A Between Seasons Funk~SOL#18~2017

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Well, I’m here again.

Not just here writing another Slice of Life (after four days of neglect), but here. . . at this mental state:

A Funk.

I’ve been here so many times before. I wrote about it last year in the 2016 SOL Challenge. And I’ve written about it here and here.

What can I say? I am a student of my own state of despair.

I’ve followed all of the prescribed remedies.

Yoga. CHECK.

A walk outside. CHECK. I even was able to convince by daughter, Gracie, who was home with the puppy, to walk with me.

Writing. CHECK. Filling a good 6 pages in my notebook, I still could not get to the bottom of my angst. I did get some good writing material though.

Shower. CHECK. I even shaved my legs, washed my hair and put on Aveda Rosemary Mint body lotion. Oh, it’s so heavenly.

Clean something. CHECK. I washed every dish that piled up in the sink from over the week. The dishwasher broke down. My husband and I pinky swore we would wash every dish that each of us used. That lasted about a week. I think we need a new dishwasher.

Take a nap. CHECK. This was the easiest remedy.

Connect with people. I went on Twitter and tweeted a storm about the tcrwp Saturday Reunion in NYC connecting with many teacher-writer-reader-people. I sat with my husband and watched a tv show about Wisconsin. I chatted with Gracie and puppy motherhood.

I know that when I am in this place of funkiness that something new is about to be born. This is God’s way to trying to get my attention to notice it. To be honest, I’ve been walking around in survival mode this month. . . automatic pilot.

He knows we are more than this.

We need these wake up calls.

I will pull out on the other side of this and I’ll make sure to write about what is unveiled. Certainly, there is something to look forward to after the fog clears. A calming meditation from by beautiful niece, Micara, might help me get there.

For now, I think I’ll put on my pj’s and read my new books by Abigail Thomas, recommendations from Elisabeth Ellingson, a dear writer-teacher-thinker-lady-friend.

But, only after I publish this blog post and put my laptop down for the night.

CHECK.

Shari 🙂

I’m participating in twowritingteachers March Challenge of posting a blog post every day for the month of March.  I have not been consistent, but I’m not copping out and throwing in the towel. To check out other writers, visit here.

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Let Go of Trying to Be Noticed

Less of Me

Today, I’m reblogging a reblog from a blog I love.

Can I do that?  Are there rules?

Well, I am.  It’s just too good to not share with as many people as I can. It’s a topic of concern with my own self and I’m hearing nudges from other like-minded souls that it’s theirs, too.  I will write more on it later, but for now, savor the words of Heather and Mark Nepo.

From Heather at soberboots.com:

This morning I read this and thought I heard God say, “This is better than any blog post you could write today. Post this and go jog instead.”

I harrumphed, and then agreed. Yet another way to quit deeper, right? I hope you get as much from this as I did.

Much of our anxiety and inner turmoil comes from living in a global culture whose values drive us from the essence of what matters. At the heart of this is the conflict between the outer definition of success and the inner value of peace.

Unfortunately, we are encouraged, even trained, to get attention when the renewing secret of life is to give attention. From performing well on tests to positioning ourselves for promotions, we are schooled to believe that to succeed we must get attention and be recognized as special, when the threshold to all that is extraordinary in life opens only when we devote ourselves to giving attention, not getting it. Things come alive for us only when we dare to see and recognize everything as special.

The longer we try to get attention instead of giving it, the deeper our unhappiness. It leads us to move through the world dreaming of greatness, needing to be verified at every turn, when feelings of oneness grace us only when we verify the life around us. It makes us desperate to be loved, when we sorely need the medicine of being loving.

One reason so many of us are lonely in our dream of success is that instead of looking for what is clear and true, we learn to covet what is great and powerful. One reason we live so far from peace is that instead of loving our way into the nameless joy of spirit, we think fame will soothe us. And while we are busy dreaming of being a celebrity, we stifle our need to see and give and love, all of which opens us to the true health of celebration.

It leaves us with these choices: fame or peace, be a celebrity or celebrate being, work all our days to be seen or devote ourselves to seeing, build our identity on the attention we can get or find our place in the beauty of things by the attention we can give–Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

Mark Nepo is a cancer survivor, a poet, and philosopher. He’s not a Christian, nor is he in recovery that I’m aware of. But God speaks to me a lot through his writings.

BAM:  When we feel the need to BE noticed, turn it around and instead, BE the NOTICER.

Please God,

Show more of yourself, so there will be Less of Me.

Let that marinate.

Shari 🙂

 

Being Reminded of Bad Decisions Hurts Our Brains


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“You need to clear.  Now.  Today.”

 I keep hearing it.  Seeing it.  And, feeling it.

I take this knowingness to my notebook and try to write out EXACTLY what needs to be cleared.

“What?  What needs to be cleared?”  I question, “Is it energy clearing?  I feel okay.  I don’t need that today.  Is it subconscious blocks that I need to let go of?  Fear?  Obsessions?  Old stuff?  What?  Tell me, so I can take care of it!”

A smell lingers up into my writing room.  My candle can’t even mask the smell.  Being one of those highly sensitive nose type people, smells really trip me up.

“What IS that?”  I croak.

Ugh.  I can’t even focus on my thoughts to write with this intrusion.  I shut my computer and investigate.  I know this smell.  It’s a moldy, old garbage, combined with wet dog, chicken coop and baby kitties born on the couch kinda smell (that happened when I was a young girl and I still remember the smell).  I really don’t even want to know what it is.  There have been whiffs of this odor over the last week and I’ve tried to ignore it.  But, I can’t any longer.  It’s become overbearing.  The thought of what it could be is giving me the willies.  Moving might become necessary.

I scan the garage.  My skin shivers at how visually toxic to my well-being this room is.  The school year is done and summer is here and I know I NEED to clean this.

Forget the garage. . . it’s not even my junk.

But, then, I know the answer to my knowingness.

“Oh, you mean REAL clearing!  ACTUAL PHYSICAL REAL CLUTTER!”  I shake my head because I really do not want to tackle this. I’ve been avoiding it altogether.  I have other things to do!  Stuff I actually WANT to do!  It’s summer!!  The sun outside wants me to sit in it and just read!

The message is affirmed in everywhere I go.  The yard, the shed, the playhouse.  There is not a space in my house that does not need some TLC:

A Total-Lot-of-Cleaning.

 Yes, I’ve neglected it.  It’s time.

“Whether it be your closet or office desk, excess things in your surroundings can have a negative impact on your ability to focus and process information. That’s exactly what neuroscientists at Princeton University found when they looked at people’s task performance in an organized versus disorganized environment. The results of the study showed that physical clutter in your surroundings competes for your attention, resulting in decreased performance and increased stress.”     ~nourishment3.com

Well, I knew I was having a focusing issue, but I didn’t know it was because of my clutter.  And my stuff.

I announce to my husband that I’m on a de-cluttering mission.  His eyes begin to squint like the sun’s hurting him and his entire face scrunches up.  He knows he is going to either have to get involved or risk losing some stuff.  He also knows he has more stuff to de-clutter than I do.  The two boys find other stuff to do.

The bathroom is first, as it’s the room that bothers me the most.  Items from the shelves are purged, used once or twice and never to be noticed again, covered in dust and gunk.  Old vitamins, prescriptions, bath salts and lotions.  Yuck.  Then. . . way in the back, I discover some old boxes of Frownies I purchased a few years ago.

Oh dang.  The memory comes flooding back.

These stick on patches were going to be the ticket for those wrinkles on my forehead.  The internet said.  So, I bought 2 packages, not just one.  On my first day’s trial of stretching my forehead before applying the sticky patches to my skin, and then sleeping with it on, I awoke  to an even more dented forehead than my original one.  Apparently, I had not flattened my skin smooth enough before I stuck that baby on.  Instead of smoothing my forehead, I made NEW wrinkles.  They lasted all day.  I should have sent the Frownies back for a refund, but I attributed the problem to operator error and vowed to give it another shot.  I never did.  A reminder of another bad decision and money wasted for vanity.

Why is it so painful to get rid of this stuff?

Apparently, there is research that gives us the answer to this question.  (I found it on the internet.)

We tell ourselves we are hanging onto this stuff for a number of reasons:

1.  We are saving it for just the right occasion.

2.  We spent a lot of money on it and we might use it one day.

3.  We have sentimental value.

But,  the biggest reason we hang on to stuff is because we probably made a mistake buying it and it literally hurts our brain to come to terms with that fact.

Yup, there is.  The truth.  It’s painful to admit that we screwed up.   Bad decisions.  Money wasted.

As in the case of my Frownies.

Tossing them in the trash really DOES hurt.  But really, I know I won’t try them again.  Even sticking all those patches to my face now and going to bed that way seems absurd.  And, I run the risk of that scene be the topic of conversation and my husband’s office the next day.

I could see if my sister wants to try them.  That would feel better than junking them.  But, then, I’d have to hold on to them longer until I see them. Should I walk them over to my neighbor?  I could tell her that if she doesn’t want to try them, she could just toss them and I wouldn’t have to know about it.  Maybe that’s the ticket.  Yeah.  That’s what I’ll do.

Then, I won’t have to feel the pain quite so much.

Unless, the next time I see her, she has more wrinkles.

Now, moving on to the kitchen. . .

What is painful for your brain to let go of?

What Does It Mean To “Just Be”?

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“You need to Just Be.”

I’m hearing this voice over and over lately.  It’s summer time and people are trying to Just Be and take time off from their busy lives.  Emails in my inbox from spiritual writers encourage the world to Just Be.  My body tends to want to Just Be.

Just be.

But, what does this really mean?  To Just Be?

I was telling a friend about my plans for summer and possibly next year in my work.  I get excited about my work sometimes when I begin to think of all the possibilities. Every year, in education, is an opportunity for renewal.  My mind spins at all of the things I’d like to do differently next year.  I can always do better, I know.

This person listened compassionately and then said,

“Shari, my hope for you is to Just Be for awhile.”

These words are still ringing in my brain.  Now, I know this person has my well being in mind, not wanting me to take on too much, or really, just wanting me to slow down and not think about school for awhile.  I honestly believe my work supports my purpose in life, so I don’t always think of it as work. For some, work is work and life outside of work is, well. . . life. We teachers are in a different category, as they we always thinking about our profession.

I had to ponder on these words long and hard.  Because, I consider myself much more of a BE-er than a DO-er.

I let the words, Just Be,  marinate in my brain for awhile and decided that Just Be has different meanings for different people.  Not only this, but for the same person, it means different things at different times depending upon what they are doing and their understanding of the depths of Just Be.

Here are some of the ways I think we define Just Be:

Definition #1:  I’m taking a break from work or doing anything that involves a lot of work.  That break might be for a moment, it might be for a week, or a vacation or a summer.  It might mean vegging out in front of the tv, conversing on facebook, or doing anything that takes them away for the stressful lives they live.  Don’t start any big projects or do any planning at this time.   I did a lot of this kind of Just Being after my daughter’s wedding.  Actually, I slept and read books instead of any fall work in the yard.  I used Just Being as my excuse to not do the stuff I was supposed to do.

Definition #2:   Leave me alone.  When my daughters used to go through those teenage hormonal weeks, they would often say, “I want to Just Be!”  Really, this meant to get out of their space.  Leave me alone.

Definition #3:  Be content. Stop seeking.  Accept what is and be happy with that.

Definition #4:  To be present in every moment of your life.  If someone is speaking to you, stop what you are doing and fully listen.  BE in the moment.  If you are watching tv or a movie, BE there to feel the characters/people you are watching, connect to them.  If you are eating, savor your food, eat slow, be grateful for the nourishment.  This means shutting off your phone just to Just Be with the act of what you are doing.

It means to look for opportunities to JUST BE in your day.  An interruption in your drive to stop at the railroad tracks for a train is just this. Rather than being annoyed about a delay in your plan or to occupy the few minutes reaching to check your phone, you have an opportunity to take deep breaths and listen, look around you, pay attention to the world.  Say a prayer.  Think of a friend in need and send her your loving energy.  Just take some long deep breaths and quiet the mind.  Listen to and focus on your breath.  Stop the rampant thoughts.  Always, waiting for trains is just this chance to do this.   Waiting can be a gift if you look at it that way.

It means to slow down your pace.  Take small snippets of time to be grateful.  Write something down in your journal.  Send a note of “You Matter” to someone who needs to be reminded.  Stop living at the speed of a to-do list that only Superman could accomplish.  Glorifying busyness is not a healthy state of mind to live in.   We can so easily become  a victim of busyness.  This is ego who needs this.

It means to take time every day for listening.  This may mean meditation.  It may be prayer.  It might be yoga.  It could be sitting on the front porch with coffee watching the hummingbirds.  It’s a silencing of the mind.  Be mindful.  Be conscious of your thoughts.  The only way I can hear what God wants me to do is if I silence Bernice.  It takes daily work and constant practice.

It means living the life of who you truly are.  It’s Being authentic.  If I spend all day writing and reading, it’s because I love it and it’s who I am.  If I strive to train for a marathon, it will take time and dedication, but it will be because that’s a dream and it’s who I am (you would not really find me doing this though).

It means to follow your dreams.  God’s plan for us is way bigger than what our little minds tell us.  Ego keeps us small.  Dreams mean work.  To make dreams happen, you have to DO.

Be – Do – Be – Do – Be – Do – Be – Do

In Just Being, we listen.  We hear what our heart and soul intends for us to do.  Then, we Do.  Without the Doing, we are not following through with our listening that comes from Just Being.  And, I’m not talking about our mind telling us we should scrub the floor, although, sometimes when we are Just Being, we hear a voice that says to clear, de-clutter, clean.

It’s Being Present in whatever we are doing.  It’s a way of life.

Do we ever master it.  I don’t think so. Maybe if you are a Zen Master.  Not I.  The need for me to constantly be conscious of my thoughts and bring myself back to a place of being will be my life’s work.

I’d like to be able to live Definition #4.

What do you think?  What is your definition of Just Being?

Shari 🙂

 

 

To Push Through The Pain? Or Not

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It’s 2:20 am and the biffy is calling my name.  Sadly. . . I can’t get out of bed. Every muscle in my body hurts; abs, thighs, arms, neck, you name it.  I was not in a serious car accident, no.  I did not run a triathlon.  Nor, did I do hard physical labor all day.

I worked out this week. . . not once, but TWICE!

About every other month, I decide I need to get in better shape, ummmm. . . I mean, in shape.  I usually only walk a few of times a week during the school year otherwise, so when these urgent calls from my body tell me to pay attention and strengthen up, I tend to jump right in and try to fix it.  Too much, too soon, too much pain.  Then, what do you think finishes off the cycle?  Yep, I rest and kinda quit.  And, the cycle continues.  Been goin on fer years now.

I wasn’t always this way.  Throughout my first 40 some years of life, I was obsessed with exercise, my eating, weight, and perfection.  Then,  a surgery that put me down.  I softened.  In a good way.  And, I started liking who I was becoming.

So, now, almost 50, I’m listening more to my body and she’s telling me I have zero core strength, I’m pretty weak and my flexibility is nadda.  But, keep up the walking – daily, Lady.  Oh and by the way, your arms are starting to look pasty and, well. . . whatever, you are almost 50.

Well, that kind of talk gets me riled.  I become driven to fight back, so I pop in those DVD’s and do everything that perky young thing tells me to do.  Push-ups? Sure.  Squats?  You got it.

Here’s the rub.  Now, my body is cuuuuu-rying!  First, she wants it, then she doesn’t.  She says to push through it and then she says to rest, it’s too much.

My daughter Lauren, who is 25 and a wellness coach, scolds me, “No pain, no gain, Mom. Push through it.  You gotta keep it up or you won’t see any results.”

“Yeah, yeah,” I tell her.  I’m her worst client.  But, I can be that way to her.  I’m her mother.  She rolls her eyes.  I’m sure I frustrate her. She says these words with love, but it’s my own voice that I hear in the background. Yes, that’s her in the photo above.

My friend who is my age consoles me, “Shar, we aren’t 25.  We’ve been down that road.  Accept who you are.  We are ok.”

I love my friend because she understands me and where I’ve been, and my daughter IS only 25.  I should rest.

But, the whole world screams, “NO EXCUSES! YOU ARE ONLY AS OLD AS YOU FEEL.”

It bothers me that I even spend time thinking about this when I could be doing something constructive, like writing or reading.  It all seems so ego-driven.

Bernice. (said like Seinfield says Newman)

I’ve grown wiser with age and have learned to not strive for the perfect anything anymore.  I just want to feel good; mind, body, heart and soul.  If any of these “friends” is left out, the others suffer.  It’s a constant state of mindfulness I need to be in, always checking in with each.  Wait, I hear a small voice of reason. . .

“Just move your body, Shar.  It doesn’t matter what you do.  Move.”

Aw, somebody with sense.  Heart and Soul are speaking up for Joy, my body.

I think I’ll just go for a walk today and do a little yoga. 🙂

Who do you listen to?  Do you push through and work through the pain?  Or, do you rest – and forget what you started?

(And, this doesn’t just pertain to exercise, you know. . . )

Shari 🙂

5 Powerful Reasons You Need Morning Pages in Your Life

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I have done morning pages most of my life, way before Julie Cameron wrote about them in her book The Artist’s Way back in 1992.  When I first read The Artist’s Way for the first time in 2006, I smiled.  What I was doing now had a  name.

I have at least 50 notebooks filled with writing.  Probably more.  They are everywhere. Somedays I write 10-15 pages, others my mandatory 3.  Whatever it may be, I have to write.

I stopped doing morning pages when I started my blogs. 

Why?  How can someone who has done something for a life time stop doing something that is so engrained in their being?  What could possibly cause this?

I started using my blog AS my morning pages.  

Instead of going to the notebook and pen in the mornings, I was now going to my computer attempting to compose a writing for an audience.  I fretted over the frustration of topic choice, choosing a catchy title, crafting that first lead sentence that hooks and then always trying to keep a focus and stick to some pain points.

A  blog has a distinct structure that you try to attain.  This is not morning pages.  I was at a creative standstill.  A block.  Some days I just sat at my computer and pondered.

I didn’t write.  I wasn’t writing.

Julie Cameron’s book Walking in This World arrived on by doorstep yesterday.  As I leafed through the first pages, she reviews the “Basic Tools” for any creative soul.  Morning pages were right there, on the page, as the first, most powerful tool.

I love it when you know something so deep in your core and your veer from it for some reason or another and then, all of a sudden, the Universe sends you a little reminder that you need to remember to do what you know.  Gives me chills.

So, I’m back to my morning pages again. 🙂

Why are morning pages so powerful, you ask?

Well, I’ll give you 5 really big reasons.

1.  There is no wrong way to do morning pages.

Morning pages are at least 3 pages of long hand writing (no computer) in a notebook that is free-flowing stream of conscious writing.  They are not meant to be art or even any good.  Not that they might be.  They could.  They are only meant for your eyes.  No audience.

2.  The drama gets put on the page.

Julie Cameron says, “All that angry, whiny, petty stuff that you write down in your morning pages is the stuff that stands between you and your creativity.”

It might be worry over bills.  It might be anger at your husband.  It might be you beating yourself up because you drank too much last night.

Whatever this is, it’s drama.  If you get it on paper, it’s leaked out of you.  You did something with it.  So, you can move on.

If I can get my drama on the page, I have less drama in my life.  My head is clearer and I can focus my thinking on the things I want to focus on.

3.  Morning pages teach us to get beyond our critic in our heads.

Because there is no wrong way to do the morning pages and we can write whatever we feel and not care what it says or how it looks, we have the right to ignore the critic in our brain telling us that our writing (or anything else for that matter) is crap.

“We have a logic brain.  This is our Censor that gives us our second, third and fourth thoughts whenever faced with our own original thoughts,”  writes Julia.  Quite often, it spits at us words like, “You can’t write that!” or “Who are you kidding?”

And we have our artist brain.  This artist brain is our creative being.  It has glorious thoughts of “what-if’s” and sees a beautiful leaf and thinks, “I’m going to press leaves and string a bunch of them together to make a leaf garland and hang it above my kitchen window!”  Artist brain is random, free and idealistic.

Julie proclaims that “morning pages teach logic brain to stand aside and let artist brain play.”  Why is this important?  I don’t know about you, but my logic brain is dominant in my brain 24/7.  I know I need to train it better.

4.  Morning pages are a form of meditation.

If we write enough so that it feels like breathing, we begin to see new insights in our writing.  We see the same issues, read over the continued whining and we realize that we need to make changes.

In my own life, the answers to my questions magically appear in my writing.  Many times I have stopped in my own tracks and looked at what came out and cried.  God speaks to us through our writing.

We meditate to discover who we are.  To listen to the whispers from God.  Writing is a form of meditation and the great power in it, more so than meditating without writing, is that the writing that ends up on page helps us to map our pathways.

It is almost impossible to write your morning pages morning after morning without feeling a divine unexpected inner guidance.

I consider it a gift.

5.  Morning pages are not just for writers.

Morning pages are for everyone.  If you know how to hold a pencil and scribble some letters, you can do morning pages.  We all have inner work to do.  Every soul is searching for something.  We all are praying for answers.

Everyone can find them in our pages.

If you haven’t written for a while, go buy a cheap composition notebook and find your favorite pen.  Set your alarm for a half hour to an hour early and start your pages.

Write anything. Write about how you don’t know what to write.

Just get it on the page.

Shari 🙂