Quiet places (and my noisy mind)

I transport myself to a quiet place in nature, not necessarily truly quiet, but a place that calms my mind. Listening to the sound of flowing water, my nervous system feels immediately soothed.

I have often had a “noisy” mind, a busy mind, an exuberant and thoughtful (also thought-full) mind. I have been rewarded for this in many ways. And this over-active mind is also a source of suffering all too often.

Learning to calm myself through yoga, running or dance and through journaling, has helped to slow the racing thoughts. I sometimes forget these practices, like anyone, when my mind becomes triggered by a painful thought. At those times, I feel myself bracing and going into “defense” mode, constricting and pushing back.

A video of my favorite quiet place in nature (in Schroeder, MN).

When I can take a breath or two and recognize that I’m not actually under attack by anything physical, and I’m responding to a painful thought or belief, I can allow my emotional response without reacting.

I keep training myself to do this, and re-training myself. It’s a lifelong journey, it seems. And maybe that’s what it means to be human, this acknowledgement of unhealed wounds that need tending and self-compassion. We may realize intellectually that they are no longer threats, and yet they still activate a primal place within our nervous system.

When they trigger fear or sadness or another painful emotion, there is a cascade of “stories” that usually follows (for me). And then that feedback loop can lead to even more painful thoughts. I bring myself back again to my physical sensations, my senses both internal and external, and re-ground myself.

The noisy mind is still there. And now I access a place where the “watcher” can lovingly and compassionately see the pattern, and offer comfort. Nothing has gone wrong. This is what minds do, generate thoughts like bubbles in a stream. They are not necessarily true, particularly the painful ones.

Stepping back, I access that bubbling stream knowing all is well. A bit of distance, a bit of perspective, and the noisy mind calms itself.

Be well, dear readers.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Bullies on the playground

On the playground of life, there are always bullies. Sadly, though adults might be expected outgrow this insecure need to dominate others around them to feel safe, some never do.

Watching this play out at a national level has been something to witness. I am one of the many people who breathed a sigh of relief last Saturday as it became clear that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris had won the electoral vote. This was an indication, both from the popular vote and the electoral vote, that Americans are ready for the adults to resume control of our democracy.

Though clearly the bully-in-chief is not ready to vacate. No, indeed as stated prior to the election, the current occupier of the office had told us he would accept no outcome but victory.

Taken on a walk back in June 2020.

While some are shocked that he refuses to use any modicum of decency and responsible leadership, most of us expected this to happen. Not that we hoped for it, but it is not the shock that some journalists seem to express for this behavior.

Bullies do not concede because they cannot accept any reality that brushes them aside as irrelevant. The ego of a bully is fragile, driven by fear and narcissism. And yet: it has cowed many other Republicans into remaining quiet, or to deferring to being “within his rights” to investigate non-substantiated allegations of fraud.

They are scared. They know what can happen to non-loyalists. And they know that a peaceful transfer of power is likely given our constitution. Our institutions of democracy are not so fragile that we need to spend our energy worrying, tempting though it might be.

These days I need to carefully manage my news consumption, and limit it to daily doses such as “Consider This” from NPR. Otherwise, I can “go down the rabbit hole” of media. I realize that is unhealthy, and it does not serve me.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage across the nation, and rural hospitals are especially challenged during this time, I am sad that the obstruction of this transition only hurts Americans. While I am relieved that the adults will resume control of the office in 2 months, I also grieve the losses we will face in the meantime.

Stay safe and sane, friends.

Democracy has not (yet) failed us.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Bracing myself

After the announcement of Biden’s pick for VP, Senator Kamala Harris, I spent some time perusing social media and the interwebs for the chatter. I’ve been waiting for a MONTH for this announcement and my first thought was: FINALLY, the decision is made.

Harris is a great candidate. I was a fan of Elizabeth Warren and was disappointed when she had dropped out of her bid for President. I had not paid attention to the other candidates as much, so I did some research and read some opinion pieces.

First woman VP Kamala Harris
Photo credit link: Politico

I found myself going to the fridge multiple times, getting ice cream and then wanting to snack. Typically when I do this, it means something is “up” emotionally – like anxiety, boredom or some other troubling emotion. I realized I was bracing myself for the inevitable misogyny and harsh judgement that always happens toward ambitious women.

Indeed some articles had this tone. And of course the harasser-in-chief called her “nasty” to Joe Biden, which is a typical way that he demeans women, so that wasn’t surprising. I started wishing for a “Nasty Women Get Sh*t Done” t-shirt or something…

Once I realized my own anxiety on behalf Harris, I slowed myself down and asked what I was feeling. Sometimes those us of with high empathy skills take on too many emotions that are not “ours.” So I calmed down, got out my laptop, and started writing. At least writing is a distraction from the misogyny, and a way I process emotion (healthier than overindulging on food).

I am excited for the choice and the fact that  Kamala Harris brings a wealth of experience and also a new perspective to the highest office in this country. I was very unenthusiastic about Biden’s campaign until I heard he had pledged to select a highly qualified woman to be his running mate.

Now I find myself grateful for my yoga training and taking deep breaths. I hope this team can defeat the menace that occupies the office at this time. If Americans cannot see how much we reap what we sow, we deserve to go down in flames.

***

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

 

 

 

 

Why did it happen this way?

It did not have to happen this way. But a lack of competent leadership will do that. The U.S. has about a quarter of the worldwide COVID-19 cases. This puts “we’re number one” in a new light, no?

Daily cases July 16, 2020
Snapshot from Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center 7/16/2020

Don’t do it for yourself. Masks are not worn to protect you. Masks are worn to protect your community from small micro droplets that are released when you talk, cough or sneeze.

They don’t protect people completely, but they do slow the spread. And the main reason we want to slow the spread is so that hospitals are able to deal with the influx of cases. Also, maybe some of us care about human life and dignity.

My sister is a nurse. I don’t want her to have to deal with the results (y)our carelessness. Rural hospitals do not have the supplies that leaders claimed they would have. They must reuse the supplies they have. This is not a good situation.

Humans have difficulty with exponents. We think in linear ways, so these “hockey stick” curves work are not easily grasped. We saw this with the last big recession in 2008-2009. One minute it seemed things were fine: everyone was making money on flipping houses. And the next minute: financial disaster. Some saw the signs and warned us. But most people partied until they got laid off.

I get it. Or I try to be patient anyway.

Things don’t become serious until they are, well, SERIOUS. 

With nearly 14 million cases as of this writing, and almost 600,000 deaths so far attributed to this virus, one might think we could get a clue.

I know this is a rant.

I try to be more measured than this most days. My anger and disgust at the self-centered behavior I keep seeing, particularly in national leadership, is usually something I control. I’m a yoga teacher, for cripes sake. I meditate daily.

And yet.

My rage at incompetent leaders. Cannot. Be. Contained. Some days.

Wear your mask, wash your hands, keep your distances when possible. 

Your community thanks you for thinking beyond yourself.

***

cristy@meximinnesotana.com