Monday, August 29, 2016

Matching Tattoos

There were only two things on my daughter's todo list for the whole summer, this last summer before leaving home, posted on the white board in the kitchen for us all (2) to see. They were: to eat at the Elgin St Diner and to get matching tattoos. When she put up the list, I didn't take it seriously and was surprised by these seemingly odd things; one trivial and the other outrageous - one doable and the other impossible. 

Sure, we can eat at the diner, and did within days of her putting it on the board. A check mark went up right away.

But a tattoo? Me? I don't do tattoos. They're for other people, but what did you have in mind? I mean, if we were to get actual permanent tattoos, what could we possibly do that would deserve altering our bodies for all time? I'm not into it. You go ahead and get a tattoo when you're 18 with your own money. What site was that again? Where are the pictures of the things you like? I know! How about a big MOM on your arm? How about I get your portrait on my shoulder? How about tramp stamps? Ew! And days would pass and we would laugh and laugh.

I mentioned to a few friends, people I hold in high esteem, that my daughter wanted to get matching tattoos and how funny was that. "Do it," came right away. "If my kid wanted a matching tattoo with me, I'd get it in a heartbeat," said the next one. "Sounds like you're getting a tattoo," came a from a respectable source. 

What if I just met with a tattoo artist and had a conversation about what would be involved and what they'd recommend? Let's do some research and take our time - "I know exactly what I want and where we'll go. I follow him on Instagram and we have an appointment to talk to him on Tuesday." Whoa, that was fast. I'm not taking any money with me, I'm just going to talk to the guy. No promises. 

I could go on about the experience of walking into a tattoo parlour for the first time in my life and how odd it all was, but suffice to say I left feeling open to the possibility.

We got our tattoos a week later. They match exactly and are just what she wanted. And I realized why she wanted them and what their purpose is right now. And funny thing, the todo list started to make sense to me. 

The things on my daughter's list were things to comfort her. The diner has comfort food for the day, and the tattoo is comfort for the times to come. 

It's a week until my daughter leaves for university. My only child is leaving home. We both know this is going to be big. We know it's going to be great and are excited, but we also know it's going to hurt a bit, kind of like our new tattoos.

Heart tattoos

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Hidden Temple in my Neighbourhood

As I was looking for Pokémon last night (don't judge me), I walked past a place I hadn't been by in a while. Maybe it was the way it was lit, maybe it was the time of day, but when I walked by I saw something different. The sight of a car engine on the ground pulled me closer and I started walking a little slower. I was walking past the car repair shop but I felt as though I was walking past a temple. I don't get to many temples anymore the way I used to when I was travelling, and if I do get to temples in Ottawa, they're big and defined.

I slowed down and noticed that feeling I get when I'm looking at religious folk art. I start to notice and appreciate things like handwritten chalk numbers on the stacks of tires; the cars being worked on separately, laid out to be tinkered with; the tools in drawers and things organized in a human way, all to be used to help heal the sick. The shaman, I mean mechanic, must have been around as the bays were open and the radio was on, but I didn't see anyone.

I gave my thanks and moved on, touched by the potent sight.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Something's Going on Around Here

Something is definitely going on around here. Maybe it's time to change the name of my blog.

Not so fast.

First of all, I want you all to know I still teach yoga. Lots. It's just that you can't come to most of the classes I teach. I've been bumping into people at the Green Door and at Bluesfest asking me where I've gone and am I still teaching, and it does feel like I'm coming out of some kind of hiding place when I turn up at public gatherings. More on that later. So I still am Jamine, Yoga Teacher.

A while back I chose to stop teaching public yoga classes for a variety of reasons. Some personal, some practical, and I do miss having contact with lots of students. So maybe that will get fired up again. After my daughter leaves.

And that's the big thing. My daughter is leaving. Guys, she's grown up already. That little kid who opened the doors during my yoga classes, or waited for me outside, or who you may have heard about for years or even had the chance to see in person, has made it to the end of high school. The End of High School.

Know what comes after that? University. I parented a child who has made some powerful choices and one of the choices she's made is to leave Ottawa and go and live in Toronto, where she will attend U of T (Woodsworth College, to be specific).

I'm so excited. I'm proud of her. I'm proud of me! I'm proud of her dad and me! I am honestly thrilled that she's going to go off and study and be with new people and have new experiences and be in a great city (I grew up in Toronto).

But I am dreading September 6. Or 5. Whichever night it is that I come back home after dropping her off at her residence on Bloor Street. The night I come back home to my empty house.

My house is really empty. No boyfriend, hasn't been for over a year and a half, I know, I haven't updated you. I live in a 3-bedroom house that I bought myself and have lived in for 14 years with at least my daughter and starting in September, I will be living there alone. With the dog, for a few more weeks after that, because the dog is a Guide Dog in training, and her time will be up mid-October unless they give me an extension.

So September 5 or 6 or whatever, I open the door to my house and be alone. No one to hand dishes to to put away. No one to pick up after. No one to pick groceries up. No one to cook for. This makes me so very sad. Being a mom is one thing. Being a single mom is another thing. And then there's that very tight place of being single mom of an only child. Who is leaving.

Having had the experience of being so close to someone for so long, I'm afraid of September. I'm afraid of September for other reasons, not to mention that I'll be turning 50 that month as well.

I'm sure there will be good parts. I'm open to being surprised with how much fun I'll be able to have. But right now, I'm so sad.

To get out and be with people, I started volunteering at Bluesfest a year ago. I'm the IT Volunteer Team leader. I get to see a lot of shows. The other night I saw Joe Jackson and he sang this.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Mother Daughter Yoga at Omega

It's that time again. Time to head down to Omega for Mother Daughter Yoga. This time it feels different though.

Is this the last time we'll do it? Remmy has just graduated from high school and next summer may be busy with a job and other things. Will we be too old of a pair to continue to do it?

As I prepare to be in a workshop that has us look at what our relationships are like and how much we appreciate our daughters and how we can acknowledge ourselves as mothers for what we didn't get acknowledged for, I'm afraid I won't be able to keep it together.

I live alone with my daughter. It's been just the two of us for sometime. The thought of her not being in her room or hanging out on the couch anymore scares me. What will my life be like in a few months when she's not around anymore? We didn't do practice rounds. She didn't go away to overnight camp or go on trips with other people. We've been together for such a long time.

I'm not at all sorry this is happening, in fact, it's what we've been working towards. But now the end is clearly in sight. The finish line is just up ahead. And then my heart will be ripped out of my body and stepped on and I'll be all alone. Okay, okay, it's not going to probably be like that. But I have feelings inside like it will be like that.

Pema Chodron's lineage teaches us to live life with a broken heart. Go around in our lives with that tenderness and vulnerability at times. I definitely have a broken, tender heart. And teaching yoga from that place this weekend, being there for others while I feel my own sad, proud, open heart, will be a challenge. (Don't worry, I've got this.)

Friday, June 10, 2016

Not Rushing the Brushing (Practical Meditation)

It took me awhile, but I finally got myself an electric toothbrush again a few months ago. I had one years ago (even blogged about it) but dropped the practice after awhile.

I started brushing my teeth and when I'd spent about as much time with the electric toothbrush as I would have with my old one, the new one made a noise. Or it vibrated differently. Something happened, and the toothbrush kept going. So I kept going. Then after awhile it did it again. "Hmm, that's weird, is this toothbrush trying to tell me something," I wondered.

Later in the day I was still thinking about it, so I looked in the manual that came with it. Those little vibes mark 30 second intervals and when the recommended brushing time is over, it does three in a row to tell you you're done. So smart! My old one didn't do the intervals!

That night, I'm getting ready to brush my teeth and it makes that first noise and I want to put it away. I mean, surely, four times of those beeps is too many. Then I remember it's the recommended time. I paid lots to see the dentist who suggested the toothbrush that suggests I brush my teeth for two whole minutes. 2 minutes! Of my Life! When I'm busy! I don't want to stop for two minutes of my life when I'm busy to do something for my health and well-being and then I listen to what I've just thought and look at who I am and I keep brushing.

A few days later and I'm brushing my teeth and I notice I'm back to making a commitment to do the whole four times, the whole two minutes. I still want to rush! Have I ever felt these feelings before? (See past blog post. See many, many times I meditated wanting to rush to the end.)

There's nowhere to go. I've already set aside the time. I know it's going to be good for me and still I want to rush it. To get where? To the next moment when I won't be brushing my teeth anymore or sitting on my cushion anymore. To the next moment when I'll be rushing to get out of that moment to be in the next one I can hardly wait to get out of.

Today I practice brushing with awareness. I take my time, but not too much time because the toothbrush will nudge me to move on. I have time to brush my teeth. I have time to meditate. I have time when I'm not rushing the brushing.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Non-Attachment through Puppy Walking

There's more to the story, but basically I wound up as a "puppy walker," which means I have a puppy who lives with me until she's old enough to start serious training to be a seeing eye dog. The deal is she comes with me everywhere, like I can't leave her alone for more than an hour or two, and I take her to obedience classes and keep her alive and well for a year and a half until she's old enough to start serious training.

I know, I'm really nice.

And I'll tell you what. I have never been asked the same thing more in my entire life than I have while walking this puppy. You probably already know what it is, because you've probably already thought it reading this post. "Won't it be hard to give her up?" is the first thing out of literally everybody's mouth when they understand the deal. Universal.

So yea, rub it in. Remind me that I'm going to be giving up that smooshy sweet puppy face that lives with me 100% of the time and comes with me everywhere and is my joy and snuggle bunch. Don't worry, everybody says it.

To be honest, raising a puppy is hard work, not to mention the damage done to my home and property. (One of the deals I have about this job is I don't mention the details about that "puppy stuff" so I don't give the wrong impression about the role. But it's there.) So sometimes when people say, "won't it be hard to give her up," my real feeling is NO, it won't be hard. I'll be happy to see her go. She's a pain and I have to take care of her all the time and bring her everywhere and talk to everyone about how cute she is and how sad I'll be when she's gone.

But that's not all true. I will miss her of course and I sometimes tear up when I imagine her walking with her harness being someone's transportation and how smart she is and how good she'll be doing her amazing job. And I thought that would be the non-attachment part I'll have to do, and it probably will be. I'll get to practice non-attachment when I say good-bye to her in a year.

In the meantime, I get to practice non-attachment with myself and other people and their predictable comments. I live right downtown with no yard and lots of transient people who are new to her every time I walk outside, which means I have to engage with people every single time she needs to pee. Having an adorable puppy with me removes my veil of anonymity and makes me a target of attention and opportunities to interact. I haven't had that since my daughter was a baby when total strangers would cross the street to come and say hello.

I've changed over the months and I don't mind talking to people and answering questions about her. I don't feel anxious or impatient about it. I've come to expect it and even enjoy it. I feel more patient with the world and I have noticed I don't mind waiting in lines or things that used to bug me don't bug me so much. I feel grateful for what's happened through this process of puppy walking that's only just begun.

I'll share some of the cute photos of her here so you get to know her. (KC the yellow lab still visits but she doesn't live with me anymore.)