bringingupbuddhas

suburban adventures in bu-curious mothering

Tag: funny

7 tips for election equanimity: surviving tonight’s political smackdown

By Dr. Christopher Willard & Vanessa Gobes

This year’s presidential election has devolved into something that feels disturbingly like a pro-wrestling match. In fact, Ellen DeGeneres ran a perfect spoof on EllenTube last week:

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Clinton and Trump are locked together, trading insults and elbows, and the show they’re putting on – be it via debates, rallies, social media, or resurrected B-roll – is generating huge reactions from audiences. The more we watch, the more impact we feel in our own gut as our favored candidate absorbs another brutal punch. Each face-off, commercial, or round of polls may bring grief or elation, but always brings more anxiety.

Our physical, mental, and emotional reactions echo the low blows and shouts of righteous indignation we see onscreen: Sweaty palms, tight chests, and furrowed brows, gasps for air, primal screams into pillows, cries of disbelief and frantic internet searches for Canadian citizenship and more.

While we may feel powerless to affect the outcome of the election (beyond our vote), we can empower ourselves to affect our reaction to it, in turn helping those around us. Tip O’Neill once said, “All politics is local.” Mahatma Ghandi urged, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” These two men could hardly be more different, but consider the commonality – their belief that change starts here, with us. And while few of us will escape 2016’s presidential slugfest with total equanimity, here are seven mind-body trainings that offer us a fighting chance.

1. Don’t show up to every match you’re invited to

 

Don’t show up for events that proliferate anxiety. Instead, proliferate the positive. Take a break from the news and from your social media feed. Impossible? Limit your social media use to times when you feel emotionally composed. To further quell any political resentment, you may also choose to resign from live posting and real-time online debate.

Instead, consider appealing to the best in yourself and others. While this may sound easier said than done, consider the last question of Sunday night’s debate, “Can you name one positive thing you respect in one another?” Ask yourself this question, not just about the candidates, but also friends, family, and neighbors with whom you disagree. It’s a way to send them to a neutral corner in your mind.

2. Physical training

You are a mindful, compassionate, insightful human being, but during this election cycle, you may find yourself dizzy or even down for the count. In this case, physical awareness is your best defense. When you notice your physical reactions to political rumbles, purge that build up deliberately through exercise, emotional release (crying, laughing, screaming), or through your favorite mindful movement practice, like yoga or tai chi.

3. Take a dive and stay down for the count

The ten count is considered a victory in professional wrestling. But consider the ten count before getting back into the social media ring with that perfectly-composed, snarky Twitter retort. Count to ten, or even count ten breaths, ten sensations in your body, or ten sounds in the environment. Then, return focus to your post and read it aloud. Does it meet your own standards of mindfulness and compassion? Will those words bring out the best in everyone?

4. T.H.I.N.K. before you speak or post online

It’s an oldie but goodie. Ask yourself, is it True? Is it Helpful? Is it Inspiring? Is it Necessary and is Now the time? And lastly, is it Kind? Imagine if the candidates followed these guidelines in their stump speeches

5. Use your hometown advantage

We mindful types know that half the challenge of mindfulness, is remembering to practice mindfulness. Try triggering your practice by employing your environment. Use simple decorating details to make your home a constant reminder to take a deep breath and clean up your thoughts. Before the next presidential bout begins, prop a bouquet of flowers next to your computer or television screen. Allow its beauty to remind you that nothing lasts forever, including your tight jaw, your clenched fists, and this disaster of a debate. No flowers in the house? Adhere a sticky note with the word BREATHE in capital letters next to your screen.

6. The Breathing Game

Rumor has it that college kids have made a drinking game of the debates, taking a drink each time one candidate interrupts the other. (This strikes us as an ambulance ride waiting to happen.) Why not take one full breath in and one full breath out each time one candidate interrupts the other, or interrupts the moderator? Think of how relaxed you’ll be by the end of the debate!

7. Work up to the heavy lifting

Going for the world heavyweight title in equanimity this election season?  You can cultivate compassion for yourself and for others.

A friend jokes that the barometer of his spiritual condition is his level of compassion for the opposing political party. It’s a useful yardstick, and you might ask yourself how you are doing with it today? If you’re anything like us, you might not be quite as compassionately-advanced as you’d like to see yourself.

So how do you build that compassion muscle? Begin by directing well-wishes toward yourself during a seated meditation. Wish for yourself what you most need to survive the next three weeks of political counterpunch. For example, May I be happy… May I live without fear… May I approach Facebook with equanimity… Choose unique phrases that resonate with you. Internalize these wishes, then send those same words outward toward a friend, perhaps toward a buddy of your political affiliation.

Next, send these wishes toward a neutral person, maybe one of those mysterious “undecided voters.” From there, move to a difficult person, perhaps a high school nemesis crossing your candidate online. From there, if you can stomach it, send these wishes toward that challenging candidate, and then ultimately, toward all of us suffering together through this political title match.

Be warned: you may get jammed up by your challenging candidate. While attempting to send well-wishes toward Donald or Hillary, your mind may try to eject from the meditation. Instead of forfeiting, get playful. Use your imagination to neutralize his or her outsized ego by turning that heavyweight into a featherweight. Still too big? Imagine the candidate a tiny, helpless baby. Swaddle him or her in a soft blanket and play peek-a-boo, May you be happy. May you live without fear.

When all contenders are happy and feel safe, be them candidates, friends, or pundits, we all go home champs.

***********

Click here to watch the Ellen video: http://ellentube.com/videos/0_bwagip8k.

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Christopher Willard, PsyD, is a psychologist and educational consultant based in Boston, specializing in mindfulness with adolescents and young adults. Author of Child’s Mind, Growing Up Mindful, and three other books on mindfulness, compassion and mental health, Willard has been practicing meditation for more than 15 years and leads workshops internationally.

He currently teaches at Harvard Medical School and serves on the board of directors at the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy, and the Mindfulness in Education Network.

Headshot Vanessa 1.jpg

Vanessa Gobes is a meditation teacher and workshop facilitator, focusing her work in Greater Boston. She co-founded Chrysalis Meditation Center in 2015 in Winchester, Massachusetts, where she especially enjoys introducing mindfulness techniques to women and children. Vanessa continues to write about mindfulness, motherhood, and mayhem with humor and truth for a long list of online publications.

 

how to tame your PMS and take back your life

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I have a love/hate relationship with my period.  I love it because my uterus is downright miraculous and menstruation is its required maintenance.  I hate it because tampons give me a headache and PMS gives me a bad attitude.  

Have you ever read The Red Tent?  It’s the story of Jacob and his multitude of wives; the red tent is the annex where Biblical village women would go when they were OTR, though back then it would be more appropriate to say OTH (On The Hay).  Our female ancestors menstruated simultaneously and would leave their men and boys in the competent hands of young girls who hadn’t yet started monthly bleeding and old women who’d survived the transition out of the cycle.  So basically, once a month, young women enjoyed a whole week spinning stories and teaching each other feminine skills in a cozy tent without men demanding seconds of mutton stew or begging for blow jobs.  Honestly, I think it sounds kind of awesome.  I’m seriously considering erecting a red tent in my backyard.

The only reason I hesitate to bunk with a bunch of menstruating modern chicks is that most of us are crazy.  We women are generally so out of touch with natural body rhythms that when the crazies set in we can’t see that it’s all just hormonal hocus-pocus.  We pick fights with friends, feel offended by co-workers, convince ourselves that our children are purposely not flushing their poops to spite us.  We weep and we lash out and we oversleep, all the while believing whole-heartedly that this is who we are.  But here’s the newsflash:  We are not psychos.  We have PMS.  And we are so totally disconnected that we accept PMS as our normal state of being.

Several years ago I read Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of NOW.  (Most likely anyone hanging out on this website has read it, so I won’t recap.)  Back in 2011 I responded to his study on the pain body with a rant on one of my blogs:

During his description of how to manage the pain body, Tolle strolls a bit through the forbidden forest:  PMS.  He actually calls it “menses,” causing me to choke on my pink lemonade.  Menses?  Who says that?  

Whenever a man talks about PMS or periods, I reactively roll my eyes, and Tolle is no exception.  But to my surprise, he is onto something profound.  During a woman’s menstrual cycle, he says, there is “an opportunity for the most powerful spiritual practice, and a rapid transmutation of all past pain becomes possible.”  He invites us hormonal bitches to observe the painful and emotional waves of PMS rather than be pulled down and drown by them.  A fast track to enlightenment via the feminine aisle?  Well, shit.  I gotta try this.

My first problem appears to be that when I’m behaving like a raving lunatic I don’t connect it to hormones.  For two weeks of every month, Aunt Flo moves in with her crappy attitude, her heavy suitcases, and her complaints about my cooking;  she tosses and turns in my bed, she tries to tell me how to manage my relationships, she pigs out on my chocolate cookies.  Half my adult life, I’ve shared a home with this cranky old rag…   

Screeeeeeeeccchhhh!  Hold up!  There it is.  The shift in perception.  I’ll reiterate because this is big:  Half of my adult life (2 weeks each month) operates under Aunt Flo’s grueling regime.  I’m not the freak.  She is!  Awakening to this fact was the first step in keeping Flo contained in her guest suite so I could move around my home in peace.

So this is it, ladies.  The big how-to in reclaiming your body, your emotions, your awareness:  Observe your behavior in the 7-10 days before your period begins.  Each time you are short with your boyfriend or hypercritical of your mother-in-law, each time you feel insecure about a relationship or explosively frustrated with your kids, take a breath and observe.  Watch as if you’re hovering over yourself like a sweet Midol angel.  Don’t judge the behavior.  Just notice who’s doing the talking in your head.  Is the voice loving?   If the voice is not loving, it’s not you.  It’s that curmudgeon Aunt Flo, otherwise known as your pain body.

These observations may quiet your pain body immediately.  But it’s possible that longer term observation will be required.  It depends how attached you are to your pain.  We get used to having the pain around, we accept the pain as normal, the pain becomes our story, we convince ourselves that life is pain.  But this simply isn’t so.

Meditation is the absolute best catalyst in detaching from habitual beliefs.  And there are some pretty fantastic side effects.  When I meditate, I better maintain composure, especially when I’m PMSing (yes, I use PMS as an action verb).  I still get pissed and crazy and squeezy, but not for very long.  The feelings become more like a motorcycle gang joyriding past my house on a quiet Sunday.  The ground rumbles, my heart pumps faster,  the engine noise fills every square inch of space around me; but within a few minutes, the last biker is out of sight, the engines are barely audible, and my heartbeat resumes its rhythmic thump-bump.

Another side effect is physical healing.  A consistent meditation practice will do this:  diminish cramps, diarrhea, cramps, headaches, cramps, cramps, and cramps.  When we meditate we are simply more aware.  We are more thoughtful about the food we eat, the cocktails we drink, and the lifestyle choices we make.  When we meditate we create opportunities for our bodies to heal.  When we are peaceful in our minds, we are peaceful in our bodies.  All of our inner bits are connected, after all.

Meditation isn’t complicated.  There’s really nothing to it.  Just sit down, close your eyes, and breathe.  Try to feel your heart beating.  Try to sense the flow of blood under your skin.  When your mind starts to wander and chit-chat with Aunt Flo, watch it without judgment, then ask it nicely to be quiet so you can focus on your breath and your heartbeat.  Sit for 90 seconds if that’s all you can do.  The next time you sit it’ll be easier.  You might make it to two minutes.  The next time three and so forth.

Go ahead and experiment.  Try it and see if it works.  You are your own best teacher.  The proof will be in your period.

Please share this with the PMSy women in your life.  (Did you know PMS is an adjective, too?)

From mine to yours,

Vanessa

wait. where DO babies come from, mommy?

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I had the talk with my little ones today. The conversation caught me off guard as we sat together on the couch playing Spoons, sharing a bowl of Pirate’s Booty. The yellow puffs started running low, and my youngest daughter, glancing sideways at my son, said, “Mommy, we should get more Pirate’s Booty than him because we’re girls. And girls need to eat more than boys so our bellies can grow big and turn into babies.”

I was momentarily stunned. Realizing this theory was something she had spent time hypothesizing, I stifled a giggle, “Oh, honey, women don’t have babies from eating too much food.”

My oldest girl piped in quickly and confidently, “No, we get babies by taking pills from the doctor.”

“Who told you that?” I spun around to look at her.

“Well, no one. When you were pregnant you had a big bottle of orange pills in your bathroom and you took one every day.”

“No, those were prenatal vitamins. I took them when I was pregnant to give my body extra energy while I was growing the baby.”

“Oh,” she said, looking perplexed. ”Wait. Where DO babies come from, Mommy?”

“Yah,” echoed my youngest. “Where?”

It took me a minute to gather my thoughts (and my courage). My children are 5, 7, and 9. I’m a true believer in answering their questions honestly. Life is wrought with unknowns — there’s no need to be evasive when they ask me what a tampon is or wonder when they’ll grow pubic hair. They’re asking about their own bodies after all, so I always tell them the truth. They have every right to be absolutely comfortable in their skin suits. Plus, dispelling mystery is part of my job as a parent.

That said, I briefly considered shooing away my 5 year old boy. But if I excluded him, I’d be implying that conception is secretive. And he might think that this type of questioning is dangerous. 

I want my kids to be comfortable coming to me FIRST. With ANYTHING. If they are not comfortable coming to me, they will inevitably turn to the internet or to friends. And I know for sure that I can parent my children better than Bing! or some tween on the playground. So I stepped up and addressed all three of them together with honesty and *restraint* — because telling the truth doesn’t mean telling ALL.

We started by talking about Nat Geo and Animal Planet, two of our favorite family channels. The kids adore animal shows and are relatively familiar with mating rituals. I explained that the animals mate to create offspring. I told them that all mammals conceive the same way, and humans are also mammals. All of our body parts have a certain function. And ultimately, our primary human function, like all mammals, is to reproduce. In order to make a baby, a man and a woman need to work together.

The girls followed attentively, locking on my eyes and nodding their heads. The little guy began spinning the spoons lying on the game table, distracted. 

I quizzed, “When you think of body parts on a man and a woman, which ones are different?”

“Boys have penises. Girls have van-ginas,” said my oldest proudly. The others agreed.

“Right. And inside the bodies, men have sperm and women have eggs. Once a month, about a week after a woman has her period, an egg drops down and the man’s sperm has a chance to fertilize it.”

“But how does the sperm get to the egg?”

“It swims. It has a tiny tail and races with a million other sperm to see who can reach the egg first. The one who gets there first gets to become the baby.” Admittedly, I hoped that the kids would be satisfied with this and we could return to playing Spoons.

“Yah, but how does the sperm GET to the egg?” No such luck.

“Well, you said yourself that men have penises and girls have vaginas, right?”

Silence. Introspection. Reaction:

“WHAT?! Daddy put his penis inside your vagina?????”

I tried but failed to contain my giggles. We three girls started laughing. The little guy really had no idea why we were snickering. He probably wasn’t ready to hear it anyway, so it was all for the best. But he could still benefit from the openness of our dialogue even though he didn’t understand the content of the message. He took what he wanted and focused the rest of his attention on twirling spoons.

The girls pummeled me with questions — Did it hurt? Did hair get up there? Do I have to do that? Because I am NOT doing that. What about twins? Does that take two penises? 

I explained to them that the woman has to have her period before her body is ready to make babies, and it’s best that she’s married and settled first. Because every baby needs two loving parents and a stable, happy home.

My second daughter stated emphatically, “I’m only doing that twice. And I’ll have two babies. And THAT’S IT!”

“You can do whatever works best for you, babe,” I reassured.

“Does it hurt to get your period?”

“No, sometimes you’ll get crampy in your belly, but if you eat right and take care of your body you should feel just fine.”

“How about when the baby comes out? Does that hurt?”

“Yep,” I confirmed. ”It really hurts.”

“What does it feel like?” she probed.

“Stretching. And fire. Kind of like you’re pooping a hot cannonball.”

“I’ve had big poops like that before.”

“Well, maybe not this big. Do you want to hear the stories about when you were born?”

“YES!!!!!!!” all three shouted.

As the subject graduated from conception to birth, all three kids sat up and leaned forward, giggling and scrunching up their little faces as I colorfully wove the stories of their beginnings. It was a really lovely experience and I’m so glad it unfolded in just this way, with all of us together.

A minute later my husband strolled into the room and I said, “We just learned about the birds and the bees!” Without a word he spun on his heel and strolled back out. I guess he wasn’t ready to learn yet.

From mine to yours,

Vanessa

p.s.

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cancer wife: thoughts from the edge

June 18, 2013

 

I’m sitting in a wimpy plastic chair.  Mick is snoozing, all hooked up, comfy in his enormous adjustable leather chemo glamour bed.  I can’t complain.  I mean, I want to complain, but I can’t complain.  Because Mick has cancer and I’m fine.  But between us hens?  This chair sucks.  It’s one of many chairs I’ve encountered during fluid transfers.  Some seem to be worse than others.  For example, there was this one chair that I sat in from 3am to 9am in the ER at MGH.  Well, “sat” is not the right word.  More like perched.  Or maybe endured.  Suffered through?  Call it what you will but I ended up in the chiropractor’s office twice that week.  That chair was a bastard.

 

This was my first chair, the little one on the left:

It’s not a great photo.  I think the chair feels so inadequate that it’s hiding from my camera.  This wood veneer piece of real estate with metal legs and pilled polyester seat bottom had a great view of the Charles, though.  Not bad there with the Salt and Pepper Bridge cutting over Boston’s dirty water.  Location, location, location.  The window made the sitting more tolerable.

 

Mick’s afore mentioned night from Emergency Room Hell followed.  Soon after that valuable learning experience I created a trifecta of chairs that worked for me quite nicely.  During Mick’s next infusion, I employed two chairs and a padded rolling stool to create a combination that allowed me to recline.  I call this the “C-S-C”, Chair-Stool-Chair technique.  Hips on the stool, shoulders and calves stretched to opposing stationary chairs.

 

Next came this little number, wedged between a thin curtain and Mick’s glamour bed.

No view to boast but by the second treatment I’d become emboldened.  I asked the nurse for a pillow and blanket.  I eventually arranged my white hospital accessories in just a way that I could comfortably sit straight and tall while my head slumped forward and jerked back up, slumped forward and jerked back up.  The Buddha would not have been impressed but I was surprisingly happy in this seat.

 

Today is the last chemo treatment and I’m finally getting smart.  I have three great things going for me:  a pillow from home, my seat overlooking The Charles, and our nurse who just delivered several warm blankets for padding and comfort.  Not bad at all.  Mick’s been passed out for four and half hours.  He begins to stir and opens his eyes.  He smiles at me and notices I’m really trying hard to achieve optimal comfort.  “Climb in with me.”

 

“Really?” I gasp.  “Are you sure?”

 

He scootches to the right and I squeeze my body into the crack between him and the armrest.  I am asleep within seconds and wake up only when it’s time to go home.  I haven’t slept that well in…  well, in a good while.

dear wordpress, i love you

i mean seriously.  how funny is this????  i accidentally “liked” my own post and received this message and photo in my inbox.  from one blogger to a gazillion others, do you love the funny questions, inspirational quotes and cheeky encouragements that the wordpress staff drops on us?   i know i do.  and i’m grateful to them for inspiring my lips to curl.  but not so grateful for having carly simon tunes stuck in my head all day.

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my first blogger award… aw, shucks!

What a treat to log in this morning and find this on my dashboard:

Warm gratitude to The [Ex-] Witch Next Door‘s author Hazel Harker for passing along this lovely virtual hug, The Beautiful Blogger Award.  Hazel, like so many of us, is evolving full time…  a mother and seeker, she experiences life, love and philosophy through a wide open mind and shares her wisdom candidly and honestly with us on her blogs.  A real gem.  You can read more of her musings on Love You, Love Me.

My job now is to share 7 things about me and pass this award along to others whose writings give me the warm-fuzzies.

1. I have had the Tab soda jingle stuck in my head since 1983. “Ooh eee ooh aah aah Tab tastes walla walla bing bang.” Sometimes I walk to the beat of it.

2. I love hot yoga because it makes me feel like Gumby. But not green. And not weird.

3. I have the fastest metabolism in the east. If digestion was an Olympic sport I’d win gold.  Move over Michael Phelps.

4. I like the smell of skunks. Is that totally gross?

5. I had a major crush on Gopher from The Loveboat when I was about 4 years old.

6. I elected to have natural childbirth with all three of my kids. Totally empowering! Roar!

7. I can burp really loud.

Strangely, this was my alternate “thing” to share – “When I was little I used to tell people I wanted to be a stripper when I grow up.”  Then I realized that the nature of blogging is very similar to stripping, therefore I may very well be achieving my lifelong dream (haha).  It’s just that instead of stripping my clothes and filling my undies with money, I’m stripping my ego and filling my heart with peace.   [Note:  I had no idea what a stripper was when I was a kid.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.]

Okay, blogs to nominate…

Loving Bytes by Jennifer Williams – a perfect blend of great writing, lessons in mindfulness and delicious recipes…  Yummmmmm.

Inner Mentor by Poppy and Anna – just came across this one recently and it made me smile.  Where fashion meets godliness.

DOA Konsult by Raunak Mahajan – a smart, thoughtful guy with big ideas, fearlessly covering the unmentionables: politics and religion (and more).

To the Soul by Blake Bergen – amazing amazing.  I love Blake’s portraits.  He photographs everyday people and through his lens, there is an opportunity to look through the gateway to the soul.  I am you, you are me feeling.  Love it.

Young American Wisdom by Nancy – holy crap, this woman is hilarious, a star on the rise.  Beauty is everywhere, most definitely in laughter and motherhood.

Words That Serve by Harula Ladd – peaceful, poetic, purposeful.  Harula just oozes good-spiritedness.

Living Livelier by Deb DePeter & Becky Tellefsen of Bryant Park Designs – two inspiring women who create beauty through interior design.  Always something interesting to read and pretty pictures to peruse.

Many thanks and much love from mine to yours!

Vanessa

don’t. yes. wait, stop. okay, go.

I’m going to apologize for this post before we even get started.  So.  Sorry.  But I chortled and snarked all the way through.  Maybe a bit of an Andy-Rooney-meets-George-Carlin moment for me.

I was in my bathroom getting ready this morning, examining the silver hairs streaking through my locks and thinking about expectations.  A lot of my friends (and one extremely close family member in particular whom I worship and adore) would look at me in this slowly-advancing state of salt-and-pepper and use the word, “hag.”  Besides the silvers (they’re not grey, they’re silver), my hair is probably a little too long. A little too frizzy.  Oh, I could take the time to blow dry, grease it with Moroccan Oil, dye it back to its original monotone chestnut color, but I’m not sure I care.  Anna Wintour says that any woman of a certain age should cut her hair above her shoulders.  Hmmmm…  yah, no.

thanks, DD, for a nice, demonstrative pic of my hag hair 😉

There are lots of rules like Ms. Wintour’s here in America – social norms we call them, if I’m remembering the term from 11th grade Sociology correctly.  Don’t wear white between Labor Day and Memorial Day.  Don’t eat on public transit.  Greet people with one kiss on the right cheek (unless you are a New Yorker who pretends to be a European, then you deliver one kiss on each cheek while scanning for other more important friends in the room).  Do not invade a stranger’s 18 inch bubble.  Get married before you make babies.  Hold your tongue in an elevator.  Tip anyone in the service industry.  Etc, etc, etc.

And then there’s the cursing.  Oh, the cursing.

I know there are social rules about cursing, but I still go back and forth on how I feel about it.  Those who read my blog faithfully are familiar with my ease at dropping eff bombs.  Writing for me is a passionate release, a focused meditation – and often times my fingers fly over the keyboard so quickly that I barely know what I’m writing until I’m done.  If a few unclassified words end up in the mix, who am I to edit them?

Plus.  In real life, I quite enjoy the eff word.  I use it occasionally.  Maybe too occasionally.  But I don’t place any verbal value on it, except as a non-verbal verbal that lets people know that I am flawed.  (Though most wouldn’t need four letter word to see that.)

And then there’s always pressure to stifle the cursing in front of the kids.  Tell me.  When it comes to parenting, what is right?  Apologize for letting “shit” escape in front of the kids?  Don’t apologize for letting “shit” escape in front of the kids.  (Maybe they didn’t notice???)  Is hell a cuss or a place?  Is ass a donkey or a bum?  Is fart okay?  What about penis and vagina?  I think they’re good.  But not in school.  Boobs?  Butt?  Shut up?  How ’bout the modern alternative – Shut it?  Is it okay that my 7 year old knows all the words to “I’m Sexy and I Know It”?  Is it okay that my 5 year old sings “Red Solo Cup” and that I think it’s kind of funny when she says, “And you, sir, do not have a pair of testicles if you prefer drinking from glasses.”  (I mean, she’s almost 6, really, but that’s still pretty bad, right?)

I actually spend time pondering the spiritual repercussions of cursing.  Oh, yes, I do.  I mean, it’s about 49th on my list of priorities, squeaking in just after emptying my mom’s dog’s anal sacks, but the spiritual questions are there.

Is cursing an unmindful form of communication?  Is cursing offensive?  Yes, I suppose it is.  But why?  I guess I know why, but is it because God cares?  When I splatter searing hot bacon grease on my bare arm and shout, “JESUS!” does Jesus give a shit, ahem, I mean give a damn, ahem, I mean give a rat’s ass… oh whatever.  You know what I mean.  But really.  Does he?  And does he / He / HE care if I capitalize or not?  Honestly, I’m thinking no.  And if, by some small chance, I’m right and God doesn’t care, why do some people care so much?

(Whew!  Tangent.)

But, like I said, it’s not just cursing, it’s everything.  There are hundreds of social norms that differ greatly from culture to culture.  Wave with the back of your hand in Greece, cover your shoulders in Morocco, don’t be American in England, take off your shoes upon entering a house in Japan, wear thongs on the beach and bikinis to the grocery store in Brazil, wash your poopy bum with a communal bar of soap but only with your left hand in India, don’t write in red ink in China, stare at people past the point of awkwardness then let your dirty white lap dog eat off your plate in France.  What is acceptable changes so vastly from country to country, it just makes me laugh.  Because it’s all so funny, isn’t it?  All these rules about living.

The rules are all so particular.  And peculiar.  Are these socially acceptable (and unacceptable) behaviors cast offs from religious orders?

Don’t eat meat.
Don’t eat meat with milk.
Don’t eat meat with milk on Fridays before sunset on the fourth night of a Harvest Moon.
Sit cross-legged with your hands open on your lap.
Sit with your middle fingers touching your thumbs.  No, your index fingers.
Don’t sit.  Lay down.  Or stand up walk.  Just shut up and be quiet.
Wear an orange robe and only an orange robe.
Shave your head.  Let one piece grow.  Let two curls grow.  Let one long hair on your face grow.
Don’t cut your hair.  Don’t cut your beard.  Now hide it all in a turban.
Hide your hair, hide your shoulders, hide your ankles.  You know what?  Just hide your whole face.
Kneel down, stand up, cross yourself, repeat after me, say it again, say it again, one more time, say it again.
Eat this dry cracker.
Now return to your pew and continue with your dozing off.

Who made these rules anyway?  (Men.)  But seriously, who?  (Old men.)  Really, though.  We judge others so harshly when they don’t abide by the rules.  Meanwhile, the most important rules are often ignored – BE KIND, BE PATIENT, BE HONEST, BE HERE NOW.

Well.  Now that I have thought and pondered and assessed and analyzed the things we humans do and why we do the things we do, I have to go explain to my kids why they can’t say “fart” in the classroom.

From mine to yours,
Vanessa
*Reposted from my June 8, 2012 entry on Everything Old is New Age Again

with each breath we have an opportunity to start over

I love this concept:  the idea that with each and every breath there is a fresh opportunity to propel our lives in a new direction.  Just think.  We get to start over thousands of times  a day.  I apply this breath work to my eating habits – I’m a chocoholic and struggle with my will to hold back.  I know all too well that my body is a temple; I therefore have a very important responsibility to take care of it through proper diet, exercise and meditation.  That said, I woke up this morning and had my breakfast:

It’s bad, I know.  It was left over from a Saturday night campfire, complete with s’mores, and somehow at 8am this bar of junky chocolate was completely irresistible.  But, like I said, I know that every breath is a shot at a new beginning.  So I made a healthy choice for lunch:

And then came dessert:

Yep.  Looks like I’ll be starting over again tomorrow.  Wish me luck.

From mine to yours,

Vanessa

“Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.” 
Meister Eckhart