Crystallizing Iridescence

Ninety-three million miles from the Sun

People get ready, get ready,

‘Cause here it comes

It’s a light, a beautiful light

Over the horizon into our eyes

Jason Mraz

A hush descends on the world when it snows. The fluffy white stuff covering the ground, coating trees and houses and cars, mutes the volume of the world. It smooths rough edges. Softens hard places. Magic glitters in the stillness. The newly fallen snow collects, untouched and fresh. A blank canvas to be painted. A story to be written. A new year to be lived.

2013 sounded like science fiction when I was a child–eons away. But as I get older, the passage of time seems to be accelerating at a spectacular pace and I am stunned to find myself, once again, on the brink of another year. However we got here, the coming twelve months beckons with promise. Anything seems possible.

Though lofty New Year’s resolutions often set me up for disappointment, I can’t my excitement to welcome new adventures, to shed old habits and create new ones. I analyze events of the past year, what worked and what didn’t, what I want to repeat and what I definitely do not. I look forward and set goals. I make “plans.” As the list-making, Type-A, get-it-done-now kind of girl I’ve always been, this appeals to my sense of control in the universe. The thing is, the longer I’m a mother, the more I evolve into a spontaneous, go-with-the-flow, get-it-done-whenever kind of girl. And, the longer I live, the more I learn control is an illusion.

The passage of time is accelerating at a spectacular pace.

I continue to set my goals anyway—not so much written down as voiced in conversation or even just in the back of my mind: exercise and good nutrition, organization at home and work, time management, stress reduction, quality relationships with family and friends.

Fortunately for me, exercise is my job. I took my first aerobics class in 1987 after my son was born and I’ve been hooked ever since, from Jane Fonda to Billy Blanks’ Tae Bo, from distance running and weightlifting to becoming an instructor and personal trainer myself. Vital to my mental health, working out has made me a better mother and wife. “Mom is always so happy when she comes home from the gym,” my son, Jeremy used to say with sarcasm. But it’s true—all seems right in my world after a great workout. And, bonus, I get to witness transformation in the lives of others. I am lucky indeed.

A healthy diet, on the other hand, is a work in progress. I wage my own battles with food, succumbing to convenience and surrendering to sweets. But even when I’m eating clean, getting the kids onboard is tough. Sydney will tell you she’s a “big fan” of chicken nuggets, tater tots are vegetables and ranch dressing is its own food group. Xander would happily live on sugar, buzzing 24 hours a day instead of just 20.  Preparing fresh, nutritious meals for my family, served up cheerfully at the end of each day ala Betty Crocker, remains an elusive fantasy and at the top of my wishes.

I feel like a rat on wheel, running as fast as I can and getting nowhere.

Undoubtedly the biggest endeavor I pursue every blasted year is to get organized, something akin to the pictures in Real Simple magazine. (Forget about Pinterest. It’s not happening.) Chic yet minimal. And clean, so very clean. Because attempting anything more than a temporary tidying up at my house is like shoveling the walk while it’s still snowing.

I know this, yet, projects stretch out alluringly in front of me: remodel and redecorate the house, landscape the outside, catchup on overdue maintenance; print photos and sort into albums; arrange and back up the files on my computer(s); weed out years of accumulated junk in storage; clean out the closets, drawers, cabinets, and pantry (I recently threw away a soup mix with a 2007 expiration date, no joke); catch up on filing office paperwork; sort through toys and clothes and books. Basically, I long to put my whole house in perfect order. Yeah, right.

I’m grateful for all we have—really, we are blessed beyond belief and it’s paramount to me that our kids learn to appreciate their good fortune—but our abundance has become overwhelming. Too much stuff, too much responsibility, too much work, too much on-the-go, too much, too much, too much!  I’m caught between the visions in my head of a simplified, balanced life, all gears well-oiled and running smoothly as I effortlessly administrate my domestic, professional and social duties and . . . the reality of my cluttered home, frenetic schedule, and daily chores. Most days I feel like a rat on wheel, running as fast as I can and getting nowhere.

I want to experience joy every single day. To laugh. And cry, too.

What I really want are dates with my husband and special “Mommy time” with my kids. Music and theatre and art and creativity and spirituality. I want a beautiful home, a respite and haven. I want to experience joy every single day. To laugh. And cry, too.

Inevitably, at this point, the enormity of my New Year ambition weighs down my momentum. The life I want still seems out of reach. I’ve got less time when I wanted more, more stress where I needed less.  The time I want to spend with family and friends in those quality relationships is greedily sucked up meeting endless (and frankly, impossible) expectations. When I finally realize that I am the one imposing those expectations, I also realize I’m working against myself in my pursuits.

My daughter with special needs, Sydney, has hit many plateaus throughout her development. This is not uncommon for kids with Down syndrome. Milestones like crawling and walking and potty-training, skills like learning to write her name and tie her shoes, would progress to a certain point and then . . . stall out. For a long, long time. We would get discouraged. Compare her to others. Cajole her, push her, book extra therapy, use charts and stickers and reward systems. We would even give up sometimes. But, honestly, it was all for naught. When she was ready, she made the leap. Every time. She would just . . . change. Patiently, and without judgment, she let go of the past and emerged into the newest version of herself.

What if, instead of asking myself “What do I want to do?” I ask, “Who do I want to be?”

As I sort through the to-do list of my resolutions, it dawns on me I’m doing it backwards. I’ve been going about this whole thing trying to force change from the outside, manipulating circumstances rather than allowing them to unfold naturally by shifting my focus.

What if, instead of asking myself “What do I want to do?” when tabulating the multitude of things I intend to undertake this year, I ask, “Who do I want to be?” “What version of myself?” Positing the question this way elicits a discernible shift in energy. Already I feel lighter, with anticipation for all the possibilities.

crystal 1

In 1994, Dr. Masaru Emoto from Japan studied water molecules frozen into ice crystals and photographed them under a high-powered microscope, expecting to see structures similar to snow flakes. The images revealed that each crystal bore a unique design; no two were the same. Further, the water samples taken from pristine rivers and lakes created beautifully formed geometric crystals while those gathered from polluted sources yielded chaotic asymmetry with no patterns. Dr. Emoto exposed the water to music, prayer, spoken words and even typed words taped to the containers. It appeared that positive thoughts and kind words generated intricate and magnificent shapes while exposure to negativity—harsh words and emotions—propagated results similar to those from the polluted water; misshapen and distorted without aesthetic beauty. What’s more, after prayers were offered on behalf of water from the toxic sample, the crystals branched into crystalline symmetry, just as those from pure water sources and those exposed to music, prayer, and words like gratitude, peace and love.

crystal 2
Toxic polluted water

Dr. Emoto’s work has been celebrated by many, but criticized, too, by skeptics who say his methods lack scientific controls and his claims are simply invalid. In answer to his critics, he has said, “The world is filled with wonders and mysteries . . . there are so many incomprehensible things that we cannot understand it all.” The photographing of crystals is neither science nor religion. He calls it art.

Water from same source after being prayed over
Water from same source after being prayed over

To me, their beauty is awe-inspiring and irrefutable, and the concept that human consciousness can have an effect on the molecular structure of water is not implausible. In fact, to me, it’s downright fascinating to consider that every thought, feeling and intention might carry its own signature and have an impact. Albert Einstein, the father of modern physics said, “Concerning matter, we have been all wrong. What we have called matter is energy, whose vibration has been so lowered as to be perceptible to the senses. There is no matter.”

According to Einstein himself, we are living in an energy field, inextricably interwoven with everything around us, our cells taking in and letting off particles constantly. Everything in life is vibration. Change the vibration and change the reality. Based on this principal, if I change my thoughts and my words, I change myself. By focusing on positive intent, I gravitate towards people and situations and activities that inspire and uplift me. I seek joy and kindness and I radiate the same.

water_crystal love

When in doubt, I need only observe to see the truth in this theory. The days I’m rushed and harried, I inexorably line up behind the slowest customer checking out. I get the cashier who wished they were elsewhere. The days I’m especially exhausted are somehow marathon days full of appointments and impossible deadlines, countless texts, emails, and phone calls, with no time for rest. On those days, my frustration mounts and my mood reflects it. The negative energy culminates at home, interactive, and exponential: the kids fight and misbehave, my husband reacts, misunderstandings occur. Tempers are short, unkind words are spoken and we’re all pulled into a downward spiral.

Then there are the days I step outside and feel the early morning air on my face and see the moon and feel grateful to be alive in this body of mine, when I have a bounce in my step after teaching class to an amazing group of people, the energy in the room positively electric. These are the days my interactions are pleasant. I have a smile for everyone I meet and the smiles coming back at me are sweet and genuine. A phone call from a friend far away encircles me in warmth and comfort. Peace washes over me, through me, as I listen to music. At the end of the day, I’m met with squeals of delight from my kids, “Mommy’s home!” My husband wraps me in a bear hug and we share laughter and stories. These are the days we dance in the kitchen.

I don’t need a microscope to know that something inside me is altered—not just metaphorically, but literally. Externally, things may not appear much different, but internally, I’m living in another universe.

These are the days we dance in the kitchen.

Sydney lives there nearly all the time. Last night she came looking for me, just to give me a hug. Laying her head on my chest, she was still and quiet. Her gentleness permeated every cell of my body as I breathed in her innocence. “I love kisses with you,” she whispered. Placing my cheek next to hers, I closed my eyes. This child, from birth, has slowed me down and opened me up. I can breathe when she’s near me. She resonates the purity I’m chasing.

I think this year I’ll resolve not to do, but to be. To be a beautiful ice crystal shaped by peace and kindness and grace. To embody love, drawn away from that which doesn’t serve me and toward my desires. To allow the nearly imperceptible yet very real shift which brings about the very changes I long for.

After a snowfall, as the sun breaks through the clouds, billions of individual snowflakes sparkle, reflecting the bright light. Together they make up the expanse of vivid white that blankets the ground, just as the brilliance of every person on the planet comprises the collective consciousness. As part of this vast web that connects us all, perhaps by changing myself, I can change the world.

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Filed under Aging, Enlightenment, Family, Motherhood, Parenting, Self-Care, Stress

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