Moving

Today it’s moving day.

Today is the day I leave behind the old and welcome the new, or more accurately, am welcomed into the new. Places we live in are just like people: they are created new and get old, they greet and part, and the relationships they have with those they let in change them completely. We never leave a place the same we were when we first moved in. Not only too many – even insignificant – things have happened that changed the very core of our being, but the space itself has profoundly shaped us. The height of the walls can make you walk slightly taller or bend your spine. The amount of light that comes through your windows can make you appreciate the color of dawn or can burn your skin. The shape and size of your room will give you a certain sense of perspective. Whether you live on the first floor or right under the roof, you will, without a shadow of a doubt, see the world differently. I don’t think this has anything to do with your family’s socioeconomic status or an architect’s whim, it is all about the way you move throughout a given space, whether it has ten or a hundred square meters. 

When you are ready to move, you put your things in boxes and empty the rooms. The space is then bare, completely naked to your eye, and things you thought you knew the shape and color of suddenly transform. A new world of possibilities arises. Because, you see, living in a place is exactly like being in a relationship: one day, when you let your guard down, you realize you were the one to make it happen all along. Nothing ever is given, except the possibility of being.

So moving always means moving on. It doesn’t mean erasing or forgetting. You never forget your first love, you can never erase your childhood, good or bad. It means baring the mere foundation of your relationship, uncovering the first impulse, spotting a pattern, seeing the angles, measuring the heights… and the pitfalls. Once it is naked again, it can be built over once more, indefinitely. 

Today is moving day. I say goodbye to my parent’s house and hello to a new space, one that I will share with the man I love. Only two days ago, when nothing was ready yet, I was scared. I was afraid there would not be enough space for both of us in a small apartment, not with all our stuff, that from now on I would not sleep alone, and that’s not always a good thing, that maybe this was all leading to a tragic finale where se would both understand this moving this was a mistake. I am still a little scared. I still don’t know how we will fit into forty three square meters fifty years of life combined or even if we should try to. But the great magic of moving is that you not only move furniture, you move yourself, litteraly. You get that moving isn’t just about changing an address, or even about inhabiting a new place: it is, and was, and always will be, about shifting space. 

Break down a wall and you shall get yourself a greater perspective. Build upon a roof and you shall enjoy the sun. Drop down the blinds and you shall see a new color of light.

Well, now it is time to breathe, and move.  

 

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Strength, is it?

Do you have any idea of how much strength it takes to love yourself the way you are? Of how much courage it requires to take responsibility for the way your body is shaped? Not only in terms of general fitness and health – I don’t mean accepting your own role in managing your weight and diet – I mean deciding to say to the whole word that you are how you are because you – and you only – have wanted it this way. And embrace it. I’ve learned that it is one thing to “accept” oneself and acknowledge one’s limits and responsibilities. It is another to draw a positive conclusion from it all. Usually what happens is that someone – someone smart – tells you to stop whining and “take matters into your own hands”. You often hear how accepting (big thighs, bleak skin tone, dry hair, poor fashion sense) is the first step toward changing. True, but only if your goal is the change, whatever that might be! When you accept to change, even if you do it for all the right reasons, such as health, well-being, or anything else that is in no way harmful to you or others, you still don’t live by your own rules.

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To “change” is either “to become different” or to “take or use another instead of”, in other words – to trade something you have for something you don’t have and by all means want. How do you know that what you are trading your way of living and being for is right for you? Sure, we all – humans – thrive for health and satisfaction, we all try to exorcise self-destructive behaviors. But when do we know that our behaviors that once gave us joy and happiness have now become self-destructive? Who are those authors, fitness gurus and other dietitians to tell us what is good for us – not to mention when we ourselves often doubt about what we really want out of life? I truly respect and look up to those authors who challenge me to find my own way: this is why I love the Intuitive Eating program, this is why I love doing yoga with Sadie Nardini and listen to Jillian Michaels, even if don’t always agree.

What I am still a bit afraid of, though, is that “change” itself has become the biggest trend of the past few years: not dieting (we are way past that), not fitness (any kind of it), not even all of the “well-being mantras” out there – change itself, as a concept, has flooded our lives through TV, magazines, and other media. I fear – and I’m not easily scared 🙂 – that this “change” everyone is talking about might turn into the worst aspect of our economy: the “change” is so much the mojo in our western world that nothing is supposed to last, everything (from your washing machine to your jean size) is supposed to “get old” and “be replaced”. You know, to get the market flowing.

This is why I’ve come to really not like the word “change”. Whenever I hear it somewhere, I just want to ask – what’s wrong with me? By which standards do you judge me and by which am I to be judged? Is there a perfect model for everyone that we all so desperately need to change? Or is it just the process that’s rewarding? For whom? Certainly for those who live off our hopes and expectations for a “better life”.

Look around you: if the grass is greener is your neighbor’s garden, just water yours, don’t move to a new house. I don’t say that if you have a ton of excess weight because of diabetes, you should just buy bigger clothes and be happy. No, but everyone should try to find out their priorities in life, find out what is best for them, and this way maybe – if necessary – aim not toward “change”, but transformation.

More colors, more light!

Since I have – after endless soul searching – finally decided to go vegan for the second time around and for real, as well as “ditch the dieting” and become an Intuitive Eater, I feel like I’m joining a cult. A cult of happy, colorful eating living, that is. I won’t spend any more time writing about how I’m feeling I am discovering my “true nature” and all of this, I don’t wank to spook it. I actually have something pending on me for the past few months, and lately weeks and days, that, for some reason, I keep procrastinating. I have to write an article for a big scientific journal on a subject that lays out of my field: I don’t know if it is the pressure of being read by a bunch of really smart (and influential) people, or the lack of self-confidence (because, as I said, the article is not about what I usually do), or, deep down, maybe, the idea that the project itself is doomed (you know, intellectually speaking). Quite an imbroglio, if you ask me.

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This is what I had for breakfast today

One of the things I love to do to procrastinate is surfing on the Internet in search of the holy graal of dieting and nutrition. If someone gave me a penny (or a cent) for each minute a day I spent looking for it, reading articles, combining recipes, downloading books, I would certainly be very – very – rich by now. It’s like I always need to ascertain my living food choices, put a label on the way I live diet. The funny thing is (I’m crying inside) is that I am not the kind of person that would normally follow the mainstream. Au contraire, I would rather do everything different than do nothing at all. That might be the problem, though: I am always trying to engage in a new active process, never letting go, but always thriving for action. Moreover, instead of living day by day, if I start something new, it means I am returning my whole life upside down to make it fit in a new pattern of some kind. But what life is there to be returned, if everything I do is just sporadic attempts to begin make a revolution that would last forever, whereas we all know a revolution is by definition fleeting. See, it might be an arrogant thought, but I guess what works in history on the scale of states and nations also does in personal development: once the revolution has been conducted (with blood and terror in history, with sweat and tears in one person’s life), people are faced with several choices to make it permanent: either go on with the idea of a “permanent revolution”, and in this case never stop changing (and change becomes a routine, which leads to nothing, except depression, because the further you go the further your goal goes), or try to make permanent rules based on the experience of change, that is apply those drastic measures that allowed you to turn your life upside down on an every day basis. That’s right, the result is about the same in both cases: dictatorship. No wonder then, that when I get on a new (revolutionary) program, past those few weeks or days of thrilling changes and hopes, I become dictatorial in my desire to maintain those changes for an undetermined period of time. From this point of view, there isn’t any difference between a diet with “phases” and a conventional fast diet: both have end points and, depending on your will-power, destructive potential. 

I actually came nearly to hate the words “revolution” and “evolution”, anything that reminds me of “change”, really. Because there is nothing more destructive than this idea, on so many levels. First of all, you are bound to give up your “old” self, drawing a line between you and you and instilling, if not schizophrenic tendencies, at least such self-doubt that moving forward often becomes impossible. Not to mention the paradoxical advertising all around us that wants us to “become a new you” all the while “finding your true self”. That means what? All those years, months, weeks, days I have been living in a way I shouldn’t have? Everything I did while being the “old/bad me” was also “bad”? The thrill we, modern people, get from always moving forward without looking back is at the same time exhilarating (every day is a new day) and perverse (if you decide that you can re-do what you have done and begin from scratch every new minute, you will not only lose the feeling of continuity but also might not be able to apply the wisdom you learned from past experiences). This sounds extreme. It is in most cases. Not to mention the fact that you actually listen more closely to the person that would want you to “lose your old self” than to yourself indeed. 

So get in touch.

(to be continued…)

The ideal way

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You’ve all heard that perfection is not a good thing. There are people that are addicted to perfection, and that, my friend, is a scary thing. I would know, I am one of those. Moreover, I am one of those perfectionists that would defend themselves from being one (for example, by not showing it explicitly – a perfectionist doesn’t have to be the tidiest smartest skinniest person in the room), but whose illness (if I may call it that) roots deeper. You are a perfectionist if you are always telling yourself that something isn’t finished. Even if you spent a huge amount of time doing something and feeling satisfied, there will always be a voice somewhere deep in your head telling itself: “for now, it’s ok, but I’ll have to get back to it later”. In a twisted way, it can lead to abandoning all hopes for any kind of activity: if you intimately know that what you start is never going to finish, you are from the beginning setting yourself to fail and thus don’t begin at all. In the majority of cases, you still have to do something, because other people are expecting it (like a paper, for example), but you realize in the process (during the night before the deadline) that it would have been so much easier if only you had begun before… And you think again that what you will do this time won’t be the best work, but still good. The best is always to come, you don’t have time (strength) for it right now… It doesn’t mean that what you do is bad, on the contrary. But in your opinion, it is not as good as it should have been. The problem is that the context in which the best can come out never comes, unless you build it on a daily basis. We all have our downfalls and our genius moments (that can be long, up to several weeks for me – I mean downfalls, of course ), but I have noticed that if you have a certain routine, it doesn’t mean you are not progressing. Actually, your progress is steady upwards, instead of resembling a roller-coaster…

Yoga does that for me. There are poses (like the scorpion in the photo) I am not able to do yet without a wall, and even with a wall, I am too scared most of the time. Still, yoga poses are a matter of progressing, of knowing and feeling your body day after day a little more. You cannot work it overnight. And maybe (wild thought there) your way will eventually become a “better one”, meaning you will achieve a kind of perfection. This is not what I am striving for, God forbid. There is no perfection in yoga: there is a right way to more in order to open yourself to the world without injuring yourself. Maybe that is the ultimate wisdom. Like the definition of freedom I learned in school and loved at first sight: “you are free as long as what you do does not prevent others from being free”. I wish I could be as dedicated as I am into yoga to other areas of my life: why not? Why not imagining writing my dissertation in a yogi way? As well as the scorpion pose, to be “right”, it needs the practice : without practicing every day, reading, annotating and thinking, there will be no building of method, and without this foundation, no dissertation at all. As well as a warrior flow, to get strong and powerful, my dissertation needs dedication, on an everyday basis: repeating some of the moves (you need to move your legs to walk, to expand your ribs to breathe, to open a book to read, to search in a dictionary to find the meaning of a word…), learning new ones, repositioning yourself, maybe, if you or parts of your body turn in the wrong direction. Most of all, in both fields, you need to learn to breathe deep and fire up everything: no dissertation has even been read and approved if it wasn’t saying something new, if not original. No practice would be a complete one if it consisted of mindlessly repeating the moves of the previous one… There you go…

I am thankful to Sadie Nardini (here in the picture) for being my teacher (on the Internet), and for giving me the ultimate confidence of listening only to what my mind and body has to say, instead of listening to others and having trouble arranging all the contradictory information…

Reading a blog post about bliss (on Tara Stiles) I was inspired to write a list of things I’d like to do in my “ideal day”. As the other commenters on the blog, things I usually do immediately popped to mind – which is a good sign. Anyway, the ideal day might be the one you’re doing all the stuff you like without thinking that’s on your list, “blissfully unaware” and at the same time so conscious of every tiny event happening in and out of you…

Here is my list (and would love for those of you who read this to share yours)

My ideal day:

teach something to someone: give a lesson, help s.o. with their work/kraft, explain smthg to someone.
learn something new.
write and share something with someone: a thought, a recipe, an idea, a book, an article, an activity.
do yoga
listen to music, even if only on the way to work/back home in my iPod and with my bag weighting a lot. Ideally – turn one or two of my favorite songs on in the morning: the slight problem is that I’m not alone and I don’t want to spoil the fun by disturbing someone who is sleeping.
spent as little as 10 minutes alone with my thoughts, just lay down on the yoga mat, or sit in the chair, close my eyes and day dream.
read a few pages of my favorite book I am currently reading
write an e-mail/letter/text to someone I love and say my love
eat an apple
make cookies and drink tea with mom & dad
read a poem
leaf through every shelf of the library, read something from the first book I open, seizing the moment and not being anxious about the amount of literature I still have to read and have not yet red.
wake up really early, when everybody is still sleeping, the birds are singing and you are alone in the world.
meet a really good friend for coffee, just because you both spare some time on the spot.
eat soup for dinner.
work on my dissertation
first and foremost work on stuff that is urgent. Then use the time to work on the important stuff (dissertation).
take a bath.

Namaste

Organ, origin, organic

I love how my ribs hurt after yoga. Talk about breathing! It’s only been a few hours and I can already feel it, a wonderful reminder of how one of the most important muscles of all, our lungs (I’m not sure it’s a muscle, though, I’m going to look it up), don’t work to their full potential on an everyday basis. If this wasn’t the case, how come it’s sore?

You would tell me a lot of our organs / muscles are not used to full potential every day. Our heart, first and foremost. That is why everybody says how crucial it is to make it work, to breathe oxygen (the cleanest possible), to increase your body temperature in order to get it pumping better, etc. Cardio is strenght – training for the heart. It’s no discovery.

What should be discovered though, is the “normal” rate at which we – meaning, humans – should train all our organs. I am going to go through step by step:

There is this idea that we should all live like cave men. They, our ancestors, set our primary – a.k.a. natural – body functions. And we should try to get as close as possible to those rates (moving before eating and getting our food from primary sources).

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There is the dream of all humanity (but I’m not really sure about that, let’s say western society) to live longer and fight death. In our western societies human life has a great price, partly because our nearest ancestors fought for our rights, partly because our life got better and we fought desease more efficiently. So to live longer, our body has to function well the longer the better. It means that the goal is to make our body function at 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, etc. like at 20. (What about those who at 20 are overweight heavy smokers/drinkers with eczema and depression?). We say that there is a peak in human’s life when the body functions at its best. We all try to reach it. We also confuse (I think) proper body functions with wellness of being. For example, when I was following the Atkins Induction phase, I was full of energy, I burned fat, I was beautiful (from a standart point of view), but my breath also stank like hell. Is what we call a “bad breath” a sign of a properly functioning body? Or not? I sincerely don’t know.

Anyhow, whatever our goal, we will always adapt our body to some kind of routine that will make it work to our advantage. Some people will prefer develop some organs more than others, some muscles more than others. Marathon runners and deep-sea divers do not use their bodies in the same way. Yogis and bodybuilders do not either. I’m not thriving for one side or another. I love weight training and I love yoga. I’m just trying to love myself a tiny bit more everyday so than I can hear my body whispering despite all that surrounding noise.

Namaste

How about... hemp scones!

Living (and tasting) proof that even the most “beh” ingredient can make a great recipe! Don’t really know what this really proves in life (except the common knowledge that the most common stuff can give exceptional results when used properly – but maybe that’s a lot of philosophy for one tiny scone) – don’t know either where my overwhelming need to give proof of everything comes from, but here they are!

Who would have thought? I mean, hemp! 🙂

Here is the recipe:

Mix together

1/2 cup hemp protein

1/2 cup ground flax seeds

2 tbsp coconut flour

1/4 cup wheat bran

1 cup cereal (about 90 gr, I had Nestum Multi fruit, I know it’s not very healthy, but I had to kill the hemp taste and smell as well as clean my cupboards)

2 tsp baking powder

1 pinch salt & baking soda

Add half a stick of soft butter (55 gr) and mix well (in a food processor, for example).

Then transfer to the bowl and pour 150 ml milk (I had vanilla soy milk, same as for the cereal )

Mix with a spatula, add the raisins, the cranberries, the seeds.

On a cooking sheet divide your batter into 8 round shaped scones (or more, or less, or square)

Bake for 20 min.

I guess it would be perfect for breakfast with a little butter and jam. I will try it like this in a couple of days (normally it is best to freeze because of the flax seeds in them), tomorrow I’m having homemade muffins for breakfast, with raisins, cranberries, walnuts and chocolate chips, s’il vous plaît!

 

 

Me, oneself and I

Have you ever tried to take a side-on picture of yourself? When you look at such a picture (and moreover when you edit one, making it in the end look all the more uncommon) you cannot immediately say – or think – “this is me”. When you look at yourself in the mirror, you usually recognize yourself, and with this recognition comes a self-awareness that Lacan considered being a major step on the path of becoming a human being. This “mirror state” happens around three years, when a child begins to know that the face he sees in the mirror is not a stranger but himself. But what part of our mind actually grasps that the face we are seeing is ours? And is it, really?

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Does a young human compare himself to the image in the mirror? Does he understand that this is his reflection because he knows that the clothes on that body are the clothes on this body, the features of that face are the features of this face, and the gestures of that person are his own. There, the important word is “his”. The “mirror state” is the one major step towards becoming an adult (meaning a grown human being) because it teaches the sense of property. The only way I can recognize myself in a mirror is if I am aware of what is mine and how it looks. I know this is me and not a stranger. I no longer only feel myself being, I also interact with the rest of the world, I include myself in the surrounding space and feel the shape of my body as I begin to explore what lies around and beyond myself.

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If this state is properly completed, the young person should not have any problem recognizing himself in any situation. One can no longer merge with the world, because of one’s individuality that is now shaped in the form of one’s body. One cannot either abstract oneself completely because one understands that one exists only as part of something bigger than him.

With the consciousness of being an individual who can recognize himself in a mirror must come a sense of property of one’s whole body and mind. When you see yourself and recognize yourself, you are able to say in any situation “this is me, this is mine”. If this is true, the harmony and balance we are all thriving for would mean returning to the mirror state: finding an inner peace is nothing more that finding that root that connects you to yourself and to the world, making you are your own mirror. Amazing, don’t you think?

Well, imagine taking a picture of yourself. When you see a portrait of yourself, you know it is you. You recognize your features, the color of your skin and hair, the clothes you wear. Today, with all the possibilities we have for instant pictures, pressing the button on the Photo booth app or on your Ipad is even easier than walking to the nearest mirror and looking into it. Your mind now has to work twice as hard at the little game of recognition you are constantly playing with yourself: you recognize yourself on the screen of your phone or computer (this works as a mirror, and although it all seems very natural, there is a second when your mind wanders – literally – in the picture, looking for those signs that will link it to yourself); then you recognize yourself a second later, whilst looking at the picture you’ve just taken, that is now still, that is you (because you know it) and not you any more – it was you a second ago. This is why a picture, a photograph doesn’t work in the same way as a mirror: it doesn’t show you the reality as it is, but it shows it to you, from a certain angle, in a certain frame, as it was one second and not the next. Technology allows you simultaneously to get closer to your inner you and to watch yourself from a distance, put yourself on a timeline and lead you to a level of abstraction only art is capable of.

Though frenetic picture taking is not art, the estrangement you get from looking at yourself from an angle you couldn’t reach in a mirror (that is, a side-on picture) is pretty much the same as the one you get from looking at the reality as if you saw it for the first time. The danger of it is quite different, though. By transforming a picture of you to a point where you’re not able to recognize yourself, you end up seeing yourself as a work of art and thinking that you can use the material to craft whatever you want. But can you, really?

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The motivation audio programs I listen to suggest that I “picture myself thin”, or “at my goal weight”; in other terms, by picturing myself as I want to be, I give my mind a signal and a goal to attain, which supposedly will make my body shape itself like I intend it to. Only by looking at myself from a distance, from the side, can I make this kind of transformation happen. Unfortunately, the picture I have in mind, the one I try fit myself into, is not a genuine one. It is a picture I have picked up somewhere in the media, on the Internet, in my mind, maybe, when I was a child and people had certain expectations for me. If I have never been fit before becoming “unfit”, it is all the more difficult to picture myself “the good way”: without any point of comparison, I can only base my expectations on other people’s achievements. It is very true that looking at one’s profile is useful: it makes you realize that – almost always – you don’t see yourself the same way others see you. And if not for the look of other people, we all should take sido-on pictures of ourselves from time to time, just to make us see that we are not the center of the universe. But this should be the only reason. Going back to the mirror state and finding that “inner reflection” shall be the one thing to do to recognize oneself in the dream picture we are trying to sketch of ourselves. Of course, this means putting aside all considerations of size, numbers, looks, perfection even that other people live for and mostly use to their advantage (that is make money on it). This is harder than it looks. Standing up for oneself (and for the child in you), trying not to use any terms of comparison to describe your relations with other people (he or she might be “bigger”, “slimmer”, “fatter”, “better-looking” than you), because the only relationship you should have with the world is the one that allows you to find your place in it, to move enough things around to fit in it (and not the other way around), and to match  its inner limits to your outer features.

If conclusion, don’t let anything (neither physical nor mental) stand in the way of your “being to” the world; avoiding melting in while defining our own limits is, correct me if I’m wrong, one of the main purposes of human existence. So rather than looking for answers and ways to change (what is change, by the way? – this for another post maybe) in other people’s lives, look into yourself: no one has the same features or the same shape (and really it would be stupid to want things to be different – the mirror state teaches us individuality), no one interacts with the world in the same way as you do. Look in the mirror and tell me what are your links.