Monday, April 30, 2012

A Room of One's Own

"Literature is strewn with the wreckage of those who have minded beyond reason the opinion of others.” --Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

I'm in the process of clearing out my husband's work room, or what it really is the place where we store our junk.  It's a small, windowless, somewhat rectangular 8x10 foot space in our basement, sandwiched between the laundry room and the half bath. For the past 8 years I've eyed it as a strange room, useful only as a large closet, but because the previous owner used it as a workroom (did he really cut wood in there...) we also have thought of it as a workroom.  Silly, really, since the husband does all his constructing out in the garage because who wants sawdust inside their house?  Not me. 

The storage room

I'm clearing it out because I've decided it is going to be a room of MY own.  Our house is small, under 1000 sq feet, and we have 3 daughters.  The youngest will be 13 in two weeks which means I will have THREE teenage girls living under one roof this summer.  I love them, but I need to get away from them.  They follow me everywhere in the house, chirping at me almost constantly, like hungry birds in a nest.

I'm in the middle of a 30 Day Yoga and Meditation Challenge and yesterday, Day 14, I attempted to meditate for 10 minutes.  However, three times in three minutes, my 15 year old came clomping up the stairs like a 5000 pound elephant.  Not sure how this is possible since the child weighs about 100 pounds...anyway, it was the last straw.  I grumbled and ranted at the husband and then I figured out what I would do.

Get my own damn room!  Er...a room of my own.

When it's done, I will have a place to paint, sew and read.  There will be space for meditation and yoga. Most importantly, it will no longer be the ugly closet full of junk that it was this morning and I will hopefully be able to run away to get refreshed. 

Just don't tell my girls where to find me.


Friday, April 27, 2012

Day 12

Today is Day 12 of my 30 days of yoga and meditation challenge that I set up for myself. 
So far, I've done 10 minutes, minimum, every day of each.  Most days, I'm practicing yoga for an hour and sitting for 10-15 minutes.  Last night I had a candlelight yin yoga class and of my weekly yoga classes, yin is often the most challenging mentally and physically. It is also a type of yoga that easily lends the practitioner to meditate while practicing. I'm a casual runner and my regular yin practice has helped prevent stiffness and soreness after long runs.

My 10-15 minutes of meditation are a combination of guided meditations and meditations that I do alone.  Usually I sit in the early morning before the rest of the house wakes and on most days I remain content and calm for the rest of the day.  On those tough emotional days, the early meditation carries through to make stress less problematic, less overwhelming, and it drifts away sooner.

The main reason I decided to set up this challenge for myself was that I felt that I had come to a point in my self-actualization where I was "stuck" and falling back into old patterns of thinking, acting and reacting. I want to be able to make decisions, big and small, not out of fear and/or pain, but with mindfulness. Below is Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs:
I am hopeful that I will continue to approach each of the remaining 30 days with the attitude that I must fulfill my requirements to myself every day, regardless of what I have going on and regardless of how easy it is to stop. It's incredibly easy to let the minutiae of daily life get in the way of important work because it is easier to focus on cleaning the toilet than it is to "clean your mind".


Monday, April 23, 2012

The Magic of Ordinary Days

I've noticed, in the past few years, that many of my friends and acquaintances are unhappy with their lives.  I'm not sure they even realize how unhappy they are.  They're all busy distracting themselves from their sadness by buying things, taking expensive trips, or drinking too much.

Why are so many of us unhappy?  Maybe the better questions are "Why does unhappiness bother us? Why is it treated as a character flaw?"  I'm  not happy all of the time.  Most days I'm content.  Nothing exciting happens.  I do regular ordinary stuff.  At the end of most days, I feel satisfaction and gratitude. Some days I wake up grumpy and stay that way all day.  I don't enjoy those days (That would be this past Saturday).  However, I've learned that if I stop fighting the grumpiness and just observe that I feel grumpy and remember that yesterday I did NOT feel grumpy and that tomorrow I probably won't feel grumpy, it usually bothers me less and I go on with my day. 
My theory is it's our very own American culture that is a cancer on our mental attitudes.  We are bombarded with messages on TV and in magazines on how if we just bought this, just lived in a bigger house, just took a vacation to Sandals, or just lost 20 pounds, we would be happy.  

I was in the grocery store check out line before my beach vacation and one of those tabloid magazines had a "Worst Swimsuit Bodies of the Stars" cover with women in bikinis and their faces blacked out (because of the shame?).  The largest photo was of a laughing woman splashing in the ocean in a red bikini with a wrinkly, loose-skinned, post-pregnancy belly and the caption was something like "Can you believe she actually goes out like this?"

Yes I CAN believe it because that woman has the very same body I have.  Slap that red bikini on me and I'd have been that blacked-out faced actress' body double.  What a load of horseshit we're being fed.  And yet WE ALL KEEP EATING IT. (I, by the way, wore a blue bikini on my vacation, and liked it).

Whether it's our body image or our net worth, media keeps telling us we aren't good enough unless we fill our lives with stuff.  It's a hard attitude to stand up to successfully.  

What has helped me immensely has been a regular practice of meditation and yoga. Meditation quiets the mind and lets you recognize yourself.  Sounds new agey and "out there" but until you know who you are, you won't ever be satisfied.  Yoga has helped me fight against our society's obsession with body image.  For years I felt less than I should because of the ravages of 4 pregnancies on my body.  I do NOT have elastic skin and IT SHOWS.  However, through a regular yoga practice, I began to appreciate and love my body for being able to do things I never thought I could.  We all have different genetics and life experiences that have given us the bodies that we have.  How dare some faceless advertisement make anyone feel like less because we don't have an 18 year old body.  

It's time we all appreciate what we have and recognize that if we don't like something, it is completely within our power to change it or change our attitude toward it.