Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Heads and Hearts

I just spent the last 30 minutes consoling my 6 year old.  As I laid in bed snuggling her, she told me she thought she was going to cry.  I asked her why and she told me she didn't want to tell.  I spent the next 10 minutes or so talking to her about why it's important to tell somebody when we are feeling sad or when something is wrong, that things don't seem so bad when we share them with someone else and that we usually can make things better or right if we ask for help.  She kept telling me she was worried she was going to get in trouble.  I got her to tell me it was something that happened at school, that it didn't have anything to do with another kid.  She was crying at this point and so I took her into the living room and sat down on the couch with her.  She finally got out that she had broken something at school at the end of the day and had not told her teacher.  She was really worried, said it had been bothering her all afternoon and she knew she was going to have a hard time sleeping because she hadn't made the "right" choice.  She is very worried that she is going to get in trouble at school.  
I've been in the throws of my suicide prevention work the last few days.  There were 2 suicides last week in one of the communities I work with.  I have been talking with community members there trying to understand what happened and help them figure out where to go from here, what action to take in the community to make sure this doesn't happen again, that not one more life is cut short.  It makes me keenly aware of why this work is so important.  In the mean time, there is talk of the funding being cut for this program.  I have sent out a couple of emails to my contacts, professional and personal, asking people to advocate to the Governor's office to keep this funding intact.  I have been touched by several of the responses I have received from folks, one in particular from a woman who lost her son 10 years ago to suicide.  He was being bullied at school.  He had created a sculpture of his tombstone in his art class and yet no one picked up on the warning signs.  No one intervened.   He obviously felt there was no one he could turn to, that there was no one that could help.
It brings me back to the start of this...we have to teach children to be help seekers.  We have to give them permission to make mistakes, to out themselves, to encourage them to ask for help, to have reasonable expectations of them, to tell somebody when something is wrong, either with them or when they notice something is wrong with someone else.    It seems obvious, but so many of us internalize what we feel and things fester and grow until they feel bigger than they are. 
I'm thankful Ruby shared with me what she was feeling. The truth is, I didn't notice anything was off with her after school.  We walked home together, she talked about her day.  We had dinner together as a family.  Kids don't always want to talk when we might want them to, when it's convenient for us.  I was at the home stretch when Ruby told me she felt like crying.  I was tempted to gloss over it and tell her to go to sleep. She has been having a harder time going to sleep lately and often stalls bedtime.  The thought crossed my mind that this was one of her tactics.
One of my coworkers last week talked about her teenage daughters and how the time that they were ready to talk was at 11 p.m. and so she'd have to stay up late so she could come in and lay on their beds and hear about what was going on.  A part of me feels like I'm drawing a parallel between things that don't really sync up, but another part of me recognizes that these patterns start now.  The problems will only get more complex, our lives will be just as busy if not busier as the kids get older, but we can never be too busy to listen, to really listen, with our whole heads and hearts.  It's what life is all about. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Baby Face

This one is all about the baby...
My sister used to have this magnet on her fridge that said something along the lines  "a baby in the house is clear evidence of minority rules."  Elsie is 8 1/2 months old.  This Friday I have to go to Seattle for an all day work meeting and it will be the first time I have spent more than 3 or 4 hours away from her.  Hard to believe.  I am very grateful that I have been able to be home with her so much, that the work I do doesn't take me out of the house for more than a few hours at a time.  I'm lucky.  This arrangement may not work forever, the state budget is being cut yet again and we'll see if the suicide prevention money that funds my work makes the cut.  I am putting out into the great universe that this important work I do, both at home and in the community, will continue, at least for now, as is.  I also must add that I marvel a little at the fact that I am so physically tied to her.  Someone told me when I had my first baby, who knows if this is true or not, that for the first nine months the mother and child see themselves as one being, not separate from one another.  I get that. I wake up moments before Elsie does, I know when she needs to eat because my body tells me, I can read when she is tired sometimes before I can read it in myself.  It's a beautiful, marvelous thing and we are coming to that place where a little separation is healthy.  I'm feeling the need to have some freedom, to feel like I can take some time for myself (more than an hour or two at a time) and go.
I'm supposed to be meeting some girlfriends for coffee in 20 minutes.  The baby was tired after we did drop off of the big two at school and so I came back home laid her down and am letting her sleep.  I've been itching to get into a new groove, to figure out what this new schedule will be like and so I need to stop scheduling morning dates.  Elsie can't exactly get into a "routine" if I change what we do every day, eh?  She is the most flexible little child and will take her morning nap at 9 a.m. or at 11 a.m. depending on what I am dragging her around to do, but I think if I let her natural rhythm take over, we'll have a quiet morning at home and I will be able to get my work done, she'll be well rested and we'll all be a little saner.
One more thing on babies...
When my oldest daughter, Ruby, was about Elsie's age, 8 or 9 months old, we went to Boise for a college friend's wedding.  It was a weekend event and many of my old pals from college went and we all hung out together, stayed at the same hotel, etc.  My husband and I were one of two couples that had kids. We met up with everyone on Saturday morning to go to the farmer's market that was right downtown.  My friend Tony, who did not have children, asked if he could push Ruby in the stroller as we cruised around.   At the end of our outing, when he pushed the stroller back to me he said, "Wow, your life must be dramatically different having a baby."  Of course, yes, it is.  He then described what he called a life changing experience - his experience of walking through the market with a baby, everyone smiling at him, at her, looking at him like he was a great dad contributing positively to the world, asking him questions about her.  He said the experience was so different for him because he normally is looked at with skepticism (he had longer curlyish, somewhat wild hair, he is/was kind of hippie-ish) and people generally didn't light up when they looked at him.  He told me that his days might be a bit brighter if he walked around with a baby all day, he thought people would be nicer to him.  That has always stuck with me.  I feel that love that people send my direction as I walk around with Elsie.  It's a rare occasion for me to go somewhere and not be stopped by someone that wants to love on her, tell me how sweet or how cute she is, ask about her.  Babies make people feel good.  Maybe it is because they are these innocent, pure beings, a clean slate.  They hold so much potential.  Maybe it is because it represents new life, new possibilities.  What I want to know, is at what age do we stop looking at them like this?  When do we stop seeing each individual being as this wonderful potential for goodness in the world.  People generally live up or down to our expectations of them.  Wouldn't it be nice if every time we encountered another human being we lit up like that?  Try it for a day...it could change your life, or theirs.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Grooves and Ruts

I am very tempted to go stand in my kitchen and eat handfuls of chocolate chips right now, but I'm not going to. (I brought a handful to eat at the computer desk instead.)  I've got a mountain of dishes around the sink from today's breakfast and lunch and didn't sit down to eat either meal myself.  I ate both of them standing up while preparing food for my kids or trying to pick up the house.  Thankfully, I don't usually do this.  For whatever reason, I feel like I have some anxious energy.  I keep wondering how in the heck I am going to do it ALL.  Moms are really the true superhero's I think.  We juggle a million things every day, manage to raise incredible children (at least in our own eyes) and nurture friendships, family, husbands, etc.  It's crazy.  I wonder sometimes if this had always been how it is, if my mother's life was like this, too and her mother's.  We have enormous expectations of ourselves and often times rise to them.  It seems to me like just feeding our family healthy, home cooked meals is a job in and of itself.    None of this is why I sat down to type though.... I was just in my kitchen thinking there had to be something more productive I could be doing than standing there looking at the dishes wondering how I do it, so I'm blogging, instead of perseverating (a new word I learned yesterday, I'm hoping I put it in the right context although I'm still not entirely convinced it is a word, and spell check is not recognizing it) about how women of today, moms in particular, do everything they do and hold it all together.
Grooves and ruts...in yoga philosophy we talk about samskaras.  If you aren't familiar with this word it sort of has two meanings "that which has been put together" and "that which puts together".  It is conditioned thinking, mental volition, these particular patterns of actions that we establish in our lives, typically through repetition.  I see the first meaning "that which has been put together" as the rut and the other, "that which puts together" as the groove.  The rut is something we create and the groove is already there and something we glide into and move forward in life through.
As I walked alone the other morning, I was contemplating how when I walk by myself, I walk the same route over and over again.  Once in awhile, I will switch directions, but that is about as far as I stray from my route.  My walking partner loves change and so she is always taking us on new routes, walking in different directions, new roads, searching for more hills to climb.  I enjoy the change, partly because someone else is directing it, I suppose, or perhaps because I am distracted.   Where am I going with this???  Good question.  I'm not entirely sure.  What I am sure of, is that these samskaras can be grooves or they can be ruts.  We get in these routines, cycles of behavior that can feel like we've got our groove on or it can feel like we are stuck in a rut.  They aren't really so different if you just think about them, but the connotation we give them is much different.  I've been working on this non-duality thing (remember Deb and Flow), seeing what feels like opposites as just two sides of the same coin, part of the same whole.  When I give my patterns this label of being in a rut, it drags me down.  If I give my pattern the label of getting in the groove of things, it takes on a whole different feeling.
That being said, I'm in a rut this week, a mental rut.  I'm trying to find my groove for this transition into the school year, work year, and all I feel is myself resisting the change.  My new shoes worked for a day and then here I am feeling like I am moving at a sluggish pace to find my groove and not doing so with much ease.
I know, I need to just be patient, sit back and enjoy the ride....watch life unfold and slowly, but surely I will find myself in the groove, going with the flow, feeling brilliant again. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

New Shoes

I have been itching to write for a couple of weeks, but I have felt like I have nothing interesting to write about or anything that is brewing, that I might want to write about, is too close to home and you can't really blog about the people that read your blog, can you?  Maybe you can. 
It always feels like as the seasons change, I feel unsettled.  Not in a bad way, it just feels like there is movement in the air and me being one that doesn't gracefully embrace change, I tend to feel a little cautious, vulnerable as things shift.  Just like all of life, in order to make way for something new, we have to let go of something old.  Being aware of this shift is helpful, but doesn't exempt me from experiencing it, by any means.
For the past few months, I have been walking in the mornings, most days with a friend that lives a couple of blocks away.  We meet in the middle at about 6 a.m. and are usually still rubbing the sleep out of our eyes.  We joke about what we do so we can sleep in another minute or two...I stopped putting my contacts in and wear my glasses. I think she wore her walking clothes to bed one night, or walked in her pajamas.  Regardless of how early it was and how hard it was to get out of bed, knowing someone else was doing it too, or was relying on me to do it helped me get my hiney out from under the covers and get a move on.  She started a new job recently and can't do the early morning walks due to her schedule and so this morning I headed out solo.
When my alarm went off at 5:50 a.m., I contemplated just going back to sleep.  I spent the next 5 minutes talking myself in to getting up, knowing that if I didn't get up today, it would be easier not to tomorrow or the next day, and I've had a good thing going since school got out back in June.  I finally made enough of a case for getting up and drug myself out from underneath the covers.  As I reached around in the closet for my old sneakers, I remembered I had bought myself a new pair of walking shoes last week that I had yet to wear outside.  I decided I would try them out today even though I wore them around the house one day last week and they hurt my feet.   What the heck I'd be by myself and wouldn't slow anyone else down if I was limping by the end of my walk due to new blisters!  Got the dog and off I went...
I love being out early in the morning, most houses are still quiet as I get going and by the time I am heading back toward home it feels like the street is waking up and the world is greeting the day.  The morning walk has multiple purposes....when I walk with a friend, we talk, sort life out a bit and then that's taken care of for the day and I don't have to do any more mental processing (maybe that is why I haven't had anything to blog about either?).  your exercise is done for the day, your body gets kick started and then there is something meditative about walking for me, too.  The other day in yoga class, my friend and teacher described spirituality as your relationship with yourself.  I loved that description.  I would most likely have described it, prior to hearing it articulated that way, as your relationship to the divine.  We are divine and it really is about you and how you view yourself in relationship to that.  I'm not sure that makes sense as I write it, but it makes sense to me.  I definitely feel this awareness as I walk, particularly when I am alone.
The shoes didn't hurt my feet, I felt inspired to write, settled in my own skin again and my mind felt uncluttered when I got back home.  The winds of change are on the horizon, its a new season, I'm "back to work", school has started.  It's not that change in our lives ever stops, there are just periods when we are more aware of what is changing, I think.  Thank God for new shoes.  For whatever reason, leaving my old shoes in the closet this morning felt like letting go, releasing whatever it is that I've been holding on to that feels like it's holding me back.  "Today I put my new shoes on and suddenly everything is right..."  I'm stealing lines from a song here...