Saturday, October 25, 2014

Deep Thoughts: Yoga and Happiness

Today I went to yoga.  I have slowly started incorporating it into my life again.  The last time I went I was 21 years old, six months from graduating from college, and experiencing great turmoil with all the change taking place in my life.  This time, I'm going to do something for me, something to help make me happy and relaxed.  

I've been thinking of happiness this week, and when I'm in yoga those thoughts spring up too: how to be happy.  I'm finding happiness in my life in unexpected ways: by making new friends, reconnecting with old friends, by setting writing goals AGAIN, and by trying to find contentment and purpose in my every day existence.  I feel so much of life slips away from us while we're staring at our cell phone screen.  So much time simply flies by because we get caught up in trivial problems, and we let them overtake us.  Sometimes we don't meet our true potential, because we are scared of achievement, of putting ourselves out there, and of just doing what we know would truly bring us the greatest happiness and sense of purpose. We are paralyzed by a sense of powerlessness, even though we all have with in us an ability to change our own outcome for the better.  

During yoga, I concentrate on my breathing: in and out, in and out.  I listen to the rhythm my breath makes.  I try to concentrate on the breath, and I usually see it as colors: inhale/red, exhale/blue.  My mind feels free and the tension washes away.  Afterwards, I feel utterly calm and happy.  When my usual smile stretches across my face it feels genuine; it's not just a mask for other hidden feelings.  Wouldn't it be amazing to feel that way every day?  
But, as I read in an article earlier this week, happiness is fleeting and it's meant to be that way.  Humans have an intense want to make temporary things permanent.  They catch onto a feeling that made them feel so wonderful, and they want to feel it over and over again, instead of experiencing it and then letting it go, enjoying the memory, but not wanting to re-live the same moment indefinitely.   

The other day at the dinner table, Number One and I were talking about this, and I said, "Wouldn't it be wonderful if you only felt joy?"  

And he said, wise beyond his nine years, "But Mom, then you wouldn't know what it was because you'd never have felt sorrow."  

And he's so right.  Without sorrow, would joyfulness be less joyful?  Would joy even exist?  

Sometimes after Shavasana, instead of feeling intensely happy, I feel an intense need to cry. I think this is from releasing into the meditation, from letting things go, the need to cry is a physical manifestation of the tension melting away.  Sorrow and happiness all melted into one, like a littmus lozenge (from Because of Winn Dixie).  The feeling is bitter sweet, the letting go of things you carry is hard, because sometimes as you let go you feel like you've lost a part of yourself.  

I believe the key to happiness is living in the moment.  Not looking to the past.  Not looking to the future, but simply being aware of your emotions, being aware of yourself, and living your life in a way that you can accept what has happened, what will happen, and being aware of the inability to change what you can't control.  Setting goals, and realizing you dictate your own future, can help too.  So many people wallow in their sorrow.  They don't find a way to dig out.  They aren't aware of the power inside of them to reach their goals and to live a life that will make them happy.  I, myself, am guilty of this: wondering why I can't get where I want to, but often not taking the action to make a positive change.  Without action, no change can occur: negative or positive.  Why not take the risk?  Without the risk, there can be no chance of failure, but there's also no chance of success.

Find something that makes you happy: be it yoga, reading, Zumba, talking to a friend for hours on the phone, or chasing after your giggling children, who live for today, and don't think about what tomorrow will bring.  Fleeting moments in time.

Friday, October 10, 2014

A Morning Getaway

It's 6:15 in the morning, and instead of trying to read The Fountainhead or packing, I'm typing on my computer.  I'm making a concerted effort to write every day again, even if it is just blogging.  Writing every day is harder than you think, when you have a full time job, three little ones running around, and a plethora of activities where they need to be dropped off.  I wouldn't say I'm lying if I said I feel like a chauffeur most days.  I think all Moms feel that way on occasion. 

Tomorrow I'm going to the beach with this little goober:

She is all legs, and this photo disturbs me a little bit because I can see some of her 16 year old self here.  She is growing up, my baby. 
I took this photo with my Canon Powershot A2500.  I guess it's a good camera.  I had a wonderful, amazing, big semi-SLR Sony camera for years, until it broke.  It wasn't worth fixing.  I had already sunk $100 into it once before, and doing it again would be worthless when I could buy a comparable camera for $400.  I just miss it.  The quality of photos was amazing.  The video function on the camera was awesome, and I didn't get mediocre quality.  Now I resort to using my iPhone camera almost as much as this little Canon.  And we all know what the resolution is on an iPhone camera: sucky.  But there are some benefits.  I don't mind handing the Canon over to my kids, and I get real beauties when I do, like this modern piece of art entitled Apple on a Cluttered Counter:

I think this piece says a lot about our lives.  Number One took this photo, and I've increasingly let him borrow my camera to take more and more photos, because honestly I don't care if he breaks it.  I would never have let him touch my Sony, but Canon, I mean PowerShot: he can take all the photos he wants with it!  It's like a little peek into how he sees the world. 
Now I have to go get ready for the day.  I still need to pack the car up.  Tonight the boys have Trunk or Treat, and tomorrow Darling Daughter and I are getting on the road at 5 AM.  But first I have to go to work, go to Yoga, and take Number Two to a soccer game.  It never seems to stop. 
I can't wait to sit on the porch at the beach with my Mom with a glass of wine and let the sea salt air sink into my pores.  I can't wait to hear the waves crashing and to let the rush of life slip away just for a few days.  It's all worth it. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Living Lessons: Change and Growth

I just love it when my body wakes me up at 4:30 AM.  (That's sarcasm, in case you didn't catch on.  I know it's harder to get when you're reading).  Oh well, since I'm a glass half full type of person I'll make the best of it.  I have things to do this morning, like write random blogs, and iron shirts for picture day.  Can I just say: I HATE ironing.  When I iron, it still looks like the clothes were left crinkled up at the bottom of the laundry basket for day (a little secret: they were at one point).  I can't make the clothes look flat and non-wrinkly. I don't use starch.  I think I would be a mega-fail if it were still the 1950's.  But guess what? It's not, and I'm not a housewife.  I have a career.  I have three kids.  I have my own social life.  I exercise.  I couldn't fit much more into my days if I tried and how well I iron is not going to determine my worth!

Speaking of three kids.  We were up until almost 9 finishing homework last night with Number One.  Homework battles are out the window (thank goodness!), and he's finally "getting" the math problems, showing his work and doing it well.  But first we had cross country, then dinner, and by that time it was already 7:30  He worked diligently on his homework while waiting for dinner, but after dinner it took awhile for him to solve all the problems, show his work and explain it to me. We're getting there though.  Math has been hard for him this year, but last night I was super proud of him because he worked hard and didn't get frustrated.  If you know Number One personally, you know this is a major achievement.  Sometimes frustration can shut us all down, and once it's taken over it's hard not to let it overtake you. 

But I really wanted to post about CHANGE today.  This morning, as I lay awake in bed with the cogs in my head spinning out of control, I thought about CHANGE.  Change is such a scary word for some people.  My life has had a lot of change.  There have been ups and downs and go with the flows.  There have been some days I have felt I could barely move on.  Life is HARD people.  Life changes ALL.THE.TIME.

Here's what I've learned: accept change, but don't try to change others.  As I was thinking this morning about change, I thought about what a friend told me recently, "People don't change."  I don't think this is true, or maybe a better phrase is: I don't think this is entirely true.   I think people are dynamic.  I think they can look at themselves and make positive changes for themselves.  I don't think they can change for others, nor do I think they should.  I think they can only change if they really want to change.  But I'm not even sure "change" is the correct word here.  Maybe the word is grow or evolve or that self-helpy word: self awareness.  We grow into ourselves as children, feeling out the world around us and figuring out our place.  We grow into ourselves as adults, as parents, as empty nesters, and finally as elderly people.  The world around us changes.  Everything happens for a season, and then suddenly we are amidst new surroundings, new people, new thought processes, new technologies, and a new way of living our lives.

Look at your life 10 years ago and tell me if it looks the same?  Do you still hang out with the people you did 10 years ago?  Probably not.  Do you still enjoy the same activities? Probably not.  Did you have an iPhone 10 years ago? DEFINITELY NOT! 

Change is inevitable, even though for some it's scary.  Forcing change on others is a no-no (man this sentence really makes me feel like a toddler mom, sorry folks).  And I'll give you an example, even though it's not life altering or anything.  For years, I've bitten my nails.  NO--that's an understatement.  Since I've had teeth I've bitten my nails.  I can remember riding in my Mom's green Town-and-Country in high school, and she'd slap my hand, "Get those nails out of your mouth, Lauren!"  It only made me want to bite them more.  Strangers would tell me to stop biting my nails.  And recently a co-worker told me to stop biting my nails.  I looked at her and I said, "Why worry about something you can't change?"  This has been my mantra lately, and it has allowed me to look at my life and let things go.  It's made me realize that if you're so caught up on trying to change other people, then you're missing the point and you're not looking at the one person you can change: YOURSELF.  It took me a long time to realize, and I went about things incorrectly for a long time: criticizing, judging, and trying to change other people when I should have just been looking more closely at myself to see how I could incorporate more grace and understanding into my life.  This is something I'll probably be working on until the end of my days.  For now, I'll simply say the only person I'm going to ask to change from now on is myself.

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