A lesson in mindfulness

I feel as though it was a lifetime ago that I walked expectantly into my one-hour-per-week yoga class on campus, extremely thankful it was offered. I wouldn’t have been able to take another grade school or high school PE class.

I wanted to rid myself of extra pounds. I wanted to rid myself of stress. I wanted to rid myself of guilt. I wanted to rid myself of. . . memories.

So many memories.

I believe it was the second time we met that the yoga instructor sat us down in a rather large freaking huge circle. I was curious and open-minded. She got out a box of raisins and I wondered silently, “How the hell are raisins supposed to help me lose weight and get more flexible?” While I’m still completely uncertain how raisins can do those two things for you, I do know how they can help you become a healthier and happier person.

Please allow me to share this lesson with you. And please help me remember this lesson when I’m feeling low.

The yoga instructor had us all choose a golden raisin from the box and then return, quite perplexed, back to our seats.

“I want you to close your eyes and put this raisin in your mouth. Do not chew it. Just place it there. . .” she began. “Roll it around. Feel its texture. Notice the sharp ridges and rounded sides. Feel the weight of it on your tongue.”

She spoke in a soft, slow, welcoming, and warm voice. I felt my shoulders begin to relax.

“Allow the raisin to plump in your mouth. Feel it accepting its surroundings, taking in the moisture, becoming fuller and rounder.”

I began breathing more softly.

“Slowly begin to chew the raisin. Feel the skin pop. Taste its simple but bright sweetness. Try and realize every thought, every feeling, every motion, every sensation it gives you.”

I was suddenly much more enthralled with a raisin than I’d ever been in my life. I may have been more in tune with that raisin than I had been with anything else in my life. And that was the point.

She had us slowly open our eyes and re-tune to our surroundings. I had never enjoyed a raisin so much in my life. I’d never realized so much about the tiny little fruit; nor had I ever known that there is so much to experience – just within a raisin.

The level of pleasure, enjoyment, education, and understanding about a person or situation depends upon how mindful we are of it.

When is the last time you sat to watch something on television but couldn’t remember what you watched as soon as you got up from the couch? That’s because your mind was elsewhere. I’ve had the same happen while driving to and from my daily destination. My mind starts wandering to other places and completely forgets to enjoy the current moment.

I don’t want my life to be a series of flashes and barely-memorable experiences. I want to enjoy and truly appreciate each moment as it’s given to me.

(This is with the exception, perhaps, of giving birth to Tori – I’m glad to remember her delivery but I am also thankful that I remember very, very little of the pain I breathed through while I labored.)

I want to enjoy each day for its own scenario – for that day’s extreme heat, or extreme cold, or for that day’s perfect breeze while I walk. Each song, each story, each task. . . I want to enjoy it for its own simplicity or complexity. Either way – I want to recognize it. It’s amazing that, when I slow down to recognize each moment for what it is, it usually results in me walking away with a smile on my face.

Try it.

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Dear Tori: You’re killing us, kid.

I remember the weeks following your birth like they were yesterday. I couldn’t snap enough fuzzy pictures (while trying to avoid blinding you with the camera flash) while you were sleeping.

Or had your eyes open.

Or were simply being.

There for a little while the amount I bragged about you made me feel a little overwhelmed and I’m sure that everyone I spoke with tired of hearing the wonderful things my baby did.

But kiddo, I have news for you. . . that was nothing. You’re killing us with your cuteness.

You are absolutely *the* most polite two-years-and-two months-old little girl. When you ask for something there’s rarely a time that you don’t ask politely, but when you do forget, all we have to do is give you a look and you’ll enthusiastically bust out with “PWEEEEEEEASE?!” When you’re handed something you promptly say “Tanks!” When we thank you for handing us something, you say “Ou wew-come!” Don’t get me started about sneezes. If anyone sneezes you say “Bess ee!”

You’ve said “Uh-oh” for the longest time – but the last couple of days it’s transformed to “Oopsy-daisy!”

You’re killing us kid.

You don’t walk anywhere. You either run or trot. Your long hair bounces behind you while you run from one side of the house to the other (usually toward your bed or ours where you dive directly into the mattress to “hide” and then start giggling).

You can’t help but giggle when you’re pretending to sleep. Between little “snores” you giggle. We tell you “Wake up!” and you giggle. If the roles are reversed and you tell us to wake up, you giggle. But my favorite is when we ignore your wake-up calls and you bend over sweetly, give us a kiss, and say “Night-night!”

I hear you bounding to the door from the outside when I get home from work in the evening. “MAMA! Ou’re BACK! Wook! (look)” Then you start telling me about your day as best you can in your broken two-year-old-English.

If we’re busy doing something and you remember something you want, you hold your tiny index finger in the air and say “Wait! I back!” You run to grab the whatever it is and come running back to us saying “I back! See?!”

Everything is new and bright and fascinating and funny to you. You’re (mostly) all smiles (you know, between those two-year-old temper tantrums). I truly am seeing the world through brand new eyes – and Tori – I thank you for that.

But seriously – if you get any cuter I’m going to OD on cuteness.

At least that’s a happy way to go.

I’m thinking of you.

You’ll be moving far away to make new friends soon.

Your three-month-old baby boy passed away a few short weeks ago.

You’re not sure how you can live without alcohol.

Your little brother passed away this weekend.

You’ve just embarked on a new life on your own.

You’re currently battling breast cancer.

You’re unsure about your future.

You’re battling the effects of having a brain tumor removed.

You just met your brand new baby boy last weekend.

You’ve been unemployed a long time and you’re unsure how you’ll keep going.

You’re leaving your husband to make a better life for yourself and your children.

You’re quitting a 17-year cigarette habit.

You don’t believe you’re strong enough to survive without a man.

 

You. . . all of you. . . I love you and I’m thinking of you. And I’m not the only one. Hang in there. You can do this.

The Sickness has Invaded.

I’m not quite sure where we picked up “teh plague”. But we did.

Darling Tori has a coupy-cough and runny nose. I decided last weekend that I wanted to join her (for some unknown reason). Last night we sounded like a chorus of barking sea lions between 2 and 4 a.m.

I am tired. . . but we will survive.

Although I have to wonder how Dad is holding up since Tori was a mama’s girl all weekend. . . poor guy.

And Then She Was Two.

Hi

Hi!

The past couple of years have been such a learning experience for me. I always knew there was more to learn, but Tori gave me truly interesting subject matter. I’ve watched her start as a soft, squishy lump and then blossom into a miniature girl with big hair and a bigger personality. We’ve reached an incredible number of milestones – so many that I curse myself for not spending more time carefully writing down each one.

Around Memorial Day we took the paci away. I thought it would be a huge fight, but to be honest, Tori never looked back once we took it from her. We were concerned that taking her pacifier may impede the progress she was making through TEIS with Project Help and with her Occupational Therapist, but she lost the paci and never skipped a beat.

Since starting services with TEIS and playing with Sue and her friends at Project Help, Tori’s language skills have grown by leaps and bounds. I mean – absolutely exponentially. She now spontaneously counts to six. She regularly calls for her malk (milk), book, Towi’s toys (Tori’s toys), fwends (friends), and knows how to say pwease (please) and tanks (thanks).

Stylin'

Stylin'

She absolutely understands us when we’re speaking to her. If she starts throwing a tantrum we tell her “Tori, that’s fine if you want to throw a fit, but you can throw a fit in your room.” You then hear little elephant feet stomping toward her room where she wails for a couple of minutes until we go in to check on her. When we get to her room we’ll ask “Have you calmed down?” She’ll nod “uh-huh.” We’ll ask for a hug and she’ll gladly give one while she says “hug” and then she comes out to play again.

This is the little girl that calls for me in the middle of the night when she learns that I’m not in the bed with her anymore. When I come to her room and snuggle in bed with her she cuddles up against me and smiles a sweet smile before falling fast asleep. She also wakes up the next day, rolls over to see me, smiles a sweet smile, and then gives me a morning hug and kiss.

When I walk in the door for lunch or after a long day at work, Tori will run to me when she hears me walk in the door. “Mama! Hug.” Then she starts jabbering. I’ll be able to pick out words like school, water and Dad amongst other unintelligible jabber – but I can tell she’s sharing her day with me.

I’m telling you – all personality.

This little girl has laughed, cried, played, slept, and warmed my heart. And now she’s two. Time flies. I can’t say it enough. Time absolutely flies.

Happy 2nd Birthday Tori!

Happy 2nd Birthday Tori!

Tori Story

Just a funny little story to share in honor of World Breastfeeding Week. . .

Last night when I came home from work, Tori joined me while I changed clothes – as per usual. When I took off my bra, she pointed to my breasts and exclaimed, very excitedly, “Bow-bows!”

I chuckled at her.

Then she stuck both hands out in the classic “I’m gonna grab ’em!” pose, scrunched up her nose, and started giggling.

Silly girl. It may have been forever since she nursed at this point. . . but she’s never forgotten the “bow-bows”.

Are We Only the Sum of Our Status Updates?

I read this on a friend’s newsfeed through my Google+ account:

“It’s funny. We have Facebook, Twitter, and now Google +, and instead of getting closer, I just feel more distance.”

How profound. I mean – I’ve felt this myself and the concept itself isn’t strange, but when said that way it struck me hard.

I’m an 80s-90s generation kid. Some of us still had rotary telephones and black-and-white televisions. Not all of us had cable. Our generation saw the microwave oven get introduced in homes. Not all of us had video game systems. By the time we were nine years old we started seeing personal computers in homes and in schools.

Remember all that 21st Century Classroom hype, guys?

But amidst playing Oregon Trail and, later, playing Solitaire and Minesweeper on the computers, we still greatly craved in-person contact. We still begged to go to our friends houses (escape our own) and talked on the phone to our friends plenty.

These days I’m ashamed to say “I hate talking on the phone” but it’s true. Most everyone I talk to these days would rather email, text, or type a quick message on Facebook rather than call someone on the phone or – gasp! – go visit someone.

The more we tune in, the more we tune out. Is this because we’re now inundated? Have we overwhelmed ourselves?

I know that I’m elated to now be in touch with every person I ever went to elementary and high school with. I’m overjoyed that I have ways to get back in touch with those I’ve lost touch over the years. It’s fantastic. It’s good for the soul. . .

But is it?

Is it truly a good thing when, because I have over 250 people on my “friends” list, that I can’t keep a close relationship with just three or four anymore? I can keep up with everyone’s status – but I can’t keep up with THEM. There’s no way. There are simply not enough hours in the day.

I think that, as technology plows along, that we’re actually getting farther away from our goals. Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, but it may have been easier to run calculations with a pencil and piece of paper than it is to have the computer automatically add the figures and then crash so that all our hard-earned data is lost. Social media networks are supposed to make it easier to stay in touch, but they’ve made it easier to be out-of-touch with a person’s self.

Is this what we’re destined for?

Are we only the sum of our status updates?

I’m not going to lie.

I’m not going to lie.

The Breastfeeding 101 Series is exhausting now that I’ve gotten down to the “nitty gritty”.

I suppose this is why I’m not a journalist. I applaud bloggers that research their hearts out and publish informative pieces day after day.

I shall continue. . . but I had to take a break.

Isn’t Life Grand (and Busy)?

Hello, friends. Long time, no post.

I’ve been moved to the marketing department at work and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I didn’t realize how much I would miss working in marketing, but now that I’m here I’m glad I made the transition. (Fortunately it’s not sales – just marketing.)

The downside is that I don’t have nearly the time to work on my blog, especially since our internet access has been MIA from our home for about three weeks (or more).

I’m looking forward to getting back to blogging now that our initiatives are in place and things are slowly, but surely, calming down.

I hope you all are well. For those of you waiting patiently for the remaining blogs in my Breastfeeding 101 series, stay tuned!

Thinking of You, Beautiful Amy.

Yesterday after 5:00 in the evening, my amazing friend Amy introduced this world to her beautiful baby boy. I’m so thrilled that he’s here. If that little one is anything like either of his parents, this world will be greatly blessed just by his presence alone.

My friend Amy needs a bit more healing time before she’s feeling quite 100%, but her dear husband is keeping us updated about her progress.

Here’s to you, Amy! Happy Mother’s Day! We love you very much and can’t wait to meet your adorable son.

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