by Christine on July 22nd, 2016
I recently was given the book “Untethered Soul” by Michael Singer. I’m only a few chapters into it, and I’ll likely talk about it again on this blog. At the very beginning of the book, the author talks about the incessant, chattering voice in your head. The voice in your head that comments on everything—especially on yourself. The voice expresses judgement constantly, and it can change its opinions at the drop of a hat. That voice is utterly unreliable. You’ve caught it blatantly lying. It’s not nice.
That voice is your head narrates the world around you. It says, “wow, that sun is really bright.” Did you really need the voice to tell you that? You looked at the sky and already noticed the bright sun—did the voice need to state the obvious? No. Singer claims that the voice’s attempt to narrate the world is actually your psyche’s attempt to place some control over your environment. Because, fundamentally, humans feel uncomfortable when they aren’t in control of their lives and environments.
“If you want to be happy, you have to let go of the part of you that wants to create melodrama. This is the part that thinks there’s a reason not to be happy. You have to transcend the personal, and as you do, you will naturally awaken to the higher aspects of your being. In the end, enjoying life’s experiences is the only rational thing to do. You’re sitting on a planet spinning around in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Go ahead, take a look at reality. You’re floating in empty space in a universe that goes on forever. If you have to be here, at least be happy and enjoy the experience….There’s always going to be something that can bother you, if you let it.”
To me, this has a direct relationship to the voice in my head that narrates what I think about my body. “You’re fat. You’re ugly,” the voice in my head tells me a hundred times a day. “You WANT to swim on a hot day, but you better not get in a bathing suit in public. You’ll make someone sick. If you want to swim, you should find a private place to go instead of the water park.” My voice also says, “You fatty, if you eat THIS instead of THAT, you’ll lose weight.” Or it will say, “If you weren’t so weak-willed, you never would have gotten fat in the first place.” And so on.
I have a very active inner voice, and it’s never nice to me.
I haven’t quite gotten far enough in the book to figure out how Singer thinks you can ignore that voice in your head or transform its voice. He does assert that learning to turn it off, to embrace the present moment, and learn to bear reality as it really is—our actual experience of life right now, not just our narrated version—is crucial to finding happiness. This is a very Buddhist way of thinking, of course, to embrace the present moment. He cautions not to let your inner voice define who you are, since we have already decided that your inner voice is a lying, manipulative, awful voice.
“To attain true inner freedom, you must be able to objectively watch your problems instead of being lost in them… Once you’ve made the commitment to free yourself of the scared person inside, you will notice that there is a clear decision point at which your growth takes place.”
by Christine on September 29th, 2011
filed under Christine's Life Updates
Here is a link to the book. (I don’t get any of the proceeds.)
Here is a link to my essay included in the book.
I have to say, it was pretty darn exciting to see my name in print on the book! My heart went pitter-patter when I saw it in type. A real book! One you can find for sale at your local bookstore! How freaking exciting!
Based on the acclaimed public radio series, this collection features 60 essays about important lessons that affected the beliefs of the authors, me being one of them. These essays were drawn from more than 100,000 submissions made to the This I Believe radio show and website (www.thisibelieve.org) over the past six years.
by Christine on October 14th, 2010
filed under Christine's Life Updates
This morning I had a doctor’s appointment with my GP. I hadn’t seen her in about 9 months or so, and boy was she astonished to see my weight loss! She said a number of times that she is “very proud” of me, which felt so good to hear someone say! She knows how hard and how long I struggled to lose weight before my surgery. She told me, “I hope you don’t plan on losing any more weight,” to which I said, “Only five more pounds! I want to make it to 100 pounds lost, even!” She said that is fine, but doesn’t recommend losing much more than that. That’s a first for me….hearing my doctor tell me that I don’t NEED to lose any more weight! Weird!
I had a whole list of things to talk about with her, one of which has been my achy knees. My knees crack and pop all over the place, and I’ve always known that I would get arthritis someday in the joints. I just never realized that it would be so soon! She told me that I do indeed have arthritis, but that certain exercises, such as a stationary bicycle (with low resistance) would help file away some of the bones that are scraping together and could actually make my knees feel BETTER. I’m glad I brought it up so I could hear suggestions like that!
She also took my blood to examine my nutritional levels (I have concerns about this, since I eat so little these days) and my thyroid levels.
After that, I went to a local museum and historical preservation center to gather info for my book. I’m researching a masterpiece of architecture, the Old Grand Union Hotel in Saratoga Springs. Today’s research was so productive! For starters, I believe I have discovered that the architecture of the Grand Union hotel was a total rip-off of another area hotel! I got to browse through the hotel register for that original hotel (the Sans Souci) and I found all kinds of interesting tidbits in that book. Dating back to 1803 or thereabouts, the hotel registered even showed the owner of the hotel paying for his hotel room, wine, and cigars. No freebies for him, even though he was the owner! What a riot! The historian didn’t even know about that entry, and she was eager to check it out. I also found proof that the wife of the Grand Union owner visited the Sans Souci at paid for dinner there, at least once.
Geek stuff, I know, but it’s totally fascinating for me.
The Grand Union hotel is where the country’s most elite came to stay and play. From the very beginning, princes and presidents came to stay there. Later in the 1800s, the hotel is where the Carnegies, Rockafellers, Astors, Vanderbilts all came to indulge in the casino, the race track, the theater, and general socializing and LOTS of debauchery. It’s where the biggest business deals in the history of the United States were made. Pics of the beautiful Grand Union Hotel:
by Christine on October 6th, 2010
filed under Christine's Life Updates
I had a lovely time visiting the Schuyler Mansion in Albany, even despite the rain. I got to the Visitor’s Center, and of course it was empty–I expected it to be, mid-week on a rainy day like this. There was a HUGE black cat stretched out on the heater. I think he had the right idea on a forelorn day like today.
I paid my $4 for my tour, and it was well worth the money! I was the only one in the tour group, ha ha. That was fun! I remember touring the Breakers in Newport, and I think there were 30 or 40 people in the group. Of course I’m short, and everyone else in the world is taller than me, and it was impossible to see anything in the roped-off rooms. This was a vastly different experience, and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. The tour guide was very nice and knowledgeable. I asked her all kinds of questions about Schuyler, the house, the Revolutionary War, about general society and how households were run during the time, etc. She was delightful to talk to, and I enjoyed her personal commentary, such as how “ridiculous” a “house like this” could be built “in a climate like this” — I think she was referencing the large, under-utilized rooms that would have been extraordinarily costly to heat during the cold New York winters.
I got a kick out of her description of an attempted kidnapping that occurred in the house. Supposedly the house was stormed by Loyalists during the Revolution. The family heard the raiding party coming, so they ran from the sitting room downstairs and locked themselves in the bedroom upstairs. However, in their flight, they forgot the baby in the sitting room! The middle daughter bravely offered to sneak downstairs to get her little sister. As she was sneaking back up the stairs, the raiding party broke down the door. There were indians in the party, and one Native took his tomahawk and threw it at the sisters creeping up the stairs. “And that,” said the tour guide, “Is how this particularly large gash on the staircase supposedly came to be.”
I looked down at the exceptionally large cut in the bannister and had to laugh. Too bad CSI has jaded today’s generation of any possibility for the really juicy gossip. The gash in the bannister clearly faced the wall; there was no way a thrown tomahawk, coming from the direction of the doorway, could have made that particular directional mark. I laughed, and the tour guide laughed with me. “It’s part of the folklore, but clearly it’s a bit of made-up history,” she explained. “Still, it adds a little romance to the house!”
The place was a beautiful Georgian mansion, with four large rooms downstairs and four large rooms upstairs. It was spacious and grand for its day, although I have to imagine that the formality would have been stifling.
It was a really fun outing! I hope to visit another local historical mansion of the same time period in the coming weeks.