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Archive for February 3rd, 2008

The Closest Thing to Yoga

Sunday, February 3rd, 2008

What I Haven’t Done Yet

I’m the first one to admit I could benefit from a little meditation or slowing down. It seems that everyone around me is finding some way to calm their inner selves with Yoga, some other Meditation, Chi Gong, Nia, Tai Chi, whatever. So far I just can not go there.

(Well, Brian is already calm, he needs none of this. He won’t understand why I needed to write a whole column about it… which is why he is so perfect for me. Not sure why I’m perfect for him, but I’m glad, anyway.)

I tried one yoga session one time, and I wanted to run away half way through the class. However, I’d come with a friend who was a regular attendee and I had to stick it out. That instructor was big into “feel your muscles” and I was not interested in that sort of awareness.

The closest thing I’ve ever found to yoga was adult ballet class, when I was lucky enough to take it from Diane Newman (Director of Happendance Troupe and School). I found that when I had inner conflict, I found it very hard to balance my physical body. I had immediate information about my psyche when I stepped away from that barre.

Luckily for me, Diane allowed for the adult class to be less strict than a normal ballet class, and when I’d fall over and laugh out loud, she didn’t flinch. In fact, she’d tell me how beautiful my foot was. She would find the one thing I had done right and make sure I knew about it. What a loving person she is, and it shone through in class.

What I Do

So in order to get in touch with my physical self, I now study mideastern dance (AKA belly dance) and rehearse with the girls. With lots of music and other women around me to distract me from the effort it takes.

I have never been strong physically and pushing my muscles hard is not pleasant, no matter how much others might like working out until they can’t push further. (Photo is me dancing as Eudora, at New Aladdins Restaurant just Friday. A blur, my camera does that, but it’s sort of wonderful to show the movement here.)

I do love to walk, but I admit that this is also an activity with distractions. I love the distractions. Especially when the grass is green and there are flowers of any sort, I walk the neighborhood and observe gardens as they change through the months.

I find it hard to walk when there is snow on the ground, though. I don’t like cold any more than feeling my muscles.

A Stitch/A Mantra?

Knitting has a repetition I adore and which makes it somewhat akin to some sorts of meditation. However, I am all about knitting in circles around and around, knit knit knit without any pattern or counting at all. And I can do that without looking at my hands.

So I read blogs while I knit socks in circles. It’s good for getting the fidgety nerves out of my fingers, so to speak, but it’s not about paying attention or anything.

The Real Practice in My Real Life

So Saturday night I made tapioca pudding. This is a real treat for me, something I truly enjoy as comfort food and have absolutely no allergy problems with. Currently, I make mine with soy milk, brown sugar, tapioca and a tiny bit of butter or ghee (there is nothing like dairy fat to satisfy, I must admit). Not even vanilla most of the time, just four ingredients. (I published a partial-coconut-milk tapioca recipe here once. It’s reeeeally good. Doc says no more coconut, so it’s your recipe now.)

But tapioca pudding requires stirring pretty much constantly until it boils, slowly. It is very hard for me to accomplish. In fact, I must admit that one day I burned two batches. Two. Sigh…

Striving for Serenity/Grasping Straws

Saturday I had to dive in and use Adobe InDesign. I worked on it one other long day, and that is it. I must say it is so unlike anything I have ever done before that I am really struggling. I cried at one point (drama queen that I am) but recovered and pressed on.

Maybe it is harder for me, because I am an expert at Microsoft Word, I’m very good at PowerPoint and Excel, I’ve done web page design since 1996, have done programming in dBase III+ and DOS and MS Access. I am used to being the expert. None of these programs are anything like a layout program. It’s start from scratch time.

I have tried to “grok” three different page layout programs over the years, even sat in on classes and it didn’t sink in. Others say how logical these programs are. So far they have not made much sense to me. Why they exist, I totally understand. how to use them, not so much.

I’m grateful for my friend Deb who uses this program a lot (to lay out whole books, not just patterns). She surely has discovered things about it the hard way, many things I will never need to know. Or so I think today. She at least explained a few things to me this weekend while I was whining and whimpering. I’d do drama queen, she’d do resource librarian. Just the facts, ma’am. Exactly what I needed.

I took a class in how to use the program, back in October. I remember a few things from that class, and I do have the book we used as a reference which has been quite helpful. Today I did something I learned in class, and my computer flipped out. It flashed and blinked and in the end went almost entirely gray with a few words still left on the screen.

Somehow I lucked out and it did not stop running. I gave it about 5 minutes, then waved my mouse across the gray screen, and as I did the words under the mouse started to appear. I clicked Cancel in a dialog box and got everything back. Whew. But as Brian says, I was sort of in a dangerous energy or something.

Stirring is a Mantra…Maybe?

I didn’t feed myself enough because I was focusing on other things. So I realized after dinner that a little comfort food dessert would be a very good thing. I wondered… do I dare to make tapioca pudding? The closest thing to focus, to meditation, to yoga that I ever accomplish? On a good day, anyway.

I took the challenge. And I stood there and stirred and stirred, and watched that pudding. I talked to it, told it “nice baby” and all those things you say to a child or a kitten, or an unsteady car. And I did it. I did a perfect job of tending to my comfort food. I did not burn it, I did not so much as turn my back on it for a minute.

It was good.