Saturday, February 9, 2013

Grace, Sometimes

The Matron was a reluctant dog park participant today.

Her husband is vacationing in sunny Florida while yours truly:  drives, cleans, cooks, works, and fusses.   The usual stuff, only John's too (who KNEW that one had to slightly angle and kick the snow blower?).   Six days of hauling Matronly ass.

At least that is how she was feeling, facing the dog park.

Lest one slap that Insane sticker on her forehead (DOG PARK?   On top of the job and the family and the driving and the meals?), let her remind her readers that she lives with Satan's Familiar and a 90 lb coon hound (Boc).  Those 90 pounds are solid, insatiable energy that must be spent somewhere.  If not running through 35 snowy acres with a pack of doggie friends, Boc will expend that energy --nonstop -- inside of the house.  And make her crazy.

Plus?   The Matron understands Need.  That dog is hard-wired to run and, in his own dog way, suffers when  open spaces aren't at his command.  She knows this and succumbed her own desires to the needs of -- a DOG.

The Matron trudged into the snow-laden, freezing, gray, dog park with History that went beyond the dog.  The past four days?   A blur on her own:  ACT test for the oldest, rehearsals for Scarlett, Merrick sick again with the never-ending virus, enormous dramas at work,volunteer work, a freelance writing project, driving, driving, driving, nightly dinners, cleaning bathrooms, laundry and 120 students each expecting acute individual attention.   Entirely too many constituents.

She entered the dog park annoyed that she herself alone emptied the dishwasher so someone could do homework, unfettered, and got up early just to make bacon and eggs when teenagers are capable of using a toaster on their own.     The laundry bothered her, how it confused the teenagers and she was the failsafe for wool hand-washables, and Merrick was afraid of the basement for his drum lesson so she had to create a make-shift space upstairs.   She was weary of the virus visiting her house, the endless soups, teas, and remedies she herself - without recognition -- was deploying.

Plus she was wearing snow pants and a parka.     Not her best look.

In the midst of the crabby, cold, martyr-leaning walk, Satan's Familiar -- Scruffy -- had a moment.   A small guy (poodle-terrier) he's the sensitive sort.  Twig caught in curly fur?  Scruffy is rendered immobile.  He waits until his human extracts the offending twig before he can trot on.      Water to walk across?  He waits to be carried.  The mutt thinks he's a prince.

Near the end of the walk, the Matron saw Scuffy at a dead halt ahead, holding up a front paw and looking around for her.   They made eye contact.  She knew.

She took off her mittens and held the paw in her hand until a hard snow pack melted.   This took a bit of time while Scruffy waited patiently, immobile with paw in hand, looking at her the entire time - -waiting.   When the last crisp ice pack melted, she patted his head and said "Good boy."  

As he dashed off with barely a glance -- free! -- she realized that this was her life:  John, Stryker, Scarlett, Merrick -- yes, even the dogs.  We stoop or stretch to care for another, offer what they need.    This mother  is simply the one who does what's needed.  Hold a paw or scratch a back or take over garbage duties if it's a really, horrible adolescent  day, or take over the family when your partner needs a break   -- sort of the same thing.

When she put her hand back in the mitten, the skin was warm.  

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Sometimes, She Scares Herself

Yesterday marked Day 36 of the Bikram Yoga challenge: not being one to settle for the ordinary 30-in-30, yours truly felt compelled to go six more days.

Just in case nobody noticed.

Although the Matron does her best not to think during class -- just listen, breath, and move-- sometimes epiphanies visit her.  This is a pleasant offshoot of the meditative yoga experience.

In the midst of yesterday's Standing Tree Pose, such Realization flashed through the Matron, from her prayer-like hands to her one-legged root.   She came home eager to share this wisdom with her husband.

Matron:  "John!  I had a complete and total epiphany during yoga today.  I am NOT going to talk so much about myself.   Have you ever noticed how much I discuss the texture of my day?  The precise nuance and nature of my feelings, stance, demeanor?   No -- really.  Have you ever noticed that?"

John (truly, truly considering his words here):  "Um . . . -- "

Matron:  "I KNOW.   So here's the deal.     Real yoga practice demands being an empty vessel.   I've been thinking about Sunday's Dharma talk too, how living without dualism - impossible, a goal, really -- means understanding other as self, one and the same.  So I am going to subjugate my own needs and sense of self (ego) and allow that energy to move into the needs of others.   It's amazing what happens to one's own ego and sense of self when that self is reconsidered in the service and appreciation of others.  This all came upon me in a flash during yoga.   I swear that practice has completely transformed me.  What an amazing, enlightening experience these 36 days have been.   Maybe it was because I can now do the Standing Tree Pose with no hand support that I was able to achieve this realization?   Probably.  Now I can stand on one leg without a problem and even go to my heel - no hands!  That's sort of how I re-understood life as being about forgetting self and subsuming self-interest into others.  It's so exciting!     I can already feel the difference in my bones-- sort of my stance toward the world.  What do you think?"

John:  "About what?"

Matron:  "Me not talking or thinking about ME?  Isn't that interesting?"

John:  "I'm at a loss.  Interesting, yes."

Matron:  "I KNOW . . . and isn't that . . . ."  And so she continued, the new non-focus on the self becoming the new focus on her self.

John:  "Mary?  Are we done talking about how we're not going to talk about you anymore?"

Matron:  "Of course!   We're not even talking about ME we're talking about how we're not going to focus on ME.  There's a qualitative difference."

John:  "Well, let's hold that thought until we get dinner on the table."

Matron:   "Yes! I can't wait to tell the children!"

Of course, everybody was thrilled to discuss not discussing their mother and her new journey toward non-self focus.  Just the way she likes it!