saying yes

We spent a happy and hectic weekend recently at my brother’s house, whose grown daughters no longer require baby gates and outlet covers.  One person was assigned at all times to our foster son, to keep his roving little feet and hands out of trouble.

Cheerful by nature, the poor boy cried with frustration more than once, irritated by the sharp tone of “no!” he heard again and again as he approached the stairs, the garbage can, the dog food dishes.

It’s wonderful to be back at home with our baby gates and cabinet latches and relatively baby-proof spaces.  Our son can once again roam his bedroom, playroom and our kitchen; the alluring dog and cat food dishes are safely on the other side of the gate; he is only occasionally accosted with a firm no.  Within the boundaries we set for him, it’s safe enough to let him explore and experiment.  We are of course always nearby, but we don’t have to be a half step behind him with a vigilant eye at all times.  I have more opportunities to say yes.

I like making resolutions, whether it’s at the new year, or around my birthday, or other times when I need to reassess and revitalize myself.  This new year, I am trying to shift my thinking about my resolutions, so that I can use them the way we do baby gates for our son–an opportunity to say “yes” to myself.

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January 4, 2012 at 10:11 pm Leave a comment

merry, happy

Earlier in the week we received a package from a friend in Alaska.  Something for the cats, and the dog, my husband, and I.

“The children,” she said in her card, “can play with the boxes.”

Which is when I stopped and looked at the boxes, which were lovely, and gifts in and of themselves.

Merry, happy, and safe, whatever you are celebrating.

December 27, 2011 at 10:31 am 3 comments

breathe

No matter your religious beliefs or family traditions, this is a busy time of year, when more is being asked of us.  I was reminded of this on Saturday, when I arrived in our little town of White River Junction to teach class, and could not find a parking spot.  As I made my second lap around town, I waved to a couple of my students, engaged in the same activity, and passed the two churches who were holding their holiday bazaars that morning.

Fortunately, the busy downtown gave me a perfect opening into the theme I wanted to work with that morning in class: finding–and holding–both the energy and the relaxation of the practice.  Some poses lend themselves more easily to generating energy–the standing poses, for example, or backbending poses.  Some poses lend themselves more easily to finding the relaxation–child’s pose, supported poses, savasana.

Practicing and teaching this week, I’ve tried to find both the energy and the relaxation in every pose.  So a vigorous Warrior I can also be calming.  And a sleepy legs up the wall can be energizing.  And an extra lap around downtown can be…not so bad.

December 5, 2011 at 9:11 pm Leave a comment

Time

The time change has always been hard on me, but it’s harder this year with babies, who don’t wear watches and couldn’t tell the time if they did.  I hope they’ll be on standard time, like our clocks, by week’s end, but so far we’ve had early mornings and unsettled evenings–babies wondering why they are being kept up so late at night.  And me wondering–not for the first time–why we trust the devices we wear on our wrists and put on our walls to mark for us the passage of time, rather than relying on our own selves, our own experience of each moment.

We’ve all had those moments that seem to take forever–hearing the long inhale as you wait on the other end of the phone for some big piece of news.  And we’ve all had those hours that seem to take a moment–involved in a good book, engaged in a good conversation, or closing your eyes for a moment and having it turn into a long nap!

Why do we trust the devices outside of ourselves to tell us the time, rather than the sense of time we have within ourselves?  Perhaps the hours we are deeply engrossed in something–even if it is a nice nap!–really do pass differently than the long moments when we wait to exhale.  I am certain the minutes my babies spend crying are longer than the ones they spend laughing–no matter if the clock tells me they are exactly the same.

I know there is the practical matter of all arriving on time for a scheduled meeting or the start of school or work or a yoga class, but I also know that I wear my watch all the time, and refer to it during my days–and nights–far more often than I need to.  Especially since, on most days right now, no one expects me at any meetings, or at school, or at work.

My babies do expect me to meet their needs, though.  Food when they are hungry, diaper changes when they are dirty, books when they’re ready to read, bed when they are ready to sleep.  So if they aren’t wearing watches to schedule the events of their day, why is it that I need to?

November 7, 2011 at 8:53 pm 2 comments

Taking steps

Our foster son is nearly eleven months old, and today he walked for the first time.  He has taken a few steps now and again in the past couple of weeks, but today I saw him walk to get somewhere he wanted to go.

He’s a very solid little person, both in his body and his heart, and his first steps reflected that–not the stuttery, tripping, baby steps I might expect, but five solid steps.  One foot after another.

The rest of the day, I watched as he practiced his new skill.  At the end of the day–already wearing his pj’s and waiting for my husband to get home to read books and tuck him into bed–he took a couple of steps towards me, then stopped to get his balance.  I backed away.  He walked a few more steps, paused, and I backed up again.  He walked across the room towards me in this way, only touching my legs when I was backed up against the far wall.

Parenting is of course a bucket of work, but it’s also an amazing privilege to watch another person learn how to do things.  He had such a look of awe and joy on his face as he walked towards me, exploring the outer limit of his abilities on his sturdy little legs.

At some point, we settle into walking, every step no longer cause for awe, and celebration.  But watching him inspires me to think about what I am taking steps towards right now in my life–in what ways am I exploring the outer limit of my abilities?  What brings joy to my face, and awe to my heart?

I don’t have an answer to this right now–it’s late, I’m tired, and I still need to pick up the playroom–but I know that asking the question is taking steps in the right direction.

October 23, 2011 at 9:32 pm 2 comments

simply s t r e t c h

One of my favorite moments of every day is watching my daughter Nora wake up.  Sometimes she is lying in bed with her eyes open when I go in to check on her.  She’s quietly looking around the room, wrapped up in her swaddling blanket.  Sometimes she’s fussing a bit, making the squeaks and squawks which mean she is about to cry.  Sometimes she’s already crying, mouth wide open and eyes tightly shut.

When I peel open her swaddling blanket, no matter what Nora was doing the moment before, she stretches.  Immediately when her first arm is released, it goes over her head.  Second arm released, goes overhead.  Then a long stretch with her short little arms, and a big arch in her back as she rolls slightly to her side.  Then she stretches her little legs as long as they go.

What an inspiration!  Although Nora has been in many yoga classes since she was conceived–most of them in utero!–nobody had to teach her to stretch first thing in the morning.  It’s something every baby knows to do–after a long sleep, some time in the carseat, or a satisfying meal, pause and take a long stretch, head to toe.

I have so little time to practice these days, but I watch Nora and realize–much as I would enjoy it, I don’t need 90 minutes–or even 9 minutes–to practice yoga.  I just need to pause for one moment, take a deep breath, and stretch myself head to toe.

It’s as simple as that.

September 28, 2011 at 8:44 pm 2 comments

on the mat

While I love all of the emotional and spiritual growth I receive from my yoga practice, I’ve had a good reminder lately of what a physical practice it is, and how much benefit my body receives from the practice.

The cesarean delivery of my daughter meant a break from my yoga practice, which I had already greatly modified as a result of my great (as in wonderful and large!) belly.  Now, after a break to recover from the labor and delivery, I’m back at it.  And realizing how much strength yoga requires, and how much strength we can build through practice.

I’ve never appreciated more than I do now how much I use my belly in yoga, moving from plank to downward dog and back, moving from downward dog to step forward into a lunge, revolving in any pose.  (And I’ve never appreciated all those women who come back so quickly from their own labor and deliveries–rock on, you mamas!)

Though I am much recovered from labor and delivery, I’m not close to doing all that I could do before Nora’s birth.  It’s astonishing–and frustrating–to realize how much more strength I need to gain.  I try to be in the moment with this body, exploring–and accepting–what I can do right now.  While my intention in coming to my mat right now is to strengthen my body, yoga offers me the chance for my body, heart and spirit to become stronger and more supple as well.

So good to be on the mat again.

July 26, 2011 at 3:34 pm 1 comment

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