity.

As true among any of the species, we find strength in our unity and comfort in our shared experience.

How much does one need?

Second admission: I have too much stuff.

My last house I lived in a 750 square foot cottage on half an acre. I didn’t particularly like the house, but I loved the yard.

Moving into it, I had too much. It got crammed into nooks with no hope of me going through it. That was my fault. I hadn’t at the time learned about decluttering and minimalism. It was only when I was nearly moving out that I started getting rid of stuff. Over twenty boxes went to Goodwill, and more went in the trash. Just stuff that had accumulated.

I talk with friend about accumulation often. It’s amazing all that stuff that we keep in case we need.

Now, I’ve been in the same place for over two years. And if you’ve read the blog for a while, you know I’m a bibliophile with a penchant for acquiring new books.

But I want to live lighter. I want to live more nimbly, and more simply. With less, one is freer to travel and explore. With less, there is less to clean. Less to look through when searching for something.

How much does one need? Admittedly, much, much less than I currently have.

The challenge of letting go

First admission: Letting go is a challenge for me.

There. I said it. Admitting it is the first step. You see, I think a very specific way. I was first alerted to differences in the way that people think while listening to a talk given by Dr. Temple Grandin. In this interview, she describes that process.

I don’t think in pictures. I think in the abstract. For me, visualization is difficult to achieve. I don’t see many pictures in my mind’s eye. I have done exercises to increase that ability, but I’ve made little progress.

But emotional context, I can recall with 100% clarity nearly in every instance. I can tell you exactly how I felt when something occurred. And because of this, I tend to attach those feelings to items that were present at specific moments… a lot of items. Which can then be complicated when trying to declutter, because items will have an emotional life. As I’m sure you can understand.

While we work through the clutter of our lives, it’s important to deal with the emotions, positive or negative, that arise as well. Otherwise we won’t change our patterns.

Revisiting resistance

I wrote this about two months ago, after diving deep into my yoga practice.

I’m stretching out the muscles in my legs.

As I’m stretching them out, pushing forwards and backwards on my legs, alleviating the tension that builds up, I notice the resistance. Resistance that is met in a forward bend and backward bend. And just as the resistance becomes so terrible, so unbearable, the tension releases. I can feel the muscle actually give way – it sort of vibrates, and then it’s loose.

I think of it as a metaphor for all resistance we face. I don’t push the stretch to the point where the muscle will tear. That would do irreparable harm. But I’m finding the space just past comfortable, where I’m living in the state of discomfort, until the muscle finally gives. The resistance breaks.

You must lean into the points, as Pena Chödrön says.

Over the past few months, reestablishing my yoga practice, I’ve had to remember this more and more.

No preference

How do you hold to no preference when an outcome obviously seems desirable? Making money vs. not? Being happy vs. not?

Being with the unhappiness, and then letting go it, will change the state of being. States are transitory. Everything is transitory.

Accept, acknowledge, let go.

Being present should eventually cause transition to the new state of being. Emotions are internal manifestations of events, not the events themselves. Thoughts are internal. Feelings are internal.

Sitting alone in a room won’t make you upset. What you think and feel in that moment may cause you unhappiness. But nothing in and around you is making you unhappy. You can acknowledge the feeling, and then try and let out pass from you naturally.

Accept. Let it go.

If this is difficult, turn your attention wholly to your surroundings, or, in a meditative way, to your breath. Focus on the sensations.

That is being present, and that is one path to non-preference.

Uphill climb to health

I struggled with my health most of my life. As a child, it was asthma. After it seemingly disappeared in my teens, I struggled with my weight. That I managed in my early twenties to the point where I was fit, and healthier than I had ever been by 25.

When I was 27 I was in two car crashes, the first in September and the second in November. After the September crash I had a bit of PTSD. I couldn’t drive for more than a month – I would go into a panic attack.

The latter crash left me more emotionally unstable, but that’s a different topic altogether.

Over the next twelve months I struggled to regroup, but also found myself with physical limitations. At first it was a cramp in my foot. Then it extended into my leg. By October I could barely walk without the use of a cane.

Medical testing took a long time, but they finally diagnosed me with rheumatoid arthritis  the following January. Then the medication came. It was a cocktail of drugs meant to keep my body from destroying itself. I took those medications, switching prescriptions six times in four years, until I took myself off of them.

Now I’m working through the periodic discomfort of joint inflammation with yoga, supplements, meditation, and relaxation exercises. My doctor says it’s okay, as long as I keep monitoring my symptoms. So, I do. And hope that I won’t need to take any medication for it again.

I sometimes hold the belief that the RA-diagnosis is incorrect. Or, rather, that it’s caused by something related to the collisions, or maybe even how I treated my body over the years – I wasn’t always the most attentive caretaker for my health needs.

And I hold out hope that some day the discomfort will leave me completely, or at least be unnoticeable. Most days now I feel pretty good. Some days it’s still tender in the foot, ankle, and leg – but I no longer need assistance while walking. And I still don’t take medication.

Self-care

The body is a temple. Often it’s also a playground. Sometimes, let’s be honest, it’s a garbage can. 

We do a lot to our vessels. Overwork it. Deprive it of sleep. Feed it processed foods and give it beverages we wouldn’t give to any animal. 

And yet, the thing more often than not protects us, provides for us? Forgives us. 

In return, maybe we should be mindful of how we’re treating it.

Remember – garbage in, garbage out.