Inspiring Tuna Sandwich

My weekly topic for this blog comes from various sources; conversations, observations, and sometimes lightbulb-eureka-lightening strike to the head moments. The later being the rarest. This week, I am inspired by my tuna fish sandwich, a student led conference, and a video. These three intersections came together in my mind as I was thinking of what to share with you this morning.

Tuna PerfectionI had the most perfect tuna fish sandwich for lunch. It was magnificent. It made me think, ‘Do one thing and do it well.’ I pondered on this thought for awhile and wondered about what my ‘one’ thing was. I didn’t have one thing. The thought of doing one thing to perfection makes me feel rather pressured. Especially, if I haven’t discovered the one thing. I then must search for this one thing (exhausting) and then do it perfectly (super exhausting). My mind is off to the races. I have forgotten about my sublime tuna fish sandwich, which by the way, truly did deserve my undivided attention. It was that good. I’m down the road…What is my one thing? What am I doing..ladeedaadaa…find the one thing. Oh god.

Our son invited us to a student led conference. I say, invited but, actually he was required to present his portfolio to us and we were required to attend. So, we sat for 20 minutes or so, discussing his academic progress and goals. He had one goal in mind, to get out of school as fast as possible. He is very focused on this one thing. “I just want to be finished with school.” Fair enough. His determination to reach the finish line led us to talk about along the way. What about the time between now and then? How can you eek out all of the experience, knowledge and growth along the way? Soak it all up, kid. What can be done to make the most of your time as a student? With three years left, these were good questions for him, they were also helping me think about my own relationship with goals. How often do I get wrapped up in the end result at the expense of along the way?

I open an email from my aunt, she often sends me thought provoking material, this one was especially timely and really struck a chord. It is a video illustrating audio of Alan Watts talking about life’s journey. He says,

We thought of life by analogy with a journey with a pilgrimage which had a serious purpose at the end. And the thing was to get to that end. Success or whatever it is… or maybe heaven after you’re dead.

But we missed the point the whole way along. It was a musical thing, and you were supposed to sing or to dance while the music was being played.

And with that, suddenly, the one thing doesn’t matter, the goals, the striving to reach the finish line, it’s all immaterial because the point is the along the way.  Watts reminds us, “It was a musical thing, and you were supposed to sing or to dance while the music was being played.” Simply put, smell the roses and enjoy the ride.

What are you doing to soak it all up, kid?

Advertisements

There is Beauty

Alice

The lady at number 6

lived with great joy,

through the darkest of days

and dares to hope we will all hear the music.

It is playing on the wind for those willing to hear.

A humming,

there is beauty at all times.

Even when there is not a glimmer of hope,

there is beauty.

You must only listen for it.

Love Baby, That’s Where It’s At

love lettersLove letters. Write them. Send them to your best most sweetest friend, your Mom, your dog, your lover, yourself. Sit for a bit and write some sappy, heartfelt, honest shit about love and then HIT SEND. Do it. You will feel wonderful. The person who gets the letter will feel cherished. And that is some good, good stuff to put out into the world.

Below is a prompt from Modern Hepburn.modern hepburn Tell me how you get along with this assignment. Love, Badass Snowflake. xoxo

Winter is Hell But, I am Learning to Love it!

I’m really not a fan of winter. There I said it. I loathe being cold. I find walking on dry, flat ground can be challenging. So, walking on an icy, snow covered- lord knows what’s underneath there- surface is deeply unsettling for me. The clearing of the snow. The extra layers. It’s all a bunch of bullshit. I feel dull and sleepy and claustrophobic. I may go so far as to say I am grumpy. All attempts of cheerleading, cajoling, reminding me of the beauty will be for nothing. In fact, it will only send me closer to the knowledge that I live in a winter Hell. Because not only do I have to put up with all this cold, icy nonsense but, also a bunch of cheery snow-loving pollyannas. And nothing is more annoying than feeling a certain way and having loads of folks point out why you shouldn’t feel that way.

badasssnowflake

And people might say to me , “Why do you live there? If it makes you unhappy, why do you stay?”

There is no easy answer to that question. Maybe it’s like childbirth. Each winter is a difficult long journey with that wonderful surprise of spring at the end and the glorious summer which lulls you in and makes you forget. And before you know it, you are knocked up for number two, I mean in for another winter. Or maybe it’s that I have a family and a home and a life here. And picking up and moving, all of that because the weather is a bit inconvenient for me, part of the year seems like an over-reaction. And then there is the practical question of where would I go? If you live where the weather is comfortable in the winter months then you have bugs the size of birds, hot-hot summers, various poisonous spiders and snakes hiding in your shoes, hurricanes, tornados- that all sounds terrifying. So, for whatever reason, I remain here. And lots of folks will go through life and find themselves in a place where they are less than ecstatic some of the time. This is life. It isn’t always easy. It isn’t always sunshine and beaches with cocktails that have garnishes of fruit and lemon verbena. The kicker is, how do I find joy? How do I find motivation and inspiration when things out of my control are getting me down? When each snowflake that falls makes me feel a little duller, a little more muffled- What do I do?

Notes to Lisa, so she can not waste her winter feeling miserable:

badasssnowflake1. Accept it, Own it: Winter is hard for you.  Don’t try to force yourself into being what you are not.

2. Be kind to yourself: You know this is a difficult time for you. So, treat yourself well. Stay warm. Stay hydrated. Move your body. Rest your body. And don’t spend a minute feeling bad because you feel bad. It will pass.

3. Find the Bright Side: Ok, you have a dislocated shoulder from shoveling and haven’t worn a pair of shoes without a polar bear logo in months. But, the heat is on in your cozy home. There is a cafe across the street serving hot, brown, liquid from heaven. The snow on the trees is impossibly beautiful. I think it helps if the Bright Side comes from within, rather than from others. So, dig deep and find something positive in your less than terrific situation.

4. Be grateful: Make a daily gratitude list. Today I am grateful for lip balm, wool socks, hot tea, my sweet family, shocking red cardinals against snowcapped evergreens and toast.

5. Be helpful: Nothing can snap you out of a funk faster than being of service to others.

6. Badass Snowflake: You’ve got this.

I am making peace with this season. I recognize that I retreat when the sun disappears, feel low on energy and struggle to find motivation. It seems a pretty natural reaction to the circumstances in which I find myself. The peace comes from not fighting my nature but, giving in to it- leaning in to it- as fellow blogger Kate, said to me last week. I am relishing the warm cup of tea in my hands and soft comforting scarf around my neck. The hazy sunshine poking through the cloud for just a minute or two before it fades back to grey reassures me that the sun will shine.  Winter may be bullshit but, without it, there is no spring. So, I’ll take the good with the bad and appreciate it all.

Peace & Love,

Lisa

I’m Too Fat To Go To Paris

Mr B said to me, “I really want to take you to Paris, someday. So that we can sit in a cafe and eat croissants with coffee.” It was lovely, this invitation and then..

And then I said, “I’m too fat to go to Paris.”

In a sputtery, incredulous way, Mr B asked, “What! What did you just say? Why would you say such a ridiculous thing?”

“It’s the title to my next blog post.” I replied. “I’m Too Fat To Go To Paris. It popped into my head, when you said we should go. It sounded wonderful, sitting with you in a parisian cafe and then I started to think about why I couldn’t possibly go to France. The French don’t like Americans. The French don’t like fat people. I’m a fat American. I should avoid France all together.” He looked puzzled. I took this as an invitation to continue, ” I want to write about taking myself out of the game. I’m going to write about how I have let fear stop me from living and why I don’t care anymore if skinny french bitches are looking at me. I’m going to eat a croissant in Paris. I think I might want to ride an elephant in India, too.”

He smiled and said, “You should.”eiffel tower

So, I take myself out of the game. I do this when, I say,

“I can’t do this, I can’t do that, I’m too slow, too clumsy, too smart, not smart enough. I’m busy. I’m serious. I’m silly. I don’t have all the answers. I haven’t got the right: equipment, swim suit, eye make-up, underwear. I might not be perfect at this and shouldn’t I be perfect? I think I would rather just read a book about this Paris, you speak of.”

And oh, this is simply not good enough. Life is too short for half-measures. Life is too short for the sidelines. The good bits, the exciting, all-in, leave it on the table, balls-to-the-walls, messy, imperfect Life is happening on the field, in the parisian cafe, falling over in snowshoes in the woods. It’s out there when you are trying your best and falling short or maybe exceeding. Living is stepping out the door. It’s taking a chance and just doing something- anything, without reservation. Consider the word Abandon: noun. Complete lack of inhibition or restraint.  That is what I am talking about, this is what I am looking for, abandon. Now, I’m going to go find my knickers and get out there and mix it up. You with me?

Tell me what you did this week that made you feel alive. I went out in a snowstorm to meet with strangers, ate cake for breakfast, hit the ‘publish’ button, screamed “listen to the birds!!” at my teenage son, and stomped in slushy, wet, snow puddles in my wellies.

Magic Glitter Snow

It is when I am not present in the moment that the trouble starts. Worrying about what is to come, fretting over what has been. This is no good. Nothing can be done to change it, so let it be. That is a good phrase, worth repeating, Let IT Be. Let what has been, BE. Let what will be, BE. And then I have what is left, NOW.  What a simple, yet massive challenge for a list-making planner and anxiety generating Worrywart like me. I ask a lot of myself to be present. It takes practice and discipline. It may even be hard work.  I think, it may just be worth the extra effort, though. The rewards are huge. And, it makes me feel a little giddy to think that it is really this simple. A lifetime of preparing and tweaking and refining and improving could melt away to this moment of breathing and being, alive and well in the here and now, filled with gratitude.

I walked out the door this morning to take June the cold-suspicious dog out for a very quick run. She has short hair with pink skin underneath and thinks the temperature should always remain above 30*. I tend to agree with her. So, we were reluctantly leaving the warmth of the house. I opened the door and the chill in the air took my breath away. It was that cold.

“Come on. Let’s do this.” I said over my shoulder to June. She looked at me reproachfully but, needs must and we went out into the Polar Vortex winter of a Michigan January. You pay attention when it is that cold. It snaps you into the moment.

“Damn it is cold.” I mutter, as my feet crunched the snow on the path and June ran off. Once I adjusted to the shock of being outdoors, I began to look around. The snow was sparkling and twinkling like diamonds and glitter.

“This is some Badass Snowflakery.” I said to the disappeared dog. It was magic. So pretty that I stood there in the 7* and took it in. The snow was magnificent and that was all there was to see. Amazing. It wasn’t difficult to be in the moment, then. In fact, it was impossible not to be. Mother Nature had dropped down some magic glitter snow and that shit can’t be ignored.

The practice for me, then becomes, how to stay in the moment when there isn’t a dramatic carpet of frozen ice crystals at your feet. Or, maybe the trick is to see the awesomeness in the seemingly mundane. But, come on, am I listening to myself? There is nothing mundane about being on this spinning orb of water, land and life in the middle of a limitless sky filled with stars and I don’t know what else. It is beyond wow. So, the practice for me, then becomes, open my eyes, open my ears, look around at the constant display of miracles presenting themselves to me all over the damn place. Be breathless with this, be awed by this gift of life.

I don’t know, perhaps the thing to being present is to simply appreciate the beauty and the abundance, feel gratitude for what is right here in front of me at this very moment. Even if the moment is a dark one. I can find some light. I can see the glitter snow.

Begin Again

You know how much I love lists. They help me stay organized. They help me feel productive. I love checking things off my list as much as I love making the list. Yah, they drive me crazy too and I can get a bit carried away with the planning. But, let’s not dwell on the negative. The New Year is upon us and this is the absolute BEST time for making lists!!!
These are the things on my TO DO List this week:

  1. Get outside: See the beauty, smell fresh air, listen to the birds, unless it is cold enough for your snot to freeze. Then and only then, stay indoors and watch the travel channel.
  2. Eat the best and most nourishing fresh foods I can afford. Eat less sugar and drink lots of water. My taste buds say, “thank YOU!”
  3. Write someone a letter about how awesome they are and why I thank my lucky stars that I know them.
  4. Feel the way I feel. Yes, I was crying at the cafe counter this morning. Yes, I was overcome with joy eating salmon for dinner. And oh, did I feel strong and defiant shoveling snow!
  5. Make some soup for friends and get them to come over to my house to eat the soup. What is your favorite soup recipe? I am into fish chowder but, up for suggestions.
  6. Write a poem. Read a poem. See a poem. Hear a poem. Poetry is observation. Poetry is paying attention. I notice. I see. I am aware.

Begin Again

I am

breathing

in

the sunshine.

Like a good friend

who sits very near,

to hold your hand,

The sun says,

“Ok, Let’s begin, again.”

Peace & Joy,

Lisa

I Love You Charles Ingalls

My last couple of posts have been about Christmas and feeling freaked out over it all. And also about how I am coping with the freak out. I think of myself as a fairly calm person, mostly happy- I would go so far as to say upbeat. I know some of my close peeps are laughing right now. I consider myself upbeat, though I don’t pull the punches about what isn’t going so well for me. I tell it like it is. So, if I’m having a rough time, I don’t pretend otherwise, at least, not for long anyway. The conversation might go like this,

Friend: “Lisa, how are you?”

Me: “I’m fine.” Pause. “Well actually, I spent the afternoon on the couch soothing myself with Little House on the Prairie reruns and hot tea with commiseration from my dog. I’m having a rough day but, it is temporary.”

We might go on to talk about the stress and pressures we put on ourselves over the holidays. And we might talk about this being an emotionally loaded time of year for folks. It is no wonder with the decorating, gift buying, social engagements and FAMILY time that people feel a little overwrought, myself included. So, this time of year can make me feel nostalgic and a little sad. The year is coming to an end. The days are short and dark. The expectation and anticipation of the jolly, joyful season can often lead to disappointment. The ‘all the presents are open, now what’ feeling.  And then we will get to the so what’s new about that, part of the conversation. Tell me something I don’t already know.

Me: ” Yeah so, I put a lot of pressure on myself ( see Perfect Christmas post) and I feel more emotional. It’s what I do this time of year. What am I going to do about it?”

And here is where it shifts. Here is where the chat gets interesting.  The question is Do I allow myself to be swept away with What I Have Always Done or do I Try Something New? Let’s TRY SOMETHING NEW!

My SOMETHING NEW LIST:

  1. Nostalgic Cure for Sadness: Charles Ingalls.  I watched Little House on the Prairie for hours the other day. It was so comforting. I loved this show growing up. Pa (Charles Ingalls played by Michael Landon) was so handsome, loving and reasonable. The kids were good but, not too good. Yeah, things were hard but, they had each other. And a tin cup was a darn good present in the late 1800’s in Minnesota. Charles Ingalls will put some perspective on things and he can FIX anything.
  2. The Gift:  We spend a lot of time thinking about others in this giving season. And that is awesome! I love hunting around for something to give that will bring joy to another. Just remember to Be good to yourself, too. Give yourself some extra time if you can. Take a walk or a nap. I have signed up for a Yogra Nidra class at my local studio. All of my joking about yoga and napping– turns out, to be true. How perfect for me? And a relaxing, rejuvenating way to begin a new year.
  3. Feelings: Think about how you want to feel and then do things that make this happen for you. Um, this has been HUGE for me. It sounds simple. It takes some digging and a bit of work to be clear but, organizing your time around how you want to feel will make a massive difference. Trust me on this. Massive. I’m going for Joy-Creative-Affluence-Love-Energized! Check out this link for more on feeling your way through the new year!!
  4. Say No: I thought I needed to say Yes more. But, really I think I need to say No. Saying No to projects that don’t fulfill me. Saying No to anything that feels like a grind. Saying No unless I can fully commit and feel good doing it. It feels so positive to say No!! Try it. You won’t be sorry.
  5. This ones for you. Add something to TRY SOMETHING NEW LIST. I know you have some good ones!

Peace & Joy ~Lisa

It’s All Too Much

I had a lot of conversations this past week on the theme of feeling overwhelmed, or at least enough to make me pay attention. I continue to feel swept away by food choices, out of my element as I restructure my relationship with eating. And this is a big deal, Food and I go back a long way. We have been companions, side by side, through thick and thin- well, not so much thin but, you get where I am coming from. I have eaten for reasons other than physical hunger. Food is pissed at me for leaving and I am sometimes sad and second guessing the intention. I refer you to the Pizza Rolls post. And admit that I ate some very tasty sweet orange marmalade toast thingys to the point of feeling ill Monday afternoon. So yah, this change is gradual and wading through what to eat to FEEL GOOD has felt, at times, overwhelming.

I have noticed that this feeling of ‘it’s all too much’ comes along with a good dose of self-pity, powerlessness and lack. Interesting. It’s too much because I’m not/there’s not/it’s not enough. There is not enough time. There is not enough money. You don’t do your share. I can’t handle this. It doesn’t matter what I am overwhelmed with: chores, bills, day planner, meetings, groceries, kids. The source of the distress comes from lack, comes from scarcity, it is fear…again. I talked about fear in last week’s post, Looking For Helpers. The response to which was overwhelming in a good way. I had so many offers of support in my effort, pledges for donations too! Thank you for those comments. In that post, I referenced Pressfield’s The Art of War and his idea that resistance and fear are part of the process of change for the good. I think it bears repeating. Forward movement is met with resistance. Remember this, it helps. And this too:

  1. Segmenting: Take whatever it is that is TOO MUCH and break it down into sections. And then, tackle a section. Writing the whole book feels like too much but, a chapter is doable.
  2. Time limits: I used to get really bent out of shape about housework. I would rage clean, muttering, am I the only one around here who knows how to clean the fill in the blank. A good friend of mine suggested I try limiting the time I spent on the chore. So, I would say, “I am going to get as much done as I can in 30 minutes.” And then walk away, move on to the next thing, like having fun. I find this especially good for those never-ending chores. There is always going to be more laundry.
  3. Gratitude: Just take a few minutes to write a list of everything that brings you joy, peace, ease and wellness. We have amazing resources to tap into all around us. Sometimes we need reminding.
  4. Prioritize: Order your lists, and I know you have lists for your lists, put them in order of importance. If item #1 doesn’t get done I’m going to die and so on. Oh and  make item #1 about self-care, put your own oxygen mask on first. I’m still working on this one, myself. I structure my ‘To Do’ list a little differently these days. It is more about how I want to feel and less about what I must get done. I’m productive as all hell most days but, the one thing I let slip in priority is my excercise. #1 on my list is Move Your Body.
  5. Acknowledge it Sucks: Sometimes just allowing myself to feel the weight of what I have to accomplish or wade through is enough to allow me to face it and begin, taking the first step is often the hardest. It totally blows that you have to do X, Y and Z. But, you have what it takes and see #3 and #6.
  6. Call on your Helpers: The folks that you are your best with- The A Team. You know who they are and they will be there to help you with perspective, help you clean your refrigerator, pick up your kids, if you ask. And if you can’t think of anyone to call on put Look For Helpers at the top of your list. We all need help.

Looking for Helpers

What is it about asking for help?

I had this idea for my group of girlfriends that we would adopt a person in need for the holidays. They were easily brought on board. Yes, what can we do to help? I found a person in great need, made a flyer, let the team know what we needed to do and then…freaked out. I was wracked with self-doubt, What if I can’t accomplish this? Who am I to think I could help anyone? and the kicker, the deal breaker, the ultimate fear phrase, I am not enough to get this done. I am not enough.

I didn’t set out to cure world hunger or house all the homeless.

“We are going to help one person.” I said. A very manageable goal.

Clearly, this is not about helping or not helping. I have organized fundraisers before. I grew up with a Mom who was forever helping, strays- humans and animals alike. On more than one occasion I came home to find a new person would be ‘staying with us for a while, until they got back on their feet’. She is generous with her time and limited resources. Helping is something we do. So, why the worry? Why the fear?

It comes down to this, it’s physics. Every action has  an equal and opposite reaction, Issac Newton’s Third Law of physics to be precise. It’s science that a motion will be met with a counter force. And while it may seem a bit loosey-goosey for some to make the leap from physical mass to intention or thought, we are still talking about energy and the principle applies. It is part of the structure of nature for the opposite to be present and push back.  Steven Pressfield, calls this Resistance in The War of Art. He writes that when a person moves to progress, naturally there will be a push back, almost always presented as fear in some form. Pressfield suggests that a person acknowledge the Resistance as evidence of movement, in other words, it’s a good sign. You set out to do something, to elevate, to improve, to make this a better place and there will be road blocks, real road blocks, some of your own making, some inherent in the process, some in your own mind, give them a nod and keep moving onward.

We are all able to achieve what we set our minds to achieve. It is not my inability to get things done, to stick to something, to commit, to persevere, to accomplish great things causing this second guessing and hesitation. It is my intention, action, wish, declaration, movement being met with resistance. I have only to lean into, push back until a way opens up and I get closer to my goal. The doubt is there as part of the process but, it is a little quieter, easier to manage– knowing it comes with action. I don’t know about you but, I’m not listening to fear phrases today.

Oh, and if you would like to help us with our one person, please contact me. We can always use one more helper.

Onward.