Tag Archives: patience

Embracing Chaos

Heartgarden

So, I cried today. Hate to admit it. Maybe a little over the weekend too. Life is hectic right now. I’m trying so hard to be mindful, but I’m doing so much solo, somethings gotta give. There was a gas leak because my landlord didn’t install the dryer properly. That was scary. And then trying to get my son and pick him back up from beach camp every day this week (school starts Sept. 6!!) has been stressful. First I take my oldest to school by 7 a.m., then I’m racing to the studio to open it in the morning, get it cleaned and ready for the 9 a.m. class, then race with my son to the beach drop off spot and then back and it takes an hour at least with parking being nutty. It feels like I just can’t get it all together. I raced so fast to pick him back up by 2 p.m. the other day that I nearly ran a stop sign. I can barely leave the hot studio before 2 with all the work that needs to get done. Most afternoons and evenings involve racing to pick up my oldest, then soccer practices, then taekwondo, then my yoga classes I teach (that fill me with gratitude and peace). I don’t know what I’d do without the yoga. Because I literally feel like I’m teetering on many days. My landlord laughed at me the other day and said “girls can do anything boys can do, you’ve got this.” That was his way of getting out of doing something that needed to be done at the house that is in disarray with lots of things still broken. I thought I’d cry. I can’t handle one more job. I’m still writing too, so yesterday I had to finish an article, and edit another chapter in my spare time. Ironically, like yoga, the writing centers me. I just wish I could figure out how to balance all the family demands a little easier and find more time away from parenting when I need to.

So I missed a dear friend’s funeral last weekend because I couldn’t get sitter coverage and my ex is rarely free. It was a family friend who helped take care of my mother, an aunt to me my whole life: she did my hair, she made my prom dress, you get the idea. Family. I’ll send a letter, it’ll be ok. My oldest was in a soccer tournament anyway, so 5 games Saturday and Sunday and I needed to be there, the boys were super aggressive. But I may miss my real aunt’s funeral at the end of Sept in Maine, and even though my ex will be in the States, he is choosing not to help. Something’s gotta give. After cleaning the studio and two races back and forth for the beach camp pickups, then back to the studio, after cleaning it, I just sat down in the girls locker room and cried. Probably because I’m tired. Probably because I feel so unsupported.

It’ll be ok. It always is. I’ve been doing this solo parenting gig for 8.5 years, right? I’ll dip into savings again and hire a sitter and go to Maine. It’s worth it.

Life is hard now, but as Buddha says, it doesn’t stay hard forever: “Life is a circle of happiness, hard times and good times. If you are going through hard times, have faith that good times are on their way.” Buddha

For the rest of today, I will mindfully be present and grateful that I am safe, I am healthy, that my boys are amazing, healthy and happy and that I am mainly surrounded in my life by sweet, thoughtful yogis. I am thankful to have kicked the social media habit, too, as I need not compare my life with others. This is my life right now. Today is hard. Tomorrow will be better.

Love & Light ~

L. x

Advertisements

The Year to Surrender

Water-Wallpaper-08

I read this quote today from The Buried Life“Don’t be afraid to let things fall in or out of place.”

Simple, yet profound, especially for those of us who struggle to make things happen, or to control our lives. This I know for sure: it takes strength to not push, to not force, to trust in something bigger than ourselves, to wait, to listen, and to see what evolves. This type of advice used to make me cringe. It seemed so passive, as if telling a person to sit around and not DO anything to manifest their dreams.

But I now see that’s not what this message implies. 2014 was a year of hard and beautiful lessons for me. What I know now is that the biggest accomplishment, the highest goal to attain to, is to follow my inner voice,  my boundaries, my dreams, my intuition, and my journey home to myself. So that takes courage to continue walking towards dreams. It takes energy. But then it requires that I release heated expectations, or nagging thoughts filled with worry, or any mental struggle that can come from wanting something to emerge, or to develop, in a specific way. It requires being still in moving waters. Trusting the flow is going to take me where I’m meant to go.

photo-132 IMG_1327

Louise Hay said it perfectly: “We must place our order in the cosmic kitchen, and then let it go. Don’t follow the waiter to the kitchen and hover and make sure he places your order correctly and that the chef is cooking it per your specifications. Make up your mind, place your order and then trust that it is being filled.”

For me, this is about trust and surrendering to the process, in all my relationships, my goals, my dreams. And if I do nothing to make these dreams come true, than likely they won’t. But if I take babysteps each day, put in a little effort, and then trust the process and let it go—who knows what could happen? I have to let that cosmic waiter take my order to the Universal kitchen. And then surrender. Surrender to the process. Surrender to the possibility that the results may fall within my expectations, or outside of them.

Like the splashes from a water fall, I have to wait to see where the pool forms, where the waters converge and divide. Perhaps my dreams, our dreams, will manifest in exactly the way we want? But maybe, just maybe, if we open ourselves up to the possibility that they can manifest into something far more beautiful, far more unexpected, we might just float into a pool that is wilder, more tangled, more rooted in the unknown—until it rings the truth of something meant to be. … But only if we let go, with excitement, with gratitude.

So, friends, here’s to a 2015 filled with joy, excitement, gratitude, anticipation— without rigid expectations, fear or worry.

Namaste ~

L. xo

How to Divide and Conquer as a Single Mom

Larry Jones Illustration

Larry Jones Illustration

The past two months have been a blur. In one respect, they can be described as a struggle. If I flip this way of thinking, however, the two months have been filled with teaching moments.  I’ve been relatively absent from this blog. At one point, I wrote this post: Finding Forgiveness in Parenting, which will give you an inkling of how many of my moments have been filled. For two months I’ve been drowning in a sea of temper tantrums, kicking, hitting, spitting and other tyrannical behavior from my four-year-old—while also trying my hardest to be present for my 11-year-old’s important events:  soccer tournaments, violin concerts, open house, graduation, etc. (School ends in Calif. in late June!) As the child of a single mom whose dad is in Europe, I constantly worry about how hard it is for my older son to go to all of  these events: soccer weekend tournaments, graduation, open house nights at school, concerts, etc. where he is usually the only child without a dad present. I worry.

All the time.

But, of course, that worrying doesn’t do anything effective. At the same time, his little brother is behaving badly.

Very badly.

He seems to take out his aggression, however, only on me. So, while I’m trying to cheer on his big brother at a soccer game, or even during his graduation ceremony, there is screaming. “No!” Or his new favorite: “I hate You!” Or, his most effective tactic: he just starts kicking and hitting me with the occasional hair pull or spit in the face. I tend to leave wherever we are with the little brother, put him in time out—sometimes holding down his arms and legs when necessary to make him stay in time out. Some days I also take away the ice cream, or the playdate or the fun later in the day, etc. Meanwhile, the big brother doesn’t get any attention during his big moments. How many violin concerts have I left before his solo? How many times did I have to leave the soccer field before he made a goal or assisted with a goal? How embarrassing was it during graduation to hear his little brother scream? Clearly, garnering attention—any kind of attention—is exactly what the little brother wants. I’d love to leave him at home every time there is a big event. But I can’t always do that, as I can’t always afford the sitter costs for the many events I’d need them for.

Sigh …

Sometimes I just get defeated. Managing these two boys, as well as my burgeoning book and freelance writing, is about all I can do. And I don’t always do that well. Just this week, I took a break from a very important relationship. I need to right now. I barely have energy every day to tread water. And, it doesn’t help that my little guy doesn’t fall asleep until 10 p.m. every night as he’s filled with kinetic energy. (No he doesn’t get sugar or juice after 5p.m. … This is just his anxious, nervous energy state of being.)

So, it would be very easy for me to be filled with pity or exhaustion or just bitterness. It would be very easy to get jealous of the married couples, or divorced, but still in the same town, parents who can “divide and conquer”. You know, the mom who can take Johnny to soccer, while the dad takes Lilly to ballet. Kids sometimes need individualized attention. Mine certainly do. Clearly, my youngest will demand attention via a gut-wrenchingly loud decibel or with an equally painful kick, hit, bite, punch or thrown object. It’s not okay. I will stop it. But in the meantime, I’ve decided to accept and embrace this life. It’s just the way it is and I have to find ways to still have fun with my little guy and keep him from demanding all the attention from his big brother’s big moments.

I have worked with many people and teachers to create charts for good behavior with fun rewards. I’ve also come up with consistent discipline tactics. Nothing is working really well with the dynamic that currently is: both needing my attention now.

So, I’ve decided, to just divide an conquer as a single mom. Which is trickier than it seems—but I am becoming adept at finding ways to do this. While I don’t have any family here in California, I do have great friends, a good daycare and a wonderful babysitter. While it’s not always ideal, I am finding ways to make it work. The older son is often away for playdates and when he is, I find time to focus on my little guy. When we go to the park or the beach, he becomes a very different little boy. He thrives. He is sweet. He is loving.

 

When he is at daycare, I have fun with my older son. I relish our talks and I’m so lucky we are close and he trusts me.

 

When we are all together and the little guy is screaming or throwing items in a restaurant or anywhere else, I try my hardest to stay calm and take him out. He doesn’t get desert. Yesterday, after multiple temper tantrums, I sent him to his daycare. I was trying to have a fun, family day. It didn’t work, so off he went. It’s a small daycare where he has 3 very good friends. Plus, he is an angel there. (His tyranny is only directed at me.) But since he was kicking and hitting me, he didn’t get to go out for ice cream with me and his big brother. Sounds a bit sad, but last week the little guy picked up a broom and tried to hit me over the head with it. NOT OKAY.

We will survive all of this. And I refuse to give up on this little guy. And somehow, I’m managing to stay calm, and to still focus on writing my book for an hour or two almost every day. This journey is a hard one, but it’s forcing me to become a better person. I’m finding that even when I’m at my limit, I can push through with kindness, while still being strong. It’s amazing to me that I am grateful for this life. Isn’t that bizarre? I am so grateful to be these boys mom and I will find a way to make it work. Right now, it’s taking some personal sacrifices, but I have to. And you know what? In between the crazy tantrums and the exhaustion, I have plenty of silly moments to be grateful for. Yesterday, after a lengthy time out, I picked up my little guy and went to the pool. While he made a ‘cake for mommy’ out of pool toys, he screamed: “I LOVE YOU!!”

And I thought, “Ok. We are getting there,” as I tickled him.

Here’s hoping the summer will be strewn with small moments of silliness and peace.

Zenful Reminder at Bedtime

zenfulpanda

Photo by: Ivan Ellis

Tonight my four-year-old picked out Zen Shorts by Jon J Muth for me to read at bedtime.  He has never picked out this book before. All the times that I’ve suggested it, he’d say no and hand me a truck, car, or train book. One night I tried to read it anyway, and he couldn’t follow the story and started flipping through the pages of a favorite garbage truck book. Tonight, he seemed to be channeling Stillwater, the book’s main character—a giant Panda who tells Buddhist short stories to his new young neighbors: Addy, Michael and Karl.

As I read the stories Stillwater tells the children, based on centuries old Zen Buddhist literature, it became very clear that I needed to pay attention to these stories.

In the past 11 to 12 days, I’ve been out of my element. I’ve been very distracted and not able to do regular meditation or exercise. The kids were out of school for ‘ski week’ last week and I had work to do for a new client, as well as the boy’s grandmother in town. We had fun and it was so lovely of her to come in to help, as her son had to cancel his week with the boys. It really was a gift to have an old friend back and I’m very grateful. I was able to  go out of town for two days,  and then the two of us took the boys to Vegas, which was a bit nutty, but I’d never been. All in all, it was fun, but then of course, the typical happens—which is that my youngest gets sick again on Saturday night and up all night Sunday. So, my Monday was a mad dash to get a sitter, juggle an important early morning meeting and get all the documentation together for kindergarten application. I just haven’t been present. In my mind, I’m juggling a million things—which really isn’t that unusual. But having thoughts drift to even more things—such as past events, people, places, things people have done to hurt me, pressure to move or change careers, etc.—doesn’t help.  I let my mind wander, scatter, jiggle and otherwise dive in and out of this sort of fear-based, or guilt-based, nonsense for at least the last two days. During this time, I also wasn’t able to do regular yoga or meditation—and it showed with my tired, defeated mindset.

Stillwater, Jon J Muth’s panda, gets his name from the Buddhist’s method of meditation—which is to sit very still, while remaining completely alert. Quoting the Zen Short’s author: “When you look into a pool of water, if the water is still, you can see the moon reflected. If the water is agitated, the moon is fragmented and scattered. It is harder to see the true moon. Our minds are like that. When our minds are agitated, we cannot see the true world.”

As I read these Zen Shorts, it became clear that I’ve got work to do. Being able to stay still and calm in any storm is a Buddhist’s goal—and likely only obtainable by Tibetan monks! Still, when I let my mind race, get scattered or fearful, it’s easy to jump to conclusions or react—when I might not have done so if I had been taking better care of myself and had a calm mind.  As I read each parable to my son, who was commenting on each one and somehow listening intently, I realized: ‘wow, if he learns this now, just think what sort of man he’ll become!’

For instance, the story of “A Heavy Load” is one that I need to keep close at heart. It’s about letting go. And to truly let go, we have to do it in our hearts and minds too. The parable is about two monks who run across a wealthy woman who is being carried across the mud. The men carrying her and her packages, can’t manage to lift her across without soiling her silk gowns. A young monk notices how she yells and snaps at the servants and does nothing to help. The old monk, goes over and carries her on his back across the mud and sets her down. She pushes him aside, doesn’t say thank you and walks away. Two hours later, as the two monks travel, the younger can’t help himself and complains about how awful the woman was and how she didn’t even say thank you. The older replies, “I set the woman down hours ago. Why are you still carrying her?”

Can you think of a time when you’ve held a grudge? Do you go over and over events in your mind making it impossible for you to be present? It’s easy to do, yet changes nothing. It’s really difficult to forgive those who have hurt us. It’s especially frustrating to see injustice done or cruelty. But sometimes, we just have to let it go. The person who is cruel or selfish will ultimately have to look in the mirror someday, or not. It’s out of our control. Karma may or may not exist. That’s life. But giving power to those who hurt us by thinking about what they’ve done over and over again, robs us of our precious moments in the here and now.

And you know what? Not all things that seem bad, end up that way. Like the  parable “The Farmer’s Luck” teaches us about bad luck resulting in good luck—sometimes the worst things that happen to us, are exactly what we need to grow and make space for even better things to come. That doesn’t make them easy to move through at the time, and I really get that. But what I’m really noticing with me, is that when I don’t write, breathe deeply, meditate, exercise regularly or do yoga, I notice that even petty grievances, fears, or past hurts, can spring back into my mind. I can be in the room, but a million miles and years away. That’s not serving my health or the wellness of my boys. I know I won’t be able to achieve stillness all the time, but if I can just become aware of it, as I drift away, and gently bring my focus back to the present (as mindfulness expert Janice Marturano explains in this interview) I’ll get one step closer. This is going to be a daily process that will require forgiveness and a sense of humor.