Finding Our Moments of Zen — No Matter What That Looks Like

I bought tickets to paint with my family “on the green” one fine Sunday. I was so proud of myself as a parent. Finally, a creative, constructive, and centered day to spend outside of the house and with other families. 

Of course I had not yet checked the weather prior to my purchase; thus, I was unaware it would be the hottest day of the year — nearing three digits, at that. Thank goodness it started at 10 a.m. 

So there we were, supplies in hand, spread out on a blanket in the shade. There he was, my partner, slathering sunscreen lotion all over our little who was desperately trying to make friends. As she freed herself from the SPF, waving to each and every person who arrived and greeting each of them with an enthusiastic, “HI!” I had to remind her that, like in yoga, we need to respect others’ mats. 

That very morning I had made time for yoga. My therapist had recently reminded me the importance of, “Five minutes on the mat is better than none at all.” Having been given some loaded medical news earlier that week, and out of both a necessity and a desire to get back to a healthier lifestyle, I heeded her advice. As always, I asked the family if they cared to join. And as is often the case on a Sunday, I was solo in my endeavors. 

As quickly as I had started reaching for the sky, the door swung open and my little one rattled the baby gate. She was met with a quick and swift, “No. Mama needs to do yoga,” from her dad. The door remained open, and sounds of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse played in the background and I finished my sun salutations.

Yes. I did need this, I thought. I needed this more than I realized. I needed this more than I knew. I need this to ground me and carry me through the day on my own internal mat where I can come as needed, always welcome.

Now, back at “the green,” there we were in the late morning heat. The little one, squirming in her dad’s lap, was eventually passed to me. Futile attempts to keep her still and attentive to our painting project ensued. I offered fresh fruit, pretzels, anything to get her to just sit still. Anything to get her excited about her usually artsy and always-expressive self. She simply wouldn’t have it.

I was reminded of that sweet viral audio I’ve seen so many times on Instagram. The one to the parents of “stubborn little girls with fierce attitudes,” reminding us not to put out their fire. All she wanted to do was run — not sit still and paint — and just be free. So we did just that. 

Everyone sat around and painted, yet here she was, living her best life tearing around the park barefoot in the blazing sun. The hosts came by and joked that she was a diva with her sunglasses. I guess the apple doesn’t fall so far.

As I grew weary in the heat, I looked over and found my partner painting, without a care in the world.

Here I was, parenting this diva of ours, running in the heat, as he sat calmly and relaxed in the shade. Sweat dripping off my forehead as my toddler beamed in the sunlight, I looked at everyone — my partner included — calmly enjoying their Sunday morning.

Then I realized: This was his yoga. His moment of zen. Like I needed my morning time on the mat, he needed this.

And for our fierce little one? Her version of zen was certainly not on our painting and activity schedule. No, she was very much enjoying her divalicious “hosting” duties while giggling barefoot in the grass.

So he continued to paint his dinosaur. A moment I dare not interrupt.

And she continued to run without abandon, as if it were a cool September day. A fire I dare not put out.

And after a quick walk around the block, pounding a bottle of ice-cold water, I found myself thanking both God and my family that I woke up and did yoga that morning.

Unfinished painting of a dinosaur

Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Amber has lived in the Boston area (currently Cambridge) for double digits now. In previous years she spent her time commuting for auditions and SAG-AFTRA work between New York City and Boston. As of May 2020, she is mom to her daughter, with her long-time boyfriend, and their crazy and cuddly cats — a brother-sister duo named Helios and Selene, respectively. Constantly on the lookout for "ways to elevate her every day," and yours, too, she recently completed her yoga teacher training as she finds it important to find and create movement every day. Which is easy enough, with her love for and household full of music, from Biggie to Beethoven to Billie Holiday and beyond. Always keeping an eye out for creative adventures in and around New England, Amber will jump at any chance to visit the local farms to visit the goats and simply be outdoors. Otherwise, she's often found by the window, calligraphy pen in hand, practicing her favorite craft. After enjoying a hiatus from the restaurant and hospitality industry while being a SAHM mom, Amber is currently working — and learning — in the world of tech. Amber will always hype: brunch and simply ALL food, dancing — the sillier the better, travel and any chance to be at the beach. You can miss her with: cold wet weather (even though she was born in January?!) and horror movies. Look for more thoughts and musings from Amber at www.AmberMichele.com.

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