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Posts tagged ‘spring’

Miranda: Breathe in, breathe out

Late May and June seem to overflow with spring sports, end-of-school trips, rehearsals, recitals, and events. Like many of you, I drive from baseball practice to the dance studio and then back again, arriving at home far too late to get a decent dinner onto the table. The options are: plan carefully and cook dinner in that narrow window between work and the chauffeur routine, or get pizza (again).

It’s easy to be swallowed up by the 1,358 details and pressures of daily life. Last week I retrieved my college son during a two-day road trip to Ithaca, NY, just in time to come home and help my husband rip out an asphalt driveway. Major DIY landscaping projects loom, woven in between graduations, shopping for teacher gifts, T-ball tournaments, and driver’s ed. Normally, the added tasks and activity of this time of year would turn me into a raving bee-atch stress muffin. But this year things are a little different. I’m not a sea of tranquility — not by a longshot — but I’m not fantasizing about my escape to Mexico, either. What’s changed?

I’m running around, but my recent efforts to do less and reduce stress have actually begun to work. I’ve stopped taking on new client projects (the existing clients are more than sufficient) and I no longer need to work nights in order to stave off the panic attacks. I continue to refine my custom planner, which I still love. In the big-picture thinking about moving closer to what makes me happy, the answer seems to live in “just being.” Being, as opposed to doing.

A lot of different threads have come together for me during the past few months as my husband and I began to seriously study and practice Buddhism. Now that I’ve done more than just dip my toe in (I’m probably up to the ankle) I wonder why I didn’t embrace this practice a long time ago. I’d read many Buddhist-inspired books over the years, but I never before connected all the dots. Mediation and mindfulness speak directly to my long-time desire to live in the moment, appreciating my children — how fleeting this time is! — and embrace creativity as much as possible without all the self-flagellation when it doesn’t happen. Somehow Buddhism always seemed to me like something that other people — crunchy, poser Westerners — took to in order to check out of life. But I was wrong. It’s not about checking out, it’s about checking in. You don’t need to be Tibetan in order to practice Buddhism, and it’s already helping me become a better mother. (One of my favorite books in this category: Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting by Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn.)

I’m also running again, eating better, and protecting my 7+ hours of sleep a night. And I’m reading, almost every night. What am I NOT doing? Well, I’m not watching any TV, but I don’t miss it. I’m also not doing very much personal writing. But I’m trying not to obsess. Obsessing means losing out on the opportunity of RIGHT NOW. Remember our discussion of someday is today? Well, today brings whatever today brings. I’m down with that. Yes, there are many things that I’d like to make happen. I’d like to finish my novel. My nonfiction book. Heck, just my creative nonfiction essay. I’d like to ensure at least three posts to this blog every week. And I will do all of those things, in time. But I won’t do them at the expense of this beautiful moment, or my children. (It was quite affirming to look out the window just now and see a hummingbird skimming through the sprinkler in my front yard!)

Summer looms, and with it the perennial promise of slower days and a bit of relaxation. (When the weather is fair — for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere — it does seem easier to embrace the moment, doesn’t it? Of course, this is the very reason why my husband argues that we should move to a warmer part of the country 🙂 ) How are YOU feeling during the end-of-year crunch? Are you able to enjoy the beauty outside? Have you developed strategies to stave off the stress? Are there certain items in the self-care category that you refuse to give up, come hell or high water (a nightly bath, journal writing, a weekly yoga class, a photo a day)? And if creativity gets put on hold for a while, do you trust in a cycle that will bring it back? Please share….

Kristine: Spring Blues

It’s beginning to look and feel a lot like spring around here. The temperature hit close to 70 degrees, and for the first time since last year, I had the windows open. The fresh air circulated throughout the rooms, giving my stale house a fresh, earthy scent. I abandoned my usual turtleneck and sweats for a T-shirt and lighter stretch pants. My daughter romped around the house in actual clothes as opposed to her winter sleepers. The warm weather felt wonderful, especially for the hour we got to go outside and enjoy it.

Okay, so here’s my confession. I’m not ready for spring yet, and I’m going into all of this with a lot of trepidation. Yes, it was a long, cold, snowy winter. Yes, we had more ice storms and record snow amounts than I remember experiencing in a few years. And yes, there was that one night in February when I cursed the winter months because I had to navigate on poorly treated, ice-covered roads—again—to get to the grocery store.

But I’m still a little bummed out that the season is over.  Maybe it’s my personality. I’m very much a homebody who loves snuggling in my warm fleece clothes with a hot cup of tea on a cold night, preferably with a good book. It’s also probably the writer in me. I’d much rather work on cloudy, rainy days than on hot, sunny ones. I love snow unless I have to drive in it. The ice, however, I can do without, thank you very much.

When I became a mom 15 months ago, these feelings only intensified, and I realize now that it’s not so much my avoidance of the warm weather fueling these negative feelings than my reluctance to let go of my little daughter, the fear of her growing up too fast. With each passing season, she gets older and that much closer to leaving the nest. That breaks my heart.

A December baby gave me permission to hibernate with my newborn daughter for a few months. We stayed in our pajamas all day (probably because I was trying to get sleep anywhere and anytime I could and couldn’t give up precious sleep time even getting dressed) and didn’t have to go anywhere except the pediatrician or the grocery store. I loved that cherished, focused time with my daughter. I had that time with her again this year, but I know I’ve only got maybe another year or two left before it all disappears.

So while most people are busting open the doors to cure cabin fever, I’m hoping to close the door to my cabin for a little while longer.

Brittany: Renewal: Spring in South Carolina

I don’t want to rub it in… okay, yes I do. Lately the weather here in Greenville has been hovering in the low 70s. The ground hog in Western North Carolina predicted winter, but the ground hog in Atlanta predicted spring. We don’t have a weather-predicting groundhog of our own, so we have been shifting back and forth between the two. First there’s a 70 degree day. Then the next day or two it’s rainy and cold in the 50s. Once you’ve grown to dislike that weather, you’ll have a beautiful sunny day again, just so you learn to appreciate it. I am in heaven.

We have been putting our zoo membership to good use lately and taking walks to the neighborhood playground as well. Like Miranda, I just can’t seem to find the time to exercise, but it seems a waste not to enjoy the sunshine. It does energize me, much to the detriment of my writing. After a nice walk outdoors, I am ready to write, which is a problem considering that I should be winding things down. But I have come to love my book, as much or more so than the weather, and all this yearly renewal is making me want to create. I sit down and think “I am going to bang out this last chapter” and before I know it, I’ve found a spot somewhere fifteen chapters back where I can write a little scene. Then there’s a touch more dialogue here. And maybe a little exposition there. I have said before that the creation of this book is less a writing exercise and more like the construction of the Winchester Mystery House. It seems that the writing part is neverending. I know I need to stop, but I am enjoying myself way too much. I’ve never finished a novel before, and now that I know I can, I don’t want to.

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