bringingupbuddhas

suburban adventures in bu-curious mothering

Tag: healthy-living

fun mindfulness event at MIT in boston

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Hello Bringing Up Buddhas readers!

Please join us in Boston on Saturday, June 13th for MASTERING MINDFULNESS AT HOME AND SCHOOL – an experiential mindfulness workshop for teachers, parents caregivers. This is an engaging, interactive, **fun** program for beginners and for those with mature practices.

Deepen your practice with four dynamic teachers: Christopher Willard, Janell Burley Hofmann, Daniel Lauter, and Vanessa Gobes covering subjects like: managing teen anxiety, mindful use of technology at home and in class, creative mindful practices for the classroom, exploring meditation through the senses, introducing mindfulness to public schools, sustainable home practices, healing the body through meditation, and more.

You will leave this workshop with:

  • teachable practices for stress reduction and compassion cultivation
  • ideas for expanding mindfulness in your hometown or school
  • a network of professionals and parents doing similar work
  • online access to guided visualizations and meditations
  • a smile on your face

June is the perfect time to fire up your practice! Parents can engage mindfulness with children during long summer weeks  and teachers can use the summer to strengthen practices for a solid September start! Book a sitter, grab a friend or colleague, and make your way to M.I.T. for a class that can change your life and work.

The Stata Center at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 

Saturday, June 13, 2015, 10:00 AM to 3:30 PM

(Lunch break 12 – 1)
$50

MEET YOUR PRESENTERS AND REGISTER HERE:

http://www.vanessagobes.com/workshops.html

the revelations hidden in life lessons

Talking about revelation in today’s video blog – wisdom vs. knowledge, and how we can use mindful awareness while experiencing lessons to force revelation and make life a little easier. The main point being, if we can be mindful while the shtuff hits the fan, we have opportunity to shift trajectory in an empowering way. Better yet, through meditation and Self work, we can accelerate the learning process and spare ourselves of future pain and seemingly chronic dis-ease. Learn it today or live it tomorrow.

Healing is uncomfortable, especially in the first few weeks and months of effort.  This is why we call it Self *work*.  But hold tight, because eventually the pendulum will resume its steady tick-tock and wholesomeness will be the new normal.  I’m writing this to you AND to me!  Wish me luck with this whole eating transition!

If you can’t see the video in your inbox browser, click on the blog to view:  www.bringingupbuddhas.com.
From mine to yours,
Vanessa

take a break from your life!

Sometimes we get so caught up in caring for others or responding to unplanned interruptions that we struggle to manage our own needs and desires. By asking others for help, we can create space for some much needed *alone time* and allow the flow of inspired action!

you and me and a donut makes three

There’s nothing like a donut to bring two people together.

I brought my truck in for a long overdue oil change yesterday.  My five year old son came with me and we decided the one hour wait would be a perfect opportunity to visit the donut shop next door.  We hustled in from the cold and ordered up a couple of hot chocolates and sweet treats.

I invited my little man to choose our table and he pointed toward a two-top in the far corner.  The space felt noticeably peaceful.  Nearby three old men sat reading the paper, enjoying a warm ray of sunlight shining through the floor-to-ceiling windows.  We smiled at them as we passed and I followed my son to the corner, listening to the quick, rhythmic shoosh-shoosh-shoosh of his snow pants he walked through the quiet shop.

We sat down and got cozy, shaking off our jackets and releasing shocks of staticy hair from under our hats, then reached for our goodies.  I unwrapped my go-to flavor, Boston Cream, and he slowly revealed own his favorite, Strawberry Sprinkled.  He laid the pink donut on a napkin and sipped his cocoa, “Too hot!”  I peeled off the cap and poured in a little more milk.  He tried it again.  “Mmmmm.  ‘S good.”

“What happened in school today, buddy?”

No answer.

“Did you learn anything new?”

Shrug.

He was not interested in conversation.  He pushed his cocoa aside and turned his focus on the awaiting spongey delight.  I decided to stop talking and simply enjoy the sight of my little guy wholly engaging in an exquisite eating meditation.

With deep concentration he examined his snack on the table.  He picked it up and sunk his teeth in.  When a tiny red jimmy toppled onto his napkin, he pinched it between his thumb and forefinger and meticulously nestled it back into the icing.  He chewed and paused and chewed some more.  He lifted the donut high above his head with one hand, clearly in awe of its deliciousness.  He held it up to me as if to say, Look, Mamma, isn’t it beautiful?  But he didn’t utter a word.  He just returned his full awareness to the slow and methodical extinction of one pink donut.  He carefully selected which portion to bite, mindful to save the sweetest bit for last.  He chewed and relished and appreciated the donut so entirely, I could only imagine that for him, in those moments, not one other thing existed in the whole wide world.

The last bite was upon him.  He popped it into his mouth, chewed for a long while, swallowed, then tossed his head back in the chair, staring at the ceiling, seemingly reconciling the experience.

I paused to take in the warm hush of the donut shop.  And I realized that silence is a pretty amazing way to communicate.

I smiled then laughed out loud.  I told him I loved him.

“I love you, too, Mamma,” he finally responded.

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Do You Talk Too Much?

Use mindfulness and meditation to SHUT UP. (Oh, how I need to master this practice!) I know sunshine and rainbows are glorious but sometimes our love and enthusiasm needs to be reeled in.

From mine to yours,

Vanessa

Beat Stress – and Boredom – through Mindfulness

cancer wife: (more) thoughts from the edge

May 20, 2013

 

My meditation practice is key to managing my fear.  A few weeks before learning of Mick’s diagnosis I’d been blogging about the strength of spirit I’d been feeling but wondered if that strength would hold up when tested.  I mean, meditation is great in theory.  But does it work when the shit really hits the fan?  I soon learned the answer.  YES.

 

The more I learn about life and energy through Buddhist philosophy, the more deeply I understand and appreciate other religions.  I’m reading A Course In Miracles and finding it to be a great companion to my Bu-curious ways, examining mindfulness, fear, and delusion.  The book has more fluoro sticky tags than any other in my well-highlighted library.  “You are much too tolerant of mind wandering,” says this Christian text that continues, “No one who lives in fear is really alive.”

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Meditation yields acceptance.  Acceptance yields trust.  Trust yields fearlessness.  When we are fearless, we are confident that everything will happen exactly as it should and we are okay.  When we are quiet in meditation, we open ourselves up to spirit’s guidance and can then confidently take inspired action.

 

I allow this notion to sit front row in my prefrontal cortex, so when fear begins to creep in, I comfortably acknowledge it then meditate through it.  But for me meditation isn’t all good posture and spiritual brain dumps.  Through non-doing I clearly see all of things that I need to get done.

 

1.  I need to be caring for my husband and offering him affection.  This, admittedly, is very hard for me as I am not a warm and fuzzy wife-type.  If I’m being painfully honest, I can be a little cold to my husband.  I blame this on my parents’ divorce when I was 11.  There, I said it.

2.  I need to be working on building a career.  If the worst happens, I will have no income to support my family and I haven’t earned money consistently in a dozen or so years.  Time to put that journalism degree to work.

3.  I need to spend free time with my kids and let go of social events.  Socializing when my husband is home sick is not so great.  It’s okay to pass on parties.  There will be fun times when all this is over and right now no one needs me more than my family.

 

May 23, 2013

 

Mick’s hair is everywhere.  I can’t keep up with the friggin shedding.

 

“Shave it,” I plead.

 

“I’ll do it in the Caribbean,” he promises.

We are supposed to be leaving on a trip to the BVIs and he is planning a ceremonial raze on the beach.  Unfortunately he’s got a 102 fever and it looks like he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.  Sucks.  This sucks.  Meditate on that.

5 Mindful Mommy Tricks to Surviving Summer with Kooky Kids

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My 7 year old getting her purple kitty on with our new puppy.

There’s a picture of my sister in our family album that has inspired a family idiom: the purple kitty face.  In the photo, my sis is standing in our driveway on a summer day wearing light blue undies and holding a tiny black kitten, scooped from a litter of mates produced by our ginger cat Selena.  In her sweet and quirky four-year-old way, she had convinced herself (and probably me) that the kitty was not black, but purple.

If you look closely at my sister’s expression, you’ll notice that her lips are pursed tightly in a sort of painfully loving grimace.  Her teeth are clenched, as are her two little hands that are quickly crushing purple kitty’s spindly rib cage.

If a thought bubble could appear magically above my sister’s head it would say, “You’re so cuuuuuuttteee!  I love you to deeeeeaaaaath!”  Fortunately, no animals were injured in the filming of that scene.  At least not that we knew of anyway.  I imagine that Mom swooped toward her daughter after snapping the pic, rescued the kitten from imminent death and returned her to the cardboard box from whence she came.

There’s a psycho-medical term for this exact situation I’m sure, but nothing quite pins the tail on the donkey like purple kitty.  (Though that Looney Tunes scene with Daffy Duck and the abominable snow man comes close, “I will hug him and squeeze him and call him George.”)

Th purple kitty is sort of like that feeling of being insanely cold.  When you’re so cold that shaking is involuntary.  Only when you notice that your teeth are chattering so much your jaw hurts and your thighs are sore from tightening them against the weather do you become aware of the tension and mindfully release it…  only to squeeze up again with the next frigid gust.  (I’m a lifelong New Englander, I know about these things.)

My children make the purple kitty face all the time.  We just got a puppy and she is often the recipient of squeezey loving.  But I know it’s not just a behavior reserved for my family.  All kids do this.  I remember one day my old boss came into work and told us that her beloved family pet, a hamster, was laid to rest in a shoe box that morning – a victim of her daughter’s loving embrace.  It happens.  And not just with animals.

I remember doing this with my neighbor as a kid.  He was such an adorable baby.  I remember hugging him a little too tight, sucking my breath in through clenched teeth, body shaking from the effort of physical love, releasing only when the little toe headed cutiepie squeaked rather than exhaled.   Honestly, sometimes I notice myself doing it still.  What can I say?  Babies are cute.

As a parent of small children, I’ve noticed that my purple kitty face, once associated with over-loving, has become one of Holy-Shit-I-Can’t-Take-It-Anymore-You-Are-Driving-Me-Crazy-And-I-Need-You-To-Stop-Screaming-At-Each-Other-Before-My-Eyeballs-Eject-From-My-Skull.  I think the more common term for this is frustration, but frustration is not a rich enough word for the exasperation, disheartened-ness, desperateness and anger that I can feel when my kids are totally obnoxious.

So I admit it.  I’ve been known to occasionally squeeze my kids.  And not because they’re cute.  Thanks to a committed mindfulness practice, I can typically defend them from my clenching grip, but I’d be lying if I said I’ve never sent my kids off to school praying that their teachers wouldn’t roll up their sleeves and find red stripes around their biceps from where I grabbed and squeezed, imagining that my vice grip would somehow convince them to stop screaming, listen to my words or clean up their blasted Pokemon cards.

It’s summer vacation now, and all this quality time with our unscheduled babies, as delightful as it is, provides us with endless opportunities to feel emotionally overwhelmed by their antics.  So there are a couple of things I’ve done that have helped me to stop the squeezing and relax my purple kitty face, and I wanted to share them with my sea of online readers, well, let’s face it, it’s more like a small pond of readers but I love you and appreciate you as if you were the vast Atlantic Ocean.

I have three small children ages 4 through 8 and I mother each of them differently, but these five things work consistently for me with all three.

  1. Meditate.  Your reaction to your babies is not about them, it’s about you.  When you’re composed, no amount of nagging, screeching or spoiled-rotten-American-kid complaining will offend you.  A meditation practice takes time to develop, so in the meantime try this: The second you reach for that little arm, breathe into your squeezey hand and let the irritation melt like butter on plain pasta with no red sauce.  Think these words:  “This will be over soon, and we will be happy again.”  Another great mindfulness trick is the 10-10-10 rule.  Ask yourself, “How will I feel about this in 10 minutes?  In 10 days?  In 10 years?”  Probably not so great.  So loosen up the tourniquet and know that this too shall pass.
  2. Make sure they’ve eaten.  Hungry kids are CRAZY.  We all know this, but somehow we all forget.  Feed them.  I always have a bag of apples and a slicer wheel nearby.  It’s the perfect emergency food.  But even with that, I still forget, too.
  3. Whisper or speak very softly when you’re explaining or disciplining.  They’ll be like, “What?  What, Mommy?  What?”  and they’ll stop screaming long enough to listen.  Most of the time, they start modeling my volume and instantly the stress level dissipates – mine and theirs.
  4. If whispering doesn’t work, try crying.  Channel your inner soap opera diva.  Most likely, fake tears will not be hard to conjure, but feel free to give yourself over to real ones.  There’s nothing wrong with letting your kids see you cry.  They should know the effect their behavior has on others.  And when you’re teetering on the edge of an emotional volcano, a sobbing mommy meltdown can be a great side effect – they stop flipping out and turn their compassionate focus on you.  “I’m so sorry, Mommy.  I’m so sorry,” complete with hugs and kisses and sympathy.  Then they can stop being lunatics long enough for you to regain composure and control.
  5. When all else fails, put them in water.  My neighbor, an experience mother of several, taught me this and I am ever-grateful.  Draw a bath, toss in a few face cloths and buckets, turn on some Mozart and leave the room – bathroom door open, of course, we wouldn’t want the little brats to drown.  Joke!  That’s a joke!

From mine to yours,

Vanessa

Originally published by Vanessa Gobes for Intentblog.com.

divine chaos: what you think is gone forever is really not lost at all.

Preface:

I haven’t seen my Pop in 20 years or so.  I’ve forgiven him for skipping out on his fatherly duties and have accepted that he walks a path that leads him far away from home.  His dreams were always much bigger than the reality his small suburban family could provide.

He taught English through a bilingual program he developed at Boston English High School.  He spoke passionately about the growing Latino movement in Boston.  He was nominated for Massachusetts Teacher of the Year and invited by Harvard University to do a lecture series about his work.  His students loved him, his peers respected him, and his family thought he was nuts.

Pop walked down the street pinching a joint in one hand and flashing a peace sign in the other.  His signature look was a  “No Nukes” sweatshirt, overalls, and long curly hair wrapped up in a red bandanna.  No apologies.  Crazy genius, I like to call him, but as a father he pretty much sucked.

Today’s story…

In 2001, my husband introduced me to Dorchester’s Mother Caroline Academy and Education Center, a tuition-free middle school for bright girls of limited financial means.  He’d been involved with the school’s fundraising mission for some time and brought me to their annual spring event in Jamaica Plain.  I remember being greeted by a bunch of smiling girls in plaid kilts, knee socks, and oversized red blazers with shoulder pads – all singing, chattering, laughing, and doing double dutch.  Suddenly an nun came out of nowhere and jumped between the ropes.  She was really good.  A couple of other nuns ran in and did the same.  I laughed out loud.  And so the love affair with MCAEC began.

After several years of volunteering for the Academy as a fundraiser, I longed for a real connection with the students.  So in 2009, I signed up to mentor a student.

My girlfriends Kelly and Cate also decided the time was right to reach out to one of these amazing Mother Caroline girls.  The three of us attended a meet and greet with the entire 8th grade class and after a few awkward conversations, I came upon a charming girl, Leidi – well, “came upon” might be an unfair way to put it.  Honestly, I practically gave Cate the Heisman to get to her, interrupting their conversation and inserting myself between them.  The reason for my boldness, though unknown to me at the time, would be revealed later.

Leidi and I chatted easily for a long while,  sharing some pretty personal things about each other and discovering we had loads in common.  She’s an old soul.  Thoughtful, inquisitive, interesting, genuine, beautiful.  I cornered the head of the mentoring program at the end of the game and gushed to her that I had a great conversation with Leidi and would love to have her as my mentee.  As it turned out, she liked me, too.  So we were matched and spent the next few years getting to know each other.

One Sunday afternoon, Leidi and I were in the car together, talking about high schools.  I mentioned that Pop taught bilingual students at Boston English.  She said, “My Mom went to Boston English.”  Some quick math led us to realize that our parents were there at the same time.  And Leidi’s Mom being Puerto Rican, the likelihood of her knowing my Pop was good.  Really good.  Really really good.

About 8:30 that night Leidi called and told me that her Mom had class with my Pop, “Mr. Cronin,” and remembered times staying after school with him when he’d tell her about my family and his days living in Honduras with the Peace Corps.  Not only that, but she also spent a couple of years as a counselor at Pop’s Campemento Hispano Internacional, providing summer camp experiences for Spanish-speaking inner-city youth.  I had also spent a fair amount of time at that summer camp as a kid, assisting counselors and shadowing Pop.  Weeiiiirrrrrd.

I’d just spent the last couple of days blogging about coincidences so I was certainly conscious of the ones happening in my life and was well-studied on synchronicities.  And right there, on my family room couch, I was living through a pretty major one.  I hung up the phone with Leidi and chewed on the idea for a minute.  Then I proceeded to burst into tears.  Fat ones.  A full-on contorted-face-heaving-chest ugly cry.

I surveyed my mind to figure out why I was having a fit and realized that I was feeling the loving presence of my Pop for the first time in 20 years.  I felt our intangible connection through the Universe.  I saw the parallels between us, our mutual desire to make the world a better place, and the genetic gifts he passed to me that have allowed me to live my best life.  I understood in that moment that God’s power is great.  That there are no coincidences.  That Leidi is my karmic gift – one that I am so happy to accept.

The things that had to happen and the timing of which those things had to occur was perfect.  Divine.  How on earth could something like this happen without God?  God is perfection, organizing events in just the right way, even though to us it looks like total chaos.  But it’s not total chaos, it’s divine chaos.

For me there has been a paradigm shift.  Leidi fell away from my Mother Caroline family neatly settled into my soul family.  We are part of each others’ weaving labyrinth of life and always have been.  And now we know.  Now there’s no question, no surprise that I practically gave my dear friend a black eye to get to her at that football game over a year ago.  Everything is written.

I’ve thought about this series of coincidences and decided this.  Change (in some cases loss) is inevitable.  Embrace it.  Everything will be okay.  And sometimes, what you think is lost forever is really not lost at all.  God will bring it back to you in one form…  or another.

From mine to yours,

Vanessa

p.s.  Please share this story.

p.s.s.  This is Leidi and me – then and now.

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the best way to live your life all the way

Make this the Summer of Service!

Here’s the link to Huff Post.

Here’s the link to the story of my mentee and me.