Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Way of the Warrior and the SAHM: Kale Chips

Around this time last year, when I didn't think I was going to be having a baby, and was mentally preparing myself for yoga teacher training as a way of distracting myself from loss and infertility, I started to read the Bhagavad Gita.

In some respects, it's an easy book to read.  But it's also a difficult text to wrap your mind around, if you start thinking about it enough.  And I'm an expert at overthinking things.

It was interesting to me that a text that's supposed to be about a more peaceful way of being in the world is situated in a war.  Technically, though, the protagonist of the story--and, by extension, the yogi--is a warrior against his (her) own ignorance.  

This month in yoga class we're focusing on Virabhadrasana, or Warrior Pose.  If you've ever practiced yoga, you know that Virabhadrasana's a humbling posture: you're balancing, half-squatting, reaching, grounding all at the same time.  If you attempt to stay in the post for any length of time, chances are you'll confront your own bodily, emotional, or mental weaknesses.  But Virabhadrasana isn't about experiencing pain; it's about rising up out of your own limitations: whatever limitations you have, the pose will reveal them so that they can be addressed.  When viewed this way, Warrior can be seen as fighting the good fight, seeking the triumph of spirit.

It occurs to me that being at home with my four month old daughter is a lot like practicing Virabhadrasana.  Increasingly, each day, I find myself asking, who am I, anyway, this stay at home mom person?  I'm juggling a host of new things that I never really had to juggle before in this particular way (though I had to do them all, I had time away with adult conversation and contact that refreshed me a bit).  I'm reaching in ten different directions simultaneously.  And I can see my limitations all too clearly.

I'm still a control freak.  When N. doesn't want to nap, I feel like my brain is going to explode.  When she naps for a long time, I keep orbiting her, trying to figure out when she's going to wake up.  I keep my calendar like I did at work, full of things, only to have people cancel or forget or need to change plans.   I need to be "busy."  And sometimes being busy prevents me from actually enjoying parenting.

And yet, at the same time, I have trouble going out of my way to make friends.  There are four or five other stay at home moms on the street.  I've known them all in passing for a while.  So why am I not walking over to these people's houses to ask if they want to take a walk or have coffee?  I'm so wrapped up in my solitary routine, needing to be a good one-on-one parent, thinking that I have to play with my daughter Every.Single.Second (I feel guilty doing laundry while she's awake) that I don't build in the kind of relationship-building that I will need if I'm going to do this for any length of time.

I need to remember what the Gita teaches us about acting and not being attached to the result of the action, what we can't control, and giving ourselves the right tools to fight the good fight, against our often stubborn ignorance, against our unwillingness to let the universe unfold as it will around us.

These are good for snacking when you need extra strength to fight the good fight ... and when your access to the kitchen is a little too easy for your own good.

Kale Chips

1 bunch (about 6 ounces) kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 300°F. Rinse and dry the kale, then remove the stems and tough center ribs. Cut into large pieces, toss with olive oil in a bowl then sprinkle with salt. Arrange leaves in a single layer on a large baking sheet (I also lined mine with parchment for easy clean-up but there’s no reason that you must). Bake for 20 minutes, or until crisp. Place baking sheet on a rack to cool.

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  1. Being a goal oriented person who likes a clean house, I had a hard time staying home with my son b/c I always wanted to have everything be perfect....and then would feel guilty about not focusing on him enough. Do you maybe think you don't want to invest in knowing the other SAHM b/c you are not sure how long you are going to be one? I'm contemplating a similar path for myself if this pregnancy works out (SAHM for a while) I imagine I will have similar struggles.

  2. kale chips! one of my fav treats :)

    & being a SAHM is hard. especially if it's not the plan you originally had in mind for yourself. i've been there. shoot, i'm still there a lot of the time. there is no perfect, & most of the time i have a hard enough time just finding balance. but we'll keep fighting the good fight, won't we? i think it's what we do...

  3. @RunningMama, you may be on to something ... @Kate: absolutely. :)

  4. I thought i would be a great SAHM, investing all my time and enegy into Munchkin and future children. But sadly i am not a great SAHM, there is only so much playdough, fingerpainting and nursery rhymes i can squeeze into a week before i am mentally bored. So i work one or two days a week( for my mental sanity) and i find that i enjoy the days i spend with Munchkin immensly and playdough and fingerpainting don't see so mindless.
    If you are going to be a SAHM for a while get to know some other women in the same boat. so that you can drop in on them when your precious bundle is having a bad day. I still do it.
    take care

  5. OK: so I think gmail is blocking my old school hotmail address. I have an idea I want to run past you. Could you email me please at jessica dot carroll @ hotmail dot com? Many thanks!!!

  6. Shall we plan standing a mid-week get together? Perhaps lunch every other Friday after art class? We can start tomorrow. I love Kale chips and coffee. How does 11:45 sound?
    And while N needs you, she really just needs your comfort and your breast. It is OK to walk away. Give yourself a break and her too;)

  7. Balance is SO hard to achieve. I almost think that as difficult as it is with you physical self, it's more difficult to achieve in your life and in your head. When you are physically trying to balance, your body systems are fighting one battle together: a battle against gravity. And it's easy to know when you've won. When balancing your life and mind, it's harder to know when you've achieved that - or even what needs to be done!

  8. I understand the whole control freak thing and with kids it just gets blown to bits. SO I make sure to keep up with my bubble baths and that seems to help. FACT: You have my heart. Seriously, now you know what I eat for dinner. I like mine with finely ground cashews and melted freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

  9. I'm not in the motherhood circle yet, but one day I hope to join you all. That being said, I have many friends and the wisdom of my mother that she passed down to me, and you do need to find some way to cultivate your mind. Balance is not something that I have in my life, but I know that I would do much better with it. But balance does not mean everything in equal portions. It seems I need to add in the things I like more, to balance out the things I like less. I keep meaning to make Kale chips, so far I've just been snacking on fruit, but I will have to make some kale chips here soon.

  10. This post made me realize how much I miss yoga.
    Kudos to you, I couldn't be a SAHM. I love my bug and miss her all day, but that's a hard job to do!!

  11. Hi here from ICLW #118. Be with your girl. Its what you want for now. The neighbors will be there to walk with later if and when that feeling wears off. Tracey


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