July 2018 RAW NEWS Update
I read eleven books this month: 4 nonfiction, 1 memoir, and 6 novels. The four nonfiction were all related to my road trip themes. Of them, I really enjoyed The Great Work of Your Life by Stephen Cope. I learned of this book from a review by Kathy at SmartLiving365. Thanks, Kathy.
The memoir served as a cautionary tale. The New Old Me: My Late-Life Reinvention by Meredith Maran should have been right up my alley, but her neediness and whining were off-putting. Note to self: If ever writing a memoir, find a way to share tough times and personal idiosyncrasies without making readers want to smack me.
I made two collages this month, one of them based on a dream where a huge black dog was lunging at me. I called the collage Fear-ocious.
My inner critic is a duck whose relentless quacking about my faults makes me cranky and crazy. I made a piece about her this month too. The idea is that I’m supposed to exorcise her from my mind by ripping her to shreds or scribbling over her face. This may be a problem – she’s awfully cute.
Working through Julia Cameron’s book, It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again is a major focus of my metaphorical road trip. If I were using the book as intended, I’d be finished chapter five and would have answered questions about the first twenty-five years of my life. Instead, I’m still on chapter three and have stalled out at age twelve.
I’m okay with the change of plans, and with the fact that my two month metaphorical road trip might still be going strong at Christmas. Rather than just answering Cameron’s questions, I’m doing a full life review. This involves digging through journals, school records and photographs to recall and write every memory I can summon for each year of my life. The more I dig, the more I remember and the more I can write.
I don’t have any plans for the material. Right now I’m just accumulating. The process is simultaneously fun and emotionally exhausting. I don’t work on it every day.
When I first burned out, my naturopathic doctor told me it would take three years before my body recognized that it was no longer under stress and allowed me to lose weight. It looks like he was right. I have been retired for three years and in the last two months I’ve dropped almost sixteen pounds.
I’m eating some sugar again and carbs, but I’m being careful, trying to be mindful. The battle is far from over. Not only do I want to lose at least the same again, but I’m learning that my body awareness is whacked. A day or two of ingesting sugar and bread and I easily convince myself that I’ve gained five pounds. A couple of times this month I decided that I’d blown it and was just about to binge eat for a few days before aiming for perfection once again. When I stepped on the scales, however, I’d either held my own or lost weight, not gained it. (Note: I just today learned that there’s a word for the loss of ability to sense weight – baragnosis. Nifty!)
My obsession with perfection really needs to be replaced with some moment to moment mindfulness.
The province of Ontario and, indeed, much of Canada and the United States experienced a major heatwave for most of July. That certainly affected energy levels and impacted both quality of sleep and time outside with the dogs. It hasn’t been a great month for energy levels, however, weekly early morning walks with a friend have been terrific and I’m still loving Pilates Reformer training.
There have been two bonuses to all of this heat. One is that I haven’t had to cut the grass very often. The other is that I wasn’t outside when this black bear ambled up from the forest at the back of my property and wandered around my driveway for a few minutes. I was happy to watch and admire him/her (I didn’t get close enough to check) from my library window.
A daily meditation practice is part of my metaphorical road trip. My practice includes fifteen minutes of meditation (up from ten minutes at the beginning of the month) followed by reading something inspirational or philosophical and then a bit of journaling about whatever I’ve read.
I’ve been hit and miss with meditation for years. I’ll get into it for a while, usually through one of the guided meditation series offered by Deepak Choprah and Oprah Winfrey or Tara Brach. Then when the series is over, I’ll ignore meditation for several months. This time, I’m determined to stick with it so I’ve made a list of seven different forms of meditation that will keep me from getting bored. I’ll share my list in a future post.
I’ve used mantra meditation throughout July. This involves repetition of a word, phrase or sound, over and over again. Or you can repeatedly envision an image, such as a ball of light near your heart. I made a list of my favourite Sanskrit mantras and use them. Two that I’ve used a lot are ‘Ananda Hum’ which means “I am pure bliss” and ‘Siddho Hum’ meaning “I am perfect and complete as I am.” When a mantra is short, as these two are, you can easily synchronize them to your breath, mentally saying the words on each inhale and exhale.
Friends have been central to my self-care this month. There’s the friend I enjoy breakfast and a walk with every week. And the one in another province that I talk and laugh with on the phone most weeks.
And then there’s the wonderful opportunity I had to spend forty-eight hours with two friends I’d met only through their blogs and as members of the Profound Journey tribe. Joanne (my life lived full), Deb (the widow badass) and I thoroughly enjoyed our day of pampering at the spa — almost as much as we enjoyed the opportunity to talk and talk and talk.
How was your July?