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Saturday, December 02, 2017

Breathing Through A Rough Week or Facebook Did you Miss Me?

I’ve had a bit of a rough week.  I know this is true both because I’m exhausted and cranky, but also because I’ve only been on Facebook twice.

There was a moment today, when Benji was sleeping and Ellie and Bill were at the grocery store fetching us honey that I was finally able to breathe.

I mean really, fully, deeply, with gratitude, all the way from the bottom of my stomach to the top of my lungs, breathed.  In stillness.  In a deep quiet that only an empty house with healthy, happy babies living there can know.  I felt connected, loved, cared for.  

My neighbor has these huge clumps of grass called Pompas Grass.  They’re tall stalks of thick hay, really, with tops that look like cotton tails if they exploded but stayed intact.  Feathery, white, translucent.  When the sun crawls over the sky in the morning it lights them up so they look like they’re glowing.  That’s what I look at.  Across our lawn and into his, all green with grass and brown with tree trunks and glowing white Pompas Grass tails. 

More mornings than not, during Benji's first nap of the day I take a small pillow, toss it on the floor, sit in front of that window and meditate for a few minutes.  This is where I meet with God, even though God is everywhere, in everything, all the time.  This is where I can shed the shallow distractions of every day life long enough to reach out and touch the deeper side of soul.  Like touching a wall of water of infinite depth, you know your fingers just barely sense the surface, and the ripples fanning out makes you wonder what would happen if you just jumped in totally.

Anyway, it’s all airy-fairy and in the moment and the reality is most of the time it’s done with Toby licking my chin for attention.  Ellie sitting on my lap and grabbing my hands in hers.  

“Are you meditating?” she’ll whisper.
“Yes,” I say.
“Can you get my paints for me?”
“When I’m done.”
“How much longer?”
“5 minutes.”

Silence.  I settle back into my resting pose, eyes closed, usually using a mantra like ‘thank you’, or just ‘in’ and ‘out’ when I breathe.

“Are you done yet?”  She whispers, nose to nose with me.
“Not yet.”
“How many more minutes?”
“4.”

Silence.

“I’m going to get my beads.”
“Mommy?”
“Mommy I’m going to go get my necklace.”
“Ok.”
“Mommy are you almost done?”
“Yes.”
“How many minutes?”
“Still 4.”

You get the picture.  So today I had a chance to really connect, and I did, you know, for that 20 seconds before your brain goes, whoa, this is really cool.  And then you get pinged out of it and into dull old real life again. 

Anyhoo.  This occasional quiet time is like a healing balm to the rubbed-raw skin of my heart.  

It’s hard work being a nurturer 24/7!  It’s all heart, all the time.  You can’t think your way out of a threenager tantrum.  

‘I WANT THE BALLLLLL!”
“Ellie, you have three balls, you can’t possibly play with all three at one time, please give one to Benji.”
“I WANT ALL THE BALLLLLLS.  They’re MIIINNNEEEE.”
“Ellie you need to share.”
“NOooooooooooooo.”  
“Ellie you need to share.  Pick one ball you don’t mind sharing with him.”
“Nooooooooooo.”  (Throws herself bodily on the ground, kicking and screaming and crying to the top of her lungs as we forcibly take one ball out of her hands).

You can’t stop right now and analyze and create a pie chart to clearly see where things went off the rails.  All you have in the moment is instinct.  And no matter how awesome you were raised, half the time you’re fighting ingrained patterns of reacting to stress that aren’t very healthy.

You’re trying to be a better person for your little people.  But they test you in every conceivable way.  And they don’t wait until you’re well rested, well fed, and ready for it.  It usually all coincides with a hard night with baby, a lunch they had but you missed, a hectic trip at the grocery store.  

So, how do you put a gap between their craziness and your unproductive snap-reactions?  You’ve got this tense, constrictive moment.  How do you get there, to an open space of gratitude and peace?

What?  You’re asking me?  I’m usually just staring at her slack-jawed saying something ridiculous like “You’re being very difficult.”  Or way over-board like screaming “You’re never getting another ball again!”

I do know if I don’t take the time for self-care, everything is worse.  Meditation, for me, is a way to take care of myself.  It lowers stress, boots immune system, calms my nerves and deepens my connection with a power greater than me, and man oh man, do I need the extra help.  Luckily, we all have access to this.

I’ll leave you with an except from Anne Lamott that really helped me get through some rough tantrums this week:


“Radical self-care is quantum, and radiates out into the atmosphere, like a little fresh air.  It is a huge gift to the world.  When people respond by saying “Well, isn’t she full of herself,” smile obliquely, like Mona Lisa, and make both of you a nice cup of tea.”  Anne Lamott - syndicated from kindnessblog.com Nov 03, 2017.  (From Daily Good -News that Inspires.  dailygood.org)