Lenten writing, day 5

What are some things you need more of in your life?
In my yoga group, I added this to the prompt: Let’s tweak this a bit: What are some realistic self-care things you need to do more of? No guilting ourselves about not “doing good” enough. We are made in God’s image and it doesn’t get any better than that.

This was my answer:
1. Writing in a journal. A lot of my writing happens on a keyboard, which is good but not the same.
2. Time with friends.
3. Walking and being outside. Now that we’re approaching Spring, this will be more likely.
4. Phone calls instead of messaging so I can have real conversations with people.
All of these are realistic and would add joy to my days.

That was a few days ago.

  • I am still struggling with writing, whether here or in a journal. Is it time management? Maybe. It’s more likely, though, that I’m avoiding some of the difficult things that I would write about. I would 100% rather focus on easy and light things. Unfortunately, I also have a lot of difficult and dark things too. Sometimes, life is just hard, and it adds up over time.
  • Compared to what I hear others talk about, I think I do a pretty good job with spending time with friends. In fact, when I wrote that, I was reflecting on a wonderful Saturday evening around a fire pit that we had just had and I knew that having even more would be good for my soul.
  • This is very weather-dependent but lately our weather has been cooperative. Thankfully, on Friday we are going to Chicago for a few days and will be doing lots of walking there. I’m looking forward to it so very much.
  • This is hard for me because I feel like I am bothering people.

But here’s to baby steps that could add more of these good things into my life.


Lenten writing, day 4

Today’s prompt: Pray for peace in the world, for our government and for elected officials.

This is my prayer for our nation, our members of government, for all people, and for me.

Happy. Free. All beings.

And may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute some way to happiness and freedom for all. I have a ring that I wear almost every day that has the Sanskrit characters inscribed. Perhaps it feels too generic; perhaps I should mention specific people . . . specific leaders. . . specific meanings of “happy and free,” but I’ve done the specific prayer model for years and have found that longing for specifics tends to lead to disappointment and hurt. Perhaps the purpose of prayer is rewiring my own thoughts, words, and actions and not willing specific things (even what seems to be a good thing for someone) into being.

Lenten writing, day 3

Today’s prompt: Prayers for your family.

Oh, this is a tricky one. It sounds easy, doesn’t it?

Pray for your family. Family, however, is where we find our greatest joys and our biggest heartbreak. It’s where hope springs eternal with the birth of each baby and where dreams are dashed when relationships are difficult and life paths diverge.

Pray for your family. Pray what? For health? Then why chronic illness? Why autoimmune diseases? Pray for a continued lineage of faith? But people grow and find new ideas, new beliefs. . . or maybe no beliefs. Pray for them to have their own families? Then the cycle starts all over of relationship and hurt and divergence.

Pray for your family. Pray for protection from this world? From evil? From themselves?

I don’t know if I know how to pray. I know how to question. I know how to ponder and wonder and I know how to say, “I am bringing this to You. I do not know what to say or what to pray, but I am bringing this to You.”

And so today, I am bringing my family to You. I do not know what to say or what to pray, but I am bringing my family to You. Many days, I do not even know who You are, but I know that You are and I know that I am and we are and we are made for relationship, so I am bringing my family to You.

Lenten writing, day 2

What are your goals for this Lenten season?

I’ve written a lot here about feeling unfocused with reading and writing. A few years ago I experienced a major trust violation with a writing project, which is part of why it’s been hard for me to write. I used to have goals (or maybe just dreams) of writing a book someday. I don’t have that dream anymore. I’ve encountered my humanity in big ways over the last few years and honestly don’t feel like I have much to say that could be helpful to others. I have no answers. I have tons of questions. I have lots of thoughts, but can really only speak to my own experience. I do not claim to be exceptionally knowledgeable about anything, even though I am a decently intelligent person.

I’m good at learning. I’m not so good at knowing.

That said, my goal for this Lenten season is set aside my pattern of having evenings in front of the tv and do more reading and writing. I have a lot of processing from past and current things that I need to do. Writing keeps them from bouncing around in my head all the time. I will continue to work through these writing prompts, but I have some personal pen-to-paper writing to do too.

So that is my goal for this Lenten season.

Picture of a young woman writing in a journal.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Still going

I am still doing daily yoga and will absolutely testify to it being a game changer. In case you’re wondering how anyone manages to do yoga every day, I fill you in on how it’s happened for me.

First, what daily yoga doesn’t look like:

  • An hour long practice every day.
  • The same routine every day.
  • A practice that is springing from within with no external guidance.
  • A practice that perfectly suits my own preferences.

Now, what a daily practice does look like:

  • 15-30 minutes most days. Occasionally longer
  • A variety. Some days are more high energy flows; some days are seated, grounding practices
  • Using Yoga with Adriene’s monthly calendars and YouTube channel
  • Modifying and doing what I can when her thinner body cannot create the same shape and/or movement.

And so, along with a Facebook group for accountability, I have done daily yoga for over two months. I am intentionally keeping the group limited to people who actually know at least one other person in the group. Some people have shown up daily. Others stay for opportunity and encouragement but don’t always make it to the mat. I aim for a no-guilt approach in life and also in my Yoga group.

I have also begun leading classes again. I’m in the rotation for a community class at a local mental health facility and teach about every 3 weeks. I am also part of a group of teachers that will be leading in a new studio that’s opening, Mindful State Yoga. We should be opening in April so follow us on Insta and help us bring an abundance of mindful, restorative yoga to Searcy.

Today is Ash Wednesday. I am not part of a faith tradition that practices Lent or follows the liturgical calendar in any way. However, I love the idea of taking a season to be intentional. Not perfect; intentional. What do I need to release? Where can I focus my attention? How does any or all of this honor God rather than indulging myself. If we are (if I am) created in the image of God, is there a difference in those two things?

If anyone still reads here, you are more aware than others how often I say, “I want to start writing again,” and for Lent, that is my goal. I found a set of prompts that I will follow because — like my yoga practice — I do best when I do not expect things to spontaneously flow from within.

Today’s prompt: Make a list of 5 things you are grateful for today. Contentment is inevitable when counting your blessings.

  • I am grateful for the friendship I had with Lis Jones. She is no longer with us on this earth, but today was her birthday so she is on my mind. She was a faithful, faithful friend. I miss her. I am better because I knew her.
  • I am thankful for the daily opportunity I have to do life one more day. Oh, how much I mess up every day! With people, with kindness to myself, to fulfilling responsibilities, to appreciating the world around me. Every day, though, I have the opportunity to try again to live in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Hopefully, some days I do an OK job with that, but if not, I still have time and opportunity to make amends and try again.
  • I am thankful for financial stability. I have had big eras of my life where I did not know what that felt like. I am thankful, thankful, thankful that I do not have to worry about having money for groceries, utilities, or clothes. I hope, however, that I never forget how very real those fears can be and that many people live with them every day.
  • I am thankful for a mind that works and allows me to read, write, and learn. Where would I be without that? Who would I be without that?
  • I am thankful — so thankful — for my sweet husband Jason and that I know what it means to have a partner who listens and supports and encourages. We talk for hours every day and truly do life together. Not on parallel tracks. TOGETHER. And I am so very thankful for that.

PS

When I was young, I wrote a lot of letters. Many of them ended with a PS, and most of them also had a PSS with an occasional PPSS. Although I have always had a lot of words, I have a lifelong struggle with organizing them.

This post serves as a PS the last one. It is now January 7, so it’s been a few weeks. As an almost 52-year-old, I’m hesitant to say, “I’ve learned,” but it’s possible that last semester’s losses taught me something. I am still wary of adding busyness to my schedule. When I’m asked to do something, I consider the following questions:

1. Do I actually want to do this?
2. Am I fooling myself into thinking I want to do this when what I really want is to not upset someone by saying, “no”?
3. Will this feed my soul?
4. What will I *not* get to do if I do this?

If I cannot answer these in the moment, I’m OK with saying, “let me get back to you.” How has this played out? Well, last semester was the first semester in almost 3 years that I haven’t gotten sick. I have learned to value rest. I have read more and spent more time with friends.
PS: Where the Crawdads Sing is a really good read! Bring tissues!

I cannot say that it has removed all of my stress or that I now live in a happily ever after state of perma-joy. There are still hard days, and although I may not have gotten sick, but at the end of last semester, I had neck and shoulder tension at a higher level than I remember ever having. I worked through it, though, which is a gift.
PS: It took 3 massages in 3 weeks and a two-week break from work to dial it down.

By the end of our Christmas break, the physical manifestation of stress was at a manageable level. Yesterday was my first day back at work and I can tell that it’s trying to return, but I’ve had a more consistent yoga practice lately and that helps a lot.
PS: I’m considering teaching again, but am only going to do it if it’s a structure that serves me instead of me serving it.

One thing I definitely learned: Yoga is a game changer. Even a small amount each day makes a big difference. The last few days of last year, I restarted doing an Adriene video each day in order to set the stage for participating in her 30 Days of Yoga in January. I started a Facebook group for accountability and so far, each day has been a challenge and a joy.
PS: Slow and steady really does win the race. Small, incremental changes are the only ones that last.

So if you want to join me in a yoga goal, let me know. I’ll cheer you on from the side. I still don’t know what I want to do with this blog in the long run, but I may hop on here through this challenge to process some of the thoughts that come up. I may also write about my go-to thoughts that keep me off the mat.
PS: It’s true what they say: the hardest part is showing up to the mat.



Six months (almost)

When I saw that I was a few days away from a six month hiatus on ye olde blog, I considered waiting a few more days to make it an even amount of time. I know myself, though, and I would most likely set the idea aside for another six months.
Moi? Would I do such a thing?

Well, yes. Yes, I would. I know myself well enough to have no doubt that would happen.

To be honest, I’m not sure why I decided to come here today. I have big ideas about writing. I could write about what I’m learning in grad school. I could write about developing a home yoga practice and working with some friends to plan yoga and self care retreats. I could write about family stuff. I could write about work, or I could resume writing about my journey into body acceptance.

News break: it’s been over a month since I started this post.

In that month, I attended the funerals of two dear, long time friends who passed away unexpectedly. I took a hard look at how I spend my time and decided to let some (more) things go. I set screen time limits on my phone and started picking up books again, and since then I have finished two books while staying on top of school work. (Thank you, lists and planners and proactive behaviors.) Letting go of almost every good but optional activity has allowed me to focus on life and the things that need to be done.

Reading books that feed my mind and soul
Cooking and having family over for meals
Going for walks with Jason
Being on time and a little ahead with classes

Grappling with the death of friends my own age has been a different type of processing than other grieving I have done. Yes, this is about missing my friends and their presence in my life, but it is also about my own journey and knowing that I am beyond the halfway point of my time here.

Wise Words (again)

Dear God, 
Please reveal to us 
Your sublime beauty 
That is everywhere, everywhere, everywhere 
So that we will never again
feel frightened
~ St. Francis of Assisi

Because some things are worth repeating.

Best so far

This week has been our Spring Break, which for me meant that I had two days off at the beginning of the week. Two days to read, to journal, to do some tasks around the house, and spend time on myself.

A few of the good things that came from those two days:

  • I finished reading Michelle Obama’s Becoming. Oh my word, I loved this book. It’s the best book that I’ve read this year. It reminded me beautifully of the positive atmosphere that the Obama presidency carried with it. There were heartbreaking, difficult things that happened in the world during those years, but it was a time when I felt good about our country and its relationship with the global community. I felt good about the move toward granting dignity to every living person. It also reminded me of the heartbreak of our current presidency. I didn’t realize that an African-American woman from the South Side of Chicago could share so much of the heart of a very white woman from the rural south, but we do. I’m incredibly thankful that as a nation, we were able to know who Barack and Michelle Obama are. I’m thankful for their leadership and hope life holds many wonderful things for them in the future.
  • I had a self-celebration for my 51st birthday. I took time and acknowledged the five decades of my life and thought about what I want in the upcoming year. I lit candles, meditated, did some yoga, prayed and spent some time in my journal.
  • I decided to step away from teaching yoga for a while. I will teach my Monday night class for two more weeks and then take a break from teaching regularly. I need more time for me and for school and for family. And I need to focus on my personal yoga practice.
  • I started reading Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover. I can’t put it down. I keep alternating between thinking it’s a ride on a crazy train and feeling that it’s a very familiar story. We are different. We are right. They are wrong. We must be different. We must separate. We must remain pure. Men know best and women don’t get a say. Granted, this family took things to an extreme that most don’t, but the underlying philosophy is very familiar.

I’ve felt a big relief in stepping away from an ongoing commitment and I want to use my time wisely, in ways that feed my soul and will allow me to be more fully engaged in others’ lives. One of the lessons I’ve learned this year is that even when the clock says things are possible, they may not be possible. Time can be there even when energy isn’t. Guarding and growing your personal energy is vital. Doing the things that feed your soul — for me that is writing, reading, music, spending time with friends, and having a personal yoga practice — is vital. Some activities give energy while others demand it of you. You cannot constantly participate in activities that take energy (work, teaching, and being a host) without also participating in activities that create energy in your soul.

So I’m stepping back into student mode. Student of yoga. Student of life. Student of Lisa. It’s a place I need to be.

Wise Words

Dear God, 
Please reveal to us 
Your sublime beauty 
That is everywhere, everywhere, everywhere 
So that we will never again
feel frightened
~ St. Francis of Assisi

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑