Violets

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Our back yard is filled with violets. We endure long grass and tall weeds so we can experience the violet hue for as long as possible. I photograph their beauty by tiptoeing among their impromptu spring get-together. I want to capture their essence… their fragility: the violet that bleeds into white seamlessly, the violet that stands so brightly against its green and brown background, their thin, weak stems leaning forward with the weight of five lace veined petals.

Daily I’m trying to see the beauty… not focus on the weeds… and see everything as part of a majestic whole.

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Where I’m At

At some point in March I became sick for a few days. My gut bacteria became totally unbalanced and with it, my mental clarity. A direct correlation exists between happy bacteria in my belly and a positive state of mind. Without this balance I am a lost leaf floating on breeze. This inevitably leads to a trip down Ego lane. My Ego wants me to be wildly successful. At something. Anything. Right. Now. It’s quite demanding and full of itself.

Now that the good bacteria are returning I’m ready to return to writing. I’m willing to work.

On an unrelated note, this morning I started my day with this video .

40 Min Cardio HIIT Workout by Fitness Blender

I highly recommend it.

 

 

The lull before the spring

Spring sort of sprang this past week. It is long overdue. The cloudy cool weather had sent the entire northeast into a depression. While I have not stopped wearing a sweater, my kids, undeterred, have moved on to shorts and short sleeves. I am encouraged by their faith that the weather will continue to improve.

My kids, especially my son, are optimists. They don’t get bogged down by the small stuff. Recently when the car broke down at a rest stop when we were supposed to be travelling out of state, my eight year old son declared it to be the best vacation ever. He seemed to have more fun than if we had reached our destination! Of course he has the benefit of being a child and none of the responsibility of making decisions. But still, I wish I could bottle his enthusiasm and sense of adventure rather than laying awake fearing the worst possible outcome.

They also find play where  ever they are. Today on a river bank my son immediately began building a sand castle and when the wake of a motor boat destroyed it, he tried another design. My daughter sought out the shiniest rocks possible to stuff in her pockets and they both attempted skipping rocks across the water. They are naturally experimental, undeterred, and adventurous.

As an adult it feels like I must work for what my children so easily just do. I must consciously want adventure and make it happen and remind myself to experiment and not fear failure. Maybe it gets easier the more you do it?

Connecting Human to Human

I was speaking to another parent this evening and we both commented on how nice the other parents in town were. Each parent I meet is concerned and focused on doing their best for their kids. We all have an immediate sense of comradery over this parenting gig and it’s comforting to know that we all have similar experiences.

Yet, I have met other parents who have vaguely labelled all other parents snobby or of the Stepford Wife ilk. I just haven’t seen it. But I also know that I probably would have been complaining that everyone was snobby and too perfect just a few years ago.

How I view others has changed drastically for two reasons. The first is that I finally feel good about myself. Once I really looked at myself and accepted myself with all my imperfections and flaws intact, I finally could accept those things in others. Also I felt less guarded about who I was. I gave myself permission to just be me because if someone did not like it, well, that’s their problem, not mine.

Secondly I practiced a  Buddhist exercise in which I looked at each person I encountered during the course of a day and thought “I am you.” It radically changed my perspective on who I was and how I perceived everyone around me.

In the Art of Happiness the Dalai Lama explained how he related to people. He never focused on people as male or female, Tibetan or American, white or black. Each person he met he saw as a human who entered this world through birth, just like him. The details of our lives can separate us. We are all radically different in our own ways. Yet we all have this amazing commonality of being human.

If we lose the “me versus them” mindset, we are suddenly open to so much more connection. The “me versus them” mindset could be “I’m so much better than them” but it can also be “they will never accept me because I am …..” [fill in the blank]. Both ways of thinking stem from fear. Why do we fear one another when we have so much to gain by knowing each other?

The Thaw

This morning, despite the nonstop snowy, icy weather since January, a new bird was singing outside my window. Suddenly the freezing weather ceased and snow began to melt. Along with a melodic, warmer, wetter outdoors, the thaw brought mental relief and a dawn of inner spirit.

When trapped in 10 degree weather with numb fingers and toes, time felt as though it ceased. Of course it hadn’t. Time meandered forward while the Earth slowly, carefully, calculatingly shifted its axial tilt, and then invited us outside.

Impatience caused time to linger. Yet wishing away time was antithetical to living. Sensations, whether it’s beauty, pain, heart wrenching, ecstatic, numbing, or vibrant… all blend to form an unchoreographed dance to treasure… now complete with a twittering morning chorus.

The Morning Ritual

Do you ever feel like you drag yourself out of bed in the morning only to jump into a crazy morning routine that makes your mind spin? This used to be me. I started every morning checking email and yelling at children to get ready while I stuffed their lunch boxes with food.

By 8 AM, when the kids were waiting for the bus, I was sitting at my desk crankily staring at the computer again. My morning energy was spent reacting to email messages and bullying children to keep moving (while feeling bad about myself for doing so). By the time I sat down to work I was already cranky and my day was just beginning.

I decided to stop this daily hamster wheel by getting out of bed before the kids. In those moments of alone calm I gave myself permission to do anything except look at a computer. My time alone could be an hour or ten minutes. It did not matter. Even a small amount of time allowed me a chance to check in with myself before anyone had a chance to ask me for anything. It allowed me to set my intentions for the day and then I was able to act more kindly and calmly toward everyone else.

I now have morning rituals, down to the food I eat, that start my day right. Reading that right now made me think, “this woman sounds a controlling.” That’s probably true. But if that is what it takes for me to keep my sanity then so be it.

My day begins by entering the silence of morning, noticing the air as it enters my lungs, and the feeling the support of the floor beneath me.

Other bloggers have written about their morning routines. Here are two examples…

Zen Habits “Creating a Lovely Morning

Rowdy Kittens “How I Created an Inspiring Morning Routine