CEREMONIES/RITUALS – a season for everything

It is August 13 and day 13th of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. As usual of late, I am having difficulty finding the words. My brain is in a fog and my body slow moving. I am feeling the harbingers of summer leaving and autumn approaching. I felt a sudden twinge of the ‘blues’ and a sense of dread out of nowhere yesterday. Can you feel darkness? That’s what I felt, not seen and not spoken of. I gave myself silent comfort, thinking it is probably the changing of the guard – those forces that are ushering in a new season. Perhaps I should hold a ceremony of a sort.

I believe in ceremonies/rituals. They give me a sense of connection, direction and a reason to be. Every morning this summer I do a walk-about on my property, visiting the greenhouse, the garden and flower beds in the backyard. Then I meandered to the front to see how everything is growing there. This is my morning walking meditation – the greeting and giving of thanks to the gods above and those in the garden.

I’m learning important lessons in the garden this year. We are all familiar with the saying, There’s a season for everything but do we really understand what it really means? For one thing, I have forgotten that the saying came from the Bible, from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every [a]purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

What I take away from it is everything is changing. Nothing is static. I must learn not to hang on to everything so tightly as I have been doing, but to let go when it is time. There’s a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted. And so I plucked up the Armenian cucumber vine. It was past its best by due date. It has given me many cucumbers and now its leaves are full of white powdery mildew. Letting go is never easy. After trimming off much of the leaves, it took me another day before I could say goodbye. Now it is chopped up and in a bucket for the garbage as mildew is not suitable for the compost. Everything looks much better now. The bitter melon and peppers said thank you for the extra elbow room and light.

TIME

I’m having trouble finding time to show up here every day. All my growing things seem to be calling me. I was heading downstairs to pot up the petunia seedlings, but the call of the sun and warmth of the sunroom won out. So here I am, sitting and tapping a few words. I’m trying not to let my thoughts wandered and raced, thinking of how much I have to do. I take a deep breath, sip my hot ginger water, relax my shoulders and slow my tap to a steady rhythm. I rest my fingers on the keyboard, feeling the morning sun on my face. R-E-L-A-X.

No need to rush around like mad. Everything will be done in good time. What is not isn’t important. Be in this moment. Savour and enjoy for this moment will not come again. Be thankful for each fleeting second and breath. See the beauty and colours around you. Listen to the silence and the noise. Close your eyes and see yourself letting go of everything for just a minute. Now I’m ready to step back in – and go to work.

THE QUIET AROUND ME

 

Sometimes I get tripped up starting the day. The morning can be an obstacle course. I try not to get sidetrack too much, wasting time reading useless articles or things that I already know. How many versions of the same thing do I need? I try not to be obsessed about not being sidetracked. That can take the joy out me. I try to remember to do simple – just stop when I catch myself doing the repetitive and nonsensible. STOP.

Life is a little easier. The weather is a little warmer. My body is feeling more at ease. Sunshine is streaming through the windows. I’m tap, tapping on my keyboard, rearranging my thoughts, putting them in order, getting the kinks out. I’m calming my neurons. They misfire every which way. My keyboard is like a pacemaker, putting the impulses into rhythm. I can breathe again – in for 4 counts, hold for 7, out for 8. I do this four times.

The last few months or so have not been a good space for me. But there are some things that are working for me. It’s good to pay attention to the positive. For one thing, the pain in my hands and hips have been absent for over a year. Doing the work, paying attention to what I eat and exercising regularly have big dividends. It keeps my spirit afloat in the face of knowing that life is never easy. It goes on and I have to put one foot in front of the other.

I’m recognizing the value of my time and energy now. They are not endless as my years advance. Now when I catch myself doing things that don’t really matter, I stop. I redirect myself in another activity. I’m repeating myself but it’s something worth repeating. It’s a hard lesson for me. I waste and fret away my time and energy on things that can’t be changed or help me. For all the mornings sitting in meditation, it’s taken me a long time to get here.

I AM here, sitting in sunshine, in silence, listening to the rhythm of my breathing and the beating of my heart. I am alive. I am tapping out my inner conversation, the voice of all my cells. I should listen to them and the quiet around me.

CORRALS, CHUTES, SQUEEZE BOXES AND ME

I must sit down and put down a few words for day 27 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. If I don’t the time will be lost. I will be struggling late into the evening for my words. They always find their way to my fingertips. But I’m often left in high alert, mentally and physically at the finish line. Not a good way to end the day and ease into sleep.

I was jesting yesterday about needing Temple Grandin’s cattle chute to calm and keep me on the beaten path. The subject is still on my mind this morning. On second thought, I should take it seriously. It might and probably will work for me. I don’t have a diagnosis of autism but aren’t we all on a continuum of symptoms? I can certainly get fixated on things and spend too much time on them. Since Temple Grandin came into mind yesterday, I’ve spent time researching her and have reserved 3 books from the library. And now I’m writing on the subject. Oh boy, I’m easily stimulated and distracted. I need those ideas on chutes and corrals of hers.

I just have to rethink what that chute/squeeze box/hug machine might be for me. It deserves some pondering and could make life more easeful. Now I have to think, plan and design a workable curved ‘chute’, a squeeze box for myself so that I’m stay on track and derailed on every turn. One ‘box’ is my 20 minute meditation session in the morning. It does hold me still and in comfort. Not doing anything. Not going anywhere.

Then there are my words. It’s the purpose of me being here in my ‘box’, tapping. The physicality of being here, in my chair, in front of the keyboard, hearing the rhythm of the keys and seeing the letters and words marching across the screen is soothing. Whew! What a long sentence but it works. Does it not? It is my tool of laying everything out, making order and sense so that my brain can see it. I am more of a feely kind of a person. I live innately. I have a difficult time explaining to another. This is the best I can do. Perhaps it is why I often feel lost in this vastness of life. There are no hooks for me to hang my hat on.

Now I see that I do have 2. Enough said for one day. My brain is tired and getting fogging. But it is valuable to have an analysis of my January word journey. The train ride is almost over. I am happy with it. I will not demand a refund when I pull into the last destination. Perhaps I will talk more on the next leg tomorrow.

TAKE THE SLOW TRAIN

Good morning! My hair is standing on end. I feel stiff and awkward like a non functioning robot, but I am here. My fingers are poised over the keyboard, ready to tap. The exercise will loosen me up for the day. I’m used to sit in meditation with Mark Williams daily on YouTube. I’ve been doing it since July. It’s become a habit now. My body cries for the familiar posture. It’s a good way to kick start the day and my brain – to warm and fire up its cylinders. And if nothing else, I will have a strong core and good posture.  Let’s see if it worked.

I’m sputtering and stuttering a bit. What did I expect – smooth sailing? I’m still tired from the busyness of yesterday and trudging through the snow. I have never stalled and stopped completely – yet. Somehow I always manage to stoke the fire and keep going. Maybe I can have another cup of decaf. Maybe I can just sit here, enjoy the sunshine and watch the traffic on Preston Avenue. Would that be such a terrible thing – not doing or trying to get anywhere?

The sun disappeared while I was making my cuppa and unloading the dishwasher. Light and life are so fleeting. Here one minute, then it’s gone the next. Canada and I’m sure, the world, is still reeling over the the crash of Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752. All 176 passengers were killed. 68 of them were Canadians, mostly students and young professionals. Such a loss and tragedy and the why of it? Where are we going as a world? And will there be a world for the next generations to come?

I cannotmust not stay in the valley of the shadow. I must rise up above to do the best I can and know how. Perhaps that best is to take the slower train, savour the landscape and moments and have my coffee. Tomorrow is another day.

ONWARD AND FORWARD HO!

It’s hard to find that great opening line whether it’s to greet a stranger or to start a blog post. I’m happy to say that I’m feeling more like my normal self, though normal is up for debate. I feel as if I’ve had a psychotic episode. It’s like that after each encounter with my difficult neighbour. The time before this was 3 years ago. I’ve slipped in that she tricks me into engaging with her. I pay for it whenever I do that. There are no two sides. There is only one – hers. I’ve had to relearn my lesson over again. I am not 100% fool proof. This video is a great reminder for me.

In the same way, Pema Chodron is a great teacher. She shows up when I most need to hear her gentle powerful words. I’m reminded to look at things in a different way. I remember a photography class where our instructor told us, Don’t forget to look behind you as well to get a different view. Now I’m trying to reframe how I see my troublemaker neighbour as an opportunity – to develop patience. The incidence has shown me the benefits of my sitting meditation practice. I’ve been faithfully doing 20 minutes every morning for the last couple of months. Though I have been stressed and distraught, I have had less negative physical and mental impact on me this time around. I can testify that I’ve been tested and tried. Meditation, being mindful is good for me. So, onward and forward ho!

 

 

WORDS, THOUGHTS, FEELINGS

I’m on a 7 hour countdown with WordPress. I’ve decided to end my personal plan and go back to the free one. Nothing much changes except I’m not paying now. My handle is still athousandandtwo with a .wordpress added after and before the .com. Of course my media storage space is cut back to 3GB from 6. I wasn’t using much of the extra space these 2 years that I’ve had the plan. So what’s the point?

I know, a picture is worth a thousand words and they do speak to me. There’s whole conversations in a photo. Not everyone can hear them though. Words can speak just as well if not louder. I’m making a choice now. I’m choosing the written word. It’s not as if I’m giving up the whole picture. I still have 3 GBs of them at my disposal. But perhaps now that I have chosen the word, I can work on getting one thousand of them. It’s a worthy goal.

I can see the benefits of reaching beyond myself. It will boost my self esteem to prove that I’m not just a one or two liner girl. I can write more than just Hallmark greeting cards. That’s nothing to sneeze at either, if I can sell them. Secondly, working on more words could help slow down and organize my attention deficit brain. Having the goal would give me purpose in coming to this space. I’ve been mostly sighing and whining about this and that. Who wants to listen to that? I tire and bore myself.

So now I’m down to 5 hours before I’m booted back to the not so professional version of WordPress. My words will stay the same. I still give them equal and careful thought before hitting the PUBLISH button. My proof reading is not superb. Having an attention deficit brain, my eyes run ahead before the words can register. My thoughts skip all over the place, too. I work on pulling eyes and attention back to this page, to this moment, to this purpose.

I’ve been sitting every morning in meditation with Mark Williams on Youtube. I’ve been doing it since July. Sometimes I hear myself thinking with his British accent ..”and if you should find yourself…” It works. When I do find myself wondering off, I bring myself back to the breath, to the moment. Deliberate practice does make for better. It’s enough to encourage me to continue my practice. My moods and thoughts are getting healthier. Whenever I find my thoughts veering off in the wrong direction, I try to picture them as clouds passing in the sky. I let go of the emotions they stir in me though I do feel the resistence. I tell myself it is the right thing to do.  I send them back into the clouds passing in the sky. I feel the turnaround, the resistence melting away, the letting go of bad thoughts and feelings.

Now, WordPress tells me I have 4 hours left. I can still renew by paying. No, I’m keeping it simple and free. Hopefully I will still be here, in this my special tapping space.

 

 

 

 

 

JUST START

It’s friggin’ hard!

Beginnings are hard. How many times have I said that already? A zillion and yet I have found no easy solution. I just have to make a mark somewhere; say something, anything; make a decision one way or another; etc. etc. So often, too often, I’m frozen with indecision, speechless with no words, immobilized with inaction. Sometimes this is worse than doing and saying the wrong things. This is what I’m trying to push through today.

It is very disconcerting. I’m squirming with the discomfort but I’m learning to sit with it, however long it will take. I’m too addicted to the idea of speed, that it shouldn’t take time and effort to do anything. I’ve bought into the idea I can tap, search, enter, and presto! The thing is done. I’ve been short circuiting my brain and short changing myself the experience of doing, following through and completing. No wonder I’m absent minded and forgetful. I have no grooves to store anything. I flit from thing to thing, one idea to another in nana seconds. I do not allow feelings to sink in.


It’s been a few days since I wrote the above. I’m having a writer’s block. It could be I’m just lazy. I’m having a tough go finding meaningful ideas and words. In this moment I am hot and overcome with malaise. But I can still tap with my fingers. How strange that I could feel cold upon waking at 6 this morning. I don’t know what the temperature was then. By 10 am it was already 21 degrees Celsius. Now it is 28 Celsius. I’m feeling all the distress of daily fluctuating temperatures.

So what can I do to alleviate my distress? Coming back to this space helps. The rhythm of tapping on the keyboard is soothing. I’m flexing my small muscles. Asking the question starts me thinking about solutions. It lessens the feeling of being trapped and helpless. I’m quieting my mind and body, taking some deep slow breaths. Recently I came upon Dr. Weil’s 4-7-8 breathing technique where you breathe in to the count of 4, hold for count of 7 and breathe out to the count of 8 for 4 breath cycles. I’ve been doing this twice a day for a few days. I hope to keep it up for a month at least. It takes very little time and the benefits are huge.

 

LET NOTHING DISTURB YOU

Have you ever been anxious? Have you ever been frightened? I’ve been both. It’s no fun. Any little thing can set things in motion. I’m afraid to look over my shoulder. I keep my head down, eyes averted, not wanting to see anything. I am afraid to take a breath, make any move. Afraid of what?  I can’t tell you. It’s a sense of impending doom. I’m like Humpty Dumpty sitting on the wall. I could fall off any minute.

I’ve been like this for a long, long time. I hadn’t recognize it as anxiety though. I used to call it ‘having a hard time’. It has been very, very hard. But I’m having fewer and shorter episodes of them now. What probably set it off last night was a delayed reaction to the bombing in Sri Lanka. My friend there was okay. But then the news with names and faces of those killed seeped into my consciousness. And it probably didn’t help that I’ve been reading about Anne Frank and the holocaust. Throw in climate change and the fact that we are so dry here. No rain yet this spring. No hope either.

It’s no wonder I was unable to sleep. No tossing and turning for me. I was afraid to relax, move, let go and even breathe. I was a stiff, tightly clenched body. I saw a sleepless night ahead of me and a terrible day following. I gave myself a silent talking to and willed myself to do a body scan. It failed, of course. I couldn’t willed myself. I was too taut. I had to get up and do something.

So I got up, made myself a cup of peppermint ginger tea. I cleaned the humidifier of scale deposits using Sheba’s toothbrush. It has a brush on both ends, one big and one small. It was perfect for the job. She does not allow me to use it on her. Now I have a use for it. No waste of a good brush. It was relaxing and soothing. Sheba came out to join me. She plopped herself at my feet as I stood at the kitchen sink. I felt comforted by her prescence. The job was soon done. I left it on the counter to dry – ready for next winter.

I was not yet ready to lay down again. I took my tea and sat in my Lazy Boy recliner. I try not to fret, I try not to do anything. I sipped my tea in the dark. I listened to the wind howl and watched the spruce trees sway in the night. I’m learning to sooth myself. I let whatever feelings come as they will. I heard St. Teresa Avila’s prayer and was comforted.

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

 

SWEATING ALL THE STUFF

I have a confession to make. You probably know what it is already. I don’t handle stress or change well. I sweat over the small and big stuff. I go into distress and fret mode. I obsesse about it. I exert more energy than it is necessary. I tire myself out. I’ve been observing and paying more attention lately. It’s a by product of my morning meditation that I’ve come back to. If you listen to a recording enough times, the drill comes back to you. So I hear Mark William’s or Jon Kabat-Zinn’s voice telling me to sit erect, at attention, being in the present, watching as each moment unfolds, with no need to change anything.

I find their voices and instructions very comforting. They play in my head as difficult thoughts and situations come up. I tell myself to take each moment as they come. What do I need to do in this moment,  the next moment and the next one, to make things work for me? It is in the breaking things down in small do-able steps. It frees me from being immobilized with overwhelm. Then I can problem solve and see that it is not that difficult. I am not efficient at it yet. I still first go into overwhelm. I am stuck. I breathe and then the instructions play in my head. Then I do one step, then 2, 3 and so on.

Man, life sure is tough though. I relive this scenerio time and time again. I think this is for life. I see it as a thought in a cloud, drifting by my window. It is passing. There is no need to do anything but observe. And so another day in this challenge of living my life.