Ode to My Ordinary Day: What a Writer Writes When She Realizes She’s in Love

Fifteen minutes of looking through my Google Gallery brought me to the realization: I am absolutely in love. And while I toy with the idea of how much to share of myself, the deepest parts of me can not be ignored and cry out to be publicized.

I am in love with my daughter. Someone once told me, “There is no doubt that you are having a love affair with your daughter.” I confess, we are caught up in mutual adoration.

You probably have experienced this type of passion: when in love, almost every song on the radio transmits meaning, and certain lines resonate more powerfully than others.

And while enjoying that “in love” feeling, it finally dawns on you: there is not enough time, while we are alive on this planet, to live all the moments I want to live with my beloved.

James Arthur says it perfectly in my most favorite-present-song-lyric, right now:

I wanna live with you

Even when we’re ghosts

Cause you were always there for me

When I needed you the most

-from Say You Won’t Let Go by James Arthur

wedding love

So, what does a writer do, once she realizes one lifetime is not enough to live all the love of the someone she loves?

She writes an ODE.

An Ode: “A poem…written in order to praise a person or thing.” -Longman Dictionary

As you read, I invite you to think about who and/or what you love: the person or thing that you desire to experience fully in this present life and, God willingly, in the afterlife, too.

Spring is coming. With it comes birthdays, graduations, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and weddings. An ode is a perfectly priceless gift to offer your beloved (s). My next blog will offer some suggestions on how to get started. Until then, bask in the bliss with me of pure love. And get inspired to start spring with an ode of your own!

Ode to My Ordinary DayGrace and sunflowers

As morning extends to day and then day into night

Daily chores and routines are the moments always in sight:

Cereal bowls, sandwich plates, pasta bowls smeared with butter

Move from kitchen, to table, to sink: my loved load of clutter.

The mystery of my heart is defined in her laundry basket

And we’ve got Legos, Monster High Dolls, and technological gadgets.

She loves to build. She loves to sing. She loves a good back rub.

She swims like a mermaid: in pools, oceans, and her bath tub.

Tfairy house building (1)hat first day we finally met, mankind came alive:

As God’s love lives in her fair skin and in her dreamy blue eyes.

She surely lacks little, as she asks with an endearing, “Mommy?”

Evidence is in her room: it was hit by a toy tsunami!

Last summer we went to a baseball game, to see sunflowers, and to play on the beach

Where she caught a lady bug on her finger, and kept it within reach.

When she let it go she said “Good-bye sweet bug.”

Without the fear of squishing it, there would have been a hug!

Kitty cats, time with Papa, and creative adventures,lady bug moments

Gymnastics, time with friends,  and sponge cake are her pleasures.

Daily chores and routines move seamlessly to our background

As fairy wands, dance routines, and scooter rides at the playground

Become parts of the party we call our life: It is our weekly cabaret…

Mothering, Mentoring, Doting, Enjoying: These are the things that make My Ordinary Day.

So there you have it: My Ordinary Day Ode. I am blessed to live this life with this amazing soul. And my hope is, in the spirit of James Arthur’s song, my little girl will one day say to me, in an ode of her own:

“…Cause you were always there for me

When I needed you the most.”

Enjoy your creative pondering! And the love of your beloved!

Blessings and peace,

Pamela Rae

Advertisements

How to Dance with Daffodils: Get Naked with Yourself in Meditation.

What’s a “mindful blogger” do when all she wants to do is write, but life (or shall we say a PILE of grading or laundry) gets in the way? Breathe? Yoga stretch? Repeat a mantra over and over? NO – what she does is get frustrated, and quite frankly, anxious too. And then, annoyingly overwhelmed.

Pema Chodron in her book, The Places That Scare You states “In Vajrayana Buddhism it is said that wisdom is inherent in emotions. When we struggle against our energy we reject the source of wisdom…When our emotions intensify, what we usually feel is fear. This fear is always lurking in our lives…Thus (by meditating) we train in opening the fearful heart to the restlessness of our own energy. We learn to abide with the experience of our emotional distress.”

What’s this all mean? I am asking myself that very question.  What energy am I struggling against? And how do I “abide” in it?

As I have been grading about 20 plus hours of work, it has been a struggle. A struggle against staying put and on the task. But, I have stayed on task.  And what wisdom can that offer me as my intensity builds, as dishes pile up, and as laundry stays unfolded and on the floor?  I just do not want to look at one more written response, one more unfolded sweater, or dirty dish (note to self: I need to start using more paper plates – perish the conservationist thought!)

Life’s chores:

From a small task: cleaning out the dishwasher; to a larger task: opening up a new addition to a store. Whether it involves expansion or reduction, none of it, in its process, is necessarily pleasing. Yet, all of it is necessary.  I often think the glory is felt after the drudgery is gone. In the midst of the “chore” I hear the following:”What if I do ALL this work and no one notices? Or worse yet, what if my students don’t learn? Or worse yet, what if the customers don’t come? Or worse yet, what if the relationship fails?”

The above is what Chodron calls “the story we tell ourselves”. And, let’s face it – I’m a story teller by training, trade, and nature (maybe you are too?)!

And Chodron suggests somewhere in this churning of thought and emotion lies wisdom?

In my self-doubt, anxiety, and frustration

how do I gain the gem called wisdom?

She says, we open our heart to this opportunity in “sitting meditation”. Chodron says, as we sit and meditate, “we practice dropping whatever story we are telling ourselves and leaning into the emotions and fear.”

In my textual  annotations I wrote: ‘Abide with your distressful feelings.’ And I wrote: ‘With meditation you no longer hide from yourself; it’s a naked experience; you are a warrior who wants to dissolve the barriers between you and others.’

If I dissolve myself (or cause the barriers of protection to myself to disappear) this would require me to do one thing: get quiet in my mind and practice self kindness. It’s called “maitri” – complete self acceptance, according to Chodron.  Dropping the barrier to myself (or yourself – if you want to try it), then, would ask me to offer “Pamela” complete self acceptance: NAKEDNESS.

Um, yikes…

That means, I have to accept the dislike for the PILES: papers, laundry, dishes. I’d have to accept the PILES, too: I then might learn, love, and accept me for making them, more. NAKEDNESS.

Fortunately (thank you, Lord), Chodron doesn’t leave me there, unclothed and all exposed eternally with no advice. She says, once I get all “present” with that exposure and anxiety, I  should then free myself from “self-destructive patterns” by developing “a compassionate understanding”.

And so, sitting meditation saves the day.

Compassionate Understanding comes like this: Sit. Breathe. Feel the awareness of your body: from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. Then, reverse it: the tips of your toes to the top of your head. Breathe some more. Be aware of the sights, sounds, smells, and all the aches and pains. Yes, she reminds us, this practice goes against our grain.

It goes against our grain, Pamela… Ah-a!

“Stay…stay…stay,” Chodron says, “It’s like training a dog.” And dogs do not train well when we beat them. Dogs train well with kindness, compassion, and steadfastness.

And this is when I realize,  I have not really been getting naked with myself lately. Meaning, during my anxiety and my work load,  I have made excuses not to meditate: “There’s not enough time. I have another PILE to lessen.”

And in doing so, I have been rejecting my own inner wisdom.

So, while I may attribute the anxiety to workload and stress, I have been going with the grain: Go – go – going. That is what I have been trained to do.

Against the grain would mean, I would stop. I would meditate: tune in to my body, get compassionate with myself and stay there for a bit. Day in, day out. Month after month. Year after year. Then, Chodron tells me, I get to gain moments of clear-seeing. Not necessarily the face of God – but the face of me. With all her frumpy single mother tiredness, yet filled with her pixie-nosed beauty.

Acceptance, not rejection.

When we struggle against our energy we reject the source of wisdom.

I am my wisdom.

Meditation: I accept my energy: good, bad, indifferent. I love my energy: anxious, frustrated, busy. I learn from my energy: fearful, naked, exposed.  I will abide with this energy, and my heart will open…first to me. And then, to you.

After being over-wrought with negative emotion, for several days, the great poet William Wordsworth in his poem “I wandered lonely as a cloud”  does exactly what Chodron suggests above. As the lines below convey, Wordsworth makes himself sit on his couch and get “vacant”. Notice: no one else is there. Notice: the solitude or “aloneness” becomes blissful when his mind, after laying down for a bit, recalls some daffodils.

Wordsworth’s joy is not there first. It comes during his meditation:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
   In vacant or in pensive mood,
They (the daffodils) flash upon that inward eye
   Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

So, according to Chodron and Wordsworth (two literary greats, if I say so myself) how does one learn to “abide in the experience of emotional distress”? We get naked with the realness of our stress by sitting (or laying down — get comfy, friend) on our couch and quieting down.

Even though every inch of our brain is screaming at us to finish our piles of work. Then, Wordsworth says we will have a “flash” of something happy (like daffodils or the smile of someone we love), while Chodron tells us we will be the “flash” that will bring happiness — our inner beauty, conflicted or not.

My challenge to myself this week is to go against the grain: instead of “go – go – go” I will “slow… slow …slow”. And with that, I will be the dancing daffodils in my “inward eye”.

Care to join the dance?

Blessings and peace,

Pamela Rae

 

 

 

Sickness and the Single Mommy: “Florence Nightingale” Helps Me Recover

 

Immobilization. That darn stomach bug that has been going around completely knocked me down. It kicked me off of my two feet! As I lay in bed, covered in blankets, a hooded sweatshirt, and a hat – freezing and sweaty – I thought, “surely death is near”. But worse yet, I thought, “I’m a single mom of an eight year old who has not yet experienced my inability to care for her.” This second thought pained me more.

Despite my usual mommy-super-powers, I was Superman, and this bug was my kryptonite!

While I will spare you the grim details of my gut wrenching symptoms, this mindful mommy has a mini-tale to tell: one of heart-opening love.

As soon as I realized my legs were giving out, I left work and drove straight to my daughter’s school to dismiss her. I knew once I entered the house, there was no way I would make it back out to meet a school bus! We zipped home. I peeled of the work clothes, armored up with layers and hit the hay. There were very few directives for Grace. She said she was hungry. I said “you’ll have to find something”. And I was passed out – cold.

Here’s what I remember in my unhealthy blur: Grace sat at the kitchen table, ate a snack, did her homework, and then asked to play on her Ipad. A good friend texted me: “Do you want me to bring you and Grace dinner?” I think I replied: “Not hungry. She is. Yes, please. TY”

Then, I heard the door bell, a precautionary “who is it” (we also have a peep hole, thankfully), and some parts of a conversation: “How was your day? I am sorry Mommy is sick…I brought you dinner…”

I remember the kind presence standing over me, placing a tall glass of ginger-ale at my bed-side, the healing hand gently placed on my head, and a “keep resting please”.  And then our meal-bringing-ginger-ale-giving super hero was gone — in a flash.

But a new super hero arrived: My blue-eyed, flaxen haired compassionate beauty, Grace. It’s true: she could have (and probably should have) ignored me. I certainly wouldn’t have blamed her – any sensible human should avoid any stomach flu victim! Hell, it’s self preservation, folks! I get it.

But, Grace became my Florence Nightingale.

“Mommy, would you like more ginger-ale?” She poured a new glass and brought it to my lips with a bendy straw (love those things – GREAT invention!)

“Mommy, here is a cold towel for your head.” Let me tell you, a wet, icy, scratchy dish towel never felt so sublime! Her patting was gentle, too.

“Mommy, how about some lotion for your back?” My sweatshirt was lifted up, and smooth, fresh from the bottle lotion was rubbed gently on my lower back. Man that stuff was COLD! Yet, she was right. It soothed me. It smelled clean. And I was “out” again.

When I woke up, about an hour later, Florence was back for her repeat duties. This time, she added: “I love you. I am worried about you. Should I call Grammy?” I think I said yes. But I drifted off again.

Well, Grammy never arrived – certainly, not to her fault (in yoga we participants silence our phones – lol). But my Florence kept duty. Never wavering. She showered herself. Put on her own pajamas, and read herself a book. No directives from me at all (shall we say: a first).

Amidst her bravery, my Little Florence spoke words of concern, while holding back buckets of tears: “Mommy, I am really worried about you.” Fortunately, by this point, I’d had a couple ladies room visits — but I am sparing you the gory details, remember – and a couple hours of restorative sleep. 

So, the improved-health-light was visible at the end of my sickness tunnel. Grace did NOT have to tuck herself in. Thankfully, my legs were wobbly, but now working! I expressed reassuring words of my soon to be renewed health to my Miss Florence.

Before I knew it, my lovely little nurse was fast asleep. Her turn to be out cold! We had both had a rough afternoon and evening.

Oh, and yes, Grammy, did finally call back. She apologized for her immersion in downward dog, while I was performing my stomach-bug-poses, and she now volunteered full duty. Yet, it was no longer needed. I was weak, exhausted, but moving forward, and headed back to bed.

So, what mindful lessons do I bring to this “Sickness and the Single Mom”  blurry episode?

Everyone needs and deserves a Florence Nightingale: someone to offer “an endless supply of compassion…fiercely dedicated to alleviating a patient’s suffering”. While I received several texts, a phone call from mom, and an amazing dinner-delivery (all appreciated 100 times over, thank you), my own “Lady with the Lamp” was my source of survival, and hope.

My hope for you is, if (and most likely when, unfortunately) you enter your own dark tunnel of illness that your Lady (or Gentleman) Lamp Bearer will show up and guide you through the depths of your illness, so you can view the warmer light of hope ahead.

Also, I hope that you will have smaller “lamp bearers” too: text messengers, love offerings from your family (kind words from a mom, a dad, or an aunt or uncle, perhaps), and maybe even a dinner-deliverer.

And, if you can not imagine who these people may be right now, or how they may make it to you when you need them most, my prayer is that they are on their way to you.

You know,  Florence’s family did not want her to go into nursing. Instead of backing down, she is forever hailed as the “Pioneer of Modern Nursing”.  You may not know who your Nightingale is, at present. They may be pioneering their way to you. Yet, I believe that person exists in all of us: to bring a cool drink, to offer words of love, or maybe to bring some sweet smelling lotion.

To receive a friend, we must be a friend. And I am proud to say, I think my daughter is going to have a lot friends. There is no doubt she is an excellent one to me.

Wishing you a Lamp Bearer. It’s the best.

Blessings and peace,

Pamela Rae