Showing posts from tagged with: appreciating life

Insomnia Overcome

Posted by Ann Evans in Being a writer, sleep | 0 comments

  I had fibromyalgia for many years, and came to agree with the doctors who told me it was a sleep disorder.  Now that I am free of its constant pain, I cherish a good night’s sleep. The only other person I’ve known who was so enamored of sleep was a Greek man who remembered having to get up pre-dawn in the Army. Ruined him. A lot of my writing is done in my sleep – I wake up in the morning with the resolution of a challenge, a few choice words, a title to something, an idea for a new project, whatever. I also used sleep when I was studying foreign languages – I read over the vocabulary lists before I went to sleep and remembered them better in the morning. When your mind is asleep, it is still prioritizing, analyzing, and digesting ideas and intentions. Insomnia doesn’t happen often, and one reasons is that I have become familiar with a practice called YOGA NIDRA. There are places online where you can be guided through various Yoga Nidra sessions. I use The number one pick on Google is and I nearly conked out while evaluating it for you. Here are two yoga practices which put me to sleep without fail.

  1. While lying on your back, breathe in on a count of three, hold for three, breathe out for three. Breathe in for four, hold for four, breathe out for four. Continue until you reach fifteen. You’ll feel a touch of oxygen deprivation when you get into the higher numbers (which might be the secret of this exercise). If you aren’t asleep by then, count backwards to three.
  2. Begin by tracing, in your mind, the outline of your pinky toe, then your fourth toe, until you have finished the toes. Trace the tendons running from the toes to the heels (try to identify them in your mind), go around your ankle and up the shin, then down the back of the shin, circle your knee (I am sure to make an “x” I front of the knee where the ACLs are), up the front and back of your thigh, around your hip, into your hip joint, out around the back of your sacrum. Then do the same with your other leg. From your hip, move upward to outline your liver, gall bladder, spleen, large intestine, small intestine (I’m getting sleepy just writing all of this), the full length and width of your lungs, your pancreas, you heart and all its chambers, your thyroid gland, thymus, down your throat, around the back of your neck, your shoulder joints, then outline your fingers, wrist, forearm, upper arm on both sides. If you’re not asleep yet, trace the line of the jaw right into the joint, then trace your teeth, outline your tongue, relax your lips, outline your sinuses, honor the pituitary gland, which sits right behind your nose, your eyes, being sure to relax all the little muscles surrounding the eyes, make your eyes into two lakes, the eyebrows, outline the ears, making sure to hit every little nook and cranny. Let your remaining thoughts ascend through the top of your head into the air.
I am generally asleep by the time I reach my knees. Sweet dreams…………………  

My Four Rules for 2016

Posted by Ann Evans in activism, living well, Protecting myself, rules for living, Uncategorized, virtue | 2 comments

This afternoon I went to a restorative yoga session which included long periods of meditation and gourmet stretches. Perhaps I was meant to be listening to my breath during the meditations, but instead I came out of it with four rules for the new year.

  1. Protect myself
  2. Do my job
  3. Seek moments in which to receive and to give kindness
  4. Seek new experiences
In that order. Protecting myself means conserving my health, resting when I get creaky or weak, and avoiding foul influences. I also remember the story of the meditation teacher whose students were restless because cars were passing by outside their retreat, and dogs were barking. The teacher said, “Those drivers and those dogs are not making noise to bother YOU. They are going about their own business. You are here and they are there.” Shutting out the noise is a big part of protecting oneself. Doing my job will mean watching over those I love or who depend upon me. Also keeping my home in order, writing with consistency, daring, and care, contributing my best efforts to my church and my choirs, and being a sensitive citizen. Kindness is the lubricant for every relationship, and is necessary because little can be accomplished alone. Sometimes you have to haul off and smack someone, but often an extreme reaction is avoidable with a little attention and creativity; in other words, a little kindness. We have new experiences every day, but I hope I can be more aware of them. Today I had two new experiences. First, I went out without my glasses. I haven’t done that since I was a teenager. It was fine. Second, the yoga teacher asked us to stretch out our arms and touch the outstretched fingers of the people next to us. Then she asked us to turn to our buddy to the right and to the left and say our name. The young man to my left looked at me almost with fright – he had unexpectedly found himself face to face with a grandmother – he couldn’t bring himself to say his name, paused, and then mumbled it and blushed. I was blushing too. It felt strangely intimate. My holistic doctor calls these experiences “stretches.” He once suggested that I go into the 7-11 and ask at the counter where the 7-11 was. It took me two weeks before I dared to do that. He suggested to another patient that she sing a song in the subway. I wonder what your rules will be for 2016.

Sex is like ballet

Posted by Ann Evans in Daring to Date Again, myths about sex, sex | 0 comments

Sex is like ballet. It appears before you elegant, graceful, leaping and soaring under special lighting, with fanfares, exciting arrangements of personnel, and touching denouements. The pleasure and thrill are powerful cultural markers which mask the deeper purpose. Follow the dancers  backstage and you see that the elegance and excitement is only a small part of the function and process of ballet. The dancers unwrap their gnarled and aching feet, they soak their aging bodies in mineral baths. Every day, they exercise wearing old sweat pants in yellow fluorescent rooms. A spectator might be addicted to the beauty and grace, but the dancers' love of dance is deeper. There is a scene in Masters of Sex in which the misanthropic doctor holds his stillborn baby, which he has just delivered. The many problems he and his wife have been living with for years disappear in his momentary grief. As Khalil Gibran writes, “Your children are not your children; they are the sons and the daughters of life’s yearning for itself.” This scene is life’s yearning for itself gone wrong. A reader has generously reviewed my book on amazon, and he complains that there is not enough sex in it. He wants details. The details, though, are not only in the unique pairings, the flights of the imagination, which is what he wants; but they are also like the dancer’s bleeding feet, the constant effort in the face of fatigue or boredom, the fantasy gone sour. The purpose of sex is much greater than fantasy and fancy choreography. It keeps our human race alive, cements loving relationships, keeps couples together, opens our eyes to new and unexpected experiences, and forces us to know ourselves. That is the art in it.  

The Halloween Grinch

Posted by Ann Evans in domestic life, halloween, holidays, Protecting myself | 0 comments

I am a Halloween grinch. My husband and I retreat to watch television, keeping the sound low so that children coming to our apartment door won’t know that we are at home. Last night though, I opened the door by mistake, thinking it was the mailman. Three screeching children were running around in circles shrieking “Trick or treat!” “Trick or treat” and as soon as I gave them a cookie, they ran away. A frowning mother, backed up by three other frowning, distracted adults, shouted, “Did you say thank you? Did you say thank you,” but the children were already tearing down the corridor toward the next apartment. They weren’t communicating with anybody by either listening or speaking – not each other, not me, not their parents. Halloween is a spectacle gussied up by two-dollar costumes which brings not joy but mania and is as empty of meaning as a ritual could possibly be. I noticed last night that not much had changed since the years when I lived in a big house, turned on the light, prepared treats, and even occasionally wore a costume myself. About ten years ago, the ritual of Halloween changed. I’d open the door to three or four children fighting each other to be first in line to grab the treat, no eye contact with me, no thank you, and usually not even a “trick or treat” or even a “hi.” Parents stood at the bottom of the driveway staring at me mirthlessly, gauging whether I looked like the sort of person who put arsenic or a razor blade in the apples. This felt demeaning and I finally turned off the lights and retreated to the television room. Just so you know, this is how we did it when I was a kid. We borrowed something from our parents, took something out of the costume trunk upstairs, or otherwise cobbled together a costume. It was amazing how much we could do with such limited stocks. Our parents had nothing to do with the costume creation. I figured it out with my brothers or my friends. When we were very young, my friends and I went through only the immediate neighborhood, unchaperoned, since my parents were at their own door handing out treats. As we grew older, we could go farther afield until, when I was a teenager, we started out in my neighborhood and went all the way to Upper Mountain Avenue, walking from 5:00 in the afternoon until about 9:30. We must have covered three miles, stopping at each house on both sides of the street. My brothers had their own set of Halloween friends and followed separate routes. I’d put my bag of candy in the closet and took out one piece at a time. Once it lasted until Easter. Though my childhood Halloweens had already lost any deeper religious or historical meaning, they at least bathed us in something I would call fun rather than mania, and the people providing us treats were granted a moment of laughter and conversation so they, too, could enjoy it. At least Halloween is followed by the lovely authenticity of Thanksgiving.

Life went on

Life went on again after Daring to Date Again: A Memoir ended, so I began this wide-ranging blog about life as a writer and as a woman in the early 21st century, especially as an older woman.

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