Cycling in the rain

I forgot how unpleasant it is to bike in the rain without a back fender.

That slice of Scot somewhere in my blood has left me with a solid attitude of making-do. As if using money and modern convenience to solve a problem is somehow too bourgeois.

Since taking the Quistic masterclass on personality type, I’m obsessed with typing everyone I know (type yourself here for free). When I’m feeding baby F, I go through the people I know and search for type patterns. For example, every member of my and J’s family is an I for introvert. Except for big old extroverted me.

It explains so much about my adolescent “behavioural issues” – convinced my parents didn’t love me when in fact they just didn’t ever feel like talking.

I get it now. Mind and heart open.

In British Columbia they have a problem with exotic birds finding good homes. This former nurse found her calling helping these birds and their adoptive humans find peace in their relationships. The birds are anxious, often bought and returned more than once by well-meaning but ignorant animal lovers. She implements simple systems rewarding good bird behaviour. When the birds scream in their cages the people leave the room. When the birds are quiet the people come back.

It works because the birds just want to be close to the people.

Social creatures, comforted by the presence of warm blood nearby. By a face and a voice and a beating heart. By the possibility of connection.

In choir we are working on this glorious piece. The first line ends with a tone cluster – notes sung together that don’t conventionally match. As singers our job is to find the heart of the dissonance and lean into it, often fighting against our instincts in order to do it correctly. But when we lock into it, it feels so right.

Only after the darkest hour, does the light emerge.

Our conductor asked us to sing those notes as if we were removing the lid from a canister containing pure light.

Un-cage-ing something unexpected, bursting forth.

This week one of my favourite podcast hosts Jonathan Fields published a manifesto. As a mother, as a carer, this jumped out: Self-care is the beating heart of other care.

That’s why this week’s yoga is about self care. Picture self massage, guided meditation and opening the heart chakra. Imagine a light shining out of your heart right now – bursting through your rib cage. Your heart cage. Are you sitting a little taller, making a little more space for it? You see, my personality type is all about inspiring people. I’m programmed to cultivate light. You know, me and Oprah (actually).  

In the coffee shop where I’m sitting all the men pick up the barista. So far they’ve talked about snowboarding, Toronto’s dashed baseball dreams, astronomy, California. The Adele concert. Butter croissants. Halloween costumes. I’ve been here for a while.

It’s time to bike home now and get back to baby F. Her hedgehog hair that looks like baby bird feathers. Born jet black and inexplicably lightening by the day, to wheat, butter or strawberry depending on the light. I love her so much. I’m the parrot that just wants to stay close.

Making do as I am with no fender in the rain, I’ll count on that ethereal light coming from inside my rib cage to carry me through all that splatter. A canister containing pure light.

It’s worth so much more than new bike parts anyways.

Sanctuary

It’s Christmas. It’s the last quiet Christmas morning for a while, since as of March 2016 we – we who were blithely two – we will be three. And one of the three will be small and scrunchy, adorable, but probably loud and demanding too. Teetering on the edge of that produces weird sensations.

Being pregnant is a hormonal experience. So far I haven’t been experiencing wild mood changes, picking fights, ending friendships dramatically, etc. What I have experienced is that any time I think about no longer being two with J, I tear up. Tears actually come into my eyes. Am I excited about being a parent or what?

I am, actually, I’m just getting to know myself better. The challenges in life bring your jagged edges into the light. You’re stretching (well, some of us are literally stretching too). But for all of us, when we get stretched in the figurative sense, some places where we have work to do tend to show.

The end of the year is an introspective time for many people. Even though the year has a week yet to live out, since I plan on spending it in my pyjamas/loungewear/bathtub/kitchen/bed recouperating from the year (old life) gone by and resting up for the year (new life) ahead, I’m thinking Christmas is as good a time as any to let go of the past, reflect and plan for the future. Christmas morning this year – quiet, if balmy in Toronto (record temperatures yesterday), peaceful – this is a New Day if ever I met one.

I have been raving about my prenatal yoga teacher because she is so knowledgeable. She taught us how to lie down and get up again without putting our (weakened, literally stretched) abdominal muscles at risk of separating (it can happen). She incorporates kegels into the class(!), and modified pushups, both of which I’m grateful for. There’s a but. I miss pushing myself physically. I miss feeling limitless physically and I miss the spiritual in yoga class. Life creation should be a spiritual time, no? Not finding that in yoga class.

I am finding that in the shower, where I’ve started singing this song from my summer camp days:

O Lord prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true. And with thanksgiving I’ll be a living sanctuary for you.

I sing it over and over and I recognize my body as a sanctuary, and the baby is inside, growing in time with the vibrations.

Yesterday we had a debate about the spiritual life of our child. Not an easy subject. So much is wrapped up in it – culture, religion, family expectation, moral code, Sunday morning. And then we sat down together, because the extended family dinner we were going to go to got cancelled, and we ate eggs and we watched three documentaries in a row. The last being The Secret. And it said a lot of things, my word for many of which is “bogus,” but it also said this:

When you drive at night, you can only see 200 ft in front of you. You trust that the road ahead exists, and you keep on driving, and you cover miles of road, 200 ft at a time. 

And that is a message I need to hear as 2016 beckons. I doubt I’m the only one.  I’m going to take this one month at a time, which means no decisions are needed right now on baptism, let alone religious upbringing, and healthy right now doesn’t mean doing 100 sun salutations, it means getting enough water and vegetables and walking in nature whenever I can. And if yoga right now isn’t spiritual, then my hypnobirthing class might be, and if not, then my showers definitely can be. Each 200 ft of road brings a sweet change, and it’s our privilege to rise to the occasion. Otherwise why bother with the drive?

 

 

Old lessons and new habits

This week I was back at the dentist. The dentist is like a refueling station in modern life: a regular touchpoint for self reflection. Last time I was all anxious core tightening and afraid of those spiky instruments. This time I was calm and trusting, softer almost. More mature. Evolving.

Yoga this week was about finding awe. AWE. That’s “awareness of the whole entity” as well as just plain old “awe”. Go deep, and then step back. Last dentist visit I went deep (into fear and anxiety). This dentist visit I stepped back.

I’m back on candy crush. After completely putting it down at level 90 something, I absently picked it up and now I look forward to choir day because I can play it on the subway. The subway trip has never gone faster. Now I’m on level 105 and I’m playing every night before I go to bed. So. many. better. things. to. do. than. that. I’ve gone deep. I need to step back.

Last week my choir participated in a festival with Choirs Ontario. All I want to do now is consume gorgeous choral music. And sing in more choirs. And wear casual clothing every day. Which was pretty much my life in 2004, when I didn’t like my life very much. Figure that one out.

I was reading about failure this week. And how we have to do it to succeed. I know this. But failure hurts. It’s bad for egos, which is probably good for the world.

At the choir festival I saw an old teacher of mine who conducted my high school choir. We had a nice chat, like two grownups because that’s what we are. In high school I was a music nerd and also a delinquent. It was a busy time. We had a half day off class one afternoon and my teacher told the choir that we would be rehearsing and that if we didn’t attend rehearsal we would not be allowed to perform in the concert. I loved performing in concerts. But apparently that day I loved skipping choir rehearsal more. Afterward, I thought he might make an exception for me, but he didn’t. He was disappointed. I remember when he told me he looked so tired, like he was an old man even though he wasn’t. When I saw him last weekend I thought about that and how that was a good lesson for me. It made me think differently about making choices.

For the most part, I like to follow rules. When I think back to that time in high school when I broke so many rules, almost all of them really, I wonder if I overdid it. Did I scare myself back in between the lines, to a forever of timidness? Or maybe that was an exploration – a full, deep exploration that landed with an educated decision to conduct myself as I do today – with measured risks. And a view to possibilities as well as consequences.

It’s funny. At our next choir rehearsal my current conductor went out of her way to say what a great opportunity my high school had been. My old choir is excellent, world class actually, under that same teacher who taught me that life is about choices. And that I’m not above the rules. At first I was defensive about it. I thought:

What do you mean by that? Did I not take enough advantage of the opportunity??

(Because I’d been thinking about that experience skipping out on rehearsal).

But now I see that all she meant was: it was a great opportunity. And it was, in music and in life, one that I took full of advantage of.

Go deep and take a step back.

Is this what being in AWE – Aware of the Whole Entity – feels like?

I think yes.

Not long ago I was reading tips by management gurus. Many talked about maintaining lists of things you want to start doing, things you want to keep doing and things you want to stop doing. In that spirit, today I will start seeing the positive in my high school memories, even the ones that felt like failures. I will keep singing in choir and going to the dentist and being in AWE. And I will stop playing candy crush. Except occasionally on the subway:)