Recipe for renewed joy

To get past an excruciating day and retrieve the peace and contentment of regular life, first you take a trip to a park in the early morning cold. And then you go to a favorite café, where you snuggle into a quiet corner for steamed milk with honey, coffee for you and apple turnovers for all. Then you go home and, when the residual stress is still causing your tummy to turn and your kid to bounce between emotions and furniture like a pinball, you go to the bathroom and cry. Let sit overnight.

Next day, you wake and feel a little better. Everyone feels a little better. You plan to meet a friend for a class at the gym so you can sweat and laugh and then, after the class, walk and talk. You dance. You laugh. You talk. You feel better. You get the kids from the nursery and they run with arms and mouths wide open, cheering, “Mommmmmyyyyy!!!” And you are literally knocked over by their love. Grabbing the big kid’s hand and throwing the little one on your shoulders, you gallop out the door, hearing cheers at your side and giggles up top as your hair is yanked gleefully and your gripped hand is swung back and forth.

Off you run into the sunny day, with all your imperfections, and all of theirs, gleaming in the midday light. And you notice how sweet it feels to have sun warming parts relegated to the shadows hours earlier. So free. So you sing at the lunch table. You snuggle and giggle under covers beneath the skylight during quiet time. You snack outside. Later, your kids find more kids and they all race up and down the sidewalk into the late afternoon darkness, when finally you notice how warm it feels and how good it smells in your home as you open the door to boots everywhere, baskets of unfolded laundry, boys whining for food and your barking, licking, wagging dogs, and all you can do is smile and hug them all.

Your oldest kid, the one who often screams at you for closing your eyes at this time, offers to say the prayer and, with his eyes open and his hand holding yours, he thanks God for his dinner, his brother, his dogs, his guitar, his jeans with the holes in them. They eat. They actually eat what you cook them. Then your husband walks in, your youngest kid gets on the floor and starts two-year-old break dancing, you craft a dance floor for him out of plastic tiles and soon, your kids are rocking out and you’re slow dancing with your awesomely hot husband and forgetting everything else.

Add story time, then sleep. Let marinate overnight. Then enjoy.

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Teenage dream gets curfewed

I had a dream about Hector from The Electric Company last night and awakened feeling like a 15-year-old who just had her first kiss. In other words, awesome.

I googled Hector to see just how indecent I was for having impure thoughts about him, although our encounter was admittedly innocuous in the grand scheme of those kinds of dreams. Thankfully, I was much younger in my dream and he is actually 25 in real life, so I make out slightly less cougar-y. The dream was quick. We were sitting in the back seat of a moving minivan, or a car, when our hands found each other’s for the first time. My fingers danced around his palm, our gaze locked, his hand roved over mine and we eventually kissed. Softly, he placed his hands beneath my hair at the nape of my neck, looked at my face and he kissed me. It was so sweet and so simple. And unbelievably electrifying.

I miss those days.

It used to be so exquisite. A minor brush of a hand would send shivers up my spine and the mere idea of certain lips touching mine would take my breath away. I desired nothing more than a kiss to send me a mile high.

I still feel that way. But I’m six years of marriage and two kids past the point of such innocent excitement, not to mention a couple years of therapy and one spiritual path beyond anything extramarital. I truly dig my husband, I’m glad he’s my partner and I love him infinitely more deeply than I did when the hope of his kiss kept me awake at night. I actually even like him more than I liked my dream Hector.

Still, times get hard in a marriage. Young children take everything out of us. We know each other so well there’s no mystery. Sometimes, there’s actually even a formula. This lack of newness and comfy-style romance seems to be status quo among girlfriends in my comp set. Nonetheless, oh, how I would love a good old-fashioned high school make out.

And, here, very deftly, my higher self steps in like a bouncer and removes me from my adolescent reverie. Sometimes I get belligerent and the bouncer calls for reinforcements; sometimes my thoughts skulk reluctantly back to the straight and narrow; other times I’m so relieved someone steps in to save me from myself that I actually thank God for sending the thought bouncer and kicking out the Emily I don’t want around. She keeps me from being my highest self, and she prevents me from feeling grateful for all the wondrous blessings (read: a bitchin-bad husband) already around me. That chick can be a little bit of a lynx.

It takes some work, but I technically know better than to get carried away down the path of sense pleasure. I have a choice: I could loll the day away in search of adolescent passion, or unhealthy food in quantity, or gossipy conversation, or whatever the object in question. Or, I could chase the ever-new joy that comes with meditation. No contest. Where it’s really at is the God high. Nothing is more of a rush, albeit to the body’s higher—rather than the lower—energy centers. That’s the good shit. Nothing compares. Not even kissing Hector in the back seat of someone’s mom’s minivan.