Often times we struggle with the thought of how volatile the present moment is. We suddenly pay attention to how well our children are climbing the playground’s lonely standing tree, in their still fragile bodies and warned down snickers -brand new two months ago. It’s time to size up. It’s time to find the middle ground between letting go and grabbing onto expectations, picture-perfects and the “seize the moment” quote on the ‘90s flick that always comes back on a graffiti or a teabag.
- Hug more: while we have so many things to do as soon as we start our mornings, there’s no doubt there’s nothing as mood-shaping, self-powering, soul-warming and inspiring as a hug with our kids. Don’t rush it. Mean it, squeeze it, embrace, E M B R A C E, all in caps and with a space in between, so it’s long lasting, healing. You might notice, later in the day, that you feel like you’ve taken a massage or tried that relaxing-toxin releasing-refreshing facial you have never tried -yet-. Hug with a hug that is huggable. Do we need a graphic about it? There’s basic steps (Not like in a tango, but still some steps we can follow to practice and, by practicing, feel it. That’s how it becomes natural and it feels impossible to live without). I think of one word that would embody all this wellness felt in a “well given and received” hug. I recently came across the Positive Lexicography Project, an online glossary of untranslatable words, launched by Professor Tim Lomas. And I fell in-love with many terms, new to the English language, like “gigil”, a Tagalog word that means “the irresistible urge to pinch/squeeze someone because they are loved or cherished”. I put this word out here, I propose it as an ingredient to emulsify our emotional vocabulary and get much better at the simple act of hugging. Just think about it:
- Shout more: Not simply screaming, but shouting out loud, your heart loud, with a sound, a word or a phrase you read and you are almost certain it’s a quote by someone who could either be the neighbor or Buddha. Sing? Yes…
- Sing more: doesn’t matter how you intonate the song or which song, it’s not important where or when, or if it’s not even a song but a couple of words that you infuse with musicality, the sort of nuance that makes you breathe deeper and smile brighter.
- And laugh, more: with purpose. Or without purpose. Just find the reason like finding a new purpose for an unused, abandoned object.
- Search for abandoned objects, and reuse: this doesn’t mean to go vintage store shopping or hunting for antiques. It’s more about opening our eyes: I remember walking down 12th Street in the Village and noticing a cabinet-cupboard cream color painted, against the garbage bags on the sidewalk. I stopped and then walked closer, thinking that maybe the couple chatting on the brownstone building stoop knew something about it. I heard the girl saying “take it, it’s ours, we are moving out and it’s not coming with us”. I smiled, I think, and looked at the chipped paint that looked “shabby chic” more than anything else. It was in good condition, although the little piece of wood that functioned as the lock didn’t actually closed. But I lifted up the cupboard and walked away feeling fulfilled, as if I had just found a treasure or , more so, a voluntarily ceased member of a household. I had a dance class to attend some six blocks away and I carried my treasure with unknown strength, it came with me and waited in the studio, on a side together with my shoes and my bag, patiently hoping to be rescued. And to be rescued is to be reclaimed, to come to life again as something else, or quite like something reinvented.
- Certainly. This story might make sense in a time of craze about recycling and reusing. And it’s true, my daughter insists on opening the recycle bin in the kitchen and gets upsets when she finds cardboard boxes, paper towel rolls, egg cartons and yogurt cups. “We can use it for a flower pot. We can make a keepsake box. We can put the watercolors in here. Are you throwing away this, mama?” We can reuse these things, of course. So lets do what we can. And what we cannot, well, the elves at the recycling center will take care of that. (Don’t we all secretly wish they would exist? Just like Santa’s helpers or the fairy godmother who will sprinkle her fairy magic dust to make us look clean at the end of the day -or at least clean the mash potato from the wall, equally stuck in our hair).
- Enter this moment: with your feet and your hands and your heart. Put yourself together, gather the pieces and feel the angst flowing away to the land of motherhood. In that land there are many other songs to sing, hugs to warm up with, laughs to capture and also to let go, many more objects to relinquish and to repurpose. Many prickling moments of anxiety, when we let our children climb the very high, unsafe, jungle gym, or imagining their first sleepover, even their first date. Panicky worms crawl down our spine. You might say “I let the kids do as they like”. Even so, I will reply, “you most probably still feel those tiny worms sliding down your skin as you watch over the children”. Because we are parents, and those feelings are inevitable: the worst kind of anxiety every time, yet the best kind of love.