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Monday, February 27, 2017

Personal Hygiene - More Thoughts Than You Would Expect

I was in the bathroom finishing an inordinately long session of personal hygiene.

My husband came in and looked appreciatively at me and said "I know you're tired."

Bah! "I had to shower and then shave and then brush my teeth and take my medicine and put lotion on and clip my nails and I've been in here forever!"

My husband gently took me in his arms and told me I could use the time for me, to tune in to my body, to meditate, to pray.

It made me stop and think.

Maybe you're like me and you just wish you could do something else with your time. Personal hygiene is boring. The time spent in personal hygiene activities is easily transferred to a list of things that I think would be more fun, interesting, or useful to do.

Why do they look so happy?
Maybe you spend the time in personal hygiene criticizing the things you don't like about yourself, wondering if you're pretty enough, thin enough, strong enough, have the right proportions.

Maybe your personal hygiene time isn't spent criticizing yourself, but rather others. You give yourself space to vent and complain and imagine how much better things would be if A didn't say, or do, or think in that way or if B would say, or do, or think in that way.

Maybe you're a mother and taking a shower is amazing because it's the one place you're alone!

Maybe you already have arrived at a personal hygiene place of happiness and presentness. If so, I applaud you. Please share any tips in the comments below.

Why am I compelled to write so extensively about personal hygiene in such an abstract way?

I think my husband's words simply rang true. 

You can use that time for yourself. 

You can be present with your body, get to know it better. 

You can celebrate the now. 

This time is not useless, even though you feel that you have no choice in how you spend it.

And why is that so good? Because now is all I have. The past has happened already. The future will be here soon and I can't make it come (or stay away) any faster than it will be.

So you are invited to see and notice the present in the midst of where you are. To redefine useful time, to train your mind to see and believe that you are enough right now, to avoid negative thought cycles and replace them with more kindness and compassion (toward yourself and others), and to relish the gifts of present in the season of life you are in.

May you be encouraged to see time you spend in seemingly mundane activities as benefitting you. Simply because you are there.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Toilet Tuesdays

Several months ago, I started taking photos of toilets for the purpose of having designated posts about toilets.  Probably strange, but endlessly fascinating.

Toilets are so different all over the world.  Something that you might find to be quite disturbing would be perfectly normal to someone else, and vice versa.

In general, I like to think that I interact with the world around me through very curious eyes.  Eyes that notice small things.  Eyes that are trying to connect and discover what makes something important or meaningful.  Eyes that are happy to find things that make me smile and laugh. Eyes that see problems and distress and don't just move on quickly because it's uncomfortable.  Eyes that rather stay and sit with discomfort and try to really see.

And it is through those eyes that I want you to see my toilets.

However, this first post is to acknowledge that I am not original.  Other people, who are much more connected, have their eyes on toilets around the world.  They brought photos together for Lonely Planet and published this book.

I have to admit it took the wind out of my sails.  In this world of way too much access to information about everything [clarification: I do not believe that people shouldn't have access to information], there's somehow a felt pressure to create and think new things, which is quite hard.

However, if I return to my sense that I am a curious person with curious eyes, I can disregard this felt pressure and sense of insufficiency, and simply enjoy taking pictures of toilets and telling you what I think about them.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Shopping Adventures - 2

Scene: very busy grocery store, late in the afternoon

a local grocery store

I greeted the cashier with the typical "Dobry den" and watched as she started scanning my items.  After scanning my bag of onions, she tossed it in the cart and said something which I didn't understand.  Believing, as my friend Rachel says, that people in general like me, I assumed she was trying to help me and said "Dakujem".

She didn't respond and the couple standing behind me in line seemed to be interacting with her.  I interpreted that conversation to be something along the lines of the conversations you have with people where you are both in an undesirable situation, but you aren't angry.  I assumed they were annoyed with how busy the store was.

The cashier turned back to the conveyor belt and blew the onion "dust" (for lack of a better word) and muttered something I didn't understand.  The couple standing behind me put their hands up [like you do when you indicate that you are not at fault] and said "We're only the customers".

The cashier replied, "What am I? A monkey?"

This was the point that I began to notice that something seemed off.  As my language capabilities are quite child-like, I recognize animal names but not other possibly more important words.  I wasn't really sure what being a monkey would infer in Slovakia, but I gathered it wasn't positive.

As I do when I'm not sure how to read the situation, I remained mute.  Probably not helping the growing tension about....???

To make matters worse, I did not have small change to pay for my groceries.  As the cashier put my change down roughly, she again said something that amounted to this in my brain: "Next time...static...onions....static...bag...[I am very grumpy]"  I smiled and nodded [please note: this is my default response.  It doesn't necessarily mean I'm smiling and it doesn't necessarily mean I understand what I'm affirming with my nod.  It means that I feel that this is the easiest and simplest way to exit the situation and start over at the next one] and said "Dovidenia".

I turned away from the cashier and was walking out of the store doing some delayed processing of what had just happened and realized suddenly that I must have been supposed to put the bag of onions in a small plastic bag to prevent "dust" from getting everywhere.

the incriminating bag of onions

I fumed all the way home.  How was I supposed to know that?  She probably thought I was a rude, smug, snobby woman who only thinks of herself and not of anyone else.  How could she assume that about me?  I was just trying to save the environment and the onions already had a bag!

And again, I was confronted with the complexities of culture adjustment and discovery.  I'm not in a vacuum where the only variable is culture.  I'm in a chaotic equation of culture and language and personality and all the things that happen in any given day and in our lives in general that effect how we interact with people.

And I encountered in myself that strong feeling that I am right and other people are misunderstanding me that most often rears it's head when I feel uncertain, confused, overwhelmed, hurt and insecure.

I calmed down.  Now I see the story as pretty comical.  I'm still a little nervous that I'm going to be in that cashier's line when I go to the store.  And I now put things in plastic bags.  Just in case.