Wednesday, July 30, 2014

motivate without comparison

I've never liked those motivational tropes that try to guilt us into appreciating what we have by showing us how people with so much less are doing miraculous things. Don't get me wrong, I LOOOOVE the actual people. I love Nik Vujicic, the pastor born without all four of his limbs. I adore Aimee Mullins, the model, actress, and athlete who had her legs amputated below the knees when she was a young child. I love Arthur Boorman, a disabled veteran of the Gulf War for 15 years who was told by his doctors that he would never be able to walk on his own, ever again and now runs and does yoga!

Motivation is one thing. Shaming is another. We all have our obstacles to overcome.We all have our areas of weakness. We don't have to compare. 

Stepping down off a curb might be a big deal for someone. Using crutches to get up the stairs for the first time might be a big deal for someone who never used crutches. Going out into the world with social anxiety or agoraphobia might be a big deal for someone.

Don't compare. Not everybody has to be a human interest story for the late night news. If you need sympathy ask for it from someone who can actually give it to you. Skip the shamers. Find an applauder.

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camo belt

See the grey hairs in my hairline?
See the face of a middle aged college professor?

See the body somewhere in the
neighborhood of 260lbs?

See the "tips" on my belt? A yellow AND a green?

Now try to tell me what I can't do. NEVER TELL ME WHAT I CAN'T DO!

Ok, before I sound all badass, my lungs feel like they're going to collapse during the 5 minute warmup. A little cardio is a big deal for me. I am struggling to balance on one foot so my kicks feel floppy and sloppy. I'm building endurance so I'm winded for most of class. Getting from block to punch and punch to block is a challenge because I'm still working on that left hand right hand thing.

But...and everyone loves a big BUTT...I'm working on ALL dat shit. I get winded but I don't quit. I lose my balance when I land at the end of my kicks but I just do the next kick and vow to get better. And I don't quit.

Today we did mostly kicks. Do you have any idea the amount of oxygen those big leg muscles need to lift  up and kick with force? Lots. Lots of frikken oxygen. For in-shape people kicking isn't cardio. For me, it's cardio. I've been doing deep breathing at home to expand my lungs. My lungs feel waterlogged.

I have every reason to quit. I can barely keep up with the workouts. I feel clumsy. My balance is off. I'm awkward as f**k, but I ain't quittin'. I want to know what it feels like to be untrained at something (meaning not-good at something), and then to work to become good at it. I don't have to be great. I just want to be good. I can have great enthusiasm and dedication. I can have a great attitude. I can make a great effort.

Today I earned my first non-white belt (I don't want to call it a "color belt" cuz I consider the yellow belt to be the first color belt). It's a camouflage belt. They call it a "camo" belt. It's earned for making martial arts a habit.See that? I made martial arts a habit! My tips were earned for learning certain skills. I may not kick well, but I UNDERSTAND the parts of the kick. I may not have balance or height, but I know them. I did them well enough to demonstrate knowledge.

Belts, tips, habits, plus I think I'm looking a lot better. That puffy depressed look is being replaced by a new vibrancy.

Gotta love vibrancy.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

On the Waterfront

 Boys, this is my church. 
 If you don't think Christ is down here on the waterfront
you've got another guess coming!
Every morning when the hiring boss blows his whistle
Jesus stands alongside you in the shape-up. 
 He sees why some of you get picked 
and some of you get passed over. 
He sees the family men 
worrying about getting their rent
and getting food for the wife and kids. 
He sees you selling your souls 
to the mob for a day's pay. 
 What does Christ think of the easy-money boys.
 who do none of the work and take all the gravy? 
How does he feel about the fellows who wear $1500 suits
and diamond rings on your union dues
 and your kickback money? 
And how does He, 
who spoke up without fear against every evil
 feel about your silence? 
Shut up about that! 
 Just watch this. 
You see that?
 You want to know what's wrong with our waterfront? 
 It's the love of a lousy buck. 
It's making love of a buck, the cushy job
more important than the love of man. 
It's forgetting that every fellow down here 
is your brother in Christ. 
But remember, Christ is always with you. 
Christ's in the shape-up, in the hatch, 
in the union hall. 
 He's kneeling right here beside Dugan
 and He's saying with all of you: 
"If you do it to the least of mine, you do it to me." 
What they did to Joey and to Dugan
they're doing to you and you. 
All of you! And only you, only you with God's help
have the power to knock them out for good. 
 Okay, Kayo. Amen. 
- Father Barry in On the Waterfront

Part of my Succulent Life plan
is to watch as many of the classic movies and read as many of the the great books of western literature as I can before I die.

I want to enrich my mind and my soul. Tonight's Succulent Life film was Elia Kazan's On the Waterfront starring Marlon Brando and Karl Maulden. 

What makes a "great" film great is the way it leaves you. I am forever changed. I stood and applauded in my living room with tears streaming down my face during the last scene. What changes you are the ways we are inspired to question ourselves.

Two beautifully articulated questions posed by this film:
What price do we pay when we DON'T do the right thing? 
What price do we pay when we DO?

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Monday, July 28, 2014

wonder women

All ages
and abilities!

Do what you can with what you've got!

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

nausea is weakness

I'm not going to let his be the best that I look or feel for the rest of my life.
You've seen those t-shirts that say
Pain is Weakness Leaving the Body,
Well, I'd like to amend that.
For me
Nausea is Weakness Leaving the Body.

My Qi Gong Master says that the nausea we feel when we build strength is the stuck energy clearing itself out. The stagnant Qi gets processed through the lymph system and makes us feel sick to our stomach.

Doing physical work makes me sick to my stomach. I do baby myself when I'm at home doing chores. I'll sit and take breaks. I'll put my feet up between tasks and work on my laptop. Ill sprawl on my bed right after changing the sheets.

Training with a teacher, trainer or master is different. A little wave of nausea is not something you run out of class for. Pushing through the queasiness is uncomfortable, but there's an opening on the other side. Pushing past the nausea brings me into an oxygenated place. It's like a painful contraction that brings a rush of pleasure when it releases.

Nausea is almost worse than pain. I feel like I'm going to throw up my stomach and then my soul. I desperately want relief. My head races with perfectly logical and legitimate reasons to quit:

"You don 't have to do this."

"Most middle aged people are out of shape,
     just blend in with them and stop all this nonsense."

"You're using up precious energy
     while your apartment desperately needs cleaning.
       Go home and clean. Forget all this suffering."

"This is a kid's game and you're no kid."

"You look ridiculous trying to keep up with these young athletes."

"You're going to die no matter what you do.
     You don't have to be in shape to enjoy life."

"What are you doing all this for anyway?"

It's the answer to that last question that keeps me going. What AM I doing all this for? I'll tell you why.
I'm running the P (click here). I'm getting my dignity back. With every push-through-past-the-nausea I'm building my core physically,. psychically, and spiritually. I want to be strong on the inside and outside. I don't want to be a doormat any longer. I don't wish to absorb any ill-intentioned or misguided behaviors from others. I don't want to be an asshole myself, either.

A strong self means a strong sense of integrity, a strong character. I need to push past the nausea to get to the Lisa who is strong, who can defend herself, who can draw healthy boundaries, who isn't pathetic, and who can DO physical things, more than just walk.

I hate that suffering is involved. I hate the nausea. I hate having to face my weakness. I hate dong the kind of  physical work that makes me sick. I have no idea how people have fun doing physical sporty things. That was never me. But why was that never me? That's another reason I need to do this. I'm not sure I was meant to be a marshmallowy nerd. My mother made me stay still, quiet, cerebral. I coulda been a contender! I don't want to have regrets like Terry in On the Waterfront:

Terry: It wasn't him, Charley, it was you. Remember that night in the Garden you came down to my dressing room and you said, "Kid, this ain't your night. We're going for the price on Wilson." You remember that? "This ain't your night"! My night! I coulda taken Wilson apart! So what happens? He gets the title shot outdoors on the ballpark and what do I get? A one-way ticket to Palooka-ville! You was my brother, Charley, you shoulda looked out for me a little bit. You shoulda taken care of me just a little bit so I wouldn't have to take them dives for the short-end money. 

Charlie: Oh I had some bets down for you. You saw some money. 

Terry: You don't understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let's face it. It was you, Charley. 

There's no way I'm going to let my mother win. I'm not going to let the bullies win. I'm  not going to let the naysayers win. I'm not going to let discouragement win. I'm not going to let the abusers win, nor the haters, nor the doubters. None of you f*ckers are going to win.
I'm the winner.
I choose to be a winner.
Might for right!

So what if I feel a little pukey as I go.
I'm going.

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

known better

The fantasy world of narcissists 
can have a seductive allure
 that promises to envelop us
 in its specialness. 
Their superficial charm is enchanting, 
they often appear to be complicated, 
colorful, and exciting 
as they draw you in to their narcissistic web. 
 Being singled out for attention 
by a narcissist 
can be an intoxicating sensation in any case,
 but when the admirerer is a narcissist, 
that "loving" feeling 
can turn into something 
not loving at all. 
When you cease to be of use in pumping up 
the narcissists fragile ego, 
you may feel that the air 
has suddenly been let out 
of your own ego too.

A loving friend told me
not to blame myself.
I told them I do blame myself. I should have known better.
They assured me that I DID know better, that I recognized what was going on, that I saw that things would never improve, that I did acknowledge that I was deserving of better treatment and I was planning a practical, compassionate way to get myself out of the bad situation.
The person I needed to get away from sensed this. They knew that I was no longer willing to tolerate the way they were treating me. They sensed I was growing a backbone, so they beat me to it and severed the relationship, citing me as an abuser.

People who watched this  painful mess from a close proximity are saying:
it's not my fault,
I didn't do anything wrong,
and I should not to beat myself up.

The loving friend who was reassuring me said that I wasn't to blame, the situation was glittery and enticing. It had me captivated. I put so much into saving something that couldn't be saved. I thought I was going to get back what I put in. Yeah, it took me a long time to figure things out and decide to leave, but they also reassured me that it COULD HAVE taken 23 years instead of only 3. It could have been worse.

It's hard not to beat myself up. I do still think I should have gotten out sooner. Spirit fired warning shots across my bow numerous times. I just didn't believe the situation was hopeless. What I was too stubborn to admit was that you can't make something good with no good ingredients. I thought I could make an apple pie out of pine cones. I failed, and now I'm blaming myself.

It doesn't make sense to beat myself up for beating myself up, but that's how the ego works.
I guess I have to develop a stronger spiritual core that can keep my ego from being an authority.
I DO have the ingredients for that!

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Friday, July 25, 2014

three hour tour

My nephew, his wife, and their three sons (my great nephews) on the Spirit of New York harbor cruise. The deck hands carried my mother in her wheelchair up a flight of steps. None of us had our cameras ready. We had a wonderful time.

I'm so grateful to be able and well enough to enjoy nights like this with my family.

It was a major blessing to be able to climb up and down the steep stairs while the ship rocked. I was winded but I did it, twice.

Sitting on that top deck was like being millionaires for the night!

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

be quiet mind

Don't think.
Just do.

Don't think.
Just be.

Don't listen to your ego chatter.
Listen to your breath and your heartbeat.

"Cease striving and know that I am God." - Psalm 46:10

When I heard this song in the background of a scene in the film YaYa Sisterhood it was the phrase "praise and meditation" that got my attention. I blogged about it here


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