Balance is this something that we all strive for? I think for most we want to be happy and content. Is this truly being balanced? If you look at a true scale one that is in complete balance the scales are not tipped. They are hovering equally. This would mean then that we would be equally happy, equally sad. Equally busy as we are bored. Everything equal if balance is truly what we strive for.
This leaves me to believe that most people if they were to look at the true meaning of balance would say no. Not exactly what I want. I think most people would prefer a world or a life free from conflict, stress or any unpleasantness. This is not truly being balanced. How can we be really happy if we don't really know what unhappiness is. If we are fully happy all the time are we hiding or ignoring some other emotions?
To lead a fully balanced life one must have an equal amount of work, family, rest, exercise, and alone time. Is this how most of us live - I don't think so. I think we all try to balance out all of these things but the truth is that most of us work too much, sleep to little. We spend so much time working that we have little time to spend with families or doing the things that we love. I too am guilty. I care for my children each day, I have a Massage practice I love and I often teach classes at night and on week-ends. I strive for a balanced life but still done feel as if I have as much personal or family time as I would like. I guess the big question is how do we change this?
I constantly hear people talk about "when I retire", or "when the kids are bigger". Why do we have to wait to enjoy our lives when we are too old to do it. A friend of mine recently told me that she admired my spontaneity, I think about something and I do it. This is sometimes a good thing but not always. I guess part of finding that balance for me, is more about being in the present. Doing what I want and feeling what I want, right now. Not waiting until I am 65 to do the things I love, to hang out with my kids and enjoy my life. My home may not be as clean or tidy as I'd like. My hair and clothes rarely in place and sometimes I am rushing to get gas in my car to get to wherever I need to be. However despite this, I enjoy the life that I am living.
I try to encourage my children to appreciate the time we spend together and I make that time for them. If we have 10 minutes to go to the park or just sit and talk we do it. I force them (and myself) to turn off electronics and we focus on each other. When one of them or I am having a bad day we keep in mind that this too shall pass and tomorrow will be different. It always is.
So I guess the only way to change is actually to accept what is happening right now. Instead of striving for "balance" under the guise of happiness. Try to be present, try to accept how you feel when you feel it and know that this too shall change. Unplug if and when you can. Take each moment you have and accept it. If you feel you are wasting time change it. Take those 5 or 10 minutes and do something meaningful. Spend time with yourself and those you love. Who cares if the floor is clean and the dishes tidy...
This New Year I had much more people in my classes than usual for the first week or so. I encouraged my regular students to welcome the many new people to the practice of yoga. Many were open in saying that it was a New Year's resolution and that they were trying yoga out. I encouraged my regulars to relinquish their regular "spot" and make room for new students. I welcome new students and asked them to acknowledge themselves for trying something new or returning to something old.
I've seen over the last week or so the resolutioners have apparently returned to the comfort of their sofa's. Deciding that perhaps yoga wasn't for them, the gym to busy, they were to sweaty and the regiment just too much for them. What saddens me is the one's who left my classes with a big "thank-you, I really enjoyed that" and never returned. Did the yoga bliss not stay with you? My hope is; that they found another teacher that they preferred, or a class that was at a more convenient time for them or they took what they learned and are working on it at home.
I have never really been one to set a resolution to begin on January 1st or within the week after. I'm not exactly sure why people do it? To me, people spend the entire month of December, or perhaps a lifetime, eating bad food, not exercising and harming your body. People then set what to me seems like an unrealistic expectation of picking one day to get rid of it all and hope it sticks. I'm not too sure about that? Why not wish yourself a Happy New Day!? Chose a day that works for you! Slowly work up to that new thing you are going to try, rather than doing it all at once.
If it is yoga realize that it is a practice, it is a lifestyle. I don't think a person can in one day just flick a switch and all of a sudden become fit or a vegetarian or a non-smoker. Work up to it. Take an intro class once a week and commit to the practice of going to that class once a week. For the hard core carnivore try cutting out beef or pork first, then move to chicken while adding healthier food options to your diet. For the person trying to quit smoking - I know that's a hard one - I did it almost 10 years ago. Slowly cut back to a few a day and then let it go perhaps with help from a health professional.
We become very attached to habits, be that perceived positive habits or perceived negative habits. I just think it is unrealistic to say that one can all of a sudden on January 1st let go of a negative habit overnight. We are all creatures of habit or maybe creatures of attachment. Letting go of old habits and gaining new ones, letting go of a negative attachment and attaching on to something more positive takes work and is a practice in itself.
So now that the pressure of January 1st is over. Maybe you have returned to your sofa deciding that eating better is too hard, going to yoga takes to much time, quitting smoking sucks or whatever it is that you used to do. This time pick a date on your calendar, label it Happy New Day. Do your research, shop around, talk to different people, cut back and slowly change out the "negative" habit. Try again by saying "Happy New Day". Commit to your practice of letting go and try try again, before you know it you'll forget about whatever it is you thought you were trying to give up. Of course when you realize that it will be January 1st again. Just another day to you, because you will now be celebrating Happy New Day!
As December 1st fast approaches I know that Christmas is just around the corner. As I prepare for my children by getting those little items on their list that they know Santa will bring and some special treats that I know they will just love my mind is distracted.
The next part of my Christmas preparation is the incredible amount of baking that I am normally well into by the beginning of November. This is the part of the Christmas tradition that I have not started yet. It just dawned on me why. In my family my grandmother was the baker. I would spend summers in Truro, Nova Scotia with her and my Papa and she would bake. If she wasn't in the midst of it she would be pulling treats out of her freezer for me. She thought nothing of feeding me one of her delicious home made Christmas Puddings in the middle of August just because I asked for it.
The treats my Nanny would pull out would be shortbread cookies, touched with icing and a candied cherry, she would have TV rolls (marshmallows rolled with chocolate, nuts and coconut), thimble cookies, pork pies (no pork in them) raisin cookies, ginger cookies soft and hard, brownies, nanaimo bars, cherry loaf and fruit cakes. Her two full size deep freezers always over flowing. Mum swore each summer I would return 20 pounds happier! As my Nanny got older she could no longer bake the way she used to. Her hands sore with arthritis and her mind not so clear with Alzheimers.
We were lucky to have her close to us the last two Christmases and I have been given her gift to bake. So I would spend two months filling my much smaller deep freeze with all of the items listed above as well as some of my husbands favorites from Newfloundland. Peanut butter balls, 5 star bars, Queen Elisabeth squares, date squares and many others. A week or so before Christmas I would go and visit with my Nan as I did almost every week and this time I would have a tin of her favorite treats and some new ones. This made her think of how much she loved to bake and how she couldn't do it. She did tell me a few times how happy it made her that I would bring her these treats and maybe next time I could bring her something new.... always with a suggestion of something she had a hankering for. I was more than happy to do it for her as she did for me. Of course Christmas day would come and I would visit carrying another tin (larger this time) full of her favorites and whatever else she had requested. I know she loved it but I think I loved to watch her eat them even more.
So now as Christmas gets closer and closer again and my Nanny has passed on I feel as if my heart is not in my baking as it has been in years past. I know my family loves it when I put together all of these little treats and delicacies. But I miss my teacher the one who enjoyed them more than most. Maybe as the weeks pass and we get closer I will pull out my old stained and dogeared cook books and arrange my ingredients and bake. I am sure it will make me feel better. I will taste the treats I grew up with and think of you. I will pass the joy of watching others enjoy as you did with me. This I am sure will heal my hurting heart! I hope that wherever you are now that you put a little bit of your Nanny magic into the most delicio
For any of you who were in any of my classes this week the recurring theme was joy. Finding joy in your practice and bringing that joy to life.
Last week while surfing the MLS listings (local real estate listings) I found the house of my dreams. The house was built in 1912, had three stories and was blue. It backed on to a river and had a huge back yard. In front was an old cemetery. Some would find that a bit creepy but I personally find comfort in cemeteries, not sure why. The pictures on the MLS listing were amazing. High ceilings amazing wood floors and three full bathrooms, two soaking tubs and a beautiful kitchen. The front porch had huge concrete pillars and was again large and inviting. The location was a quiet small town just outside of Ottawa, perfect for my kids.
So off we went to check it out. My dream house started to crash before my eyes. The beautiful blue colour of the exterior showed to be massively peeling and in need of a paint job. The "new" windows were in fact exterior storm windows and many of the interior windows had been painted shut. The well maintained floors had holes in them, so big in fact that my realtor put her foot through one that was covered up by a carpet. The fully renovated kitchen was fully renovated about 15 years ago and the bathrooms a do it your self job that would need some careful inspection and repair. The closets were crumbling from the inside out and the ceilings were badly patched. The electrical looked to be a nightmare as well. The small porch off the side and large deck off the back were partially finished and in need of repair already. The graveyard was quiet and quaint but I wouldn't be living in there and the river was green. When all was said in done, my dream house in a small little town needed about $150K more in renovations and the asking price was already top of budget.
When I came home it made me realize that my house is pretty good. It needs some work and will eventually need some updating but it is fine for now. All of this made me start to question what people want. I honestly thought that this "dream" house would make me happy. If I could only live there in the very inexpensive 5 bedroom home I would be happy. I started to question what do people want.
My classes this last week started just like that. What do people want? I think when it all comes down to it we all just want to be happy. We need to find joy. The sad part is that most of us are looking in the wrong places. We think that more money, a bigger house, a better job, nicer clothes, a fancier car or a different partner will make us happy. The reality is that happiness comes from the inside out. If we find what brings us joy. If we practice doing the things that make us truly happy then the rest will just come. In some forms of physical practice we practice letting go. This letting go is not instant gratification. For example you can just say "I want to let go of this hurt feeling" and it's gone for good. You will sometimes need to do it over and over and then one day you might look for it and it is gone. If we practice letting go of negativities on the mat it becomes easier to let go off the mat. Things in your life that don't give you joy become easier to "get rid of" because you do it from a place of joy and not a place of anger. At least that's what I think. For the most part I am one of the happiest people I know so I do know a little bit about it.
Being joyful or being happy is a practice in itself. I was once told that I was one of those people who could find themselves stuck living in a cardboard box and I would still be happy. I am not sure if that's true but I've been in some pretty impoverish situations and was still able to make the best of it. Still able to find joy. It's all about perspective. Why hold on to negativity - what does it serve, it certainly doesn't make you happy. The happier I get, the happier I feel but it does take work sometimes. That's not to say I don't get grumpy, frustrated or want more I do, but these periods are few and far between. Basically I am still happy.
Coming back to the want. I wanted the dream house I craved the dream house and when I got there it was no longer my dream. Be careful what you wish for. The things that you look to to make you happy or happier might not actually do what you think they will. So find that place of joy first and the rest is just gravy. Be happy with what you already have, who you already are, then if there are things you notice that don't make you happy change them - there is always a way. But find the joy inside first, let it radiate out.
Decisions, decisions. I sometimes make decisions a little to dramatic for my own liking. I'm not sure if it is just part of who I am, or if I like the dramatic? I know that deep down inside I always know the best answer. As do we all, I think! For the most part we are afraid or we just aren't listening. If we decide on one thing or the other, who knows what could happen. When it comes to making decisions if we could be more present in the process and allow our breath and our bodies to listen for us everything could be much easier. This starts with the basic decision of what to eat or not to the big life decisions.
Let's take purchasing items for example. Some people buy, buy, buy without giving a thought to what they already have. They buy because of want, because of desire, not because of necessity. I used to be like that. Closets (yes closets) full of clothes I never wore and shoes that weren't comfortable. Now I find shopping is a chore. I struggle before buying something a simple as a t-shirt. I think the struggle for random items is a good thing for me. It makes me more conscious about need vs. want. Doesn't mean that I don't buy something just because I like it. It just means that I am more present in the process rather than impulsively bringing things home that I don't love or don't need. I don't succumb to sales as much, it's not a deal if you don't need it! I think if we were all more conscious about our decisions to consume people wouldn't be in debt and we would value what we have more. I take the same approach to things I already own, going through my closet (now one closet) and home about once a month and discarding things that I no longer need or use. I find that this extra space in my home makes my breathing space bigger and my body happier.
Food is another thing that causes huge anxiety in the decision making process for a lot of people, including me. Maybe this too is more about being present in our choices as to what we put into our bodies. The decision making starts at the store as well as in our homes. It is about being more active in what you buy. Taking the time to consider what ingredients are in the foods that you purchase and put in your mouth. I could probably use a bit more discipline in this area. I don't always pay attention to what I am eating. I will sit at my computer or curl up with a book and before I know it I have eaten half a bag of chips - not good for my body. I am not saying you should deny yourselves the treats. But when the not so healthy food becomes a regular habit and not a special indulgence one has to ask "is it still a treat?" Using this example when going out for dinner or visiting friends. If I am about to eat a large piece of chocolate cake for example I have a few choices; one is that I can have a small piece instead of a great big huge one, the second is that after eating the small piece I can check in with my body and ask if it needs more. Not feel guilty about the amount, just enjoy and trust that I listened to my body. Asking your body when you've had enough and actually listening when it says yes or no.
When situations present themselves I often over think them. Rather than just deciding what to do or what not to do I spend hours and sometimes sleepless nights over analyzing simple decisions. I take into consideration other people in my life I often even consult those people or friends who will not be affected. I always know deep down what the right decision is, but I often ignore it or I look for other options. I know many people in my life do this same thing. Wondering and asking what the right thing is to do in any given situation be that big or small. The thing to consider here is that we won't know what will happen either way so decide one way or another and accept what happens given that decision. Trust your heart, mind and body to decide to do the right thing. Play with it, decide one moment to chose option A and see how your breath and your body feel, then for a moment chose option B and check in again. Ultimately we always know the right answer but are we brave enough to just decide?
How do we take the decision in our life onto the mat, or the decisions we make on the mat into our life? On the mat for example we can decide to push ourselves further than our body will like. The decision to push further can depend on many things, trying to impress your teacher, other students or your own ego getting in the way. One decides to take the pose or shape you are in an listen to your body when it tells you that enough is enough. The signs are always there. Sometimes obvious sensation of pain, either slight or deep. Other less obvious signs like the breath becoming more difficult or the body twisting in a way that puts you out of alignment. Often these signs present themselves and we either don't notice or we ignore them - which is sometimes the same thing.
When we do things like over eat, over shop or over think are we not ignoring our body. When presented with too many things that I think I want to buy or with unhealthy food choices or even over doing it in my yoga practice could I not check in with my body and my breath first? With decisions in my life I could stop consulting every possible angle and just go with my first initial feeling, after all that's usually what I end up doing anyways. With postures, taking it one small step at a time being where I am today and not yesterday and not thinking about where I'll be tomorrow. Trusting my body and my breath in everything I do. This I think is what it truly means to have a daily practice and to connect the body and the mind.
How does your decision process work? Are you mind/body conscious in your daily life and practice?
Why is it we always wish we could be something we are not? Advertising is based on this simple fact. If you were richer, better looking, smarter, thinner, had better dishes. If you were all those things you would be a better person. Not true!!!
I too fall into this, I wish I could be... for me it is more about people. Things I admire. I have several friends or acquaintances who I really look up to and love. For me it is not the wanting of the material. I don't want a bigger house, a nicer car or better clothes. I'm not interested in tons of money (although that might be nice), a high powered job in a great office. For me it is the inside stuff. Some of my friends are so beautiful I sit back and think, why not me? Then I take a second look and say but that is me. If we recognize the light in others, the kindness, the love, the good stuff then that light we recognize must be in us too? If like attracts like, then those people that we befriend who are beautiful in and out must be like us too right? Then if we really start to believe it instead of wanting to be like them we can really learn to love ourselves.
I think we've put such a bad name on loving ourselves. Even myself. I have often started a sentence with - "I don't mean to blow my own horn but..." Why should pride sound like you are blowing your own horn? If there is something about yourself that you are proud of, something that you believe in why is that sometimes seen as conceit? If you say to a room full of your peers yes I know I'm good at this, the judgment is that you are full of yourself. Why? In a world where so many people wish they could be... when they are whatever it is, if they share it, they are often made to feel shame. Shame for pride? It just doesn't make sense. As long as your pride is humble it is OK but if your pride is gushing then not so much. The humble pride comes with an apology or you will be judged.
I have several friends who are amazing at what they do. One in particular. I know because I have been a client of hers. She goes above and beyond and still never feels like what she does is enough. She is amazing and I've told her over and over. She falls into that category of always wanting to be better, never feeling like it is enough. She is beautiful, smart, funny and extremely talented. What makes me sad is that she is not alone. There are so many people out there just like this. What make people wish they could be... Something happens early in our life where we are told we aren't good enough and this sticks. But why? No matter how many people tell you that you are amazing and beautiful it just never feels true. Even people who are told over and over still wish they could be...
If we can look into our hearts and start to love who we already are. If we can look at our successes and the things we are good at. If we can accept all the great things that we are. Would be be able to stop wishing we could be something else? Is this mind set so ingrained that we are unable to accept who we already are? Can we start standing up in front of our peers and say we are amazing at something without apologizing for it? Maybe with this start we can look at people and say yes, she/he is smart, funny, beautiful and all those things. Notice it and then notice those amazing qualities in yourself. Recognizing the light in others is the same light in you.
Namaste (the light within me recognizes the light within you),
Ha - made you look. I am most definately not having another baby. Well not in the literal sense. I have been thinking lately though that if I had of decided to have another child I would probably be embracing new motherhood again around this time. Instead I am creating something physical and it is taking time.
My studio and growth of a new expanded business has become like a new baby for me. I have created a business plan with a full 5 years for growth. It did remind me of the fantasies of being pregnant and wondering what each year might bring. The what will it look like, what will it feel like, will I be good at it. Many of the same fears that I experienced in anticipation of becoming a parent are the same things I am feeling as I prepare the studio.
The preparation of the room has been ongoing and one wonderful surprise after another. The furniture moved out, some given away some sold, some donated to charity. What an amazing feeling of cleansing that was. An amazing experience in non-attachment to things I have owned for however long. I practiced with joy as I cleared and it felt great. The next phase of the project was to peel off the baseboards. If this was not smooth I would have had to purchase new ones. The first one I pried off so easily and the other 15 sections all came off like butter. There were a few sections that needed some extra prying and a little more of my sweat but it was all so worth it. The next task now that the baseboards were off was to pull up the carpet. Who knows how long the carpet was there or what kind of shape the floors were underneath. I had budgeted a possible refinishing of the floors if needed. Well what a surprise, it felt like Christmas as I peeled back a section of the carpet. The floor beneath has been basically un-touched and they are perfect. The nails and staples from the carpeting and the under padding need to be removed but most of that will be covered up when I re-install the baseboards.
My next job will be to pain the space. This most of all reminds me of preparing to give birth. Will pregnant with each of my three children I have had to prepare a room. This is a task that I love and take great pride in. I love testing different paint colours on the wall. Seeing how they look in the day and at night. Finally falling in love with the perfect colour. I can't wait until I start putting the paint on the walls. I find painting therapeutic. The rise and fall of the roller, the brush skimming along the edges and of course following my breath as I work. Stepping back when it's all done and being proud of the great job you've just done. After that a door needs to be installed. That separation of momma and baby from the outside world. I envision spending plenty of time alone in my new space, away from anyone else, quiet, falling in love.
Once the preparation is done and my space is ready I will finally be able to fully give birth to my project. Starting slowly with classes on the week-ends and then moving to classes in the evening and one day classes during the day. Then hopefully in a few years a rented space of my own where this process can start all over again...
I hope to see you when she is born so I can introduce you to my new baby... we'll call her young4ever.
I do love that every year my family gathers and we have an amazing time. My aunt (our family matriarch) cooks enough stuffing to feel an army, her turkey is always massive and her candied carrots delicious! Among other delicacies that we all contribute to bringing. Our meal represents the true meaning of Thanksgiving, that being giving thanks to the end of the harvest season. Even with my cousin and I being the true gardeners in the family there is often home grown goodies in and amongst the bought and baked.
As much as I love our family gatherings it always makes me wonder why Thanksgiving is only celebrated once a year. I understand the true meaning behind thanksgiving but shouldn't this be celebrated every day? As our culture changes so should we. The majority of us are no longer farmers, needing to give thanks to god for a grand harvest. The majority of us live in over the top housing and buy our food at the grocery store. We don't often think about where our food comes from. Whether it be from a local farmer or a hot house or another country with opposite seasons to us. We should be thankful that each day we have food on our plates.
Thanksgiving should be a question that we ask ourselves every day. For a long time I was in the practice every evening of being thankful or grateful for the little things in my life. A practice that I enjoyed and made me feel really good. One that I think I need to reinstate. I would be thankful for the roof over my head, my amazing family and children, loving what I do and if anything else was special I would give thanks to that as well.
So today and every day I will say thanks. I am thankful still for such an amazing family, a wonderful home, good food to eat that nourishes my body, my yoga practice and I am thankful to be alive. What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving day and every day?
As a yoga teacher I would say that a big part of my job is reading my students. For example if you walk into a room and everyone is buzzing with chatter and acting very excited and you are about to teach gentle yoga, you might want to bring them down a notch. The other is often true if you are about to teach a power class and the group seems to be needing a more gentle practice a teacher needs to be able to adapt to that.
I teach a gentle class on Wednesday nights and it is just that. They sometimes arrive and are all a flutter, chatting noisily and not even realizing that I am in the room. I have on occasion had to yell out to them that we are ready to start. I don't normally like this approach but I can only sit still waiting for so long. They still seem fidgety after a small philosophy teaching so I will sometimes have them lay down on their mats. The simple act of laying in a resting position and allowing them to notice their breath and center themselves always does the trick. They sit up from the mini sivasana and are ready to practice. The puppy mind slowly calmed, the breath acknowledge and the body ready to move.
I am very fortunate to substitute classes. This is something that some teachers don't really like to do. I love it. I walk into a room and get to teach about change and about finding teachers that are different. Exploring what you like or don't like about a specific teacher or teaching style. I am able to rise above the disappointed look on students faces when an unfamiliar teacher shows up. I too have been that student, expecting something and getting something else. It is a life experience that happens all the time, one that is hard to accept. Nothing is permanent and everything is changing.
This week-end I was fortunate enough this week-end to sub two back to back classes for a teacher that I highly respect. I always love to teach at Rama Lotus as well. My first class was a prenatal class. I thrive teaching prenatal it's what I know best and I know that I am good at it. I normally teach for the city and classes are only an hour. The nice thing about being in a studio is I have that full hour and a half. Allowing students to fully experience a practice and a nice long sivasana at the end. I had one woman at the end tell me that she was not pregnant but was trying to become pregnant. That she really enjoyed my class and was hoping that coming to prenatal yoga would be just the trick to help her out. I acknowledge this and told her that she was setting such a wonderful intention for her body and her baby. I've had women tell me that my yoga class was exactly what they needed to prepare for childbirth. I love to hear that they find what they need and can use these tools in everyday life, being that birth is part of the every day.
My second class was a beginner class. You have to be careful with beginners. I've heard many people say that they tried yoga once but didn't go back because it was too hard or too spiritual or they felt out of place. I honestly believe that yoga is for everyone. I tell my students that I am the optional teacher in that everything in my class is optional. If they don't want to do what I'm doing, sit, stand,lay down, go into child's pose or any other posture you like - as long as you're breathing it doesn't matter. I am also huge on trying to help new students establish a home practice. This is whether or not they are my own students or a class I am subbing for. I will often break down a sun salutation and show them how that can become a home practice and it's not a lot to remember. I tell them that a home practice doesn't have to be a luxurious hour and a half and if all they have is 5 minutes to practice, 5 minutes to sit an breathe, that it counts! If they have the 5 minutes they should take it. Waiting for a pot to boil... do a few half sun salutes in your kitchen. Most seem to smile and I don't know if any of them do it but at least the seed has been planted. I like beginners to know that you can't screw it up. As long as you are breathing you are doing just fine. This type of class does not change whether I am subbing or teaching my own regular class.
It was after one of these classes that I was subbing this week-end that a student came up to me and said "it was like you knew exactly what I needed." I said to him that he gave himself what he needed and I was just a guide. Perhaps it was part of how I read people. I am able to see and feel what they need and if they are open to it they get it.
Go out there and get what you need. Ask for it from the universe. Whether it is the universe that is your teacher or a person like me
Even with all of the changes that are going on in my house some times I find the days start to feel a bit like Groundhog Day. Day in and day out, things feel basically the same. How do you find the spark or the interest when things get boring?
Our day basically looks like this. Wake up 6:45. Take quick shower and dress done by 7:00. Kids breakfast, waffles, cereal, toast, bagel and cream cheese.. that type of thing done by 7:20. The kids have about 10 minutes to get dressed. A few extra minutes to fill back pack, ice in the water bottles, help the little one put on shoes and coat, quick brush of the teeth, grab leash and dog to be out for the bus by 7:35. The panic morning that is ours each morning. Bus arrives 7:40-7:45. Walk dog and be home by 8:00am for the child that I look after to arrive. I sometimes stuff my face with some kind of food before he gets in.
After 8:00am things start to calm down... I think? Usually some kind of craft needs be organized. Or Holly dressed in appropriate clothes for nursery school - OK half the time she puts on a really heavy sweater when it's +35 and humid. She also likes to wear a sundress when it's -10 outside. I don't want her to have heat stroke in the summer and frostbite in the winter - nobody likes that!! A light snack is usually asked for. All into the stroller by 8:35 am. Grab the dog again, we're all going out! Drop Holly off at nursery school for 8:45. Nice walk home, usually quick but enjoyable just the same. Home to my house by 9:00am.
Then it all begins, whatever project I can do that includes the little boy I care for. We bake muffins and he is thrilled to watch my mixer go. Sweep floors and he get's to do it too. Tidy whatever room I can get my hands on and he gets to play with new toys. We sings songs, kind of like whistling while you work. This happens until the other child I care for also arrives. Often around 9:30. Some of the activities for us change. Here maybe a snack for both of them. Then we get a craft together, often play dough or drawing. Then out the door at 11:00am to pick up Holly from school. She's done by 11:15 so I add a longer walk sometimes. Our walk home is always fun, the buttons to push and rules of the road to learn. Holly really likes to push the stroller and that takes a bit of direction. It's like teaching her how to drive I guess. She likes to ride on top of the stroller, and sometimes in the trunk. All of the in and out make our walk longer. We sometimes stop at a friends house on the way home to say hi.
Home for lunch by 11:30. The kids play and lunch is served by 11:50 - 12:00pm. Finish up, as most are slow eaters. One little boy to bed for a nap and quiet time for the girls. Well more like reduced play. I dim the lights and they usually get to watch a show, read books. While I clean the lunch dishes and breakfast, sweep floors and do any other tidying. 1:30 the girls often get bored so we head outside and they ride bikes or colour on the sidewalk. This is often when I am chasing my runaway child! Holly loves to go way too far for my comfort and if I try to catch her she keeps going, man she is getting FAST! Oh the boys have to get off the bus, make sure we're around for that. Then it's all about more snacks, waking the napping child. For 2 hours we play outside more, maybe another walk. Squeezing in help with home work and managing the big boys time with suggestions other than "no you can't watch TV". You'd think after weeks of this they'd stop asking! "Can we play the WII or DS"? Again the same answer, which they condescendingly say along with me "we're not allowed to play during the week"! "So why do you keep asking?" I ask this daily! This line of questioning is exhausting day after day. I hold hard and fast! Then day care kids get picked up, long conversation with each of their parents about our day. It's now 5:00pm and I'm getting a little tired.
This is where our family time begins. This is where I think I am making small improvements for our lapses in time. Dinner gets made, it's sometimes healthy and if we're lucky is also taste great. But it is done by 5:30. I removed a small breakfast table a couple of weeks ago so we could start eating together again. It's important to me that we eat together. When I grew up you sat at the table to eat. TV was off, phone wasn't answered and you talked! We laughed and enjoyed our meal together. I am finding that the kids are more engaged in their food. With my eldest Liam he is starting to talk more about what is happening in his life and we find out his newest obsession. He's been holding to Star Wars for months. Reilly is still the joker and mostly cracks us up while he is trying to avoid eating whatever's been put in front of him. Even though if he doesn't eat it now he'll have to eat it later, always the dodger! In all this midst we have to tidy the dinner table and re-assemble our tiny kitchen somehow, I have to get ready to go to work. Yes I said it, my other job.
The job that I love to do. It's something I do love my classes all start around 7 or 7:30. They are my break from reality. I do this three times a week and I love it! Keeps my heart beating and it feels good. I am still in a caregiver role or archetype. But I love it. I get to teach people about yoga and some about birth and they are things I love. I love talking about yoga and it interests me so much. I also love talking about birth and parenting and all that goes with that. It interests me too. I get to meet so many interesting people in my classes and I love this. People from all walks of life and even cultures. I've met pregnant methadone addicts who were in the same class as Pediatricians and waitresses. Ministers and lawyers, teachers and accountants. All together doing the same thing. I once met an 82 year old women who was training for her last Boston Marathon in my yoga class, mother's and daughters, 52 year old veterans, teachers, parents, so many interesting people. These classes end around 8:00 or 9:00pm and I clean up and head home.
I wish I could say I was one of those people who is able to go to bed right away but I can't. I need a couple of hours to wind down and catch up. It's often the only part of the day where I get to be alone. I can check my email and do whatever I have to do for my business and personal. I can make a delicious snack, sit down, eat it and enjoy each yummy bite. I can have a quiet sit and draw beautiful and not so beautiful pictures. I can sit in silence and pet my dog. I get to be quiet and alone. I love that. This is my spark. This and my work. My day at home is repetitive but I find pockets in there that give me joy. Watching my children grow up and being with them every day. Enjoying the many walks I have to take, even if they are out of necessity. Doing something that I love at night and talking about things that give me energy and that I love. I guess when it all comes down to it. To maintain a joyful life you need to acknowledge all those periods of the day that give you joy and then the icky ones won't matter. OR find
Jennifer is an RMT, long time yoga practitioner and teacher. Follow her musings as an RMT, yoga teacher, prenatal educator and mother of three.