The Mountain’s Healing Powers

“Some of us are drawn to mountains the way the moon draws the tide. Both the great forests and the mountains live in my bones. They have taught me, humbled me, purified me and changed me.”
― Joan Halifax

I find that when the soul needs healing, the mountains and forests are there to embrace me.

Advertisements

Is there more to life than the quest for happiness?

I have been pondering this question and am interested in hearing from my readers:  If you had to describe what you want from life without using the word happiness, what words would you use to describe a life well-lived?

“Our culture is steeped in a kind of pop psychology whose obsessive question is: Are you happy?” – Rebecca Solnit, from the book, The Mother of All Questions

I started reading Rebecca Solnit’s book, The Mother of All Questions, and came across the above sentence in quotes. It was as if a switch was turned on in my brain and I experienced one brief moment of clarify.

“Happiness is often described as the result of having many ducks lined up in a row — spouse, offspring, private property…”  – R. Solnit

Aside from being out of work, life has been good for me lately, according to this formula of happiness. Yet I know life can change, and I have this tendency to think about what happens if one of the ingredients for this one-dimensional definition of happiness is lost. Especially for women, who have historically been forced into a very narrow existence where their version of happiness is meant to be derived solely from another’s identity.

“The problem may be a literary one: we are given a single story line about what makes life good.”- R. Solnit

We all know that there are plenty of people out there who have all the outward appearances of the “good life”, and yet they seem to be miserable, or spiraling out of control in a vicious cycle of self sabotage. The unraveling of this formula for happiness happens more frequently and easily than one might expect and is rooted in a dissatisfaction with the one-dimensional definition of what makes life good. Deep within oneself is the awareness that this one short life we are given is much more complex than outward symbols of happiness.

“There are entirely different criteria for a good life that might matter more to a person – loving and being loved or having satisfaction, honor, meaning, depth, engagement, hope.” R. Solnit

Living life according to my own set of principles and values, having compassion and concern for future generations, and caring about more than my own small dot on this planet is what I strive for in my short time on earth.

 

Winsome Days

via Daily Prompt: Winsome

img_3652The most winsome I ever felt

was on my wedding day

Thirty years later I awakened

Not knowing where I was but

knowing where I wasn’t

I changed my course and

the winsome smile returned

Bucket List of Women I would love to Meet

Sue Monk Kidd

Roz Savage

Rebecca Solnit

Roxanne Gay

Liz Murray

Robyn Davidson

Naomi Klein

Gloria Steinem

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This list is by no means complete, but these are some of the women whose lives, adventures, passion for causes, stir within me a desire to do more with my life than I had previously thought possible.

Adventures in Unemployment

I’ve discovered that so much of my identity was wrapped up in my career and being productive. It has been an adjustment to shift to a more neutral state of being. I am still prone to feeling like I need to be working on something at all times.

Yesterday, after taking care of some chores and looking for jobs on-line, I decided to head out to the museum.

I started out viewing the exhibit from Iris van Herpen, who is known for being the first designer to display a 3D printed garment in 2010. She  has worked with architects like Rem Koolhaas, biologists at MIT, and other scientists and technological experts to create her theme-based creations. I wasn’t sure what to think about her collection at first, the designs are so different, but I was intrigued when I read how she translates a certain concept, such as this one from her radiation invasion collection:

Retrieved fromhttp://www.irisvanherpen.com/_uploaded/RadiationSS10-418B-LRG.jpg

This dress in her Radiation Invasion collection depicts what it might look like if we could see the energy surrounding us from all of the electronic devices we use each day. Her use of fabrics, metals, blown glass, beads, and even motorcycle chains adds to the allure of her designs.

My favorite display at the museum was by William Kentridge, More Sweetly Play the Dance. This one took my breath away, as I stood in the room surrounded by the images moving across the screen, dancing along to the soul sound of the old African-American Spirituals.

I was hoping to spend some time looking at ancient Greek exhibits, but there wasn’t much there to see. We recently booked our honeymoon to Greece (so excited) and I want to learn all I can about the history before we go there this spring.

To top off my day, I finally started on my novel. I decided to set a goal of 30 pages per week, and yesterday I wrote 7, so I am on my way.

I ended my day by going to yoga with one of my best friends, T. Apparently I had her laughing so hard she peed her pants. The yoga instructor didn’t quite understand why I couldn’t bend the way he wanted me to, despite his attempt to add stacks of pillows and various blocks under each of my body parts. T was cracking up, knowing how I am about being touched by strangers. She thought maybe I would end up slugging the guy, when she heard me exclaim, “I’m going to skip that pose and just lie here thank you!” I’m not sure, but I don’t think my back is supposed to be hurting this bad after just one session of yoga.

I’m not sure what today will bring. It is 10:30 and the world is my oyster.

“You can’t not work…” and other Holiday Greetings

“People are… Full of contradictions. They’re lonely. And then they’re not. They’re missed. And then they’re not.”
― Kou Yoneda漂えど沈まず、されど泣きもせず [Tadayoedo Shizumazu Saredo Naki Mo Sezu]

The holiday season has never been my favorite. Mainly because I can only handle so many social gatherings before needing to retreat into my own space. This is a relatively new discovery about myself, rather, a part of myself that I am just now allowing myself to acknowledge. When I get together with a group of people, I can handle it for about two hours, and then I am ready to go home. It doesn’t matter whether I am having a great time or not, I just don’t have the capacity to do it for much longer than that. I suppose this has to do with my anxiety levels, and even though I don’t struggle nearly as much with it as I used to (thanks to years of therapy and a little medicine), I am careful not to exceed what I know is my limit. When I exceed those limits,  I tend to overeat, over drink, and become hyper-focused on things that bother me.  It is funny though, that once rested, I am ready to do it all over again.

Since quitting my job at the beginning of December, I have had a surprisingly full schedule of traveling, babysitting, spending time helping my friend through a mental health crisis, hosting my fiance’s (I’ll call him Alto) family and then my family, and going to many holiday parties. I am not sure how I ever would have managed all this if I was still working. In the past, going to work was my excuse to get away when I had exceeded my limit of tolerance. Usually work was quiet during the holidays, with many people taking off; and going into an empty, quiet office was a welcome escape.

Not working has been a blessing this year, though it was challenging listening to everyone’s comments about it.

“Why did you leave such a great job?”

“Are you looking for another job, you’re too young to retire?!”

You can’t not work….”

“What are you going to do now, isn’t it going to be hard to find a job at your age?”

“It must be nice to not have to work! I’m the only one in my family who works…”

“Wish I had the luxury of not working”

I’ve become particularly prickly when Alto says things like, “what do you mean you didn’t have time to go grocery shopping?”, “you slept til what time?”, or “what did you do all day?” The good thing about him is that all I need to do is tell him how I’m feeling and he listens and responds kindly. Indeed he was the one who supported my decision to quit the job and seek other opportunities; so it is mostly my own guilt and insecurities causing me to react the way I do to his comments.

The best part of the holiday season for me is having both of my daughters and my grand-daughter staying at my house this week. It was wonderful waking up and seeing their adorable faces. We haven’t been able to all be together in one place in over a year. When everyone departs, I’ll be sad, and the quiet house will be both comforting and a poignant reminder of how much I’ll miss them until next time.

The Gift

IMG_1009As 2015 comes to a close, I am tempted to compose my usual list of ways in which I can improve next year. The list is often based on my perceived shortcomings, all of which are ultimately based on my tendency towards being a perfectionist. Being a perfectionist has nothing to do with perfection and is really more about trying to make things fit into what I think they should be. In other words, it is all about trying to control everything around me.

So….this year I am going to give myself the gift that I often want from others. Whenever I think someone should be more thoughtful, considerate, caring, patient, loving, understanding, attentive, etc, etc., etc., I will remind myself that I don’t need to wait around for anyone to act that way towards me. I can give myself those gifts any time I want, unconditionally. I don’t need to wait for the perfect circumstances and I don’t need to wait for anyone’s permission.  I can remind myself that I am always at my best, even when I am making mistakes and learning from them.

I wish all of my loved ones, family members, acquaintances, fellow bloggers and friends, the gift of self-acceptance this year.

May you have safe travels and celebrations this evening.

See you in the New Year!

 

Release The Child Within

“For in every adult there dwells the child that was, and in every child there lies the adult that will be.”
― John Connolly, The Book of Lost Things

Photo by J. Allmyer

Photo by J. Allmyer

It is a beautiful day outside and I was halfway through cleaning my house when my friend called and asked me to go on a hike. Is this a trick question? Of course I’ll go. As much as I love cleaning (not so much) I am going to break away and take advantage of the joy I experience when I listen to my inner child – you know – the one who likes to have fun. I will have plenty of time to be an adult starting next week when I’m back in school, and work is on fire. Until then, I am going to enjoy my weekend.

One of my girls’ favorite tapes to listen to when they were growing up was Marlo Thomas’ Free to Be and I especially liked this poem about housework.

Off to the woods now. Enjoy your day too!IMG_1477

 

 

Internet misinformation

“The problem with quotes found on the internet is that they’re not always accurate.”  — Abraham Lincoln.

The next week is going to be busy for me, as my semester is coming to an end and I have a couple of big projects that are due. I hope to have time to do a little bit of writing in between all that work.

I was at a conference yesterday, and one of the speaker’s showed a slide with the above “quote”. I thought it was worth sharing. I am not sure how I can work this post into yesterday’s theme except that it is so true that a lot of misunderstandings occur when we take things at face value rather than investigating what is true or untrue. Just because we see or read something on the internet doesn’t make it true.

Don’t let misinformation cast a shadow on your quest for knowledge. Seek to discern the difference between facts and myths.

1aa