Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Still Mindful, just quiet and dirty, and healing.

Over the past week we have had several interesting and sometimes dramatic and tearful talks with our big kids about the role of media in our lives.  Being 'wired' as we are, because of my husband's job as a computer programmer (and his love of Apple products), we do have our share of media toys: computers, ipad, ipod, iphone.  However, from the time that they were small, we have limited our children's exposure and time with these devices.  We do not have a functional television.  Although, as my three-year-old keeps reminding me, we do have a TV--a giant, state of the art (for 20 years ago) beastie of a thing that we let go of, and it came back to us, much like a boomerang. I think we're keeping it around for a take-apart project.  It sits in the office/library, the elephant in the corner, mostly off, or sometimes with photos cycling through of all of our adventures together, so that the children can comment on how crappy the resolution is.  When we watch movies, it's usually on my laptop, propped on the piano bench in the living room.  And until the last couple of years, movie watching was pretty rare, too.
However, things are changing.  Oh, they are changing.  Bodies are changing, skin is changing, attitudes are changing, and the desire to watch more stuff on screens is growing, especially as our previously homeschooled children come in contact with 'the real world', public school, and friends who often have grown up with screens being an ever-present part of their lives--who can't even imagine a home without a TV (that works).
There are things we love about our access to media--we watched an awesome TEDtalk tonight:
Boyd Varty talks about Ubuntu
Last week, during Hanukkah we FaceTimed with our friend while she read us The Channukah Guest and we ate latkes.  Gosh, that was lovely.
And then, there are the things we don't like--Mama gets sucked in, friends come over with their new toys and children forget that there were ever craft projects, or imaginative play, or building projects or anything, besides "The Glowing Rock" so called after another of our beloved books, The Wretched Stone, By Chris Van Allsburg
Sigh.  We knew this day would come eventually, and here it is.  We haven't had many struggles with media, and now we are.  Welcome to the club, huh?
In the interest of integrity, I  unplugged for a few days, just felt what it was like to not be constantly looking at my phone (why?) and removed my computer from the kitchen, pulled out some of my many homemade gift projects and spent time just being.  It was refreshing.
And then, the pipes froze and we had no water for 2 days.  Wow!  That'll make you appreciate water.  I am aware that many people spend much of their day in the acquiring of water.  In order to actually have any water, all I had to do was drive to the store and fill up my big 3 gallon bottle.  I did not have to walk for miles and carry the water by myself.  Oh water, how much I take you for granted!  
I also tend to take my family's and my own health for granted.  As several loved ones fight much bigger health battles this winter, our little flu bug hardly seems worth mentioning.  However, when it's bad enough to put folks in bed or on the couch for days, it certainly makes me realize how seldom we are sick.  More garlic, more elderberry, more tea, more essential oil, and more enjoyment of this healthy life--to these things, I raise my glass (of cider vinegar infused water!).

Friday, December 6, 2013

Mindful of...complaint, channelling Ma Ingalls.

I like to think of myself as a naturally happy person.  I'm pretty upbeat, the perennial cheerleader. 
I sometimes have very little patience with the complaints of my children or even other people.  I am a believer in the philosophy that complaining is sort of like wishing for more of the same--like attracts like.  And yet.... today I am not feeling so well.  The cold/cough that three of my children have gone through in long stints over the last few weeks is trying to attach itself to me.  I spent five minutes under the covers feeling sorry for myself and then thought, "What would Ma do?" 
 No, the REAL Ma!

Ma Ingalls, that is.  (Nice beard, Pa!) Ma would NOT be in bed with covers over her head.  She'd have been up at dawn stoking the fire made out of twisted hay, or corn cobs or whatever, and gently rousing her children to get up and get their days started, too.  I'm sure she had the crud occasionally, and having done some research a couple years ago when all of us got the flu (me-pregnant), I'm pretty sure her medicine would have included some of these things:  garlic, ginger, bone broth, elderberries, nettles, apple cider vinegar.  She may have had a slower day, relying on her older children to take care of the younger.  If it was not The Long Winter (or maybe if it was), and it was warm enough, she would probably just take some time and knit some nice red mittens to surprise a wee one on Christmas morning.  Oh, I already feel better just thinking about wee ones and mittens.  See, that wasn't so hard, was it?  Today, I'm gonna be mindful of when my mind turns toward complaint, and see if I can redirect it.  Thanks, Ma. 
P.S.  I am making this right now:
Spicy Cold Killer
And doing several of these:
Natural Remedies for colds from Wellness Mama
And also making bone broth wellness soup with my Thanksgiving turkey bone broth, burdock, ginger, garlic, onions, leeks, parsnips and probably other things.  Mmmmmmm.
Here's to a better day.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Not much sleep = I've nearly lost my mind(fulness) = a day of YES.

I often blame the full moon for insomnia, but last night was a new moon night.  I awoke when my night owl of a hubby came to bed, and could not get back to sleep for anything.  I drank some tea, trolled FaceBook for interesting bits, and finally decided to meditate.  Oh monkey-mind of mine, thank you for chattering incessantly for hours.  Fast forward to 7:00 when I have to be a real person, a real mom.  Thank goodness for kids who know how to make their own lunches and breakfast.
Today I'm putting my mind on my mouth again... this time to make sure that it says 'yes' to more.  And, also on my attitude.  Yes, we can be silly, yes we can read another story.  Yes I can clean up the kitchen even though I don't want to.  Yes it will all be okay.  Yes it already is.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

My Heart is in my Hands

As a mom, my hands are in constant motion and use.  And yet, I'm mostly unconscious of them.  Bringing some consciousness into my hands helps me to remember what amazing tools they are.  One of the ways I have done this is through dancing in my Nia classes.  My instructor is often giving different prompts for using our hands in unique ways:  Desire finger (index), Commitment finger (ring), etc.  Learning about the different properties of the fingers definitely challenges me to keep an open mind--I find myself thinking, "Oh, they're just fingers."  But then I am amazed by how different I feel when I've actually worked consciously with my fingers.  I've had the same experience when working with mudras in yoga and meditation.  Today, I simply want to be conscious of my hands, as they pet the animals, as they wash each other, as they chop vegetables, as they hold a small one across the street, as they play holiday piano music, as they knit and as they are still. 
Here's also a lovely hand meditation that Sounds True sent in the weekly update a couple weeks ago:
Hand Meditation with Jack Angelo.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Just Breathe

The first time I took a yoga class.  It was in Santa Cruz, in a beautiful, huge, wooden floored room.  The instructor had a very airy, floaty voice, consistent with my imagination of what a yoga teacher might sound like.  (Except for the fact that my real first yoga teacher, Lilias, who taught me yoga after Sesame Street did not talk like that.)  During sivasana, final relaxation, we focused our breathing to all of the different parts of our bodies, and I found that I could really send my breath down to my toes.  Prior to that, I had mostly thought of my breath as a tool for helping me sing, if I thought about it at all.
Breathing is that unconscious function that keeps us going--and also that conscious action that can bring us back to our true selves.  Over the past year, I have become a more consistent with my meditation practice.  Starting or ending each day (or both!) with some focused breathing time has reminded me to use my breath as a tool throughout my day.  I have made little reminders around the house with just one word, "BREATHE" on them, and sometimes, these little reminders help me from going apoplectic (our vocab word for the week) over little things when it's 6:30 and dinner is not on the table, and the toddler has not had a nap and is howling and drumming on anything he can find, and homework help is needed in two directions for two different subjects, and the dog is barking at invisible foes, and. and. and...... BREATHE.... ahhhhh.  A respite from the world that I can make for myself in one second.  Today, I remember to breathe.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A Month of Mindfulness

Over the past month, I have had the experience of driving past the turn for my road several times.  Now, I live on an unmarked gravel road off a steep suburban street, anyone could drive past it, but I LIVE THERE, and have for over two years.  I am increasingly distracted, busy, not paying attention, thinking about a million things, running late and in general, unconscious of my whereabouts.  Where the heck am I?  I also go the wrong way when taking a child to his/her activity fairly often.  "Mom! We're going to ballet!"  What does this mean to me?  I am going too dang fast.  I am not smelling the roses.  I am not enjoying the little stuff.  It's all a blur.
An idea has been growing and brewing in my head and heart for many months.... and I'm still working on that idea, but I thought I would start right here and invite those who are interested to start with me.  Many of us have just completed a month of gratitude, or thankfulness.  I am going to declare my December 2014 a month of mindfulness.  I was just reminded of the 'meaning of mindfulness' by Jon Kabat Zinn, whose mindfulness meditation recordings have been in my library for many years.  
Each day in December, I am going to recommit to mindfulness in a new way, and share those ways here with all of my many loving supporters and readers!