Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Discovery, Journals, and My Selfish Inner Exploration

I like to think of myself as a Rennaisance woman, or is it self absorbed and over extended? I haven't decided.  I feel like I am improving as time goes on.  A good deal of this month I've been down with the Depression and anxiety attacks were popping up again.  I told my husband that I was bound to get worse before I get better.  Maybe that was it?  Something has got to give.  I'm working on my inner growth, on a journey through the past and into the future.  This journey takes a good amount of self reflection, and that takes personal time and introspection.  Those things can be hard to come by for me with everything on my table.  I'm at a crucial time in my life where I am aggressively working on some past damage and wounds, balancing my chakras and what not, and to do that I need to 'do my thing', and my 'thing' is basically being selfish, or at least it feels like it.  I feel I have been neglecting relationships while on my inner journey, disconnecting ssomewhat.  Balancing your inner and outer world can be challenging and time consuming, but I like to think that I'm worth waiting for.

For a year now I've been in therapy where I'm resurfacing all of these emotions and habits and patterns I'm trying to break or make, I'm also on two medications constantly trying to weigh the pros and cons of that situation, single mothering through the week, blogging, frantically writing to appease my creative expression compulsions, trying to keep up with guitar play, learning the piano, and working on being a better mother and person every day.  Maybe I try to do too much?  I'm still compelled and drawn to do these things and make these connections, it's just that personal growth is a long process, especially while I'm still dragging the zombie corpse of Depression behind me, as it chews on my ankle, while I do my best to trudge into the future, anxiety be damned.  I carry a bit of guilt about neglecting my friends, but that doesn't help me in balancing my Root Chakra, does it?  And I would like to think they'd understand, especially considering my daughter is also getting the raw end of the deal as Mama works on "the boo boo in her head". 

I like to think I am making good progress, considering.  I'm currently reading Simple Abundance:  A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach.  This is a book of essays in calendar format, that you read throughout the year.  Part of 'the program' is working with a gratitude journal, part is working with a 'daily dialogue', which is basically the stream of consciousness writing in my 'Life Liver's Log' journal, and part is working with an Illustrated Discovery Journal.  This is basically playing with collage, and seeing what images speak to your soul daily.  I'm doing an overhaul on my daily routine, on my inner dialogue, on my relationship with food, my way of dealing with the world, etc. ETC.  Sometimes I feel overwhelmed and sometimes I feel very selfish giving myself all this attention.  But, still...I need to do it.  And eventually, I'll be better, eventually I'll be more mindful and attentive.  Eventually.  But right now...I'm kind of going through some shit.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Richard's Rhythms: A Local Night of Music

Richard Sleigh at the Elk Creek Cafe
Milheim, PA
January 9, 2014

I met Richard Sleigh last year at the Greenwood Furnace Folk Gathering.  The two Melissa's were lucky enough to have randomly set up camp right next to him after already meeting him in the parking lot shortly after arriving and then attended two of his workshops at the event. I learned a lot from Richard about rhythm and the harmonica. I also was at the chapel for his solo performance that weekend and it blew me away. This man was so chill and laid back, so easy to speak to and learn from and still left the entire church silenced and awed by his amazing short show. When Melissa informed me Richard was playing at the Elk Creek Cafe on the 9th, I was in!

I left Greenwood Furnace with a copy of Richard's 1988 album Steppin' Out. Melissa took home a copy of The Joliet Sessions. So we have been listening to Richard for a couple of months now. It was so great to see him play again, and this time he had the backing of a lead guitarist and drummer, which added to the sound. It's still amazing to hear someone completely rock out a solo song on the harmonica and have it come across with as much feeling as Richard does. His timing is impeccable, his performance is damn near flawless. He is an incredibly impressive musician.

On this night, as well as some solo harp numbers, we heard songs done with his band including "Playing With Fire" by the Rolling Stones, "Bad, Bad Whiskey" by Amos Milburn, Santana's "Black Magic Woman", "The Heart of Saturday Night" by Tom Waits and others. Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic" excited the hell out of me. It was interesting to hear the horn part done on the harmonica. Later, Jerry McCain's "She's Tuff" was a pleasant surprise because it's been one of my favorites on Steppin' Out. Also, after having been moved at the chapel performance when he invited Simple Gifts to join him for his last number, I was psyched to hear "Long, Black Veil" again. Phenomenal! However, the song that I was the most impressed with at Greenwood Furnace was a cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Oh, Well". He played this one on this night, and it sounded even better with the added percussion nuances added by the drummer. Oh....Well DONE!!

All in all, this was a great night. Elk Creek is always wonderful, we enjoyed some tasty tapas and beer. I had a good time and Richard put on a terrific show. If you haven't ever seen the local musician Richard Sleigh perform, he is definitely worth checking out and apparently plays a regular gig every second Thursday at The Elk Creek Cafe in Milheim. This show was great but it also made me appreciate seeing him last year in such an intimate setting and in such a raw, personal way. It was cool being able to speak to him again. He sounded great with his band, but is one standalone artist, that sure can make a harmonica speak to you and one hell of a nice guy to boot! He ended his night with a coffee and a piece of carrot cake; sounds delicious. The man has excellent taste. Richard Sleigh, we salute you!

Friday, January 10, 2014

After the Goldrush Jerky

So, I don't exactly know when it started, when I first spotted the face of that rugged pick-baring gold miner on my first package of Gold Rush jerky, but I will forever be changed by the tasty meat inside his package. I have purchased and eaten such a great amount of this product, I should own stock in the company, so I figured it deserves a blog post at the very least. You know, spread the word. It's good stuff! After tasting the tender pieces of beef made by Goldrush Farms, there has been no other jerky for me!

I've always been a big jerky fan; there's nothing like protein to keep you going. I've tried many kinds. I can honestly say Goldrush is my favorite, hands down. The package declares "Moist & Tender" and "Delicious" and they aren't just whistling Dixie! You get 3.25 oz (91 g) of yum for around $5.25 and although jerky in general is pricey, it is seriously worth every penny. My husband even says he would gladly pay a whole dollar more for it. The package says to refridgerate after opening, but it seldom lasts long enough to need it. That's mostly what sucks about paying over 5 bucks a pop.

Goldrush is better than Oberto, and even better than Jack Links, in my opinion. It has great flavor, is incredibly juicy and not overly salty. I have only seen it at The Market Place, it's sort of a local buy, being made in Litchfield, Ohio. They have it at The Market Place, and as long as I see it there, I'll buy it like milk and bread. It's a staple. It comes in Mild, Sweet Barbecue, Spicy, and Teriyaki. Sometimes I wonder if I'm forming an addiction to this meat. It's marvelous. Marvelous meat!

Overall Goldrush Jerky is an excellent buy. It's the best jerky I've had aside from homemade venison jerky. As long as it's there, I'll buy it! That old bearded gold miner has the key to this girl's heart; after the Goldrush jerky, nothing else will taste quite as good.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Habits: Breaking VS. Making

Shining the sink is the FlyLady habit of the month for January.  I've attempted to make this little FlyHabit infiltrate my daily routine before but it didn't take.  I've decided this is the perfect opportunity to try again.  Why?  Because, let's face it, this habit makes sense!  One thing I've learned that helps ward off depression is dragging your sorry ass out of bed to stare a shining sink in the face.  You know what it means??  There are NO fucking dishes to do right off the bat. A sink full of dirty dishes never helps you want to 'come to' in the morning or afternoon or evening, especially when depressed.  Why not look out for your tired, cranky, low mood morning self by setting her up for a better outlook? An ounce of prevention, they say. What it is supposed to symbolize in a FlyLady sense is your self love.  A big smiling face of an EMPTY sink.  That's like a made bed in the morning, it's the start of a not so terrible day.  It's a great symbol of the power of habits. Surely, if that sink could greet me every morning, empty and shining, it would help me accomplish more in a day and ward off the blues?  Surely?!?!  Surely.  If I could ONLY make it a habit, but habits can be almost as hard to make as they are to break.  Habits, good or bad, are also those things that will make you or break you.

It is said that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. There isn't much validity to this statement; while true for some, it takes everyone's neural pathways a different length of time to form or forget or whatever they do. Also, longstanding habits have carved out deeper pathways than new developing ones. The data can't prove it really takes 21 days, but if you can maintain something that long it's probably safe to say you're on your way to success.

The things that we do repeatedly without effort in our routine are the things that will make us a success or a failure. Brushing your teeth, showering, taking care of yourself, these are all good habits. NOT doing those things is a bad habit, either way, they effect your quality of life. If I am chronically dehydrated because every day I am falling incredibly short of my intake needs plus drinking mostly coffee on top of that just to keep up the illusion that I have enough energy to complete my daily duties, then I am continually failing in other areas in my life and this is most definitely affecting my overall strength, stamina, and determination...crippling any REAL chances of success. A dehydrated brain can work at a rate comparable to one that has lost an entire night of sleep. One daily habit could be a big snowball in the avalanche of factors that cause us to continually fall short. It's incredible how everything effects everything else in some way. Can't think right; can't get right!

Habits are hard to break, no matter what they are. Your brain builds neural pathways when you pick up a habit and the longer you've had it or been indulging in the behavior, the stronger that pathway is. Maybe it's more like a highway. How do you shut down a highway with that much traffic on it? What happens to those vehicles using the highway once you shut it down? It's just closed, but that concrete road is still there. It's still a perfectly good road....and those vehicles are going to try like hell to get back on that highway, because it gets them where they want to go. You need to keep the road closed long enough that the vehicles turn around or get lost!! Odds are that roadway in your brain will always be there, which is why people can stop smoking for years and then be undone by sending one car down that nicotine highway. BAM! Open for traffic!

It's perhaps a little easier to start construction on a new highway, but still is quite the daunting task. I've been consumed with habits. I've been perpetually obsessed with perfecting my daily routine, because therein lays your success or failure. But I guess if succeeding was easy, everyone would be doing it. It's hard for all of us.

I need to shine the sink, so that it can be a daily reminder of my determination and love for myself. I need to make it a habit. I need to make drinking adequate water a habit, so that it comes naturally, because that is the first step in giving my body the sustenance and love that it desperately needs.

What good habits do you have? What are your bad ones?

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Abrasive Side of the Sponge

So, I was watching Sponge Bob with Celie the other day and I laughed so hard and mused a bit.  It's a funny show, and sometimes I doubt my 3 year old is learning much from it, but I am, so it seems harmless enough?  Sponge Bob is THE man in this house.  He is the only show that can actually keep the kid hooked for more than 15 minutes at a clip.  I've never seen anything like it!  Are you kidding me?  Of course I shall embrace the Bob Pants!!  This is something we can both 'learn' from.

So, basically on this episode, Gary, thinking Sponge Bob too passive or what have you, orders him an accessory of sorts for sponges.  It's one of those rough and tough green abrasive sides!!  Sponge Bob puts it on and he loves it, marching down the street declaring "I have an abrasive side!! I have an abrasive side!!"  I couldn't help but laugh.  Some of us are just that proud of it, aren't we?

As Sponge Bob continues on his way, he soon finds that he can't control his other side, which is basically a green face on his back that randomly flips around and throws insulting remarks at his friends. He even tells off his grandma at a cross walk and refuses to help her across the road. For awhile he's sort of blissfully unaware this is happening, but then he begins to realize all of his friends are mad at him and he is filled with regret when he thinks of how he treated his grandma. The Awakening!

Abrasive is an adjective that according to Webster's means 'tending to abrade' or 'causing irritation'. Irritating. This basically means that Sponge Bob's other side was irritating to everyone around him. The things he would come out and say in almost a bipolar manner could be hilarious. Some things were just brutally honest. Other things were just down right mean. There are two sides to every sponge. I know people like this. People that seem to announce it as they parade through life. Others, like myself, don't really realize how the other side seems because our yellow side is so snarky, sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. I digress.

Ultimately, Sandy Squirrel ended up ripping the abrasive face right off of Sponge Bob's back. What a pal! That's what friends are for. We could all use to be a little more abrasive on some tough messes, and that's what abrasive sides are essentially made for, those ancient, caked on messes that give the most resistance. But for those softer, milder jobs, the other side of the sponge is more than sufficient. The abrasive side, which is used for tougher stains, is overkill for those gentle jobs. If it could only be controlled, maybe we could get the job done without scratching the china? No matter, squirrelly friends will always be willing to help you find your true face on the other side of the sponge.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Beauty of Being Broken

A month or so ago Joey knocked a "Great" souvenir rock piece off of my bookshelf and it fell down onto my desk and smashed the shade to my banker's lamp...the banker's lamp that was my first desk lamp as a child that I got around the age of 11. My husband has this knack for breaking things from my past or childhood that are dear to my heart, my firsts or favorites. Perhaps he's to teach me lessons in non-attachment?  I've just had to deal with it, of course, because once something is broken there really is no going back.  Sometimes you can repair it, sure, but it is forever structurally changed even if.  For better or worse? As cool as it would have been to glue the green shade, it was busted beyond repair; glue was not an option. But sometimes when things are broken you have a great opportunity to change something in the object's life story; when we are forced to put ourselves back together we can make our mortar golden.

The Japanese have a term for the beauty found in the imperfections of things. "Kintsugi" is a word for the art of fixing ceramics with solid gold, or gold-like material. The word means "golden joinery" and when a vessel is repaired in this way it is thought to be more valued than before it was fractured. I think that is a beautiful metaphor for all of our broken hearts. Something that has been damaged or is flawed is more beautiful because of this. You just have to see it that way. In a sense, the broken ceramic has wisdom. It is wise to the way of the world and its wounds are its wealth.

Unfortunately my lamp shade couldn't be joined with gold, but the lamp itself could be salvaged by simply getting another shade. While being broken, I had the choice to either replace it with a similar green one or change it while I had the chance and go with an amber colored shade.

Sometimes when you have to fix something it is a good chance to make changes and sometimes when things are fixed, the flaws don't look so bad. Just because something is broken doesn't mean it should be valued any less. If we view ourselves like ceramics, we would find more worth in our imperfections. Hardship builds character. Flaw is fashionable. Broken is beautiful.
So, I went with the amber shade and I think that my lamp has taken on a whole new personality. It's the same lamp, but a different shade; it's the same light, but a different color. I could be sad that the lamp I had no longer exists, or that parts of me are broken but instead, I'm actually pretty psyched because this one matches its surroundings better, these glued pieces do me justice. If I never broke, I never would have changed. I wouldn't have my golden fracture lines had I not at some point cracked. That makes me more beautiful...and wise.  Sometimes, like the lamp, to find your true color and are better off broken.