Living Your Life With More Ease ~ Yoga Lessons

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Yoga Lesson 1: Keep Your Eyes Open

When the pose is tough and kicking your butt, focus on one spot. Concentrating on the one spot helps you to ignore the screaming muscles. They call this Drishti.

When I first started practising, I would fall into pigeon at the end of practice, feeling the breath ripple through me and my body thanking me for making it to class. My eyes were always closed as I took in each sensation. One night the instructor said, keep your eyes open. Don’t close yourself off, even during the relaxing, releasing part of the practice. Feel everything. Keep your focus.

Hmm. We all hear about people’s fear of failure…this reminded me of fear of success. Keeping your eyes opens tells your inner self that it’s ok to enjoy the fruits of your labour, to take pride in reaping the rewards of your success. At the end of a challenging practice, we shouldn’t close ourselves to the amazing feelings of having made it by going inward and closing our eyes.

In life too, keep your eyes open and enjoy all for which you have worked.

Yoga Lesson 2: Go Into The Pose With Ease

Speaking of work, nothing should ever really feel like work. No matter how difficult the pose, nor how far you can get into it, the struggle automatically doubles when you fight it, or try to beat it into submission, or constantly think, this is so hard.

The instructor’s cues during difficult poses always include: take a breath, relax your face and smile.

The same thing happens in life, no matter how annoying the task. For example, God help me, making lunches is the last thing I want to do after a full day of being everything to everyone. So, I breath. And, I’ve actually started to express thanks for the food in my fridge which means I can feed my family, for the health to stand in my kitchen and use my hands to make this food, and for the children I’m feeding because I really wanted to have them. That’s when I smile. Voila. Instant ease. I’m still making the lunches, but suddenly, the task doesn’t feel so heavy. I’m not fighting it, but completing it with ease.

Yoga Lesson 3: Isn’t It Great That It Doesn’t Have To Be Perfect?

Oooooh, this is a big one for me. BIG. The mat gets messy, and some days are ah-mazing. I    breathe, I flow, I move, I stand on my head, I nearly get my hips up for hand-stand….other days, ugh. Child’s pose please!

The point is…listen to yourself. Our bodies tell us what we need. The beat of our hearts, the pit of our stomachs, the sweat in our armpits, the ache in our guts, the constriction of our throats, the tightening of our shoulders….the list is endless. LISTEN! And, then agree that enough is just enough. And, that in itself is perfect.

Yoga Lesson 4: Have Fun

What’s the point if it isn’t? There’s always room for laughter, smiles, giggles. When we fall, when we soar…leaving room for fun is essentially what makes all of this worth it.

Any lessons you would add which have helped you navigate life with a little more ease and fun?

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The Secret to Holiday Magic is Self-Care

christmas-2910468_640I read an unsettling article on The Huffington Post entitled Holiday Magic Is Made By Women. And, It’s Killing Us.

The writer is honest about all of the ways in which the holidays, more importantly, preparing for the holiday magic, tug at her, until she is left feeling depleted, empty, with nothing left to give.

I felt so sad and helpless as I read about her experience. I also felt anger.

Most of us have been her at one point in time as we try to make everything perfect for the people we love. We do it so they can enjoy this festive season and have memories to cherish as they grow up and grow old. There’s so much magic to the holidays and we want those we love to experience all of it. We do this out of love. It’s a beautiful thing.

What’s not so beautiful is the cost. When was this unspoken expectation that it’s mom’s job to make the holiday magic born?

I asked my husband if he would do half the things the writer listed in her article for the holidays. He responded with a resounding “No fn way.” “Why not?” “Why?”

Why? indeed. It seems men understand the magic of the holidays, but aren’t prepared to burden themselves with it. Because my husband also doesn’t expect me to do it, when I prompted him further. So, why do I feel the need to do it?

December is upon us, and while some are completely ready for the holiday magic, others (like me) are still in the midst of preparing. This article served as a reminder that unless I take care of me, slow down and enjoy the holidays myself, no one around me will either.

So here’s to all the moms that make things happen. The extra touches are always nice, but are they truly necessary? Perhaps, if you’re feeling stretched during your holiday preparation time, take a moment to ask yourself, is this truly necessary?

The holidays are a time for magic, however they are also a time for family and friends. Hopefully this will help when we are in the midst of wrapping, baking, checking off the to-do list. And, in that moment of self-care, when we fill ourselves up so we can fill up the others who need us, we will feel the holiday magic.

How do you plan on making time for yourself during December? Tell me in the comments!

Wishing you a great, restful and magical few weeks before Christmas!

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Breathe…You Can Do This!

inhale exhaleWhen the alarm goes off and you think you have at least 10 minutes to shower before the kids get up, but surprise! They’re both awake and telling you they’re hungry…breathe…

When your husband asks what’s for lunch on a Saturday afternoon, and instead of committing murder because you’ve been juggling the three year old, the house, the coming home from the soccer game, and are desperately hoping to squeeze in a yoga class…breathe…

When deadlines sneak up on you at work and you’re staring at the calendar wondering how that happened…breathe…

When a co-worker flags a student which you should’ve flagged a few weeks prior and now that kid is probably struggling more than he should be…breathe…

When the teacher calls because your angel of a child has not behaved like an angel and now this mothering business is gettin’ serious…breathe…

When you watch all of the precious writing time be eaten up by practices, games, rehearsals, meetings, appointments, cooking, playing, homeworking…breathe…

When you look at the coming month and automatically close the calendar because it’s not possible…breathe…

When you wonder how you get the energy to do it all…breathe…

When you stop to thank your lucky stars for your health, happiness and pretty awesome life…breathe…

When you realize how freakin’ amazing you are…breathe…

Perfect in our imperfections and our imperfect lives. It’s a beautiful thing.

Hope your week’s a good one!

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Top Ten Books I’d Like My Children to Read

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Please go to The Broke and the Bookish for more details about their weekly meme. This week they’ve challenged us to list the books we’d like our children to read. I can’t pin down specific titles for my entire list so you’ll see a mix of titles and authors from whose writings I’m sure my children will learn and be inspired both now and when they are older.

5 Books to read in childhood/adolescence

  1. I Love You Forever by Robert Munsch – captures a mother’s love so beautifully
  2. Rowling’s iconic Harry Potter books – ’nuff said
  3. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett – a mansion full of secrets in Yorkshire? Sign me up!
  4. Judy Blume of course!
  5. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis – fantasy, adventure and fun

5 Books to read in adulthood

  1. Anything by Gabriel Garcia Marquez for some Colombian heritage reading
  2. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – because Offred’s insights and observations eerily resound
  3. Eckhart Tolle – at some point each of my children will need some tools to manage the hardships of life which I was unable to impart (or, gulp, deal with issues I may have unknowingly created…sweat beads…)
  4. The Awakening by Kate Chopin – ooooh, this book. Especially my daughter. When (if) she’s a mother.
  5. The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison – a beautiful, provoking read about identity, forging it, finding it in a harsh world

Which books would your list include?

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6 Things I’ve Learned About Motherhood

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#6. The laundry.

Oh, the laundry! If you’re just starting your family, invest in the best & largest washer/dryer set your budget allows. Stock up on your favourite brand of stain remover and be prepared to rewash a load which has been sitting in the washer for a few days or wear wrinkled clothes that never quite made it to the hanger because life.

#5. Your Calendar will never be your own again.

Play dates, birthday parties, dentist, doctor, eye doctor, practices, rehearsals, games, recitals. Curriculum nights. Due dates. Is it library or gym day today? Book orders, fundraisers, spirit days, food drives. Pizza orders, milk orders, lunch pails orders because making lunches is the bane of my existence (I wonder if that should be it’s own category?)

#4. You will shop incessantly, except not for yourself.

Because growing bodies need new clothes for every bloody season. Shoes can’t be so big they’re a danger to everyone or so small they’re outgrown in a month. You must analyze weather patterns, predictions for how cold or warm fall/winter or spring/summer will be and then say “f*%! it!” and buy whatever they’ll wear anyway because who has time for arguments about clothes in the morning. Regardless if you go thrift, mall, online, discount stores…you will shop. For them. (And don’t even get me started on gear for sports which need to be purchased months in advanced because by the time the sport is in season, every store everywhere will have every size available except the one which fits your child).

#3. The hostile take-over of your home.

Everywhere you turn there will be evidence of the people you created. And, I don’t mean the play pen, high chair, bouncy chair kind of take over because you decide where those actually go. I mean the toys. The toys! In every corner. And you may swear you will never spoil your child with toys, but everyone else will. And, of course, you will too. Regardless of how many times you sing the damn clean up song, or swear to throw it all away each time your foot is impaled by a sharp object in the middle of the night, or create a game or rewards chart or simply threaten the entire household…the toys will take over your home. (Add to that every single piece of paper they scribble on at school; the problem exponentially grows before your very eyes).

#2. The energy it all takes.

Motherhood is a continuous ebbing and needling and prodding for attention. Everyone needs something. So it’s important to put your energy where it matters.

Weaning them off needing you takes work, too: “You can pour your own cup of milk” “Try the step stool” “Did you check the dishwasher?” “The milk may have been pushed to the back of the fridge” “There’s more paper towels in the storage room downstairs”.

One thing to remember is that every battle doesn’t need to be fought: yes, you may wear a t-shirt and shorts to school on the first cold day of autumn because the cold will get you into warmer clothes faster than I ever can.

Everyone needs something. All the time. And while daddy is sitting right next to them, willing to address their needs, mommy is always the first resource. Even on the good days, the energy required to mother two children, maintain a home and a career is almost miraculous. Never mind this ambitious endeavour of writing on the side.

#1. Self-Care is paramount.

I always loved going to the gym and having “me” time…who doesn’t? I didn’t realize that it would become vital to my very survival. Making time for myself is the only way to keep from breaking down. I do that by (in)consistent yoga practice, (not so) daily meditation and writing, sprinkled with a few outings with dear friends when I can get away. I can feel my entire being rebelling when I haven’t spent the time on my mat, at my keyboard or chatting away with someone I love who is not a part of my family. It’s easy to be swept up in the feeling of being needed by your family, of being indispensable to them…but one day, they will be their own independent people (because that’s the goal, right?) and I want to still have something that’s mine, that can’t be taken away when they’re continuing their journey without my everyday care & guidance.

I think I could write on this topic forever because with motherhood the learning curve has been steep…and, oh so worth it. After all, I wouldn’t be the woman I am without my two and I have to admit, I kinda like her.

Any lessons you’ve learned you’d care to impart? How do you self-care in order to keep going?

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