Saturday, May 14, 2011

Friday the 13th – An Ironic Tale of Losing One's Balance

    So here I sit on my sofa, my left foot elevated and on ice, my left arm taking a well needed break from my homemade sling, resting on the keyboard as I type away. What happened, you ask?
    Well, it all started the morning of Friday the 13th. I had just finished an energizing yoga practice and then went to the Second Cup for a chai latte and a writing session. It wasn't until I returned to the Yoga Shala to teach my mindfulness meditation class that all the trouble began. I had one student and was inviting her into the practice space to begin the class (very enthusiatically, of course), when I spun around too quickly, somehow fell down the three little steps leading into the room, rolled my left ankle, and landed on my left arm. I'm not sure how the whole thing happened, really, as it happened so fast. I stood up, limped around a bit, a little disoriented, with some pain in my left arm, but I could move everything so I thought I was okay.
     I taught the meditation class, very aware that I was quite distracted by the pain shifting in my body. My left foot was swollen, so I opted to sit for walking meditation and just give verbal instruction instead. About half-way through the class, I was pretty sure I had broken my left fore-arm.
     You see, I have broken many a bone before and I recognized the broken bone pain feeling, that feeling where your nerves are all screwed up, sending you signals that don't make sense when you look at the position your arm is in.
      As I sat there, my mind trying to notice the breath, I was aware of an attitude of acceptance, thoughts like "Well, you won't be doing your regular yoga practice for a while, but that's not so bad." or "It's you left arm, so you can still write."
      My writing! Just then, I remembered I was in the middle of writing a book, the second book in my children's fantasy/supernatural series. Would a broken arm stop me from writing? Absolutely not! It might slow me down, but me, stop writing? Never! I will write this book typing with one hand, if I absolutely had to!
    After the class, at the emergency department, the x-ray confirmed a very small fracture in the head of the ulna, a vulnerable spot as I had broken it before at a monastery in Northern Thailand (another story for another post). The doctors told me it was so small that there was no need for a cast or surgery, just put it in a sling, take Ibuprofen for pain, and if it hurts, don't do it.
    Once I was safely at home again, I took my arm out of the sling and did my version of air keyboard, moving my fingers wildly through the air. I smiled. I could type, by God, I could type without pain!
    While the idea of being able to write made me very happy, indeed, I could not help but wonder how this happened. How, on Friday the 13th, right before I was about to teach a mindfulness meditation class, could I lose my mindfulness so much that I could fall and break my arm in a yoga studio?
    The only answer I could come up with was excitement. I was so excited to share meditation with a new student that I completely lost all sense of what my body was doing and ended up on the floor.
    Reflecting back on my history of injuries, I realized that this was not only time I have injured myself because I got too excited. When I was 12, and my family was planning a day at Upper Clements Park, I was so excited that I ran down the hall and tumbled down a flight of hard wood stairs, luckily breaking only a couple of toes. When I was 14, and I realized that my grandmother had come for a visit, I ran towards our family room steps, moving too quickly to realize that an open window and a garden hose had left a puddle of water on the floor, and slid my foot right into the first step, no broken bones, but an awful lot of pain and bruising.
    Ahh, so I have a history of this, getting so overwhelmed with joy and anticipation that I lose my ground and my body awareness. Three times a charm, they say. Lesson learned. And so as I type with both hands, a little slower than usual, appreciating how lucky I am to be able to share this story with you just a day after it all happened, realizing how Friday the 13th could have been much, much worse than a cracked ulna and a swollen foot.

© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, Angela Dawn MacKay 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Recipe for a Homework Hullabaloo ( And its Antidote, too!)


One Cranky Child
One Tired Parent
Math Homework (Long Division or Fractions)
Several Unfinished Chores 
Cranky Child’s Favorite T.V. Show

Mix Parent and Child in a pot, 
twirl them around and what have you got?
Anger swirling in a spinning stew.
Who knows exactly what to do?

Stir in homework and what do you know,
this Anger Stew hasn't far to go,
before Child throws a pencil in the air,
screaming, yelling “I DON’T CARE!”

Then Parent boils, bubbling ‘ver the top,
screaming, yelling “STOP! STOP! STOP!
Stop your yelling and do your work
or I will go completely beserk!”

“Why don’t you ever do your chores, 
washing the dishes, scrubbing the floors?”
Uh-oh – the chores are now stirred in,
Child’s so mad, heads start to spin!

“I hate you! I hate you! I hate you more!”
Child gets up and slams the door.
Parent bangs, yelling “Let me in!
If you don’t, you'll never win,
win back the chance to watch TV,
your favorite show that you wanna see!”

Oh, noooo!
not that favorite show!
Not in the stew 
with me and you,
not mixed with math and chores galore,
like washing dishes and scrubbing floors!

So what do you do
with this Homework Hullabaloo?
Let’s back up and try again,
and see if we can make amends.

Start with noticing that something’s wrong,
the first grumbling or a cranky yawn.
Instead of demanding work be done,
focus on trying to make it fun.

When Child is starting to get real mad,
just drop the work and they’ll be glad.
Focus on what they’re feeling right now,
talking about it will show them how
to say how they feel when something’s wrong,
instead of mad attitude and a cranky yawn.

Let them know that your mad, too,
then show them exactly what to do.
Take a time out and leave the room,
but be sure to come back soon.

When you’re calm, come back to the table,
and maybe then you’ll be better able,
to help your child in a way that’s fun,
playing with numbers ‘til the homework’s done.

Now is not the time for talk of chores,
for it will lead to battles and wars.
Focus on one thing at a time,
and then homework should go just fine.

Better to slow down, slow down the fight,
or you’ll be fighting, fighting all night.
Instead, take the time to do it right,
with wisdom and care, not fear and might.