October 2007


I stayed overnight at a friend’s cottage with the girls this weekend.  We were out in the woods that shone yellow, orange and red in the fall sun.  I got home on Sunday to a 3 year old who is generally a sweet kid but sometimes gets into a mood.  It’s a pretty obstinate mood. Or maybe “persistent” or “strong-like-ox” are more generous ways to put it.

So I took him grocery shopping.  He was clear that he was not sitting in the cart.  Being in relaxed cottage-mode I went along with it. But within the first 10 minutes I could tell that was a mistake.  He was being obstinate, sorry *persistent* about everything.  And our grocery list was going to mean at least a lap around the biggie-sized big box store to get everything. 

I put him in the cart and he freaked.  He has a strong bit of personality that doesn’t react well with saying what he wants and then not getting it.  And the reaction isn’t “poor me” it’s Moral Freakin’ Outrage.  And it’s not something that a cookie will distract him from.  It goes on. 

On my good days I tell myself that it’s this characteristic that will take him to Africa when he grows up to make life better for babies.  There’s got to be some purpose to this part of his him -  it’s strong.  It’ll mow you down. 

Everyone was looking at me in the store and I realized it was time to hightail it out of there.  He wouldn’t walk.  He kicked off his shoes.  He threw stuff. He wouldn’t calm down. So I carried my 35 pounds of hollering, crying child out of the store.  I was so angry I was shaking.  Thought on the way to the car: spanking is under-rated.  Thankfully I chilled out just a little and he only got a time out.  And after his Time Out I was at a loss for words - is it a worthwhile lesson to say “don’t be such a jerk next time”?

The rest of the afternoon I tried to process what had happened.  I was pissed off at myself for being off my game.  I had been completely out-maneuvered by a toddler.  What does this mean down the road when I can’t carry him?  What does this mean the next time we need groceries?   Maybe it’s time to start a crash diet.  Maybe I’m not cut out for motherhood.

Then we had a bath together.  And as I was drying him off he starting singing a little song he learned:     

 

 

 

Oh Mister Sun, Sun,
Mister Golden Sun,
Please shine down on me
Oh Mister Sun, Sun,
Mister Golden Sun,
Hiding behind a tree…
These little children
Are asking you
To please come out
So we can play with you
Oh Mister Sun, Sun,
Mister Golden Sun,
Please shine down on…
Please shine down on…
Please shine down on me!
                 

And my eyes misted.  I felt all the anger and frustration and self-doubt ooze out of me as I listened to his sweet little voice getting most of the words right.  I was limp with love. My heart felt like pizza dough being stretched and pulled to fit a too-big pizza pan.  And I thought, it just doesn’t matter.  It’s enough that I love him to bits.  I can only keep doing the best I can.  

My friend, who I grew up with, told me that someone we know from the old ‘hood was killed last weekend in a car crash.  It was one of those totally random events that will muck up that family’s life forever.  My friend said in her email:
Things I have learned in life, being a nurse and working in an ER.

Bad things happen to good people.

Your life can change in the flash of a second with no warning.

I like the quote from the book, The Feast of Love by Charles Baxter,

‘We must collect our thoughts, for the unexpected is always upon us’.

With these thoughts in mind I’d like to remind you that I love you and cherish our friendship.”

Hard news to hear, but a perfect reminder about life and the value of friendship.  Then I read my horoscope from D.K. Brainard for this week for those of us who are Taurus:

Take time to luxuriate this week. What’s the use of working so hard to achieve the good life if you don’t allow yourself to enjoy it? No matter how much you accumulate or who you accumulate it with, all you really have is this moment. One of the most powerful tools the world shamanic tradition offers us is the choice to adopt Death as our adviser. Grasping the very real fact that our death is always out there waiting for us, and that he could take us at any moment, brings an intensely liberating perspective. As Don Miguel Ruiz writes in The Four Agreements:         

If we only have one week to live, let’s enjoy life. Let’s be alive. We can say, “I’m going to be myself. No longer am I going to run my life trying to please other people. No longer am I going to be afraid of what they think about me. What do I care what others think if I am going to die in one week? I’m going to be myself.”

Chances are you’re not going to die in one week, but living each day as if it could be your last opens you up to share the beautiful love that’s in your heart with the people you care about. Thursday night’s Full Moon in your sign urges you let go and love the people you care about, including and especially your own beautiful self.

This week my Uncle passed away.  He had battled cancer for some time.  When I talked to my Mom she was so grateful they had had the time during his illness to heal their relationship.  Even when skin cancer had left his face disfigured he had the courage to visit his home town and connect with family and friends.  She was so thankful she’d had that opportunity to get close to him after a lifetime of distance.  
All we have is this moment.  Let’s be alive.  Let’s be fearless.  Let’s do the absolute best we can.

Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat Pray and Love fame was on Oprah recently and she suggested 3 daily rituals:

1. Every day write down what you really really really want.  Yes it has to be 3 “reallys” to make sure it really is something you want.  I like this one.  So often we meander through life avoiding the bad stuff, but what are we really moving toward? 

2. Write down the happiest moment of every day.  This is a good “get to know yourself” ritual.  Do we really know all the things that juice us? 

3.  Refine your mantra. We repeat things to ourselves all the time.  Notice what it is.  Is it helpful or hurtful?  Be ready to find something new.

I was thinking about the three things and then I read this in the recent Conversations with God newsletter that explains why:

The experience of love and passion becomes the “magnet” and pulls to us the experiences or the doingness to create more of it, because the more we get clear about what produces the deepest most profound feelings of love and joy is where we find the path to our authenticity. CwG teaches us our feelings are our compass to truly know ourselves and navigate the world. The feelings of love and passion are the strongest magnets to pull that which we deeply desire to us. This is the “stuff” of creation–the engine that creates the movement of drawing that which you desire to you.

To me, Liz’s list exercise is just a good practical way to build awareness of what we want more of.  Not to mention that reviewing the list would be a great way to check in on whether what’s listed has the power to bring up the same feelings.  A touch stone to see what’s important over time. 

So I hope you’ll join me.  “I’ll tell ya’ what I want what I really really (really) want…..”

 

I had two interesting phone calls last week.  The first was from a women in Bedford, an upscale suburb of Halifax, who’s sister is coming to visit from Vancouver. 

“She wants to do yoga every day she’s here so I’m researching the options.”  I had to break it to her that I offer only two classes per week - my in-home studio and my yoga-teaching are not full-time.  So I suggested she look into some other studios.  She said, “OK, give the names of all the yoga studios in Bedford”.  I said, “um, there aren’t any in Bedford.  All the studios are downtown.” 

She says, “we can support two spas but not a yoga studio??”  I’m not sure how spas and yoga are connected.  Trikonasana always did more for me than a pedicure, but anyhoo.

Then someone emailed me and said that she and her friends noticed my studio was in their ‘hood and could they do a punch-card thing and come to as many classes as they like and I said, ” sure, I offer two per week”. 

So here’s the thing – yoga is still growing in Halifax.  It seems there aren’t enough studios to keep up with the demand.  So if you’re thinking about moving to a small city, think of Halifax.  The lifestyle is laid back and the people are practical.  Houses are still reasonably priced and even if you live in the city, you’re only a 20 or 30 minute drive from some of the most amazing beaches in the world.  You want small quaint fishing villages and historical stuff?  We’ve got it in droves.  So give us your Bikram, your Iyengar, your Acroyoga.  We’ll take it.  I’ll be first in line for a  punch card.

Yesterday’s New York Times had a article on “Marital Spats, Taken to Heart”.

It was about a study of nearly 4,000 men and women and whether they vented their feelings or kept quiet in arguments with their spouse. They found that 32 percent of the men and 23 percent of the women said they bottled up their feelings during a marital spat. They found that self-silencing had no health affect on men but women who did were four times as likely to die during the 10-year study period.  Crazy huh?

The study found that the way the couple interacted was as important a heart risk factor as smoking or high cholestrol to the woman’s health.  If the couple could stay warm to each other in their disagreement, the woman was found to have a lower risk of heart disease. 

I watched my parents do just about anything to avoid arguing.  It seemed like the understanding was that if you loved each other you agreed all the time. So arguing was plain ol’ bad, in my upbringing.  “Warm style of arguing” was an oxymoron. 

Thank goodness for Honeybunny who’s worked hard getting me trained over the decade we’ve been together.  Not that I’m an expert at communicating but he’s at least taught me a few options.  Like using humour.  Or referring to a “difficult” topic with gentleness rather than trampling it like a herd of elephants.  Or letting it be the elephant in the room. 

He’s also gotten good at saying, “ok don’t get freaked out when I tell you this”.  It works every time and yes, it’s a little painful to realize that a) I’m a freak and b) he knows how much.  Good thing he likes me.

But I get it now that you can love someone and lovingly disagree with them. Here’s hoping it keeps my heart  healthy and open to him for a long time yet.

Advice to Myself

Leave the dishes. Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator

and an earthen scum harden on the kitchen floor.

Leave the black crumbs in the bottom of the toaster.

Throw the cracked bowl out and don’t patch the cup.

Don’t patch anything. Don’t mend. Buy safety pins.

Don’t even sew on a button.

Let the wind have its way, then the earth

that invades as dust and then the dead

foaming up in gray rolls underneath the couch.

Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome.

Don’t keep all the pieces of the puzzles

or the doll’s tiny shoes in pairs, don’t worry

who uses whose toothbrush or if anything

matches, at all.

Except one word to another. Or a thought.

Pursue the authentic – decide first

what is authentic,

then go after it with all your heart.

Your heart, that place

you don’t even think of cleaning out.

That closet stuffed with savage mementos.

Don’t sort the paper clips from screws from saved baby teeth

or worry if we’re all eating cereal for dinner

again. Don’t answer the telephone, ever,

or weep over anything at all that breaks.

Pink molds will grow within those sealed cartons

in the refrigerator. Accept new forms of life

and talk to the dead

who drift in through the screened windows, who collect

patiently on the tops of food jars and books.

Recycle the mail, don’t read it, don’t read anything

except what destroys

the insulation between yourself and your experience

or what pulls down or what strikes at or what shatters

this ruse you call necessity.

by Louise Erdrich, from Original Fire: Selected and New Poems