Monday, November 21, 2011

coloring my cheeks

The sun is still bright. Too bright, sometimes, and I squint. Shield my eyes.

But what little power it has weakens daily as the earth tilts away and it cannot warm my face. I've grown pale these last months, summer's mark completely faded.

Now would be the logical time to put on a little blush to brighten my face. But I've been applying heat instead. 

It starts with my morning shower, water as hot as I can stand it. I scare away the cold with steam and my skin reacts by reddening. I'm not boiling my flesh but I try. It feels so good. 

I pour warm foods down my throat. Chicken soup at 9am. Tea all day long. Warmth in my throat, in my belly. I feel it in my face.

I crank the heat in the car, directing the vents right at my face. The temperature soars and my cheeks turn pink and this is exactly what I needed.

I try to hold the warmth in with layers. Tanks tops under long sleeved shirts under sweaters. Socks up to my knees. Slippers. Always. But the heat escapes. The color quickly fades.

And so the best way to feel warm and alive, I find, is to stoke my inner fire.

One way to get the bellows going is to just move. So I go running or practice yoga when there's time. Sweep the floors, clean the bathrooms, when I have to.  Wiggle around with the kids when I can.  My blood flows faster, circulates better, and I feel lit from the inside.

But even more effective (and often more elusive) is the thing that happens when I'm sitting still.

Maybe I'm tutoring a student and I have to think hard about how to construct the thesis of her essay. We throw ideas back and forth and we really get somewhere. I'm so excited about her essay that I want to write the whole thing myself. I don't, of course. But I leave the session feeling primed. My cheeks are flushed from the mental exercise.

Maybe I'm writing something of my own. For once the ideas run down my arm like water. I don't even have to wring my hands to get them out. I'm lit, head to toe, with the creative spark. My face glows in the firelight and I can't remember ever feeling cold.

But then there's this: I'm sitting with my legs crossed, my spine tall. I imagine the crown of my head to be not a barrier but a portal to my insides. I watch prana -- energy -- trickle in and saturate the grey matter of my brain. It spills into my spine and drips down each vertebra, eventually percolating through all my bones and tissues. It fills me. With energy. With heat. And I am so, so warm. Flushed with life.

Sometimes we use makeup to feel a bit more beautiful. But I've been putting on heat. To feel a bit more--