Redefine beautiful!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

My Zen Moment

I just look worn out, really!
There was  time when it was difficult for me to "live in the moment".  For sixteen years I was a single mom raising my two sons. There were never-ending responsibilities like cleaning, laundry,  preparing food, driving to day care, school and activities, doctors, pets and boo-boos.  I worked arduous hours to provide for them.  And was a bit on the late show for a lot of their important deadlines, but I'd managed to get it done.

J's graduation: (top) Uncle G, J, me, my sis, and G
(bottom) cousin and girlfriend May '09.  Empty nester almost.
I am now sans kids (they still need me!) so I have the luxury of the occasioned Zen moments.  Of course I have a schedule and responsibilities, but I am not nearly as likely to have a running tape inside my head of past mistakes or future deadlines. I can take a shower and experience the warmth of the water relaxing my muscles without the anticipated pounding on the door, a whiny demand, "Mom!  I'm hungry!" or worse, the death shriek, "Mom!!!!  I just drove the riding lawn mower into the pool!"

Self Help, I'd have really liked a maid instead.
I recall well-meaning, childless friends offering their sage advice, in a show of love and support for my finding Zen and ultimately help me to slow down and smell the proverbial roses.  They brought gifts of books on how to achieve Zen and ultimately, inner peace.  I guess they observed my frazzled lack of focus or my signature knotted forehead.  And, those half-started books multiplied on my night-stand as a goodnight reminder of my morning's intent to 'practice' Zen only to turn out to be yet another day of the cliff-hanging train ride of my life.  My "practice Zen" line would often turn out to be another item on my list of 'to dos' that stayed uncrossed-off, which would then add to my inadequacy issues.

Yes, I wanted this, but, it wasn't in the cards.
I thought about those Buddhist monasteries and try to visualize the Zen monk studying the simple perfection of a flower while a couple of kids rough and tumble about the well manicured grounds or yanking on his robe during meditation to say "can we have a Popsicle, now?"

Yucky-poo poo!

A few days ago I had an epiphany.  I sat before a large and never ending stack of obligatory paper work, time-sensitive forms and bills to pay on the left corner of my kitchen counter top.  It had been moving to and fro my office for a few weeks or more.  I don't know about you, but I procrastinate like crazy when it comes to boring reading of documents that require my signature or dealing with financial issues like securing student loans or waiting on hold to demand a refund from an online service (hint: use American Express because they will do it for you).  I sat there looking at the daunting pile limp with shear burn-out having had a particularly enervating day.

What to do?
I was so darn sick of the obstinate stack and my stalling procrastination, I finally caved and decided it was time to simplify my life and complete the unnerving tasks.  I needed to get my ass moving and get the pile cleared completely away.  It took me three days of phone calls, re-reading, and filing away the completed projects.  While sitting on a hard plastic chair at the car repair shop, I waited on hold with financial aid and the online service without finally hanging up.  I had the uncomfortable discussions, paid the hard-to-look-at bills, located the documents required of me, faxed this, mailed that.  I did it.

I start my deep breathing...

I even peeled off the taped messages to myself of wise quotes and the spiritually obvious one-liners.  Finally, there was white space and I was in the moment.  When my counter top was cleared, I found Zen.  While hanging out there, I had a synapse that I felt within my solar plexus; everything made sense!  I had been living in the moment while raising my boys.  I had been nurturing myself spiritually like no meditating could ever have provided me.  I had been the sun my sons orbited around.  And that was an experience unlike any school, seminar, temple or monastery could ever provide me.


The deep wisdom, and education motherhood indoctrinated in me was patience, vision, strength, compassion, moral compass, respect, honor, dignity, confidence and strength (I know, I already said that).  I didn't need to read any of those books!  I had been living my spiritual honing every day and every moment while nurturing and supporting those same values in my sons.
The simple perfection of a flower.

Zen is how I choose to look at the way I have lived and continue to live my life.   My past is ALL of the memories I cherish and the ones I work hard on for forgiveness.  I can ponder on how things will be next week or next year because I have lived with the reality that "sh.t happens" and I am now skilled at the foresight to the potential outcomes resulting of my actions.

The simple perfection of sun-tea, an old orchid plant, the never sprouting avocado seed and a chia pet.

For now, I have a bare counter; no notes, lists, forms, volunteer agenda's, people to contact, bills to pay or the boys school requirements to complete.  There are no pressing emergencies or a loved one sick.
Maybe tomorrow?
I am free to study the simple perfection of a flower or close my eyes in lotus position and think nothing.  With this blank canvas, my mind wanders to the window I am looking out and I see the finger prints and water stains.  Beyond, I see my Bar-B-Q frosted with a thick layer of dust and grime.  And, I say out loud, "So What!"

I will let it go.

For now...


  1. I really like how you write! It sounds to me like you have figured it all out. It's always such a good feeling to clear the counters; I recently had a bout of that and I couldn't stop admiring how great everything looked. Of course, the piles are beginning to accumulate once again, but -like your BBQ- I am going to just let it go, for now.

  2. Hi Jan! I am glad you read this piece, you were certainly a part of that time in my life! Ahhh, for now!

  3. Thanks for stopping by the blog and for your kind comment. I enjoyed getting to know you in this post. Have a beautiful day. :)

  4. Hi Debra,

    I was a divorced mom for over 4 years so I can totally relate to what you are saying! Between a stressful & demanding job, ailing parents and being a mom I thought I would go bonkers!

    Forget about the barbeque, just look at your beautiful kitchen instead!


  5. Hi there all the way from Spain!
    Just found your wonderful blog via 'The Simply Luxurious Life". I love the way you write; it is so soothing. And as this post was about your Zen moment, you really achieved it with me!
    Please to have found this blog.
    Do pop over to mine and enter my 'Gorgeous Giveaway'.
    p.s can't believe you're over 50; you look fab!

  6. Linda, You get it! I went through my dad's cancer and eventual death during that period as well! How did we do it?

    Thank you for your lovely words. I went to your site and found it to be wonderful! I signed up! Beautiful jewelry. I'd love to be a winner!

  7. I have two boys ages 8 and 11, so, I'm right in the middle of all that chaos. But I know that time will fly by and soon they won't need me as much. I'm trying to enjoy this time with them. I am going to try to go back to my yoga classes because that is where I had my moment of zen. I think it did wonders for my mental health. By the way, my barbecue looks just like yours. Who cares, right? I just say it's low on my priority list.