On my mind today

It’s the end of the semester. All of my course work has been turned in. I have one meeting left with a professor to go, but I’m having a hard time getting it scheduled. 

I’m incredibly restless at work because my specific job duties are very wrapped up by this time of year. To be honest, I struggle at the end of every semester because I don’t have a school schedule. I won’t be off for a month. I’ll keep showing up. I’ll keep doing things that need to be done. I’d rather be at home doing things that need to be done there, but that’snot my reality. It’s a privilege to have a job and I’m working on contentment, but this time of year it’s difficult.

This time of year, I am also tempted to return to diet world or at least food tracking world. I saw a video of myself the other day and it was hard to watch. My mental image of myself doesn’t match my physical reality and ever since then, I’ve wanted to be smaller, which means dieting. 

But dieting isn’t a magic pill and neither is being smaller. Maybe it’s just the stress talking to me. Part of me wants to go home and curl up on a couch and not be responsible for anything because on any given day, I do a lot. 

  • I’m a  yoga teacher
  • I work full time with college students
  • I’m in grad school and have homework
  • I’m a mom and even though my kids aren’t at home, I have ongoing discussions with them about life
  • I am also a yoga student
  • I am a friend
  • I am a wife
  • And occasionally, I need to just be Lisa

I’ve spent most of my life wanting to fix something — my family, my body, my house, my lack of knowledge in certain areas — it didn’t really matter what, but there’s always seemed to be something to fix. 

Now, I have a beautiful marriage and a wonderful house and home. I’m in a graduate program I enjoy and I’m doing well. I have amazing friends. My kids are kind of stumbling through young adult life, but they’re really doing ok. I set a huge goal a couple of years ago of becoming a certified yoga teacher and I finished it this past year. I teach yoga at least once a week. Me. Plus size me teaches yoga. 

And I still doubt myself. I doubt myself as a student. I doubt myself as a mom. I doubt myself as a friend (they don’t really want to be with me, do they? Aren’t I just the add-on?) and I doubt myself as a yogi. It all falls into the “good enough” thinking, not the life done in love thinking. I love my kids. I love being in school. I love yoga. I love my friends. If I could get beyond thinking I have to be good enough and simply do things because I love them, how much of a difference would it make? 

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More on self-care

Note: This is a repost from Facebook from last Friday. 

It’s been a weird week. I don’t know all the reasons, but this week has felt heavy. Yesterday I was struggling to keep my mood and attitude in a good place and had to take time to make a list of practices that keep negative thoughts at bay. In the process I also remembered this is the first Fall I’ve been without an antidepressant in five years, which may be part of the struggle.

One beautiful truth of my life is that God has given me amazing, supportive friends at every stage of life. In the middle of my week of funk, I received two gifts from friends that spoke deeply to my soul. The amazing Michelle sent me this self care challenge book that — quite honestly — is exactly what I was trying to create for myself when I made my list yesterday. I had big plans of using today to generate an accountability plan for my self care activities. When I finally had time to look through the book this morning, I realized Michelle had already provided me with one.

One item on my list was “read more fiction. Meaningful fiction.” My friend Sander saw this T-shirt somewhere, had texted me and said I had to have it. This week it showed up in the mail. If you’re not familiar with the names, they’re all female southern writers. Writers are the keeper of our stories. I’m a big believer in the power of story and the stories of the South, even though they’re hard to hear sometimes, could be what helps us learn enough about ourselves to move forward. Thank God for the people who are willing to tell our difficult stories.

If you’re struggling too, hang in there. Be honest with yourself and your friends and let them come alongside you. Take care of yourself, take antidepressants if you need them, and take good, good care of yourself during the hard weeks.

And don’t forget to read good books.

Self care survival kit

Today, I asked some friends, “What do you do when you just feel done?” There is no one specific thing that is weighing on me, but I feel restless . . . antsy . . . and also like tossing in the towel.

I recognize these feelings as anxiety or stress or whatever name works best for you and I recognize that this happens when my self care is not in place. Then I had to ask myself, “Lisa, what is self care for you? And how can you get a better grip on it in the middle of your busy life?”

By the way, being busy isn’t a sign of honor, so that isn’t me bragging. It’s a statement of fact. I have a full time job and am taking six hours of graduate work every semester. I also teach yoga once a week and help sponsor a student organization on campus. And I have a marriage relationship which I long to give time to and I try to stay connected with my kids as much as possible. Which isn’t much.

black and white photo of clocks
Photo by Andrey Grushnikov on Pexels.com

So I need a self care kit. A list of things to incorporate into routine to help prevent these days of wanting to run away to Canada. I read about a school that has comfort corners with supplies for kids when they are feeling overwhelmed. That sounds like a wonderful idea, so this weekend I am going to create a comfort corner in my house.

Lisa’s Self Care Survival Toolkit

  • Yoga — 15 minutes a day keeps the anxiety away
  • Writing — journaling to get the thoughts out and gratitude to find the happies
  • Music — it’s the language of my soul
  • Fiction — I need to read for fun
  • Movement — dance or walking or something. I just need to move more.
  • Visual beauty — I need to do something creative
  • Soft things — a super soft blanket or other warm fuzzy
  • Fuzzy socks with aloe
  • Lavender anything
  • Cooking and filling the house with the yummy smell of baking
diary girl hand journal

So tonight when I get off work, I’m going shopping for a few things to add to a self care kit. I am also going to focus on planning a morning and evening routine that will incorporate some of these things.

I’m tired. I’m tired of life and the world being hard and weighty and constantly present and never getting better. The world is too much. The longer I live, the more often I come back to these words:

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.
I want to shout AMEN! We are out of tune. . out of tune . . out of tune . . . and if what I see as Christianity in our nation is the real thing, then yes — I would rather be a pagan. 

low light photography of books
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

A Time for Everything

A time to blog, a time to refrain from blogging. . . 

Those may not be the exact words of The Teacher in Ecclesiastes, but I have a feeling he would approve. For the last little bit of life, I’ve felt it was much more important to focus on doing than on pondering or  pontificating. Blogs used to be a great way to catch people up with what was happening in life, but now we all seem to live our lives on Facebook or Instagram, so using a blog to share life events seems a little unnecessary. I’ve been managing life. Living day to day and somehow managing to (mostly) get done what needed to be done that day. I’ve felt no wisdom to espouse or truths to unpack so writing in a semi-public venue seemed unnecessary.

So the quiet began

And continued

Then sat down and decided to stay awhile.

Today I feel restless . . . I feel a need to process. Two parts of my life have collided and sorting it out is taking a lot of me. Yesterday, Bayard James Thornburley entered the world after his beautiful mama spent hours and hours in labor. We had already planned for me to come on Saturday. The plane ticket has been purchased for a long time. The days off from work have been requested. For a couple of months, I’ve been reminding myself that most first babies are born at least a week late and that he would most likely be born after I got there.

But that isn’t how it happened.

My beautiful girl had her first baby — the first in the next generation of family — and I wasn’t there. And I won’t be there until Saturday.

Responsible worker me knows this is the way it needs to be.

Mom me is silently dying and pushing tears down throughout the day.

I get it. This is their time. They need this time. I needed time without other people after my babies were born. they have people. They are being cared for beautifully, I have no doubt.

But my baby had a baby and I couldn’t be there because I was at work.

Being a working mom/professional type anything was never on my list of things to do. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking or talking about that because there’s not much point to it. I have to work. For a variety of reasons, I have to have a job and I have to have this job. There are wonderful people in my life because of this job. My children have been fed and clothed and had braces and medicine and education because of this job. I was able to help with my mom’s final months on this earth because of this job.

But today my heart is breaking because of this job.

Trying to make peace with these two different aspects of life has been hard for a long time. I thought I had found a balance, but today I feel very unbalanced about it all. I am resentful.

The resentment wanders down many roads. Roads that journey to the past and the financial insecurity that forced my decision to pursue full time, professional work. Roads that are paved with student loan bills, high priced health care, and a society’s lip-only service to family values. It’s also on the billboards that line my current travel and remind me the decreased flexibility with my work time that has happened over the last few years.

I was in a meeting yesterday and part of what we did was work through Simon Sinek’s Find Your Why process of writing a why statement. Not a mission statement or a vision board, but a why statement. Why do we do what we do? Not why do work where we work, but what are our core values that get us out of bed in the morning and give purpose to our days, whether they are with family or work or community.

Here’s mine:

My why_ To create

The American culture is neither equal nor balanced when it comes to work, especially the combination of work and family. We are a culture who throws around terms like “family values,” and “community,” but has no structure in place to support either of those ideas.

And today, much more than other days, I resent that.

In the beginning was

the Word

And the Word was with God and the Word was God

I’ve been pondering the power of words lately. For yoga teacher training this month, we are to each lead the class in a back bend or a small flow that includes a back bend.

Doesn’t this look intimidating?

It does to me. I can’t do either of those yet. So how do I lead someone else through doing a back bend when I can’t do one?

The good news is that these are also yoga back bends.

And I can do these.

And what does this have to do with words?

Go back to the second sentence under the first set of pictures. I started to write “I can’t do that,” but then I remembered the power of the little word yet. I may not be able to do those first back bends, but some day I could, and yet keeps that door open.

If you’re like me, the words “back bend” haven’t brought up happy thoughts in a long time, but what comes to mind when I say open your heart toward the sky or claim your space or open your shoulders? Those sound softer but strong. They feel doable. Positive. Your body will wind up in a very similar position, but my guess is that by opening your heart you will find more of bend from a standing posture than if you simply thought, “I have to bend my back.”

standing20half20moon20backbend-1

Words have power; immense power. Our choice of words can add light and life to the world or it can bring darkness and death of spirit.

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God and then God gave that gift of words to us. Humans. You. Me. Words.

It’s mind-boggling when you sit and ponder the power of words. How words can mean the same thing but have completely different connotation around them. Bend your back or Open your heart toward the sky. Which would you rather do?

Today, I choose to open my heart and I choose to lead others to do the same.

One more thing about bodies

For most of my life, it has unnerved me when someone asked, “have you lost weight?” In fact, in my life history of gaining and losing weight, that question has often triggered a cycle of weight gain. I know it’s meant as a compliment; that people believe they are saying something positive to me. Maybe others want to be asked this; I don’t.

I don’t mean to make anyone feel bad by challenging this idea, but challenge it I must. For the past few years, I’ve been pondering why this is true. Why has this one small question unnerved me when it’s meant to be a compliment? Here are the reasons I’ve come up with:

  1. If losing weight is a compliment, it implies that there is something inherently good about weight loss. This isn’t true. People lose weight when they are sick. People lose weight when they are emotionally stressed and cannot eat. There are a huge number of reasons that people lose weight that are not good, so the presence of a smaller body does not equal a positive accomplishment.
  2. The flip side of this is there is nothing inherently unhealthy about larger bodies. True, some larger bodies are unhealthy, but there are larger bodies that are much healthier than smaller ones. If this is hard for you to believe, then look herehere, and here. After you’ve let that soak in, check out how many organizations there are for people with eating disorders.  Here’s a list to get you started:
    1. National Eating Disorder Association
    2. Binge Eating Disorder Association
    3. National Association for Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders
    4. Academy for Eating Disorders 
  3. CLARIFICATION: I am not saying that no one with a large body has health issues as a result. Neither am I saying that everyone with a small body has an eating disorder. What I am saying is that body size is not a clear indicator of either physical or emotional health. Therefore, complimenting someone on having a small body should not even be a thing. Compliment my courage. Compliment my intelligence. Compliment my sense of style, my ability to sing, or my willingness to love people with abandon and invest in their lives. 
  4. The biggest reason body questions and their implied compliments bother me: Why are you noticing my body so much anyway? It’s mine. It’s not public property to be assessed or graded or assigned value. It’s my body. It’s strong and capable and gave birth and fed babies and I’m very proud of those things, but it does not mean that it’s any better than anyone else’s body or that it’s any better when it’s smaller than when it’s larger.

Food, movement, and body size have been the focus of much of my life. They have been present in my own thoughts, in statements made to me, and in the culture I’ve lived in. It’s remarkable that anyone comes away with any sense of normalcy these areas. I’ve spent money and time in counseling, reading, working with a life coach, and on diets and exercise plans and Bible studies, and . . and . . and . . . it just keeps going on.

I’m turning 50 this year and I’m tired.

I’m tired of thinking about food and whether or not my body should be different. I reached that point a couple of years ago. I’m just done.  It takes way too much emotional and spiritual energy.

Instead, I’m going to do what I love. I’m going to keep practicing yoga. I’m going to dance when the music is good. I’m going to walk outside when I can. I’m going to eat yummy, amazing food, and wear clothes that make me feel good about myself.

And if my body winds up changing somehow and you ask me if I’ve lost weight, I’ll tell you the truth: I have no idea.  I have no idea and I don’t really care.

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PS: if you are interested in learning more about body acceptance, please check out Amber Karnes and her Body Positive Rebellion. I’ve been following her work with body positive yoga for several years and am also participating in this online event. Having these thoughts refreshed within me is part of what inspired this post.

#Yoga365

I don’t usually set New Year’s Resolutions, but it also seems wasteful not to use such an obvious demarcation of time to do some assessment.

This year I have one:  Yoga every day.

Therefore, when I started this post on January 1, I was sitting in a parking lot, waiting for a yoga studio to open for a hot yoga class. Normally, I am not a hot yoga person, but y’all, it’s cold outside. Like I-can’t-feel-my-face-why-can’t-I-feel-my-face cold. So hot yoga it is.  Or was.  That was two days ago.

My main goal with this is to create a home practice, so this month, I am doing Yoga with Adriene’s 30 day stretch called True. Jason and I have been doing this at home in the morning. I’m so proud of him for doing this with me. Humbled and thankful too. Today is the first day we will do it in the evening instead of the morning. Work schedules have kicked back in and we decided that getting up at 5:00 AM is not our style.

I am still going to classes at Nooma, still working on my own teacher certification, and this month I am also doing an additional certification in making yoga classes accessible for people with bodily challenges. Yoga is for everyone, not only for those with the bodies Western yoga culture has put in front of us as “yoga bodies.”  Do you have a body? Then you have a yoga body.

YogaBodies_JKT_1stPrf.indd

Want to follow my #yoga365 journey? I will try to remember to post on Instagram, but it most likely will not be a daily post. Once classes start next week, it will be a challenge to keep up with posting, but I want to encourage others to set lofty goals, so I will do my best.

If you are reading this, you are a faithful (or maybe bored?) companion. My lack of writing has been very impressive in recent years, so I’m always surprised when anyone shows up here.  If you’re here, please let me know. Writing more is always on my mind, so I want to honor those who show up to read my words.

Engaging creativity

Eastlake, Charles Lock, 1793-1865; Boaz and Ruth

Boaz and Ruth . . .  Charles Lock Eastlake (1793–1865) . . . Shipley Art Gallery

There’s this great story in the Old Testament in the book of Ruth. Ruth was a young woman from the nation of Moab who married into a Hebrew family who lived in her area. All of the men in the family died; Ruth and her sister-in-law had to decide whether or not they would stay in the community they had always known or go back to Israel with their mother-in-law Naomi. Ruth chose to leave the home she had always known to stay stay with Naomi. We aren’t told why: maybe it was the only family she had left. Maybe Moab had never been kind to her. Maybe she simply didn’t want her mother-in-law to travel by herself.

Life had not been kind to the women. When they arrived in Naomi’s home community, Ruth provided food for them by gleaning the fields after the harvesters had reaped the best of the crops. Her devotion caught the eye of the property owner Boaz, and he instructed the workers to leave some extra wheat behind when they gathered the crops. He also encouraged Ruth to keep coming back to his field.

This is where the story gets interesting, especially in terms of ancient customs that make no sense to our contemporary, Western minds. When Naomi learned of his kindness, she informed Ruth that Boaz was a distant relative and that under Hebrew law, he could claim Ruth as a bride in stead of her husband who was deceased. Yes. Men had rights to women, which sounds odd, but in their culture it was primarily about protection and provision. Women didn’t have a lot of options.

How would a woman in ancient culture let a man know she was available for him? Here’s what Naomi advised:

“My daughter, I must find a home[a] for you, where you will be well provided for.  Now Boaz, with whose women you have worked, is a relative of ours. Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor.  Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don’t let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking.  When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do.”

Yep.  Dress up. Wait until he has a happy tummy and then go uncover his feet and lie down in front of him.

I don’t understand why this was necessary, but it did the trick.

What does this have to do with creativity? Well, here is this week’s journaling question: Have you been neglecting your creativity? In what ways can you seduce it to reignite the flame? Or in Liz’s words, “take the scrunchy out of your hair, take a shower, and put some lipstick on?”

I’ve been using the concept of creativity to challenge me in my home yoga practice. I am good at following directions in a yoga class, but to become a teacher, I need to be able to create my own yoga flows and come up with the words to guide other people through them. I have days that I feel beyond challenged with this and I wind up playing mind games with myself. So how can I make myself available to my creativity? Ruth is my inspiration.

  1. Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes.” I can dress for yoga. When I get home, I can put on leggings and a shirt that makes doing yoga easy and comfortable.
  2. go down to the threshing floor” I can keep my yoga mat handy and sit on it when I’m reading, meditating, or doing my yoga homework. I can keep a printed copy of my permission slip on hand to head off the mind games.
  3. “. . .lie down. He will tell you what to do.”  I can trust the process. I can trust that I know enough yoga to do this and I can trust that the words will come with the movements. 

It doesn’t have to be perfect; it simply needs to be. What about you? How can you make yourself more available to your creative self? What concrete actions can you take to engage with the processes that make your heart sing?

 

More on creativity

PrintWhat limiting beliefs are keeping me from engaging with creativity? How can I change my inner dialog and embrace my right to be creative? 

Which ones do you want? Let’s start with the obvious one and go from there.

I’m not creative. I’m not artistic. I know what I like when I see it, but I don’t have creative ideas on my own. I don’t have time. My brain doesn’t work that way.  Why do it if I’m not very good at it? ____________________________ is better at that than I am. I don’t want to make a mess.

I’m sure there are others, but that’s what comes to mind right now.

Write a permission slip.  It’s time to get myself out of the way and get on with being creative.

Dear Lisa,
It’s OK.  It’s OK if you aren’t the best writer or singer or knitter. You can still write and sing and knit. It’s OK if you don’t have intricate amazing ideas; you still have ideas. It’s OK if you aren’t creative in every possible way — painting may not be your thing.  Shoot, even coloring may not be your thing. Your creativity may come in your ability to problem solve, recommend books to other people, and show up on the mat every day. You don’t have to be the most creative to be creative. You don’t have to be the best at anything to show up and do what you can.

You have my total permission to be mediocre if you want to be. Just don’t be nothing, because you are worth much more than that. When words come to you, it’s because they have chosen you. There’s no supposed to in creativity. Your life will not end and no one will be homeless if you don’t turn out vast amounts of inspiring words or learn to knit socks. You can keep churning out scarves, blankets, and dishcloths all you want to.

It’s OK not to be the best. Just be.

let-go-of-perfectionism-and-live

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