Monday, June 30, 2008

What We Perceive, What We Do


I saw this quote and it reminded me of Chani's blog yesterday for Sacred Life Sunday about finding inspiration in each person you meet. This quote refers to extending to each of these precious people we meet in the course of our day:
"Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness."--Lucius Annaeus Seneca via the book "Choosing Civility" by P.M. Forni


~Photo by LoveHubbie Mark

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Sacred Life Sunday: Bravery

I just finished a wonderful, very challenging book for me, called "When Love Meets Fear" by David Richo. David Richo is also the author of "How to Be an Adult in Relationships: The Five Keys to Mindful Loving", which gives you an idea of what he writes about...being a grown-up and being mature. He is a former Roman Catholic priest who converted to Buddhism and is a psychotherapist. I highlighted different parts to share with you.

So much of the time it is in the sharing with you here on my blog that I realize the purpose in my highlighting and sharing...and this is the case here, so thank you...

In the early part of the book, David Richo writes about fear. I really identified with this quote:

"Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past me I will turn to see fear's path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain." ---Dune: Frank Herbert from the book "When Love Meets Fear" by David Richo


Here is another quote, a different type of quote, from the same book that I also identified with. I feel this way a lot lately. A lot.

"St. Francis in the cave prayed: "Let me hide in the womb of this wet earth that sponges me in soft gentle mud. O womb of earth, hide me from eyes that freeze me in paralyzing fear."




And yet there is so much hope...another quote, again from the same book:

"Our work on our fear follows a simple path: admit you are afraid, allow yourself to feel the fear fully, act as if fear were not getting in your way."




And then one last quote, this one about the last part, the acting as if the fear weren't getting in the way:
"I make the choices I would make if I did not feel the fear. A good question to ask yourself is: "What would I do if I were not afraid?" "Acting as if," throughout the day, throughout the week, throughout the year, builds a bridge to fearlessness. It is a neuronal highway. This is how you can change the messages in your brain, creating a highway to freedom from the cellular fear. Since fear is encoded in us physiologically, freedom from it requires a bodily change. Every time you act as if you were not afraid, you instruct your cells to let go of fear. Every time you rationalize it away and do not act, the fear is instructed to leave everything as it is. We are never free from fear entirely, but we are free from being gripped by the neurotic story lines that surround the fear and make us so ashamed and powerless that we cannot handle it. That is true freedom from fear."


I know that I am needing to rebuild my "Be Brave" neuronal pathways. When Jessie and I had the discipline of BE BRAVE, I accomplished so much. I really viewed BE BRAVE as a spiritual practice. Slowly I think I slipped backwards into being afraid of so much. Or perhaps (yes, this is it!) I just moved on to a new level, but haven't had the courage and the energy to step up and to venture to where I want to go, to move in courage and bravery where I am now. I can blame the depression, but I won't. I want to move on with depression.




I want to emphasize that it's not that I'm not being brave now; it's just that I'm not flowing the way I was almost a year ago when we did the challenge. Jessie is---YAY! I take inspiration from her. I know that my circumstances are different, but I want to be heroic in them, and I don't feel as though I am.

Randy Pausch is heroic in his circumstances. My circumstances are nothing like his, and he can be a marvelous example for us all in how to face troubles, even life-threatening troubles, with grace and courage and dignity.




I want to be like Randy Pausch. I want to build and strengthen the neural pathways that lead me to do courageous things in my unique circumstances. I miss BEing BRAVE.

I'm still not sure where I'm going with this, exactly. Just the general direction. Toward BEing BRAVE.



~Photos by LoveHubbie Mark, some altered by Me

Thursday, June 26, 2008

An Upper

I brazenly stole this post and video from Kate I's blog. It just made me feel SO GOOD to watch this, to take five minutes and really watch this one all the way through. I almost cried. Just take five and really watch it, you'll feel better, I promise!



As I continue to deal with depression, I needed this upper, helped me breathe...and smile...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wellness Wednesday: Accepting Depression

Today I've been living with depression. And yesterday, too. But unlike in the past, I've been more or less okay with it. I've been allowing it, letting it be. Letting myself be sad. Grieving some losses. Being okay with being withdrawn.

A book that really helped me is the recent book "Unstuck". I wrote a review for it here (see the first "Spotlight Review") calling it a "Modern Bible for Depression Recovery". After reading it, and after my weight gain resumed (again) since resuming Lexapro last month, I decided to go off the SSRI's again---ten days ago. So I probably am enjoying the symptoms of drug withdrawal now. It is not pleasant, but for me right now, it is worth it. The book really helped me to just be able to be with my symptoms as best as possible.

I should say here that I'm not advocating that anyone stop any prescription medications without speaking to their doctors. Even though that's what I did.

And I'm doing something else really controversial. I'm starting on a regimen for nutritional support for depression via the company TrueHope. Most people wouldn't do this, but I've studied nutrition for over 30 years and feel very comfortable giving it a try. I will most likely start on Monday.

If you're interested, here are some videos about TrueHope: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5. The story behind it is very unusual and the rationale for it is unconventional. I list these for those of you who'd be open to alternative approaches to depression. The supplements were designed to help patients who are bipolar, but are also effective for those with depression and other mood disorders. I know that not everyone thinks this is a good thing, and that's okay. I believe we each have to find what works for us, and no answer is wrong if it is effective and if we feel good about our choice and the possible consequences. And if you don't deal with depression, or if you already have an approach that's working, then you have something to be truly grateful for!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Miscellany



Today I wanted to share a whole mishmash of things with you.

I know that it was Sacred Life Sunday yesterday two days ago, so first I want to share something I heard on television from an inspirational Catholic priest, Father Benedict Groeschel. It's something that I've been thinking about ever since I've heard it. Father Groeschel doesn't have a dedicated online presence to link to; he's elderly and pretty busy helping poor people.

Magic vs. Mystery (Faith): Father Groeschel said that magic was something that we can perceive with our senses that isn't really there, like a woman being cut in two---it seems like it's happening, but it really is not. That's Magic. Mystery or Faith (he uses the two terms interchangeably) is something that is really there but we cannot see it. Again, we are being fooled, but the opposite way. I don't know why this has stuck with me so strongly, but it has, and I can't stop thinking about it.




Next, here is a cartoon from David Hayward, a progressive pastor from Canada, with the blog nakedpastor:



I am a big fan of "The Secret" in many ways, but I think that sometimes we can take things too far and end up not being loving in our application of what we think of as truth. I absolutely believe that we attract things into our lives; however, I believe that there are many, many things about this process that we don't understand at all. Blaming others for their misfortune is never loving, and even when true, isn't useful at all, imho.




Keeping with the general theme of miscellany, I'm including this wonderful article on blanching from Start Cooking.com. What I love about this blog is that there are pictures for each and every step, making following them easy for people who struggle with cooking, people like me. Later this week, I am hoping to tackle Chicken Marsala, an uber-favorite of mine. Another wonderful food site to visit anytime, but especially this post on rice salad lately, is Gluten-Free Girl. I ordered the rice. I'm making the rice salad...soon.


~Photos by LoveHubbie Mark

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Heat and Me and LoveHubbie, A Story

On our honeymoon 8 years ago, LoveHubbie and I went to Hawaii. We had been married for almost a year, but had to postpone our honeymoon due to LoveHubbie's work schedule. We went to the Big Island--Hawaii. During the planning and reservation calls from the mainland, hotel employees at the various places we were staying ensured us that it was warm there, but that no air conditioning was "not a problem" and that we "wouldn't need it".













At the first place we visited, the Kona Tiki Hotel, it was right on the ocean, and seemed very hot. It seemed insufferable at night. Finally, at about 2 am, LoveHubbie said, "That's it! I can't take it!" He got up and left and said he was going to WalMart.

Our hotel was indeed very warm. I think it was about $69/night, very inexpensive for Hawaii. Hotels with air conditioning cost 3X that amount and more. So LoveHubbie went to WalMart and bought an air conditioner for $198. Only LoveHubbie could do this; I couldn't believe it, but he was serious. He ran the air conditioner inside the room (as opposed to in a window) and hooked up a trash can to it so that the water went into the trash can. We had to get up every 3-4 hours to empty it. We would stand in front of it and cool off, too.

We stayed in many hotels after that one. We lugged our WalMart air conditioner to every one, as none of them had a/c. We made sure to be very neat and tidy and to maintain the a/c very well. Each time we would change hotels, we'd throw it in the back of our SUV and take it to the next hotel. We never put it in the window, though, as they weren't made to accommodate them; each time we'd set it up inside and tend it like we now tend our fireplace in the winter.

At one hotel complex in Hilo, the neighboring guests were angry because we had a/c and they didn't. It ran all night and was very obvious. So the next day we were asked to leave. The hotel employees were angry because we used too much electricity. That did make sense, but LoveHubbie couldn't tolerate the heat. That hotel was overrun with misquitos, so we didn't mind.

On that trip, I had done all the planning and had taken pride in the fact that all of our hotels cost less than $100/night. We were staying for three weeks! Unfortunately, even several years ago in Hawaii, that meant that we were sort of camping with walls and private toilet facilities. Still, it was then that I first fell in love with Hawaii.

I dedicate this blog and story to Chani. It was inspired by her post yesterday.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Wordle

Where I found this, I don't know (it was on someone's blog today). It's called Wordle, and it's a free online tool to use to play with words. Here's what Wordle says about itself:
"Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text."

Of course, you can just make a list, and increase the frequency of words you want to appear larger. Then you can edit colors and more. Here is what I did:



And then this is what I created by plugging in the text from my most recent wordy post, "Sacred Sunday: Desperate for Joy":





What fun with words! To see what can be done, see other examples in the gallery or create your own...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day! Plus Update in OWorld

Today I made you a little Father's Day video, a little insight into OWorld (7:30, but it's been a long time since my last video!):





Today I found out today about Slow Movement and Take Back Your Time, both great ideas!

Happy Father's Day to all!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Sacred Life Sunday: Silence


"It is my ego that has a story; my soul is a silence." ---David Richo from When Love Meets Fear


~Photo by LoveHubbie Mark

Friday, June 13, 2008

I'm Voting Republican (The Video, Not Me!)

Now, happyluau isn't usually (or ever, really) political, but I really liked this video titled "I'm Voting Republican" that has been making the rounds over the Internet and thought you might too.

I happen to be a Democrat who is married to an ardent Republican, but I'm not a zealot in that I believe that everyone has the right to their political views and no one should be attacked for them, whatever they might be.

This video made me laugh and think. Even though it is definitely anti-Republican (an advance apology to LoveHubbie and my Republican friends) I think that the satire will make everyone think again what role they expect their government to play...even if you're outside of the US. I normally don't like things that are "anti" but in this case I made an exception, because some things in the video are very provocative.

Remembering Be Brave

This quote reminded me of the Be Brave project from last year. I lifted it from Brene Brown's blog Ordinary Courage.

"Courage is like — it’s a habitus, a habit, a virtue: You get it by courageous acts. It’s like you learn to swim by swimming. You learn courage by couraging."

--Mary Daly, feminist theologian

Sometimes I feel as though I'm living a wee small life. And then when I read something like this, I'm reminded that all I need to do step out in courage instead of shrinking back in fear. That's what I did so long ago (it seems) in Be Brave.




~Photo by LoveHubbie Mark

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sacred Life Sunday: Desperate for Joy



This is obviously belated in my attempt to convey some feelings that are very hard to convey in words. I've been doing lots of collage, which helps enormously. Just now on the phone we were wondering where LoveHubbie's new wallet was that I bought him on ebay and he suggested that I may have collaged it :) Writing has been harder though, and I've been at a loss for words.

Sunday was a sacred and wonderful day for me, a culmination of many things, and a huge reward after my recent low point.

I felt as though I was yearning for, desperate for joy, and that joy was on its way, kind of in a slow cooker kind of way. This so-called "desperation" was not a panic, a frantic striving, or a harried feeling, but a yearning, and extending, and a reaching for joy. An allowing and a watching for joy. And a feeling of surprise, too, each time I see little joy-blips. A feeling of wonder. Astonishment.

Things are rearranging themselves in my life in interesting ways. Everything is moving, altering, shifting. What is coming up for me is receiving and joy.

I've been experiencing lots of emotional healing from a growing spirituality that sort of astounds me. I've felt kind of jaded spiritually lately, like I've been everywhere and done everything and that there's nothing more out there that I don't know about or want to know about or experience...and then I was surprised. Nothing big or huge or worth writing about yet...just quiet blips of joy and grace and tenderness and gentleness, requiring me to receive and to feel more than think.

I heal through silence, aloneness, contemplation, and I've had a soothing serving of all of these lately. Things that I usually don't make time for, like reviewing tidbits in my journal, tying them together and seeing patterns or finding small epiphanies. Helping me to grow. And to grow up.

So I love this picture of the macaque. I feel vulnerable. And happy. And wanting to learn to receive and trust again, but in a way I haven't done before. And despite how it looks in the picture, inside I'm extending and lengthening, and growing. It's sort of a paradox.

See, I told you it was hard to put in words.

It's like saying that the movie "Lars and the Real Girl" is about a man who romances a sex doll. Well, it is, but it totally isn't. It's almost about everything else but that and you can't see it on the surface. Some people won't see it at all. But I did, and was touched profoundly by this movie. A special thanks to Carla for her recommending it...one of the best movies I've seen in a long, long time and so supportive in my spiritual journey.

~Picture from Cute Overload

Thursday, June 5, 2008

An Opportunity to Give Today

I want to do my part in spreading the news about this wonderful opportunity to give. We are many, and can make a huge difference with very little effort in this. Kate I writes about it here, and it's only for today, so bop over now, please. The rest of the story and the place to donate is on Jen Lemen's blog here. Thanks, gals and guys :)



~The photo is from Pomai at The Tasty Island and is a Hawaiian hibiscus; here are more stunning pictures from a recent post of his.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Bike Riding for Fat Baby Boomers

Or What I Wish I'd Known Before I Became an Overweight Middle-Aged Cyclist



I had so much fun riding my bicycle this week...Sunday and Monday.

Tuesday was another matter.

Tuesday I could hardly move, and I had...err...other problems as well.

So for all of my friends who are considering buying a bike, and for everyone else who reads this who is considering buying a bike, I have some hard-won advice for you. If you're still young (the younger the better) then you can laugh and be glad you're starting earlier. If you're not overweight, you can rejoice again and have even more motivation to stay healthy. If you're like me--overweight and over 50, then you need to read this!


1. Buy a fat-friendly bike.

This would be what is now called a "comfort bike"--strong, comfortable positioning, and possibly super-sized for your body. Do not buy this bike at a department store, but at a bike shop where the employees seem knowledgeable about your bike riding experience, and do not want to just sell you a bike. You need a sturdy bike, sturdy enough to support your weight. As a newbie, you probably don't know how sturdy that is, so you need expert help. You want to invest your money in a bike that will hold up well and be safe.

Obviously, you'll want your bike shop to adjust the bike to fit your body measurements as well. And add on an odometer or other accessories, unless you're handy (I'm not).


2. Test ride your bike.

Don't buy a bike somewhere you can't test ride it and make sure you like how it rides. Test ride several bikes and compare them. I thought I wanted a cruiser with no gears until I rode one; my bike has eight gears, which is perfect for me. I found out I liked really big wheels, too. Big thin wheels, not balloon tires. Test ride it on a day where the weather conditions approximate the weather you'll be riding in, too.


3. Make sure that the seat works for you.

This isn't as simple as being comfortable on the seat in the store or during your test ride. If you are sore after a few minutes of riding on the seat, consider a different seat (XL, extra-wide, gel seat, or dual-pad seat) or at least a gel cover for your seat. Don't just ignore it because you're just "a little sore" or you can take it.

I will tell you why here. If you are a fat baby boomer and you ride on a typical seat, you may get very, very sore. Like days later. Too sore to sit down. Picture your private parts being mashed around really, really, really hard for the duration of your bike ride mash mash mash hit ker-pow! mash around some more and you can imagine the problems. It feels a little uncomfortable at first but wait and see what you're in for in a couple of days. The possibilities are endless. Everything from expected soreness to excruciating soreness (the kind that interferes with walking, sitting, sleeping, and existing), urinary tract infections (for women), and prostate problems, urethral strictures, increased PSA's and impotence (for men). This is straight from the urologist's mouth. Don't ask.


4. Check bike before each ride.

Be on top of bike maintenance and perform regular checks for warping, cracks, and other forms of stress damage. If you don't know how to do this, your bike tech person at the bike shop will. Visually inspect the bike each time before you ride it. Listen to your bike, too. It may make unusual light groaning-type or moaning-type sounds (that's what my tandem did). If you notice anything unusual, including the sounds, don't ride it until you have it professionally checked out.


5. Go very, very slowly. Think of what this means to you. Then go a much, much slower pace than that.


I thought that a 30 minute ride two days in a row was slow. Wrong. After I recover, in a few days here (no I'm not giving up...I had WAY too much fun) I'm going two minutes---up and down my driveway. Then three. Then four. Like everything else when you're over fifty, it's way slower than I thought it would be.




That said...be safe...have fun...and ride!


~Written with frequent breaks due to Fat Baby Boomer Bike Riding Syndrome

~Photo of my bike by Electra Amsterdam Townie and Sign by Signapalooza

Wellness Wednesday: Healthy Cycling

Thank you everyone for your comments about my silly fun bike riding! I have been MIA (missing-in-action) and want to thank you for your lovely comments and encouragement!

As you know, I usually answer my comments personally, but today I thought I'd write a post instead later today, in the hopes that it may also help some of you who are considering taking up cycling.

Blessings, O

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Sacred Life Sunday: Silly Fun

Today, Sacred Life Sunday, I rode a bicycle alone for the first time in 36 years or so.

Well, actually LoveHubbie and I got a tandem about 8 years ago, but the weight capacity of the bike was 400 pounds, so we still have it but are holding off until our combined weights go below that again. Also, when I rode the tandem I never steered or really did too much except sit in the second seat and pedal hard. LoveHubbie would steer and stop and decide which way to go. In a similar way, our marriage has evolved, and it is much more apropos for us to each have our own bikes that we can ride together, but each be responsible for everything having to do with running it.

This is a very, very silly video of our first ever bike ride. It was SO much fun! We came home from the bike store and I ran in and got my video camera and viola---here you have it!



The impetus for us getting the bikes was Lori-Lyn. Ever since she shared her pictures, it looked like something I'd really want to do.