Through the eyes of a two year old

I spent some time with my granddaughter yesterday. She is at that age where she has started to think about things, but is not yet able to express all her ideas verbally. She is stringing words together, but most of what she says is delightfully unintelligible.

“Swing and slide?” she asked in her sweet baby voice. So I put her in her stroller with her baby doll and pushed her the mile to the park, a green patch in the city. I wonder what she thinks, as the cars swoosh by, and we pass random people. She puts out her hand to touch some hedges along the side walk. We stop to smell some flowers.

She got restless the last quarter mile or so, asking me questions I couldn’t understand, talking and occasionally singing. I was glad she was happy, and I would point out things along the way, telling her we were almost there. Finally, we were at the green, first passing the dog park, which brought on a stream of dog like sounds from baby, then there we were at the playground. There were a lot of other kids and parents out on this warm February day.

wp-1456191076862.jpegI helped her out of the stroller and she headed for the swings. All but one were occupied, so I lifted her up into it, and “swing, swing” she laughed and sang as I pushed her. She gazed in fascination at the little girl in the swing next to her. “Baby!” she chortled with delight.

I spent the next 45 minutes following her around the small play area, guarding her as she climbed ladders meant for older children, laughing with her as she slid down the numerous slides, pleased that she cooperated with other children. Often she would stop and just stare at another child, and I wondered what she was thinking. Another little girl around her age was not having a good day, and as my little sweetie observed her crying, she said “baby cry? night-night?” Good observation, I thought!

I was wearing out before she did, and, anticipating the trek back, coerced her back into the stroller with the promise of a snack and taking her shoes off. Thus settled, we made the journey home, with her chatter and singing delighting me. She tweeted with the birds, and, pointing out a squirrel, “get nuts?” she queried.

Arriving home, I took off my sandals and sat on the tub to wash my dusty achy feet, which turned into a bath for her!  We splashed and laughed and it was absolutely delightful!

It wasn’t until I was leaving that she had a meltdown. She was trying to communicate something to do with a toy car that looks like “Sassa’s car” and it seemed to be important that she take the car outside but since she was naked Mama and I were saying no. So she threw the car and quietly crumpled and threw herself around a bit. This is when parenting is hard. What is it going on in the mind of a two year old that is inexpressible and therefore frustrating? What is a grownup to do?

Fortunately, her mother practices gentle parenting, and spoke to her gently but firmly. She offered to put a diaper on her and take her outside, which was satisfactory. There was still something on baby girl’s mind, but she was less upset, and was happy to see my car, for whatever reason, and we kissed and hugged and I went on my way.

All this to say, a two year old lives moment to moment, joy and frustration being dealt with as it comes, and we grownups have lessons to learn from it. If you have a two year old, remember this the next time they throw a tantrum. They don’t have the words to express themselves yet, so it’s not a punishable offense. And you? Take life a little less seriously, and enjoy each beautiful moment.

 

 

Embrace the moment!

I’ve had several memorable moments already this morning.

Waking up in the dark, the dream memory fading, savoring the nearness of my lover.

Drinking  a chocolate strawberry spinach smoothie with fresh grated nutmeg sprinkled on top.

Driving to the park while it was still dark, sparse traffic on this Saturday morning.

Walking alone on the path, runners passing me up, and timing it perfectly to catch the sunrise.

perfect sunrise

I came home and decided to take a cup of coffee down to the bench by the lake. It was still early enough not to be too hot, not 80 degrees yet. The water was quiet and calm, few birds, no people.  I watched the fish jumping, my mind wandering all over the place, and I found myself pondering something someone said at work yesterday:

“It’s Friday! One more day closer to retirement!”

It’s just a saying, and I laughed with everyone else. But really, that’s not how I want to face my life, or my days.

“This day is dragging, I can’t wait for it to be over.”  

“I can’t wait for Christmas, or my birthday, or… retirement.”

But stop, look at the moment. Maybe I’m a glass all the way full person, and I might drive other people crazy with my perpetual optimism, but why not? If you go through life waiting for something that you think will be better, you miss out on a lot of great moments.

I haven’t always thought like this. I went to a silent meditation retreat last year, and had no timepiece, no way to keep up with time. Our days were guided by gongs. I knew the schedule, knew that the gong would go off in 2 hours, but without a watch, all alone in my room, it seemed like time stood still. I purposed then to never say that the day was dragging or I wished it would be over.

I do catch myself watching the time while I’m at work,  and when I leave the building, I always feel very happy to go. But when I catch myself, I try to stop and look at the moment and embrace it. Maybe its a lull in activity. I can meditate, or find a window to look out of, or help a coworker. Maybe my phone won’t stop ringing, so I can give each caller my full attention and be polite and kind.  Maybe someone is facing hard decisions about a loved one’s medical condition and care and I can give them my full attention, guidance, and even a hug.

There are hard moments too. I have experienced personal pain, loss through death of loved ones and loss through others’ choices. These are moments that are difficult to embrace. In these moments, sometimes all we can do is accept compassion from others and know that the storm will pass and the sun will come out leaving our hearts forever changed.

Right now I confess I am counting down the days until we leave on our long awaited three week vacation, a road trip through parts of New England up to Maine and Nova Scotia. I am very excited. I have wanted this for a long time. I am marking the days on the calendar! But at the same time, I purpose to savor the moments between now and then.  There are books to read, paint to play with, sunsets to savor, walks to take, work to do, a trip to pack for, and most of all, people to love.

What moments can you appreciate today?

 

A Walk in the Wilderness

The last day of my vacation I experienced a tiny piece of Montana in a very big way. Marcia had planned the day hike for my last day, so I would have time to become accustomed to the altitude. I think I did pretty well, and at the end of the day was only limping a little!
It was an unseasonably hot morning, but  it felt great with the low humidity and the smell of the pines. As we walked the five miles into Twin Lakes, Marcia told me the names of some of the flowers growing along the path, and I noticed some elk tracks. We crossed a fast moving stream several times, the sound and sight of it bringing memories of Colorado camping as a child. I was pleased to find that in spite of living at sea level, I was having no problem at 7000+ feet!
Wild Strawberries
marsh marigolds
Shooting stars
elk track
We arrived at the lake around 1, happy to be able to take a break and eat our lunch of rice cakes, hummus, and apples. The mosquitos were very happy to see us, too! but we warded them off with the OFF wipes Marcia had packed. I was glad she was an experienced hiker and had was well prepared. We even had bear bells, and I was not unhappy that no bears seemed to be in the vicinity.
I stuck my feet in the lake as we ate, and we could see fish swimming in the clear water. It was so lovely and peaceful. Before returning to civilization, we sat and meditated for a little while. For just a moment, I felt oneness with even the flies that buzzed gently around my head.
We took the old trail back, which was not kept up and a little more challenging, but shorter before it joined with the new. Mosquitos swarmed, water rushed, then the wind picked up a bit as it became overcast. We were quieter as we walked downhill, and I was grateful for the walking stick as weariness began to set in. We saw no creatures except for a mother grouse who kept a careful eye on us as we passed.
grouse
For about the last two miles I focused on my feet, mindfully aware of each step, grateful for my two legs, and thankful for the cool fresh air. I turned around for my last view of the beautiful mountains, and we could see the rain coming down.
I was very happy to see the jeep and set my body down! We were out on the main road before the rain came. It was a wonderful day.

A detour, a good night’s rest, and the rest of Yellowstone

No matter what you read or hear or see in pictures or movies, nothing compares to actually being there. The mountains, lakes, waterfalls, hot springs – all amazing natural beauty. (Picture gallery after text below)
While we were at the Old Faithful visitors center, we found that the direct route to Moran, where our room was reserved, was closed for a bridge repair. The way we would have to go was to retrace part of our route and make a circular path back to the road we needed beyond the bridge. It would only take about an hour longer, we were informed, so, still cheerful, off we went. It was about 7 by then, and we expected at least two more hours of daylight.
It had started raining off and on by then, but the beauty of our surroundings kept our spirits up. We had a lot to talk about, sharing stories from our adult lives, lessons learned, spiritual experiences, just everything. I was very happy I wasn’t driving, and that we were in a four wheel drive truck, because when the sun went down and it was still raining, the winding roads with wisps of fog made visibility challenging. Marcia was up for it and got us to our destination at about 11 pm. It wasn’t until the next morning that she confessed that she was feeling very challenged!
Our room and our beds at the Hatchet Resort were perfect! I think I slept pretty well, and in the morning we ate at the restaurant there and I got a tall stack of huckleberry pancakes. They were so delicious! I have never had huckleberries before. Marcia says they grow wild and she picks them every summer.
The day was beautiful, and as we headed north we immediately could see the Grand Teton mountain range. What an imposing sight that was. We leisurely wound our way through the mountains and stopped frequently along the way to take pictures and enjoy the views. The pictures tell the story.
Wild Bison
Beautiful Elk
Grand Tetons
Yellowstone Lake
Wilderness beauty
Lewis Falls
Another view of the lake and mountains
Upper falls – Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
Lower falls – Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
Snow – upper elevation
Glacier Lilies
Volkswagon van camper
This is how to travel!
Mammoth Hot springs
Amazing natural sculpting
Mammoth hot springs
Mammoth hot springs terraces
Sunset Pintler Mountains through bug flecked windshield
We got back to Marcia’s as the sun was setting. It was a wonderful two days.

Morning Introspection

I went down to the lake this morning to drink my coffee. It is coffee, although I am gradually decreasing the coffee and increasing the Raja’s cup. Blended with butter, it is delicious.

The lake has a lot of vegetation floating on it. Robert thinks it is water hyacinth. Much haslake with water hyacinth gathered along the pier and boardwalk where I sat, contemplating and watching the birds. Lately, when I look out the window, I don’t see many birds. But sitting, they come. I don’t know the names of most of them.

There are gulls, of course, and an occasional egret. I think the large black bird is a grackle. There are smaller birds that flit quickly over the water, and seem to really like the water hyacinth islands. I wonder if there are insects there that are easy to catch. I saw a lone duck, flying low, quacking as he went. I wonder if he’s trying to catch up to his friends.

My favorite is the pelican, but there were none to be seen this morning.

My thoughts recently are wandering to the future. I want to stay in this present moment, mindfully, enjoying the beauty of the morning. Yet, I am in a spot where my life has had another turning point, and I have set a goal.

Next June, 2016, will see the culmination of some of these goals and the beginning of something else. It’s that something else that keeps causing me to wonder.

Sometime last summer or fall, it had become clear to me that it was time to think about my future. I don’t want to stay at my job forever, or even for a few more years. I want to travel, even live a gypy’s life, maybe.

Goal #1: save as much money as I can, for the time when I leave the job. Goal #2: work full time until June 2016. I will have been there for 6 years, and I will have had enough. I sometimes feel like I’ve had enough now, but practicality still reigns somewhat. I think there’s still purpose for me there. That month, I will be 59 1/2, the age of being able to withdraw some monies without penalty.

Those were my only real goals until I made the decision to enroll with New World Ayurveda. Not only is the course of study exactly what I am interested and the cost affordable, but the concluding week long intensive is in….. (drum roll, please)… June 2016!

A major shift has occurred since I began this study, a shift in my soul, a new sense of purpose. Robert, my partner, says it is visibly noticeable. I’ve had people ask me what  is happening, I have a more peaceful appearance. I can feel it inside.

I think it all started when I learned Primordial Sound Meditation and began the practice of twice daily meditation – March of last year. I don’t understand how it works, but it does.  I started stepping out of my comfort zone more and more, with painting, writing (this blog), decisions about ridding myself of toxic relationships, and other issues related to how I live day to day.

So, as I sat thinking on this, enjoying the beauty of the morning, I realized that the wondering about what would happen in June of 2016 was turning into worrying.  I was sitting in a place of beauty, so I closed my eyes, felt the air, took a few breaths, and decided that the best thing to do would be to write about it and let it go. I opened my eyes, drank in the beauty once more, and went inside to write.