Balance? Contentment?

I was half-way through a post on a new-to-me house and its five fragrances when I realised I simply wasn’t going to have enough time with the perfumes to say something remotely useful yet. So, that will wait another week.

I also ended up scrambling for pictures as the rest of this post is sort of abstract. So, you are treated to a couple of pics of a half-finished Grand Design house in the village that has been dubbed ‘the lego castle’. This has long been a reasonably well-off village, but in the last year things have exploded. With all the people who’ve decided ‘the country’ is where they need to be given Covid and work-from-home this area has moved to wealthy (unknown numbers of Porsches, at least three Ferraris, one Maserati [it is soooo beautiful — i should have gotten a pic of that last time I saw it], a lot of Teslas – Mercs, Volvos, etc, are small beans now).

Anyway, from concrete wealth to abstract states of being.

My yoga teacher started off the last class talking about the death of her partner’s grandmother. She spoke about how this woman was someone who managed, over her long life, to embrace contentment and this was one of the things that stood out about her. That and the structure of the class set me off thinking about balance and contentment.

Starting with contentment, this is a concept I’ve tried to embrace off and on in my life. I succeed in bits here and there. To me, at this point, contentment means being in the now and not striving too much towards the future. Prior to this past year, the concept would flit in and out of my consciousness – it would settle for a bit until something external intruded on all my various strivings. It never lasted terribly long but each attempt left a little more of a lasting impression that I really needed to be more focused on this concept.

In our Covid year I’ve made more of a conscious effort to really engage with the idea of contentment. I’m getting better: more able to be in the moment; more able to appreciate where I am and what I have; more able to step back from things that wind me up, stress me out, and have a serious negative impact on my being. But this definitely remains a work in progress – as I am still frequently side-tracked by fear and worry and irritation – and diffused anger.

Then there’s balance. I hate doing balances in yoga. I am crap at them, the process winds me up no end, and it’s really the one area in practice where I know that while I’m getting better I’m still really like some newborn creature that just physically doesn’t understand how to use empty space well.

When I moved down here over 10 years ago my balance was fine – actually, better than fine, it was quite good. I could hold weird postures on one foot; I could balance like a ballerina. I am not the best structure for balance – short body, long legs – but all was good. In the past three or four years it all started to unravel. I gained weight (it’s harder to balance when you’re my shape and top heavy). Aspects of my physical health started to cause issues (ears mostly – you really need healthy ears for balance). And my sense of mental balance deteriorated somewhat (family issues, worry about my child, loss of a sense of control regarding my health) which appears to have had a real concrete impact on my physical ability to balance. The metaphor is sometimes too much to bear.

But, it’s all a work in progress, this striving and straining. How about you?

  • March says:

    Ugh I loathe yoga, even though it is really good for me — I’m the kind of person who should be doing it, but my bad balance and flex (and lack of chill) stand in my way. That really does look like a lego castle lol.

    • Cinnamon says:

      oh, as Musette would say, yoga is my jam. that doesn’t mean I don’t find myself really having to strive towards it. I’ll find myself yearning for the next day’s early morning practice while I’m falling asleep, but then once we’re in the thick of it I sometimes have to metaphorically pull myself back into practice because after all that want instead of focusing I start to think about what I’ll have for breakfast after practice or where should I walk the dog. Maddening twit stuff.

      I was talking to a neighbour about the lego castle over the weekend and she just went ballistic: “I hate it, it’s horrible. Why is someone throwing millions of pounds at it???” I was a bit taken aback because she used to work as an accountant, all straight and calm and steady.

  • Musette says:

    I, too, struggle with staying in the Now and being content, though it gets better as I don’t strive towards it so much (funny how that works). As regards balance, back when I took that awful fall that put me on a walker (and the same type of fall that killed my client the same week I took my fall) Nina Zolotow took me in hand and helped me regain my balance – clearing my mind and walking around the house barefoot (her first lesson) helped immensely. I tend to clench my feet, so just stopping and breathing really helps!


    • Musette says:

      and that house? I thought it was a Rodeo Drive boutique! Are you sure it’s not a Versace boutique? Are. You. Suuure? 😉


    • Cinnamon says:

      those falls sound really serious business. Scary. interesting what you say about walking barefoot around the house. I sometimes find myself at the end of the day standing barefoot and realising my toes are all curled up. so I have to relax them and really ‘feel’ the floor with my whole foot. maybe I should try balance stuff when I’m in that state of foot fully feeling floor.

  • Dina C. says:

    I’ve also been working on the spiritual side of contentment for the last several years, Cinnamon. For me, contentment means being happy with what you already have, with your place in the world, with your blessings, not bitching and moaning constantly about “how come I don’t have all of the things like person X over there, God?” It’s very difficult in a materialistic, competitive, capitalistic, media-driven world like ours where we get advertising messages thrown at our heads 24/7/365. I’m not sure that I’m any bit better at contentment than I was 5 years ago, but at least I’m aware that I need to keep working at it. Kinda like you and your yoga poses. 🙂

    • Musette says:

      What you said. 😉


    • Cinnamon says:

      It’s the awareness that’s the thing for me. I still want ‘stuff’ (particularly plants right now) but I’m more aware of the ‘want’ being related to filling some ephemeral emptiness and thus I can pull back and say to myself ‘what’s this really all about? because I surely don’t need any more plants’ 🙂

  • Tara C says:

    I’m not very good at contentment, especially regarding perfume, but I’m getting a bit better as I approach the end of my life and realize that next bottle of perfume will just be one more thing I have to dispose of. As for yoga, I don’t love it but I need to do it for my health. My most hated position is chair pose.
    I have lost so much strength and energy due to the lockdown, being stuck inside the house seems to have sapped my get up and go. I’m hoping it will come back but losing 2 years of my active lifestyle at the age of 55 is not easy or beneficial.

    • Cinnamon says:

      I don’t think we’re built in this society for contentment. It’s a hard slog. I don’t love chair pose — it’s hard on the knees and thighs, and the psyche (ie, enough already and let me either stand up or move into another posture). Here’s hoping the next few months (and of vaccinations all over the world) will allow us to cautiously move back into the outer world.

  • carole says:

    It’s funny you’re talking about yoga-I love it. And it’s the poses you hate the most that you probably need the most. And with respect it has less to do with the build and more to do with the mind. If you tell yourself (and I do this) I find balancing poses difficult then that’s what your brain registers-this task is difficult. I find happy baby the most difficult asana-we all store lots of emotions in our hips, and when I’m angry, Happy Baby is the most difficult pose for me.

    Just breathe and remind your self-it’s just one pose. I hope life gets easier for all of us not he planet-vaccines for everyone, and maybe we all learn to live in the moment.

    Testing the new SL scent today-dompteuse, I think is its name. It’s nice but doesn’t move me to buy it.

    I hope you have a great week,

    • Cinnamon says:

      I agree that the balances are important for me given they cause such aggro. Ironically, I enjoy things like Happy baby. I seem to store stuff in shoulder girdle and neck.

      If I were to wish something about all of this it would be that we learn that ‘normal’ needs to change — that we don’t always have to return to the same old thing.

      If I’m recalling correctly Persolaise reviewed the new SL and he wasn’t overwhelmed either.

    • Musette says:

      Happy Baby is mah JAM! My hips are so tight – and when I finally get to Happy Baby they are soooo happy, baby ! 😉


      • carole macleod says:

        lol-I love that you love what I don’t-just like the perfumes we all wear 🙂 Variety is awesome.

  • Portia says:

    Hey Cinnamon,
    Sounds pretty normal to me. As my body changed its shape and where the weight sits my ability to do many things has changed shape as well.
    I was given this book a few years ago but never read it until we went into lockdown. I bloody should have had it 30 years ago and my life might also have been shaped differently.
    Calm : Educate yourself in the art of remaining calm, and learn how to defend yourself from panic and fury by The School Of life.
    It changed the way I see and diffuse frustration (not always but enough to feel like a difference). It could have been a quarter the length but is still a quick, easy read.
    Portia xx

    • Cinnamon says:

      I would have eaten differently for the past 30 years if I knew then what I know now. And kept up with yoga (which I did in my teens with my father but then didn’t return to until a few years ago). Those sorts of books make me laugh. They seem to have some really helpful information but it’s buried in 250 pages of guff.

      • Portia says:

        Cinnamon, I knew then about food. Mum was a nurse. I did all sorts of sports and activities. Everyone told me what to eat but all I wanted was junk, still do.
        Sure, when I make a salad or some healthy stuff I enjoy it but it’s NEVER as satisfying as crap.
        This old, broken, fat body has been created through choice. My choice.
        Don’t ever let anyone tell you that nothing tastes as good as skinny feels. I’ve been skinny and I ate my way out of that body with delicious crap food. YUMMY!

        Sorry, Rant over.

        • Cinnamon says:

          Ah, I wasn’t talking junk food 🙂 The only health issue where there’s a family history for me is thyroid — and I spent decades eating stuff that was supposedly healthy which was dire for the thyroid: particularly soy. Big bad no no that no one really talked about till the past 10 years. As a teenager I ate jars full of ‘healthy’ roasted soy beans; one of my go-to easy dinners used to be tofu, rocket and pine nuts with soy sauce (bad, bad, bad and more bad). And then there’s low fat — don’t get me started on what low fat stuff did to us.