Category Archives: Ramblings

The Best Halloween

This year we did Halloween right. It’s been quite a few years since I really felt/ believed/had the right to say that. It wasn’t the biggest most extravagant holiday ever. It wasn’t the fake, store bought costume that G begged for. We did have three weeks of baking/decorating/parties. But it was the best for a long time. Now, Halloween is my favorite holiday. As a kid I used it as an excuse to do the things my parents didn’t want me to do….wear fake red nails, don high heels, etc. When I got to college I was suddenly shy and didn’t really do much but use it as an excuse to drink, but when I had kids? All bets were off. And sometimes we didn’t do as well. L  remembers the year she was a kitty for Halloween. Fondly. It was the year my husband and I broke up and I was completely distracted and bought her a headband with ears and a tail and she wore a black turtleneck and black leggings. But it was the one time I caved and bought her a store bought Halloween costume-or at least parts. So the lesson there was clear, but I didn’t learn it. I didn’t realize that you want what you want and despite all my best efforts other years all this perfection-oriented kid wanted was to fit in and have store bought pieces parts. I also didn’t realize till right now that it was the last holiday that we lied to her. We all went trick or treating together and acted like everything was fine. Even thought it wasn’t. This year was good for all of us for totally other reason. My ex and I got along and when I was distracted this year and told him that we needed a costume he came through. It was a rush job, but he sewed a Jedi costume that was beautiful. (Okay I should probably stop here and explain that we didn’t actually break up then. Well, we did. We ended up, three years later, getting back together. And that’s how G calls my ex Daddy even though it would seem we broke up years before he was born. Because we did.) But back to the story….It was ASAP because G’s school told the parents last minute that the kids could wear costumes to Fall Fest TWO weeks before Halloween and only ONE week before Fall Fest. We were in a scramble. It was last minute because the principle hates Halloween, but the PTO and the teachers finally convinced her to let the kids wear them to Fall Fest. Not the actual day, but it’s a start. So I was in a mean place when I complained and yelled that he never helps, but he came through and I’m completely grateful because G got to be what he really really wanted to be and he felt great and he looked great and that’s half the battle of Halloween. The other factor that made Halloween great was  that thanks to the bitchy-Halloween-hating principle G had his costume two weeks early and got to wear it everywhere. He wore it to the hippie neighborhood preschool’s annual Halloween Fundraiser where I ate gluten and sugar and left with a headache, but it was a happy headache. And then when Halloween finally arrived he wore it downtown for the march up Mass St for the merchant sponsored Halloween Trick or Treating extravaganza. We got to see faces we hadn’t seen in months and wave at a few everyday faces. Then he wore it to Pet World’s Haunted House. Let me just say, if you’re a Lawrencian and you’ve never done it, it’s awesome! It’s a fundraiser for The Humane Society earlier in the week, but we didn’t know about it then. We went on Halloween night and it was free and not at the pet store, but at someone’s house. I don’t have great night vision so I didn’t go in. In hindsight I should have because while I’m the bitchy/strict/screeching parent most times, during any holiday I’m the fun parent. We got there before 7, which was when it was supposed to be the age appropriate time, but both G and the ex came out very quiet and looking a little white. He wore it later in the evening for neighborhood Trick or Treating.  I live in an older part of town with big old houses and towering trees. It was the perfect night for Halloween. Our first block was dead and because it’s Lawrence it’s full of old hippies who were dressed as Jimi Hendrix and were drinking wine on the porch. I’m new, but I heard once they know you they hand out beers to the adults. And if we missed a house someone would chase us down with their bowl of Twix, Kit Kat and Snickers. Good candy. Not the cheapo stuff and sometimes there were full sized bars and sometimes they made him take two or three. After two or three blocks I walked back home to put the pizzas in the oven. I almost burned the house down, but that’s a different story. I made pizza and the boys showed up and we ate and we laughed and we told G about the candy, cause he’s a yogi’s kid and doesn’t know a lot about candy and he’s only six so he hasn’t experienced a lot in the world yet. He ate a full-sized Snickers and thought it was pretty good. G crashed pretty hard that night. But, then so did I. I don’t remember our bedtime stories or the songs we sang. It’s hard work being on your best behavior. There were so many times any one of us could have been catty or decided we didn’t want to go along with the group or any number of things could have come up from our past. But it was a peaceful and fun night. And the lesson we all learned that mid-week Halloween night is that our good behavior pays off. By remembering to bite my tongue, even from the little jabs that are so often conversation in our family we had a great/meaningful/fun time. We learned that being together is better than not, even if there’s no longer a marriage that binds some of us. Together we are a family. We may be a funny looking family. I have a new love. And my ex was my first love. Those two thing are true together. I’ve had another love in between. My kids have learned to look at many sources to find guidance/role models/love. There are others that parent our kids, many that care about them and lots that love them. It’s a blessing. And that’s what made it the best Halloween ever

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Accepting the new normal

Life is change. Change is inevitable.

We all know that right? We know that no matter how hard we try to hold on to right now, it’s going to slip through our fingers and then the change will occur almost like we weren’t watching.

I felt this so acutely when my firstborn was a baby. I’d finally understand what she wanted, where she was coming from, what that cry meant. I’d be self-satisfied for about six hours and then she’d do something amazing like rollover, smile or pick up her pacifier and then it was a new game.

And that’s how parenting has been for the last 15 years. Every single time I think I get it, something changes. There’s progress or she learns how to throw a tantrum or she finally learns to stop whining.

But here’s what parenting taught me. It taught me in very real, every day ways, that life is full of change. And I never, not once, got mad at my daughter for learning to walk. I never discouraged my son from his first words. I welcomed the change. I was grateful for it. I recognized that things were occuring as they were supposed to. Sometimes I even awaited those changes eagerly. They assured me that my children were normal, that the natural order of development was in place.

Why then, why oh why, do I resist it in so many other areas of my life? Why do I resist the natural order? Every time I think that I’ve got a handle on life, that I understand my purpose, that I think I can put it on cruise control something shifts. And it’s not all bad. But it’s almost always hard.

The universe always gives me a way to work on accepting change. And instead of thinking of it as change I’ve begun to think of it as the new normal. My friend Linda used this phrase a lot when her mom was diagnosed with dementia. The new normal gives me a way of letting go of the past and not lamenting the change. It gives me a way to happily anticipate what the world offers instead of resisting.

Last week I had a car accident, not so great. But I got x-rays which showed that my neck is fine. Great. Because I’d been really worried about some pain and was resigned to having something major that I needed to take care of. Turns out that I’m mismanaging my stress and it’s manifesting in major pain. Not so great, but great because I can change that. I also got x-rays on my wrist and thumb. And I have a sprain. That’s okay because it will go away and I’ll be fine. No lasting damage. I also found out I have mild arthritis in my thumb. Not so great because it means the pain I’ve been feeling for the better part of a year, that I’ve been telling myself is getting better and will go away, is not going away and will someday get worse, and will someday possibly stop me from practicing and teaching yoga. Okay, maybe I’m being a little dramatic because people in wheelchairs teach yoga. But it’s the new normal. And I’m having trouble accepting it.

But here’s how this development fits into the rest of my life perfectly. For a few months now I’ve been wanting to cut back on my week to week classes and focus on special events and workshops. I’ve yearned to write more, but I’ve always been shy about my writing and wasn’t sure what direction that was going to take.

So before the accident a series of wonderful things happened that asked me to accept change.. A friend asked me to work on her book with her.  And then a friend asked me to volunteer to teach writing for women in recovery. And then I got wonderful feedback about my teaching. I was excited, invigorated and inspired. I was also scared because I just couldn’t figure out how to make it all fit. I couldn’t face the affirmations I was getting from the universe so I spent a little bit of time freaking out. But not for long because BAM, I got rear-ended and the universe gave me something else to think about.

When I step back from the details and look at the big picture I remember to work on acceptance. I remember that acceptance means respecting myself and those around me. I remember that I’m right where I’m supposed to be and all the people around me are right where they’re supposed to be.

I’m learning to smile the moment I wake up and ask the universe, “Ok, what’s today got for me.”

Turning 41

Remember back when I was so excited to turn 40? Remember how I knew it would be about coming into my own and refusing to take shit anymore? Well, maybe I didn’t say it exactly that way. Our Fab 40 group is changing our name to Fuck It, I’m 40…or something like that. Just sayin’. It wasn’t my idea, but I think I inspired it silently.

So, it’s coming upon the time for us to get together again and most of us are turning that year past 40. Or have turned. Or are contemplating it sometime later this year.

Yes, it’s 41. That year past 40. This fearless woman has to admit….41 is not sounding as fun.

Am I wrong? Continue reading

The Shift

I’m in the middle of a shift. I’ve been feeling it for a long time and FINALLY, I think I’m actually in it now. A few months ago it felt like I was a toddler learning to walk. I was on my feet, but too afraid to pick a foot up and move forward. I could even rock back and forth a little, hoping the momentum would propel me where I wanted to go. I was a bit willful, because I was pretty sure I knew where I wanted to go. I wasn’t just content to take a step, I had to make it across the room and if there were a few stairs I thought I’d tackle those too. You know how it is, thinking that learning to walk and climb stairs in the same day is not big deal.

Today, I see my folly. I was, after all, just a toddler. Today I think I’ve gained a little insight and am just in the joy of knowing how to walk.

Shifting? I’m not sure what happened, but life is humming along and I’m realizing that I’m humming with it. I’ve learned that if I just stop planning, predicting, manipulating, analyzing, and pushing I’ll get where I need to go a lot easier. I’ve learned to be still. REALLY still people. I was so still I could hear my breath, your breath and the breath of the woman across the street. I didn’t think about what I wanted, I listened for what I needed. I let the universe whisper in my ear, fold into my heart and wrap around me fuzzy and warm.

And I won’t say I did it gracefully. It sounded nice, didn’t it? But, no, in true Melissa fashion, I yelled at people, cried a lot, was exhausted, tired, achy, angry and sullen. I got so sick of myself, you, them, everyone that I really had no choice but to just shut up and be still. And on the day that I realized I had no choice my back hurt so  badly I didn’t want to move. The universe forced me to be still. And I found that I really liked it. Well, no. I was pissed I had to cancel my classes and do things completely differently for a few days. But then when I cleaned up my act and my back got better, I realized that being still had been the answer.

Be still. Stillness is such a gift.

Be still. It’s what I teach, but not often what I practice. I teach flow yoga-I’m not still in my practice and I’m rarely still in my life. I’ve had periods of stillness with great insight and thought Wow! I should do that more often. This time the lesson I learned is to be Be Still every day.

Be Still. When I am still, I am calm and centered. When I am still I’m not pushing, I can feel where I’m being pulled. Pulled is so much more powerful than pushed. When I push I am indulging my ego. I’m thinking about what would make me comfortable in this moment. My ego is always looking for comfort and isn’t really good at accepting the unknown. When I am pulled I am being guided by something larger than myself. I am being drawn to where my heart really wants to be, even if I can’t always see it. When I am pulled I am open and the unknown is a great adventure. And accepting the great unknown adventure is how I get to places that are more wonderful, more exciting, more gratifying than anything I could ever have planned.

And the shift is this wonderful place of acceptance. I can just be Melissa right here, right now. I don’t have to worry about rejection, abandonment, lonliness, exhaustion, failure or any of the other million fears I have. I’m honest, I know that there are only a few fears that come back over and over again to smack me up side the head. I can be okay with these too. I’m shifting and allowing myself to be transparent. I recognize my personal growth, but also that which  I offer to others by being transparent.

The shift finds me contemplating a wonderful, wonderful life with new and exciting challenges. The shift is what I was always craving. It was the thing that was missing, the thing that always made me feel I’d forgotten something.

I’m shifting, changing, growing, expanding and loving it all. Sometimes we don’t have to struggle. Sometimes the work is just to relax.  Today I’m releasing into all that is good and exciting, inspiring and fun. I may have to work harder tomorrow, but for today I’m just right here.

Dancing in the Sun

Today is one of those days where the sun is bright, the breeze is light and it feels awesome to be alive. I live in a college town and downtown is buzzing with energy, the coed hormones are stirring and it makes me remember my youth.

Yesterday….NOT one of those days. I did everything I wasn’t supposed to. I indulged in my character defects, caused upset and drama. I said I was sorry, yet I had a bad taste in my mouth and went to bed confused and lonely.

But I woke with lessons in my brain. I learned. I grew. I was uncomfortable and I looked long and hard at it and after a lot of phone calls and meditation I was able to let go of my mistakes.  I HAD said I was sorry and now today the day is one of those days that makes strangers smile at one another and say hello on the street.

It’s when I can see two so completely contrasting days that I get it.

I’m not perfect. I am wonderfully flawed, wonderfully broken and wonderfully human. This is my everyday state. On top of that, I’m going through a lot right now. My life is changing and it’s good, but it’s also messy and embarrassing sometimes. It’s yucky and feels mucky. But on the other side of it I can dance in the sun.

And today, that’s what I choose.

Ask For What You Want

I know we all hear that we can’t get what we want unless we ask. I know that even asking sounds ridiculous to some of us. It really did for me. It’s been hard in most of my relationships, but especially hard to ask  the universe. I guess it seemed selfish. I was raised to be a martyr. I was raised to put others before myself. I was raised….to be a woman.

I cringe as I write that, but really it’s true. If I asked for what I wanted I was called greedy or needy. Even in my adult life I’ve had men call me needy-simply for asking to have my needs met. I was taught that I needed to adapt my behavior, attitudes and langauge to suite everyone elses-especially if there was a man involved. And I learned the lessons really well. As most of you know I’ve felt lost. And how surprising is it? How could I possibly know myself when for almost 35 years I was a chameleon? Continue reading

Smacking into Myself

Okay, again I’ve been absent, but I have a really good excuse. Really! Really good.

Life has been awesome. I mean frickin awesome and I got carried away and forgot some stuff. Like posting, like checking in with my friends. I’m not reading blogs, nor am I blogging. I think you’ll forgive me, because this is good shit. I know, a yogi with a mouth like a sailor.

You’re dying to know right? I won the lottery?….um, I paid off all my debt and am moving to Hawaii? I lost weight, toned and am a glowing golden color by taking a pill…and oh, yeah I lost all the cellulite too. I hope you’re laughing. I hope you’re not holding your breath. Continue reading