hey babe (11).

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Hey babe.

You will be 21 months old on May 4th.  Something has happened over the past month or two.  It’s as though you’ve leapt forward developmentally and are suddenly a full-blown little kid and no longer a baby.  I still call you baby though.  I’ll always call you baby.  “Careful!  Don’t knock the baby over!”  “What’s wrong, baby?”  “Baby, are you tired?”

You run, you jump, you dance, you climb and you hold our hands.  You took your Dad’s hand the other day and walked him all the way to the park.  You’re extremely fond of Ella’s Organic fruit and veggie baby food pouches despite my early attempts to steer clear and you love goldfish, the library, slides and swings, sticks, rocks (I just taught you how to say rocks last week!), eggs (you call them “edds!”), reading books, bubbles, bath time, building towers out of anything you can find and sidewalk chalk.  Basically you’re as cute as it gets these days.

Your words are starting to come more and more each day.  You play ‘hide and seek’ with us by hiding behind couch cushions, pillows and chairs.  We say, “Mooooosessssss!  Mossssessss!  Where did Mo go?” until you giggle hysterically and pop up.  You then say to us, “Mo go!  Mo go!” or “MoZZZis!” when you want us to keep playing.  We’re pretty sure you think “Mo go” and “Mozis” are the names of the game.

You sleep through the night well now for the most part and that helps a lot.  When we go on vacation or when you’re sick or teething it throws you off a bit but we get back on track eventually.  We’re starting to think about potty training and as we approach the two year mark we’ve been talking about sending you to “school” in the fall.  I visited Ruffing Montessori yesterday morning and loved it.  I’m working on your application so we can put you on the wait list because I think you would love the teachers and kids there and it’s walking distance from our house.

Your Dad is finishing up his last week of work at the hospital and then he’ll be starting school full-time at Youngstown State!  Three years of physical therapy school will be a wild ride for all of us I’m sure but it’s a huge step towards our long-term goals of owning a business, living on a farm and having a sibling or two for you perhaps.  I go back and forth on that last goal.  Some days I think I HAVE to have another baby because howcouldinot???  And then, on other days, I think you’re all that we need and things are great with us as a trio.  Either way it will be as it’s meant to be.

I’ve been working at Cleveland Yoga more since the start of the year and I’m now in the eighth month of my program at Malone.  I’ll be finished in November.  It’s going well for the most part but I’ll be happy when it’s over.  The courses are one at a time for five weeks a piece and they’re very intensive.  I study at night after you’re asleep.  The things I’m learning about business and leadership are valuable and interesting but it can be time consuming and difficult when I’ve already spent the day with you or worked at Cleveland Yoga and I’m tired.  I’m keeping my eyes on the prize.  Long-term thinking has never been a strong suit for me but I’m changing all of that.  It’s a growing experience and it’s not easy but nothing worth having is easy, as they say.

It’s been a very long, hard winter and though that kind of makes me sound like a homesteader – it’s true.  Cleveland has been anxiously awaiting warmer days and I think they’re finally here.  We’ve worn shorts a couple of times over the past week and we’re excited to go on vacation with the entire Nelson clan in two weeks to Florida.  I’m hoping this summer is filled with long days in the backyard and at the beach.  You love playing outside and never want to come in.  You’ll gather river rocks in a bucket from the driveway and carry them around or find a big stick in the plant beds and run around the yard with it.  It doesn’t take a whole lot to make you happy.  By the end of the day when we bring you inside you’re covered in mud with skinned knees and you’re crying because you’re so angry at us for putting an end to your fun.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about relationships.  The ups and the downs.  As I was driving home from work last night I was struck by how grateful I am that even as life dips and lifts and twirls, I get to come home to you.  And to your Dad.  And to our home that we’ve built together.  The sun was shining really bright this week-end and the front door was open so it spilled onto the tile in the foyer and and even though there’s no ‘welcome’ mat there it was such a welcoming moment.  I was just looking at the tile and the sun in that entrance and thinking about how much I love to come home.  How much I love this place.  This life.  This family.

The world spins around us but we are always grounded in each other.  We have highs and we have lows.  We go to battle and we sign peace treaties.  We are the strongest, steeliest armor and we are the most terrifying vulnerability.  We are the darkness in this world and we are the light that heals the world.  We are all of that.

Sitting on the couch with your Dad last night – he on one end and me on the other – talking over things both emotional and heavy and then ending in lightness and laughter – I am reminded again of that great lesson I learn from my yoga mat:  Everything eventually passes.  You just have to hold on and breathe.  There is suffering in the attachment to one end of the spectrum or the other.  There is peace in the trusting acceptance of whatever comes and whatever goes.

Carlo Levi once wrote, “The future has an ancient heart”.  No matter how old I get or how much I go through in life I am always still the product of my childhood self.  I am a woman and a mother and an adult member of our society who has places within her heart which are still naming tiny tadpoles found in forest streams and writing fragmented poetry in journals decorated with rainbows.  That child was wonderful and of course, wildy ‘child-like’.  Unfortunately, she doesn’t stay back there in the 1980′s and 1990′s.  She lives with me every day.  Sometimes she stomps her feet and throws a tantrum when she doesn’t get her way.  Sometimes she gets emotional over irrational things.  Sometimes she clings to fairytale dreams and forgets they are fairytale dreams.  Putting her in her place is the work I am up to.

There’s something about being a mother that slaps you across the face.  It’s a bucket of cold water poured right over your head before you’ve even had a chance to open your eyes in the morning.  It’s glorious and disarming and unrepentant.  It wraps me up in a thousand ropes so that sometimes I feel as though I cannot move and then within the next breath it unravels so completely that I feel as though I’ve been reborn.

You, my bright-eyed and curious kitten, are the catalyst for every awakened moment I experience these days.  Your love and your light and your personhood are teaching me how to be a mother.  Teaching me how to be a partner.  Teaching me how to trust myself.  Love myself.  Be loyal to myself (as a student recently taught me).  You are the one who continuously inspires my evolution as I shake off old and tired ways of being in exchange for the radical possibility of living in the now.

In child’s pose and half pigeon and even in warrior II sometimes I find myself flipping my palms upward.  Hands open to receive.  It’s so natural for me to turn my hands to the floor.  So natural to close my fists.  To clench.  To tighten.  To protect.  You – and your father too – have taught me the power of an open hand.  A vulnerable posture.  A willing and receptive energy that says yes instead of no and “I’ll stay” instead of “I’ll go”.

Words always escape me as I end these letters because I want to sign off with unending gratitude and love beyond measure but it always feels trite in the face of my total devotion to you.  You’ve eclipsed everything unworthy of our time and completely lit up everything that is.

For that kind of generosity, my love…  there are no words.

xxx

 

 

luck.

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This is one of my most favorite photos of Moses.  He is about 12 months old here.  There’s just something about the way he’s walking with such purpose through our backyard.  Like he knows where he’s going.

I’ve been thinking about the trajectory of my life these past few days.  Where I’ve been.  Where I’m going.  And it’s been interesting to notice how I’ve experienced such highs and such lows and at each moment of joy I’ve thought, “Wow!  This life is amazing!” and at each moment of sadness or fear or depression I’ve thought, “Life is a great tragedy.”  Highs come and lows come and you can be sure they won’t last forever.  If there’s one thing we can count on it’s that things never stay the same.  This is where the principle of detachment comes in.  As a kid I used to think it sounded horrible to practice being “detached”.  I remember someone trying to explain Buddhism to me and I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out why anyone would want to be a buddhist if they could never feel joy or pain.  It wasn’t until much later that I began to understand the power of detachment and that it’s not at all about never experiencing emotion.  It’s about not attaching to those emotions.  It’s not about walking through life like a zombie.  Quite the opposite actually.  It’s about living each moment fully and completely and then allowing it to pass like clouds in the sky.  Holding on…  gripping with a closed fist…  this is our great undoing as human beings.  This is where suffering is born.  Recognizing that each moment is a gift and then allowing that gift to fade in its own time is living life with grace.  It takes courage.

A few years ago one of my yoga teachers shared a powerful zen teaching in class.  I’ve never forgotten it.  The story goes like this:  There was a farmer out in the fields, tending to his crops when his horse ran away.  The neighbors shook their heads and said to him, “What bad luck!”  The farmer smiled calmly, shrugged his shoulders and responded, “good luck, bad luck, who knows?”  The next morning the horse came home and brought with him three other beautiful, strong, wild horses.  The neighbors clapped their hands together and said, “What good luck you have!”  The farmer smiled and replied, “good luck, bad luck, who knows?”  The next day the farmer’s son attempted to ride one of the horses.  He fell off and broke his leg.  The neighbors sauntered over and sadly said, “Oh my…  what bad luck…”  The farmer shook his head, “good luck, bad luck, who knows?”  The day after this fall, the military showed up to draft the farmer’s son.  Once they saw the condition of his leg they left without taking him with them.  The neighbors, of course, congratulated the farmer and expressed their relief, “What good luck!”  The farmer, once again, smiled.  “Maybe”, he said.  “Maybe…”

It’s easy and natural to go through life in a reactionary way, like the neighbors.  We jump up and down when things go our way and we cry and hide under the covers when they don’t.  We attach to our blessings and are destroyed when they disappear and we wallow in our suffering and give ourselves permission to carry it with us wherever we go.  This is attachment.  It’s a wild, wild ride.  Some may say, “But that’s just life!”  And it’s true.  It’s the great drama of life that we go up and then we go down and then we go up again.  What we sometimes forget, however, is the power we wield within us to stay grounded and calm amidst the chaos.

Recently something really cool happened in my life.  I spent 24 hours in shock and awe.  My boyfriend, however, was utterly calm.  He was unmoved.  I wanted to shake him.  “What’s wrong with you?”  I said.  “How are you so calm?”  He smiled and then attempted to explain to me how he views the world and how for every high there’s the possibility of a low.  He explained how with great blessing there comes great responsibility.  I was brought back down to earth.  I was humbled.  I still feel joy but it’s quieter.  It’s settled down into my core and my feet feel planted.  There’s work to be done.  We haven’t arrived yet.  We’ve never arrived.  One foot goes in front of the other in the pursuit of our dreams.  Action is required.  Good luck, bad luck…  who really knows?

I was 14 years old and sobbing.  My dad had just told the family that we were moving from Canada to Ohio.  The world was over!  I remember sitting in my closet with the door shut and just letting my heart rip open in that way you can as a teenage girl.  Sometimes I wish I could cry like that now.  Floodgates open.  Heart laid bare.  Entire being trembling.  I would have to leave my beach and my friends and the love of my 14 year old life.  I would have to leave it all behind.

Fast forward:

I was 17 and a senior in high school.  I was dating a really good looking 21 year old guy.  He was world-travelled and hilarious and smart.  He was a backpacking, mountain biking, creative hippie with intentions to change the world.  I was smitten.  During our dating relationship I travelled to Scotland and Egypt and was gone for 5 months but we stayed together.  When I returned home at 19, he proposed and we were married 6 months later.  We moved into a century home in Cleveland and remodeled both the upstairs and the downstairs which we rented out to friends.  I was young and happy and free.  Life was just beginning.

Fast forward:

I was 23.  Walking through my house, I’m throwing things in a bag to take with me.  I pause in the bathroom catch my breath.  Hot tears are streaming down my face.  I’m leaving and I’m broken into a thousand tiny pieces.  I love him but I’m young and I’m afraid and for so many reasons I can’t even put into words…  I have to go.  Life is over.

Fast forward:

I was 27 and I signed up for yoga teacher training.  I started a part-time job and spent the next 4 months training with 18 other brave and beautiful souls.  Life was just beginning.

Fast forward:

I was 29 and pregnant.  It wasn’t planned.  I wrestled through months of confusion and pain and created my own suffering by resisting reality.  Who would I be as a mom?  What business did I have raising a tiny human?  How would this change me?  Could I support myself and someone else?  Life is over.

Fast forward:

I am 31 years old and I work for a company I love and believe in.  I teach yoga, I’m a manager, I am a full-time student and I love my home and my family.  I am blessed beyond words and I wake up every day grateful for the life I’m living and fully aware of how one day…  one moment…  can change it all.  It doesn’t put me in a panic.  It doesn’t cause me to hoard or close my fists tightly.  It makes the sweetness of it all that much sweeter.  I’ve known pain and I’ve known sorrow.  Much of it I created with my own two hands.  I also know happiness and freedom and peace.  Much of it I created with my own two hands.  Life is just beginning.

Each of us could create our own timeline that probably looks similar – highlighting the “life is over” moments which are inevitably followed by the “life is just beginning” moments and it becomes so crystal clear that we’re on a roller coaster and we just need to hold on and enjoy the ride.

The weather has dragged on and been particularly cold and hostile this winter in the midwest.  Many of us have complained and felt depressed and daydreamed of the sunshine.  I can’t help but wonder, however, what will happen after the first week of hot, muggy, Ohio summer.  Will the same people who hated the winter be hating the heat?  How much energy do we expend focusing on the stress, anger, fear, frustration, lost opportunities, betrayals, jealousies and more?  How much time do we spend building ourselves up, building up others, smiling, being thankful, focusing on what’s good and not on what’s bad?  Focusing on what’s right and not on what’s wrong?

Choose the positive because, honestly, even if you’re not feeling particularly positive, it will come around once again if you wait long enough.  I can promise you that.  The truth is, some of the seemingly “worst” situations of my life have been giant blessings.  You have no idea what’s on the other side.

It’s grounding to remember, while you’re jumping up and down, that you’re one breath away from disaster and when you’re in a heap of tears on your bathroom floor, that you’re one breath away from dancing.

People who win the lottery usually end up broke.  People who get sick often get well.  People who are well often get sick.  Beautiful weddings may end in bitter divorce.  Bitter divorce may be the start of a beautiful life.  Jobs lost can mean new and better jobs found.  New and better jobs found can be taken away in a heartbeat.  Life is fleeting.  It’s beautiful and it’s fleeting.  Savor, sip, breathe…  and keep your feet on the ground.

There’s work to be done and we’re the ones who have to do it.

Good luck, bad luck…  we never, ever know for sure.

xox

Sindy Warren|Mom Truth Bomb

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Tell us about YOU!  

I live in Shaker Heights. I have one daughter, Olivia, and she is ten. I also have two stepkids: Ezra (28) and Amanda (25). Ezra has two kids, Dante (3) and Penelope (6 weeks), so I’m a grandma too. I’ll focus on being Olivia’s mom here.  I am an employment lawyer by background and have an HR consulting business that I run from my house. When I need to see clients, I go to them. For the most part, my schedule is fairly flexible and I’m usually able to be home with Olivia before and after school. Not always, but a good percentage of the time.  I love having my own business; I’ve worked hard to grow it and it’s a pretty steady workflow, though the ebbs and flows are inevitable. I love the flexibility my career provides me with. And because the flexibility is there much of the time, I don’t often feel guilty when work takes center stage for a while.

Do you ever have Mommy envy?

Don’t we all? I stand in awe of friends who have more than one child and work and stay in shape and are committed to personal growth and relationship building. I wonder how they do it all. I have one admittedly easy child; I am so blessed. Of course, she hasn’t hit her teens yet so I could absolutely be in for some rough times.

Give us a ‘day in the life’?

Average weekday: get up early and work until Olivia comes down for breakfast. Get her ready for school, pack lunch, etc. When she’s off to the bus, I either continue working, go for a run or hit a yoga class. I exercise most days. Then more work, taking care of house, dog, food shopping, etc., until Olivia gets home from school.  Drive her to whatever activities she may have. Make a nice dinner. Sit with her while she eats and then have a date night with my amazing husband when she’s getting ready for bed or finishing up homework. After she goes to bed we often watch some TV, get in bed to read, and call it a day.

What’s your favorite part of the day?

Dinner; catching up with my family.

What’s the toughest part of the day?

Those hours b/w 3 and 6. My body always wants to nap!

What I wish was a staple in my day:

Meditation! I often intend to and then I let my “to do” list get in the way.

What seems to come “easy” to others that you struggle with (from your perspective)?

Being all-consumed with “mommydom.” I’ve always been the type who needs to put my oxygen mask on first – take care of myself so I can take care of my loved ones. I’m selfish this way.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Right now I have an amazing relationship with Olivia. We were on a walk recently and she stopped to tell me “Mom, I think we have a really special relationship.”  I hope she feels that way in five years and beyond. I also hope my work situation stays pretty much the same – interesting work, a business I’ve built myself, flexibility, an income where I contribute to my family’s well-being and serve as a good role model for Olivia.

The truest thing about being a mom:

You can’t imagine how much you will love your child(ren) until you have them.

Funny mom story:

Olivia has always been a deep thinker. She ponders issues such as the meaning of life and whether there is a God and why. It is part of her nature.  Once, when she was no more than five, we were driving in the car and she said, apropos of nothing, “Is this real or is someone else dreaming this?”  My jaw dropped open.

Do you feel supported by other moms?  What does this look like in your life?  

I do feel supported by other moms that I choose to spend my time with. Having said that, I think there is some judgment out there about moms who make different choices (stay at home v. working). Maybe this is nothing more than “cliqueness” that exists to some degree in many social circles.

Do you think you’re a good mom?

I think I’m a really good mom. I’m not a mom who makes everything in my life all about my child. Many mom friends do that and to them I might seem not as good.  But I actually think it’s better for my daughter to see me as a complete person, not just her mom. Of course, anything she needs, I’m there. But she sees me put time and energy into my marriage, my friendships, my health, my work. I think this is the right balance to model for her. (Having said that, I sometimes have self-doubt about this).

What has surprised you the most about being a mom?

I’m not actually a “kid” person by nature. As a teenager, my friends would stop and ooh and aah over cute babies. I never really understood that. Instead, I had that feeling when I saw a cute dog. But when it comes to my daughter, I am all in. Totally in love.  I love to just stare at her when she sleeps, reads, does her homework.  She’s got my heart, completely.

Sindy, thank you so, so, much for taking the time to write about being a mom.  You are beautiful (stunning!) inside and out and every time I see you at the studio you light up the room with your smile.  Your dedication to your yoga practice is inspiring and from where I’m standing, you truly are ‘superwoman’ with your family, career and commitment to health and well-being.  Love and light to you!

xxx