Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Fully Present

How many things can you think about at once? Think about that for just a second. For me, it's a lot. At any given moment in the day I would estimate that I have 5 or more things going on upstairs. And today I'd like to explore this a little further.

On Monday we talked a bit about balance and doing what is needed to create balance in our lives. I referenced Kendra from Voice in Recovery saying, "I was being an active participant in my life." I have been thinking about what that means. What does it mean to be participating?

So the other morning I was:
~ eating breakfast,
~ feeding my son,
~ thinking about:
     ~ this blog,
     ~ the painting that needs done,
     ~ exercise,
     ~ taking dinner to the neighbors that night,
     ~ homemade bread,
     ~ Ammon (I think about my husband a lot during the day),
     ~ Cormac needed a bath,
     ~ when was the last time I vacuumed,
     ~ this floor is nasty, I have got to mop.

While all of these things were running through my mind I realized that Cormac was cracking up. We were sharing a bowl of oatmeal. I'd take a bite and then I'd give him a bite. Without even thinking about it (surprise) I had started making the spoon dance before I'd give him his bite, and he thought it was funny. And I realized, that because my mind was off and running I nearly missed this moment to connect with my son. I was so busy thinking about stuff that hadn't even happened yet that I wasn't fully present. I wasn't actively participating in my life; I was letting it run on without me.

Okay, I know what you may be thinking, "But if I don't think about my 'to-do' nothing will ever get done." I agree. There is a definite need to think and plan ahead. But I have this sneaking suspicion that many of us (me) spend so much time thinking about the future and the "to-do" that we often let whole days pass us by without a single moment where we are fully present.

Buddha was once asked: “What are the teachings of you and your disciples”? He answered: ”We walk, sit and eat." The man who asked the questioned was confused: “But so do I”, he said. The Buddha answered him: “Yes, but when we walk, we know that we walk, and when we sit we know that we sit, and when we eat we know that we eat”
This is to be fully present – the concept of mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the art of living right in the centre between future and past – in the present.
It is when body and mind are synchronized
Full presence replaces automatic perceptions of situations with actual experience of the moment.
Being healthy, being well, involves more than eating well. It involves the entire balance of mind, body, and spirit. Being fully present in our daily lives allows us to be active participants in that life. Being fully present allows us to create relationships and bonds that are special. Being fully present allows us to create memories. And being fully present allows us to be happy.
Today try to spend a little time fully present. You may have a chance to experience something that you otherwise would have missed.

P.S. I'm getting rather fond of the P.S. you may have noticed. There is still time to weigh in on your favorite picture.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Love the camera, love me

I have to admit that I have been a bit camera shy the past year and a half or so. Well, maybe I've always been a little camera shy (except when I was living in Russia and going through Europe, then I wanted all the pictures of me the camera could handle). But here on this blog I'm embarrassed that most of the pictures I use are old. Including all the profile pictures I have up. This is partially because they are the only ones of just me that I have, and partially because I'm still not completely comfortable with the way this new me looks in photos. So instead you have been viewing things like:

Circa 2005

Circa 2008

Circa 2006

I know. I'm ashamed. So this last Sunday I finally got fixed up and recruited my beloved to take pictures. He's seen it all, so maybe this wouldn't be so bad. At first it was a little rough:

But after a little while I warmed up to the camera. Maybe a little too much?

And then it got silly:

What can I say? I suffer from not being able to take these things seriously. But we did finally manage to get some real shots that are actually somewhat decent. So now, dear readers, I am enlisting your help. I need to pick a new profile picture for here and elsewhere. Please vote and leave your sweet comments (hint hint:) in the comments section, or send me an email, facebook message, or tweet letting me know your favorite.

A: The half smile.

B: The full smile.

C: The I'm-getting-away-with-something look.

D: The glamor move.

E: The lounge char.

E: The close-up (maybe too close).

To the polls. Or something of that nature. And thanks for your help. I'm in need of it. This is sort of a big break through for me. You know, the whole showing myself to the world (and possibly people who knew me before the weight gain). But I'm excited to finally have gotten up my courage.

P.S. In order to leave a comment you need to click on the title of this post to make sure you are in this specific post, then scroll down and comment away.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Dear Readers,

Are any of you still out there? Anyone still interested in this blog? Well, actually I know there are at least a couple. Thank you to those who let me know that you love this blog, even when I wasn't updating. I appreciate your love and support.

You see, dear readers, I needed to take a break. In life it is so important to have our priorities in order. It's important that we keep our life in balance. Once out of balance it becomes incredibly difficult to get through each day with any semblance of grace. The days start to go off kilter. Then the weeks are no longer balanced. Soon your life begins to feel crazy and hard. All because your balance was a bit off.

I made a decision before I was ever pregnant that when I became a mother I wanted to stay at home with my children. My mom stayed home with us, and it was the greatest gift she could have ever given me or my siblings. I loved coming home to my mom. And on the rare day that she wasn't there when I got home from school my day felt off. I hated those afternoons until she came home. Even if I had nothing to talk to her about, even if I planned to go to my room and start on my homework, even on those days I wanted to know my mom was in the house. That's what I wanted to give my children as well. I mean look at him, wouldn't you want to hang out with this cutie too?

I am fortunate enough to have a husband who is willing to be the sole bread winner. I'm so thankful for his support so that I can indeed stay at home. But I get romanced by the idea of doing everything all at once. I am in awe of all the wonderful things that women manage to do. And I want to be part of that as well. I want to make a difference in the world. But you see, I made a choice. There is a season in our lives for all things, and right now is the season for me to chase a crazy toddler. I love being at home with my son every day. But there are times when I feel I need to be doing more. More blogging, more yoga teaching, more cooking, more exercise, more service. There is always more I want to do. And then when I bite off too much important priorities get all mixed up. You know, like life with my family.

So I decided to take a break. I decided to just stop most of the "extra" and get the basics back in order. And it felt oh so good. I have to admit that there are times I feel pressure to write really awesome material on this blog for all of you good people. And sometimes it overwhelms me. I forget that this blog is about being raw. About being me. I don't have to put on a show. The point is to stop that show and just be un-apologetically me.

Today I came back to this blog ready to start over. Ready to keep going. Life is back in order. And you know what I found? Kendra over at Voice in Recovery also took a blog hiatus to get life back in order. Ah, validation how I love you and wish I didn't. She said something very important: "I was being an active participant in my life." Yes. We all need to do this: actively participate in our lives. And when we find that the balance is being taken over by just one thing, it is time to take a break and reassess.

I highly recommend it.

But dear readers, you have not been forgotten. I thought about you while on my break. And now that I am rejuvenated I think that we will all be happier with this blog. Thank you for your support and kindness.

Love to all,

P.S. Tomorrow I have a special assignment that I need help with. It involves lots of pictures of. . . me.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The edge of the world

I fell off the edge of the planet. No really. And let me just tell you it is a long, painful, arduous hike back up here. And because of that I feel like I need a rest.

My entire little family was sick last week. All week. For three awful days Cormac was running a fever of 102 degrees. My husband was home from work a lot (which was nice, I like having him around, except we were all sick). I felt miserable. The aching in my body was nearly unbearable. And if all of that wasn't enough to deal with Cormac dealt with his misery by crying nonstop for those three days.

And now that we are mostly recovered I'm tired.

With that in mind, I would like to say I had a wonderful Mother's Day. Mother's Day is tricky for me. We dealt with unexplained infertility for a little over two years. And we are going through it all again. During those two years I yearned for a little one. I had spent a good portion of my life thinking I would never be a mom. But when we decided that we wanted to become parents I was ready. I was ready right then. But I had to wait.

Every Mother's Day was hard. While I knew it shouldn't even be about me, it should be about celebrating my own mother and my mother-in-law, the truth was, it was all about me. It was a painful day all about what was lacking in my life.

I could go on. Those were hard years. They were painful. And while two years isn't very long compared to what some are asked to deal with, we all must deal with the trials handed to us, and for me, that was a trial.

I have now celebrated two Mother's Days as a mother. Last year I was ecstatic about being able to proudly walk through church with my 6 month old in tow. I was a mother.

This year I was still proud of my little one (now 18 months old), but I was plagued by other feelings as well. Mostly feelings of guilt.

Guilt over the fact that I am a mother when others are not.

Guilt over the fact that I've been so upset that I'm not yet expecting my second baby. Who am I to want another baby when others don't even have one yet? And why am I feeling down about it anyway, we've been through this before and I need to not feel down. . . right. . .?

Guilt that I'm not a better mother.

Guilt that I was making my husband wait on me for the entire day. I mean, the poor guy was sick all last week too, he could use a rest as well.

Guilt over the two beautiful dresses that my boys got me as a gift for Mother's Day.

But mostly guilt that I was a mother while so many people are in pain because they are not.

This really isn't all that logical. I know that. But Mother's Day is really a loaded holiday (I didn't mean for that to rhyme). Even more loaded when you throw in a bit of infertility. For people who are dealing with a body that isn't working the way that we all feel like our bodies should work Mother's Day is a slap in the face. And accepting and loving your body on a day like that may be harder than ever.

And I wish I could tell you I have the answer right now. The magic bullet for how to love yourself, especially in the face of hard trials (like when your body isn't functioning like you think it should). But I don't. That is still a lesson I'm trying to learn on a daily basis.

But I do know that it gets easier to love yourself. Even when dealing with health trials. I guess the way I do it is by taking it one day at a time. When I try to take it in bigger chunks I become overwhelmed. But when I take it one day at a time; when I honor my body by eating healthy, exercising, and getting rest just for today; when I stop negative thoughts before they are able to form barriers that can't be crossed; when I tell myself I'm worth something those are the days when I am at peace with who I am and with this body. It's nothing big, or magical, but it seems to work.

You can love your body despite pain and heartache. You really can. Just give it time and lots of practice.

P.S. I want to give a shout out to all the wonderful mother's in my life. My amazing mother-in-law who never ceases to amaze me. I love her dearly and hope she had a wonderful day. My incredible sisters-in-law who are inspirational to me. I want to be a mother like these women. They are wonderful in so many ways. I love all 5 of them. Happy late Mother's Day.

And most of all to my own dear mother. Mum, I love you so much. I could never have survived my first year and a half as a mother without you there to advise and cheer me on. I am still in awe at how you were able to do so many things and still be there for me and my siblings. I appreciate you and love you. Thank you for being an incredible mother.