Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Last Wednesday I took myself to the ocean ~ to walk on the sand, feel the wind, and watch the waves. I can't remember the last time I went to the beach by myself ~

Today's weather is quite a contrast. Morning rain pelted the living-room windows and forced leaves from the trees ~

As I thought about these two days a week apart I was struck by the contrast, not only in the weather but in how my internal conversation has shifted.
These days it's very quiet in my mind.
I grew up with the admonition: If you can't say something nice, then say nothing at all.
Since I made the commitment a week ago to stop my negative self-talk, I haven't had a lot to say to myself. I realize now that I really don't know what to say when it's just me. I've had plenty of time to figure this out because I spend large quantities of time alone. Yet when I stop all the busy chatter and cease the negative comments, it gets very quiet.
This week's lesson in the Buddha Chick course is to befriend ourselves.
Huh. Well then. That is something to think about.
I am to make five promises that will enhance my well-being, five things I will do to befriend myself.
So far I have one thing: I will say "yes" to requests only when I really mean it.
I try to be a good friend to others. I'm not sure why it's so hard to be a friend to myself.

Monday, October 25, 2010

There Was A Wedding In August

My son, Peter, was married in August. We have been anxiously waiting for a digital copy of the wedding photos so we can view, share, and have prints made. The CD arrived this week-end, but there was a technical glitch ~ only a fraction of the photos copied to the disc, and none of the ones I wanted were included. It will take some time to get another, so I have borrowed a few representative photos of the day from Facebook. You will get the idea ~

Parents of the groom, waiting to walk down the aisle ~

Peter and Claudia, married ~

Recessional ~

The wedding party ~

The newlyweds with the groom's family ~

The happy couple, outside in a courtyard ~

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Resistance And Release

I have been doing exercises with my right arm for three weeks, since I saw the doctor for pain in my shoulder. They are simple, lifting-without-so-much-as-a-soup-can, exercises where I bring my arm up to shoulder height in the front, to the side, and at an angle.

The pain in my arm has worsened. I've started using muscles that have not been doing their job, and they are not happy, especially at night if I roll over on my arm or position it the wrong way.

On Sunday my daughter asked me to relax my shoulders. I did. She asked me again and put her hands on my shoulders. I thought I was relaxed, and she thought otherwise. She promised to show me some breathing exercises.

More breathing exercises.

So Monday morning's massage couldn't have come at a better time. Between my shoulder and my attempts at breathing, I needed more help.

My massage therapist worked on my right shoulder and arm for one hour. A solid hour of massaging and working with muscles, large and small, in my shoulder and all up and down my arm.

We talked while she worked. I told her about the Buddha Chick class I'm taking and how I have been observing what I say to myself. I have always thought that if I had high expectations and pushed myself, I would be successful at everything I wanted to accomplish. I am the first, and often only, critic when I don't reach my goals.

We talked about changing our thinking, how we can actually re-map our minds. She mentioned that my right side is the "doing" side and my left side is the "being" side. She gently said that was only an observation...and we both knew how accurate it was.

My perennial thinking and doing are making my body tired and sore.

I shared the work I am doing with my breathing. We reviewed the anatomy around my "center" and how breathing aids the opening and relaxation of that area.

And my upper right arm released. I could feel the muscles shift. The muscles let go and my shoulder relaxed.

I don't think it was a coincidence that earlier that morning I made a commitment to stop the negative self-talk. Enough is enough. A few days before I wrote down the "weed" thoughts I say to myself and was surprised at how hard I am on myself.

I have always thought that if I could just push myself enough....

That what? I couldn't tell you. Just that I needed to stay tough to keep myself on track. To where? To achieve, to succeed, to be famous or rich? Because I was never satisfied. There was always the next thing to strive for, be it education or a job....

I just mis-typed "joy" instead of job.

Again with the tears. The side effect of all this release is that the flood gates have opened and the tears flow at the drop of a hat. I'd blame it on hormones, but those days are over. It's just me, feeling everything. At the end of a recent post Laura wrote that tears are good, healing.

Striving for joy. That is what being a Buddha Chick is all about. I thought if I worked hard enough for all the other things, the joy would follow.

It occurs to me now that maybe joy is where it all begins.

The breathing continues....

Sunday, October 17, 2010

CANstruction 2010

Ken and I were in Boston yesterday to watch our son's team build their sculpture, made completely of canned food, for this year's CANstruction competition. Last year they built a giant pineapple with sunglasses. This year's theme is "Hunger is no laughing matter." The team of civil engineering students from Northeastern University designed and constructed Charlie Brown and Snoopy, complete with doghouse and food bowl. The title: Good Grief! They did a great job ~
[Travis is the third from the left behind the food bowl.]

As part of a nationwide competition, which benefits food banks once displays are dismantled, there were 11 sculptures built at the host school, Bunker Hill Community College. Other entries included Sit On It, a giant chair with whoopee cushion ~

a super-sized Chicken ~

Conan ~

the Swedish Chef ~

and Mr. Potato Head ~
While Ken and I observed the goings-on and enjoyed being present at the event, I realized that this is the tenth, and final, school year that we've had a child in college in Boston. I joked that next year we will just have to find things to do, even if it means "crashing" some of the events that we've enjoyed the most. I'm sure we can blend right in....

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Yesterday morning I had a yoga lesson. I had on my stretch pants and was raring to get started. In 1999 I took a few yoga classes and, though I remembered only a couple poses, I was sure the basics would come back to me with a little help.

I was meeting with a woman, a doctor, who has practiced yoga for a large part of her life. She started by talking about how yoga is not a series of poses, but a frame of mind. The intention is to focus on our breath, and from there we learn to quiet our minds, feel our bodies, and open our hearts. I shared that those are the things I want to learn to do. She stressed that poses are only a part of yoga practice. If we focus on the poses, then we are exercising. It is our breath and the mind/body connection that is the essence of yoga.

We sat in chairs opposite each other.

She showed me how to roll my spine as I breathed ~ breathe in and roll forward, sitting up straight and opening my chest; breathe out and roll back, curving my spine.

She showed me how to breathe as I stretched to each side.

It was a simple demonstration really. Two basic ways to breathe in and out, while I open and stretch.

The session wasn't what I expected. I thought I would learn poses to practice. I wanted to come away with full-sized actions to take and movements to learn. I want to "do" yoga.

Instead, I am learning to breathe. Turns out that the breath is basic to yoga, the same way it is with meditation. It's a small thing, breathing, and it is the most important thing our body can do.

When I take a deep breath, my body takes in necessary oxygen. When I focus on my breath, my mind slows down. As my thoughts slow, there is room to listen to what is beyond my thoughts.

Instead of searching for what my heart says, maybe I need to quiet and listen. There is so much thinking going on that it would be hard for my heart to be heard.

My life is not busy.
I have the time.
My days pass slowly.
The decision is mine.

While my mind says to get out in the world and take action, my body asks me to quiet down inside. Everywhere I turn for answers ~ massage, acupuncture, meditation, birth chart, Buddha Chick class, yoga ~ turns me back toward my self....

And breathing.

Friday, October 8, 2010


The end of August Joanne at Whole Latte Life ran a post called "One Word" ~ she wanted to know, in one word, what we can't get enough of. My answer was conversation. That was the first thought that came to my mind, and after I thought about it that was still my answer.

Conversation. It's how we share what we think and how we feel, what matters to us and what we dream about. It's how we get to know others and how people get to know who we are.

When Ken and I were dating we had conversations, face to face, not on the phone. We could sit for hours drinking coffee and talking. We never ran out of things to talk about.

Once we had children we still had conversations. Although we talked a lot about the kids, we still made time to talk about ourselves and our marriage.

As the kids got older, they joined our conversations. My kids like to talk as much as I do. It was routine for us to talk about our day over dinner. My greatest pleasure on the weekends was long, leisurely conversations over breakfast; that is still my favorite part of the visit when any of my children are home.

Fast forward to two weeks ago. My homework during week 1 of the Buddha Chick class was to observe what bothers me, without judgment or trying to fix it. There isn't much that bothers me at this point in my life. I have been in the process of learning who I am and how I respond for 25 years, and in that time I have let most of the small annoyances of life fall by the wayside.

Through my observations I learned that the thing that bothers me the most is how little Ken and I communicate. I miss those long talks about what we think and how we feel and what we wish for.

The class includes writing and reading and listening and sharing. I had a chance to reflect on some of my thoughts with Jan through email. Writing things out helped clarify what I was thinking and feeling.

Over the course of several days I let my words sit without trying to fix anything. There were tears as I wondered how any of this could possibly help the situation or lead to any solution.

This week, lesson 2, the homework was to observe what brings me pleasure. That was an easy list to make because there are so many things I do to take care of myself and keep myself entertained. I always have something to do, often by myself, and I am never bored.

Between the work of week 1 and week 2 something has shifted. I see now that I thought the lack of communication was a reflection on me and my value. That is totally a product of my thinking; this is my issue and not anyone's fault. How much other people talk to me is not connected to my self worth.

I wonder if what I have observed has anything to do with how bound up my "core" has been, complete with tight muscles and lower back pain. I question if this is why, in so many situations, I often don't say what I'm thinking or I censor what I do say.

I haven't changed anything. I have made observations, jotted down thoughts in a journal, practiced Metta Loving-Kindness for myself and others, and paid attention to how my body feels.

I feel encouraged that the more I learn about myself the better I will feel, physically and emotionally and spiritually. The journey continues....

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Computer 101

My first Microsoft Office class was last night.

Hello computer. We spent over two hours getting to know how a computer works. I have been using computers for 15 years and I learned things I never knew.

The instructor, Vince, explained to the class, comprised of middle-aged women who are working or looking for work, that his first goal is to teach us to not be intimidated by computers. He actually took apart a tower to show us the processor, the mother board, the hard drive, and the memory cards. He told us to always touch the outside of the tower to diffuse any static and never to vacuum inside because it could cause a static charge; use a can of air to blow out dust.

The most useful and entertaining part of the evening was to watch Vince put into action his analogy of a library to show how a computer works. He told us to imagine that the wall behind him was covered with shelves of books, which work like the hard drive because that is where the data is stored. Vince, acting as the librarian who retrieved books from the shelves, was working as the processor. When he retrieved imaginary books from the imaginary shelves and placed them on a cart that stood in place of a desk, he explained that where the data is placed while it is in use is the memory; when our computers run slowly it might mean that we need more memory because there isn't enough room on the "desk" for all the things we want to open.

The bigger the hard drive, the more data you can store.

The faster the processor, the faster your computer retrieves data.

The more memory in your computer, the larger number of programs you can open and use at the same time.

The class ran 15 minutes over because we have so much to learn. We are not scheduled to have class this Thursday because it's the night for parent-teacher conferences at the school. However, if we can use the computer lab many of us want to meet with Vince for more time to learn our way around a computer. We have a lot to learn and he is anxious to teach us.

I already feel more confident when I use my computer. That's a good feeling.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Last Week In September

Here I am at the start of another October. Forty-seven years ago this week-end my family moved into the first and only house my parents would own. Thirty-two years ago this week-end my husband and I moved into our first house. Two years ago this week-end Leo showed up on our porch.

Things happen when they happen, so I am always amazed when dates overlap like that. There are 365 days in a year, so why do life events so often happen on dates that are already significant?

This past week was the first week of the Buddha Chick course. We received Lesson 1 on Monday, which was to observe our reactions and feelings this week. We had a conference call Wednesday evening, and it was good to hear the voices of other participants. There is a members-only blog and a discussion thread on FaceBook. There has been a lot to take in this first week.

So I have been surprised by how calm I feel. I have had practice with observing myself; it's something I have been working on for a long time with my massage therapist.

My calm surprises me because I now know that this week has been a time for me to come to terms with the knowledge that I am facing another shift in my life. I am not sure what it will be, but after three years in this state of transition I know it's time. I have been through these "growth spurts" before and I know it will be a time of gains and losses. I am glad that I recognized these feelings, while I am sad that the all the "dancing" I have been doing will not be able to save me from what's ahead.

In the past three years I have tried everything I can think of ~ from applying for dozens of jobs to starting a business to coloring my hair to learning to meditate.

Then this summer the clamor for change got louder.

I had my birth chart read. I was told I need a lot of freedom; as an Aquarius I bring a new perspective; I have been holding myself back and have a fear of letting go. It is in my nature, according to my chart, to speak the truth, do things my own way, and to speak what's in my heart.

The problem is that what my heart has to say has been buried for so long that I can't hear it. I stated this week that my intention during the Buddha Chick course is to learn to listen to my heart. That means that I need to clear away the static and pay close attention.

I saw my doctor, a DO, yesterday for a sore shoulder. She started by working on my sacrum. She said, "Sharon, this is your core. It's being stubborn. What's been going on with you?"

And this mirrored a conversation I had earlier in the day with a friend who said, "Sharon, this was a big year for you. All of your children have made it clear that they are independent of you. How are you doing with that?"

As I lay on the treatment table yesterday, in a clinic that used to be a hospital where both of my sons were born, I thought about the days that each of my children were born. Then I thought about my youngest getting his first apartment this April, and my oldest establishing new boundaries with me in May, and my middler giving it to me straight in June.

As much as I want things to settle down, life has become even more unsettled.

I know this is a sign that a big shift is coming. I have been holding this at bay because inevitably it means that there will losses. I have been here before and know of what I speak. It's hard to let go of what isn't working, and it hurts to lose what has been important for so long.

By definition change cannot happen if all things stay the same.

So it has been a quiet week, externally. Inside, I am bracing for what's next.