Wrapping Revelry

20161205_061723-2

I love wrapping presents. Most of the people in my life don’t understand, and consider this task a rather fruitless or joyless task. My mom only does enough wrapping to disguise the gift and she even finds this tedious. My friends sourly say things like, “Oh, I’ve got to wrap presents tonight.” You can hear the trumpet blowing in the background sadly Wahhhh wahhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

I can’t wait to wrap my little parcels. As soon as I get the first purchase home, I clean off the table, turn on the Christmas music and arrange all my wrapping supplies. It is one of my favorite things to do all year. I used to have a plastic tub filled with wrapping paper, bows, tape, and scissors. I had to get rid of it in my new apartment and I miss it. However, I still buy enough for the current year and take my time making each package look pretty.

I love wrapping for many reasons. Some are selfish. I love looking at the shiny wrapped packages hanging around our house, like tiny promises of momentary joy. The colors reflected in tiny lights or flickering candlelight. It’s kind of like marketing for a movie. Those packages are a small preview of the shiny faces to come.

20161205_061740

I love wrapping because I feel a release in the process. For moments of time I am thinking of the person who I bought the gift. Do they like this color? Does this paper remind me of them? Santa Claus paper is always reserved for Mom. Blues are reserved for my sister. I try to have funny little cute images on my nephew paper. I even have slightly staid manly-ish paper for the men in my life. While wrapping I think about the person, memories and likes and dislikes and try to imagine how they will feel about the gift or the wrapping. For whole moments, I am outside of my mind and anything that stresses me. I am joyful with anticipation. It’s like a meditation. I picture the joy on their faces for just a little bit, hoping it takes them out of their worries for just a minute.

That’s the other thing I love. It is a beauty that will last only a little while. So much of artifice and art is meant to last a long time. Wrapping is meant to be torn apart. ­­­­­I love the idea of someone thinking Look how pretty that is and then ripping it to shreds. I love watching people tearing apart wrapping paper. That is so fun! I feel like small pleasures here and there are all we can really guarantee in life. To be lost in a little bit of time here or there. To be lost in something beautiful for a minute like the look on my sister’s face when she opens something surprising or lovely.

No one can count on the big stuff. Big moments don’t last very long and then you’re only reaching for the next one after that. We live in the small moments: Brad kissing me unexpectedly or tearing up when I am happy, my Grandma gushing when she is proud of me, my sister texting me to call her out of the blue, Mom confiding in me, or Caleb telling Grandma how he took lead on his school project.

I soak up all this happiness and marinate in it. If I don’t collect them. If I don’t pay honor to them, if I don’t hold these moments almost sacred, then they fly by without notice. I only remember the pain. Because sadly, pain is memorable on its own without me adding my notice. Like my little offerings to my family, I think God or life offers us small presents in moments of love or beauty and the key to true happiness is to hold them in your mind dearly and most precious.

Are there any small rituals surrounding this holiday time that you adore as much as I do wrapping?

20161205_061559
The next morning the candlelight flickers off the wrapping paper to illuminate my yoga mat!

Getting back to Zen

I have a new life and need a new way of living it. I know I need a new tactic on how to approach life. I need to learn what I can handle and what I can’t, and what life is going to be like for me now. I expected life to be different since I have no job, and I am focusing on my health and my writing, but I didn’t have any idea what that would mean. I used to sit at my job and day dream about the time when my husband would be working and give me this opportunity. I thought of the recipes I’d make. I thought about the yoga I would do, and the time I would spend writing and editing my book. I didn’t think about the unpacking, laundry, or the finding my way around a new city. These have been the challenges. While I have powered through obstacles, I have also been a bit whiny about it.

This week I fulfilled one of those day dreams.  I painted a secretary desk white that I had bought on Craigslist. I only had one day to finish it, because my apartment is small and I had furniture coming the next day. I painted two coats and a coat of wax all in the eight hours my husband worked. Two things made this possible, the chalk paint, which dries very quickly, and I think I get into a trance some times. I focused and didn’t stop until a little after Brad got home. It was a beautiful piece of furniture when I got done, but the minute I put down the waxing cloth, I knew I had made a mistake. My back was instantly on fire. I had to lie on the floor until bed time and then had trouble falling asleep because of the pain. The next morning it felt better but my shoulder wouldn’t move and it was asleep. My husband massaged my shoulder but when the feeling came back, the feeling was of serious pain. The entire day I was on pain pills. It still hurt on the pain pills but at least I cared less. I was useless about two or three days. I am just now coming out of it.

20141216_124105
This is what it looked like before I painted it.

I have realized that a lot of my problem stems from not pacing myself.  I have read about being mindful before. I need to induce that awareness now. I need to realize everyday what my body can’t go through and what it can’t. I also need to figure it out before it is too late and I am relegated to the couch for three days. On those days I feel like the worst wife in the world. I know my husband doesn’t think so but I know there are other people who can relate to this. I have to pull my own weight in this relationship or I feel useless and feeble. I need to realize that my body won’t do the things I want it to yet. I can walk two to three miles but not seven. I can do one coat a day but not two and a waxing. It isn’t that I can’t do it really, it is I shouldn’t. I need to pay attention to when my body is wearing down. I have always been taught to push through the pain. No pain no gain, right? I don’t think that is always the truth. I think there is only so much I can do in one day in order to be able to do stuff the next day.

I am new to all this physical activity. I have to be able to walk before I can run, pun intended. I want to one day be someone who can walk seven or eight miles without having to take the day off the next day. I am again day dreaming. Day dreaming leads to accomplishing. I know that is true because I have lived it. I day dreamed of a day when my husband had a good job in an exciting city and I had time to write.  We got here, and now we are going to get better. We can only get better. With patience and pacing, I am going to slowly work my way into physical fitness and domestic bliss.

The after
The after

In an effort to listen to my body more, I am getting back into my yoga practice. I am meditating and trying to listen to my breath and how it feels in my body. Not only will this help me to listen to my body but it will also help me slow down and pace myself. Perhaps it will help me eat in moderation. Any other suggestions on how I can pay better attention to how my body feels and what it can take I would appreciate.

Chubby Yogi?

yoga blog2
Very comfortable. This my morning practice I do when I am getting ready to go to work, that is why I am in my jeans.

 

My mother was joking about when I was little saying, “You were such a little Hellion. You were a difficult child, running and talking 23 hours a day, but it always amazed me when Mr. Rogers was on, you were quiet, enwrapped in the program. I mean not a word was spoken when that man came on the TV.” Mr. Rodgers with his calm, quiet, dulcet voice, pastel sweaters and serene demeanor, was so unusual to me. I grew up in a full, loud and boisterous house. My life was and still is full of noise. I am a loud person, from my booming voice to my full, deep, whole hearted laugh. When words come to my mind I speak them right away. My siblings are pretty similar.

I guess this is why I am totally enamored and fascinated with calm, quiet people. I have always whether consciously or unconsciously sought them out. I can’t handle not knowing what is in their brains and why they don’t feel the need to speak all those locked up thoughts. It’s like knock, knock, knock….what is in there? My Dad used to say, “It’s one thing to be stupid, it is another to open your mouth and let people know you’re stupid.” I guess maybe that is another reason I am lured to quiet people, I believe them to be wise.

I am pretty proud of my downward dog, even though it could be better.
I am pretty proud of my downward dog, even though it could be better.

The biggest reason I think is that yen yang thing. The whole attraction to what you haven’t mastered. My mind is in constant motion, thinking of several things at once. Most of it seems to come out of my fingers on the keyboard (a thing that has saved many relationships,) or out of my mouth. I fidget, squirm, and rarely sit still. My husband used to say to me, “Can’t you just sit and do nothing??!!!” While the invention of the tablet allows me to do that because I can read and watch TV at the same time, and I have also learned that quiet people don’t always have pearls of wisdom hiding in there…I still long for stillness and quiet that eludes me.

If I told you that you would probably refer me to a counselor, yoga, or meditation, right? It says something about me that I have seen counselors, but never in a million years thought about yoga or meditation. Ol’ Doc Baxter says with my fibromyalgia I have to stretch. Google says, “Fibromyalgia is a common syndrome in which a person has long-term, body-wide pain and tenderness in the joints, muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues. Fibromyalgia has also been linked to fatigue, sleep problems, headaches, depression, and anxiety.” My mom and grandma both had it. Growing up I knew; Fibromyalgia equaled pain you can never get rid of. Knowing the pain Mom went through I have already researched this disease before Dr. Baxter told me I had it. I kept “helpfully” sharing what I learned saying Mom try this, and try that. Yeah, I am that kind of friend, the fixer. Mom isn’t much for trying stuff, so now; I am going back on all that literature, and the number one suggestion: yoga and meditation. Oh, okay, so I guess I will try it.

Love a good hip stretch
Love a good hip stretch

I LOVE IT!!!! I normally hate to sweat, but for some reason I don’t really notice when I am doing yoga. My husband and I have been doing about twenty minutes in the morning and the evening. Last night I sweated a lot. With a concentration on breathing, position of your body, and balance: it is such a challenge for me that it quiets my mind. Even small stretches and poses are meant to be done in reverence and thoughtful breathing. I have found it to be so relaxing and calm, and the biggest benefit is I have noticed after just a few weeks practice I have much less pain than before.

Maybe this will lead me to be the quiet, introspective, wise person I have always wanted to be? That may be too much to ask, but at least I am on the road to far less pain.

 

 

 

I have been hired as exercise’s PR representative

I am lying face down on the itchy carpet in my apartment wondering if they have replaced it since Clinton was in office. Brad is gasping and grunting trying to move himself into the next position. No this isn’t coitus on the floor. We are going through a series of stretches every morning and evening in order to decrease the muscle pain I have been going through. Right now it is an amalgamation of all the stretching we did in high school and some of the yoga moves I did in first year stage movement. We are stiff and breathing heavy. I have problems when trying to stretch my arms and shoulders. My shoulder s pop and resist. Husband has resistance when doing the bend and hang stretch. It isn’t glamorous or easy for us. We are just trying to get started. The TV is primed for the show we are going to watch after and the only sounds are my breathing heavy and Brads exertion grunts. Not exactly the most restful environment. I think we need to change that.

20140816_195720
What my husband affectionately calls the stretching and farting pallet.

When I was in grade school I had a brilliant second grade teacher, Mrs. Goodness. She was as good as the name implies. Everyday we would start in the morning with singing and dancing. At the time we thought she was the most magical and indulgent teacher. Now I know she was wearing our little bodies out, expending childhood energy in order to calm our minds to better focus.

The most miraculous thing she did was make reading a treat. After song and dance time, with such standard fair as “the ants go marching one by one,” we would hit the work of the day and then reading hour in which we could spread out on pillows or in corners of the room and read whatever we want. The treat was, if you were the most well behaved and the best in the class that day, you got to read in a place of honor. Mrs. Goodness had a platform in the middle of the room that held a large claw foot bathtub with pillows inside. I have never worked so hard to accomplish a goal. I was a spazz. I mean my mom set up the original embargo on soda, necessitated by her sheer exhaustion. It was not easy for me to be calm, quiet, and outwardly studious. I think I only made it into the tub once maybe twice. Certainly, all those other days I envied the people in that tub.

How remarkable to make reading a reward. So many times reading is the thing you do to get pizza or some other prize. Mrs. Goodness made the act of reading alluring. There is no power in the verse like a teacher, right?

20140816_195802
Pretty light…also helps with the aforementioned farting.

I want to do this same thing to exercise in my mind. I want to rebrand it for myself. Why can’t I make exercise indulgent? I don’t know how many times that I have rolled my eyes when some starlet or actress says something about how exercise is a meditation, me time, or energizes them. I have never felt that. Exercise makes me tired, sweaty, and cranky. I feel put out and resentful.

There are people who feel this way about reading, and I always look at them like they are crazy, just like some people reading this are thinking I am crazy. Maybe like Mrs. Goodness did with books, I need to rebrand exercise for myself. Those stretching sessions with lovely husband need some fine tuning to be the energizing, relaxing experience everyone recommends. So I am going to get some blankets to make the ground softer, pillows to relax on in between sessions, and have my husband create a relaxing play list. He is good at that. Maybe I will even go all hippy and burn some relaxing candles in the back ground. (We know from watching Scifi that all true meditation needs candles. How else can you accomplish a successful Kelno’reem? What would Vulcans or even Klingons do without a Pier One?) Maybe the full spa experience will turn my head around to exercise. Maybe I will crave it like a good book, or maybe I will go with the sex on the floor idea.

Kelno'reem
Kelno’reem

 

I Hate Treadmills

10285016_10201909213963266_8517736088291945423_o
My favorite Willow trees

I feel like, for the last few years, I have been running in place. I have made a few strides, kicking smoking and losing twenty-five-plus pounds. I work a little towards something every day, but I feel as if I am still in the same place. For a while, we were waiting on the sale of our house with bated breath, and now we are waiting for my husband to find a new job.

Waiting and hoping isn’t something most people excel at; the feeling of hopelessness doesn’t seem to abate, even when I’m doing my best to be optimistic. So what do I do to live in the now? Yoda says to Luke Skywalker, “All my life has he looked away, to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was, hmm?” This describes me perfectly, always thinking ten steps ahead, if I can and when I can’t, I am in agony.

I was reading a book called Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh. In it, he talks about a term called “mindfulness.” This is a practice of being in the present at all times. An example he gives in the book is the Buddhist monks who drink a hot cup of tea and take an hour to do so. They focus on how the tea engages their senses: the color, taste, smell, temperature, and texture on the tongue.

My husband, Brad, was the first one to introduce “savoring” to me. All of my life I have flitted about, living a life of fun, but not really of depth. My senses were mostly dulled in my attempt to live. One of our first dates Brad took me to a small Greek restaurant here in Boise called the Cazba. Enamored with Brad, I paid attention to his every move: the way he took in the way I smelled and looked, the way he savored every bite of his dinner, how he slowly chewed and took deep resonating breaths to really taste everything fully. Senses heightened, I too enjoyed that meal more than any other meal in my life. I can still picture him looking at me and taking his first bite of lamb. Watching him savor it, I could live within that memory.

That night we sat for what seemed like hours in the car, just talking or sometimes holding hands in silence. It seemed as if touching his skin forced my mind to shut off and only feel, that sense overwhelming the constant chatter of my mind. It was the first time in my life when I have felt that blessing.

Those times are far between now. I struggle for that sort of life-giving focus. I want my body to be overwhelmed by the joy of touch. My mind combats the idea of giving into such frivolous pursuits. As a Midwesterner, I combat my base compulsion to feel useful at all times. I am making a vow to stop that. I need that peace, and so does Brad. I haven’t noticed him enjoying himself mindfully as much anymore.

We need to live in the now, even if it is a smaller scale. Last Friday, Brad surprised me at work and took me on a dinner picnic. He made some roasted chicken, Greek salad, and brought bottled water. We sat on the bench watch the geese frolic, the sun glistening on the lake, and wind flowing through my favorite weeping willow trees. We laughed as the geese squawked at us.

We are trying.

10431304_10201909211483204_434546123250446854_o
That is my gorgeous man!

I lost four pounds since Wednesday

I lost four pounds!

It doesn’t seem like much. I am very overweight and have a lot to lose, but look here. I lost four pounds. I started Weight Watchers online on Wednesday and I have been following it until today. I am starting again. Whenever I start a weight loss plan I get really excited about it and tell people about it. I started with my family who knows just to be encouraging. In the back of their mind, I know they must be skeptical. They have seen me try and fail and try and fail. They are amazing though. My family gets behind me anyway. They say all the good stuff. They will encourage me and watch while I try to only take one serving. They will also ask me how I am doing. Even sometimes they will hesitantly try and give me some advice. I am not easy to approach with advice unless I ask for it.
Then I tell my coworkers, who are more forthcoming with advice. My friend Tom has lost fifty pounds, he says that the key for him has been adding fruits and vegetables. When he added those vegetables he said that it sort of pushed out all the bad stuff in his diet. He also says focusing on adding things is much more pleasant than thinking about what you can’t have. This makes sense to me.
This is the most wonderful advice I have been given. Sometimes people tell me about their weight loss surgery, the drops they take, the juice fasts, and all the other many other things try. There is camaraderie in losing weight. Not only do most people need to or have lost weight, but they also want to help. Most people recognize the inherent loneliness in trying to lose weight. Most goals are prosperous. You start at a baseline and go up from there. Losing weight is like digging yourself out of a hole. You are starting below the line at a deficit. It isn’t like trying to get a degree, or bag a new job. Those things are something you feel no shame talking about. When you are doing those things you are able to boast proudly, “Look at what I am doing! Bettering myself!!”
Of course I should feel the same way about losing weight, but I don’t. I don’t always want to talk about how I have slowly dug myself into this hole. It makes me feel ashamed that I have repeatedly made the wrong choices. I cower at most conversations about weight, especially if I am not losing at the moment.
When I am losing however, I want to shout it to the world. I think, that even when I am not maybe I should be more open about it. I mean if you think about it. I wear my scarlet F on my chest. No one is going to accuse me of being skinny. If I talked about it more to people who clearly care for me, maybe then I would shame myself into doing the right thing more often.
In this issue, I am so clouded with my shame that I rarely think to put myself in other’s shoes. When I see someone overweight, trying to lose weight. I am excited for them, and a little jealous. It doesn’t matter how they try, unless it is super unhealthy. I am always happy for them. I have learned to at least do that. I think that if we as a nation are going to get through this obesity epidemic, we will all need to be supportive.

Small Changes, yeah right!!!

New hair to help the new attitude…hopefully.

 

My natural Dad died at 54, they believe it was a heart attack that made him wreck his car. My Mom had a heart attack around 49. She is alive, but you can imagine what implications this has for me. My Grandma had a heart attack.  I mean genetically I inherited the heart poor house. That can’t possibly be too good. Add to that my smoking and that I am overweight. If I don’t do something, and soon…

Women’s Health this month is calling for its readers to make small changes every day, and then those small changes will accumulate to something that changes your life. I feel like I have been doing that, but it hasn’t been working for me. I make one change like drinking three water bottles a day. I get down that three bottle a day habit, and then try to set up six servings of veggies a day, and then my three bottles a day habit goes to ….well you know. I am really frustrated with my lack of commitment to anything really. I need a kick in the butt, and some sort of awareness of myself. I need a daily shock to my system that would keep me aware of my goals. You would think all these accumulated dangers to my heart would affect my emotions, or logically change my habits.

The thing I have found in contradiction is that people (like myself) care more about the health of others than themselves. I mean, I worry constantly about my Mom and my other Dad who has cancer and diabetes. My siblings want to have an intervention because those two won’t take care of themselves properly. I think, who am I to tell them what to do, when I can’t do it myself.

I need an overhaul, a complete and MAJOR revamp. I know people say take it slow and you will get overwhelmed if you do too much etc. I am not most people though. I am a person who thrives doing three things at once. I am a multitasking, work while going to school dynamo.  I think I need to refresh my life and stop listening to how other people do it and do it how I feel good doing it.

Advice is good, and I read constantly so I get a lot of advice, but eventually you have to do what you think will make you successful. I need a way to make my efforts everyday efforts. So I have decided to make a daily checklist of the goals I have to do every day. This is my manifesto.

1.      I will eat fish twice a week.

2.      I will only eat potatoes once a week.

3.      No white pasta or white bread at all.

4.      I will not eat anything that wasn’t grown or raised.

5.   Exercise every day for at least 30 minutes.

6.   Going to eat within my food allotment every day.

7.   I will not smoke a cigarette.

8.   I will brush three times a day and floss.

9.   I will enjoy time being with my husband, and show him thanks for it.

10. I will write down everything I eat every day.

11. I will drink 3 bottles of water.

12. I will have at least one vegetarian meal a week.

13. I will submit to one poetry journal a week.

14. I will work on my writing at least two days a week.

I am going to read this list every morning to keep it fresh in my mind what I need to do. Please pray for me to be successful.