Posted in Elizabeth Warren, Music, Politics, stress

Time Out for Music

Sometimes it’s  just too much. Every time I open the paper there’s another disaster looming in Washington. We no sooner fend off one attack when another one comes to take its place like a horrific modern version of the Persian Immortals. First it’s health care, then it’s internet privacy, then its the nomination of a right-wing warrior to the still-open seat on the Supreme Court. It’s immigrant policy gone awry by a Twittering imbecile who seems to be taking his marching orders from Wall Street and mainstream Republicans, the very people he pledged to push back. We’re surrounded on all sides and fighting like mad just to stay in the same place.

Like all good revolutionaries, I really do need some serious R&R to stay in the game. We have at least two years until there’s a potential change of guard in Congress. Hopefully, we won’t be a smoking pile of rubble by then, or by 2020.

On the positive side, I’ve come to know my Members of Congress: 2 senators and one congress woman. They’re very progressive. In fact one, Elizabeth Warren, is a rising star and possible someday-president. I meditate every day, try to get out of the house if the weather cooperates (we’ve had a few storms roar past these last few weeks) and my energy level is up to it. Today, I happened to be working on a business page I have on Facebook and came across the part of the feed that digs up something from your past:

I usually ignore it, but this time I didn’t. A year ago one of my cousins shared a video of a group of women singing traditional Polish folk songs. I grew up hearing the Americanized versions of some of these and hated their corny, jerky rhythms with a passion. But this – this was different. It was beautiful and it touched something in me, I think because of the elderly woman who was sitting next to them. She was just listening to the song at first then, tentatively, began to sing along with the lyrics as she remembered them. Towards the end she added a few additional, quavering lyrics of her own.

That woman could have been my grandmother.

It’s a very sad, old love song. A woman is in an apple orchard and sings about a boy who’s become angry at her for unknown reasons. After a while, though, he forgives her and comes back. It’s very rural with themes that run throughout Slavic traditional music. There’s always a girl. Or a boy. Fill in with orchards, fields and animals and you have a Slavic folk song.

My grandmother loved to sing and took every opportunity to do so. It kept us amused as kids and filled lonely hours when we were away at school and my parents at work. Now that I’m older and my grandmother (babcia, in Polish) is long, long gone I wish I’d learned some of those songs and sang them for her, along with my fiddle, like the woman in the video does. I wish I had her back, just to do that and re-connect with something very old and down to the roots.

 

Posted in Health, Meditation, stress

Loving More

Today, Sunday, November 13 is World Kindness Day. I’ve been practicing loving-kindness meditations as part of my overall meditation routine. These days we need that more than ever. I listen to my meditations on calm.com. I paid for a premium membership, but meditation has really made a difference. It takes a while, but mindfulness meditation enables me to separate myself from my feelings and examine them dispassionately. These days it’s been easy to feel as though I’m out of control. I think I’m safe in saying that a lot of people feel the same way. Here’s one way I deal with it. Direct action – taking care of others – is another.

Oh, and check out the Random Acts of Kindness website. There’s some really nice stuff up there!

Posted in Health, Meditation, Migraines, Sleep, stress, Work

My Daily Calm

Empty Bed

Last night was rough, sleep-wise. My 62-year-old bladder got me out of bed twice, then I was rousted out of bed in the early morning to move my car. We’re having insulation blown into our house from the outside and they needed the driveway. Of course, nobody told me this the day before. If I’d known, I’d have moved the car the night before.

I became aware of an impending migraine once I got back into bed. I was exhausted and strung out from multiple awakenings. My regular morning alarm came and went. All I wanted to do was to stay in bed where it was safe and warm. I didn’t want to do anything. I had client work to do, but didn’t want to touch it. I was tired and angry due to the multiple disruptions to my sleep. My head was starting to hurt even more. Then the fucking doorbell rang. I knew who it was: the insulation people said they’d  need to get into my basement and would ring my bell once they needed to do that. So, up and out of bed I went – cold, tired, headachey and very irritable. I threw a sweatshirt over my pajamas, stumbled downstairs and opened the basement door.

I needed something to get me out of the funk I was in. How about a start-the-day meditation over a cup of coffee or tea? That idea sounded appealing, so I went downstairs, scooped some tea into a tea pot and finished getting dressed while the kettle heated up. Then I poured the tea, portioned out some almonds and then cut up a ripe pear. I took out my cell phone, pulled up my meditation app and sat back to breathe and, eventually, relax. The wounds of the morning faded into the distance as I noted my breathing: in-out, in-out, in-out. I felt my body relax and  my outlook improve. Yes, I could do a little work and do it well. I could also write about my morning (a great way for me to get things out of my system), browse some articles I heard about the day before and enjoy the day.

So, here I am. The migraine aspirin is just now starting to kick in. My chest has unclenched and I’m breathing comfortably. I’m giving myself permission to write and relax, read a little bit and start my day, even though half of it is already gone. I’m munching on almonds and a pear. I think I’ll be okay.