Sending and receiving Christmas cards is a reminder to me of how much I love and am loved. I closed the note in our card this year with a heartfelt truth, “Please know that each time you cross our minds, which is way more often than you hear from us, you make us smile.” For the opportunity to realize how fortunate I am and to be able to express this gratitude to those I love, I am grateful for this seasonal tradition. These weekly musings are yet another opportunity for me to feel grateful for the web of love and support that life has weaved for me. So, I’ll close this last essay of 2022 the way I closed the note in my Christmas card – in gratitude: “Mwah! Thank you for being a part of my life. Thank you for making my world a better place. xoxo”
I've written a little fairy tale based on story told to me by a friend. Its moral is that to trust in life is not naive. Spiritual traditions around the world teach that we are part of a continuous, endless, cosmic celebration of life and love. Even in times of pain and struggle, we can join in the celebration. We may not be dancing wildly. We may not be laughing uproariously. But we can allow life and love to brush over us softly with its compassionate, healing touch. All we have to do is say - sometimes quite quietly - "YES."
Some life lessons must be learned over and over again. One of them is being kind to ourselves. The first time I learned to be kind to my body was the first year of marriage. The second time was a decade later when I found yoga. Suddenly, thanks to getting caught thinking, feeling, and saying really mean things about my body, it's time to learn it again. This is OK! After all, I’ve never been in my mid-fifties before. I’ve never loved a body as it starts to shift and change in ways that I am not able to control or change. This moment is an invitation to advance to “AP level” self-acceptance, nonviolence, and letting go. I'm ready! Are you?
Extended family is proof of yoga's truth that each of us is an essential part of a greater whole. As you practice, you begin to recognize that story you are "writing" as you live and love is an essential part of the whole collection of stories that led to your life - and that will lead to the lives of those to come after you. Let’s promise one another to treat our lives like the treasures they are – and, while we’re at it, to share the stories we collect along our way with those who come after us.
One of my sweetest memories is a weekday afternoon when we should have been doing a dozen other things, but instead my kids and I decided to watch Christmas movies. Was this “the best of times?” I also have a niggling memory of how we wound up in that chair – total exhausted collapse from days of nagging, reminding, and hounding them to practice the piano, do their homework, clean their rooms, and brush their teeth. I am so glad that I am longer the drill sergeant that motherhood required me to be for almost two decades. So, was this also “the worst of times?” I am left wondering if it is possible that what makes "the best of times" is, in part, the way we handle "the worst of times."
I have been struggling with a quiet sadness for a while now. It’s not constant. It’s more nostalgia than sorrow. It pops up at surprising times – while walking into town, or sitting in the pew at church, or driving past mothers and children on bus stops. It is the vague ache of missing daily life with my now grown kids. Like leaves on a tree in autumn, we would be wise to hold each of life’s stages lightly. Even the sweetest times draw to an end. We are invited to gratefully let go of what was in order to step forward into the riches of what is next. This is not easy.
As a recovering perfectionist, yoga and meditation have been powerfully healing. Richard Rohr writes, “If there is such a thing as human perfection, it seems to emerge precisely from how we handle the imperfection that is everywhere, especially in ourselves.” I'll confess to being a little tweaked by the idea of one day being able to handle my imperfections perfectly. Lucky for me, my practices continue to give me a zillion chances to surrender to just how out of reach even that teeny-tiny chance of perfection is.
My husband went fishing over the weekend. He loves this annual trip, and his excitement makes me happy. I will confess that just the thought of having the house to myself for two whole days also makes me happy. Or at least it used to. This time was different. Or maybe it was me that was different. Rather than relishing my time alone I was a little astonished to find I was lonely. It turns out that as my life has changed, so have I. Going forward I will change the way I approach these weekends home alone so that they are a happy break that "who I am now" rather than "who I once was" will enjoy.
I used to feel somewhat panicked and nauseous over in-class observations. The fact that my “upset” felt out of proportion to the situation was a clue that I needed to look a little more closely at what was really going on. When I did, I saw that I was not seeing the intention of these observations clearly and my whole perspective changed. Seeing clearly not only freed me from some self-induced suffering, but, as an added bonus, some led to some really exciting growth.