Friday, November 15, 2013

Are you a bucket filler or dipper? You may be surprised.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.”

That rhyme became my childhood mantra. Each time my insides were bruised by hurtful words I’d repeat it silently to myself, hoping it would liberate me from the pain. As a child it seemed like a practical way of dealing. Words can't physically hurt me - right? But the damage was happening on the inside.  The mantra wasn't complete. It didn't work because it was only half true. 

Dad once told me kids made fun of his ‘banana’ nose and Dumbo ears when he was young. A shy Italian immigrant, he was the bullied kid, the target of ridicule. Dad never admitted it, but I knew.  He probably became an expert at ignoring it – just like he told me, “Just ignore them Valerie.” I envisioned him a lonely fourth grader singing that silly jingle to himself as he fought back tears.  As his nine-year old daughter it was obvious those names still held welts under his skin. Practically twenty-five years later the torment was still in his eyes. “Whoever made up that stupid saying is a total idiot,” I thought.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Afraid of the Dark?

My racing heart bashing against my chest briefly distracted me from the perpetual screams.  “Is sixteen too young to die from a heart attack?” I thought.  The pounding was so loud the person next to me must have heard it.  Fear held me captive - paralyzed by the unknown, standing motionless.  What lurked around the next corner? What must be confronted despite my resistance? Safety wasn’t in jeopardy, this I knew. Yet the uncertainty of the next moment kept me frightened.  Eyes stayed shut, despite the black that already surrounded me. Victim to the darkness I pushed through.  Another scream.  Jumping back I knocked over the person behind me and tumbled to the floor.  “Why the F*#@ do I keep doing this to myself?” I asked out loud. Opening my eyes for the first time the goblin's face was in front of my own.  A playful laugh came from behind the mask.  He answered in a muffled voice, “Because you looooove being scared.”

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Feeling Alive

The afternoon was bright in mid-July.  Warm sunshine dripped through the holes between the clouds.  It was like the sky was a cracked blue and white bowl trickling with golden honey.  As I walked with my yoga bag toward the pavilion at Camp Champion, I looked up and caught myself noticing the vastness above me.  “Spectacular,” I thought, “I’m so glad I looked up.”  I wondered about all the miracles I miss every day.    

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Mindful Thinking: How the simple act of noticing our thoughts broadens our self-awareness.

“Let’s go!  We’re going to be late!” These are the familiar words my children have grown to ignore.  “Hurry up!” has become standard even when the clock says there’s time.  After years of transitioning from homework to soccer practice, ballet auditions and weekday birthday parties, we live a perpetual rush to make it  ‘on-time’.  Mindlessly moving from one super hurried day to the next.  Ending each day with the same overpowering heap of exhaustion.  And tomorrow we do it again.    

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Yoga: One Path to Mindfulness

In. Out.   My breath was loud in my ear while sitting cross-legged on my mat.  The warm, dim yoga room wrapped me in comfort as sweat dripped from my brow and landed on my closed eyelid.  There was nothing on my mind but the hum of the breath, my stretched muscles relaxed after the flex and pull of a vigorous class.  “In, out, let the breath flow and feel its presence within the body.”  The instructor’s voice was soft, putting me in a trance. This is it, I thought.  I’m finally getting it.  The yogis are right.  This feeling is beyond words.  No description can do it justice.