clearing my mind

I sometimes wonder about meditation. Lots of people seem to find peace in it. My ex husband used to meditate all the time. Not that I’m all that inclined to want to do anything, really, that my ex husband used to do, besides, he used to envision himself floating up over the room and looking at himself from the outside, and I’m not sure how I feel about all of that… I mean, I’d probably look at myself and see the rolls of fat on my sides, and then I’d be back to square one. But I suppose, if I were trying to be objective about it, I might see that there is some value in being able to clear your mind completely of all the thoughts that fly in and out, connected or not. I am an intense person; it’s part of my charm. I’ve always been intense, and in some good ways, my intensity has made me feel things differently than others. I admit I am extreme – when things are good, they fill my soul. When they are bad, I ache to the core. When I am angry, my blood boils; when I am in love, I love with my whole spirit. It’s just who I am. But with intensity comes a lot of pain, too. I can put things to rest in my heart, but my mind will keep turning them around, and around, until the anger bubbles up again – for what? Having a clear mind, controlling my thoughts – these would never take away the simple fact of having to deal with particularly difficult days, emotions, people, but perhaps they would help to simplify my approach. Take it down a notch from very intense to just passionate. Realistically passionate. Or better – passionately real.

I’ve tried to meditate.  I just tried it a few minutes ago. I began by sitting on the sofa in my office (yes, I have a sofa, a black leather one, it’s wonderfully luxurious), my legs not crossed because I’m wearing high heeled boots, and let’s face it, I really wasn’t all that committed. I opened my arms out, like I’ve seen them do in the movies, and I began to breathe deeply. It’s amazing how hard it is to breathe. I think that we humans take so many things for granted – even breathing is involuntary so we don’t put a whole lot of effort into it. I focused on my breathing, taking air slowly in, counting to 5, then expelling all of the air I could from my lungs, again, counting to 5. Try doing this for a minute. I learned it in therapy as a form of relaxation; a strategy for calming myself before facing a challenge that would previously have me terrified and shaking. As a one-minute relaxation exercise, the breathing, if you can master it, is a gift. But people can do just about anything for a minute. Beyond that, here is what happens to me: breathe in…two, three, four, five… breathe out…two, three, four, five… breathe in, two, my eyelids keep fluttering, maybe i should close them hard, three, four, no that hurts, I can feel my contact lenses, five… breathe out, two, three, oh that feels good, four, did I lock the door of my office?, five, oh, yes, I did…breathe in, two, I’m breathing really loudly, I wonder if someone can hear me outside, three, four, I’ll try to breathe softly, five… ok now I’ll try it without sound, breath out, two, three, four, five, no that didn’t feel right, I’ll have to do it again… breathe in… two, three, four, this isn’t really working all that well, five… breathe out…two, three, this is really boring, four, five… breathe in…two, I feel like I’m going to yawn now, three, four, yes, I used to yawn a lot when I did Pilates, five… all that good oxygen going into my lungs… breathe out…now that was relaxing, two, three, four, five… breathe in… two, maybe I should do Pilates again, three, four, I really suck at this, five.

I mentioned to my husband yesterday that I would love to be able to meditate, to have real peace of mind. But I also admitted that if I did, I probably wouldn’t have anything to write about. And to be honest, writing has in some ways become my own personal form of meditation. Sometimes I have a lot to say, sometimes, I don’t. But for now, as long as the thoughts are in writing, they are no longer in my head. So with that, Namaste.

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Even as a child, I would study the unexpected turns in my life and try to find the lessons in them. I am nothing if not reflective. As an American citizen raised in Sao Paulo, Dallas and Madrid, I am a classic adult TCK*. Perspective is key, and I look at everything through multiple lenses. It used to make my son crazy when as a boy he would press me for a firm stance on something and I would often answer “well, that depends…” I am a thinker and learner, writer and story teller, counselor and coach. After almost of quarter of a century in k12 education, I am now on sabbatical, taking some time to breathe, reflect, dream, explore life’s many gifts, and write. When I was around 8 years old, I starting writing down my dreams and these turned into stories. I have been blogging since 2010, have published several articles about the need for change in how and what young people learn, and I am currently working on a couple of manuscripts. One is a collection of motivational essays for women leaders in international education which I am co-authoring with my friend and colleague, Debbie Lane. The other is more of a memoir, a personal story about love, sacrifice, and hope. Hope and gratitude are common themes in my writing, my work, and in my life in general. Everyone has a story to tell. Thank you for taking some time to explore mine. I hope you’ll come back. *A TCK is a third-culture kid, someone who has spent a significant number of their formative years outside of their passport country. It is an experience that typically has a profound impact on the development of self and identity.

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