Behind Closed Doors

I am pretty sure at some point in my teenage years I must have muttered, or wailed in some sort of adolescent angst ridden sorrow, that I wish I were dead, but I never entertained a thought of suicide.  I have been, I think for all of my life, a person who always had a hopeful outlook and a level of optimism that things would, whatever those “things” were, somehow work out…SO this week to have two seemingly “have it all” celebrities die of suicide has shaken me a bit, because I feel like it’s a perfect example of how we simply do not know what goes on behind closed doors, and behind closed eyes, and more importantly that what we think will make our lives “happier” or “better,” probably won’t.

My Instagram tag line, since I joined, was that I “love to cook and long to travel.”  These are the two things I would most want to do if I had all the time I wanted to do what I wanted.  I can’t count the number of times my boyfriend and I have watched a show that involved travel and food, cooking and eating, and said to each other “I want that job!” or “that’s the life of our dreams!” or a similar expression, so to have a famous person we enjoyed watching, who was doing THOSE EXACT THINGS, die by suicide, really shook us both yesterday.

I read Kitchen Confidential not long after it was first published, which was around the same time I started my Sunday morning love affair with the BBC television program Nigella Bites, and the Food channel’s Barefoot Contessa, shows that took me from being a person who liked to eat and cook, to becoming a person who LOVED to cook and eat.  The early aughts were the years I really started to become, or tried to become, a “foodie.”

We’ve watched MANY episodes of Parts Unknown, probably have seen most if not all of them, and I  follow Anthony Bourdain on Instagram, and it feels a little like the super cool guy at school who was your friend, even though you were not nearly as cool as he, suddenly dumped you and didn’t want to be your friend anymore.  We watched a tribute to him on CNN last night and clearly I was not alone in my thinking…he seemed a person who was really great to know.  Everyone who spoke had something to say about what a creative and smart man he was and what a loss they were feeling.  I never owned a Kate Spade anything but I felt sad earlier this week when I heard about her suicide too.  From what I read about her, she too was a creative person filled with exciting ideas and big visions.  All the means to do whatever one wishes to do, and all the means to have whatever one wishes to have, and still…not enough to want to live…it breaks my heart for someone to suffer so…

The thought that two little girls, just 13 and 11, left by these two famous suicides this week, now without a mom and a dad, both who appeared to be having “the life” breaks my heart into pieces…I think about my granddaughters and how heartbroken and utterly devastated they were when their little dog died, I can’t imagine how crushed and inconsolable they would be to lose a parent…and that the parent “did it on purpose” is the thought that keeps making me ache…how a person could be in so much mental anguish and personal pain that they could cause that level of devastation and loss to their own daughter just crushes me.

I made a strange meal last night for dinner; totally modified a recipe for salmon rice bowls, used chicken and had no mirin so I used vinegar, and it came out fabulously, which made me immensely joyful.  I have yoga today, and this afternoon my granddaughter’s dance recital, two things that make me immensely joyful.  I watched two humming birds at the feeder this morning while I poured my coffee, three things that make me immensely joyful.  I feel like I want to note details of the simple things that make me happy.  Two famous people, who seeming had all the things that COULD make a person happy, obviously weren’t made happy by any of it…

I have been surrounded by wealthy people for all of my adult life, all of my jobs have been those where I worked for, or waited on, wealthy people, and the older I get the more I know this much is true; they have more money than I do, and can do more fun things that cost money than I can, and they can buy more stuff than I can, but none of that really has a thing to do with finding happiness… the joy in a strong hot cup of coffee, the beauty of spying two hummingbirds at the feeder, the positive energy flow through the body in 75 minutes of yoga, the excitement and anticipation of watching your incredibly talented granddaughter up on stage…or any of the “little things” that can make life happy.

Nothing “outside” of yourself has anything at all to do with happiness, or joy, or gratitude, or success.  When you close your eyes, if all the things in your mind are dark, it really doesn’t matter what you project on the surface.  When you close your door, if all the energy in your space is filled with negativity, it really doesn’t matter how big or fancy it is.  Recognizing that a happy life starts in your own mind and in your own space, is, I think, a start…

 

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Memories of deer, a lake, and a park

I suspect that every one of you who reads this has a similar memory from childhood; zooming, ZOOMING down Any Street USA on your bike, feeling the air tickle your skin, the hair flying up off the back of your neck, and then braking, and the brakes either squeezing the tire too tight, or not at all, or hitting a pebble, and the pebble and the tire connecting at such an angle and in such a way that the only thing there is to happen next is the BIG FALL…the over-the-handlebars fall, the bleeding elbows and bleeding knees fall, the chain coming off fall, the crying your eyes out limping home or trying to pedal home fall, the standing in the tub crying while your mom gently tries to get the dirt and flecks of gravel and asphalt out of your elbows and knees fall…Mine was on a street called Temple Avenue in a neighborhood where I lived as a child called Deer Lake Park.  I remember what I had on the day of THE FALL…it was a white halter top with “rope” through the neckline that tied behind my neck and it had an embroidered sailboat on the front of it and I wore it with dark blue and white gingham shorts and it was a “belly shirt” of sorts, which made me feel much more cool and hip than my bookish little girl self was.

After work last night I had to drive to this neighborhood of my childhood to move a piece of furniture for a friend.  While I currently only live about six miles from said neighborhood I have only driven through it a handful of times in all of my adult life, and when I pulled up to the house where I was to retrieve this antique armoire I looked to my right and realized in a moment of such clarity and memory where I was; I was at the base of the hill where I took the BIG FALL.  In a split second I felt like I had traveled through 42 years…in my mind’s eye I saw my sun-kissed brown hair, my summer tan skin, my rope necked halter top, and that blue bike my dad had brought home from work, trash picked and lubed up, and THE HILL that tremendous hill where I was ZOOMING, going much too fast, oh no! too too fast-must brake…when it happened, the BIG FALL.  Until that moment that summer day I always had a bike where to brake you just pushed the pedals back, like you were about to pedal backwards, but this bike, this exciting just picked from the trash totally different bike than my own had a hand brake, which I squeezed, hard, as I left the top of the hill because I felt I was going way too fast and would not be able to turn left onto the street below…and that brake squeezed that front tire like nothing I ever had felt in my entire life and that front tire stopped.  STOPPED just like that…but I alas did not…That tire stopped and I flew…flew from that banana seat right over the handlebars and down that giant hill…in my mind I slid on belly, elbows, and knees ALL the way down that hill…I remember my toes were split open, it’s likely I was in bare feet as I so often was, my knees were skinned all the way down to my bones, or so it felt, as were my elbows and I seem to remember both my belly and my chin were bleeding too…but what I also remember was that I thought it too far to try to walk home, and I did not want to leave the bike so I have a memory of getting back on said bike and reluctantly pedaling home, sobbing, shakily trying to balance my way back to my house…

BUT last night sitting in my ridiculously big truck on the side of the road, looking out the passenger window at that HILL, it looked so small…so not at all steep, so not at all big, in fact, nothing looked as big as I remembered it…it suddenly seemed so small; the hill, the neighborhood, the houses…

On my way home out of the neighborhood, I drove by my old street, my old house…I looked at the grass out front where I learned to do a cartwheel.  I looked up at “my” bedroom window, wallpaper white with little purple flowers, a lavender quilted bedspread under which I often read well past my bedtime, where I first read The Secret Garden and The Outsiders… the giant field that was behind my old house was still a field, but it was not giant at all…in my memory it was an expanse of grass and open space that went on for a mile…our dad cut a path through the woods in our backyard to it where we drove our little tractor, played tag and Simon Says, laughed & giggled under the hot sun and twirled and spun when we wore spinny skirts or dresses…in reality it was grass that went on for about 200 feet!  I stopped at the field, SO MANY memories of that field and I just sat in my truck feeling so strange, looking at that giant field of playtime memories that now looked so small…

I’ve often thought about that house over the years of my life.   Mostly I think about my dad, working full-time with a wife and two little girls and going after work every single night to work on that house that he built for us…that my parents were able to afford to live with us in the first house that they bought when they were married, while building the house we were going to move to less than five years later, and that they were not even 30!!!!  There are 30 year-olds now who still live with their parents!!!  My parents were not even 30 and were able to afford to live in their home, with two little kids, and able to buy a piece of land, and then build a house on the land at the SAME TIME!!!  Sitting in my truck, it all seemed unfathomable.

While I felt happy to deliver the furniture to my friend I felt a bit sad driving home, what had been so big in my mind was so small now in real life.  I wondered, could it really be that I had not driven by that Temple Avenue hill in four decades??  I wondered, did I ever remember seeing any deer in our yard as a child there??  The lake is still there but the park was always on the other side of the lake anyway, it wasn’t like we could walk there!  Sitting in Deer Lake Park for those minutes was like unlocking a time capsule that’d been buried for 40 years.

The Shape of Opinions

Over the winter, in December I guess, I listened to an interview on Fresh Air on NPR as I so often do on my way home from work.  Terry Gross was interviewing the director Guillermo Del Toro and he was speaking about his new movie called The Shape of Water.  The story he was describing intrigued me so much that as soon as I got home I added the name of the film to my library list; a list I keep by my office computer that has titles to books or movies or records that I have heard of and want to borrow when they are available from my local library.  Truth be told almost all of the titles are from NPR interviews.  The story sounded like a mix between something I would find late at night on the Sci Fi channel and The Princess Bride, meaning it sounded like something of a quirky fairy tale which is anything I would love to watch or to read. I did not watch The Academy Awards in March but did see on the news the next morning that he won for best director, and became even more excited for my library request to finally arrive.

A month later it did, when I was away in Florida for a few days with my daughter and granddaughters, so my dvd request was cancelled when I did not retrieve my order in time…SO when I arrived home from my mini-vacation and went through my email I immediately reordered the dvd which arrived, sadly for me, right before Memorial Day, which, as I have a small seasonal business, is literally my busiest time of the entire year, so much so that I often don’t get home until dark and I fall asleep in utter exhaustion within seconds of my head hitting my pillow, and don’t read or watch much during those last two weeks of May!  Fortunately I arrived at the library after the holiday weekend to retrieve the dvd the day the hold was to be cancelled and I planned to watch it that night, Thursday May 31st.  And then I didn’t.   And then I didn’t watch it on Friday night, or Saturday night.  I did not work on Sunday, and it was a rainy crap day so I thought I would watch it Sunday afternoon after yoga or Sunday night after dinner.

Sunday evening as my tired eyes grew more heavy I realized that I likely had only a couple of hours of alertness left in me and was deciding whether or not I would read at bedtime or watch this movie.  I made, what turned out to be a terrible choice, to go on the IMBD web site and read the reviews of the movie.  The reviews were terrible.  Really bad.  Two Thumbs Down was pretty much the consensus!  I read a few, and then a few more, and they were so dreadful that I just jumped ahead to the synopsis and decided to save myself two hours of a bad movie and read in bed instead.  I felt disappointed.  Disappointed that this movie seemed so awful to so many even though I had been so excited to see it for many months.  I “said” as much in a social media post that night and discovered in the morning MANY of my cyber friends thoroughly disagreed with both the bad reviews, and my post stating that reading would be a better choice and to return the movie unwatched.  Monday morning I thought to myself, how could I have wanted so badly to see this film and then been so easily swayed by online reviews when for most of my life things that are odd, strange, or unpopular are, more often than not, very appealing to me??!!  I realized that my cyber friends are so like-minded, and all of them suggested I watch this movie and form my own opinion rather than giving up on it before I even pressed >Play.

I am very glad that I both took their advice and rethought my thoughts.  I found the film quirky, magical, fantastical, and charming.  I loved the soundtrack, I loved the colors, the way the color green was a significant piece of every scene, the narration, the dialog, the character development, the whole thing was a joy for me!  I am so glad that the interview with the director started me on the path to seeing the movie and my friends encouragement to do so made it happen.  This morning I was reminded that what is popular; for example shows involving bachelors, dancing stars, rich housewives, pawn shop owners, or unknown singers are seldom, IF EVER, at all interesting to me…I was reminded last night while watching The Shape of Water that I must always let my own experience shape my opinion.

 

my own kind of A. A.

My life was terrible, and scary, and sad until I decided I could not live one more day of a terrible, scary, sad life.  I called one of my two best friends and said, “please come get me and don’t ask any questions.”  Awakening Anniversary is what I sometimes call it, my own version of A.A.  On June 1st every year I say “prayers” of sorts…I give thanks to that friend who came with no questions, but knew to bring her husband’s pick-up truck, and I give thanks to “god,” or the universe or whatever/whoever helped me to gather the strength I needed to finally ask for help, and I give thanks to my parents who opened their door to me, and I give thanks to me for finally accepting that my life was terrible, scary, and sad, and I did not want any sort of life like that for me or my 17 month-old big bald baby girl.

I have known people who say that their AA saved their lives, and my A.A. saved mine too.  31 years is a long time ago, but my phone call that day freed me from so much awfulness that I remember it like it was last week.  Three decades and a year is a long time to remember a bad time, but I think it is important to remember some bad things because those things make one much more grateful for all that is good.  I feel like if only one woman reads this blog and understands that she does not have to hide her secret anymore, and should ask somebody to help her, it will be a very positive blog.  This day used to choke me up, and I would find myself crying at some random point during the day but now I feel so blessed and happy and thankful, that the tears that may come out of nowhere later, will be tears of joy.

I finished a book last night with a character in it who behaved much like the man who made my life terrible and scary and sad; and when I finished the book I thought how funny it was that it was on the EVE of my A.A., and how I totally related with the wife of said character in that book…The wife in the book kept telling her daughter, “he loves us he is sorry” and the man in the book kept crying after each rage filled night of violence and said “I am so sorry, you know how I get, it won’t happen again I promise” and I realized that my greatest gift to MY daughter might be that I got away in time…before she ever saw her mother’s head bash into the wall behind her, or hold a cold washcloth to her forehead to keep the swelling down, or had to wear a long-sleeved t-shirt on a hot May day to cover the bruises on the top of her arm…the daughter in the book looked at her mother with pity and I am so glad, so grateful, that my daughter never saw any of that kind of life.

If I had not had that friend who came without question because she loved me and wanted me to be happy, if I had not had parents who loved me and forgave me for being so stupid and making such dreadful choices, if I had not loved that sweet 17 month-old big bald baby girl so much maybe I would not have had the courage to finally “tell.”  Each year I think about how embarrassing it was; when you hide a secret for a long time and the only one who suffers is you, you finally realize that it’s a stupid secret to hide.

If anybody had told me that morning, the hours before I made the call, that 31 years later I would be living in a house I designed and built, right next door to my grown-up daughter and her daughters, with a handsome drummer whose smile makes my knees weak, and that I would be happy every day, and find joy in every day, I would have thought they were insane…BUT all of it, all of the glorious bits of good that are my life really did happen, and I think that my life would have been very much different had I not had the strength to say, “please help me.”  The anniversary of my awakening is a very special day for me and I am crying now, as I finish typing, looking for a last line, and none is coming to me, as it is just sometimes impossible to imagine this is real…this real life filled with so much goodness and how much love I have in my life now, knowing how little love there was, then, but remembering the discovering… that I loved myself enough to ask for help was the first step, all the steps that came after, only came from taking the first…

Mother… the verb or the noun?

One does not have to have birthed a live child to be a mother or to mother.  I have some friends who never had children as a choice.  I have some friends who never had children because the ‘choice’ was made for them by biology or circumstance.  I have some friends who have children and love, very much, both their title of mother, and the verb of the actions, and efforts, said title requires.  I have some friends who act as “mother” and enjoy “mothering” the four-legged.  I also know of some women who put as little effort into the verb, or the noun, as possible that it sometimes has made me wonder in bewilderment (not judging, just observing) why they made the choice to have children at all…

My heart is tender when someone gets physically hurt or injured, my heart is tender when someone gets emotionally hurt or injured, and comforting and consoling are small parts of the whole that is mothering.  I clean up messes that other people make.  I prepare food for other people to eat.  I wash and buy clothes for other people to wear.  I make a home out of a house and have told many people, many times, related to me or not, they are always welcome here, and I mean it.  These are mothering things.  I do many things and I am many things, and simply one of them is mother, it is just a slice of the pie that is my womanhood.  I am a mother to my daughter and I also do a lot of mothering, to people other than just my daughter, her daughters and my boyfriend for example…mothering is ultimately loving and caring  for others, and almost every woman I know does this every single day; caring for pets, students, loved ones, kids, plants and yards, jobs, homes… you see, “mothering” to me is caring more than any other definition.

Many people I love do not, at present, have a mother.  Many people I love had a very good mother and miss her terribly.  Some people I love had a not so great mother and yet still miss her terribly.  I am the daughter of a man who had his mother until he was 75 years old; his mother got to see him grow old enough to be a great-grandfather and retire.  I am the partner of a man who had his mother only until he was 15; his mother did not even get to see him get his driver’s license, or up on a big stage under the lights and behind his mic’d up drums, or become a father.  Some mothers get more time to mother than others and I suspect that their wishes at the end are the same, I hope I loved enough

I know of a few women who cried out for their mothers during unimaginable childhood traumas that should not happen to anyone, let alone a child, and their mothers looked the other way, but I know of far more women who got fired up in lioness mode when their cub was in need or in danger, and behaved in the ways a good mother should…with fierce protection, unyielding compassion, and above all else, overwhelming love.  No matter how flawed a mother might be or how inadequate her level of mothering might be, she is more often than not your greatest ally.  More often than not the one who can still make boo-boos and boo-hoos better, no matter how old you grow.  The one on whom you can always depend.  A hug from a mother and an “it will be okay” is in most circumstances, the best panacea, and truly, a little bit goes a long way.  I am thankful to be that person to my daughter, and to watch her be that person to her daughters, and that we still have my mother to be that person to both of us.

I have had some very low times during my life. I have made some very poor decisions that have left me bereft and broken, and every time when I have needed my mother to advise me, to comfort me, to save me, she has.  She has never turned away from me.  Despite her dissatisfaction with “the bed I made,” she never once walked away from me and said, “now lie in it.”  No, what she said, time after time was, how can I help you?  Not how can I solve the problem or the trouble you are in, but how can I help you to help yourself…THAT is to me, a mother and mothering and for which I am deeply grateful.  I have said so many times in my adult life that although my mother does sometimes drive me crazy, and surely I her, when she is gone I will miss her madly, and so today I will be kinder than necessary, and smile wider than usual and enjoy celebrating this made-up commercialized “holiday” because honestly when you have a good mother, every day really should be Mother’s Day.

 

Troubled Water and Bridges

I don’t think anybody expects things to go right 100% of the time, and frankly I don’t know anybody who is that hopelessly and perpetually optimistic.  I also don’t, or try not to, associate with people who are so negative and overwhelmingly pessimistic that they think things will never go their way.  I’m inclined to think that most people are a lot like me; simply hoping for the 75/25 kind of life, but are actually rather pleased when they get a 60/40 kind of day, or week, or even year.  I’ve lived long enough now to know that I’ve been, in almost every measurable way, luckier than most, and blessed, like with some kind of magic goodness, because most of my life, when I take the time to neutrally examine it and assess these fifty years on the planet, really has been in the 90/10 range, and I am thankful.  Every. Single. Day.

When I think back to the sob story that was my life as a young new mother and terrified and confused young wife, I now perceive the horribleness of it all as if it’s a book I once read, that is how detached I now feel from it all, and from that person who survived it all.  When I was 19 and living that miserable life, I would NEVER have believed anybody, had they told me, “child, it’s all gonna be okay” because nothing felt okay, months and months and months of very much not at all okay.

One of my yoga teachers says this, “you have survived 100% of your worst days.”  How empowering, right??!!  AND so decades later, from all of that awfulness, I now sit on a crisp sunny day in my beautiful home with my stunningly beautiful daughter and her perfectly wonderful daughters next door, and our aunt’s house right behind us, and my happy & healthy parents a few minutes down the road, which is right next door to my sister’s…all of this okay-ness, all around me, years and years and years now of very much okay.  I have been in some really bad situations, some super scary, some super sad, and through all of those troubled waters, love was the bridge that carried me out and over the mess I found myself in.  This morning another yoga teacher said, “love is the answer, even when it’s hidden under the bad stuff” and I know she is right because I have lived it.

Time after time I have disappointed my loved ones but they kept on loving me, without condition, and loved me enough to protect me from, or help me out of, whatever harm, mess, difficulty, or chaos I was in…sometimes of my own hand by my own dreadful decisions, and sometimes through no fault of my own, but they never failed to lift me and help me keep my head above the water. They have never let me down.

While it’s true that this family of mine and I have diametrically opposed views about most everything, the fact is that when they have ever needed me or I them, we simply act from love, step up, and do what needs to be done.  So much comfort one gets simply from the KNOWING, the absolute certainty, that there are people who care about you and have your back.  I’ve read too many memoirs, and seen too many movies, and heard too many stories that showed me, fiction or non, that there are a great number of people who don’t share my good fortune to have good people who love them.  It’s a big deal.  It’s something I do not take for granted.  On the surface one might think we’ve nothing in common, and indeed they all  seem to think differently than I about, well, pretty much everything, but what we do have in common, the values we do share, the moral compass to which we hold one another accountable, the love we have for the same circle of people is like glue which binds us, and it turns out that is enough.

After an ugly  break-up some years ago, a person wrote many horrible things about me and said many terrible things about me, and for a short while I felt like I was drowning in misery, but my heart grew to unimaginable hugeness when acquaintances and friends immediately came out boldly and in force to tell me that no, they did not tolerate such slander, and no, they would not believe such hurtful things and yes, I had their support.   My family just shook their heads and then shook it off, never giving up on me, never doubting my goodness, acting again as a bridge for me to get over, and out of, troubled waters. There is a whole lot of strength to be found in that kind of love and that kind of friendship.

It takes only one bad decision, one terrible choice, one miscalculation in judgment for waters to become troubled, and bridges take a long time to build.  Some people just don’t “get it” and live with a “I’d never let that happen” mentality,  and that self-righteous “not me” way of thinking, when they see bad things happening to good people, but they don’t realize how fast the waters can swell to roughness that simply can’t be navigated.  Some might think they need arsenals of weapons “for protection” but I don’t think they “get it” either. I have come to believe that what we all need to stockpile is compassion and love, friendship, and meaningful relationships based on real feelings of deep caring, because THAT is what protects us and shelters us, and builds bridges that carry us out of the troubles when we’ve lost our way.

 

Breathe In, Breathe Out

Who thinks about breathing, ever really?  Unless I guess you are choking, in active labor, or spent your whole adult life smoking, I think most people don’t think much about breathing, BUT I’m learning that people who are learning yoga think about breathing, a lot.  I can’t begin to count the number of times a day that I find myself thinking about getting air into my body.  This would be strange to the “old” me, like thinking about swallowing, for example, but the “new” me thinks about breathing many times throughout the day and not just the many hours each week that I am learning how to move my body and use my brain in these new ways.  I’m finding, discovering I suppose is a better word, that since Thanksgiving, when I first signed up for classes, my propensity to lose my cool is fast becoming a thing of the past.  My way of flying off the handle and then assessing the situation has given way to thinking first about the situation, and then thinking about breathing, and then contemplating whether or not flying off the handle would be the right course of action.  Generally it isn’t.  I’m not, by any stretch, implying that I’m no longer ever mad, nor alluding to a better version of me who is always mellow, but the man I love will tell you this if you ask him, “she is on her yoga high” if you were to ask him about my general mood or manner and overall disposition almost every day…

It’s certainly possible that this better, mellower version of R* is simply growing older and wiser, and with that gaining a calm and serenity that she did not have when she was young and perhaps less evolved, but I suspect it’s more than that. I seem to find that so many of the things that always annoyed me seem somehow less annoying…for example, I drive a very big, ridiculously long, heavy truck with a cap, and so for all the years I’ve driven this truck, when fools who don’t understand the most basic rules of physics and speed and weight and braking, pull out in front of me, I used to get so angry.  Lately I find myself braking sooner, meaning as soon as I see their foolishness in action, rather than seconds before it appears I might plow into the rear of their car, and think to myself, “it’s the universe telling me that I need to be here and not there at this second” and then tell myself stories while I take a few deep breaths about how that jerk who turned right on red without stopping, into traffic moving 50 miles per hour, right in front of me driving a 9000 pound truck, is maybe saving my life by making me be 12 or 20 feet farther behind than I would have been had he not cut me off…it’s a silly mind game, so many mind games are, but I play it with myself as I take those necessary calming breaths and it seems to make me a much less angry driver.  It might seem like a poor example, but if you have ever been a passenger with me in any vehicle you would likely say, “oh, how nice that her lead foot is lighter, and she does not scream up behind the tail of those who annoy her anymore!  Oh joy!” 

I’m certain, had I learned about yoga at 18, or even 28, 38, or 48, my life would have been much different.  I have always called myself a silver lining seeker, that hasn’t changed, but I’m a much less upset person it seems about everything, and I like that.  I certainly would have been a better mother while raising my daughter.  I was not a “No More Wire Hangers!!!” kind of mother, but I certainly was not as good as I could have been, or should have been, to a small growing learning little girl.  Had I been better at taking the necessary breaths to assess situations, instead of flying off the handle, I would have had a far less stressful home in which that little girl lived.  It seems she didn’t suffer too badly, she sure turned out fabulous, and she lets me help her raise her girls, so I was not THAT bad, but we live and learn, and like that expression ‘when you know better, you do better’ and so I’m doing better in just about every area of humanness.

I also think about breathing when I walk into a store or building where a person does not know how to measure 25 feet from the door as the allowed space for smoking near an entrance.  And when I walk through the stink I think about my lungs, I think about breathing, and I think “how on earth did I do THAT for so long and what on earth must I have been thinking??!!”  And I say a little prayer to the universe that I quit in enough time to heal that damage and I don’t end up like that disgusting “we can help you quit” commercial, where the man is sitting at his dining room table gasping for breath with lungs that make a sound like pebbles being raked and wearing an oxygen tank…when you know better, you do better

I still get mad about a lot of things, sure, but I seem to be less mad about all of them.  Last night for example we went out for Mexican food and I asked for some more pico and the server instead brought guacamole, and I said, “that’s okay, I’ll have that” and then she charged us $4 for it.  $4 for two tablespoons of guacamole would have made the old me super angry, but the new me just calmly said, “well, we won’t make that mistake again.” I can’t know for sure that learning how to breathe differently and move differently and think differently because I am learning yoga is WHY this is happening, I can only know and observe that it is happening.  Next time somebody pulls out in front of you, blows stinking smoke in your face, or overcharges you for something you didn’t even order, just try to see if some really deep breaths, in through your nose, out through your nose, helps you think about how to react, or even to react at all… I think you’ll be glad you did.  I mean really, we have to breathe to live, it makes each day possible, we might as well try to do it in a way that also makes each day better.