faith, spirituality, writing

When I Don’t Meditate… It’s Not Pretty

My daughter, son and their bestie, Miss L, are downstairs doing a second load of dishes. They are singing Dear Evan Hansen’s Sincerely Me at the top of their lungs. To quote the mom from that show, and the title of the first song,  “Does Anybody Have a Map… Can Anyone Tell How the Hell to Do This?,” it was just one of those days.

Saturday Madness

I woke up at 7 to get Evie to a dance audition by 8.

I slept in the car for an hour… I mean slept like the dead.

I came home and attempted to sleep there, too, but the sheets smelled like dog and ass. The bathroom needed a washing. It just felt… icky. I would love to be that person that says, “Oh, well, the cleaning can wait. Let’s just enjoy life.” But with laundry, dishes and no food in the house, I knew getting into action was the best course of action.

And at first had no regrets about that. My bathroom looked good and smelled less like a truck stop.

But add in grocery shopping, taking the kids to a play production tonight, plus concern about how to get Stink’s broken bracket fixed on Monday since I’m working and can’t make it on time and oh, yeah, he needs to sign up for college level Japanese because no he doesn’t want to take Spanish or French which is already offered at his high school and, um, I picked up a few regrets by 6PM.

I got really snippy with my kids. Note: I didn’t scream, but when I get controlling and nitpicky and nothing my husband says or does is helpful, I know that it’s not my outsides that need to change. It’s my insides. And that can only happen with a re-set.

And, well, that’s not going to happen tomorrow.

We have family coming in from Chicago in the morning.

Phia has a vocal lesson at 12.

Later, Rex and I need to swing by his mom’s house on the way to our communication class to fix a broken toilet and deal with an unexpected family death.

Lest I sound like a martyr, or one of those “My kids do too much it’s my own fault for not saying ‘No’ kind of person” I will state life is not normally driven at such a breakneck speed around here. (Nope, when it’s slow and we just hang out I instead get to battle “My kids aren’t doing the extra curricular activities others are doing the am not doing enough…”  And hey, that’s fear based/crap thinking!  I know it’s a lie but days like today take more energy to combat i. And no, 5 cups of coffee/day doesn’t help. Who knew? 😝

March just happens to be the season for my daughter’s school’s dramatic art activities. Broken braces happen. So does death. This crunch time will pass.

The only reason I was less able to deal with it at 630 tonight… when dinner wasn’t made… when the kids found Minecraft more important than the trash and dishes… when Rex was watching TV and I had groceries to unpack… was because I did not meditate this morning.

Me When I Don’t Meditate

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I did not take time to say, “God, this day is yours. Direct my thinking.” When I do that, I can be like the tree that bends and sways in the wind and doesn’t break. When I don’t, branches fly. Leaves fall. And someone’s dashboard usually gets crunched when I ultimately fall through the windshield.

Lucky for me, this no meditating deal is an exception. Because it’s a daily practice, I had some reserve in my tank. (Translation: I was bitchy, not psychotic) But a few more days of not filling up and I’ll be running on fumes. And the car will break. And then it will take more energy and money to repair. How much easier would it be just to do daily maintenance?)

And so, tomorrow, I will get up at 7 and have some alone time with God.

And then I will buy bagels and welcome my family to my table.

I will get into acceptance that this month just happens to be one of those hectic times in my immediate family, but I won’t complain. Because one day these kids won’t be here to drive around. The tub won’t need so much cleaning. To quote Dear Evan Hansen, I won’t always have this For Forever.

Happy weekend to you all. Here’s to a better report tomorrow!

sss

 

 

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There’s Nothing Outside of Yourself You Need to Be Happy (Except Maybe Headphones)

 

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I live in house with a husband, 2 kids, a pit bull and a room mate. Given that we have 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, this does not give us a lot of space. (I admit it. I’ve peed in the backyard at times. No one knows this but a few close friends. And, well, now everyone who reads this blog. Don’t judge.)

I’m completely aware that people in other countries live 8 to a room (heck, the kids I assist at a Title 1 grammar school one city away live 8 to an apartment) so I try not to complain. Each day I write gratitude lists.

“Thank you God for the giant oak tree that shades the cramped dining room poor excuse for a bedroom  sacred space I share with Rex.”

“Thank you God for our fridge full of vegan hot dogs and gelitin-free food for my entitled/have no idea how much it costs big-hearted teenagers whose sweet souls are always thinking of animals.”

And, speaking of teenagers, “Thank you God for my beautiful daughter who today is 13. Today.”

Today, folks.

My round faced china doll girl of yore has morphed into long legs and curvy hips. Her Betty Page throw back hair style has been replaced with long brown locks. She has zits near those gorgeous dimples. And, as much as I grieve the few stains on her lovely face, I pray sometimes that, to borrow a similar statement from Farmer Stacey, ‘May God keep her pimply and humble.’ I’m not ready for what comes with the other.

Today I picked up my son from the train station. He had just returned from five days of visiting his best friend who lives 4 hours away. I swear, he stepped off that train and I didn’t recognize him.

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Stink: (Low Man Voice) “Hey, Pipsqueak.”

Pip: “Hi, Stink!”

Miss L: “Give us your bag!”

And so he did. My girl, her bestie and him. They walked side by side to the car, talking the pros and cons of the Hogswart Express vs. Amtrak. (Yes, there’s delicious food. Unfortunately no chocolate frogs or magical playing cards. Darnit.)

I often wear headphones, like the ones below, to get some space from the constant noise and chaos that surrounds this busy home.

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But when I stay in gratitude, I am so often overwhelmed with how it’s also a happy home with all its clanking, banging and raucous laughter. And I will miss these days when they are gone.

Quiet is good to calm the mind, but when push comes to shove, I don’t know if I’d have it any other way.

As my sponsor often tells me, “You don’t need anything outside of yourself to be happy.” And while I often want to punch her in the face cringe when she says that, she’s right. I am learning, slowly, that there is a lesson in everything.

And today, the lesson was clear yet again: head phones can give me a little breathing room to find myself amongst the dog barking, the door bell ringing, the Jehovah Witnesses preaching, but always remember I am my best self when I am surrounded by people I love.

And so, I will be taking off these suckers in a moment. I will be saying prayers with my kids upstairs. I will crawl into bed next to Rex, and I will once again say thank you to a God who I don’t always understand, but I know gives me everything I need. And I don’t need to find him outside of myself.

And neither do you.

Until next time,

Andrea

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

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My Prayer Square

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I’ve been practicing meditation lately. Not the kind of meditation where I sit for thirty minutes at a session, empty my brain of all things Andrea, and go blue with bliss like that scene in Eat Pray Love where Elizabeth Gilbert hits nirvana as the greeter at the Ashram or leaves all her problems at the top of the bell tower, walks down, and three chapters later is having wild sex with Felipe in a bed that resembles a floating parachute. (That happens to me every day, though, trust me.)

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I’m talking the kind of meditation where you just allow yourself to be where you are at any given moment. There is no judgment of thought. No should’s. (I mean really, people, I’m so tired of shoulding on myself!) No. It’s about just letting whatever is be what it is. Life on life’s terms.

If this meditation practice of mine was compared to a baby’s journey toward development, you could seriously put me in the “Crawling on Her Belly” category, but even us crabs have to scuttle before we can swim.

Take yesterday’s event after Stink’s tennis practice. I didn’t hyperventilate.That was a form of meditation! Hooray! After all, panicking about the future wasn’t going to get my car keys back.

Today, with Stink’s new vocal tic resembling Bobby Brady’s scratchy voice during puberty, thinking about how he was teased about a similar sound a few years ago is simply not helpful. I went on a walk instead and allowed myself to speak truthfully to my spouse about something that had been bugging me. He handled it well, I took his suggestion, he decided to work on his part… boom! So much better than sitting in the den, listening for squeaks with the obsession of a hound dog hunting runaway prisoners.

I’m finding that for me, the real answer to peace is to somehow enjoy the moment exactly as the moment is. Sometimes, it simply means finding a prayer square.

What’s a Prayer Square?

A prayer square, for me, is an upgraded version of “standing on my square” that my friend Barbara used to tell me to do. When I’d ruminate and complain and spin more than a tilt-a-wheel on truck stop java, she’d tell me to get my head out of my arse, clean house, trust God and help others.

One day, after one of her “pep talks” she told me find a square in my kitchen and stand there. “Plant your feet, look at them, and let all your energy and anger and pain just go from the tip of your head down to your ankles and root yourself in the floor.”

At first, that sounded pretty stupid. Sure, I’d try, but inevitably I’d focus on my stained tennis shoes and the damn dog fur, not to mention that the grout in my tile was not a natural black because I am such a bad housekeeper and OUCH! Without fail I’d virtually fall off the prayer square, hit my head on the tile, and wind up with a massive headache from trying too hard.

But eventually, it got easier. Because, well, my best thinking got me nowhere. And as silly as it felt to stand on a square in the middle of my dirty kitchen, it felt better than lying on my couch in a heap of misery over what I couldn’t change.

But something was missing so, not one to stick with dogma just for the sake of dogma, I switched it up a bit. I threw in some prayer.

For me, it’s hard to have monkey mind when I’m thanking God for something in my life. “Thank you, God, for this moment. For this kitchen in all its imperfection. For my life, with all the beauty and all the warts. I feel your energy from the tip of my head to the ends of my toes. Thank you.”

It worked. It really did. Eventually I started being able to stand there longer and longer. But, well, since life happens with kids and dogs and renters and husbands, it became apparent that I would have to leave the house. Every day.

Since it wasn’t always feasible to run back to my kitchen when things got wonky (which for me were, um, a lot,) I found prayer squares in public. Take last night, for example. While hiking up the park lawn to the office, only to find the doors locked for Yom Kippor (Happy Shana Tova, my Jewish readers!) my eye landed on a beautiful pepper tree. Something about the night sky, combined with the warm air and its branches hovering over me like a warm embrace made me feel safe. For a few seconds, I wasn’t thinking about how I would get home without a set of keys. I was focused on the love of that tree.

“Go lie down under it!” my gut told me. And believe me, I almost did. But given it was 8:30, some homeless bums were eyeing me from the office patio and I didn’t feel like being raped, harassed for food, or perhaps even asked for food while I was being raped, I decided it wasn’t a good idea. But I made a promise to it to go back. “Hello, sweet tree! I can’t wait to see you again. I will sit under you, and look up at your branches and just feel whatever I feel. And I thank you for not kicking me out. Because, well, with what I think about sometimes, I’d kick me out.”

Trees are like the best of friends. They listen and they don’t talk back. I hope to be a better friend like that some day, not because I ‘should’ but because that’s what being a friend is all about.

And if you, my friend, happen to be in my area, perhaps we’ll go sit under that tree together. And we’ll not worry about what we cannot change. We won’t fear the future or regret the past but just relish the absolute joy of the present moment with the earth at our feet and the sky over our heads. We’ll just revel in our prayer square and feel God’s love from the tips of our heads to the ends of our toes.

Sounds like a hoot, eh?

Until next time, remember to accept the tics you can’t change, change the tics you can, and have the wisdom to know the difference.

More of my writing can be found at AndreaFrazerWrites, on Facebook at Happily Ticked Off or on Twitter @AndreaFrazerWrites. 

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Acupuncture Update #3 and Meditation

Stink was a bit head shaky, twitchy on Thursday. A session with Martina cleared this right up.

At first, Stink would complain about acupuncture. It was not the needles, but the time he had to take out of his day to sit still, that bugged him.

But now, he loves it. He is especially fond of Thursday’s sessions when he lays in Mama and Papa’s bed and hears this awesome meditation CD. In fact, the CD relaxes him so much, he and his sister go to sleep with it at night. It even worked in knocking him and his best buddy out in fifteen minutes on Saturday night.

This was after playing the Wii, seeing a movie, and running around like hellions in the backyard.

Just saying, if my kid and his 9 year old friend can go from this…

…to this

…it might be worth a shot for your little tickers.

Meditation CDs and acupuncture aren’t miracle cures, but for us, they are working.

More later!