ego

4 a.m. Yoga

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I love 4 a.m. yoga. I am not a major yogi, and I have enjoyed doing yoga at more normal times of day, but my latest pastime is 4 a.m. yoga.

To clarify, I am not getting up, out of my warm, comfy bed, at 4 a.m. to do yoga. For those of you who know me, you know how I detest mornings. I will never be one to get up early for yoga, or much of anything else. For one, my muscles are way too tight to do any yoga poses, and for two, in my grumpy state I might accidentally kill someone. So, for these and other reasons too pedantic to go into, I only do 4 a.m. yoga when I am working night shifts.

4 a.m. is sort of a witching hour, don’t you think? It’s that time when the night can go either way — get better or get worse, get crazier or get saner. By doing yoga, I can stave off the crazier for a little longer and I get to stretch and do something that is fun but that, honestly, I don’t usually make time for in a regular day. I mean, I could take a break at 4 p.m. any old day and do some yoga, but I’m usually busy doing something else, or I would rather go for a walk (and get ice cream or cheezies, but that’s got nothing to do with yoga).

Well, enough preamble. Let me get to the core of the issue: the real reason I enjoy yoga at 4 a.m. is because it is humbling. I am no yoga perfectionist, but when I do it at other times of the day, I can usually pretzelate myself pretty well and I pride myself on being able to do the poses fairly well. But at 4 a.m.? I am just grateful to be awake. I allow myself to be completely horrible at it. I am humbled by the demands it makes on me, and that I am actually pretty awful at it. My sense of balance is almost non-existent, which makes some of the standing poses hilarious. So, I am humbled and chagrined — I have to laugh at myself a little — by this strange 4 a.m. practice.

Now, I know this isn’t likely to catch on for yoga classes or whatever, but I do my yoga alone. I have never been to a yoga studio, and I’ve never taken any lessons. I’ve learned the poses I know from a couple of videos. Despite this sheltered yoga-life, even I have noticed there’s quite a bit of ego involved in this spiritual-practice-turned-exercise-routine. I mean, if you’re self-effacing, you don’t buy hundred-dollar pants to do yoga in. I just think it might be getting a little crazy, and my 4 a.m. yoga is a nice change to that. It’s humbling. Grounding. And it helps me get through the longest part of the night in a pleasant, positive way. Plus, I can wear fleece long johns, which are far more sane than hundred-dollar pants.

So, if you’re interested, join me in some 4 a.m. yoga! Just don’t actually join me — I don’t want you to see me wobbling around on one leg in ill-fitting fuzzy long johns. :)

The Power of Being Invisible

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At a party with some friends one time, my friend Angela asked “if you could have any super power, what would it be?” I said I would want to fly — just me, my body, no airplane needed. She said she would want the power to go invisible whenever she wanted. We all agreed that was a good one.

I have a friend who was almost invisible for a while. She served in her job diligently, helping people in trouble, and never got any thanks or acknowledgment from her bosses. In fact, it was the kind of job where the average Joe didn’t ever see her work, and although she was instrumental in many people’s lives, it was all behind the scenes. She worked for the Victim Support Unit, and when people go through a crime or tragedy, that’s when she stepped in to help. These kinds of situations aren’t talked about commonly, and so, in regular society, she was invisible.

Have you ever known someone who was very “visible?” I have. Besides being a bit of a “showman,” he needed to be thanked for every good deed, acknowledged for every participation and sympathized with for every hardship. Everyone knew when he was in the room — not always in a bad way — and he was dynamic, intelligent, and needy.

What is the difference between these two types of people? The difference is self-esteem. When you have extremely good self-esteem — literally, esteem or respect for yourself — you have the power to be invisible. You don’t need to be acknowledged, thanked or applauded. You know what you have done, you are proud of your work, and that’s enough. In some ways, being an author is being invisible — you contribute to the world, but not in a flashy way. If you want to, you can even remain unknown by using a pseudonym or writing anonymously. Even if you use your real name, as I do, you can still stay invisible.

In a strange way, I like this idea. I first heard about while listening to a recording by Carolyn Myss. She said that being invisible was something that appealed to her about being a writer. It strikes a chord with me too, because I am not interested in fame. I am not a seeker-of-approval — which I guess is another form of having good self-esteem. I don’t really want to be on Oprah (you know what I mean), I just want to sell 100,000 books and help people!

You can use this idea of being invisible as a way to measure how your self-esteem is doing. Would you be okay with being invisible, with never getting any applause or recognition for your work?

So, if you ever feel like you’re invisible, don’t worry. It’s not a flaw. It’s actually sort of an honour, and it’s a source of internal power. It means you have a pretty good level of self-esteem, so congrats! :)

Ramifications

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For the size of our brains, we really don’t think very much, do we?!? :) Sometimes we think we have a situation all figured out, but we really don’t!

Interpersonal stuff can be so tricky, or is it just me? For example, I have a friend, let’s call her “Susan,” who has a boss who is becoming increasingly more controlling, questioning, and untrusting. When this started, her first response was to be a little angry, frustrated and resist. Don’t we all want to resist being controlled?! One day, the boss demanded she fill in timesheets to track what she did every hour she worked. She began taking responsibilities away from Susan, saying “it wasn’t her job to do,” even though she’d been doing those things very well for quite a while. Then, the boss wanted Susan to write a report to summarize what she’d been doing, so all the managers could review it at a monthly meeting! Susan felt like her word wasn’t good enough, that she wasn’t being trusted. It’s not like she was a slacker, wasting time in the coffee room all day — she didn’t even take breaks!

Luckily, my friend’s capacity for anger and frustration ran out. She decided that if they wanted more reports, fine. If they wanted to question her, fine, she’d answer. She knew she wasn’t doing anything wrong, and if she had to prove it, fine. So far, things seem to be settling down, largely because she has changed her own attitude to the situation.

But she could have had a very different response. What if she had been snarky (a temptation, for sure) and put on the daily reports that she spent 2 hours doing reports for the boss! She might have thought this very clever, a little “dig” to point out the boss’ ridiculousness. But the boss could have reacted very badly, saying “that simple, one-page report took you 2 hours?!?” There could have been many ramifications — being sent for time management training, having one-on-one meetings to review how the reports are to be done, or just more hostilities between them, as the power struggle intensified. That’s what it started to feel like — a power struggle of epic proportions! Okay, not really epic, but do you see how we can blow things out of proportion? Susan has done a great job thinking and then responding, although it hasn’t been easy.


From dictionary.com:  Ram•i•fi•ca•tion   n.  A development or consequence growing out of and sometimes complicating a problem, plan, or statement: the ramifications of a court decision.


We seem to get in our worst trouble when either A) we don’t take the time to think before responding (just reacting) or B) we don’t know as much about a situation as we think we do (just plain ignorance). For example, people get angry at the big oil and gas companies for what they are doing to the environment. “We need to shut them down,” they say. I love nature, and I agree with the sentiment, but what are the ramifications of shutting down gas and oil companies overnight? Could you heat your house? Drive your car? How would you eat — do your groceries arrive at the store via truck, or via electric train? See what I mean? Very few of us are are really well-informed, and have taken the time to look at an issue from many sides and see all the consequences of our proposed solution.

I came across a blog today, about choosing not to have children. There were many comments on it, and I shared it with Darren and we spent a while reading some other blogs and sites we found. Some people only see the issue from one side, and are very opinionated! I’ve had a few thoughts on it myself, but I think this is the key: have kids, or don’t — but think about what you’re doing and decide. Don’t just have them because it’s expected of you, because everyone thinks you should, or accidentally. Did you forget the ramifications of having sex?

Some people get into huge arguments with friends or family members about the child-bearing issue. It’s always harder to have a calm discussion — thinking before responding — when we are emotionally charged or attached to a situation or issue. With my husband, sometimes I just talk without thinking — ack! If only I took 3 seconds to breathe and think, instead of immediately responding! Why do conversations have to be so rapid-fire? Am I really in that much of a hurry? Yes. No. Of course. Come here. Talk to me! Darren thinks before speaking way more than I do, and sometimes I get frustrated when he takes so long to respond! Talk to me, Goose! (If you get that reference, you rock!)  :)

Perhaps if I practiced more of the Buddhist idea of non-attachment, it would be easier. As I understand it, this doesn’t mean I’m not attached to my husband (don’t care about him), it means I am not attached to a certain outcome of our discussions — intensely needing him to agree with me, for example. We can agree to disagree, and I can accept and respect that he has his own perspective and it’s every bit as valid as mine. I think non-attachment is powerful, but I don’t know enough about it to say more now!

Now that I think of it, words have the most ramifications of any of the daily, ordinary things we do. They can make or break a relationship, change our attitude, and even change our world.


On a personal note, I have been working hard on publishing my book lately! I’ve been in conversation with an artist about the illustrations I need and I’m all over the lulu.com site, learning about how it all works and deciding on page sizes. Then I go into my publishing program and mess with page sizes, margins, fonts, and all that fun. It won’t be long now! I’ll keep you posted… :)

Believing the Best

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fall trees hutch lakeThere’s no question that autumn is upon us. It’s been quite cool here – daily high temperatures are not always in the double digits anymore – and we’ve been having the low cloud and fog that is characteristic of this time of year. Meteorologically speaking, it’s caused by the cool air above relatively warm water, and as the water evaporates, it immediately condenses… but enough science-talk. It’s mesmerizing, and some days the fog makes me feel like I’m living in Ireland, ah, but without the ocean, the lovely people, and the greenery.  All of our leaves have changed colour and thanks to some gusty winds this week, many trees are even bare. I have missed a few beautiful scenes for a lack of camera, but I’ve stored them in my memory. Maybe sometime I’ll paint them. I can show you some pics I took 2 years ago.

We had a thick frost the other day, and I felt like digging in my heels and yelling “I’m not ready for this!” But, after a couple of days of brisk temps, I feel better. It’s amazing what a person can get used to, and how a slight change in attitude changes everything.

I was resting a little while ago, just thinking about events of the last few days. I’ve been a bit of a sh*t-disturber, or at best, very assertive. I stood up and spoke quite strongly at a local community consultation meeting about a decision our town council made recently. I was working with a group of other concerned citizens on a proposal, which the town shot down. We were shocked and not impressed. So I expressed that the best way I could, although I was quite tired and could have possibly done better. But I stood up and said something, which I hear is worth a lot (compared to the common Canadian way of complaining about things without ever addressing the people who could change it directly). In any case, it was stressful, my heart was pounding, but I guess it went okay.

My husband stood up and said a few things, too, but his spirit was quite different from mine as he spoke. He was a peacemaker, sometimes standing up to shed light on a situation, reminding people they can get involved, or thanking the town council for having the meeting. I’d say on the whole, he was more present and less-egoic than I was! (I blame being up too long, coming off of midnight shifts with only a 3 hour nap). :) Ah, just making excuses… sometimes being more tired makes me more present or gentle, but not that day.

fall beaver damI used to be a peacemaker; as the middle child, it was one of the roles in my family! Have I changed? Am I fundamentally different? Perhaps not; we have some sh*t-disturbing tendencies in my family… in a good way! I think I may have become more of a do-er – I get frustrated with talk-talk-talk and politicking. Let’s just jump in and do something about it! But I was like that in university too, so I guess I haven’t changed too much. I can certainly talk with the best of them, but before long, I need action! In any case, I would like to reconnect with the peacemaker in me (I know she’s still there) and only tip the boat when necessary.

The other thing I was thinking about just now as I was reflecting was how I need to keep believing the best. I’ve been a little jaded about things lately, and I don’t want to be. I want to, despite a few facts that might contradict, believe the best about people and situations around me. After all, there are 2 sides to everything, and I can choose to look at one side more than the other, and I choose the good. If Darren is slow to do the dishes, I still need to believe he will do them, rather than think that he’s stalling, trying to get me to do them, etc. Believe the best, right? So, this will be my mode of operating for the next while – and I’ll keep reminding myself if I need to (which of course I will)!

Have a great day everybody!

Dealing with Suffering

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I went to the library the other day – it’s a great way to try out books you’re not sure you’ll like – and got an excellent book, The Deeper Wound by Deepak Chopra. It was written after 9/11, as the US was in a state of shock, mourning, fear and anger. The subtitle of the book is “Recovering the Soul from Fear and Suffering” so I had to take it out to read it, to see if I could glean any insight for the book I’m working on (see the About Me section). The rest of this blog is taken from pages 35-38 of The Deeper Wound, and I hope it gives you something to think about when you are faced with your own suffering, or trying to comfort a friend.

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On a practical level, nothing alleviates suffering like reaching out to another person who is suffering. Go and help, be of service if only in the smallest way. Each of us feels timid about reaching out to others; our society speaks of communication but mostly we drift like atoms in a void. It isn’t easy to reach over the walls built around our isolation, but any gesture–whatever you feel safe to do–is a step toward healing.

What if the pain that seems to be yours is not really yours? (And here I do not mean to belittle personal suffering, but only to offer a larger perspective that may help alleviate it.) The truth is that fear and anger exist outside ourselves. They are not yours or mine, unless we attract them. Negativity is an invisible parasite. It needs a host to feed off of, and the host is the ego. When you learned as a young child to cling to my toy, my candy, my pleasure, my happiness, at the same time your ego started clinging to the opposite: my scraped knee, my broken doll, my sadness, my pain. Absorbing an experience as “mine” was how you built your self up, developed a sense of individual identity. As we grew, we learned to see this self in a larger perspective, in the context of humanity. But when tragedy strikes, we often regress to this early state.
To counteract this, we need to find the spirit. For spirit can do one thing that your ego craves very deeply and can’t accomplish on its own. Spirit can help the ego escape that painful trap of I, me, and mine….
Spirit gives us access to an emotion that cannot be felt in isolation–compassion. Compassion comes from the root words “to suffer with,” and for that reason many people actually fear it. An audience member in Boston on a grey drizzly evening asked me, “How can I feel compassion for the victims of this tragedy without having it hurt me? I don’t want to be injured, I want to offer love and peace.” It was a very honest question, and I responded, I hope, on that level.
“Let yourself feel their pain. Let it come into you, and don’t be afraid that you’ll be injured. Trying to keep out someone else’s pain comes from fear for our own safety; in the name of safety we retreat behind our own private walls. Yet the truth is that your pain and the pain of the victims are shared. They make you human together.”
Compassion is one of the most honored and saintly feelings because it marches up to the front lines of suffering and says “Take me.” In this giving of oneself there is a direct experience of pain, yet in the giving there is love. Thus compassion has the power to dissolve pain by not avoiding it, but by trusting that love affords the greatest protection. By discovering that there is a reality–love–stronger than any pain, you mount your strongest defense.The Deeper Wound

Mr. Spock

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rational_spock1Sorry I haven’t blogged lately… I didn’t realize it had been so long – last week! Just like I keep thinking I just exercised yesterday but when I look at my planner, I realize it was also last week! Anyways, I’ve been watching quite a bit of Star Trek (all versions, except DS9, which is conspicuously absent from Space or Spike channel re-runs) and thinking about the characters. I think Mr. Spock is one of my favourites. Leonard Nimoy just does such a great job of playing the role! No other Vulcan since then comes close. But, the neat thing about Mr. Spock, besides that he is dyed-in-the-wool scientist (which I suppose automatically draws me to his character), but that he seems to have absolutely no ego. If someone essentially tells him off and gets mad at him (as Jim and Bones were in the episode I saw today), he still does not take offense or get angry… he simply tries to figure out the reason behind the behaviour, or simply goes about his business. Wouldn’t it be great if we all had no ego like that? You might not agree, but think about it for a minute. I think that it would be nice sometimes to see other people with less ego, and I try, when I remember, to keep my own ego as small as possible. But, it can pop up at any time, baring it ugly head and, well, being ugly! Think about what else an out-of-proportion ego can do! It can make you think rashly (not good in my job) or over-react to something small… or make you insecure and paranoid, which in turn makes the ego problem even worse! Or it can make you compare yourselves to others, so much that you can’t live your own life or make a decision without thinking about what everyone else will think. I’m sure there are more things that an oversize ego can do, but that’s all I can think of at the moment. So, my journey continues to keep my ego in check and just keep having fun instead! :)

I’d better let you know how my sis is doing… she is recovering, but it is a slow process. They have cut back on and changed her pain medication, so I think she’s some pain now, but she is up and about, walking a bit and trying to get better. She’s still in the hospital, for this weekend for sure, and not sure about next week. It’s going to be tough! But, she is strong and her spirits are, for the most part, remarkably good! She often tries to cheer up the nurses or make them laugh. I am so blessed to have a sister and best friend like her! I love her dearly and am praying for a good recovery, even if it takes a little while. My dad, meanwhile, went into emerg one day last week as well – yes, 2 family members at the same hospital! – with the same complications he has already had 3 times! So, if you’re the praying type, please pray for him as well. It’s tough, ’cause he’s also trying to get a whole bunch of field work done right now. They could also use more rain (in most parts of southern/central Alberta), so pray/doing a rain dance!

That’s all I’ve got for now! Hope everybody is doing well. Leave comments if ya got ‘em!