Lately I've been singing out loud while walking Buddy. Not the whole time. And not very loudly. And sometimes I whistle instead. But I never used to do that--sing out loud while walking the dog.
Maybe I'm doing it now because there are less people around, especially in the mornings. But I also sometimes do it a little during our 2nd walk of the day, when more people are out and about.
This morning it was the Inspector Gadget theme song, thanks to watching a YouTube video last night full of 80's cartoon theme songs.
Yesterday it was Back in the Day (Puff) by Erykah Badu. And I think it came to mind because the day before I charged up an old, retired, phone to listen to some music I hadn't heard in a long time. I don't recall this song playing, but it did have a bunch of Erykah Badu in it.
And "Back in the day when things were cool," does go through my head from time to time anyway. And this seems like an appropriate time for those words, considering how things have changed...
Even though I'm doing really well through this pandemic and the stay at home order, and my life actually hasn't changed all that much, thing have changed. Some changes are not so cool. But, to be quite honest, some changes are. I mean, I get to do my favorite thing--teach Sheng Zhen-- 5 days a week from the comfort of my living room AND I can reach more people that way (people who couldn't attend in person classes because of schedule or location).
Nevertheless, "Back in the day when things were cool" goes through my head, and yesterday I was singing it out loud during our morning walk.
I'd alternate between that and... get ready for this... this may shock some of you, but... "The Spirit of God is upon me. Whoa oh oh! The Spirit of God is upon me." I hadn't even heard this song since January or maybe February--whenever it was played in the Inward Journey class I'm taking at the Center for Spiritual Living.
And, yes, someday I will be sharing more about my evolving relationship with the word (and concept) of "God", a word that used to make me feel uncomfortable, a word I used to avoid but now sometimes sing out loud as I walk down the street. But that's not what this blog post is about. So, back to the songs I sing...
The day before yesterday, it was a song I must've heard on the radio last time I drove my car--almost 2 weeks ago. Not sure how else Doobie Ashtray got into my head, even though "back in the day" I used to listen to it a lot. And as I said in the Curiosity Walk, I don't even remember the last time I smoked, so it's weird that these weed-related songs are going through my head. Maybe it's nostalgia? I have been looking at old photos and talking to long-time friends a lot...
So the day before yesterday, and the day before that, I'm walking around singing, "Whatcha gonna do when you're all alone And you wanna smoke weed But the reefer's all gone? Don't front." Actually, it's "What you gonna do when the people go home" but i've been singing it as "whatcha gonna do when you're all alone" since, you know... social distancing and being all alone (other than Buddy).
And maybe that's one reason for the singing out loud--keeping myself company. Being playful with myself. Soothing myself. Entertaining myself. Uplifting myself... and possibly anyone who happens to hear me.
The singing out loud started longer ago than just a few days ago. But that's tied into the story of the "G" word, so I'll save that for another time.
In the meantime, when was the last time you sang out loud while doing something like walking down the street? Or do you miss singing in your car while commuting? Maybe it's time to go for a drive, even if just to sing.
One reason I've been feeling so good is because of establishing a sense of continuity and normalcy in my routine--as much as possible. And the biggest example of that in my life is that as soon as I found out my in-person classes were cancelled, I moved forward with setting up online classes for Sheng Zhen meditation and qigong.
There are many things we cannot change or control. But this was something I could do to create a sense of continuity and normalcy both for myself and for my regular students. And I knew that would be just as good for our physical and mental health as the practices themselves.
So, after getting the email about class cancellations on a Thursday night, 12 hours after having just taught a class, I emailed some of my students to say stay tuned. And the next day I set up the online classes. I didn't wait for permission. I didn't wait for where I usually teach to come up with an online plan. I knew that on Tuesday I would still be teaching. And I'd teach every Tuesday and Thursday no matter what.
I felt proactive. Of service. And crystal clear.
In addition to it being my joy, I knew, without a doubt, that my regular students would want this. And I knew others would benefit from it too, so I put the word out to the general public.
And it's been amazing. The place I usually teach at on Tuesdays and Thursdays even got their own online plan together and so now even more people are showing up via Zoom!
And students are sharing about how it makes them smile, brings calm, and just how helpful it is now. For my regular students, I'm sure part of the benefit is that sense of continuity, and even "normalcy" even though we're online rather than in person.
So back to that idea of continuity and normalcy in times of big changes and uncertainty....
Like I said above, it's helpful for our health. Especially our mental health. We can't control everything, but there are some things we can control. There are still ways in which we can exercise choice in a way that serves us best.
The truth is, for me, life isn't all that much different because, in addition to being a homebody, I mostly work from home anyway. But the other day while walking my dog, I was thinking that if I were somebody who commuted each day, not just twice a week, this whole "stay at home" thing would probably feel hard and strange.
So, here are some ideas if you're struggling with staying home, especially if you used to work away from home:
1) If you normally commute, consider taking a drive if you have a car, even just a short one during at least one of the times that you're usually on the road. Or go for a walk or bike ride at that time. Or go out into your yard if you have one.
2) As much as possible, maintain the same kind of schedule you had before. If your kids are home, too, maybe this is not fully possible, but hopefully at least somewhat possible. Or maybe you adapt your schedule so that you can fit in some of your "normal" activities before the kids get up or after they go to sleep?
3) If you're not already participating in online group activities (ie meetings, dances, my classes, etc.), consider participating in some group online activities--especially at the times that you used to, before things changed. For example, if you used to attend yoga classes, find a yoga class online, or just practice on your own at that time. Or if you always went out for dinner or a movie or a walk with a certain friend or group of friends, set up some sort of virtual hang out. And if you don't like the group idea? Video call a friend or family member. Reach out. Find ways to connect and interact with others.
I'm going to just leave you with that. I might have some other ideas, but I also am considering rewriting and expanding this to submit to an online journal, in which case it's best not to write it all here first! ;-)
Just get creative. This is a great time to learn how to adapt and think outside the box. It's also a great time to slow down and do some self-reflecting. And it's also a great time to feel your feelings. It's okay if you're feeling sad, scared, anxious, bored, lonely, frustrated, etcetera. I just don't want you to get stuck in those emotions.
And I'm here if you need some support.
I just came home from walking Buddy, and I must’ve written about 4 articles in my head--or at least the beginnings of those articles. I’m good at that--thinking of the beginning for a great article, book, etc. But then I get sidetracked, like right now. So, back to the walk! ;)
First, I just felt so happy that I started writing something in my head about feelings, moods, ups and downs. But then I started to wonder, “Is it just the coffee?”
I started drinking coffee this year. Instead of a new year’s resolution to stop drinking coffee, I resolved to start! No joke. For real.
Not every day. But sometimes, especially on days dedicated to working on getting my book done--a book about detoxing. How ironic! Right? Is that the correct use of the word “ironic?” I still get confused about that sometimes...
But coffee! Back to the coffee. Although all this covid-19 craziness threw me off of my book editing schedule, I was drinking some coffee even on non-book-editing-days, just to perk me up a bit. Again, not every day, but enough to mistake heartburn for possible signs of coronavirus! Yep. I shit you not. I was freaked out for a second there.
I’d never had acid reflux before, but after a few days of telling myself I was just having a bad reaction to inhaling clorox wipes, I remembered that one of the symptoms of heartburn is the strange feeling I was experiencing in my throat. So I cut out the coffee for a few days, and my throat feels normal again.
So, naturally, I decided to drink some coffee this morning now that I concluded my experiment! And that is why I wondered if it was just the coffee making me feel so incredibly happy this morning.
It’s probably not just the coffee, but I want to write more about that another time. Soon....
Right now, I want to share more about this “Curiosity Walk.”
My thoughts about feelings got interrupted by a strong smell. “Is that weed?!” I wondered, as I scrunched up my nose and looked around. “Or is it a skunk?”
I don’t think there are skunks around here. Someone must’ve been out on their porch smoking right before I walked by. And that nostalgic smell got me thinking about how long it’s been since I smoked. I can’t remember the last time, it’s been so long. But I could remember the first time, back in high school. And that is definitely a whole other story. Perhaps another time…
My thoughts of weed and high school got interrupted by a loud sound. “Is that a woodpecker?” I wondered. It sure sounded like one other than just how loud it was. Maybe it was some sort of power tool?
Pretty sure it was a woodpecker, but I felt curious. And then I noticed a house that had recently been painted bright blue, and they had a big pile of soil outside and some new landscaping in the works. I wondered if they’re preparing to sell or just doing this upgrading for themselves. Whatever the reason, I felt really happy looking at their bright blue house, their dark brown soil, and all the new plantlife in their front yard. Life goes on...
And that’s when I realized that this was not just a curiosity walk, but a sensory presencing walk. Is that a real term? Or did I just make it up? Sensory presencing… I used to call it a “sensory smorgasbord.” I used to lead gatherings where I’d lead people through a guided meditation, focusing on one sense at a time. Sometimes there was food involved. I also wrote about it in my book, The Multi-Orgasmic Diet.
And then it all came full circle.
This is one reason I’m happy even when times are tough. I am aware. I am in my body. I engage with my senses. I have a playful, curious mind. And I let the simple things delight me and fulfill me.
Not always. But often. Sometimes I forget. But usually I remember--or don’t even need to remember. It’s become pretty natural. And now I’m curious again, wondering if it became natural or if it was always who I was. Is this actually how we all start off when we come into the world? Does the process of growing up dull our senses, take us out of our bodies and into our heads?
And there I go again, into my head. ;) Nothing wrong with that. It's fun to think about things. But sometimes when I'm looking at a screen, I forget to breathe, or don't breathe deep. And I'm craving some movement now. So, I’ll stop this here. It’s time to roll out the yoga mat.... It's time to breathe.
How about you? What are you curious about? And what will you do today to drop into your body?
Rebecca Clio Gould is a Certified Sheng Zhen Teacher and Holistic Wellness Coach. Her specialties include self-love, embodied joy, women's sexuality, spirituality, surgery preparation, and trauma recovery. She is also a Supreme Science Qigong Instructor, Essence vs Form Coach, and Award-winning Author of "The Multi-Orgasmic Diet: Embrace Your Sexual Energy and Awaken Your Senses for a Healthier, Happier, Sexier You."