I spend a lot of time subconsciously beating myself up about failing to do the things I should be doing. It's hard for me to congratulate myself on accomplishments, probably because when I was a kid I would get an a 99% on a test and my dad would look at it and ask, "Which one did you miss?" If I got 100% he would ask if there was extra credit, and why didn't I get it.
But I have to say, it's looking good as I go into 2010. I finished my grad degree, for one thing, which has allowed me to actually have something the rest of you may have been referring to all these years as "weekends." For three years, mine have been spent shooing my family out of the house, or locking myself in the bedroom with headphones on to cancel out the noise of two boys (the one I gave birth to and the one I'm married to), so that I could read GOBS of, oh, say, Dante's Inferno or non-fiction studies of Old English. (BTW, for those without advanced degrees, to write in Old English you just add an "e" to the end of everything and double some of the letters, for example, "Ye Olde Bookshoppe" - at least that's what they taught me at DePaul. Huh, is that not right?)
This morning, on a REAL LIVE WEEKEND, I went to a 2-hour yoga class at my gym. TWO HOURS, I TELL YOU. Frog totally had cabin fever (he's not used to this public-school, two-weeks-off thing, and adults are oh-so-boring when one has to deal with them for days at a time), so for the first time I took him to the gym and put him in their childcare. He didn't even have a problem separating; he was thrilled to have some kids his age to play with. He said "Bye, mommy!" and I trotted out the door and around the corner to the gym and up four flights of stairs to a darkened room with sitar music playing and floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides. As I did my vinyasas and cycled through sun salutations, I felt something I haven't felt in a long time:
At one point we were in triangle pose facing north and I looked out the fourth-floor windows and surveyed my neighborhood, my kingdom. Fluffy snow was falling steadily on the rooves (yes, I know, rooves is an antiquated pluralization, but I like it and I can't make myself type "roofs") of what I recognized as my son's school across the street, the gelato place on the corner, and, in the distance, the building I used to live in and the homes of some of my friends. Everything was completely silent, snow falling steadily, blanketing each roof like the peak of a far-off mountain, buffeted away by the smoke rising from so many chimneys. We were high up enough to where I couldn;t see the streets, so there was no movement except the snow (down) and the smoke from chimneys (up). It all struck me as very Dickensian, except without the starvation and corruption. (Well, SOME corruption--it's Chicago, after all.)
As the wonderfully chill (they're not all chill, surprisingly) yoga instructor asked us to breathe in and thank ourselves for taking this time to honor our bodies, I really felt that gratitude. I surveyed my little corner of the world, blanketed in snow, and felt extremely limber, alive and blessed.
"The feeling of centeredness that you have now, after sivasana, is always with you...you just have to access it," she said. What a wonderful reminder.
I picked up my 3 year old son from childcare and we took 30 minutes to walk the two blocks home as we stopped and made (and threw) snowballs, wrote letters in the snow on the sides of buildings, caught snowflakes on our tongues, and just generally enjoyed the (20 degree) weather.
It's not normal for me not to hurry in 20 degree weather.
It's not all that normal for me not to hurry, period.
May I take this feeling of gratitude and happiness and calm with me into tomorrow, and the next day, and the next year. May that attitude, cultivated and honored, enrich my son's life and the lives of others around me. And my own.
I know I will fail in this, sometimes. Probably often. But I will try not to criticize myself for it. I will recognize it, and let it float away, like thoughts during meditation. The more relaxed I am, the more relaxed my son will be, the more relaxed I will be.....
I'm not going to make any resolutions, per se, as they always fail. Lose weight, exercise more, write more, blah blah blah.
I will almost certainly have weak moments where I bitch about work, or "fuss" at my husband, or tell my kid to hurry up. I might even say something snarky to an old person who should mind his own business, but I hope not.
I can promise you unequivocally, however, that there's one thing I'm NOT going to do this year.