Mr, Cupcake at Craters of the Moon

Mr, Cupcake at Craters of the Moon
Mr. Cupcake at Craters of the Moon

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

the four needs of the heart

I have to blog about this right now while it's fresh in my mind. Normally I would just write in my journal about it but I think it is profound enough to share with you.

As I mentioned, I am working my way through the Chopra Center's 21-day meditation challenge. Today was Day 9. The meditations are getting more and more intense, and each day I find more resonant than the previous day.

I am in a head space right now where my mind is tingling with learning. I have always believed that everything happens for a reason and that when we are meant to receive messages, all we need to do is pay attention. I have started praying recently, and have asked for all kinds of help, and my prayers have started being answered. The message that came through in the Chopra meditation today was exactly what I needed to hear. 

Davidji led today's meditation and in it he discusses the four needs of the heart: Attention, Affection, Appreciation, Acceptance. We were invited to chant these four words as mantras, either silently or out loud. As I was chanting these mantras, I flood of realizations came into my head. I may have these needs, but so does everyone else! I can apply this to the stressful family situation at hand. This will help me to have a more peaceful and loving response when and if the phone call comes. I can be mindful of their need for attention, affection, appreciation, acceptance. All negative emotion comes from fear, and that fear is a call for love. I can offer love. I can be loving to my relatives who are expressing these negative emotions.

Now I must tell you something. I have started working my way through A Course in Miracles. Since I have made this decision and begun this study, lots of interesting changes have been happening in my mind and in my life. I was introduced to the videos of Earl Purdy, who teaches the Course. I spent ten years being a Pagan and have never felt so close to the Divine as I do now, and this coming after two years of rejecting religion and spirituality outright. This is the reason I have come to accept why I am delayed in immigration - because I have a lot of learning to do right now. I am praying for the processing of my green card (and hopefully you are too - if so, thanks!), but in the mean time I have made peace with my situation.

getting in the way of my lovingkindness

I have encountered some criticism lately. First about my hair and then about blogging about personal details about my life. This criticism has come from family members.

The family member that came down hard on me for not following the status quo (as in vanity) offered an unsolicited apology the following day, which I accepted and have forgiven them for. They realized that they had missed the point entirely about me shaving my head: that it was something I had always wanted to do, that it was a letting go of my past, and stepping away from vanity. So I'm happy to report that got resolved.

In the last few days there has been a maelstrom of emails sent and phone calls made - not to me - about my blog, its contents, and how I write. Harsh criticism cloaked as 'concern'. This has brought about considerable stress and I am considering how to do deal with these unjust and irrational criticisms in a way that will keep me in the state of compassion, lovingkindness, and peacefulness. It's not easy. I'm not sure how to respond, really.

I blogged about the situation last night, then deleted the post ten minutes later. It was too inflammatory, and it might have caused more of a problem than the original post. It is my compulsion to write, you see, writing is how I ground myself and how I organize my thoughts.

I have been told to expect a phone call from one of the three parties that are all riled up about the content of the blog post from a month ago where I mentioned my depression and poverty. In preparation for this phone call, I wrote pages and pages of things I might say in response, in an attempt to practice lovingkindness and forgiveness on the page. I am a Tiger and have been victimized by bullies in the past, so when I know something like this is coming, I seriously get my back up.

I'm going to guess these three critics of my life and writing aren't regular readers about my blog, or they would have also come down on me hard for shaving my head. But in the off chance they are, I have this to say to you:

Only I get to make the decisions about my life.

Sure things are sometimes difficult, but on the whole I am happy and my relationship with my husband is solid.

If you have an issue with what I am saying then tell me rather than going behind my back and kicking up drama.

This behaviour your a displaying shows me the level of respect you have for me and subsequently the amount of my trust you shall have.

I forgive you for not understanding the whole story, I forgive you for thinking ill of me, I forgive you for causing me pain.

May you be filled with lovingkindness. May you be well in body and mind. May you be safe from inner and outer danger. May you be truly happy and free.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

What can I tell you?

I haven't felt like blogging lately. There. I've said it. On the one hand, when I'm doing things and taking photos of things, I think about their blog-ability, but then I think well, if it fits into 140 characters, then I'll just tweet it. I know I have a few readers who aren't on Twitter, so I apologize to you.

I'm still knitting a lot, and I've started meditating. This week of the Sounds True course, we are to meditate for an hour each day. So far, after two weeks of meditating every day, I have already experienced the benefits of meditation by having improved sleep.

A few mornings ago, just as I was getting up, I turned my head the wrong way and pinched a nerve in my neck. This led to subsequent shooting pain down my shoulder and back, had really impaired my mobility. This used to happen to me a lot, like once a month or so, but it's been quite a while since the last time. It's annoying for a number of reasons, but I am loathe to take medicinal relief for this. Muscle relaxants make me feel dopey and drunk, and I don't like feeling like I don't have control. Ibuprofen could help but I don't want to be reliant on pain killers. I take only the bare minimum to get me through. Hot water bottle, rest, baths. I have also decided that a bit of physical activity is good for me, so I have been out walking, doing gentle yoga, and pulled a couple of unwanted bushes out of the garden yesterday. Another night or two and I'll be back to normal.

My bread production has slowed down, I have put the sourdough starter in the freezer. We had all gained some weight (!) in the time I was baking bread so I thought it might be wise to take a break.

I'm also doing this thing on Twitter called #plankaday. The idea is that you hold yourself in plank position, as in like a pushup but you have your forearms under the ground, shoulders directly over your elbows, for as long as you can. I'm up to a minute. The idea is you hold yourself rigid and it builds core strength in your abdominals and lower back. Then you tweet about having done it.

I am currently listening to The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon as an audiobook through Audible. Claire and Jamie are in North Carolina!

Today was my first day in a month that I have been sad. I wasn't flat-on-the-floor depressed, just a little down. And that could be hormonal. Let's face it: I'm a pre-menopausal woman. When I had my tubes tied, they told me I could experience early onset menopause, having not had children. My first thought when they told me was "great! Maybe I'll be done with acne then!" I did go through the five-month course of Accutane in 2007, which more or less cleared up my severe nodular acne, but I do still get little breakouts from time to time.

I have also been reading a lot. Like a lot. In fact, I have discovered that I am able to get through some of these books, cover to cover, in less than a day. Okay okay I'll tell you. I'm reading about - how to even describe it? - lots of things: animal communication, psychic abilities, spirituality, meditation, Reiki, etc. There is a lot going on in my head that I'm still not able to set down into one coherent blog post, but I am encountering lots of similar messages that confirm some truths for me. At the same time, I am confronted with my own ugly truths. I want to be less judgmental and be filled with lovingkindness. I want to feel inner peace. I want to be able to forgive easily.  After two years of having declared myself irreligious, I am once again finding myself in prayer. It's kind of blowing my mind.

I thought I had some photos of all my current knitting projects but apparently I don't. With my 2012 knitting plan to knit 12 hats this year, I have five done already, and I have only blogged about one! So I'll get on that soon.

Still no word on immigration. If the "five more months" thing from early January is true, then that will have me here another three and a half months. But I have a plan, see, and you can help! Here is my plan: the next step is the third Notice of Action. This will mean a package comes to me that tells me how to set up my appointments for the immigration interview and health check in Vancouver. I would like that to happen in the next week. Then, with everything being approved, all they need to print my green card and send it to me. With a miracle, this will happen in mid - late march.  Then Dan books a flight and fly here for Easter weekend, where he'll get to see his family before we start our journey south on Easter Monday.The good people reading this blog may just help by praying for me, that I may be reunited with my husband soon so I can begin my life in North Carolina.

This is my plan, Universe, and I expect a miracle.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

check one off my bucket list

Adventures of my hair continue.

Today I had a bath, then decided it was time to give my hair a trim. I wasn't especially fond of the shade of auburn it was turning out to be and was thinking about how long it will be before it grew out long enough for me to cut it off leaving my natural colour. I got out the scissors. Snip, snip. It's not easy cutting your own hair when it's really short, especially the back, so I got the clippers out. Just to do the back. Not being in any way adept with these things, I wasn't able to make a smooth transition from the shaved back of my head to the two inch strands on the top. I could have waited and asked the Toni or the Skipper for help with tidying it up but... I thought no, I'll just keep going.


And so I did it. I have always wanted to have a shaved head, and not necessarily completely bald. but this will certainly do. 





The camera only catches a few of the whites, but there are a lot more than is shown here. And there are a lot more than there was before I started dyeing my hair blond in 2010. So I come to face the reality of my hair, the ebbing of my vanity, and, surprisingly, the freedom that is really short hair! My first thought when I looked at myself was: I look like Pema Chodron! Which, considering she's an awesome Buddhist and all, is not such a bad thing.

See, changes are afoot in my head, and I'm reading and studying and learning so much right now it's hard to gather it all into a group of words and organize them into a blog post. I have started meditating. In fact, I started an eight-week meditation course presented by Sounds True (it's free!) last week and have been meditating every day. I am also beginning a new yoga practice. I have long been a fan of yoga and was once quite adept, but have been shocked lately to see how inflexible I have become. I must get my body back to that supple and limber state.

I have had to face the music with something else as well: I have gained some of my weight back. I stepped on the scale again and felt only a little discouraged but have new resolve. We have been having an awful lot of fun with food here at Backyard Feast, and I think we have all three of us gained weight since I've been here. (Sorry!) I think I had better slow down on the bread making. I want to have more and bigger salads. I'm not employed and while I have some 'duties' (tending the chickens when my friends aren't home), my schedule is my own so I need to organize and manage my time better, especially now that I have new things in my routine like meditation, yoga, and reading (I have been reading a lot of books from the library lately). This is all to say more changes are in the cards for me and while I have been sorely neglecting my readers, it's really for my own good. I have lots to tell you, all in good time.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

knitting content! I finished a hat!

I'm sorry I've been so AWOL lately, dear reader. I have been extremely busy doing lots of stuff and I realize I haven't given you any knitting content in a long time. So here is my most recent finished object.




It's called the Hermione Hat. See, I woke up one morning with a strong compulsion to knit something in red, the colour of the base chakra, Muladhara. Don't ask me why I'm suddenly interested in chakras, that's a long story that I'll get around to sometime. At any rate, I went through my small and dwindling stash to see what red yarn I had. This I bought when I was working at Knits by the Sea in Tofino. It's Blue Sky Alpaca sport, I had two skeins of it. I went to Ravelry's advanced search and asked what I could do with this amount of yarn. It said, among other things, this hat! It's a free pattern, I had the needles, and I could get started just as soon as I wound up my yarn into balls.

Sigh. I so desperately wish I had a swift and winder. It's not so bad doing it by hand when it's a skein of worsted or heavier yarn, but when you are doing, say, sock yarn, that has 400+ yards, that means winding for like 20 minutes, precious knitting time! I just can't afford a swift & winder at the moment, so I go by hand.

At any rate, this project consumed me until I got it done, and I couldn't put it down until something like 11pm on Wednesday night (started on Monday). It's pretty. I like it. It's soft. Today I will cast on for an accessory to match this, with colours that are next up the chakras.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

me, redrawn

I would love to have skills with drawing and illustrating. Once I had big plans to make an illustrated history of my family. Skills require practice though, and I have only ever dabbled in drawing, so no great skill. Thus, whenever I have drawn myself, I have always drawn me as a stick figure.

Stacey as stick figure
 In mid January, I decided it was time, suddenly to cut off all my hair. Part of it is that I was not interested in maintaining the artificial colour anymore, and part of it was that I had always wanted to experience really short hair, possibly a shaved head. I was telling Toni about this over breakfast and then, that morning, I felt so compelled to cut it off that I could think of nothing else until I got out the scissors.

Stacey with scissors

Scissors and hand mirror

So I went at it. I have been cutting my own hair for a very long time and have gotten rather handy with scissors, hand mirrors and angles. Here I go!



I looked down and saw all my hair on the floor. 


I discovered the real reason people give themselves Mohawk haircuts. It's because even if they can do a fine job on the sides, getting the middle and especially the back is hard. 


In this process, I made a couple of important discoveries. Discovery the first: I have big ears. 


Discovery the second: with not much to weigh this hair down, its natural inclination is to stick straight up! This will not do. 


I made a wonderful discovery after this. For Christmas I received a most excellent running cap, and not only does it warm my head and protect against the rain, but it also squishes my spiky hair down into a smooth flat mane. 


 As a knitter, I was excited to have more excuses to wear hats (short hair = cold head!) Below is a triumphant me wearing my favorite hand-knit hat, my Brattleboro hat made of Malabrigo Worsted.
 

Something bad happened. When Dan was here, and I was doing laundry one day, somehow my beloved hat made it into the laundry and I shrunk my Brattleboro hat! It went from fitting my 22 1/2 inch head to having only a 15 inch circumference, suitable only for newborns. This sure made me sad! I still have the pattern and once I get some replacement yarn I will knit another one. 


But the real dilemma, and the point of this post, was that of how to draw myself when I have short hair? What am I going to do? I spent a fair bit of time drawing different incarnations of myself with different hair, some of it quite imaginative. Me as a stick person with short hair itself is not very interesting so I think I will actually knit a headband with a feature like this to wear around until my hair grows out a bit. I should also probably knit (or sew?) a bunch of triangle-shaped dresses to make sure my stick person persona matches the reality!