Monday, January 4, 2016
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
- Well, I don’t want people to think all I do is yoga.
- The people at the studio will think I don’t have a life.
- I haven’t done anything stressful enough to deserve yoga.
- The owners might think I am taking advantage of my teacher-rate monthly yoga membership.
- I need to go grocery shopping.
Saturday, May 12, 2012
Monday, January 30, 2012
When we decided to move to Minneapolis for my husband's job, I figured it would be hard. I anticipated it would feel something like the baby blues, mild bouts of depression for a few months and then eventually it would clear up.
And then you move, and you are just going along with the day-to-day necessities, unpacking, signing kids up for school, finding parks, buying more crap to put into your house after you were just appalled at how much crap you had when you moved out of your old house, when all of a sudden you stop and think, “Wait…who am I?” I was thinking this very thought. I was in the throes of identity crisis, wearing a cocktail dress and greeting some new babysitter with whom I was about to leave my kids so I could make my debut at my husband’s new company’s holiday party—when the question hit me square in the face. Who am I? I didn’t know how big my feelings of “who am I” were until I went to put my driver’s license and credit card in a smaller purse (vainly hoping that I looked young enough to be carded) and it was gone. My identity was gone.
Where the hell was my driver’s license? I looked through every crevice of wallet and purse. I attempted to do this calmly trying not to give the babysitter the idea that I was straight out of the Cursing Mommy column in The New Yorker. Oh never mind. I don’t think she read The New Yorker. Shit! Where was my driver’s license? I made a mental list of all the places I’d been that week that could have asked me for my license…the library, the YMCA, the neighborhood recreation center. And then I thought, when I was 28, I would have called the bars to find my ID. At 38, I call the library. WHO AM I?
I grabbed my passport (still convinced I looked young enough to be carded) and went to the party.
The driver’s-license-identity-crisis-snafu was put on the back burner and just became another annoying errand that I had to do. The kind of errand that you have to do, but you don’t really know how to do it, so instead you let the errand just sit in your stomach and rub away at the lining. I would get random pains thinking, “How will I get a Minnesota driver’s license without my old license?” Finally, probably on a day when I felt very certain who I was and very insistent that I had a government ID to prove it, I figured it all out. I filled out the paper work on my computer requesting a new license be issued in my old state. I dug through two boxes to find the cables to hook up the printer. I searched google maps to find a place to make a copy. I found the place. I made a copy of my passport. I stuck it all in an envelope and mailed it off. Done. My identity was requested. And now to wait its arrival.
I missed my driver’s license. It was like this odd little reminder to myself of the mantra that was mounting in my soul, “Nothing got lost in the move but me.” From 9 years of teaching college students about self-fulfilling prophecy, I understood this was not a productive mantra. “Nothing got lost in the move but me.” I kept telling myself anyway. It seemed to describe the subtly awkward taste I had in my mouth on a day-to-day basis when I tried to answer questions like, "Well what do you do for work?" Or worse, the mantra seemed to ring with the tiny vibrations of anxiety that I kept plucking at with my breath when people would fail to ask anything about my job...work...life before Minneapolis.
I knew this feeling of losing my identity was the “hard” part of the move. The part everyone says, “Yeah it’s gonna be hard, but you can do it.” I hear people say that a lot to justify having kids, taking on new life adventures, and moving. Ironically, as soon as things get hard, many of us hate the hard sensations and so we start to criticize old plans and start making new. This feeling lost. This looming question, “Who am I?” This was the hard. And I was in the hard.
As a general practice, I try to stay in the hard. I read a lot of Pema Chodrin. I believe rather than trying to escape the unnerving sensations that I will benefit in the long run if, instead of numbing, I breathe, I stay, I watch. And I lasted in this observatory state for about a week, until I opened my wallet to buy more crap and I realized my Passport was missing. F&#@!!! My identity: gone. Really gone. My skin was red hot and panic set in. I was wavering between exploring what the Universe was trying to tell me and freaking out that someone from the Canadian-owned yoga studio I had just attended was trying to steal my identity. It was a rocky moment. My mantra was back, “Nothing got lost in the move but me.” My vision had closed in. It was narrow and blurry. I started pacing.
I thought what I should do is sit and meditate for 10 minutes and just observe these feelings. What I did instead was begin to piece together how I would go about getting a new passport without a driver’s license in less than month as I was going out of the country in 3 weeks. And when I finally got to the question in my mental processing, “Do I have any copies of my passport?” It hit me. I had left my passport on the copy machine over a week ago when I had made a copy of it to request a new driver’s license. I had lost my identity in attempt to find it.
I called the copy shop. They had my passport in their safe. I went to pick it up immediately. I needed my identity back. And thank goodness that I did as the very next morning, I was pulled over making a left turn on a “No Left Turn from 7am – 9am” street while driving my husband to work because his car wouldn’t start in 16 below zero weather. WHO AM I? I thought of telling the officer, "My husband told me to turn here."
But I thought he might say, “And you do everything your husband tells you to do? Aren’t you a person too?”
To which I may have responded, “Well, Officer, I'm getting there.”
Monday, May 9, 2011
I laughed when I looked at my blog today--finally feeling like writing--and I realized that the last time I wrote, my 6 year old was starting kindergarten. In two weeks, he’ll be graduating.
In honor, I thought I would bring some reality to the book title, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” Robert Fulghum’s popular book supposes that the lessons of kindergarten prepare children for the future challenges we face as an adult. Fulghum’s book paints kindergarten as a dreamy place where things like sharing are taught by a fairy-like teacher singing through the classroom. This is true, I think, in some kindergarten classes today.
I would like to make a list with a slightly different title, ”All My Kindergartener Learned in Public Schools with a 30:1 Student/Teacher Ratio.”
· Calling your teacher, “Mrs. FREAKING Teacher,” earns you time in the recovery chair.
· We spend more time on reading and math than art, because art really isn’t very important for being smart.
· White girls can’t like black boys.
· You really do get in trouble if you give the middle finger.
· Some kids steal school supplies.
· Library time means time to play computer games.
· If you are too good, you get ignored.
· You cannot pull girls’ shirts down.
· Scissors are meant for cutting paper not your shirt or your pants.
Some will read this list and find reasons not to attend public schools. Some will read this list and find reasons to invest more money into public schools. In reality it is just a list and some of these lessons will be learned by kids in private, religious and home schools everywhere.
The list is really more of a lesson for the parents than the kids. What we as parents learn when our children start kindergarten is that despite thinking we were in control for five years, we in fact are not. Some of us will spend years denying this and enforcing control in any conceivable way possible—switching schools, demanding teachers, unfriending families, and more. Others will find the lack of control as an easy excuse to blame everyone/thing else for the outcome of their children, shirking any responsibility of their own doing. The challenge of being a parent is to have the ability to love and protect your child at the same time you have the awareness to see when control starts masquerading as love and protection.
And so Fulgham’s book title could maybe be altered again to read, “All Parents Really Need to Know their Kids Teach them in Kindergarten.”
Thursday, August 19, 2010
These events are a reminder of the human condition of impermanence, and our undying attempts to make things permanent. Ironically, the word, “settled,” carries a positive connotation in our culture. “Now I finally feel settled.” We reach and grasp to feel like we have everything under control, only to be reminded we don’t.
Going to kindergarten is much like this. As parents we’ve been besieged with figuring out how to live with tiny humans in our life. When they come into the world, they disrupt our sleep, our social life, our emotions, our finances. And after five years we finally begin to feel settled. And then you send them to kindergarten and the uncertainty begins again.
And so we begin again clutching to any control we can find—packing the right lunch, having the right school supplies, reading the best books. And maybe these help. And maybe they don’t. Sometimes it is enjoyable to be gloomy and soak in the passing of time and the reality that you have no control.
Children get impermanence. Of all the kids who showed up for their first day of school at a large, urban K-8 public school, not one student was crying. They were all ready to get on with their lives. They all grasp that life is changing. As a child it changes constantly—lose a tooth, grow a tooth, jump a shoe size, shoot up the measuring chart. A child is standing on the balls of their feet, knees slightly bent, looking at the world like, “What’s next?”
We are taught as parents today to help make them feel secure by giving them “lovies” or “stuffies”--objects of permanence that can help them feel like they can control their world. Are these items of stability really helping our kids? Or are they acculturating them to cling on to stuff and moments, only to feel great loss when they are gone?
These are questions for which I do not have the answer, but they are worthy of consideration. And for today, I am taking the lead from my five year old, and getting on with my life.