Houses of the Holy

While you might think it’s Shamanic hokum, I “felt” this land when I was working on my site plan, while deciding what trees to cut down, and where exactly on the face of the earth I was going to build this house.  I walked the property and I leaned against trees, and I looked to the east, west, north, and south, wandering and twirling, eyes wide open and eyes closed tight, knowing from the blueprints I had drawn, exactly where every window and piece of glass was going to be, “seeing” the house already built, clear as day in my mind, so that I could visualize my views before I disturbed even one branch.  I stood down at the street and looked to the west, thinking about how long the driveway was going to be, and what, if any, of the house I wanted to be visible from the road.  I stood late one afternoon on a September day after work, in the dirt, after the trees were gone, while my “house” was just 12 stakes of rebar and some orange surveying twine, and knew I wanted another window to the south of my fireplace, simply because the view I was seeing from where I knew my kitchen sink was going to be, was too beautiful in that afternoon light to be covered by sheetrock, insulation, studs, sheathing, black felt paper, and wood siding…I saw my future self doing dishes and looking out that window, and knew I would never get tired of the light at the end of the day from that spot…

When I say and write that I love my house and my driveway it is not a fleeting happiness.  I built this house with every intention of living here until I died.  I know people much older than I who have never owned a home, let alone built one from scratch with their dad and mom and friends, and of their own drawn plans, and I knew then, and know now still, I am lucky and I feel grateful…

I recently started learning yoga at a new studio in our area and the one teacher has spoken, in every class thus far, about letting go of attachments, and so I am trying to understand how I can love “MY” stuff, but understand at the same time that I am really just the keeper at the moment of such stuff, the steward of this spot of earth.  There are some spaces where I feel completely at ease; comfortable and welcome and good, and there are other spaces where I feel awkward and out of sorts, and I suspect that everybody is in tune with their situational awareness, to the extent that we feel “right” in some spaces and “wrong” in others.  It’s no joke that as soon as I turn into my driveway, or should I now simply write, “the driveway,” I feel a peacefulness wash right over me…no matter what kind of day I have had, whether work was great or not, whether I am tired or dirty, or energized with makeup on, I get to this spot on earth and feel that everything is how it is supposed to be for me.

When bad energy comes into my space, the space, I feel it everywhere… in my clenched up jaw, wonky belly, and every nerve under my skin…it is a physical sensation as well as a deeply mental feeling…when my space “feels” negativity my whole body feels it…I know, I know, a house is not a living thing, but in a way it is…she likes to be warm when it is cold in the winter, and she loves on a crisp day to have her windows wide open and let the cross breezes freshen her up, she likes when the grandchildren come tumbling happily through her doors, even when they’ve not wiped their feet, and she hates it when they come over feeling sad or stressed or scared, but then, something magical happens…her doors open wider and her good energy envelops them and they know they are here in her peaceful space, where they are loved unconditionally and the energy is pure and good and right…

Her doors have slammed shut, never to open again, behind those who brought her no joy and only confusion or unsettling sadness…I am thinking, on this first morning of winter, how this house, my house, this space on earth is the place where I am most grateful and most comfortable, and if that is not holy, I’m not sure what is…

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Ode to joy

I have been, in general, a very happy person for all of my life.  When my parents tell me I was a perfect child I never think they are joking.  When people have teased me for replying “fabulous” when asked how I am, it often confused me since I am, for the most part feeling fabulous almost all of the time!!!  The few times in my past where I truly felt deeply unhappy, and had profoundly unsettling feelings that my life was lacking the joyousness that ordinarily filled me up to overflowing, were times when I did not listen to that little guiding light/gut feeling/voice in my head…that all knowing sense of truth that so many of us try to think our brain knows better than…It doesn’t.  That little voice is the biggest guide and moral compass we have to knowing what is right and what is wrong, in general, and FOR our very own being, and for some incredibly inconceivable reason, so many of us, so many times in our lives, ignore it or try to hush it or quiet the message…when it’s really the most important voice in the universe.

The other morning I took my third yoga class of the month since joining a new yoga studio in the area.  Not the 3rd class of my entire life, but good grief did it sure feel like it!!!  For a woman who once used to be a girl who did flying splits, and who stood up against walls and laid her head upon her knees, and used to do leg extensions in door jambs, and be able to lay her forehead on the floor in front of her in a straddle position, I moved, these last three classes, like a woman who has been in a coma or some sort of vegetative state for the last 33 years!!!  R*’s flexibility seems to have devolved to ZERO, despite having a physical job, I clearly lost much if not all of my physical fitness over these last many years.  I can write and speak from experience that the well known expression, “use it or lose it” is absolutely applicable in this instance of flexibility and strength and endurance.  I’ve not used it enough and I am starting from scratch, as far as my body is concerned, as far as flexibility and strength and stamina are concerned!!!  I am hoping that muscle memory is real and one of these classes the old me, who was so strong and so flexible is going to burst back to the surface…but this blog is not about any of those things… I had a very emotional and somewhat strange “hippie dippie” experience in class and wanted to share it…

Three women who I loved very much died this last year; my friend Susan last December, my Mimom in March, and my friend Candyce in October.  My friend Susan and I had not seen each other in years, my Mimom and I had grown apart over the years after she moved out of state, and my friend Candyce was a real friend but who I never met in the flesh, but the relationships were loving and important to me for as long as they lasted. Each woman mattered to me, each in her own different way and none are of this earth anymore. The song that was playing at yoga was very meditative.  It had a line that went something like “I love, love, love you more than ever before” and I was in this pose on my back, with my legs bent and crossed and with my hands grabbing my feet and pulling my knees into my armpits (yes, really, that is what the instructor said) and the words of the song were vibrating in me, like deep in my core, and I had this thought that, at that moment, I loved my own self and my own life more than ever before…like everything was aligned.  And then, this strange tingle, sort of buzz kind of feeling, started in each of my feet and each of my hands and I swear that it felt like I could “feel” the voices of these women at all of my corners and edges…like loving me and encouraging me to love me…it was like a hum, or a buzz, but deep inside of me, and I heard swirls and notes of words and phrases but none that were clear, and yet they all were clear, even though they were all overlapping…it was like all these vibrant colors and no colors, all under my skin…and then when the instructor said to slowly sit up and slowly open our eyes, as I opened my eyes, these hot tears just spilled out down my cheeks…I did not feel sad, I felt so full…it was strange and wonderful and magical and very wierd.

A few years ago when I was struggling to find balance in my brain, my friend Donna mailed me a book called “Meditations from the Mat” and it was full of short stories, some poems, some mantras, but all culminating in the importance of quieting the mind and how to think, or not think, and the use of yoga for both physical and mental well being.  When I read parts of the book years ago, I don’t know that I “got” it, but I must write with honesty that at yoga on Sunday, during this intense feeling of perfect-ness, I think I understood the point of the book…the brain is magical, and I think when we learn to train our brain to focus on the beautiful bits of life, and what feels so good, rather than any of the negative, or mad, or sad bits of life, that don’t feel good at all, we are better for it.  I am leaving the house now to go to yoga before work, just like I did yesterday, and I don’t know what I will feel while I am there, and I don’t know if any of these women will come to me again in this way, but I got the message loud and clear…my joy is pure and it comes from a place of pure love, and I found it inside of me, on my back and on a mat…

 

 

Primum non nocere

First do no harm.  As much as I adore waxing poetic about how much love is in my life it’s a fact I often dismiss, that the love I have FOR myself, and the love I GIVE myself, is often insufficient.  When we read or hear about the term “self harm” it’s frequently in the context of teenage girls who cut themselves or boys who inhale solvent, but self-harm is sadly very easy to inflict…every time I eat something that is not healthy but simply delights my taste buds, every time I drink more alcohol in an evening than I know my liver can possibly metabolize efficiently, every time I choose to sit by the fire and crochet and watch Pride and Prejudice instead of taking a walk or doing some squats or crunches, I am committing the crime of self-harm, and while there are no statutes that could land me in jail, the sentence for these criminal acts is an adult life filled with dread and guilt and prescription drugs and doctor visits.  I’m a person who next month will no longer have access to affordable health care.  I received a notice that the subsidy I get now, which allows me to pay a price per month that I can afford, is going to go up six times, making it a monthly bill I cannot afford, and as a result I am even more aware than ever, that the expression, Primum non nocere, first do no harm, needs to start with my own cells.

I discovered last November, after my hysterectomy, and difficult and unexpectedly harder recovery from a cut bladder, that I have taken my excellent health and good fortune to have good DNA, for granted.  I take no daily meds, I have no disease, I have no illness, I have no problem for which I have to take pharmaceuticals which may cause any of the myriad of disgusting side effects that are explained in great and gross detail on every other television commercial.  Other than the gynecologist last year, I had not been to a doctor since December of 2012 when I was having Airborne for breakfast and Ny-Quil for lunch and for days felt like I had eaten a Brillo pad.  I count myself as one of the lucky ones in this way.  My father takes no medicines and has no doctor.  Other than thyroid hormone and blood pressure pills, my mother is not a participant in big-pharma either, and while I feel glad that my genetics have not predisposed me to medical disasters or diseases, I am well aware that it is my responsibility to my own self to care for this body.  My pretend husband and I will perhaps become real marrieds when I need to have access to affordable health care and can only get it by being a spouse, with a partner who works for a giant corporation, which he does.

I am a self-righteous jerk when I see a person in line at WaWa buying cigarettes, and then milk and orange juice with an EBT card, while wearing an oxygen hose coming out of her nose, and I get mad and think, I can’t afford health insurance but this jerk gets to smoke cigarettes and my quarterly income taxes have to help pay for her oxygen!!!  BUT, that is the world we live in, and so, I accept that my tiny business will contribute to the pot, that the poorer than I get to take from, while I work but yet earn too much money to draw from the pot to which I contribute…which seems horrifically unfair, but it appears that this is the way of the world…okay, off my high-horse of jerkiness…

I guess my point today is that I know it is my job to care for my own self as best I can.  Since August I have lost 19.2 pounds, and while I have quite a way to go to get into my skinny jeans, the fact that I am at least making efforts to get into my skinny jeans is, to me, a good start, better than just wishing to wear them and actually making changes to make it happen.  I did not drink any alcohol for 36 days when I first tried the Whole30 plan, and during that 36 days I also had no candy or baked treats or sugar or dairy and while I really struggled some days with all of it, all of it was not that hard.  I am now doing my own version of Whole30, but this version does not try as hard to be compliant and does enjoy an occasional cocktail or glass of wine, and last night did enjoy some mint chocolate chip ice cream…so what I am admitting is that I am not in fact living as purely as I should be living if my goal is to love myself the best that I can.

To counteract the tequila we bought in Mexico and have enjoyed since we arrived back home, and the box of Good & Plenty that I ate the other day at work and called “lunch,” and the ice cream I enjoyed last night but certainly did not need, at all, I’m today taking my first beginner’s yoga class at a new studio in a neighboring town.  I don’t know the last time I exercised “on purpose” but can tell you it has been a long time.  I read a text the other day that said, “this is the last chapter of your book that is 2017 and you are the author, so make it a good one” and I thought, yes, why yes I am the author and it is my last chapter of what has been a pretty good year, so this last chapter is going to have some healthier food choices and fewer alcohol indulgences and some Om chanting and some bending, breathing, and stretching and just maybe, and rather likely, I won’t only first do no harm, I will in fact do a great lot of healing…