The 3 stages of (my) Walking Meditations

When I go for my usual walks (for now), I am sort of forced to use a path that goes around a local park since it is the only one that doesn’t close at dusk and it is mostly lit up. The outside track is 1.25 miles around with( about) 3% incline grades on each side. At this point in time I generally walk at least thrice around as well as up a separate hill with a VERY steep grade that is only 0.6 miles. It’s odd to me that while I walk my thoughts are flowing and( in my mind) I am able to clearly express what I would like to be able to communicate about it on my blog , only to find that by the time I sit to write hours later, I can’t even come close…I wish I had a tape recorder in my head!  But, as I have been asked a few times about what I mean when I do a ‘walking meditation’ session, I will do my best here ( humor me, please ..lol).

 Let me start by giving a few definitions of meditation:

  1. “A written or spoken discourse expressing considered thoughts on a subject”
  2. “To engage in contemplation or reflection”
  3. “To engage in a mental exercise for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness”
  4. “Taking charge of one’s mind”
  5. “Using a technique to train attention and awareness and achieve a mentally clear , emotionally calm & stable state”

There are many different forms of meditation out there ( including prayer) and I believe the above descriptions can apply to just about all of them. I tend toward the last definition during my walking sessions. With that in mind, this is “my “ current process.

The first time around the track I start out just trying to acclimate to whatever the weather/current environment is. I walk at a pretty good clip and have gotten it down to about 18-20 minutes. I call this the ascent.

-“the act of rising”- in my case rising above any external forces that would impede my growth, progress and focus- such as physical discomfort, daily concerns, worries of any sort.

By the second round , my mind and body have “warmed up”. I slow my pace a bit. I am more able to listen to the sounds around me, the rhythm of my pace, to smell, see and take in the environment without the above distractions. I call this summiting or the summit:

-“to meet the apex”- As with any meditation , the apex to me is being at the height of my awareness, the peak of mindfulness, and a ‘clearing of the trees’( external issues) enabling me to see the highest views ( of myself/or the world around me) at that moment).

By the third round, I am connecting with any ongoing situations , emotions or mental blocks using my achieved state of clarity and  I allow myself to come to a peace with whatever my final thoughts are for that day on each item. I call this the descent.

“moving to a lower position from a higher one” where in my thoughts are coming into a more grounded place in order to transition back into the material or “real” world.

This is just a basic description of the sort of “process” I use. It isn’t dependent on the actual # of times around the path or any set time frame or mileage. As my walks grow into actual hikes, on various trails and become longer, each stage has broadened and became longer with increasing emphasis on each stage, culminating in the fruition of more productive solutions each time.

I hope this wasn’t too “textbook” or boring…but it’s all I got at the moment. I do not use music or tones, ear buds , or even bring my phone along, etc. during my walks right now in order to stay in the moment and avoid distractions. I look forward to longer and even more enjoyable hikes as I gain strength( physically) as I anticipate the meditations to become more valuable in tandem.

Peace and hugs….

Home Improvement

Warning: lots of pics…

When i first saw the photos of this new home i was sort of impressed with the somewhat minimalist decor and Martha Stewartish style( Above Photos). In fact, for a few weeks i even tried to maintain that but with very little success. The problem is, it isn’t “me” or “us”. In spite of trying to completely revamp my life there is still a Bohemian nature to me that cannot over come. Additionally, there are just some things i CANNOT tolerate. One of those things is carpet. I have extreme allergies. But also, i simply cannot abide with not being able to slide things around ad lib, including art easels, and heavy furniture. I am a chameleon by nature. Carpet is a drag to me…literally.

My Roommate and i have been busy busy, busy around the new home…right now as you can see from above, it kind of resembles a “Squatter’s Den”(giggle). We have removed a good bit of carpet ( which sadly was brand new this year) and will be replacing it with something much more amenable to our lifestyle( we are artists after all). Meanwhile, it is kind of frustrating and painful ( lots of staple/nail removal injuries).

But isn’t this too, an opportunity for growth? Now that i actually ‘own’ the property the possibilities are endless ( within financial considerationss, of course) and we can pretty much do whatever we want to create the home of our dreams. So far, i took the initiative to create some privacy by painting ( yes , painting!) over some windows which were way too “open to praying eyes” for my tastes. I was hesitant, but having to stay on budget and with other more pressing expenses at the moment, i forged ahead and am pleased with the results( below).

At any rate, we will continue to follow our bliss and build this dream home in whatever manner we chose….and damn the torpedos! Lmao..

Have a great week everyone!

Advance Apologies

Tonight is the night i have decided to invest time adding photos, tags , etc to each and every post on this blog to reflect what is contained within. I am also going to be going through to ( hopefully) edit grammar, spelling, spacing, etc. I do apologize in advance if any of you are getting constant “bings” on your phone ( i.e. notifications). My intent is to improve navigation, and enable others to find my stuff much easier..Thanks so much for your patience!

Namaste!

Step # 9 Making Peace with your Demons

They follow you around, whispering in your ears. No one else hears them and they can drive you nuts. Those demons- the ones that are constantly telling you to just have that one drink, smoke one more cigarette, eat that whole bag of chips, or have that one night stand. They start subtle and seem harmless. But they don’t stop there.

Because if you do have that one drink or cigarette, they will say have just one more ( no one will know)…and why not have a few more cookies today ( because you already ate the chips after all)  and why bother using protection (with that stranger- throw caution to the wind!). No matter how far you go, your demons will always push for more.  “Be a rebel!” “Do what YOU want to do!” “Don’t hold back !”  and a million other sneaky phrases meant to make you feel in control..( but you aren’t. ) Sometimes, they come in the form of addiction. Other times just patterns or habits. The worst ones of all can be toxic people or relationships. And what most of us need to learn is how “make peace” with them.

“Wait!” you will say “Aren’t I supposed to fight them? Destroy them? Become their master?” ..etc., etc., etc.….because this is probably what we have been told most of our lives 

But- News flash- it isn’t gonna happen. There is a reason they are called “demons”. They are more powerful than you, smarter than you and more manipulative and always will be. Don’t believe me? Think about how many years they controlled you, how many ways you justified them, how much you tried to minimize( if not completely block out) the harm you were doing to yourself and others because of them, and how many times you failed when trying to walk away.  If you simply try to ‘fight’ them- it will only result in one of 2 endings- either you will lose utterly or spend your life on the battlefield. And there is a much more pleasant life to be had out there.

So, what do I mean by making peace? I am talking about acceptance , kind of like a piece of DNA . Your demons, whatever they may be, are in fact a part of you. And wherever you go, there will be there. So understanding that is an absolute necessity. This does not mean ,however , giving them any control whatsoever. 

It means acknowledging that yes, they DO exist, and always will, but that they are like the boss you can’t stand, the sibling who acts like a “know-it-all”, the neighbor who seems to keep finding ways to annoy you, that whiney co- worker or your monthly bills. They aren’t going away, and ignoring them isn’t always an option so you have to find a way to deal with them. 

When I am face to face with mine( having a craving, feeling intense anxiety, spiraling down into depression, or feel my anger/spite/resentment building for example)  the most effective weapon I have is talking gently- to myself, the demon itself and/or my spiritual advisor( in my case- God) about the whole situation. I make every attempt to find a reasonable compromise. I cannot have that beer- but I CAN have that coffee with extra whip cream and cinnamon on top. I cannot have that cigarette- but I CAN take a deep breath, drink some ice water, go for a walk and have a piece of gum. I cannot eat that whole bowl of ice cream , a chocolate bar, and a few cookies- but I CAN have some cashews, some veggie chips, or hummus. I cannot quit my job, disown that toxic person, or not pay my bills—but I can find a way to achieve inner peace by choice through meditation, prayer, mantras, yoga or whatever practice brings that peace.

Once the negotiation has taken place and a compromise with my enemy has been reached, we can both go about the next hour or day with relative peace.

 Eventually and over time- the compromises come easier and we become ships passing in the night. My demons and I acknowledge that we are a part of each other but that the close , passionate fiery drama of our ‘old relationship’ is no more. And , with mutual respect, we learn to live in tandem- parallel, but not connected. And the fight has gone out of us in favor of serenity and acceptance .

Namaste!

The 50 Best Things that Happened when I quit Smoking & Drinking

1. Can drive anywhere at any time, especially at night and not having to use an uber

2.less worry about injuries ( like falling down stairs!)

3. Less money spent on hangover “cures”( pepto bismal, alka seltzer & various remedies)

4. No drunken social media posts

5. no more 2 am online “booty calls” from ‘undesirables’( guys trying to get sex)

6. I drink more water and actually feel like eating real food

7. I remember to brush my teeth before bed every time

8. I get to watch the “train wrecks” from afar…and be grateful

9. less nausea, reflux, and headaches

10.if I ever date again, I will actually be able to remember the whole date

11. I remember more of my dreams

12. revisiting my spiritual beliefs and relationship with God

13.Don’t need expensive laundry soap(to cover the smell of cigarettes)

14.Zero dollars spent on tubes & tobacco

15.Can get dressed earlier for work because no worries about scrubs smelling like smoke

16.Don’t need air purifiers in the house anymore ( less expense on changing filters)

17.Less mess, less weight , less items( lighter , cigs, etc) to dig through in my purse or back pack

18.When I go to the dentist for cleanings, my teeth will STAY clean and whitening strips are actually worth it now. No more brown tartar stains, no more ashtray breath

19.Family can visit – even kids and those with respiratory issues

20.Not being “antsy” to leave a restaurant to go smoke after eating

21.less anxiety over all and definitely less irregular heart rhythms

22.No standing outside in foul weather to smoke

23.No tobacco laying all over the floor, car, or ashes on my clothes

24.90% less IBS issues

25.I don’t worry about “where” I can smoke or “when” or “how often” I will get a smoke break.

26.Car windows don’t need cleaning as often ( on the inside) and visibility is much better , longer

27.More job options ( many facilities will blood test for nicotine and not hire smokers)

28.I am starting to taste food more vividly, and need less salt

29.Better healthcare insurance rates ( someday)

30.I floss more ( hand to mouth thing)

31.coughing has become much more productive, rather than the dry coughing that didn’t move junk out of my lungs at all

32.walking is much easier now, especially the uphills

33. No money spent on alcohol

34. less toxic people around in general

35. house is not “trashed” when i wake up

36.i have purged about a LOT of unnecessary items – including old files, old clothes, and even certain people

37. i have been able to create and stick to a realistic budget while saving money as well

38. i have more focus, feeling more in control

39. Without the “fog” I have been more able to analyze relationship needs for future partners

40.my clothes actually match ( well, MOST of the time).

41.teeth are no longer breaking off

42. tongue is pink ( not grey!!!!)

43.i don’t have to plan my nights off around my drinking anymore

44. no hangovers or chronic nighttime anxiety

45. i actually eat food on my nights off instead of just drinking beer

46. more aware of my physical, mental and emotional health

47. can spot bad patterns MUCH more quickly and nip them in the bud

48. I know who my true(r) friends are

49. Have been able to detach from social media

50. Have gotten off 90% of my medications


The list is truly endless. I could probably add at least 50 more.Let me just add that in this time i bought my own home, have changed jobs and am going back to my natural hair color. I have stopped tanning, have started walking and hiking regularly, and have made amends with everyone i could think of. But there ya go…and hope it inspires someone out there!

Sacrifices

Mostly, I am content and life is good. But I often have to remind myself of this because to get where I am at today in just over a year’s time has required a LOT of sacrifices. So far, on this blog, I have not focused on them because I truly want to encourage people and show that anyone can change their life if they are seriously committed. But, in all fairness I would like to share some naked truths . 

When I started what I call my “Life Recovery” back in November of 2018, I knew it had to begin with quitting alcohol for good and as I continued adding my other goals , here are some of the things I went through:

-I had to sacrifice breads, pasta, rice potatoes and almost ALL sweets 75% of the time, and I mean immediately. When I read some of the recovery information I expected to lose all kinds of weight when in fact the opposite is true at least for women. Most of those reporting large amounts of weight loss are men and even some men gain weight. This is usually because we start substituting junk/comfort food for alcohol. I met many women in AA in this situation. With quitting cigarettes , both male & female typically gain weight . Be prepared to accept the weight gain or fight it hard. I have felt like I am deprived and/or starving much of the time.

  • I still felt hungover sometimes when I woke up for the a few weeks. Sure, I had my good energy days, but be aware there are no sudden miracles. My energy level did not suddenly and consistently soar. Even now, with adding more cardio drinking more water and eating better, I cannot say I feel like a teenager again. But I DO feel a little better each week as long as I stay consistent .And I NEVER feel like a ‘zombie’ anymore( unless it’s a very unusual circumstance- like a 29 ½ hr move!)
  • I suffered with major insomnia for about 4 months. I did anything I could think of without resorting to sleep medication- hot baths, massage pads, frequent meditation, switching to decaf coffee.. sometimes it helped, sometimes not. This is happening again with quitting cigarettes. But at least this time I know it will pass eventually.
  • My skin has only shown a very slight improvement. I think this really depends on a lot of OTHER factors for each individual -including permanent sun damage, normal aging, stress levels, environment( dry air, exposure to chemicals), as well as nutrition & hydration play factors. None of us are going to miraculously look 20 years younger, despite some of those before & after photos out there. I have noticed less break outs but not much else.
  •  I had to sacrifice most of my social life to stay focused on my goals. This means I have been extremely lonely for a long time now. I rarely see friends, and have not been as active in the community, nor have i been dating, on social media or any of my usual shenanigans .. Isolation and avoiding temptations/ triggers has been a necessary evil for me.
  • Depression. While most of my chronic anxiety went away after the first month, I still– deal with bouts of depression. Quitting toxic addictions of any type will cause this until you adjust, and that can take a long time. But take heart-I hear  it usually doesn’t take as long as you have had the addiction itself.
  • I ‘feel’ boring( not drinking), I ‘feel’ like an outsider( not on Facebook), and I ‘feel’ like I have nothing to look forward to( not even a cigarette) on MANY days. I really have to put in effort to stay positive-it doesn’t just come naturally.
  • I watch a LOT of Netflix, take a LOT of walks & hot baths, write a LOT, and sleep as much as possible. Anything to get through down times, cravings , anxiety or whatever life throws at me. When you quit so many things in such a short time- those things become more frequent, and more exaggerated. I also pace a lot, take more deep breaths than anyone I know, and talk to myself because there is no one else to do it when I need encouragement. Reading other blogs has been a life saver.
  • Outside of the recovery and addiction issues, there are/were other sacrifices. Financially, I have had to cut corners on everything from hair care to food choices as well as cut costs on things like cell service, car insurance, internet costs, and many other things in order to save for a home of my own and pay down debt. A lot of times  I had to do without many if the things I really enjoyed or was used to. Example: sometimes I couldn’t even rent an online movie once a month, at times I used butter as a skin moisturizer , and a for several months I wore 2 pairs of socks over each other because of holes( and most of my shoes even had holes!). Eventually I treated myself, but NOT until I felt I was in the “safe zone”.i also took on several projects and jobs that I was paid less than what I was worth for just to make a few dollars.
  • But the worst of it was having to come clean to myself, my friends, my family and the world at large by acknowledging and admitting that I had so any flaws and shortcomings. I had many amends to make and mistakes to correct that would not have been necessary if I had made better life choices in the past. It has been humbling, humiliating, and created a lot of doubt and uncertainty for me but has also enlightened me and freed me of more burdens than I could have imagined.

Every day has new challenges and new miracles( balance) .And I take comfort in seeing the fruits of my labors and the effects of my new choices (on me and those around me).And I know the best is yet to come!

Namaste! 

How We Spend Our “Holidays”..

No matter what faith you are, or what part of the world you are in, it seems that these two months of the year are filled with either celebrating, or dealing with others around you celebrating. That can mean different things to different people. And it never ceases to amaze me all of the ways people celebrate. Decorating trees, parades, candle services, food, singing, telling stories, drinking alcohol and exchanging gifts to name a few.

As far as I can tell I could actually celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas AND Kwanzaa if I wish during this time.. nothing in the definition or literature technically prevents me from doing so as a Christian. Perhaps some year I will do so. But what does prevent me from getting in the mood( as I have stated previously) is the commercialism and expectations surrounding all of it. 

I do believe if I chose to celebrate in any way on my own it would be to follow the simple traditions of it all which I DO find meaningful and worthwhile. The peace of traditional rituals has always soothed me in ways I cannot explain. Lighting candles, hymns, prayers and symbolism(s) of peace, thankfulness & unity ( like doves, and the star atop a tree).If I could just have that around me instead of the insanity, wastefulness and greed, I would feel much less anxiety about the whole season itself.

All of that being said, I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday so far and will continue to celebrate in whatever manner brings you joy. Tonight I have to get to bed early for my full day of orientation at a new agency tomorrow. Day time.. sunlight…shuddering already…hahaha!

Peace…

Not Bad for an Old Lady

Woke up today to an unexpected 39 degree evening- a heat wave!…yay!

Awesome sauce! This is ideal conditioning weather and a great time to challenge myself.

I bathed, dressed, gulped down a tablespoon of peanut butter and headed out the door for the first time with my practice pack on ( filled with about 6-8 lbs) . Today I also added the additional challenge of walking 2 full hours( instead of just counting mileage).

I hit my first 2 miles in 38 minutes, then slowed my pace . My total was almost 5 miles including stadium steps for 15 minutes and as much incline as I could find. Staying on the grass as much as possible definitely helps with hip pain as well as building ankle strength. One thing I found out is I need to get a better backpack and/or distribute the weight better as I had to lean forward on the up hills after the first hour due to low back pain.

All an experiment and learning process . Another thing I learned after last week having to stop 3 times in an hour to go pee, is to NOT try to get all my water ration in for the day before I go out. Today I only had 1 cup of coffee first and had to stop only once. Since I have off all week , I will have plenty of time to get my water in when I am in no danger of not having facilities or TP, or having to interrupt my stride .

I got home, had some amazing Greek yogurt , and attempted a  little yoga using an old Denise Austin CD I had.. Now, mind you, I used to do yoga regularly with no problems but after that walk it felt like trying to stretch rawhide. After only 10 minutes I decided to google “ yoga for the elderly ”. Yup, chair yoga for me today… Then I finished off my evening activities with an hour of Theta tones meditation while lying on a heat pad. 

Oops, wait…evening wasn’t over…

Next my roommate and I spent over 2 hours removing carpet/padding. The carpet was just put in this year so brand new and a large area. It was beautiful to look at but not convenient for me as I have severe allergies . In addition, moving stuff around on carpet is a P.I.T.A. and we frequently move our easels & tables around in that area ( our studio).Fingers bleeding…back , hips and neck in great pain..

Only the stairs and my bedroom to do now. Ugh.

So, finally at 3:30 am back on the heat pad in my room. It’s been a LONG day/night off. But I am so very glad to be sober, smoke free, alive, and accomplishing my dreams.

Namaste all!

Quotes that got me through today…

that one time…at the beach

“If things seem under control, you are just not going fast enough.” –Mario Andretti

“I smoked because I needed to change the way I felt.This was the same reason why I used to drink alcohol, and the same reason why, when I quit smoking, I started comfort eating and gained so much weight that none of my clothes fit me any more.”( random article)

“Pause often and be aware of how your life is made easier by others: the farmer who grew your food, the waiter who brings you water, the dentist who looks after your teeth, the garbage collector who picks up your trash, and so on. Think of how awful your life would be without these people.”( random article)

“I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self.”-Aristotle

“If you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to help them build theirs.” –Dhirubhai Ambani

“if all the people who” hate York”( or fill in your own town) would just leave, the rest of us would live in a much nicer,happier place”-Lovie Price

Companionship

I’m starting to think about love. After all , my last two relationships were very rocky to say the least, and spanned over 7 years. I was back & forth between the same 2 men during that time. For a long time, I have said to myself and a few others that because I couldn’t seem to break free from either ( emotionally) , maybe they are the only two I will ever love. I have been completely alone since May.

But in the past week, mostly due to some deep thinking and something my roommate said to me, I have been considering the future. A future with someone completely different, and much more suitable. My problem is. Where in the world do I start?

I have considered online dating sites and just learned of one called Bumble which seems different than the rest ( you can google it for info).Maybe.But outside of that, I feel somewhat lost.

 I know what I DON’T want. I just don’t know exactly what I DO want beyond a few basic things. So I have been googling topics related to dating after age 50. I found an interesting site which referred to a list of questions to ask a potential partner based on a study by Arthur Aron, a psychologist that seems interesting and I am all for trying it. But I have to actually MEET someone first.

My roommate says she believes this will happen naturally for me, without having to try. That would be great, and I hope for that. But with my work schedule( night shift), it seems rather complicated. And the fact that I work alone ( watching over a medically fragile child at night in his home) really restricts my opportunities for even meeting someone.

I have looked online too for some local interest groups, but most are too far away or do activities during my sleep hours. So, I kind of feel stuck.

I know they say you gotta get out there. And I need to decide how. But first, what am I actually looking for in someone?

I had a list but on second thought, it sounds so very pretentious i deleted it. At any rate , i will probably start looking in May once my year of abstinence is up. any suggestions?