My Bucket got Dumped out Last Night

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One of my eternal life struggles is knowing when I really need to lie back and take a rest, and knowing when it’s time to push myself. In the past, I’ve not been too great at making the distinction between actual tiredness, and just…laziness. Especially when it comes to things I don’t really want to do. Shocking, I know.

As I’ve grown and maybe matured (a little bit), I’ve come to a place where I like to be busy. I love going to bed at night with a sense of accomplishment, and knowing that I did the best I could that day. This is a very fortunate turn of events, because having children creates lots of chores. Lots of errands. And everything takes longer. However, as I’ve mentioned before, my to-do list can become quite a compulsion for me. A race against myself, to see how much I can do before…my head explodes, I guess.

So my tendency these days is less toward laziness, and more in the direction of attempting to do everything all the time. Even my self-care can take on a compulsory quality, like “Ok. I have to get in at least one hour of yoga today, or I didn’t succeed,” or, “Ok. I didn’t get up at 6:00 this morning and do my meditation, so I’m already behind for the day.” And just like that, the things I do to make me feel better become just another item on my list, something else I need to check off.

Lately, I’ve been crushing it. Chores done, errands done, yoga done, meditation done. Bicycle rides, walks to the park, special time with the girls, I’ve been making it all happen. Even more, I’ve been doing it without my miracle Dr. Murphree Fibro/CFS vitamins, because I ran out and there was a delay in shipping my new tub ‘o supplements. Yesterday was no exception. I ran errands, cooked, made homemade protein bars, practiced yoga, cleaned house, cooked dinner, fed and washed children. Too much stuff. And then, night came.

Last night, the tiny one was in our bed by 10:30. I wasn’t even asleep yet. Squirming. Kicking. Turning sideways. And her bigger sister waking up. “I had a bad dream”. “Ok, let me tuck you back in.” Then it was, “I heard a noise!” “Ok, let me tuck you back in.” Over and over again, all night long, ’till time to get up this morning.

And it was just too much. Today, my body is done. I hurt all over. Literally, all over. My head hurts. My feet hurt. My hands feel like two misshapen petrified dragon claws. My legs feel as though they weigh 2,000 lbs. Apiece. Neck, back, spine, hips – all aching. I am exhausted. Done.

So now, the real work starts. It’s all well and good to talk about self-care when everything is fine and we’re all feeling good. But what happens when, all of a sudden, you find yourself with an empty bucket, where either you’ve poured out more than you’ve put in – or your children maybe dumped it out beside your bed while you were trying to get some sleep? It’s easy to fall into the trap here of “should”. I “should” feel better. I “should” not be so tired, achy, sleepy, etc. I “should” be able to do what this or that person can do. That last one is a biggie. We always want to compare ourselves to what other people can and do accomplish. But you’re not that person. They, and you, have your own unique set of challenges, struggles, goals, strife, whatever. Because of this, your needs will not be the same.

What do you do, when your body needs care? How do you know what your body needs? How do you give it what it needs, when you figure out what it is? My go-to is yoga and meditation. I’ve found that these tend to be the most effective in making me feel the best I can, along with taking my vitamins, religiously. Some days, though, the body just says “No.” Not just “no”, “Hell, NO!” It tells me, “I will not yoga today. I will not bicycle today, I will not walk to the park today. I might wash dishes and fold laundry, but only because your children think they need to wear two months’ worth of clothes in a week and if the laundry doesn’t get done they will surely be nekkid by tomorrow. I will also cook dinner, because, apparently, you have to feed them. But nothing else, so DON’T ASK!”

So you have to listen, because your body is forcing you to. You send the girls off to school, and rather than immediately starting laundry, you get in bed (your bed), with the littlest girl. You snuggle up to her warm back, and feel insane happiness when, as you are the first thing she sees as she rolls over and opens her eyes, she smiles and hooks her sweet little arm around your neck, the same way she does with Grover all night. You sit at the computer, with a heating pad on your aching back, and write about caring for yourself, because it makes you feel a little bit productive. You vow to spend a day doing just what needs to be done, so tomorrow you can do what you want to do.

You try and remember that you can spend a day not doing everything. You can spend a day doing just enough.

Posted in My Crazy Family, Philosophisizing, Uncategorized, Yoga, You are Enough | 1 Comment

When you Lose your Shit

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Oh my God. There’s crap everywhere. I can’t deal with this,” I think to myself. “I have to take care of it right freaking now.” My heart rate starts to pick up. Every direction I turn my head, I see something else that requires my attention. Clothes that need washed, balls of Fozzie fuzz in the floor, stuff that needs put away, cleaned out, or organized. I see bins of clothes that I’ve dragged out for the girls to “shop” in as the weather has warmed up. I need to sort through it, put away and organize winter clothes for the next one to grow into. Re-load summer clothes in the drawers. I feel my breathing becoming shallow. “But what about my yoga practice? All the books I’m trying to read? What about the article I’ve been planning to write for the last month? How am I going to do it? Why don’t I have more time?”

How am I ever going to be anything more than just a mom?

My mind has officially taken over. I can feel the downhill spiral. I’m reaching full-blown anxiety attack. I look around. The kids are playing in the playroom. I look away before I can take in the mess in there. My husband is sitting, reading. I look away. I want to do that, but I just…can’t. I have too many responsibilities, too much to get done.  And it’s all my job. I’m responsible for all this…stuff. I’m turning circles, trying to do everything, and getting very little of anything done.

My chest heaves. My brain has basically devolved into a lovely chant by now: “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t”…and so on.

It’s at this point that I start to dislike everyone around me. Everyone who’s brain isn’t betraying them. Everyone who can just relax, play, read. Everyone who isn’t freaking the fuck out because they’re so goddamned overwhelmed by…everything.

I read so many books on the mind. So many books about using meditation to bring yourself back to center. They tell me that the mind is not me. They tell me that letting my thoughts run things is akin to having a really shitty, crazy roommate living in your head, giving you bad – not to mention conflicting – advice, twenty-four hours a day. “You don’t have to tell me that!“, I think. Shut up, Brain. They tell me that we have everything we need inside us.

So I meditate. I sit, I chant, I breathe. Ujjayi, alternate nostril, retention. Breath of fire, shitali. I listen to ancient, powerful chants: wahe guru, om nama shivaya, om gam ganapataye namaha, the gaitri mantra. I repeat my mantra. “You are enough, you are enough, you are enough, you are enough, you are enough, you are enough, you are enough, you are enough”…until it starts to sound weird: “youareeough, youarenough, yourenough, yourenough, yurenough, yurnuf, yurnuf, yurnuf.

I practice yoga. I move, sweat, and breathe. I try and focus my mind on my breath, on my practice, on the pose. Rarely am I successful. The dog comes and lays in my mat. The little one needs to pee, eat, drink, falls down. I wonder why I’m not as strong today as I was yesterday. Why I’m still carrying around 25 extra pounds from that last pregnancy. Why I didn’t practice five times last week. I know I would be stronger, more flexible, more zen – if I’d squeezed in that last practice last week.

And still. Still. Sometimes, I just completely lose my shit. One person asks me for one thing too many. I just can’t manage to squeeze in that last chore that I need to do. I have to tell someone to pick up their goddamn sock one time too many, or take a shower, or brush their teeth, or eat the dinner I just spent an hour cooking. And…KABOOM! I imagine what follows is the scenario my children will be relating to their therapists in about fifteen years:

and then, my mom would just…snap. Red face, screaming, cursing. ‘Get it together,’ she would yell. “Do you think I live to fold your laundry, to pick up after you, to cook your damn dinner? Do you think I’m having fun, that this is the way I want to spend my life?”

I call these “Bad Parenting Moments”. Because the fact is, this is how I want to spend my life, at least part of it. I like taking care of my family. I just want it to not be so freaking hard sometimes. I’ve managed to use my tools to beat back some pretty major depression. I get out of bed every morning and do what has to be done, and usually a lot more. I’m focused and driven. Still, I find myself falling behind. Every now and then, my mind gets the best of me.

I read a lot about how the mind rebels when we’re not living in a way that is aligned with our spiritual purpose, how things grow harder and harder the more we move away from our path.

What if you’re still looking for your path? What if you have several paths, and are firmly on one, but trying to find a way to navigate a bunch of paths at once? How do you live spiritually aligned in that case?

Life is so much more complex than it used to be. And as many guide books as I read, I just can’t seem to figure it out.

Posted in Philosophisizing, Yoga, You are Enough | 1 Comment

On Vacuuming and Divinity

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It’s funny how we can be told, taught and read the same thing over and over again, and still not get it until, one day, it hits us like a bolt of lightning. Or, as often happens, you hear or read a teaching, and think, “Ok, yeah, I get it. That makes total sense!”, only to realize as soon as you step away you still have no idea what’s going on (this was my experience with math, by the way). But, one day, you’re going about your day, and whap! It hits you right in the face, and you get it. This seems to be happening to me all over the place lately.

I recently injured my back in my yoga practice. Not bad, but enough that it felt a little sensitive for a few days. (Side note: just because you can bend that far, doesn’t mean you should bend that far. Ego check.) Now, I’ve trained with some amazing instructors. I’ve been guided on how to engage mula bandha a thousand times. I’ve instructed students countless times on the proper muscular engagement to protect the lower back. But it wasn’t until I was on my mat, with an injured back, that I realized, if I engaged these muscles, just so, and pulled those muscles (yes, those), in and up, just so… viola! All the strain was gone from my back. After almost ten years, my yoga practice has been transformed in a matter of weeks.

But I’m not here to talk about yoga and throw around crazy Sanskrit words. Well, not totally. Do hit me up if you’re interested about learning more about the magic of mula bandha. Now, on to the realness:

I may have mentioned before how I love to vacuum. I find vacuuming to be an amazing meditative practice, during which I tend to have the best insights ever. Well, friends, today was a doozy. I like to think of myself as a bit of a seeker. At this moment, I am reading no less than four books on spirituality. I mean, I have to have something to talk about in my yoga classes. One of the primary teachings of yoga is that we are all divine, imbued with the same beautiful, celestial light, from what I like to call (I’m sure I got it from somewhere but I don’t remember where), the Divine Expression of the Creative Energy of the Universe.

Back to my vacuuming today. We’ve been on a huge 90’s music kick in my house, and to continue this awesomeness, I was doing my vacuuming with my 90’s Pandora plugged into my ears. I’m not sure how much you may remember about 90’s music, but it was the time of Destiny’s Child, Dave Matthews Band, a bunch of other angsty dude bands, and the queen of angst, Alanis Morissette. So this Alanis song comes on, but it’s not angsty at all. And one of the lines is “How ’bout remembering your divinity,” and it hit me right in the head. Hard. How about remembering your divinity? What might that really be like?

Before we consider that we, our ownselves, are divine, let’s step back for a minute. Let’s just imagine that we have a divine friend. Someone who lives with us, who is, so clearly, made in the image of G.O.D. This person shines from the inside with the light of the divine. You know, without a doubt that this person is nothing other than a living goddess. Or god, whatever. I’m not sure divinity quibbles overmuch about gender. How might you treat this person? Let me tell you.

You would love her, this goddess, unconditionally. No matter what she did, you would be unwavering in your devotion. You would always remember that she is divine, and honor her as such.

You would feed her only food fit for a goddess. The most nourishing, real, delightful food you possibly could. After all, this divine being saw fit to come spend time with you, here, on this earth. You would want to only give her body the best fuel, to take care of her and respect her body.

You would find her incredibly beautiful, and tell her so daily. You would love the shape of her body, no matter what it looked like. You would always remember that her shape is Divine Expression ART, if you will – and honor it as the art that it is. You would never call her fat, and starve her of the food her mortal body needs. You would never call her ugly, and make her feel unworthy of love, because you know that she is.

You would never tell her she is stupid, or bad, or sinful. You would never make her feel that she is not enough. You would know how silly that would be, how impossible. Someone divine, a living expression of divine love, divine creativity, could never be bad, stupid, or sinful. You know she is always enough, because it is simply impossible to be anything less.

You would keep her body clean and healthy. You would keep her home, her surroundings, clean and beautiful. She deserves nothing less. She is divine, a goddess, a burst of brilliant light, here for a purpose, magical and reverent.

You would forgive her. No matter what she did. She is just learning how to be human. Maybe she’s never done this before. You would know that she is trying to find her way, just the same as you. You would forgive her, without hesitation and conditions. You would treat her with endless compassion.

You would remember that she is love. Pure, bright love.

Now. Maybe I’ve made my point.

Imagine that, somehow, this goddess lives inside of you. She is magical, after all. Imagine that your bodies have merged, and the light of her divinity, her Divine Expression, has infused your entire body, and made you divine as well.

Imagine that it has always been so.

You were never separate.

You just forgot.

It was you all along.

How would you treat yourself, if you could never forget your own divinity?

Would you do all the things I listed above?

Would you forgive yourself?

Would you love yourself?

But wait!

There’s more.

If you can never forget your own divinity, something else has to happen, right?

You can never forget the divinity of every single other person. No matter their gender, age, color, sexual orientation, kindness, religion, job, social status, if they’re an asshole…you see that same light in all of them. You recognize each of them as the Divine Expression. You realize they are all connected to you by the same spark, the same magic. What happens now? Do you treat them all with the same kindness and gentleness you showed for that precious goddess living in your house?

The same forgiveness?

The same compassion?

The same love?

I’m not saying that from here on out, I will remember the light in myself and every person I see. I’m not saying I can or will do all that stuff all the time. I will forget, probably more often that I will remember. After all, I’m still finding my way. But for just a moment, I saw it. I understood it. My hope is that, with time, practice and study, those moments will become more frequent, longer, more enduring.

It’s all a practice.

And that, friends, is what this ordinary housewife thought about today while she was vacuuming her floors.

Posted in Philosophisizing, Yoga, You are Enough | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment