"Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." A.A. Milne

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Next Thing

So I have this marathon coming up on Saturday. It is for St Jude Children's Hospital. It is an amazing cause and I have trained long and hard for it. Don't get me wrong, I am excited about about it but in the immortal words of  Eliza Dushku in Bring It On, "If you ain't got it by now, you ain't got it." In other words, I don't see the need to dwell. It will make me nervous.

My mind and soul is now looking beyond to the next thing. I am really excited about this new pathway in my journey. I am eager to really explore artistic expression. I cannot wait to try out painting in several methods, drawing, writing, learning a new instrument, whatever. I am longing to decorate our home with art. I have a gorgeous bronze statue of Degas' Portrait of a Fourteen Year Old Dancer my amazing husband bought for me at the beginning of our marriage. I plan to learn mosaics just to create a beautiful surface to place her upon. Oh, and I am definitely taking my hoop dancing to a new level.

I want to explore art, explore me in art, explore me, however it all comes together really. As I grow older I find myself bound by fewer restrictions and I am releasing self imposed bonds one by one. I think this journey is going to just shatter of multitude of chains. Through art I know I will find greater freedom and clarity. My soul dreams of just that and I shall pursue it.

Why? I mean it could sound like a lot of self obsessed narcissistic navel gazing. I don't think I take myself that seriously, but it is possible. Beyond the reasons I stated above, it is for my children. I want my children to know, to understand they can do or be anything that want to be. But I also want them to understand that self knowledge is truly the keystone to any dream they wish to pursue. Self knowledge will help them not be timid people pleasers terrified to go against the social norm trapped in their own mediocrity. They need to understand in an honest way their strengths, weaknesses, desires, secret greed, all of it. I will set an example for them to follow. I am not sure how capable I am when it comes to teaching what I do not live. I don't think I have it in me.

I have already started in some small ways. I took a watercolor class. That was much fun. I jumped in with the enthusiasm of a 2nd grader. I posted my finished work on the refrigerator  I don't think it is necessarily wonderful technique but it is mine, it came from deep inside me. That made it important. I have begun a nature journal that is just blowing me away. Since I have more natural affinity for writing, I choose a format that focuses more on drawing. I find myself absorbed with cuttings from my garden as I sketch and color them. All of this just feels so very right in my gut.

I think we all need art in our lives. Art provides the extra beauty, the spice I think most of us crave from a life lived well. Art brings us face to face with nature, our mortality, our legacy, so many things that truly matter in the grand scheme of things. It makes me feel as if I belong but I an not the most important thing. And that is alright, in fact, it may be even better.

So that is what I am doing or getting ready to do. Saturday I will run 26.2 miles to support an amazing charity and on Monday perhaps I will write about it. That would be a great bridge between the rabbit trails of my life, don't you think?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving in the Woods

This year we escaped to the woods for Thanksgiving. We went to an all inclusive resort not too far away from the house for 5 days. I was so unbelievably excited. There were so many amazing things to do. We could hike, go to campfires, watch fireworks, learn archery, visit a pioneer Christmas village, just so many things. We would also be without television or computers. This is difficult. The children and I have some screen issues we are all dealing with one day at a time. Some are a  little more willing than others.But it would still be great.

I pride myself on not setting up expectations. I fully believe it is a fabulous way to ensure disappointment. Go ahead and build up anything in your mind and I promise you, you will see it fall short pretty much every single time. Add in a couple of lively, headstrong preschoolers and you can add epic to that fail. I set up experiences and just see where it takes us. I am usually pretty good at this....usually.

Our first full day there started out beautifully. I ran around the lake just after dawn. The sunrise coming over the hills was breathtaking. I was energized and ready to watch this adventure unfold. I ran back to the room delighted to find the kids were happy upon waking and excited to get going with our day. It was going to be great.

You know, looking back there were a myriad of things going wrong even at that point. The food serve was SAD (standard american diet) and we do not eat that way. Heck, I am a vegetarian that tries to go pretty dang low in the gluten and dairy departments. Also there were only three meals a day. This is perfectly understandable. I do not expect someone else to cater either to my diet or frequent eating habits. But the children and I eat closer to 5-6 meals a day. We are grazers. I have no idea why I didn't bring our own food. I always do. The kids were also in some deep screen withdrawal. John has had some hairy trials and schedules lately and the stress was still emanating off of him. In short, we were a bunch of petulant, pouty, silly whiny pants for at least 1.5 days. I will openly nominate myself as Queen Pouts A-lot. So not cool, but there you are.

So there we were in this glorious natural setting bickering and picking at each other like toddlers desperately in need of a snack and a nap. (Pretty close description, actually.) John is the one who finally articulated our dilemma. We went to the store to load up on fresh raw fruits and veggies and other snacks we love to eat. We slowed down our schedule and allowed room to rest more. Most of all we realized it was okay to be out of sorts and all discombobulated. We have never taken a vacation with the kids outside of visiting family. Not surprising, we had some rough patches.

In the end it was great. We calmed down and truly enjoyed ourselves. The kids rode horses galore. Hannah learned archery. We star gazed and watched fireworks over the lake from our window  The kids became almost obsessed with hand dipping candles. It was a great time. We laughed a lot, took naps together, and enjoyed Logan's "shows" he put on each evening to entertain us.

But you see, there was something else. There was something I did to set us all up for failure. I had expectations. Even though I swore I wouldn't and was determined to let the whole thing unfold naturally, I still did it. I pictured how this amazing family bonding experience would be and then had a mental temper tantrum when it didn't happen how I envisioned it.

So lesson learned....again. Don't have expectations, bring your own food, take naps together, and laugh uproariously when your 3 year old decides he is the emcee for the new variety show he has created, written, and starred in, all to make his family laugh and entertain them. Most of all, be so very thankful and love each other.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Losing The Rigidity in Your Life

I am rather excited to be back blogging again. It is such a cyclical thing for me. I have posts swirling and composting my head that should come out soon. I want to talk about the freedom that comes from purging your stuff and letting go.  I would like to discuss living  life of harmony vs. discord and how letting go of those determined to live in land of self pity, drama, and stagnation will greatly enhance that transformation. So many things I hope to write about. But once has jumped to the forefront of my mind. Letting go of the rigidity in your life and becoming more flexible.

I want to present an authentic representation of my life online. It is easy to just focus on the good or clean up the not so pretty so we can give the world a highlight reel only kind of view. I do not want to do that. I want to be honest when I fail, be open about being exhausted or disappointed. In short, I just want to be real.


The truth is, I really am a happy person seeing joy and beauty of mundane life. I don't get too upset when things don't go my way. I go with the flow of my day and just see where it all takes up. And there is one thing that makes this all possible: Intentionally living in the present moment.

I was not always like this. Oh I had such plans and expectations. I over-thought every decision and scenario. A big holiday planned? I had it all worked out in my head how it should go and was very disappointed and angry when it didn't go according to my imaginary plan. You know it never did. I lived in the future trying to micromanage everything. I thought I would somehow have control over everything including other people and especially my children. Who wants to guess how that worked out???

Like so many things, this particular issue has been refined and smoothed due to having children. I remember sitting and crying because my day did not go how I had planned it. I was angry my children were getting in the way of my to do list!! Catch that, did you? Isn't that the most asinine thing? My babies, my beauties were hindrance to mopping floors and extravagant meal planning. Ridiculous or not, it is how I felt.

I am so grateful I found another way, a better way.

I found that by letting go of the past and releasing to future to work itself out, I lived more centered in peace and calm. When you find peace and calm you can find joy. I promise you it is true. I stopped thinking about how a situation would go or even my day. My to do list became things that would be cool to get done, if it works out. I have plans each day but if they don't happen, so what? I mean seriously, what is the big deal really? It is rarely life threatening. In fact, it is our anger and frustration stealing our joy not the change in plans.

To facilitate flexibility I have learned to say no to many, many things Our schedule is much more open and just has the room to be less rigid. The less hectic schedule allows us all to be more peaceful and less revved up all the time. It is that very go go go pace that leads to rigidity for me. How can you finish the 108 things on your to do list if you are not hyper focused and regimented??? I say ditch the to do list. You will be better for it.

So that is where me and mine are. We really just sort of flow through life. I don't think we miss out on anything. In fact, the slowness has enable us to see things and experience things we would have missed any other way.  Throw out your mental expectations, stop your life in its tracks, and take the time to wonder at the sunrise or moonrise with your children, however it works out for you.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

More Inner Peace Juiciness

I love share the amazing effects of living an intentional life striving for inner peace and tranquility. Yoga and meditation are huge parts of this endeavor. I am such a beginning student of both, really, but the benefits are simply amazing even now.

This morning I awoke with a vague underlying feeling of restlessness, irritation, and, not surprisingly  fear. The more I study, the more I believe fear is the root cause for most of our negative emotions. Both rational and irrational fear can quickly pump up our blood pressure and send our mind reeling with anxiety and trepidation. So this morning, fear popped up and wanted to hang out.

Now here is the super cool part, because of my journey to finding inner peace and balance my problem was immediately apparent. I don't know how to describe it. Think of all of your calm, peaceful thoughts are a beautiful pattern of soft muted colors intertwining and overlapping with one another. Fear, anger, jealous, all the emotions leading to disharmony stand out in stark relief as if they are glaring bright red. This enables me to sieve them off the top and deal with them.

But how do you do that? That is the question, right?

Knowing that all was not right with my world I took care of my morning routine and settled the kids to a slightly longer television program. Then I sat and breathed. I begin my yoga routine stretching my mind and my body. Then when I was warm and limber in both places, I quietly settled down into a half lotus pose. I returned to my breathing. (You will find in yoga and mediation you ALWAYS return to the breath.) Then I allowed my mind to gentle open and began to examine my mind that was trying to whirl itself into turmoil.

So what was going on? Well, this marathon training is just breaking me down mentally and physically. I don't feel good in either place. My energy is constantly zapped and I find it harder to be fully present for the joy in my life.  It is almost here and then I am going to indulge in some delicious healing of mind, body, and spirit. But what else? Well, I have not been eating my optimal diet. I am only eating about 50% of what I should be. This affects my overall health in so many ways. Eating a clean, healthy diet is a huge emphasis in my life and priority for me. Finally, we have a couple of trips and Christmas coming up. Expending money brings up an irrational fear of insecurity for me. Then I just finished dealing with a long drawn out dispute with one of our utility companies that will probably never be resolved to my satisfaction.

As I slowly turned each one over in my mind, I was able to look it is head on and it made it much easier to let it go. I could see instantly ways to make it better. The marathon is at the cusp of being over. I can easily improve my diet, etc. I opened my eyes and I find the turmoil of my mind quietly leaving and the calmness returning. Equanimity prevailed.

Now it isn't always this easy. That lovely muted color picture has some challenges not so readily apparent. There are fears so deeply woven into my psyche it will take a great deal of introspection and personal work to bring them fully to the surface. Only then can the be faced and released. But those parts of the path will happen when they happen. There is no way to hurry it along. It is a journey, a journey I am so grateful to be on.