What Am I Giving Today?

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Not…one…fuck! Oh wait, did I just say “fuck” in a blog post without using an asterisk? Damn straight I did. Why? Well, obviously because I don’t give a fuck.

Last night Declan woke with a fever around 3:30. I was in and out of his room laying with him, taking his temp, and doling out tiny cups of children’s Tylenol. When I finally got him to sleep it was after 5 and I lay in bed worrying. What will I do with him all day at home? What if he’s still sick Saturday and he can’t go to the in-laws so the husband and I can actually talk to each other for once? What if we never get a time to go out? What if we get divorced? What if that pain near my bellybutton is appendicitis? What if I don’t realize it and it bursts and I die of sepsis?

So when we got up this morning and the husband took Brady to school so that Declan could sleep in and feel better, I made a decision. Today would be “don’t give a fuck” day. We would watch TV and use the iPad and do whatever makes D happy and lets me relax for a God damned minute. See, I’m always feeling as if I need to care more, and not just more, but ohsomuchmore. In reality I think it is imperative that I care less. Not ohsomuchless, but certainly less.

I often feel as if every problem I encounter is MY problem. I worry about things from the dump being built in our neighborhood to the overwhelming issue of climate change. I ponder how the class and race issues in this country can ever be solved. I worry about my mom and my sister and my nieces. I worry about my kids. I worry what the other moms at school think of my newly purple hair. While much of this is good and I know that it is good, I also cannot let these things consume me. I cannot solve all the problems of the world. Sometimes I cannot even solve the problems of my apartment. My worry is like an armor that I build around me to keep the bad things from happening. This does not work, but my brain tells me it will. It tells me that if I just know all the problems and worry about all the problems, things will be ok. This is a lie. Feeling these problems around me constantly helps no one and leaves me feeling crushed, drained, and useless.

So today, I am letting myself (and Declan, I guess) off the hook. I don’t have to stop the dump or save the preschool or make sure that the kids are being stimulated in a developmentally appropriate manner while eating organic vegetables from BPA-free, recyclable plates. I just need to keep us all alive and in decent order. We can eat pizza and watch a movie and (gasp!) not clean up immediately.

Today I am not giving a fuck and it feels FAN-TAB-ULOUS! That pain near my belly button has melted away and somehow I actually got a bunch of freelance work done. Many people, perhaps too many people, live this way day-to-day. I think the evidence of that is all around us. But I can’t make up for their lack of caring by caring extra. What I can do is give myself a little break. I can go back to my worries with a renewed spirit and a fresh perspective. Maybe I can manage to cut some of my concerns from the list and leave them to someone else. I can definitely give my kids, or my husband, or even (maybe) myself that extra minute, without feeling like I should be somewhere else, trying to do some other thing, at the exact same moment. And I can enjoy it. At least for today…

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What a Day!

Today was a doozy of a day. It started with it becoming arctic cold overnight, which I guess happened in most of the Northern Hemisphere since I kept reading that there were freezing temperatures in all 50 states. Here are some of the bad/annoying/irritating things that happened today:

– Declan’s slight, morning head-stuffiness morphed into an actual cold, no lie, en route to the allergist.

– We were sent home by the allergist with no food challenge and a hope of a cancellation in the near future.

– Despite not having the food challenge I still went all the way to the West Side in the freezing cold and spent $30 on cabs.

– Declan’s actual cold became a terrible cold.

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– TWO people walked right past me in the line at the grocery store as if I wasn’t there waiting too! (Cutting in line is my #1 pet peeve.)

– My two pairs of warm boots arrived from Zappos and NEITHER fit me and it promises to be just as cold again tomorrow.

– I had to drag my children into the cold and dark to volunteer for the last CSA shift to make my volunteer quota for the season.

– Declan created this masterpiece on the wall in the hallway.

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– I got my period. (Sorry for the TMI, but seriously, it’s the day that just won’t stop giving.)

But, all day my yogi-self kept telling me to step back and take a breath, to look at what was happening and see the positive. So, because of that, and because looking at the list above I seriously look like a whiny baby, I will oblige my yogi-self and see the positives.  So here are some of the good/nice/not annoying things that happened today:

– Declan and I stopped at the bookstore and it was story time and he LOVED it! That kids loves songs with hand gestures and being read stories.

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– Since Declan didn’t feel good he snuggled me all day. (I didn’t mind the snot that came with it too much.)

– I somehow got in some freelance work.

– Zappos has free shipping and returns.

– The other lovely people who were volunteering saw that I had my kids with me and that it was cold and let me sign in and go home! Yay for nice people! I did do a little restocking of veggies for good measure while we were there.

– Magic Eraser removes pencil on a wall like, well, magic.

– Declan fell immediately asleep and I got to snuggle with Brady a little. He told me about the stories he makes up while he’s falling asleep and it was incredible! It involves him making a legendary basketball shot, being sent to a special middle school in California to play basketball, coming back to New York for high school and leaving basketball to play football and perfecting the “rocket throw.” How cool is this kid?

How’s that for balance? I’m working on it. I really am.

Reminders

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There are times when signs pop up in your life and you can’t see how they might be related until it is pointed out to you. Perhaps they are never intended to make sense at all, but the meaning is nevertheless created by a common thread.

Last week a college friend posted a photo of a mutual friend of ours on Facebook; a face I hadn’t looked at in years, but that I picture so often in my mind. In the photo the two of them were tuxedo-clad and grinning ear to ear at a wedding. This friend passed away after being involved in a hit-and-run accident 11 years ago. He was 25 and had been married for 3 months. We were all recent graduates at the start of our lives and his was ripped away.

A few days ago, my sister called me and something was obviously bothering her. She had just found out that a friend’s sister had been diagnosed with a rare, debilitating, and always fatal disease. She will be dead within a year. She will leave behind a husband and two children. There is nothing that will change this.

Sunday afternoon I arrived early for my yoga class, eager to see my favorite instructor who had been away for a few weeks. I greeted her with a smile and asked about her trip. Her usually bright face was distracted as she told me that it was wonderful. As she began class she told us that if she became emotional it was because just before walking into the studio she had gotten an email telling her that a student of hers had passed away suddenly the night before. She was a young mother who had adopted a baby with her husband last year.

“And so,” she told us as we settled into a comfortable seat, “let’s remember today that life is fleeting.” At that moment it came together for me. These little reminders arranged themselves in my mind as a message. “Enjoy today. Remember that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.” Living with anxiety, I am often too focused on the future, constantly running through what might happen tomorrow, or next month, or in a year. Despite my constant recommitment to being present and mindful, I still fall into the “what if” trap and find myself missing beautiful moments.

I made good on this one yesterday by fighting through major anxiety to take my kids to the beach on the ferry. Although I was nearly paralyzed with worry and fear in the morning, I kept telling myself not to let it tear these happy experiences from me. Once we were out the door, I found myself able to breathe a little easier, and by the time we hit the sand all I could see were smiles and sun and splashing in the waves. It wasn’t perfect–there was a little whining, some impatience, and general toddlerness–but it was worth it. We came home sweaty, exhausted, and full of wonderful memories, which was exactly what I needed.

 

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Start Where You Are

I know I’ve written about this before, and clearly this is one of the reasons I go to yoga classes, but sometimes I hear exactly what I needed to hear at exactly the right time. I’m not sure why this happens more often in yoga. I think it must at least partly be because I allow my mind to be more open during my practice and I’m less focused on other things. I also think it’s because I have wonderful teachers who share true ideas with their students and it’s not surprising that many of these resonate with me.

Last night I headed to class after a long day, full of anticipation because an instructor I love, but can’t take often, was subbing. Her classes are physically difficult, spiritually enlightening, and have a kick-ass playlist. She did not disappoint yesterday. While the poses and sequences are challenging, I don’t seem to notice it much in the moment because the music is what my mind is focusing on, rather than how exhausted my abs are.

At the beginning of class last night the teacher shared with us a quote that she likes to keep in mind during her practice and in life. “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” As she said it, it was as if she had a line directly into my heart. I have been feeling so overwhelmed and bogged down recently. I’ve been unable to put my energy where I’d like to because other tasks are taking precedence. I had gotten to place where I felt nearly paralyzed trying to figure out what to do next because there was just so much to do. But those words cleared that feeling and gave me a sense of peace. All I have to do is start where I am, use what I have, and do what I can.

So today I tackled my work with a lighter heart and a refreshed outlook. I was able to take one thing at a time because, after all, what else can I do? Climbing the mountain is so much easier when I’m just putting one hand over the other at the bottom, rather than staring at my tiny shadow against the entire expanse of it. When you’re feeling like the impossible is sitting in front of you, whether it’s potty training, a new responsibility at work, a pose you haven’t been able to master, or all of those combined just remember–start where you are, use what you have, do what you can. It can’t be more complicated than that.

Oh and in the spirit of starting new things, could you just click that little Top Mommy Blogs icon over there on the right or when you scroll down? It would be seriously awesome! Thanks! 

Feelin It!

INSPIRATION (3)

So yes, the cold is back in a big way and this latest freelance project is more than I bargained for. Yes, it’s Monday and the week is stretching out before me like a cold, unending arctic tundra. Yes, I am sitting in Starbucks right now adding tags to a 300 page document which basically amounts to hitting alt + c and alt + v like eight thousand times. But you know what? I’m feelin it anyway!

Maybe it’s because my kids were rolling down a muddy hill and finding worms and climbing tree stumps on Saturday afternoon. Maybe it’s because I watched a bunch of 2-to-4 year-olds dance to Let It Go in my neighbors’ living room yesterday, complete with hand-holding and twirling like little revelers at a ball. Maybe it’s because I took my very favorite yoga class yesterday and rocked a kick-ass headstand (with some spotting, of course). Maybe it’s because, after years and years, I wrote a new poem and showed it to other people.

Maybe it’s because, despite the frigid temperatures, the sun is shining and the flowers insist on sprouting anyway. Maybe it’s because Florence and the Machine keeps coming up on my playlist as I sit here or because I’m getting paid by the hour to cut and paste over and over again. It’s definitely partly due to the fact that, after having a stomach bug Thursday, I finally was able to drink my full allotment of coffee this morning. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because I was able to recognize and hold onto all of those good things today.

I couldn’t help but share my sunny outlook today. So go find your yoga and poetry and coffee combo. Watch some cute kids dance. Look at the sun. Find a little bit of happy today. I’m feelin it and I hope you are too. If you don’t have any of your own, here’s a little of mine to share.

And if that didn’t work. Go listen to and watch this. Makes me happy every time.

Resolution Challenge Day 10

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Resolution #10: I resolve not to stop.

No, I haven’t decided to extend my experiment, although I could. When I started this, I thought it would be difficult to come up with ten resolutions, but now I feel like I didn’t get to fit them all in. 

I am so surprised by what an amazing experience it’s been writing these ten little posts. By putting these ideas out there into the universe, I feel like they have become real and the change in me has already started. By allowing all of the people who’ve popped by my blog to read them, I feel accountable to those readers to follow up my words with actions. 

More than that, just the act of writing has made such a change in my life. By carving out a half hour each night to write a post, I feel like I’ve taken charge in a way I haven’t been able to do in quite a long time. By tethering myself to this act, I actually feel more free. 

Who knew that this ten-day project would turn me into such a philosophic nerd! Honestly though, I resolve to keep changing and growing and trying to be a better me, without feeling badly for the place I’m in at any given moment. Most of all, I’m going to keep up the daily posts as much as possible. I think it’s been a very, very good thing.

Resolution Challenge Day 2

ImageResolution #2: I resolve to slow down. 

I don’t mean to have a less busy life or to do things more slowly, I mean this in more of a “stop and smell the roses” kind of way. I want to take the time to enjoy the things I’m experiencing, at least more than I do now. Looking at my earlier post with my year in pictures, really brought this one home. Look at all of the cool things I did last year. Look at those two adorable guys I did so many of those things with. 

I’m a person who tends to get so caught up in what’s going to happen next and how that is going to be accomplished and worrying that it won’t go right or that I won’t have everything ready, etc, etc. I don’t think I can completely change that facet of my personality, but I want to be more mindful of enjoying the moment, noticing the things that are going on around me, and taking them all in.