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Gimme a W

Because I need to call the Waaaahmbulance.

Ow! My arm.

What did I do last night? Bruised knees – part of dancing on a wooden stage. Slight pull in one calf – from when my tap shoes skidded on the shaving cream residue still on the floor from the previous performance. Crunkly eyelashes – from multiple coats of mascara… but I could not remember doing a one armed cartwheel/ I don’t even know what to call that trick, not in my repertoire… I could not remember a drunk person falling on me… I could not remember lifting anything particularly cumbersome or heavy.

What did I do last night?

Oh wait! What did I do yesterday lunchtime?

I’m a 40 year old cheerleader with a 12kg child.

A 12kg child who woke up precisely 4 minutes before our squad was due to appear at a festival, and was too much in need of mummy cuddles to be interested in any other potential care giver.

So there we were, at a community event, running a community workshop, with me as the one who was leading the big group warm up dance.

So I just did it. With my toddler on my hip, held there with my left arm.

4:11 of medium intensity cardio, Baby sitting on one pom-pom as I waved the other about with double enthusiasm for balance… I noticed the extra weight as we did 1,2,3 jump, and during the side traveling rock-stomp around in the circle; but mainly I was balancing my focus between teaching the basic moves and checking Baby’s welfare – was her head not bobbing around too much, was that security biscuit she needed to hold not choking her…

As you do.

Etc etc – it all went along – at some point she was happy to hop down and I noticed the great relief of no longer holding her in one arm.

Performance/workshop over, time to sit and feed snacks to Baby before heading home to get ready for cabaret tech run.

Blah blah blah, amazing night of women’s performance, happy juices flowing as I feel at peace with my need to share absurd dance comedy with unsuspecting audiences.

Home, sleep, sun comes up.

Ow! My arm.

Knowing that tiredness and pain are both things that can be a source of grumpiness, I pledge to go gently while my arm heals.

Times of exertion call for times of replenishment, and I’m ok with the ratio changing as I gather birthdays behind me.

Recovery time may be longer, but if I settle into that truth as a beautiful truth, leaning into rather than resisting it; then I can enjoy some slow days with less expectations on myself.

Let the floor stay unswept for today, have a storybook marathon in the teepee, model self-kindness and patience with the process of healing.

Because if I try and operate as though I’m not tired and hurting, yes, I can get the things done, but I get cranky and snappy. And that’s not the tone I want our family to have.

So I come back to myself.

What do I need right now to be the best mum I can be with what I have in this moment?

Caregiver state of mind is everything.

As my mum’s beautiful teacher Lama Yeshe said: “May I be gentle with myself. For only then can I be gentle with others.”

And gentle is what my kids need from me.

It is a secret strength that I am working on. Slowly, and with patience!

The Dawn Chorus

“Mummy! Where are my toes? Where’s Garden Bunny? Where’s my orange blanket? Where are Mummy’s toes?”

We are going through a phase of 4:00 am existentialism.

It’s ok. I quite enjoy the window it gives me into the workings of Little One’s blossoming mind… although, I am glad that my strategy of hugging her quietly through her musings seems to shorten her wakefulness, rather than turning it into a full blown discussion by responding to her queries.

Such a relief really, when she drifts back off to a peaceful sleep and I kiss her soft curls and listen in wonder to her easy breath…

And then: here come the thoughts.

And then: here come some more.

And now: here come the thoughts about how I’m having thoughts and therefore must be awake… and could be asleep… and would be better off asleep…

And there ends any chance of me getting back to sleep.

I have a bag of tricks to dip into at such times – yogic breathing, body scan, counting backwards, ‘lying down meditation’ (you know how when you’re in sitting meditation you sometimes drift towards zzz – trying here to transfer this phenomenon to horizontal plane)… anyway, there’s something about that time of day, when the trees are still still, and you know that even at the coast the first glimmer of light hasn’t yet hit; but if the brain is awake, it goes into alert. None of the tricks seem to work.

I can still relax and allow my body to rest; but am I really getting the true level of replenishment I need to keep up with my daytime self?

Today, I’d wondered this for long enough that I had begun to tune in to the very beautiful sounds of the day awakening.

I could hear the trees starting to breathe more deeply as the birds began to rustle themselves awake and whisper to each other that the light was changing.

I could hear morning dew twinkling.

I could hear the low clouds that had blanketed the night thin themselves out and release a gentle morning rinse upon the earth (and my clothesline of nappies).

I could hear twigs and leaves drop to the ground as the birds got more active.

And then the singing.

So much singing. With such jubilance and clarity. I was inspired to get up and see if I could magic up a cup of tea to enjoy while it was still hot.

Oh the light!

I’ve long considered my sixty year old Rose bush at dusk to be my absolute favourite play of light. But today was pretty freakin special.

All my lying down meditation had me well primed to really soak in the wonder of how every single day the sun comes up.

I watched, from my corner lounge in the corner windows as the golden glow rose up from the east, easily visualising the glimmer it would now be casting over the ocean.

I breathed deeply, integrating into all my cells the gratitude at having this delicious solitude; just me and the dawning day.

What a sublime treat.

Inside the house, my old hound snores, all is quiet from the children’s bedrooms. Incense smoke unfurls, and my tea cup is warm in my hands. This is it.

The very here and now.

“Mummy where’s Garden Bunny?”

Little footsteps carry a little voice down the hall towards me, and the moment I am in is richer even than the one before, as I scoop up a bundle of pyjamas and golden curls and we snuggle into the bliss together.

Lucky lucky me!

(Written in thirty second spurts throughout the morning, long after the sun and Little One had risen).

Peace begins with your lovely smile

“Peace begins with your lovely smile”.

Thay’s skilfulness in including the word “lovely” in this calligraphy works instantly to soften me into smiling.  For if others find it lovely, of course I want to offer it.  And in being inspired to offer a lovely smile, I benefit too.
Is the smile the beginning of peace when it is received, when it is smiled, when it is inspired? 
When I remember to decide to smile, even the breath before the smile is more peaceful than a breath taken with a furrowed brow.  When I know that my smile might bring joy to others, I feel into the broader value of my smile.
When I allow a gentle smile to come through me, I feel instantly more calm.  My heart lifts, my breath softens, my whole body relaxes.  And my readiness to respond to life mindfully is expanded.  
How does your lovely smile generate peace?  

Why I love Group Fitness

I get more excited than many about group fitness classes, I am convinced that they are one of life’s most giving pleasures; and it’s not just because of the endorphins.

The science of what we go through when we exercise, the science of what we go through when we push past hard times, the science of the difference it makes to do things in the company of others, the science of how music motivates us to move – the science is all there – but I want to focus on that sweet cousin of science – the magic!

Sure, I sometimes work out alone in the gym, with the music of my choice blasting in my ear buds, at my own pace, and this can be great; but I’m a little bit of a performer, and a habitual achiever, so I like having a teacher to please.

And no matter how secure your attachment was in childhood, even if you’re not motivated by acknowledgement and praise; the instructor at the front of the room is not just a person to please – they are your own cheer squad. They are there to keep everybody going, to remind us that what we are doing is hard, but that we can do it.

I absolutely love being at the point where if I was exercising alone I would have already stopped to rest; and there is someone there yelling into a microphone so I can hear it above all my inner-protestations, “YOU CAN DO THIS! YOU ARE DOING IT!!”

This is the exact same phrase my angelic yoigini girlfriend uttered to me when I was at a very low low in my new role as single mother of baby and teen. I was on my couch with leaky boobs and red eyes, and her sweet, strong, voice of all womankind spoke the truth I needed to hear. The truth that became my mantra and got me through those days when all I could do was sing to keep the tears back.

And that truth did get me through those sleepless nights and demanding days. And having it screamed at me when I am dripping with sweat, with my heart pounding, and I feel like I just want to stop; is the greatest metaphor for life that I can access cheaply and regularly just 5 minutes from home with free creche.

How is it different from a personal training session? She is saying what I need to hear to get through, but there with me, is a room full of other sweating, heaving women who also need to hear just those words at just those times.

The solidarity of working out together is such an invaluable metaphor to be reminded of regularly, and at a time when the brain is hot and loose, so the message goes straight to my soul… “we are all in this together’… if someone is flagging, we don’t all decide to give up, we boost the energy.

We dig deep and pull out whatever we can. It’s not competition or comparison that keeps us going, it’s camaraderie. And at a time when mothers are more isolated in our roles than we ever should have become; that is something more precious than midnight cheesecake.

Fleeting eye contact in the hardest moments, high fives as we change sides of the room, the collective sigh at the end of the abs track, whooping and hollering to get us through the final round of a cardio peak – this level of mutual support and encouragement is something we deeply yearn for in all aspects of our lives.

But how often during a challenging supermarket trip with a toddler, or as a carefully and lovingly prepared meal is rejected, do we hear another woman saying “you’ve got this Mama, I see you, I’m with you”. If you do get this – let me know! For me right now, my solidarity need is nourished in the group fitness room. But I do notice each week more and more of our lives as women and mothers is shared as we chat in the change rooms.

We have gone through something that makes us vulnerable together, we have been cheered on by ourselves and each other, and allowed ourselves to be carried on a journey by the heroine in the microphone who hits play on the music. This is more than just working off the midnight cheesecake and warding off osteoarthritis. This is community happening. This is human beings being human together, in a time when AI is only a poem away from having us all figured out.

This week after a high intensity cardio class, the instructor said “I think I’ve got one of the best jobs in the world – it’s so inspiring being here witnessing you all push through and triumph”. And I’ve got to agree. I’m looking forward to sharing what I love about being the one on the mic!