Monday, August 15, 2016

A Bad Day, A Better Ending

Yesterday was a tough day. I got up early to go exercise. The usual routine - get up, go to the bathroom, get dressed, let the Maggie the dog out so she can do her business, fill the dog's food and water bowls, let Maggie in, then go to the gym.  But that didn't happen yesterday. I let Maggie out into the back yard, then turned to pick up her bowls when I heard her high pitched yelping. That usually means she is chasing squirrels, but this time it was a baby deer. She chased it into a corner of the yard, out of my view, and I ran outside to make sure the deer was able to jump the fence. Unfortunately, Maggie was faster and she already had the deer in her jaws, and it was screaming. I yelled at her to drop the deer, which amazingly she did. When she has caught things in the past -- squirrels and rabbits -- she will not willingly let them go. I don't know, maybe she heard something in my voice; I never have any reason to shout at her.

I was hoping that the deer would get up, shake itself off, and go bounding out of my yard. It was too late. Instead of watching it run off, I watched it die.

My back yard is fenced in so that Maggie has a free area to run, and she can access it through a doggie door. I knew I had to get the deer out of the back. But first I had to get Maggie out of the house and on a walk in the soupy heat, because she was all full of herself and over excited, and really, really wanted to get to the back yard. On the walk we saw more deer, of course, and she lunged and yelped, but by the time we got home after a couple of miles in the heat she was more sedate.

I called the county and found out that they will come and pick up dead deer, but not on weekends. I filled out an online form, which will hopefully get them here within 24 hours, and then carried the deer to the front yard. It didn't weigh much more than Maggie, I would say 40-50 pounds. When I put it in the front yard at the end of the driveway, it looked like it was sleeping. Anyone driving by might think that a baby deer had decided to take a snooze right there, in the green, thick grass.

The sight and sound of what happened stayed with me all day. Last night I had difficulty falling asleep, and sat in mindfulness trying to deal with the feelings in my body and brain. Logically I know that my dog is an innate hunter, she always has been. Ever since she was a small puppy, she would walk with her nose to the ground, searching for whatever left traces in the yard, or on our walks. It was difficult for me to be friendly with her yesterday though, and I know she was confused and sensed that there was something wrong.

A late night phone call from my daughter helped. She listened to me, sent me phone hugs. After we hung up I went though my phone, closing up the apps, and when I got to Facebook, this little quote jumped out at me from a friend's page, like it was waiting for me all evening. It is from Lin Manuel Miranda:

Good night beautiful.
Make room for happiness tomorrow.
If you make room for it, it'll show up.

I was finally able to let go of the tension in my shoulders, to relax the muscles in my forehead. Take a full breath.

I know the world is a crazy place. We all have stress and schedules and too much going on. But whatever you have to do today, wherever the world takes you, remember to make room for happiness. Let it come flooding in to the space you give it.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

New Direction

When I first started this blog almost 10 years ago, it was as a way of dealing with my son’s diagnosis with type one diabetes and celiac. I discovered a wonderful, supportive community of people dealing with both issues, and found an outlet for my frustrations, celebrations, and discoveries. As my son has grown into adulthood and taken on management of his conditions, I have taken my sticky fingers off of the controls, while continuing to provide support, recipes, and unconditional love.  And so time passes, all the children get older (although I think I am staying the same age, right? RIGHT?) and find their independence.

A few years ago I started reading about mindfulness. I attended a workshop or two, took a few classes, and started to notice a change in my outlook and behavior. After so many years of worry and constant giving of myself, mindfulness has been a healing salve to my mind and emotions. Mindfulness is brain training; it goes hand in hand with being physically fit. When I began to notice the changes in my self that came from regular mindfulness practice, I realized the importance of teaching mindfulness to children.

I have now taken three classes through Mindful Schools: Mindfulness Fundamentals, Mindfulness Educator Essentials and Mindfulness for Difficult Emotions, in addition to many different workshops on the intersection of mindfulness and education. I started working with a few students at my school last school year, just 15 minutes a week, and saw changes in behavior and focus even with that small bit of instruction.

Mindfulness, as I have been taught, has a lot to do with sitting quietly. But I also practice mindfulness when I am out for a walk, when I am driving, when in a conversation – almost any time. When I was taking poetry courses in grad school, I used to write every day, just write everything I noticed in that day. I used those notice moments to build poems; they were crystal clear fragments, which on their own were brief, but beautiful. When strung together into a poem, they often pointed to a theme, or a deeper meaning, which I didn’t know existed until the moments harmonized on the page.

I have not written in this blog for a long time. I foundered, no longer needing it as a crutch to help me deal with issues surrounding chronic illness. But now I would like to use it to string together notice moments. Sitting on the grass, still warm after the sun goes down, searching the sky for the perseid meteors, and surrendering to the deep feeling of connection with the living world.  Watching my child laugh freely at a movie, lost in the story.  Smiling after a conversation with a stranger in the parking lot at the mall – a twinkling of kindness and contact in our busy world.

What have you noticed today? What stayed in your heart? I look forward to the clarity and connections.