Learning how to relax and other stories.

Living

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So: I’ve finished the third week of my degree, school’s back and so is work. I finally have a media textbook, which took 3 weeks to cross the country, numerous phone calls and caused a certain amount of stress and confusion – not only for me, but for the bookshop and Australia Post as well. It’s kind of surreal actually. Anyway, in spite of all that, I felt like I was able to get in a bit of a rhythm. Except for my housework. Something’s gotta give, baby, something’s gotta give.

To be honest housework isn’t the only thing that has been affected. I was having coffee with a couple of friends the other day – one of them my yoga teacher, whose class I no longer have time to go to. I commented that I had been having trouble getting on the mat to do an asana practice. Even though I felt my body needed to move and stretch I had a tremendous resistance to any movement practice, and in fact, all I wanted to do was meditate! She replied that they have been holding ‘choose your own yoga’ bespoke-style workshops, and being winter, many of them have just been focused on restorative, opening yoga practices or yin yoga, where you hold a supported yoga pose for five minutes or more.

As she spoke, I imagined myself doing his type of yoga, and felt an intense wave of longing and relief wash over me, followed by an epiphany. “I know what I’ve been doing,” I said wonderingly. “In order to get myself into the headspace where I can do a degree, I’ve created a whole ‘commitment, drive, focus’ attitude for it – and then applied it to everything, including my yoga practice!” I didn’t need to kick my own arse on the mat as well as at the desk – I needed to relax, revive and regenerate.

As I was talking to my friends, I noticed how tight my neck was and how closed and constricted my body had become. Intimacy was out of the question because I couldn’t relax enough and worse still, I had developed this strange, occasional nerve pain on the right side of my face over the past week, probably due to, now I came to think of it, my rigid, shortened neck muscles. Sara, you are such a cool customer! So relaxed and easy going :).

Sigh. Anyway, what is beautiful is how the universe conspires to help you once you wake up and see what is really going on. When I arrived home, there was an email from Charlotte Bradley of Yoga Flavoured Life, a yoga teacher who sends me delightful things from time to time, and today’s missive contained a yin yoga sequence, complete with a neat print out. Of course. Yesterday I took my children to music lessons – singing, keyboard and guitar – and in the warm ups for singing, the teacher showed me some very effective isometric exercise for my neck. Nice one, Universe <3.

On the mat, I was shocked at how tight and painful my muscles were, how inflexible I had become and difficult it was for me to relax into each pose. I noticed how I still wanted to push myself to do something (anything!) when the whole purpose was to surrender and breathe into each posture. By the second time on the mat, I was able to surrender that little bit more, to breathe into the tension and release it, as well as regain some of my flexibility. Gone is the resistance to the mat as well.

Ah, yoga. How I love thee! Also, do not underestimate the benefits of coffee with friends.

How’s your body going at the moment? Are you being too hard on yourself ?

Loving

  • My job :). I realise how very lucky I am to have this gig as teacher’s aide: I literally walk across the road to go to work, it is in school hours and I get school holidays off. Not only do I get to work with children which is wonderfully rewarding, but I also get to use my website and writing skills as well. Part of my job description is to create content for, update and increase traffic for the school’s website which is a whole lot of fun.
  • What a great start to the term my children have had. My son, who was in trouble last term for his poor attitude and lack of effort bought home an award from yesterday’s assembly which said:

For: Wonderful enthusiasm and positive approach to all learning areas.

Thank goodness, he was listening! Also, my daughter went up a level in reading – at seven, she is only two levels away from reaching the end of levelled reading and being a completely independent reader, which is very impressive. She never fails to amaze me with her dedication to learning.

  • This article from Scary Mommy: Dear Friend: You Are Enough. I love it all, but this paragraph particularly resonated because I think these things all the time:

Is she eating enough good food? Did I breastfeed enough? Am I reading to him enough? Is the school he’s in enough? Did I say enough about how much I love her? Did I relay to him enough how important he is to us? Is he safe enough and ready enough to venture into the world without me? Is she sleeping enough? Are we traveling enough? Are we exposing them to enough? Is there enough money to get them all they need? Am I home enough? Am I present enough? Am I doing enough? Am I a good enough example?

  • This clip: Yes, it is a Dolmio ad of all things, but watch it. You’ll want one of those pepper grinders too :).
  • This, from Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke. When I read this excerpt today, I remembered how the book has been on my to read list for ages. So, I went and bought it right then. It cost me $1.32 on my kindle. I know.

“You mustn’t be frightened, dear Mr. Kappus, if a sadness rises in front of you, larger than any you have ever seen; if any anxiety, like light and cloud shadows, moves over your hands and over everything you do. You must realize that something is happening to you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you its hand and will not let you fall. Why do you want to shut out of your life any uneasiness, any misery, and depression, since after all you do not know what work these conditions are doing inside you? Why do you want to persecute yourself with the question of where all this is going? Since you know, after all, that you are in the midst of transitions and you wished for nothing so much as to change.

Learning

  • About this, again (and again):

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  • I handed in my first assignment this week for my writing subject. It’s not a big deal – it’s only worth 5% and the required length was 250 words. Still, what I was asked to do: write a short piece based on an journey I have experienced and then write another short piece on how I have used the storytelling techniques that we have been taught over the past few weeks – gave my mind a good stretch. Not to mention keeping to such a short word count. Very challenging :).
  • My media subject has also been fascinating  – this is such an exciting time to be studying media. This week we have been talking about media convergence (the growing tendency to access the same media across different platforms), participatory culture (as opposed to passively absorbing media), the evolution of media broadcast and consumption from one → many to many → many and collective intelligence (where none of us can know everything; but each of us knows something, and between us all we can put together the pieces).

Why yes, I do put this section in for my own benefit :).

When we choose Should, we’re choosing to live our life for someone or something other than ourselves. The journey to Should can be smooth, the rewards can seem clear, and the options are often plentiful.

Must is different. Must is who we are, what we believe, and what we do when we are alone with our truest, most authentic self. It’s that which calls to us most deeply. It’s our convictions, our passions, our deepest held urges and desires — unavoidable, undeniable, and inexplicable. Unlike Should, Must doesn’t accept compromises.

Must is when we stop conforming to other people’s ideals and start connecting to our own — and this allows us to cultivate our full potential as individuals. To choose Must is to say yes to hard work and constant effort, to say yes to a journey without a road map or guarantees, and in so doing, to say yes to what Joseph Campbell called “the experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonance within our innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”

Choosing Must is the greatest thing we can do with our lives.

You see?

My friends, that is it for today. I am going to go and do more yoga and unravel myself a little more from my corkscrew. I hope that you show yourself some love this weekend – goodness knows, you deserve it!

<3.

17 comments

    • Yes…I write on this blog on Saturday, but like to take Sunday off from all writing, academic or otherwise! Apparently you can have too much of a good thing 😊

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  1. “This is such an exciting time to be studying media.” –> Yes! I totally felt this way too when I was doing my course in London last year. Does your course veer on the more theoretical or practical side of things? I ask mainly out of curiosity since I’ve noticed that academic courses outside of the U.S. tend to be more theory-based. It was certainly the case in the UK but it was a welcome change and one that was very fascinating. If you’d ever like some reading recommendations, feel free to let me know.
    This week has been a discovery of sorts for my body as well. I’ve struggled to maintain a regular, long-term exercise routine but after much trial and error, think I’m finally starting to discover what the right formula is. I’ve been feeling happy and energized all week, which I hadn’t realized I’ve been missing out on until I got to this point. Amazing what the right sort of body movement can do for us overall, isn’t it? 🙂

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    • From what I can see from the lectures and online tutorials it is very much a combination of practice and theory, which I find really engaging. Lots of links, videos as well as discussion of theory. Our first assignment is a media diary and analysis of the diary using media terms, so a good example of the mix.
      And yes, it really pays to listen to what our body is telling us. Every time the mind tries to override the body wisdom it leads us astray. In my experience 😊 Have a good week Lillian xo

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  2. I have a fridge magnet that reads “A mind is a terrible thing to waste on housework”. While I like an orderly house, it’s not at the top of my priorities. I don’t know anyone who died from having a dusty shelf… the trick is not to move things so the dust is not so apparent!

    It’s good to love your job. So many people see work as a necessary evil but to have a paid job whether it’s always fulfilling or not is a blessing. I think it’s important to find something to like about it… not just pay packet.

    I’m not a huge mover, happier reading a book… but my lifestyle far more sedentary that I would have it. Sometimes physical movement is a necessary antidote to all that our bodies, minds, emotions and spirits deal with. Movement, for me plain old walking, seems to open up a process of natural assimilation. I often walk things off or up.

    I hate the word ‘should’… but I see ‘must’ in a whole new light now.

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    • Ha! I love your fridge magnet! Perfect :). I need a tidy house for a tidy mind…and I have two messy kids so, I can’t not do it. But I am definitely not an anal housekeeper omg. There is dust, there is cobwebs and cupboards! Yah. Anyway. I can do it later though, because my office is in a completely separate building :).
      Glad you enjoyed – must is a separate thing altogether isn’t it?

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  3. For some reason best known to the Universe I am just reading this post this morning! I followed the link and read the Maria Poppova piece and loved it for myself but also… here is why I’m probably just reading it now, a friend is going through that very dilemma right now and so I could pass it on to her. Somehow I missed the article when Maria first posted it but you have brought it to light. This is one of the many things I love about blogging and the Universe. And this aside…one time when there were huge renovations going on next door to my friend’s terrace home in Sydney, a neighbour asked her “And how do you find the dust?” My friend replied “To find it, I would have to look for it, and I don’t.” 🙂 However, I am a bit like you, tidy surroundings free me to work better, though I’m not anal about it either. xx

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    • Ha! I love that story about the dust – which may also apply to windows and cobwebs. And then one day, I see it, and I can’t un-see it. Then I clean it :). My home is in no danger from becoming sterile, but I do need some order!
      And…I am so glad that you enjoyed that Brain Pickings story on Must and Should. Wow. It’s such a magnificent piece. I also love the mysterious ways that the Universe sends us our information…I hope your friend finds it valuable as well.
      All delay is Divine, right? 🙂
      Have a good weekend ❤

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  4. Should and Must. These are words, learning’s and a great blog post that I will take forward into my week as I ponder future pathways. Children are home sick from school so life beyond the home seems a distant yet important possibility. Daily Yoga and Aerobic something (jog/walk) are keeping me on the centred and relaxed space though. I shared a morning ‘go bush getaway yoga walk’ with a few girlfriends on Saturday; sheltered from the rain by an immense rocky overhang. Thank goddesses everywhere for yoga. 🙂 Wintery blessings to you.

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    • oh, should and must are wonderful aren’t they – as is knowing the difference! I have actually put a yoga class back into my schedule this week: I thought I didn’t have enough time for it, but a weekly class informs my own practice so much, I felt a bit rudderless without it. I love the idea of your ‘go bush getaway yoga walk’ – it sounds wonderfully Australian and totally perfect. My son was away from school yesterday – the colds are difficult to shake this time of year. He was certainly full of beans yesterday evening though! Back to school 🙂
      Wintery blessings back to you Kate xo

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      • The Bush yoga walk space was totally perfect, and one of those special Australian experiences I am soaking up with appreciative perspective. Such experiences are part of the bubbling away in the background musts that I occasionalky get around to, and trying to create space for more!

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