Blue in the Sky

A lesbian wife and mother tries her hand at something new. Surely there is a hat that fits out there somewhere!

Still Working the Wellness Tuesday May 11, 2010

Filed under: Daily Life,The Adventurer — The Professor @ 1:56 pm

In Chapter Nine, Kathy describes her plan for “personal energy management”.  Personal energy sounds like a good thing to manage, no?

Her plan?  Focus on the four R’s in order to keep your life in balance.  The 4 R’s are:

Regular

  • Here is where your everyday routine and set obligations lie.
  • Most of our energy is spent in this one domain (there is always more to do)
  • The paradox of this R is that the more you do, the more there is to be done
  • Perfectionists are particularly likely to spend all of their energy here and feel that life is about nothing more than keeping your head above water
  • Kathy’s advice – check off the items on your to-do list, but don’t worry about dotting every i and crossing every t

Relate

  • Here is where we manage the large and small relationships in our lives (managing conflict, negotiating desires and needs, etc)
  • Some of the tasks here might be learning to be more intimate and authentic, observing healthy boundaries and being responsible with your words and actions

Rejuvenate

  • Here is where we focus on self-care, which looks different for everyone
  • Ask yourself each day what you need to take of yourself in that moment acknowledging that this might change from day to day – be present with yourself

Reach

  • This is where we stretch ourselves beyond what is habitual and comfortable
  • Everyone needs to take the occasional leap
  • Anything that opens you up and makes you stronger and more self-aware

This makes sense to me.  I like the idea of thinking about each of the R’s each day.  I am a HUGE proponent of the to-do list and so it’s very easy for me to get trapped into the Regular quadrant.

The chapter closes with the following questions for reflection:

  1. In which of these areas do I most need to grow?
  2. What can I do that would support that growth?

For me at this moment, I’m thinking Reach.  I need to focus on Reach.  Humm……

 

I am Happy, Healthy & Transformed: More Tales from the Kool-Aid Pitcher Tuesday April 20, 2010

Filed under: The Adventurer — The Professor @ 6:13 pm

During the last week I’ve been doing something I never thought I would do.  I’ve been practicing visualization.  What has Kathy Freston done with my brain?!  Well, this is supposed to be an adventure so I guess it’s living up to expectations. 🙂  I’ll tell you how it all went soon, but first I should walk you through how I went about it in the first place.

In pages 27 – 30, Kathy describes a basic visualization technique that she has used extensively with clients.  She provides a script that you can record and play back to yourself.  This was a wrinkle I hadn’t considered.  The recording part I mean.  It’s pretty hard to let your mind totally relax when you’re holding a book  and reading words out loud to yourself.  You’ve got to make a recording of yourself reading the script aloud in order to really get the full effect.  And if I’m going to do this thing, I might as well DO it, right?!

Happily, my netbook has a microphone.  Who knew?  My Dad knew, that’s who.  When I called to ask how I might go about recording myself talking, he said “I bet your netbook has one”.  Right he was.  If you have a Windows operating system, here’s how you can record yourself.

  1. From the Start menu, go to the Accessories tab
  2. Within that tab, select Entertainment
  3. From there, select the Sound Recorder
  4. A box will pop up with all of the familiar audio buttons (play, FF, Rew, and Rec)
  5. All you have to do is click the red dot for Record and start talking
  6. When you have gotten to end of the script (speaking slowly), click Stop
  7. From the File menu, select Save As
  8. Name your file and save it somewhere you will be able to find it
  9. Open Itunes or Windows Media Player
  10. Open your file and see what you think!
  11. Once you sync up with your Ipod, you can take your visualizing self anywhere.

My recording only lasted two minutes, so listening to it once a day didn’t create any kind of time hardship.  I did most of my visualizing on the elliptical (what else did I have to do?).  Has my life changed in radical ways in the 7 days since I started doing this crazy thing?  Not so much.  Do I think it’s possible that this kind of re-imagining might be beneficial in some small way?  Sure I do.  I can’t say that I’m committed to a steady diet of listening to my own voice while I visualize all of my radiant possibility and pedal away going nowhere on an elliptical machine, but I can see why people suggest the practice.  There is probably something to be said for it.  I’m not planning to visualize tmw, but I might do it again.  Never say never.

Next up.  Conscious eating.  Kathy has LOTS to say on this topic (she’s a vegan) so who knows what kind of trouble I might get myself into.

 

Warning: There Will be Kool-Aid Drinking Ahead Tuesday April 6, 2010

Filed under: The Adventurer — The Professor @ 8:27 pm

So far, so good with Kathy Freston.  I’m taking the book slowly, so I haven’t finished it yet, but I’m impressing myself with my ability to “lean”.  Who knew I could do it?!  Last week I committed to a very reasonable, non-obsessive 5 min/day meditation regimen.  Although after a few days I had to fight the impulse to make it into a bigger deal (“What difference could 5 minutes possibly make?  If I’m going to do this, shouldn’t I just go ahead and DO it?  I mean who meditates five minutes a day?!”), I resisted the impulse and instead of giving the whole thing up on day four because I just couldn’t find thirty minutes to devote to sitting quietly with myself, I made it for an entire week.  Baby steps.  Ok, maybe the baby steps people are onto something.

Meditation is something I’ve tried in the past, so the experience this time around wasn’t entirely new.  It was still far from easy.  Actually, clearing my mind is a real struggle.  Given that struggle is really the opposite of what a person who has made the decision to try meditation really wants, I’ve had to develop a new way of thinking about meditation.  One thing I’ve found to be quite helpful is to approach meditation with a spirit of allowing.  I’m sure I read this somewhere, but I can’t remember where.  What works for me is to hold an image in my mind while I’m focusing on my breath.  For whatever reason, the image that comes to my mind is that of a huge, sprawling tree.  Below that tree is a brown lab puppy (again, I have no idea about the WHY of these things) wearing a red collar.  When thoughts enter my mind the puppy wakes up and begins to bark at the birds that sit in the tree.  Instead of getting upset or anxious that I’m thinking when I’m supposed to be NOT thinking, I just laugh at the puppy.  It’s just being itself and getting distracted and that’s ok.  I allow it.  Somehow this allowing seems to bring me back to myself and the puppy and my thoughts settle down again.  I would imagine that different things work for different people, but so far I’ve found this visual image to be helpful.

Anyone else try their hand at meditation last week?  If you did, I would love to hear how it went.  The goods and the bads and what (if anything) you feel you got from the practice.  Chime in in the comments section.  It’s fun 😉

For the upcoming week I’m going to play with Visualization.  I should tell you before I go any further that when The Secret got to be such a big deal a few years ago, I took an entire class period in my Experimental Methods class to rip the book to shreds.  This makes it hard for me to disclose an interest in visualization at this point, but hey, this is an adventure, right?!  If you are wondering what I’m talking about, here’s how Kathy describes it:

“Visualization helps you rejigger the way you see thing so that you can respond to life differently; it takes apart old images and replaces them with new and better ones.  With these new images in place, you will begin to think differently, and as you think and behave differently, people will change the way they respond to you.”

I’m not sure what “rejigger” means, but the rest of that makes sense to me.  It is true that our brains don’t seem to be able to distinguish between an actual physical experience and a memory or thought of that experience.  Both may give rise to physical changes such as increased heart rate, changes in breathing patterns, release of stress hormones, etc.  So……. if this is the case, why not present our mind with images of what we want in our lives?  Why not take some time each day to focus on actively visualizing where we want our lives to go?  Couldn’t hurt, right?  Well, that’s what I’m thinking and that’s what I’m going to do this week.  Seven days of visualization.  It should be a blast.  Oh and pass the Kool-Aid would ya?  Thanks 😉

 

Tally Ho – The Adventurer Week 1 Tuesday March 30, 2010

Filed under: The Adventurer — The Professor @ 11:13 am

No need to blink.  You read that right.  I actually did use Tally Ho as a title.  What can I say?  It was the first thing that came to mind.

So here’s what I’m thinking with this adventure idea.  I will choose some challenge/program/interesting thing each month and try to see what I can get out of it.  My goal is to be flexible and see what I can learn.  Some adventures might require more or less than a month, some may come from books or websites or who knows where.  In fact this is where you come in (if you are in fact out there).  If you have an idea for a future adventure (you’ve heard of a book or a cool project-oriented website) I would LOVE it if you would leave your idea and an information about it in the comments.  It would be so much more fun to have folks to play with.  🙂

I’m starting with Kathy Freston’s Quantum Wellness: A Practical & Spiritual Guide to Health & Happiness.  This is a book that I picked up last year and have paged through but never really sat down to consider.  I have long been harassed for my interest in self-helpy/spiritual books, but I’m still standing strong.  Some are silly and many of them say the same things, but I’ve gotten something out of more than one of them.  So, I’m carrying on.

Early in the book Freston lays out what she calls the Eight Pillars of Wellness.  Her idea is that these are eight practices that work together in a synergistic way to move us closer to wellness:

  1. Meditation
  2. Visualization
  3. Fun Activities
  4. Conscious Eating
  5. Exercise
  6. Self-Work
  7. Spiritual Practice
  8. Service

The book is loosely structured around each of these pillars.  One of the things that I like about her approach is her idea that instead of radical change, we are better served by “leaning into” new changes.  Here’s an example of what I mean:

“So quantum wellness, to me, is about the tiny little things that we invest our energy in every day and every moment.  These little investments of attention hold us in a steady and predictable place.  But when we make shifts – no matter how small and subtle – we agitate the norm….. The momentum we generate through our actions leads, eventually, to a tipping point, and then there is a breakthrough, a quantum leap….. It is not about imposing big changes but about leaning into wellness, comfortably, adding things here and there to the thrust and taking baby steps toward the changes we want to achieve”.

This “leaning in” thing really resonates with me.  I am not a leaner.  I am a crasher into new directions.  I don’t take it slow.  Who has the time?!!  However, this has kept me neatly in my little box of safety.  It’s very easy to be overwhelmed by making a new change when you feel like you have to radically overhaul your life in order to do it.  Actually, I think Cathy Z said it best over on her Bits & Pieces blog in a post in which she said this:

“Dan and I and not very much alike. He recently shared this analogy with me. ‘Let’s say I see the movie “Witness” and I decide I’d like to learn more about the Amish. I might go to the library, check out a few books, bring them home and maybe, just maybe crack the cover and read a few chapters. You? You become Amish.'”

I also BECOME Amish.  This is problematic.  At 32, I can actually see that and I’m working on my ability to lean.  In that spirit, I am going to focus on only one pillar this week.  I had originally thought I would do two a week, hitting all 8 pillars in a month, but you know…. one a week is probably enough.

So….first up?  Meditation.  And not because it’s listed first on Kathy’s list.  I’m starting here because this is a practice I would like to adopt.  Given that I’m not exactly a “clear your mind” natural, I could use a little work here.  So, that’s my plan for the week.  I’m starting with 5 minutes of focused breathing each morning.  We’ll see what happens.  I’ll report back this time next week.  Want to play along?  If you have any interest leave a comment.  I would love to hear from you!!