Good Morning Sunshine

My daughter used to wake up at crazy hours of the morning. I remember starting my day in the dark of night countless times, accomplishing more before 9am than anyone should. Then she reached an age where she could (mostly) understand logic, and we started convincing her that 7am was an appropriate wake-up time.

Of course, when our son arrived last year, he wasn’t interested in participating in this routine. His ideal wake-up time would be sometime between 5- 6am, although I could often manage to snuggle and rock him in a half-sleep sort of state for at least an extra hour each morning. He’s not exactly an early bird, but he has a lot of learning and playing to do, you see.

Since his birthday though, Arlo’s been fairly insistent about getting up early, and only accepts a small amount of cuddling before he’s fighting me to get out of bed.

Fighting, I say, because I am working hard to convince him that we should keep sleeping (or at least resting) as long as possible, while he plays, talks, and finally tries to push/crawl away from me.

I cannot explain why every fiber of my being resists getting out of bed before 6:30 with two busy children around me. Perhaps it’s because I don’t go to bed early enough at night, or perhaps it’s the prospect of entertaining the kids for an extra 2 hours before we have to leave for school, or perhaps just the fear of having a tired, cranky baby on my hands… But in any case, I recognize my attachment to “sleeping in”.

Something interesting has happened this week, however. This week I’ve challenged myself to let go of my attachment and make peace with the situation. I’ve decided just to accept getting up early.

It’s been a surprising difference. I have observed that a big part of the discomfort of waking up early is simply my attitude. Nothing miserable happens between the hours of 5 and 7am… it’s really just my own grumpiness that’s painful, and I’m the biggest victim of my own emotions.

Today I decided to appreciate the luxury of having so much time to get ready. I drank a coffee and made myself a nice breakfast while the kids played. I cleaned up a couple loose ends around the house. I sat on the floor and played blocks and laughed with my babies.

I really watched them as they built, and chatted, and bickered. And I was able to notice how tiny they are, and how fleeting this moment.

Imagine how sad it would have been to sleep through that.

Where “I” Begin and End

This past weekend I did a past life regression hypnosis session. It was a magical opportunity to step outside my current life – with all its joy and stress – and catch a glimpse of the bigger picture. Whatever your belief system, level of skepticism, etc., the important thing is that this experience left me with a couple of lingering thoughts/questions.

Since my session, I have been overwhelmingly caught up in realizing that the “me” I experience 95% of the time isn’t really more than a shell. I know this on a fairly deep level anyway – that I am more than just “a wife”, “a mother”, “a buddhist”, “a writer”, or any of the other labels I give myself. When I quit my job, I knew I was still “myself”. If I colour my hair, or lose weight, or move to a different country, I still recognize that I’m my same self. Even beyond my wife/mother labels, I recognize that there is a distinct and separate “self.” I can easily see that the essence of me is much deeper than any of that. But it’s interesting that some labels are more difficult to put aside. I’m also more than my insecurities, my strengths or my weaknesses, or the core characteristics I would typically name for my soul: that I am artistic, or spiritual, or loving. These labels are just ways I define myself in this current situation. Imagining the view from another body really helped me to internalize that I am more (or less) than all of that too. What if I wasn’t artistic? Or spiritual? Or loving? Would I still be me?

It left me wondering about where these labels begin and end. What really does exist at the core of me?

It left me thinking about how all of our soul cores are so much less complicated than we make them, so beautifully simple.

I also realized how much easier it is to love myself when I strip away all the labels. All of the things I dislike about myself are transitory, and none of those surface-level qualities define me, or make me lovable/unlovable. It is much easier to love the spirit of me.

Recognizing that everyone around me is also much more than they appear, I wonder how it’s possible to dislike anyone at all. It is much easier to love the spirit of all other beings.

We are all beautiful souls walking around in these bodies, equally worthy of love respect.

Metta to All Travelers

Two of my very favourite things: the city of Toronto, and airports. Imagine my joy then, when we got to stay at the Hilton directly across from Pearson this week while hubby attended a conference. (It was Arlo’s birthday! So we decided to tag along and spend a couple days visiting friends and walking the Toronto zoo to celebrate our big boy!)

So many minutes – hours, even – were spent standing at the window with the kids, watching planes take off and land. As I tucked them in at night, I laid in bed watching the sky grow dark, the moon come out, and the blinking lights of airplanes arriving at their destination, or jetting off into new lands. It is very soothing and exciting to me all at once to remember how much world exists outside my bubble. I love remembering that there are so many places left for me to explore, that there is more to life than what I see on a daily basis.

I also happen to really like (for the most part) city driving. If I’m passenger, I like to really investigate the people in cars that pass. I like to notice whether they appear happy or sad, anxious, or angry, and I like to smile at them. If I’m driving, my interest is more general, watching the cars weaving in and out, and reminding myself that each vehicle is carrying another human being, with loved ones, and lives of their own.

So this week has been full of wonderful observation and noticing for me, and sending of loving energy.

As I watched the planes, and as I drove down highways, I noticed all the people traveling to one place or another, anxious about the day ahead, and I sent them love. It feels really good to give this energy out: tiny blessings to all beings I encounter.

May all travelers around me be happy.
May they be well.
May they be free from suffering.
May they be peaceful.
May they know love.


Accepting Love

Do you notice how easy it is to dwell on criticism? Whether self-inflicted, or handed down from another (perhaps even well-meaning) individual, I for one, carry a list in my head of every shortcoming I’ve ever become aware of. My parenting mistakes. My appearance. The horrible job interview I bombed. My tendency to over-share…. The list could go on.

Interestingly though, I don’t dwell the same way on every compliment I’ve ever received.

It can be hard to accept kindness, and it can be hard to accept love.

In my recent effort to love myself more completely, I’ve started noticing how often I feel closed off to receiving this energy. I notice that I regularly shoulder discomfort, or sacrifice joy, in order to make life easier for myself or others. I notice how difficult it can be to open myself to receiving love.

The other night, my husband gave me the most amazing – LONG – massage! It had been a rough week in our household, and his sweet gesture felt almost “too good to be true” on my tired muscles. But after a couple minutes, strangely, I noticed guilt feelings creeping into my mind! I was thinking how he must be tired and exhausted too, and questioned why I was deserving of receiving his effort.

And then I reminded myself that he loves me. Because of his love, I am deserving. And because of my own love, I am deserving.

Especially as a parent, I think we learn to give our love without question, or expectation. Logically, I know that my children love me, but I don’t often really *feel* that love, or pay attention to their expression of it. For example, this morning my daughter gave me the 300th drawing of the week. At that moment, I was in the middle of making her breakfast and packing her lunch at the same time while baby Arlo used my pant leg to practice his standing skills. “Look mama! This is for you!” Violet proudly shouted at me. I took a quick glance, and shouted back, “Wow! It’s so lovely! Thanks!” Then, as I reflected there, I reminded myself that her drawings really are her gifts to me – the only things she has to give. Her drawings are her way of showing me that she loves me. So, I stopped what I was doing, took a moment to really appreciate her work, crouched down beside her and gave her a big hug. Her love feels wonderful.

In the midst of our rough week (Arlo was super sick), when I was feeling completely maxed out and overwhelmed, my husband reminded me of how much he (my baby) loves me. It caught me a bit off guard. My baby needs me. But does he LOVE me? “You should see how he looks at you when you walk into the room after being gone,” my husband told me. So today I’m really tuning in to his smiles. I’m appreciating his snuggles, and the way he reaches out for me. Like his sister’s artwork, these little gestures are the only gifts he has to give me. I’m opening myself to that love, and it feels really good.

More on Self Love

I’m learning that metta is about more than speaking wishes. It’s about living them. How do I show my love to others? How can I show love to myself?

It’s really hit me how “empty” it can feel to repeat phrases like “May I be happy. May I know love,” when I’m not caring for myself fully on a day to day basis.

Why is it so easy to ignore our own needs?

What does self love look like?

Again, I look at my love for my children (the most complete, unconditional love I have ever known) as my example.

Because I love my children, I encourage them to trust and respect themselves – to listen to their bodies when they are hungry, thirsty, or tired. To take care of their bodies, and their appearances.

Because I love my children, I encourage them to seek out friends who are kind and relationships that are good for them (and let go of friends/relationships that don’t make them feel valued).

Because I love my children, I tell them that they are beautiful, that they are special, that they are enough. And I believe it.

Because I love my children, I take them places I know they will enjoy, and help them find activities that will bring them joy and nourish their spirits.

My love for my children is an ever-present wish for their happiness and wellbeing. It is a motivation to help them achieve happiness and wellbeing. It is acceptance of who they are, exactly as they are. I don’t want/need anything to change.

It is my wish to cherish and care for myself this same way.

Go and Love Myself

The metta project has taken an interesting turn. That is, I’m still finding myself lost in the first phase: sending and receiving love for myself. I intended to focus on this part for approximately a week. Instead it has been several weeks now, because I’m feeling stuck.

I am struggling to give myself unconditional love.

Here’s the thing: I try to love myself in various ways every day, but mostly that love is based on a number of conditions. I want to give myself time for me, but only if everyone else is taken care of first. I want to nourish my body with healthy food, but sometimes it feels easiest just to eat whatever (convenient) treats are in front of me. Sometimes that feels like loving myself… but is it?

So I’m spending a lot of time asking myself what happens when I don’t meet my own expectations. Can I love me even when I have disappointed myself? What about when I make a mistake? What about when I’m weak or needy? What about when my house is messy? What happens when I’ve been an imperfect mother or wife? What if I have a zit? Or gain 5 pounds?

Truly, none of those issues – or anything, for that matter – could make me love my own children less. I love them without reserve, without exception, without limits.

Is it possible for me to love myself the same way?

How can I show myself love?

What does that look like?

They’re Listening

It’s been one hectic day. Between running errands, Easter prep, and a weirdish spring ice storm that left us damp and without hydro at random intervals, it was all I could do to hold myself together. I picked my daughter up from school early, and she was full of questions about life in general, and also brimming with energy since they hadn’t been let outside for recess all day long (thanks to the aforementioned weather situation).

While I tried to prepare dinner, our house was in chaos with kids screaming and playing wildly, a radio blasting, and my phone buzzing with text messages.

By the time bedtime arrived, I felt overwhelmed by the day’s events. As I laid down beside her, I could see Violet was still feeling the effects too: she wiggled and squirmed, bopped around and twirled her stuffed animal.

Finally, in an attempt to distract and quiet her mind, I threw my arms around her and said, “OK, my love. What was the very best part of the day?”

She was thoughtful as she laid in my arms and snuggled against me. I tried to guess what she would choose as her favourite moment: maybe our trip to the bakery. Maybe when we danced in the kitchen to our new favourite song. Maybe our visit this afternoon with the Syrian family we’ve recently helped to resettle here.

Finally she answered, “Right now. This is the best part of the day.”


And I think to myself, you are wise, tiny zen master.

I don’t know whether I’ve taught you well, or whether you already know everything I’m just learning. Either way, I bow to you.

Moments of Clarity

I had a brief moment of clarity this morning, when I opened the car door to get my baby out of his car seat. He smiled at me, and I just felt so overwhelmed with love. All at once, I was aware of his tiny-ness, and how brief this moment in time is.

How many minutes – hours! days! – do I wish away? When I’m tired and ready for bed time, when I’m frustrated and happy to hand my kids off to someone else, when I’m just distracted by the computer or my phone or any other thing… Yet I’m sure there will come a time in life when I’ll remember these days so fondly, and long to hold my precious tiny kids again (who will by then be grown).

I don’t believe it’s possible to appreciate every single minute. But I am grateful for these quick glimpses at reality, when I can view my own life as a neutral witness, and realize how beautiful it all is.