Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Celebrations!


Most of my friends and family are in the throes of celebration right now. For some it's Passover. It's Easter for others. For many more, it's simply another weekend to spend with friends and family.

April also happens to be Stress Awareness month. (It's National Frog Month too but I'll leave that alone for now.)

Given all of that, my message today is simple: ENJOY IT.

My sense is that some of you will get your share of "preaching" this weekend, so I'll keep this one brief.

Yet, whether you practice formal holidays or not -- my wish for everyone is to keep in mind the true meaning and spirit intended with sharing time and meals and lives together.

It's definitely a message which I need to keep in mind today and tomorrow.

My plans this morning include morning snuggles, family breakfast and this 45-minutes of "me" time. Thank you to my wonderful husband who totally understands the importance of the last part for everyone who will be around me for the next 48 hours.

After that, I'll be cleaning the house, doing laundry and food shopping.

At 1pm we have 10 guests coming over to celebrate our year-long journey to Destination Imagination. (I was the co-manager for my daughter's team.)

Sometime before 5pm, my husband, two kids and I will all be making the trek to my mother's house for dinner. My siblings and their families will be there too and we'll be celebrating that we're actually all together in one place at one time.

It will likely be a late, unpredictable night. Don't worry - my mom isn't cooking. Though, that would provide with some more great fodder for my blog. I'll let you know...

Tomorrow we have three different "celebrations" to attend. Suffice it to say, it will be a busy day. Of course it's also a school night and the start of a new week both of which come with their own "to do" lists.

You can see that there is definitely room for stress, frustration and general craziness. Things may not go exactly as planned. Someone may not make it to the bathroom in time (hopefully not one of the adults.) We may run out of guacamole. Someone may get a stain on a new shirt...before we even leave the house. There may be rushing around, one lost shoe, kids moving slowly and so forth.

You probably know exactly what I mean and I'm sure I could come back tomorrow night and post a long list of things which did add little pieces of insanity to the weekend.

But my goal this weekend is just to celebrate each moment. When I feel that "ARGH" feeling coming on, to remind myself what it's really all about. To mentally go with the flow of an easy river vs. whitewater rapids. To keep love, joy and gratitude in my heart. To focus on what's really important.

Whatever the weekend has in store for you... please ENJOY!
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Monday, April 6, 2009

Meditation Monday: THANK YOU!

As you can tell by now, I tend to use the term "meditation" very loosely around here. In part, this is because I believe in the practice so passionately that I want everyone to feel like they can at least try it. Think of it as exercise without the sweat. Mental exercise. Spiritual exercise. You just have to start with small steps and find what works best for you personally.

Whether you are looking to achieve a higher state of consciousness, increase self-awareness or simply become more relaxed and peaceful, meditation is worth a shot. Trust me - I'm a doctor. Okay, we both know that I'm not a doctor. But trust me anyway.

One thing to try is focusing on a mantra. Put simply, a mantra can be a sound, a syllable, a word or group of words. There are many mantras with special meanings for various meditations.
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That said, even an everyday phrase such as "Thank You" can be used as a mantra.

Just saying this one simple phrase over and over can take you to a different place of awareness. Its repeated utterance can transform thought and feeling.
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When I first wake up in the morning (still in bed but awake) I repeat to myself, "Thank you...thank you... thank you...thank you..." again and again and again.

It's a time of gratitude which is not consciously or intellectually focused on being thankful for a specific list of things. And yet, it has meaning and feeling. I just am thankful in that moment.
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As I repeat the words "thank you," I take slow but gradually deeper and deeper breaths. Although I typically talk about breathing as a way to relax, these breaths are actually filled with energy... preparing my consciousness and providing me with the vitality I will need to start the day.

Throughout the day, Thank You is my "magic word." (Okay, technically two words.) I say it a LOT and I find the phrase really has a way of moving me closer to center, even when life is pretty crazy.

Of course, I say it to other people. My kids would tell you that I am a stickler for "thank you" as it pertains to the good manners department.
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However, I also say it quite a bit when I'm alone. On my way to work, I say "thank you" every time I get a green light. At lunch, right before I take my first bite. I say "thank you" to the sun. I say "thank you" when there's none. I say it when I avoid a jam. I am thankful, YES I AM! (Thank you, thank you. I'll be here all week...)


Slightly off topic from meditation perhaps, but I want to share my favorite "thank you" moment of the day:
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My son is four years old now and luckily still lets me snuggle him in the rocking chair just before it's time to sleep. This is a child who believes he is Spider-Man, so any moment when he's awake and not climbing the walls is a bonus.

I appreciate the bedtime snuggle more than you can imagine. Sometimes I sing softly but mostly I just repeat over and over, "thank you, thank you, thank you."

At this moment in particular my expression of gratitude is far from an "exercise." It's almost involuntary. The words literally overflow from my heart with the love and appreciation I feel in my soul for this thriving little boy.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I had four miscarriages; including my "forever changing" experience of seeing the heartbeat of a baby boy I was carrying just be.... gone.

After that when I was finally pregnant again, my mantra was please live. "Please baby...just live. Keep that heart beating. Please just live." Those were the words I repeated over and over, every day for nine months until "Spider-Man" was delivered safely into the world.

To this day, when I rock him before bed... I feel the same intensity of emotion. Yet, my feelings are with gratitude that he did live, even against the odds. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I feel like I could never say it enough.

The reality is we're all lucky to be here, alive on this earth. We are all miracles.

And I am so very lucky that you are here with me, reading my thoughts and stories; supporting me and helping me as I hope I am helping you.

Thank You!

Charlene
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