Category Archives: health

30 Days of Jung — Day 10: #Addiction #Morality #Psychology #Irony

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Day 10! I’ve made it 10 days! I’m a third underway! This is great! Today’s quote is like yesterday’s: simply good.

Welcome to Day 10 of “30 Days of Jung,” my series, wherein (soon, I will start repeating myself, like now) I take a famous quote of Carl G. Jung‘s and try to make sense or refute or invert or disembowel it or where I turn into a heaping pile of mush because of it in 1,000 words or less.

If you don’t know who Jung is, he formulated the theories of introverted and extroverted personalities, the stages of individuation, the basis of the “Meyers-Briggs” personality (INFJ / ESFJ, etc.) tests. He’s the “father” of modern-day psychoanalysis. In short, he’s a badass. But he’s dead, so he can’t be with us today.

“Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol, morphine or idealism.”
C.G. Jung

Oy. Let’s get on this. End the count at 1,160.

Hello, my name is Molly and I’m an awarenessaholic with a specialization in tongue-biting and nag-suppression.

I try to be good about it. I don’t talk much about the lapses I see when other people become totally unaware: when they yell at traffic, yell at their kids, comment about how someone is dressed, or groan about something and then take a swig. I just take notes and learn. I’m no better; I groan about something and stomp around, grouse or hole up in my office and write about Jung. Sometimes I hop on the rowing machine or beat up our heavy bag. Usually, I try to just chill out though, let the moment pass.

Sometimes, I do get involved if it’s over the top as in the time I saw a woman rage on and physically abuse her three-year-old daughter for showing off her own belly button at the take-out line in a Red Robin restaurant. The little girl was clearly in pain and the mother was unconcerned. It felt like it was a habit. People in the room were visibly disturbed.

I was totally aware of what I was doing, in fact I was aware of the surge of adrenaline coursing through my body and amping up my larger muscles when I calmly approached her and said,

“Hey. Look at my face. Are you looking at me? Can you hear me? I’m a mom too. Please stop freaking on your kid, it’s just a belly button. If you do it again, I’ll do it to you and we’ll have ourselves a problem.”

Her response: “I’m a nurse, I know what I’m doing. I’m not hurting her.”

My response: “You’re a nurse? That’s supposed to impress me? Remind me to never need your medical expertise. Lighten your tone with your daughter and loosen your grip on her blanched forearm. Now.” She did what she was told and then she sneered at me. The toddler rubber her arm, looked at me and hugged her mother’s thigh.

After they left, a muslim woman came up to me later and told me she would pray for me because she wished I was there for her when she was that young girl and her mother slapped her across the face and into the next room. She showed me the scar on her cheek from the ring that cut her. I tensely smiled and nodded almost imperceptibly; I was was ready to rumble quite honestly, but I appreciated her prayers.

I used to be held that way by my mother. It hurt then and I can remember it now. My dear husband tried to stop me from walking into a parking lot one time by bracing my forearm and I almost flipped him. That’s when I realized: I better start paying attention to what I’m feeling. Then that’s when the awareness bus came and took me away to AwarenessLand, a fun-filled carnival experience for all people who would like to know better.

So thinking about that Red Robin incident: was I unaware when I decided to approach? Even my husband was going to say something, but he saw the cut of my jaw and the blaze in my eyes and knew I was going to say something after the third time the mother slapped the child on the top of her blonde head. For my husband, it was a matter of preventing a cat fight.

So I try not to be the morality police; I try to let people make their own mistakes and not do unto others as I would have them do unto me, but … it’s hard. I don’t have all the answers, all I have is my experience and my perspective and I hope my wits. I’ve been on a therapeutic journey of late to better sync my emotional side with my intellectual side.

For years I thought everything, I did’t feel it. I rationalized and intellectualized so-called grievances and offenses and branded them as reasonable or not. That perspective gave me a quick albeit insufficient solution to what I perceived as major problems and once the problem was “solved” I filed it away.

The game changer for me came up when I was stuck: when I could not make my emotions agree with my thoughts. This happened about a year ago and the process to rewiring my emotional assessments with my logical appreciations has been exhausting but I’m seeing the payoff now. I’m not so stuck anymore and I can make assessments faster and act on them rather than wonder if what I was doing was “right” or “morally correct.”

When it comes to behavior and synthesis, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. The one the works is the one which brings you clarity or peace.

So my “result” has been “morality” in the vein of “mindfulness” and “self-awareness.” Yes, I treat it like an Olympic sport sometimes, and I know it drives some people nuts. They ask me, “Why do you have to think so much about these things? Why can’t you just let this go?” but to me, I need a deeper appreciation. And it’s not so bad that to process it all, and I’ll tell you: I know when people are into it or they aren’t, but I have yet to find someone who isn’t interested in a conversation about being a better person. Sometimes I let it go… it will come back in another form (it always does) and maybe I’ll try it again.

I’ve known addicts of many stripes. They are all the same: they lie, they barter, they hide and cheat and steal to get a fix. I am a recovering addict of chaos. It sounds funny, but it’s true. I would create problems in order to solve them or have relationships with certain people (as a commenter said, “you can smell your own”) in order to stir up crap in my life so that I could be unhappy or troublesome and then complain about it or blame it on other things: I’m tired, I drank too much last night, she cut me off, he didn’t thank me…

I HAD NO CLUE. I have since cleared my life of all those people from my past when I was unconscious (what term “unhealthy”) and if there are still hangers-on, I have developed tools to help me deal because many people, even if they’re chaotic, have wonderful qualities too.

Have I made it my life’s mission to educate people on awareness? I can’t lie. I try whenever I can with my boys and whenever it’s welcome with others. But sometimes, it’s not welcome, and that’s when I’ve joined the “tongue-biters” club.

Thank you.

Check-Writing Angels & Growing Up

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So a few days ago, I shared with you the amazing and transformative experience I had when I shared the gift of yoga and mindful meditation with Survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

What has happened to me in the four short days since that experience has resulted in only the most amazing gift, and thus explains my absence and lack of posts since. I’ve been a little overwhelmed.

. . . . . . . . . .

One of the participants asked me why I wasn’t certified yet. I hemmed and hawed and moaned about the expenses and how it all seems like a racket, that all the classes (there must’ve been some Steve Jobsian-edict from the Yoga Alliance) cost a minimum $3,000 for Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) 200-hour certification. I felt like there was a “system” in place; a mafia, so to speak and I considered the whole thing rather unyogic.

Truth be told, because yoga has become so “hot” lately, some people believe the practice has become diluted; that the essence of the discipline has been taken over, and focused more on “yoga bodies” and “long, lean muscles.” Gone are the covers on Yoga Journal of regular people sitting in meditation or in a traditional pose; now everyone is doing King of the Dancers (a very advanced pose) and has 14% body fat. I tend to agree with the concept that yoga has been somewhat corrupted by commerce. The whole point of yoga is not $135 transparent yoga pant recalls but rather: to build balance and flow in poses to prepare for sitting for long periods in meditation and to build a lasting relationship with equanimity.

So much for equanimity:

I teach sixth graders for 8 weeks every spring, free, at the school. When I first started 6 years ago, the focus from the kids, and it was a good ratio of boys to girls then, was all about relaxation, stress relief and becoming quiet. The kids knew this. They were into it. They were scared and nervous about the transition to middle school and they welcomed the opportunity to stretch their muscles, touch their toes and fall asleep for 10 minutes in the dark before dismissal.

The number one question then: “Can I do yoga anywhere?” The answer: Yes.

This year, the NUMBER ONE question was “will I get abs from this?” and “how do I get a six-pack?” My answers, respectively and invariably, have been: “If you didn’t have abs, you wouldn’t be able to walk,” and “You get a six-pack when you turn 21.”

They hate those answers. They want, at 12 years of age, “perfect” bodies. They’re so stressed out about getting “perfect” bodies, that they are completely obsessed with it.

I digress. Be it known, however, that I am working on changing those kids’ attitudes.

Where was I? Oh, yes: complaining about the price-fixing -esque nature of the yoga certification industry. I complained about that to my friend when she asked about my training.

She was not impressed with that answer. She has known me for quite some time. She and I have talked about this before. Apparently, whatever I did with her that day rocked her world because she took it upon herself to blow my mind the next day.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Sunday morning, Mother’s Day, she dropped off a check. A check for $3,500. $3,500 which will cover my registration, lessons, travel and testing for becoming a “Registered Children & Family Yoga” instructor by my 46th birthday, this year.

I am floored.

My husband accepted the check, he thought it was for $35 for a Pampered Chef order. He thought it was for a pan, or spices or the crank ‘n’ maul (my brand) manual food processor. When she dropped it off, she said, “This is for Molly’s yoga certification,” and practically skipped away toward her car. He was in a haze; it was likely the cooking and cleaning and dealing with the children that he had to do for the previous few hours in preparation for my awesome breakfast in bed:

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Upon further examination of the check, when he confirmed that it wasn’t for $35.00, he sort of lost it. He looked out the window and she was >poof!< goneski.

He came up to me and said, “Bipsy McFarlandberger just dropped this off, it’s for your ‘certification‘?”

My heart sank. It also swelled.

Then it sank again.

Then it leapt. Then it sat.

I squinched my face. “She did? Hrmmmm… I was afraid of that,” I took a sip from my Wonder Woman mug.

“You were ‘afraid of that‘? What’s up?”

“I forgot to tell you. She gave me a loving, but firm hard time yesterday for not being certified to teach yoga yet.”

“She did?”

“Yeah. And Helga VonFranklesmith, told me that Bipsy is a force of nature and that just because I said no earlier to her first proposal, it doesn’t mean I can really mean it.”

“Why’s that?”

“Because Bipsy is a force of nature. She’s tenacious. C’mon…. you know, she’s… BIPSY…”

And he nodded and said, “Yeah, I know Bipsy. So, what’re you gonna do?”

“I can’t TAKE it…”

“Right. You don’t have to. But it’s Bipsy we’re talking about.”

“Yeah, and she kindly said that she’s tired of hearing my story and she knows this is a dream of mine and that she has this money and she wants to give it to me and I told her not to and well… you see how far that got me,” I said, as I began to chew on my inner lip. On one hand, it’s freakin’ awesome: I’ve NEVER had anyone I’m not related to or had exchanged a marriage vow with (that’s only one guy so far) believe in me that much; you know: just hand me cash. In fact, NO ONE has done that. On the other hand, would I be morally beholden, obligated, is this a transaction? I didn’t want to be “owned.”

Well, no one more than Bipsy knows that no one is ever “owned.”

So I called her Monday. We talked; she’s so funny. She said this, “I’m taking a very safe bet on you. You’re so good for this… ” she doesn’t want repayment. Of course she will get repayment. “This is a gift,” she said. She… who thinks she has the last word on this. But there is an air of yogic responsibility and universal (woo-woo alert) flow to this. She expertly argued that if I don’t take the gift, that I am stopping the chi, the prana, the flow of good energy back into the universe.

She had me there.

She told me that instead of repaying her, I will pay for someone else; pay it forward. Ok. It’s hard to argue with that logic.

I talked to my husband about it.

“A lot of men would feel emasculated by this,” he said. “I don’t. Here’s why: she’s right. I could give you $10,000 cash RIGHT now, and you wouldn’t do it. Why? Because you think I don’t mean it; that I support you because I’m supposed to; in sickness and in health, and all that. But she’s right: you’ve been giving yourself away for so long, it’s time you were certified so you can become ‘legit’, y’know, earn income and give back, which you always and already do, on so many fronts, so why not take this gift, as you’ve tirelessly and selflessly given to others, to this community and to the school, in return?”

So I shrugged my shoulders. I had no answer, no good point. She didn’t need the money. He wasn’t threatened by it. I had no reason to say no. No good reason. The bad reasons: I’m not worthy of it; I can never repay her; I think she’s a good kind of crazy; I’m not ready for the certification; I’m unable to do it; it’s logistically impossible I’m … I’m … I’m … all of it, every single reason was prohibitive or critical. That’s not good.

I’ve stopped people from giving me gifts. For our 10th anniversary I made my husband take back a pair of diamond stud earrings. They were princess cut, like my engagement ring; they were fantastic and happy and gorgeous. They were not prudent, so I made him take them back. I feel a pit in my stomach now at that memory and how I must’ve shot him down. When he presented them to me, he said the kindest things. That I make him smile. That he loves me like no one else ever; that I have given him miraculous children, that I am the reason he lives. Shit Stuff like that. I rejected them. It was an imprudent gift; we were in no position financially to do it; we’d just renovated our kitchen, literally, on our 10th anniversary; I was happy with that. But I shot it down angrily nonetheless; I had the temerity to blame him.

Another time, when Bruce Springsteen came to town, he wanted to surprise me. So he bought tickets. They were financially out of sight, in an outdoor stadium, in the middle, excellent seats. I made him sell them on Stub Hub. We made a nice profit, actually, but the point is that I rejected them again.

The other point is, that I have a problem, a serious problem, with accepting sincere and loving kindness and gifts. I am afraid to open my heart. I am shielding it.

If we want there to be peace in the world, we have to be brave enough to soften what is rigid in our hearts, to find the soft spot and stay with it. We have to have that kind of courage and take that kind of responsibility. That’s the true practice of peace.” – Pema Chodron

I have to grow up. I have to accept the fact that not all gifts are “loaded” that people like to give for the pleasure of giving and accepting the gift is not a sign of weakness. That graciously accepting the gift means that I see value in myself and that the giver is not an idiot for giving it. I also have to grow up and realize that “hand-outs” are nothing compared to a hand-up. My upcoming yogi, who apparently knows a lot more about energy exchanges than I thought I did, said that my continual hand-outs of my own talents and gifts for nothing in exchange sends two messages: 1) that I believe I have no value (which has been established) and 2) that my giving my talent away makes the recipient feel like charity.

“What if your current yoga teacher or offered you classes free but charged everyone else? What would you do? What what you think?” she asked.

“I would insist on paying her. I would feel that she didn’t value herself,” I answered, as I kicked a rock and shoved my hands into my pockets. “I would feel like she felt sorry for me.”

The fact that Bipsy is a friend, but not a super-lifetime, known-me-since-I-was-in-diapers friend helps. There is that level of detachment, that level of our knowing each other only as adults, and that she knows me as an active community member and trusted friend and as a healer (or attempting healer) and so it was with great gratitude and cheer that I accepted her gift. Monday I inquired. Tuesday, I applied. Yesterday I was interviewed and accepted into the program and today I registered for the program.

So, for 16 days, I will be on an intensive, yoga certification retreat in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwestern Virginia to learn how to teach Kundalini yoga to children, children with autism, anxiety, differing abilities and all the other kaleidoscopic ways that makes them unique and also to men and women and seniors. Meditations will start at 6am and lessons will go until 6pm ever day. I will learn how to cook vegan-ally (is that a word?) and I am so excited. It will be the first time I’ve ever been away from my team for more than five days. I’m ready.

Mind officially blown.

Thank you, Bipsy. I don’t know if I will have ability to send dispatches from retreat, I hope not… I’ll just bring a pen and paper. Remember those?

xoxoxoxoxo

Update UnGifting.

When Your Have a Crush on a Flower…

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You take its picture

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In lots of different places

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To show how pretty it is.

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And each time it, it’s just as pretty as the picture before.

This little beauty, a cousin of forget-me-nots, is called “brunnera macrophylla ‘jack frost'” and it has become my favorite plant ever. It’s better than forget-me-nots because it blooms every year instead of every other year. It loves the shade, woodsy settings, walks at night with a loved one, and piña coladas. It’s a bushy little plant, that grows to 15″ high and wide. The cuttings last for a week and you can divide it in the fall.

Happy Saturday, enjoy.

Thank you.

Three Things Thursday 6 — Self, Health & Laugh Lines

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Today I’m sharing three things you can do for yourself to improve your health and fitness for your mind, body and spirit in less than 800 words.

Mind: Self

Determine to include yourself in your life. I saw this card (below) by an artist named “Leigh” (http://www.curlygirldesign.com/) at a fancy boutique in Connecticut in 2006 right after my husband was laid-off from his job.

We went on a weeklong vacation and stayed with family at their home. It was a very scary time for us and although I knew my husband had the chops to find another awesome job, the specter of only eight weeks’ salary to cover our mortgage and health insurance for a family of five was terrifying. The card was a piece of art and it cost $6; its sentiment is empowering. I bought it. I enlarged it and hangs in my office.

We came home from that trip determined to make it through the layoff with optimism, not obsession, and to come out better than we went going in and we did. He started his new job on my 39th birthday with not one day to spare.

"Spirit."

“Spirit.” Rekindle yours.

What has already happened to you in life is done and over. Decide to do something now for yourself today that is good. Do it again tomorrow and the day after that and own it like a boss.

Body: Get Up, Get Down, Repeat.

I started working out again Sunday and my mood instantly elevated and has stayed there. I have an extensive personal background and interest in fitness, health and nutrition. Yes, you can love Cap’n Crunch and be healthy. I have a lot of gear, but that’s because I love exercise gear. Do you have a question? Throw it at me in comments.

Here’s an awesome FREE! app for keeping track of your diet and exercise. “MyFitnessPal” <– click there for link. My SIL lost all her baby weight using that app in three months. I’ve been using it and I adore it. The sense of awareness and accountability it instills is amazing. It confirmed for me this: I don’t eat enough. More on that later.

The best thing we can do for ourselves is get up right now. Stand up, inhale, lift your hands over your head, exhale and lower your hands back to your sides and sit back down.

Do it again.

Again.

One more time.

Feel that thumpa-thumpa? That’s you. You just burned probably 3 calories.

I do all sorts of things: aerobics, strength (mostly floor work and for many of us our own body weight and gravity pose enough resistance) and yoga.

Sunday I worked on the elliptical trainer. I did High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). To keep this description high level, it goes from a “0” being sitting to a “10” being an all-out sprint from a rhino or chasing after a baby-napper every two minutes (two slow, one high).

I have a heart-rate monitor (HRM), I use it. Is an HRM essential? No, but it keeps me honest. Just starting is essential. I will write about the benefits of exercise soon.

Start small, finish BIG.

I’m a weirdo: sometimes I do squats when I unload the dishwasher. I double up the stairs, I stand on one leg when brushing my teeth. I’m not normal, but I’m also not at all overweight.

Keep a journal, write this stuff down; you don’t have to step on the scale now. Numbers don’t matter, how you feel is what matters. When you write it down, you commit.

Cravings last 14 minutes. Beat the 14 minutes and you beat the craving.

Be sure you’re eating enough. Sounds like a nice problem to have unless your body does what it’s supposed to do: goes for the muscle (lean body mass / LBM) first for fuel because LBM burns calories the best. You definitely don’t want that, because you will lose your tone. I know this personally.

Drink lots of water. Your skin will love you for it.

Spirit: Gratitude. Express it Often.

Thank your body for what it always does: functions even if you think it’s dysfunctional. And especially if you stood up and raised your arms. Thank your awesome legs, your amazing hips, your kick-ass shoulders and your freakin’ lungs for getting you through every day. Do you stop, ever, to contemplate what a MIRACLE it is to simply be alive? The genius that goes into all our cellular functioning? It’s mind-boggling.

Thank your laugh lines for keeping you sane. Go ahead: look in the mirror and say, “I LOVE YOU LAUGH LINES” and mean it.

they are. they show you don't take yourself too seriously.

they are. they show you don’t take yourself too seriously.

As I always say, “the quickest facelift is a smile.”

Thank you.