I’ve been fascinated with the relatively recent feature of the WordPress Reader: the Suggestions that show at the top, just above the feed. What’s so curious about them is:
I often have no idea what the suggested keywords mean. Homesteading? Sous vide? Come on, don’t swear at me! Don’t tell me what that is though, I already Googled and confirmed that I’m highly uninterested in these subjects.
The suggestions are extremely random. I would’ve thought that as all other advertising (which is what suggested content really means), the keywords would be personalised. I don’t think they are, otherwise I couldn’t have been offered Homeschooling, Politics and Toddlers, all of which I intensely don’t care about.
The whole thing is so hilarious! I waste time taking the three words suggested and using them in a poem or something. Like the thing below, which incorporates my latest incongruous suggestions of Beauty, yoga and Batman.
Beauty is—not a thing
But if it were
It would be
With my arms up
in a flying V
In the position
of a tree
Don’t be afraid, I’m not going to talk about my bowels. At least, not specifically and not in graphic detail. However, I had the chance for the first time to step on a smart bathroom scale which, besides your weight, displays the percentages of water, fat and muscle in your body. I was pretty surprised by the results and I should probably do something about it. Like, I don’t know, eat something.
Now, I’m aware I’m underweight and I try not to make too much fuss, except keeping tabs on my weight to make sure it doesn’t drop below the pretty random limit of 47 kg (103 lb). That was my weight when I was getting married. (Why, yes, I was a very insubstantial bride.) Now I’m slightly below 50 kg (110 lbs), including a cat sitting on my shoulder. I would probably benefit from weighting more, but I quite enjoy people giving me free food just by the look of me.
What the smart scale told me though was that I had 45.5% of muscle in the body and 14.2% fat. That’s ridiculous. That’s a lot of muscle for a woman of my age and build, and it must be wrong. I look anything but muscular. (Though there is a mini-muscle forming on my shoulders from my yoga planks and downdogs.) Also, my fat percentage is basically health-threateningly low. WTF. This must be wrong too, unless it’s right because I don’t have boobs and hips, where most women have fat stored.
The scale scared the shit out of me. It suggested that my proportions were that of a top athlete, which isn’t a good thing when you’re not a top athlete. Top athletes are doing nothing but ruining their health. I’m already ruining my health with smoking, so I should consider getting fat for my health’s sake. This is a confusing concept. I’ve been on a vegan-like health-focused diet (plus Oreos) for long enough to completely lose appetite for anything else (except Oreos). It’s awkward when you actually start liking healthy food. And it’s super awkward that I should change my diet for something less healthy. I wonder how this happened.
Today, I woke up hot. Not sexy hot (because I’m always that — wishful positive thinking), but hot hot. If you’ve been so unfortunate and bored as to follow my complaints about malfunctioning radiators, you’ll be surprised to hear this. I was surprised to feel this. At first, I thought I’ve grown tough and got used to being constantly at the brink of dying of exposure.
So I hopped off to take my morning shower, positively beaming with hotness, and as I reached for my towel, I burnt my hand on the radiator. This made me and the cat jump. What’s just happened? How has the radiator that was ice-cold like my heart yesterday become as boiling as my brain today? Have I taken one pill too many? Have I slept through winter and is it summer again?
It remains a mystery. The most logical explanation is that the radiator man who failed to come yesterday because he was playing Godot fixed my radiator remotely. I know it doesn’t make sense. If you have a more reasonable explanation, go ahead and tell me. Also, if you’ve sent me blankets, I’m good now. Instead, you can send thongs. If thongs are flip-flops for you, please send me European size 38, smart look. If thongs are panties for you, please give me size XS, cute look. Thank you.
Here’s the ultimate proof that I’m hot. I was practising my morning yoga barefoot. I am aware that yoga shall always be practised barefoot, but that doesn’t bar me from wearing toeless socks when it’s cold.
You might think that the yoga mindset precludes bragging. Not for me. I won’t let any zen thought occlude my better judgement. I will abstain from arguing that you should do yoga if you like yourself (and especially if you don’t like yourself), instead I will provide a list of cool reasons to do yoga. All of them tested and approved by me (because I’m a self-proclaimed expert on pretty much anything. Also, did I mention recently that I’m a doctor? Just to be clear on this.).
The really good reasons to become a yogi are as follows:
You get to wear cute yoga pants. I don’t mean the shabby yoga pants that you’re already wearing all the time, with a hole in the crotch area where the Asian kiddo labourers didn’t sew the seams properly. I mean real fancy yoga pants that you only use for actually doing yoga. I suggest getting several lengths, including short shorts for summer. Be cheeky.
You get to terrify people. Simply strike a warrior one, two, three, and take it to a dancer from there. Alternately, if you’re feeling lazy, just collapse into a forward fold and start drawing yin and yang with your hands in the dust. People will start dialling 911 because they’ll think you broke. When they realise it’s perfectly normal, they’ll think you’re a kickass (or dumbass, depending on the people).
You get to impress people with pearls of zen wisdom. Accept that it is what it is (Buddhist tautology). Choose to let go of that which doesn’t serve you. Know that the universe is for you and so is everything else. Please know that you’re not required to actually believe this shit. You only need to be able to say it with a straight face. Optimally, after letting such a pearl drop, join your hands in a prayer and bow your head slightly. Namaste (or, as I prefer to say, the darkness in me recognises and honours the darkness in you).
Recently I noticed a huge discussion sparkled about MS Paint, which was announced to be retired but the decision was promptly withdrawn because people are sentimental about it and not ready to let it go yet. I’m pretty unsentimental and don’t give a shit.
But—this was the first app (then called programme) that I ever used on a computer. I was in my early teens and among the first at school who got a computer at home and later, dial-up internet. I was allowed an hour of computer time per day and spent it drawing wildly coloured zig-zags in Paint because I couldn’t draw a straight line if the life of my dog depended on it (yes, I was a dog person as a kid).
For the sake of reminiscing, for the sake of trying something new (something so old that it is new again) and just for the kick out of it, I opened Paint today on my laptop. I selected a thick painting brush and started to draw circles. My mouse movements, though I thought them quite precise, translated into very shaky and jagged lines.
I’ve always been attracted to warm colours and to the shape of the circle. I find warm colours soothing and the circle is the only shape that doesn’t have edges. I feel edges as threatening. Whenever I attempt anything with a brush or a colour pencil (which is rarely), I do circles, semi-circles or waves. I am aware that I suck at being creative and I can’t produce anything even approaching a realistic depiction, so I always do abstract crap.
Since I started doing yoga a few years ago or so, and especially since I started meditating, I became a bit interested in the philosophy of the whole thing. It’s not that there is any unified philosophy, and I’m not really looking for one either. However, I came across a number of concepts which appeal to me and to which I can relate. It’s best described as a personal eclectic selection from Zen Buddhism.
The traditional symbol of zen is ensō, a circle which is hand-drawn in one stroke and not corrected once it’s complete. I prefer an open circle, whose openness implies development, movement and is associated with the beauty of imperfection. The practise of drawing ensō is a self-expression of the creator at one particular moment, which is transient. It allows for the release of the mind, letting go of the need to be in control, allowing oneself to be imperfect. This is obviously helpful for anyone with mental health issues.
During my yoga practice, I have been experimenting with mantras, which is like positive affirmations, but more specifically, it’s an idea you keep in mind while doing things on the yoga mat and, perhaps, off the mat too. At first it sounded like mambo jumbo to me. Then, I had to admit that for your mindset, it is more beneficial to be telling yourself something positive than to be imprinting on your mind that you’re a loser (the latter of which is what I’m naturally inclined to do).
What I have ultimately learned from yoga are some generally applicable values which I’m trying to cultivate. I’m not saying I’m any successful at it, just that I have discovered and pinned down the words for some values that are important to me. I’ve never been religious or spiritual, and I still keep it pretty secular, but it’s a new experience all the same. In case you wonder, among the things I’m working on are: generosity, patience, gratitude, acceptance, fearlessness, focus, flow and others. Also, I’m practising creativity—I mean, I just made a connection between MS Paint and Zen Buddhism.
I know, I’m weird with my diminutives. I have socksies, shoesies, panties and whatnotsies. On my defence, it’s perfectly normal in my mother tongue to diminutivise what you hate the least. Today I hate my toeless sockies the least of everything that I hate the least, with the exception of the catsie (aka the cat), whom I always hate the least by default. (I have it all figured out.)
I use the toeless socksies for my yogsie practice on cold days. (Yoga is belittled here as yogsie because my limited take on yoga doesn’t deserve its full name.) My feet are as cold as my heart (that is, if I had any heart at all, it would be as cold as my feet) and regular socks are pretty much impossible to exercise in, given that the poses (posies) one strikes in yoga require a firm grasp of the ground with your soles and toes. Now, wait for it, my sockies are also equipped with rubber anti-slip soles. Cool, right? Or rather, warm.
I can’t stand. No, seriously, I can’t stand properly. I suspect all of my body alignment is all messed up. I wouldn’t have noticed, had I not started to practise yoga. And then I wouldn’t have noticed, had I not occasionally made a video of my workout in order to check to what extent I’m doing it wrong.
I’ve come to suspect that I’m doing it all wrong, even those poses that look right at the first sight. That wouldn’t be much of a problem, except by doing it wrong, I’m likely crippling myself. That wouldn’t be much of a problem either, except I’m pretty much in permanent pain now.
Especially my knees don’t like my daily yoga. My shoulders, arms and neck aren’t too excited either. Perversely, it doesn’t hurt when I exercise, it hurts most when I do nothing. Like when I stand. Standing has become quite an ordeal. I focused on checking my alignment when I stand and found that I tilt weirdly forwards, probably putting undue pressure on the knees.
Now, the obvious solution is to stop exercising. That’s not happening, as I’m prone to addictions, and I’ve apparently become addicted to my yoga routine. I mean, I get up early when I go to a yoga class so I could practise my morning yoga before that. I have no clue how that happened, as I’ve always been strongly anti-exercise.
Another obvious solution is to seek out medical advice. I’ve been gathering courage, or rather the mental immunity, to do this for a while but so far I haven’t ventured. Now that I’m blogging about it, I’m more likely to pay my GP a visit though—if only so that I could report that it went as I suspected and that no advice was provided.
This sounds depressing, and I’m not sure what about it I hated the least today. Oh wait, I know now, I’ll need to see my GP promptly and report back with a triumphant “I told you so”. I like “I told you so”, it’s part of my culture and upbringing. There’s no better malignant pleasure than in “I told you so”, even when you tell it to yourself.
After a year and a half of home yoga practice, I ventured in a public class, hoping this would help me with the correct alignment of the poses. Well, that didn’t work out. The class was however hugely humorous, so it helped me at least with mood boost. Not to be confused with zen boost, as I’m strictly a zen-o-phobe.
Generally speaking, in a first-world yoga class, I would expect the instructor to take rounds and advise the students on what they’re doing wrong, to the accompaniment of instrumental music and burning candles. In a second-world yoga class, I was unsure what to expect, and while I hate surprises, this surprise was fun.
The yoga studio (yoga den, rather) was in an outbuilding in the yard of another building, which was entered through a garage door. It consisted of a small anteroom and the main room. No changing room, no showers, but one restroom, which I neither needed nor dared to check out. Well, whatever, I arrived first, so I changed into my yoga set while no one was around.
Hardly did I pull my leggings up when a guy materialised behind my back. I didn’t expect there would be guys. Because yoga. I was wondering for a while if I accidentally wandered in a tantric sex class. Well, I didn’t. It was an intermediate yoga class, which was about the right level. It wasn’t the poses that confused me as much as the fact that the instructor spoke in Czech, while I practise with English language yoga videos.
I didn’t particularly like the instructor, which doesn’t mean anything, as I don’t like people. I was mildly puzzled by her choice to say Warrior One when she means High Lunge. Maybe she doesn’t know how to say high lunge in Czech. Neither do I. It’s impossible. I manifested the good sense not to argue with the instructor.
After the fun class, I had some more fun because I chose public humiliation rather than changing clothes in public—really I just didn’t feel like putting on clean clothes when sweaty—so I walked home wearing spandex, which should never be worn outside of gym. No one cared, of course. I’ll probably just leave the house straight in my workout clothes next time. Whatever.
I’m scared of people who take a perfectly normal thing, like eating or exercising, and turn it into a whole lifestyle, so making it somewhat abnormal. The trouble is that people with a conscious lifestyle (orthodox yogis, vegetarians, non-gluten eaters, you name it) tend to spread their enlightenment like crusaders.
I found myself very uplifted when I came across a YouTube channel of a slightly creepy but likeable guy who pokes fun at conscious lifestyle leaders. While it’s difficult to say to what extent it’s a marketing pose, it can’t be denied that the man possesses the rare qualities of common sense and sense of humour.
Below is the first video I saw (I think it’s all over the internet now), which is somewhat lengthy for my taste but you don’t need to watch for more than a few seconds to see how he nails it.
My special favourite is his yoga video, which is hilarious and which also gives him away as a yoga practitioner (if he didn’t do yoga, I doubt he’d be able to strike the poses, plus check out his figure). It begins: The three most important things in my life are: God, my family and my Instagram account. Said with a deadpan face. Gotta love this.