Immersion in the Present

Time is passing. There is only now and now and now. With young children it can be easy to daydream through the motions: the feeding, the dressing, the herding. I’ve been reading Buddhism for Mothers of Schoolchildren and have been reminded yet again of “and this.” I find myself quoting as I pack the school lunches, as I wipe the daily grit from our old table, as I fold (or not fold) the washing, as I pull a tearful little face to my chest after a fall: And this. And this. And this. There is only ever this. At first I wondered if it only served to remind me of the monotony and take me, unwillingly, away from my airy thoughts, but with practice I have seen it bring me back into the moment, to ground me.

Over Winter I have been immersed in thought, in yoga study, in reading, in thinking. Perhaps this is nothing new (for me) but with the addition of yoga I have felt growth within myself that has surpassed all other things.

As I type, the littlest wanders over with a shell. I hold it to her ear. “Listen,” I say, “can you hear the sea?”

And this.

I sip my coffee.

And this.

Over the weekend we went to Apollo Bay and I attended a whole day workshop with Melbourne writer, Arnold Zable. The parallels between yoga and writing were illuminated as I listened to his words: “To be a writer, you have to be here, you have to be mindful, grounded. You have to witness.” Because if you aren’t there to witness something, to witness it deeply and fully, then to capture that moment in words later is going to leave you unreliable; the moment dulled through the fog of your inattention.

So go out and allow yourself to see. Notice the way the morning light hits the edges of a plant in your window. See the wisp of hair on your child’s forehead and know its habit to swing this way, or that. Feel the crackle of eucalyptus leaves beneath your feet, the solidity of your legs, your body moving through air – feel it as though you are moving through water, or soup. Step outside in the fading light and smell your neighbour’s open fire, smell the chill of the evening, the dampness of the soil.

And lastly, this: Xavier Rudd singing out from my computer speakers: Cherish this moment. Cherish this breath.

Tomorrow, We Will Begin Again

I spent the day at Yoga Teacher Training today. We practised Surya Namaskar, Sun Salutations, and spent the afternoon learning about Ayurveda, laughing about our doshas and the funny intricacies each of us shared with various imbalances (not so funny, but funny enough in the context of our discussion). We talked about how to live balanced lifestyles based on the calm, grounding philosophies of Ayurveda and her sister Yoga. I drove home looking out towards the sun setting in the sky, behind giant white cotton wool clouds feeling motivated and driven and buoyant. I visualised a fairy stone meditation I was eager to try out with my daughters this evening, followed by dimming the lights at sundown and ending the day with a hot bath and deep breathing. Screens off not long after, early bed, rest. I imagined myself deeply asleep by 10pm after this magical evening of peace and calm.

I arrived home and jumped up the front steps. Opening the door I was met with the most incredible display of tears, tantrums, anger, yelling. An abundance of yelling, from all three girls at once. Yelling and fighting and poking and provoking as only children who have been seemingly abandoned for the day by their mother can. Or is it just my children, when I dare to leave for a few hours? There was this brief moment in time where I was absolutely raging internally, wondering how to put out this fire of frustration. Didn’t they know what I wanted for them? How they would benefit? I watched as my thoughts of a peaceful and mindful evening slipped further and further out of sight. I gave the girls a bath (more tears), then hid in my room for a moment to stare mournfully out the window, breathing and waiting, breathing and waiting. Perched on the edge of the bed, fighting off tears at the thought that to be a yogi and to live a calm, grounded life you most definitely have to be single, childless and, quite possibly, residing in a cave somewhere far away from civilisation. I scorned myself for being so naïve (and my thoughts, so anti-yoga).

Then. I pulled myself together. We got the children to bed. I put toys away, picked up discarded socks, pants and undies from the floor. I put shoes away, wiped down the dinner table. Picked squashed peas from the bottom of my socks. Walked slowly. Around the peas. Ate. Reminded myself that each moment is a valid opportunity in which I can bring in the philosophies I am learning. That I am… learning (always).

And that tomorrow, we will all begin again.

balancing act

Last night, after spending an afternoon (an entire afternoon) cleaning the house (but oh my it was lovely to get up to this morning!) and crashing on the couch to do our online organics order and meal planning for the week and paying some bills and watching some boring television, Papawho and I were finally ready to go to bed.

Then there was that awkward moment when I saw him packing his runners and putting his sports bag out on the couch at the same moment that I was organising my yoga gear for the following morning.

We paused.

“Are you going to the gym in the morning?” I asked.

“Yep, I was planning to?” Came his reply.

“Oh… I was thinking of doing yoga in the morning.”

Silence. We niggled this way and that, both wanting to start the week on a good note, both having goals that we want to achieve and things we want to do outside this parenting gig. Neither wanting to stop the other from doing and achieving and enjoying; on the contrary, we both make a real effort to support each other to do and achieve and enjoy things for ourselves… yet here we were, both wanting to do something, each hanging on to our own for dear life.

A little tug of war.

In the end I set my alarm super early and managed to squeeze in twenty minutes of yoga at home before the Pixie woke up. (Naturally, being a pixie and all, she likes to wake at ungodly hours each morning. Apparently that is what naughty pixies do.) Papawho went to the gym and squeezed in a workout before he went to school.

It is so, so, so very easy to fall into the who is worse off game with our partners. It is hard to make sure that in amongst parenting, working and being a family, that we each get time to ourselves to maintain a sense of self. We are continually learning. We don’t always get it right. Do you?

How do you make sure you each get what you need while parenting small (or big!) children? How to you make sure you are present as a parent when you need to be? How do you support your partner whilst making sure that you too are fulfilled? I would love to know. x

time for rejuvenation

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Spring is in the air, and it has not gone unnoticed here.

In an effort to live more in tune with the seasons, I have paid attention to the Spring twitch, to the Spring itch, that has quietly begun nudging me to step things up a notch this week.

Until I noticed this feeling, I didn’t realise how much I had slowed down – for better or worse – over Winter. We have been in a flurry of illness, one after the other, for the last couple of months. During this time there have been many blessings – one of which is the Pixie’s sudden ability to sleep longer than 45 minutes at a time. HALLELUJAH KID. Better late than never. There have also been downfalls, sickness, lethargy and coffee – lots of coffee. Lots. Did I mention there has been lots of coffee?

There was a point during the depths of winter that I reflected on all the little things I used to do and prepare and think about in order to help us to live a healthy and happy life, that I haven’t really felt able to do since the Pixie’s arrival (uh, nearly one year ago). There have been moments of motivation and feelings of I’ve-Got-It-Together, but if I’m being honest, they have been few and far between. I’ve enjoyed the winter, as I always do, but I’ve mainly been feeling like a bit of an under-achiever. I haven’t wanted to blog much and have felt that when I have, my posts have been silly and on the surface like. None of the real stuff, the in depth thoughts, the confusion, the clarity. I haven’t really had the words. I’m not sure if I do now. Maybe I never have.

Suddenly though, with the eruption of Spring sunshine and blooming flowers, I am making almond milk. I am scribbling seasonal meals onto our meal planner in silver pen. Yes, silver. I am cutting back on the coffee and drinking ginger tea in the afternoons. I am feeling that nesting urge (minus the pregnant bit) to clean things up and throw things out. I’m feeling invigorated and motivated.

Things accumulate. Stuff, feelings, thoughts. Spring is the opportunity to shake off, cleanse, tidy, refresh. Spring is the opportunity to reset.

So that is what I’m doing.

Firstly, I took the plunge and signed up for two yoga classes a week. Two SIX AM yoga classes. I can only hope that my Spring energy shows me the money.

Secondly, I’m back in action in the kitchen. When I’m feeling crappy, I eat crappy. If I eat crappy, we all eat crappy because I am the crappy crap cook. Then I feel crappy because I’m being crappy and eating crappy and the girls feel crappy because I’m feeding them crappy crap and then Prince Charming gets crappy because I’m crappy in his direction and it’s all just a big cycle of crap. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Thirdly, I’m cleaning out. I’ve cleaned out our study/sewing room and our lounge. Next on the list is the kitchen and living area and then onto our bedroom. The back deck after that. I get so overwhelmed sorting through stuff but my method is simple – three bags/boxes. One labelled OP SHOP, one labelled SHIT (or rubbish if you prefer), one labelled KEEP. My only downfall with this method is that the KEEP box ends up full of stuff that then sits there for ages and accumulates more stuff and the cycle has to then begin again, so my one tip is to sort the KEEP box ASAP.

Fourthly, ok I’m not sure if there is a fourthly but the moral of the story is: Spring is good.

Are you feeling the Spring love? Maybe it’s Autumn where you are and the leaves are starting to colour?

my body


My yoga practice has been very sporadic over the last four weeks due to various illnesses working its way through our family. I finally made it to a class last night.

As we slowly bent forwards into uttanasana and our yoga teacher said stay here for a moment if it suits you, I felt my body contort in discomfort. I quickly decided it didn’t suit me at all to stay there. I was shocked that I was so out of practice after just a couple of weeks.

For the first time I am truly beginning to understand how important it is to look after my body. The one and only body I will ever be given in this life.

I am struggling to remember whether it was my girlfriend or my sister who said this to me (my mind is going as well as my body?), but a couple of weeks ago one of them said they often think about what someone really fit, cool and healthy would do if they had their body. What would they dress it in, what food would they put into it, how much would they exercise and so on, and as a result, how different would they look and feel?

In amongst all my crazy thoughts (and I have a lot) I had NEVER thought anything like this. Now I can’t stop thinking about it. Being “cool” does not come naturally to me, and as a result I am often left looking like a bit of a dork. Admittedly I’m a tad on the lazy side too and often need a herd of people around me to motivate me to go to the gym or get out for a walk, or dare I say… jog… But what would someone super cool or super fit or super motivated do with my body? Would they treat it better than me and feed it more green foods (or less naughty treats) and get it out and about more? Would they flip down into uttanasana and stay for many moments without hesitation?

I got home from yoga and said to Prince Charming with a surly lip – “I’m in my thirties. I can feel it in my bones.”

He sympathised, and quickly reverted into personal trainer mode and encouraged me to enrol in the two-times-a-week ashtanga yoga class I have been drooling over for the past few months since trialling a class. How did I ever manage to be married to someone so motivated and fit and gym-bunny-ish?

So do you know what? Thinking like a super cool and super fit and super motivated person would… I think I just might enrol in that class. It’s only an 11 week term…

Kitchen Floor Yoga

A few weeks ago I started yoga again. I have made couple of half-hearted attempts over the past few months, but I have now been three weeks in a row to the beautiful Bhava Centre and feel it has once again become part of my weekly rhythm.

The feeling of peace and abundance I receive from this weekly practice is almost indescribable. I was attending pre-natal yoga from week 11 to week 40 of my pregnancy, and would religiously turn up once, and later twice per week to soak up the delicious atmosphere, and soulful experience.

Now I’m back, and, I’ll just put it out there – I am not what you would describe as flexible or nimble, nor in any way graceful so I do have to work really hard, both in mind and body, for over an hour while I am there.

On Wednesday we moved from a series of warrior poses into a half moon pose. I found it difficult to balance but was proud of my efforts. I got home and, as usual, was feeling happy and calm and generally lovely after my class. I was baking bread and making some hummus dip when I decided to show off this challenging pose to Prince Charming in the kitchen (Note: I literally mean show him the pose, nothing uncouth here!)

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As I moved somewhat shakily from the warrior into the half moon, carefully lifting my foot into the air, the bar mix fell, knocking the hummus off the bench. I ended up on the floor (so, this pose is called the fetal position!) with chickpeas in my hair surrounded by goops of garlic and tahini.

Definitely not flexible or nimble, nor in any way graceful…