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Family Shoot with Caroline Tran

I can’t believe it took us until Luciana was 20 months old to do an official family shoot. We did do that marvelous holiday shoot I love so much, but that was a mini. Mind you we have hundreds, probably thousands at this point, of photos of the babe, but very very few of all of us together. So this is super-special.

We didn’t at first want to shoot at our house–we’re looking to move and wanted a more pastoral setting or something really wild and modern, blah blah, but ultimately decided this is a place we’re all comfortable and it will be wonderful to have some images of the place where Luciana lived when she was a tiny thing; when it was the three of us; when we making it work however we could. We hired the wonderful Caroline Tran who is a joy to work with. Luciana seems like an entirely different baby now, by the way, which is such a reminder that every photo of every step of their lives is precious because they do change every single day. So for once I’ll leave you with a non-wordy post, and let the pictures speak for themselves.

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daddy and LC by CT


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Luciana on Amoroso

Getting My Practice Back

I had no idea what it was to fall of the yoga wagon. Really really fall off. Yoga has been a huge part of my life since I was in my teens–I couldn’t imagine a week without it, barely a few days, yet once I had Luciana I truly think months went by that I didn’t spend more than 5 minutes on my mat. Many days I didn’t unroll it at all.

I taught at YogaWorks and privately for 11 years, stopping a month before Luciana was born. Being a teacher grounded me in my yoga: I didn’t feel like a good teacher if I wasn’t maintaining my own practice, so I always did. No matter what life handed me, I made it to my mat. Teaching was an amazing partner career to acting—it was the antithesis of the craziness I felt in The Biz. I’d say things in my classes that I didn’t know I needed to hear myself say until they came out of my mouth. I often finished a class I’d taught feeling present and connected to the world around me in a way I had perhaps lost sight of earlier in the day. I loved loved loved my students; being with them was a gift.

After becoming a mother, I chose not to go back to teaching classes. This was one of many factors, I’m sure, that led to my separation from my yoga. I didn’t have the same accountability and I had so much of it in other areas. So I don’t see it as coincidence that at a time when I was really feeling the effects of a life without regular headstands and warrior poses, I was asked to join a team of amazing teachers at YogaWorks. I became one of a handful of teachers creating videos for MyYogaWorks online yoga classes, I accepted, and with that I had to get into more than 2 downward dogs in a week. I am teaching classes again, but now they’re online! Click video below to see my little intro:)

MyYogaWorks is YogaWorks, you guessed it, but now yoga classes online.  Each week all of us teachers shoot new videos, and new content is added to the MYW site. My favorite classes to teach were always beginner levels, and I love my online beginner yoga classes just as much.  The awesome thing about the site is once you’re a member, you customize what you want to do when you log in. Do you have 10 minutes, 30 minutes, 40 minutes, 1 hour? Do you want level 1, 2, or 3? Do you want to focus on de-stressing or getting a strong core or learning a headstand?  It’s AWESOME and I will tell you 2 things: 1) I got my practice back because now I’m teaching so I have to. It’s just how it works. and 2) I use the site ALL THE TIME. I owe lots of my mat time during the week to the site. It’s like taking a class from my friends and I’m doing it during nap time or at 930pm. They’re not up yet, but I actually just created a series for mamas to do during naps: short 10-minute sequences you can do solo or string them together for a longer mini-class. I promise to let you know when they’re live. Here’s a quickie video on Triangle Pose in the meantime…

So if you, like me, have found it harder and harder to get to the studio, or you do get there but sometimes you’d rather stay home, or you have 15 minutes and you want to practice but you’re not sure what to do, check the site out. I wouldn’t be telling you about it if I didn’t think it was the bee’s knees. And once you’re in there, let me know if there’s a class you’d like me to create–I love requests and will consider all of them.

Namaste! (I’ve missed saying that!)

 

 

 

 

 

Other People’s Stuff

I have been a bit obsessed about Other People’s Stuff since before having Luciana. I’d say the area that I doubt myself the most as a mother is around Play. I have feared, from the time she was about 3 months and waking up as they do at that age, that I don’t know how to play with her “right” and that I don’t have the “right” toys and playthings. Mind you, I am not a fan of having Lots of Stuff. I like everything to have a place, and if it doesn’t, I’d like to let something go before we bring the new thing in. Having a child has rerouted that path in my brain, and I have been convinced in so many moments that I NEED this, that, the other. Not the things that light up, talk, do things for her to watch–those have never called me–no–it’s the beautiful wooden toys, the cloth puppets, the perfect toy kitchens, the puzzle that does something different than our puzzles, the ride-on toy that we have no room for, the teepee I want for the backyard we don’t yet have. It hasn’t mattered to me that her shelves all have lovely things on them and a few in the closet “resting” til we bring them out again. Being a mother has made me WANT in a way that’s new–and kinda freaky–to me.

I know now that all mothers face insecurity and that it shows up in different ways for all of us. There is much of how I parent that I trust and am very proud of. These insecurities, like most of our insecurities, aren’t based in any truth, in any evidence–it’s just where the bug got in and dug its prickly bug feet in. Maybe because I have a mother who should have a PhD in play–the woman is so gifted at creating games out of pennies, lip balm, a leaf, a pot, ANYTHING–it’s amazing —that I have a high standard for myself. Maybe it’s because when we first hired Luciana’s babysitter when I was doing a play I would hear Luciana laughing and laughing in a way she didn’t with me and I felt threatened. Maybe it’s because one of my weaknesses is comparing myself to others, so why wouldn’t that show up here?

In this high-anxiety morass I find myself eyeing other people’s playrooms when we’re at their houses; studying what Luciana is drawn to searching for it on Amazon or Etsy after she goes to bed; scrutinizing her at home to see if she’s totally bored and unstimulated by everything in our house. I may tell myself that kids who grow up with literally NOTHING to play with go on to give TED talks, but somehow I am convinced that if I get the “right” stuff for her, she will fulfill her potential. She will be happy. What a crock of S**T. I am embarrassed to even say it! But I don’t write this blog to save face.

meanwhile she's happy playing with daffodils

meanwhile she’s happy playing with daffodils

Of course on some level I know better, but knowing something doesn’t always mean you feel it. Enter Amazing Parenting Book which may be old news to you but in case it isn’t, I have to tell you about it. Momma Zen by Karen Maizen Miller is my evidence for the day that the Universe is benign: meaning that it couldn’t be otherwise and send me such perfect reading material when I so needed it. I’m not finished because I keep going back and re-reading parts. She’s a–as you might have guessed–a Zen buddhist and Buddhism teacher. Here’s what she says in her chapter on Other Toys:

What do we mean by all these things we want “for our children”? All these things we think they “need”? Whatever they are, and however we acquire these things, the fact remains: desires are inexhaustible. Chasing them, however, will exhaust you. It will frustrate you. It will cause worry and anxiety, grumbling and dissatisfaction. …It will cost you money and it will cost you time, all the while distracting you from your life, bountiful and precious, right in front of you…”

And I am tremendously grateful–and it made me smile big–for her reminder that kids like other kids’ toys “precisely because they are not yours”. Seems so obvious, but noooooo I didn’t come to that on my own. I could go on about her and the book, and I probably will at another time. Meanwhile, you can click here and follow her blog. You know I do.

And side note: the weather was insanely beautiful this weekend–a taste of summer wafting through the yard. I pulled last year’s water table out of the garage and repurposed the bath toys and yogurt containers into water table friends.

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It’s all Luciana has wanted to play with since Saturday and I didn’t spend one freaking dime.

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I do want an Etsy play kitchen for her, but it seems we both can wait.

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Letter to my Toddler

For whatever reason, I struggled with myself over the weekend and Luciana struggled with herself. It’s like we both were feeling itchy in our skins —crankier and more indecisive than usual. Sunday afternoon we all lay down for family nap which has become a weekend ritual. I thought for sure I’d pass out like I usually do, but instead rested there staring at my daughter, tears running down my face because sometimes I can’t believe I could feel those hard feelings about motherhood which I hear all mamas feel. Of course they happen, and then they pass. They’ve passed–we had an amazing afternoon– but they got me thinking about some things I want to say to her.  On Saturday we spent time with one of my best friends and her family and some of this is inspired by the beautiful way she and her husband talk to their 4-year-old, and the beautiful way that little girl talks back. Alysia, thank you.

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Luciana,

You and Daddy are taking a nap. I thought I’d take one too but I just lay there looking at you. Couldn’t stop staring at you. You’re 20 months old. You sit down wherever you are if I ask you to wait for me. You remind me to sit while I’m eating. You tore into a head of cauliflower at the farmers’  market this morning, taking bites off the top of it like a rabbit. You wanted to ride every pony and switch off after about 1 minute on each. You know all the words to most of your books and can fill in the blank if I miss or skip a word.

I’ve watched you choose on more than one occasion to tell me you’re mad with your voice. I see you start to pull hair and then there’s a pause. You change your mind and instead you look at me and open your mouth really wide and yell til you’re red. I admire that so much! Sometimes I have a hard time not hurling things across the room and here you are making a more mature choice. I hope you always express yourself with as much honesty and conviction with me and I have no doubt you’ll continue to teach me about communication. Your big feelings and my big feelings over the weekend had me thinking and there’s something I want to tell you today–and I will tell you to your face sometime very soon:

No matter what difficult feelings arise and what you express to me or I express to you, I love you. No matter what difficult feelings arise and what we say to each other, I love Daddy and Daddy loves me. Grownups have angry, sad and frustrated feelings too and sometimes express those things in mad words and loud voices just like you. Whenever you get mad at someone, when those feelings pass, you can give that person a big hug and say I love you. I love you exactly as you are. And that makes the mad feelings disappear. That’s why Daddy and I gave each other lots and lots of extra hugs yesterday.

Your angry voice is just as beautiful as your happy voice and you can always use it with me. You absolutely have the right to use it. I might ask you what you’re feeling angry about—it helps me to know where your feelings are coming from to see if perhaps I can help you be with them—but if you don’t know that’s OK too. Sometimes we just feel because we feel.

Everything has cycles and everything passes. Sometimes when the happy passes we want it back and it will come back. Sometimes we want the sad to pass and it sticks around. But it will pass too! And then we can say SURPRISE! I found you again, HAPPY! I love you through every cycle and I will do my best to be an anchor when you hit a storm.

I am so happy to celebrate life and all of its colors with you, my gorgeous girl.

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SRF Easter

A Good Mother

Every day I ask myself am I a good mother; was I a good mother; was I maybe even a great mother.

To be fair, I know I’m a good one. But am I as good as I could be? Am I as good as that woman is. Am I as good as I can be for my daughter right now?

We mamas so often–it seems to me–talk about what we don’t do: I don’t do this enough, I’m not enough of this, I could do more of this. I don’t hear myself, or really many mothers I know, talking about where we do a wonderful job. Where we’re truly happy with who we are. And I wonder about that. We could blame the media–and God knows I do a number on myself when I read too many blogs and spend too much time on Instagram—and it could just be the nature of being a mom. That we always want to do the best for our kids, and I, for one, wish I could do and be the best in all areas all of the time.

 

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I know when I’m scared I missed the memo and have neglected some essential piece of child-rearing I start comparing myself to other mothers. I know a woman with a daughter Luciana’s age and she hasn’t been away from her for more than an hour. Even after her daughter goes to sleep. When I first heard that I felt so threatened by it. Her daughter walked early and already uses the toilet. If I’d stayed home 100% would Luciana be doing those things too? Am I a lesser mother because I have said yes to work, because I have gone to yoga and done errands solo and taken time for me? Conversely I have friends who are on TV series and I ask myself Am I a Less-Good Mother because I don’t pursue my career with the same voracity that I did before having her? Am I modeling someone who gives up; someone who hides; someone who can’t keep lots of balls in the air at once? It’s a dark secret, comparing ourselves, because part of being a Great Mother is loving all the other mothers rather than giving them the stink-eye because they built a fort the size of the living room with repurposed boxes and neon duct tape.

 

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I’m working this week—rehearsing and performing in a reading of a beautiful new play. So I’m not a great cook this week —I’m gone all day; I get back late.  I’m a great artist, and a great baby-snuggler in the morning, and a very willing dance-party participant at 8am.  I remind myself that next week we can make the muffins she loves and try new green juice recipes (because you know I feel inferior that my child does not, so far, like green juice) and make the dress-up bin I’ve had on my mind for a while. I remind myself that I will actually do these things and that it’s OK they’re not happening today–she has all she needs and people who love her and play with her and there’s food to eat. Yet I’m mad at myself for not making play-dough in a month even though so far Luciana has yet to like it. That the weather is warming up and I haven’t gotten the outside together for her (even though I know she’s happy playing with rocks). What I don’t focus on or say to my friends is how Luciana and I have conversations now. How I used to fear she didn’t like books and we spend probably 3 hours reading a day. How I am so proud of myself for how I handled her first huge tantrum and how I know I’m giving her a spiritual foundation even if Sky and I aren’t strictly religious.

 

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I’m challenging myself this week to speak well of me. I’m challenging you mothers to speak well of you. To celebrate what your friends do brilliantly rather than be jealous of it. To be so excited at the end of the day at the challenges that the day held and that in walking through them imperfectly everybody grew. We’re all doing it different ways and doing the best we can. I want my daughter to love her mistakes and I want her to always know she’s a work in progress. Her mother certainly is.

 

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