The alarm went off and my to do list was off to the races like a stock market ticker tape scrolling through my head: the article deadline, the letter to the governor, the power point presentation, the cell phone bill, the speeding ticket, grocery items…
“Oh Crap! We’re out of milk and it’s breakfast time! Those strawberries didn’t look too moldy, maybe they won’t notice…Can they eat canned tuna for breakfast? Oh God! I’m teaching a class this morning! Ahhhhh!”
Got the kids up, tick-tick-tick-tick… Brushed my teeth, tick-tick-tick-tick… Walked the dog – tick-tick, picked up the poo – tick-tick-tick, made the lunches – tick-tick-tick. School bags (tick), homework (tick), permission slips (tick), out the door.
“WAIT! “Tie (tick) those (tick) shoe (tick) laces (tick) or (tick) you’ll (tick) crack (tick) your (tick) skull (tick) and (tick) there (tick) ‘ll (tick) be (tick) blood (tick) all (tick) over (tick) the (tick) sidewalk!! (tick) Let’s GO! (tick)”
With no memory of how we got there, I found myself at the bus stop with my 8 year old daughter. I dumped her off with her bus stop buddies, and turned to rush back home to the demands of the ticker tape to-dos.
Said my cellphone, letting me know that a text message had arrived, and that it's time to 'check in.' A dear friend of mine, who once saw me in a state similar to the ticker-tape trance I was in this particular morning, helped me to turn the bings, pings, and rings of my cell phone into a positive thing.
Whenever it goes off, before I look or listen to the contents, I pause... and take one breath for myself.
I felt the cool, fresh Alpine Air of the foothills of Boulder, Colorado swirling in my nostrils, filling my lungs to capacity.
Some might say “F the technique, that’s not a natural way of living.” I say, it’s a welcome thought-chillaxer, and a delightful reminder to Check In with myself and see how she's doing.
Wherever I am in the moment, when that ping-thing goes off, my eyeballs pop out of my head and turn around to get a glimps of the state I’m in. In this case I saw myself all wrapped-up in a shit-storm.
Deep breath. Then my lips puckered and relaxed, creating the sound of ‘horselips’ as I exhaled. We do this in yoga all the time. Not only does it tickle your vagus nerve and illicit a relaxation response, it makes people around you feel better that they’re not embarrassing themselves like you are.
"Where am I?"
“At the bus stop. You’re here for your 'Mother of the Year' award,” said the snarky voice of ‘The Critic’ in my skull.
The Naked Lady (the other voice who has unconditional positive regard for all skull members) came to the rescue:
“Actually, lov, your body is at the bus stop at 7:50 AM. Your mind is at 9:00 AM, in a class prep, ticker tape tizzy. What do you need?”
"Oh jeez. I need to slow down. I need to see Sofia. Where’s Sofia?"
“She’s in line, about to get on the bus.”
I turned and walked back toward the bus to watch her climb the stairs. As my daughter set her foot on the first step she paused and turned to see if I was still there.
Our eyes met, and smiles painted each of our faces. Delicious connection.
I continued toward the bus and stopped beneath her window. She pressed her face against the glass (“that can’t be sanitary”) and waved her hand like it was an American Flag at a Fourth of July parade. My chest and throat filled with the pressure of too much delight that this present moment was captured.
And I almost missed it. How many of those had I missed this year already?
Ticker tape silenced for now, I strolled home with that lingering feeling of fullness, feeling like life is very simple and I am blissfully expendable.