When: June 27, 2010
I like how you can see everyone's feet - Pandora's, Kitten's, and Dave's.
Monday, June 28, 2010
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Where: Rubin Museum of Art, NYC
When: May 30, 2010
In my Shiatsu class, our teacher always has us do Qigong exercises to warm up before practicing. The other day, he commented that in the exercises, it is extremely important to always be aware of balance in your body. When there is yang, there must also somewhere be yin. If one area of the body is doing work, another area of the body should be at rest. This is also true in our work - it's very easy when concentrating on someone else's body to ignore building tension in your own, and if you don't pay attention you will end a session feeling burnt out and sore, or even injured.
I've been taking the concept into my yoga practice as well. I now begin each practice with Qigong, to help remember what the flow of tension and relaxation feels like. Then in the yoga, with each pose, rather than concentrating on the areas of tension, I'm trying to notice the areas that are relaxed. Practicing this way, asking in each pose "where are the areas of yin", is helpful in several ways:
1) Asking this question causes areas of my body to suddenly let go - areas I hadn't realized were tense in the first place.
2) By noticing the areas that have let go, it seems to provide a "role model" for the areas of tension, allowing those areas to also release as much as they can, and letting me go a little bit deeper into a pose.
3) Sometimes there are no areas of relaxation, which tells me I need to back out of or adjust the pose until there is more of a balance.
There are a few things this type of practice is bringing up for me:
1) I hold tension in my body so habitually that I don't even notice that it's there until my body lets it go.
2) The body is a mirror for the mind. My body will let go where and when it can - and it knows more about what is tense and what is not than my conscious mind does - but it needs the right pattern of thoughts to create the necessary changes. When I concentrate on the areas of tension, breathing into them and willing them to let go, I only get more tension.
3) My body is almost certainly responding in unnoticed and unexpected ways to my thoughts, all the time. This idea kind of freaks me out.
Friday, June 25, 2010
For something a little different:
That's the Kitten, with her favoritest creature in the whole world.
Posted by Gwendolyn at 3:49 PM
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Where: Rubin Museum of Art, NYC
When: May 30, 2010
Went to a dharma talk tonight. I haven't thought about meditation practice - other than to chastise myself for the lack of said practice - in months, so this was a refreshing change.
However, the lack of practice this year, combined with my relative mental stability, has really made it clear to me how beneficial a mindfulness practice can be to one's mental health. I haven't had a serious, lengthy bout of depression/anxiety since the fall. I still have my days, of course, but I seem to come out of them sooner and with less effort. I feel as though a lasting change has been created in my brain, with old, well-worn pathways getting replaced with new, shiny, less depressive ones.
It makes me curious about what could happen with years of consistent daily practice. Although not enough, apparently, to actually DO it! I'm not really sure what the block is, precisely, but it has felt strangely, massively immovable since December or January. I get cracks and shifts here and there - I think yoga is helping to ease me back in.
Posted by Gwendolyn at 9:44 PM
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Ages ago I posted a picture of a cabin on my in-laws' property, which is currently a storage shed, but which had been lived in by the original owner of the house while the house was being built. I sent it over to Kent Griswold at Tiny House Blog finally, since he has a weekly "Tiny House In A Landscape" feature, which is what inspired the shot.
Anyway, he decided to include it this week! Hooray! And there have been some questions - how is/was it heated? Are there floorplans and interior views? etc. I am going to see if I can find out about the heating question, I suspect the answer is a stove of some description, I do not believe there are any floorplans, and I did not take any pictures of the inside, as I think just contains, um, well, gas powered sharp things and other items that one would tend to keep in a shed.
I do have some alternative views, however - this one is from the back, and as you can see, there is a door here as well for some reason:
This one is really more atmospheric than useful, but again from the back and side:
More of the side - the windows above look like they may belong to a loft? And the siding may be cedar shingles, perhaps? I'll ask.
And one more from the front, because it's all dramatic and that's fun:
Posted by Gwendolyn at 4:14 PM
Friday, June 18, 2010
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Where: Hudson River, from home
When: June 16, 2010
Lately the camera just hasn't left the house. School was intense last week, but now that mid-term exams are over I won't have a reasonable excuse for not taking it out to play. I'm honestly feeling a little uninspired by my surroundings recently.
Posted by Gwendolyn at 7:52 PM
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Where: Highline Park, NYC
When: May 30, 2010
From the Latin aetherius - how gorgeous is that word?
Posted by Gwendolyn at 7:28 AM
Monday, June 14, 2010
Where: Highline Park, NYC
When: May 30, 2010
Whoops! It's been a while since I posted, not sure how that happened. First week of clothing experiment has gone swimmingly. The heatwave broke, so I wore my pair of jeans more than I thought I would, but that was fine. A couple of things I noticed:
1) I take much better care of my clothes when I don't have very many of them. The jeans, skirts and other reusable items got folded and/or hung after use, instead of tossed on the floor.
2) Getting dressed was still fun, but easier and faster.
3) There was FAR less laundry. Easily 2/3rds less than before. I apparently used to have a clothing change 2-3 times a day (this is the only way I can explain this phenomenon, I don't actually remember this happening ever), and then reused nothing and just tossed it into the laundry basket or on the floor, resulting in a mountain of only trivially dirty items to spend energy (mine and the planet's) washing for no good reason.
So I'd say, all around, this has been great. I think I'll reduce the number of shirts - I didn't wear all of them, and one that I wore I realized I didn't really enjoy wearing all that much.
Monday, June 7, 2010
When: June 5, 2010
Title is a quote from John Cage's Lecture on Nothing. It seemed appropriate since last night I lay tired, hurting, and wide awake from 10pm to 4am. I wasn't even all that panicked or upset about it until around 3:30am. Everytime I came close to dropping off, which seemed to happen about once an hour, my body would jump violently, bringing me right back into wakefullness, or one of the animals would make an innocent and normal noise, or something would creak. "Let me fall asleep" became a desperate mantra by the end.
I have a midterm, clinic, and a Pathology final in the next week, so I am anxious about the loss of sleep and the sore throat and sore muscles that kept me awake, and I'm anxious about missing school today. However, it has been quite peaceful. It's finally cool outside, so I've had the window open. A cool breeze, Couch, medicinal tea and Native American flute music have all been tremendously soothing to my body and brain. I'm hoping it will give my immune system the boost it needs to fend off whatever it is fending off. The animals seem to find the music soothing as well, strangely, they aren't being nearly as restless and/or playful as they normally are during the day.
Posted by Gwendolyn at 2:19 PM
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Where: Highline Park, Chelsea, NYC
When: May 30, 2010
I am continuing to mull minimalism, and am enjoying perusing various blogs and discussions about the topic. It does tend to get fairly repetitive, fairly quickly - there are really only so many ways to communicate "Let's all have less stuff. It's nice. Here's how I ended up with less stuff - I got rid of most of it. Ta da!"
At the moment, these are my two favorite blogs on the subject:
mnmlist because the subjects aren't just about the stuff, but also about mindset and approach and philosophy behind the relatively unimportant stuff. Also the guy lives in Guam. How cool is that? And where the heck is Guam?
Simplicity By Sunny because I find her writing style entertaining and a little manic and fun.
SO. Let's talk about clothing, shall we? Because after I went through my desk drawer, I decided the next most obvious thing to tackle was my closet. And my other closet. And the chest of drawers. Dear god. I am shocked and appalled by the amount of clothing I own! And I'm not going to talk about the pile of shoes, out of which I wear two, occasionally three of the pairs. I just don't have the strength, so let's not go there.
I thought briefly about taking a picture of the mountain of material heaped on my bed, but shame took over and I chose not to expose myself so very deeply. Now, it's not that I haven't done this in the past. I have frequently, in the past, decided that everything I owned was old and broken, and that I looked messy and dowdy and 10 years older than I am and that I wanted new shiny - but this time, THIS TIME, I would be scientific about it! I would go all What Not To Wear on my ass, and brutally throw everything out that I didn't wear or that didn't look good, and then I'd go out and carefully, thoughtfully purchase The Perfect Wardrobe, and I would have nothing in my closet but stunningly perfect outfits, where every piece cross referenced with every other piece, and I would have NO CHOICE but to look perfectly put together every time I walked out the door because of all the SCIENCE.
But that never actually works. Because you know who has two thumbs and bought all those clothes in the first place? This girl. (That joke works better in person, with hand gestures, but try to go with it.) You know who is going to go out and do it again? Oh why yes! Yes. That would be me. So this time, the rules are going to be a little bit different. In that there will be actual rules.
At this point in the evening, I have successfully ripped through my wardrobe and gotten rid of all the obvious things to get rid of. But now I'm down to the hard part - I'm down to the clothes that I consider wearing but don't quite ever actually wear, the shirts I like but forgot I owned because they were hiding under above referenced mountain of material, and clothes that I wear but really probably shouldn't because they make me look like I haven't showered. (This is usually because when I put those particular clothes on, I totally haven't, but whatever and who's checking anyway!)
I am also down to the part where I need to decide just how far I want to take this concept. So here's what I'm thinking:
1) Long-sleeve shirts, sweaters, winter/fall/spring jackets, heavy anything gets a reprieve until the weather stops reaching post-apocalyptic temperature levels every day. They make me sick to look at them right now, but that's not their fault.
2) I am leaving my sock and underwear drawer alone.
3) I will select clothing for the next week. (This was Dave's idea.) The rest of the non-selected clothing will go elsewhere, but will not go away. I will wear the selected clothing (and only the selected clothing) for a couple of weeks, and see how I feel. For example, do I miss the illusion of choice? Am I bored with the current selection? Do I long for THAT shirt, or THIS skirt?
4) I will not use this purge as an excuse to go shopping.
If I desperately long for the unchosen items, I will reconsider the line-up for the weeks following the initial experiment. Obviously, if we get a cold snap or it pours rain for days or anything resembling an insurance company's definition of an "Act of God" occurs, I will reconsider. But in the mean time, I'm going to have some fun experimenting with what it's like to have fewer choices in my closet.
Friday, June 4, 2010
Thursday, June 3, 2010
I like reading blogs about tiny houses, and alternative (to me and my life) ways of living in, seeing, and thinking about the world, and so on, and today I stumbled onto a couple of different people who have taken up the challenge of narrowing down their possessions down to 100 things. Total. Well, everyone seems to group things like "underwear", and "socks" as one thing, which is nice and hygienic of them, but still that's not a lot of stuff.
So I've been thinking about this, and I wonder just how many things we have lying around here. I'm pretty sure that I have 100 things in this desk drawer. Here's a picture to distract you for a moment while I go and check.
Ok, I'm now finished pulling out and documenting every item in my drawer. I will spare everyone the full list, but the answer is: well, WELL over 100 things, if you count each item and don't group like items, such as pens or blank cds. If you DO group similar things, it's around 60. That's just the things IN my desk, that doesn't even include everything ON my desk.
Even though most of the things in there are useless and/or not used, I only got rid of a handful of them. It is really, surprisingly painful to think about getting rid of most of this stuff. Either the item has a use, even if it's not used, and therefore it feels like a waste to just toss it, or I am attached to it for the memories it holds.
An extra (empty) wallet. It's very pretty and embroidered and my mom gave it to me. I want to sew in a long thin strap and use it as a little purse for when I'm wearing a dress. I would put the chances of me doing this at about 5%.
Three lens cloths. I never use these. My camera is probably sad about this.
A chain necklace that a friend in college used to wear on his wrist all the time but he gave it to me one time when I was feeling really sad.
A letter from my Dad.
A 10 Euro note. How do you get rid of money, even if it's money in a form that you can't ever use?
Two house keys. I don't know what house they are for.
A point and shoot camera I never use.
A stack of random pieces of paper - comics and photos I printed and had in my cubicle when I used to have to sit in a cubicle, business cards, a note from Nana, a note from one of my sisters, pieces of wood painted by my niece and nephew, more letters from Dad, farewell cards from people I knew in London. A postcard I bought from the Louvre when I was on my semester abroad. Mostly things I'm attached to and just can't seem to let go of.
I don't quite know how to think about this minimalist movement. On the one hand, it appeals to me to have my space feel less cluttered and more easily mobile. I like the idea of being able to comfortably move into a space that's smaller (and less expensive) than the one we're in now. When I pay attention, I feel the weight of these objects on my consciousness, it's a weight of responsibility and a weight of memories I'm scared I'll lose forever if I let go of them.
On the other hand, one of the reasons I like all this stuff is that it makes the space feel like someone real lives here, someone who's gone places and experienced things and who has memories and foibles and has made mistakes and has silly things that aren't immediately necessary. Empty spaces are boring and feel clinical and, well, weird, and a little inhuman somehow.
Anyway, it's late so I'm going to go to bed and will see what I think about all this tomorrow.
Posted by Gwendolyn at 7:38 PM
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Where: Rubin Museum of Art, NYC (This is a fantastic museum, dedicated to Himalayan art. I had never been there before. It's the perfect size, intimate and not overwhelming, and is filled with well selected, well described objects.)
When: May 30, 2010
"What you do for yourself, any gesture of kindness, any gesture of gentleness, any gesture of honesty and clear seeing toward yourself, will affect how you experience your world. In fact, it will transform how you experience the world. What you do for yourself, you're doing for others, and what you do for others, you're doing for yourself.
When you exchange yourself for others... it becomes increasingly uncertain what is out there and what is in here."
--Pema Chödrön, "Comfortable with Uncertainty"
Posted by Gwendolyn at 5:37 PM
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Where: Regent's Park, London
When: May 10, 2009
Posted by Gwendolyn at 7:13 AM