Thursday, December 31, 2009

Are you living AND loving life?

Today I was poking around the pantry and came upon a vial of grapefruit essential oil I bought a few months ago at Whole Foods. Back then, I was using a grapefruity shower gel and realized how much I loved the smell. I'd bought the essential oil to dab onto light bulbs, so that when they heated up they'd let off the scent (I read that somewhere, I do not instinctively know this stuff). I put some on one bulb once, and that was it.

I had a little epiphany as I stood there in front of the pantry, the grapefruit oil staring me in the face: I have not been savoring life enough. I mean really savoring it. I am so busy and distracted that I neglect or literally forget to do things I consider pleasurable. It's like I'm steering a shopping cart through life—kids, work, chores, therapeutic stuff for Max, and other must-dos piled up inside—and taking barely any breaks to cruise in a convertible with the top down. Not that I own a convertible.

While I'm sure this is true for many moms, as a mom of a kid with special needs, I've got a whole lot more piled inside my shopping cart.

These are the things that I would love to savor more of:

• Curling up on our big fat armchair with a good book. Oh, and spending time at the library picking said book. Half the fun is in the find.

• Crocheting. I've mentioned before that I've been crocheting a granny-square blanket for Sabrina for two years now. I've done maybe 14 squares. That's seven squares per year, not a great average.

• Baking. I was in Macy's a couple weeks ago and saw this Martha Stewart tea cake pan that was incredibly inspirational. I am not 100 percent sure what a tea cake is, but it's definitely little and cute.

• Playing piano. I stopped after Max was born. We have a Kawai upright that's mainly used for banging (by the kids, not me). I learned by the Suzuki Method, which emphasizes learning by listening and repetition. My mom would play records of classical music, and then when I'd sit down to play the pieces at the piano I could more or less sound them out and not be reliant on note-reading. As a result, I suck at note reading, but I'm not half bad at playing.

• Dancing. Any kind—at clubs, ballroom dancing, jazz, ballet, you name it. Dave, he of the White Man Shuffle, is not all that into it. It would be very cool to take a salsa or tango class with some (hot) instructor.

• Traveling. Before we had kids, Dave and I got around. It would be amazing to go someplace foreign with the kids. I think next summer they might be up for it; I'm going to look into renting a place in Italy or France or anyplace with good cheese, which I am sure they will appreciate.

• Photography. I adore taking photos of the kids (in case you hadn't noticed). I'd love to have more time to shoot scenery and portraits. A good friend recently suggested I become a kiddie photographer specializing in children with special needs, an incredible idea. It would take some doing, given that the very fancy, sophisticated camera I use is a Sony Cyber-Shot 10.1. I don't think I've ever seen a photographer using an idiot camera.

Well, those are the things that spring to mind. What's on your list of things you'd like to savor more of?

istock photo/David Sucsy


  1. From a place of complete selfishness I say TRAVEL to New Orleans and we'll go DANCING. Two in one. You could take the kids even--it looks a LOT like Europe.

  2. I would read, and knit, and travel, and exercise, and try to be healthier generally instead of constantly rushing from pillar to post. I hope tomorrow I will finish a sweater I started knitting months before my baby was born.

  3. When I say how grateful and blessed we are to be on this side of SO many devastating diagnosis' with Zoey .... I want to truly and fully and completely live my life daily with the same said gratefullness ..... tall order me thinks ... probably should be a tad bit more reasonable in my expectations!So... how about learning to cook.I mean really cook.Reading more often instead of blogging so much ... did I just say that?And,beginning that book that I have been nudged to begin.Somehow in re-reading this last part,I think I'm aiming too high .. again!!

    Love your list.Look forward to seeing how it pans out.Confident yu can blow through them.I'll let you be my inspiration.How's that.No pressure.

  4. Thanks for holding me to my list, Heather! I will try to live up to it. Katy, New Orleans is actually one of my favorite places in the world. That is a great idea. And, Ginger, congrats on the sweater!

    This morning, I was up superearly because I had to go get that MRI for my knee. I got home and it was snowing outside and just gorgeous. I sat at kitchen table, lights off, stared into the backyard (we're on a golf course), and just took it all in. Off to a good start!

  5. I hope you get to do more of the things you enjoy this new 2010 - so many, myself included ending up forgetting to sit back and enjoy the ride in all the rush and hubbub.

    I noticed Heathers mention of blogging - I've so got to turn off this computer:-)

    Happy New Year

  6. I have definitely not savored life. 2009 was a hard year for us. I love the idea of a fresh start in a new year. I don't have to be defeated because I got a little beat up this year. I can keep on going! I don't usually set goals or resolutions but this year I feel like I NEED to. I don't want to keep wasting my life by simply existing. I want to LIVE.

    I like the goals that you have set for yourself. Definitely attainable! I need to learn to set attainable goals instead of high and lofty goals that make me feel like I can never achieve them so why bother trying. Clearly I have some work to do...

  7. One of my resolutions this year is to do more "me" things. I don't really do anything for myself anymore. I'm not complaining, as I'm a pretty happy person. I think I just need to separate myself from the therapy/doctors/school stuff every now and then.
    I used to unwind by driving to the ocean with a big, overpriced latte. I'd like to do that more.
    I'd like to take walks that do not involve either telling Daniel to hurry up or telling him to slow down. I'd like to be able to take my iPod as well. That may mean I have to go early in the morning before Dan leaves for work, but that's OK.
    I'd like to paint my nails every week. I used to have them done at all times, but now they're usually rather dull.
    I'd like to travel more. That one will involve Daniel, as there are so many places I'd like to show him.
    Finally, I'd like to enjoy Daniel more. He brings me so much joy, but I spend a lot of time worrying about therapy and his future. I'd like to try to put some of that worry away on the shelf and go with the flow a little more.

  8. Yeah, what you said...not all of it, but some of it! And stuff that is kind of like it, as well!

    Some weeks I work sixty hours, easy, so there's no time for savoring. I feel like I've accomplished something if I can just stay ahead of the big stuff.

    I do have the ability to shut off my work mode (my work isn't rocket science, and there's not too much "workplace drama"--everyone gets along so that part is all nicely boring) and that's when I do my savoring--a little bit here, a little bit there. It's the only way I can make it work right now.

  9. I work a lot as well. It gets hard to have any 'me' time with two children (ages 12 and 13), 4 snakes, 1 lizard, 2 cats, and a dog. Usually by the time I get home from work (I don't like my job and that makes it more difficult) all I want to do is NOTHING. Just sit on the couch and veg. I will have to try to make more time for myself. My boyfriend keeps telling me to and I am working on it.

  10. I love your list! Especially since it's filled with a lot of stuff that doesn't require money :-)

    I always feel guilty when I take time out for me - there is always something that needs to be done that I'm not doing like looking at more therapies, cleaning the house, making food for the next day, ugh! You get the idea. I think having a special needs kid come with a longer list of to dos, should dos, and more guilt than parenting a typical child.

    That said, I lost my job in the summer and have recently delved into some stuff that I just love! It's made me happier in life and I think people can sense that. And, I really think Emma is MUCH HAPPIER that I'm not constantly looking up more stuff for HER to do :-)

    Here's to sticking to our list in 2010.

    Oh, and as for traveling, we'll probably take the girls to Ireland in the summer. If you ditch France or Italy for Ireland, we'd love to meet up with you in Ireland (but, be forewarned, don't plan on good weather!).

  11. I think of all the small sensual things -- like slowing down to smell the scents of foods (I remember when I took a mindfulness meditation course they got us to focus on a raison and then chew the raison really slowly, to savor the taste and texture -- sounds weird, but it's amazing how much you miss when you're on automatic pilot).

    Yes to the books. Unfortunately, I'm an Amazon junkie, and my husband will have a fit if he sees one more package show up at the door for me. Note to self: try out the library.

    I love your idea of being a photographer who specializes in children with special needs. Jennifer Graf Groneberg (Road Map to Holland) and her family were part of a photo series in a newspaper and the photos were breathtaking and I remember saying to her that I want photos like that of my son and all of my kids. We need more photos of our kids in all their beauty and diversity. We have a number of photographers in our neighbourhood who specialize in children, but I think the niche of children with special needs is untapped.

    At my MIL's Christmas party, my 20-something niece was late because she and her boyfriend were taking their Salsa dancing class. I've always thought it would be cool to learn to ballroom dance.

    In terms of your travel plans -- think about doing a house swap. We have friends who have been all over the world swapping houses. There are some great web sites for people who do this regularly.

    I love the tea cake tray!!

    Other things I want to savor are stroking our brand new kitty cat (who was rescued from being put down in a shelter) taking our dog for walks, and getting up and moving first thing in the morning instead of lying in bed where my thoughts turn to worries.

    Also, going to more movies. I hadn't been to a movie in a couple of years and I just saw 3 movies, 3 days in a row, and it was so great to be completely transported out of my life for those hours.

    Sitting and watching nature at our farm is another one worth savoring.

    And even doing my physio exercises for my wrecked knees could benefit from a little focus.

    I'll have to think more about it and make some New Year's commitments. Happy New Year!

  12. Looks like that essential oil spawned a whole lot more than a good smell!

    Next you might have to make a list of things you are going to quit doing in order to make room for these - very worthy and savory activities. Barbara


Thanks for sharing!

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