23. Meditate

I envy people who meditate regularly. It sounds so nice to be able to clear ones mind and absorb the quiet. I find that whenever I take a moment of quiet, that is the signal to my brain to start the to-do list. So, the skill of clearing ones mind is impressive to me. On a recent vacation, I read the book Eat, Pray, Love (I say recent vacation... the vacation was over a year and a half ago... this tells you how often I "vacation"). I was particularly intrigued in the Pray portion of the book. The author, Elizabeth Gilbert studied at an Ashram in India and engaged in marathon chanting and meditation sessions. She honestly shared her experience in such an accessible way. I believed then that I could benefit from meditation. I still believe that now (key word: benefit).

I have monkey mind. The term "monkey mind" is a Buddhist term that means, "unsettled; restless; capricious; whimsical; fanciful; inconstant; confused; indecisive; uncontrollable." Apparently I have ordered a big whopping serving of all of the above. I seriously think that the only time my mind is quiet is when I am asleep - and even then, I am working out some crazy stuff with the insane and vivid dreams that I cook up. Is it possible that I just can't meditate?

Listen, I tried. I really really tried. I have a podcast downloaded on my ipod with 3 different meditation programs. They are about 20 minutes each. I set aside the first 20 minutes of my son's nap time each day to meditate. Every day, within five minutes, I was sawing logs. Napping. Sleeping. Soundly. The tinkly music and calming voice still playing in my ear as though I was achieving my goal, when the only goal I was achieving was rest. I don't think I succeeded in actually meditating.

I might have known I wouldn't be cut out for this. When I was practicing yoga regularly, that could have been the closest I have ever gotten to meditation without falling asleep. Still, my mind would wander to different "problems" that I felt I needed to work out, like what to have for lunch, or where my lost pink crocs (which I am not at all ashamed of) have disappeared to, or perhaps most importantly, when I was going to catch up on all of my TIVO. I can't be the only one this happens to. So here is my question, and I honestly don't know the answer, does my effort count? I mean, the fact that I set aside the time, and tried to get into a meditative state (whatever that is) - even though I only achieved sleep (which I also really needed), does that count? I am not calling this a failure, because I tried. I still believe that I could benefit from meditation, but maybe I'm just not cut out for it. Or maybe I need a class. As long as I don't have to get graded, I'm all for it!

Here's where I get stuck, I like my monkey mind. I thrive on the quick pace of my brain. I get excited by the many thoughts that pass through by the minute. I think my mind is so much a part of who I am. I don't know that I want to calm it. I don't know that I want to hit the mute button on what makes me... me. Maybe I don't want to meditate at all. Maybe I think I "should" and that's why I gave it a try. I admire people who meditate and can find that calm in their lives, but I am afraid that that kind of calm would change all the things I love about myself. I am getting better at spotting these "shoulds" in my life. Acknowledging the times I tried something because I felt like others wanted it for me more than I wanted it for myself. When I make decisions based on other people's desires for me, I never am satisfied. True satisfaction only comes when I fulfill my OWN needs and desires.

Lesson learned: I can admire other's ability to do something, and not have to do it myself. Not have to even WANT to do it myself.

Next week, I am going to see my city like a tourist.


22. Tell My Dear Readers What's Up!

Yes, something is very much up. I have been conspicuously absent from the blogosphere for the past month. Perhaps you've noticed. It's not that I haven't been stretched or challenged, quite the contrary. The past month has stretched and challenged me beyond what I could have created myself with the careful construction of a list. It's time for me to share some stuff with you, friends. Some stuff that may change the direction of this here blog, but I hope that will not deter you from visiting and continuing to challenge and stretch yourself.

Just the other day, when I picked my son up from preschool, his teacher met me at the door with a smile on her face. "It's really not funny, Colleen, but I have to tell you what happened today." She pulled an incident report out from a file folder. Again, she covered her smiling, almost giggling mouth with her hand as I read the report. It appears as though my almost 3 year old son (who has the energy of... well... an almost 3 year old) took off running laps around the gym during free play. He tripped and fell resulting in a huge swollen goose-egg on his forehead. According to my son's teacher and the report, "he didn't even cry. All he was concerned with was getting a band aid." Much to the surprise and delight of his teachers, once the icepack was applied for an appropriate period of time, and the aforementioned band aid was affixed to his bulging forehead, he took off running again.

By the way, telling people you have something to share, and then distracting with a seemingly unrelated story is what we call a "tease" in radio. It's annoying to be sure, but I promise you it will all make sense in a short moment. Stay put and keep reading. Please.

When my son came running out of the classroom sporting a blue band aid right smack in the middle of his forehead that said, "I'm okay" I could not have been more proud of him. He was down for the count for just a moment, but then back in the game. Unafraid of what roadblocks life (or rather, a poorly fitting pair of crocs) could throw in his way. It's been two days, and I still haven't seen what kind of carnage is hiding under that band aid. He is too proud of his badge. This is the way my husband and I have approached our lives in the past five years. I had a worry-free (or relatively worry free) pregnancy with our first child. We joyously welcomed our baby girl, Brady (named for my maiden surname) into the world, only to have her suddenly taken 109 days later - a victim of SIDS. My second pregnancy was quite short lived. It seemed that we had just found out we were pregnant and soon after we were experiencing the pain of a miscarriage. This beautiful son that inspires me daily, Ollie, was conceived shortly after the miscarriage, and that pregnancy was filled with fear. His birth was joyous, but again, the first few months of his life were cloaked with that same fear. We were no longer innocent to the temporary nature of life. He is, of course, alive and thriving, and for that we are abundantly thankful every moment of every day. I was determined to make my next pregnancy fearless. I told people early in the pregnancy because I didn't want to be frightened. We named the baby quite early in pregnancy (we had the same name picked out for a boy or a girl), and we anxiously awaited the fateful date when we could find out what flavor Parker would be. The day proved to be fateful in quite another way. On the day that we discovered that Parker was a girl, we also discovered that she had some of the most severe birth defects that made her incompatible with life. In short, it was a miracle that she had been with us so long. We said goodbye to Parker Hope Lindstrom at 20 weeks of pregnancy in November of 2008.

You are probably guessing what my next words are going to be, and you are correct, I'm pregnant, again. But that is not all the news. Matt and I had one wish, ONE more healthy baby. Well, it turns out that there were different plans. We are expecting TWO more babies. I am admitting to you that I am very afraid, for reasons that are so great in number that I couldn't begin to list them here. I am also feeling as blessed as can be.

Please understand, though we have experienced losses, these babies are not coming to "replace" those we have lost. We have heard that all too many times, and I simply cannot believe it. It may come as a shock to hear this, but what my husband and I have gained from the experience of grief I wouldn't trade for the world. This is the road we have come to walk, and we try every day to walk it with grace, and so having two babies in no way erases the pain we have suffered or the children we have lost, nor do we want it to.

We continue to "count" Brady and Parker among our children, and hope and pray that the two that I am carrying now will join their brother, Ollie in a vibrant life. When Matt and I were married, we planned to have two children. We have been blessed now with so many more, and we love them all equally. Like our son, we have taken off running laps, we have fallen and gotten hurt, we have gotten back up, dealt with the pain, and taken off running again with the band aids proudly displayed. We are not ashamed of where we've been, we honor it. It has made us better mates, better parents, and better people. We have lost friends that are uncomfortable with our grief, we have made friends who celebrate life (however short) with us, we have navigated uncomfortable conversations with well-meaning acquaintances when they have asked the question, "how many children do you have," and we have tried to live our lives in a way that would make our daughters proud.

Quickly, upon finding out that we were expecting twins a few weeks ago, my emotions shifted from focusing on the fear I felt, to focusing on the excitement of twins. I have been given the gift of a whole new pregnancy. A whole new experience. I have no intention to make this blog a parenting blog. Instead, I want to acknowledge that sometimes we are faced with challenges that cannot be accomplished in a week or even a month. Sometimes when we stretch ourselves, we are stretched indefinitely and we cannot control the outcome. We ask for support, we share our truth, and we hope for the best. That is what I intend to do here. Starting now, I will check in weekly (again, I promise), I still will post blogs that are totally unrelated to my pregnancy, but frequently I will likely blog about how this pregnancy is stretching me figuratively, not literally (although - rest assured, that is happening).

So that's the news. Two new Lindstroms arriving in the winter. I never got around to that laughter yoga - but there has been plenty of laughter and celebration around here. This week I intend to meditate every day. Trust me, I need it.

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