Sunday, May 14, 2017

Unplugged

Accept — then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.This will miraculously transform your whole life. --Eckhart Tolle
I had an extra long weekend with a visit to my family in Winnipeg this week. I'd booked it a few months ago, and It was nice to have something to look forward to. Visits home are always nice because I don't plan anything concrete to do while I'm there... maybe go swimming, maybe do a bit of shopping, maybe meet up with a few friends. I mostly just enjoy sharing the same space as my parents, enjoy being in the same room as them, not even really talking, but just being together. That's the best part for me. It rejuvenates me more than any spa or retreat ever has.

In true Adriene-fashion, I did cram a lot of stuff in before my days off. I started a painting workshop at one of the local painting studios on Tuesday evening. It's a project with a type of acrylic paint called Pebeo, which has a glossy, oil paint-like sheen to it. It is turning out to be a fun way to get back into playing with paints. I did the background first with stamps on tissue paper, and then used decoupage to apply it to the canvas. After that, I drew on the main subject and then roughed it in with some texture paste, over which I will apply the colour. It's a rooster, in case you can't tell. When I looked at the photo on my phone later on, I thought it also kinda looked like a king with a beard. I will never think of King Arthur the same way now:


I also went to my second calligraphy class on Wednesday night, where we broke out some proper ink pens and had a go with this fun alphabet. I packed it to take it with me to practice while I was off, and I took it out to admire while I waited in the airport between flights:


I can't decide which are my favourite letters:


I didn't have my own pen and had to borrow one of the teacher's pens for class. As luck would have it Artists Emporium in Winnipeg was having their 40th Anniversary Sale this weekend, and almost everything in the place was 40 percent off. I love art stores. What I mean is: I LOVE ART STORES! So many pens and papers and paints and colours to look at, tools to wonder about, brushes to pick up and stroke against my palms... it was a dangerous situation for my wallet, but I held restraint and came away with a pen of my own to play with (at 40 percent off the sticker price):


And maybe a few other treats. 40 percent off is 40 percent off, after all:


I'm still finding my way around ink cartridges:


But I did manage to produce a few things while relaxing in my parents' living room:


Meanwhile, I am quite jealous of my mom's orchids that live in the living room. I don't know how she does it. Despite all of the tips she has given me, I have one that has barely grown a leaf in the last two years, but hers bloom so beautifully each year:


The blossoms on this one are as big as my palm:


Winnipeg was beautifully sunny and dry while I was there, which was a nice switch from the cool rainy weather we've been having on the Island (Island snobs: take note). I went out one afternoon to The Forks Market to wander about in the shops and enjoy a cannoli and herbal tea. I always start quoting The Godfather when I see cannoli:


And to sit by the river and watch folks enjoying the weather on a Friday afternoon in the city:



I met up with friends for dinner, and helped another friend get ready for a garage sale this weekend. I also practiced the monoline alphabet we learned this week. We're encouraged to use quotes to practice to keep it interesting for ourselves. This one was quite pertinent:


As was this one:


I did work on my current knitting project, but the thing about knitting shawls from the bottom edge upward is that, since you start with the rows that take the longest at the beginning of the project, my enthusiasm for the whole thing is challenged from the start. "How am I STILL on the 10th row??" I saw to myself. "It's because each row takes you half an hour to finish," I explain to myself. "It'll get easier as you get closer to the top."

I seem to do a lot of reasoning with myself these days. It's like talking down a child from the edge of a tantrum. It's a tiring place to find myself (both as the talker and as the child).

My muscles are still tight and sore, but feel slightly better than they did this time last week. I even managed to wander around for a couple of hours at the mall, with periodic breaks to stop and stretch. I watched a documentary during one of my flights this week about Dr. Marian Diamond, who is the brain research scientist who is responsible for the concept of brain plasticity: that your brain is the product of the environment you put it in. In case you're wondering, if you want a healthy brain, it needs:

  1. A healthy diet.
  2. Daily exercise - for both the brain and the body.
  3. Challenge - activities that force us to think.
  4. Newness - new pursuits, new ideas.
  5. Love (which is unusual for a scientist to say. They discovered that, if they held and stroked their lab rats each day, they lived to the human equivalent of 90 years).

She is also a pioneering female scientist who emerged in the 1960's, and who has endured a lot of ageism and sexism throughout her career. The narrator of the program said, "She doesn't like to talk about it. She says she prefers not to carry bitterness."

Then occurred to me, like a lighning bolt then and there (which is maybe not the best metahpor while traveling in an airplane), that this muscle tension is really me carrying around the bitterness of my current situation at work these days... along with the fear of all of those people who keep wanting me to return to my previous career finding out that I'm having a hard time. That's a lot of stuff to carry around. I'm working on it. I'll let it go soon. I think it's my brain's way of using my body to tell me to move forward... to be present in each day, instead of living in my head all the time.

I'm back on the Island today, already missing my parents, but glad to have had the chance to be with them. I feel fortunate to be able to return to the home of my childhood. It feels familiar and comforting, and it was just what I needed. My lunch is packed, and I'm about to go pack my gym bag next. I feel fresher, and for the first time in a while, a bit clearer.

Back to the routine tomorrow. Have a good week.

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