Monday, August 24, 2015

Friday Selfies

Last year, as a way to mark the passing of each week of school, Baby J and I took a selfie on Friday morning before we headed out the door.  Similar to my daily outfit pics of a couple years back, it became something to look forward to, a fun weekly tradition.  J was not always a willing participant in my little project, but he humored me just long enough to get at least one decent shot.  Sure, my insistence of taking our picture made us late on more than one occasion, but I have no regrets - it was all for the sake of the selfie!

Anyways, it has taken me all summer to put this video together (old computer, new computer, long story), but finally, here is the finished product!  Thank you for watching and, like Jackson, humoring me for a couple of minutes.  And if you have any ideas or suggestions for what we can do this school year, please share!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Finding Balance

I am an amateur practioner of yoga. Actually, I don't know if following a 30-minute workout DVD once every couple of weeks constitutes as "doing" yoga, but whatever.  The few times a month that I break out the mat and work on my sun salutations, I reflect on the connections between the practice of yoga and struggles of everyday life: concentrate on your breathing, focus on your center,  reach out, and above all, find your balance.

Back in the day, I used to carry a pocket Moleskine journal in my purse, a place to write down lists, notes and thoughts.  Several years ago, I was visiting my oldest sister (a certified yoga instructor), and she led the family through a beginner's yoga class.  While talking us through the various poses, she said something that I wrote down later in my little journal, something that has stayed with me over the years: Balance is not the absence of movement.

I often have the mindset that "balance" in my life means that each responsibility (family, home, work,  health, church, etc.) is given equal time and weight, that each day is filled with equal measures of all activities.  To achieve ultimate balance, I need to accomplish tasks in each category on a consistent daily basis.  Anything less than that, and life is "out of balance" - a place where chaos and depression reign supreme.

Obviously, the only result of the above mindset is frustration and exhaustion.  And this is where my sister's words of wisdom have had so much impact on me.  Achieving balance in life necessarily requires movement: small daily adjustments, give and take, back and forth, trial and error, success and failure.

This realization has been transformative for me.  Finding and maintaining balance, then, is not a magical one time deal and Voila! You're life is balanced!  No; it's a work in progress.  It's a daily practice, a daily exercise in experimenting and figuring out what works and what doesn't.  And on the days when you find out what doesn't work, it's okay!  This thought gives you permission to fail, so long as you use those failures as the momentum to move you to a better place.

This thought also allows for those imperfections that so easily weigh on your shoulders and drag you down.  It's okay to not be perfect.  It's okay to not do all the things, all the time.  It's okay to let someone else take care of it.  It's okay to exercise one day and not the next.  It's okay to go to bed without having picked up all the toys in the house.  It's okay to leave the clean clothes in the basket for a day or two.  Or three.  (Or four.)

It's okay to work late sometimes because baby knows you love him, and you will have time together later.  It's also okay to not work late sometimes because your students know you love them, and you will have time to grade later.

The seasons of life are constantly changing, too, so what was important during one time period may not be important in another.  The activity or responsibility just simply gets put aside for a time or slowly phased out.

I guess the key word in that phrase is really movement.  As long as you are moving, hopefully forward and in a good direction, everything will be okay.

I will start my fifth year of teaching on Tuesday, and in years past finding the balance between the demands of work and home, others and self has been overwhelming, and at times seemingly unattainable. I am now looking forward to working on finding that balance each day.

I'm also looking forward to improving my Tree Pose.  It needs a lot of work...

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Happy First Year and Other Happy Things

My baby boy turned 1 year old.  I know, I'm still trying to believe it myself.  One year has gone by so fast, I sometimes find it hard to remember a time when he wasn't wobbling around on his two little feet, babbling to himself and randomly clapping his little hands. I know many mothers who vocalize the wish that their little ones stop growing up, but I for one am so excited for J to keep on growing and developing.  Right now, for example, I can't wait for him to start talking.  I want to know what's going on inside that little curly head of his.  And while I realize that the conversation probably won't be that intellectually riveting for quite a few years, I am still anxious for the day when I will hear his voice.

For his birthday, we had a small party with family.  Much to my dismay, J was not interested in his birthday cake one bit, but the rest of us enjoyed it for him (orange and lemon, yum!).  He hit the jackpot with presents - toys and games with lots of buttons to push over and over (and over and over).  Seriously, those grandparents really know how to keep a grandchild entertained and drive a mother crazy!

I knew becoming a mother would be special, but what I didn't fully appreciate was how being a mother (or a father) is what helps you truly understand the nature of Heavenly Father.  As I look at my baby and witness his daily triumphs and failures, as I practice patience and love during those especially tough days, I realize that this is how God feels towards me, His child.  He laughs with me, He cheers me on, He mourns with me when I fall, He is patient with my weaknesses, and He loves me unconditionally.  I carry this truth in the back my mind as I strive each day to be the best mother I can be for my Baby J.

And one more thing!  For the past several years, I have been blogging over on Some Sort of Crazy.  That blog served me well during both very low times and very happy times.  I decided, though, that it was time for a fresh start, a clean slate, a blank page.  My hope is to begin a new chapter of thoughts and memories here on A Run in the Park.  I invite you to follow along through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or an RSS feeder.  Comments and likes are always appreciated.  Thank you for reading!