Friday, April 30, 2010


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


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


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


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


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


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.


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


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


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?