K took one look at his plate and exclaimed that the noodles looked like the picture in the book where you puke! He was so excited to show me and dashed upstairs to grab How The Incredible Human Book Works so we could, he suggested, “compare.”
I knew I’d have to make peace with winter when I decided to move back to Michigan 10 years ago (from NYC, which in my 9-year stint as a resident, had milder weather. Hands down. The true test: my nose hairs never once sprouted icicles!) As a kid, I loved everything about it. But my intolerance for snow, bitter chill, and grey skies–sometimes from October to April–grew with each year of adulthood. Maybe it’s genetic–my Caribbean roots or my anemia!
So I chose to embrace it rather than to suffer or grumble through the inevitable teeth-chattering and shoulder-scrunching. Warmed by my childhood memories of gliding, stumbling, and laughing with family and friends as we looped around our now-defunct outdoor ice rink for hours on end, I bought ice skates and made weekly visits during the mid-day open skate. I learned to breathe and relax my arms instead of tensing all my muscles in a futile attempt to fold deeper into my goose-prickled skin. I was slowly becoming weather-resilient!
By the time I became a parent, I was committed to making sure my son would be an all-seasons kid. So as long as the temperatures don’t veer toward the danger zone, we bundle up for regular walks and romps in the snow.
Notable winter moments so far:
K got his very own shovel as a gift from his Papa! It was as much a gift for Daddy too since he no longer had to trade turns with K while clearing the walkway.
My Caribbean father, who has lived in Michigan for all but two of the nearly 40 years he’s been residing in the States, went sledding for the very first time in his life! It was a joy to watch K and his Papi make such memories…and a trip to see my dad spend hours editing the video he shot of our sledding adventure that day! #BucketList
K is forever pulling out my yoga mat to “exercise” or spontaneously busting a yoga pose. We love Legs-Up-The-Wall (Viparita Karani), especially when settling down for bed. So today I thought it be fun to enlist his help (and stave off cabin fever) to create a fun photo to include in an announcement about my class cancellation.
It was 17° F on New Year’s Day, and my practice still beckoned me to honor my commitment to get sorted, settled and centered–body, heart, and mind–through my walking/running meditation.
There’s a special stillness in winter that I deeply appreciate. Fewer people venture out when the temperature dips below 30 °F, and only the bravest dare to “play” if the sun’s not offering some illusion of warmth. Slate grey sky. Stark white snow. A solid path along a river flowing beneath a thickening sheet of ice. Scraggly winter-stripped branches and a frizzled ridge of vegetation mark the border between shoreline and water.
I feel enveloped and penetrated by this rare moment of quietude. The sensation of refuge arises to warm my muscles–fueling each step or sprint.
I am reminded of the “witching hours” when I’m awakened by the moon. Fully alert and energized, I sit or lie down to meditate, abiding in breath, or write out my contemplations in my journal. Reprieve in a house that is typically buzzing with the energy of my 3-year old daredevil and the electricity of appliances and electronics in constant service. A murmur and sweet sigh from my son. I pause, instinctually ready to respond to his call. I relax once more. A startling chainsaw-like snore from my mate. I pause again, listening to the pattern. If it continues, I move to another room.
These sacred spaces–a park in winter, a house in slumber–magnify the wonder and magic of my mindfulness practice.
movement: we settled down for quiet time by getting out our wiggles, jiggles, and giggles. of course, there was lots of bouncing from end-to-end of the bed to catch bubbles.
mindfulness: but we also peered through our looking goggles to see the kaleidoscope of colors glistening in each sphere and pulled on our listening muffs to hear the static-y *pop* of bursting bubbles.
after the fun, quiet did prevail…but no naps were had that day.
I thought it might be a passing mood. K nibbled the bun around his burger, flipped it over to peel away the bottom bun, devoured it, flipped it back and polished off the top layer of his ketchup-soaked bun.
“Sometimes I don’t like the meat when it’s big like that,” he explained.
THAT was nearly a week and three ketchup sandwiches ago! And he’s asking to make more–“with ketchup and nothing beneath it.”
One of the first things my son likes to do each morning is look at the sky to see if it’s dark or sunny.
Through our east-facing windows, he gazed at the cloudy gray light–naked tree branches casting straggly black figures against the vastness–and beckoned me to look. No sun.
From another room, I spied the luminous moon, now two days past full, brightening the Western skies and excitedly called him over.
It’s not shining very brightly, Mommy. Not like the Sun.
Not quite. The Moon has a different kind of light.*
*(Yes, I laughed as soon as I heard myself! Creative parenting spawns a tendency toward singing, rhyming and making everything into a game. All in the name of teaching and learning.)
I was moved by this beautiful image circulating around Facebook last fall. These children, connected to the earth, connected to one another, through laughter and play, are radiant with the fullness of life and love. A love that is boundless— permeating and nourishing all it touches, and being fed in return by the breath and hope of all living things.
Seeing this instantly brought to mind these lines from the Metta Sutta (or Discourse on Love):
“Just as a mother loves and protects her only child at the risk of her own life,
cultivate boundless love to offer to all living beings in the entire cosmos.
Let our boundless love pervade the whole universe, above, below, and across.
Our love will know no obstacles. Our heart will be absolutely free from hatred and enmity.
Whether standing or walking, sitting or lying, as long as we are awake,
we should maintain this mindfulness of love in our own heart.
This is the noblest way of living.”
[20 october 2011, dya]
sharing the sweetness of breath, warmth, quiet, and rest
until the snoring begins
and blankets become tangled and hot
or hogged and coveted
and stray limbs wander into sensitive territories
leaving me the “wakeful flea” to balance hip-heavy on the inches near the edge
crowded, I roll over and out
while the two bears cuddling in the bed sigh deeply and spread wider
sweatered and socked
or wrapped in a cozy,
I snuggle up in solitude and free space
the earth, the sky, the rain, and the sun.
–from “the six contemplations for young people”
in Thich Nhat Hanh’s Making Space