On Life

Today my aunt died. Only a few short weeks ago she learned that she had stage four pancreatic cancer. Her legacy will be her love, and her amazing spirit.

She was a beautiful example of how to give love fully and without reservation. My own metta practice is so that I would be as undiscriminating and open as this.

I believe that life is energy. Energy has no beginning and no ending, but it just transforms into a different state. Words and actions – the energy created by them – do not disappear. Their energy lives on in the hearts and minds of the people left behind who remember.

My aunt’s death makes me reflect on my own mortality.

Her life makes me reflect on my own life.

I will miss her.

And on That Note…

(Speaking of self-care…)

Today marks the start of a project I’m very excited about. I’m calling it, The Metta Project. It’s been in conception for sometime now, but I have finally undertaken to get started. (The details are here.)

Generally, kindness comes easily to me. I believe I’m a naturally loving person, and it feels genuine to offer this type of energy into the world, the energy of love and compassion. But strangely, I don’t do it (consciously) all that often.

It feels awfully good to offer up lovingkindness as I wander around the world. Although I’m just getting started on the “selfish” part of my intensive metta practice, I am taking the opportunity to silently wish this lovingkindness on any beings I encounter throughout my day. I feel a bit like I’m radiating metta as I run my errands, as I sit with my family, or as I walk down the street. And in turn, the world seems like a more beautiful place when I’m focusing on love.


It comes naturally to me to wish others well. It makes me feel good to send this energy out.

As I type, I am aware that many other beings are using the internet at this moment. May all beings who are using the internet right now be well. May they be happy. May they be free from suffering. May they know love. May they be peaceful.

Me Time

I had to fight my mom guilt today. It was hard for me to kiss my family goodbye and leave the house. I’m grateful to have a supportive husband who recognizes my needs, but as usual, it is my own set of expectations that holds me back.

Eventually, I did pack up and head out though.

It’s taken me a long time to acknowledge and honour my own spirit. Not my mom-ness, not my wife-ness, but my individuality. I am more than a wife, a mother and a homemaker. I’m also a writer, a meditator, and a human with interests. But it is curious how easy it is for me to ‘sacrifice’ myself and give in to the needs and wishes of my family. (Or my perception of their needs and wishes.)

What is difficult is to treat myself – my own needs and wishes – with the same amount of love and respect.

In the wise words of Sharon Salzberg, “Authentic intimacy is not brought about by denying our own desire to be happy in unhappy deference to others, nor by denying others in narcissistic deference to ourselves…To truly walk the Middle Way of the Buddha, to avoid the extremes of addiction and self-hatred, we must walk in friendship with ourselves as well as with all beings.”

Or, as the ever-insightful Axl Rose teaches us:

“Sometimes I need some time…on my own.
Sometimes I need some time…all alone.
Everybody needs some time… on their own.
Don’t you know you need some time…all alone.”

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Who am I Hurting?

This morning I wasn’t mindful. My five year old was asserting her independence, and my baby was struggling with the morning routine. I was also dealing with emotions about a sick family member, and frustration over a volunteer project I’m working on. In short, my patience was thin, and I was in a generally negative mood.

I snapped at my daughter. I rushed around the house trying to get us out the door, telling myself if I was early enough to walk (as opposed to driving) I would be able to be more mindful then.

How crazy is that? I was making excuses for my anger, telling myself I’d be more mindful later in exchange. In fact, I couldn’t appreciate my walk anyway, because I was holding onto such negative emotions.

So, I’m making an effort to care for my negative feelings now. I don’t have time to sit and meditate when I’m chasing a little crawler around the house, but I will take a moment at my window altar to breathe, and notice the tension in my body.

Looking back at my morning, it didn’t feel good to be angry. And I’m still suffering the effects now!

It’s very true that the first victim of our anger is ourselves.

After that, the next people who suffer are our precious loved ones.

It’s not worth it.

Present with my Kids

Some of the best parts of my day are when I’m tucking Violet into bed, or rocking Arlo to sleep for naptime. I love the quiet one-on-one time together. It’s one of the times I find easiest to be fully present.

I can really appreciate my 5-year old daughter as lay next to her and stroke her blonde hair. She chatters away to me and sings me songs. I marvel over how fast she is growing, and also how tiny she still is.

It’s easy for me to be mindful when I am holding my sweet baby in my arms. His chubby hand on my chest. His soft, warm head snuggled against my cheek. My heart swells when I gaze at him there, as I rock us both back and forth.

In these moments I am not thinking about the frustrations of the day, or tomorrow’s to-do list. There is nowhere I want to go, nothing to change. In these moments I feel that I am really experiencing my life, as it happens. It feels like freedom.

Untangling Emotions

When I pay attention, I notice that it can be difficult to really identify what I’m feeling. I think most of us react quickly when we perceive the beginnings of an unpleasant emotion. We shift our focus away and look for a distraction to avoid experiencing the discomfort.

This morning as I was browsing the wonderful, complicated world of Facebook, I came across a post about singer Joey Feek. It was a photo with caption about how Joey said goodbye to her young daughter (before she dies). When I saw it my eyes instantly welled up and I felt nauseous.

Without thinking, I quickly grabbed my nearby cell phone and started to scroll. It was a desperate effort to focus on something else – to make myself feel better.

And that’s how it happens.

We abandon negative emotions without barely noticing them, or naming them, attempting to run from our suffering.

So this morning when I caught myself, I paused. I put down my phone. I sat quietly and paid attention to what my body was experiencing. I asked myself what emotions were underlying.

Without a lot of effort, I recognized that the unpleasant feeling within me was a mixture of sadness and anxiety. The Joey Feek story touched on a deep fear of my own: that tragedy would strike and I’d be forced to say goodbye to my own children. It fills me with such heartache to imagine being taken from my kids, for my own sake and for theirs. Having lost a father myself at a young age, I know about the pain and grief of missing a loved one.

But there is nothing to protect against this (hopefully distant) possibility. We can only give up our stress over it to the reality that it’s out of our control.

In that moment I decided to sit patiently with my emotions. I observed the tightness in my chest and abdomen, the stinging in my eyes, the pressure in my brain. I watched as the wave of emotions swelled, and then I followed it calmly as it passed across the field of my mind.

My heart aches for Joey Feek, and my heart aches for her precious daughter. So today I honour them both by choosing to be present with my own children, to really appreciate them as we play together, as we talk, and as we cuddle.