Being Content With Letting Go

Last Thursday, I attended my regular Bhakti yoga class, masked up and in person, the theme for the class was Santosha or contentment. Santosha is part of the eight limbs of yoga. The first two limbs are The Yamas (restraints, moral disciplines or moral vows, how we show up in the world) and The Niyamas (positive duties or observances, how we treat ourselves). Santosha, is the second Niyama and is the idea of being content. Content where you are internally, not grasping externally for more. I felt this was a good message with my meditation mantra this week of Letting Go or Surrender, which is the last Niyama, Isvara Pranidhana, which is about letting go and surrendering to a higher power, realizing that we are not in control of anything.

As the mother of two teenage daughters I am reminded that these girls are starting to move into the driver’s seats of their lives, I am no longer in control. Right now, I need to be the potted plant in the corner, a term I learned from a New York Times article a few years back, and was recently reminded of in a podcast I was listening to this week. The best thing my kids need right now is to know my husband and I are there for them, even though they don’t always want to engage or talk with us. Instead, I need to sit back watch, observe and let go of offering feedback of what I think they need to do. It is not my job to relive my high school years through them, fixing my mistakes, or encouraging new ideas in hopes they will get better results. I graduated almost 30 years ago, times have changed. Yes, we still have rules and curfews. I will still create boundaries to make sure my kids are healthy and safe. Yes, I will make dinner most nights, even though most nights no one is home to eat it. I will continue to drive them and their friends around and quietly listen, while soaking it all in. My main job right now is letting go of all the control.

I definitely have a lot of thoughts and feelings that come along with letting go. I am trying to settle into where we are, realizing that each day may not be great, I might feel feel down or depressed missing my kids. I may feel feel overjoyed for their successes or overwhelmed watching their stress. Acknowledging that all these different feelings can happen at the same time is the healthiest way to move through them. I will notice them, honor them and then let them go. My goal is to let go of the judgment and worry that comes with these different feelings, and instead be curious about them and carry on with them in the best way that works in the moment.

For me, that might look like a long walk with music to drown out my thoughts, or maybe with an audio book to distract me. Other days it might be walking or lunch with a friend to vent about it all. The next day it might be yoga and going to bed early. The idea is that each day, each feeling, each moment (like we talked about in the last blog) is a new opportunity and accepting it and then letting go of all the other stuff we attach to it is the only way to get through it. In the end, I will have my feelings, I won’t put them on my girls and I will sit patiently in the corner, making sure to be there when they need me.

Everyday Is A New Beginning

Everyday is a new beginning. Take a deep breath and start again.

It seems I have taken a bit of a summer hiatus on my blog writing. Often I have felt self doubt or lack of inspiration to get back here. I have also found myself busy with other tasks, not taking the time to sit down and write. Thoughts and judgments of “why would I post about that” or “who would want to read that” kept invading my head. In the end, as I said when I started this blog, its not really about what everyone else wants, its about keeping me accountable.

If I am a writer, than that means I write. Yes, I have my journal that I have been dedicated to since my teens and I have had a daily practice since the beginning of this crazy pandemic, but the big challenge, the big ask, the leap off the ledge, is writing something AND sharing it. So here I am. Starting over. Beginning again.

Starting over can be hard, but one thing I know is that each moment of each day, each breath, is an opportunity to start again. When I would be dieting (which I try not to do these days), after eating something “off plan” I would think, “O’well I blew it for today, guess I will just keep on this path.” But the truth is, with eating, writing, living each day, once we have a thought that turns us in the wrong direction, we have the opportunity in our very next breath to change our direction. We don’t need to wait for the next day, or the start of the new week or new month, we have that very next moment, that very next breath to start again.

So here I am, starting again. And while a lot of people, including myself, feel like this first week of September, after Labor Day, does seem like a new year, it also happens to be the day that felt open to me. I finally feel like I have the space to start again. My eyes have opened and I realize I don’t have to wait until I have something mind blowing to write about, because that might never happen. I don’t have to wait for Monday, or the first of the month, I can start right now, because this is the moment I need to get back in the game and change my direction and get back up again.

So here I am, taking a breath and starting again.

Dog Days of Summer

It was hot this week. But we made it. I don’t hate the heat, I actually kind of like it. I was born for hot weather, my whole family loves the heat, my parents escape the Washington winters for the dry Palm Springs desert. My sisters and I spent summers in our bathing suits at our neighborhood pool and our vacations were always focused on finding the sunshine. Whether it was a boat trip in the San Juans or more recently heading east to soak up the sunshine in the Outer Banks.

At home, during this heat wave, I enjoyed the warm breeze in the morning, sitting on my couch on the front porch, a short meditation, some chai and my journal. It’s not a bad way to start the day. Spending the day in shorts and a tank top and never feeling the slightest chill, I’ll take it. Paddle boarding on the lake, with the warm strong wind was beautiful way to beat the heat. I kept covered with my hat, sunglasses and sun screen, and when I got a bit too warm, it was refreshing to pull on a drenched swim shirt to cool off. When my hat blew away in the breeze, although I knocked my face with my paddle trying to pull it back in, when I finally jumped in to retrieve it, I was once again rewarded with a refreshing break.

I will admit, it wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine. I felt the affects of the heat after a long walk on a mostly empty stomach, I arrived home feeling nauseous and a little dizzy, a cold shower helped with that. I also felt a lack of energy or ability to be productive, which in some respects isn’t so bad, forcing me to read or just lie still in front of a fan, but its grueling for those having to get work done in a 1909 home with no air conditioner.

My pup didn’t love the heat either. Wearing his fur coat all day, every day, he gets a little overheated. He hates being sprayed down with the hose which we did multiple times throughout the day and we all had trouble sleeping at night. Seattle homes are not built or meant for this type of heat, so no matter how many fans we had blowing, curtains we had hanging or blinds we had drawn, the heat still filled the home. But we made it. We did sleep and we didn’t melt.

The concern of climate change is real and we saw that with these record breaking temperatures, with the impending fire season approaching, this is no joke. While I love a warm breeze coming in from the window at night, after our few days of intense heat, we invested in an air conditioner unit so we are prepared for the warm days to come.

The Day Has Come

I never wanted this day to come. I loved living in the camper and innocently I thought we could hold on to it for many years to come. But we never wanted it to be the rotted out camper that goes out to pasture, and as we noticed small issues here and there, we knew it was time to let it go.

These days our kids have no interest in the camper. That alone makes me sad. They are so busy these days working, school activities, time with friends, the last thing they want is to be crammed up in a tiny box with their parents. To head out into the middle of nowhere, with nothing to do is their idea of hell and a dream for Andrew and I.

Even if they were interested we don’t all fit anymore, at fourteen and seventeen they have out grown their sleeping quarters. The top bunk was perfect for an eight year old under five feet, it is not as comfortable for a teen pushing five feet six inches. While the bottom bunk still fits Siena, its not comfortable for her and the idea of having the girls share or sleep together was never an option, even when they were little.

What makes me sad is not necessarily the idea that our camper trips are over, but more, the reality that our girls are getting older, creating their own lives and eventually they will leave our nest. That is the hardest to let go of.

I will miss the impromptu grilled cheese lunches at a trail head or lunch in a National Park parking lot, opening the door to majestic views and vistas.

I will miss sleeping at wineries, spending a few dollars on a bottle of wine and some snacks in exchange for lodging on a beautiful property.

I will miss sleeping in friends driveways, having our own home while we visit someone else’s home.

I will miss our cozy foursome, packed in like sardines, hearing each other’s breaths while we sleep, being close enough to touch from any spot in the camper.

I will miss camper tailgates and overnights in the ski areas.

I will miss campfires in the rain and stumbling into bed smelling of smoke.

I will miss fancy camping at the Gorge and seeing the concert stage from our grassy spot.

I will miss traveling down a dirt road to find an open, mostly flat spot to make our home for the night.

I will not miss packing the camper.

I will not miss loading the camper on to the truck.

I will not miss leveling the camper on uneven dirt ground.

I will not miss putting my toilet paper in a ziplock bag so we don’t clog the black tank.

I will not miss emptying the tanks.

These memories, all of them, the good, the bad, the challenging and the amazing, they are not going anywhere, they do not disappear when the camper does. They live on in our hearts.

What Do You Love About Yourself?

Last week, I had a lovely mid week get away, with fully vaccinated friends. We talked, we laughed, we walked, we did yoga, I twisted my ankle, we ate lots of food and enjoyed each other’s company in a super beautiful and relaxing setting.

When you are able to hang out uninterrupted with your best friends the talks are more than just chit chat, we dive deep, and we talk about it all.

One conversation we had was about how we feel about our bodies. I have always struggled with my weight, my self image and accepting where I am right now. Always striving for perfection, but never ever really feeling like I can get there. I can run marathons, work out everyday, do 108 sun salutations, give me a challenge and I am usually up for it, but when I look at my body, I don’t always see all the amazing things it can do. I see thick thighs, cellulite on my butt and saggy arms.

When I was having this discussion with my friend, talking about being obsessed about the scale. Not wanting to give it up. But in the same breath trying to model healthy body image for my girls, because the last thing I want in my life is for my girls to have a negative self image.

My friend says to me “What if you give yourself one positive affirmation each day, in front of your kids?” What if? What would that do for them? Instead of just trying not to say anything negative, what if I actually modeled and demonstrated self love in front of my girls?

Then I realize maybe I don’t have to say things like I love my strong thighs, because honestly I am not there yet. But what if I can share how much I love my body’s resiliency, because even though I twisted my ankle, when I take care of it, I am bouncing back and will be healed soon because I am being mindful.

I still have a long way to go. And with a society that focuses on beauty and outward appearances, in order for my girls to hear me, I will have to cut through a lot of noise, but the idea is to just keep at it. Every little drop in the bucket will make a difference. That’s what I need to remember and keep working toward.

So, now each day, I will ask myself: What do I love about myself? I invite you to do the same!

Patience

The theme for my yoga class this week was patience. The definition of patience is: “The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.”

This idea is something that I feel like has transformed over the past year and a half. When we started the pandemic we needed to be patient to get all the information, trying to make sense of what was happening with so many changes and updates to what rules were critical for us to follow and those that weren’t. We had to have patience and wait to see our family and friends. It was time to hunker down and keep our distance.

Now, as we made our way through, we have a sense of the guidelines of how to stay safe. But now with vaccines available, we have to have patience for them to be rolled out for everyone. We have to have patience, waiting for everyone to be fully vaccinated. We have to be patient and wait to see how the world re-opens and what that will look like.

Just because I am vaccinated, doesn’t mean everyone around me is. It doesn’t mean the restaurants I was used to going to have just gone back to their normal ways. I will continue to wait, I will be patient and I will appreciate and be grateful that I have a family I love and enjoy spending time with. Although, now that some things have opened up more than before, the weather is nice and I have two teenage daughters, I am seeing them less and less. But, I continue to have patience that we are all on the right path and while I am not waiting for them to come back, I have patience for myself that as the new world rolls out, I will adjust accordingly.

Take A Moment…

There is a lot of talk about mindfulness and meditation these days. An opportunity to connect and recenter. But mindfulness doesn’t always have to mean a silent retreat and you don’t always have to meditate on a cushion in your private yoga sanctuary. While these might be wonderful ways to get away, they are not realistic for most people.

I read an article the other day from a newsletter I get each day called The Daily Good from The Good Trade. It is a super simple newsletter with recommendations on podcasts, books, recipes and interesting articles.

The story that caught my eye was 99 Ways To Add Mindfulness To Your Day, at first I thought this sounded overwhelming, I can’t do 99 things each day, but that wasn’t the point. The idea is to add small moments into your day when you CAN.

These were some of my favorite ideas:

• #3: Breathe. More specifically “Step outside to breathe the fresh air and get a sense for what the day may bring.” This is a powerful way to start your day.

• #6: “Meditate in the shower. Focus on the smell of the soap and how the warm water feels on your skin.” Just that simple, take time in the shower, something we do once a day, where you can be truly present.

• #17: Mindful eating. Something I am always working on, but I like the idea of trying to “pay attention to how food tastes and feels on your tongue. Experience how a warm mug curves gracefully in your palms.”

• #48: “Stop and smell the flowers. Reach out and touch a leaf or a tree trunk. Experience the joy of running your hands or bare feet through grass and earth. Indulge your senses with nature.” I just don’t do this enough.

• #52: “Hug your partner, friend, or pet for 30 seconds. Speak sweet affirmations to them.” This is such a sweet idea, hug and tell those you love that you appreciate them. Hugging is coming back! Go get your shots!

• #57: “Tell your co-workers or team that you are thankful for their work. Thank your barista for making you a delightful cup of coffee and your mail carrier for delivering your package. Just thank someone.” This is just nice to do and makes everyone feel good. I would add in give compliments too, same idea but telling someone what you like about them or that they are offering something you appreciate makes everyone happy!

• #97: And this, just because; “Pause when the sunshine hits your face. Embrace its warmth. Pause when the wind hits your face. Embrace its chill.” Be in the moment.

My suggestions to you is to read the whole article and then pick out a few you might be able to fit into your day or week.

I will start by saying Thank You to the The Daily Good and Emily Torres for this great article that gives us so many wonderful reminders to connect to the world around us and be present each day!

Happy Friday, Friends! Thanks for reading!!

Earth Day Poem

In my yoga classes this week, I read a poem by Stephanie Kaza, (writer, practicing Soto Zen Buddhist, and active proponent of religious dialogue. @https://www.stephaniekaza.com/)

This beautiful poem resonated me, not only for Earth Day, but as a way to honor our body and all it does as we move through our lives on the Earth.

“Please, dear mother Earth,

Help me to stand firm on my own two feet

Drawing on the solid earth below me

Help me to know the constancy of your strength

the power that is you, oh dear mother earth

Help me to walk with the blood of rivers in my veins

and the dark crumbling soil of earth in my flesh

let my muscles be strong as tree trunks

that rise up out of your belly

To dance in the sky

and sing praises to the life all around

Beating, pulsing, rich and full

with your sweet energy.

Oh dear mother earth

live in this body today.

Sing loudly in every breath I take

Stretch wildly and flow freely

with all the directions I move

and come home with me,

come home to my belly

live deep in my soul

oh mother earth, SING!”

A Day Away

A day away from the city

Early morning ferry ride

Open the gate to the farm

School is in session

I am on my way

Travel the curvy road

Fields and farms on either side

Dead end to the trail head

Steep hill leads us down

Grassy knolls and trees around

Through the shrubs we find the water

Rocky beach abundant with sticks

In the water and out

Dropping it and shaking off

Running further down

And then back again

A day at the beach

Our favorite way to spend the day