Friday, June 25, 2010

Hiatus

My life has gotten really complicated and my time short.  I'm going to put this blog on pause for a time.

I'm sorry.

love,
Barb

Friday, June 18, 2010

Humbled


 I spent yesterday scrubbing my house and getting ready for my neighborhood's Civic Association meeting, which I was hosting.  I was expecting between 10-15 people--and who better to talk up my house to everyone they know who is looking than people who already live in the neighborhood?  I prepared as if it was an Open House but with food.  I went grocery shopping and made my own gorgeous antipasti plates, heaped with cheeses and fruits and painstakingly rolled cold cuts and cheeses... I farmed Jane out to a play date (She was blissfully happy but I, naturally, felt very guilty because that's just what I do) and made Ana help me. I cleaned the whole house, did all of the laundry, windexed all surfaces, stashed clutter, etc. When I tell you my Obsessive Compulsiveness was in full bloom, I am, for once, not exaggerating.

My foot was really hurting but I felt like I had to treat this like a marketing event.  We've had no traffic at all since the Open House this past weekend.

Two people showed up. TWO.  One of whom is a neighbor.  The other is the editor of the neighborhood newsletter for which I do the design and layout each month.

We had a good time and I held it together but afterward, when they'd left, I got teary.  All that work, all that expense, all this pain --for nothing. I was embarrassed to have made such a big deal out of something that really wasn't. My husband was so kind to me.  He gave me a big hug and resorted to the Ultimate Measure of Manly Comfort: the fishing metaphor.  "Sometimes you fish all day and never catch anything.  I hope you had at least a little fun fishing."

I went upstairs to bed about 10:00 and could see Ana (12) still awake in her bed.  I went in to kiss her goodnight, still with tears in my eyes. I explained that I was disappointed and embarrassed and felt sort of silly and sad.

She got out of bed and hugged me and looked at me with great concern as she walked me to my bedroom.

"Wait," she said.  "Don't go anywhere."

She disappeared into her room and came running back with a fresh, unused notebook and a blue Flair pen (my favorite writing pen at the moment).

"Here, Mom," she said. "Write about it.  That's what I do to feel better when I'm sad."

And the best part?

She said, "I learned that from you."

Sometimes the gentle butterfly wings of grace and generosity in my life beat such a rush of gratitude and love that it literally topples me over.

I'm living in that today--in the gentle grace of the amazing person I am lucky enough to call my daughter.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Impatience


I have been scarce.

My husband and I have been wrestling with big decisions lately and after much deliberation and back and forth, we've decided to put our house on the market. We have been really busy spiffing and shining and running amok and, while it is certainly impossible to live anywhere but in the present when resembling a headless chicken, it is very hard to live MINDFULLY.

So, the glory of a new day and a new beginning. Today, I am going to listen to the third session of my on-line course with Geneen Roth (since I was so tired during the live session that I couldn't stay awake until the end) and I'm going to focus on slowing down and being in the moment.

Just now, I took the dogs outside to throw the ball for them and tire them out and I stood among my garden beds and felt this unbelievable impatience as I looked at all of the green tomatoes and the tiny ears of corn. I want home grown garden produce NOW!!

It's a good metaphor for life in the modern world that I want everything fast and on demand. I'd love to be whole and healthy and thin and at peace and I want it all NOW. But Nature knows better, see. Nature knows that everything happens in season and when we mess with growing times and fake additives, you get tasteless tomatoes and genetically modified corn that may or may not kill you sooner.

Everything in its own time. That's my focus today.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Perennials

I have such a good metaphor for today!  I love it when my garden gives me visual aids.

See this?

Those were a total surprise to me this year.

Last year, I planted some lilies after buying one of those foil wrapped little containers of them for my kitchen table.  Once the blooms were spent, I planted them into a pot that was full of annuals and promptly forgot about them.

Until they started poking their little heads out of the dirt in early April this year.

I've been watching them ever since. I've tended them and weeded them and given them a bit of plant food.

Today, they look like this:


It seems to me that Nature herself is reminding me of resilience and renewal. And also? Reminding me that I, too, am a perennial.

Today, I'm going to focus on remembering that I am worth a little care and tending in order to continue to bloom year after year.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Promises Kept

I think my heart may have grown two sizes today.

Somehow-- amidst all that is broken in me, and a world with oil spills, and the inhumanity of people who are often armed with guns-- the fact that my garden is giving me the promise of this tiny green tomato has filled me with hope.

Today, I am going to live inside that hope. I'm going to return to it whenever I feel knocked back. 

Today, I choose hope.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Playing Ball

So, last night was the second session of the online conference with Geneen Roth, author of "Women Food and God."

Yesterday, on this blog and also my main blog (So, The Thing Is...) I tried to make an oh-so-clever parallel between the behavior of my (completely neurotic) Border Collie Mix and my own behavior.

Judging by the fact that many people sent me dog training advice, apparently I wasn't very clear. What I was TRYING to say is that my dog (Scout) wants to play fetch more than anything else in the world and something keeps stopping him from bringing the ball back to me. Eventually, he remembers that's what he's supposed to do if he wants to play and he starts bringing it back and we lavish him with praise and he is happyhappyhappy until the next time we start to play Fetch when he cannot seem to bring himself to bring the ball back again.


I want to live healthily and mindfully and wow, I want to be kinder to myself. I want to reap the benefits of a life lived fully and not numbly.  I want to once again feel at home in my own body--happy and strong and living every day in that state of grace that comes when you live in harmony with yourself and your body and the world.  I want to do all the right things and lavish praise on myself. I want to freaking play Fetch all day long. But something keeps stopping me from bringing the damn ball back.

Last night, as I got ready to sit down to listen, I wish you could have seen how many ways I didn't bring the ball back.  I poured a big old glass of wine, I ate a handful of marshmallows.  When the call started and Geneen was leading us through a centering exercise, I cleaned my kitchen sink.  I did everything I possibly could not to show up with the damn ball and play.

And then I spoke to myself sharply (because that's all I know to do) and I sat down and Geneen Roth blew my world wide open.

Geneen talks about The Voice (which I call, "The Editor") and she gave such a spot-on impersonation of the voice in my head and the way I talk to myself that I just put my head down on my desk and started to cry. It was so vicious and horrible and she said all the things I say to myself every day.  Things you wouldn't say to a dog --that *I* wouldn't say to SCOUT. About what a failure I am and how dare I think that I can change myself or my life? Who do I think I am, wanting more?  Everyone knows I'm too lazy and stupid to achieve anything.

Under the weight of those words--MY WORDS--I couldn't even lift my head.

And then she gave us some tools for shutting up The Voice.

Can you imagine how freeing it is to be able to tell your inner Editor to shut the heck up?  It's AWESOME.

Today, I am going to concentrate on that.  Every time I start to talk to myself without respect or in some sort of demeaning fashion, I'm going to do something kind for myself.

After 45 years, it stops today.

Anyone else here feel like jumping up and down?

(I just have to say that if you have any extra money and you deal with some of the same issues I deal with --especially a disconnect between your body, your brain, and food-- this conference is worthy of your consideration.  It's not too late to join.  You get the replays of the sessions for download (for me this is vital because I don't take everything in the first time).  You can easily listen to the first two session before the third and if you can't commit to sitting down every Tuesday night for six week, you can listen to the replays at your leisure.  Here's the link. I am not affiliated with Geneen in any way, nor this conference. But it has been so worth it for me to put aside all of my preconceived notions of what I understood about my relationship with food and try to embrace an entirely different approach.)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Fetch

We have two dogs.

Our older dog, Scout, is a Border Collie mix.
Scout is an interesting animal because, although for a long time I complained that he was dumber than dirt, he's really not.  Actually, he's probably too smart.  He's just so fearful and nuerotic that he is his own worst enemy.

Take, for example, the game of Fetch.

Scout really loves the game of Fetch.  I mean, REALLY, REALLY loves it. I used to say he was the best dog I'd ever seen at bringing the ball back.

Then we got the puppy.  (Who, I guess, we will still call "The Puppy" after he is toothless and on a walker.  Really, he's no longer a puppy.  He is 18 months old.  His actual name is Austin.)

Austin just loves to play.  Anything.  Playing = GOOD in Austin's world.  Austin is smart but he is NOT neurotic.  He's a very simple creature and let me just say, the dog is Big "H" Happy.

He LOVES to play fetch.  When my husband is traveling for business and unable to take the dogs running, the way I  exercise the dogs is to use this thing called a "chuk it" to throw the ball to the far ends of our acre lot.  We do this a LOT.  I've gotten really good at throwing the ball.

Which is a good thing because I have to throw it now so that Scout doesn't get it.

I know, it's just...

If the puppy gets the ball he comes running right back to me and drops it at my feet so that I can throw it again.

If SCOUT gets the ball, he brings it back half way.
And then he just stands there, waiting for his engraved invitation to bring the ball all the way back.

No amount of cajoling will make him bring it back.  In fact, what I have to do is get all threatening and call him names.

Sometimes we just give up and go inside until he brings the darn ball back.
The thing that's so frustrating is that Scout really WANTS TO PLAY FETCH.  But he's so afraid that someone else (Austin) will grab the ball OR that maybe Austin will get credit for returning the ball, that his fear, confusion, neuroses stops him from doing the very thing he loves the most.

I feel like I am doing exactly the same thing with living mindfully. I want to be in the present and listen to my body and live healthily and fully. And yet, again and again, I find myself bringing the ball only half way back out of fear and uncertainty and habitual blindness.


(I'm posting this on my regular blog, too, because it was a lot of work to add text to the pictures and now I feel the need to show it to everyone!)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Wonder

Yesterday was a terrible day.

I had a really awful migraine, my foot hurt, a storm blew my patio table over again and broke another pot, my kitty Edward is sick again after less than a week, my older daughter Ana's (12) best friends kind of ganged up on her in that way middle school girls find a scapegoat when something isn't going right, my husband had to extend his business trip another day... it just all added up.

So I spent the morning on the sofa, really sick.  Then, as I felt better, I started doing a few things.  I threw the ball for the dogs, took my neighbor a Starbuck's and loaned him Jane (9) as "help" while he was spreading mulch.  I took Ana supplies to decorate another friend's locker at school and talked to her and empathized when she told me about her day.  I made a fabulous dinner, put the kids to bed with kisses and love and laughter.

Then, (this is going to sound crazy) last night at about 2:00, I was lying awake in bed and just talking to God (in that way I do) about Edward and asking that he please just not suffer anymore.  He was really suffering.  I was pretty worried.  So I decided to go check on him, threw back the covers and there Ed was in my room.  He hopped up on the bed, curled up in the crook of my arm and gave me the Harley Davidson purr.  He's well.

I would normally not say anything about this because I'm not a Holy Roller and I don't want to scare anyone. But I have to say my truth and that honestly, really, truly happened.

Someone or something or some energy is apparently listening.  I feel like when my heart is true, when I am really trying to keep on going, when I am connected and not in flight --I ask and I receive.

Just kind of...well...looking at the world with fresh wonder today.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Astonishment

Last night was the first of the sessions in my on-line conference with Geneen Roth, author of Women Food and God.  It was a powerful hour, that's for sure. I am still processing many of the things I heard. I wasn't thrilled with the idea of this conference taking six weeks but now I'm glad I have a week in between sessions to really absorb the information.

One of the action items for this week was to be astonished by what I already have.

This is the perfect action item for me, especially today.  My foot is terribly painful and I had to cancel having coffee with my friend Sherry because I of it. My older daughter had clothing issues this morning, which threw off our schedule and we ended up forgetting her lunch.  I'm mad at my lawn guys, which makes me feel impotent and like I'm not a good manager.

So, deep breath.

By having a little extra time to make my daughter's lunch, I was able to first go to the grocery store and buy things that she might actually, well, EAT. (I KNOW!) I had money to do so and I had the luxury of time to pick the perfect strawberries for her.  I was smiling as I packed her lunch, aware of how blessed I am and also, how blessed she is to have me as her mother. I delivered the lunch to her school and did so with a glad heart.

Sherry and I made plans for her family to come over for dinner on Saturday.  She understands my chronic pain issues and is always unfailingly flexible in accommodating them.  I am so blessed to have her as a friend.

I'm calling the yard guys today, which will make me feel all brave and efficient.

So then I started noticing all of my blessings. I would enumerate them but suffice to say, I am probably the most blessed person on this planet. And you know what else?  I am so unbelievably loved.  It takes my breath away to think of it, really. 

I'm going to spend the rest of my day feeling this amazing feeling of abundance --reveling in it, wearing it like a crown, paying it forward in my every interaction.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Joy

Look what came out of our garden yesterday.



It doesn't matter that it's a little misshapen.  It doesn't have to be perfect to fill my house of aspiring farmers with great joy.

And then I put it in my daughter's lunch today, the ultimate present.

How great is a world where we can grow our own strawberries?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Rest

I spent a great deal of yesterday just resting.

I had a lot to do but since I was in so much pain, I was kind of wiped out so I just rested.

Today, I am still in a bit of pain, but nothing like yesterday and apparently, my sense of humor and appreciation for the absurdity of life is intact again.

It's something to think about, this idea of actually resting.  Our world and lives are so crazy and there is so little downtime.  I think we need it. I KNOW I do.

I wonder what ways I can build rest into my lifestyle so it doesn't take a day of pain to make me slow down?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Pain

This post deals with God.  Most of you know I have a very strong belief in God but am not very enamored of organized religion.  I almost never talk about God stuff because, frankly, I don't want to sound like the religious nut jobs that are constantly in the news, pointing to God as definitive rationale for their hatred, ignorance, bigotry and petty mean-spiritedness.  That has NOTHING to do with the God I know. Those people do not speak for me.

I am in a great deal of pain. I have a very messed up foot which gives me a great deal of pain from time to time and this is one of those times. It's excruciating. I can barely hear myself think.

Years ago, I heard a sermon by Tim Cook, who is the minister of the Church of Conscious Harmony in Austin. (I know, I know--the name. But there is nothing implied. It is a church dedicated to conscious living--MINDFUL LIVING. And the minister is simply the best extemporaneous speaker I have ever heard.) In this sermon, Father Cook spoke about how St. Teresa said, "Oh, how I love my suffering for it brings me so much closer to God." He preached an entire sermon about the idea of suffering bringing us so much closer to God.

I didn't "get" it.

I bought a cassette of the sermon and I played it over and over and over again in my car.

And I still didn't get it.

I still don't get it.

Mostly, I connect the most with God through my joy.  I feel the closest to my Creator when I am joyful because I think it's the way we could feel all the time if we had an unbroken awareness of God.  It feels like a taste of heaven. It feels like what I could feel like all the time if I wasn't so broken.

I'm going to think about that today.  And I'm going to think about how I can find my God even in this enormous pain. What am I supposed to be learning? 

Also, I feel like I might do a little crying.  (It really hurts.)

(I am leaving the comments open but this is not the place to debate religion, to point out the error of my ways, nor to demean others for having differing views.)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Struggling

"Despite writing down their self criticisms during the first day of the retreat, despite naming The Voice's presence, almost every student gets reentranced by it over the next day or two.  Since The Voice feels so much like you, and since you are utterly convinced that without it you would romp through your life without restraint or morality, releasing yourself from its grip takes a bit of time; it happens in stages." Geneen Roth, Women Food and God

I'm really struggling with the whole concept of checking in with myself every few minutes.  Checking to see how I'm feeling.  It feels narcissistic and indulgent and I realize that I don't think I am worth it.  I think this is normal back-sliding but I was kind of hoping for  Epiphany=Instantly Whole Barb.  What do you mean there's more work to all this?  I don't have time for this!

Um.

Yesterday, I signed up for an on-line conference with Geneen Roth.  I was absolutely AWASH with anxiety afterward.  But also?  Electrified at the thought of making real progress at regaining my joy. The conference begins Tuesday and will last for six weeks, an hour and a half every Tuesday night.

This morning, I was in a very depressed, tired mood despite the gorgeous weather and all I accomplished yesterday.  So I came home and threw the ball for the dogs for 45 minutes.  By the time they were too tired to bring it back, I was laughing out loud at how happy I'd made them.  I remembered how great it felt to be right in that moment, to laugh with joy.

Oh yeah, it's definitely worth it, this journey.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Shards

It was stormy and windy last night and when I came down this morning, our umbrella was by the side of the house and our patio table had blown over, dumping all of its contents on the stone pavers. The delicate pots of impatiens I had planted were broken, the luminarias were strewn about, a small blue vase that my daughters used to gather fallen buds from the trees had shattered.

I felt...sick. Honestly, it looked like some horrible act of destruction had been wreaked on my little patio.

I sat with my coffee and felt so sad.

Resigned, I put on my sneakers and I went out to address the carnage.

I righted the table and chased the umbrella.  I picked up the chairs and stepped back.  Really, the mess wasn't so bad.  I picked up the luminarias and then found that the only really damage was the two Italian ceramic pots that held impatiens.

(Warning: Big Metaphor for Life Ahead:)  Isn't it amazing that what seemed like an insurmountable, depressing tragedy turned out to be only a small bit of damage under scrutiny?  And that by taking each piece of the mess and examining what needed to be done to each piece, the work needed to reclaim my patio was actually not so overwhelming?

Today, I'm going to concentrate on taking baby steps in reclaiming the joy of my life.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Rain

It's a rainy and humid day here and I couldn't be more excited.

Instead of letting the gray invade my very soul today, I am concentrating on what all of this gentle rain is doing for my garden. On my way to drive my daughters to their schools, I imagined the grateful conversations of the flowers and grass.  (This is VASTLY different from hearing voices in one's head.  No.  Really.  I don't actually think the shrubbery talks--I was just imagining what it would say if it COULD. See, not crazy.)  (Much.)

Isn't it amazing how one's mindset determines so much of the day's outcome?  On days like today, nothing can keep me down.  On other days that may look exactly the same as today, I find it hard to get out of bed and every single raindrop is an annoyance.  I think the trick may be figuring out how to get to this mindset ON PURPOSE.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Roots

This morning when I went into Jane's (9) room to wake her for school, she said, "Noooooooo...I can't. I'm rootbound."

Which made me laugh and kiss her whole head.

And then I started thinking, "You know, I know just what she means."

I've been rootbound for a long time myself.  It's hard to move and it's especially hard if you're bound to a spot that's comfortable.

Today, I am going to breakfast with a group of other moms.  (I know!  Me!) I'm going to work hard on just staying in the moment and not feeling like I have to "perform" in order for people to like me. I'm going to let myself feel some pride in doing something out of the norm, something that requires courage for someone as introverted as I am.

I'm going to work on developing a set of traveling roots.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Eyes

We've had house guests this weekend.

The best sort of house guests--old friends coming for some male bonding time with my husband.  It was the first time they'd been to our house in New York.

Somehow, seeing the house through their eyes made me even more appreciative of the home we've made here.  It's just spectacular weather here, too, which adds to the expansive feeling of contentment.

I'm going to try to hold on to that feeling for as long as possible and capture it for those days when my contentment is hard to find.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Friends

Last night, I went over to have drinks and appetizers with some new friends.

I had the best time.

The. Best. Time.

Then I came home and it's just freaking amazing how the old tapes started running through my head.  You know, how I'm not good company and so shy that I can't speak half the time.  And dangerously lonely. And I just talked and talked too much.  I said all the wrong things and divulged too much of myself and stayed too long.

This time, though, I'm not letting those tapes get away with it.  Today, every time I start beating myself up over imaginary offenses, I'm going to stop, take a deep breath, and bring myself back to the present and what I really know. That I AM good company and that I wasn't the only one having a good time last night. That even if I made mistakes and talked too much and did all of those other things, in the end, it's not a moral failing worth the kind of abuse I am heaping on myself.  Today I am going to keep reminding myself that sometimes a good time is just a good time and doesn't need to be dissected and analyzed and rehashed endlessly.

And I'm going to try to not roll my eyes at myself.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Phoebe



There is this fabulous live web camera trained on a hummingbird in California named Phoebe.

I got interested in her back in February because she had laid two eggs and it seemed like the world was waiting for them to hatch.  One egg proved nonviable and the other chick died trying to hatch.

So Phoebe laid two more eggs.

Those eggs were stolen by a crow.

So Phoebe laid two more eggs.

Those eggs hatched this week.

I almost couldn't bear to watch.  My heart was just broken after the first eggs I saw and I was worried the whole event would send me right over the edge and into depression.

But Phoebe, see, she never gave up.  She didn't let her past sorrows get in the way of being fully present and trying again.  The past can't hurt Phoebe. The past is past.

And now the world is richer by two little hummingbirds.

Today, I'm going to remember that the past is in the past, and the only way it can hurt me is if I let it. I'm going to just keep moving forward.

(Photo of Phoebe from her Facebook page.)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Green


The rain has stopped.  The sun is coming out and it's like the whole world turned green over night.

And then I got hit by a mighty migraine.

Sorry no thoughtful post this morning.  I AM feeling much better now, though!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Present

Yesterday, I drove to Queens and back to get the results of the MRI of my foot.  The results showed no probable cause of my pain.  The doctor had some theories but nothing really supported by the information of the MRI in combination with the X-rays.

I must say that I consider this a setback, even though it really just means we have to start over looking for answers.  I mean, I am in pain and the fact that we don't know what causes it doesn't make it go away!

Today I am going to let myself feel discouraged if I need to, but I'm not going to wallow in it.  I'm going to go on about my day and not let the non-news rob me of the joys I find in it. I'm going to check in with myself a lot today to make sure I don't let this disappointment translate into self-incrimination.  In fact, I'm going to remind myself that this whole foot odyssey is not due to some large moral failing on my part.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Humor

 Not the barker.  Much.

Yesterday, someone left an anonymous note in my mailbox complaining about my dog barking.

In the past, I would have internalized this as a great failure on my part and also, my feeling would have been hurt that someone was mean to me.  As I've begun to get in touch with my feelings and reactions through mindful living, I am learning to stare right back at these feelings and take them apart.  For example, the fact that my dog barks is not my FAULT.  He is my responsibility but lord knows, we are trying hard to get him to stop barking.

Also, there is something very funny and pathetic that the retiree who left the note in my mailbox had to resort to a snarky anonymous letter.  This, too, is not my fault and honestly, there is nothing these people can do to me, even if they don't like me.  Their disapproval can't hurt me in any way.

Today, I'll focus on keeping my sense of humor and kindness.  I won't let the writers of anonymous notes/mean people have any control over the joy of my day.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Recharged

It was a wonderful Mother's Day weekend --a great combination of family time and productive action.  And laughter --oh my goodness.  Laughter really fills my cup back up.  I am so blessed.

Today, I am going to count my blessings mindfully, and laugh whenever possible.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Chores


 Today will be full of necessary chores and errands that were delayed for various reasons this past week. 

It will be a struggle to stay mindfully in the present and not give in to the temptation to bolt, which I am only just beginning to understand*. There are many ways to leave a boring or unsatisfying situation.  As a writer who spends a lot of time in her head creating, I always thought this was a good thing.  Actually, I am beginning to realize that it is an escape mechanism that keeps me out of touch with my own feelings and desires and away from experiencing my life fully. 

Instead of retreating into my dream world, today I will find the fun in the mundane.  I will concentrate on my interactions with my loved ones and the efficiency with which I dispatch things on my to-do list.  I will feel the anxiety associated with having many demands on my time and I will feel how it dissipates with each chore completed.

(*This is part of what I am learning through the book Women Food and God by Geneen Roth which I just can't recommend enough.)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Forgiveness

Yesterday was not my best day.

I didn't succeed in living mindfully, in treating my body as worthy of my care, nor in letting go of past mistakes. My inner turmoil spilled out, spoiling a perfectly good day.

Today I'm going to embrace the concept of renewal and rebirth that is inherent in each new day.  What a blessing to have a chance every morning* to begin again!  I'm so grateful for the sunshine and another chance to sow some happiness.

How will we make today better than yesterday?

(*My daughter Ana once said, "I LIKE mornings --I just wish they started later.")

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Center

Today I was supposed to go back to Queens (ack!) to hear the results of the MRI on my foot.

My older daughter woke up ill, though, and the appointment had to be rescheduled.

I'm okay with that, because I'm not hugely worked up over the results. I know if it was a stress fracture, the doctor would have called with that news.

(Yes, I was hoping for a stress fracture.  I know, I know.)

I'm actually not that worried about the results in general because I had sort of an epiphany yesterday: my disability does not define me.

I've been letting it rule my life, this vision of myself as a person of mobility issues, my vision of myself as defective. 

And the truth is that I am who I always was, walking or not. 

I can't tell you what a huge breakthrough this is for me. I'm not defined by what I can no longer do.

Today, as I go about my day, I'm going to take special note of all the things I CAN do, all the ways I can love my family and friends, all the things that make me a unique and special person that have absolutely nothing to do with my inability to run. 

Today, will you judge yourself by your limitations or by your potential?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Beginnings

It's an odd thing that as I've begun to listen for my own inner voice, that I've started to...well...CARE about myself again.  I care enough to try to minimize my stress.  I find that I am setting boundaries for what I do with my time, instead of just reacting to the demands of other people.

Another unexpected thing that has come out of this is that I suddenly am taking a little better care of myself.  Like, I care that I haven't made time to have my teeth cleaned in two years, that I need to see a dermatologist about a suspicious spot on my arm.  I want my hair cut and have actually been thinking I might do something more than just the trim I normally get so I can stuff the whole unruly mass into a pony tail.  I'm using a little eye-cream at night.  I'm taking the time to cut up fruit for myself --FOR MYSELF ONLY --for breakfast.  In the past, I just never would have done this.  Take the time to prepare a meal just for me?  Unheard of.

Instead of thinking of myself as an after-thought, --or worse, as someone to punish for falling short of my own ideals-- I am finding some kindness for myself.

This is heady stuff for a woman who has put herself as far out of her mind as possible.

What kindness will you find for yourself today?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sleep

I spent a sleepless night, worrying about things over which I have no control and even less ability to change at 3:00AM.

Today I will focus on taking some time just for me, to rest and restore.

And I will consciously meet the worrying voice in my head with the refrain, "I will not obsess over things I cannot change."

Sometimes I think the hardest thing is to embrace in life is the idea of uncertainty as a constant.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Presents

On Monday mornings, I try to get up a half-an-hour before my family.  Today it was actually an hour so I unloaded the dishwasher and made the coffee and even showered to try to wake myself up.

It's raining and gray and foggy outside.

I folded a load of clothes and put the next load in the dryer.  There, in the bottom of the washing machine, was a handful of loose change--fourteen cents.

I wonder what other unexpected little gifts this day will bring?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Weeds


Yesterday I spent a great deal of time pulling up the weeds that grow between the pavers on my patio.  It turns out that if the cracks aren't filled in with sand, they fill up with weeds (and the occasional errant pansy.)  I think this is a metaphor for what happens when you don't fill yourself up with positive self-talk.  Suddenly, weeds start taking root in your psyche.

Holy cow, it's a lot of work to get them out.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Fun

Today is Saturday, my favorite day of the week. And it's heartbreakingly gorgeous weather outside.

Today I will stay fully present with my family.  I will say "yes" whenever I can to my children and when they ask me to play with them, I will joyfully agree.  All tasks and errands will have to be fit in around our primary mission of having fun.

By engaging fully, I will make memories that will sustain me through the coming week when schedules and errands seem to scream importance. By laughing and tickling and digging in the dirt, I will fill my cup up.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Endings

A friend and I had a disagreement and exchanged some heated words.  She unfriended me on Facebook and cut off communication.

Normally, this would be the kind of thing that I beat myself up about for days on end. I would internalize this as a message that I am inherently unlovable and not worth the effort of reconciliation.

Today I choose to respond differently.  Today, I choose to let her go and I am trying to do so with grace. 

Some friendships are not of the life-long sort.  I tend to hold on to people and try to work things out long after there is any mutual joy left in the relationship.  Today, I am recognizing that endings are painful for me, but they are a necessary part of life.  I will let her go and focus my energy and love on those friends who are in it for the long haul.  I will try to focus on this being about her unwillingness to work things out and not on my worth as a person.

I choose to wish her well and let her go.

How do you handle the inevitable endings in your life?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Steadfast

Today is the day I go for the MRI of my foot.  I have to drive to Queens (which is always stressful because of the traffic) and I know going in that it's going to hurt.

Because I am nervous and scared about what the results will show (something new has gone wrong with my congenitally malformed foot) I know that it will be hard for me to maintain my sense of peace and mindfulness.  Usually when I am in these situations, I start maniacally cracking jokes at my own expense, which leaves everyone laughing but me.  I ease the tension of the situation for everyone but myself.

Today I will concentrate on staying focused and serene.  I will try to understand the message my body is sending me with this pain.  I will not let the events of the day set me back on my journey to live mindfully and with peace. I will not fall back on old coping habits (mindlessly eating, denying the pain) but I will try my hardest to stay entirely in the present.

And I will pray that whatever is discovered by this test will be something that can be fixed.

How do you greet stress and overwhelm?  Do you feel frantic and shut out your inner voice that tells you to slow down, or do you arm yourself with inner peace and steadfastness?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Renewal


I got up on the wrong side of the bed.

I was in a stinky mood and I snapped at my older daughter over something trivial.

Then I stopped and went and stared at myself in the mirror.  "Okay," I thought. "You are in a bad mood.  How can you turn it around into something positive before wrecking the mornings of those you love best?"

I began to clean.  I stripped off all of the sheets and took them and the towels to the laundry room.  I unloaded the dishwasher and began to load it.  I scooped the cat boxes (ick).  All the while, I talked to myself, asking where the mood came from and why my anxiety level was so high.

Once I figured out where it came from, it dissipated and I was able to regain my equilibrium.  I sent my lovely daughter off to school with an apology and a joke and a smile. I noticed the gorgeousness of the spring colors.  I found my joy again.

Today, I will be careful not to wallow in my negative emotions and infect those around me.  I will remember that it is my choice and I am not at the mercy of every fleeting emotion. I can choose to express my negative emotions in constructive ways and I can banish them by focusing on the good in my life.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Fluid


I have a sick child at home.

For me, as a stay-at-home mom, having a sick child immediately reorders the day's schedule.  The To-Do list gets put away. The day now will center around a little one who needs endless games of Sleeping Queens, loaves of toast made with the crusts cut off, and someone to sit by her while watching the same movies we've all seem 100 times.

In the past, I always got a little panicked when my structure for the day crumbled during my first cup of coffee.  I would put the To-Do list away but it never left my mind. I wouldn't say I'm a Type A person but I'm a B++ and I like my routines.

Today, I will embrace how flexible I am.  I will concentrate on looking at this day as an unexpected gift to spend some time with someone I love, really engaging with her.  I will be careful not to make her feel like a burden.  I will bring my creativity and energy to bear on making her feel better and I will actively observe and celebrate myself being fluid.  It occurs to me that things rarely go according to plan and this skill of remaining fluid is one of some serious importance*. 

How will you greet the unexpected wrinkles in your day today?

(*Also? I will not beat myself up for having spent 45 years coming to that conclusion, but I will focus on the fact that I will never be too old to learn.)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Love


For me, Mondays are usually about returning things to order after the weekend. I pull my to-do list back out and start adding to it and I stomp around my house, feeling put upon that the sink I scoured on Friday is encrusted with toothpaste and other...stuff (who knows) again. It's my job as a stay-at-home mom but sometimes I struggle with my attitude.

Today I am going to count all the ways I show the enormous love I have for my family through small acts of service--the lunches I make and the laundry I fold and the couch cushions I reupholster (don't ask.) Instead of resenting the time it takes to make a bed or wash a pan or go to the grocery store, I'm going to savor that time as a physical manifestation of the love I feel. I am going to mindfully concentrate on the mundane tasks I do as actual acts of love. You know how the saying goes about there being no small roles in acting, only small actors? Maybe, there are no small acts of love either.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Grace

Yesterday, I was reminded of the grace all around me.

My daughters and I went out to eat after their NYSSMA performances (which they both aced) and there was a bit of sibling squabbling over lunch.  As we left, my younger daughter Jane (9) requested a balloon and we got one for her.  We held it tight until we got to the car, where Jane asked me to tie it to her wrist.  I tied it but didn't tie the knot tight enough and as I backed away, the string caught the wind and the balloon wrenched itself from her wrist and went up into the sky.

The negative voices in my head spoke right up to tell me that I was inept and a failure--couldn't even tie a stupid balloon to my child's wrist.  Couldn't give my children a celebratory lunch without things going wrong. My face fell.

I think my older daughter (Ana, 12) thought I was seriously upset because she suggested that we go to the nursery by our house.  Jane didn't want to go but I heard Ana promise her M&Ms from her personal stash if she cooperated. "Let's do this for Mom," she whispered.

We went to the nursery and my girls were running around exclaiming over the beauty of the plants.  I was laughing out loud at their joy. We filled up two carts!

We came home and planted and planted and planted.  At some point, Jane went back inside but Ana stayed out with me and planted and planted and planted.  And then she exclaimed, "Mom, thank you for buying these plants! This is so much fun!"  And then she said, "This is the best day!  I am having the best time!"

Nothing fills me with peace and hope and happiness more than working in my garden.  And to have my daughters share that love... I think it might have been the best day of the year so far.

Later, I took a bath and thought about Ana and thought that maybe, planting in the sun for three hours was Ana's gift to me. Quietly, and with the grace of someone much older, she had given of herself to me--given me exactly what I needed most at exactly the time I needed it.

Wow.

Today, I will concentrate on the quiet grace of those I interact with.  I've spent two years complaining that the strangers I come across on Long Island tend to be brusque and rude.  Now I think that maybe the grace of the people here just comes in a different packaging than that of their Southern counterparts.  Yesterday, a woman at the nursery saw me buying a clamatis plant and she said, "What is that?"  I told her.  "That's what I thought," she said and turned away.

Later, I was choosing some impatiens and a shadow fell over me.  "Have you planted that clematis before?" I looked up to find the same Clematis woman.  "I don't think so," I answered."  "You'll want to plant some other kind of plant--like those impatiens --around the roots.  They like to have their roots shaded."  "Oh, thank you!" "Yeah, they like to have their roots shaded." She disappeared.

It wasn't until I went looking for it that I realized that this was a New York moment of grace:  A stranger hunted me down in a busy nursery to tell me how to plant something. I would have missed it if Ana hadn't shown me that these moments of grace come in all sizes and colors and shapes.  Today I will remember to look for them.

(Full disclosure: the clematis in the photo is from Google Images.  It's raining too hard for me to photograph mine!)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Hands

Today, my daughters are participating in a piano competition-- they will play piano in front a judge who will critique them. They've been practicing really hard. Yesterday, they played their pieces for me and I kept staring at their hands. Aren't hands the most amazing things?

I began to think about my own hands. Hands that have soothed fevered brows and planted rows of flowers and tiled whole bathrooms. I can peel an apple in one strip of peel and crack an egg with one hand. I can prepare a meal and scour a sink and type a letter that will make the reader smile. I can knit socks--the physical manifestation of a hug. When my children were babies and I put them to bed, I would sing to them until their eyelids grew heavy and them I would very gently stroke their eyebrows --always, always, their eyes would close and they would sleep.

Today, as I go through my day, I will notice all of the things I do with my hands and how cleverly and efficiently I do them. I will marvel at their strength and grace and how much joy they add to my life and how much love is expressed through them.

(And also? I will clap with enthusiasm for my children.)

Knitting at the US Open.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Gifts

This is my first post on my new blog. I want to say something...profound and deep and life-changing because this blog was born out of a really profound and life-changing moment for me. I'm having a hard time with the deep and profound, though.

I guess the fact that this blog is about small things sort of makes that unnecessary anyway.

But here's the thing: I realized that I have forgotten how to listen --to my longings, to my own judgment, to the beauty all around me. I have been so busy punishing myself for my perceived shortcomings that I forgot to listen to my strength, my generosity of spirit, my sense of serenity.  I've been trying to rediscover the beauty I know is inside me by beating the living hell out of myself.

As a strategy, this isn't really working very well. This blog is an attempt to do better.  Each day, I want to write about some tiny baby step forward--a meditation on something small that might just have big implications.

Yesterday, my younger daughter Jane gave me a bouquet of dandelions.  She saw them, she thought they were pretty and she wanted to give them to me --it was that simple and that wonderful. When was the last time you gave something with that kind of purity --without thinking about how the gift reflected upon you or without ulterior motive of some kind?