Wednesday, February 29

Tuesday, February 28

59/365+1

P148

I feel happy of myself: despite the fact that my day went to pot, I still kept the commitments I made to myself. and he brought home a cupcake for me.

59/365+1

P148

I feel happy of myself: despite the fact that my day went to pot, I still kept the commitments I made to myself. and he brought home a cupcake for me.

Monday, February 27

58/365+1

P137

turns out, cutting a hole through the kitchen floor isn't that big of a deal. after the leak was fixed, we talked about our plans and dreams for the house. yellow, we both said.

Sunday, February 26

weekending



this weekend began with happy hour at wahoo's fish tacos with our family buddies--I drank a whole beer! then filled out a health insurance application, and was in bed by 9:30. we know how to party on a friday night.

taught two yoga classes on saturday. boys napped in the afternoon, leaving me some quiet time to scribble and sip. a walk with the boy in the late afternoon, bright and breezy, with everyone in the neighborhood mowing their lawn. we are on mountain laurel watch, walking everyday to a particular stand up the road, waiting for the buds to bloom into their electric purple grape scent. burgers and tots for dinner, then knitting while watching super 8, which was a lot of fun. loved the kids in that movie.

cranky start to sunday. attempting to make up for it with berries and pineapple, tea & writing. a little yoga on the back porch, some fresh juicing action to make up for last night's excesses. preparing for the week by baking muffins, putting fresh sheets on the bed. looking forward to more knitting tonight and watching fab dresses on the red carpet.

how was your weekend?


(playing along with amanda)

Friday, February 24

55/365+1

P110

five senses friday



::seeing:: riotous green grasses & weeds; wrens coming back to nest on the back porch

::tasting:: greek yogurt & muesli; cadbury creme egg; fresh grapefruit/carrot/apple/ginger juice; fish taco

::feeling:: the fuzz on the back of my son's head when he sits in my lap for storytime

::smelling:: charcoal on the breeze; roasting chicken outside the grocery store

::hearing:: chickadees; death cab; dada dada dada


(playing along with abby)

Thursday, February 23

54/365+1

53/365+1

selfishness is a virtue

my favorite kind of selfish moment


As far as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a mother. But a few years ago there was a time in which I seriously doubted whether I possessed the necessary qualifications. During a period of high-stress (moving to a different country, buying our first, cute but deeply messed-up home) I considered the mounting evidence. Exhibit 1: I am an only child. Exhibit 2: some of the happiest days of my life occurred during the year and a half while I lived alone in a little poet's cottage tucked under tall firs. Exhibit 3: my deep need for lots and lots of quiet alone time. Exhibit 4: the degree to which I lost my shit when deprived, during said time of duress, of this quiet alone time. There was lots of anguished soul-searching, and the conclusion I tearfully reached was that I might just not be cut out to be a mother. I thought I was just too selfish for the job.

After years of yoga practice and teaching, and a year into this motherhood gig, I have come to view selfishness not as a handicap, but as a true gift, and as one of the main things that keep me going. I know this may sound a little controversial--our image of the mother these days is often one of selflessness--but hear me out here. To clarify, what I mean here by selfishness is thinking of myself first. The thought for this post came to me after I wrote an ode to the morning nap last week. I wrote about how I devote my son's first nap of the day not to chores like cleaning or cooking, but to meditation and reading and writing. One could argue that I could use that time much more productively. I could cook baby food, I could dust, I could scrub the bathtub, or do any number of things that never get done around here. I choose not to, and that choice isn't made out of laziness (okay, maybe a little) but with careful consideration. Here's why:



1. No one cares about it but me.
As the mama, I set the standards for what "clean", "orderly", "livable" means in this house. If I stopped vacuuming altogether, my husband might notice after a few months. My son would only be too glad to snack on dust bunnies. I am not saying that this would be desirable. But to be honest, I am the only one who really cares how clean and tidy the house is, so if I choose to spend my time on meditation and writing instead of cleaning, no one is getting hurt. No one is even noticing. The only standards that are not being lived up to are my own, therefore, the choice is entirely mine to make.

2. No one else can do this work but me.
Someone else can always do the dishes, vacuum the floor, fold the laundry. I am very, very lucky to have a husband skilled in the domestic arts, and willing to use those skills, as well as a mother who spends weeks and months at a time with us. Even taking care of my son is a task that can be shared. No one else can sit on the cushion for me. No one else can spread the mess of my mind and heart onto a blank page in order to make sense of it. No one else can refill the well--the well out of which I love and care for my family and my home. If that well runs dry, everyone around.me is negatively impacted. Which leads me to my next point.

3. If I don't do this, everyone suffers.
As a mama, I have a responsibility to my family to take care of myself. One of my favorites of the many Southern sayings I have learned since moving to Texas is "if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." I believe this to be deeply true, and I think you know this too. To make the time and effort to care for myself first may seem selfish a first glance, but ultimately my whole family benefits from this happiness. We have unfortunately been able to confirm this over the fall months when I wasn't sleeping and felt like I was losing my mind. Everyone else suffered. Likewise, now that I am sleeping and feeling better, everyone else is happier too. The flip side of that nugget of Southern wisdom is that a happy mama makes for a happy home. 

Selfishness usually means to only think of oneself, to be inconsiderate of others. I would like to see the meaning expand to include this idea of thinking of oneself first in order to then meet the needs of others. Maybe what we need is a whole new word. What might that word be?

Tuesday, February 21

52/365+1

P64

poetry and green tea on the back porch. that's what I really needed, but inexplicably I itched to go clear trash out of the car.

Monday, February 20

51/365+1

In the end I was glad we were at the late show because we had such good seats. But the next day I have to admit I'm too old for rock n'roll.

Sunday, February 19

weekending



such a stellar saturday
some solo morning time while both boys napped
day drenched in life-giving rain
a full day of teaching
meeting mamas for a new prenatal class: six new bellies, six new stories of a child's coming into the world of which I get to be a small part
chipotle for lunch, enough time to eat & clean up the house in peace before the boys returned from their adventures
drove out to get thai food for dinner, listening to my podcasts, stopped in my tracks on the way back by a stunning, miraculous double rainbow, ends visible in the vast pasture ( i kinda understand youtube's double rainbow guy, actually)
tea with mom while the boy slumbered, talking about karma and non-attachment and eating chocolate and knitting



sunday began with a long family bed snooze--until 10am!
finally some sunshine, playing outside in the swing and stroller, death cab playing from the iPhone in my back pocket
the hubby made a sand-and-water playtable for the boy
leftovers for lunch
preparing to go out for our belated Valentine's date: Over The Rhine playing at Cactus Cafe, Indian food for dinner
lovers out on the town. what will I wear?
worried about being out so late, we who are usually in bed by 10pm
but I'm excited all the same


***
how was your weekend?

Friday, February 17

in my basket



There isn't too much knitting going on around here these days, only a little bit during Downton Abbey. But when I do pick up the needles it's for soothing rows of garter stitch for Larch, in some yummy (and impossible to photograph on a cloudy day) Madelinetosh Sock yarn.

I spent a delightful little chunk of baby morning nap last week in bed reading a Kindle Single by Ann Patchett on her writing life. That very same afternoon I chanced on a copy of Truth & Beauty on a friend's bookshelf. It's a lovely read. I do love Ann Patchett a great deal--State of Wonder was my favorite book of 2011, and Bel Canto was one of the best books I read in 2010.

What's in your basket? (Playing along with Ginny, via Amanda.)


Thursday, February 16

ode to the morning nap


I am lucky. Most mornings, I can count on Silas taking a sizeable nap, anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour and a half. After my husband leaves for work, we'll often have an hour or so to putter, play, and have breakfast before it's time for him to go back down. I have a strict pajamas-only policy for our mornings--we don't get dressed until after morning nap. And sometimes, when Silas gets up really early (as often happens to toddlers who like to go to bed at 6:30pm), by the time I get up, he's ready to take a nap already.

I love spending time with my son. I do. But I LOVE my quiet morning time while he naps. I have time to sip on coffee, do a little reading (currently this), write in my 5 year journal. Then I head for the cushion, where I spend ten minutes with the steady rhythm of my breath and the spaciousness of my own mind. I reheat my coffee (I dream of one day drinking an entire cup of coffee, hot from start to last drop) and write in my trusty Moleskine journal. (Excellent posts on journaling here, here, and here.) After my mind and heart are fed and set in order for the day, I'll get dressed, and make the bed. I believe firmly that, as Maezen says, "the state of your bed is the state of your head". I'm pretty obsessed with making the bed. Even when it's time to wash the sheets I'll lay the stripped duvet neatly across the bare mattress. But I digress.

Of course there is so much that I could get done during that time: measurable, quantifiable things like dishes done, laundry folded, muffins baked. But I gleefully ignore all of that during the blissful hour of the morning nap. Because I have found that no amount of cleaning or sorting or prep work will create a smoother, happier, more harmonious flow to the day than if I take care of these soul needs first thing. Moving slowly, luxuriating in the expanse of quiet, spending time checking in with my mind and heart allow me to greet my little man with a wide smile and open arms when he starts to chirp and chatter in his crib. Just as my now busy toddler will happily wander away from me and play once I have given him the attention he needs and craves, so, too, I can meet him fully when I have met my own needs first. (And I would say that I probably have need for more quiet alone time than most people do. Which can make being a mama tricky business.)

I feel very, very fortunate that our lives right now conspire to give me this time most days. I cherish it. It doesn't happen like this everyday, and one day I know our morning nap will vanish, and on that day there will be bitter tears, and I will need to work at easing into a new phase of life. But for now, these are the days of the morning naps. And how I do love them.


What is your favorite time of day? How do you choose to spend your naptime downtime? Do share in the comments!

Tuesday, February 14

Valentine's day


“Attention is the most basic form of love. Through it, we bless and are blessed.”

-John Tarrant Roshi, Zen priest and poet

Peanuts valentines for my son's little friends at daycare. Heart-shaped box of chocolates for our housebound aunt. Handmade valentines, listing all the reasons why I love them, for my husband and mother. Asparagus risotto an chocolate crinkle cookies for dinner. Pink roses, concert tickets. Warm springlike sunshine. So much love given and received today. So much.

Sunday, February 12

weekending

this weekend was...



...a blustery Friday night dinner at the food trailer park
...starting a second round of antibiotics for this persistent ear infection
...a drive to Starbucks and back, listening to Arcade Fire, Tori Amos, Adele & Death Cab to get baby to nap (he didn't, but the cinnamon dolce latte and music did calm mama's nerves)
...good ol'chicken and rice soup, just like when I was little, and brownies
...a really good night of sleep




...coldest day of the year yet, errant snowflakes and sleet in Central Texas
...sad to hear of the passing of a pop icon, but did jump at the chance to introduce my son to her music during an impromptu Sunday morning dance party
...a solo outing to the coffeeshop to scribble in my journal
...a thorough cleaning of the bathroom and changing table
...Words with Friends with the hubby
...gearing up for Downton Abbey, knitting, tea & more brownies


what about you?

Tuesday, February 7

38/365+1

practice pausing

"Whenever you're in a hot spot or feeling uncomfortable, whenever you're caught up and don't know what to do, you can find someplace where you can go and look at the sky and experience some freshness, free of hope and fear, free of bias and prejudice, just completely open. And this is accessible to us all the time. Space permeates everything, every moment of our lives."

"Before trying to get back on solid ground by following the habitual chain reaction, you can pause and breathe deeply in and breathe deeply out. Never underestimate the power of this simple pause."

"Whenever there's that sting of pain, I practice pausing because I know that that moment is precious." 

*****

Amen and amen. Simple, useful, beautiful advice from Pema Chodron. (Emphasis mine.)