…But I wonder if the virus is a symptom, that we’ve actually been ill for decades and are only now struggling to name the cause of this plague. Of course, politicians argue over what’s most profitable: prevention or the cure. We were contemplating the ripple effects of the virus: who might slip into poverty, what it would mean to lose our loved ones and not be able to publicly mourn them. The run on toilet paper and bottled water, on meat and guns, tells you everything you need to know about our national character.
~ Amaud Jamaul Johnson, And God Laughs
Recent studies and discoveries increasingly point out that we heal primarily in and through the body, not just through the rational brain. We can all create more room, and more opportunities for growth, in our nervous systems. But we do this primarily through what our bodies experience and do—not through what we think or realize or cognitively figure out.
~ Resmaa Menakem, My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies
I meant to post a Monday Meander yesterday and then got caught up in processing tomatoes. M the Younger gave us about 20 lbs. of roma tomatoes from his experimental market garden. Most were barely ripe when we brought them home. By Sunday, they were looking like they might go from perfectly ripe to rotten within another few days if I didn’t do something with them.
It felt good to do something so productive. It’s a lot of work at the time, but there is something so satisfying in standing back and looking at the finished products, all ready to go into the freezer. Once upon a time, back in the old days, I used to can tomatoes. Now I turn them into sauce and freeze them. I gave some of my canning equipment and jars to M the Younger since he is now growing and preserving food. It’s easier, for me, to freeze stuff. I don’t have to worry so much about sanitizing everything and wonder about whether or not the lid sealed properly.
We now have about six quarts of spaghetti sauce awaiting our dining pleasure. I made two quarts of a roasted tomato sauce that we used on homemade pizza over the weekend. We didn’t need all two quarts, of course, so I will use the rest in chili or something. Some of the tomatoes went into salads we ate with our meals. They were particularly good with fresh basil and a balsamic dressing.
I’ve been following Meghan Genge via her email newsletters, and now on Instagram, for several years. She recently completed 1000 days of writing (something akin to Morning Pages), and has created a workbook, The 1000 Days Project, for her newsletter subscribers. (You can find a link to her blog post about it and information about the workbook here.)
As you might have guessed, the idea of a project this big is very appealing to me. That is why, after giving it much thought, I won’t be doing it. Did that surprise you? Yeah, me too.
The project reminds me of something my yoga teacher wrote/said in her course, The Art of Self Care. She posed the question (and I’m paraphrasing here so it might be slightly off): What would it look like if you did sun salutations for the next ten years? This was part of the idea, the possible goal, of being able to do sun salutations when you’re 80 years old (which would be longer than ten years for me, but you get the idea). It was also an exercise in thinking about the process itself. What, indeed, would it look like if you did _________________ for the next ten years? Fill in the blank with something that calls to you. Meghan calls it Soul Work.
I’m reading the book The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris. It was suggested reading for me as part of my individualized yoga study. I forget why it was recommended but I think the conversation revolved around the contemplative lifestyle and how I have that built in to my life here on the ranch because we are so isolated. The book has surprised me in a number of ways, not least of which is that I am enjoying it and find it hard to put down. I was not expecting that from a non-fiction book, especially one written from a Christian perspective. Christianity and I have our issues. Or we did. Or still do, depending on the form it takes.
Somewhere in the beginning of the book, Ms. Norris writes about faith, comparing it to poetry (Ms. Norris is a poet). Norris compares faith with poetry as a process instead of as a product. I’ve spent a lot of my life thinking of faith as a product, as something I should have or be able to acquire. Norris writes:
Poets are immersed in process, and I mean process not as an amorphous blur but as a discipline. The hard work of writing has taught that in matters of the heart, such as writing, or faith, there is no right or wrong way to do it, but only the way of your life. Just paying attention will teach you what bears fruit and what doesn’t. But it will be necessary to revise — to doodle, scratch out, erase, even make a mess of things — in order to make it come out right.
Faith is something I learned during my year-long challenge to get outside, every day, and write about it, every day. By paying attention and by having the discipline to move towards my edges, to push myself a little, to resist the “I don’t feel like doing this today,” I learned to have faith in the process itself. I learned a lot throughout the experience, about myself, about nature, about the paths I was walking, about life. The process, not the goal/fruits/results, became sacred in and of itself. I learned even more throughout the yoga teacher training. While finishing was a big deal in its own way (a graduation of sorts), it was the journey/process that I learned the most from, via the teacher, the teachings, my own practices, willingness, and discipline, and the community we formed. Quitting smoking and quitting drinking were also pilgrimages, so to speak, that taught me how important the journey and process are because those are things you do one day at a time. You can’t be eyeing forever and ever. That will drive you nuts.
You’re probably wondering why I wrote that I won’t be doing The 1000 Days Project. Well, truth be told, I have embarked on just such a journey without calling it that. I wondered what it might be like, what *I* might be like, if I did my personal practice every day at sunrise for the foreseeable future. The personal yoga practice I’ve been given can and does change, every day. I add to it as needed. I slow it down, speed it up, do whatever it is that feels right at the time I am doing it. Some days I do more, some days I do less. A personal practice is supposed to change and evolve. The basics stay the same, but I can improvise based on what my body-mind needs.
I’m so glad Meghan’s generous offer of a free workbook came when it did. I’ve spent a little time today looking it over. She includes some gentle reminders that when you approach your edges, you also approach your resistance (your no’s). She writes about the gift of your no’s in a way that turned them around for me, to see them as gifts that offer an opportunity to explore rather than an excuse to take the day off or quit.
So, I guess in a way, I am doing The 1000 Days Project, one day at a time. If you were to practice something that calls to you every day for 100 days or 1000 days, what would it be?
Thank you so much for visiting with me today. Don’t forget about Walktober. Time flies and it’s likely it will be here sooner than you think. Think about participating and where/how you might participate. In the meantime, let’s go watch a sunset at the Point. Sunset is scheduled for 7:23 PM. It’s hot and humid today. Might be buggy, too, although I think the breeze might keep the bugs from finding us.
Please be safe, be well, and be kind.
A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy: 1,526) Half-day retreats. I’m doing half-day retreats this week, starting my days with the sunrise, yoga, meditation, slow and meditative walks, and dharma talks. 1,527) Getting back into the rhythm of the day, and the rhythm of the seasons as we experience them here. 1,528) The gift of attention. 1,529) The gift of my no’s. 1,530) Surprises, in whatever form they come.