So Hum. I am.
“I am calm and stress free, comfortable in my body and my place in the now, in this moment.”
That’s an affirmation; remember those? I’m not sure why they feel so 70’s, but that word conjures up a particular time for me whenever I hear it. It’s not a word I dislike; positive affirmations can work wonders, I believe that. It’s just that I don’t remember to make them often enough, and lately I am being encouraged to make a LOT of them.
This year is about the FREE, and so I have been trying to stay open to what that might mean for me. So far, and maybe this is a little month-end check in, it has been about my being free of fear…of trying new things, of accepting compliments, of believing that I am capable of certain actions or aspirations.
This has happened in many small ways, but also in three larger ways.
One action I have taken is to join an 8 week writing workshop. This will start in February and I am both excited and terrified for it. I think that is a brilliant response…..excited and terrified! Wonderful extreme feelings, both of them, nothing quiet or safe . I’m tired of quite and safe, I’m ready to move. So be prepared people, the writing in this blog is about to turn AWESOME!! Hahahhaaa…..really, who knows, but it will be fun and it is freeing me up, loosening the tight grip I have on the way I operate so often from fear, and of course that fear is so self-centered and obnoxious! I am over it. I have aspired to take a writing class, and here I am!
Another new thing is that I have started The Artist’s Way. This book was written in the 90’s and is a course that is supposed to free your inner artist, your inner creative. Whether it’s writing, painting, acting,whatever, look out world creativity is unloosed! When I moved out of my house the book (that I am sure I bought right when it came out and then never did because….folllow through?) fell from a box I was moving and I decided to keep it, that I might want to revisit it some day. Well, the day is here. It’s pretty fascinating actually. The author, Julia Cameron, is a recovering alcoholic, and has used her “techniques and exercises” mainly on writers to unblock them. In making this into a book she offers it to everyone, any kind of artist or anyone that just wants to be more creative, however that looks. She has a 12 step program (ironic) that translate into 12 weeks of tasks and exercises. I am on week one, which asks for a lot of affirmations, and a lot of turning the old negative self-talk and messages we have lived with into their opposites as affirmations that we can aspire to.
I actually started it last week (I am in an on-line group) by reading the introduction and beginning the very basic and main exercises she outlines; the Morning Pages and the Artist Date. She adds other things on weekly, but these are constant. The Morning Pages (mourning pages? hhmmm…) are written when you roll out of bed (or even in bed which is very cozy) and are 3 pages, longhand of whatever comes to mind. Just write. I love this. I freely admit I am typing mine because, frankly, its 2014, but more importantly my handwriting is illegible even to me and I know that there will be themes and thoughts and ideas I will want to revisit at a later date. I want to be able to read them. Now I have a sort of double whammy in that I type with two fingers and make a zillion typos. I am resisting the urge to re-read what I write each day and fix them, and I can only imagine what auto-correct is doing to my slips, but I still believe I will have an easier time deciphering the results than if I was actually hand-writing them. I also think that I am probably writing a lot more because 3 typed pages is more tha three written in my mind. IF I ws writing them I am positive it would be the biggest handwriting ever, I’m not stupid. So typing keeps me more honest.
Ok, more honest means that I have upped the font size to 13 vs the original 11. Sue me.
Anyway, I am loving the writing. It even helps me with another aspiration I have for this new year, which is less FB time, more life. Freedom from bondage of self via FaceBook, which tends to bring out the worst in me, my judgey, self-righteous, smarter- than-thou sarcastic side. That very non-helpful side that I would like to be free of. I am going to bed earlier and getting up earlier to write and thus my days are longer. I get more accomplished, whether it is actual action items or it’s more time reading or an extra, new meeting or yoga class, or time spent with a friend.
The second constant in her creative approach is called the Artist Date. This is awesome. There are a zillion things you can call an Artists Date, but the bottom line is 2 hours spent alone on some sort of creative mission. You could see a movie, or knit, write a blog (I’m sure I’ll use this at least once), or go to a museum. Another member of the group posted a list of ideas for artist dates and one thing jumped right out at me….color a mandala. They even included a site for free printable mandalas, which I did. I then took myself to the artist supply store near me and spent a good hour there wandering. I bought some fabulous felt tip pens and, the best find, a coloring book with the theme of Day Of The Dead. The book is chock full of great,intricate designs and I am enjoying it so much. My artist date turned into a new obsession and meditation practice. I listen to music, or a dharma talk and color and it is heavenly. One of my affirmations is “it is perfectly acceptable that I love to color even though I am a grown-ass woman”.
The final aspiration I have accomplished is that I now have a yoga practice. I know I have talked about this before, but I am now fully immersed and am loving it. I caught myself referring to “my yoga practice” and felt completely authentic saying that for the very first time. No qualification, no excuses, freely announcing I have a practice. I am averaging 4 classes a week, more on a week that I am not doing my grief groups. I do sun salutations and yoga stretches at home. It feels real and it feels amazing! The best part though is my Tuesday/Thursday practice, my Yin Yoga. This….I find it hard to express how this class makes me feel. I am attaching an article from the L.A.Times several years ago that explains a little, the how and why of the class. The way it makes ME feel though, the reason I am so attracted to it is a bit nebulous right now, but so rooted, I think, in my increasing awareness of being and staying in the now, in the moment. Mindfulness and the practice of that. The first class I took by accident. I went expecting a gentle Yoga stretch class and suddenly there was a new class in the line-up. To make it even more magical though, as I was standing at the desk talking about it, the teacher came up and gave me a hug. The teacher, Abbie, is also the creator of 11th step yoga and my favorite of all the different teachers that teach that class, the practice that got me into yoga in the first place. I didn’t know the class was there and I certainly didn’t know Abbie was teaching it. Amazing. The actual yoga is deep and important. We hold poses for different lengths of time, but long times. In the 1 1/2 hour class we may do 6 or 7 poses, broken up with a little shevasana recovery or stretching. The poses are all familiar, it’s the length of time held that matters. You start at the edge of what you can do, you go into it, accept it, allow it,and then you wait for an invitation to go deeper. Those are basically Abbie’s words, but they are so true. I have found myself in so much physical pain at times, just from holding it so long, that going deeper into the pose has been a relief. It’s fascinating. It brings up emotions too; have found myself laughing and in tears. It is really a spiritual practice, meditative and intense and absolutely wonderful. The usual classes, full of movement and different poses flowing into others is the Yang, this is the Yin. They are both great, but there is something about the Yin that is perfect for me, and I for it. I am so, so grateful I stumbled into this.
So far, FREE is a winner. Since we are only one month in, I am pretty excited and looking forward to how this word is going to continue to work me this year. This word of the year is my practice too, one I am so happy to have found and incorporated into my life.
YES, ENOUGH, OPEN, FREE