Rachel

The elements

A gray, rainy day when I began my sun salutations this morning. I couldn’t see the sun, but the sky had a kind of sheen to it, a glow.

Just before we were leaving the house (me and the kids, Alex had already long gone) I noticed the ground was white. The kids had their rain boots on, rain jackets. “It almost looks like it is….” I started to say, then looked up toward the sky and saw that indeed it not only looked like snow, but was snowing. They switched to snow boots, winter jackets.

Later when I dropped them off I hesitated before heading out to run up the river. I lingered for a minute or two at the bus stop thinking, If one comes, I’ll jump on it. One didn’t come and I jogged over to the river. It was beautifully white and quiet as I made footprints jogging carefully along the water.

I was thinking about how so far, the hardest thing to run in hasn’t been rain, cold, or snow, but wind. I did not try running on any of the arctic days, not have I run through any kind of blizzard or had to contend with much ice. But still, it seems surprising in a way that wind would be such a tough element. That air moving would be so powerful.

That makes me think of breathing. How simple it is and how profound.

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Rachel

MLK Day

The Montgomery Bus Boycott lasted over a year. For over a year, African Americans in Alabama walked to and from work, often starting in the middle of the night to make it on time. A young pastor—just twenty-six when it began—led the movement. With all there is to criticize about our country today, and there is so, so very much, there are some things it gets right. Taking time to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is one of them.

Watching his 1963 “I have a dream” speech on heavy rotation tonight. Dolores O’Riordan’s voice floating through the house, the once-continual-soundtrack to so many of my days and nights on the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Rachel

Going Inward

I began this post this morning, just after 8.

I have music playing quietly.

A candle lit.

The cold front has broken; today is full of sun.

That’s all I had written when my 4.5-year-old, Petra, interrupted me.

Here I am more than twelve hours later. What was I going to write about this morning? I had a few ideas, but they’ve escaped. I had a point I wanted to make about Marie Kondo’s tidying up method. What was it?

Yesterday I took Kondo’s book The life-changing magic of tidying up out of the library. I know the main idea is about keeping whatever “sparks joy” and getting rid of the rest. Also sorting by category and folding in a certain way. I wonder how weeding for joy-sparking applies to things that are functional. (A toothbrush? A vacuum cleaner?) As I flip through, one line jumps out at me: “The urge to point out someone else’s failure to tidy is usually a sign that you are neglecting to take care of your own space.” How true that seems, not only with clutter, but with anything. Of course there are times we might have perspective that could help a friend, but often our advice, our “you shoulds,” our dwelling about how this one or that one should change, really are signs that there is something we ourselves need to change. I suppose it’s a variation of Jung’s shadow, pointing toward a flaw in ourselves or an undeveloped part of ourselves.

What would that mean? That each time we notice something someone else “should” do, we should re-direct our attention back to ourselves? That could make us awfully solipsistic. Maybe it only applies when the attention to another’s perceived flaw becomes obsessive, wearisome, distracting.

We want to change ourselves, and we want to be change agents, activists, engaged citizens. But when it comes to friends and families, the key, it would seem is acceptance.

Last night I stayed up late reading Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh. I didn’t know anything about this author and I loved not knowing as the house and city grew quiet around me as I flipped the pages of her brilliantly-written (except for the end) and also grotesque and disturbing book. Today I read about the author and when she said that she doesn’t do Facebook and Twitter, (steers clear of the internet in general) I thought that was amazing. At least in her interviews, she doesn’t seem to worry that others are consumed with their smartphones, wrapped up in their online personas. She is focused on what she wants to do. That is so highly developed. I know my obsessive concern about how much others are living their lives online says more about my own lack of discipline than anything else. I should ask myself, if I am pulled to think about others’ habits, what I might be neglecting in my own.

I have no music playing now. No candle. The sun has long since gone down. Tomorrow I’ll try again to write in the morning. It seems the best time for making sense of the day.

—Rachel

 

 

Health · Kajal

A Healthy Resolution for 2018

IMG_1777A recent post of Rachel’s talked about New Year’s Day Intentions. I myself have always set resolutions or mapped out how I am going to live the year. I start with the best of intentions but it always falls apart. So this year, my plan was to stay unplanned.

Then, last week, between PMS migraines and stomach cramps twisting my body inside out, a thought popped into my head – HEALTH. More importantly, my health. In more than 20 years, since I started working, even probably when I was back in high school, I have never said my health comes first. I just take it for granted. My decision for 2018 – health comes first. There was a literal light bulb over my head. If my body is doing well, then I am doing well, and all will be well.

My mom told me that when she was growing up her dad would always say, “Health is wealth.” And she has been on my case these past several years, especially the past decade, for me to take better care of myself and not stress myself out so much. And like most things, mom knows best. Admittedly, it took me a while to catch up to her wisdom.

I’m tired of feeling like total shit from migraines and how they inhibit from living my life. I’m fed up with, yet again, having to tell my husband, a friend or one of my parents, “Sorry, I am not well. It’s a migraine.” Even worse, pumping myself full of the shit medication that has so many side effects that are not good for you. Don’t get me wrong, the medicine works when I need it and has saved me so many times. But I just want to be healthy and not have to rely on it so much.

So, let’s see how putting my health first, my healthy resolution for 2018, goes.

-Kajal

Rachel

A moment, just barely

I have found a new way to go through a few yoga sequences with my 4.5-year-old by my side. We pretend we are teaching a class. Sometimes we are both teachers or sometimes I’m the teacher and I had to bring my 4.5-year-old with me to teach a class because she was home sick (which she was today).

This way I can perform the poses without Petra climbing all over my back, desperate to be a part of it. This way she is a part of it.

Oh goodness, she was finally asleep, but here she is awake. Wide awake. I’m shutting down the computer.

Rachel

Winter Twilight

We were in Massachusetts last week at my parents’ house. My absolute favorite time of each day began around 4:45 in the evening, during the last moments of daylight. I would turn out all the lights on the main floor so I could fully enjoy it. Sometimes I put on quiet music or lit a candle or had a glass of champagne or cup of tea. Sometimes all I did was stare out the window.

First there is the radiant yellow/orange glow of the sun’s last stance. Then the light leaves but there remains a blue glow for about a half hour before the dark completely settles in. During my day-to-day routine in New York the morning is the most sacred time for me. The time that I light a candle and look out the window and feel the most connected to…something bigger. I was lazy there in Massachusetts and rolled out of bed in pajamas and drank coffee took the time to chat with my mom. The evening became the sacred time and I suppose now that I think about it, the orientation of the house also factors in. Here we face East. My parents’ house (condo) has a main view facing West. The sun’s arrival or departure, a beginning or an end or a different beginning, or the other way around. Two entirely different spaces.

Winter’s solitary quiet makes it easier to pause and be attentive to these transitions, to recognize these everyday but awe-inspiring events with the reverence they deserve.

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—Rachel

Flow · Garden · Kajal · Meditate

A Pop of Color

Just finished working and realized I needed to enter my post. I had all these pictures I had set aside for my blog but couldn’t figure out how to move them from the file where I had saved them, until just now. Hence my posts not having any images all these weeks!

The first thing I thought when I closed my work email, I need a pop of color, something that makes me happy. And flowers do just that. There is a meditation technique called the “Heart of the Rose” where you take a rose and look at it starting at its heart or center and then notice its color, texture, fragrance and design (Source: The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma). Let thoughts come in and out and bring yourself back to focus on the flower.

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Doing this for just even a few minutes, helps to calm your thoughts and cool your mind.

-Kajal

P.S. Thanks to Rachel for her kind words about my posts last week. While I would always miss her posts, I figured she was out or just got busy with kids or work. I’m super-glad that she felt she could step away and not feel any pressure – that is what is so great about doing this. Otherwise the process of writing becomes burdensome and loses its joy. When I was at Dartmouth, I think I lost some of that joy as a Creative Writing Major (that and being surrounded by a lot of literary egos). Through this process, I’m slowly starting to regain that joy with every shaky phrase and awkward stumble of a sentence. For me, I had been wanting to write the post about Tao for a while, it’s so nice when your peer/colleague/writing buddy sees an “expansiveness of voice,” I certainly was trying for more, so to speak, and it is so nice that it was noticed!