SalmonBerry

Posts Tagged ‘flow’

A Pact Against Perfectionism

In Mindfulness on December 21, 2014 at 4:03 am

“You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there is still going to be somebody who hates peaches.” – Dita Von Teese

me and tima

My sister, Fatimih (left), and I

While G-chatting with my sister (she’s in New Zealand, I’m in California), we each confess that we are stuck creatively – stalled and not producing up to our own expectations. She says her obsession with being organized is hindering her creativity while I do too many things at once without fully finishing any of them. Even while chatting with her, I am writing a blog post, making soup and taking photographs of the process all the while drinking wine and eating chocolate.

stack of books

My multi-tasking disease extends to reading for pleasure

I suspect she is also an avid multitasker. This used to be a badge of honor for me when my children were toddlers. I now see the falseness and futility of multi-tasking and, yet, I still do it. Multi-tasking makes me feel busy (not the same as productivity) which I learned at a young age is what adults do – they keep busy. Constant busyness keeps us from facing the fear and self-doubt that is universal for everyone. Some of us are just better at carrying on in the face of it.

The paralyzing combination of control (from our mother) and perfectionism (from our father) that we’ve each inherited has kept us both from leading the creative lives that we so desire. She’s a brilliant photographer and graphic designer (logos for Salmonberry and Yuwei) and curator of all things visually beautiful and she deserves to be seen.

So we made a pact:

We will simultaneously post each week – photographs for her, blogs for me – no matter what. It’s about creating content and momentum and not about whether it is perfect or important or anything else other than an exercise in doing what we say we are going to do and moving past self-consciousness.

It’s like a support group for sisters paralyzed by perfectionism. This is my first post of the project and here is Fatimih’s first contribution.

mary oliver poem

From Mary Oliver’s “The Mockingbird”

Intellectually, I realize that the only one judging me so harshly is myself and yet I still fear derision by this imaginary “audience”. I am not always like this. I’ve had long stretches of productivity and creativity with barely a thought of what people might think. It feels amazing and beautiful and I want that freedom again. But this sense of flow seems to sneak up on me and, while I am in it, I rarely recognize it’s inherent beauty. Only in experiencing the sudden contrast of paralyzing self-consciousness do I grasp the specialness of that time. I’m seeking to be more conscious of the flow. To revel in it and foster it.

Anyway, I miss my sister. She is so far away and this is a way for us to be connected and perhaps tell a story as well. We aren’t sure where this will take us or how it will evolve but…welcome to the experiment!

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Cleanse – Day 4

In Mindfulness, Nutrition, Yoga on May 17, 2013 at 7:24 pm
tea

All tea. All day.

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” ~Albert Einstein

I awoke feeeling rested on Day 4, aka All Tea, All Day, and, as a I made tea and sat down to meditate, I had every intention of writing (well, maybe I ‘planned’ it…) after I got up from my meditation cushion. Instead I ended up checking email, facebook, twitter…anything but starting to write. Although I was rested, I didn’t feel super sharp or motivated. At my morning yoga class I had a deep meditative experience and found myself very present with all that I was doing and with whom I was interacting. It’s an amazing experience. I felt so full and engaged and “ON”. Like everything I’m feeling and doing at that moment is exactly what should be happening and all of my energy and attention is a laser beam to the present moment. It’s the elusive “FLOW” and I want to live there always.

As a result of my amazing yoga class, I felt very energetic and alert when, after a quick stop for avocados and lemons, I returned home and started on food prep for the next 3 days of the cleanse. The 3 days following All Tea, All Day are known as the Raw Days where I would be eating only raw fruits and vegetables, raw nuts and seeds, a bit of raw honey and cold-pressed plant oils, as well as plenty of fresh-pressed fruit & veggie juices. Additionally, I would be entering that 1/2 of my week know as “full-on, single-parenting” and I needed to have a stocked fridge or I wouldn’t eat often enough to keep me pleasant towards my children or have enough variety to keep me interested in sticking with the cleanse.

stocked fridge

Prepared for the raw days of the cleanse.

While making my raw food staples, Chakra Salad and Salmonberry Spread, I rocked out to the Sgt. Pepper’s album. Who didn’t love the song ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ when they were a kid? I thought it was the most imaginative and wacky adult song I had ever heard (it all made sense once I got to college!). And it is still a fun song to sing along to even with all that talk about tangerine skies and marshmallow pies fueling my appetite.

yogi teabag

Yogi Tea tags are my fortune cookies.

I felt very productive as I admired my stocked fridge and satisfied that I was able to kill 2-3 hours. And then it crept in. Now what? Sure, I could’ve filled my time with any numerous productive activities that may or may not have needed to get done. But they would have been distractions, another opportunity to not still myself, to not feel the feelings that I’d stuffed inside yesterday or last year or the last decade. I had wanted to cleanse myself physically and emotionally but I was also scared of truly letting go. My mind was saying “your kids will be back in 4 hours, get some stuff done before then. Make sure you’re ‘prepared’.” What does that mean anyway? Prepared? Isn’t it part of the Boy Scouts’ motto? Prepared means you are focused on the future. You are anticipating how it will turn out and what ‘things’ you will need for these future expectations. If you are prepared, you’ve done some planning.

I consider myself in recovery from ‘excessive planning disease’ which reached epic proportions when I become a mother twice within 18 months. I do believe some planning and preparation is necessary in life (I had just finished food prep for the next 3 days!) but it is so easy to get all self-righteous and control-freaky about planning. And, for me, it takes some serious mindfulness to ACTIVELY NOT PLAN my entire life away. Allowing myself the freedom for spontaneity and synchronicity to bubble up, taking equal precedence in my life, has opened me to some of the greatest opportunities for joy and playfulness that I’ve experienced since becoming so ‘adult’ about everything. This excerpt from the poem “What to Remember When Waking” by David Whyte sums it up for me: “…what you can plan is too small for you to live…”.

IMG_3503

Listen to your heart. Eat chocolate.

When my heart said to me “the best way you can ‘prepare’ is nurture yourself right now”, I followed my heart’s advice into a steaming, hot, bubble bath at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon! As I soaked in the bath I was conscious of how my body felt as it was supported and surrounded by the hot water. The scalding heat. The tickle-y bubbles. The slippery wetness. Conscious breathing took me deeper into my body as I inhaled the lavender scent of the bubbles and felt my muscles release and relax into the bath.

My mind, trying to rationalize as always, said, “of course! this is exactly what you needed to ‘prepare’.” But I wasn’t taking the bath to prepare myself for anything. I was taking the bath because it was most supportive thing I could do at that moment. Letting go and slowing down my breathing, along with my mind, allowed to me uncover messages, insights, epiphanies, aha moments, knowing, whatever it is that you want to call those magical, heart-centered moments, and then I could continue to stumble along…a little bit closer to those desires to which I’m being guided.

Tune-out Shut-down

In Mindfulness on April 24, 2013 at 3:37 pm
closed computer

No electronics – including phone!

From Saturday night at 11pm until 245am on Monday morning, I went entirely without electronic communication and almost completely w/out verbal communication. I spontaneously designed a mini-silent retreat at my own home on an ordinary Sunday. Well, maybe it wasn’t so ordinary since I was actually able to disconnect so suddenly and easily. I had no social or work obligations pending, I live alone, and my children were with their dad for an overnight. A friend prompted me to go deep to hear more clearly my inner voice. She had recently observed me doling out wonderful heart-felt advice to mutual friends while seeming a bit disconnected and shut-down when it came to matters of my own heart.

For most of my life I’ve considered myself an extrovert. I’ve always made and kept friendships easily. I’ve been seen as a leader who speaks up as well as listens and people tend to gather around me. And if I’ve got an issue or problem, I quickly gather the sisters and girlfriends and talk it out. Beginning in my early 30s, I’ve been going through a lot of transitions – becoming a mother, changing careers, learning to co-parent, embracing my singleness, starting my own business. As the years go on and the transitions get more weighty, I’ve realized that seeking advice outside of myself is the least effective way for me to find any solace or direction in the situation. Perhaps I need to more consciously embrace the introverted parts of myself and stop crowding out my inner voice with outside advice. All the answers lie within my own heart. And the answers usually make sense to no one but myself. Excessively talking it out and asking others opinions puts me in the position of defending myself and what’s on my heart. I find myself resisting other’s ideas not because I am trying to be contrary but because my  heart is saying ‘no, follow me, listen to me!’.

When I was about middle school age, I would almost obsessively ask for my mother’s opinion on the most mundane issues – should I wear the neon pink shirt or the purple one? should I put the Johnny Depp poster over the head of my bed or the foot of my bed? side ponytail or regular ponytail? rosesShe would resist giving me an answer but I would force her hand and then, inevitably, ALWAYS do the opposite of what she suggested. Why did I insist on asking her opinion? Was this the age where I stopped trusting myself to make the right decision? Until the last 5 years, I thought I had lost the ability to listen to and trust my own heart. As I look back on my 20s, there were plenty of moments of clear-as-day instinctual messages coming right up to the forefront of my consciousness. Things that I just KNEW. And, yet, I did not trust myself to act on this knowing. I needed outside counsel, outside approval, I didn’t have the confidence to defend my decisions or realize that I didn’t have to answer to anyone who expected me to defend my position.

So, about Sunday…I had the time and space and I was given the suggestion. At 11pm, I put my phone on airplane mode, turned off my computer, and took a bubble bath. After my bath I meditated and went to bed. I woke in the morning and went to yoga class. I had a minor whisper conversation with my friend who was on the mat next to me (and she had seen my Facebook post about going silent!) and then quickly left after class so I wouldn’t have to talk to anyone. The rest of the day I took a long walk on the beach, journaled, read a book about becoming spiritually naked (which I am attempting here by telling you of my day of silence). My phone stayed on airplane mode and charging in my bedroom all day. Although I was not tempted to open my computer, I did find myself thinking about meal preparation and eating even when I was not hungry – perhaps to quell some restlessness or boredom in me? On two occasions I had a mild attack of panic because I hadn’t told my ex that I was going off-line. What if he was desperately trying to get a hold of me because the kids…what? Needed absolutely nothing from me and were in safe hands? I started imagining all the group messaging conversations I was missing between my girlfriends.

I was starting to feel insignificant and not needed by anyone. Every time I started to get too far into my head with projections and assumptions, I turned to my journal and reaffirmed my purpose for this day. It was to quiet my mind, quiet the outside influences, quiet the planning and projection and get very real about what was on my heart. candle and rosesI come from a long line of doers and busybodies and as I am still in transition with quite a few big things in my life (aren’t we always just going from one transition to the next?), I have to consciously resist the urge to constantly DO and instead just BE. If I don’t slow down, I’ll miss the next set of instructions (from my heart) and the opportunity to take effortless action. If I insist on continuing with my perpetual motion machine, I might still end up at the same place but I will have wasted a lot of energy and missed out on the joy of living in the flow. After dinner, I meditated, finished my book (I almost tweeted from my kindle that I finished it – terrible!) and fell asleep early. Maybe because I fell asleep early or maybe because I was having very vivid dreams, I awoke at 245am and could not get back to sleep. So I turned on my phone and went for it! Checking email, texts, and Facebook for some sort of confirmation that I was missed, loved, needed. There wasn’t much action. Apparently the world did not stop spinning on it’s axis because I decided to tune out and shut down for a mere 24 hours.

I feel calm and confident and more deeply connected to myself after taking the time to limit outside influences and instead rely on myself for the next right action. I have the ability to validate myself. I feel alone and singular and empowered. It feels good.