Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Year's Resolutions and Mid-Life Crises

"I hope and pray that in the days ahead, each of us does all we can to see that the goal of creating a happier, more harmonious, and healthier world is achieved." -- The Dalai Lama

I can see why some people buy red sports cars or run off with underage mistresses near their 40th birthdays. I feel a similar, but somewhat more ethical, urge to run off and do something wild. But instead of race cars or racy affairs, I want to do something good, really good, something bigger and (seemingly) better than being home with my kids and writing on a blog that hardly anyone reads.

I want to bust loose and contribute to the larger society, in a larger way. I want to be more and do more, though not necessarily to have more. I want to express myself and share myself more with others. In honor of my midlife crisis and the beginning of 2009, I'm brainstorming how to do just that.

One of my New Year's Resolutions is to write more -- to write more frequently, in greater quantity, reaching a wider audience, and making writing a priority in my life. Another resolution is to buy local -- supporting local businesses with my consumer dollars instead of sending my money to multinational corporations and their overseas sweatshops.

My most ambitious resolution is to begin pursuing the graduate studies that I postponed when I became surprisingly pregnant at age 23. I'm not sure yet what I'll study, but an advanced degree has been a priority since I realized that my bachelor's degree in psychology makes me highly qualified for a career in retail or as an administrative assistant (especially in a glutted college town like Eugene, where the waiters have PhD's).

Plus, I want to learn, grow, and expand my horizons beyond home and family. Teaching yoga has been a wonderful experience, but my fibromyalgiac body just doesn't want to demonstrate triangle pose three times a day anymore. The kids are getting older, so am I, and I need to find a new career.

So my winter project is to research, network, and explore possible paths into the future. An online degree program? Community college classes? A master's degree? A professional certificate? A volunteer training program?

Something to apply my nimble mind, to help others and the world, and to pay the bills once my dear, older husband retires. Something not too hard on my aching body, nor too stressful for my frazzled mind. Something I can do part-time until the kids are older. Something creative, caring, conscientious, and fulfilling.

For now, I'll write. Perhaps I'll also dip my toe into the academic waters and take a community college class. I may return tentatively to seeing clients in my Yoga Therapy practice, with ahimsa (non-harming) and moderation in the forefront of my mind.

May my process help me and everyone around me, to learn and to grow, without causing any harm to anyone. And may it show me the way forward into the future.

Happy New Year 2009 everyone!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Back on the Wagon

We all fall off the wagon sometimes, and then must somehow figure out how to climb back on. Life is a process, and often a challenging one. No one gets it right all the time. Even those of us devoted to self-improvement and healthy habits will occasionally indulge in self-destructiveness or poor choices. Sometimes an occasional indulgence devolves into a full-fledged relapse, and instead of being on the wagon, on track as usual, we find ourselves on our rumps in the mud.

That's when it's time to start over. Life is filled with second chances, and third, fourth, and fortieth chances. It is never too late to begin anew. No matter what has gone wrong, or how far off track you've strayed, it is never too late to climb back on that wagon. Whether you've broken your diet and gained ten pounds, or abandoned your exercise routine in favor of channel surfing, you can renew your commitment to health again today. Whether you've given in to the darkness of depression, or to the paralysis of anxiety, you can shake off your demons and reemerge.

"No matter how far you have gone on the wrong road, turn back." -- Turkish Proverb

I have been able to maintain excellent emotional health and worldly success for months and even years at a time. And I have, countless times, succumbed to my inner demons, lapsing into lethargy and depression, debilitating anxiety, and even suicidal fantasies. I have been as physically healthy as anyone I know, masterfully fit and strong, with a two-hour-a-day yoga practice. And I have felt as much pain, fatigue, and weakness as someone twice my age or older. Surely, I have seen many highs and lows in this life, and I understand how tempting it is to give up during the dark times.

But I'm still here. I keep working at it; I keep trying. Perhaps on a Tuesday night I'll give up on myself completely, but by Wednesday morning I wake up and try again. I lean on my husband, my friends, my family. I reach out for the assistance of holistic healers and alternative medicine. When necessary, I depend on western medicine. I rely on my spiritual beliefs, yoga and meditation practices, and faith. I lose my way, and then, somehow, eventually, I find it again. I climb out of the mud, get back on the wagon, and begin again.

As a society, we are certainly, collectively, in a very dark time. At the darkest time of the year, we are in the midst of an economic collapse of epic proportions. We are struggling at the tail end of perhaps the most destructive presidency the United States has ever experienced. Yet we will get through this. We have lost our way, yes, but together we will find our way back onto the right track.

It is never too late. Never give up. Life is a circle, and it turns like a wheel. Things will turn around again, for all of us. We will get back on the wagon again.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Live Well Now for a Bright Future

By Anita Perkins

It's How You Do It

It's not what you do, but how you do it, that matters. Acrobatic yoga poses, for example, can strengthen the ego along with the body, OR they can liberate you from self-imposed limitations and stretch you into fearlessness. It’s all HOW you do it. Even charitable giving, of one's time and energy or one's money -- even into the millions of dollars -- can be motivated by selflessness or by self-interest. Is it really charity, or just a public-relations tax write-off? It's all how you do it.

Living one's life can bring you into deeper bondage, or total liberation, depending on how it's done, and why. Intention is the key. Surrender all you do to your Higher Power. Live to grow and love and serve, and not to feed your limited ego, and you will fly.

See the Big Picture

Doing what's expedient in the short-term may have dire long-term consequences. Eating fast-food may seem quick and convenient, allowing you to be more productive today, but add up too many fast-food days, and by next year you'll be overweight with clogged arteries, and in ten years you might be too sick to work at all! (The movie Super Size Me and the book Diet for a New America are great resources about the evils of Fast Food.)

Feeding your toddler sugary treats may be expedient today, promoting good behavior through bribery or reward, but by next year obesity and cavities may be the undesired consequences, and in ten years your sweet-toothed toddler might be a troubled teen with ADHD.

So do your future self and your family a big favor -- don't just do what's quick-and-easy today. Do what's best for all your tomorrows.

Providing wisdom to its people and the inspiration for the United States Constitution, the Gayaneshakgowa (the Iroquois Constitution) urges us to:

"Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground -- the unborn of the future Nation."

As a society, we all need to be thinking, planning, and acting for the benefit of ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren into the future. See the big picture. Today's easy way out is tomorrow's major headache. Take it from me -- after being a sickly child raised on McDonald's and Poptarts, I am now lovingly cooking brown rice and organic vegetables for myself and my family, and I am finally feeling better. And you will, too! You can live well now and create a bright future of health and happiness.


by Portia Nelson


I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in.
I am lost ... I am helpless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.


I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in the same place
but, it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.


I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in ... it's a habit.
my eyes are open
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.


I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.


I walk down another street.