When you Lose your Shit

"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

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.
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Sometimes you Wanna Scream

You know those times you're walking around your house and your shoes stick to the floor, and you're like, "Ew. I wonder what that was?" Or the times your shoes stick to the floor, and you're like, "Yeah. That's dried pee from when the baby peed in her bed at four this morning and then walked around the house." The only thing I can say about that is it's better than washing spaghetti barf out of your sheets at 2am because she was sick and you were worried about her so you put her in your bed because her fever was over 104 and you wanted to make sure she didn't seize or anything awful like that. Then she barfs up the spaghetti you forced her to eat for supper, even though she told you she wasn't hungry.I guess that's what I get for that one. These are just the latest in a string of events over the last couple of weeks. A water spigot outside burst and was spewing water all over the place. I had to call and tell my husband so he could miss a day of work and come fix it. Plumbing isn't in my skill set. The van broke and cost $250 to fix. I've had two out of three children in the doctor's office in the last week. Refer to above re: barfing in my bed. On top of all that, I'm terribly behind on my chore list. God forbid, I don't get all my chores done in time. I'm not sure why I worry about it, though. It's not like they're going to fire me. (I am a little bothered by dried urine on my floors, though.) It's no wonder I want to scream. Loud. A lot. For a long time. I've been having trouble accessing my compassion lately. I consider one of my best qualities to be that I'm able to see myself in other people. "Remember that the other person is you." I really try to do this, and I think it's one of the most important and best qualities I'm attempting to impart to my children. I can almost always do this. I feel like it makes me one of the most understanding, least judgmental people I know. (In case I'm coming off too arrogant here, rest assured, there's plenty of stuff about myself I don't like.) I know there are just so many many people who have it so much worse than I do, I get that. I also know that in the over 2 1/2 years since my littlest nugget was born, I have had one night on my own, free from children. I can count on both hands the number of times I've left the house by myself to do anything (besides run to the grocery store) that wasn't my weekly yoga class (that I teach to eating disorder patients). I haven't had a girls', moms', friends' night out in...years. In my house, I'm responsible for pretty much everything. All the laundry. All the cleaning. All the appointments. All the breakfast-cooking and lunch-making. Most of the dish-washing. I don't mind my job. I don't mind doing chores. I, weirdly, actually enjoy vacuuming. But I need a break. I need a chance to regroup. I need time to think about my future, when my life isn't consumed with little people and chores and puppy dogs. I understand that one day, all too soon, they won't need me as much anymore. I'm gonna need something else to do. I like to keep busy, and to feel like I'm contributing to the world in some way. They say you can't pour from an empty cup, and man, is my cup empty. I don't need much, just a couple of guilt-free hours here and there. I need a little bit of time to be kind to myself, so I can find my compassion for others.
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