Category Archives: Mindfulness

Confession: I’m with Gwyneth

Gwyneth Paltrow via MingleMediaTVNetworkI remember seeing Gwyneth Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love back in the day, but I haven’t sought her out in any later movies. And until this week, I’d never even heard of her lifestyle website, Goop, much less visited it. Sure, she’s been faintly on my radar for years — she’s gorgeous, wealthy, and married to a lead singer for a band I’ve been known to sing along to. I know that together they have two kids, a bit younger than mine, and that surely they live a life of glamor and riches.

I didn’t see much that we had in common other than raising two children (unless she also sings Viva La Vida in the shower).

I was also aware that, like Anne Hathaway, Gwyneth is one of those women — seemingly blessed in all the big ways — that other women love to hate. I get it. Some of her quotes do sound blesseder-than-thou, Marie Antoinette-esque in their disconnection from the lives we mere commoners experience.

As much as I feel zilch for Gwyneth regarding most of her life, I admit that I liked when I heard that she’d said she and her husband, Chris Martin, were “consciously uncoupling.” (Although if she’d researched the “50 percent of marriages end in divorce” statistic, she wouldn’t have perpetuated the myth on her site.)

uncoupling train per Daniel SchwenOf course, I wasn’t clapping for the “uncoupling” part. The death of a long-term relationship doesn’t make me happy, especially when children are involved. I wonder if part of the uproar about Gwyneth’s announcement was the fact that she used the more uppity “uncoupling” rather than “breaking up” or “separating” or “divorcing.” Perhaps people thought she was attempting to call donkey a unicorn and think we wouldn’t notice.

But it was the other word that resonated for me: consciously.

I seek to do everything more consciously, more mindfully: Be with my kids. Prepare meals. Write. Drive. Be with my husband. Shower. Wash the dishes. Walk the dog. Really be with whomever I’m with. To do so requires single-tasking in a world that highly values — almost requires — multi-tasking. I do this in varying degrees of success. Indeed, at this moment I have 11 tabs open (plus a whole other browser!) and am simultaneously making coffee and observing my daughter play with our dog.

I’m a work in progress.

To live with intention is to go off auto-pilot, one moment at a time and then another and another and another. It requires a person to tune in and choose her words and actions deliberately over and over again. I have seen some really nasty divorces, and I applaud Gwyneth’s pledge to navigate the upcoming turbulent waters — ones that are sure to dredge up deep insecurities and fears — with mindful intention. It will not be easy.

Even for Gwyneth.

How did Gwyneth Paltrow’s announcement of conscious uncoupling come across to you?

Image of Gwyneth Paltrow via MingleMediaTVNetwork, Creative Commons 2.0.
Train image via Daniel Schwen, Creative Commons 3.0.

Perfect Moment Monday: Light of Mine

I once said,

light of the worldWith awareness, one could have a perfect moment shackled in a dungeon sitting in one’s own excrement; without it, blessings galore cannot compensate.

I still believe that. Despite winning the parental jackpot, despite being blessed with amazing sisters who make me laugh and give good counsel, despite being healthy and sheltered and sharing a home with a loving husband and 2.2 kids (I can say that now that Dexter is here), despite having a passel of fabulous friends and despite having a relatively cushy life compared to 99% of the humans who have ever existed, recently I have had trouble finding perfect moments. Last month I couldn’t even deliver one, and I’m the goldarned host of this bloghop.

I had more than a little anxiety that my dry spell would not end in time for December’s Perfect Moment Monday. But late in the month I relaxed and began again to notice what I have instead of angsting over my troubles.

I am not a big fan of Christmas, at least not like I was as a child. I no longer share the religious sentiment, and I have come to detest the consumerism the holiday represents. The buildup that now begins at Halloween has made my children practically vibrate with expectations that can’t possibly be met. Their anxiety makes me feel unsettled and cranky.

I had vowed, after our extended family dinner, that our part of the family would not to join the others in attending the 10 pm Christmas Eve service at the church I grew up in. But after my children pleaded plaintively for two more hours with their cousins, I reconsidered.

We took up two pews, my parents and sisters and our children, plus my beloved aunt and uncle. Some details of the church experience remained the same as they were during my childhood: the poinsettias at the altar, the order of the service, the antsy-ness of the children — but this time I was the adult, the shusher rather than the shushee.

Some details were different: the pastor and the cantor are now younger than I am, I didn’t recognize any other congregants beyond our two pews, and the communion bread now looks a lot like pita pockets.

The songs were the familiar Christmas hymns I know by heart, even into the second and third verses. During O Come All Ye Faithful, I looked to my left over the heads of my family members and saw the message:

love home peace joy

Peace | Joy | Love | Hope

I felt a perfect moment creeping up on me. The wave began to overtake me, an upwelling of emotion building in my chest and threatening to let flow tears of bliss. I remained in that state until the capper.

Always, the Christmas service’s final hymn, the one we sing as we darken the church and relight it candle by candle, is Silent Night. Mine is a family of singers. Remember this story about my dad? And this video featuring my sisters? My aunt, once a musical theater star, disc jockey and music teacher, has a crystal clear and pitch-perfect voice.

Behind me, around me, within me, our voices — 15 of them — intertwined with each other in exquisite resonance as the shadows gave way to light. I was enveloped by vibrations of love and joy emanating from my family members, three generations of us. Our voices rose in delight for the season, the joy of being together and the awareness that we were making this once-in-a-lifetime memory.

I noticed it!

(And no excrement was necessary.)

~~~~~

A happy moment will seed ten thousand more.Notes from the Universe.

Which explains why it’s in my interest (and yours) to notice perfect moments.

~~~~~

Perfect Moment Monday is about noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between. On the last Monday of each month we engage in mindfulness about something that is right with our world. Everyone is welcome to join. To participate in Perfect Moment Monday:

  • Follow LavenderLuz.com.
  • Write up your own Perfect Moment and post it on your blog (or other site).
  • Use LinkyTools below to enter your name (or blog name), the URL of your Perfect Moment post, and a thumbnail image if desired.
  • Visit the Perfect Moments of others and let the writers know you were there with some comment currency.

With your Perfect Moment post , you may place this button on your blog (in the post, on the sidebar, or both).What Perfect Moment have you recently been aware of?

Gut check

I was traveling with my family recently, which resulted in me utilizing my smart phone a lot and the computer very little. Which means the ratio of my consuming content to creating content was quite high.

I browsed my Twitter feed any time I found myself waiting for someone to go to the bathroom or change into a swim suit or fetch the bug spray. While fending off boredom I came across the fight between the two Honests. In one corner we have Jessica Alba’s The Honest Company, and in the other we have a hilarious tweeter/author/blogger with her Twitter handle, book and blog, The Honest Toddler. HuffPo explains the battle with lots of links, should you be waiting on someone to go to the bathroom or change into a swim suit or fetch bug spray.

Mostly, this post isn’t about the battle for who owns “honest.” Considering that once upon a time I, too, got a sharp warning from a corporate lawyer, I doubt that I could be objective about The Honest fight.

Instead, while poking around, I found the true identity of The Honest Toddler (not really a secret) and found Bunmi Laditan’s grown up blog. Which, unlike her wildly popular alter-ego toddler blog, currently has no google pagerank and very few comments (moderation, perhaps?). I feel like I did on my honeymoon, when Roger and I found a deserted nook on a Greek island beach that we had all to ourselves (until a couple of days in when other tourists stumbled upon us getting suntanned in all sorts of places).*

gut instinctBumni, with prompting from her friend Doug, a performance coach for athletes, writers and entrepreneurs, brings up the idea of instinct in her gutsy post, Advice from a Mentor and Intestines. Doug speaks about differences: between what we feel and our feelings, and between being nice and being kind.

And even if we believe we know the right thing, we’re always trying to FEEL the right thing as we do the right thing.  But we can’t tell the difference between what we feel and our feelings. In other words, if you can FEEL the right thing based on experience, you don’t have to rely on this fight between feel and feelings.

– and –

It comes down to the difference between being nice and being kind.  Being nice is doing what will make others like you.  Being kind is doing the right thing knowing in the long run it is what’s best.  You have to be kind as a mother.  Being nice screws up your kids up in the long run, but they like you in the moment.

(Emphasis mine.)

That was the mentor aspect of her post’s title. Bunmi then follows with the intestine angle, finding similarities between our digestive and our cognitive processes:

It’s funny- I wrote about farts all day on Honest Toddler; the perceived silliness a small child might have at the idea that we need to be apologetic about the digestive process. One might say that the body’s biological process by which it breaks down food molecules through chemical reactions for the purpose of absorption mirrors the cognitive process by which we consume and interpret our daily experiences.

– and –

While it’s impossible to find shortcuts when it comes to the breakdown of fats, proteins and carbohydrates so that they can be separated into waste and energy, the belief in the presence of instinct is a game changer when it comes to the consumption of life: separating the infinite possibilities and choices into what we’ll absorb into our experience and what we’ll let pass.

She goes on to equate digestive enzymes with a “biological representation of instinct.” She wonders if the tummy ache one gets when ignoring one’s gut instinct is akin to suffering from malfunctioning or imbalanced digestive enzymes.

“I knew this was a bad idea.” I can recall times that I didn’t listen to my gut, didn’t tune into my inner knowing. I went on dates when I knew I didn’t want to. I took jobs I knew were wrong for me. I bought products that I knew couldn’t possibly live up to their billing. I still on rare occasion take the nice way out instead of the dealing with what I know to be true. When I do this, I pay the price in my gut and sometimes in other ways.

To be honest means to live in integrity — to bring integration among what one knows, what one says, what one does (getting back to the Honest fight).

How about you? Are you attuned to your instincts? To what degree are you able to be honest with yourself? Do you have a story about a time when you chose “nice” over “kind” or didn’t listen to your inner guidance system? Leave a link if you write up your story.

Image courtesy of dream designs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

* (Upon further research I find that Bunmi Laditan has a more developed blog in her name on the WordPress.com platform, which looks better trafficked, but I still like the deserted nookish one better.)