Seizing the Moment

How often do we miss fully immersing ourselves in the beauty of the present moment because our minds or our bodies are elsewhere?

Today, I am literally composing this post while my toes are dipping into the calm waters near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Yet, my mind is dwelling on the past or looking to the future. While I am more present now in my mind and body than I have ever been, I see where I’m holding tension in areas such as my neck and solar plexus.

Allowing this tension the space to breathe, I see where I fear being fully present. Somewhere I’ve told myself that being alive and being right here, right now, is unsafe. I block my gut with my muscles as if to armor up against the “other shoe dropping.” I concern myself with silly things such as trying to be sure I have the right saying.

This awareness brings a new softening. As it is in allowing the fears to have light shed upon them that they begin to abate. Once we see that what we’ve been thinking subconsciously is not the truth then we set ourselves free. We are free to enjoy life the way it is meant to be: more and more fully.

So I’ll sit here for a few moments more as the waves lick at my feet, taking away what is no longer meant to be…and bringing to me exactly what I need in this moment: a new sense of peace.

May we each find more of the gifts meant for us by being more fully present. May we shed the old beliefs which no longer serve us so that we may more fully receive exactly what we’re meant to receive: joy, peace and abundance beyond our wildest dreams.

Namaste

Race for Peace

Have you ever found yourself rushing to get to your peaceful place? Maybe driving faster or rushing to get out of the office to go home so you can relax? Or do you find yourself thinking things such as, “if only this were not here, I would be okay”? I only ask these questions because I must confess that I have lived them each this week.

Just the other day, I was upset about being late because it cut down on my “relaxation” time before work. It meant less time walking with my bare feet in the sand. It meant less “me time” before show time at work.

Then I looked further back and saw how, at times, I’ve been more easily agitated after a good relaxing meditation?! Because I was not at peace with the “chaos” of that moment. It’s easy to be relaxed when we’re in our happy places, not so much so in the day-to-day.

How can we carry the peace from our yoga mats, from our meditations into our daily lives? Daily life is a practice. In giving ourselves the loving grace both in and outside of our happy places, we begin to see that we are being and doing the best that we can be and do in that moment.

Racing after peace means we are never peaceful. (Much like the pursuit of happiness.) Peace is a state of being. At any given moment we have the choice to be at peace or at war with the present moment. And what we resist, persists. We carry it forward with us into the next moment, days, years, decades, etc. Best to practice being at peace with the present. How can we be at peace when we are at war with the present, with who we are or where we are?

May we each rediscover the peace within that is waiting to be seen, releasing the need to fight against ourselves or to use our stories to keep us embattled. 

Namaste

It’s Okay to be Okay

This lesson may be just as, if not more, difficult to understand than “being okay with not being okay.” When things are going well for me, I find that I look for the “bad things” on the horizon. Why can I not be okay with what’s happening?

When life is going well, it’s as if I’m constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. I find that my eyes are on the horizon, searching for any potential storms, pirates, tsunamis or other “dangers” that could threaten my happiness. What?! How does this even make sense? Instead of being grateful for where I am and enjoying what I do have, my eyes focus on the potential negatives.

We get what we look for. I’m searching for issues so guess what? Then I’m going to get more issues. Those potential issues then become my focus instead of enjoying the calm waters and sunny skies that surround me now.

So here today, I choose to redirect the focus to where I am now, and away from seeking threats that are outside of my safe harbor; that are also outside of my control. Putting down the binoculars, I can now focus on the present. Even if the present is impermanent.

I extend this wish out to each of you: May we each find the peace and comfort in where we are, even if it’s rough sometimes, even when it’s easy sometimes. Knowing that it is all transient: it will change, so let’s be okay with where we are today.

Note: This is different from complacency, this is about acceptance of what is. Only then can we choose to change course. ❤️

Namaste

The Freedom in Breaking Down

Kneeling on the hard concrete patio, there was a chill to the air as dusk began to fall and I quickly scribbled my feelings on dishes using permanent markers. With safety glasses in place, I placed a plate gently inside a small banker’s box. My adrenalin rushed as I tightly gripped the hammer and brought it down, angrily and repeatedly on the fragile dish ware. At first my hits were staccato-like, trying to pulverize the plate into oblivion.

As I moved through the scribbled set of spare plates, at times large chunks of ceramic shrapnel would land on the patio. One large piece jumped up and scraped along my right middle finger where dark red blood soon followed. This did not stop me; using alternate grips with the hammer to avoid more scrapes, as I was beyond the point of stopping to find gloves.

The power I felt was AMAZING. I then began to revel in the amount of destruction I could do with one smooth hit. Soon the weight that I had been carrying around my chest was lifted, the weight on my shoulders soon followed. My prevailing emotions moved from anger and sadness to empowerment.

Originally, I had planned to throw the plates into a dumpster. Yet I wanted to feel the action of the breaking at my own hands. I now see the benefit of really feeling it. Maybe next time I’ll wear gloves… maybe.

There was such a sense of peace after everything was adequately broken. In fact, I was proud of my destruction. There was also beauty in the melodious way the broken pieces chimed as they collided with one another while I cleaned up.

Looking back, I see how I was able to break some of the habits of my thinking patterns just by breaking plates. That night, I broke up with some of my anger. Afterwards, I felt enlivened and relieved of many blockages. Over a week later, I still do. Since then, I’ve learned a few things, too.

Several people have shared with me the Greek tradition of breaking plates as a form of celebration. One Greek friend even gave me pointers on buying the plates from the Dollar Store instead of the thrift store for ease of breakability. She also spoke to the exhilaration felt with breaking plates while shouting “Opa!”

I have also read of how some Buddhist monks break green glass in pillowcases to help relieve the feelings of anger. What’s interesting about this is that my next calling is to nicely decorate a plate before I smash it, which seems akin to the sand mandalas created and then destroyed by Tibetan Monks.

Since following my calling to break stuff, I now realize how ceremonial and freeing this very act can be. If you plan to follow, please do so safely.

Namaste

A Child’s Perspective on Divorce: Part II

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Another week brings another awareness regarding my son’s feelings. Last week, I wrote about some insights I had gained by paying attention to the feelings behind my son’s behaviors. Here, I reveal the next layer.

Mad at me for picking him up from his grandparent’s house, or when I remove his favorite toy after a tirade, my son yells words that can cut through any heart, “I HATE YOU! YOU ARE NOT MY MAMA! YOU’RE A BAD MAMA!”

The first time it happens, I’m already holding him in my arms. I calmly ask him if he wants to get down. He stares back a me, his eyes squinting and with his pursed lips one could easily focus on his anger. Yet, behind his big brown eyes I can see his sadness. He moves closer into me, showing me that he needs to feel close, though his words are divisive.

“Why do you hate me?,” I ask him softly. With the exchange unfolding in front of my parents, I can feel their reactions, though I keep my eyes on my son’s. He continues his furrowed-brow, almost glaring, gaze back at me and ignores my query.

Once back at my home (to him, his father’s house remains his place-to-call-home and for this I cannot fault him, that’s the only home he was known.), I make sure to spend more one-on-one time with him. Ignoring the half-packed holiday decorations, leaving the clean clothes unfolded in their baskets and dirty dishes in the sink, I begin to play and listen more while talking less.

The second time this outburst occurs this weekend, (or truly maybe it was the third), I am less shocked and able to be more present. This time when the pain comes I am able to remain grounded and in my skin. Soon thereafter, awareness floods in from my still inner voice, who quietly whispers to me from inside of some deep chamber in my heart, “He’s afraid you will leave him, as he feels you left his father.”

Instantly, I have the key to unlock this mystery. Seeing now the source of his anger, I pull him close to me. I whisper to him that he is my son and that I am his mother. I follow my heart with the words that follow and can only recreate their essence now. I tell him how even though we are apart now sometimes, we are still mother and son, and that no one else can be his mother.

It can be a challenge to be present when a child lashes out. Truth flows more easily from the mouth of babes, slicing to the core more deeply and easily. In his fear of rejection and abandonment, he was trying to push me away. If I had allowed my own pain and my own wounds to persist, I would have pushed back and missed the message that he was triggering deep from within my heart.

Sometimes when the pain comes we try to run and escape it. In so doing, we can miss the inner lesson. However, each time we can be fully present and in our own bodies, we gain insights. Each time we hear the message behind another’s words, our understanding grows deeper than before. This insight allows us to connect more deeply with others; to become more aware of their needs as we travel this path together. With each lesson learned, we each grow stronger in our spirits by removing the errors in our truths that are in our path.

In my experience, we heal in layers. While the words and angst were similar to before, this time he was more trusting – falling into me more easily, instead of away from me. This time, I too, was more trusting of myself. The more we can trust one another, the more deeply we are both able to heal.

May we all have the ability to be more be more present when others share their pain, even when it causes ours to rise to the surface. May we all see how deeply connected we truly are, under the surface of our so-called-suffering.

Namaste.

Photo by David Castillo Dominici at freedigitalphotos.net

A Different View of Motherhood: A Letter From a Mother to a Mother-To-Be

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Dear Expecting Friend,

Congratulations! You’re expecting to bring a new life into the world in just a few months. This is such an exciting time filled with potential, and I’m sure some worry, too! From now on, you will be receiving advice, sometimes from strangers. I am going to impose upon you for a few minutes some perspectives that I have taken in over the years.

Being a mother is one of the best jobs, as well as one of the toughest. It is going to bring you some of your greatest highs, as well as some of the lowest lows. No one warned me about the lows.

Expectations can be set by TV shows, where moms portrayed by actresses who may be stay-at-home moms or moms who work full-time. Regardless, they are able to balance having a family of beautifully, mostly well-adapted children, while remaining sane themselves. These TV programs rarely show the truth, yet these images fill our minds as we embark on the journey of motherhood.

Social media glossy snap shots that portray families are often well-crafted and look good to those on the outside. These images can lead us to desire to create a perfect life for our children. Be careful, though, in aiming for perfection sometimes we miss the mark. We want the events of our children’s birth, birthdays, holidays and even daily lives to look glossy and shiny. Most often the reality is that poop, snot, vomit, spit-up and spilled food color our days. In focusing on the appearances, children’s needs may be lost in the mix.

Yes, there will be times when you will be exalted and you will feel like you are on top of the world. And there will be times where you feel like regardless of what you do it is just never enough. This is the gap between where you believe things should be and where they actually are. The gap is mired with shame and guilt. Unfortunately, perfection does not save you from this gap, though part of you believes that it will.

Instead of being perfect, strive to focus on your strengths. In my experience, motherhood can show us both where we are strong, as well as where we are weak. We often take our strengths for granted. Meanwhile, our weaknesses are often magnified under the microscope of society, as well as through the lens in which we view ourselves post-conception.

Please, be gentle with yourself as you take steps along your path. Know that you are human and super-mom is a myth (or a trumped up image). It is almost impossible to work at home or away, to have a baby to take care of, to maintain a partnership and to remain sane through it all, while getting enough sleep and making flawless decisions along the way.

So when there are tears, let them flow. Holding them back does not make you stronger, just as water weakens steel, your held back tears will weaken you at the core. Again, remember to gentle with you, this includes taking time for yourself, too!

Warmly,
Tiffany

P.S. You will never see the mother of the screaming baby in the super market, after you have experienced being her yourself.

No, not MY son

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This is my initial response to the notion that my son might be autistic. He has yet to be diagnosed, and his diagnosis is not the point of this piece. Instead this is more about my process as a mother. I began to feel immense guilt and even began to wish that the condition would have been mine and not my son’s. I share this experience as I do not feel that I am alone as a mother in these feelings. My love for my son remains strong and since writing this, I have grown more aware and sensitive to his needs; autistic or not.

If you are interested in learning more about Autism, specifically, I have provided a link to an interesting Psychology Today article, here.

“We think your son has autism,” they said.
“No, not MY son,” was my immediate response.

Rip my heart out,
throw it in a blender,
dry the mash in the hot desert sun,
scatter the remains.

Innocence stripped in an instant,
As what I imagined his life would be changed just as quickly.
Mourning begins quickly after the denial fades and the signs light up in Neon.

“The evidence is strong” they say.
Perhaps this is true.
Tears, hot and fast, flow like lava down the mountains of my swollen cheeks.

The guilt is next to arrive, crashing like a wave upon the delicate shore of my psyche.
Where did I go wrong?
Was it the fever he had? Maybe if I had given him Tylenol sooner…
Was it the allergic reaction to something at the sitter’s? Maybe if I had not worked that day…
Was it letting him watch too much TV with his sister? Maybe if I had played more and cleaned/cooked/worked less…

Yet the evidence to the contrary is just as strong.
“I love you, mama,” he often says at the drop of a hat.
Showered with “big, big hugs and big, big kisses,” I ponder, how can this be?
Time to do something different? Change of clothes? Change of venue? Change of anything: he instantly digs his heels in.
The quirks may be more than just quirks…

So if this is true,
then put me on the spectrum, too.
The signs that they identify in him,
I can just as easily see in myself:
Socks in a twist cannot be dismissed.
Task to finish: no time for anything else, even play.
Public speaking, “a performance” is easier than personal heart-to-heart conversations.
(While written communication is easier still than anything that requires speaking.)
Transitions are tough: really, who likes change?
Preference for 1 or 2 close friends vs trying to be friends with everyone.
Yep, that is me, too.

The denial rises up again,
cresting like a wave.
I’d much rather bear the burden of his potential diagnosis than for him to have to.
With so many signs lighting up like Neon upon review,
No, not my son, but maybe his mother.

Namaste.

Being Present as a Parent

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“It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.”

― L.R. Knost, Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages

Before I was a parent, it was easy for me to see all of the things that other parents could do to solve issues between themselves and their children. It was so simple, or so I thought, that I often wondered why parents took the hard road. Now, as a parent on her own healing journey, things are never so clear.

It can be easy to be centered, grounded and present with an open heart when I am alone … and especially when I am in meditation. However, when my children are triggering my wounds, sometimes it can be a real struggle for me to hold onto any of that grace.

When I can find humor and help them laugh, the downward spiral can be quickly broken. Usually these moments are found when I am in the grace of my heart. Other times, especially when I am focused on outcomes, my grace is lost and I am challenged in my ability to be present. It seems that I dive into my wounds of a yesteryear. Getting lost in my own feelings of rejection, it can be a challenge to be present as a parent.

In those moments of feeling emotionally frozen, I do my best to sit with it and to avoid bringing it out to my children. Sometimes I am able to complete this mission successfully. Other times I miss the mark completely. I do my best to turn these into learning moments for myself. It can be a challenge to simultaneously parent my children while I re-parent myself.

Breathing into the emotional pain, I am able to more quickly move from being stuck to being back in grace.

Namaste.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles Freedigitalphotos.net

The Irony of Desire

Is there irony in desire?

Just as a stone thrown into the water causes ripples across the surface (and below it) we radiate our energy out into the world.  What we send out is also eventually reflected back to us. It is said that what we desire, desires us. The Law of Attraction. Is this really the case, I wonder?

The only way to get to where you want, is to be where you are.  -Anna Vali

If I am not present with myself in the now, then how can I expect to be where I do want to be?

The present is always perfect. It’s just the mind that wants something different.  -Osho

The present is our perfect teacher, it is always there.  -Pema Chödrön

Other masters then remind me:

To the mind that is still,  the whole universe surrenders.  -Lao Tzu

Love is the bridge between you and everything. – Rumi

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.  – Theodore Roosevelt

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.  -Lao Tzu

Let go of what was, accept what is, and have faith in what will be…   unknown

When you are completely in the now and nowhere else, your mind will calm down and you’ll feel that you don’t need anything else. – Steve Ross

So where is the line in the sand between being present and desiring something?  When in desire, how can I be fully present in the now?  If I had what I desired, I would no longer be in desire.

So it appears that the solution to my desire is to be present in the moment, to be grateful for what I do have and to be at peace within myself and within my existing relationships. For if I were truly at peace within what I already have then why would I desire someone else?

Desire now becomes my spotlight to reveal where I am not giving myself the gift of the present moment.

Feel free to create a dialog. I’m interested in your perspective!

Namaste

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