Last weekend we went on a road trip to PEI. It was FABULOUS. It rained…but not when we were setting up, putting down, or needing to get into the tent. We went to the beach in the sun…and didn’t get burned. We spent our final night at the Delta Prince Edward for almost-free (thank you, Aeroplan points), and we came home sun-kissed and relaxed.
And then I bent forward ever-so-slightly in the shower to reach the shampoo on Wednesday morning and BAM! Back spasm.
Know the one thing I didn’t do while I was eating and talking and sunbathing? STRETCH MY MUSCLES.
Coincidence? I think not.
So for the past 48 hours I’ve been in Radical Self-Care mode. I’ve been stretching my calves and hamstrings like crazy (because back pain is often directly connected to tightness in the backs of the legs), and I learned a new psoas relaxing technique that I’m quickly becoming addicted to (because I’m starting to think that this may be Le Grand Issue #1 for this former ballerina and couch potato). I’ve been trying out new and awesome $5 stretching classes from my favourite biomechanic and sitting on the floor instead of the sofa…basically all the things I’ve been meaning to do daily but just not bothering to.
The back pain is starting to ease up—it gets better with every stretch that I do. And I’m hoping the lesson sticks this time. Self care or spasms…it’s a pretty easy choice, really.
When Matthew and I first got together, we had one mix CD that we listened to over and over. I don’t remember half the songs that were on it, but I do remember this one:
I remember this one, because every time it played I stopped singing along with Matthew and just…watched him. Every time. I sat in the passenger seat and watched him sing – the way his whole face lit up as he sang, the way he smiled to himself, the way his breath moved his body. I took a moment to really look at him and let all of the love I felt for him surge through me.
When Xander was a tiny baby, he used to nurse to sleep and snooze for hours a day on my lap. I spent a lot of time on the sofa with his warm weight on my crossed legs. Sometimes I would watch TV or read or listen to an audiobook…but sometimes I would just sit and look at him. I would look at this tiny curled fingers, at the adorable pucker of his lips and how they phantom-nursed the air as he slept, at the rise and fall of his tiny chest. And as I looked, I felt how much I loved him – so much it hurt. He lit up my world.
Time passed, and I sort of…forgot…about taking time to truly see my family this way. I caught myself taking them for granted, not taking time to be fully present with them. But when I started slowing down…I found myself seeing more and more. Like the other evening, watching Xander watch the Lion King on my lap – absent-mindedly sucking on a finger and staring wide-eyed at Simba on the screen. Like the other night, as Matthew and I read to Xander (Matthew did the voices) – Matthew didn’t know I was looking, but I was. And it filled my heart to the brim.
When I stop my usual bustle of thoughts and to-do lists and take a moment to gaze at the people I love, they touch my heart in new ways. I remember how much they mean to me. I feel how much I love them – feel it physically as well as emotionally. It’s such a simple thing…and it’s so important. I hope I can always remember that.