Freedom with a Pinch of Karma

Ants

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Are You an Artist?

   

A painter, a sculptor or crafter of beauty–
A singer, a dancer or maker of music,
A magician of words, a teller of tales, a master of the senses,
Surely, these are artists.
Surely?

Do you extend life with a scalpel, an army, a microscope, a touch?
Are you a good father? A good girl? A good enemy? A good you?
Does ‘good’ matter to this conversation?

Ah, the fly-fisher. Now that’s an artist, isn’t it?

What about the mailman, the clergyman, the Santa-man?
And all of the ‘ers’, ‘ors’, ‘ists’ and ‘icians’?

Today, I’m wondering about such matters. What makes an artist?

Am I an artist?
Are you?

And this, from David Whyte, entitled, Naming, from his book, Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words:

We name mostly in order to control but what is worth loving does not want to be held within the bounds of too narrow a calling.  In many ways love has already named us before we can even begin to speak back to it, before we can utter the right words or understand what has happened to us or is continuing to happen to us: an invitation to the most difficult art of all, to love without naming at all.

Let me know what you think.

 

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Who Knew?

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Who knew that a simple little tag on a simple little blog post would steer me down a new path?

The tag?
Mindfulness.

The path?
Mindfulness.

The blogger, Smilecalm, liked my last post. It’s always a good feeling to receive a ‘like.’ I believe (s)he likely found me because of the mindfulness tag I added to that post. So I in turn visited Smilecalm’s blog and soon found myself immersed in a whole new world. One click led to another and I discovered inspiration in the simple practice of mindfulness and in people such as Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh and Jon Kabat-Zinn.

The next thing I discovered was that there are people developing mindfulness practices in schools! Somewhere I read someone lament, “We tell our students all day long to ‘Pay attention!’ yet we never teach them how.” Whoa.

Mind you (no pun intended 🙂 ) I’ve never had my own, regular, meditation practice. But the idea of teaching my students to be mindful resonated deep within me. My teacher antennae knew it had detected something good. So after investigating how to get a mindfulness practice going in my classroom, it became evident that I needed first to develop my own mindfulness practice. You know, kind of like how you should be able to swim yourself before you teach another to do so.

And this mindfulness practice will take some time to develop. My first step is to enroll in an MBSR 8-week training. The price for the course is over $400. This is a hefty price. However, last year I was the recipient of a two thousand dollar cash award from my school to use as I wish. My intention is to spend the money to benefit my teaching practice (which in turn, would benefit my students). I make it sound as though I’ve stashed that money away for this very purpose. The reality, however, is the money came at a much-needed time when my son’s tuition was due. I think it stayed in my bank account for maybe two days. That said, I feel I owe 2k to my own teaching practice, and participating in this course seems to qualify.

The course starts April 27th. I understand there is also some light yoga involved, which I believe I will like. (I’ve been peeking at the hot yoga schedule lately…no promises). Also, for anyone interested, Deepak Chopra and Oprah have their free 21 day meditation going on now.

Isn’t it the neatest thing when you can trace the ripple effect of a single action? I hope Smilecalm will make it back here to learn how his ‘like’ awakened me. It’s the essence of a true Bodhisattva, leading others to enlightenment. I am grateful for the guidance and filled with gratitude.

*[Side note: In the spirit of the ripple effect and just before hitting publish, I was thinking about how I tagged my last post with mindfulness because of my experience of going through my father’s last box of remaining belongings. And then it occurred to me, that as a child, my father was always, and I mean always saying to me, “Amanda, pay attention!” How ’bout that?! Who knew?]*

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Spring Ahead

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When I started my blog, my intent was not to make it about getting healthy. I had been observing that there were defining life experiences that had become touchstones-golden threads interwoven into the fabric of me. Approaching fifty, I thought it time to maybe write about them as they came up, mostly just for me, for reflection. But at the time, it just so happened I was in the throes of a food revolution.

And so I wrote about it.
And I felt GOOD about it.
And I wanted everyone I knew to DO IT WITH ME!
And I marveled at how SURE I was I’d NEVER have a chemical packet of artificial sweetener or a diet soda EVER AGAIN!
And I was HAPPY about it.
And so CONFIDENT!
And then…

I started losing interest.

And I couldn’t quite bounce back from Thanksgiving.

My treads no longer followed the path to Whole Foods or my yoga studio. Rudi’s turned into Ronzoni. And my blog went by the wayside along with my healthy lifestyle. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to write about falling off the wagon. In fact if ever there was a time to write, the struggle-time is the most fruitful time! No, it was just a lethargy that took over. A ho-humedness, especially to those activities that interfered with being warm and cozy and caving and eating comfort food.

I do believe this is the power of sugar, sugar.

With that said, this hibernation hasn’t been a totally gluttonous episode. Though I haven’t been shedding pounds, I have been shedding in other areas: namely the stuff of my life that’s been accumulating for 10+ years.

My husband and I have decided it’s time to move out of this house that’s too big for us. It’s time to get out from under our debt, from our accumulations, and from a living situation that is no longer meeting our needs. This is not easy for me. I am a very attached person. In fact, I believe one of the most important things I must do in this life is become more naturally detached. I don’t mean detached in an indifferent way, but in a loving and mindful way.

In order to do this, I must make my way through the artifacts of my past. I am being tested. For example, what to do with the contents of the box that holds the last remaining items of my father’s life, one that ended over six years ago? His dentures, a few pairs of jeans, a hairdryer, prescriptions, glasses…I wonder, how I can possibly let them go? Then I ‘remember.’ I do not need to cling to these items in order to be connected to him, to feel the love of my dad. My heart’s got it. No need for the physical manifestations of his life.

And so I sort the contents of the box into their respective ‘donate, sell and toss’ piles, with mindfulness and gratitude and love. And move on to the next dig.

Today the clocks moved ahead.
The earth is waking up, even though the dirt is still frozen and blanketed by snow.

I’m waking up, too.
Even though I haven’t been in my produce drawer in quite some time, I have been in my closets, unearthing some treasures and shedding some baggage. I remember that I am powerful and have the ability to craft my life the way I want it to be. I’m turning 50 and I can do anything I want. I can make it happen. I quite like making it happen.

So here’s to manifesting.

Or as a friend coined the term,
“Amanda-festing!”

 

 

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‘Tis the Season

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And so it goes…
I’ve been inconsistently munching my way through gluten-ous crackers, pasta and I even ate a donut last week. Drinking the occasional coffee, too. I’m not gaining (yet), but I’m not losing. I’m fairly certain the chances of me reaching my goal this summer are being swallowed up along with the rest of it. My yoga pass expired yesterday, too. I’m even dragging my feet getting my supplements organized for the week ahead!

On a more positive note, I’ve been selling stuff on a local Facebook tag sale site. It’s a positive step towards the cleaning out and eventually selling of my home.

I suppose what strikes me most is how diligent I must be, staying focused and keeping my eye on the prize. My attention certainly has been wandering.

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Danger, Will Robinson!

Happy Thanksgiving, friends. I really love Thanksgiving.  It’s my favorite time of the year. I’m a hibernator, a caver, a snuggler. Throw in some snow, good friends, family, and we’ve got a New England memory in the making. That aside, what I really want to talk about is all the delicious gluten and processed food I’ve been eating. Would someone please analyze me, quick?

TG-day I did pretty well. I didn’t succumb to any gluten until about stuffing time. Note though, that I attended the 9:30 a.m. Thanksgiving morning yoga class! Yes-siree-Bob, I did! Later, I shared some pie with my dear hub, I was proud.

Then~
Friday morning I was hitting the road with my boy to the Great White North for a hockey tournament. Rushing, the road trip started with a stop for bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches at the local market.They were,

OUT OF THIS WORLD!

Ahem, amen.

And for the rest of the weekend~
We lost all of our games. Ate pizza, popcorn, coffee cake, chlorine, orange Crush. Had a few break-aways, and made some new friends. Upon our return, met dad at a local favorite, and drank a beer (or two…).  Drank coffee all weekend, too. That’s a first in months.

I am astounded at how easily I can revert to my old ways. It is natural, comfortable.
I think tomorrow I will go back to the other.
Not a single adverse reaction the gluten, the sugar, the rest of it…nothing. Nothing but pleasure.

What the heck?

 

 

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M is for…

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Movie and Meditation!

If you’ve got some time, here is a link to view, free for a few more days, a new film, Origins:

http://origins.well.org/movie/

It is about food, past and present and our changing relationship with it.  I loved it.

Also, I have been participating in Deepak Chopra and Oprah’s 21 day meditation about the power of attraction, desire, manifesting the life you want.  It is the best one yet. I can’t believe how much I’m getting out of it. Will likely purchase it. It’s that good.  You can check it out for free here:

https://chopracentermeditation.com  There are about five days left, enough to see if you like it.

I’d be interested to hear what you think if you check them out. Both the movie and the meditation reflect the space in my head these days…especially the messages in the meditation. In fact, me mentioning it here may very well be the universe manifesting something for you as we speak!!

 

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Sweating it Out

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One word:  Y  O  G  A

This morning, as I did my final stretch, sweat dripping from my nose, my chin, my elbows, I was filled with gratitude. Gratitude for my body–limitations and all, gratitude that I made it– that I showed up, gratitude for my breath and my mind, gratitude for doing something good for myself. I signed up for a month. I’m hoping to go three times a week.

Don’t get me wrong.  I still hate it. It’s hard, it’s hot. See that little white space underneath the arm of the silhouette? That doesn’t exist for full-figured gals like me. It’ll be a long time before my forehead kisses my knee. Yet I feel so good afterwards.  And it makes so much sense to me…stretching and elongating my muscles. I have no idea how many calories I’m burning in the 90 minutes. It doesn’t really matter. I’m moving, stretching, twisting, and for now, I’m showing up.

Made some homemade chicken noodle soup (with gluten-free noodles!). Still eating clean.  I breezed through Halloween without so much as a single M&M. It was easy. I had no desire.  And I’m convinced if I did have an M&M, I would have been tempted, perhaps beyond my control, to eat more. Such is the poison of sugar.

Hit a milestone last week: 1/3 of the way to my goal at 194 lbs.  I’m probably losing some ground, but I’m staying the course.

Namaste.

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The Downer of an Up Number

weight_scaleWhen I step on the scale, and it shows a loss, I stare in disbelief while a giddy feeling rises in my tummy. Inevitably when I step on the scale three or four days later, the loss seems to vanish with even an extra pound or two to remind me the fat wants to stick around. That giddy feeling? Replaced with a sinking dread that I never want to step on the scale again. The hell with it.

You may recall my earlier “Pssst,” post where I broke the 200 lb. mark. I posted in my moment of giddiness. The scale reading did not happen on a Monday, so I didn’t post it to my “The Numbers” page. A week later I was up to 201 lbs. I was deflated. So I didn’t weigh myself again until this morning (down to 196.5). I’m happy, but I’m thinking of foregoing the weekly (or more) weigh-ins. I recall a blog post from someone who weighs in only once a month, especially to avoid the downer of the scale. This makes sense to me. I’m four months into this journey of healthy eating. I seem to be averaging a loss of about 5 lbs. a month. I think I can confidently move forward without checking the scale so much.

The downer of an up number isn’t worth it.

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Time

One day at a time

One thing is for sure, time marches on.
Being a nostalgic, too-attached person, this fact can make me a bit weepy. But in reality, I view it as a wonderful thing. And it’s especially great news for weight loss. One day turns into another, into another, into a week, two weeks, a month, and before you know it a year is gone, and hopefully as well, a bunch of weight to go with it!

That’s what I’ve been thinking about lately. As you know, my goal is to be under 150 lbs. by the time I turn 50 next July.  I’ve pretty much settled into this wholesome way of eating now. Even the gluten-free part is a piece of cake (lol). The sugar and flour are out of my house, I visit our local farm two or three times a week, and I’m a label reader. Better yet, I hardly ever have cravings! I have no desire to eat any other way. And so, if I can keep it up, the weight will continue to drop, and time will march on. In some twisted way, I am looking forward to my birthday like as if it’s my due date!

Being a teacher, a “year” is really a condensed, carefully plotted and planned ten months. There are always these smaller increments of time we are marching towards–first day of school, back-to-school night, Halloween, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, February break, April vacation, Memorial Day, last day of school, SUMMER! It’s a whirlwind. And this year, I am so much looking forward to a healthier, more vibrant ME as I transform myself over the course of this school year.

But the season of sugar is fast-approaching. What is your plan for staying healthy throughout the onslaught of temptation over the next few months? I for one, plan to keep the candy out. I want to make a plan with my son for Halloween. I’m thinking something along the lines of paying him cash for candy. I won’t be getting any trick-or-treaters as we live on a street where the houses are few and far between, so no pressure there. Thanksgiving will be much more tempting for me. I figure it’s prudent to have a plan and it’s time to start thinking about it. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Have a great Columbus Day weekend.
I think I’ll put on a pot of soup this beautiful Autumn Sunday.

 

 

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