We went for a lovely birthday celebration of a new friend. To get there we took the subway. It’s been quite a while since I last went on the underground train. The most recently expanded line, The Q Train, has an artist featured on each of the newest stops. We got a good look at a few by Chuck Close done with tiles as portrait mosaics.
There is an instantaneous sense of delight when I see and enjoy art in the city. I especially enjoy unexpected art. Not only do I appreciate the mosaics in the subway stations, but walking through midtown brings waves of art appreciation.
Though not the same as in-person viewing, here are a few samples of simple and large scale art on my walks throughout the city.
Create your own art as if you were five-years-old. Remember when we crafted art that was so much fun, and we felt good about the result just because we made it ourself? Try that now.
Go for a walk and see the art around you, whether person-made or naturally occurring.
As war takes a toll in the Ukraine and other countries not in our news, let’s make peace in our lives, in our homes, with those we love, and with those with whom we don’t see eye to eye. Intentionally peaceful actions make a difference for all of us.
I don’t really understand Instagram. I’ve heard it’s for boomers. As a Baby Boomer, I am virtually clueless on how to navigate this social media platform. I can send hearts to a photo, but opening attachments, or anything more than loving a post eludes me. I keep meaning to find a tutorial I can follow, but my time is spoken for, so learning how to use Instagram stays low on my to-do list. I post to Instagram weekly. I’m not sure if it goes through, or if people just see pictures but can’t open the attachments.
There have been many times in my life when I’ve had common usage issues. Learning the Dewey Decimal system in the public library meant that I couldn’t always find what I was looking for in my formative years. It felt like a win when I could go to the files to find whatever reading material I needed. Wearing a silk scarf still alludes me. Many people can carry off scarves wearing them seamless accessories. Not me. My knots are sloppy, and they never fall gracefully. What would naturally enhance a Zoom frame comes so unnaturally to me.
Circling back to Instagram, I’m not so proficient with other social media platforms, but I know the rudimentary skills and muddle along with that. Recently I noticed the amount of energy that I spend baffled. Acting with uncertainty. It’s tax season now and I have to pull together all my documents. I feel unsure if I collected them all. I’m insecure to send the needed information properly. The unease of using Instagram or attempting to be my own bookkeeper put me off balance.
I like to know things. Not knowing, or living with uncertainty, has me uncertain of myself. And that can lead me to be defensive. Sharing a few of the many things I don’t know may allow me the freedom to either learn the ins and outs of Instagram or not. But I don’t need to act as if I know more than I know. My uncertainty provides a level of compassion for others. Uncertainty provides an opportunity to learn to stay upright in a boat on choppy water. A skill useful on the high seas or on uneven ground.
I find it’s difficult to trust myself when I’m deep in uncertainty. I come face to face with my vulnerability when I confront my limitations. And living in my vulnerability brings compassion for myself and others. Though it’s an imperfect process, I do know that when I don’t immediately hide my vulnerability by armoring with defensive behaviors. Knowing that I don’t know opens the door to growth.
Ask for help when needed. Though it may be uncomfortable, asking from a place of vulnerability allows us to receive with graciousness.
What song makes you happy? Put it on your playlist or in a bookmark so you can go to it quickly and easily.
Think about some of the things that you don’t know in your life. Rate them to see which ones are worth learning and make a plan to learn them, or accept not knowing them.
The weather these past few days lightened our moods. With colder temperatures and snow today we may slip back to a shared discontentment. A week ago the general agitation was palpable. Wide-ranging reactivity was pronounced. Small misunderstandings caused friction. And this was among strangers. Relationships have been strained. Most are not able to keep up with inflation. Families are under-resourced, overly tired, and living with ongoing exasperation. Those who live on their own have bouts of loneliness, especially because the difficulty in getting together with others while Omicron was at its height kept socializing at bay.
Distress seems to be the mood of the moment. It’s been tiresome to put plans on hold again and again. Reactivity is at an all-time high. Patience is worn thin. Frustration and annoyance are way too common. So many are at their wit’s end trying to figure out a way ahead.
For a good number there is a relief that the mask mandates have loosened. For others it adds a new layer of fear. There’s the fantasy that we’ll get back to normal. But we are not going back in many ways. Whatever is ahead of us remains to be seen. And that can be scary.
Though it may take a good amount of time to recover physically and emotionally from all we lost these last couple of years, we can find pockets of hope and joy in the present. Yesterday I was helped by a thoughtful salesperson at a hardware store. In a time when customer tolerance is more prevalent than customer service, his assistance brightened my day. Smiles from strangers have taken on a new worth. And the unexpected generosity of friends has been priceless. I will be taking in any and all acts of kindness Now more than ever those moments provide the light that moves us forward.
Rub your hands together until you create heat, then gently place them on your eyes. This can provide a soothing moment.
Sing yourself a lullaby at night to lovingly put yourself to sleep.
Try a new toothpaste. It will help awaken you in the morning since it’s an unfamiliar flavor.
I felt so fortunate that I had a meditation practice prior to the pandemic. I chose to double up my meditations to give myself devoted time each morning before I started my day. And, when needed again at night, or anytime I had to find my way back to myself.
There are so many meditation apps. I like Andy from Headspace and the Chopra App. Sometimes I do a Tara Brach meditation, or I’ll listen to Sharon Salzberg. When needed I’ll do my own thing. I map my breath, I do a body scan, or Iisten to my ongoing thoughts noticing if there are any changes in my mood or physical sensations from one floating thought to another. I’ve heard others who really like to meditate to Loch Kelly and the Calm app. Though there are a lot of options out there, once I found two that met my needs, I’ve stuck with them.
It’s taken years to bring the sensation of meditation into other parts of my waking life. At the beginning of my meditation practice (that sounds so self-aggrandizing to me) I attempted sitting up straight, adjusting my posture again and again to make sure my spine was aligned. It was extremely uncomfortable. If I was in yoga class meditating at the beginning of a session, my leg muscles would cramp. I focused more on the discomfort than on my breathing.
For the past twelve years, since I turned 50, I started to meditate laying down. To some meditation devotees, that’s blasphemous. For me it was a game changer. Often when following a guided meditation the directive is usually to sit straight. No thank you. At 50 I started making changes that worked for me. One of the first was to lay flat while meditating. I can meditate longer. I can relax in a way that feels illusive while sitting, especially if I’m crossed legged.
Now I meditate the way that works best for me. It’s true for other areas of my life. I enjoy food that I find pleasurable, rather than forcing myself to drink wheatgrass as I had in the late 80s. I enjoy a walk daily, usually alone, as a moving meditation. Or I listen to audiobooks, making it easier to get though books these days. For the first half of my life I tried to follow the rules of life. I believed if I could just get it right I’d be happy. In this second half I am making the ever changing rules that support me. I don’t know if I’m happier, but I am certainly more satisfied.
Enduring these past two years has tested our every nerve. We can all be gentle with ourselves by designing our routines to match our needs. I will continue to meditate on my back, even if others see that as wrong. Perhaps having grace for ourselves is more important in the long run than “good” form.
Try meditating in a comfortable position. If you’re new to it, start with 30 seconds to 3 minutes. If you like it, try it again. If it’s not for you, either try another modality or let it go.
When you’re feeling over stressed, imagine you’re softening your edges. What does that look like? How does it feel? It may assist in easing the emotional strain.
Who makes you laugh? Watch a video, stream a special, or call that funny friend. A laughing brake is a terrific relief.