Posts Tagged ‘duh moments’

It’s trusting that doing things to take care of yourself doesn’t mean that anyone else is less important.
Havi Brooks (on sovereignity)

I’ve been wanting to re-establish my Shiva Nata practice for a while, now. The fact that it’s been gone for a while, though, suggests that there’s something else lurking in the shadows, too. And what would be a better way to figure out the lurkers than to do some Shiva Nata and then let my mind associate its way to the answer.

Meta Nata

The good thing about not having done serious Shiva Nata for a while is that I’m really rusty. In other words, it doesn’t take too much to get me mixed up and open to epiphany central. This time, I only had to do a few starting positions of Level 2 with legs, and it wasn’t long until I was getting lost and having to start again.

Excellent. 🙂

After doing about four starting positions and mirror reflections of Level 2, I grabbed a glass of water and sat down at my computer. My husband had agreed to take care of the baby while I did my Shiva Nata and writing, so I could concentrate.

At the top of the document, I wrote “Why am I not doing Shiva Nata?” and took a sip of water. Then, I started writing all the things that popped into my awareness. And believe me, there was a lot of popping happening


It has been quite a while since I’ve had one of those “well, duh!” -moments about my patterns. Then again, with the break in Shiva Nata, that’s no surprise either. 🙂 I discovered a few different threads behind my resistance (or maybe indifference?) towards doing Shiva Nata.

The biggest pattern behind it, however, was the whole “not putting myself first” thing. As in, I often remember the possibility of doing Shiva Nata late in the evening, when I’m already going to bed. At that point, I don’t want to give my brain the kind of zap Shiva Nata would cause, so I skip it. In the morning, I hardly have any time to grab breakfast, since the baby needs to be fed, changed, clad and cuddled. And all through the day, I’m more or less tied to the baby when she’s awake.

My husband does help with the baby, of course, but since I’m the one with the food, I can’t delegate all of the responsibility to him. And when the baby sleeps during the day, I seem to gravitate towards less physical activities, such as watching TV or hanging out online.

There’s also the body aspect. During pregnancy and right after giving birth, there’s a kind of protective barrier around the body image. It’s not as much my body as it is a vessel of taking care of, and bringing about, a whole new person. As soon as I start taking care of my body purely for the sake of me, I become (as the voices in my head bellow) a selfish person who puts her own well-being before that of her baby, and how can I be such a horrible monster.

The oxygen mask thing

Yesterday, Havi wrote about sovereignity. About putting your own oxygen mask on first. Incidentally, that’s also what Flylady is all about – loving yourself first so there’s enough of you left to take care of others, too.

I’ve already realized I have to drink enough water and eat well to be able to feed the baby. I’m also beginning to realize I have to get my sleep when the baby sleeps (even though she currently sleeps like an angel, only getting up a few times a night to feed) so I’m not overwhelmingly tired when she’s awake. Being tired makes it easier to start resenting her for demanding care – something I don’t want to end up doing.

In addition to the physical aspects, I think I also have to take care of my mind. The better I feel about myself both physically and mentally, the better equipped I am to interact with her, to connect with my baby, to find ways to communicate. It’s easier for me to try and figure out the message she’s sending when she cries, so I can respond to her needs and eventually remove the cause of her discomfort. I have the energy and the motivation to provide her with inspiration and learning opportunities. In short, I’ll be a better mother when I take care of myself.

Plus, I’ll be a happier person for my own sake. And no, it’s not selfishness, if I’m not doing it at the expense of other people. (This is a huge statement, coming from me, by the way.) Now, if only I could find a way to remember this tomorrow. And the day after, and the day after that.

My goal? Trying to put in five minutes of Shiva Nata every day, topped off with a few minutes of quiet sitting down. I think that’s manageable, even with a two-month-old fighting for my attention. After all, we’ll both benefit from it.

Thank you for stopping by again – and keep catching your own (possibly Shiva Nata-inspired) insightings!



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the implicit or metaphorical meaning (as of a literary text)
(Merriam-Webster Online)

Today’s insighting was inspired by a conversation I had with my dear fiancé the other day. It was A Typical Conversation in Two Acts:

In Act I, we were talking past each other while seemingly communicating;

In Act II,  we started talking about what it was exactly that the other heard in the remarks we made in Act I.

That got me thinking about subtext, a literary or dramatic notion about the implied meaning behind what is said.

Subtext and drama text

The play on the page might have the following dialogue:

J: I love you.
M: What?
J: You heard me.
M: I sure did.

It’s up to the director of the play to figure out what happens during and between those lines. In other words, what is actually meant by the characters when they utter those lines.

If you wanted to make it a (cheesy) romantic comedy scene, you could go with the following subtexts:

J: I love you. (Please don’t reject me?)
M: What? (This is a dream come true!)
J: You heard me. (You are… happy?)
M: I sure did. (Come here and let me embrace you!)

If, on the other hand, you wanted to make it a tragic scene depicting the relationship between a mother and a child, you don’t have to change the lines, just the subtext:

J: I love you. (You owe me your life!)
M: What? (How can you guilt me like that?!)
J: You heard me. (I have the power in this situation.)
M: I sure did. (I am so disappointed.)

Add to this the layer of movement, gesture and facial expression, and you get two very different interpretations of the same script.

Of course, the actors know each others’ subtexts. In an ordinary conversation, though, we can’t always be sure of how our remarks are interpreted. Even more importantly, we can’t be sure if we’ve interpreted the other person correctly.

Subtext and everyday communication

For every single utterance, there are a multitude of interpretations depending on the context and the relationship of the interlocutors. The degree of appropriate directness between interlocutors, first of all, is determined by the formality of the situation and their distance in social hierarchy.

Then there are politeness and imposition issues – it’s all right to be direct when asking for the salt in the breakfast table, whereas it’s quite another matter to ask your boss for a raise or a week off work. This I hope to come back to later.

With indirectness, then, comes the problem of multiple interpretations. And this is where subtext marches onstage.

Case in point: The Typical Conversation (Act I)

This is how I interpreted the conversation

Me: I’m feeling crappy about that thing you did or didn’t do.
– – subtext: I’m feeling bad.

J: But blah blah blah, I did blah blah. (I’m rephrasing here)
– – subtext: You are not allowed to feel bad.
Me: The thing was, blah blah…
– – subtext: I am too allowed to be upset, you blockhead!
J: But couldn’t you have blah blah…
– – subtext: It’s your own fault you’re feeling upset, so there! Ha!

and so on.

This is how J told me he had interpreted the conversation

Me: I’m feeling crappy about that thing you did or didn’t do.
– – subtext: You ruined my day and are a lousy person

J: But blah blah blah, I did blah blah. (I’m rephrasing here)
– – subtext: You are attacking me and I don’t think I did anything wrong.
Me: The thing was, blah blah…
– – subtext: You lousy person, I’m determined to make you sorry!
J: But couldn’t you have blah blah…
– – subtext: You’re blaming me for your own mistakes, ma’am!

In other words, it was the classic I-need-to-be-heard, he-feels-the-need-to-defend pattern. Even though I really was trying to be constructive, instead of starting out with:

Me: You f**king d******, why do you always blah blah blah!!
– – subtext: I’m feeling bad.

What eventually defused the situation – and marked the transition between Acts I and II – was J’s comment:
J: I understand you’re upset
– – subtext: I understand you’re upset

After hearing that, I didn’t need to convince him that, indeed, I was feeling upset. From his point of view, I could stop attacking him and start thinking about whether or not I’d had something to do with the end result, too.

It’s all very classic communications stuff, but it was interesting to see just how deep these pre-programmed scripts of subtexts can run. And how long it took both of us to realise that it was not, in fact, about the initial issue anymore.

Talk about a duh moment. Wait – we weren’t, like, listening to each other? Whoah.

As for the topic of saying what you mean and meaning what you say… ahhh. A large part of the pragmatical branch of linguistics is concerned with the mechanisms around that very phenomenon.

I promise to unleash my inner linguist and address those mechanisms as soon as I get some empirical material to illustrate my points. With the holidays coming up, I have no doubt my data will be plentiful.

Have a lovely weekend (or week, if you’re reading the archives), and keep catching your own insightings!



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Everything happens to everybody sooner or later if there is time enough.
George Bernard Shaw

Every single insighting doesn’t really stretch itself to an essay. Nevertheless, they still want to be heard, or else they’ll keep mulling around inside my head like an insomniac in a sleeping bag.

1. Mental images make me a better singer.

I’m a fairly decent singer to begin with. I’ve been singing in my band, F.A.R.O, for about seven years now, and we practice about once a week or so. In yesterday’s band practice I had two little *ding!*s that both had to do with mental images and the power of my imagination.

First, my singing gets stronger if I imagine I’m singing from my heels. This has nothing to do with my actual heels and everything to do with the feeling of “channeling” the sound through my body up to my throat and mouth, thereby activating my supporting core muscles. The mental image also takes my mind off the actual singing, which is a purely positive thing once the song is familiar. Too much conscious effort just makes my singing sound contrived.

The other mental image insighting came when we were ad libbing a new song riff. As the singer, I have two things to mind when ad libbing: the melody and the lyrics. Mostly I just doo be doo happily along, but that leaves my conscious mind free to latch on to my melodies. “You’ve done that bit in at least a dozen songs already!”, “You’re totally ripping that off from the hit song on the radio!”, “Don’t even try to hit that high note, you’ll never reach it!”…

Yesterday, though, as I was listening to the riff and feeling the mood, a mental image came up in my mind’s eye. Rather than ignore it or let it float by, I started singing about the image, and about all the associations that came up with it. The rhymes weren’t necessarily Shakespearean, but – again – it took my conscious effort off the singing and onto the verbal content.

This has probably a lot to do with the fact that I’m a total amateur. I’ve never had any formal training and I’m really slow at reading music. When I ignore my mental censor, reminding me I don’t really know this stuff, my unconscious knowledge of music gets activated. Whoah.

2. Today’s Duh moment insighting

When making just one cup of coffee, it’s best to not start experimenting whether the milk in the oldest carton is still fresh enough.

Chances are it’ll look fine when you mix just a little coffee with just a little milk, and then when you pour in the whole cup the milk curdles.

Which would mean you’d have to throw out the coffee and set the coffee pot again. Just saying, you know, hypothetically.

3. The mysteries of driving in morning traffic

Contrary to a belief popular in Finland, the traffic does not, in fact, go any faster if you drive bumper to bumber with the car in front of you. Furthermore, any money you might save due to the aerodynamic benefit and the reduced gas cost will some day go toward fixing the fender when the traffic stops and you hit the breaks too late.

I’d like to dedicate this insighting to the driver of the Mercedes van that drove behind me and blinded my rearview mirror. Fortunately I didn’t get into a fender bender, so I can be less offended and irritated and more amused by all this. And grateful for not having to drive to work and back every day.

4. This thing about biting off more than you can chew

I’ve been gushing about my Master’s Thesis topic insighting for a few weeks now. I’m not yet writing my thesis, or doing actual research for it, but I’m still eagerly planning my research questions and methods and sampling strategies. The broad topic is using drama in EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teaching, and I need to narrow it down somewhat.

I thought I’d done a pretty good job narrowing it down already. Then, at lunch with a fellow student doing his thesis, I started to explain my plans for the research.

This brilliant Master’s Thesis topic? Turns out it’s a brilliant Dissertation topic. Time to keep narrowing it down. And down. And down. How much more specialised do you want me to be? (Suddenly, I hear Naomi’s voice in my head, talking about specializing your services.) Auugh. More thought work. More drilling down into the details of the details. Auugh.

On the other hand, now I’ve got my Dissertation topic all figured out, if I ever get that far. 🙂

Wishing you a lovely day, keep catching your insightings!



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