For several years I participated in a 30 Day Gratitude Challenge on Instagram in which participants post a photo relating to a daily prompt. Although I’m not using Instagram anymore and although I said I wasn’t going to do thirty days of anything this November, I thought it would be fun to see how far I could get before I fell off the wagon. I still follow the blogger who authors the contest. Her annual post sparked my annual interest. You’ll remember that at the conclusion of last week’s post I renewed an interest in making FUN a regular component of this year’s (New Year starting Nov. 1) wellness practice.
I made it one day. The prompt for Day One was Color. My submission for color was the wee turquoise bauble shown below. And then off the wagon I fell. Wheeee…
It’s not that I’m not grateful, mind you. It’s just that after I fell two weeks behind the pressure to catch up was too daunting in the shadow of all my other ongoing projects. So I let it go.
However, something good did come of it. I took some non-Tina photos that directly relate to my wellness practice and it felt juicy and agreeable and all-around yummy. I was rather harsh with myself over my motivations regarding compulsive picture-taking during the break-up with social media. You’ll remember my criticism that I was only taking photos so that I would have something to post, not because I wanted or needed to create something beautiful or fulfilling. I’ve now taken some time to allow my motivations to realign without the gratuity of social media. My penchant for making pretty pictures has returned.
The bamboo grove at the Jesus Crack House adds to the sanctuary feeling of my back yard. My long-time readers have heard me say it a dozen times—I bought the house for the yard. I loved the feeling of the property more than I cared about the swank of the dwelling (there’s no swank). Although it is winsome and serene and provides a natural screen, the bamboo requires a lot of work to maintain. Endless work. I am a slave to this bamboo in winter and summer alike. It’s hard to control during the growing season. It’s hard to cull during the dying season. It must be constantly trimmed and weeded and cleared in order to keep it safe and shapely and manageable. It is a labor of love completely worth the effort. My serene green retreat is magical and meditative and soothing all year round. Birds roost in it, bringing song in the morning and evening. Lizards hibernate in it, bringing futile hunt entertainment to the resident canine. Now that we are in conservation mode with our resources it is an endless source of kindling for the fire pit. Domestic wellness, my friends. It matters.
I am loath to give anyone cause to think I am appropriating a culture that does not belong to me but honestly, white people of mixed European heritage who have no living links to their native spiritual cultures hardly have a choice. The Crusades destroyed whatever we originally believed and practiced spiritually. If we want resonant rituals and observances to compliment our blanched binomial prescription for spiritual wellness we have to borrow them.
I swear to you, if I had any clue how to practice the original faith(s) of my original people, I would do so. However, I am bereft of those roots. At best I would have to guess at it. Both my maternal and paternal lines through history are lost to me; I can’t go back beyond one generation. Everyone is either dead or I was forbidden to know them, or both. I know one side was Germanic. The other side was Celtic. That’s all I’ve got. If I study the ancient pre-Christian religions of either people I find a wealth of options available to me in the hypothetical. It’s awfully hard to authentically honor a heritage in the hypothetical. I’d just have to pick something; close my eyes and point, and from a handful of possibilities adopt a random ideology as my own. That’s cultural appropriation too, isn’t it?
That was a long way of prefacing the other photo, I know. I truly enjoyed making it because I wanted to recreate the unfocused gaze of open-eye meditation. The Hindu and Buddhist folk have a lovely morning ritual of puja or pooja. It’s an offering of food, drink, or flowers along with morning prayers or meditation. My serene green back yard retreat includes a meditation garden. On the weekends I cut some of my homegrown flowers and light incense and offer my morning prayers in the sunshine that spills over the top of the hill above my house. It’s probably not an authentic puja because it isn’t dedicated to an official deity but it definitely feels sacred, which is the point of a ritual—to make an otherwise ordinary action ceremonial. The photo above included the last of my Indian Summer roses. We got our first hard frost this week so I won’t have any more homegrown flowers until spring. It may have been my last floral offering of the year. I’ll have to switch to something else moving forward.
Okay, back to the fun. While I was still teaching public yoga classes I used to take tons of yoga selfies for the social media feed of the business. I went through a phase in which I took photos of myself in poses that weren’t necessarily asana and captioned them “Sometimes yoga looks like this.” The idea was to continuously remind my former students and followers that there are eight aspects of yoga and only one of them is asana (the physical postures). This is a throwback to that series, just for fun:
Other than the added text it is a completely raw photograph. No filter, no editing. I didn’t crop out my head; the camera was positioned too low to get it. Note the dirty dog paw prints on my britches and the arm awkwardly extended out of the frame to keep the dog’s butt from bombing it (like the five or six shots I was forced to delete). You can see the Tina image I finally managed to get down below in the slideshow but I wanted to offer this one because it was fun to salvage it. Sometimes yoga is dirty and awkward and your head just isn’t in it. Practice anyway.
Here’s another outtake that I did edit but didn’t select for the final cut:
Disclaimer: this was not my yoga business. I bought the sweatshirt from a vendor at a half marathon last year. That one impulse buy has become one of my cold weather wardrobe staples.
Can you tell I had more fun this time? The greyscale camera stare was my only attempt at a double exposure this week. I added the additional effects for (you guessed it) fun. Also fun is the pop of my red coffee cup in on the windowsill of the Trailside winner. The flare on my cheek in half face frame? Fun by accident. Jalapenos and Santa Fe Grand peppers were rescued 12 hours before the killing frost. Ironically, we put them in freezer (ha!) but they will make our home-cooked cuisine more fun this winter.
Also in the Trailside Tina, the longer I sat on the porch the more dramatic the early evening light became. The shadow of the railing across the frame is my favorite part. It inspired the next day’s shadow fence climber/cage rattler image, which I got at almost high noon.
Alrighty, that’s another week of self-portraits hosted and posted. Much love to everyone who endured this with me. It’s a good feeling to come back around to positive overtones about the project after getting so thoroughly sick of it. I’m almost looking forward to next week. Until then, let there be fun in your wellness practices too.
— Cremy Nunntuffs