One of the gifts of mindfulness has been perceiving sensations have gone unnoticed if I did not regularly force myself to slow down and notice. Those are its gentle gifts. The tiny intricate flowers. The refreshing morning breezes. The lovely and varied bird calls. The delicious and subtle flavors of carefully prepared meals.

It is easy to be mindful when life is slow. The hard part is slowing down.

Some situations demand that I be mindful. They are not gentle at all.

Almost every morning between 4 am and 6 am, both of our kittens jump on top of me in bed and demand my affection. They do this only to me as their designated fur-free mom.

About one second after they land on me, they are already purring. It is anticipatory purring. Basie touches my nose with his nose, REPEATEDLY. Then he starts licking my eyelids. I start petting him for about a half a minute, at which time he starts biting my hands and the rings on my fingers. Then I put my arms under the covers because biting turns into playful scratching and what I call “rabbit footing”, which is when cats grab you with their front claws and start scratching you furiously with their back claws. Rabbits do this when they are picked up by the scruff of their necks, at least ours did when I was a kid, and they were not pets.

Basie continues to try to bite me through the covers and if he is being really persistent, he crawls under the covers. Meanwhile, Leeloo is feeling left out. She is the gentler of the two but she is very affectionate. If my hands are under the covers, she climbs right under my neck on my clavicle. If I don’t start petting her right away, she will try to move EVEN higher. She also likes to groom me affectionately by licking the insides of my ears.

It is hard to be mindful of the gift of affection when I am busy doing something else, in this case SLEEPING. At these times, it can actually be annoying. But the kitties charm me nonetheless. They have tiny brains and I cannot ascribe negative intentions to their behavior. They are just babies and adorable ones, at that. I kick Basie off of the bed when he won’t stop being rough. I keep their little kitty nails trimmed. Their nails are less needle like and they are learning not to bite so hard.

Right after the kitties decided to leave the bed and run around the house, John turned over, put his around me, and nuzzled into the side of my neck. He will sleep like that for a long time. I was trying to go back to sleep. I typically have a hard time falling asleep with a lot of weight on me and I get overheated easily, too. Consequently, I usually say, “Get your arm off of me, please.” (I know I am very romantic. It is a miracle that the man still makes attempts at spooning after all of these years.)

Today, I thought, “It’s really nice that John is being so sweet to me. I’m going to try to enjoy this.” So I did and had a lovely snuggle for several minutes. Then I was really hot and asked him to move, which he did.

My usual response is to anticipate that there is going to be a problem and “nip it in the bud”. I realize that I miss a lot of affection that way. Why not instead be mindful and enjoy the part that is enjoyable instead of working so hard to avoid a minor discomfort?

There are times I need to slow down my thoughts. I need to be mindful of thoughts like, “Oh, how sweet” and not race right to “Oh, John’s arm is so heavy!”

I’ve been REALLY busy lately. Summers can get that way fast because I do a lot of driving to get my daughter to daily summer activities. At her age, she typically has to be somewhere in the middle of my work day. It’s a lot of shifting gears for me and cramming my work into small bursts. It also means extending my work day so that there’s a hole in the middle for transportation. She is now able to navigate public transportation but has trouble with making connections if there is a transfer. Further, the buses run only occasionally during mid-day. She can’t always take the bus and we don’t really like the idea of her wandering around for hours so I try to drive her as much as I can manage. Today there are three places that she needs to be, all in different parts of town. It’s a paperwork day for me and I am doing it at different coffee shops around town while I wait for her.

Needless to say, we’ve been spending a lot of time in the car together. My teen daughter doesn’t talk to me as much as she did when she was younger but when she does, it’s usually while I am driving her some where, often in heavy traffic.

I love talking to her but I must say that sometimes it takes a great deal of concentration I don’t have because there are subjects about which I know little that she loves to talk about. And she loves to ask questions about them, too. For example:

The Girl: “Mom, what is your favorite episode of Dr. Who with the 10th doctor?”
Me (crossing several lanes of traffic on a Friday during rush hour): “I’m sorry, honey. I’m trying to concentrate on driving. These conversations often make me feel like my head is going to explode.”

It may be that my mind is not up to the detailed nerd girl conversations while driving in Seattle traffic. I have to concentrate a lot to drive. I have a poor sense of direction and I am easily distracted. I am intimidated by aggressive drivers.

Maybe I will try a little harder today to be engaged with my daughter while we are in the car and see what happens. I don’t get a lot of opportunities to talk to her. She knows that I would like to talk more frequently and I think it is confusing to her that when she tries, I am sometimes not receptive.

It may be too hard to do but I will try it. The fact that it could get too hard is not a good enough reason to try.

Sometimes opportunity knocks softly. At other times, it licks you on the eye.

Often the kitties just love/bother each other.

Often the kitties just love/bother each other.