More Than a Mindless Doodle

It’s nap time again, and I have work to do. But it’s another snow day, and I just feel like hanging out in my pj’s and making stuff. And now, after my day at the CAYA Retreat, and a re-introduction to Zentangle, I have a new obsession. So I am finding myself thrust back into my quietly defiant high school days, where instead of writing the notes on the board, I am aimlessly doodling all over my note book. (Actually I was a very good note taker, I wrote quickly with impeccable penmanship and didn’t need to ask questions, so I had plenty of time for doodling.) But instead of losing my thoughts in lines of spirals and flowers while I listen to the lecture around me, today I am indeed procrastinating.

zentangle pendant
Making Zentangle Pendants @ The CAYA Retreat


We all need a little mindless doodling sometimes. The very name ZENtangle invokes a feeling of peace and meditation. It’s the same feeling I get when I keep my hands busy with crochet. It’s the same feeling my body seeks when I move on my yoga mat, my breath a rhythm for my mind to follow. These are all forms of meditation.

I’ve never been good at sitting still. Throughout my days in school I was indeed a doodler, a stretch in my seater, a get up everyone once and a while and take a walk to the bathroom just for some movement-er. (In fact I just did it right now)… But because I was quiet, and didn’t cause any trouble, no one ever scolded me for these habits. In my short career as a school teacher however, I saw far too many children shamed and disciplined for these very behaviors.

I wasn’t planning on sending E to school. I’d arranged our lives so that I could be home with him for the most part, and when it came time for learning, we’d follow an unschooling / child lead method. But life has a funny way of changing our plans, and I’m finding myself in position where the very thing I have been avoiding is suddenly, and graciously falling into my lap. A wonderful school opportunity for E, and teaching job for me.

So I’m doodling. I’m crocheting. Yes I am procrastinating.. but really I am processing. There are a lot of thoughts swirling in my mind, and I’m allowing them to swirl out of my fingertips onto my page. I’m meditating. On what our life is, what it will be, where this opportunity might lead us, and ultimately on letting go of all of my plans.

I’m still not good at sitting still. But I’ve found ways to sit, to listen, to be in stillness. As the snow falls around me today, I’m inviting myself to do these things, without judgement, or worry, or shame. I’m inviting myself to watch as the world unfolds before me. Like a Zentangle drawing, I’m finding my rhythm, letting go of the outcome, and enjoying the unique beauty of each line.

Zentangle hand

On Being Sensitive

A few weeks ago I was told that I need to grow a thicker skin. I was battling a cold, a slow to creep up, sore throat, icky headache cold. I was scheduled to teach a workshop. The workshop was low in registration. I called to cancel the morning of. I was told that I should suck it up. And for a moment, I almost did.

The thing is, I have heard this type of thing my entire life. I have been called “too sensitive” from the time I was a child. I have been teased and ridiculed for my tenderness, laughed at for my lack of “strength”, and isolated because the world does not cater to sensitive people. In many ways, I have been told not to listen to my truest feelings, but instead to wear a mask and pretend to be something I am not, because that’s the only way I would “make it” in life.

I look at my son now, 18 months just around the corner. People already say that he is a “sensitive soul”. It’s true. He is gentle. He is slow to warm up to people. His voice is softer than most, unless he knows his audience well. He clings. He needs reassurance and the comfort of mom in many situations. My son, is a sensitive boy.

I worry for him. It was hard enough to grow up as a highly sensitive person, and be female. Boys… Men are not typically applauded for their sensitivity. They are all to often shamed, bullied, put-down, told to “toughen up”. I don’t want for my son to feel that his beautiful, sensitive heart, is anything to be ashamed of. I don’t want for him to feel the isolation that I felt, and often feel, from a world that does not value quiet, introspective, sensitive people. I do not want for him to learn that he shouldn’t listen to his body, his heart, that he shouldn’t follow what he knows to be best for him, even if it is different from everyone else.

I want for my son to show his strength, by standing up for his sensitivity.

So I stood up for mine. I made a decision that perhaps was “bad” for my business, because it was right for my body, and my heart. I am my son’s model, his teacher. I want him to value himself over any amount of money in the world. I want him to appreciate the gift of his tenderness, his gentle soul.

This world is harsh. This world can be unkind. This world is competitive, fast, demanding, loud, intrusive, and challenging. But who are we, and what are we creating, if we change ourselves to fit the mold the world wants us to fit? Do we not all love and proclaim Gandhi’s words “be the change”? And yet if we can not allow ourselves to be who we are, despite all pressures, what change will there be?

I want to teach my son that he can “be the change”, that he can love, and work, and be however he chooses. Choice. It all comes down to choice. I am choosing kindness, towards myself, towards my family, towards my neighbor. I am choosing to believe that this will make a difference. I am choosing my to stand up for my sensitivity, and his.

reading at table