Practicing Gratitude

gratitude Practicing Gratitude

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Peaceful Mama, aka Carolyn Wallace, has the flu this week.  So here is a post for you to enjoy that I wrote last summer.  FYI, I am writing to you from our lovely new home that we were able to move into on August 27 of last year.

This past month has been an opportunity for our whole family to practice gratitude.  My husband, son and I have been living in a one-room apartment since the end of June, when we sold our house to a lovely couple.  We weren’t able to close on our new house until the beginning of August, so we had to find housing for the month of July. “It will be all right,” we told ourselves.  “We can live together in one room, with a one-burner hot-plate as our only source of cooking, for a month.  It might even be fun.”  So we moved into an efficiency apartment, full of enthusiasm, ready to endure a little discomfort while we waited out the time-lapse between moving out of our old house and moving into the new house. Continue reading

Re-creating Sacredness

Dandelion Seeds Re creating Sacredness

Image by LifeSupercharger

In my last post, I wrote about my experience of being yoga teacher at Kripalu, which I loved with all my heart.  It was easy to feel loved then, because I was connected to what I was supposed to be doing with my life, being useful to others, and I got (mostly) positive feedback about my work.  Even though I love my husband and my son and the choir I sing in each week, somehow, that raw, body-sense of sacredness those early Kripalu mornings provided me are very difficult for me to re-create in my current life.  Not that I haven’t tried.  Sometimes I get up early and light a candle and have a yoga or meditation practice.  But my heart isn’t quite connected in the same way it use to be.  Somehow, this stage of my life, being a wife and mother (and housekeeper and cook) and full time employee in the work world is different now, even though my longing for the sacred is still very much intact.

So how do I manage this tension?  Do I try harder to create early morning sacredness the way I used to know it, do I look for sacredness in other places, or do I live my current life with unresolved longing?  (All the while reminding myself that while I was teaching yoga at Kripalu, I often longed to have a partner and children.) I could try harder to re-create what I once had.  My Deva Premal CDs are now buried under Kids in Action and Frog and Toad CDs.  My CD player (we’re low tech in this house) is somewhere in my son’s room.  My living room floor is usually strewn with blocks, magna tiles and dog hair, and any altar I create will be dismantled within 20 seconds by my curious 4 year old.

Even if I took care of these details, however, there is something to be said about not having quite enough energy for creating sacred space the way I used to, after mom/wife/housekeeper/cook/employee duties have kept me hopping from morning till night, and sometimes throughout the night, for the past four years.  Then there’s the fact that I might only get 5 or 10 minutes into my yoga practice before my son calls “Mommmmmyyyy!” from an upstairs bedroom, which requires me to leave my sacred space and enter another sacred space.  A space where my little boy still wants me to hold him in the early mornings.  A space where I can get back under the warm covers and hold him close and kiss his cheeks and the top of his sleepy head and simply breathe in his lovely early-morning smell and appreciate his willingness to snuggle, and have the opportunity to be mindful of the gratitude for this abundant gift of love that wells up in my heart and stings my eyes with tears.

Then I realize there’s far less tension than I thought there was.  Yes, there’s the trying to re-create a part of my life that existed once, which I might choose to do on some days.  But then here’s the embracing the very real sacredness my life has to offer now, as a wife and mother, which might look and feel different to me than teaching a yoga class, but is really just the same sacredness, after all.  And then there’s the grieving I have to do because the time for teaching early morning yoga is over, at least for now, and trying to re-create it is about as fruitless as trying to save the melting snow from slipping into the pond in our backyard.  Like trying to hold onto the dandelion seeds as they blow in the wind. Like trying to believe that if I hold my son close enough for one minute longer, I’ll be able to keep him safe forever.

 

Have you ever considered joining a monastery?

yoga class Have you ever considered joining a monastery?
Image by EvanLovely

I have, briefly, when I was thinking about career choices in my 30′s.  I dreamt of living in some kind of sacred and serene Buddhist monastery in California, or maybe even a Hindu ashram in India, for some time.  The closest I ever came to it was moving to the Berkshire mountains in Western MA to live near and work at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health.  By this time, Kripalu’s ashram days were long over.  However, there was still an ashram-like feel to it, and to the people who lived and worked there.  People think I’m nuts when I say this, but I loved getting up at 4:15 a.m. most mornings, making myself a lovely green juice in my cozy efficiency apartment, and making the dark drive to Kripalu, where I was expected to be in the big yoga room by 5:30 a.m., lighting candles, checking my microphone and headset, putting on soft, contemplative music, and rolling out my mat at the front of the room.  My slow, creaky warm-ups would soon turn into fluid movement while half-asleep Kripalu guests slowly made their disheveled way downstairs to roll out their mats, too, in the soft, sacred environment I helped create for them.  By the final “om,” the sun would just start to make it’s appearance over the mountains.  I loved every bit of it.

Ever since I first went to Kripalu some years earlier, and first went to a 6 a.m. yoga class, I knew that one day I would also be teaching those classes.  I wanted to create and be in that ambiance of sacredness.  Back home in Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, I would light a candle and put on my “Eternal Om” or other chanting music just before 6 a.m. and have my own yoga practice so that I could be in sync with what was going on at Kripalu, hundreds of miles away.  It was a process, but overall it didn’t take me long to figure out how to let go of my beloved life in DC so that I could pursue a heart-felt, body-felt sense of sacredness at Kripalu.

Writing about my experience of teaching 6 a.m. yoga at Kripalu was not my intention when I sat down to write this blog post.  Linking that experience ito how I’m showing up as mother and a woman today was supposed to be the point.  So, that that will have wait for my next post.  Someone remind me, please.

Alternate Realities

86898564 8450ac24a7 t1 Alternate Realities

Image by FlyingSinger

Have you ever loved your child so much it’s almost unbearable?

I had a child about 10 years later in life than most mothers did.  In fact, I didn’t think I’d be able to have a child at all.  So when we found out I was pregnant with our son, I was over the moon.  I had recently suffered a devastating miscarriage, and the fact that I had been gifted with yet another pregnancy filled me gratitude, hope and fear that I might lose this one, too.

I have spent most of the past 4 1/2 years looking at my beautiful son with awe, wonder and disbelief.  How is it that someone this sweet and wonderful (with all of the cranky, low-blood sugar attributes, too) came into my life to allow me to raise, cherish and nourish him?  How did I ever get so lucky?  I look at my beautiful child sitting in his chair at breakfast time, eating his oatmeal and making silly faces to make me laugh, and I can hardly get over the wonder of the moment.  The sweetness.  And the reality that life is so very precarious.

Some months ago there was an article in the Huffington post about the on-going devastation of our oceans, which, if not curtailed, will cause a mass extinction of sea life in the upcoming years.  Ecology being what it is, a mass extinction of sea life equals the eventual mass extinction of human life on the planet.  How can I love my son with all of my heart, hope for his future, and hold the truth about the declining state of our life-giving planet at the same time? 

How do we hold the duality of these things?  How do we keep loving and hoping in the face of terrible environmental news?  How can we mothers (and fathers, and anyone who loves children) go on in the face of this reality? How do we keep our spirits up in spite of everything, and teach our children a better way of living that might really make a real difference for their future?

How do you do it?  Do you believe we can make a difference?

The Birth of Peaceful Mama, Part 3

Hpim0304 150x150 The Birth of Peaceful Mama, Part 3I ended the last segment of this 3-part blog post by saying that I still lack the connection of wise women friends in my life.  Let me clarify that by saying that I am slowly building a new and and exciting women’s community in my new area of the country, and yes, my women friends from my past, especially my soul-mates in Washington, D.C. still exist, and they are still as wonderful as they have always been.  The difference now Continue reading

The Birth of Peaceful Mama, Part 2

Oct 18 07 2 150x150 The Birth of Peaceful Mama, Part 2

Baby Love

Our son arrived on his due date, and I was immediately in love with him.  My husband loved him too, but the distance between us as a couple continued, which, unfortunately, we wouldn’t really begin to repair until some time later.  To make matters even more stressful, our son developed Marshall’s Syndrome, or PAFPA, at five months old.  Continue reading

A Frog Thing Meditation

We moved last week.  We got everything cleared out of our old house, and most of what we own is being held in a storage unit for a month, until we are able to move into our new house.  The things we need for this month, including ourselves, are currently in a one room studio apartment.  For one month, my husband, son and I get to celebrate togetherness in a very literal way.  Continue reading