Off the Mat: Positivity Downs Winter’s Walls

Cabin Fever Gratitude

It’s 4 degrees outside and snowing. Again. I’m at the kitchen counter with my coffee dregs. 10 feet away, building a marble set, he’s forgotten I’m here. What can I get done without moving? I reach my phone and type email with my thumbs. Usually, I take advantage of voice dictation, but speaking would remind him I’m here. I wonder how many generations will pass before the phrase “all thumbs” is considered an asset.

The rhythmic tapping of glass rolling across wood is suddenly drowned by an eruption of vocal energy.

GHARRRRRAAAAGGHHH!!! Mawble alert!! Mawble alert!!! He pounces. Marble captured.

As his self-contained chatter resumes, one ear scans for sounds requiring attention or intervention: my name, the upturned inflection of a question or any statement punctuated with wight? In response, mmmm hmmm or that’s cool satisfy without engaging.

Am I being unkind? I wonder. It doesn’t feel unkind. It feels more like parallel play. Feels like survival. He’s engrossed. I have space. Yet the tools I need – paper and pen or keyboard and screen – are out of reach. I must move.

Moving breaks the spell.

This is the limbo of snow days. School vacation. I can do tasks: return email or pay bills. But work that requires deeper focus – writing, planning classes, the meditation practice that makes a deeper flow of conscious teaching possible – can’t be done while listening for marbles in the bathroom sink.

How do I choose to respond?

Aching after three hours of shoveling, I spread out my mat. Turning my attention inward, I hit a wall of frustration, born from days upon days snow bound with a chatty kindergartener. Days filled with other people’s needs and tasks and not getting to my own and then without focus or inspiration when I do. How do I direct this energy that wants to throw the #@*&% meditation cushion?!

How do I choose to respond?

I move. Breathe. Shift my attention to appreciate my (mostly healthy) back. The fact that we have heat – and a home. That my client load is currently small enough to shift people easily around snow days. That shoveling has helped my resolve to get outside daily, even if some days I’ve gone no farther than the snowbank across the street.

Monday of school vacation, my hubby texts, “Just to make you crazy, I have to change my day off. How much of a problem does that cause?”

Snow has thrown everything off. He isn’t in control of his schedule.

How do I choose to respond?

Shift the plan by one day. Reschedule an appointment, again. Breathe out my frustration and embarrassment. Embarrassment? Why am I embarrassed to reschedule an appointment?! Shake my head at my own silly emotional gymnastics.

My weekend intensive with my yoga teacher – the last before he moves to California – is cut short by Yet. Another. Storm. The roads aren’t too bad but other drivers are – swerving in and out of lanes with no extra breaking room. I see two cars off the highway in my long, slow drive home.

How do I choose to respond?

With gratitude. The one day trip included dinner with a dear friend. The morning with my teacher gave me another clue into the physical and energetic puzzle of my body. I arrive home safely to an enthusiastic welcome.

It’s not that negative thoughts aren’t there when I drop below the surface. But with enough practice, I can now see the fork in the track for my trains of thought. Choose the one that leads towards more kindness. More ease. More gratitude.

[Photo : Snowvasana. Credit: Ginny Hamilton.]


Ginny Hamilton

Ginny is a yoga instructor, Reiki practitioner, gardener, activist, and middle aged Mama. She has put down roots in South Amherst with her spouse and young son. Daily she’s amazed by the beauty the Pioneer Valley offers, though her allergies beg to differ. She believes our natural state is to be balanced in body and mind so spirit can flow freely. Because modern life gets in the way, she offers self-healing bodywork to unravel imbalances and restore energy flow. In Off the Mat, Ginny explores how yoga’s physical and mindfulness exercises help her parent and how parenting shapes her yoga practice.

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