Tag Archives: stress

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

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Finding the Sweet Space of Between

Photo by Chloe Moore Photography

Photo by Chloe Moore Photography

 

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to take a pregnant pause. That, and the reality of the gap between our thoughts and our actions. As a yogi, I’ve been told time and time again to detach and become a nonjudgemental observer of my life, especially as I meditate. Worded like that, it seems like something that must be done, or achieved—like a goal to work toward. But what if there is a literal space in our lives that just can’t be lived, pushed or achieved? What if there is a space that is just felt by sitting still and sensing what is—without doing anything? In this neutral space, one shuts down, surrenders, accepts, during a mini time-out from life.

As a little girl, every summer, (before Interstate 40 was completed) my family would drive through podunk, one stop-light towns in North Carolina, heading East to the beach. These tiny communities fascinated me. I’d hold my breath the whole ride through towns like Spivey’s Corner, the “hollerin’ capital of the universe,” and, of course, the town of ‘Between.’ As a shy little girl, no one in my large family even noticed me in the back seat holding my breath—my cheeks red, my neck strained. I liked the idea of time standing still—of holding my breath and emptying all my thoughts as I entered a space that began with a welcome sign, followed by a stop light and ended with a sign that usually said, “Ya’ll Come Back Now, Ya Hear?”. It was a kick to think that within one breath, one blink, one pregnant pause, I could then exhale and arrive at a new destination, a new town.

I was quite literally in a state of between. No other thoughts entered my mind. I didn’t worry about my big brother and one of my big sisters fighting. I didn’t think about my dad yelling at one of us, or my mom crying out in a nervous voice, “Please…Stop!” Nope. I just sank into a void of silence until I arrived into a new town where I exhaled and entered back into the chaos that was four kids in the back of a station wagon on a road trip.

John Green wrote about this space of between more eloquently in his book “An Abundance of Katherine’s.” The best-selling author of “The Fault in Our Stars” caught my attention in his lesser known book, as it ends with his neurotic protagonist, a prodigy teenager who keeps re-examining past relationships in order to predict future relationships, on an eye-opening road trip. His genius level IQ, married with expectations of grandeur and “mattering,” have Colin obsessed with playing God: predicting the future. He rarely, hangs out. He doesn’t stop working. He is possessed with creating a theorem that will prove he is important. At the end of the novel, Colin finally concedes the future is an unknown destination…one to be explored like a long road trip filled with surprises:

“As the staggered lines rushed past him, he thought about the space between what we remember and what happened, the space between what we predict and what will happen. And in that space, Colin thought, there was room enough to reinvent himself—room enough to make himself—room enough to make himself into something other than a prodigy, to remake his story better and different—room enough to be reborn again and again.”

I believe that to be reborn again and again, it requires more than just an awareness of a state of between. It requires marinating briefly in that space of acceptance to allow a much-needed pause from our lives. The space between, for me, is a mental time out into complete surrender of life as it is now—and of acceptance for me, just as I am, now. It’s a break within the mind between expectations and longings. It mandates that nothing is done, nothing is feared, nothing is forced, nothing is judged.

Who am I today? Who were you yesterday? Can you sit in the here and now and not try to edit the past or force a future outcome? Can you find an exquisite sort of beauty in lingering in a space where there are no answers, but rather a space of just being?

Take a mini vacation from all the chatter and when you arrive back at home in your body, see what comes to you. Who is drawn to you? What do you dream? What do you feel? We all rush around so much with minds struggling to catch up and thoughts that race. I’m guilty of that too…But just think: in one breath, one pause, we might just arrive into a new town, into a new vista, into new insights, into clarity, into knowing who we are and what we want.

I’m starting to feel that we are part of a cosmos that is intricate, yet delicate— powerful, yet tender…but only if we slow down enough to sense it, or sense ourselves within it.

And while I’m new at this, I think the end result is filled with sweet surprises. Surprises like: meeting new friends who feel instantly like family. Coincidences. Serendipitous encounters. Creative insights. Laughter. Lightness. And ultimately, hopefully, a life that flows.

 

As David Ji, my favorite meditation expert, would say: “See you in the Gap.”

Flash Flood

SAMSUNG

2013 will be the year my mother stops talking completely. Tonight I googled ‘grief’ and found this post. It’s comforting, in a strange way, to step back and look at how much happens in a period of time, such as 500 days. Destruction and death and sorrow are inevitably (and hopefully) entwined with new beginnings and soul awakening growth and grateful moments. It’s hard to describe how that works.

Tonight I miss mom.  I rarely talk about her to anyone. I don’t know why. It wasn’t that long ago that we spoke every week. But that’s life, isn’t it?

Tonight I found myself crying. An old song mom loved to play on the piano came on a TV show. And before I knew it, tears were trickling down my face. Grief is like that. People say it comes in waves. That may be. But mine comes like a flash flood. Or a tsunami. One minute I’m moving along, as usual. I may be having an ordinary, yet, nice day. Then I’ll hear a song.

Oh how I’d love to call her to tell her my divorce is final. That I’m writing fiction again (baby steps.) That my boys are rambunctious as ever. That I’m actually doing this parenting gig on my own somehow.

A year ago, I wrote several posts honoring my mom for mother’s day. It empowered me. As silly as that sounds. I felt like I was preserving her. I was honoring who she was. When you lose a person to Alzheimer’s, it’s a confusing death. With mom, she began the steady decline last year. She can now barely talk.  My last visit, 7 months ago, she eeked out “love” and leaned her head to mine. That was a goodbye that I will always be grateful for. Nevermind, that a few minutes later, she looked at me like I was a stranger. The day before, when I popped a small piece of dark chocolate and raspberry bar into her mouth, (her favorite) her eyes widened and she grabbed my hand saying, “I think I like you!”

Tonight, I long to talk to her so much it aches.

Tomorrow, I’ll get up, in this city of sun and eternal youth, and begin again.

Finding the Light Within

Whenever I begin to feel jealousy, anger, pity or fear creep in—the four pitfalls I imagine many single moms tripping over—I stop and take a breath. I let myself step aside (sort of like a Woody Allen moment with the protagonist asking the audience for insight) and ask why I am sinking to these depths. Intellectually I know it’s not helping. Going through the process of divorce is gut-wrenching enough. Adding insult to injury by sinking to such negative thoughts, only keeps us mentally in the basement. How someone else treats us isn’t always deserved, or in any way reasonable. But knowing this, and feeling this, are two different things entirely. I understand. For two years I’ve wrestled with insecurities that I never had before. Getting to the place where I feel beautiful, loving, and like I am a gift to my children, has been a long walk of faith.

I’d like to walk that with you. I’m still finding my own way, but want to walk with you—especially those who are just going through the storm—as you hold your breath and put one foot, (metaphorically) in front of the other.

I’m currently working with a spiritual counselor and feel so blessed by her insight. One of the exercises that has helped me the most is that of meditation and focus on love. Love requires no formal religion—so no matter your faith—this exercise will help you. Over time, it creates what is called a bleed-over. The more you visualize yourself as a seed of light and love and harmony, the sooner you realize that it’s true. And once you do—no one, or anyone’s behavior—can take that away from you.

If you’ve received a crushing blow to your ego and self esteem, as many women who are dealing with infidelity have shared with me, there comes a time when those insecurities will begin to lift. Sure, there will always be people who are younger, physically more beautiful, more intelligent or more athletic than you. But these qualities don’t ultimately define us. They aren’t the essence of who we are. They don’t create the “je ne sais quoi” that the French refer to—meaning the intangible, or inexplainable quality that makes someone distinctive or attractive or irresistible. I’ve always imagined that this comes from an inexplicable source of light within a person. Have you ever met someone who isn’t quite beautiful, but his or her smile or lightness in mood or sense of goodness blows you over until you begin to think of that person akin to an angel? If you haven’t experienced this, you may think I’m nuts. If you have, you know exactly what I mean. I don’t pretend to have any of the answers for us, but I do know that we are all equal in God’s eyes. We all have access to light and love. All I know is that the more I focus on that, the less I focus on anything dark. Hurtful things people say or do begin to fall to the wayside as I focus on being a light to myself, my children and those I love.

If you are motivated, try this exercise with me for a week and let me know if it is changing your perceptions, mood, relationships with your kids, your Ex, etc.

Each night as you drift off to sleep, breathe deeply and visualize divine light bubbling up from the core of your body. It begins to spread throughout your body: up through your chest, your arms, down your legs, and out your toes, fingers and head. Say to yourself, “I am filled with light.” Imagine sharing the light with your children and even extend some love and light to your Ex, your extended family and any friends that you want to reach. Hold no other thoughts other than letting those you care about, feel light and love. Hold no agendas. Breathe deeply. Feel warmth run through your body, and begin to think of at least five things you are thankful for. Even if you can only think of things such as food, your car making it to work, or running water, be thankful for those things. The list will grow over time.

Allow yourself to drift off to sleep after saying your thanks.  Do this every night for a week. Even if you are in pain. Even if you are distracted. Perhaps especially so.

Remember, no matter what someone has done to you, it doesn’t define you. It doesn’t diminish your “je ne sais quoi” —your light within.

For some of you reading this, my words may seem a bit cheesy or saccharine. Sure, I know some of you are struggling with child custody battles, health issues, child support default, etc. The issues are heartbreaking. Perhaps this little exercise seems useless. Perhaps you think it’s silly. Try to push self-depricating thoughts aside and entertain this idea for a week anyway. What do you have to lose? Over time, you may begin to really feel that you are a source of light and love. And once you do, I have a hunch that your contagious energy will carry you forward throughout all your struggles with much more ease, confidence and less stress. And lowering stress is essential. I’m currently writing an article for a national magazine about the effects of severe stress on women’s health. It’s not pretty. Our children deserve healthy and happy moms. Lets try to give them what they—and we—deserve.

Lots of love,

Laura