Thursday, June 27

images, tendencies, and commandments

the local public library is doing free Monday night yoga this summer, led by one of the proprietors of this local yoga place that I haven't yet visited.

I've been to Monday night library yoga twice so far. it's nice. last week, I lay there and breathed and thought a bit about about my ideal self.

{ image borrowed from this kind soul on Flickr

past versions of my ideal self have taken various shapes and sizes and attitudes. but one thing seems to always happen when I think about this future maybe-barely-realistically-attainable person. I think about what she looks like. 

draped over an armchair. surrounded by books and children in a sepia-looking library. wearing comfy (but very stylish) grey loungewear. surrounded by plants, accompanied by a fluffy orange cat and a cup of tea. dressed in homemade and perfectly-tailored dresses. slender but not too tall of course. curly (not frizzy) hair in a perfect messy bun. the perfect pair of glasses on a thoughtful face with a flawless complexion.

why is most of what I think about when I think about her centered on what she looks like? dresses like? what her body is shaped like and how her hair is styled? I picture her in short bursts of vivid-- with this kind of dress. that kind of toned abdomen. a certain kind of skin.

why don't I think half so much about what she does? how she spends her time and energy?
I do think about that too. but it's less easy to fixate on. visuals are easier. for some reason actions don't print themselves so firmly on my thoughts. they don't fit into the short bursts.

why not?

{ favourite oatmeal-chocolate-chip muffins } 

I’ve read so many blogs that have praised Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. Smacksy is the one that comes to mind most readily at the moment but I'm 76% sure I've seen the book mentioned by at least twelve other bloggers, too. 

maybe I'll read it someday. (probably not really though)

for now, I'm skim-reading Rubin's blog. which I came across not long ago, as one does, via another blog entirely, when a fellow-academic on twitter linked to this handy blog about building robust academic writing habits, in that post, under habit #6, there was a link.

this link: The Four Tendencies Quiz.

academic writing habit blogger, Dr. Katelyn Knox, advises that knowing what your tendencies are when it comes to meeting expectations (whether your own or other people's) is helpful for knowing how to nurture good habits.

so I took the quiz, and at the end I was supremely interested (though not really surprised) to learn that I am a Questioner.

of course I am. I would have to be, eh? (I suspect that most of my family members are also questioners-- we like to understand the reasons for doing a thing before we're gonna set out and do it.)

now, I know very well from skim-reading the rest of Gretchen Rubin's blog and website that she is using this quiz and her blog and her online presence generally to sell books and to book speaking gigs and such. and books with titles like "The Happiness Project" pretty much always sound hokey to me. it seems sales-pitchy, snake-oil-y, just a little bit. "buy my book! be happier!" yeah, okay.
but I'm also not unconvinced that there is value in these ideas. the knowledge that I tend to Question before I commit to any course of action or acquiesce to any expectations about how I should do things is kind of eye-opening, however much it also confirms what I already know about myself. it seems like there’s something to it. something insightful, something that feels mind-expanding and practical. it’s not The Answer or The Solution to anything-- no silver bullet-- but it is a starting point, perhaps.

elswhere on Rubin's blog there is a post about writing custom personal commandments for your life, as aspirational guideposts or whatnot. maybe this is hokey and maybe it's helpful. it can be both at once.

the first custom amelia commandment that came to mind was "always whip your own cream," which is an easy one, but also a synecdoche for my general preference for homemade and handmade stuff. if there is ever a plastic tub of cool whip in my kitchen, it will not be because I wanted it there.

it's kind of fun to try thinking of personalized commandments. I could probably articulate a few unconscious ones I follow already, about word usage and getting enough sleep and such.

maybe "take photographs of your old beat-up shoes" is another one I could formally adopt?

{ black flats from Goodwill }

{ polka-dot flip-flips from a Ross in Hawaii }

last week while I was laying in savasana at the end of yoga practice at the library, letting my thoughts drift, I thought of one more custom commandment: refuse the numbness. I guess this one is also shorthand. it's about a deep hope that I'll always be able to be surprised by things, to be affected by things instead of jaded and uninterested. that I'll always be able to listen to the universe sending me messages about itself, about me, about everything. it's easy to let default mode take over, but I don't want that. I want to always be looking for connections, finding things to care about, practicing sensitivity to the world and what I can do in it.

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