fifteen seconds

gotta love it!

My kids this morning:

Mom?  Mom?  Mom?  Mom?  Mommy!  Mommy!  Ma!

Where are you?  

Where’s my puzzle pieces?  Mom!  Help me find them!

What comes after the ‘A’ for astronaut?  Mom?

Ella keeps eating my grapes!  Stop!  Ma….I need more grapes!

Where are you?

I want my hair in piggies!  

Mooooooommmmmmyyyy!  I can’t find my flip-flops!

MOM!  It’s good morning time.  Can we go outside now?  

Mom?

MOM!  MOM!  

Where are you?

flush.

Fifteen seconds in the bathroom and you would have thought I packed up, traveled to the ends of the earth, and the world (as seen through the eyes of my three year-old and my six year-old) was coming to an end.  I can see the headlines now:

Puzzle Pieces Gone Missing!  Grapes Stolen!  Flip Flops Vanished!  Hair Gone Wild!

One Mom Sets off the Butterfly Effect 

Is the Universe Telling Us Something?

The funniest (and most obvious) part is the fact that I told them exactly where I was going (at least two or three times), I left the bathroom door wide open, and I kept yelling out “Hold on guys, one sec!” the entire time.  Is it possible that I miss the days yesterday when we all were holed up in the potty party room together?  Privacy is kinda stressful.

 

be happy

Smile.

A friend recently asked me what I ultimately wanted out of my life.  She was probing at my goals, hopes and dreams, and aspirations.  I could have gone into detail after detail about how I wanted to be this and that and oh that other thing too.  How I’ve dreamed of creating and healing and traveling.  Spending time with my children and my family, taking vacations, and building a beautiful home.  How I wanted it all!  But my answer turned out to be one simple word – happiness.  Of all the things in the entire world, happiness to me is the number one thing I want out of  life.

I don’t mean the materialistic “more, more, more” happiness.  The kind that is pushed upon us daily.  This sort of pop culture, money-mongering, consumer-obsessed world that I can never keep up with, nor would I want to.  I mean the mind and gut wrenching, dig deep inside myself, pure happiness.  The kind that flows through our bodies and hearts, and transcends blissfully onto others.  A happiness that centers upon connecting and giving.

Maintaining a happy life means different things to different people.  I try to maintain happiness in my own life by being consciously aware of my presence, actions, and impacts.

Below are six tips I’ve compiled to help create happiness in my life:

1. Understand that you can be happy, you deserve to be happy, and you should be happy.  It’s so much easier to appreciate the world around you with a smile on your face.  (Your kids will certainly appreciate it too.)

2. Actively set and pursue your goals. If something goes awry (and it will), don’t give up.  Use that energy to push forward and not to wallow in self-pity.  Nothing worth fighting for is ever easy.

3. Surround yourself with positive people and positive influences.  Your circle of friends, co-workers, and fellow moms have an exceedingly great influence in your life.  Leave the negativity behind.

4. Take the time to turn inward and learn more about yourself as a woman, a mother, a friend.  Recognize and focus on what fulfills and inspires you.

5. Mainstream your health.  Actively participate in supporting your body’s health and your family’s health through proper nutrition, exercise, and meditation.

6. Be thankful for all you have been given.  Blessings come in all different shapes and sizes.  (This includes over-flowing laundry baskets, work deadlines, and messy bedrooms.)

Happiness may not be easy to define into words, but it’s easy to find.  It surrounds us every single day.  It is the bright yellow sun in a big blue sky.  It is a thunderstorm in a sea of clouds.  It is counting your newborn’s ten tiny fingers and ten tiny toes.  It is kissing boo-boos and playing hide and seek.  It is making jelly sandwiches and doing cartwheels on the front lawn.  It is holding hands and counting to ten.  It is taking a deep breath and jumping in.

Happiness is giving others around you the gifts you have found within yourself.

Happiness is being a mother, a wife, a friend.

Happiness is me.

Mindful Parenting

Motherhood is a spiritual practice.  It is a time for reflection and learning, testing and patience, growth and challenge.  Every day, I strive to practice the twelve exercises below.

Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting.

Written by Myla Kabat-Zinn and Jon Kabat-Zinn.

  1. Try to imagine the world from your child’s point of view, purposefully letting go of your own.  Do this every day for at least a few moments to remind you of who this child is and what he or she faces in the world.
  2. Imagine how you appear and sound from your child’s point of view, i.e., having you as a parent today, in this moment.  How might this modify how you carry yourself in your body and in space, how you speak, and what you say?  How do you want to relate to your child in this moment?
  3. Practice seeing your children as perfect just the way they are.  See if you can stay mindful of their sovereignty from moment to moment, and work at accepting them as they are when it is hardest for you to do so.
  4. Be mindful of your expectations of your children and consider whether they are truly in your child’s best interest.  Also, be aware of how you communicate those expectations and how they affect your children.
  5. Practice altruism, putting the needs of your children above your own whenever possible.  Then see if there isn’t some common ground, where your true needs can also be met.  You may be surprised at how much overlap is possible, especially if you are patient and strive for balance.
  6. When you feel lost, or at a loss, remember to stand still and meditate on the whole by bringing your full attention to the situation, to your child, to yourself, to the family.  In doing so, you may go beyond thinking, even good thinking, and perceive intuitively, with the whole of your being, what needs to be done.  If that is not clear in any moment, maybe the best thing is to not do anything until it becomes clearer.  Sometimes it is good to remain silent.
  7. Try embodying silent presence.  This will grow out of both formal and informal mindfulness practice over time if you attend to how you carry yourself and what you project in body, mind, and speech.  Listen carefully.
  8. Learn to live with tension without losing your own balance.  In Zen and the Art of Archery, Herrigel describes how he was taught to stand at the point of highest tension effortlessly without shooting the arrow.  At the right moment, the arrow mysteriously shoots itself.  Practice moving into any moment, however difficult, without trying to change anything and without having to have a particular outcome occur.  Simply bring your full awareness and presence to this moment.  Practice seeing that whatever comes up is “workable” if you are willing to trust your intuition.  Your child needs you to be a center of balance and trustworthiness, a reliable landmark by which he or she can take a bearing within his or her own landscape.  Arrow and target need each other.  They will find each other best through wise attention and patience.
  9. Apologize to your child when you have betrayed a trust in even a little way.  Apologies are healing.  An apology demonstrates that you have thought about a situation and have come to see it more clearly, or perhaps more from your child’s point of view. But be mindful of being “sorry” too often.  It loses its meaning if you are always saying it, making regret into a habit.  Then it can become a way not to take responsibility for your actions.  Cooking in remorse on occasion is a good meditation.  Don’t shut off the stove until the meal is ready.
  10. Every child is special, and every child has special needs.  Each sees in an entirely unique way.  Hold an image of each child in your heart.  Drink in their being, wishing them well.
  11. There are important times when we need to be clear and strong and unequivocal with children.  Let this come as much as possible out of awareness, generosity, and discernment, rather than out of fear, self-righteousness, or the desire to control.  Mindful parenting does not mean being overindulgent, neglectful, or weak; nor does it mean being rigid, domineering, and controlling.
  12. The greatest gift you can give your child is your self.  This means that part of your work as a parent is to keep growing in self-knowledge and awareness.  This ongoing work can be furthered by making a time for quiet contemplation in whatever ways feel comfortable to us.  We only have right now.  Let us use it to its best advantage, for our children’s sake, and for our own.

me time

Is “me time” in motherhood a myth?  I believe it depends greatly upon how we define “me time.”  For example: Does “me time” in motherhood mean a quick uninterrupted shower, a night out with your best girlfriends, or both?  Does it mean relinquishing your role as mom if only for an evening to enjoy a quiet dinner with your husband?  Does it even include the husband?  Is “me time” something you specifically schedule or do you just take it as it comes?  And if you don’t schedule it, do you ever get it?  Does “me time” make you happy?

While I feel it is undoubtedly one of the most important things we can give ourselves as mothers, I personally find it stressful to specifically set aside “me time” throughout the day.  I’ve learned along the way that trying to fit in “me time” and “friend time” and “husband time” somehow tends to make me crazier than I already am.  I’ve found I’m more of a go with the flow kinda gal.  Do I enjoy time to myself?  Absolutely!  I just feel more comfortable not scheduling it.  In fact, I try to enjoy “me time” every day even if it’s only for a minute or two or ten.  Don’t laugh, but flipping through a magazine, taking a nice walk through the neighborhood with my kids, getting up a bit early and doing some yoga before they wake, these are all ways I mentally recharge and fit in my time.  It might not be ideal or long enough, but it helps tremendously.

The key for me is to find those natural lulls in the day to reconnect with myself.  When the kids are napping, playing on their own finally!, when I’m chopping veggies for dinner or chatting with a neighbor.  The point being that getting “me time” does not have to be about stepping out of my role as a mother.  It can be, but luckily for me it doesn’t have to be.

What are some of the ways you fit in “me time”?