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Monthly Archives: June 2015
Ah, but did you know the rain does not know that it is rain? And that the birds do not know that they are birds? And where does the rain end and the birds begin? And my pain, is it really mine? Does it have the beginning? The end?
From “Kabbalah, a Love Story” by Rabbi Kushner, “we have a word for leaf, twig, branch, trunk, roots. The words make it easier for us to categorize and comprehend reality. But we must not think that just because we have words for all parts of a tree, a tree really has all those parts. The leaf does not know, for instance, when it stops being a leaf and becomes a twig. And the trunk is not aware that it has stopped being a trunk and has become the roots. Indeed, the roots do not know when they stop being roots and become soil, nor the soil the moisture, not the moisture the atmosphere, not the atmosphere the sunlight. All our names are arbitrarily superimposed on what is, in truth, the seamless unity of all being”.
Once in a while, you read something so precious, so delicious, so inspiring, that you must share it with others. As I watch this gorgeous morning take hold outside my window, I feel the breeze enter my breathing passages and caress my skin, the birdsongs echo each other in the tippy tops of the trees, the rain cool and nourishing, a cacophony of joy, beauty, awakening. Grateful to give up control, to not resist, to lose over and over again, self, inside this magnificent unity.
I was watching a few health and diet related TED talks, always inspirational, but one was focused on how to live to be 100 years old. A few places around the world were visited where centennials are prevalent, and with the expected good habits of plant based foods and regular exercise as a way of life, something else came up and got me thinking. It was the way the elder generation is viewed and treated in these societies. They have the outmost highest respect and authority, and are seen not only as oracles of sorts, but as active and contributing members of their community. I grew up in Russia and I watched my mother and grandmother take care of my great-grandmother in our tiny two-room flat, where she had the best and biggest bed. I remember when they turned her to prevent the bedsores and applied green pasty medicine to the skin of her thighs. I recall feeding the tip of a teapot into her mouth so she could enjoy some warm tea. And how she responded with the kindest of eyes and words. And then everyone came over after the funeral, and I was staring at our usually empty wooden hat rack filled to the top with people’s hats of all shapes and sizes and I was shocked to have so many people at once at our home. Then my grandmother living with us until she fell ill with cancer and passed away at home here, in America, surrounded by family. And I wonder how does this change? How does this culture take the older population and puts them away? What really happens to us as we get past say 75 or 80 years old? How many old people do you see in a day? Why do they become invisible? Are they no longer active consumers (except for the pharmaceutical companies) and therefore excluded from life? Older people in this country are nearly invisible. Many are permanently residing in so called “adult communities”, cared for by strangers, I am sure with more enthusiasm in the swanky and expensive ones, and not so much in the less pricey choices. I do not claim to know the answer by any means. I also understand that individualism and independence are highly valued in this culture. But I wonder how we can include our oldest and wisest members into our lives with more respect, kindness and urgency? None of us are here to stay, and the older we get, the less time we potentially have, and the more wisdom and knowledge we have to offer and share with younger generations. And being around family, kids, those that love and adore us keeps us healthy and alive, gives our daily routines a meaning, a sense to go on, proceed and look forward to tomorrow.
For a mom who never really stayed home during the day (I worked full time corporate then ran our family retail business), my ME time went away almost entirely when my first child was born, and disappeared completely when the other two came about. There simply wasn’t any! Every minute was filled with caring, working, producing, assisting, and with great pleasure. I knew that was what I chose and that was my life now. I did not know that one day I would miss ME and no longer recognize ME inside this stressed, busy, not present, aging woman that I have become. And that finding ME again would be an option once I recognized that ME was gone, or hiding for that matter. To discover ME again, I started a morning routine. I know, I know, you already don’t get enough rest, you are not a morning person, you have too much to do in the morning, you need to give that time to your kids, you significant other, your pets, your hair, your job, the gym…but really, do this for you. I started getting up one hour earlier than usual. Make it 5:30, sometimes 6 AM. My daughter needs to be up between 6:30-7AM for middle school so I based my time off her schedule. Was it hard? Yes, it was, especially in the winter when I started this, and the darkness outside made it seem like I was getting up in the middle of the night. But I did it and I am so, so grateful for that choice. The very first part of my routine is Meditation. After listening to many different choices available, I have settled on one that Maria Popova recommended in one of her interviews, Tara Brach, a wonderful soothing spiritual teacher, who provides mutliple wonderful guided meditations on her website http://www.tarabrach.com/audioarchives-guided-meditations.html. She always invites you to smile from the inside of your mouth and to continue your silence with a smile, which feels really amazing and fills your entire being with light and joy. I have to admit sometimes I feel sleepy and sort of doze off during this, but forcing myself to sit upright and straighten my spine usually helps matters. Tara Brach has meditations from 10 to over 40 minutes so you can pick whatever your heart desires. Of course, there are many other great guided programs available on youtube. After meditation, I most often do my affirmations. These are very personal of course, but for me they have to do with self-esteem, independence, writing, and fearlessness. I believe your affirmations can be chosen based on your goals and also where you feel your weaknesses are in achieving them. I loved Lawrence Block’s book on writing, which was actually a writer’s seminar made into a book, and he has many wonderful affirmations that will suit anyone, not just writers or aspiring authors. Such as, “I am perfect the way I am right here, right now”, or “I now receive full assistance and cooperation from all forces and persons necessary for my success”. After affirmations, I do some sort of exercise, like a 10 min pilates video or a pop sugar fitness workout, or I just do some squats, leg lifts and arms raises with free weights. After that, I sit down and do my writing. It is usually either a blog post, an extra paragraph or two added to the novel I am working on, or perhaps a few pages of my upcoming non-fiction book. This is the time to do what you love, and if writing isn’t your thing, perhaps you can read or just keep a journal where you can set your goals for the day or the week. Then I go and make our morning coffee and let the day begin. I find that my days are now much smoother, I accomplish more, I worry less, and I feel more fulfilled and joyful as an individual. When I miss my morning routine for a day or two, I can clearly tell the difference and it isn’t a positive one.