8/3/2017

Animal Meditations

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My son and I started this bedtime meditation together when he was in third grade. 

It was a day he said the whole class got in trouble. Apparently some of the boys were playing with the soap in the bathroom. My son is sensitive, and being the kid who hates to piss of anyone, felt targeted by this lecture. (Apples and Trees, y'all.) He said his teacher was angry and looking right at him but then, my young son explained in air quotes, “chuckled” and was a little nicer. 

This interaction seemed small to me but I don't dismiss his anxiety. As an adult I can see his teacher, a nice, gentle man, suddenly hearing himself lecture seven year olds about playing with the soap in the bathroom. That silly reality probably made him soften and suppress a chuckle. As an adult, and a parent, I understand suddenly hearing the ironic things that come out of your mouth as you yell at your children to stop yelling or please, jesus, don't bite the dog.

This was the first night we tried this new meditation I heard about. The meditation goes like this: Take three to five deep breaths, close your eyes and picture yourself in a nice, happy spot, seated and waiting. Wait there until an animal arrives to teach you something.

He chose to sit in tall grass under a tree. He sees a lion. It tells him he can stand up for himself. When he opens his eyes, "MAMMA! I GOT ONE!" and I open mine, no animal yet to share, I see his face as he explains this lesson to me. He is soft and excited. I explain that this is a fantastic lesson. There absolutely is a lion inside him and can be with him any time. He might be the one doing the work but inside him is a lion giving him confidence. He nods and we decide to try again.
Continue...

6/26/2017

On Being 40(ish)

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40 is about accepting the blame

One morning when my 8year old was in a heap over the horrid inevitability that he would have to go to school again that day, he spat out, “You don’t do anything right! You promised I could skip school and you’re always lying!” It took me a minute to recover. I most certainly was not always lying but to explain this to him right now wasn’t going to get us any closer to him putting on his shoes. That I never ‘promised’ him he could skip school this particular day, wasn’t a discussion point, either. The facts of what I had said, the truth, was we discussed a time we may be traveling and, like the friends he’s so jealous of who get to miss school because they have a plane to catch, we would likely have that experience one day, too. But that was not what he wanted to hear or what he remembered that foggy, dark morning thirty minutes before the first school bell. 

In that minute I sucked my breath back in to my deflated lungs and took the punch. “One day, yes, we can skip school for a big adventure, but that is not today and here are your socks.” 

Many, and I mean many, people skip this step of 40. Blame continues to live on others’ shoulders. In their eyes, blame is a game of power and he who holds it is the loser.

In the wise words of the famous author, Christina Aguilera, “I’m sorry for blaming you for everything I just couldn’t do, and I’ve hurt myself by hurting you.”  40 is about accepting your roll, your participation, and letting others off the hook. And then? the next big lesson: letting yourself off the hook, too.

40 is about compassion Continue...

5/3/2017

Inside Voice

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Teachers or parents who work with, or have, pre-schoolers and Kindergartners use the term “Inside Voice.” It’s a vocabulary word you don’t normally hear at a business meeting where other terms like “Synergy" or "Tech Disruption” get tossed out as if they had actual meaning. Nobody ever says, “Let’s use our Inside Voices.” Although I think they probably should.

Parents and Teachers use this word, ironically, loudly in order to tell the child to stop yelling in the store/house/meeting/car/market/coffee shop. “USE YOUR INSIDE VOICE,” I may or may not have been caught yelling at the three year old who was singing Baby Beluga at Top Volume. 

Now that I have a near teenager and near double-digit dude, “Inside Voice” doesn’t come up as often. Sure they might be loud and rambunctious but “Inside Voices” and “Outside Voices” aren’t a thing. Now I can yell, “SHUT THE FUCK UP FOR LIKE TEN MINUTES,” and they will listen and comply immediately. (I’m kidding. I never use the F word with them.)  (I’m kidding again. I don’t know why I’m lying to make friends, y’all already know me.) They just laugh at me if I yell to shut up and continue on. 

I’m the model mother.

Lately, though, “Inside Voice” is taking on a new meaning. In the silent bliss that is the three minutes after the youngest gets on the bus for school and the house is completely silent, I heard myself whisper to nobody at all, “Use your Inside Voice.” I nearly startled myself with this idea, looking around half expecting to find a kindergarten teacher standing over me. “Use your Inside Voice,” I thought again. Interesting. Continue...

12/7/2014

The Universe is One Persistent Mofo

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Over a year ago, I started talking to someone about ADHD. I joined a group of other women and we talked about what it was like living with distraction, children, jobs, husbands, and the constant 32 TV monitors playing different channels in our heads.

One of the themes that started cropping up was the idea of mindfulness. Mindfulness, or the awareness of your thoughts and living in the present tense, has been shown to decrease ADHD symptoms. Meditation, it’s practical companion, has been shown to help cancer and diabetes, fix marriages, and save the planet from impending astroids.*

The last one is a theory but I’m sure someone is researching that right now. Maybe.

It’s been a year and a half now that the theme mindfulness has been cropping up. At first it was my women’s group, then it appeared in books I was reading. (Granted, with titles like Mindfulness and the Brain and You Are Not Your Brain, I knew what I was getting in to) but lately it’s picked up the pace of obviousness and is a bit more “in your face” if the Universe is like that, which it is.

Sometimes when you don’t stop to listen, The Universe will start yelling. Continue...

12/1/2013

On the doing of Parenting

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I wonder if my children will remember me as constant motion. Not a specific task, like cleaning their rooms while we talk about their day, or how I make dinner when we discuss their homework, or the laundry that I’m constantly walking up and down with from room to laundry and back. No, more like a blur of my historic self, a gusian filter placed over the presence of me in their memories.

Like my own mother is to me in my childhood; Always moving: a presence, a tickle monster, a card player, a disciplinarian. She is a blur of the eighties, a wisp of the nineties.

I wonder if my children will remember how they helped me make dinner, or bake treats for our Christmas with friends. I wonder if they’ll remember the countless card games and board games and wrestle games. I wonder if they’ll focus on how we worked so many hours or how we made time for them in spite of deadlines.

I think of my days in this rocking motion, always moving, even when still, shifting, doing, thinking. Laundry for down times, dishes for noisy times. Lunches made during dinner prep and beds re-made and stuffed animals put away during bedtime routine.

If I’m not doing two things, I am not being effective. Continue...

1/6/2013

Re-imagining history

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“You walk very fast.” I hear the words at the same time a wet nose bumps my calves. I turn to find an older woman walking on the trail next to me. I had slowed down to text a friend briefly when she unexpectedly popped in to my path during my walk. She smiles, “I wasn’t able to catch you until now. It’s why I said something. Usually I’m way ahead of everyone but you walk as quickly as I do.”

We enjoy a nice chat as I pace along side her. I explain that I used to run but now walk because of my bad knees. She confesses she used to run marathons and was unsure about this walking business but really enjoys it. We both agree we can’t run to save our lives now and not ironically, that’s when she asks if I’ve seen the coyotes. We both agree perhaps we should carry pepper spray.

It’s about ten minutes, my time with her, this older woman in her late fifties? Early sixties? She has amazing legs and a warm, kind, lovely face. I think she never wore makeup and I identify with this. I ponder myself at her age, if I would still be walking on this trail. Would I let myself be natural and light and would I still talk lightly to another woman, a stranger?

She graciously explains she has dinner guests coming soon so she must turn here but he will keep a look out for me in the future. She tells me her name and I tell her mine. We wave as we part.

Something about her strikes me. Lately I’ve been so flustered at work. I feel so tired, exhausted, and overwhelmed. There are both wonderful, and challenging, parts of life right now and desperation consumes the harder times and a flood of light fill the good ones. Continue...

7/9/2012

Live in the Pause

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Hello! Salutations! How are you, anyhow?

It’s been a while and I’ve missed you all.

I’m in England this week. It’s funny, in a “I guess you had to be there” sort of way, but I spoke up to the Taxi Driver this morning in a British accent without realizing it. In fact, I accidentally spelled REALISING it just now until spell check let me know I’m a bloody american.

Acclimation is my middle name.

(Look, I’m already using words with more than two syllables! And correctly pronouncing my adverbs! And spelling favourite with a flamboyant ‘u’! And over-using exclamations! Right, I said Acclimation, not Exclamation.) Continue...

6/3/2012

Lost control of breath and heart

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I find myself on the matt, rushed from traffic, breathless from worry. The room dims, the instructor’s voice soothes the atoms in the air. We breathe.

The class begins and we stretch, bending over yesterday’s beers and middle-age. We look up, grasping at the sky energy. We stand tall, then lean low, we breathe heavily.

I stoop in to child’s pose, catching my breath and my resting my body. The instructor, calm energy, strong voice, tells the class to rest. “If you’ve lost control of your breathing or your heart, take a minute…”

I’m fading in to my own thoughts at these words. “Lost control of your heart…” The words bounce around the vastness of my mind: a void of sorrow and contemplation. A light, dim at first, starts to shine the very edges of my thoughts. It is not just light, it is the sun. Hope washes over the cobwebs of winter, of poor choices, of indecision. Memories of a being a child, hopeful and independent, of a girl in Germany, of a strong spirit rush back in the void’s space. Suddenly I am strong for the first time in months.

I sit now in a hippie coffee shop. It’s the kind of coffee shop you’d go to after having an epiphany at yoga. I sit across a college girl with her hair in a woolen cap. A grandmother sits near us sipping her latte and writing on twitter. The walls are adorned with swirls of abstract art, most likely a result of a night of cocaine and vodka. I’m high just staring at them. Continue...

9/8/2011

At twitlight

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I hear my family upstairs. There are squeals, laughter, delight. The radio is blaring through the built-in speakers of our bedroom window, opened even though this last August air is chilly. There is chasing above. I sit on the patio as Ben Folds plays via iPhone. I work a bit. I delight in my job. I ponder the day. I drink a good beer.

I once read, “To be in harmony with the universe is to be like floating: Doors open, opportunities arise and you take them without thought.” That is happening to me as of late. Doors seem to bust open. Life seems to beacon me. COME! COME LIVE!

“When hope is not pinned wriggling onto a shiny image or expectation, it sometimes floats forth and opens.” -Anne Lamott

I am exceedingly happy at my upcoming opportunities. I am living a day job of merriment. I am watching my children ride their bikes without training wheels and smiling at their accomplishments. I am aging in my own body and appreciating it more daily. I am realizing the future may not be as I always expected but that the universe offers more than I can ever hope or dream. Without being cosmically ridiculous, I can say without a doubt that those who dream big live big.

I want to dream big. Continue...

Drishti

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Life is chaotic now. I knew the change was coming but you can never fully prepare for it. It’s like a pregnant mother waiting for the birth of her child. She hears all of you telling her to “sleep while you can” and “Woahboy, your first, hu? Big change is coming!” but those words are simply words. They are not experiences until she is in the midsts of it, and then it is irrelevant.

Words can be meaningless.

Or they can change your world.

The other day my Yoga instructor kept telling us to find our Drishti. Drishti, I repeated in my mind. Drishti. I knew she was telling us to find our focus. Our point of concentration. I looked up the meaning and found this definition: “Drishti is the focus of the eyes in meditation. This is the focal point where one’s gaze lies to attain concentration alignment, and inner and outer balance. One actually does this to prevent distractions, but should be looking inwardly and not concentrate on the physical object. This could be the tip of your nose or in between your eyebrows, depending on your yoga pose.” (source)

“This is the focal point where one’s gaze lies to attain concentration alignment, and inner and outer balance.  One actually does this to prevent distractions.” Continue...

2/3/2010

If you love it so much, why don’t you marry it?

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One of my favorite parts about having children is that sayings you haven’t heard since 1982 become part of daily life again. “You know what? Chicken Butt.” Kids either keep you young or toss you right back in time to create a very large, somewhat over weight ten year old. It’s awesome.

I picture you taunting me as I write this post. “Leslie and Yoga sitting in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes love, then comes marriage…” Or else you’re just poking your eyes out, “STOP WITH THE YOGA DEAR GOD STOP”

No. You’re not the boss of me.

During this time of transition, we’re all a little wonky. Bat-shit-crazy. Losing our ever loving minds. We’re all bumping in to boxes and searching for things and coming up cussing, “Did you already pack the [insert important item here]?!” HULK SMASH.

It’s like, so totally rad. Not. Continue...

3/5/2009

The Acorn and Me

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Upon much recommendation, I recently read “Eat Pray Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert. (It was a #1 best seller and what’s that? I’m slow on the uptake? Yes, I know.) Today as I was struggling with my strep throat.. again… and feeling just pretty much the lead in my pity party, I finished the last chapter on the porch of our tiny condo in Seattle.

She explains something the Zen Buddhists believe, that an oak tree is brought in to creation by two forces: One being the actual acorn and the other being the will of the future oak tree. That during the growth, the older version of the oak tree leans in and whispers “GROW” to its younger self urging it on to the final version of itself. She says she feels much the same way through her spiritual journey, that her self confident, peaceful self breathed wisdom to her younger, more uncertain self. She found that all along she knew it would be OK in the end, that God or Self or Universe is forever finding the balance of truth and happiness.

I grew teary reading this.

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Perhaps it’s the hangover of antibiotics and the insane amounts of water I’ve had, or delusions from the fever itself, but there is a simple clarity to this ideal. Something inside me clicks. Something whispers “yes.” Continue...