Over too soon

I’ve so enjoyed this more relaxed version of national blogging month, I’m sorry it’s over.

As much as we reduced the requirements, I still didn’t manage to meet them.  I think with this one I’m two short on posts.  I did read blogs almost every day but commenting was sporadic and, since I’m only on FB and Twitter and fairly carefully curate what I put on each, the share on social media requirement was unlikely to be met from the get go.

But the last couple of weeks have been a rough go on the face unwinding/then not sleeping issue so I’m fairly pleased I managed to be in it at all.  Though I’m also sorry I didn’t hit the requirements, the pleased part mostly wins.  For a lot of the miserable years this has been going on, I’d have just disappeared from the challenge.

It’s been a treat re-connecting with a few folks from the past, finding some new people to follow, reading new and different things, etc.  I’m wishing we did this more often.  Not too often 🙂 … but more

Mashed Cauliflower and Parsnips with Spinach

Normally this would just be on the Scribblings blog, but since I’m participating in the blogging month with the Cheer Peppers and I only signed this blog up, you get to see it here too 🙂 A healthy way to have “mashed potatoes” for Thanksgiving

Scribblings from the Bluegrass

Cooking in water

Several years ago I saw a Rachael Ray episode on Thanksgiving for which she prepared a dish with mashed potatoes and parsnips with spinach and parmesan stirred in.  It sounded so good but I wanted to try using cauliflower instead of potatoes to make it healthier.

Substituting 2 cauliflower heads for the potatoes, it turned out great but was a lot of work. Since then riced cauliflower has become popular so I hunted for a recipe for mashed cauliflower using the riced version–so much easier.  Then I used aspects of both recipes to create this one.

Mashed Cauliflower and Parsnips with Spinach

  • 3 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 2 16 oz packages riced cauliflower (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 parsnips
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup reserved water from cooking cauliflower
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 6-8 oz fresh organic baby spinach or kale or 10-12 ounces fresh spinach…

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Just fillin’

As we get closer to the holiday, I’m spending more and more time on groceries and early prep (since i have trouble standing for long periods, I’ve worked out a plan for fixing things that can be frozen ahead, etc. so the dinner comes together in increments) and finding myself so tired I can’t think well enough to write.

I ran back into this video from the Voices of Service audition for the last round of America’s Got Talent.  I so LOVE their rendition of Katy Perry’s Rise — I’m only sorry that the time limits for the audition meant we don’t get to hear them sing the whole song!  Have fun:

What voices can tell us

In a long ago teaching — one of the teachers at Nine Gates, but I no longer remember which — mentioned a quote about never trusting a person whose laugh doesn’t come from their belly.  It was about the sound and feeling the energy in it — if it comes from the belly there’s a difference resonance.  One of those moments that struck deep for me and I’ve remembered it and pondered and listened to voices with more care ever since.

The listening has helped me be aware that you can learn a lot from voice resonance and, if you’re really listening you can hear if there is sound coming from the lower chakras and/or the heart or only from the top.

I’ve been noticing a trend in which more and more people’s voices are high pitched — shrill to me — and come only from their heads.  It started with hearing lots of women on House Hunters whose voices made me wonder how their spouses managed to live without earplugs.

Increasingly I’m noting it as a spreading phenomenon.  Now I’m hearing these voices all over television, in public places, etc. and it’s men too though their naturally deeper pitch makes it a little harder to catch.  To me they sound like they’re 5 and just took a suck off a helium balloon.

A voice pitched only in the head is the voice of someone cut off from their body, cut off from emotions.  This doesn’t mean you have to make some kind of judgment, but when you hear it and understand there’s a disconnect it’s an important piece of knowing who someone is.

It tells me this is someone who’s likely stuck at some childhood stage with buried emotions.  This kind of stuckness usually has impacts on behavior and can make it much easier to understand what’s going on when faced with sudden withdrawal or fury or tears, etc.

I’ve also, to the best of my ability, followed changes in my own voice, from tiny and only in my head to generally feeling vibrations in my heart and solar plexus when I talk that I — at least to myself — feel have changed the quality of my sound.  A few long-time friends have commented a number of times that my voice sounds different from one time to the next and often there’s been a round of emotional release or body work opening muscles in the interim.

In another direction, listen carefully to the voices of people who’ve meditated deeply for years or, even more notable, pay attention when someone you know comes back from a week at a meditation retreat.  Their voices hold many more vibrations and tones, a fullness and richness.

What I’ve been contemplating is what it means in our spiritually disconnected society that we have such growing numbers of people whose voices are only in their heads. Who have buried traumas so deeply they’ve created blocks that separate their heads from their bodies so they’re always living in their heads.

The epidemic of people with neck issues is a major symptom of this — one of the big ways people cut themselves off from their bodies and from the tones of the root, second, third, heart and, often, throat chakras.

Don’t have any answers or suggestions for government intervention 🙂 , just noticing and wondering…

 

Falling behind

Even with our reduced/easier schedule for NaBloPoMo this year I’m struggling.

Deepak Chopra chose this month to start one of his 21 day meditation events and I signed up. I’m only a day behind at this point, which is highly unusual for me.

Then a friend recommended a free on line video course called Time of the Sixth Sun.  The videos are around an hour and-a-half each and stay up for only 24 hours, so it’s been a bit of a dash to keep up.  Watched the final one today then found out they’re going to make them available again this weekend and, as I found out too late to see the first two, I now have more to watch.

Another friend passed along yet another free online video course exploring Eastern medicine and cancer.  It started while the “Sixth Sun” was still going so for a couple of days I juggled watching two long videos and doing the meditation while also, you know, having a life. And I’m about to juggle both a couple more days.

An abundance of good stuff, but sorry, it has sidetracked my attention from blogging challenges.

Pioneering women

Not long ago I suddenly thought of my grandmother’s friend, Sunshine Sweeny.  I only knew her in passing, but I loved her name and she lived down the street from the home on Third Street to which my grandmother and aunt moved when I was 12.  I wondered whether the house there had been passed down in the family or whether she purchased it later.

A couple of months later my friend Cecy came to town.  I met her when she had just turned 13 and I was still 12 because my aunt knew her mother and they lived down the street  We decided to take a nostalgic tour of Third Street (pictures of each of us in front of “our” houses are going up on the Scribblings blog), so I took the above shot of the house I recall as Sunshine’s — across the alley from Cecy’s old house–while we were there.

Then I started doing some poking around.  I didn’t find out a lot about Sunshine but one main item was that she took over the family farm, which I thought answered the question about the house.  Her sister, Mary, however, was well enough known there’s quite a bit of info and Sunshine is mentioned here and there.

Neither sister ever married and both had levels of education and held positions that were very unusual for women at the time.  Their father was a doctor and I’m thinking both parents get a lot of credit for raising such independent and aspiring girls.

Sunshine shows up in the 1907 University of Kentucky yearbook as being on the “classical course”.  Somewhere after she began to run the farm and I found her in a KY gov publication as being on the executive committee of the Kentucky Sheep Breeder’s Association in 1917.

In 1914, she directed a group of women conducting a campaign against illiteracy in Lexington. It was part of a movement across the state.

Also in 1917 Sunshine and Mary went to Europe to serve food in canteens for troops in WWI under the auspices of the YMCA.

MARY SWEENY

 

Mary graduated from Transylvania University in 1899 (Transy for folks elsewhere, is a highly regarded little liberal arts school here in Lexington, founded in 1780, the oldest college west of the Alleghenies), received a Masters from University of Kentucky and then another Masters from Columbia in 1912.

She taught physics and chemistry at Campbell-Hagerman College, during which time she introduced hot school lunches to western Kentucky. Then she taught Home Economics at University of Kentucky, becoming head of the department in 1913.  In 1917 she was appointed chair of the U.S. Food Administration in D.C., where she trained citizens on rationing food in wartime.

Next she became dean of Human Ecology at Michigan Agricultural College and then the Merrill Palmer School in Detroit, where she worked with the American Red Cross on nutrition in the inner city, creating a program that later became Head Start.

She also spent time in India, starting in 1939, won a citation for bravery in WWII and was a consultant in China on child welfare.  In 1965 she was named to the hall of Distinguished Alumni at University of Kentucky.  The citations in her Wikipedia article lead to some pretty interesting pieces about her.

Since neither of the sisters had children and I’m not sure if there were siblings, I don’t know if there’s anyone to remember their contributions so I wanted to produce this little reminiscence in honor of their pioneering lives.

Another fun aspect of the research for me was running into SO many prominent Lexington names.  People who were friends with my grandparents, whose children my mom and her sister knew, whose grandchildren I met.  People who owned stores downtown.  Louis Hillenmeyer was in the Horticulture Society in 1917 and a couple of generations later Hillenmeyer’s is still a major name in the nursery business here.  So cool to see the history.

Anger in the air

Screaming it out

In a recent post I alluded to experiencing some irritability lately and the first couple of days of this week had me at such high levels of feisty and cranky I’ve been doing some contemplating.

The orange man held a rally here in town on Monday and I’m pretty sure some of it was me picking up on the great numbers of angry people who converged here to attend and the angst of those who opposed and gathered outside in protest.  Now that the election is over, I’m much calmer so I’d say that was a lot of it.

But since anger was a big issue in my early inner explorations and a lot of the processing work I did during the Fischer-Hoffman Process* involved releasing huge amounts, I try to stay aware if I think another issue seems to be surfacing.  I did the Fischer Hoffman 1992-93 and for I’d say 10 years after, every time I unearthed an issue with angst attached I used “the process”, identifying the source and pounding pillows, etc.

Without intending to, I drifted away from doing it and most of the release in the last 15 years or so has been at the agency of body work therapists and/or me using the triggers of release work and opening something up.  When I first encountered Ellen, the F-H facilitator, at Nine Gates during third chakra work, we used some techniques Gay Luce added, which she called “emotional hygiene”.

I used to do those off and on as well, my favorite being one where you take a somewhat wide stance, clasp your hands, inhale and hold your breath, and then raise and lower your hands while bending forward as if you were chopping big logs with an axe.  You keep swinging for as long as you can possibly hold your breath.  Then exhale and repeat as necessary. It’s a great way to shake some of the daily irritants of life and, if something is bubbling up, it is also really effective at getting it to the surface.

Remembering the work has me thinking it would be good to incorporate the chopping on some regular basis and also exploring whether I feel a round of the process is in order.  I know that besides picking up on community energies, the current round of muscle releases in my head is off-loading some old and/or ancestral and/or past life issues locked in for most of my life.

Most of the time I try to look at this long healing road as a good thing, both (1) from the standpoint of being freed of physical pain and problems and (2) especially for healing the emotional issues lurking beneath.  But I’m realizing there’s a level on which I’m pretty angry about the huge disruption in my life this has caused for YEARS, especially the precarious financial situation in which it has left me.

So I’m thinking it’s time to dust off the process tools — as best I can remember them now 🙂 — and plan a session.  And some chopping.  Definitely some chopping.

The return to lovingkindness chanting is definitely also helping but since these bouts of temper keep arising in between rounds of chanting I’m feeling the anger needs to be addressed.  Disappointing to be back to this, yet I also know every bit of clearing any one of us does contributes to lifting the anger out of the Oneness, so I feel committed.

*Ellen, having been a facilitator for many years had devised a deeper and longer version.  The original process, now called the Quadrinity Method, is still around but not the same as her work.  Since her death, as far as I know there is no one doing her variation.

The Ah in God

Contemplating the divisiveness these days on many issues, especially religious, I’ve been thinking a lot about some teachings I received long ago.  Late 80’s into mid-90’s I had several different teachers who talked about vowel sounds in ancient times and how they relate to chakras, meanings and to modern language.  There was a gem about the sound and meaning of “ah” that has always stuck with me.

The two teachers I can recall most specifically are David Patten, who is a Druid descendant and teaches about ancient Celtic practices at Nine Gates, including the alphabet– the “oghams”– and Paul Ray, who taught Sufi at Nine Gates (long ago, when I went through…).  I lived in an apartment connected to the home of my friend Gay and David, so I also got to hear about oghams at the dinner table while he worked on a book.  This many years later I don’t remember which other teachers and much of what I learned is a bit of a jumble.

For all these years, though, a teaching on “ah” as the sound of God has always stuck.  Many of these ancient concepts provided layers of meaning to each letter — things like, a type of tree, a mineral, a bird, a divination interpretation, etc. — and those ideas were often incorporated in later alphabets and languages though the underlying layers are no longer known in general.*  So it turns out that the “ah” sound, if you look carefully, is in every name for God.  Krishna.  Allah.  Yeshua (Jesus). etc.  And of course the way we pronounce “God” there’s an ah in it…

As I studied with teachers from different traditions and increasingly realized every major religion has the same principles at the core, I would come back to the sound of “ah” and realize the name is not only there in each place, but the sound that conveys all those principles and shows up in each one is a unifying piece.

The name may look different in each language, but the spirit of love in the “ah” is always present.  The same principles of the Eightfold Path — right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration — are within all of them, they just use different words to express them.

So I look at all the division and discord about this religion versus that or this denomination versus another and I wish everyone could take a breath and feel the “ah”.  For many, if the words are different for some reason they can’t see the heart is the same.  I just feel the love at the core and keep wishing we could all find our way back to the heart and the love and compassion.

This is my first post for this year’s Nano Poblano — a version of National Blog Post Writing Month.  The group decided to change it up, so this year participants are committing to 30 days of blog activities–  10 days of posts, 10 days of reading/commenting, and 10 days of sharing posts through any other platform. You can see posts for the event here.

*David has been able to translate some obscure modern languages without having ever studied or spoken them just by applying his knowledge of the meaning of letters.

Disruption

When I launched my plan to shift my schedule I knew the muscles in my face might prove to be a hindrance, but hoped it might not get that bad again.  The last few weeks have been back to high levels of activity, interfering with sleep, etc.

The good news is I’m still getting up and going to sleep quite a bit earlier than before, but instead of progressing further toward the goal, it’s instead moved a little in the other direction.  And I’ve just been stupefied with fatigue a lot of the time.

This spell has coincided with a time when those who observe energy patterns have been saying we’re undergoing a big shift and a lot of releasing.  Yup.  I think I could vouch for that.

Along with the yanking, sleep problems and energy shifting there’s irritability, particularly around politics.  Some of that is probably part of the general energy, some to do with the energy shift, and, frankly, when I’m constantly badly sleep deprived I’m just cranky.

But I’m also noticing. Wondering if there’s a deeper issue unfolding with the muscles.  I know in general the muscle patterns in my face have been connected to anger, whether mine or ancestral or past life and sometimes I just don’t know exactly what the underlying story was.  Or maybe there’s something to explore.

The other thing I began to note as irritability grew, is how long it’s been since I did the lovingkindness chant, singing chants for heart, love, etc. I instituted long ago.  It wasn’t really purposeful, I just got into doing Steve Nobel’s meditations after about a year of chanting and gradually shifted to doing those exclusively.

As soon as I noted it, it was also clear those practices helped keep me centered and calm in the midst of the chaos swirling around me.  And the longing to do them again arose with those thoughts.  Did the lovingkindness chant yesterday and felt the shift.

All in all, these recent weeks have felt like a disruption of the path to a new and better schedule but I remind myself every day I’ve managed to hold onto most of the shift already made.  Weeks like these last few had much to do with the crazy late sleeping and waking times I’d become accustomed to keeping and it seems like a victory just to have held it at bay.

Of course the price of holding to it has meant even less sleep, so life feels pretty disrupted anyway.  The other cool piece is the muscles squeezing my left eye have loosened enough that vision is noticeably improved.  Quite a journey.

 

The one cup of coffee

 

Coffee Love

I’ve loved the taste of coffee since I was something like 4 and used to jump over to my parents’ cups before the table was cleared to take a sip off the last remaining drops.

In early adulthood I was introduced to fresh roasted coffee and beans and blends from many places.  Melitta pots then espresso machine and then stove-top espresso pots worked their way through my repertoire.  And I drank coffee all day, not knowing at the time that I was using it to ward off the growing fatigue born of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.

Around the same time diagnoses and treatments began, I switched for some years to decaf.  Back when decaffeinating and reducing stress were in instead of trying to prove how hyped up and busy you can be…

Eventually I slid back to caffeinated but reducing the amount of coffee.  I refuse to give it up and I believe in the anti-oxidant boost of a freshly brewed cup but I also accept the down sides so I have been holding to a one perfect cup plan for some years.

On the Scribblings blog I’m going to put up a post that goes into more detail about the kind of coffee (La Coppa) and the preparation, but here I’m just contemplating that one cup each day and its sacred place in my day.

Some years back a post on the old Bardo group blog suggesting people find a “check-in partner” to text each day and say what you’re feeling and what you intend, led me to post about it.  A long-time friend immediately got in touch to say she’d like to do it.  Since I hate texting I said yes, if we could change it to e-mail.

We soon added “three gratitudes” to the daily check-in.  After a few years, in the midst of lots of suggestions about joy, I asked to add that, differentiating it from gratitude as a more vibrant emotion and one I have trouble accessing.  She felt the same, so we added an unspecified number of “joys” noted each day.  (I highly recommend this check-in practice, btw)

My daily cup of java almost instantly made the list and, contemplating it, I soon informed her to expect that one every day.  Having just the one cup of this beverage I LOVE means I look forward to it.  When I wash all the components of the pot and cup, etc. each evening I smile as they hit the drying rack, knowing they’ll be ready to go for that so-loved mug in the morning.

I wait until breakfast is over to fix it so I can sit and sip it as its own separate moment.  Each drink is savored and I’m never mingling in bites of toast or other flavors to sully the exquisite taste of the coffee.  It’s a moment in my day set aside from others.

To me that one cup each day is a sacred moment.  I really feel the joy and gratitude and mark the moment.  Simple, special, just one cup.

A meditation, insights and puzzlement

Several days ago I tried a new Steve Nobel meditation which both led to a couple of deep insights and left me feeling the meditation was incomplete.  When I saw the meditation I felt right away this would be a good place to try addressing yet again an issue that has dogged me for all the years I’ve been on this journey:  The Grace Transmission: Surrendering a Seemingly Irresolvable Issue to Spirit.

Prior to starting the spiritual journey I was pretty good at getting jobs with adequate pay — as long as I hated them.  Once I gave up on ideas like “work is hard and always a struggle” and “you can only make a living at jobs that are unpleasant:, etc. I started teetering between starting ventures doing things I loved that at best made no money and often wound up costing me and taking low-paying part-time jobs to get me through.  My financial status began a downward spiral that has never stopped.

Having addressed many many issues and seen things move, this one has been frustrating as I have thrown more at it than any other, from affirmations to visions to emotional clearing, to examining ancestral patterns, etc. and nothing has ended the spiral.  Every time I think I’ve broken through and things will change, they do.  For the worse.

Nobel has several meditations addressing abundance, etc. and I’ve done those too and definitely felt I moved some energy but something has still seemed stuck.  So I entered this new meditation with the intent to turn over this issue and see how his mind-blowing transformational talents impacted this.

The basic construct, after his usual opening of clearing and bringing in archangels, etc., is to look through three windows, the first of the unconscious, the second of the conscious and the third, the Higher Self view.  Not bad as a construct though I have a few critiques.

I guess he was trying to avoid making suggestions that influenced what we “saw” but from the first window on, I felt I could have used a little more guidance about what we were aiming for as we looked through the window.  Nonetheless, as soon as I looked through the first one I saw myself alone in a hot and desolate desert.

Moments later I realized I was revisiting a past life experience I’ve encountered before.  Usually it’s come up (or been”seen” by a psychic) in the context of me having had multiple lifetimes as a healer/seer and, more often, as one of many healer lifetimes in which I was tortured and/or put to death for my abilities — thus the shutdown this time around.

My late teacher Ellen Margron taught us about “daisy chains” of beliefs and how beliefs intertwine with one another and are deduced from one another, etc.  I’ve often found since that memories, whether childhood or past life, often have their own daisy chain of beliefs that arose from one powerful incident.  I forget that sometimes so this was a good reminder.

In this instance instead of feeling the terror of being punished for what I knew or saw, I experienced the end portion of being tied down and left in the middle of a desert to die a horrible death alone.  I felt utterly abandoned by every human, by the Universe and by God.

In other inner journeying, I’d realized long ago that as a very young child my reaction to some tough stuff going on was to feel abandoned by God.  Many times I’ve realized I live in an odd space in which I consciously believe in spirit and interconnection, etc. while on some deep level having no faith that a higher power cares anything about me.

I’ve worked on it quite a bit but looking through this window I could feel a tight hold from this past life experience and the resulting loss of faith has been at the core most of my life.  The surprising thing to me in the meditation was there was no guidance into something to shift or re-create the view through the window. He also left a REALLY long time for seeing this picture and I’d completed it early on, then felt like I was miserably held in this unpleasant space.

So I came to window two still feeling yucky from window one.  Window two was seeing into the conscious mind about the issue.  It was another scene of isolation, but this time based on fears of winding up homeless and living in my car.  I could feel the direct connection between the past life scene in window one and the feelings still being held in consciousness.

Again, there was no turn around moment and the hold in this unpleasant place was exceedingly long.  Then on to window three, the view of the Higher Self.  This time I could instantly see myself as an interconnected part of the web of all life and sense the flow of energy always available. I was also still experiencing the unpleasant feelings from the first two windows, so it didn’t feel as comfortable and freeing as it might have. I could also see the flow being blocked; I knew it was me blocking it and I could understand that me letting go of those feelings of being abandoned and lost would open the flow.

I gather the idea was the “higher” view would automatically heal the other two views, but since I’ve understood and addressed this issue before and clearly still have it, I felt like I could really have used a final piece in which all the guides and angels brought in assisted in shifting the first two views to align with the third.  I understand this stuff well enough to get that he figured the final view would do that on its own.  Maybe it did…

I do feel the series of views has had an impact and now that I’m hyper-conscious about it I’ve been regularly envisioning myself in that interconnected space and affirming my connection to the web.  I open to receive as much energy, love, abundance, etc. as the universe can offer.  I can feel energy moving.

So mixed reviews.  On the one hand, clearly there was power in this meditation and it guided me into an important revelation.  On the other, I didn’t find it as transformative as I feel it could have been.

 

Schedule shifting midstream

My schedule shift efforts are slowly moving along and some changes seem to be holding, so I’ve been feeling pleased with the decision to shift.  The muscles in my eyes haven’t been quite so wild.  There’s often some disruption a couple of nights a week but none of the long endless nights of yanking muscles; without that change none of the rest would be happening.

Today I hit one of the goals in the shift.  Lots of friends from the old Unity church here joined a spiritual center called Ahava a few years after Unity closed.  I’ve been attending random afternoon or evening events off and on and volunteering with their God’s Pantry group but  their weekly 10:30 service has been way out of reach for my insane sleep schedule.

When I started shifting the schedule I realized attending the Sunday service — which I’d given up on doing — would become possible.  Today was finally the day I was both awake early enough and rested enough to conceive of getting up, dressed and out.

As soon as I walked in the door I was greeted warmly by Betty, one of the women very involved in the old Unity.  Then Patty, whom I’ve known through the God’s Pantry work hugged me and invited me to sit with her.  A beautiful service, greeting more old friends….  Loved it and it really gave the gargantuan effort of shifting every aspect of my schedule more meaning and purpose.

Other good news to report from shifting is I’ve been having more energy.  Some of that is because the DEEP stuff behind my eye that’s currently unwinding is freeing up a lot of energy. I also suspect in looking at the Chinese medicine clock that I’m now giving some crucial organs a rest during the best hours which then helps the energy.

For the first six weeks or more I got up earlier then was so dazed the rest of my plan for breakfast, exercise, shower and meditation before noon fell apart while I just sat in a fog but in the last couple of weeks, with energy picking up, I’m getting more things done every day– nowhere close to the kind of busy days my more energetic friends accomplish, but for me, significantly more.  And I’m finally growing less stupefied in the morning so am hoping to get the whole morning plan happening soon instead of just a couple parts of it.   When I finish shifting to the intended schedule, should be even easier.

Another great bonus has been running errands between 1:00 and 2:45 — in between lunch rush and schools getting out.  Turns out there’s a whole lovely time when traffic is light, parking is easy and stores are quiet!  I’m now addicted to getting things done in this peaceful time frame.  Given my night vision issues, this is going to be SO helpful when darkness starts arriving at 5:30.

Another view from my spot

Speaking of light, I’m totally enjoying having more hours of light and, again, will be so much happier in winter that I’ll be experiencing a fair portion of the hours of sunshine.  Being up and around so much more of the day has led to more time enjoying light and air while writing on our sun porch which always picks my spirits up.

It all feels like coming alive again after such a long journey of healing.  More about that in another post!

Getting Older and Birthdays

I turned 67 today.  Of course birthdays have long since not been an occasion for the giddy excitement of childhood but I continue to enjoy having some amount of celebration.  At this age, with no siblings, husband or children and parents in their 90’s, it’s been slowly sinking in for the last few years that before too long no one will be around on that day.

I don’t dwell on it much, but until now, when I’ve thought of it, I’ve felt sorry for myself.  While it WILL be sad just not to have my parents and their pleasure in the fact I was born, I finally have re-defined something about birthday.

Right now my mother and I live together so she greets me with something she’s ordered and a “happy birthday” to start the day and my father calls somewhere after that, having sent a card with a check ahead of time.  So I’m increasingly contemplating the birthday when they aren’t here and how I want to spend the day.

They’re both getting ever more frail and I’m doing my best to see to it that both are okay though I can’t get to my dad very often at all.  Most of the time I’m just worried about them, so birthday and Christmas are the only two times I confront the frailty and what’s ahead and feel uneasy about life without them around.

A couple of times in the past when I lived far from either parent, I put together a small party, specifying no presents, but had a general impression people felt dragged into celebrating and I’m not really into parties so that’s not something I’d do again.

So far one of the main things, since I love really good food, has been seeing to it some sort of treat or special meal is on hand.  But looking deeper into the meaning of birthdays — and not wanting to try to fill empty spaces with food 🙂 — and whether they need celebrating and what would be meaningful for me I’m starting to envision future birthdays spent in contemplation, drawing tarot cards, possibly a spa or massage visit, and meditating on spirit and purpose and why I’m here and whether I’m living my purpose.  Really sounds more like me than a lot of the usual birthday stuff.

Something about creating my own vision for a different kind of day that doesn’t require presents and cakes and someone who says “Happy Birthday” as soon as I get up calmed the anxiety about that future that isn’t here.  And right now I feel so blessed to have parents who’ve made it to 94 and still celebrate as they can with me.

Circling back to Yoga Nidra

Long ago I wrote about a year of yoga nidra practice and my ongoing love of it.  At the time I began, the lingering effects of chronic fatigue still left me exhausted a good deal of the time and the “sleep” impact intrigued me.

The practice indeed helped remarkably with the constant fatigue and after the year I moved to spending more time on energy-building practices like Flying Crane Chi-Gung, the Eight Key Breaths and the Five Tibetan Rites.  I still slipped yoga nidra in here and there but it became ever more sporadic.

As I struggle with the big shifts I’ve been trying to make, added to years of sleep deprivation due to my muscles, fatigue is more of a problem again and it finally occurred to me to circle back to yoga nidra.  In the time since I first began I’ve fallen in love with the short version on my preferred recording, Swami Janakananda’s Experience Yoga Nidra[On other recordings I’ve tried the long version isn’t as complete as this one and the short version is completely different]

I’ve hit the point in the shift where I’m finally getting up close to the time I’m aiming for, but then wandering around in a fog for hours as I’ve never had enough sleep (and I gather my internal clock hasn’t adjusted…).  So later in the morning I’ve been frequently doing one of the two versions of yoga nidra and it’s definitely helping by restoring some rest as advertised.

Yoga nidra is a deep relaxation practice and the claims regarding sleep equivalence vary widely.  Initially I was told that the long, 45 minute version equaled 6 hours of sleep, or 2 hours per 15 minutes.  Since then I’ve seen it estimated at more like 1 hour per 15 minutes and I’d say that corresponds more to my experience.  And there are other claimed variations from less to more.  At this point I usually say the long one equals 3 hours and the short, 20 minute, version nets around an hour.

I also love the practice (1) because there are a LOT of fast-moving instructions and if you want to experience all of it you really have to stay mindfully with it.  I’d say the year I spent practicing daily did more to help my mindfulness capacity than any mindfulness meditation I ever did and (2) because as your energy follows the flow you experience your whole body, shifting emotional states, chakras, connecting with nature and more, I feel a greater sense of detachment from my ordinary self than anything else has provided me.

I also like it because my low back has issues with sitting meditation practices and for yoga nidra you’re SUPPOSED to be lying down.  Yea!

In 30+ years of learning, doing and often discarding practices, I’d say this one ranks as one of my total faves.  There are some others I cycle in and out of, like the energy practices named above.  And yoga, of course, has remained a constant since I took my first class starting in July, 1986.

If you have any issues with being sleep deprived and/or fatigued, I highly recommend this.  Or if you need help with relaxation.  Or mindfulness.  What can I say, it’s an amazing practice! And I’m so happy to have cycled back to it.

Growing Pains?

In my last post, I was feeling a little down about my struggles with making a huge schedule change.  I’m happy to report I was soon back on track but I have to tell ya, shifting your entire schedule by several hours is harder than it sounds.

Right now I’ve landed in a place where I’m routinely somewhere in between the schedule I’m aiming for and the schedule I used to have.  I’m counting that as progress and an accomplishment.  But this in between place also has some issues.

Way back when school and then working outside the home forced a schedule on me, I routinely had to get up anywhere from 5:30 to 6:30 a.m. in order to get ready and accomplish whatever commute required.  I’ve always been a night owl, so pretty much every night I was awake till midnight or one, slept till the alarm dragged me up and headed off.

Lots of coffee all day long helped me to pretend I had energy.  Weekends contained many extra hours of sleep, trying to catch up.  While many things contributed to chronic fatigue for me, I’m quite sure many years of sleep deprivation is one of the threads.  Once I no longer worked on somebody else’s hours, my pretty natural schedule was more or less 1 a.m. to 9 a.m.  But when a combination of kundalini, prana bursts and wild muscle activity started interfering regularly with sleep over some years that schedule slowly morphed to being awake often until 4 a.m. or 5 (and sometimes beyond) and sleeping until 12 or later.

I’ve hated that for many reasons, especially in winter and even more this past winter when night vision problems kept me from driving after dark.  But as long as the muscles mostly ruled my schedule and kept me utterly exhausted I didn’t feel up to trying to wrestle the schedule back.

Now that I’m back feeling quite a bit better and with restored determination, the old 1-9 a.m. seemed attractive and that’s my aim.  Oy, though, trying to shift that much while also changing liquid schedule to stop drinking anything several hours before bed has been far more huge than I imagined.  And yes, the muscles in my faces haven’t finished with me; some nights are impossible…

When I can get to the 1-9, many things have a natural spot and I can see how the schedule will work well, but this in between moment makes it so awkward!  While I long to complete the shift to the new dream schedule, right now I just try to take a breath and appreciate how much I’ve accomplished so far.

I love having extra hours of daylight.  I love being ready to head out for errands earlier.  I love having time to take a nap (so far it’s been easier to get up earlier than to make myself sleep earlier) and still have hours of light left to enjoy.

Just thought I’d let you know I’m done whining… for now 🙂