Life is short. Drink it up.

I am working on mindfulness and a big part of that involves taking the time to be present in each moment, focusing only on my experience in that moment. Not to analyze how I got there. Not to beat myself up for being there. (Or congratulate myself – theoretically…But I am never that presumptuous… or kind to myself, so that’s a non-issue for me.) Mindfulness is not even about figuring out how to correct/avoid the situation in the future. (This is a major challenge for my control freak, perfectionist, social worker self.) Mindfulness is just about being present in the here and now. And, in fact, our lives are just a series of here-and-nows.

I think of practicing mindfulness like tasting wine. Not that I’ve ever done a wine tasting, but I’ve watched enough TV to create my own analogy… so even if it’s wrong, it works for me.

When you are tasting wine, you don’t just chug it down and move on to the next one. You engage all of your senses. Perhaps you hear the wine being poured. You see the color. Maybe it’s a deep red that is more like an inky Burgundy-black. Or a translucent white that gives an ethereal glow to objects as you peer at them through the glass. You hold the glass, feeling the weight of it in your hand, feeling the movement of the liquid in your glass. You inhale the fragrance, noticing the subtle hints of individual fruits, herbs, and woods. The acidity may even burn your nose a bit. Your mouth may involuntarily water. All of this before you have even placed the glass to your lips.

Once you sip the wine, you taste all the flavors like a symphony, a melodious concert made up of varied instruments, each of which you can hear if you narrow your focus on that single sound. You let the flavors resonate in your mouth, appreciating their individual components and their harmony. Or you may repulsed by their perceived discord. You feel the temperature of the liquid, both in your mouth and as it goes down. The wine may be bitter, sweet, dry. It may have the taste of licorice which causes your stomach to turn. Or it may be so strong that it causes you to shudder. Or it may roll easily down your throat, filing your body with warmth and ease. You are not judging or critiquing the wine, but simply experiencing it with your senses and paying attention to (being mindful of)  each of your sensory responses. You are not thinking about the next one. You are not thinking about work. You are not calling yourself a lush. When you taste a wine you don’t like, you are not thinking poorly of anyone who might enjoy it. You are merely present in your experience.

Finally, before you move on to taste another, you cleanse your palate  so that experience will not be tainted by the prior. (Probably why you spit instead of swallow in a real tasting.) You wash it away so that you may be free to fully appreciate the next experience for what it is in and of itself.

This is my understanding of mindfulness.

This is what I am trying to do in my life. Experience each moment and be aware of my experience. I need to slow down and allow myself to do this. Writing helps. I’ve been lamenting that I miss writing and haven’t had time to do it. I never realized how therapeutic it was for me. Writing permits me the time, space, and quiet to listen to myself… paying attention to my body and my senses…NOT MY THOUGHTS. My thoughts are where toxins like stress, worry, fear, criticism, jealousy, and self-loathing reproduce like a cancer. And that it what I’m trying to stop.

Mindfulness is an oxymoron of sorts, because I can only achieve it by getting out of my head.

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SPRING BREAK!!

Thanks to the generosity of my mom, Kaleb and I are flying to LOS ANGELES for spring break!!! It is a gift for Kaleb’s graduation and my birthday. We are going to walk along the Hollywood Walk of Fame, ride roller coasters at Six Flags, and tour Warner Bros. Studios!! I opted against getting a hotel and decided to book a room with AIRBNB…and we will be staying at the home of a movie director named Monte Hellman. I’m excited to share this adventure with Kaleb…just me and him…like it used to be. A fun farewell to the childhood years as we transition into this next chapter of our lives.IMG_3819

Be the change

I hope to get back to writing one day. I have 5 started blogs with bullet points saved in my phone, but I have not taken the time to write them. But I did want to chronicle what I’m currently doing, especially in light of the fact that I have been so vocal recently on Facebook about the refugees and the hypocrisy of “Christian” America.

It was brought to my attention by a few of my Christian friends and family that they did not see eye to eye with me and felt that their fears of Syrian refugees was justified. I started to feel myself getting angry and becoming deeply disappointed. In an effort to save myself from hating all of mankind for losing their minds, I turned to focus onto myself. I am getting angry with all these people for not supporting the “right thing,” but how am I actually “doing the right thing” in my own life. What am I doing to make this world a better place? Yes, I am trying to reach out to my friends and family and “enlighten” them. But they didn’t ask to be enlightened. They didn’t ask for my opinion at all. How am I practicing what I preach? How can I “be the change?” Not just the voice of change…how can I actually demonstrate what I would like to see others doing?

My mom and I have talked a couple times about Mother Teresa. While I am no saint by any stretch of the imagination, her ability to love and see beauty in some of the ugliest places is something that I strive for. I could fill this blog with quotes from her that speak to me, but I recently stumbled on this one and it affirmed what I was feeling inside of me:

“Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.”

Start with the person nearest you.

Abid and I closed on our house 12/23/09. We have lived her almost 6 years and I still don’t know the names or faces of most of my neighbors. I have felt called for years to reach out to them, but for one reason or another have not committed to it. So that changes now. In an effort to be the change and to start with the person nearest me, I have put together a Thanksgiving card (with our family’s pictures on it) and a letter to send to each of the neighbors on my block. It is to introduce us to them and deliver an open invitation for each of them to do the same.

I have read the following justification as to why allowing refugees to come here is a bad idea: When I lock my door at night. It isn’t because I hate those on the outside, It is because I love the ones on the inside.

While I do lock my door every night, I do not like living in fear of everything that is beyond the 4 walls of my home. We are afraid to let our kids play outside or go to the mall without constant supervision because everyone is a creep trying to molest them. We are constantly looking over our shoulder. We want to carry concealed (or not) weapons because everyone we encounter is a potential threat to our safety. Better to shoot first.

I look around the alley behind my house and privacy fences are going up left and right. We immediately drive into our garages and close them…never even making eye contact. I would not even be able to pick my neighbors from a line up.

We fear that which we don’t know. I’m not afraid of my neighbors, but there is no reason why people who live within walking distance of me are complete strangers to me. That is sad. Maybe some of them are old or sick or home bound. Maybe they are single parents who could use a babysitter. Maybe they love karaoke. I’ll never know. A few years back EMS was at one of my neighbor’s homes. I realized that person could have died and I didn’t even know their name.

While we must absolutely be aware of our surroundings and make smart choices, I, for one, do not wish to go through my life feeling afraid all the time. So…I am reaching out to my neighbors…people who already know where I live, what we drive. Whose kids likely go to school with mine. Who shop at the same store as I do. I’m introducing my family to them and inviting them to do the same. I’m hoping that that one small act will tighten the threads that weave together this one tiny block in the fabric humanity.

 “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” -Mother Teresa

I also feel convicted to be the change within the 4 walls of my home as well. Charity begins at home.

“What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.” – Mother Teresa

Accentuate the Positive

Boys and Girls,

We’re going to play a little game tonight that I like to call Accentuate the Positive. Take a gander below at the less-than-stellar evening Jamie is having.

Running late from work so I had to pick Aria up before Zain. After getting Zain, I decided Chipotle would make an acceptable meat-free Friday option, so we went there. Line was ridiculous, Aria was manic, so after about 5 minutes we left. I was annoyed; Aria was crying. Decided to stop by taco bell drive thru instead. As I’m approaching taco bell, I realize I missed a call from Kaleb at 6:15…at which time he was supposed to be with his youth group. I called him (now 45 minutes later) and found out he was still at home…even tho when I talked to him at 5 He gave me no indication that there was a problem…that he needed transportation at 6….when I was in Avalon getting Aria. I pulled up at the house (after not having stopped at taco bell), only to learn that I needed to wait 30 more minutes to drop him off. So I drove back to taco bell…where I was 6th in the drive thru line. I just got the food…and now both the kids are asleep. And I still have to pick up and drop off Kaleb. This has been the most absurd 2 hours of wasted life….

Awww…how sad. But…with a tiny bit of effort, Jamie can turn her frown upside down. All she has to do is [cue the audience] ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE!!

Let’s look at Jamie’s day from another perspective:

Running late from work THIS MEANS THAT JAMIE HAS A JOB. THAT’S A BIG DEAL NOWADAYS so I had to pick Aria up before Zain BUT SHE GOT ARIA IN TIME…HOORAY FOR NO LATE FEES. After getting Zain FROM GRANDMA’S HOUSE WHERE HE IS TREATED WITH THE UTMOST TLC (AND WHERE THERE ARE NO LATE FEES), I decided Chipotle would make an acceptable meat-free Friday option…LUCKY FOR HER SHE HAS THAT JOB AND IS ON BIG BALLER STATUS (I.E., PAYDAY FRIDAY) AND CAN EVEN CONSIDER SUCH LUXURIES, so we went there. Line was ridiculous, Aria was manic, so after about 5 minutes we left AND NO ONE GOT HIT BY A CAR CROSSING THE PARKING LOT. I was annoyed; Aria was crying BUT ZAIN WASN’T. Decided to stop by taco bell drive thru instead COULDN’T USE A DRIVE THRU IF SHE DIDN’T HAVE A CAR MISS SUPER BIG BALLER. As I’m approaching taco bell, I realize I missed a call from Kaleb at 6:15…at which time he was supposed to be with his youth group AS OPPOSED TO ATTENDING A GANG INITIATION. I called him (now 45 minutes later) and found out he was still at home MISSING STATIONS OF THE CROSS…AS OPPOSED TO A DRIVE BY SHOOTING…even tho when I talked to him at 5 He gave me no indication that there was a problem BECAUSE HE WAS PERFECTLY FINE…that he needed transportation at 6….when I was in Avalon THE VERY NICE NEIGHBORHOOD SHE LIVES IN getting Aria…ON TIME, REMEMBER??. I pulled up at the house THAT SHE OWNS IN SAID NICE NEIGHBORHOOD (after not having stopped at taco bell), only to learn that I needed to wait 30 more minutes to drop him off. So I drove back to taco bell…where I was 6th in the drive thru line BUT SHE COULD HAVE BEEN 7TH. I just got the food…and now both the kids are asleep WHICH IS WAY BETTER THAN THEM CRYING, WHINING, AND BELLY ACHING ABOUT WHY SHE’S BEEN DRIVING AROUND FOR THE LAST HOUR LETTING THEM STARVE TO DEATH. And I still have to pick up and drop off Kaleb AT HIS YOUTH MINISTER’S HOUSE…WHERE HE’S DOING A 24-HOUR FAST AND COMMUNITY SERVICE. This has been the most absurd 2 hours of wasted life….BUT SHE’S GOT THREE GREAT KIDS AND NO ONE IS DEAD.

BONUS: WITH ALL THAT DRIVING, MOTHER NATURE WAS SILENTLY WORKING BEHIND THE SCENES, PLOTTING AGAINST JAMIE’S JUMBO TAMPON. BUT…NO WORRIES JAMIE…CAR UPHOLSTERY IS WASHABLE. AND…AT LEAST YOU’RE NOT PREGNANT!!!!! 🙂

It can still be a happy Friday after all…as long as you always remember to [say it with me] ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE!!!

Thanks for playing!! 🙂

Superwoman? I think not.

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Me and my buddy

Yesterday one of the nurses I work with marveled at the fact that I have a 16-year-old. She asked me how I did it…when did I find time to study. I was a junior in college when I had him. I was a single mom and it was just me and him. My mom lived an hour and a half away. I finished my undergrad degree, then I moved to Baton Rouge (again, just me and him) for grad school. Somehow I got a Bachelors and a Masters, all with a kid in tow. And the truth is…I HAVE NO IDEA HOW I DID IT. I have no clue when I studied, when I wrote papers, when I slept. I don’t remember much of that time at all. But somehow I made it. I chalk it up to the grace of God. That must have been one of those times that Footprints talks about…when He carried me.

I need him to carry me now. I feel like I was more present and effective as a mother back then…when I knew nothing about everything. Now I feel like my kids are wild, I hardly ever see them, and my parenting lacks focus. Maybe that’s part of what comes with the territory when you have 3 kids (vs. just one). Whatever it is, I don’t like it.

Anna & Elsa

I have seen Frozen…twice (once was the singalong)…and I absolutely LOVE it!! Downloaded the  entire soundtrack (including the score). “Let It Go” gave me chills every time I heard it. I loved that particular song so much I immediately downloaded the sheet music for it. But I really feel like Anna/Kristen Bell is kind of getting the shaft. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Idina…she is amazing!! But Kristen Bell did such a great job; and Anna is such an endearing character.

Halfway into the movie the first time I saw it, I was puzzled (and maybe a little disappointed) that Elsa wasn’t the main character. She didn’t have many lines. She only really sang one song. What a minute. ANNA is the main character?! I felt a little misled and gypped. All the commercials made it seem like the movie was about Elsa. But as the movie went on, I absolutely fell in love with Anna. Her optimism, her awkwardness, her sincerity, and her persistent love made me feel warm through the entire film. And her songs are so much fun to sing!!

It was Anna’s love that not only saved Elsa, but it also saved herself! I loved the plot twist that the true love did not have to be bestowed upon her, but that she could be the one to love and to change her own fate. It’s no secret that Frozen is not your typical fairy tale. Anna is no typical princess. Hans is no typical prince. And Kristoff is no typical knight in shining armor. 

One of my favorite songs is “Fixer Upper” because it talks about real love. It’s not all romance and beauty. It’s not perfect. But we can bring out the best in people by showing them love. The song was sung to Kristoff and Anna…painting Kristoff as loveable, even with all of his flaws. However, the song also applied to Anna’s relationship with Elsa. It was her love for her sister that helped bring out Elsa’s best. 

I guess I’d like to see Anna, the heroine, get the hype she deserves. 

 

(maybe this isn’t blog-worthy, but I just felt like sharing..It’s 1:30am, sorry if it’s mangled)