This Analog Life

Woke up to a power outage this morning. No lights, no heat, but fortunately we have a gas stove and had the means to cook, and we had water.

Cobbled together some oatmeal in the dark, but didn’t risk taking showers. G walked the dog and went to the office where there was power.

I had a lot of computer work to do that I couldn’t do. The house started getting cold. I went up into my not-so-cozy lair and did a chilly 20 minute meditation.

Came back down, put the fireplace on, snuggled under a blanket, got out the  fountain pen and my book and wrote and read all morning.

It was heaven.

I love my electronics more than you know. iPhone, iPad, MacBookPro. Love, love, love. But they enslave me.

I have to say, I didn’t want the power to come back on. At least not for a while.  Without the hum of the fridge and whirr of the heating system cycling on and off, the house had no buzz, no pulse. Mine was the only pulse, and I could really hear it.

The gas fireplace emitted a little hiss, but that was it. Just the sound of my book page turning, and the little scritch of a pen nib across paper.

It was perfectly simple.

At first my inability to engage with my beloved gadgets was frustrating, but it soon turned into this unexpected gift: the gift of slow, unhurried time.

What would most certainly have been a morning of shooting off emails and getting through paperwork, turned into a throwback to a time without buzzy things screaming for, and insisting upon my attention.

I did have 2 appointment to get to however, so I had to get dressed and leave this “Little House on the Prairie” moment.

Soon after I returned, power was restored and I immediately dove headlong right back into my keyboards and my machines, and tried to catch up.

Now as I get ready to head up to bed, the house is warm and lit.

I just turned off the TV, and I am still thinking about my beautiful analog morning. I am not wishing for another power outage tomorrow morning –oh god no– I have a full day of busy tomorrow, but it is just too bad that it sometimes takes take a power outage to make me realize the power of my own power.

I Need More Fire

I feel so much better after talking to Jennifer this afternoon! My eye is no better, and maybe it’s even a little worse, but now I have someone helping me get to the bottom of this, and that is a big relief.

She said I need more fire. She told me to indulge in fats, to put coconut oil in my hot water, to find some dried calendula flowers and some herb called “eyebright” and make a tea and then soak a washcloth in that tea and put it over my eyes.

She told me to eat raw garlic, and to order a tincture called Power Lift that will help with fatigue and support my adrenals. She told me to order Supergreens and zeolite.

All these things sound like good things and I am anxious to start this protocol and see what happens.

Today is my 6th day without coffee, alcohol or sugar.

I am also one day away from the April yoga challenge. I’m going to need a lot of energy for that.

I think I am on my way.

A Few Things That Made Me Happy This Week

1. Today it was sunny and in the 40s (omg,  my face didn’t hurt when I walked outside!)

2. And G’s wheatgrass is up!

wheatgrass

3. I did a private Beginner Yoga lesson today with a delightful woman who came in with a new mat (the absolutely worst mat she could have gotten, but oh well, she didn’t know.) And a matching yoga towel and a matching water bottle.

She said she didn’t know what to wear so she asked Siri. That made me laugh. I would have never thought to ask Siri what to wear to yoga, and now I am going to think about it the next time I am in any clothing dilemma.

(I can’t think of the last time I was in a clothing dilemma, though. I probably need to get out more.)

4. I am reading Gretchen Rubin’s new book, Better Than Before which is about mastering habits. It is freaking me out how alike we are. She did NaNoWriMo on a lark–so did I. She learned Scrivener to make her writing life easier–so did I.  But though I have some strong “Upholder” qualities, I am mostly an “Obliger” in her system.

She says there are 4 basic types of people when it comes to habits: Upholders, who meet other people’s expectations  as well as their own; Obligers who meet other people’s expectations, but not their own; Questioners, who question all expectations; and Rebels who resist all expectations. It’s fascinating, and a fun read. I love these kinds of books about habits, and the creative process, and how the mind works, and sane business strategies, and what motivates people. Can’t get enough of them. (And I have a whole stack of them at my elbow.)

5. I also got a kick out of this Clive Thompson talk about writing with a pencil versus writing on a keyboard. It made me remember my January retreat when I would go back and forth between the 2. (It also made me buy a box of Blackwing pencils and a sharpener!) In a weird moment of synchronicity, the day after I watched this talk, Shelly Clark came to class with a pencil holder filled with pointy Blackwing pencils for us to write down our intentions for yoga class.

6. On my way to Wegmans yesterday for my weekly shopping I listened to the James Altucher podcast in which he interviewed Maria Popova of Brainpickings.org. I loved her distinction between writing “content” on her blog and “substantive” writing. Her blog is an incredible resource for readers and if you are a reader you should check it out. I have found countless gems there.

These things made me happy this week, despite my prana depleted, de-caffeineated, itchy, dragon-eyed, still-snowy-in-March-what-the-fuck situation.

What made you happy this week? Any good finds or happenings? Refrain from sending sunny pictures of flowers, or palm trees, or green grass, though. I’ve seen enough of that on Facebook and it’s really enough, people. Have some sensitivity.

Notice Your Life!

I heard an interview recently with the writer Robert Greene who wrote the book Mastery. The interviewer asked him what he says to people who tell him that they don’t know what they want to be when they grow up.

My ears really pricked up when I heard that question because this question has been on my “Top 10 List” for most of my life. And his answer shocked me. And chastised me. And embarrassed me.

He said: “This question always disturbs me because it tells me that this person hasn’t been paying attention to his life. Because if they had been, they would know what they should do, or be.”

I felt embarrassed for thinking for so long that my vocation would somehow be “revealed to me.” I felt stupid for mistaking “calling” for something you were supposed to “hear” in your mind,  rather than something you were supposed to be continuously “noticing.”

Calling isn’t something whispered in your ear; it’s the continuous watching of how you act, what you do in your spare time, what you avoid, and perhaps most telling, what you do when you procrastinate.

If you started paying attention to those kinds of things you would know exactly who you are, what your talents were, and what you should be doing for work.

But most of us have not been noticing. We have been sleepwalking through our lives. Either that, or just allowing ourselves to be flippered from thing to thing like some pinball, hitting bumpers, racking up points in some game we aren’t even aware we’re playing.

As a result we can get to a pretty advanced age without knowing who we are and what we ought to be doing.

And this is pathetic. And a waste. And totally unnecessary.

I know so many people who are on the brink of retirement and still don’t know what they should be doing with their lives; they don’t know who they are, or what their gifts are. They are getting close to the end of their lives and they haven’t even come close to maximizing their full human potential.

And that is why they fear death. Or at least the next birthday.

But it’s never too late! Never! Start making lists. List everything you love and everything your hate.

Why do this?

Because these lists will show who you are. If you keep adding to these lists  you will notice trends, and how interesting and complex you are, and where you are a totally unique blend of character traits, and propensities, and weirdnesses. That’s your gift. Then all you have to do is figure out how you can add value to the lives of other people with your special brand.

And when you can add value, you hit the jackpot. You then start living a life of value and purpose. And that’s the whole game.

Help is on the way

Day 3 of this no coffee, no sugar, no alcohol torture. It’s not the alcohol or the sugar I miss, it’s the coffee.  I do feel a little better today, and that’s because help is on the way. Last night I got this text from my friend Jennifer Ness Schmid:

“Hi, You should not have to got through caffeine withdrawal without adrenal support! Your body doesn’t have the inner juice yet to heal your eye, but you’re on the right track. I have a few ideas..will you do a free phone session with me? Xoxox”

I love her. She must have read my post from yesterday and thought “Uh-oh, Kath’s in trouble” and immediately sent this offer. Yeah, she will help me with “adrenal support” but the support that really warmed my heart last night was her caring concern.

Ever since I broke off with my naturopath I have felt a little out at sea. Fortunately, I am in really good health other than this nuisance eczema,  When these nuisance things do come up though, I get both obsessed and frustrated with my inability to figure them out.  My old naturopath couldn’t figure it out either, and we worked on it for 2 years.

But Jennifer is wicked good at what she does, and in addition I really love her as a person, so I am looking forward to collaborating with her in getting to the bottom of this.  I totally trust her and I can really talk to her.

She used to live here, but moved to California a number of years ago and has recently set up her own business, Oasis Wellness. We met when she started coming to my yoga classes as a new mother. She was funny, smart, beautiful and she ground her own wheat to make bread! What??

She left class one day saying that she had to go home and soak her lentils. I couldn’t imagine how a young mother with a baby and 2 other small children was finding time to grind wheat and soak lentils. But she did, and as as I got to know her better, I found that she lived the lifestyle she promoted, and is in total integrity. I love and admire that about her.

After I got that text last night I thought: How lucky am I to know such really pro people who have mad-crazy skills and are willing to support me in my hour of need?

I hope she agrees to work with me and become my new naturopath. We are going to talk on Monday.

I feel so much better already.

Thanks, Jennifer!

Winter, enough.

I am sitting here on the couch with the headphones on because the basketball game is on and I can’t really write with that blithering in my head.

I am in my 2nd day of no coffee and I think my eyes are getting worse, not better. I know 2 days isn’t much, but I wanted to see at least a little improvement. (I am so dull without the charge of coffee. It makes me sad.)

So far I have been able to keep pretty optimistic with this endless winter, but today I couldn’t pull it off. It was cold and dreary when I got up, and as the morning progressed, the day got darker rather than lighter, and as I was getting ready to go to the gym, I heard thunder. And then it started to rain. Hard.

I can see the window reflected in the bathroom mirror. I could see the gloom and the rain, and then I refocused on my face, and my red puffy right eyelid, and the beginning of the same situation on my left eyelid.

(2 days without coffee, alcohol and sugar. Things should be better.)

The end of March.

(Things should be better than this).

I wanted nothing more than to sit in my pajamas and read and sleep all day. But I got myself to the gym, and did what I was told, and left the gym and went home and washed my hands and had some food, and got to my 1 o’clock appointment.

(All this is very dull.)

And then I went to yoga, and class was good, but all I could think of was going home, getting into my pajamas and sitting here even though I had no idea what the theme of the day should be.

I hate to complain. I hate to hear people complaining. Yet all I want to do is give in to my sadness about the weather and complain.

I have been trying so hard all winter to go with the flow, to control the controllables and accept what is out of my control. But today I just couldn’t. I actively hated the weather.

I miss sun so much. And warmth.

(My client walked in all sun tanned from a month in Florida.)

All I need is sun. To lay in. To bask in. And then I will be fine.

All I need is sun to be happy. It is not going to happen in the foreseeable future, though.

This is why when it gets to be fall, and everyone is all rhapsodic about the leaves and how beautiful they are, all I can think about is that this day is coming, this day of unendurable cold and wet and miserable after a winter of stabbing cold.

But we do endure, don’t we?

I hope you are in a place of sun and color. I hope I will soon be in that place, too.

Namaste.

No Coffee, No Prana

I love coffee so much. I have an Verismo espresso machine, a milk frother to make lattes, , a pour-over thing if I want a one cup of perfectly brewed coffee, and a hot water kettle with a goose-neck spout for directing the hot water precisely over the grounds. I also have a  french press for when I want 2 cups.

My daughter manages a Starbucks in Portland, and she has educated me on so many aspects of coffee and coffee culture and I love that we both share this hobby, this love of the bean.

My favorite coffees tend to come from Africa. I love Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee the most. The thought of the taste of that coffee is the only thing that has gotten me out of bed this winter, which is now in day 857.

One cup of perfectly brewed Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, sipped in reverential silence, is my drug of choice.

Today was Day 1 of trying to get rid of coffee to see if it helps my eczemic eye.

Without coffee I feel dumb. Without coffee I do not sparkle. Without coffee I have no motivation to do anything except nap. All day I walked around in a funk.

Thank god it wasn’t my night to teach, but I did go to class. It was the perfect class, too: a meditative flow. Anything more vigorous and I wouldn’t have made it. At the start of class we were asked, on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being extremely high energy, what our energy number was. I held up 1 finger, and I thought of making it my middle one.

Patabhi Jois, the father of Ashtanga Yoga, is reputed  to have said, “No coffee, no prana.”

He got that right.