Sunday, March 28, 2010

Body Language

Lately I've been thinking about my own body more than usual. I'm to be in a wedding soon, which makes me wonder how that little black dress is going to look on me. (It will look a little different from this, as the bride is graciously allowing me, as matron of honor, to add a strap.) And I wonder what on earth I should do with my hair. And I wonder, will I make it up the aisle without tripping on heels, which I never wear?!

I've had several lovely days for walking, and even did a wee bit of running on one of them, and find myself longing to be seventeen again, able to run without thinking about an injured knee. And just being in good enough shape to run five miles when called for. Every now and then these days, I daydream about being able to do that again, though I've still not been able to get the shoes I need, and it's been too cold to run barefoot. So I'm not very far along that path, even though the very idea of being able to dream of it is exciting.

And I've done a bit of yoga and something called Doxa Soma recently, in both cases being reminded of posture. What seems to have stuck in my mind most is the Doxa Soma encouragement to "keep your heart lifted and open," which works much better for me than, "Keep your back straight and your shoulders down."

But the thing about body language that hit me yesterday had to do with other people's bodies, three brief encounters that haven't yet left my mind.

First, I went to the bank to deposit my meager earnings for the week. I parked my car next to a beautifully cared-for antique car, a two-toned teal/acqua vehicle from the early 1950's by my guess. It was just lovely and something of a wonder to behold. The bank was not crowded, so as I walked in I wondered if I could guess who was the owner of that car by how they looked or dressed, or talked, or something. It would have to be someone with money and taste, I figured, and that should show. I asked a couple of men if it belonged to them, but they had no idea about it.

As I was leaving the bank, the car was just pulling out, and I saw who was in it. It was a woman I'd seen in the bank--large, unkempt, with sad posture and with long, thin stringy hair and a whiny voice as she talked with the teller about some problems she was having. It was so completely not what I expected that I just haven't been able to get the image out of my mind.

Next, I went to the bookstore where I worked once upon a time and got to see some of my former co-workers. I ran into a friend from a school where I also worked once upon a time. With each of these people, I couldn't help but notice that their bodies said they were glad to see me. Backs straightened, eyes lit up, smiles appeared. Our eyes connected.

The friend was someone I hadn't seen in over a year, and we had catching up to do, so we stood there and talked for quite a while. In a city this size, it's always nice to go to a place where people know you, and then to unexpectedly run into someone who knows you. It just plain felt good. For a while I forgot that I was wearing my work-in-the-yard clothes, and that the socks I was wearing looked hilarious with the shoes I had on. And I noticed as we talked, and even as I left to check out, how straight I was standing--how open my heart was, both physically and emotionally.

And then, as I was leaving the shopping center, I happened to catch sight in my rear view mirror of a man exiting a jewelry shop and seating himself on the bench outside. It was Saturday afternoon, and I guess he stood out because he was wearing a three-piece suit. I sat in my car having to wait for passing traffic, so I just observed him for a moment. What struck me in this moment was that he was moving his legs in a particular way, knees moving closer and apart, closer and apart, the way children do when they are excited or nervous. The way grownups intentionally refrain from doing when they are excited or nervous--espeically while in the presence of other grownups wearing three-piece suits.

But this man just sat there on the bench, legs playing a rapid etude in contrary motion, with no idea I was watching him. I wondered if he were waiting for someone he was eager to see, or for a wealthy and difficult customer to show up, or if he had just been reprimanded by his boss, or just what those legs were saying. And I doubt I would ever have noticed it, if not for the suit and tie.

No big point to this little writing. Just three separate incidents related to body (and clothing) awareness and my amazement at how much we do depend on body language for information, and how little we may realize others are "reading" us, or trying to. And how the inner state does get expressed, even if clothes (or cars) might give different messages.

So, even though a little black dress and heels do not express my general inner state, maybe if I can stay very calm on the day of the wedding, I can make it down that aisle and back up without tripping.

I sure hope so.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Poem from Elementary School

I know when spring comes.
I feed the birds lots of crumbs.
Flowers are pretty.
Buttercups turn yellow.
Tulips look like red jello.

Have I shared that before on here? Seems like maybe I did, but since I'm still haven't switched my blog over to the newer format and therefore have no easy way to find things, I'm not sure.

Anyway, I have that in a scrapbook of things I did in elementary school. I was taking some real poetic license, because I don't recall ever feeding crumbs to birds.

But the "buttercups," which I now realize are not buttercups at all, but daffodils or more properly narcissus, have been turning yellow around here for a little over a week, and Daffodil Hill is just beautiful. Of course, it has only just begun. Nearly all the grass you see above will soon have green stems poking up, and flowers blooming within the next month.

And even though we're currently in a cold spell (40 degrees at 3pm, when it had been in the 70's this past week), spring is definitely here. Crocus, daffodils, hyacinth, magnolias, forsythia, bridal wreath, pear trees, even some flowering quince....Memphis is blossoming all around, and it's as lovely as ever.

Now, if we can just manage to open this house's windows, which have all been painted shut by former owners. I'll never understand the mentality of a person who chooses to live without fresh air in their house!

Happy spring!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

More than a Month!

Wow, I knew I hadn't written in a while, but I didn't realize how long that while had been.

Welcome back to my own blog, eh? I just happened to come across it while leaving a comment on someone else's blog. (Half kidding, but that really is what brought me here.)

We've still got boxes in five rooms of the house. Still waiting to have my office walls patched and painted so I can unpack all my books and things in here. Still looking at the Bermuda grass in the front yard and wondering what we can do to add a little personality out there. Still functioning without a lot of kitchen things.

In the past week, though, I actually had a day that stood out. Because somewhere in the latter half of it, I realized that it felt like a very normal day. That I felt some kind of normalcy inside myself, and that it felt very good.

It's not that I've gone around for months thinking, "I don't feel normal," but the truth is that life has not been normal for quite some time, and that has affected me. It isn't that it has been bad, and it really has not been as stressful as I expected it to be. But it hasn't been normal, and I haven't felt like myself as much as I did the other day in quite a while.

So, a day that struck me with its normal sort of feeling was a very nice thing!

On that day, I had two counseling sessions, both with clients who've been with me for a while and have made good progress. That always feels good. I also had a meeting with a longtime mentor, one of those grounding kind of encounters that make you see that someone you respect a lot, who has known you through thick and thin times, continues to have faith in you. It's the kind of feedback we all thrive on, but which has been scarce since leaving my longer-term job over a year ago.

I also got to spend time outside in the sun! A cancellation gave me a block of free time, so I went to the little lake at Audubon Park and ate my lunch on a bench, communing with sun, water, trees, and ducks. And even with a kindly older man who came and sat on the next bench over. Ah, sunlight and warmth after a longer-and-colder-than-usual winter! What a blessing.

Oh, and I also spent some time in a Harding swing on the grad school campus after a meeting there. Now that's a grounding experience, for sure. No telling how many of those swings I've swung in over the years, and how much good they've done for my mind and soul.

Then piano lessons were a joy, as always.

And after three evenings in a row of being away from home (a chorus rehearsal, doing a presentation on intercultural communication at UofM, and teaching a class at church), I was home Thursday evening, made a real supper, and enjoyed sitting at table with my dear one.

It was a lovely day, and as I said, at some point, I just had this moment of realizing that I felt more like myself than I had in a long time, more "at home" in my own mind and body than I could remember feeling in months. It gave me hope that more such days were ahead, that I might soon feel settled enough to see beyond the immediate challenges, and it just felt good.

And today was another warm day. Warm enough to do some work outside. I spent a couple of hours or more pulling wisteria off our garage and cutting down/cleaning out the privet hedge along the north fence. I think those bushes must have been planted when the house was built almost 70 years ago. I didn't know privet hedge could get that thick! It's taller than than the house, in places.

So, today felt pretty normal, too. I look forward to cleaning more out and planting some flowers around this place. And hoping to actually grow some vegetables this year. We'll see.

Life is an adventure, for sure. But I'm glad for the grounding that makes flying possible and enjoyable. Good to have some of that lately.

And I trust that I won't wait another month to write again. And I assure you that I am going to write again about running barefoot, a theme that got lost amongst all the recent adventure but is waiting to be taken up again.....