Meditation or Medication?

My belly is full of coffee and brunch, my turns in Words with Friends are all played, and I’m up to date on Facebook and Instagram. I have run out of procrastinations.

I sit down to meditate in my bedroom. I want to love mediating. My husband and kids say they’ve noticed it makes me calmer, and nicer. During the actual act of meditating however, I feel anything but calm. I have so much to do, my thoughts vibrate like popcorn kernels simmering before they explode in the microwave.

And yet, I sit in my chair in my darkened bedroom, cross legged like Buddha himself. I put my iPhone on the ottoman in front of me and push play on my meditation app, which is aptly called, Meditation. I start by breathing slowly and purposefully to quiet myself as I’ve been taught. The app gongs to signal the start of the “active meditation” and I feel my belly resting on my thighs. I activate my core and berate myself for surrendering to the call of the cinnamon bun. And then I remember my task and package that thought away.

I start saying my mantra, working it over like a pearl in my mouth and then find myself wondering if my teenager is up yet because he’ll need to eat before he goes to work in two hours. And then I stop myself and package that thought away.

And then I start to wonder what my mantra means. It’s in Sanskrit, and I was told I’m not supposed to share it with anyone and that drives me crazy. But I’m a writer so I start riffing on the word adding ‘ings and ‘ables until I remember what I’m here to do.

I worry that I’m wasting my precious me-only time and chant more urgently, insistently trying to crowd out the other thoughts that keep sneaking in – Did I turn off the stove? Where are my rings? Twelve minutes is a long time. OMG the visa bill is due!

I long for a pencil and a pad of paper to write my thoughts down, so that I might later noodle why they entered my mind at that time. Are they necessary? Are they urgent? Am I going insane?

I sigh again and tune into radio silence. I recall Dan Harris saying in his book 10% Happier that “meditation the longest and strongest high he’s ever had”. Maybe I’m paraphrasing, but that was enough to make me buy the app. My life is actually pretty awesome, but who doesn’t want 10% more awesome?

The gong rings again to signal I’m nearing the end of meditation. I have 30 seconds left to return to earth (which I never left) and here I finally find some stillness but the final gong rings again to usher in the rest of my day and I cling to Eckhart Tolle’s definition that “one conscious breath in and out is a mediation.”

Let’s call that a success. Namaste.

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Living with Leftovers

I’ve been in a bit of a mood lately. After skipping my morning run last week to drop off an emergency cheque at the accountant’s because somebody at the CRA noticed a missed tax instalment, I came to a startling realization – I’m living in my family’s leftovers.

Looking at our family’s time as a (delicious chicken pot) pie, I noticed that my husband get first dibs on time – he has to go to work in the morning and he comes home around 6 for dinner. He has to go on business trips, networking functions and conferences. He goes to the gym in the evening and sometimes he works late. The kids get second dibs, they have to be at school by 9 and then picked up at 3 and chauffeured to various lessons, birthday parties, swim meets and playdates. And then there’s me – a stay-at home mom who gets just 5.5 hours each day to clean, cook, shop for groceries, do laundry, pay the bills, volunteer, organize, shower and write. I do have my book club and dinners out with girlfriends, but these too have to fit among the leftovers or its up to me to find a babysitter. This realization even makes me wonder if my new career – writing – has been chosen because it fits so well among the leftovers. Except when it doesn’t. Like when I’m working on a particularly moving scene in my novel in between life’s interruptions and I end up with a sentiment that could only dream of gracing a Hallmark greeting card.

So it’s time to step up and take the first piece of the (mmm, apple) pie for me. Not all the time, mind you but definitely some of the time. As a good friend reminded me, I am not the glue holding my family together. They would survive without me. I am not irreplaceable. And as brutally honest a statement that may be, it’s incredibly freeing to give myself permission to choose my own adventure. I encourage my kids to live up to their potential, why shouldn’t I?

Love Lucie

Camping is not for Princesses – Part 1

My eyes are crumby and my fleece jacket is pockmarked with burn holes. My hair smells like cedar plank salmon. The air is cold but heavy with morning breath. The orange walls that cocoon me are slick with condensation. Droplets flick onto me as my husband struggles to get comfortable on the leaky air mattress. I am wearing every piece of mismatched fleece clothing I own. I blink a few more times, wondering how I happened to fall asleep inside a pumpkin when it hits me, this Princess is camping!

Being the only female in a house of boys, there are some things I simply don’t do, like taking out the garbage, killing insects, and until yesterday, camping. I simply adore my king size bed, my snore-reducing pillow and my down duvet. But somehow, I got tricked into taking my boys camping this year. They are 5, 7 and 10 years old, and I guess I simply ran out of excuses to deny them, as my husband puts it, the ultimate Canadian experience.

Nature calls suddenly as it does in 40+ year old women and I struggle to sit up and move onto all fours toward the “front door” of the tent, causing my husband to pitch into the center of the mattress in the process. He moans in protest. I unzip the inner tent and then the outer tent, and voila, I pop out head first into the wilderness, fervently hoping that I don’t see a bear at the picnic table. The coast is clear and my bladder nearly bursting, so I do my best Charlie Chaplin impersonation to the bathroom one campsite away.

Making my way back to the campsite, I encounter a few fellow bedraggled campers. Eager to hide the most heinous morning breath (didn’t brush after those s’mores last night, did I?) and spectacular bed hair imaginable, I mumble good morning and scurry back. It’s just after 6AM, an ungodly hour for pleasantries, but those damn Blue Jays are awake and so are we. But thank goodness for my Mom and Dad, they’ve got the fire roaring already!

It has rained all night as the small lake by the foot of our tent will attest and the flat style tarp roof my husband Macgyver’d out of bungees and plastic sheeting served only to collect a good amount of rain before the tree bough gave way, loudly dumping it’s load every 5 minutes or so. But my kids loved it, splashing about as if their Dad had given them their very own waterpark. Thanks again to my Mom and Dad as soon everyone is happily munching on croque monsieurs and I’ve splashed some Baileys into my coffee, and so the world is good again.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

We are at Green Point campground in the Pacific Rim National Reserve, just outside of Tofino, British Columbia. Perched on very edge of the Pacific Ocean, it is a paradise to many – surfers, artists, foodies, whale-watchers and yes, virgin campers.

Where else can you wake up to this?

I think this must be what heaven must look like.

Love Lucie