Friday, December 31, 2010

JIGGETY JIG

I made it back to Brooklyn.
I was sick yesterday and spent most of it sleeping.
Lots of small mishaps, but it all worked out, even if I did lose the new hat Karen gave me for Christmas.

I'm not even going through the mail, but going straight back to bed. And I still have two more posts to catch up on.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

AHHH ... HOME


Ahhhh … home.
A little KALX radio.
A little rain.
A little digestif avec mes amis.
Tout va bien.

Yes, I am still tired, but only two nights away from home… the other home, Brooklyn.

I visited home today on the yogic level as I went to a class of my mentor/teacher Susannah Bruder. I haven’t practiced with her in about a decade. I nearly cried my way through class. So deep a connection as soon as I walked through the door. As soon as I put my arms around her, the tears rose. It was almost a challenge to do the practice, but, with Susannah’s warm words and guidance, I was able to concentrate on a rewarding practice. Really a homecoming for me.

Yoga opened me a bit to the overwhelming panoply of emotions that I feel when I am here in the Bay Area, all the memories of so many years. So many lives not lived. So much has happened while I have been elsewhere. But part of me is always here. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

AND THE BAND PLAYED ON

Yeah, yeah, yeah, so I'm tired. Tonight's soundtracks vary between the theme song for Flipper and an old Martin Mull song, Thousands of Girls. Hill-air-reous. I'll spare you the Flipper link.

So, this trip is almost at an end. It will be the last night at Alicia and Michael's, followed by two nights chez Cullinane and one night chez USA via Jet Blue. I always have to go straight to bed when I get home because it is the only way the kittehs can get enough of me after some time away. Everything else must wait.

I do look forward to resuming contemplation time and musing and reading. But my year of living languorously (and that is hard word to spell) should come to an end. I already have a gig with Robert that is underway. And being away is often good for getting a good start. I just might have enough gumption and perspective to get some new work done.

And when I do get home, I can spend a bit of time musing over mortality, the lives we didn't or don't live, the light of friendship and connection, forgiveness, the risks of joy, and all kinds of good stuff. Tomorrow, I am going to try to make it over to San Francisco to take a yoga class with my old teacher, Susannah Bruder. That would be getting a head start on a New Years' practice.

And time to re-focus or revisit some of the time I spent with Carol and Jim and see if I can put some of that energy and those insights to work.

And the band played on ...

Monday, December 27, 2010

WOULDN'T IT BE NICE?

Still tired. This might persist for awhile so maybe I should stop reporting on it. I am not really meaning to report here, at any rate.

In "practice" terms, I am not doing as well as I might like, nor as badly as I could. Drinking remains moderate to light. While I am not following my good diet, I am not acting out all over the place and stuffing immoderate amounts of sweets in my mouth. Not exercising enough, but then again, I was on my feet for a good deal of yesterday while I cooked. Spending more than I would at home, but not justifying every whim as a holiday gift for myself.

What really appeals to me is a day in bed with some reading. I didn't get a nap in today nor have I read more than a word or two. I did get a nice drive around the Presidio and a tour of the Japanesque show, which was pretty darn nice.

The Bay was stupendously beautiful today. There was a back up on the Golden Gate Bridge of tourists trying to jam into a small vista parking lot.

Kit, Matt, and I did a little thrift shopping in San Rafael.

Always memories and sensations flooding back, often making it difficult for me to speak. (Some won't think that's a bad thing.)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

SAY WHA?

I have no idea given my tequila and white wine induced state of mind why it was important for me to find this link. You'll have to trust me and my innate taste that it had some relevant reason to post here.

Okay then. The Syberg-Goldstein-Silipans in Oakland had a pretty good time. The turkey was excellent, being a pretty concentrated collaboration between all of us once it was out of the brine. There is a hierarchy of authority here, ending in my brother David, who is the most trained chef among us.

The brothers had a nice time talking music without me. Stella and I jumped in from time to time. Now, the mom and the brother and the sister-in-law and I are ready to watch The Kids are All Alright.  Which might be alright with me.

Too much alcohol? Too much food?  No? too weird all of this with this movie. More anon. And maybe entirely sober.

All in all, a helluva better day than I might have expected!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

YOU FINALLY LAY YOUR BURDEN DOWN

Right. Tired again. Syberg Christmas Eve pizza, this year with special guest stars, Carol and Jim. I have been wanting Carol and Jim to meet me mam since they share many philosophical points of reference.

I was at the top of my pizza game, at least in terms of getting them in and out of the oven. The rolling out went well tonight, too.

But, I am tired. I already said that.

I could really use some down time, some reading time, some philosophical musing time.

Tomorrow, it is up in the morning and off to school ... no, up in the morning and more cooking, although I am not responsible for much more than the turkey. And that is brining right along.

Maybe I will have time to sit down and watch a movie or two tomorrow.

For now, I feel like bed is the place for me.

Friday, December 24, 2010

LIGHTENING UP, REALLY

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Sleepy sleepy. Always lots of stimulation when one is travelling. And tomorrow starts the craziness countdown!

I don't really expect it to be too bad, really. There is some shopping to do, but the turkey is a-brining and there really aren't that many more decisions for me to make. What kind of pizza to make tomorrow? Do I need to go to Bed, Bath, and Beyond All Reason for a pizza pan? Really.

As some of you might have observed, families can be tiresome. There is a particular ability to have buttons pushed in familiar ways, and reacting afresh or ignoring them can be a challenge. I think I will do okay.

After all, I walked into a branch of one of my favorite East Bay bakeries, La Farine, and playing loudly was "I Say A Little Prayer" — Aretha. I took that as a sign to lighten up, relax, and try to enjoy.

And there is much to enjoy. What is this dark cloud? This concentration? This stress. It was a beautiful day.

That's what we are all supposed to be doing at the solstice. Lightening up. Lightnin' up.

No, not light one up.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

LET IT LOOSE

Wow! An early post from my own machine!! Mom's plane is an hour late.

I'm sitting at the home of my brother and sister-in-law, Michael and Alicia, boiling the brine for the Saturday turkey. I'm trying a 72-hour brine this time ... well, will it be a whole 72 hours from now? (Answer: no.)

All kinds of minor tragedies going on ... and we all cope. Our first no-shows from our guest list had to cancel because a young woman, just here from New Zealand and staying with our family friends Debee and Fico and Stewart, was hit by a car as she was in a crosswalk crossing the street. She seems to be stabilized after a collapsed lung, a broken leg, and internal bleeding. Her mother, an American, had sent her to her best friend, Debee, so that Jasmine, the young woman, could have an experience of an American high school and see California.

Alicia's old friend, Mary Lou, just called her from a hospital gurney as she was being wheeled into surgery for an emergency gall stone/gall bladder procedure. Her husband, Arnie, just left a message that she is doing fine and recovering nicely in her room.

I have been running around so much, it is hard to think about anything larger than my next reunion (dinner with Charlie H and BK M at the Bay Wolf, in an hour and 45) ... and planning the rest of the Christmas meal.

I hope I find the time to read and take a bath at some point in the near future.

While I was involved with the letting go ritual last night, and even though there was the appropriate Andean music playing, I was hearing the Rolling Stones, Let It Loose.

 "let it loose, let it all come down..."


Listen to music, make some good food, eat some good food, and let it loose ...

PLAY IT COOL

Well, this challenge is on. Raining, tipsy, tired. I am not personally raining that I can tell, but I am tipsy and tired and having a somewhat difficult time typing.

How I Got Over by Aretha is muchly in my ears right now. Thinking about the last two years that have been particularly difficult.

Went over to Jim's and Carol's house to do some Shaman-style solstice cleansing and intentional "rituals' for the New Year. Rather nice and very fun. Very communal. It is pretty great to spend a little time sharing with friends and "fellow travelers" some past difficulties, some hopes, some fears, and even some prayers for another sun cycle.

And that's enough to say about that for the moment. My practice at the moment is to allay being overwhelmed by everything. Play it cool.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

IT NEVER RAINS IN

Still staying without WiFi, but I can at least write and post, even if I can't send it around as per usual.

It's such an over-stimulated world for me out here. Memories, dreams, failures, youth, age, loss, improvement ... changes in the landscape and the lifestyle... it didn't seem so ... maybe foreign to me the last time I was here (two years ago). Have I changed so that I am finally seeing this part of the world, or my life with clearer eyes?

I know this is not very articulate, but I am still processing (and recovering from a bit 'o jetlag). Not entirely sure what my thoughts or feelings are. Maybe it is the economy, but Berkeley looks shabbier than I remember. The University of California is taking over the town and the once-beautiful campus is getting crowded with large anonymous buildings (can buildings be anonymous or are they merely indistinguishable and non-descript?), just like NYU!

Maybe I am not even a Californian anymore?

Maybe it's the weather (grey and rainy).

Maybe it's the full moon/solstice/eclipse?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

CATCH AS CATCH CAN

Coming to you from the Citibank Parking Lot on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland, sitting right next to the Oakland Public Library Piedmont Branch. Yes, in the car. Couldn't find a place to park to get into an internet cafe.

Listening to Aretha, bien sur, rocking out to Rock, Steady.

Thoughts thoughts thoughts. So intense, as always to be here in Oakland and Berkeley and to see the life I didn't live. I feel so much more at home here than just about anywhere else, although I have no home here. When I happened to glance at the window as we were about to land, the thought, "I'm home!" popped into my head. That doesn't happen when Iand in LA or JFK.

Lots of emotion. Lots of good friends. Lots of catching up. I am trying to really take it all in, absorb, and reflect.

These friends go back decades. It will be interesting, after all that has happened to me in the last two years, to see what walk I walk and what talk I talk. How will I tell my stories? Who will I be? Who am I now?

J'IRAIS AU CALIFORNIE


It's going to be a bit challenging to post every day on this trip. I didn't bring all the possible internet plug-in options for all the places I am going to be staying, thinking that all my pals would have wi-fi. Not so. But, I am writing every day, so just check back. Also, this might be more travelogue and confessional than spiritual and practice musings.

Leaving Town

Once I was in the car service on the way to the airport, I started to get kinda happy. The groove was beginning, the journey was really begun. (Looks like I am over Windsor, Wisconsin as I write.)

I always think I am going to get lots done on cross-country flights but I rarely do. Not even in the mood to watch endless improvement shows on Bravo or anything. Can’t sleep. Can’t read, really. So… Aretha and writing. Does help.

Until I started coming down with my traditional holiday cold, I was doing pretty well. I left the house with a clean bathroom, clean kitchen, and clean sheets on the bed. Lots of things were not accomplished, but that much was. I can’t think of anything major not completed, nor anything left behind. And I made my flight with plenty of time.

Flying is stressful, even more so when all your fellow passengers are likely to be in similar or more advanced stages of emotional, psychic, and spiritual trauma. And there are many many more flying children during the holidays … airborn Petri dishes abounding. (We are fortunate to have a great crop of well-behaved and mellow ones on this flight.)

I have my usual favorite seat on the window in the back. You get on first so you find the overhead space you want. On the arrival end, you have to wait for your luggage anyway, so you can just chill while others are frothing to get off the plane and stand by the baggage arrival. It is a pain to climb over folks when you do need to get up, but it’s easier to have a surface to lean into for sleeping.

So, the Aretha and writing are working their soothing charms … my very nice seatmate might not like me gently rocking out but it’s better than being being kicked by a child, which is what is happening to me.

I count myself blessed because I did not share any of the fate of one of my fellow passengers (not to say travelers). I was standing near to a man traveling with a baby in a snuggli. Just as pre-boarding began, the baby upchucked all over the man and him/herself. A spewing fountain.

Happy holidays.

Postscript: Had to stop over in Las Vegas for gas. Lots of head winds. Getting gas on a plane follows the same rules as getting on the subway. You need to pee because you need to be sure all will be well.

Friday, December 17, 2010

FALLETTINME BE MICE ELF

I can't figure out why I have had the refrain, "Why does the doctor have no face...........?" from Sister Morphine for the last four hours.

Are things getting better when I leave enough time to pack that I actually try to clean the house before I leave? I still have 16 hours before the 'plane.

"Well, it just goes to show, things are not what they seem ..."

I am devolving, aren't it? No more high-fallutin' (thank you falettinme be mice elf again) spiritual stuff. I am free-falling into free-association.

I have been on the go since about 8:15 and I know some of you are Wheaties-achievers, but I am beat as well as being dehydrated due to heat in the apartment and cleaning supplies, so I am going to take a well-deserved bath and see how I might make tomorrow a pleasant travel day.

I SCARE MYSELF

Do you remember the Dan Hicks song, I Scare Myself?

Doesn't really obtain, except that I scare myself. I remember a beau once frustratedly snarking at me that I was impossible to control. I replied that it was a tough job, not recommended for amateurs. And I'm pushing six decades of trying to get this machine to run more or less straight without the engine misfiring too much.

Didn't sleep last night, to speak of, although I did take a Kneipps' Hops Bath and read. I was likely calmer today, but not so very present.

I am a complete wreck/baby/idiot/whatever when I don't get enough sleep. I am nearly dangerous to myself and others. I find it difficult to make simple decisions like "Should I take this parking place or keep driving around?" "Does green mean go? Go where now?"  I get so tired that I won't do anything but play solitaire and listen to podcasts or Aretha Franklin. Too tired to sleep.

Now, the one thing this daily writing has done is caused thinking about writing, and not just here, to become a darn near obsession. I am in that zone much more of the time. And working on these writing projects continues to rise on the priority list. A good thing.

But I have so much stuff, so many ideas for non-writing projects, and tidbits, doodads, odds and ends, detritus, books, yarn, fabric, blah blah blah, that the management of all this takes up a lot of mental and psychic bandwidth. I have to find the courage to change that habit, that collecting habit.

I need to figure out how to make THAT a practice in the next year, so that I spend more time actually being creative than managing the possibilities of being creative.

Meanwhile, there is a base-level of ache in my heart all the time, missing my brother Carl. Like a toothache or some lizard-brain pain. I don't imagine the next couple of weeks are going to make me miss him less.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Rx: ONE DOSE OF OWN MEDICINE. TAKE AS NEEDED

Why yes, I am stressed. Thank you for asking.

Okay. I took my own medicine for a moment, and sat quietly in my chair, taking deep breaths. The fan overhead (on because it is overheated here ... and I tried to burn up the kitchen A-Gain) and the gentle rustle of wrapping paper strewn about the only sounds. And just the breath.

This multi-tasking is getting to be too much (note to self ... stop trying to cook in one end of the house and work in the other at the same time ... bad results).

I can see if I don't slow down right now, it will be a rough few days until I get on that 'plane. I might as well start thinking triage now and try to save my sanity. I should focus on not getting sick, which often happens to me right about now.

Maybe it's time to shut off the computer, finish cleaning the kitchen, and take a bath and read.

Tomorrow is another day, even if I won't be at Tara.

GOT OUR MOJO WORKING?

Not to quote the Eagles, but this is "one of these nights..."
Or was it was "one of those nights?"
"These nights"
but for me, one of those night, really ...

Just absorbing the events, and my reactions of the day.
The good, the bad, the ugly ... and the kind of sublime.

The bad and the ugly are so trivial that in geologic time, they didn't even happen.

The good are so sweet, that I am abashed and at a loss for words.
Or too embarrassed to express?

Not sure at this juncture what these have to do with yoga or writing, but such a graceful, merciful sweetness.

1) My childhood friend, Theresa F-G, sent me a book that enthralled us in our childhoods. I am not sure why, but for several months Boy of the Pyramids had us completely entranced. After finding me on FB and some lengthy correspondences on our reading material, she found it and sent it to me for Christmas. I don't believe I have seen her since the fall of 1972. I am so touched by her kindness and the deftness of her connection, I am kind of at a loss for words. But working on it.

How does one "categorize" such a thoughtful gift, kind of out out nowhere.

2) A significant male partner from my early emotional/sexual past, whom I thought disdained me, wrote me a very short and sweet note. I haven't seen or spoken to him, save for a few emails this year, since 1978. Turns out he values me. Who knew?

I suppose I am humbled by the possibilities of the universe, now that is a bit easier to find those lost to us. The warm reception I have found from so many folks that have stumbled upon me or vice versa is, in the real sense of the word, awesome. I am in awe of the respect and ... um ... mojo ... that past relationships still have.

Grateful and awestruck might be the descriptors for tonight.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

PIANO PIANO

Snow flurries this evening. And a bit of powder on the ground. Not enough to get street cleaning cancelled though. And that's what we urban car owners long for, the cancellation of alternate side parking.

Love this from Buddha's Brain

The Challenges of Maintaining an Equilibrium

(How often is our less staid days were we admonished by our similarly addled friends, "Maintain, man! Just maintain!")

   For you to stay healthy, each system in your body and mind must balance two conflicting needs. On the one hand, it must remain open to inputs during ongoing transactions with its local environment; closed systems are dead systems.  On the other hand, each system must also preserve a fundamental stability centered around a good set-point and within certain ranges—not too hot, nor too cold. ...

Damn straight. This is the challenge of we adhd-ers. And maybe lots of humans who aren't so afflicted. The balance between focus and indirection. Pretty much what Jane Hirschfield said early on in this blog about balancing those two. You need to keep open for inspiration and closed for distractions from the path/task.

Of course, this isn't easy.

I will say that I am gaining confidence in my ability to accomplish things. I was watching an interview with the director of I Am LoveLuca Guadagnino, where he talks about getting his film made, piano piano, slowly, slowly. I like that. Piano piano. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

RAINY SUNDAY IN BROOKLYN

In the immortal words of Felix the Cat, "Righty-o!" 'Twas a good rainy Sunday here in Brooklyn. Several things accomplished (cleaning humidifier, pizzas made, kitchen floor alllllllllmost clean ...), more kitchen re-org progress, roasted squash soup ready to finish ... and I even took a good walk. Even though I am probably too wired to sleep, I am in a good mood and feel accomplished.

Patanjali's Sutra: 1.2 translates several ways:

Yoga is establishing the mind in stillness;
or
Yoga is the stopping of fluctuations of consciousness;
or
Yoga is the quietings of the turnings or projections of the mind;
or
Yoga is for the stillness of the mind;
or
Yoga is the settling of the mind into stillness;
or
Yoga is for steadiness of attention.

Somehow, I managed to accomplish the steadiness, the stillness of mind today. And I got a lot done. I was not really running hither and yon. I rather knew what I planned to get done and how, and that's what happened.

I am not sure how this was accomplished save for not really having any expectations or "emotional investment" in what went down today. I just moved through the day, in my body, with a quiet mind. I wasn't anywhere else. And it was a fine place to be.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

SMALL STEPS AND INCREMENTAL PROGRESS

Today was a day of small steps and incremental progress. I am not sure if my "unsettled" state of practice is due to my concern over my sister's health and general situation, or my near miss of a hangover from a dance with my beloved Laphroig. Or maybe I am going into holiday denial that I am going to be out of my little cocoon and routine, and that I have to pack and fly and blah blah blah.

Whatever the cause, staying conscious and trying to make progress were difficult today. That said, steps were stepped and progress was made.

I am addicted, really, to stimulation. I don't like to do any housework in the kitchen, dining room, or the closet room because there is no music or tv or computer in that part of the house. I find myself drifting back to the old familiar keyboard to zone out.

But I managed today to compromise. I knew I wasn't going to just (finally) re-arrange my kitchen cupboards and really clean the kitchen and be a happy worker bee, contentedly tidying up my house. So, I watched some episodes of The Pillars of the Earth (historical, bodice-ripping stuff) and made myself taking cleaning breaks instead of the other way around. And the cupboards are almost all done. And the counter space is almost re-organized and clean. And the floor is half-mopped.

And now I need to sleep feeling good about the day, that the kitchen is neater and cleaner and that the rest of the job won't be as daunting. And that I found a way to motivate myself without doing psychic damage really. I am seducing myself into giving myself what I really want (more order.)

Small steps and incremental progress. Now, for some deep breathing.

Friday, December 10, 2010

GETTING INTO SHAPE?

I mentioned awhile back that besides Buddha's Brain, I am reading (albeit quite slowly—I think I have had this book out of the Brooklyn Public Library since June), 101 Theory Drive: A Neuroscientist's Quest for Memory.

"...If memories are automatically sculpted, interwoven, and made to fit into prior categories even as they are being encoded, they are likely to be intermingled—sometimes wrongly—when being recalled It would seem to be a de facto molecular explanation for human stereotyping and an insight into the power of narrative on the human imagination. Narrative is a form of categorization, taking a nearly random set of experiences and shaping them into coherence. Such coherence may be true or false; it may also be inevitable. This notion is more postmodern than postmodernism. We automatically try to fit our experiences into the shape of the world we've already built inside our heads."

Gosh, you mean we might automatically make assumptions and not pay attention because we are hard-wired for processing information the same way?

But, because the brain is plastic, and we can learn new things, we don't HAVE to do this. If we try, or THINK about stuff, we can ... gulp ...  re-program.

I extrapolate that out to: we can change.

Maybe we will find the biochemical basis for transcendence and redemption?

TORTILLA CHIP TIME

Did you ever think you were having kind of a normal-to-good day and then find yourself at midnight shoving as many tortilla chip-shards in your mouth as would fit? And then wonder, "How did it come to this?"

What spirits of craziness arise around this time of year? Is it the ghosts of disappointments? Unrealized expectations? And we just carry them around and act them out? Force them on others?

Earlier today, I was all fired up and "in the zone," spittin' ready to take on some new philosophical topics. Six hours later, tortilla chip time.

I was in a good enough mood to be thinking about the moments of grace and fortune that might happen every day. Today, I was fortunate to get a seat on the subway moments before an announcement that the train was being held indefinitely due to some fracas under investigation further down the line. Ah ... a seat on a crowded train at rush hour. That's some kind of blessing, especially in the winter when everyone is padded with wool and whatnot. And I didn't have to pee. And I had books to read. And a MASHdrink and a fully-powered iPod. Kind of a mental bombshelter.

When I got home, ready to contemplate the difference between being lucky and being blessed, I saw on Facebook that my older sister was in the ER with heart problems. And then, all the emotion of losing my younger brother hit me like the Earth rises up when you fall. All of it. Full body. Splat. And then a round of anguished telephone calls to get the information to all the right people and figure out what's up.

She's out. She could be okay if she chooses. But like our father and our younger brother, and others in our family, she probably won't.

And, for tonight, I am sore from the emotional impact, the resonances, and rueing those chips. I think I left the moment and my body. Breathe deeply, Sally Anne. Breathe deeply.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

LETTER TO A FRIEND

Letter to a friend.

S
Just wanted to express my sadness and support at the recent loss of your father. The last couple of years have been turbulent and trying (for both of us — and others as well). Knowing what I do know of your family and more personal histories, I cannot imagine that you are not feeling fairly overwhelmed with memories (good and bad), life choices (good and bad), regret, and lots and lots of outright pain. Breathe deeply.

I would that I could ease some of your burden. I know of no other way through the morass save for through it. Wade into the deep water and start swimming. All that I can attest to, witness to, is that the swimming itself can be good, feel good; you gain strength and lots of it gets easier.

Hell, sometimes you are just floating on your back in the sunshine and chillin' out.

Stay with that therapist and go to AA meetings if you can. I am finding a stability in daily or "committed practice."

Love always,
Yer friend

P.S. Always know that if I can help you, I will.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

WHEREIN I TIPTOE AROUND THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING

By now quite a few of you have read the New York Times article from last month, 

When the Mind Wanders, Happiness Also Strays


Whatever people were doing, whether it was having sex or reading or shopping, they tended to be happier if they focused on the activity instead of thinking about something else. In fact, whether and where their minds wandered was a better predictor of happiness than what they were doing.
“If you ask people to imagine winning the lottery,” Dr. Gilbert says, “they typically talk about the things they would do — ‘I’d go to Italy, I’d buy a boat, I’d lay on the beach’ — and they rarely mention the things they would think. But our data suggest that the location of the body is much less important than the location of the mind, and that the former has surprisingly little influence on the latter. The heart goes where the head takes it, and neither cares much about the whereabouts of the feet.”
Interesting stuff to be sure. Another reason for focus and possibly some meditation. (There is another article in today's NYTimes about moods and creativity, Tracing the Spark of Creative Problem-Solving.)

Susan U and Bill G gave me Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom. Even before they sent me the book, I had been reading 101 Theory Drive: A Neuroscientist's Quest for Memory. So, I was already exploring what might be out there. I was initially driven to read 101 Theory Drive because I have an unusually good memory. And I am also clinically depressed. Both are proving to be interesting, challenging, and useful reads.

My mother is a practitioner in the Church of Religious Science. Over the years, we have had many arguments and disagreements about "positive thinking." And I haven't changed my MIND about organized religion or (what I perceive to be) simplistic, reductive answers to the complications of being human or just alive.

Notwithstanding that, there seems to be both scientific and spiritual evidence for the power of thinking more openly, and not dwelling on the negatives in life. I'm not qualified to discuss The Church of Religious Science, or really any other religion, other than 'zinfandel, cats, music, and take responsibility for yourself' but I am having ... um .... positive results from my thinking (not quite contemplation), focus, and actually writing.

Hanson says, "The mind is what the brain does." Change your chemistry, change your mind? My early indications are that this may be true (for me at least). Just sayin'.

Monday, December 6, 2010

ADAPT AND PRACTICE (The Bonus Post!)

From Mark Whitwell's introduction to T.K.V. Desikachar's The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice

"Yoga is a systematized body of knowledge and a practice. There are many reasons why a person might choose to practice yoga: in broad terms, the purpose of yoga is to reduce disturbance and return an individual to his or her inherent power. To be successful in the endeavor, yoga must be adapted and practiced according to the needs, capacities, and aspirations of each student."

So, there we have the yoga of writing again. (And hopefully the actual practice of yoga again.)
I think doing a little writing reduces my angst and "returns me to my inherent power." Or maybe I'll  find out that writing isn't my inherent power, but something else is ...

And so, I continue to examine my capacities and aspirations in writing. But what would my "needs" be? (Could this be related to procrastination? I need a clean desk and roasted vegetables?)
This Week's Sutra:

Chapter IV.26
And their clarity takes them to their only concern: to reach and remain in a state of freedom.
Pronounce the Sutra (MP3 format)

Tadakamudra is the asana of the week. I think this is one I can handle.

JUSQU'à DEMAIN

Last time I looked, this had been viewed (many) more than 11 million times. That's kind of great. Brings tears to my eyes every time.

Continuing on from last night, I do find it remarkable that it is so difficult to do things, even when you know it is good for you, or that you will find some measure of relief or satisfaction. My goals today were to clean off my desk (in progress), roast vegetables (roasted but not put away or used), and clean the humidifier (haven't touched it). But it is not 5 o'clock yet and I am doing my writing so maybe something is going okay.

One of my mental perusals has been on procrastination. So, while I was looking up things about procrastination I found this video by my old colleague, Lev Yilmaz. Check it out, too

This is the etymology of procrastination
The modern term comes from the Latin word procrastinatus, which is the past participle of procrastinare derived from pro- (forward) and crastinus (of tomorrow)[3]. It is first attested in 1548 by the Oxford English Dictionary.


Wow. Of tomorrow. Literally.


I do struggle with this. I am perfectly content to just while away the hours, conferring with the flowers or  no. But do any of you get anxious and depressed at your procrastination? It is nearly a "fear" feeling. And I still don't jump in and get moving. Some of it, I guess, is a fear of being overwhelmed. Anxious and suffocated.


One recommendation is to "stay in the moment" and not worry about the outcome. That has a familiar ring, no?


5:42 - a telephone conversation, a snack (I needed it — feeling better now), and some roasted vegetables dealt with. And an early post.


What was that I said yesterday? Breathe in. Breathe out.

THE ME OF TOMORROW

Breathe in.
Breathe out.

Repeat.

Sometimes it is tough to know where to jump into a story. You have to have enough energy and focus to make it to the relevant ending. The reveal. The payoff.

I don't think I have that kind of energy tonight, but I thought I would get started and see.

One of books I am perusing and pursuing is Buddha's Brain: The Practical Science of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom. I do take these things with a mine of salt, but when something strikes you as true, then it might well be true for you.

This was a concept that was utterly shocking to me:

"It's a general moral principle that the more power you have over someone, the greater your duty is to use that power benevolently. Well, who is the one person in the world you have the greatest power over? It's your future self. You hold that life in your hands, and what it will be depends on how you care for it."


I had never considered anything even remotely along these lines.

Now, I am going to sleep, because the me of tomorrow needs some serious rest.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

30 DAY CHALLENGE!

Huzzah! I made it through 30 whole days of posting. I'm not sure what I've learned, but truly, I think "this could be the start of something good." Well, that's interesting. I meant, "the start of something big." But I love Toni Price and she is singing the first song there. If you don't know about her, you should. And what is ever wrong with Bobby Darin? Kevin Spacey approves. Aretha does a very nice version from her Columbia oevre, but it isn't on YouTube.

On a very unconscious level, I can feel that writing is gaining ground. Writing is still not my first activity to the day, or even the thing I am so excited about that I cannot wait or procrastinate on it, but I am starting to think about not only what I will post for the day, but the other things that I should be writing about. And other things I want to say or tell others about ... and anyone who has hung out with me since I became an adult knows I am chock full of reading, listening, and watching suggestions.

If part of the (ill-defined) goals of this blog were to start changing my brain, I would say it is working.

Thanks for those of you who comment, either here or in email. And thanks to all of you who just read this and wish me well!

Namaste.

Friday, December 3, 2010

DREAM, INTERRUPTED.

Tonight it isn't procrastination, alcohol, or even plain old depression slowing me down on the writing front. It's exhaustion, mental and physical.

I'm not even going to try to be insightful or philosophical or even "silly heavy."

My only muse point is that on a day that went pretty well, and I might have even made one (important) step closer to a lifelong dream, I could allow that pleasure and sense of accomplishment to be diminished by "having a button pushed." And that button really is even getting disconnected. But it ain't there yet.

Also reminded that keeping appropriately fed and watered (and I didn't have one or two of my trusty MASH drinks), helps the spirits and emotions from flagging.

Hopefully, more better tomorrow.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

I HAD A GOOD DAY

... but, for a change, there is no heat in my apartment and I am cold. Even have all the windows closed which is most unusual.

I worked today. (Not for money, of course.) I made good progress. (Am also currently making some turkey soup with the last of the leftovers, thanks Missy and Tim).

But I haven't read much or thought much, much  less done any yoga (although I did correspond with my yoga teacher).

I'm going to expand my scope, here, in this blog, a bit.

I struggle quite a bit with depression. I could wander off into alcoholism, and have too many times had too much. I was upset last evening and had access to my drug of choice, red wine. There was only one glass left in the bottle this morning.

As I made my coffee, I gazed at the remaining wine and thought about how good it would taste this evening. Then, my good self piped up and reminded me that I didn't really want to drink. I and I stood there contemplating the drinking and the non-drinking.

And then I grabbed the bottle and poured the remainder into a skillet of onions that were caramelizing.

I didn't give in. I didn't even wait until later to make a decision and to have the chance to re-negotiate with myself. Instead, I took care of myself. Of what I really want, which is to not drink very much and certainly not every day.

That felt like a small victory. I have fallen off my "wagons" (or not gotten on them), but I can see a change in my attitude and behavior. The taking-care-of-me self is gaining power. And just because I struggle and stumble, and even if I do fall, I can just start again.

Now, for a dark chocolate-covered salted caramel.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

NO DIRECTION HOME

I feel compelled to keep RWB's comments in the blog because I think about what he has to say. Here are his comments on yesterday's post:

Hmmmm, interesting. No where did I say those things were "problems." 

I know what you are saying about thinking about one's goals/intent in doing something while in the activity can be a distraction even to the point of overwhelming and undoing the act. But how does one progress without a goal? The intent has to be carried without it being the focus of the mind. The intent is part of the whole picture.

Take the activity of walking somewhere. Without the big thing of having a destination there is only wandering*. Without the small thing of placing the next step there is no movement. Yet it is possible to walk and be totally in the here and now of it, enjoy the movement through the world in a unconditional way, and still get to where one wanted to go when setting out.

*I have nothing against wandering, love to do it myself...


 For most of my life I would say I have been vague about goals. Just to get through life, and sometimes I have been eager for it to be over. There have been things I wanted to experience here and there, but maybe I was more "directionless" than most people. That would account for a lot of my current situation.


But I have also not been good at The Practice. The Discipline. And that's the goal here. Ass in chair. Fingers on keyboard. Focus on writing. Press post. 


Many times, even when wandering, there are preconceived notions about what that experience will be. "I will huff and puff a little on 9th Street because it is uphill." "I will dodge humans on 7th Avenue because it is crowded." Et cetera. For me, it is rare to even meander without expectation. Being in "the now" in that situation is still another practice for me. 


On the other hand, while underemployed I do wake up without much expectation. On the days when I have tasks to accomplish but no timetable, I do kind of groove from moment to moment. And I feel blessed to have this time. It is not without challenges and stresses, but the benefits are pretty fine too.