I keep thinking that all this changing and shifting in my life will somehow slow down one day. At some point I'll be offered a moment to "settle in" and "catch my breath" and look around and actually build my life as I think it could be, right?
So far that's not exactly happening.
Anybody else out there feel that way?
It's almost fall and we are moving into yet another big transition in family life: my daughter starts kindergarten next week. It is going to be a huge logistical change in terms of having to get up and out pretty early, and also that she'll be out for most of the day (blessing in terms of baby getting to nap and me getting to practice regularly, hazzah!) And then there's the new role she will take on and we will take on as a family with a school aged child rather than just a preschooler. If you think this is trivial, believe me, it isn't. It's a big shift. So big, in fact, that the teachers at Kindergarten 101 said their role is to support the parents' transitions as much as they support the students.
The start of the school year is always fraught with anxiety for me. This year is no exception. Only this year we are also dealing with the rapidly declining health of a dear loved one. One who most likely will not recover and is absolutely too young to be experiencing such a loss. I am certainly not ready for this loss... I thought we had a good 10 - 15 years at least.
And so. What to do? Other than pour out my sob story here on the blog. My tendency is to dig in and go into my head and pretty much try to make-over my life because I can't control how my child will do in school, I can't keep her safe from the growing pains of social and academic life... and unfortunately I cannot tell death to stop in his tracks and leave those I love alone thank you very much.
Amidst these seemingly unending waves of transition I'm finding a few tiny ways to root and ground myself. I thought I'd share with you because I know I'm not the only one going back to school and facing the unknown.
- Nutrition - It sounds so lame, but I'm doing my best to be aware of eating food that will fuel me rather than steal my energy. And that goes for feeding my kids too. It's hard for me because my first inclination is to reach for sweets and comfort foods, but I realize that after I eat them I feel worse than if I'd just felt the worry or sadness I was trying to avoid. Instead I'm going for fresh fruits and veggies, good proteins .. and a little chocolate too. I'm letting myself be choosy about what goes into my grocery cart, and where we eat out. I can control that stuff. And, I'm eating out at our health food store a little more often. I know the food will be healthy and I don't have to cook it. Perfect combination.
- Exercise - Move. Every. Day. It doesn't have to be much. Recently my practice has often been just 10 minutes of moving my spine and some reclining leg stretches, but even that helps me shift a little bit. At least it reminds me that I'm alive still. If I feel energetic enough I do more... the nutrition helps with the energy piece. Again, it's something I CAN do when I feel that there's nothing to be done.
- Rest - Again, super duper simple but absolutely required. The start of the school year is such an opportunity to over commit in the excitement of fall. But over commitment never helps me. I always end up anxiety deranged by the time November rolls around. Fall is for letting go, just like the trees do. So instead of focusing on how much more we need to do, I'm doing my best to focus on how much more we can possibly Rest. (my husband, by the way, does not understand this and absolutely hates it... until he collapses on the couch for a power nap) Today I took a 2 hour nap while my son was sleeping. Could I have done a million other things with my time? Yes. Do I feel 1000 times better now though? Absolutely. I might just do it again next week. I love Yoga Nidra if I don't have time for a full on nap party.
- Joy/Fun/Delight - I've sort of known about the other ones for a while, in my life. But this idea of joyful fun is actually just crossing my radar in a new way. Like I say, I tend to live in my head and read a lot of yoga books and self-help stuff. Things I really do enjoy... but when I'm dealing with something huge or many things huge... I don't need to fill my mind with anything other than enough playful joy as I can possibly hold. This can mean light hearted reading and movies, fun YouTube videos of babys laughing, and of course nights out with my husband and friends that have nothing to do with my career, with parenting, or with heaviness. I like to take in a great dance concert when I can. Doing this reminds me of all the things there are to be excited about in life. And it helps to soften and shift anxiety and tougher moods. So then I'm a happier, more attentive, loving and spacious parent, wife, teacher and friend. I'm more of myself which is who I want to be.
That's the short list. But other things come to mind too -- journalling always helps me sort through life, therapy, friends to talk to, and of course yoga practice and meditation practice specifically. Taking a little bit of time each day or every few days to dip into the place that is untouched by the waves of my personal ocean helps me stay grounded if only for a breath or two.
So I hope that helps you as you navigate the upcoming shift of gears into school or fall or whatever life may bring you.
What we know is that Life will bring you Change. May we use the knowledge we have to keep it simple, ride the wave and stay connected to the deeper part of Life that never changes and in that way experience even a glimpse of peace through it all. Namaste!