Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ooh, Ooh, She's Crafty!

Guess what I got?! A SEWING MACHINE! Not just a sewing machine, but a really awesome, old school, retro sewing machine. A Singer, model number 717, from I think the early 70's. My mother gave it to me when I asked her if I could borrow it. Now, do I know how to sew? Nope. I did take a home economics class in Jr. High, all those many moons ago. I have to admit, if my memory serves me correctly... well, I didn't do so well. But I was young and had no interest. I had other things on my mind, like hating the cheerleaders and listening to Nirvana.

NOW, though. NOW, I am 31 and I want to sew. In particular, I want to make Aromatherapy eye pillows, for headaches and relaxation. I had one of these once, who knows where the heck it is now. I want to make them, in all kinds of pretty colors and patterns. Maybe sell them, on Etsy and at flea markets and craft festivals. I'm getting ahead of myself, now. I can barely sew a straight line.

I went to the library and checked out some books on sewing and sewing machines, I've watched some you tube videos, I'm determined to learn this, and learn it well.

I went to the fabric store, and I fell in love with all the different fabrics, designs, colors, buttons, patterns. I started thinking past just making and selling eye pillows. How about boo boo bags for kids, meditation cushions, throw pillows. Bags, and a really funky quilt.

Here's something about me, though. I tend to get these really awesome ideas, and go all crazy, and I suck at follow through. Within the past year I have spent money that I don't really have on candle making supplies, jewelry making supplies, and a starter kit for selling pure romance. I think I jump into things to quickly, try to do too much at once, not being ready and then getting frustrated when it isn't as easy as I hoped.

I want this to be different. I am going to take my time, learn what I nee to know step by step. Practice, practice, practice. Not let myself get overwhelmed by all that freakin' information! My goodness I had no idea it was so... involved!

So, that is my news. Stay tuned for updates and hopefully, a really cool Etsy shop in the future!

I'd also like to thank you all for your input, advice, and comments. And my new followers for following me. Thank You!!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti

This morning I tried Mantra Meditation. It still didn't go very well. Sigh.

I don't know what my problem is, but when I try to meditate, I have issues. At best I get restless, bored, and uncomfortable. At worst, I am anxious and out of breath.

I love the idea of Mantras. Excerpts from Wildmind Buddhist Meditation:

"Perhaps it’s best to think of mantras as being a cross between poetry and magical incantations. Many mantras don’t make any real, rational, sense, even in Sanskrit, and so they can’t really be translated in the same way that a normal sentence can..."

"Mantras can help us to develop mindfulness. The sound of the mantra is a mental object, and paying attention to the sound of the mantra can be a form of meditation, just as paying attention to the sensations of the breath is a meditation. By bringing the mind back over and over again to the mantra (getting away from the kind of multitasking where we’re “kind of” chanting the mantra while also thinking about work, relationships, and shopping) the mind can become more unified and less scattered. We become more attentive and present..."

So I did some research, and found one I really liked. Om Shanti Shanti Shanti.

Om has no meaning, and its origins are lost in the mists of time. Om is considered to be the primeval sound, the sound of the universe, the sound from which all other sounds are formed.

Shanti means Peace. It primarily means inner peace, and the universe knows I could use some inner peace at times. Especially, it seems, while meditating.

Well, I tried chanting this in my head, I tried doing it out loud. What happened was, not only were all the same things going on... uncomfortable, restless... but I also could not get it to match up with my breathing! The website said to make sure you say along with your breathing and not the other way around, trying to breath in tune to the mantra. I tried. My breathing was all wonky, I couldn't get a nice, steady flow going.

I feel like this should be so easy and I might be making it harder than it needs to be. Sigh. Sigh. Sigh.

Well, I'm not giving up. The last 2 times I have meditated, I was barely able to do it for 10 minutes. 10 minutes!!!

If anyone has advice I'd love to hear it. Or a favorite Mantra. Any input at all is welcomed and appreciated! <3

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Day at the Lake

It has been a great week so far! Especially Tuesday, we went to one of my favorite places, Moraine State Park. Now, usually when we go here, we Kayak. I love kayaking. If I had a religion, it would be kayaking. I love it on a spiritual level, if that makes sense. Nothing makes me feel more calm, more zen, more like everything in the world is just the way it's suppose to be that very moment, than being out in the middle of a lake on a kayak, surrounded by trees and nature.

This time, however, we decided to do something a little different and rent a motor boat. Not a very fast one, but it's still a completely different thing than kayaking. Oh, it was fun! Don't get me wrong. Just different. You aren't powering the boat yourself, with your own energy. Nothing very peaceful about the sound a boat engine. It sure was a blast creating waves and then turning to ride over them again, though!

And check out our awesome hats. We bought these hats at a festival at that park last year. They are hand made, great for sunny days, keep us shady without over heating... they "breathe" nicely. Here we are, on the boat.

Of course, we had to let Maya have a turn at driving the boat!

Maya had a BLAST. She loves the water, she is such a fish. Swimming, boating, she even likes kayaking.

After that, we went swimming in the lake. It was a hot day, and there's nothing like being able to veg in the sun and take a refreshing dip in the water on a hot day. Maya is such a fish in the water. She even found some really tiny shells in the sand.

I love summer. This is what we do, and I love being outdoors. Winter is rough for me, because I hate being cold, but I love being outside.

Oh, and in other news, check out these awesome green beans that we grew. They are HUGE!

Can't wait for the tomatoes to be ready. I'm thinking about picking a few while they are still green to make fried green tomatoes! YUM!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Where Are You Going?

I was driving down the road the other day, on my way to work, thinking about anything and everything, when it hit me. An old cliche, for sure... but so true. It really is about the journey and not the destination. I've previously said that I was searching, but... for what? What is my goal here, exactly?

I suck at meditation. I really do. I can't even do it for more than 10 to 20 minutes at a time. My thoughts stray constantly, my shoulders hurt, I'm almost certainly not sitting with the proper posture, I get anxious. And I do it anyway. But what am I hoping to accomplish, exactly? Am I going to do this every day, and slowly improve with time, until one day I have accomplished perfect meditation, some enlightened state, some kind of ultimate goal? No. It's not about that, It's about doing it. However I do it, however I am able, right now. In the moment I am doing it. No matter how my thoughts bounce around, no matter what zen like or anti-zen like state I am in, It is what it is, I am how I am. It's not about reaching any sort of finishing line or becoming perfect. I'm not out to win any gold medals in meditation.

I'm never going to wake up someday and realize I have "found" God, "found" inner peace. Along this journey I am on, there is no finish line with a ribbon and balloons and some pretty little trophy of enlightenment. It isn't about that, It's about the journey itself. Again, I hate to be so cliche, but it is so true.

Wherever you are on your journey, that is where you're suppose to be!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Coming back To (Blogging) Life

I've decided to really get this blog going. I've been posting but not really actively participating in the blogosphere. I should do that.

I'm going to try to find all of the blogs I used to love back when I actually blogged pretty regularly, and also try to find some new sites. If you're reading this, HI! This is a new blog and it's going to take some time to build up more info, followers, links, interesting... stuff, you know how it is. If you're an old follower from one of my previous blogs, I'm starting over. If you're new, welcome! Please, let me know if you are linking and/or following me, and I will do the same! I know I have lost some peeps so If I used to follow you but you don't see you blog listed, don't be offended, just let me know and I will put it back up. Stuff gets lost in the shuffle.

Please note, I don't intend to blog strictly about Zen and meditation. I will be blogging about motherhood, family, books, art, life in general, I will be posting photos and you know, the whole nine yards.


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Breathe, In, Out. Breathe, In, Out.

I did it! I was able to meditate for 20 whole minutes, twice this week. I say that like it's some sort of amazing accomplishment or something... but, it is. I'm actually not even sure I would call it meditating, more like... meditation practice?

I found a great website that I love. Wildmind Buddhist Meditation. I've done so much googling and visited so many sites, and this one is by far my favorite. I was looking for one that would explain, in great detail, the very basics. Especially posture, which is incredibly important. I also wanted one that had Mantras, along with correct pronunciation and meaning. I love Mantras.

People meditate in different ways. Some people do Zazen, which is basically just... sitting. Staring at a wall or something, letting whatever thoughts you have come and go. No chanting, no trying to clear your mind, just sitting. I see a validity in this, to an extent... but I don't think it's for me.

I want to give my mind something to do. I need to train my mind, so to speak. I like the idea of repeating something important, I think it will help clear my mind, learn to concentrate better, and so many Mantras have such great messages. I also love the Sanskrit language. I think I'd like to learn more.

So anyway, I find this website and I love it. I read every detail of correct posture and so on. They talk a bit about how some people have meditation rituals, turning off lights and lighting candles and then lighting incense. I also read some great things about incense, aromatherapy, etc... but, another day... I like this idea. Kind of like some people have rituals before going to bed, which can help with insomnia because you are telling your body "Ok, body... it's almost time for bed, you have to go to sleep soon," I think the same thing can help with meditation.

So, I light some incense, I turn off lights, I get my pillow to make a cushion for the floor, and it's on to stage 0. I sit for a for a few minutes just being aware of my body. Then, stage 1. I have to do this the first few times, apparently. No mantras yet. I just breathe in and out, like I normally would, but I try to just focus on my breathing, counting after each breath, to 10. Then I start over at 1. In, out, 1. In, out, 2. So on.

It's hard! My mind wanders, I get little pains and cramps, I worry about if my posture is right, I wonder how much longer I have to do this, I wonder If I'm doing it right...

I can only hope it gets easier. I feel like it's a huge plus that I am even doing it. I had some sort of mental, or emotional, block for a while, I think. Like I'm afraid to just sit alone with my own, unoccupied mind for 20 minutes.

Well... In other news, I chopped off all of my hair for Locks of Love... it's super short now, They had to take off 10 inches! I LOVE it.

 I also have plans to work on this blog a bit more. Add some photos and more information, links, find other blogs to connect with, etc.

Right now I feel as if I am writing only for me. That's ok too, though!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Who Am I?

I thought It might be a good idea to tell you a little about myself, even though I hate writing these bios. Here we go, just the facts:

I am 31 years old.

I have the coolest, most wonderful 10 year old daughter ever. She is super smart, creative, talkative, loves to read and draw, loves music and being outdoors, climbing and kayaking and swimming.

I am in love with the greatest guy ever. He is 42, and I honestly feel like he is my soul mate. He is compassionate, intelligent, funny, we have the best conversations, I love listening to him play his guitar and sing.

We also have 2 crazy mini lop bunnies.

I love reading, photography, poetry, being outdoors, kayaking, hiking, playing games, cooking, gardening, coffee, thrift stores, flea markets, and... well, a lot of things.

I talk too much and too quickly, I try to be as "socially responsible" as I can be. Little things, like using reusable shopping bags, joining a CSA (community supported agriculture) for our produce to support local farmers, cleaning with "green" products like vinegar, and when I eat meat I try to make sure it's free-range, veggie fed chicken or beef. I'd like to give up meat all together someday, I'm just not there yet.

I suppose there is much, much more to me than just what I have time to write here, and I'm sure the more you read, the more you will find out!

Mental Blocks?

I'm not sure why I have not been able to meditate yet. It seems like such an easy, simple concept. It can't be laziness, How hard is it to just... sit. I know this is going to help me. I've been having some issues with insomnia lately. Nothing too horrible, but I was up almost all night at least one night. I could not get my brain to be quiet. Thoughts were coming so fast I couldn't even grab onto one long enough to know what it was. I felt like I was in an auditorium and everyone was speaking all at once and there were even songs playing, like when you get a song stuck in your head, only there seemed to be multiple songs playing. Crazy, right?

It was only at night, I'd feel fine all day long, better than fine. Then, the lights go out and It's quiet and just me and my noisy mind. I'm afraid meditating will be like this, but I know it's going to help me in the long run.

In other news, went to the Three Rivers Art Festival yesterday and it was awesome. We bought a little flute from this really cool hippie couple, hand crafted out of bamboo they grew themselves. I'm hoping to learn how to play it... It's a bit tricky but I think with some practice, I'll be able to get it!

It was a fabulous, hot, but awesome day with my other half... so inspiring, all of that art. I want to make mosaics and pottery now!

Well... I'm going to try giving this a shot, I guess. Meditation. Maybe I will just sit Zazen for a bit... though I think I might like the idea of guided meditation or doing something with Mantras more than just sitting there. We shall see!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Well, Here I Am.

I've started this blog to chronicle my journey to... well, I'm not even quite sure yet. Here is what I know:

In the past year, I have read 2 books that have had an impact on me. The first book, Hardcore Zen by Brad Warner. My first (and to date, ONLY) taste of Zen Buddhism. (Almost) everything I know about Buddhism is thanks to Brad Warner. Suffice it to say, I don't know a lot. But I know that I like it. I know that, for the first time, something actually makes sense to me. I could give you my whole background, how I was raised Catholic, got "saved" by Jesus a few times, always searching and wondering about God, life, purpose, energy, etc. I'm sure I will get into all of that in time. But this, this was something that finally felt right.

The second book was Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. This is where I got the Idea for the name of my blog:
"Like most humanoids, I am burdened with what the Buddhists call the "monkey mind" - the thoughts that swing from limb to limb, stopping only to scratch themselves, spit and howl. From the distant past to the unknowable future, my mind swings wildly through time, touching on dozens of ideas a minute unharnessed and undisciplined...
...The problem with all of this swinging through the vines of thought is that you are never where you are." - From Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
This is me! This is my brain! Having battled occasional depression and anxiety in my life, i am ready to find something, do something, change my lifestyle. Tap into that inner peace, find MY "God" or energy or whatever you want to call it, focus my mind and learn to meditate.

My goal is to search, try things. Different types of Yoga, Zen, Meditation. This blog is going to be my outlet, my journal, my scrapbook, a lot of things. I am not a writer, by any stretch of the imagination. I am a monkey mind seeking Zen, who wants to chronicle that journey!