Fearless Friday: Renaissance People

It’s been a rough week at The Green Study. Its injured denizen (me) was extremely grumpy. Knee injuries take from 2-4 weeks to heal. I’m in week two and severely out of sorts. I broke my ceramic tea kettle and when trying to repair it, managed to Superglue a couple of fingers together. Limping and lumbering about also caused my Kindle to fall off a shelf and hit me in the head. It was like being taken over by the spirit of Mr. Bean.

I’m shaking it off and this week, the theme is Renaissance people – people who cultivate a wide range of interests and practice skills in multiple areas – people who will never utter the words I’m bored. Welcome to Fearless Friday.

Feacanstockphoto13410470rless Fridays are about lives lived in spite of our fears, living a life that is about curiosity, compassion, and courage. If you just got published, something wonderful happened to you, you witnessed an act of kindness, or you have someone in your life who amazes you, drop your story into my contact page or email it to TheGreenStudy (at) comcast (dot) net and I’ll run it on a Fearless Friday. If you’re a blogger, it’s an opportunity to advertise your blog, but this is open to anyone who would like to share.  These will be 100-300 word stories, subject to editing for clarity and space.

New Readers

When I have time, I go through this blog’s follower list and try to visit as many blogs as possible. I’m giving a shout out to a couple new readers this month who exemplify the theme of Fearless Friday.

canstockphoto1323495Jamison Hill at Jamison Writes. One of the things that will keep me reading a blog is the author’s voice. Jamison has a clear and authentic voice with a compelling personal narrative. I had to make myself stop reading his posts, because I wouldn’t have gotten anything else done today. Check out his Bio and Bylines for articles he’s written for a variety of publications.

canstockphoto46705839Cheryl Capaldo Traylor at Giving Voice to My Astonishment is a writer, yoga teacher, and gardener. She opens her page with an Annie Dillard quote that sets the tone for her blog. Her About page is what you’d expect from someone who cultivates curiosity just as much as she does her garden.

Karen has a concert card!

canstockphoto8525201She’s a neuroscientist, goes geocaching, plays the violin and viola, practices photography, writes, and juggles (I made that one up). K.L. Allendoerfer at A Thousand Finds is the perfect example of a Renaissance person. She writes about her music, geocaching, and neuroscience, as well as posting book reviews and photos she’s taken. You can read her music blog and bio at violinist.com.

Over ten years ago she began to play violin and then viola after many years of not playing. This is something that I connected with, the idea that it’s never too late to learn and to excel. You can see her playing with a quintet here. Despite all of her experiences and education, there was one thing she hadn’t done before – had her face associated with a concert. Congratulations, Karen – wishing you an appreciative audience and a stellar performance!AllendoerferConcertCardFlight of the Dilettante

canstockphoto10628495My resume and personal history reads like the life of someone who is very…confused. It wasn’t until I read Margaret Lobenstine’s The Renaissance Soul that I began to re-frame my aspirations. She defines a Renaissance soul as a person who thrives on a variety of interests and who redefines the accepted meaning of success.

I think that’s a very cool thing to think about. When you’re like me, a jack-of-many-trades, master of none, it’s easy to feel like a failure, because it’s hard to explain at the family holiday gathering that you gave up Chinese painting because now you’re learning Swahili and woodcarving. Flighty. Dilettante. Hobbyist.

Now I just say I’m a writer and call it research. And run away before they ask me about my work.

Have a wonderful weekend!

The Green Study Hits the Road, Jack

canstockphoto1035545In preparation for a very long road trip to see family, I’ve packed the following necessary items:

  • One front seat driver who believes there is no need to ask for directions, but constantly insists that I’m going the wrong way.
  • One mini-me who will immediately alert me from the backseat whenever the speedometer number is bigger than the posted signs.
  • A lot of dysfunctional baggage,  so that anything my family of origin says will immediately irritate me, no matter how innocuous.
  • One large bottle of Tums to counter bad road food.
  • One large bottle of ibuprofen to counter everything else.

I’ll be leaving behind:

  • Two obnoxious felines who will now wake the house/pet sitters every morning at 2am.
  • Hopes and dreams of a beautiful garden, which will become feral and overgrown in my absence.
  • All the accumulated winter malaise and stagnation.

Until my return, enjoy some older posts that were my favorites to write, if not for readers to read:

Yoga for the Discursive Mind     Ohmmmm, where is the yoga class for the ADD people?

Sitting Vigil      Primitive parenting when your child is ill.

From Chicken to Merely Insufferable   Breaking up…with meat is hard to do.

She Knows Nothing…But She Should Know Something     Explaining evil to your child.

Uncommitted: Being Jack    When you’re not particularly good at anything…be a writer.

Summer Vacation     What I learned last year during summer vacation.

Thanks for reading and I wish you a wonderful week!

(I’ll respond to any comments upon my return.)

When Your Body Betrays You

I’ve been sick with a flu/cold/plague for the last week. When I get sick, I feel very, very sorry for myself and I say this, knowing full well that there are people suffering from much more serious and long term illnesses. I do have some perspective, but not necessarily when I’m hacking up a lung or blinded by a sinus headache.

My family of origin tends to be healthy as horses, mental disorders aside. For many years, I felt a level of disdain for complaints of sore throats, backaches and migraines. Part of it was being young and healthy, the other, an arrogance derived from never feeling the betrayal of one’s body. Karma can be a great teacher.

Following my child’s birth, I went into a postpartum funk, related to hormones and to the fact that delivery had gone completely the opposite of what I had imagined. It was the first time my body let me know who was in charge. I had read all these wonderful books on natural birth. Some of the anecdotes spoke of the experience being nearly “orgasmic” (hear loudly my snort of derision). I worked with a midwife, but in a hospital setting. I was 37, so it seemed like a nice middle road.

I will not go into the torment that was the nearly 20 hours of labor, except that I spent most of it “naturally” (if it’s natural to gasp swear words while sitting on a yoga ball), and the last 4th induced by a cocktail of drugs and 1 hour completely, blessedly stoned. Things went awry in a big way and a team had to be brought in, with lots of equipment. The word “distress” was tossed around. I ended up having an emergency Caesarean and staying in the hospital for five days. My husband, who was conscious throughout, was traumatized.

When we returned home, fortunately with a healthy and loud baby, I was depressed. Recovery from a C-section versus “an orgasmic experience” was like being warm and cozy and then having a bucket of ice water dumped on you. It was painful and shocking. Meds made me sick and I was trying to nurse my new baby. I cried a lot.

It took me a little while to figure out that I felt ashamed that my body had failed to do its thing naturally. Yes, on the scale of life events, this was minor, since the end result was a beautiful baby girl. But there’s no accounting for emotions and hormones.

It was the beginning of physical understanding and dare I say, compassion for the trials and tribulations of the human body. I also gained a huge appreciation for modern medicine and health insurance. My daughter and I would not be here, if it weren’t for the machines and doctors that could navigate through this particular crisis. I would not have been able to work from home part time and be with my daughter, had it not been for the insurance that covered 70% of a whopping $22,000 medical bill.

I was one of those people who considered the body merely a container for my brain. The disconnect started in my teens with typical gender issues that made me not like or even remotely appreciate the work my body did for me. In my 20s I abused it mightily, but it recovered with the same bounce in its step, regardless of hangover or sleep deprivation or junk food intake or firsthand cigarette smoke.

In my 30s, it started to require more attention. I quit smoking and drinking. I became concerned with cholesterol, triglyceride and blood pressure numbers. I started reading up on homeopathic remedies and exercise and nutrition.

Now, in my 40s, my body is the crystal ball into my future and I’m paying close attention. It needs more motion, better nutrition, and more sleep. I’ve developed more compassion and respect for its limitations. I’ve had three fairly painful, serious injuries in the last three years. My frequent exposure to elementary aged beasties has challenged my immune system.

These days, I have to pull myself back from running when I have bronchitis and from doing taekwondo when I have a pulled quad. I try to stay focused when I do yoga, so that my mind and my body feel united, so that I honor how it moves me through my day, holds my child, types these words. The greatest lesson is not what my body can do for me, but how I can take care of and respect it. This is where compassion for the physical challenges and illnesses of others starts to grow – when you learn to honor your own.

Yoga for the Discursive Mind

I wish I were good at yoga. On top of the physical inability to do whatever-asana without groaning, I go straight into short attention span mode the minute I flop on a mat. It starts with me realizing I wore colored socks and now have dark fuzz stuck between all my toes and ends with barely contained giggles when someone starts snoring during the relaxation pose. Sometimes that someone is me and I still think it’s funny. I’ve tried it in a beautiful studio with sunlight and wood floors. I’ve done it in my livingroom with a DVD while being distracted by Rodney Yee’s…uh…outfit. I’ve done it at the Y. I’ve done it on the fly. Okay, Dr. Seuss probably had a short attention span, too.

Western Yoga comes in all shapes and sizes, much of it athletic and circus-like (aerial yoga – really!). There are so many experts and superstar yogis, that it has just become another thing I “should” get better at. When my daughter was younger, we used to do this children’s yoga DVD together. The teacher was wonderful – animated, laughing and the kids were having a great time. It’s a lovely concept that now makes a profit – welcome to Laughing Yoga. Or somebody thought that if you jacked up the thermostat to over 100° F, it would make people healthier. Welcome to Hot Yoga. I’d attend Hot Flash Yoga. I’m assuming that would be taught in a refrigerated room.

For me, yoga might not be in a room with bendy people laying on rubber mats for an hour. I understand the intent and that is my road to yoga. To stop, to breathe, to feel and appreciate the work my body does for me, to take care of it a little better, to still my thoughts, if only for a few moments and to whisper a little ‘namaste’ to the world. Sometimes yoga for the day is three really long, really quiet stretches while breathing deeply. Or standing in tree pose while my child runs around me laughing.

I tend to lean toward eastern philosophies that yoga is meditation to unite body and mind. The eastern yogis don’t look like triathletes and they don’t have “gear”. When you see photos of eastern practitioners, they’re usually sitting around swathed in what look like sheets – that is a yoga outfit I can get on board with, especially if I fall asleep during the relaxation pose. I admire the calm and serenity I see in experienced practitioners of yoga, but I know it will never be me, because I’m already thinking about something else.