Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Walk in the Sunshine

When I woke up this morning, I thought, “Oh, what a beautiful day!” The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and it was cold, but not so very, very cold. Some ice and snow coated the ground, but not enough to make walking impossible (in fact, my husband went for a run).
            But the bed was so warm, and I was so comfy, and it just seemed like a good morning to sleep in. Besides, I thought, I can walk later.
            Later, however, I had to bake some cookies and a pie for a friend in need; and then I had laundry to do, and writing. A few times I looked out the window and thought, “Well, the day is still beautiful! I’ll get out for a walk after lunch.”
            But then, the phone rang, and I remembered I needed to make the bed upstairs because a guest is coming to visit, and I had to finish a book I was reading and write a review, and I had to check my email a hundred times and see what was happening on Facebook…and
            Well, before I knew it the sun was almost gone and the other son in my life was on his way over for dinner. I did manage to go out into the yard and snap a few pictures as the sun was on its way down. But the walk in the sunlight was no longer a possibility.
            Of course, that got me thinking, especially since it’s almost New Year’s Eve and the beginning of 2013. And because it’s the time of New Year’s resolutions (which I don’t especially care for), I nevertheless resolved that the next time I wake up to a beautiful day (which very well could be tomorrow) the walk in the sunshine comes first. The walk—for me, for you, for us—should come before everything and anything. Because if we keep putting it off and putting it off, you see what happens!
            Although walking is a healthy endeavor, and great for fitness, of course you know that’s not all I’m talking about. Just sayin’, whatever the sunshine in your life really is, go for it now, while it’s still bright, shiny and within reach. There will always be laundry, work, commitments, responsibilities…dishes to wash and so on. But as Yogi Bhajan--one of my favorite yogis-- said, “Excuses are self-abuses.”  
So take your walk in the sunshine now. I’ll be right behind you.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Goody Goody for You...

My kids are pretty much all grown up now (though they still like to act like ten-year-olds once in a while), so I don’t really have to think about things like children’s birthday parties and goody bags any more. But the other day, for some unknown reason (maybe because of all the gift bags I’ve been filling for the holidays), I had a fleeting, fond memory of the goody bags we used to give to the kids as they left a party.
            I’ve heard tell these goody bags have gotten more elaborate and expensive than they were even just a few years ago, with kids expecting all sorts of treasures to be inside in addition to the usual lollypops or stickers. And that led to thoughts about what I might like in a goody bag if I were to go to a grown-up party, and specifically what might be appropriate to put in the goody bag of a mom. This is what popped into my mind:
            1) A five-class card to my favorite yoga studio
            2) Two tickets to a Broadway show
            3) Some really nice soy candles
            4) A coupon for a free mani-pedi or massage
            5) A box of fancy white chocolates
            6) Some cool earrings
            7) “Free Day” passes upon which my family members do not ask me, “What’s for dinner?” or expect me to do anything other than what I feel like doing (which just may be absolutely nothing).
            8) A bottle of pure sunshine
            9) Leg warmers        
           10) A hefty wad of cash
Yes, I know it’s silly to be thinking of mommy goody bags at a time like this (when I should theoretically be out shopping for others), but it doesn’t hurt to dream. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Tis the Season...

© Pilar Echeverria | feel harried. No matter how solemnly I promise myself that I will not get stressed out or depressed in the holiday season it always seems to happen. Maybe it’s the mall (I like to blame everything on malls), which I so expertly avoid all the rest of the time. Maybe it’s the winding down of the year, and the knowledge that once again I’ve not accomplished even a quarter of what I set out to do. Maybe it’s the impending start of a New Year, and the realization that another year has gone by and I still haven’t straightened up my home office.
            Or…maybe it’s just that holidays put an inordinate amount of stress on mothers (or that during holidays mothers put an inordinate amount of stress on themselves). I learned this trick from my own mom (bless her soul), who up until the last Christmas of her life hosted the holiday for the entire family (not that I want to blame my mom for what was basically a lifelong devotion to her kids and grandkids). But she did set the bar pretty high. There was nary a store-bought piecrust to be seen (everything made from scratch), and as for presents—everyone got something requiring thought and care. No gift cards, no cash, no easy way out. She was not a perfectionist by any means, but she did shop and bake with love.
            Of course, I rationalize, my mother was what was then called (and maybe still is) a “home-maker.” She didn’t work outside the home, nor did she have a home-based business. Today, such moms seem to be few and far between. Most of us are doing something to make money and keep our families afloat besides--or in addition to--baking brownies and attending PTA meetings (but if that is what you do, more power to you!). 
            In any case, this is the time of year when I have to remember that it’s okay to take shortcuts. I can order my Christmas cookies from a bakery (or pray that my pastry-chef niece will send some), I can use the Internet for choosing presents or gift cards, I can buy a bag of frozen green beans. (I draw the line at the piecrusts, though…in my mother’s honor!)
So before the stress gets out of hand, I must remind myself (and maybe you must, too) that it’s the time of year when we need to take a deep breath, be grateful for what we have, think presence not presents, and realize that the memory of a calm and loving holiday will stay with our kids and families long after the gifts are forgotten.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Bring It On!

Winter, that is. I’m ready for you. But just a few days ago I was bemoaning the fact that winter is ‘round the bend. In fact, I woke up feeling that I just couldn’t face it. Overnight, the temperature had dropped about 30 degrees, there was snow on the ground, the sky was gray, and it had started to rain and sleet. I did not want to get up.
            But then my husband (usually the naysayer with such cheery comments as, “This kitchen renovation is going to be a nightmare!” or “OMG, there’s no money in the bank account to pay the college tuition!”) reminded me that winter has some positive qualities. Such as?
            Well, cozy beds, for one thing. And also birds flocking at the feeder—so pretty to watch. Not to go all “Sound of Music” on you, but once I started thinking of all the things I like about winter, I just couldn’t stop. I love the look of sparkling holiday lights at night. And winter always makes me happy to drink tea (normally, I’m a decaf lover). Sun shimmering on snow (love those "s" words) is glorious (when the sun deigns to come out, of course).
 And though holidays can be immensely stressful, I do enjoy having my young men/ “kids” all in the same place at the same time, eating healthy food prepared by yours truly. And though bad weather can be tiresome, irksome, and just plain annoying, it’s also occasionally nice to know that you can’t go out. Winter weather gives us a good excuse to just read a book or make soup (sadly, excuses seem to be needed for this sort of luxury in the hectic world in which we now live).
            So without mentioning whiskers on kittens (or on mittens), I will admit that the winter season has some wondrous qualities. If only it were just…a bit…shorter!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Toxic People

© Suprijono Suharjoto |

There are a few toxic people in my life, though not many, thank heavens! I’m sure you have a few in yours too, even if you try very hard to surround yourself with nurturing, loving angels (or even if you don’t try at all, but just naturally attract such folks). And some of the best advice I’ve heard, indeed, is to avoid these negative thinkers at all costs. But sometimes we just can’t...the toxic person may be our sister (but not mine, that’s for sure!), or a next door neighbor, or an individual in our workplace. Sometimes we can’t run away…we just need to deal.
            At a yoga workshop I attended over the weekend (the subject of which was gratitude, appropriately), I was reminded that the yogic perspective is to view everything—yes, everything—as coming from the Divine, and that includes, I guess, toxic people. So I gave this some thought, and realized that yes, it’s quite possible that these negative individuals are here to teach us something. In fact, one of the things they teach quite well is how to be positive, because who in the heck would want to be like them?
            Now I will admit that I don’t especially like going out to dinner with a nasty naysayer, and I don’t enjoy being near angry bullies. Nor do I appreciate the scads of emails I get from fuming, opinionated members of political parties to which I do not--and never will--belong. And I will admit that feeling compassion, affinity, or empathy can be a real challenge when it comes to folks who are spewing their poison my way. But…when I do manage to handle my reaction (or non-reaction) with grace and ease, I usually feel much better about myself, and in most cases the poison-spewer usually calms down.              
         The world would be a lovely place if it were filled only with peaceful, charming, loving yogis, but such is not the case. And, though I wouldn’t advise spending a great deal of time with a toxic individual nor would I advise watching too much of such people on TV or listening to them on the radio (not to name names but one blustering cigar smoking right-winger comes to mind), I’ve also found that a few hours with someone who is really angry, critical, morose, and bitter reminds me of how lucky I am to live on the other side of the fence.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Nothing Lasts Forever...

Or so they say. But this bright red colander comes close. My best friend gave it to me when my first child was born, twenty-nine years ago. No, it wasn’t because she thought I should make some postpartum salad. Rather, she had read somewhere that a plastic colander made a great toy for a toddler, and she was right. My son played with this useful item for several years (once he was old enough to figure out how to sit in it, drum on it or roll it around), before it became the colander I regularly use in my kitchen. Yes, twenty-nine years and still going strong... now that’s a colander!
            So I sort of take issue with that old “nothing lasts forever" line. Sure, I suppose one day the colander will crack, but I’m pretty sure my friendship with my beloved F (I will not divulge her full identity as a measure of my loyalty) will last until we breathe our last breaths (and, like many friends, we have plans to meet in the afterlife, where we will not be distracted by things like laundry needing to be washed or writing deadlines that interfere with our plans to get together). Yes, I’m quite sure that true friendship is one of those things that last, no matter what.
            And then, there’s love. Yes, I know love changes, transforms, transmutes and sometimes just plain disappears (especially between lovers and husbands and wives—just look at the divorce figures). But mother love—love from a mother for a child—lives on and on and on. My mother loved her children as much (if not more) on the day she died as she did on the days upon which we were born. And I, like so many mothers I know, will love my three children until the day I leave the planet (and hopefully, beyond).
            So there’s even more proof that some things do last forever. And what about the sun? The planets? The sky? Yeah, I guess one day they might all explode…but for the foreseeable future (unless we do something really stupid), I believe they’ll be there.
            I’m sure there are more things, too. Not everything has to wear out or break. Not everything has to become obsolete, unfashionable, or useless. Some things, like my red colander and the friendship it represents, are indestructible. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and yes, there are still a few treasures that will be with us until the end of time.