Category Archives: Parenting

Single mom, sexuality, dating, two-year-olds, infidelity, divorce

Letting them Go to Embrace the Journey

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My boys are flying to Germany solo tomorrow. From there, they will be met by their dad and then fly to Austria for a week with him and his girlfriend. I flew with them to London this past summer so my oldest wouldn’t have to navigate the airport and any gate changes AND his little brother, who can be demanding, by himself. From London, they flew a short flight to France to see their dad and I did my own vacation. We met back up in London and flew back together. I could tell my oldest was super appreciative. Clearly, their dad lives in Europe. lol. Well, this Valentine’s week, the boys are flying solo. It’ll be an 11 hour flight. There may be a gate change. There may be a little drama with my youngest. And my oldest, the super hero in my life, is in charge, yet again. It’s a lot. My oldest is 14 going on 45. He is my compass. He is more of a man than any man I currently know. His heart is huge, yet his sense of morals and strength of conviction surpasses his heart. He has helped me with his little brother so much over the past 7 years since I’ve been a single mom. I hire sitters. I try not to rely on him too much. And I hate that he’s in charge now. He will make an amazing dad some day. He may tease his little brother at home, but I know he’ll look after his little brother in the airport. He won’t let his little brother go into a boy’s bathroom solo, or wander off. He’ll even try to entertain him on the plane if necessary. For 11 hours. Wow. That’s a lot. And he doesn’t mind. Because that’s how bad he wants to see his dad again.

So, I’ve come to this place of just embracing their journey together. It’s not mine. In the past, I insisted that I fly with them and then I’d go on my own little vacation somewhere. I did this mainly so I could help my oldest. When he was 10, 11, 12, 13, I just felt he was too young to be in charge. Maybe it’s ok now? I was babysitting at 14. So this is just their journey. Besides, I have no desire to fly to Munich in winter and then fly back. Nope. I’m happy to stay here, do yoga, teach yoga, go to the beach and enjoy this insanely beautiful California weather and write. Yup, I need to embrace having a break! I need to trust that all will be ok. That no one will die on the slopes of the Alps. This will be my first Valentine’s week in a loong time not to shower my boys with sweet gifts. My mom used to do this with us, so I like to pass on the tradition. Hand-written cards, silly, inexpensive gifts, maybe a book that says how much I love them…and a lot of chocolate! So, this year, I’ll tuck some of those goodies into their suitcases and remind myself that all is well. All is working out exactly as it is meant to. They need their dad. They need more moments to feel his love.

My tea bag last night said: “Love Your Soul”. How perfect. For me, that means I need to embrace time off and my new-found contentment for who I am. I’ll spend the week with my yogis, writing, and walking on the beach. The European, frigid ski weeks were never my thing anyway. There was always too much meat, cheese, drinking, and this overwhelming feeling like I had to try to fit in, but never could. I don’t ski. I don’t speak French or German. I’d rather be doing yoga or listening to live music. And I hate the cold! My toes and fingers would get so numb it felt dangerous, so I’d hide away in my room reading and dreaming of sunshine. I’m living my sunshine. I’m living it inside an out. My healthy life by the beach, is just fine by me. It suits me. And my boys get the best of both worlds. If I flip my thinking, I can see that what many may think it a horribly sad story, is one that is quite beautiful. Maybe I needed to be hurt so badly, dropped so harshly on my ass 7 years ago, so I could wake up and start living an authentic life. I now wear the hippy clothes I like. I embrace my creative writing, my yoga and wellness, and try to be a human being and not a human doing. (As a friend reminded me yesterday!) I am now a much more centered person and in a way, it’s such a relief. It couldn’t have happened in any other way because I’m such a loyal person. I would have never ventured out on my own. So I’m realizing that I’m on a journey too. A journey to live life on my own terms.

My boys have their own journey and it’s not up to me to control it or thwart it. This Valentine’s week they get to be embraced by their dad who loves them. They get to have some fun on the slopes. They get to eat a lot of bacon and cheese and white bread–food they don’t get with me, lol! They need that. And I get to marinate in the realization that I’m living my life exactly as it is supposed to be lived. And I’m filled with SO much gratitude and joy for the authentic friends who are with me on this journey.

 

 

 

 

 

We Are One: Really?

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This past Friday evening I opened my door to find a scared young woman standing in front of me. I had thought she was my son returning from playing soccer. I smiled at her in surprise and she moved backwards, as if I might hurt her. She held a clipboard and I had to hold back my immediate knee-jerk thought of “I’m not buying anything tonight.” Something told me to wait.

“Can I help you?” I asked.

The African American woman bundled in a big coat and wearing large sneakers shifted.

“No ma’am.”

I looked at her quizzically.

“I’m not looking for a hand-out. See-”

She then began to explain that she was a single mom from San Diego and that she was going door to door in a well-to-do neighborhood to get out of her comfort zone. She had been trained to give people their space, why she backed up when talking with me. Whoever was her career adviser in San Diego wanted her to address strangers in a very different neighborhood for the experience and to boost her self confidence. She was selling children’s educational magazines for a women’s and children shelter in San Diego. They would help keep sad and scared children entertained. I was in. I bought one instantly. She would receive a little tip from my purchase.

“See, I’m doing all of this for my little boy.”

Just then my youngest came down the stairs and smiled at her and my oldest breezed past her and bounced inside and up the stairs saying “Hey” over his shoulder.

I smiled at her. She continued.

“It’s hard to do this.” She then looked toward all the mansions on the strand near my little surf shack.

“Not everyone answers the door do they?” I asked.

She said, “Nope.”

Then something miraculous happened. I sat down on the stairs and began a deep dialogue with this sweet woman.

I told her that I’d been a single mom since my youngest was 8 months old. She looked at me with wide eyes.

“We are the same aren’t we?”

I smiled at her. No, we aren’t. I haven’t been in a shelter. I have an ex who is supportive, even if far away. She is far more brave. But we are both seekers and we are both fighters and I am no better, just more lucky. But we are both deserving. She will find her way too.

She asked me for advice. I told her to know that she is deserving. To really feel that. If she can meditate to do that once a day, to do yoga if it’s offered, or do it online. No one on the strand, or anywhere else, is better than she is. She is a good mom, I could sense it. She started to tear up.

Then she looked at me and said again: “you and I, we are the same. No different.”

Nope, no different. Except, she may even be more powerful, more strong, more brave…I gave her my card and asked her to stay in touch. As she left, she called over her shoulder: “Don’t forget me!”

How can I?

Later that evening, I recalled this quote from Sri Sathya Sai Baba, an Indian guru that yogis often quote. I rarely quote him because his personal life was strife with conflict and allegations of abuse. But I’ve come to realize that the beauty of art often stands alone and apart from the artist, as if given from a Divine source. I think this quote of his represents that idea: “I am you, you are ME. You are the waves; I am the ocean. Know this and be free, be divine.”

Another favorite quote in that vein:

“I am you and you are me. We are alone, but not alone. We are trapped by time, but also infinite. Made of flesh, but also stars.” ~ Matt Haig, Reasons to Stay Alive

Wherever she is, I hope she reads this and knows that she is a divine soul imbued with dignity and the right to hold her head high and to pursue any avenue to success.

She reminded me on Friday that no matter what stress is in my life right now, I’ve been through worse, and can dig deep again. So it is with much gratitude that I write this post. Her visit also reminded me that the director of a women’s and children’s shelter in LA asked me to volunteer a yoga and meditation class once a month. I had forgotten to get back to her with so much going on in my life. So I did. It’s vital that I give back and help others realize their worth, especially after all that I have overcome. Knowing that you are deserving is most of the battle. Forgiveness, gratitude are also essential tools. So, I’m thankful to give back and help keep a ripple of gratitude and abundance flowing. We may not be exactly the same, but we are one. We are all deserving of love, of abundance, of respect, of health. This I know for sure.

Have a beautiful day. xo

 

Good Things to Make a Hectic Life Easier

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As I type this at 9 a.m. on a Thursday morning, I have already made two school runs. I have not showered. I am wearing a snow cap, yoga leggings, my thin leather Italian ski boots and a cool faux suede jacket over a T-shirt I bought at a resale store that I adore. Why does this nutty attire matter? Because it makes my life easier. As a single mom of two boys who is juggling a dual career as a writer and a yoga teacher in Los Angeles, I need to feel put together and live with more balance. It’s hard to achieve. Having a few basic staples in my closet, that also represent who I am, help me do this. Seriously! Hear me out:

This morning I was able to hit snooze and meditate for 15 minutes. That sounds like a luxury for some, but it’s a life saver for me. As I mediated, I reminded myself that I am calm. I am at peace. I am capable, patient, deserving and responsible for my own happiness…It all helps me focus before I rush upstairs, wake the boys, get breakfast on, make lunches and get out the door. I laugh more. I don’t snap. I sit down when they eat. Why? Because I know I can put on my favorite snow cap that makes my unruly hair look ok—it hides cowlicks and just shows long curls. lol!

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I put on  yoga pants, slipped on my ski boots that I bought in the Italian Alps AGES ago and covered my T-shirt with a cool, mock suede jacket I found in a hippy boutique in my small beach town.

I put on a little lotion, donned sunglasses, and I was able to not feel ashamed as I chatted with the other moms who’ve showered and put on work clothes & makeup (and who probably got much less sleep) and even talked with the principal at school without feeling embarrassed.

Little things—or special items—help me live the way I want to, with a bit more style. I love finding unique items that also benefit the environment or support an artisan or small business owner. You’ll see me wearing my favorite mala bead necklaces that I either made or a friend or yoga teacher created for me. As far as clothes go, I don’t mind spending a bit more for high quality, original and well made pieces. My boots came from Courmayeur, Italy when I was on a special ski trip. They are water proof and I was able to go up the Alps in them. They are also so comfortable I could run in them, yet fitted so they accentuate my long, thin legs. They help on days I need to feel put together in a pinch! My jacket was hand sewn by a sweet man in Hermosa Beach. His shop closed. It’s a one of a kind and I adore it, even with the cracks that are now showing on the back. My T-shirt I found in a resale store and is as soft as a baby’s butt. I’ve never seen another like it either. These things make me happy. Unique items can  transform a basic ordinary outfit into something cool, hip or just ‘me.’ It helps start my day on the right footing.

 

So, my typical morning starts nutty like this, and then I’m able to go home, do some yoga, shower, and begin whatever it is I need to do. Some days I have writing deadlines. Others involve teaching yoga classes—or both. Today, I have to teach 3 classes back to back at the hospital. Last Thursday was the same, except I had a date afterwards. I refuse to give up on love. My life may be busy, but I must find time to date if I want to find Mr. Right, right? Elegant items in my closet help, tremendously. Last Thursday was literally saved by my cashmere sweater (‘jumper’ in the UK!) from LondonW11, a boutique European company that employs seamstresses in Italy and Scotland to sew each piece.

 

Here’s what I mean: Last Thursday I finished my yoga class in Palos Verdes, knowing that my blind date wanted me to meet him at 6 p.m. at a restaurant a 30 minute drive away. I was excited. The catch? I found myself at the studio, still wearing a braid in my hair, still wearing yoga attire, and it was 5:30 p.m. A few yogis wanted to chat afterwards. And in yoga, chatting after class can be incredibly deep. The topics range from health issues to broken hearts. I never rush anyone who wants to open up to me. I’m honored by it. I know that the flow and the breathing help many tap into an area of their lives that needs healing. So, I always stay for my yogis. My date would just have to understand. Luckily, I threw my W11 sweater in my bag. Its simple elegance is classic. I adore how it fits as well, accentuating curves but not too clingy.

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Yes, it’s somewhat expensive—like my Italian ski boots were—but they both add instant elegance to an outfit, even over yoga clothes. I had a feeling that I may not have time to really freshen up for my date. I threw on this sweater, pulled on boots over my leggings and added a pair of dangle earrings and dashed out to the restaurant. Finding balance is key. If I had decided to rush my yogis in order to speed home, shower and try to look perfect, my entire night would have taken on a frenetic energy that I no longer want in my life. What’s even more funny? My date loved the sweater, the boots and thought my braid made me look like a teenager. What a bonus! :-)

 

So, if you are a woman who is juggling a lot, my advice to you is to assess what is really important to you. Find ways to carve out time for loved ones, time for self care and time to manifest your dreams. Then, invest in a few key items for your wardrobe that will help you live your hectic life with more style, more grace and hopefully allow you to feel sexy and playful at the same time!

Here’s to a stylish and balanced New Year!

 

 

 

The Peace of Wild Things

LOVE This. TGIF ya’ll. xo

Wild Wednesday

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Was it really one week ago today that the boys and I had a wild Wednesday exploring Oahu? Man, it feels like a year ago now that we are slammed right back into the world of scheduled sports, activities, school obligations, limitations, structured demands…Ahh, how my mind loves to linger on last Wednesday when our morning began at the crack of dawn and we were in the water exploring Hanauma Bay by 8 a.m.! The freedom of going where your heart leads you and discovering what awaits, is delicious. We discovered so many colors, variations of light and amazing varieties of fish. Such a luxury! After our snorkel, my friend who is an eco-hiking guide picked us up at the Crater overlook around the corner from the Bay. Daniel took us hiking last year and went off trail to show us old WW11 bunkers and varieties of plants only found on Oahu—like a variety of a sea star that morphed and adapted in order to live at the top of volcanoes. So Cool. I love discovering new things, as our structured American lives just doesn’t allow for much of that anymore.

So Daniel, who grew up in West Virginia and ‘gets me’—who also grew up exploring  forests—decided to take us to a very private space. He knew I grew up wandering the woods, forest and farm right outside my door. I explored. I discovered. I meandered. My kids don’t get to do any of that. So…Dan took us to a Homestead on the North Shore. When Hawaii became our 50th state, America gave some land to 100% Hawaiians, like our Indian reservations, except that they are neighborhoods free or drastically-reduced for native Hawaiians. With that said, we walked to the end of this neighborhood with a few locals coming out, smiling and some giving us the shaka sign. They knew where we were going, but the boys and I didn’t. We entered a forest through a grove of vines and a stream to cross, then began climbing a mountain range. Our hike was muddy, rainy, a bit tricky at times as my youngest slipped or lost his shoes on occasion…but was wonderful. The long hike to the top was filled with moments of silence, breeze, hard rain fall with brief moments of stillness, and ever-changing environments. At one point all we could see were feathery pine trees, then we entered a forest with trees towering over us that had to be hundreds of years old.

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All the while, Dan pointed out discoveries, such as Noni fruit, a Polynesian stinky fruit that is known for its healing properties. (It tastes horrible!) We also climbed a ravine to pick strawberry guava and found passion fruit vines, as well as plant stems that tasted like peppermint.

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We also found wild pepper, tiny red mushrooms, enormous slugs and moss so vivid green and fluffy it almost didn’t seem real. Our four hour excursion led us to the top of the ridge, after climbing a slippery, muddy, bald hill where we all kept sliding back down and covered in mud! But we made it! What a view!

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If you ask the boys, they’ll say this wild Wednesday was the best day of our trip. We were explorers for a day. We discovered the wild inhabitants of the ocean and the forrest. I was so lucky as a child. I explored nearly every week. I meandered through 200 year old horse trails and discovered a rusted out Model T Ford, old horse saddles and Confederate coins. I sat by ponds and watch tadpoles literally jump from the water as they turned into tiny, tiny frogs. If I sat still long enough in one spot of the woods, I’d always hear the crunch of hooves as the deer sensed it was safe to come out from hiding and began nibbling all around me. Near sunset, always by the Tobacco barn, I’d hear the flutter of wings from the bat patrol flying out to feast on the mosquitos. How I loved them! On special occasions I’d see an owl.

The horses were always wonderful, but they were in stables or in corrals. I always said hello, but then headed for the forest where I could be with the wild. To me, wild isn’t crazy. Today’s definition of wild is almost always connected to something to be feared. To me, wild is pure, raw, natural, indigenous and innocent. The deer, the squirrels, the chip monks, the geckos, the wood peckers, the frogs, the fox, the owls, the rabbits, the butterflies, the bats—even the enormous spiders and snakes—all captivated me. I came out to the woods to explore, but also to get away from my very noisy and dramatic family where I felt invisible. Being quiet and sitting still for a period, always meant that those creatures who were afraid and who hid, would eventually feel comfortable being seen by me. And that was such a kick. Their trust allowed me to feel seen, to feel heard, to feel connected to all that is innocent, pure and intricately created in this Universe. We all need time alone and out in nature.

My boys don’t have that. Our children aren’t allowed to explore as we fear they’ll be snatched. Activities are structured, crowded, and don’t encourage independent discovery or exploration. That’s why I love hiking so much and one day soon will allow my oldest to hike on his own in Malibu or in Tennessee. It’s just good for the soul. In yoga, we talk about modifying a pose to honor your body. We also stretch to make more space for better alignment, better balance. These concepts can be taken off the mat with our children. I need to modify our schedules to make more space for idyll hiking, random exploration in nature and discovery. There’s no better way for the boys and I to feel connected to the Earth, to each other and to our inner wisdom. It starts in childhood.

Today, one week after our epic day in Hawaii, I’m holding onto the idea of making space. The holiday season has too many demands on us. Today, I embrace the idea of saying no to a few demands in order to make space for what’s important. What’s important to you? Where do you need to make more space?

Wait, What?!?

Insert record rip (maybe too old school) or crashing sound here. Was I really in Hawaii last week? I return from my annual Thanksgiving with the boys in Oahu only to find myself slammed into the American frenzy that I so try to not slip into. Seriously, thank God for deep breathing as I almost had a panic attack last night! After returning from teaching 3 amazing yoga classes with grateful and soulful yogis, I began to get my calendar organized for the week. Many of you parents out there get this, but isn’t this time of year especially insane? Today, Tuesday, Dec. 1st, I had to sort out a lot of s*#t. Young at art at my youngest school is right when my noon yoga class at the hospital ends, crap, I have to reschedule FAST. I pick up carpool at the middle school, but wait, my oldest wants to try out for the school soccer team today AND he’s supposed to have a violin practice at the same time, cancel one. Wait, he also has club soccer practice tonight @ 7, but wait, my youngest has a tiger scout meeting at the same time. Shit. What about dinner? Rent is due. Oh, and I didn’t get paid yet from the hospital or one of my yoga studios. Oh, wait, I still have to get all the volunteer goodies for my youngest Christmas party at school this afternoon. Shit, his school sent an email saying they didn’t get tuition yet? How can that be? I can’t find paperwork because of the major leak onto my desk 2 weeks ago, when the toilet overflowed.  I’ll have to make an appointment with the principal. Wait, I have to teach yoga tomorrow night at the same time that my oldest has his Christmas concert. Oh wait, they have a dentist appointment too? And does my new sitter have a car? I can’t cancel my yoga class for my seniors, they count on me. Wait, can I shift it up 30 minutes? I have keys to the studio, maybe I can just do it this one time… I’ll call the entire class and see if they can come early. Can a few friends go to my son’s concert so someone is there cheering him on? I’ll email them… I’ll call the dentist to see if they have another day we can come in, my youngest has tooth that needs to be pulled. Oh, good they can, but wait, they now want us there on Thurs? My oldest has soccer practice and yet another violin concert at the hospital-his volunteer give-back this year, on the same day? AGAIN?  Oh crap, I have to sign both boys up for AYSO soccer today..my youngest hasn’t even done soccer yet. I’m a slack mom. And the negatives from our family photo shoot got wet and I can’t see which ones I like. I was supposed to order them while we were out of town, so now we won’t get to order Christmas cards this year. Great. Did I write the thank you notes for my youngest for his birthday gifts? I’m not being a good example. Slacker. And what will we have for dinner all week if boys have concerts, soccer & tiger scouts? Probably pizza.I’ll make them eat carrot sticks & avocado slices too…Still, I’m a slack ass yoga mom. Most of my yoga teacher friends would not be in this bind. I’m not living the life I should be right now. Where’s the organic veggie / vegan meal? Hmmm….activities for the boys, or home cooked meals at home. No in-between right now. If I was just more organized. If I was just a better mom. If I was just more focussed.

Wait, What?!? Um. Insert record rip right now. Deep breaths. And now the mind rant calms down and I remember that my ex, the boys’ dad, lives in Europe. I have no family here. There is only one person here, one parent, one set of hands to do all of these activities that feel like they are crashing on me, crashing on my sanity, weighing down any chances of time for myself, time to write, time for yoga, time for a personal life. And yet, my boys deserve to do all these activities. I want them to learn music. I want them to learn from being on a team. My youngest really needs to make more friends and scouts helps with that…Yoga has saved my life in so many ways. I have a choice to do ALL of these things—or not. It’s my choice. Yes, I want both of my boys to have activities. For the longest time I held out on letting my youngest do soccer or tiger scouts because I worried I couldn’t do it all, I couldn’t be in 3 places at once, or drive everywhere, and I’m right. I can’t. I just can’t do it all, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do some. I do want to volunteer at school. I want to get to know their friends and teachers. AND, I want to also have time for myself. Time for home cooked meals, time for my own yoga & meditation practice. Something has to give. Just last week I was in Hawaii connecting with my 2 boys. We hiked in the rain up a remote mountain on the North Shore, picked wild strawberry guava and noni (Polynesian immune-boosting, but smelly fruit!). We talked. We surfed. We hung out. We snorkeled. We swam. We talked about our dreams. And I have to remind myself that the hectic pressure that American schools and sports puts upon families can tear us apart. Something has to give. And it’s funny how judgmental the teachers & coaches can be when I do say no, or I do limit the boys activities…but that’s not my problem. And right now, I’m doing the best that I can. This week, I’ll go to 3 violin concerts (hopefully, as I may miss one), 2 soccer practices, 2 dentist appointments, teach art, volunteer supplies for a Christmas party, put together christmas cards (hopefully), teach 5 yoga classes, take at least 2 yoga classes (hopefully), meditate daily (non-negotiable), carpool, 1 tiger scout meeting, sell mistletoe for tiger scouts, writer’s group meeting, write at least 1 hour a day, oh, and maybe cook dinner, do laundry, hassle kids about homework and pray that it will all work out. And it will. That’s a choice too. Thanks for listening to the rant. I’m a lucky mom of two healthy & sweet boys. I’m a mom learning lessons about how much I can physically do. I’m learning that this time of year is insane and I don’t have to be perfect. An emailed Christmas card, is still a card, right? And for now, being aware of my limitations and my intentions has to be enough. Namaste ya’ll.

((( <3 )))

Girona: 2,000 Year Old Jewel

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Somehow, I forgot to publish this post I wrote a month ago!! That tells you how my life has been catapulted into the American warp-speed pace again…These pictures and memories gave me a huge pang in the gut. Can I go back, please???! I’m jammed with what feels like a million activities for my bored children this summer and my own work writing and teaching and then the ‘other work’ us moms do: cooking, cleaning, entertaining, organizing…I haven’t taken a yoga class in two weeks, even fell asleep with my youngest last night—or rather, can we say I crashed out in his bed after bedtime story?!—and woke this morning, disheveled, racing to do more with the goal of squeezing in maybe 30 minutes for me. Which is what I’m doing right now with this blog post. Sigh…

I’m so grateful for the experience of a slower culture, it’s ancient traditions and history. And yes, I do want to go back! I hope you enjoy this and it motivates you to step outside of America and our face paced, distracted culture to experience a slower rhythm for a week or two in the future. :-)

Catalan Girona is a 2,000-year-old jewel. I am so grateful that I splurged on a tour of this ancient city. My morning started out boarding a high speed train to a tiny town, Figueres, near the French boarder to see the Salvador Dali Museum. It was interesting, and I loved hearing about the Surrealist’s bizarre life. But the next stop, Girona, made my heart sing.

GironawallThis city, which pre-dates Roman times, is gaining American familiarity as it is where much of HBO’s Game of Thrones  is being filmed. My amazing tour guide explained that in the first century BC, the Romans built a fortress with an almost triangular perimeter (a kind of acropolis) known as Força Vella. The fortress was very well protected by a defensive rampart built from large stone ashlars. This was the first city enclosure and it remained unchanged until the year 1000. This is an extension of the wall. Below, is theForça Vella with parts from the original section in the first century.

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The Cathedral has sections that date back to the 11th century, making the nave and the stone glass windows some of the oldest in existence. GironachapelGironaCathedralinsideWhat is wonderful about this Catalan region is how vibrant it still is and how proud the locals are. Our tour guide, who lives in Girona, said: “Nearly no one leaves and no one considers themselves Spanish. They are quite independent Catalans. Eh?” She had a cute way of saying “Eh?” at the end of statements that seemed important to her—like a nudge to get me to understand, rather than a question.

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The city center has dramatic views with quiet but steady winds that seem to whisper the history of this city. I could imagine life there more than 1,100 years ago when Charlemagne overtook the Moors, to the Roman times and then later to the Catholic expulsion and “conversion” of the Jews.

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History definitely is alive and flourishing in this city, which now depends on tourism for much of its economy. I loved the immersion in thousands of years of struggle and culture, that is rare for an American to experience. It’s in moments like today when I feel with complete certainly that I am a mere speck of dust on the timeline of this Earth. Being in a place like Girona, or Montserrat (where I visited last week) helps put life in perspective. We are mere specks of star dust, with such short lives. It reminds me of two important things. First, how important is the petty stuff, worries and ingrained habits? Seriously, I need not take myself so damn seriously. And Second, life is so very short. I spent most of the 10 hour excursion today with an old French couple, Henri and Violet, married 50 years now, who relished every minute of the Dali and Girona tours. They were so grateful to still be able to go up cobble stone pathways, or steps and take in the views. Henri had a pace maker and had also undergone spinal surgery. He was a lucky man to be there—and he knew it. The two were holding hands, laughing, asking so many questions and were such a delight for me to be around. It was a joy to see the city through their eyes. As much as they could do—hiking up to the top of the center wall wasn’t possible. But they were able to see and do so much and were so happy just to be alive and to be together. And their love for life and each other was contagious.

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Our tour, that required that we hike in 95 degree temperature, ended at 5 p.m. in the city center where locals were just beginning to come back out and cool off. Talk about joy for living! This little boy ran up to me and splashed water on me, while singing something that I’m sure was a taunt to get me to follow suit. His father laughed and laughed. (Something I’m becoming so fond of, how I see more parents laughing, rather than scolding, their children in Spain. It’s a refreshing difference from America.) After I shot this picture, the boy dragged me to the fountain where he splashed me properly! That’s the way to cool off!

GironaboyAfter my train ride back to Barcelona with Henri and Violet, we hugged, kissed and exchanged contact information. Henri kissed my hand saying it was a joy to be together. And that’s the wonder of traveling. You never know whose path you’re going to cross or how they will affect you in a wonderful way. I was afraid to travel by myself initially, but am so glad that I opened my heart up to new possibilities, new horizons, new experiences and new friends!

blessings multiply when in gratitude

Love this. ((( <3 )))

livingthroughtheheart

i work with children with cerebral palsy.  i don’t know where to begin in explaining to you the blessings these children give to this world.  they are the constant reminder to me of all the gifts money can’t buy.  the smile, the glee, the bright eyes, the pure joy they emit when i walk into the room, or when they see the simplest things in life, like a butterfly landing on a nearby blade of grass.  they don’t ask for much, just a hug, eye contact, a simple gleeful ‘hello’, someone who may just pause to let them know they aren’t forgotten, that they are not only worthy of love, but they are pure love.

this weekend my daughter, riki, who works for espn, was able to get her hands on some extra tickets to the opening ceremony of the special olympics, which she wanted to be able to give…

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on the practice of patience

Patience…Something easy to have when filled with confidence and then like a lightning storm, can feel impossible during the thunderous flashes of doubt. I think I need a ball of yarn to untangle! Thanks Manette for this beautiful post! xo

livingthroughtheheart

i used to think how wonderful if things that we wanted just happened when we wanted, like in the tv shows ‘bewitched’…or ‘i dream of jeanie’… wouldn’t it be cool if things just happened by magic. what i understand now is that it’s not what i want, so much as what it is i need to transform.

when i focus on the process, the journey, life – a series of lessons to learn more about myself and how i relate to others and to the universe.  i see life as the practice of patience.  if i’m focus on who i want to be like, what i want to acquire, what would make me ‘happy’, what i want people to think of me, what i want others to be like, i become discontent, frustrated, and impatient.

patience is having to wait for that something you want to happen, knowing you want it…

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Looking Into My Mother’s Eyes

momnW

I walk into the Alzheimer’s facility with a somewhat brave face. After being buzzed in, I force a smile, force small talk, to yet another new administrator, before making my way into the cafeteria. The small tan room with light tan round tables, is before me. Everything is neutral, as if bright colors might offend those with memory impairment. I behave like this is just another day, no big deal. I haven’t seen Mom in a year, but pretend I am prepared. Mom is hunched over her wheelchair. A nurse is trying to feed her. I sit down and introduce myself to a new nurse whose name I forget instantly. She says this is her first week on the job. Mom strains to turn her head and eyes me, but doesn’t smile. She turns away in slow motion, moving as if under water, as if I am not there. The nurse tells me that Mom loves music. I tell her that she used to play piano by ear, up until a few years ago. She promises to play more music for Mom tomorrow, classical instead of country.

The nurse places a small piece of salmon on a fork and touches Mom’s lower lip with it over and over again until she licks the spot, but closes her mouth reflexively. This goes on until Mom finally manages to open her mouth, even if just barely. The nurse then pushes the food inside. As I watch, I wonder when the day will come when Mom can’t chew, when she can’t swallow.

In between bites, Mom grinds her teeth like a delayed response, a late synapse connection telling her mouth to chew at the wrong time. How frustrating that it happens when nothing is in her mouth! How frustrating and terrifying this whole damn disease is. I try hard not to imagine Mom waking in the middle of the night confused, not knowing where she is, not knowing  who anyone else is around her.

But, that’s not likely to happen anymore. She no longer appears anxious or frightened. She’s in the late stage of the disease.

The nurse leaves and I begin chattering on, showing Mom pictures of the boys from my phone. Pictures of my life in California. Of course, she doesn’t look at the pictures, but at me. Mom sort of chuckles as I try to feed her. I bribe her with a small piece of a warm chocolate chip cookie. It takes three touches on her bottom lip before Mom can open her mouth. I gently push it in. Only half makes it inside. But she smiles. Mom still loves chocolate. She can’t move her hand, but her eyes look down at it briefly, so I place it up on the table and put mine on top. She smiles again briefly, then stops.

And then she begins to stare.

Mom stares deeply into my eyes. I lean forward, forcing myself not to look away. I continue to gaze back just as deeply into those eyes of hers that are a shade of blue I’ve never seen before in anyone else. They are as blue as western corn flowers or a Tiffany’s box. Who knew a color could break my heart.

As I am staring back, I fight tears and remind myself that she is in an infantile place now. She is in a beautiful state of purity, innocence, trust. Looking into Mom’s eyes, I can remember exactly how it felt to stare deeply into my sons’ eyes when they were both newborns. I’d lie with them and stare so deeply that I’d ache. I’d tremble with how remarkable the knowing is. How raw, how powerful it is to be so open, so pure, so trusting.

We are all born in this perfect state. And that’s why I believe in oneness. We divide, distrust, judge, criticize, separate, as we age.

But when we are born, we have this ability to love with abandon. We don’t judge. We love who we love and it has nothing to do with what they look like or wear or own. We aren’t ashamed of our feelings, we embrace them. We scream when hungry, cry when we need to be held—we know we deserve love and deserve to be taken care of. Somewhere along the line, maybe in elementary school, we start to lose that knowledge.

We lose touch with so much as we layer on fears, doubts, judgements, anxiety, hurts, grudges. And it’s hard to be happy, to be at peace, to be creative, to be playful, to give love, to receive love, with all those layers weighing us down.

I adore how toddlers and preschoolers live unabashedly too. They embrace who they are and what they want! A tutu with cowboy boots and a martian mask—hell yes! No toddler cares what another person thinks of them. They’ll grab a jar of paint and just stick their hands inside and relish in the gooey feeling and then paint their arms and legs because it just looks cool. They’ll dance, spin, rock it out, screaming to their favorite Barney tune.

They also trust that the Universe has their back. Have you ever seen a toddler just fall backwards on purpose and giggle as adults scramble and run across the room to literally have their back, break their fall? Those little munchkins know that the Universe will care for them, that the Universe has their back.

We are all born knowing these truths, until sadly, some adult doesn’t show up or doesn’t care for us, or other people hurt us and then we build walls. As I said, we pile on judgement, hurts, guilt, anxiety, fears, grudges, criticism, doubt until there is no room for joy, for trust. It’s like wearing 10 coats on a summer day and wondering why we can’t run freely in the surf.

These thoughts, or some version of them, race through my mind as I am looking into my mother’s robin’s egg blue eyes. So I allow myself to try to channel my inner preschooler. I allow myself to enter into a staring contest like the ones I used to have with my sisters or my childhood bff when I was little. I lean in and tell myself to just go there. Who’s going to blink first? I think, so I won’t cry.

After we stare for what feels like five minutes, although I’m sure it is only two, she smiles. I can see kindness, inquisitiveness behind her blue blue eyes. She doesn’t know who I am, but she still feels, she still tries to connect. Someday I will just get a blank stare in return. So today, I am grateful and I am heartbroken at the same time. But mainly, I am grateful. The same eyes that used to be filled with so much fear, so much anxiety, so much stress, that they would dart around a room, are now at peace. They calmly stare deeply into mine. She is smiling. She is trusting. She is peaceful.

Last year when we did this, our foreheads touched and she said I love you. This year, she can hardly speak. She doesn’t know who I am, but wants to. I ache with the purity, the openness, the trust I see in her eyes that won’t look away.