Jul 13, 2007

All the little blessings

All the little blessings add up to one wonderful day. Interestingly, yesterday morning's affirmation involved seeing and experiencing love in everything.

Thank you, God, for the love I experienced. Thank you for:
…easily finding everything at the grocery store
…the money in my account that let me afford all that food - and a cash withdrawal to boot
…making the tiresome trip home, carrying four bags of groceries, pulling another heavy two in the wheeled shopping cart, surprisingly easier than I expected, especially up that last long hill
…my strong arms, back, legs and lungs
…not letting it rain at all during my haul home, considering it had rained just before and was to come down in buckets while I was putting the groceries away
…the room in my fridge for this food
…the friends that are coming to eat all this food. A huge thank you for that.
…the patience I could give a neighbor for not cleaning out the lint trap in the communal dryer, because I had learned the day before that she has back problems
…the other neighbor who will take care of my turn to do the communal duties (washing the lobby, hosing down the walkways) while I go on vacation
…this morning's hug from another neighbor/friend at the bus stop.

And thus starts my vacation, which means I take a break from my regular life, and that includes e-mail, Yahoo groups, Usenet - and Blogger. Sorry 'bout that.

Have a bitchen summer (as a friend wrote in my high school yearbook)!

Jul 8, 2007

Making room

Making room 1

I weighed myself this morning. On April 30, when I officially started my diet, I weighed 65.9 kilograms (145 pounds). This is on a body that measures officially 161 cm (5' 3.5"). I was into the "overweight" part of the body mass index as was also evidenced by my need to go up yet another pants (and panties) size. Nothing doing.

I have replaced some meals with one of those diet powders, one that mixes with milk. Tasty. Vanilla shake. The other things I have done are: Cut out bread (condensed carbs), start a meal with a glass of water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, and add a heaping tablespoon virgin coconut oil to my breakfast. Those last two were to speed up metabolism. No extra exercise, food as usual with a slight increase in salads, though I try to keep the meal itself a tad smaller than before. I've also been aware of the need to eat something between main meals, so I keep more healthy snack food around.

Today's weigh: 62.4 kilograms (137.5 pounds). Most of the inches lost are around my middle, though I am seeing some effect in face and boobs. New bra size: 80B, down from an 80C/85B.

My clothes fit better and I am fastening my belt one notch farther in. There is room for me in my own clothes.

Making room 2

Nothing like guests to speed up getting the house in order. I have gone on a bit about my decluttering efforts, to the point that some friends have wondered if I have a life. I do. And I don't want it distracted by a bunch of STUFF. So I have been pitching, packing to give away, reorganizing so things look neater - and with the space and the neatness has come more peace of mind. And encouragement.

I don't function well in clutter. I am one of those people who has to clear off her desk first before she can get any work done. My workspace at work suggests I have an empty head - that's how many bare surfaces you can see. 'Course, being neat at work was never a problem: Everything has its function or place, and if it doesn't, it gets filed, tossed or handed off to someone else.

But at home... At home where there isn't one function, one job to do, but a multitude of functions and rooms, it is hard to keep things neat and tidy. But now I'm seeing the light. Now I'm actually seeing that there is not only room for guests, but they don't have to stare at my piles of junk next to their bed (sorry, Mom).

I feel freer. I feel like I actually know what I'm doing, I have control, my stuff doesn't control me. I definitely want to continue making room for what really matters to me - and for my guests.

Making room 3

This week included a visit from the plumber. Which meant I had to be dressed and ready by 7 am to receive him. HA! Me dresssed and ready by 7...! Well, I did it.

I don't know what it'll cost yet, but I enjoy having a plumber I'm on a first-name basis with, even though he started off the job by saying, "Oh... shit..."

I took a deep breath and decided it wasn't my problem, and if it was, there was a solution, anyway, because I am a lucky girl. Then I prayed silently (just to make sure my luck holds, you know).

Problem(s): Non-draining drain, leaky pipes, leaky seal. He couldn't get the drain to drain. He tried to manually uncork the pipe, but his snake couldn't get past the J-bend in the pipe.

My upstairs neighbor was home, and I got to borrow the keys to his storage locker in the basement. Wisely, the stop valves for our side of the building and my plumbing are found in my neighbor's lockable storage locker (I guess his plumbing's in my locker). The plumber and I went downstairs to eye my plumbing. Old plumbing. Almost as old as me, and older than the plumber. It jutted out of the ceiling in my neighbor's locker, above a pile of my neighbor's stuff. Not an ideal place for a plumbing job or a leak.

We gave up trying to do anything from that end.

Back upstairs, my plumber tried the drain unclogging project again, but the water he had poured into the drain pipe stayed right where he'd poured it. He then deciding to assemble the multitude of plastic bits that make up modern plumbing to replace my leaking U-pipe under the kitchen sink and try to figure out the drain problem later.

In spite of the multitude of bits meant to be cut or not to fit any configuration of sink and plumbing, these bits did not fit my plumbing. My plumber said "Oh... shit..." again.

He leaned his head against the counter and pondered the situation.

I sat on the kitchen floor, leaning against the refridgerator (which was made roomier after I defrosted the freezer section), pondering whether or not I should interrupt his thinking. I didn't.

He thought of a solution, basically, "I'll hook this doohickey on here rather than there, move this bit around so, and then put that on this." Yes, as clear to me as the stuff he hauled out of my drain. He needed more parts, though, so at 8:50 am, my plumber drove to the plumber's supply store to get them.

He came back at 9:30 am and sawed off bits of my metal pipes. That opened up a second drain, and he stuck his snake in there and - the water went down! That little angle was enough to get the snake past the J-joint in my neighbor's locker, and get the water down! Oh, reliefandjoy, reliefandjoy!

He then assembled the lego, uh, PVC-pipe bits and I had, once again, a fully working kitchen sink that didn't have drains that blorp and burp. I did pour some liquid Plumbo down the drain, per my plumber's instructions, and now happily waste hot water to get things dissolved and moving farther along in the pipe system, hopefully far enough to make it the co-op's problem.

There is room in my drain for my dishwater and it is a delight to work in the kitchen now.

Jul 4, 2007

Laugh with a rat

If you watch enough Animal Planet or even your own animals, you discover that there are a couple of things that seem to transcend species: The joy of playing with a ball (I was amazed to see even turtles bumping a ball around), and getting their head scratched. We humans tend to anthropomorphize animals a bit too much, and view a dog baring its teeth as "smiling" (while it's a warning), and think cats are plotting evil when their eyes are half-closed (while in fact, that is friendliness). We humans consider a direct gaze or bared teeth friendly, something our pets eventually get used to, even though in their world, an indirect gaze or closed mouth is friendlier.

But there may be other human reactions we truly share with animals - like laughter. Researchers have found that rats enjoy being tickled - and even produce a laugh-like sound. It's inaudible to human ears, but slowed down to a frequency we can hear, it does sound giggly.

By the way, I love the way the rats look in this video: Well-fed, healthy and energetic. Lovely animals!

This tidbit brought to you by someone born in the year of the Rat. And yes, I laugh when tickled. I'm very ticklish.

Jul 1, 2007

Heaven on earth

Belinda Carlisle once sang that heaven is a place on Earth and that in heaven love comes first. She wasn't wrong. You don't have to die (and believe in the right god) to get to heaven. Heaven is actually an attitude, and one you can create for yourself.

Ernest Holmes, the founder of Science of Mind, writes in "What Religious Science Teaches":
We believe that Heaven is within us and that we experience it to the degree that we become conscious of it.

The Kingdom of Heaven means the kingdom of harmony, of peace, of joy, and of wholeness. It is an inward kingdom. [...]

Heaven is not a place but an inward state of consciousnes.

My experience with Christianity in Norway suggests that the idea that we cannot and should not be happy here in our physical lives, is an idea that still exists. This is one reason why I don't "get" Christianity. There is such a happy message hidden in the religion (you are already saved, loved, protected), but gets overshadowed by constant reminders of the merits of suffering and of our failings as humans every single day.

So what is heaven on earth? What is the kingdom within?

Jennifer Jones has been struggling to figure that out herself, in her own blogpost on heaven.

I wonder, since there are literally hundreds of beliefs and descriptions regarding heaven, each resonating or delighting those who hold the particular belief, maybe heaven is whatever we envision as our perfect place?

Maybe Heaven is not so much a place to go to but a state in which to exist?

Maybe the Kingdom of God is not outside somewhere in space but inside our hearts?

Jennifer then goes on to imagine creating heaven for everyone. But if heaven is within each of us, then heaven is something each of us must create for ourselves. We must discover within our own self where our peace of mind, our sense of protection and universal love resides permanently, and then bring it forth and focus on it.

So what is hell? Ask someone who has lost a child too early, or who suffers from clinical depression, or is terrified of school because of the bullying, or who hates the person they see in the mirror. There are many other examples. You can see that what they have in common is that the mind is filled with worry, loss, negativity and other feel-bad stuff. And truly, that is hell. When you feel disconnected from what sustains you, from what encourages you, when you cannot see yourself or your life containing anything good, safe or supporting, when you feel that you have only a past and no future, you are visiting hell.

So it does seem to be all in the mind. That does not mean that any feeling of living in hell because of circumstances just requires you to "cheer up". Far from it: That would be dangerous. The grief of losing a child is real and grieving is a process. Clinical depression is an illness which should not be left to its own devices. Schools and parents need to address bullying. And that mirror image? If you can't find something good to say to it, go find a psychologist. Please.

For the rest of us who are generally OK and generally healthy, but habitually experiencing life as a struggle, as ugly, as difficult, gray and unsatisfying, a good look at our own expectations may be in order. So many of us do expect life to be hard. And we are told it is. We are told life is unfair, too.

But what if life is actually easy? What if it is such a natural occurrence or experience that it just operates without effort? That's not as silly as it sounds. If you look around this planet, you'll see innumerable instances of life surviving everywhere. The interesting thing is that life tends to do that with the least amount of effort possible. Here's an example:

Lions hunt antelopes. That's a given. Do lions hunt all antelopes? No. They only hunt the ones they think they'll catch. In other words, they look for the easy kill - a lone or weakened antelope, for example. An animal that will be easily separated from the herd. Does this support the herd? Well, yes. It lets all the stronger, healthier antelopes get away. The abundance of the Universe makes enough antelopes to feed lions and still have antelopes.

Humans got tired of hunting for seeds, and started growing their own. They got tired of doing their own walking, and domesticated horses and camels and elephants for riding. (Imagine domesticating an elephant!) Nowadays, lazy humans use machines where manual labor and animal power used to rule. Crows and monkeys use tools, too.

So, basically, everything living finds a way to get on with their life with the least amount of effort.

And you may be thinking it's less effort to let things slide and just keep believing the negative. Actually, it isn't. Problems are always a distraction, not something that adds interest.

So imagine a world, a life, where you wake up in the morning, and you feel rested and you also feel good about the day ahead of you. The people in your life are loving and you are loving with them. You have a safe home, plenty of nutritious food to eat, a well body, and a sense of contentment. You feel useful and needed and your life feels fulfilling to you. Whatever you do for a living, delights you. It's like being paid to do a beloved hobby. You genuinely like yourself. You smile and laugh a lot.

Sounds like heaven, doesn't it. So how do you get there?

Start by realizing it's already here. It's about where you put your focus. Everything you think is wonderful about heaven, imagine is now manifesting in your life right now. You don't have to die and leave this planet first. Find what nurtures you, what brings a smile to your face. There are so many books out there that suggest finding your joy, the color of your parachute, your authentic self, etc. and they are all about finding what makes you bloom. So I won't repeat their messages here. I will tell you to be aware of your inner critic. We all have that voice in our head that criticizes us, reminds us of our mistakes and stupidities. That is hell talking (actually, it's ego, but ego feeds on fear and isn't the kingdom within). The key to heaven is to love yourself. Be your own best friend. Pat yourself on the back, take note of the things you do well, the successes you've accomplished, the positive feedback others give. Start giving those things more weight. Make a list of your blessings (i.e. count them). As you shift from an expectation of things needing to go wrong or be difficult, you will discover more and more of the things that go right and just flow without effort.

Eventually, you'll stop hell from being a part of your reality and it'll be easier and easier to recognize heaven on earth, within.


Tim took a picture and I think it is absolutely stunning. Go look!