Posted in Aging, Art journal, Beginnings, Change, Covid-19, Earth, Eastern Shore, Exploring, Gifts, Gratitude, Heartfulness, Home, In these strange times, Life, Love, Maryland, Mindfulness, Nature, Photography, Poetry, Portals & Pathways, Sky, Spirit, Spiritual practices, The Body Beautiful, Walking & Wandering, Water, Winter, Wonder, Woods, Word/Theme for the Year, Words, Yoga

Joy in the body

A weekend sunset at the Point.

Winter: Tonight: Sunset
by David Budbill

Tonight at sunset walking on the snowy road,
my shoes crunching on the frozen gravel, first

through the woods, then out into the open fields
past a couple of trailers and some pickup trucks, I stop

and look at the sky. Suddenly: orange, red, pink, blue,
green, purple, yellow, gray, all at once and everywhere.

I pause in this moment at the beginning of my old age
and I say a prayer of gratitude for getting to this evening

a prayer for being here, today, now, alive
in this life, in this evening, under this sky.

(“Winter: Tonight: Sunset” by David Budbill, from While We’ve Still Got Feet. © Copper Canyon Press,  2005.)

A misty morning in the woods.

I took the past week off and practiced rest.  It’s not something I normally do, especially at the beginning of the year.  When we unwrap the new calendar (the one we traditionally receive at Christmas that is full of pictures of our granddaughters), it’s difficult not to get caught up in the energy of wanting to rush into something fresh and shiny and new.  Let’s change all the things!  Lose weight!  Go to the gym!  Subject ourselves to a detox diet!!  Write that book!  Learn that language!!  Come on!  Let’s go!!!

Been there, done that.  For decades.  If I step back and have a good look, it’s all about marketing and consumption.  Money, money, money.  Buy the book that gives you the details on the detox diet or sign up for an online program.  Pay for a gym membership you probably won’t use.  Join Weight Watchers.

A softening.

There are various studies out there showing that our new year’s resolutions don’t last very long.  Some say most give up by January 12th.  Others stretch it out to February 1st.

The storm before Christmas left a mess in the woods. No matter. Mother Nature will take care of it.

Change doesn’t usually happen with new year’s resolutions.  That’s not to say that some folks don’t follow through.  There are those rare birds out there who build on the newness, push through the doldrums, and build momentum by practicing every day.  I’ve been there, done that, too.  Not with new year’s resolutions but at other times.  I quit smoking on January 19th (2001).  I gave up alcohol on July 3 (2017).  I don’t remember the date I decided to take on the 1,000 Day Project by doing a morning practice every day.  I can tell you that I’m currently on day 855 and that I’m happy I took on the project.  There is joy in my daily practice, joy in the discipline of it.  Or, as I mentioned in last week’s post, I’m practicing the mantra my heart came up with of “joy in the body, peace in the bones.”  Lately it’s changed to “I am joy in the body, I am peace in the bones, I am love in each and every cell of this being.”

On the way out.

Resting for the first week of January was sorely needed.  I was thoroughly exhausted from the holidays and from all the traveling I had done beginning in October when we went to North Carolina to visit with friends.  I have no regrets about the travel.  It’s just that I was tired.  Bone deep tired.  Taking a week to rest, reflect, and rejuvenate without resolutions or goals or worrying about productivity was exactly what I needed.  I also recognize that I am privileged in being able to take a week to rest.  Many people do not have that luxury.  I wish it was something we could all do when we need to.

Leaving the woods.

I spent the week taking slow walks, listening to the birds and the wind and the water.  I read what I felt like reading.  I did my yoga and meditation practices.  I cooked and ate good, nourishing food.  I held my face up to the sun on sunny days, acting like a cat and finding the sunny spots where I could sit and warm up.  And I found this:  Journal As Altar.  I was so intrigued that I purchased the download of the Journal As Altar Starter Workshop.  I’m so glad I did.  I love the concept of perceiving of and practicing in my journal as an altar, each page as a prayer.

At the Point on a morning when the water was hidden by the fog.

I started to ease back into things over the weekend and now I feel ready to move more, work on a few of our winter projects around here, and begin some small changes I’ve had in mind for a while.  Hydrate better, for one thing.  I used to be good at that.  I’m not sure when or why I stopped drinking water the way I used to.  I’m starting my day with a hot lemon water and keeping an insulated bottle of warm water nearby for sipping.

I’ve been playing with kundalini yoga again.  I needed something to rev me up a little.  Otherwise, I become like a boulder this time of year.  Lethargic and hard to move.  Kundalini yoga can rev a person up a lot!  I was almost manic after a couple of days of practice.  All that hyperventilating and repetitive movement do get the blood flowing.  It’s good to do once in a while.  I don’t think I need a steady diet of it.

The water is out there somewhere.

I also took some time to start decluttering, mostly my email.  Near the end of 2022, I’d signed up for a lot of new year challenges (it all sounds so good!) and newsletters.  The challenges are easily ignored if I find I don’t want to do them and that did tend to be the case for most of them.  Unsubscribe, as needed.  The newsletters, however, have been getting out of control for a while.  They bring up this question:  Are we moving from blogging to a Substack (cyber)world?

My hope is that we are not.  I understand that people need to find a way to make money.  But I don’t understand how anyone can possibly afford to subscribe and support all those who have decided to move from blogging to Substack.  Yes, there are free options.  That’s nice and just about right in terms of the time needed to read the newsletters.  Most of them are quite long.  Getting a free one once a week, once every two weeks, or once a month, is enough.  It has to be.  I cannot pay for and support everyone.

I love the way the fog softens the landscape.

One other thought before I wrap this up: the body as home.  We’ve all heard the saying that the body is a temple, but I’ve been thinking of it more as a home.  It is, after all, where I live, where I abide, and it is the body that allows me to be here, now, writing this blog post, smelling the bread that is baking in the oven, and experiencing this life.  I think I am more a home-body than a temple-body.  When I see my body as my home, I want to be comfortable in it rather than try to adorn it as I might a temple.  I want to care for this body and not see it as too precious to truly live in and experience.  (I am reminded of when we renovated the house in the Bogs and we had hickory floors installed.  I was afraid to walk on them because they were so beautiful.  The man that installed them said to me, “They are floors!  They are made to be walked upon and spilled on and used!”  He was right, and they did become more beautiful with age.)  Wear and tear is to be expected as I age.  I want to honor that, too, while at the same time seeing it as part of the comforts of this home.  I love the feel of a well-worn flannel shirt or sweater.  Why not the feel of a well worn body?

You can see where the sand piled up during the storm before Christmas.

Thank you so much for dropping by and visiting with me today.  Let’s meet out at the Point for sunset this evening.  Sunset is scheduled for 5:01 PM.  It’s chilly and breezy.  You’ll probably want to wear a coat and hat.  Boots and gloves are not a bad idea, either.  The ground is still pretty wet and mushy.  I think Mother Nature has finally moved us out of the drought situation we were in at the end of last year.

Please be safe, be well, and take a little time to Just Be in your body, your home.

Stillness.

A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy:  3,061)  Music and dancing and singing and chanting.  What better way to be in the body and in the moment than dancing and singing??  One of my fellow students in the Yoga Sutras class shared this playlist with us.  If you have time, go have a listen.  It might entice you to get up and dance. 3,062)  This beautiful day.  3,063)  A week to rest and recharge.  3,064)  Finally using the lovely art journal I bought last August.  (It’s this one.  I was treating it as too good to use.  Now it’s a home altar that will contain and support, celebrate and mourn.)  3,065)  Clouds, wind, the way the breeze moves the clouds across the sky.

This reminds me of an enso, a symbol in Zen Buddhism meaning circle, or sometimes, circle of togetherness, or a symbol of a Zen state of mind.
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Author:

Robin is... too many things to list, but here is a start: an artist and writer; a photographer and saunterer; a daughter and sister and granddaughter; a friend, a partner, a wife, a mother, and a grandmother; a gardener, a great and imaginative cook, and the creator of wonderful sandwiches.

12 thoughts on “Joy in the body

  1. I love your photography! And that you’re so inward thinking. I’ve never been happy doing yoga…mostly I feel like I can’t breathe, and I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to be holding your breath like I was while doing it!

    I’ve never heard of Substack. What is that? Is it like some tutorials I’ve seen on YouTube, where you can pay to get more content? I have not paid for any of the tutorials I’ve watched so far….except the Milky Way class…there’s so much to learn that’s free out there.

    I am glad you took time to rest. I feel so lucky that I can read when I want, sleep when I want, paint when I want…mostly anyway. Husband is not too well, so his needs always supersede what I want to do, but mostly, at least at this point, I have a lot of ‘free’ time.

    Band starts tomorrow…a whole new concert to prepare for. I’m the librarian and spent the last week getting folders of music ready for our musicians. But after the first couple weeks I am not so busy there either. Looking forward to music.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Dawn. 🙂 I love your photography and thinking, too. I had to chuckle at holding your breath during yoga. I used to do the same thing. It’s funny because it sometimes feels as though the whole point of yoga is to breathe.

      Substack describes itself as helping anyone set up a blog or newsletter and earn money doing it. Which is all well and good except it’s also a means of charging people to read your blog or newsletter. Also all well and good if that is your livelihood. The problem is that several people I know who used to blog are now using Substack and you have to pay (subscribe) to read some of their stuff (or all of it). I would gladly pay to subscribe to one or two blogs/newsletters (they only charge about $6/month), but what happens when you want to subscribe to more? On WordPress, I can read 10 blogs without paying a total of $60/month to read those ten blogs. So, if the trend is to move blogs over to Substack, my question is: How will we all afford to read as many blogs as we read right now? I’m not sure I’m explaining this well, especially since I think the concept is good in many ways (no ads, for one thing).

      I hope your husband feels better soon.

      Your band experiences always sound like so much fun.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Outstanding images that fit the season and the tone of your post. Then again, that’s what we are used to with you. 🙂

    There’s a commonality linking your examples. You didn’t need to use the gym or diet programs – you ha a decision to take change of your life and make changes … and you continue to do so. Well done, Robin!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Frank. 🙂 There was a time I paid for the gym memberships, etc. It still tempts me from time to time, to buy into another self-improvement program. I’m getting good at saying no. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s wonderful that you had a week to rest, reflect, and recharge, Robin. I can’t remember the last time I did that, but sometimes I do take a day off to just read or do nothing, and even that helps.

    I didn’t realize there were many WP bloggers going to Substack.
    I follow Heather Cox Richardson on Substack for free. She’s probably the only person I’d consider paying to read.

    There are lots of other things to comment on in this post, but I’ll just end by saying the photos are beautiful, as always. The final one is intriguing–is the circle closing or opening in the way a group lets in new people?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. To be industrious is a good thing, but rest is important, too. Yes, a privilege and what a shame. All people deserve some rest. Love your notion of homebody in all senses of the word. Your story of the new floor was quite instructive. I would have felt the same as you did, but the man who installed the floor was right.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love some of the photos of paths–colors, textures, a way out. I also like the idea of the body as home. I’ve never been comfortable with the temple bit. Care for it, maintain it, enjoy it, live in it–I think it’s a good way to think about it. Glad you rested. Sometimes you need to. Every once in a while, I spend a day in my pajamas. It feels like luxury (and is, of course).

    Like

  6. Robin, your water photos are exceptionally pretty this week — I love the softness of the fog. I know what you mean about taking time to rest. I’ve long believed that if we don’t rest when we’re tired, our bodies will demand we rest with some sort of illness (at this time of year, cold/flu, etc.) I don’t do new year’s resolutions either — no sense setting myself up for failure when I tire of something!

    Like

  7. I enjoyed looking at all your misty scenes, so peaceful and hydrating for the earth. Thinking of a well worn body and how I used to love looking at my grandmother’s delicate aging hands. Now mine are looking more and more like hers did. Treasuring the gentleness and strength they possess now. Wear and tear has a beauty all it’s own. Lovely, thoughtful post, Robin.

    Like

Comments are delightful and always appreciated. I will respond when I can (life is keeping me busy!), and/or come around to visit you at your place soon. Thank you!

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