Category Archives: Mindfulness

Identity crisis

I’m having one.

I have said that I aim to integrate my thoughts, words and actions, and that I want to integrate all my selves — the different faces I show in various situations. Self, wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend, writer, employee, and all the other titles I wear.

It came to a head recently, and I feel like I am failing.

I won’t go into details about the interactions that sent me spiraling. Suffice it to say that who I aim to be — a mindful mom who knows what to say to her kids in any situation, a wise elder who survived infertility and adoption and can shine light for others, a spiritual yogini able to breathe through any energy disturbance, be it physical, emotional, or otherwise, a woman grateful for all she has — well, I don’t consistently meet my own expectations.

Distorted identity

Actually, at times it’s tough being a mom. I seem to need a lot of solitary time, and I dread the tedium of wiping yet another bottom or playing yet another game of Teacher. I’m not experiencing gratefulness at the moment, even though I have the life others may dream of. And I’m feeling pretty blocked — down and spent. On top of it all, I’m wallowing in this malaise.

Bleh.

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The preceding entry was written several years ago — I haven’t had to wipe another person’s bottom for quite some time — and has resided, forgotten, in my Drafts folder. I’m pulling it out now because once again, I feel unmoored, shaken by a couple of recent encounters in which I was energetically knocked over. When faced with my own personal Sandy, I did not breathe. I was not mindful. My actions and reactions came from someone I didn’t recognize.

Or like a whole lot.

Perfect Moment Monday: Good enough?

Tessa was quite nervous to start her new school year. She hadn’t slept well the night before because she’d wrestled with demons: Would her new grade be too hard? Would she be accepted?  Would she have what she needs? Would she do the right things, wear the right things, say the right things? And the most insidious demon of all — Am I good enough?

Tessa woke up with a stomach ache and an inability to focus on getting ready.  As I walked her and her brother toward the school, I addressed her anxiety.

“Sweetie, I know that by the time you come home today, you’re going to be beaming. You’re going to tell me how wonderfully your day went, how you are so happy to be where you are. How prepared you are, how everything clicked for you.”

“Do you really think so, Mom?” she asked. “I hope you’re right but I’m afraid you won’t be.”

“I know I’m right. Mom’s know.”

And I did. Hours later, she beamed, she chattered happily as she recounted her triumphant day, things clicked for her.

My next stop was my yoga mat. After my yoga class, I planned to return to my book manuscript, due soon, the one that I’d put aside for much of the summer. In about a week I will move from the private activity of writing to the collaborative effort of editing.

The yoga teacher warmed us up and eventually guided us into Firelog pose (agnistambhasana) — a deep hip opener. I found I was tighter than usual. As I breathed through the pose, I could feel energy and matter stuck.

My demons.

Our teacher left us in the pose long enough (each side got a turn) for me to tune in to my own fears and blockages.  Like Tessa, I was afraid of making a transition, of leaving behind what was within my comfort zone and revealing myself to The New. Would my work be deemed acceptable? Would I prove to have what it takes? Would I be able to say and do the right things in this next stage of my book’s journey? Am I good enough?

Soon I will share my so-far private project with a critic — my editor. Of course, the end-step will be to share it with the world (or an adoption corner of it). My impending steps toward increased vulnerability triggered low-level anxiety, much like my daughter experienced.

I inhaled these insights and exhaled release. The tension in my hips began to soften and eventually unknot. With each breath I was able to ease more deeply into the pose.

A yoga class.At the end of class as I lay in savasana, a pose of complete relaxation and release, I experienced the perfect a-ha! moment. The words I used to calm  Tessa could also be used to calm me.  I will get this manuscript turned in. Chances are I will end up beaming and things will go wonderfully (and if not, I will deal with that). I am prepared for the next stage of my book journey and I bet I’ll be just as content and competent in my new phase as I’ve been in my old one.

I am enough.

Moms know. I know.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

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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. The next Perfect Moment Monday event will begin September 24.

To participate in Perfect Moment Monday:

  1. Follow Write Mind Open Heart.
  2. Write up your own Perfect Moment and post for August.
  3. Use List.ly below to enter your name (or blog name) and the URL of your Perfect Moment post. You can even embed the entire list on your own post (holler if you need any help doing so).
  4. Visit the Perfect Moments of others and let the writers know you were there with some comment currency.

Once you make a Perfect Moment post , you may place this button on your blog. (Looky! Its the 2012 version, courtesy the fabulous Justine!)What Perfect Moment have you recently been aware of? Visit these moments of others and share your comment love.

Opposing forces and unsolvable mysteries

Not long ago I wrote about what a cad John F Kennedy was. Not news to anyone, but in the news because of a book. As some of you pointed out, the President is not able to refute any claims, so we must be aware that we may never know the truth about his philandering.

Speaking of never knowing the truth, who was responsible for JFK’s murder may go down as one of the biggest mystery/controversy of my lifetime. Commissions and reporters have investigated, forests have been felled for the resulting documents, barrels of ink have been spilled — all in attempts to find the truth. When I was a child I thought that one of the perks of going to Heaven would be that there and then, I would know the full story of Kennedy’s assassination (I was an odd child).

With this post I want to marry the philandering with the assassination.

I try to put myself in Jacqueline Kennedy’s place. What would it have been like to have your friends and family, your husband’s political enemies and the media know that your husband was stepping out on you? Did she feel pressure, either internal or external, to DO something — grin and bear it, shut the hell up, make a statement, make a stink? Did she ever want to leave him? How did she deal with anger and a sense of betrayal? Or was it possible she felt neither? And most importantly, did she still love him, despite the huge (to me) flaw of infidelity? The heart doesn’t always follow the mind.

Have you ever seen the Zapruder film? I ask because a friend of mine recently admitted she’d never watched it. For all her life she hadn’t wanted the images of a person’s moment of death imprinted in her mind. I had seen it countless times, sure. Before the Internet, the Zapruder film was shown repeatedly every year around Thanksgiving. Always grainy, always as if you were looking into the wrong end of the telescope, always choppy.

But advancements in technology have resulted in enhancements to the film. I found a high-def, closer-up, frame-by-frame video on YouTube. I’m not embedding here, but click over if you want to watch. From frame  226 you can see the first shot and Jackie’ reaction to it. The most difficult frames to watch (for me) begins at 313 with the second shot. You can imagine that from her vantage point, she realized that her husband had been mortally wounded. By 344 she begins to flee the car by crawling over the back of the trunk.

Who could blame her? Adrenaline pounding, sudden shock that her husband is dead — who would have the presence of mind to sit still for that? It’s no wonder that the fight or flight mechanism kicked in and she tried to get herself out of the line of fire.

But that’s was not what she was doing. According to Clint Hill, the First Lady’s secret service agent, she was not madly fleeing.  “She was reaching for something. She was reaching for a piece of the President’s head.”

How mindful is that? Even under that extreme stress few of us will ever face, she was caring for and loving her husband (my interpretation of her actions), gathering the pieces of him — no matter the cost to her, emotional and otherwise.

That, I believe is astounding. I could imagine such action perhaps, for a Great Love, a Fairytale Love, a Perfect Love — was that what Jacqueline Kennedy had with her husband? But love is not that simple outside romance novels and story books and the minds of disappointed perfectionists. This was real life. Real, messy, complicated, multi-layered life in which competing emotions can occupy the same space at the same time.

This is where my mind goes when I try to put myself in Jackie Kennedy’s place and marry the philandering with the assassination.

Has there been a time when you’ve held two opposite emotions? How did you deal with the tension between the two, and did resolution ever come?