Monday, April 28, 2014

Before midnight

There are almost no movies made about marriages.  There are a million a year made about the first stages of romance, often ending with a wedding.  It makes you feel like  life ends when you get married - all the dynamic, exciting adventurous parts are over and you just settle into some kind of boring identity-less humdrum life.  When a married couple is in a movie, they are usually the older parents, or the ridiculous neighbors.  The married couple is usually the butt of the joke in some way while the dashing young on-their-way-to-love are the heroes.  This is so contrary to my experience of marriage.  So when I saw this movie, Before Midnight it was like a voice inside me kept saying "Yes! Thank you!"  A wedding is the beginning... Our challenges are not boring or simple or redundant.  There are universal commonalities but so are there in early romances.  The marriage is the interesting part because it is real work.  This couple were strong individuals in a strong partnership.  They did epic things together and they had epic problems.  The stuff of their lives is so rich and complex compared to the usual romance movie.  I appreciated it so much.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

He doesn't hear what I say, he hears what I am

I finished day 2 of my 3 day intensive Solidworks 3D modeling class, feeling like an utter failure, to pick up my toddler son so his daddy could have a turn working.  We went to a fun restaurant that had a play area where one of the toys was a wooden puzzle.  I watched my little one take up the puzzle with shining eyes and enthusiastic arms - but he couldn't get the first piece to fit right away.  He only tried 2 times before he started beating the puzzle piece on the ground and crying.

As I reached down to start to help teach my son patience with himself, I heard my Solidworks teacher's voice echoing from my memory, the exact words I was about to tell Hayden.  Things like, "It's ok to not do it right away the first time" "Have patience with yourself - you are doing a great job"  That teacher had the same forlorn countenance when trying to teach me as the one I wore when I saw how upset my Hayden was.

I have been observing lately, over the last few months, that every child (of people I know, friends, people I see, etc) is a reflection of his parents.  When we see our own great struggles reflected back to us in the tender little ones we love most of all, we panic - we want to jump in and rescue.  We know how bad that particular pain feels and we want to save them from it. But we can't help them that way.

The son is afraid - of going into the ocean, of big dogs.  The boy's dad is not afraid of the ocean or big dogs and begs him to try, says things to build his confidence and make his son feel safe, but when the topic changes, he shows how afraid he is of his own big, unknown things - applying to a new job, taking risks. The mom tells her daughter that it's ok to be different - it makes her extra special - but when she is the odd one of the group, she feels so ashamed.

The kids don't care much for our words - they can see right through them, right through us.  Our only chance to tell them who to be and how to be is by showing them.  It was really hard for me today in my class full of mechanical engineers - I failed and failed and failed - I wanted to cry, I wanted to quit. Inside I was beating the floor and screaming in frustration - absolutely no better than Hayden with his puzzle.

It kills me to think my precious boy will feel those feelings.  I want him to know that he is fantastic as he is, no one gets it right the first time, enjoy the process as much as the result, you have a long time to learn these things and you absolutely will one day.

The only way I can teach Hayden how to be patient with himself is to be patient with myself first.

It will be really hard, but tomorrow is my last day of class, and I will take it as an opportunity to learn for myself the lesson that I am trying to teach Hayden.

Monday, May 21, 2012

What my baby has taught me about being human

Having a kid has been the most life-revolutionizing thing I've done and only a bit over a year in, I see how much it's changing me and teaching me.  A few hours ago, I remembered a lesson that Hayden taught me and it felt like recalling a distant memory, so I thought I should write some of them down.  I didn't think I could forget them, but I seem to be.

The one I remembered today was about pleasure.  I have always associated pleasure with wants or thought of it somehow as a secondary need.  The second chakra corresponds to pleasure, while the first chakra corresponds to basic needs.  It's like how you need rice and beans but you just want a cupcake, or you need sleep but you don't need to sleep on a feather bed. I thought this for many years and used it to rationalize what I did and did not allow myself. 

And then I saw Hayden.  Little infant Hayden took visible pleasure in drinking his milk.  It was a basic instinct to nurse - he started at it immediately after birth and he needed it to survive.  But he also enjoyed it.  I heard an interview with a recovering tongue cancer patient describing the return of his taste - and he said sweet came back first.  In the same interview he mentioned that sweet is the first taste that develops in infants.  Why sweet? You would think that for pure survival we would taste bitter or spicy first, so we could detect and spit out dangerous foods.  But no, we taste sweet first - the one that gives us the most pleasure.  

So I started to think about pleasure and basic needs as being more intertwined - and I think it's closer to the truth.  If you feel no pleasure, you don't want to live.  If your life is full of pleasure, you really want to live.  Just like our infants who drink in their most basic food to survive, but also to enjoy.

This became long - I will post more lessons throughout the week as I remember them.

Monday, April 30, 2012

What I learned about Being well for 1 month

The purpose of my little experiment, which is over today, was to give myself a taste of a different way of living - a way that might be better than my normal way - without the gravity of permanent change hence making it doable.

Surprising conclusions of my experiment:

 - It is much harder than I thought it would be to train my thinking to put my wellbeing first.  Over the years, I always thought, my little masochistic ways were a temporary veil over a possibility that would always be there for me.  But as soon as I focused my attention on it, I discovered what a weak little infant that part of me truly is.  It was not something I could do just because I decided to.  My mind has habits of thinking.  Noticing this was a little horrifying - that I can imprison myself in my old ways against my will.

- The most beneficial therapy is harmful if the environment or practitioner doesn't suit.  This really surprised me. I have up until now believed that I should not let interpersonal dynamics get in the way of receiving a valuable service.  When I hear other people rejecting a (hair stylist, dentist, massage therapist) because they didn't like them personally, or don't like the building it's in or smth, I have thought that let's the small things get in the way.  But I was so surprised to notice how uncomfortable I was at times, even though whatever treatment/therapy etc I had bought for myself was well executed - it did not always contribute to my wellbeing.  So now I will be one of those weird people who pays more and drives further just to have the one I like - and it is worth it.

- Another surprise: primping is good for me.  I used to think this was shallow and a waste of time.  But I feel remarkably better just going through my day when I feel that I look good. Even writing that makes me feel embarrassed.

- Dairy is truly bad for me.  I have seen a lot of improvements in the way I am and feel physically since going off it.  I knew that gluten and caffeine were bad for me, but the result I have seen from going off dairy is so good, I will give up ice cream. 30 days ago I think I wouldn't have known who I was without ice cream.

- I did not succeed in going to bed early every night and writing for an hour every day.  It was really hard to fit that in my lifestyle.  I will still try.

- I love exercise! I take a regular weight lifting class and I have become addicted - never would have thought.  I combine it with a steam sauna and deep tissue massage and that is where it's at!!

-hip hop aerobics is my new religion.  Dancing like this connects me to my lower chakras and it nourishes my soul.

Mostly I noticed that this month was not a month in which I lived in my perfect way - rather, it was a month to figure out what my perfect way is.  I overestimated how much I knew about what I want and need, having focused so little attention on it all along.  I am blessed to have my husband - who totally supported my little project and wants me to continue it.

So going forward, I am keeping the exercise and hip hop, selective occasional deep tissue massage, low gluten and no dairy.  I will keep trying to write more and sleep more. I will keep making my brain practice a new way of thinking.

I think I stressed myself out a little bit over this, as per usual (trying to do what I am doing really well), cramming lots of "wellbeing activities" into my week rather than listening to my inner whims.  I will go forward more relaxed and just try to do a better job of letting myself have what I want.

Thanks for listening :)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

An Adventure in Wellbeing

This is the first day of my 30 day experiment with a different kind of life. Up until now, I have been a girl who does not take care of herself. I may be pursuing a goal, or trying to please someone, or executing a principle I believe in - whatever it is, I put myself and my wellbeing as a non priority. I notice that most people don't do this. And I wonder if maybe I would make a better impact if I were just always feeling and being my best, rather than doing my best. So, in this month of April, I will be prioritizing my wellbeing. I am not sure if it is the right way to be, but I am going to try it for 30 days.

The basic premise is that I do nothing that is bad for me and everything that is good for me.

I do without all of this:
checking email 27 times/day

I do more of this:
deep tissue massage
green juice
dark green veggies
positive hypnosis
hip hop aerobics
swimming in the comal river

And otherwise, I just try to stay centered on my intentions to always be well in every moment and see where that takes me.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A rendezvous with an old Love...

I just got back from France - a short visit of 7 days, with husband, mother in law and baby. The trip was inspired by my friend Beth's wedding near Dijon and we turned it into a family affair. For my three fellow travellers, it was the first time in France... but not for me.

I spent a semester of highschool there, in Strasbourg - it was my first time abroad - the experience that made me a world traveller. Being there again brought back feelings I had forgotten...

It was like a short, whirlwind encounter with an old flame. France was my First - the one that started it all - the one that made me hungry for more. Its new ways shook me, then changed me: the woman I am today is a direct evolution of that porous 17 year old who soaked in France for 4 months. I love it. I feel like I can be myself there, like I have everything I need there.

The timing of this reconnection is dangerous: tragically, I find my old love again after I am already married - to Estonia. And I have a list, necessarily short to serve the needs of my new child, of places where I can live in this life.

The timing is bad, France. But having been with you again, I don't know how I can go on living without you, knowing you exist.

Perhaps there will be a possibility of a Ménage à trois...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Our Meaning is in Being

One of the most dangerous times in our lives - and perhaps the most overlooked of all dangerous times - is the mid-twenties. It is right up there with the mid-teens in terms of figuring out who you are and what you are going to be; being pulled in many directions; making choices that will impact the rest of your life. This critical period happens when you've been out of school long enough to notice that the world is not as conquerable as you thought it would be but before you have had time to earn the skills and money that you need to actually do any conquering.

I feel like we have social systems in place to take care of teenagers and midlife-crisisers, but I see nothing for the quarterlife crisis.

I was thinking today, while watching my 5 month old baby staring euphorically at a lamp, that maybe nature creates us to have these crisis points exactly when life renews itself before our eyes. We have babies in our mid-twenties: we witness what a human is like in its purest form and learn again that the meaning of life is to love, that nothing superficial matters, bright light is beautiful and curiosity is our true calling.

And then, when we've had a few more decades to toil - and we may come to a point again where we see our life's efforts haven't made the dent we thought they would, then we have grandchildren and they teach us all over again who we are.

If, in seeking the truths of the universe, we look to the other species, we see this pattern. When an animal has a short life, the pattern looks magnified to us -we imagine rows of generations of insects being born, giving birth, and dying. From the outside, it looks so fruitless and pointless - but to experience it yourself, it feels so rich. It looks so pointless, in fact, that it may be in observing the cycle in other creatures that we insist there must be more for ourselves... we try to make there be more... thinking, feeling, trying... activities that lead us to our moments of crisis. And then we feel the peace and purpose of bringing in a baby to the world and for a moment we feel saved.