Tuesday, March 27


I know how tempting--and how easy--it is to imagine that our favorite mama bloggers' lives are as sweet and serene as some of their blog posts: all quiet contemplation, moments with coffee and notebooks while the kiddos nap, knitting while the little ones craft, nature explorations and shared conversations over long farmhouse tables. And, from there, to look at our own very real, messy and shabby lives, and feel like we are not enough, are not there yet, are missing something. Just in case you have dropped by here recently, perhaps have read how I am living the dream, and have been tempted to think I lead such a life of peace and ease and bubbles, let me take a moment today to disabuse you of this notion.

Most days, certainly for some moments of each day, my mama's life is one of chaos, despair, lost tempers, lost hopes. I am in the weeds up to my eyeballs, just like every one of y'all.

well, there is some peace...

Here is something else I know, something I have discussed several times with my fellow yoga teachers: teachers teach what they most need to learn. If I write here, and teach in my classes, about mama mindfulness, awareness of breath, tending to what is in front of me, lowering standards and relaxing as it is, it's not because I have this stuff down. It is because these are the things I most desperately need to learn how to do.

I use to feel bad about this. I used to moan and complain that I do all this yoga & meditation, that I read all these mindfulness books and blogs, that I actually teach this stuff, and that I'm still a total mess. Surely all that practice should buy me a little peace? It does--it just doesn't buy me whole days of peace. It buys me little slivers, little pockets of peace. It doesn't prevent me from wanting to scream--but, sometimes, it gives me a little breath of time in which to pause, and refrain from screaming.

This is why I am so relieved when some of the teachers I admire reveal how they are messes, too. Like when one of my favorite yoga teachers, whose main teaching message is about self-love and being sweet to ourselves, scoffs "You think I love myself unconditionally? Pfffff!" Like when Maezen says that we don't practice because we want to, we practice because we have to. I have to practice this much, not to be the mama I desperately want to be, but to be the good enough mama I am today.  I have to believe that that's okay.

...and some coffee

I also love those dreamy posts, the crafts and the coffee. Goodness knows I need the hope and the inspiration they offer! But I need to remember, reading them, just as I need to remember when the happiness (ahem) hits the fan over here: moments, whether beautiful or painful, are just that. Moments. Followed by another, and another. And any one of them need not define us: not me, not my mama idols.

Thursday, March 22



living the dream

I was sitting on my porch earlier this week, and I had this thought: this is the dream. I am smack dab in the middle of living the life I've always dreamed of.

We have a ramshackle but lovely home in the country, with a large garden and heritage live oak trees, and while there are no chickens as of yet, there is the possibility of chickens. (And a halfway built chicken cottage.) I am married to the best friend I have ever had, the love of my life, a man whom I admire and respect, who supports me and makes me laugh. We have a wonderful little boy, and enough resources for me to stay home with him. I have work that I love--teaching yoga and writing--feel inspired and energized by, and want to do more of. I have habits and hobbies that keep me healthy and happy. The dream--living it.

But when the dream is conceived, one never pictures what it can sometimes feel like: the hot, sticky anger, the boredom, the despair of wakeful nights and endless afternoons, the petty and piercing disappointments, the doubt and the confusion. (I love this speech on reality vs. fantasy from one of my favorite movies.) How we perceive our lives is truly a matter of perspective. Looking at our lives is like holding a hologram: in this light, it's perfect, it's the dream come true. In this light, it's an awful, bitter nightmare. And all it takes to change our view from one image to the next is the slightest angle, the faintest flick of the wrist. It takes no longer than an instant, and it is a choice we can make everyday--sometimes several times a day, as needed. The point is, living the dream can be as easy as picturing yourself in that dream, and boom: the dream is your reality.

What about you? In what ways are you living your dream? How are you choosing to view your reality in less-than-dreamy moments? Do share in the comments below, or link to your response on your own website.

Tuesday, March 20



there is no such thing as normal

Over the last several weeks, our family has been beset by a series of small  and not-so-small calamities, which accounts for the radio silence around this here blog. My husband's aunt, to whom we were physically, though not emotionally, close, fell ill, was diagnosed with aggressive cancer, and died 10 days later. Seemingly endless hours were spent at her bedside, then dealing with family drama. We were rear-ended (we are fine) while literally on our way to the hospital; in the ER we found out that our son had 103 degree fever, and a double ear infection. We had relatives over for a weekend. Then it was Spring Break, which meant I went without the sanity-saving benefits of two days of Silas being at Mother's Day Out. Oy.

Last night, Central Texas was battered by a fierce storm system: golf ball-sized hail, tornadoes, flooding, crashing symphonies of thunder and lightning hit all around us. (We are fine, although exhausted from lack of sleep.) Then this morning I awoke to a world scrubbed clean, on the first day of Spring Equinox, to the sun shining, and to that moment I have been waiting for for weeks: Silas' return to daycare, and (hopefully) my return to sanity and normalcy, all calamities behind us.

In the early days of this stretch of bad luck, I had the wisdom to give up. By which I mean, to stop fighting the onslaught of mess and trouble, to let go of the internal struggle against what was happening, to give up resisting what was being demanded of me. On many days, that meant giving up my formal practice: no sitting, no yoga, no writing. And even on those days, I had this quiet sense that even as I had to leave my practice for a while, my practice hadn't left me--I had the keen feeling that my practice was working. I wasn't on the cushion so much, but I was sitting--on hospital beds, hospital chairs--with an open, non-judgmental awareness of what was in front of me. I took care of what needing caring for, knowing that the time would come again when I could take care of me.

Now that that moment has finally come, the return to normal so long awaited for, I have the sneaking suspicion that there is no such thing as returning to normal, because there is no such thing as normal. Normal is an idea we have about what life is like, and maybe on a handful of days over the course of the year we get to live that best day, the day we wish every day was like. The day we call normal. And the rest of our days are spent half falling away from normal, half trying to get back to it. By this accounting, most of our days are spent wishing things would be other than what they are.

Surely there are seasons in life. Seasons for work, for friendship, for happiness, for sadness, for love, for grief, for inspiration, for lying fallow. Seasons when family members are sick, when family members are dying. Surely there are wild storms, and days of peace and sunshine. But normal? Either all days are normal, or none of them are. Either way, normal is not something worth striving for. Presence is. Or better yet--the absence of striving.

That all being said--I am so happy to be sitting here, a bowl of strawberries and dark chocolate at my side, the window open to birds singing, my wee boy happily busy playing with his buddies, peace & sunshine, and writing. It's good to be back. I hope to be back again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.