Saturday, March 19, 2016

Partial Slicing

Daily life has gotten in the way of me meeting the goal of "daily slicing."  I wish I could say otherwise, but the truth is that I have not fully met the challenge.  What to do with this reality-I think it may be best to face it and let it guide my writing today.  Lately, I have become more and more cognizant, as a working mother, of my tendency to maintain some pretty unrealistic expectations of myself and others.  This tendency toward perfectionism plays itself out in ways both large and small and is a struggle in the lives of most working mothers that I know.  I recently read a reassuring article about the demands and constant balancing act of a working mother of three, who is in a high profile position. She argued, quite persuasively, for a moratorium on perfectionism.

Nowadays it feels like we are supposed to bring home the locally sourced bacon, cook it in a ceramic skillet that releases no harmful chemicals into the mouths of our babes, or leaches itself into our soil; while we twirl about the kitchen completing a Pilates routine and reviewing notecards, that we have colorfully laminated for our children as they dutifully pursue their AP course work and balance every sport and artistic endeavor known to man. This is all after having completed a full work day or school day-managing the moods and machinations of the workplace or the school lunch room.  I am all for engagement and community service, working hard and setting high expectations, but our expectations and the amount of daily information we have to process may be making us a bit nutty.   In the end I believe we have a choice in managing the constant push and pull of these demands. We can become resentful of other women, who do not have to balance in the same way we do, or more compassionate, as we realize that most all of us are engaged in some of the same struggles, having to give up one thing in order to have another.  In the end, we may be able to have it all, but certainly not all at the same time.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Dining Out Monday

My family and I dined al fresco this evening at a neighborhood restaurant and it was a relaxing way to start a very busy work week.  It was chilly but it felt so good to be outside, the wind soft in our hair and watching the sky fade to a muted grey and coral, storm clouds gathering in the distance.  Spring seems to be winking at us and I am so grateful that she has arrived.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Baking Eases The Monkey Mind

I went to the mall today because I needed some items that required a mall outing.  I know there are countless teenagers across the land who actually enjoy going to the mall, as do many adults, but I am not one of them.  An old friend described being mauled at the mall and I have remembered that phrase ever since.  Full disclosure-I like buying things, I like shopping-more than I care to admit-but I really do not enjoy the mall. The sterility, the mass production, the faces all running together-this is what I find unsettling.  Nevertheless, I willingly trudge to the mall; because it is the only place I can easily purchase certain things.  Once I leave I feel spent and my mind is often racing.  Also, it is very hard to not want more things after being at the mall.  I inevitably pass many cool items that I never thought of wanting before I saw them sitting there calling out to me with their vivid patterns and colors.

So, once I came home, despite the sore feets and tense shoulders I set about to bake.  I find that baking eases the monkey mind.  There is something about the ritual steps of baking, the collecting of the ingredients, the measuring, the mixing, the tasting and the cleaning up that restores some balance to a day like today.  Possibly it is because it is an andidote to the mass produced excess that the mall represents, or maybe it is just because they taste so very good, they make my family happy and in the end I get to lick the bowl.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Dog Whisperer

Today we met our newest ally and friend-Tyler-the dog trainer.  What a joy to have him come into our home and begin to guide us toward a saner "pet household".  Our dogs are not awful, they just need more guidance and consistency than we have provided of late and, together, our lazy human habits and their bad dog habits, have left us all wanting.

I was fascinated to learn that it is our eyes that mean everything to a dog.  They want our complete attention and it is through our eyes that we give them everything they are seeking.  So, in beginning to train them to stop bad habits we have to look away from them and give them nothing with our eyes.   I work with my students all the time on how to navigate around difficult personalities and situations, teaching the concept of giving "no energy" no attention, whatsover, to someone who is driving them to distraction.  However, I had no earthly idea of how to do this with the four legged beasts that are part of our home.  Sometimes, when we are right on top of something we just cannot see it properly; we are peering in at it too closely.  We have to step back and ask for help from another set of eyes.  Thank goodness for the Dog Whisperers among us.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Early Rising

I rose this morning and made myself go for a run.  When I first get up there are still those few minutes of debate, when I compose the arguments in my head as to why it is not a good idea to run this particular morning.  If I can go ahead and pull on the socks and the stretchy pants then I am halfway home.  This morning spring greeted me as soon as I stepped out the front door-the sky a dappled stretch of rose and pink laid out like a magic sky carpet before me.  The clouds were layered and seemed close enough to touch.  I like the way the sky looks but I also love the sounds of the morning. now that I have begun this am ritual. 

I have begun to relish the gentler sounds of the morning.  Because there is so much noisy hysteria and hype swirling around us these days. Some days I want to yell myself, proclaim cross the land:"let's all take it down a notch folks."  There seems to be a relentless demand for louder, richer, bigger and badder-from presidential campaigns to toddler birthday parties and high school proms-an insatiable appetite for more, more, more.  I am afraid sometimes that our greed will very soon consume us whole and I long for graciousness and simplicity.

Sunday, March 6, 2016


Sundays are so precious to me, they are like a long deep exhale after days of frantic panting.  I allow myself to slow down on Sundays, at least a little bit, and they always reward me for it.  I find myself wondering about others and what days they favor or savor.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

When Things Do Not Work

All this week when something had the opportunity to go wrong, to mess up, to break down or to hurt, it did. I know I am supposed to be mindful of challenges as they represent opportunities for growth and learning (that is what the wise ones, the sages, tell us).  But I must confess that what I felt all week was nothing like gratitude.  Allow me to elaborate: my son sustained a serious concussion during a basketball game, the cat, trained to go outside, began peeing in the house, my husband's car broke down and he had to be rescued from the Kroger parking lot, all the smoke alarms in the house went off together at 2 a.m. Husband attempted to fix said alarms, and they went off again at 3 a.m. the next night.  The car repair costs were substantial and arrived on the same week that the mortgage was due. It was not a fun week.

Now I recognize that these are  manageable, first world problems.  I am not dodging drug cartel bullets as I try to walk my child to school or fleeing across a border for my life, carrying everything I love and own on my back.  But I was exasperated and a bit bitter, not grateful, this week.  However, as I write, I am reminded that during this same week our neighbor offered his extra car once he knew we needed it, my third niece was born and my son's teachers reminded him that their classes were just not the same without him there.  He began to heal, not get worse, and we all got some sleep once we shut off the bloody fire alarms.