September 2007

I found this quote after writing the last post about feeling overwhelmed by a busy fall. 

Brenda Ueland in If You Want to Write says, “Know that it is good to work. Work with love and think of liking it when you do it. It is easy and interesting. It is a privilege. There is nothing hard about it but your anxious vanity and fear of failure.”

That last bit hits the nail on the head about alot of things that we find challenging huh? 

I’m not sure about the “easy” part, but yeah if it’s worthwhile and interesting then it should be “easier” than other kinds of work. Like say, hauling all your own water.  Or growing all your own food.  Heck even cooking all your own food. The fact that we get to choose to avoid alot of the mundane work *is* an absolute privilege.  

I guess my lesson in all this, boiled down is:

1. Just cause it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s bad.

2. Just cause it’s hard doesn’t mean I suck.

3. Worthwhile things are usually hard.  Being challenged and stretched is hard.

4. If it’s not worthwhile, stop.

What is it about fall?  You go from sitting in the sun enjoying a frosty beverage with friends and family in August, to watching all hell break loose around you in September.  Your footloose and fancy free days have disappeared with your flip flops and you’re wondering how you’re going to keep up with the responsibilities you’re up to your knees in.  Or maybe it’s just me. 

On bad days I get that whiney “why is this so hard??” internal voice.  And on really bad days it’s my outside voice too.  Sometimes I get a feeling that if I wasn’t such a putz I’d be coping better.  Sometimes just trying to prioritize feels more monumental a task than just *doing* the thing I should be doing. 

And then I ran across this quote from His Holiness the Dalai Lama:

“If when we get into a difficult situation our will or courage lessens and we fall into the laziness of feeling inferior, thinking that we could not possibly accomplish such a difficult task, this diminishment of will cannot protect us from any suffering. It is important to generate courage corresponding to the size of the difficulties.”

So in other words – it’s going to be hard anyways, so suck it up.  Either do the thing or ditch the thing – but either way stand tall, head held high and rattle on through. 

I’ll give it my best.  Courage to you all.

Maybe I’m on a bit of a shoe thing, but I read something funny this a.m..  It was about an interview Heather Malik did with writer Margaret Atwood.  I hate to say I haven’t read enough of Atwood’s stuff. I simply can’t get through “Handmaid’s Tale” but loved “Cat’s Eye”, it totally captured my own experiences with a wacko childhood friend. 

Atwood gives good interview. She tells it like it is with compassion and she’s always funny.  Here’s how the interview went and it’s a paraphrase because I don’t like to yank pages out doctor’s office magazines:

Atwood says, “You can teach people to pull their weight without telling them they’re responsible for the world.  You get over that feeling of total responsibility at a certain age.  You’ll be able to say about some things, “I don’t give a shit.”

Heather enthusiastically agrees with her and she says, “I don’t think you’re there yet Heather.  I see those little red shoes.”

Heather reports that she was wearing pointed painful red satin shoes with short heels.  “But they’re flat!”  she says.

“They’re not. Flat. Enough.  Listen, you’ll get there.”

I want to appoint Atwood as primary Wise Woman in my life.  Heck, I want to *be* as wise as she is.  Maybe one day.  First I’m off to reevaluate my footwear.

Last weekend 3-year-old Angus and I went on a hike.  We ended up on some big rocks that dropped off into the ocean and he wanted to climb up a sheer cliff.  I wasn’t going to let him.  So he had a meltdown and I got to carry him back. 

It ocurred to me that he might be having a tough time coping because it was mid-morning and he needed a snack.  And a drink. Sure enough I plopped him in his car seat, handed him some nacho chips and he was a happy camper.  He hums while he eat so he literally sounds like a happy camper.

At first I was like, sigh, he’s such a toddler.  But you know, I do this kind of stuff all the time and I should know better.  I make life harder by not attending to the basics.  I always feel like ‘yeah i can cope with that’ but what am I looking for – a medal for overcoming hardship?  Why do I make things harder than they need to be? 

Here are some examples from earlier this week.

– I booked an 8:00 a.m. dentist appointment for a Monday.  What was I thinking?  Aren’t Mondays challenging enough?  Rating – thumbs down.

– I brought my ipod to the dentist and listened to Joss Stone instead of metal tools scraping the scunge off my teeth.  Or attempting small talk with a mouth full of latex fingers.  Rating – thumbs up.

– I stopped at the bathroom before I got in my car for the drive to the office.  Sure I could have made it without wetting myself, but why not take care of these things when a bathroom sign is in sight?  Rating – thumbs up.

– I made the conscious decision not to rush on the roads even though I was later than I would have liked.  Sure I could have gotten there 3 or 4 minutes earlier, but was relaxed and I didn’t cause any accidents.  Rating – thumbs up.

– I wore new shoes that are too tight.  Actually i should say “bought shoes that are too tight and then wore them”.  With barefeet.  My heels were skin-free by 10:30 a.m..  Rating – double thumbs down.

September resolution:  life is challenging enough, I need to do what I can to not let it be harder than it needs to be.  I need to be my best ally. 

I was reading Ayurveda for Women and thought the bit on addictions was interesting. 

We become addicted to foods we think we need but usually they are foods that support the way we are already are, which make us more that way, bringing us out of balance.

– So Vata people love sugar which temporarily provides instant stimulation and satisfaction making them even more hyper and scattered.

– Pitta people go for meat, alcohol, salty, sour and spicy foods which make them more intensely driven.

– And Kapha people go for heavy or fatty foods which reinforce their natural slowness and complacency.

I can really relate to this, I’m Vata Kapha.  So when I’m feeling hyper-Vata, I crave chocolate, baked goods and wine.  When I’m feeling my most Kapha in early spring, I’m like a bear coming out of hibernation with one eye half open.  All I want is heavy foods and more baked goods. ;-)

Svoboda says, we use food to affect our consciousness – the problem is our minds convince us we need the kind of food that reinforce who we are.  But since we’re already that way, it’s not really what our bodies need.  We have to try to go in the other direction to keep ourselves in balance. 

So I need heavier foods to ground me when I’m feeling Vata-crazed.  I need lighter foods like tasty bitter green things in early spring to help me feel less bear-like. Tough to do when you’re feeling out-of-wack.  How do you feel strong enough to make better food decisions so that you really *can* get stronger?  I don’t know the answer, I barely understand the question.

I also don’t know alot about Ayurveda, but when I learn something, it seems to be bang-on for me.  Hey, if you’re interested in recipes and info, check out this blog I recently found – Fran’s House of Ayurveda.