Tag Archives: people

When Coffee is not just “Coffee.” Awareness, Attachments, Anxiety.

Standard

So I’m about 10 days into experiencing this clean eating / diet detox and I have to say that for me, it’s not about the food. I don’t have attachments to food; blessedly, I’ve never been an emotional eater, I actually think I have a good relationship with food (“Hello sandwich, how are you today? I will eat you when I’m hungry…”), but I have determined, that what I do have, is an attachment to tradition; an attachment to attachments.

Because I’m not a big coffee drinker (as so many writers are — I simply can’t do it: my body / GI can not handle the huge thrust of caffeine, so I have one serving a day), coffee was only a loss to me in terms of my inability to have something warm and served in a cute vessel as I walked my son to school. Lots of moms and dads walk along the path to school with their kiddos holding an open mug or a travel mug or a thing as they saunter through the dappled sunlight or amidst the drizzle of these gorgeous and cool autumn mornings. I wanted to be one of those people; they looked so together, as though they’d just stepped out of a JCrew catalog or in their fitness wear, enroute to or just from the gym, but with their coffee in hand. (Hell, I could be completely wrong: maybe it’s vodka.)

So I morphed myself into being one of those people. Even though it was occasionally inconvenient: you can’t always hold a dog leash and a kiddo’s hand and a cup of something. So I found myself on days when the boys wanted to bring a dog vacillating between my cute mug of weak-ish coffee or Irish Breakfast tea and a leash, or holding a hand. When I wanted to be a be-hooded cute coffee mom and we were running late (which is often), the coffee would stay home and so began the understanding that it was more about being SEEN with the coffee, and somehow fitting in with the other moms, than actually enjoying the coffee.

Another thought that comes to mind is the obvious: if I choose to walk with the coffee, then I’m rejecting something else. Never has one of my sons asked me to leave the coffee at home to hold his hand. Not once. So what am I rejecting? Possibly my sense of just being ok with being plain old young me.

So when the detox started, I shifted gears: I put my detox tea (some horrid unique combination of lemon poison, dandelion venom, toxic licorice, and thistle milk in the vessel and the hell with it: I added some organic raw honey to sweeten the deal) in my cute vessel and guess what? I didn’t feel at all as though I was fitting in. Even though no one knew what was in my mug, and no one dared ask (because we all assume we’re coffee lemmings) I didn’t feel “cool” anymore. I’d’ve rather had no mug than carry a mug loaded with a potion which was displeasing to me. So instead, now I make my detox tea and slam it down when it reaches room temperature to just get it over with. Some attitude, I know. Then I look for a bathroom.

I don’t know what any of that means — the lack of the coolness, hipster, fitter-inner. I know that it came with some small relief upon later examination though, because I haven’t really fully enjoyed a cup of high-test coffee knowing what the caffeine does to my system. It was always a guilty pleasure. I make jokes about “coffee first” a lot; but mostly it’s for affect, and so I see that I’m being inauthentic when I say things like that because I simply can’t drink as much as others seem to be able to. It’s like the “she can’t hold her liquor” thing too … I can’t. Two drinks and I’m very comfortable — but not always: if I’m on edge in prep for an anxious moment (say expecting a weirdo to show any moment at a social event), the alcohol simply doesn’t take effect and so then, what’s the point of any of it other than a crutch? So this begs the question: what’s the point of any crutch?

A lot of this is deep, I get that. If you read my most recent post, it was my birthday and I was suffering with major headaches from the diet detox. All my friends and family who called and texted and emailed me throughout the day said to “take the Advil. It’s your birthday. You’re going to a rock concert and you’re gonna have the time of your life tonight. What’s up with the headache — ease your pain!” So, yes, against the advice / suggestion of the detox manager, I heard my older brilliant brother (as opposed to my equally brilliant younger brother): “if the technology exists, why not avail yourself of it?” So I did reach eagerly and mightily for the Advil and it was such sweet relief, so subtle and kind, that I pondered: What the what am I doing to myself? Why must I suffer to improve? Is it really improvement if this vise-like, compressing, deeply painful headache that has lasted almost 7 days and only meagerly subsides upon my laying down, makes me I wish I weren’t here?

….I know….

I’m a yoga teacher and practitioner of almost 16 years. I know deep breathing. I know staying in the moment. I can get you to relax on a mat in less than five minutes and have you hovering in the twilight, almost-all-the-way-asleep but still conscious and have you listen to the sound of my voice. But only if you’re willing… I simply couldn’t breathe / legs-up-the-wall / lavender oil / uttanasana these headaches away. Because the headaches were Other Than. The headaches were about my relationship with the detox when I’m already a mindful person, in very good health and already extended as a mom and wife and person.

So I am spinning this on its lactose, gluten, glucose and starch -laden head: we don’t need to suffer. We really don’t. These things, these GOOD things in our lives needn’t always be painful. Because the pain creates anxiety. Because I find that I already eat pretty well, that I have an occasional cheeseburger blanketed in a gorgeous square of sharp New York cheddar (sorry) I can tell you RIGHT NOW that my anxiety is reduced tenfold because I decided to listen to my Spirit last week. I heard her Loud and Clear: you needn’t suffer; this is an elective experience and suffering is always elective. True dat, but also pretty harsh. But back to true dat: it is. Suffering is a choice. We have a choice. The choice to breathe deeply, quiet our minds, close our eyes, feel the slow, soft and steady inhalation fill our chests and the calm, gentle and loose exhalation lower our ribs and chest quietly, gorgeously and so so so lovingly or become enchained slaves to the thoughts and fears and anxieties which rip through our psyches and tear holes in our spirits and send us on a panic spree about things that may or may not happen (well, something’s always gonna happen…) with and without our tender, evanescent influence … the choice is ours.

So yes. The choice is ours. Sorry. It’s like listening to music: you can crank up the Iron Maiden (which has its moments, I’m sure) and flood your head with all the synchronicity of what’s coming out of the speakers or you can switch to Jimi Hendrix, who has high energy, but more control and technique and simply get lost in his jam and not feel quite so disoriented upon the end. Or you can just listen to the clock tick and the birds sing and the refrigerator switch on and off as it cycles robotically through its existence.

The key for me is this: don’t let the shit that gets in your head own you.

For starters: I subscribe to the Daily Om — I highly recommend it. Read it.

The other day, one of the Oms was about awareness and fully experiencing that which we see. If I hadn’t started my day reading it, I wouldn’t have taken a moment to fully and truly see the man in the weighted-down minivan with the rooftop storage box pull into the public free parking lot. I would’ve missed his van barely squeak beneath the clearance bar and see the tailpipe scrape along the lip of the driveway. Then I wouldn’t have seen his furtive preparations to reverse his van into a parking space; his reverse lights didn’t work and so I had to wait, which was fine because I got a glimpse of his face which was so worry worn, so heavy and twisted with ennui, emotion and anxiety; each crease its own decades-long story. His hair, it was short but chunky and blonde, like a beachcomber’s, and his skin was leathery as though he’d lived outdoors all his life. The interior of his van was covered with all manner of life: wrappers, newspapers, coffee cups, magazines, a flip flop, stuffed animals… The windows of the van were tinted, but I could make the outlines of mounds of objects round and small and square and large. A battery-powered radio was wedged between the cracked windshield and a haphazard stack of periodicals. Here I witnessed: either a genius with serious hoarding issues, a lost soul with nowhere to go but the library on a sunny day, a criminal perhaps?, or just another guy whose emotional state is literally on the fringe. I would say he looked as though he were about 48 years old.

God has exposed me to two people in the last week who I am convinced were placed before me to keep my eyes open and my mind more open-er. That man in the van and a woman at Target who reminded me so much of my mother in her younger years that I find myself a bit dazzled by the timing of it all.

The woman was so peculiar to me. Twenty years ago I might’ve felt harshly toward her. She was wearing saggy cotton, faded black and lived-in pants, and a loose zippered off-white hoody. Her sneakers were simple Keds (Mom wouldn’t dare wear Keds). The cuffs of the sleeves were stained, as though they’d dipped into a dirty sink to wash coffee or tea or broth out of a pan or mug and I noticed that her hands were shaking a little; it was very subtle — almost like they were vibrating. Her hair was loose, shoulder length, black-brown with scant silver strands peeking out and it was oily near the scalp. I thought maybe she was out and about after feeling unwell for a few days. From her shopping basket she placed on the belt: nine cans of Campbell’s Hungry Man soups in all varieties, all with clearance price stickers on them. A ceramic table lamp, as though for a child’s room. It was white with lavender stripes and polka dots on it. The shade was inverted for storage and it was white with matching lavender velvet piping along the top and the bottom of the shade. She also gingerly took out of the top part of the cart, where little kids like to sit, a clearance-marked / on-sale pleather rust-toned backpack purse (which made me want to find out where it was because it was sort of cute but seemingly too large for my taste) which she examined closely one last time before she released it to the cashier. Then it came time to pay. Coupons. Lots of coupons (Mom couldn’t be bothered with coupons) but it was the way she paid. Her hands were more animated but deliberate in their stops and starts. The shaking was easier to see. She passed the coupons to the cashier and reached for her credit card which she then ran through the console. Her head was lurching forward, protectively in an almost vulture-like posture and she stared at the monitor as her tally ran up and then down with the aid of the coupons. Her only words, “I wish I had that Target card for the 5% off…” and then a gentle resigning laugh. She could be wealthy beyond all compare and still wanting the sale price. Or she could be a tangle of anxiety, OCD, doubt and fear. Judging by her pale, soft skin and the few gray hairs she had, I’d say she was likely 35.

I saw them. Like “Avatar” I see you -saw them. I saw them with my heart and my soul. They both those people exhibited a sense of loss, anxiety and woe to me that I could feel reverberate off them. I found myself breathing slower, more mindfully in their presence, simply to do what I could — consciously or not — to lower the vibration in the space I shared with them probably because they evoked such memories in me that I had to do what I could to calm myself down. I silently offered them both peace with each breath and have thought of them each since although the weight of their images fade with each day.

So after all these years of yoga, it’s impossible for me to not See people or feel them. I could revert back to my old ways: being hard, not caring and not getting involved, even on a witness level, but that’s false. I realize I have to be careful to not feel and see so much, and so that’s where the awareness of the awareness comes in.  So it’s that moment for me: taking myself out of my sense of expectations and attachments which enables me to fully live and fully release. Today in yoga, the quote from a book I read was this: “The hardest asana is letting go.” And so I realize, that even with all that compassion, I have to let it go or I’ll go down too.

What can you let go of today to help you be more present and to know that everything is happening –with and without you– as it should?

Thank you.

30 Days of Brené Brown — Day 26: I feel like a football player on a hockey rink

Standard

Welcome to Day 26 of “30 Days of Brené Brown!” — I’m starting to lose my mind!!

Here is today’s quote:

Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection.
― Brené BrownThe Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

Is it me? Have I lost my mind?

I can’t help but feel that this is becoming the Department of Redundancy Department.

I wrote the other day about spirituality and connection when I was in the meditation circle in yoga and I couldn’t speak. My connection to everyone else was so strong I didn’t need words to express what I was feeling: safe.

So now, ‘staying vulnerable is a risk‘? Since when is Brown now speaking of vulnerability as a risk? I thought it was an asset. I thought it was courage. I thought it was laying it all out and letting our inner lights shine.

I’m all confused now. I feel like a football player on a hockey rink.

I’ve been at this Brené gig for almost 30 days straight. Granted, I’ve written some of these posts on top of each other for a couple days, and I’ve had to plan some of this, so maybe I’m more saturated than you guys are. I read her book over the summer and I was on board even before I read it.

Brown’s concepts were good and they were right and rich with redemption of our souls and spirits, but I have to agree with my friend who said she ends up putting down Brown’s books because she repeats herself so much.

It’s a lot lie Justin Bieber’s breakout song:

And I was like
Baby, baby, baby ooh
Like
Baby, baby, baby noo
Like
Baby, baby, baby ohh
I thought you’d always be mine (mine)
Baby, baby, baby ohh
Like
Baby, baby, baby noo
Like
Baby, baby, baby ohh
I thought you’d always be mine (mine)

Are you feeling it too?

So if I’m going to be a good sport about this, I’ll go there: that I’m fighting staying here in this discussion because I’m tired of feeling vulnerable; and that’s a risk I’m willing to take. OK, I’ll own it: I’m tired of feeling vulnerable. Am I disconnected from you all if I decide to do that, unplug from vulnerability and be tough, hard, strong and aloof?

Yes.

I have to admit it’s a little nice though to not worry about Being Seen so much and to Just Be instead. It’s a little exhausting to make sure you’re letting everyone know your guard is down and how narcissistic is that?? Narcissistic. That’s funny.

“Hi everyone! It’s me… Bipsy. I just thought I’d let you all know that I’m feeling really empathetic and emotionally available today so if anyone wants to let me know about their fears or resentments or shame I’m here to listen and to be your buddy and to let you know you’re safe and whatever you want to talk about is totally cool. No judging. Promise.”

Crickets?

I mean, it’s a nice proposal and I can see some of you fidgeting in your seats and looking around the linoleum-tiled room. The fluorescent lights are on, one in the back is flickering near the window in the corner with the crack in it. The walls in the room are yellowing, could it be from the nicotine stains from all the Bingo nights here or is it just because this old building could use some love?

A dog runs past the windows on the east wall and a little boy in shorts scurries past yelling, “Buster! Come back!” as people make furtive glances at one another.

Bipsy is looking around the room, eyes open, but not expectant and she smiles gently at a couple souls. An older woman chews on her lower lip and starts to open her pocketbook.

“So, um … I’ll just be in the lower school library room if you need me; it’s the third door on the right opposite the restrooms….”

And she gets up to leave.

Bipsy has made the first move.

This is how it has to go sometimes. We need to be reminded why we are where we are when we’re together. Sometimes it’s so much easier to think as we stand in line at the coffee shop that everyone has a different purpose for being there when nothing could be further from the truth: coffee. We all go to a coffee shop because we want a cup of coffee or something else available at that destination.

It’s not that the coffee at home stinks, but we must allow the fact that there’s something about going into that place to see those people and smell that smell and smile at that person and hear that music and be in that space: connection.

Writing is lonely. It’s really nothing you can do with other people, no matter what people think. You can have workshops and critiques and editing sessions and read-alongs, but everything you do, when you write is ALONE.

These posts have been absolutely fulfilling in an academic and intellectual sense for me. They have even resonated with my spirit when I write them and after I am finished; but it’s terribly lonely. So when I get a comment, I’m so grateful for the interaction otherwise I feel like I’m in a cave, whispering nothings to myself and the bats.

Will I miss them? Will I miss writing these posts? Yes and no. The time is nearing when Ms. Brown and I will bid adieu and I will be a little sad. I went through a small depression after the Jung series, but it didn’t last long because I had to ramp up for the yoga retreat. And then I went to the beach. And then I came home. And then Mom died. So then all I could do was write about my grief. Then I started to feel self-conscious, embarrassed and ashamed that all I did was write about my sadness. So then I tried some funny stuff and it was ok, but it felt forced. So then I gave up a little. But I love to write, so I decided to write another series. This one.

So here I am… making myself connect with you all through my writing, which is terribly is isolating. Will I write more about my mom and my stuff? Will I write more about my kids or myself? I have no idea. Truth be told, I’m feeling a little lost again. I don’t know what to write about next; I feel like without a mission, I have no point in writing publicly on this blog at least. No one pays me, so I spend a lot of time in here on my laptop doing all this without any real return…

So Brown is totally right: the way for me to connect is through showing my vulnerability; I will absolutely admit that it works. I feel connected. Even if no one ever replies.

Crickets?

But this is the way of a writer who blogs on the internet. We are a dime a million. It’s a choice I make. Is it a risk? I guess so; it’s time I will never get back; but I enjoy it enough. It challenges me and it keeps me from doing laundry. I have yet to suffer any serious, growth-neutral or growth-negative repercussions, so that’s good.

Hmph! This post ended up being better than I thought it would. (For me anyhow.)

Was it good for you?

Thank you.