Smiles and Stress

“With fond remembrance of your amazing smile, the one that took over your face seemingly sponsored and wattaged by Edison bulbs.”  A message – to ME – from a long lost friend. How that stirs up all that is good thinking I reflected an obvious sense of happiness. We all know how things aren’t always what meet the eye…but…there’s always a grain of truth regardless. And these words artistically phrased and meant for me, well, it made my day. How nice is it to be remembered for something so utterly positive?

Only days after receiving this message, one of my yoga teachers was crouching in front of me at the beginning of class and remarked rather simply “you have a great smile.” And again I felt good about myself. Like a reassurance that I am ok.

And the cherry on top? The song played at the end of yoga class tonight – Smile by Nat King Cole

 

So smile more it is!

These two occurrences have led my thoughts to laughing. And how laughing automatically brings you into the present. I still firmly believe a good old fashion belly laugh is medicine of the best kind. I know I need more of this. Being told by one of my healthcare providers just yesterday I need to make sure I find time to do something that fills my cup once again brought light to my life…the dark corners I like to avoid. Running fills my cup but also empties it, she said. She is right. So what is it that I can do that will rejuvenate, balance, de-stress, make me a better me? I’m still actively pondering this. But I will admit, my initial thought is putting on my comfy pjs and watching my most favorite sitcom. And hey that might be it. Just slowing down, sitting down, and just simplifying.

……Although, it’d be nice to have someone rub my head too.

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Gratitude

It’s been awhile, I know. While  much to say, I just couldn’t find the time to sit and write. But I have been processing…a lot. After four years of contemplating meeting with a counselor, I finally made the decision to talk with one. And she is perfect. Funny, she did ask me “So why are you here? You seem to have it all together?” My answer “Guilt. I don’t want to feel guilty anymore.”

With my meeting Ellen (that is my new counselor’s name), my runs, my now daily sun salutation practice, my now daily meditation practice, and my overall being a bit more present, I have found a new place inside of me. However small, it’s new. And one strong realization of this place, is that as much as I feel more present, and I am able to think clearer, I am still very aware of my avoidance of feeling. It’s a blocking actually. Surely, it’s a defense mechanism. It’s an unhappy place and reminiscent of my past. And I so don’t want to go back to that feeling.

Which brings me to the purpose of my post today…gratitude. In the words of my yoga teacher “Find something to be grateful for, we are all fortunate people,” I am doing just that. Every time she speaks these words, my mind immediately thinks of my two boys and my lips curve into a smile. Gratitude does not have to come from something momentous. Find it in the smallest of spaces – like a cup of hot chocolate or a vase of fresh wildflowers or a warm fuzzy blanket. So much surrounds us, so many itty-bitty miracles. The only thing preventing us from seeing them is ourselves.

So in no particular order, here are 10 tiny, itty-bitty parts of life that hold space in my tote bag of gratitude…..

My adirondack chairs that welcome pause…my handmade tea cup molded with my manager’s hands and so thoughtfully given to me…my Runner’s Magazine for all it’s inspirational stories and words of motivation…my camera to capture so many amazing moments that I can reflect upon…my new sneakers because they make me feel like I am running on clouds…my barn door because other than being exactly what I had wanted design wise, it was built just for me…my thieves oil for starting my mornings with a calming smell…mason jars for their versatility and simple beauty…the candle in the window I plug in every night as a small gesture for our soldiers…my hair elastic for just simply pulling my hair back.

What are you grateful for?

Blocking

All thoughts. All feelings. All emotions. It became a mirage. An illusion. “Thank you for Christmas morning. Now everyone put on your happy faces and have a good afternoon.” The insanity of it all makes me question “Did I really live my life like this all these years?” How can that be? All of it creates doubt in the corners of my mind. But that’s intentional right? He even asked T “What was your mother doing in the car?” He thought somehow T would see this as my fault. But T knows. His reply “Mom didn’t do anything” indicates he knows. But why should he be subjected. There was a calmness in my response that I repeated after every yell “you can not treat me like this.” In a sense, it was my mantra. But the threat yelled at me on the highway “DO YOU WANT TO GET OUT OF THE CAR?” was truthfully tempting. I did actually.  The music was then intentionally turned up so loud that T could not hear me in the back seat. The speed of 80mph was intentional as our newly licensed son tried to follow us. D saying he just wanted to drive alone or with his younger brother simply because “I just want to drive” was only a cover for not wanting to be in the car with him. It’s suffocating. So toxic. So the hour long drive, I retreated to a place of nothingness. Because truly being present in that moment would have resulted in a catastrophic breakdown. I was texting my mom however because it all was boiling inside of me and I needed to vent. And then retreat. It was a game I played with myself in order to hold it together. My brother started to then text me to come to his house. Oh, how much I wanted to go there. And so as my insides turned and twisted, I put my game face on and held it together. Not for me though. For them. For my boys. But really was that the right thing to do?

Thanksgiving – Top Ten

A time of year to reflect on being thankful. It reminds me of 50 Happy Things…. and then some. When you take the time to focus on gratitude and positivity, happiness flourishes. So without further ado, this Thanksgiving I am giving thanks for…

having a purposeful job – helping to change families’ lives for the better

a strong enough body – one that carries me to all the places I need and want to go

access to beautiful, tasty, and healthy food – and the ability to create meals for my boys

my home – it keeps us warm, holds our memories tight, and safely tucks us in at night

the crisp fall air – it replenishes, repletes, awakens

connections – to family, to friends, to co-workers, and to strangers

forgiveness – the freedom that accompanies, the lightness

hope – and the momentum it carries along

moments – being present, recognizing

my boys – without a doubt the greatest gift and one I will be forever grateful for

 

I wish everyone a peaceful Thanksgiving, one filled with moments, hope, and maybe even forgiveness.

 

Where is Hope?

As if to suddenly have cold water thrown in my face, hope has appeared to have left the room. Sadly, it feels like it has left my life. Boiling, festering, lingering, holding strong – all the hurt and disappointment. Grabbing hold of the present, the moments of light. But the clock outsmarts me. Poof – it’s gone.

Drops of guilt, remembrance, dreams, memories, love, and pain wash down my face. But it doesn’t feel cleansing. “Is everything okay? You said there is a lot on your mind.”

Yes, yes there is. Don’t you know? Can’t you feel? Tomorrow would have been eighteen years. Tomorrow, eighteen years ago, was and still is one of the best days of my life. Laughter, love, family, possibility, and hope.

Please tell me. Where is Hope? I need you.

Slipping

Sliding. Trying to hold on. So, so tired. And a quote from yoga “we inherit the results of our actions.”

 

The Vietnamese Monk Thich Nhat Hahn’s version of the Buddha’s teachings of the Five Rememberances:

I am of the nature to grow old. There is no way to escape growing old.

I am of the nature to have ill health. There is no way to escape ill health.

I am of the nature to die. There is no way to escape death.

All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.

My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground upon which I stand.

 

Sometimes, it is hard to stand in reality. Sometimes it is so much easier to hide, to pretend, to ignore, to lessen, to distract, to be completely not present. And as much as this is not what is best, it is where I currently exist. The walls are squeezing in from all sides. Does anyone know how to find me?

Being

This morning in yoga class, there were several passages read…more than once throughout the class. Although this is not word for word, they read something like this:

 

Some feel walking on water is a miracle. But the true miracle lies in walking on this green earth mindfully and peacefully.

What we think, what we do, what we feel, affects our ancestors and future generations.

 

They both intertwine in meaning. Be present. Be aware. Be kind.

While driving to class this morning, I suddenly realized it had been a few days since practicing Reiki. Impulsively I felt disappointed in myself. But…I practiced during yoga. If you fall down, it’s okay. It’s another opportunity. Another chance to get back up. Just be.