Winterlude

Winterlude

In the week between Christmas and New Years I rented a little apartment in Ithaca, NY.  I needed a getaway: from Christmas, from busyness, from tired.

I needed a retreat. But instead of booking myself into a fancy place like Kripalu, I tried a “self-guided” retreat this time, in a nearby city where I know a few, but not many people, and where I could be happily alone.

I cooked up a a batch of kitchari in my home kitchen and brought that to eat, along with a few other staples.

Every day I cooked up the kitchari for lunch with greens I bought at Oasis.

 kitchari bowl

The man at Oasis who checked me out told me this joke one really cold morning:

Q: What do you get when you cross a snowman and a vampire?

A: Frostbite!

I drank a lot of hot water which I heated up an electric kettle I found in the apartment kitchen. But the mugs there didn’t fit my hands so I wandered into Handwork and bought a beautiful handmade mug for my hot water.

The one I bought was made by hands, for hands.  It is beautiful and I treasure it. It is currently sitting on the the table beside me. It will forever remind me of this time of great regeneration.

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I sat on a small brown couch all day and edited my manuscript.

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I slept like shit. (The bed was very mushy.)

Most nights I stayed up very late. (For me.)

I sat on the windowseat and looked out.

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I finished The Distraction Addiction.

I started Daring Greatly.

I went to yoga every day.

When you teach yoga every day like I do, it is such a thrill, such an utter indulgence to be led. I got to follow someone’s else’s path every day and it was lovely.

I went to Starbucks. (Not every day, but almost.)

I cruised through the bookstore a few times. I ran into people I know, and like, from home. I ran into people I know, and like, from Ithaca.

I sat and meditated with my dear friend Zee, and her friends, on New Year’s Day, and then had Indian food with them afterwards at Diamonds.

All day I worked.

I noticed the way I worked. I noticed that I like alternating between digital and analog; between computer and fountain pen. When I started to stagnate on the computer, I’d pick up the pen and a fresh world would appear. When I felt that world begin to fade, a return to the keypad ignited me again.

And in this way, back and forth, digital to analog, hour after hour, day after day, with breaks only for fresh hot water and to pee, I spent my interlude.

I worked on my manuscript, but I wrote other things, too.

I wrote deep reflections on all the yoga classes I took, for example, pondering what it really means to be a yoga teacher, and how I might become a more effective one.

I wrote my “manifesto” which was deeply inspired by the two books I was reading. My manifesto lists the qualities that I hope to cultivate and manifest in myself and my life from this time going forward. I love this list and feel so happy to have finally articulated it.

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I wrote in OmWriter, which is a new writing platform for me. I was inspired to try it from the writer of Distraction Addiction. I really like it a lot. I found it allowed me to go deeper into reflective space than I have ever gone before, and stay in that depth longer.

I severely limited my connections to other people, and to distractions like email and internet. I only went online twice a day: morning and night, and would not have gone on at all if I didn’t have a business.

I thought about installing Freedom but my self-discipline was strong enough and I really didn’t need it. Still, I like knowing that it exists, because I can foresee a time in the future when I will need to utilize it.

I loved living in this small, walkable city. Everything I needed and wanted was less than a 5 minute walk away: yoga, health food store, bookstore, Starbucks, even an indie movie theater. I could walk to Indian food and Thai food, as well as Tapas and Mexican and vegetarian.

On my last day, G came and we went to see the movie Wild. For my final dinner, we chose the tapas restaurant right below my apartment. We drove home in two cars, following each other.

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(my apartment was on the 2nd floor, the 2 windows on the left with the white blinds.)

As I drove home I thought about the Prius, and how the battery of that car recharges every time you apply the brakes.

It recharges when it brakes.

What do you know? Me, too.

Go figure.

The Return to Interiority

The Return to Interiority

Even though I get melancholy when the season changes from summer to fall, and even more so when it changes from fall to winter, I have to admit that I really do love the return to interiority.

I just read a piece in Elephant Journal by a woman who went to a retreat at Kripalu and decided that she didn’t want to be alone with her “Self” after all.

That’s not me. Not at all. Me? I need solitude, a strong daily dose of it. When I am too much the “social butterfly” I become lost and scattered and my “self” starts pixelating beyond recognition.

In the Stephen Cope book I am reading now, I underlined this: (he is talking about Robert Frost here.)

“He intuited that he needed a life set close to nature–nature, which had always been his muse. Frost was intuitively aware of an important principle: In the cultivation of dharma, there is nothing more important than understanding what conditions are needed, and relentlessly creating them.” (p.81-2)

This has made me think about what conditions I need, and to try to actively create them. Do you know what conditions make you feel like you are living like your True Self?

As a result of reading this, I have instituted a new morning routine. I now get up a little earlier and make myself a cup of decaf . But instead of sitting down at the computer and checking email and Facebook, which was my usual habit, I now take my cup up to my Space Chair, turn on the little heater, and settle in with my book for an hour.

Winterized Space Chair

I can’t tell you how cozy and delightful this is! It seems like I’ve been whining forever about how I need  more time to read, and here it is. Now, instead of leaving my book to the end of the day, when I am toast, I am reading in the front part of the day, when I am rested, alert and receptive.

After an hour’s read, I go and make myself some amaranth cereal and bring it back up into my cozy lair and start alternately scribbling in my journal and shoveling cereal into my mouth.

When another hour has passed, I am good to go: ready to be physically active and socially engaged.

These may not be all my “conditions” but they are certainly key: solitude, reading, and writing.

Do you know what yours are? Care to share?