Yoga Challenge

Making time for myself can be difficult. Often I think of things I want to do or change about my life and set these huge goals or create expectations that simply cannot be met. Recently, I was realizing I wanted to get back to my yoga practice. However, with two little ones and a busy schedule, it can be difficult to maintain a regular class practice.

I spoke about this with a friend. I was feeling defeated that it is too difficult to go to yoga class regularly. She suggested something so genius and simple I have to write about it. She suggested I take a small bit of time in the day for me to do yoga. She asked if I “could find 5 minutes today?” SO when I hung up the phone, I found a quiet place to myself and became still. I did one sun salutation and then another and then one more. I heard my kids looking for me so I came back to a place of stillness and simply got quiet with myself for another five minutes. It was great.

Then I thought, what if I gave myself sun salutations each day? If they can become a practice that develops into more – great. If not, let’s see how many days I can give myself that gift. Simple. I am not worried about getting to class or rearranging everyone’s life.

What transpired was amazing. As I carved out my pocket of time and space for sun salutations, my kids watched and began to understand that mommy would need a small window of time to herself and it was okay. Sometimes they even join in and the session grows in length.

This may sound silly to anyone who has freedom over their time. Yet, this is also teaching me and my children important lessons about prioritizing and meditation. My sun salutations challenge is also helping me to see the wonder and opportunity in the whole of my day. There are so many unclaimed moments that can be redirected inward.

So now I challenge myself to #sevensunsalutations where I try to have seven days in a row that I give myself some inner sunshine. If I miss I day, I simply begin again.

Image result for sun salutations

 

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Claw Foot

Never underestimate the power of a good bath.

When I first moved to Manhattan, I lived in an apartment that was a sublet from a guy I did not know. It was very reasonable rent because it was his families’ apartment – rent stabilized and he was not looking to make money off of us, or at least a lot of money. How fortunate I am to have had this opportunity. I don’t think the move could have been possible otherwise. My amazing friend and roommate worked almost an opposite schedule to mine so my evenings were spent alone. I had very little money when I came to Manhattan. I gave myself two weeks to find a job. Much to my delight, I found one and felt relieved. Now my job was an hourly wage that would certainly not have me rolling in the money but it would cover my rent with a little bit left for food and such. There was nothing left for partying or going out in the evening for a long stretch.

My ritual became an evening bath. I would come home from work. Eat a salad or whatever my nightly ration was and then begin to compile my belongings for sanctuary time. In this apartment our bathroom was small but held the most glorious claw foot tub. I had never lived in a house or apartment with anything but the prefabricated plastic cubical tubs. This tub was magnificent. I was able to stretch out and be completely covered. I would take the phone in there. In case I needed to make a call – I wasn’t getting out for a while. I would surround myself with candles, books, and journals. My usual bath music was Norah Jones but I was often adventurous and daring.

I firmly believe these hot soaks saved me. It did not prevent me from all dangers and bad decisions but I really believe that my ritual and self care kept me aware, sober and healthy more often than not. That is a good thing! Sometimes I fantasize about these bath rituals. I desire to get back into the routine but I know that now I am a wife and a mom…creating such luxurious and self centered time is almost impossible. But I am entering a new phase or quest as I shall call it. I am embarking on a journey of increasing my self love without feeling it is extravagant or excessive. This is imperative to our future.

In my little cottage, we have a claw foot tub. I have bathed both my precious children in this enormous vessel. I have soothed wounds, aching muscles, and washed away tears inside this animal of an appliance. We often talk of remodeling our bathroom and getting rid of the giant tub and putting in a walk-in shower. I can’t bring myself to do it. A really good shower is equally amazing, however, there is something so nurturing and comforting about a bath. Simply looking at it can fill one with a warmth and embrace of pure, tender, care for the soul. It is a place where the troubles of my family are soaked away into reflective conversation and quiet time. It can also be the source of joyous celebrations of a fun filled time in nature. The bath bares witness and holds us while we sit with our experiences and scrub them away from the surface.

Never underestimate the power of a good bath.

 

Waiting

I’m in an ER room watching my daughter sleep.

We have been in the ER for almost 12 hours.

Two different hospitals. 1 ambulance ride.

She is so beautiful.

I am humbled by her .

 

written July 2017

Everything Changes

The throng of commuters felt thicker this morning. Even on a crisp autumn morning, June was stifled in the woolen embrace of hundreds of people shuffling to work. She was worried she would be late. Worried that she forgot something. Worried she wore the wrong blouse – it might say the wrong thing- give the wrong image. A older gentleman with salt and pepper hair and a hint of cologne bumped into her arm with his bag. She looked at him and away almost immediately. She began to rifle through her handbag while speed-walking in the dispersing crowd. She needed to check the address again. It gives her calm, comfort to check directions almost every 30 seconds. Although she has always done this, she has never taught herself to stop burying the directions into her handbag after each glance. This has become a habit, a ritual of sorts.

She feels the scratchy torn paper in between her fingers and begins to raise it out like a crab in a net. June looks casually into her hand and is sent falling forward onto her hands and one knee.

The stream of onlookers diverge around her and a family stops to help her stand. She thanks them and lush faced assures them she is alright. She has to stoop back over to collect the contents of her purse that have toppled onto pavement. Her pen, her sunglasses and some papers. June scoops them up and notices an unfamiliar piece of stationary erratically folded stuck to her directions. She glides her self to a potted plant to put herself back together. She throws everything into her bag and looks at the stationary. It is expensive and somewhat personalised. She can feel the weight and texture of its fibers. She strokes a fingertip on the soft emerald piping around the edges.

June opens the paper to see the green trail and smooths it out on her leg. It is not the entire sheet. It has been hastily torn and crumpled. There are smudges of words along the ripped edge. All that can be read is:

Please stop waiting to hear “I’m sorry”. Get on with your life. I have.

The letter was not originally intended for June but it’s sentiment drove a stake through her chest and nailed her to that very spot. She looked around and studied the faces of those around her. Was anyone visibly shattered from this as well? She saw a young man reading something small in his hand and she thought for a moment to approach and ask if this was his. The she saw him remove a granola bar from the wrapping he was reading and toss it in the bin.

Please stop waiting to hear “I’m sorry”. Get on with your life. I have.

She read it again. This time the words pressed into her heart. She winced and looked around again. Who would write this? It is so cold and insensitive. She felt such sadness for whomever received this note and cast it away. June then began to wonder if this was a section of a letter purposefully torn off and discarded or had this been the talisman carried and fingered for affirmation. Was this the best or the worst section of the letter?

Time seemed to slow down for June. She leaned back against the brick encasement of perennials and sighed. She wiped a bead of sweat from her chest and listened to her own pulse. The sounds of the street morphed into a blanket around her feet. The directions to her appointment were cast aside on top of her bag and she took them in her shaking hand and crumpled them tightly into a strong fist.

Please stop waiting to hear “I’m sorry”. Get on with your life. I have.

This was written for her, she knew it. No she didn’t have the entire letter and no she didn’t recognise the handwriting but she felt it was meant for her. June felt a bubble of anger rise in her throat. “Get on with your life.” Who would be so brash to imply she wasn’t living it up? She thought of her father all smug and disapproving.  June was griping the letter so tightly in her hands she felt the paper shutter as if it would explode.

With a new fevered gate she trudges her way through the current. June steps off the curb, she raises her right hand clutching the letter to ward off a exuberant cabbie. She let him know she is not to be trifled with today. June has been rewired and is heading directly to her appointment with no doubts, no need to check or recheck anything. She flicks her hair back and shoves the letter into her pocket.

*response to daily prompt: everything changes

Not my Job

Yesterday while in the grocery store, I overheard someone say “it’s not my job to take care of them.” It was a simple phrase that floated past me and I didn’t even know I heard it until later. A few hours later. I was seated on my deck doing my best to clear my mind for ten minutes. I was feeling quite proud of myself when my chime went off that I had a swirling of thoughts come in and out, but I didn’t abandon my sit. I let it flow. As I opened my eyes and began to take in the flood of sensory items, I heard that phrase from that voice.

“It’s not my job to take care of them.”

I began to think of all the times I may have used that phrase ‘not my job’ in my life. I remember during a brief time of working for Disney, we were specifically taught that it is a collective effort to take care of everything and everyone. Yet, then I honed in on relationships. I could hear that phrase being used even in a manner to liberate one from feeling obligated or co-dependent to someone else’s needs and plans. This didn’t bring me pleasure or a good feeling. I started to reflect on what other way could I reframe that phrase in my own life. I thought of the phrase “calling”. sometimes when something isn’t your job, its your calling. Then I brought up things like need, mission, desire. Taking care of someone else or being mindful of their needs can be a calling. It could be a need, a mission, or a desire.

First, I flipped this phrase to be more positive: It IS my ________ to take care of _________. I tried out inserting my husband into the phrase and saying the words “my job” felt diminutive and submission. When I changed it to desire, it felt connected and passionate. I also quickly was able to be more specific as to what I am taking care. I felt that the original statement was so broad and vague. I was looking for clarity.  Then I could easily swing back to the negative statement of “It’s not my desire to…” and I felt free and released from what I did not want.

I began to change it to other people in my life, my kids, my students, my community, even myself. This phrase became powerful and enlightening. It made clear where my energy is going and the impact it is having on my journey. I began saying taking care of (insert activity or task) and then tried to give it a label of function or importance. I started to see the life I am living verse the life that I want. So much can be shifted with our thoughts and words.

 

What is it to “take it easy”???

A week ago, I laid splayed out out on an operating table and there were “complications.”

Things went unexpectedly wrong. Now, here I am “taking it easy”. I am not even sure what that means. Seriously, I am struggling to wrap my mind around what it looks like, what it feels like. I have quickly come to realize that I am someone who needs a doctor to outline and give examples of what it means to rest. I know how to rest on a vacation. I know how to go to sleep at night. But being home from work unexpectedly and needing to get things done and needing to rest is not an easy translation to my daily life. That is where I am. I get it.

I am first learning to accept that I have spent intense time, effort, and care to become a machine. Even in my mediation, writing, and reading practices there is a constant timetable and “to-do list” impeding my flow. I did not know I had gotten so scheduled and so rushed. The Universe is forcing me to slow down, be present, and be genuine in my mindfulness. It is an incredible lesson I clearly needed. Thank you Universe. As always, you got my back.

Some things I am learning during this respite:

  1. Take a moment to feel your pain and get to know it with a tender heart.
  2. Embrace doing less things in a day so that you can do things more fully, more sincerely.
  3. When you stop trying to do everything, you give opportunity to others to try new things. Also you discover a new path to your goals.

Tech Pause Reflection

This year I have participated in two voluntary technology breaks. It is only 4 months into 2018 and I have said YES to limited interaction with screens and social media. I gave myself no warning to unplug from Facebook and went dark for 30 days at a time. I made a commitment to myself that I would consider a phone call before sending a text and not opt out of the connection of voice. A loftier and more rewarding term I set upon myself this wear was to challenge myself for 30 days that I equalled the number of texts I sent to the number of letters I wrote. It become exciting and addictive. I more than tripled the amount of text messages I sent with letters in the month of January. It was effort that brought such a sense of pride and accomplishment.

It is the latest tech pause that I think truly woke me up. It was not voluntary. It was not planned, welcomed, or scheduled. It was a violation, inconvenience, and betrayal. Yet from those words, I saw things, listened more, and awakened inside.

My phone was stolen at work. Someone went into my personal space and took my phone. The search and rescue was extensive and shattering. My phone was literally shattered. Wen the thief was about to be caught, they threw the phone out of a window and it plummeted to the courtyard below and smashed into a horrific tangled mess. My phone was recovered and returned however it was no longer useful. I was informed that insurance would grant me a new phone but it would take a few days to get it all sorted.

We were about to go on vacation. There I was without a phone and away I went. I spent approximately twelve days unplugged and it was a combination of relaxing and frustrating. I have to admit that it was great not getting sucked into Instagram after I post a picture of my day. Instead I simply kept living it. I didn’t feel the buzz with every text or email. I also miraculously no longer needed to check the time, ever. Why is it that when I had a phone, I felt the need to check the time repeatedly. Without my phone, time didn’t seem to be a marker in everything I did. I am sure that it helped I was on vacation. It was a small gift in a way.

The frustrating and difficult part about being unplugged was trying to communicate, relate, and share with people around me still tethered to their technology. I was more aware of how many devices one person will “use” at a time. Most of all, I found it impossible to feel like I was truly on vacation with my husband. It seemed as though we were on two different trips with scheduled meeting places. Even though we were together, the space in his attention span taken up by his phone, computer, or the TV felt like it wedged miles between us. I grew irritable with his need to check, recheck, call, respond, or scroll. There were times I was fantasizing grabbing his phone and chucking it into the sea or skidding it beneath the garbage truck just before it zoomed by the house.

I did not live out any of my fantasies. I did get angry and short tempered at times. It helped me look back on a lot of my interactions with people in the past. I was able to identify moments where perhaps my anger or confusion is because I felt disconnected from them because technology was taking too much space in the relationship. I saw how much our children are learning to accept technology taking a more important role than their thoughts, ideas, and connection. This is not the way I want to raise my children. Although we had limited their screen time, I realized perhaps we need to limit ours as well. We have a steadfast rule in our house – no electronics during meals. This experience made me see that we can do better. Also I learned that it is important to unplug at the same time as others with the intention of connecting or sharing space in a closer way. It will be more meaningful if I decide to take a pause at the same time as my husband or friends or colleagues. It felt lonely and frustrating and it doesn’t have to fell that way. That will be the next challenge. To unplug together and make it mean something.

I have my new phone. It is next to me as I write this…I am going to turn it off (not silent) while I write. I am going to BE with my writing for a spell and enjoy that in itself.

Here are some things to consider doing:

  • Have time in the day that you power off as many devices as possible.
  • Only open ONE tab on your computer.
  • Make a unplugged date with someone. Stick to the rule and enjoy each other’s company.
  • No electronics during meals.
  • Have scheduled times that you check certain websites or emails.
  • Go dark on social media for a week or a month at a time.

Feel free to let me know how it goes.