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…

View original post 229 more words

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.

The great divide Part 1: Education

Children in a kindergarten classroom in France

Children in a kindergarten classroom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I’ve been thinking over the current situation a couple of things have been jumping out for me about the great divide in this country. The first is about education and all the voting demographics I’ve seen that put the majority of college educated people in one camp and the majority of those with high school level or less in the other.

Which has me pondering education in general, here and in the world.  Ruminating about the “educate women” movement which has been building force for some years now.  It’s aimed at countries where lots of people — particularly women — don’t have access to any education, so the situation is a little different.

But the studies supporting the “educate women” idea show that when women are educated in a society, the tendency to extremist views that exclude portions of the population, give rise to xenophobia or lead to militancy and/or genocide, …, etc. is reduced.

Now most people in this country have access to some amount of education, but we’ve been sliding downward in the world and the schools in poorer areas are generally underfunded and competing even less well.  And it seems different levels of education are producing a big gap in views of inclusiveness versus exclusiveness, etc.  Some of the same kinds of issues being addressed by the programs for educating women elsewhere seem to exist here too.

So the thing that’s been spinning around in my head is:  why are we willing to donate millions of dollars for charitable programs to educate women in other countries, but in this country instead of helping everyone achieve a better education, I just see people calling the under-educated “stupid” and dismissing them???

No wonder so many people feel disenfranchised.  With a lower level of education and a dissimilar cultural experience, they understand the world in different ways and are written off for it.  I don’t really see anyone on the political horizon who’s interested in working on education as a means of bridging the divide.

Maybe it’s a place for new ideas.  Thinking outside the box.  Since the new administration is planning on cutting funds for education, the answer needs to come from outside the government as the public school system will probably get worse.  Anybody have some great proposals to equalize the education playing field?  An educate-the-girls foundation to launch?  A partnership to propose to the Gates Foundation?

Any ideas about healing the great divide instead of widening the gap?  Instead of getting mad how about getting to work on some new plans?

No Mo Nano Poblano!

Yea!  I’m happy.  I’m sad. Happy and sad…

Relieved and happy to be done with the daily posting.  Sad because I’ve enjoyed meeting lots of new bloggers.  Happy because most days– I’ve made a couple of weekly commitments– if I post it will be only because I have something I really want to say and I’m in the humor to get it posted.  Sad I won’t be able to search the “Nano Poblano” tag and run down a list of great posts by lots of people I haven’t met before.

When I posted the other day about being too tired to write I garnered a few messages both privately and on the blog giving me advice about how to plan better next time.  My plan next time:  state clearly from the beginning that I’ll post as much as I’m comfortable posting but am not committed to posting daily.

In the end I only missed one day, with a couple of not-quite-a-post days when at least something went up.  But I also had many days when I posted on two of my blogs and a few more when I posted on all three.  So total posts for November is over 30 and I feel very accomplished.

My creative juices bubbled up and I learned it’s probably a good idea for me to work on posting more often than I have.  I also really saw the benefits of engaging more with other bloggers than has been my habit.

I’m following a new bunch of blogs and I’m being followed by a bunch of new people.  I’m pleased that happened and sad it’s about to slow down unless I keep up with spending more hours a day on this than I have…  I participated more with the Nano Poblano folks but I always dipped often in the waters of the NaNoBloMo headquarters.  So many amazing blogs, so little time…

All in all, I couldn’t be more pleased that when I first saw the Nano Poblano info on November 2 (having fortuitously happened to have posted already on the first) I spontaneously decided to jump in.  Thanks everybody for making this a great, fun month!

Turning thoughts to peace

cloud for bluegrass blog

I don’t know about you but I’m looking forward to spending some time focused on peace.  Whether you need to clear something that stands in the way of inner peace or you want to chant or pray or meditate or perform a ceremony, please give peace a chance today.

Collective Prayer Sundays:  In case you’re new, we’re finding 10 minutes at a minimum to pray or chant or meditate (or???) for peace every Sunday.  Details are on the CPS page.  For comments:  you can comment here or on that page or you can go to the Facebook page.

Unsolicited Advice and Right Listening

qestion mark and exclamation mark

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Note:  Although I’ve been tagging all my posts with Nano Poblano, when I search the tag, my posts on this particular blog aren’t showing up in my reader.  If anyone from the Poblano group who also follows me can give me a heads up as to whether posts you’ve seen through your subscription also show up when you’re reading the Poblano posts, I’d really appreciate it.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  So love and appreciate this crowd.  Hope you had a lovely holiday if you were celebrating and a great day if you were not.

After raising issues about what kinds of comments are appropriate in my last post I decided to refurbish and update the post I mentioned about Right Listening and Unsolicited Advice.  The issue was a comment that offered a lot of advice I’d not asked for.  Lots of viewpoints showed up in the comments and it seemed like a good moment to mention the notion of Right Listening and it’s guideline:  avoid giving unsolicited advice.

Right speech is part of the Buddhist Eightfold Path. It’s a huge topic with lots of subcategories. I almost feel as if right listening should have a ninth slot on the Path because it seems too important to be subsumed under right speech. In full disclosure, I’ve learned enough about it to be able to teach Right Speech classes and I have a couple of friends who’ve become master practitioners so I know what it looks like in action, but though I am good at it when I’m sitting in practice with someone, in daily life, well, let’s just say I’m a work in progress.

Both right speech and right listening require you to stay mindful and to learn to be honest with yourself and therefore in what you say. I think right listening has further challenges. For now, I’m just going to look at the aspect of right listening that asks you not to offer unsolicited opinions or advice.

Literally that means that if a friend has just told you about a problem she’s having but has not asked you to tell her what you think she should do, then you should not offer an opinion.  Nor should you hear about someone’s project or plan and immediately start offering advice on how to better it or why not to do it unless they’ve specifically asked you to give advice.

Right speech and listening is a dance of communication in which you each try to hold a space that helps the other person to explore deeper into their thoughts and feelings so that you communicate from the heart.  Your job as a listener is to try to put aside your own thoughts and feelings—a great spiritual exercise—in order to really hear what your friend thinks and feels and to ask neutral questions that help her to explore more deeply into her topic and what she feels about it than she has before.

Our conversational habit as a culture (U.S.) is to step in every time someone mentions a problem or question and start offering suggestions and opinions, so I think it’s a huge challenge to practice right listening.  In the world of blogging, this shows up when people write posts in which they complain or discuss an issue but do not ask for readers to supply them with solutions.  And then in the comments one or more people tell them what they should do.

Whether face to face or in blogging, when you jump in with solutions you’re burdening the other person with your opinions — often fueled by your issues, fears, and unexamined beliefs.  Instead of inviting this person to explore his/her own heart and helping them to examine their own wishes by asking neutral questions, you’re substituting your thoughts for theirs.

Even when you know someone well enough that you’re sure you know what they really want, try to step back and leave space for her to decide on something unexpected but even more right for her.  Even when you love someone dearly and want to save or protect or circumvent, get yourself out of the way and see what you can do to help him figure out what’s best for him– even if it’s not what you would do.

Many unsolicited-advice comments demonstrate a lack of familiarity with the post on which they’re commenting. Right listening requires, well…  actually listening.  Many comments I read on my blog and on other blogs feel like the writer has an agenda of some sort or had a button pushed by some phrase that unleashed a lot of words that don’t address the post’s content; in some cases they give advice that completely ignores what the post-er said.

For the person who wrote the post, that often feels like you weren’t “listening” at all.  If you want to really engage with another blogger, try to read/listen carefully. Pay attention and understand their post and if you comment, comment on material that’s actually in the post, not on the chatter that’s in your head.  If you’re not sure what something meant, ask.  If you’re not sure whether they want advice, ask.  If you want more info to figure out where it seems like they’re headed , ask.  Most people love to be heard.  When you ask for more information based on what they wrote, they feel heard and the questions feel like you really want to understand them.

It’s amazing how much deeper relationships can become when you’re really listening, when you set yourself aside and put the other person first.  When you learn to take your beliefs and opinions out of the equation and try to move deeper and deeper into the other person’s thoughts and wishes…   that’s when you’re connecting from the heart.

For a few years after I learned about right speech at Nine Gates I had a couple of practice buddies and a greater consciousness about the opinions thing so I was better about avoiding it. But old habits are hard to break and that particular habit is so much a part of the way everybody seems to converse that I fell back into it and I know I unconsciously offer that unsolicited advice more often than I’d like.

I try to shift that practice by taking a moment before I respond—can I be that mindful? whole other question… I like Sylvia Boorstein’s question, “Is what I’m about to say an improvement on silence?” I think a moment taken to ask that question would change a whole lot of what comes out of my mouth. Might change what you write in comments.  Anyone care to try it for a while? I’d be interested to dialog about how people do with it and how it feels.

Comment etiquette?

English: Comment icon

English: Comment icon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kind of funny, Nadine Marie has been blogging about reactions to unsolicited advice in comments over on Aligning with Truth and today I got a comment that I’m not sure what to do about.

I’m really not upset. Just taken aback.  And interested in some feedback about how others would take this.  I’ve learned over time that often when I take offense or feel miffed about what someone else said or did, they just accidentally hit one of my buttons.  So I rarely get bent out of shape initially.  I take a breath as I note my reaction and then step back to ask myself if I just have an issue.

And sometimes I like to check out how others say they would take the same words or actions.  So I thought I’d show you all this comment (which I have not approved, so the original, identifying the writer, is not on my blog at this time).  This reader dropped by my blog for the first time ever, read yesterday’s post that explained I wasn’t putting up a regular post and left this comment:

“i have a drafts folder for blog posts, sometimes it’s just a title, sometimes it’s the first two sentences. I keep a few there and when NaBloPoMo started I had like 7 or 8 blog posts ready to expand and go. That left me available to write on days when I had the time and stack up a couple in advance. Right now I have zero in my drafts and the next three days of blog posts ready to go. Think of NaBloPoMo as Thanksgiving 0 you gotta do the prep work. I too started cooking today. Good luck with both.” {sic]

I blinked when I read it.  My first thought was “Well, bully for you.  Aren’t you the queen/king of organization?  And thanks so much for dropping by to chastise me.”  But, of course, I’m all about blogging for peace and, well, that’s not exactly peaceful 🙂  Not quite sure how I want to respond, whether to respond at all…  whether to even approve the comment.

I can step back and view it as an attempt to be helpful.  But my post didn’t ask for help.  Since this person doesn’t read my blog s/he obviously doesn’t know that I have openly stated many times that my commitment is to post twice a week.  I’ve never posted about how I work on blog posts, so it’s a bit presumptuous to advise me how I should do it better when s/he couldn’t possibly know my habits.

Now, rarely, I’ve received comments that were clearly offensive and clearly meant to be and I just delete them and never think about it again.  But I also periodically receive these unsolicited advice-type comments and always feel a bit on the fence.  Again, they don’t really upset me, I just don’t know what to do with it.  You can see my thoughts about Right Listening and Unsolicited Advice here.

When bloggers with whom I regularly exchange comments offer a suggestion I don’t mind at all.  I’m a little bothered when someone who doesn’t know me or my blog  presumes to offer advice that displays they know nothing about me and, often, didn’t really read the post on which they’re commenting.

Bottom line, I find the above comment an oddly offensive way to say “hello” on a first visit to someone’s blog.  And I’m curious whether anyone agrees or whether you think I just have a button being pushed here.  If you want to be quick, use the poll, but I’d love to hear more if you have time to comment.  What do you do with comments that offer advice you didn’t ask for and/or find off-putting?

Thanksgiving trumps blogging?

Thanksgiving oven

Thanksgiving oven (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Started working on Thanksgiving today-- a day later than normal and without all the groceries picked up.  Grocery shopping and major cooking all in the same day is a bit much for my stamina.  So, the best I can do for today's entry in NaBloPoMo is to say I'm now too tired to write.

For once, I have remembered to take pictures as I go along so there will be posts on the Scribblings blog about the menu.

It’s the big problem for me with these November daily writing things.  I make a big deal out of Thanksgiving and the planning, shopping and cooking goes on for a couple of weeks.  I mete it out to suit my health issues and I love to do it — but there’s not a lot left of me for anything else.

J2P Monday: Breathe

English: By kac's meditation

 meditation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My stress management classes grew out of being a lawyer with the Illinois Governor’s Office in downtown Chicago at the same time I studied meditation and yoga.  I soon found myself adapting what I knew to the office situation, exploring many quick ways to defuse stress.  Over many years of practice I learned that the practices that relax are also key to finding peace.

My number one favorite go-to for stress is breathing.  There are so many ways you can use your breath, even in public, to calm yourself without anyone realizing that you’re having a relaxation moment.

Most Americans breathe very shallowly and suck the stomach and solar plexus areas in on inhalation and release it on exhalation.  Natural, healthy breathing involves inhaling deep into the abs and having the abs/solar plexus/diaphragm area expand as you fill with air.

Exercise:  Many people find this pattern very difficult at first.  To get the feeling for expanding and contracting the solar plexus area, lie flat on the floor and place a book on your solar plexus (area of rib cage, between the navel and the base of your chest).  On each inhalation concentrate on pushing the book up.  On each exhalation focus on lowering the book as the air goes out.  Practice raising and lowering the book as you breathe until it feels easy.

Once you feel that you can inhale into your abdomen, the next step is to learn how to take a full breath.  Inhale into the abdomen and feel that fullness move upward until you have inhaled all the way up to the collar bone.  On exhalation, begin releasing the breath from the top level and continue releasing on down to the solar plexus.  Breathe slow and long and make sure that you feel completely filled with each inhalation and that you’ve emptied all the air completely on exhalation.

Exercise:  Sit comfortably, with a straight back.  Tune in and note how you’re feeling.  Notice the natural pattern of your breath.  Then begin full breath– start counting as you inhale and make your exhalation have the same count.  If you finish the inhale on the count of 8 then count at the same pace to 8 as you exhale and make sure you pace the exhalation to be finished on 8.  Continue for 8-10 breaths, keeping the inhalation and the exhalation even.  Then double the length of the exhalation; for instance, if you count to 6 on the inhale, make the exhale last to the count of 12.  Take 8-10 more breaths with the longer exhalation. Check in again and note any change in how you feel or the pattern of your breathing.

Frequently people who are stressed also hold the breath.  It’s an unconscious habit of sucking in some air and then holding it. If you become mindful of your breathing and use the full breath several times a day, you’ll start shifting out of that pattern.

Any time you feel angry or upset, stop and take some full breaths before you react or say anything.  As soon as you calm down, your view of most situations will change.

Full breath is absolutely the easiest way to calm yourself.  You can practice it any place any time.  Only a few minutes of full breath has an incredibly relaxing effect.  The counting also serves as a focusing device. so each time you stop and count you’re having a little meditation break.