Mending My Mindfulness

 I clearly remember times when as a child, my thoughts uncluttered, I could sit for hours marveling at the
intricate workings of nature. I would watch a caterpillar nibbling away at a leaf bite by tiny bite. I could stare at moss so closely I could imagine that it was a miniature forest within a forest, perhaps home to it’s own tiny world invisible to the human eye. Especially in nature I would immerse my senses with every element of my surroundings and I experienced complete peace and harmony in those moments. I didn’t know it as such at the time, but I was practicing mindfulness.
I feel as though I frequently talk about living mindfully or practicing mindfulness, but in my own adult reality it is something that I struggled with for years. I learned about the concept of mindfulness, in stages throughout my life as a recurring theme that has evolved throughout the years. I was initially introduced to the concept  from my mother who is a practicing Buddhist. In later years it cropped up in books and articles I was reading about spirituality or self help. In therapy I was taught mindfulness practice as a method to quiet the racing thoughts and cravings that hijacked my mind and even my body driving me to moments of panic and fear. In my weekly yoga class, I learned from my wonderful instructor that mindfulness is key to getting the most out of one’s practice. Finally in my training as a counselor I was mentored and trained to assist my clients to use mindfulness in their healing process.
Yet even with all this wonderful advice and information,  I often felt I had to really push myself, to remind myself to be mindful. It wasn’t something that came naturally to me as it had when I was very young.
Now after years of “practice”, a funny thing has happened. Suddenly, it’s coming back to me. In fact in the past week or so I have spent little time writing and very much time listening, observing and sensing the world around me. I’ve also been mindful enough of my own state being to know that for whatever reason, this is what my whole Self needs at this time. It’s like craving a certain food, if you suddenly have an unquenchable taste for greens your body probably needs calcium.
Thinking back over the past couple of months I realize I have had a sort of spiritual craving, a sensory craving to take in all that is in my environment, to observe, to listen, to feel. There is something I need, there is an unnamed desire.

I have come to a point in life where I am now living alone, my youngest child now almost 19 is on his own. I am unemployed along with all of the paradoxical freedom and restriction that accompanies that status. I am not involved in a relationship of the romantic sort. The Occupy movement which I had devoted a considerable amount of time and energy to is undergoing a quiet transformation. I have recently hit the point that I can safely say I am fully recovered from my Interferon/Ribavirin treatment and physically and mentally as good as I’m gonna get. I have had the feeling of being at a crossroads wondering where I go from here. I feel like I’m on the threshold of…something. I’m just not sure what. Yet.
I think this ‘craving’ the need to listen, to observe, to absorb the world around me is a message from my higher self. It’s telling me that if I am to make choices about what comes next, starting a project, connecting with people in my community or maybe even something I haven’t imagined yet that I need to pay attention to what life has to offer. I also know from past experience that a door that is open to opportunity needs some monitoring. In case you haven’t guessed by now I have been known to be somewhat impulsive in my decision making at certain times in  my life; sometimes with disastrous results. And even when not walking blindly into disaster I have sometimes missed out on the beauty and joy of the simple things life has to offer, all because I was so busy chasing that crazy train that ran in circles around my mind.
To follow up on my last post, one of the joys of getting older is being able to slow down, to get off that train and suddenly mindfulness climbs into your lap like a well loved feline.
 I also recently talked about procrastination, but I don’t think that’s the case, yet. I will trust my heart and mind to work together and to let me know when to take the next step…and then I will most likely procrastinate just a little bit. If I’m lucky now that I’ve put that out there in the Universe, someone will let me know. You will, won’t you?
© 2010-2012 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard


The Gifts of Getting "Older"

A funny thing happens when I hear individuals being referred to as “older”. My ears always perk up and I immediately scan the conversation for clues as to the age of the person in question. If the conversation involves people in my age group, most likely older means elderly. I happen to be in contact with younger adults on a fairly regular basis however and often “older” refers to, well somewhere around my age.
Funny I don’t feel older. Or do I?
There is a part of me that will always be young at heart, as the saying goes. In my heart, or my soul, I feel, well, youthful. I am generally optimistic, idealistic and free spirited. I prefer jeans (not “mom jeans”), t-shirts and sneakers; I don’t try dressing like a teenager but I do. I don’t try to look like a teenager and maybe that’s the difference between looking ok in jeans and looking desperate.
Physically I sometimes forget I’m “older” but that happens less often, each time I injure myself doing something that reminds me I’m not 20 anymore, like trying to climb a fence to avoid walking all the way around a parking lot. Or roller skating.
If I strain my back it takes weeks, not days, for it to heal.
There are other things that remind me, since I do seem to forget, that I am “older”
Getting out of bed in the morning hobbling to the bathroom on feet that are stiff and achy (why? I haven’t done anything with them for at least 8 hours!) and those feet can barely carry me quickly enough because my bladder capacity is not what it once was in my younger beer guzzling days.
Not having a period. It’s been over two years now and I hardly remember what it was like, really. I can wear my “good” undies any day of the month (unless of course my bladder fails)
Not knowing what music is popular.
Walking through neighborhoods where every store has changed ownership at least several times and I can remember most of the previous businesses and how they were superior to what is now in place.
Walking though neighborhoods that used to be houses and now are condos.
My notions of classic cars and classic music are different than the dominant culture. Most of the cars I have owned would now be collector’s status.
I call people “honey” and “sweetie” and not because I’m coming on to them.
I understand the concept of patience, and am able to put it into practice.
My only thoughts about Mr Right are the hopes that my daughter will meet him.
I am at last truly happy with who I am and really do not care if other people are not. And that, my dears, is the greatest gift of growing “older”
I know my readers have other “gifts of age” to share, I welcome anyone to add to the list, call it a virtual stitch n’ bitch.
Peace,
Jenny Nanakoosa

Image courtesy of Photobucket, http://media.photobucket.com/image/older%20women%20funny/shymartinez1/_%20FUNNY%20QUOTES%20AND%20SAYINGS%20_/FUNNY.jpg?o=1
© 2010-2012 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard


Procrastinating happiness

Procrastination. We all react to the word, typically with an expression that resembles some level of physical discomfort. Try it, just say the word and watch whomever you are speaking to. Chances are they will wince, squirm, roll their eyes or if they are in good humor they may chuckle in that conspiratorial way that let’s you know that you are in on their secret but that’s okay. Because after all it is not secret. Most people, if asked, will admit to falling victim to the procrastination but at some point or another in their lives.
For some of us, it is more that just a minor problem, for some of us it can be downright paralyzing. There are times when I have been at war with my own mind over the subject. Now obviously there are some things we put off simply because they are unpleasant. A trip to the DMV to renew your licence plates, or a visit to the dentist. I know plenty of perfectly normal responsible individuals who will postpone those kinds of tasks. And the reason is, well, obvious.
But what about putting off something that will eventually benefit ones self? If you stand to gain something by doing a small simple task, what on earth is the ‘reason’ for procrastination. I tend to be the kind of thinker who once given an adequate reason, even if not necessarily rational. I can then turn my focus to a solution. I’m pretty good at talking sense into myself as long as I am armed with a working theory of “why”. In all the psychological, spiritual and self help books articles and journals I’ve read I’ve failed to find an explanation that fits. So I turned to my friends, most of whom are well educated, many in the social services or education field; and many who have themselves been through a fair amount of therapy or self help programs. Again, aside from some minor speculation, no great revelations. My therapist who is also a practicing shaman, may not always have an answer but will usually pull an evocative question out of his bag of tricks. You know the kind of question that instantly illuminates the path that leads you to your own answer. After all the answers to these “why” questions often vary from individual to individual. Even he was stumped. As a last resort I turned to my psychiatrist. We don’t talk much, he prescribes my anti anxiety meds and asks me if I’m safe. That’s about it. But I thought I’d give it a shot anyway, he seems kind of old school and I thought he might have some kind of Freudian subconscious defense mechanism explanation.
Nope. He told me to make a list.
Really? I could’ve gotten that from Dear Abby. It was becoming apparent that I was on my own on this journey.
The most recent example of this putting off something beneficial was my homestead tax form. I don’t know how it works in other states but in Wisconsin if you are low income, you can be eligible for a refund on rent you have paid in the past year. What’s not to love about that? And yet the form sat on my desk for close to two months. If I had done it immediately I’d have the money by now and I might be out enjoying a movie or a dinner at a restaurant instead of writing about procrastination. The good news is during that two months of not filling out the form and arguing with myself on a daily basis I might have reached a conclusion.
That is, that despite all the work I’ve done repairing my self esteem and quality of life, there are still bits and pieces of old thinking that linger somewhere in my subconscious. One of the most insidious old lies I somehow still hang onto is that “I don’t deserve good things, especially money”. It comes from the old belief that as long as there are people starving and suffering in the world it is wrong to have money. Which is completely irrational. First of all, my poverty is not going to lift anyone else out of poverty. Second, a few hundred dollars from the IRS is not going to launch me into the fortune 500 list. In fact, I will still be terribly in debt. And third, and most important, it is okay to have money. Fact. Fact that I need to repeat to myself daily.
I know I’ve written about this before and in between then and now I’ve probably been in and out of poverty mentality about 50 times. This is a lifelong battle for me. And it is the cause of much of my procrastination, because as I’ve been mindful about the things I put off they are most often things that would bring either money or some form of success and happiness.
Now I’m off to make a list. Not a to do list, but a list of all the reasons why I will not hold myself back from money, success or happiness.
And by the way, I mailed the form yesterday.

© 2010-2012 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard


Take Action Against Misogynist Insanity

We’ve been hearing a lot about the attacks on women’s reproductive rights lately, which in itself is bad enough. As I suspected that appears to be just the tippy top of the iceberg from which is a slippery slope descending right back into another, earlier, more puritanical century. You know back in the days when women and children were considered property, when women didn’t have the right to own property of their own or vote or, heaven forbid, run for office. When the “rule of thumb” meant that it was okay to beat your wife with a stick so long as the diameter of the stick did not exceed that of your thumb (I suppose this was, at the time, considered a safety measure of some sorts)
 I’m enclosing  links to two articles, each from my home state of Wisconsin.
Here’s a  quote by Rep. Don Pridemore revealing his beliefs about domestic violence:
“Instead of leaving an abusive situation, women should try to remember the things they love about their husbands, Representative Don Pridemore said. “If they can re-find those reasons and get back to why they got married in the first place it might help,”  retrieved from http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/03/23/wisconsin-lawmaker-you-are-being-beaten-just-remember-things-you-love-about-your

And earlier this month we were treated to parenting advice from Senator Glenn Grothmann, “In promoting those campaigns and materials, the [Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board] shall emphasize nonmarital parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect.” retrieved from: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/03/01/wisconsin-republican-senator-proposes-bill-that-labels-single-parenthood-as-chi-0

Ok now I’m just plain flabbergasted! Where do they find these bozos?????? It’s so insane it’s difficult to take it seriously, but take it seriously we must, otherwise we are headed for a downward spiral in which our hard won rights are sucked down the drain!

These verbal and Legislative attacks on Women are difficult enough to stomach for any woman, but let’s think for a moment of the impact this trend may have on Survivors, Victims and Economically disenfranchised women. Let’s think for a moment of, say, a women who is in an abusive relationship with a controlling husband who allows little social contact or economic freedom. Let’s picture her alone at home isolated and unhappy wrestling with the question of whether or not to remain in her domestic prison knowing full well that her children are living in fear for their mothers safety. Now imagine as she picks up a newspaper or turns on the television and hears comments like these. Inside her head the door to her cell slams shut with a cold metallic thud. How can she expect to find the help she needs in a world that reinforces all the lies her husband has used to keep her captive all these years?
Now let’s picture another scenario; the same woman turns on the television to see women marching in the streets, supporting one another, and with men alongside them in solidarity, demanding equal rights. Or maybe she tunes into an open hearing where other Survivors are telling their success stories, of how they managed to escape oppression and go on to raise happy healthy children with the help of communities and services that have been in place to lead them down the path to success.
The voices of these Women and their supporters, both male and female must speak openly with conviction and intelligence to drown out the nonsense that is being spewed by these misongynists who would dare to try to take away our power.
Will you be one of those voices?
Here are some opportunities to add your story or to find more information about the growing movement that is going to put a stop to this inhumane and backward trend in social policy and legislation.
http://www.unitewomenwi.org/home.htm
https://www.facebook.com/womenrevolt
http://now.org/issues/legislat/ (for legislative updates on issues concerning women’s rights)
http://www.feminist.com/
http://www.centerwomenpolicy.org/
Together we can do this!
Peace,
Jenny Nanakoosa

© 2010-2012 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard


life in The Big Picture

The past week has awakened my senses to a Way I have glimpsed but never fully comprehended full force. Emerging from the loss of  of my father; the process of reviewing his life. our family and each of us as individuals had turned the lens just slightly to reveal a view of the bigger picture with a new perception.

Some minor mistake, a careless error once easily dismissed, might now evoke sobs. On the other hand, a small seemingly irrelevant bit of beauty can appear as the greatest masterpiece contrived by Humankind or Nature. Suddenly I am at one time the center of the Universe and yet a tiny speck in the Grand scheme, and both things are true at once.

To bring it all down a notch, let me put it plainly: life is brief in review and everlasting in impact yet we tend to live as if the reverse were true. We pour of hearts and souls into leaky containers, hoping our devotion is sufficient to fill the gaps. We cling desperately to the words of other people hoping for self validation. But they are only words and we really have no concept of their true meaning do we? Not unless they are made real with the alchemy of with action and love. Of the hundreds of thousands of words we hear each day, how many are infused with that magic?

We pass by moments of Beauty and Grace every day on our way to saving  the world. Basically we miss the train because we are running so fast to catch the express route. And guess what? The World doesn’t need us to save Her, even if we could. She just needs our Love and Respect. Life is a gift, grab it with both hands, unwrap Her with curiosity and delight. Listen to your heart and follow the message. Don’t expect anyone else on this planet to make you happy, or successful or powerful. Only you know how to be those things. Anything or anyone who would stop you from being happy with you? My Dad would say “That’s just a crock of shit”

Now…go find your bliss!!!!!!

Peace and Love

Jenny Nanakoosa Hazard

 

© 2010-2012 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard


Introductory V-blog

 Ok Here it is, my first official Vid-blog. I did a brief chit chatty experimental version that some of you may have seen on Facebook, but this is the actual Nanakoosa’s Place chapter one version. I hope you enjoy it and I will be working on more installments which will consist of specific topics and issues that are relevant to my audience. As always feedback and suggestions are welcome.
Peace,
Jenny

© 2010-2012 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by   Jennifer Hazard


Life in the Big Picture

The past week has awakened my senses to a Way I have glimpsed but never fully comprehended full force. Emerging from the loss of  of my father; the process of reviewing his life. our family and each of us as individuals had turned the lens just slightly to reveal a view of the bigger picture with a new perception.
Some minor mistake, a careless error once easily dismissed, might now evoke sobs. On the other hand, a small seemingly irrelevant bit of beauty can appear as the greatest masterpiece contrived by Humankind or Nature. Suddenly I am at one time the center of the Universe and yet a tiny speck in the Grand scheme, and both things are true at once.
To bring it all down a notch, let me put it plainly: life is brief in review and everlasting in impact yet we tend to live as if the reverse were true. We pour of hearts and souls into leaky containers, hoping our devotion is sufficient to fill the gaps. We cling desperately to the words of other people hoping for self validation. But they are only words and we really have no concept of their true meaning do we? Not unless they are made real with the alchemy of with action and love. Of the hundreds of thousands of words we hear each day, how many are infused with that magic?
We pass by moments of Beauty and Grace every day on our way to saving  the world. Basically we miss the train because we are running so fast to catch the express route. And guess what? The World doesn’t need us to save Her, even if we could. She just needs our Love and Respect. Life is a gift, grab it with both hands, unwrap Her with curiosity and delight. Listen to your heart and follow the message. Don’t expect anyone else on this planet to make you happy, or successful or powerful. Only you know how to be those things. Anything or anyone who would stop you from being happy with you? My Dad would say “That’s just a crock of shit”
Now…go find your bliss!!!!!!
Peace and Love
Jenny Nanakoosa Hazard

© 2010-2012 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard