Annapurna Woman

Dear kids,

I recently discovered the website Annapurna Living which is headed by Carrie-Anne Moss. I must admit that I’ve had a secret girl crush on Carrie-Anne Moss ever seeing her as Trinity in The Matrix, as well as Memento, and I’ve been hooked recently on this site.  It has a section called Annapurna Woman in which women who “embody the nurturing spirit of the annapurna life” are asked a series of questions. I don’t pretend to be able to claim this for myself, (although it’s a lofty goal),  but as I’m a sucker for these types of interviews, I decided to answer the questions myself:

HOW DO YOU START YOUR DAY?

I aim to wake up at 6am or 6:30 to have a good hour before everyone else wakes up. I make a pot of green tea and sit and meditate and do pranayama breathing for 10-15 minutes. I clean my face with just water and rosewater toner (no face soap in the morning), and do abhyanga sesame oil massage.  Depending on the day, I’ll do yoga (usually on Mondays), or a pilates DVD or some ballet barre exercises, which I recently rediscovered a love of. Or I’ll aim to go for a walk after dropping the kids off later at preschool.

When my kids wake up around 7am, we take ten minutes to do snuggles on the couch. I think this is the most important part of the day. Then we sit down and have a calm breakfast together. It helps that their preschool is just a two minute walk away, so I never feel we have to rush in the morning.

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU ARE OVERWHELMED OR STRESSED?

Go for a jog.

Take a hot aromatherapy bath.

Make a therapist appointment.

Get a massage.

Massage my head and face.

Breathe.

Write in my journal.

Call up a friend who I know will really hear me and who will lift me up.

WHAT GIVES YOU THE FEELING OF TRUE BLISS WITHIN?

I find pockets during the day where I’m suddenly overwhelmed with a feeling of true bliss. It often has to do with my kids.

When I see my kids playing together.

When my son sings my daughter a bedtime song.

When my daughter asks my son for a hug and he obliges.

When either one of them accomplish a new skill and the look of pride on their faces. When my son says he wants to make a present for me or someone else.

Taking my daughter to her dance class.

Walking my kids to school gives me such a feeling of bliss every morning, as well as picking them after school in the afternoon. We walk along a tree-lined street to get to their preschool. It’s peaceful and I get a feeling of being blessed that I have the honour of being able to take them to school and pick them up.

I also get a pocket of bliss noticing things like the way the sun reflects off a pool of water, or a leaf changing color. The ocean, when I can get there, gives me a profound feeling of bliss: its energy, the sound and smell, the feeling of the all-encompassing wind.

WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’ve lately been heading into bed right after the kids are down for the night and reading in bed instead of watching TV. The light from the TV, I have found, makes me feel more awake and less relaxed. I love watching TV but have decided to reserve it for earlier in the day or for weekends.

Currently I’m reading The Light Between Oceans and Things I want my Daughters to Know by Alexandra SToddard. Wild Money by Luna Jaffe is next on my list.

WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW?

Some relaxing nature sounds from an app on my iPad.

WHAT IS YOUR GO-TO SIMPLE RECIPE?

Coconut tofu with homemade peanut sauce and vegetables served over brown rice. My kids really like this dish.

Also: Roasted root vegetables: sweet potato, carrot, parsnip, turnips, potatoes, served with garlic aioli. Bean or lentil salads with quinoa, dressed in a vinaigrette.

WHAT ARE SOME SIMPLE THINGS YOU DO FOR SELF-CARE?

I’m pretty good about self-care. I get monthly massages and have a spa night once a week on Sundays in my bathroom. I steam my face with peppermint and lavender herbs, followed by an oatmeal scrub mask, a lavender salt body scrub and a whirlpool foot bath. When we go to California one of the first things I like to do is get a mani/pedi at a nail salon.

On Saturday mornings I go for a jog and then take my daughter to her parent-and-me “jardin aquatique” class. The pool is heated very well for the small children and it feels wonderful to get in after my run, especially in the winter.

On Saturday evenings I have a hot lavender bath with candles and herbal tea (or sometimes a glass of wine) followed by a movie with my husband (and maybe another glass of wine).

I try to get out in nature as much as possible for a walk. More often than not, that’s a nearby park, but sometimes I manage to venture further out into the countryside.

Yoga at least once a week, and breathing exercises and sitting meditation every day.

I aim to write in my journal at least a few times a week.

I call up friends to chat while I’m power walking or folding laundry.  On Saturdays, I take my son to his piano lesson, and then go to a cafe and order a drink and call or Skype on my phone with my best friend in California.

I schedule in lunch or coffee or wine with a friend at least once a week. I also schedule in lunch or coffee by myself, in order to listen to how I’m feeling, and what I need.

WHAT DOES NOURISHMENT LOOK LIKE TO YOU?

Nourishment is family meals at the kitchen table several times a week.

It’s being able to reschedule my work to have a bed day every once in a while.

Taking day trips every so often with my family.

Sunday afternoon movies while snuggling on the couch.

Scheduling one on one time with each member of the family.

Being inspired by other women, learning from them, the things they have learned.

Being uplifted by good friends who are kindred spirits, who know me and hear me, and being able to reciprocate.

Being present with my children and being able to show them new things and give them new experiences.

HOW DO YOU MAKE SPACE FOR PLAY?

Play doesn’t come very easily for me. I sometimes resist it. My kids are helping me through this as they often ask me to play. They ask to do dance parties in the living room to 80s and 90s music. How can I say no to that?

I have a rule: If we pass a merry-go-round, I never say no to my kids” request for a ride, and in the summertime, I never say no to a request for an ice cream cone.

Yesterday afternoon as I was picking my kids up from school, they asked to go to the local pool after school. We have never gone during the week, but as it was a cold rainy winter day, it was a great idea (indoor pool, well-heated). We were the only ones there in the early evening, and it was so much fun to splash around together.

I recently rediscovered my childhood love of ballet. It’s an amazing thing to come back to something after so many years and realize it gives you the same joy it used to.

Taking off for the day to explore a different part of Paris, its cafes and bookstores and parks and merry-go-rounds. Sometimes by myself, sometimes with my kids or sometimes with one kid. One-on-one time to play with each child is extremely important, I have found. I am still learning how to schedule that in.

WHAT ARE SOME FAVORITE MANTRAS YOU CLING TO?

“I am open to the path that the Universe has for me”, or “I am open to the path that God has for me”, depending on the day.

Or, “I open myself to the path that God/the Universe has for me”.

This past summer on a trip to Big Sur, one of my best friends was telling me about some mantras he uses, and this was one he suggested. It gives me a feeling of being able to let go of things that I cannot change, and to stop worrying about things that are out of my control.

Every morning while meditating I say a prayer of thanks and gratitude for my life, my breath, my family, my health and my children’s health, etc.

“I breathe in abundance, I breathe out scarcity”.

PLEASE SHARE SOME WORDS OF WISDOM YOU’VE LEARNED AS A DIRECT RESULT OF SOULFUL AND EMBODIED LIVING

I used to be afraid of unpleasant emotions and would try to avoid them. But now I see them as a garden, and they all need blooming time, the unpleasant ones as well as the pleasant ones. There’s Joy over there, Anxiety as a dark shrub in the corner, Happiness, Anger, Sadness, Gratitude, Bliss, etc. They are all there and they all need to be heard at different times. Sometimes they even need to be heard at the same time. Grief and Gratitude all at once.

So, I’ve decided to invite them in rather than push them away. If Anxiety shows up in the middle of the night, I sit with it, and hear what it wants to say. When Joy comes a-knocking, I close my eyes and bathe in it. I give myself permission to spend time in Sadness and Anger. It is my experience that our emotions all come out at some point one way or the other, in one form or another, so you may as well pour them a cup of tea and hang out with them for a while.

I do also think, however, that once you’ve done that, you can give yourself permission to let them go. I have my wise best friend to thank for this bit of advice as well.  Feel what you need to feel, recognise those feelings, but then, when you are ready, digest those feelings and let them go. Don’t let them devour you. Wallowing does no good either.

I’ve decided to stop speaking badly about myself. I wouldn’t expect a friend to speak to me the way I sometimes speak to myself, so why should I do it? No more negative comments about my appearance or how much weight I’ve gained. I look in the mirror and tell myself how sexy I am. I tell my kids how beautiful I am, and doesn’t Mama look nice today? Doesn’t this dress look pretty on Mama? I don’t want my kids to grow up with a mother who puts herself down. I don’t want to model that behavior to my daughter. So instead, I’ve decided to believe that I am beautiful and perfect just as I am.

I even bought myself a bikini this summer, for the first time in 10 years. A little pink polka dot number with a retro frilly ruffle on the bottoms.  I wore it proudly on the beaches in Santa Monica during our vacation. What a 40th birthday present to myself!

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