Monday, May 22, 2017

On Yoga

There hasn't been any significant yoga here in a long long time - in this space, or in my body.

From time to time I roll out my mat, but not with any regularity, and not with real commitment. My limbs are tight and stiff and protest the simplest of actions. My heart is tight and stiff, and my intent is sluggish and uncommitted.

I hurt. I ache. Physically and mentally. 'Go to a yoga class' you might logically suggest. But I'm embarrassed. I'm embarrassed of the way my body looks and I'm embarrassed of the way my body moves - or doesn't move. This body has never been terribly thin or lean, but she has been strong, and she has been flexible. She has performed on the mat with grace and presence and beauty, that uncoiled from the inside out.

She is now tired and heavy, stiff and tight. This is how I found myself - my new self - on my mat recently, on the deck in the misting rain, and I realized this was an opportunity. This moment was my opportunity to really practice yoga - not the yoga of soaring headstands, deep cleansing twists, and breakthrough wheels, but the yoga of commitment and compassion. This was my opportunity to open my heart to myself and lovingly accept that 'this is my uttanasana (forward bend),' 'this is my adho mukha svanasana (downward facing dog),' 'this is my trikonasana (triangle).' This is my yoga practice. This was my opportunity to let go of my expectations of what my body should be able to do and what my body should look like. This was my opportunity to be present in this body and on my mat in this moment.

From this place is where the real yoga is practiced. It's easy to 'do yoga' when your body is fit and beautiful and will do what you ask of it. It's easy to make the yoga physical and forget about the yoga that needs to happen inside. It's easy to forget that there are 8 limbs of yoga and only one of those is the physical practice of asana (poses).

I am led back to my mat more often now - even if it's only for a few minutes. It is a connection that I am rebuilding and redefining for myself. And I give you this gift today - the gift of freedom from expectations. Discover or rediscover your 'mat,' your space where you can take even just 5 minutes to be - without fear, without judgement, without expectation; a space where you can reconnect.


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Assholery, Mindfulness and Giggles

My kids need sleep - lots of it. When there is not enough, my kind, funny children become unrecognizable. The challenge is in not reacting. That seems to be one of my biggest ongoing parenting challenges.

This morning, I had one crying that he couldn't go to school because he felt like he was going to throw up, and the other wouldn't get out of bed. When #2 did finally get out of bed and get dressed, I was sure that his body had been snatched in the night by some evil, word-weapon throwing ninja. It was a morning of opportunity for mama - opportunity to practice all the patience I could muster, opportunity to enlist the help of my breath and my many mornings of quiet meditation. Proud that I didn't raise my voice, or use the self-righteous 'mom tone,' I decided in the car that we all might need a short meditation on the way to school.

I envisioned us riding quietly in the car, inhaling and exhaling together and my brightly shining, centered, focused children would thank their dear mother for her brilliance, tell me how much they needed that self check-in, and step lithely from the car, into their day with mindfulness and intent. (Are you laughing yet?)

Here's what really happened. I fumbled with the phone/car connection for about 5 minutes while they fought over fidget spinners in the back seat. When I finally decided to give up and get going so they wouldn't be late for school, Mr. Attitude had to have the last word and uttered a nasty 'yay' as I informed them with false brightness that we'd just have to meditate tomorrow.

I pushed the button to switch back to radio and out of the speakers slurred a too airy voice, like the voice of Girl God, 'This is a guided meditation for anger.' There was a surprised silence for a moment as I lowered the volume. Then the giggles began. Every time she said something, the long pause before her next words was filled with giggles. Each thing she said was more hilarious than the last. But -- they were giggling together!

Mr. "I'm Gonna Pull Out All The Stops To Stay Home Today" and Mr. "I'm Gonna Be A Big Fat Ass And Try To Get You To Yell At Me So I Can Be A Victim", forgot about their agendas and were sharing a joke. I started to turn it off and let them listen to music, but they were repeating nearly everything she said and dissolving into piles of giggles over and over again. The thing was, even tho they were turning it into a big joke, they were hearing her.

"Give the anger space?" "Here, Anger, here's some space."
"Let the anger be with you?" "OK, come on, Anger. Let's go."

Maybe it didn't turn out quite the way I envisioned, but they took what they needed from what I offered and turned it into what worked for them. And I was able to sit back and let them. Now isn't THAT really one of the biggest challenges of parenting?

Yes, this is a shameless self pat on the back for mama, but we all need those much more often than we get them!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Welcome to the Treehouse

I love this little space here, but I often wonder if I should just let it go since I mostly let it go anyway. I think about it very very often and then the ebb and flow of life washes my energy and attention in a different direction before I manage to give it more than a passing thought.

Since this space continues to bring me joy, I'll keep it around for now and pop in when I can. I hope that you will enjoy it when I'm here and think of me fondly when things are quiet. It's been nearly a year now since we bought and moved into our new home. I'd like to invite you to join me for a little virtual house warming in this post.

Welcome to The Treehouse. There is much much much to do. Many things to be fixed and fretted over. Many many dollars to be spent. Many hours of sweat and sore muscles. But start your tour on the deck, with the soft breeze lifting your hair. Look out over the trees and imagine for a moment that you are an eagle, surveying your domain. It's different up here in the treetops. The air is lighter. The sun is brighter.

Back when we first moved in, before the afternoon sun became molten lava flowing into every tiny crack and crevice in the blinds, there were clouds - lots and lots of billowing clouds. I could leave the blinds open all around as I spent my days tip tapping away on my keyboard at my makeshift desk on the dining room table. Elevated above the living room on the upper level of the split, I could peer out into the gently blowing treetops and I was on top of the world.

I could forget about the brittle, sun-baked siding, curling up around the edges. I could look past the exposed sub-floor that had once been covered by decades old royal blue carpeting. I could forget to ponder how we'd get the growing network of cobwebs out of the topmost corners and nooks. I could not ignore the last dying gasp of the air conditioner - we were in Texas in spring - but I could forget about my kitchen remodel Pintrest board and the ugly, mocking popcorn on the ceiling. I could imagine the scent of spring rain on the breeze instead of the stale, artificial scent of outlet-based air fresheners that had seeped into the wood of the tawny cedar paneling. I could simply soar.

Welcome to The Treehouse, where dreams begin.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Back To School


It’s not so much that I’m ready for my kids to be back in school as it is that I’m ready for the routine for us all. I’m ready for the quiet time at home for work. I don’t want to be ready for these things. In a perfect world, I’d be the one spending the long, lazy days of summer with my kids, fossil hunting in our back yard; gathering sticks and drift to make crafts and mandalas, reading and cooking and learning about the world around us at our own pace.

As it is, they are here with a nanny, doing amazing things with her all day while I try to keep my focus on work and the ever growing pile of emails and projects. They are here and my frustration grows – with the activity and noise that blows my focus, with the mountain of work that seems to only grow more insurmountable, with the tiny bits and pieces of time I have with them where dinner and baths and laundry and commitments need to be tended, with the desperate longing to be the one baking and building and discovering with them.

So my frustration comes out at them and it hurts. It hurts me and it hurts them. I sit quietly at night and try to focus on the bright spots of the day instead of silently crying for the many many times I messed up. I sit and desperately shove all my resolve into the basket of ‘tomorrow.’ Tomorrow I will not raise my voice a single time. Tomorrow I will smile and joke and laugh more. Tomorrow, I will take time to dance before starting dinner. Tomorrow I will let go a little more and let the little bits of time that I do have evolve naturally and contentedly.

Today I’m learning little by little. I raise my voice less. I smile more. I am more conscious of taking small moments of time to connect over Legos, a book, listening to music together or finding something for them to do in the kitchen to help with dinner (using a paring knife is a new favorite). Today I learn little by little that even in mid-yell I can stop and take a deep breath and soften my face and change my tone. I can teach by example.

Today I am imperfect. I can teach that imperfect is ok.

Today, I breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the house will be quiet next week and I long for a tomorrow where we return to school, sun-kissed and full of the togetherness of summer. 

Happy School Year, Everyone!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Forty Six

Today I begin the journey into my forty-sixth year. Because I love nothing as much as a list, last year, I started a 50X50 list of fifty things I'd like to do/accomplish by the time I turn 50. Today only leaves me four years to do those things. As I read back thru the list, I wonder a little at the wisdom of including some items, but I left them anyway.

I think I only got up to about thirty-something last year, so I've rounded out the list and haven't gotten very far on checking things off. Here it is below. What are some of your 'bucket list' items?

  1. Build a regular blog
  2. Start an Etsy shop
  3. Dive at the Great Barrier Reef or visit the Galapagos Islands (provided it is financially possible!)
  4. Get out of debt
  5. Learn to play tennis (with Ray)
  6. Help my kids develop and complete a service project
  7. Learn to screen print
  8. Become comfortable in my body
  9. Really work toward getting my body healthy
  10. Get a tattoo
  11. See Al Green Preach
  12. Take my kids to a bluegrass festival
  13. Hike in Big Bend
  14. Stay up for more than 3 seconds on water skis
  15. Cook a prime rib
  16. Pull a skier on the boat - done
  17. Finish my book
  18. Be able to do Wheel again – with grace
  19. Get the children’s books that are in my head onto paper and out to publishers - finished one and sending.
  20. Maintain an organic garden thru an entire summer
  21. Travel for a year with the kids
  22. Renew my yoga practice
  23. Simplify my stuff - work in progress
  24. Simplify my life (this one is loaded and probably needs much more definition!)
  25. Regularly practice random acts of kindness – have it be part of my everyday thoughts
  26. Be kind to myself without thinking about it
  27. See the Grand Canyon
  28. See Orcas in their natural home
  29. Buy a quarter side of humanely raised beef
  30. See the fireflies in the Great Smokey Mtns in TN
  31. Take a road trip with my mom
  32. Learn to knit (it may not be possible!!!)
  33. See Asleep at the Wheel in concert
  34. Take my kids to a bluegrass festival (this one is listed twice – it must be important)
  35. Teach the boys yoga
  36. Make daily meditation a priority - work in progress
  37. Give up the foods that make me sick
  38. Catch up my nieces’ and nephews’ journals
  39. Start journals for my boys
  40. Make my house a haven
  41. Make a dream catcher
  42. Make a wedding photo album for Kyle - started
  43. Get my family photos into albums for the boys - started
  44. Try stand up paddleboarding
  45. Build something with power tools – by myself
  46. Visit Palo Duro Canyon
  47. Ride in a hot air balloon
  48. Help build a tree house for my boys
  49. Update my living will
  50. Be on track for a comfortably amazing retirement

Friday, December 18, 2015

Angels Among Us

I am surrounded by angles – beautiful, loving, caring, giving angels.

These aren’t people who give forty five billion dollars away over the course of their lifetimes (tho we need those angels too). They are people like you and me who have been in a hard spot and vow to help others out. They are the people who organize in an instant to help when called upon. They are the people who go out of their way to say a kind word or extend a kind gesture without needing to post it all over social media. They are the people who sometimes look at their bank accounts and think “oh crap”, but they give anyway because there is someone more desperately in need.

These angles have gathered throughout my life. Sometimes I’m the recipient of their blessings and sometimes I’m helping them bless others. They teach me and inspire me and lift me up. At times I am untouchable, so insulated I am by these heavenly creatures.

I am surrounded by angels and I’m so fortunate they let me fly with them. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Christmas Magic

Images from Christmas 2014

“Mom, I know you and dad are Santa, and you’re the one who does the elf,” said my 7 (almost 8) year old getting off the bus one day last week. My heart shattered into a million pieces. For a moment, I panicked and wanted to lie, to hold on tight to the magic and not let the reality of growing up snatch that thread of innocence. I wanted it for me. But for him? Isn’t discovering the card up the sleeve all part of feeling a little more grown up – whether I’m ready for it or not?

In a casual conversation later, I asked him what he wanted to believe. I never gave a straight answer. I said that Santa is about magic and that it’s ok to hang onto that magic as long as he wants. It doesn’t matter how the presents get there or whether the elf flies to the North Pole every night. What matters is how it makes us feel to believe. Conspiratorially I told him he doesn’t have to tell his friends what he believes or doesn’t believe. At home, we can experience the magic together. I did ask him to discuss it with me and not with his brother for whom Santa is as real as you and me. “Let’s let everyone keep experiencing the magic in their own way,” I suggested.

I know he took away the message that Santa’s not real and that Daddy and I make it all happen (stupid big boy on the bus!). And that’s ok – it’s all part growing up and becoming his own person which is ultimately our goal as parents.

But this morning. .  . This morning magic happened.

The tree is up and lights are on, but we are waiting til we can all be home together to get it decorated. When the tree goes up, the Elf comes out. I tucked Aza into the tree’s branches yesterday morning, expecting the kids to find him right away.

It was on our way out the door this morning that Ray spotted him.

“THE ELF!” he shouted. “He’s here! He’s here!”

Gone was the doubt. Forgotten was any care over who, where or why. We walked out into the crisp morning. Ray took a deep breath and said “Smell that mom? It’s Christmas. You can smell candy canes in the air.”

Grow up, my boy. Grow into your own person. Discover your world and develop your-self. But not too fast. Keep the magic for as long as you can. And when you lose it for a little while (as we all do), remember – it will come back. It will come back with a vengeance. It will come back with such beauty it burns your eyes and makes your heart spasm. Welcome it back and remember the smell of candy canes on the breath of a crisp December morning.

A Merry, Magical Christmas to you!