Tuesday, January 14, 2014

They Say It's Your Birthday

Dear Mom,

Happy Birthday! If I was with you now, I'd make some raspberry-chocolate thing for dessert, maybe a gooey, flour-less cake, or maybe we'd put candles in a box of truffles. Though it would have to be a big box to accommodate all those candles!

We'd have a lazy day, maybe work on a puzzle or go for a drive. Definitely play a hand or two of cribbage. Watch the birds at your feeders. Later in the afternoon, after our rest, we could drive to Starbucks for a Mocha pick-me-up to get us through whatever movie we decided to watch that night.

Dinner would be whatever you wanted: popcorn: Chinese take-out, Alfredo or pesto pasta, lobster.

Before we went to bed, at some point during the day, I'd tell you how much I love you. How happy I am that you are my mother. How sorry I am for any times I have hurt you or disappointed you, and that I never do mean to hurt or disappoint you. I would remind you how strong you are, and how strong you always have been. And how wise.

I would tell you how glad I am that you were born, how proud I am to call you Mom, to call you friend.



Your Number 1

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Same Old, Same Old: Or, the Juggling Recommences

My sabbatical officially ended January 2, and yesterday marked my first day back on the job. I did find my way back to the office. It was good to see colleagues and, most of all, my students, but most of the day found me behind closed doors working hard on a final report due to a sponsor. My mind felt sluggish, despite the double espresso, and despite my resolution to keep to healthy work habits, I found myself eating lunch at 2:45.

But the report got drafted.

That said, I am grateful for my sabbatical. And grateful for my job.

The six-month 'leave' provided me a proper focus for my life. It reminded me what was important, and how to prioritize these things. It requires a delicate balancing of competing interests--work, family, health, self--and, within each of these items, another rebalancing.

For example, my work priorities are my students and trainees, and my research. Luckily, those are intertwined. For family, it is about providing love and structure, about being available. For health, it is yoga and being mindful, and for self, it is (and likely always will be) writing and all that writing entails: reading, noticing, listening, engaging.

The nice thing about sabbatical is it lessened the number of balls in the air. I think, though, I am refreshed enough to add the work ball back more fully to my act, remembering my priorities: students and research. To keep those balls aloft will require concentration, mindfulness of my chosen priorities, and the courage to say NO when requests and temptation do not align.

School is two-hours delayed this morning due to frigid temperatures. It is time to rouse the chickies, throw another ball in the air. Peace...

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

How to Live in 2014

This morning, the first morning of a new year, comes as a relief. I am glad to see 2013 pass--it was one tough year. My mother told me her sister dreaded the odd-numbered years--they seemed to be wrought with pain and overall badness. So my greatest hope for 2014 is that is surpasses 2013 in providing some peace, some joy, and even some boredom. 

I am not a big fan of resolutions—they are so often easily broken. But I would like to start thinking of rules to live by. Though rules may be a bit strong—perhaps principles to live by. So here are seven principles I will try to abide to as this year unfurls, bringing its myriad challenges and opportunities and surprises.

1. Remember to breathe before acting or reacting.

2. My words are powerful—use them wisely.

3. Most thoughts are not true, and therefore can be discarded.

4. Every second is sacred—be grateful for each one.

5. I cannot control people or situations, only my reaction to them.

6. Fear is the absence of love.

7. The most important moment is the present one—the last moment cannot be gotten back, and the next one has not yet happened.

Yes, these principles sound very mindful, but mindfulness has gotten me over all the nasty humps and bumps of the past year relatively intact. It's a practice that takes perseverance and patience, and while I have always persistent as a mosquito on blood, I cannot claim patience as one of my virtues. So I will practice and practice and practice, and keep you posted on my progress.

How will you live this year?