March 22, 2013

Blessed: A DC Salutation

Since I arrived in DC, I have appreciated how people here (especially the African American community) say, "have a blessed one" as a good-bye salutation.  "Blessed" is pronounced "bless-said," a full two syllables of blessedness.  Today, I heard for the first time:
"How you been?"
"I' been blessed."
It was a single syllable this time, but what a great answer to "How you been?"  These are small expressions of gratitude and good wishes, but I heartily approve of this sweetness.

Languages 'n' me

English, native

Spanish, proficient, studied since elementary, used in Mexico, Guatemala, & Nicaragua

Swahili, conversational, learned in Tanzania

Italian, would be conversational pretty quick, studied in undergrad, used in Sicily

Gaelic, studied on my own, can sing songs, pick out words, pronounce correctly, picked up in Nova Scotia, tried in Scotland

Old English, studied in undergrad, can recite a poem, recognize words & parse it a bit

German, 1st language I tried to teach myself-- too young for proper internalization.

Still overwhelmed with how awesome people are when they're FLUENT in more than 2 languages.

March 19, 2013

Building energy from without

Today as I was taking the bus to work, I saw 3 little boys running on the sidewalk, smiling brightly toward school.  What makes kids so happy?  Perhaps a good portion of their happiness might stem from the sheer overflow of exuberant energy that kids have.  I've been so uncharacteristically internal and quiet, not as full of life or smiles as I usually am.  I want to bring that verve back, lest I otherwise slip into deep depression.  So, I figure, I might be able to bring about some enthusiasm into my life externally (because my internal world lacks it for now).  The ways I know how to build energy and put a spring in my step from the external world are:
eat well
sleep well
exercise regularly.

*Phew*  I'm on it. My self instinctively knew to recalibrate before my mind clicked in.

I spent a solid month not eating much, and making sure I had enough daily calories (and comfort) by filling myself with chocolate.  At some point, the caffeine (which I normally don't invite into my system) took over and started wreaking havoc, and I said,'Enough!'...and weaned myself off the chocolate.  (Funny how that coincided with finishing eating all the chocolate I had in the house).  I've been making myself cook regularly, and started bringing salads to work again.  Starting to feel better, and less interested in eating junk food the more nourishment I provide myself.  Eating well (or poorly, for that matter) is definitely a positive (or negative, as the case may be) feedback cycle.

Thank goodness I didn't stop moving during all this negative headspace/heartspace. I dance.  And I love going to my handstand classes.  I'm building core and upperbody strength week by week.  Feels great.  I also love working with Jeramie Bellmay on some contortion flows every week.  All the other dance and movement work I've done in my life has been general.  I mean, each genre has specific formats and forms to emulate and recreate.  However, when I work on contortion over at Jeramie and David's place, I'm pushing myself in the genre; "How Alyssum's Body Can Bend and Move".  It's entirely personal, and it feels amazing to move the way MY body was built.  It feels really, solidly good to have a practice in which I explore and hone my personal physical capabilities. Yoga feels similar in the way that it is a personal practice, and is designed to help you break through or push your own personal boundaries.  Twenty six years of yoga practice certainly helps with my contortion practice.  But it's still different.  Contortion practice is just me; it's intensely personal. I leave contortion practice with all my cells awake.  I don't know how else to explain it.  I also like that this practice is not just a silly-human-tricks "let's see what I can do" sort of practice, but practice in pushing myself in a professional, performance capacity.

Sleeping well...I could still improve on this.  Sometimes I go to bed way too late.  Sometimes I go to bed earlyish, but just can't sleep.  I've started dreaming again, though, and that's a step in the right direction.  For a while there, I was so exhausted when I was awake, that during my sleep, I just turned off completely--no dreams.

On a tangential note, I saw this link , "22 Things Happy People Do Differently".  Generally I consider myself a happy person.  I think I almost always do ~18 of these.  The other 4 are points I sometimes have to actively remind myself about.  One point of clarification on #12, Choose Friends Wisely--which I think I do very well--it's an act of discernment, not of judgement.  I think this subtle difference gets a lot of well-meaning people into trouble/confusion.  Do you do any of the 22 things particularly well and have your own insight?

March 17, 2013

Follow Up to Yesterday

I shared my thoughts yesterday.  Here's how I ended up spending the day.

Making coasters and pendants.

Organizing a new jewelry box that I got at the thrift store for $4.  When I was in Monterey, I was using 2 small crappy jewelry boxes.  I didn't want to take them with me.  So I dumped all these pretties in a bag for the move.  I haven't been using them as much as I want to because it's hard to find anything in a mishmash bag.  So, though this is yet another temporary solution (eventually I want a larger, more beautifully crafted jewelry box), I like it pretty well.

I worked on a collage commission that I'm really excited about.

I made myself some good food.

So, I was productive, I took care of myself, and though I was anxious most of the day and had some upsetting parts of the day, I hereby give myself a pat on the head and a hug for doing a good job.

March 16, 2013

Letting Awareness Drive

Be kind to yourself.  Be kind to yourself.  Just take the day as it comes.  What first?  Pendants.  Okay, yes, finally putting heat to metal, soldering.  Damn! burned my hand.   Again!  Ouch.  Yeah, I'm out of practice.  What is this hollowness in my throat, is it from the soldering chemicals? *finish soldering, put things away*  Nope, the air bubble in my throat is still there--must be emotional.  What is up with that?  I don't know, I'm a little afraid to find out.  I just want to take the day for myself.  I don't want upset.  *Call friend, for distraction, talk through some issues*  Yes, I'm still feeling very vulnerable and defensive.  Why's that?  What am I afraid of?  Aha!  I am afraid. *tears*  Why am I afraid, what's so scary?  I'm afraid that I'll regress, that being single will mean that I won't be the best self I can be.  I have learned so many improvements over the years thanks to a partner.  I'm afraid I will regress.  I am also happy I don't have to compromise myself for someone else, but it is still scary to have to self-regulate.  Okay.  So I'll self regulate.  I just have to tell myself to behave the way the best me would behave.  How do I need to behave right now?  I need to apply to that opportunity, I need to work on that creative project, I need to practice dance, I need to continue working on pendants, I need to fix myself some healthy food, I need to get cat food, I need to go for a walk, I need to respond to those emails, I need to....  No! I am so overwhelmed!  How do I self regulate?  What would Former Partner say?  "Alyssum, chill out, stop working so hard.  It's okay to relax.  Just sit here and talk to me."  Okay.  I need to chill out.  But I don't really want to do that.  I really want to just do what I can do today, and be okay with the fact that I won't get it all done, and then I want a hug at the end of the day.  Someone to pat me on the head and be proud of all I've accomplished.  I guess I have to be that person.  How do I give myself a hug?  How do I rest? My jaw is tight.  Be kind to yourself.  Be kind to yourself.

March 11, 2013

Dream: Take it Easy


I was looking for my credit card.  I lost it because I am too busy.

While I was looking for my credit card, my ride picked me up.  I continued looking for my credit card and didn't realize until it was too late that we weren't going straight home.  I wanted to go straight home so I could keep working on stuff.

Instead, we were going to the pool.  I didn't bring my swimsuit with me because I was too busy to pay attention to the fact that we might go swim.

I couldn't walk home to either get my swim suit or just continue working because I had socks on, but no shoes.  Again, because I was too busy to put my shoes on and left them behind somewhere.

Frustrations in dream = 4 :
lost credit card
lost time (not going home immediately)
forgotten swimsuit
forgotten shoes

Solutions to problems = 1 :
slow down and rest

Removing Training Wheels

I overspent my time this weekend.  I am starting out the workweek exhausted instead of revived.

Being overspent is an issue that came up again and again in my relationship with Ben.

I worry that not being with Ben will make me worse version of myself because his input tempered my (often detrimental) inclinations.  I have seen so many divorcees turn into worse versions of themselves without the temperance of their 'better half'.

I need to figure out how to balance the Do-Less practice, that I witnessed and learned more about when I was with Ben, with the I-Am-Beholden-To-No-One-And-Can-Now-Do-Exactly-What-I-Want freedom that allows me to accomplish a whole lot of the things I want to accomplish in my life.  It makes sense that the trick would be figuring out the patterns of what I can and should avoid saying "yes" to in the future.  As I review my weekend, however, I don't come up with a clear, "Duh, shouldn't have done that" or "That part wasn't really worth it".  Yet, if all the Worthwhile Things sum to create Exhausted Alyssum, then were they really worthwhile?  I don't ask that rhetorically.  I have existed on the premise that I could do all the Worthwhile Things whenever they occurred and catch up on sleep and mundane things like housework between them.  It's pretty much worked.  But A) I'm in a more fragile emotional state right now that requires more energy than I like to admit;  B) I have set up a pretty fantastic life for myself here in DC where Worthwhile Things abound; C) I'm on my own to regulate my schedule now--no professors or boyfriends to provide external structure.  I've taken off my training wheels.

That metaphor is funny because in addition to being exhausted, I have skinned knuckles and a sunburned neck today.  Similar to the way a kid falls and scrapes themselves to pieces when training wheels are removed from their bicycle, I am seemingly unable--yet--to manage putting sunscreen all over my face AND neck by myself, or opening a bottle of soda on  my own.  Physical extensions of the broader self-ineptitude I'm encountering as I try to manage my schedule.

March 8, 2013

Vulnerable, Defensive, Contracting. Bits of Comfort.

A month and a few days after being broken up with.  Establishing myself in my Singledom.

Bits of conversation with friends freak me out.  Especially male friends.  I have had several people remind me to relax and not to take myself or those around me so seriously.  I have had a few people get their feelings hurt by my reticence.  It's not intentional.  I know that I'm totally wound up and feeling extra vulnerable and defensive in this Single world of mine.  I don't feel very generous right now with my time/self.  As my Dad reflected back to me, "this is a time to contract".  

I'm spending a lot of time invested in my work and collaging and thinking about dance projects. 

Yesterday, someone at work randomly said, "I know that 'I like beer' in Swahili is 'ikitikitembi'."  At first I was intimidated with how easily that rolled off their tongue and the fact that I didn't recognize it at all--I assumed that I didn't speak Swahili as well as they did.  Then, I realized it was just a single phrase they'd been taught.  I was like, hmmm, that doesn't sound right at all. So I rationalized what I thought they probably meant to say. My thought process:
          *  "I in the present" is not "i-ki" but "ni-na".  
          *  Probably by "like" they mean "want" which is  "taka" not "tiki".  
          *  And I think they're requesting a specific beer, "Tembo" (the one with the elephant on the label), not "tembi" which, I think, is nonsense.  If they had literally meant "beer" it would have been "bia" which doesn't sound like "tembi".  
          *  He probably mis-remembered "ikitikitembi" because it DOES flow easily off the tongue, a little bit easier than "ninataka tembo."  
Funny.  I understand how "it's all greek to me" to compare those two phrases--they do sound similar, sorta.  In my head, though, one is gibberish, and the other is intelligible parts of speech.  I'm kind of astounded that 12 years after my trip to Tanzania, I still hear and can make out bits and pieces of swahili.  Little pieces of comfort like this are important to me right now. 

March 4, 2013

Sweet Home, Alabama

I just had luncheon at a table of Alabama county officials at the conference I'm at for work.  I loved that when they asked me where I was from and I said Kentucky, they warmly claimed me, "Oh, another southern state. Y'all like Round Ball, huh."  I've always identified as a Kentuckian as being from the Southeast.  It's strange when folks from MA or CA or even DC consider it "mid-western"--what!?  Nuh uh.
The rest of the lunch reminded me why I like the culture of the South.  Humor and kidding one another is so integral to the culture.  I love how quick people are in this regard, how ready the laughs are.  Everyone at the table had laugh lines around their mouths and eyes--if you're going to have wrinkles, sign me up for those.
Bits of conversation that I enjoyed:

Tablemate #1 to Tablemate #4: *nodding at me* Her mamaw and papaw, she said, are in their 80s and still play tennis.  It's probably because they eat healthy like her.
Tablemate #4: Well, if that's the case, I'll probably die tonight.

Tablemate #1 to Tablemate #2:  If you ate vegetarian, you'd be fit and trim like her *nodding at me*.
Tablemate #2: *drops his fork of chicken back to the plate* If you've got something to say, say it.

Me to table: Are any of you from coastal counties?
Tablemate #3: Naw, we have a big lake though.
Me: Do you have problems with flooding?
Tablemate #3: Not really, not like the rain flooding you got in Kentucky.
Tablemate #1: I live up on Sand Mountain, so it don't flood.  I'm on Sand Mountain, then there's a valley, and then another mountain.  They're so close you could thow a rock and hit it.  You might have to throw it 4 or 5 times though.

Tablemate#3: California and Alabama aren't too different
Me: Why do you say that?
Tablemate #3: I wanted to see what you'd say.  Ha ha!! That was a gooood answer.

Server lays down platters of mini un-identifiable desserts.  Everyone looks suspiciously at them.  I try one, it's rice pudding.  Tablemate #5 sets it in front of Tablemate #4 as a dare.
Tablemate #4: What IS it!?
Me: Rice puddin' (where'd that final G go? ha ha)
Tablemate #6 looks suspiciously at the 2 tiny dishes left in the center of the table.
Me to Tablemate #6: I'll try it if you try it. *we reach for the dishes, and spoons.  we both try it. the rest of the table waits for our responses, expecting me to like it and #6 to reject it. I'm expecting that too*
*simultaneously, we grimace and push the dishes of mushy banana away*
*everyone laughs and cheers*

As I left, they asked if I was supposed to report back at work, giving the Alabama folks a grade.  I assured them I was not.  But I gave them an A+ anyway.   Very fun.  Opposite of the stuffiness that I feel sometimes in DC.

Highlights (lowlights?) of Conference Buffets

Me: *bringing my fruit, nuts, yogurt, fruit juice to the table*  I'm impressed with the healthy spread!
Tablemate #1: I'm not.  I wanted big sugary rolls.

Me: *eating arugula salad*
Tablemate #2:  did you pick those weeds outside?

Vegetarian options at dinner: white rice, cake-pops.