Welcome to the middle path

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Sporadic photos and notes from a Psyche-midwife, cheerleader, anthropologist--aka clinical social worker in therapy practice. Photos are usually mine except for those of historical events/famous people. Music relevant to the daily topic is often included in a web video embedded below the blog. Click on highlighted links in the copy to get to source or supplemental material. For contact information, see my website @ janasvoboda.com or click on the button to the right below. Join in the conversation.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Grasshopper and The Ant

Remember the story of the ant and the grasshopper?

It was summer, glorious summer. After a cold wet winter, Grasshopper was delighted to be spending the day singing and fiddling, hanging out with his pals, and enjoying spur of the moment sunset hikes up Mary's Peak. He loved laying in his hammock watching the moon rise, and sleeping through the hot parts of the day in the shady cool. He loved hanging out at the farmer's market, sampling the seasonal produce. He loved gleaning at town picnics. And he never turned his kid's requests for a trip to the river to take a dip, or a walk to the park to pitch a ball.

With pity in his eyes, he watched Ant, scurrying back and forth gathering food for the winter. What was the point of wasting such rare and beautiful days on nothing but work? "Hey!", he teased as she heaved past, lugging some morsel to her tunnel. "Stop already! Smell the roses!"

Ant glared at him in disgust. "SOME of us are busy. Some of us have work to do. Winter will come, and then where will you be?" Grasshopper just fiddled a tune and patted his round belly.

Winter did come, along with the drowning rains and then the cold. Grasshopper was fine for a bit, living off the fat he'd packed on during the summer lazy days. But after a while, he grew hungry, and there was nothing to eat. He went looking for Ant.

"Ant", he said, "share some of that food. You have so much."

"Forget it, buster. While you fiddled, ate and lazed, I worked to have food for these hard times. I left my babies to find it. I forsook the contra dances. I missed the sunsets you said were so fantastic on Mary's Peak. I didn't even get to see my kid's baseball games, because I had important work to do. And if you think your lazy butt will profit from all my sacrifice, you got another think coming."

At the end of this soliloquy, Ant keeled over from a sudden and massive coronary.
Grasshopper fully intended to mourn the moment, but was too weak from hunger, and passed out instead.

The moral of the story is:

MODERATION IN ALL THINGS. Including work and play.

Here's to balance--

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Plays Well With Others

"Life is Mysterious
Don't Take it Serious
(quote on an old rubber stamp)
In several of these blogs, I've talked about the inevitability of suffering.
Enough of that. Let's talk about the power of playfulness.

You may have heard the expression that "Kid's play is kid's work." Play is where kids learn to deal with roles and other people, fine tune communicating their ideas and needs, exercise their bodies and widen their imaginations. Why would we want to give that up as adults? Yet many groan-ups (yes, that was deliberate) see life as one unending have-to-do list. I'm not advocating shirking responsibilities, though I am admittedly expert at it. I'm encouraging righting priorities. Play, laughter, positive thinking, joy have their own rafts of research supporting the idea that a good time is good for you. Laughter really IS good medicine-- it reduces stress hormones that havoc the body and soul. Researchers in Loma Linda found cortisol and epinephrine levels drop, while human growth hormones and beta-endorphins rise when people experience, or even anticipate big fun. Other research shows laughter improves relationships, immunity, increases oxygenation, is cardioprotective, and helps us be more alert and creative.

At least twice a year, I go away to play with my pals at WAR (women's art retreat), where we hold theme dinners in dress up (wedding in Vegas, Beauty Pageant, Circus Night) and write ridiculous bits. For years I participated in an on-line salon where we exchanged thematic haikus, limericks, tom swifties and wrote bad country songs. There's lots of ways to make the ridiculous sublime. A few minutes a day softens the heart and sharpens the brain.

A few links for you:
Laughing Yoga
Laughing Yoga was started by a physician in India who to promote the healing benefits of laughter for the body and soul. Here John Cleese provides a 3 minute intro to the practice.

Global Belly Laugh Day
We're a few months off from the official Day (Jan. 24th), but we can start practicing. This site is also offers a wealth of research and related links.

Positivity research and tools for its practice can be found at Dr. Segilman's site on Authentic Happiness

Want to shop local in Corvallis?
Our own Happy Guru Jean Bonifas offers Right-Brain Fitness and more and is a member of the World Laughter Tour

Even if all the movies that week are dramas or documentaries, a look around the eclectic decor at Darkside Cinema holds grins for most of us. While you're there, pick up one of owner Paul Turner's books of essays or a Prancing Lavender Bunny T-shirt sporting one bad-ass buff biker bunny.

Grassroots Books has the latest McSweeney's collection of public weirdness, humorist/scientist Mary Roach's sex research book "BONK" and other sources of inspiration.

Dancing like a maniac always cheers me up, and there are plenty of opportunities at River Rhythms, contra dances, and our summer festivals (Cherry Poppin' Daddies this Friday!).

And don't forget next week's daVinci Days! The Saturday morning kinetic sculpture parade always brings smiles.

Watch the website for announcements about a Play Weekend during the dark days of winter. We'll need it.

Now, go out there and don't come back until you've had some fun.