Parenting in the best of times can be hard – parenting during a pandemic is intense!
“Putting your oxygen mask on first” is not a cliche, it’s a necessity to create a healthier you which directly results in a healthier child and family.
Join Krista Kotz, PhD, MPH and Roxanna Smith, MA for a free, one-hour webinar where we will share findings from brain science about how you can strengthen the mindful circuits in your brain to allow you to be more of the parent you want to be.
We will also discuss simple concrete ways to reduce your stress levels and create a healthier, more relaxed environment at home.
More than just a meditation class, you’ll get tools to apply “in the moment” when stress levels are high and resources are low.
After this webinar, we will be offering a 4-week online series that willdelve more deeply into the unique environmental challenges you face collectively as parents in Lamorinda, as well as your own individual childhood experiences that shape who you are as an adult and impact your parenting.
We’ll spend time helping you learn to identify and mitigate your triggers. Every class will feature techniques to apply at home, and opportunities to share with the group.
Both Krista and Roxanna live and work in this community. Krista raised and educated herchildren in Orinda. Roxanna raised and educated her children in Boulder, CO, a community with similar opportunities and challenges.
“The best work is done with either the heart broken or overflowing.” Mignon McGlaughlin
A favorite quote of mine. Sometimes the heart can be both broken and overflowing.
This past weekend was beautiful in California. All the winter rain has brought spring flowers, blossoming trees and the most life-affirming color of green everywhere! In the grasses, the leaves, the hillsides.
This past weekend was also my daughter’s 20th birthday. On April 20th. Which also happens to be the 20th anniversary of the Columbine shootings. I remember calling my father in Denver to tell him he had a granddaughter (his first grandchild) and he said “Thank God something good happened today.” He then told me the tragic news that had happened in Colorado. In the United States. Right on this phone call, our hearts breaking and overflowing.
15 years later, living in Boulder, the baby now a teenager. She was cutting her body. Depressed. Questioning life. 5 years ago today, I woke my daughter up at 5:30am and told her that we were getting on a plane. We flew to Durango and 2 wholesome looking strangers walked up to us and took my daughter away. (Staff from the Wilderness program her father and I had chosen.) I never exited the airport, just got on the next flight back to Denver.
Yesterday I got a text from a friend: “Call me when you can.” My first thoughts were ‘who died?’ and ‘who has cancer?’. The news: A friend’s son had taken his life. A howling black hole of wordlessness. Tears.
All I could do is cry and play this Mantra. Chattr Chakkr Vartee by Aykanna. It is a mantra used to remove fear, anxiety and phobias. It is a mantra to lift one out of despair. “Chattr Chakkr Vartee is the mantra for the heart center, it gives direct energy to it. When you are sinking, if you know this mantra and can sing it, you can totally recuperate yourself.” — Yogi Bhajan
Meditation class last night – I’m leading a group for some of the parents of the preschool I work at. Sweet, young parents of sweet, young children. It’s all about being in the now, practicing presence. I wondered how much to share at check-in. I decided to tell the group what I was sitting with – talking about heart ache. About child loss and parent grief. Appreciating the ‘ALL’ of life. Celebrating that both of my kids have bumped along in adolescence and for right now, just for today, they are both in such sweet places in their lives. Heart overflowing with love for both of them. It was a beautiful group, with tears, kindness and connection. Heart overflowing with love for these sweet, earnest parents, and their worries and their struggles.
I taught them a Buddhist meditation, that my dear friend Sue taught me many years ago. It’s my ‘go-to’ when there are no words. When I don’t know what to do, or say.
“Tonglen is one of the richest and bravest practices that we can do.This is one of the great meditation jewels that offers a way us to cultivate our natural mercy.”–Joan Halifax
The practice of Tonglen, or Giving and Receiving, is done to develop our compassion and our ability to be present for our own suffering and the suffering of others. Pema Chodron teaches that Tonglen is a practice of “sending and taking,” an ancient Buddhist practice to awaken compassion. With each in-breath, we take in others’ pain. With each exhale, we send them relief. I like to think of myself as a being of light, composting the darkness. Breathing in the sorrow, transforming it and exhaling out love.
Get still, close your eyes, feel free to place your hands on your heart.Inhale through the nose and breathe in any painful emotion that may be coming up for you (shame, anger, rage, fear, anxiety, frustration, judgement).Stay neutral to the emotions, just breathe them in and allow them to be.On the exhale through the nose, release these emotions and cultivate acceptance and compassion for yourself.Allow the emotions to release through you and surround yourself with an energy of unconditional love.
Note: My daughter gave me permission to write and post this.
Every day I wake up and read the New York Times on my phone. I read the California edition. Almost every day there are stories about the housing crisis in this state; the rising cost of homes and people living on the streets. Today the news has stories of fires burning and evacuations. And I am reading with a broken heart about the families that are separated at our border – the children in cages, the mom’s in jail, fleeing violence in their countries, hoping for a better life. Taking that chance. It is almost more than my brain and heart can process.
I see friends on Facebook imploring others not to go to sleep. Stay outraged! I agree. Let us not turn our backs on humanity and go numb. At the same time, let us not beat ourselves up if we cannot be on the front lines. Look into your heart and ask yourself what can you do right now? Are you able to write a check? Can you make phone calls to your senators? Are you able to sit in meditation and offer positive energy to those that suffer? Can you be extra loving and kind to the people in your life? Can you take impeccable care of yourself so that you have energy and resources when you get called to action? I donate. I pray. I sign petitions. I teach preschool. I try to facilitate and support concepts of love and kindness.
This conversation is taken verbatim from an interaction I witnessed last week. It happened between 2 boys, one age 4 and one age 5, after feelings were hurt and they were having a conversation using the “Peace Flower” which is kind of like a talking stick, only it’s a talking . It went like this:
Boy age 4: (while holding the peace flower) I wish I could wun as fast as you. (hands peace flower to other boy)
Boy age 5: Well, I run fast because I practice at home. Maybe if you practice you can get faster. (hands peace flower back to 4 year old)
Boy age 4: But, but, but…I wun and fall and you keep going. I want to be fast like you.
Me: Does it hurt your feelings when your friend runs fast and you can’t catch up?
Boy age 4: Yes. (hands peace flower to other boy)
Boy age 5: I bet you will get faster when you practice. I have a good idea! Let’s be on the same team and run together at the same time! (holds out peace flower and they both hold the stem and say in unison: Friends. And run off to play. Except Boy age 4 says “Fwends”) Peace on the playground has been restored.
I was relaying this story to a friend yesterday and we were laughing at how sweetly transparent children can be. They have all the emotions that adults have but the feelings move transparently across their faces like clouds blowing across a wide open sky. No place to hide. Every day there are tears, laughter, shouts of glee, angry scowls, hugs.
When I have hurt feelings, I do my best to hide it and stew for a few weeks – er…awhile and then become full of dread and eventually have a conversation with the person. Usually the conversation goes well and we are both relieved afterwards. Wouldn’t it be great if I could handle it immediately and we could both hold the peace flower for a few moments and then skip off happily?
Every day I go to work wondering what the day will bring. The work is so dynamic! There is no template for an “average” day. Working with children is a constant invitation to stay present – to keep my heart open, not look at my phone (which is tucked away in a cabinet for the entire day), literally get on my knees, make eye contact, speak kindly, be of service, be loving and gentle, hold boundaries, rub backs, give hugs. It’s like spiritual boot camp 😉 Truly. These little gurus are ninjas at testing limits/boundaries. If I take it personally, I’m a goner. They are also human love bombs who offer affection and acceptance freely and often. You’d think a rock star was arriving some days when I arrive – all the faces and arms waving at the window “Roxanna! Roxanna!” Sometimes I have to use the back door so I don’t start a riot and disrupt the class. Haha.
I am grateful to the Universe for bringing me to this present moment, this job, this life, these kids. Being a preschool teacher stretches me in myriad ways while simultaneously nourishing me and feeding my heart. As GuruGanesha Band sings in their song, Troubled Times:
In this troubled time we look to find the way. To heal our world, heal our hearts. In our confusion when we don’t know what to do, can we live for each other? Come Together For Each Other.
If I should die soon
Tell my children to look for me in India.
In the prayer bells
Ringing out over the Ganges,
In the tablas beating their rhythm over the
As the red sun melts into purple sky.
Look for me on the sand bar in Benares
As the dogs creep closer to the fire.
To the ghee filled bowl burning brightly,
And the flower offerings bob drunkenly downstream.
See me in the sari clad women sprinkling Ganga water on strangers, blessing them.
Let them feel my arms wrapping them in each soft shawl they try on, and every white dress they see.
Sip me down in their lemon sodas, quenching their search.
Seek not but find me in the tuberose offering at Saraswati’s feet,
Or the monkey’s soft “coo coo” at their door.
Let them find joy in the calf’s jingle bells and the soft white spot on their foreheads.
Step on the soft sand of Rishikesh and know
I was happy here.
I am going back to India this November! Julia Myers Patterson and I are co-leading a group of men and women to Rishikesh, India this November for Diwali – the Hindu Festival of Light. This is a dream come true for me to be able to experience Diwali in all its exuberance and share my passion for India with this group and to co-lead with Julia – a woman who holds space with such love and peace. To learn more about the trip, see our Enlightened Tours website for all the details.
This Spring, my son announced that he had two life goals: quitting school and living in a van. His love of learning has been with him from infancy, but ever since 6th grade, he’s slowly and progressively been losing interest in school. Over the past four years, I’ve watched the light go out of his eyes while in the traditional educational system.
By April, things had spiraled rapidly downward; my son was depressed, uninspired and feeling powerless to change his life. Uncharacteristically, he wasn’t getting up in the morning, he was isolating from friends and was refusing to go to school. I had no idea what to do or how to help him. Finally, at a crisis point, Harlan opened up to me. What I heard more than anything was that he really and truly doesn’t want to go back to school and wants to “drop out”.
As I listened to him, I had an “Aha!” moment. What if we “Dropped In” and hit the road? What if we took this Fall Semester of 2017 and he got to live and learn in real time, in the real world, seeing life through the eyes of a traveler? As a mother, I knew I needed to act quickly to come up with a creative solution that might serve to inspire my son into not giving up. Since nothing traditional has worked (and we’ve tried it all), I wanted to come up with an out-of-the-box learning opportunity that would spark his innate curiosity.
Without knowing exactly how I could pull it off, I proposed the idea of living on the road this Fall to Harlan. Almost instantly, like pumping a bicycle tire with air, I watched him come back to life. He became motivated and finished 9th grade. He joined a gym and is working out daily. He’s working with an inspiring mentor who is teaching him about meditation and healthy living. We’re training for our first Sprint Triathlon in October. He has a summer job and is saving money for the trip. We’re working with an educational consultant to design a personalized curriculum for Harlan.
We’re plotting our itinerary on the map:
Vancouver to Baja from September through December.
Along this route, we will be researching people and places that inspire us, in order to learn from these interactions. Together with an educational consultant, we will design a curriculum that Harlan resonates with; creating projects that involve writing, music, photography, and natural science – all with the rich backdrop of the Pacific West to support his education.
Since I have announced our decision to hit the road this August, miracles are happening. People are reaching out with places to stay, well wishers are offering words of support, and we are packing up and moving out of our home on July 31! Finances are an issue. I’m a single mom navigating work, life, and parenting two teenagers, the oldest of which is heading off to college in September.
I’m a grief counselor. I work with people who have lost a loved one and are navigating life without the person they love. I have teenagers. I know angst. I have lost family members to suicide. I have close relatives that struggle with clinical depression. I know life is short. And mysterious and powerful and awe-inspiring. I know that I love my son with all my heart and will do anything within my power – anything – to help him get the light back in his beautiful brown eyes. And yes, that means even asking for money, something I’ve been raised never to do. I’ve started a Go Fund Me Campaign, called Road School 2017, to help with our costs.
Donations will go toward:
Online Educational Consultant
Educational Experiences (e.g. Museums, State Parks)
NOTE: 5% of what we receive in donations will go to Pacific Sands Academy, a program that offers an accredited, interest-led, passion-driven independent studies program for teens. This money will help families afford an alternative choice for children who may be struggling with the traditional educational system.
There is no training manual for what Harlan and I will are about to embark on, but there is a road map – the one he and I will follow along the highway. As a parent, my job is not to mold him into a smaller, younger version of myself, but to hold a safe container large enough for him to expand his wings. To quote John O’Donohue, in his poem The Traveler, I want to introduce my son to “the invitations which wait along the way to transform” him. Stay tuned, Road School starts late August 2017! #roadschool2017
Just coming off a whirlwind weekend visiting a college with my oldest, soon to be 18, my daughter.
We landed in Denver and I stopped to fill my water bottle at Root Down, my favorite stop at DIA. After filling it, I screwed the cap on tight and turned, just in time to see a man being wheeled past, only a few feet from me, a swarm of paramedics administering CPR. I could see his chest going down and up, an alarming amount of distance really, it was not natural, not at all. They were pumping his chest with their hands. He was wheeled down some hallway I’ve never noticed before – the whole thing happened in seconds. “This is an emergency” I thought. I sucked in my breath. It did not look good.
Right there in terminal C a man was possibly dying. Probably dying by the look of the whole scene. I shut my eyes and felt the tears. Heading down the escalator to the train, I wanted to stop and tell the people swarming from the doors, “There’s a man possibly dying up there!” Life and death so close.
Of all the things I kept thinking about this weekend, “Life is Short” was one of the most prevalent thoughts. Memories of my girl as a toddler, scenes of her as a youngster, bed time, reading her stories, singing to her. Watching her struggle and falter and careen into some hard years.
Now a young woman, going to college. Beautiful big eyed girl. At ease (mostly) with herself and with life. She’s ready. I watch her from a distance.
Leaving the airport, we drive straight to her dad’s house. It’s Passover and we are going to his “Bob Marley” Seder. Passover celebrates the liberation of the Jews from slavery and people will play instruments and sing Bob Marley’s Redemption Song.
On the way, we stop and pick up my daughter’s boyfriend. I hear her in the back of the car whispering to him, “You are part of this family”. We arrive and the table is crowded with friends and relatives and exes and children. We open the door for Elijah. As usual, everyone is starving as we slog our way through the Haggadah – the book we read that tells us what Passover means and why we celebrate as we do.
On this night I sit between my son and my friend Starling. There is laughter, and the usual chaos. There are people complaining that they’re hungry, and children who would like to drink more wine, there’s raucous singing, and music breaks for more Bob Marley songs, there’s dancing, and food. And more food! Tsimmis (my favorite), and brisket, and smoked turkey with gravy, and matzah and charoset and soup and gefilte fish. Everyone is stuffed.
I look around the table. There is love. There is forgiveness. There is laughter and subtext. History. There have been heart-aches and illness and crises and hard times. Tonight we celebrate Redemption – being saved from sin and error and gathering together to celebrate another year with love and grace.
I raise a glass and thank the cooks. And I remember the people that can’t be with us; the people that can’t be here and the people that have passed before, and yet they feel so close tonight. And I say a prayer for the man at the airport and his family. We all drink. L’Chaim. To Life. Life is short. We are all part of this family.
I do the dishes. The kids stay at their dad’s. My heart is full with just a tinge of sadness. The full April moon follows me on my ride, lighting up the mountains that wait silently for me to arrive, home.
Vishuddha – Throat Chakra – Sound, Creative identity, (self-expression)
This is the chakra located at the throat and is related to communication and creativity. When open, you are free to speak your mind, express yourself fluently, and feel as if you have a right to your voice. I’ve been hesitant to write about the 5th chakra because I’ve been in a funky place of self-doubt, insecurity, and writer’s block. The antithesis of a flowing 5th chakra. But then I realized, I was waiting until I had something “good” to write, instead of just sharing what is living in my heart and speaking my mind. That I can do.
This is the time of year I always, always begin my descent down into the underworld, to shed my layers and hang on Inanna’s meat hook. I feel like my insides are exposed and I get protective, isolated. Something about the holidays and my birthday approaching. And an internal wisdom to hibernate and go within that bumps up against our society’s demand that we Celebrate! with a capital ‘C’.
Yesterday was the Day of the Dead. The veils are thin at this time of year. I feel it. The clocks have turned back this morning, and while I write this, the sky is putting on a show for me; rose pink, lavender gray and pale orange behind inky trees.
Where does the time go? I spent Halloween night quietly, not a lot of trick-or-treaters on our street. I spoke to Andy, alone on Halloween just like me, in another state. We texted each other using emoji’s = Modern Love. We were walking down memory lane about past Halloweens with our kids. I was looking at old pictures of parties we used to have. I was feeling melancholy looking at the small fresh faces in all the photographs, dressed in their costumes. Pirate cheerleader, angel, ghost. “I know, those days are gone forever” texts my husband. “Thanks for cheering me up!” I text and include a gun emoji pointed at my head. (my sense of humor)
I had one tiny little girl who stared at me with wide eyes and, when prompted by her parents, whispered a hushed “twick or tweat”. My heart ached with the purity of that age – her family’s future spreading out before them in an amalgam of hopes and dreams. I’ve aged. I’ve become cynical. My heart is broken. This is the first Halloween ever that I haven’t spoken to my daughter. I can’t. She’s not here. She’s in a therapeutic boarding school. This is our life right now.
Gazing upon my trick-or-treater’s face, I felt like Scrooge looking down on Tiny Tim and felt my heart crack with her innocence. I ran upstairs and got my daughter’s fancy tea set all packed away in a wicker basket (I remember when I bought it at a fancy toy store in town that has since closed) and handed it to the girl’s mom. “Enjoy it, use it” I said. One more childhood token removed from the house.
It feels cliche for me to write about the “cycle of life” but it always comes up for me at this time of year: birth, death, dreams, heart-ache, babies, teenagers, the truly egregious wounds that family can and does inflict, Spring, Fall, candycorn, rotting pumpkins, plump cheek, wrinkles, baby, crone, dropouts, honor roll, fresh air, meds, the redemptive power of LOVE in family = it all swirls inside my brain and my heart and collects in an aching lump, in my throat. Glad I got it down in words today.
This is my first post since May – I don’t even know how that could have happened, but in part, it’s due to writer’s block, which happened the day I signed up for a writer’s workshop in Esalen next July. Another reason I haven’t written is that I have been on a summer vacation at the beach. This summer I needed to relax and restore myself. I wrote myself a perscription, this is what it said: Have Fun. And that’s what I did. I went to yoga, rode my bike, ate good food, swam, paddled, played, parented, visited with friends and family, made new friends. I went for a lot of walks with Andy and Ruby (my dog) and slowly, slowly, my nerves thickened, and my muscles toned and my heart started to reconnect itself.
My daughter hasn’t lived at home since April 23 (who’s counting?) I miss her terribly. Even to write this I can feel the sting of tears behind my eye lids. She’s away, receiving support, getting better. We are here, receiving help, getting better. I guess I haven’t felt much like writing since she’s been gone. Grief is a parasitic creature, living off of my creative resources. I’ve been in an intimate relationship with Grief this year, and I’ve danced all the steps – from disbelief, anger, resentment, refusal to despair, collapse, surrender. Grief brought her gifts ridiculously early, on the very first day of Lili leaving, I was able to see them. I continue to be touched by the kindness of others, the compassion of mothers, the love of my children. But it still hurts – in an open-mouthed “O” of shock at times. Some days I can’t even handle the grocery store because it’s too painful to see somebody who doesn’t know about my life, or does know and asks me about it.
For me, the first chakra, the root, is about being grounded. It’s my sense of place in the world and what makes me feel the safest and most secure. It’s my energetic “home base” and my connection to the earth. When my first chakra is open I feel a sense of well-being and peace. It reminds me of a song my Grandmother used to sing to me:
The year’s at the Spring, the day’s at the morn, morning’s at 7, the hillside’s dew pearled. The lark on the wing, the snail on the thorn, God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world.
This is a photo from 2 summers ago, we were all together in Santa Cruz. This is my first chakra picture. In the picture, I’m happy being a mama, I’m smiling at my husband, the kids are clamoring around me, and my world is complete.
These days, I feel like an amputee – learning to live without a limb, something’s missing, someone’s missing. And I trust the universe. I trust my girl’s path. I trust mine. (most of the time) I’m standing on this earth, feet planted, my lioness heart pounding in my chest.
All the freaky people make the beauty of the world. -Michael Franti
Growing up I was considered a “weirdo”. It was the 70’s and most parents were involved in their adult worlds – use your imagination. I went to bed when I wanted, watched a lot of TV, forgot to shower and had really bad style. I was unpopular and lived in my own world of books and a few friends. I was a lonely kid. I never felt like I fit in. I hated school. It wasn’t until I was an adult and moved to the open-minded West Coast that I finally felt Free. Free in the most anonymous sense of the word. Nobody raised an eyebrow about what I looked like or acted like. In the Bay Area I found my soul home and cultivated friends who loved me for the quirky gal I grew up to be.
I’m taking a tele-class called “Relationship as a Path” taught by Jayson Gaddis – that meets weekly by phone. Seems kind of ironic that my relationship group is virtual – perfect for an oddball extroverted introvert like me. Last week Jayson brought up a concept that stopped me in my tracks. I’ve heard it before, but this time, I really sat with it. He suggested that our children are the disowned parts of ourselves. Think about that one for a minute. Even if you would like to debunk that, don’t. Just for a few minutes. It’s a trip.
Times have been tender lately at our house. My sweet, smart, sensitive 6th grader has been struggling socially. He isn’t seeming to “fit in” at school. I’ve always prided myself in allowing both of my children to express themselves as individuals. But I’m realizing that I have my limits. “Be yourself, but don’t be too weird, ok honey?” is the message I think I’ve really been putting out there. I see that my EGO has been so proud of both of my children’s accomplishments and their bright beauty. I’ve marveled at their seeming ease in life to be kind to others, to have people like them, to do well in school. All things that were murky and elusive to me. Now, with my son’s struggles, I’ve been in panic mode. “He needs to be home-schooled!” I delcare to his dad. “Stop posting those pictures on Instagram” I hiss at my son – “you know the ones…that make you look like a girl.” Who is this person speaking? What has happened to my open mind? Where has my appreciation and celebration of difference gone? I’ll tell you. It went out the window the day my son came home and said some kid called him “gay” after school and that he was worried about getting beaten up because he has purple streaks in his hair. I panicked. I wussed out. I don’t want him to feel lonely or ostracized (like I did.) The fact is, if I could prevent either one of my kids from ever feeling pain, I would. And I can’t. And that’s probably a good thing because pain can be a catalyst for growth. I would not be the woman I am today if I hadn’t had the life experiences I had as a child. That’s right…as I type this, I mean every word. I am who I am today – somebody I am proud of – because of every experience I had in my life leading up to this moment. So thank you MOM and DAD and STEP-DAD and LIFE for every teaching that came my way. Alle-fucking-lujah!
I asked sonny boy if he would like to transfer to a different school – the one for creative types – the one that is more accepting of diversity. In the meantime, I actually suggested he “tone it down” on being different. His reply…”I like being different.” I confess that I wasn’t happy with this answer. Now he’s testing the waters of his own individuality in a small white town in a traditional middle school. “What child do you know that likes middle school?” my wise husband asked me. “Yeah!” my high-schooler chimes in. “I hated middle school – especially 6th grade.” She did? Oh yeah…
So back to Jayson and my virtual class. The part of me that I have rejected – the painful loner part of my Self that I have disowned – is now surfacing in my kid and making me verrry uncomfortable. Thank you life. Thank you for this opportunity to breathe, to love myself and all the sharp edges, to re-integrate the shadow aspects I would rather not be reminded of. Thank you for letting me love and appreciate the unique and quirky being that is my son. On Christmas day we went to the movies and he wore his mullet wig and his “sipping specs” (glasses that are a large crazy straw where one end goes in the drink and the liquid goes around the glasses and into the mouth) and I didn’t even flinch. Once. Neither did his sister (who actually gave him props for staying “in character” the whole time) or his step-dad. I love my family. The kid has an inner strength, a platform to push off of and I want my butterfly to be FREE. Teach me my beautiful children. Break up the calcification of my judgement and release my shackles of fear. I bow to you.
When she transformed into a butterfly, the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty, but of her weirdness. They wanted her to change back into what she always had been.
I’m home, kids are home, dog threw her back out, I have some weird virus that has settled in my inner ear, causing some hearing loss which “may or may not be permanent” says my doc. I feel like I am going deaf, have water in my ear, or 5 cotton balls wedged in my ear canal. Ruby’s on pain meds, I’m on steroids (which have a “30-50% chance” of clearing up my ear and restoring my hearing) and baby girl got her wisdom teeth out yesterday. Her percocet and viocodin are sitting on the kitchen counter singing their siren song. Got some hilarious video of #3 (Lili’s nickname since we have 5 kids combined) just after her surgery – where her mouth is gaping open, stuffed with gauze and she’s saying “I fink there’s sumfin in my mouf” – good times. But as soon as we got home, I realized she was going to be a big fat handful, needing meds round the clock, ice, gauze, no falling asleep until the gauze comes out, she’s falling asleep! tv blaring…needs assistance walking because she’s woozy. #5 needs dinner, and there’s three (three!) piles of cat barf on the carpet (of course) in my bedroom. And my husband is still at the beach in CA. Fuck-it-all.
Meanwhile…I am making homemade custard (the kind you make from scratch and pour into buttered ramekins and bake in a hot water bath), doing laundry, getting scrips filled, carrying the dog up and down the stairs to go potty several times a day, hosting playdates, making late night runs to Whole Foods for mashed potatoes, etc. All this time, as I’m trying to take care of all the characters in this play, I am feeling bad about myself. I am feeling guilty approaching a level of self-flagellation that I skipped my meditation practice. I’m feeling ineffectual and like a Loser (with a capital ‘L’) that I am just walking around in a daze with no motivation to write a blog post or go for a run – not to mention I’m eating all the homemade custard that my kids decided didn’t taste as good as Kosy Shack’s rice pudding. Go figure.
Anne Lamott talks about practicing Radical Self Care and jokingly refers to “keeping the patient comfortable” about herself when she’s struggling emotionally. For her, it means curling up in bed with a book and her dogs and a bag of M&M’s. “Whaaaat?” I say. “Self Care?” (Imagine me cocking my head and saying this in a Yoda voice.) “What is this ‘Self Care’?” Hmmmm. Where can I get some of this I wonder? The kicker is…I have to do it! After a good cry (after the dumb cat jumped up on my lap and missed, leaving 5 puncture holes in my leg) I was sufficiently beaten down enough to surrender (key) and let all expectation of having a “productive” day go. Making lemonade people!
I decided to take all “shoulds” off my list today. I’m choppig wood/carrying water re. the kids and animals – i.e. everyone is entitled to have food – as much as I wish everyone could just make their own cheese and crackers and we’d be done with the whole thing. All pets will be let in and out and carried down steps. Medicine will be dispensed. Maybe I will do some yoga, maybe not. Maybe I will watch the entire season of a reality show, maybe I will try and take a nap. I’m giving my inner critic the day off. I’m upping my caffeine level for today. I’m going to try and show up for myself even just half as much as I am willing to do for my kids. Let’s see how this goes…