Trust Thyself

The other day I took Miss G to the salon for some facial hair tidying. As we're leaving, the aesthetician says to me, "Listen, I have to thank you."

"For what?" I say.

"Well, last week when you were here you asked for a pillow because you said it felt like you were tilted downhill. And since then I've been using a pillow for everyone, and when I ask all my clients they say 'Oh yeah, this is so much more comfortable, thank you!' So, thank you. I never even realized. Everyone is so much happier now!"

My first reaction was to feel a little embarrassed that I opened my big mouth in the first place. And then I thought, wait a second. All her other clients were uncomfortable. ALL of them. Yet no one else said a word. They would rather be uncomfortable, and trust that Ali the Aesthetician knew better than they about their own comfort level. Not that she isn't delightful but...

Why didn't anyone else speak up?

Speaking up is something I've been working on. Those who have known me a while are probably laughing right now... yes, okay, despite my opinionated ways, I DO have problems speaking up. About some things. Mostly, speaking up in the moments when it's both most vital and most challenging to do so.

We are so willing to subjugate our own instincts to an external authority, whether it's an aesthetician, teacher, doctor, or whoever. What makes us think that an outside party knows what's better for us than... well, us?

On my list of things to do this year: trust myself more. Trust that I know how to be happy better than anyone else knows what I should be doing to become happy. Even if it's as small a detail as asking for a pillow while getting my eyebrows waxed.

What will you speak up for this year?


Fighting Arthritis

For a couple years, I've had nagging hip pain. The longer it lasts, the more convinced I am that it's arthritis. This is crazy depressing, because I am way too young for that crap.

After some X-rays, the good news is that I don't have arthritis in my hips.

It's in my spine.

Externally, the warning signs are easily missed.

"Funny, the damage doesn't look as bad from out here." - C3PO

Miss G spotted it on my films before I did.

"Oooh Mama! Aren't those glowing spots arthritis??" "Gaah, what?!"

And it'd be one thing to just have the doctor hand you an invisible diagnosis, but to see it in real life was a little... chilling.

I've been collecting this for years now.

Vertebrae are supposed to run straight across. Mine, as you can see, have some jagged points combined with some eroded corners. The white-limned edges? Those shouldn't be there. That's all inflammation.

My chiropractor says she can have my spine fixed in six months. I mean, the arthritis is permanent, but once the rest of my vertebrae are in proper alignment, the condition won't be as exacerbated. (In theory. I'll keep you posted, Internet.)

In cases of osteoarthritis, one of the first lines of attack is exercise. This goes against our instincts because it freaking hurts to move arthritic joints around. They're stiff and reluctant, more so after long periods of inactivity, like while you're sleeping. Or after sitting through a Godfather marathon over Christmas break.

Yet you have to fight that instinct and move anyway. The pain unclenches eventually, though it takes a while. And it does feel better in the end.

Getting arthritic happens under our noses, whether it's metaphoric or literal. When there are sections of your life that grow rigid and resistant, that's the time you need to exercise them the most-- before they fuse into immobility and cause more severe damage.

I'm beginning my new year by bringing my spine into alignment along with the rest of my life. Work out the creaks and kinks. Infuse stagnation with movement and fluidity. Not just my spine, but throughout the rest of my life as well.

Murky pond or rushing river. Which provides the sweeter water?


New Year's Sankalpa

Potential is one of my favorite things. The unwritten page (or, uh, blog post), unwalked trails, uncracked book spines, unwatched movies. And January 1-- cold winter air edging toward longer, warmer days-- what better landscape to revel in potential? It's why we make resolutions, right?

Exactly, C.S. Lewis. Exactly.

I don't make resolutions, although I heard about the one word New Year's thing and I really like that. My words worked for me in amazing ways the last two years. This year's word?

fru·i·tion  [froo-ish-uh n] -- noun
1. attainment of anything desired; realization; accomplishment. After years of hard work, all her efforts were finally coming into fruition.
2. enjoyment, as of something attained or realized.

3. state of bearing fruit.

The Sanskrit word, sankalpa, means "resolve; will; determination." Much like a New Year's resolution, a sankalpa is an intention you set for yourself. Unlike a New Year's resolution, you focus on letting go rather than gaining.

Improving your life is not a matter of lacking something external. You improve your life by eliminating whatever's holding you back. A good friend delivered this much-needed message to me a couple years ago. I even wrote a post on moving out the old to make room for the new.

That marinating concept comes into realization this year.

The tools you need already exist within; you just need to dust 'em off. Plant seeds, then be willing to step back and practice thankful observation of new growth. Appreciate your harvest. Revel in what you already have. Savor what your efforts are producing.

Enjoyment, as of something attained or realized.

I am outstanding at starting projects. I'm a great idea girl. Fantastic at inspiration. I have, at any given moment, approximately 86 irons in the fire.

Completion, however... the finishing, the maturation, the see-it-through, the fruition... that part has always eluded me.

This year, I'm ready to clear off the crap that's prevented planted seeds from erupting into vitality. Foundations laid will become reality, not just another faded plan.

Attainment. Realization. Accomplishment.

Bumper-crop, heavy-boughed, juicy reality.

What are you letting go of this year?