Happy Birthday, Bambalina Mina

DSCF9064 DSCF9190 DSCF9198 DSCF9252Photos:  Jeff Nakahara, Jeff Nakahara Photography (http://www.jeffnakaharaphoto.com/)

Our Bambalina Mina is now 4!! (We had a nickname for her in my womb, “Bambalina/o” meaning “little child” in Italian, as we kept her gender a surprise until her birth.)

4 years since that most magical and empowering moment of my life: giving natural birth to this wonder of a being. It feels like a flash yet I know these past 4 years have been filled with countless moments of surprise,  doubt, wonder, fear, giggles, tears, reflection, insight and always always love. Learning and growing in love.

There’s a part of me that misses the baby Mina, the toddler Mina, these stages seemed to have passed too soon. This part of me wants to hang on to every detail, record and remember every tender exchange, capture and carry them with me at all times, and even wish to trap time so I can have this moment last a little longer, but I know that’s neither possible nor the point.

One day, Mina says to me, “I don’t want to be 4, I want to stay a baby…Mama’s sad that I’m growing up.”

I was taken by surprise and quickly realized how my seemingly innocent expression of missing Mina’s babyhood was taking a toll, affecting her energy, her being. How unfair and selfish of me, “I love you just the way you are, Mina!”

I can neither control nor cage time, change, or love (and I wouldn’t want to anyway). Buscaglia says, “There is no stopping it, no holding it back; there is only going with it. ” I don’t want to hold her back, but I regret that my words were doing just that. Only by letting go, can I truly be free to engage in the moment. Every age, every stage is different, each with special discoveries and newness of becoming. I choose to welcome, embrace and celebrate each new day of our family life.

All the moments we’ve shared as a family are lived through each of us, growing through them and being changed by them.

Change is inevitable and so beautiful; it is proof that we are most alive.

Mina, now 4, is full of life, eager to learn and understand her world as she sees it, so brave and independent to do everything, “I can do it all by myself!” she constantly says with attitude. When she was still a baby, one of her earliest expressions was, “Mina do!” She’s the same little stinker, just a bit bigger, and sharing more of herself. Lucky for us.

At her 4-year wellness checkup, she greeted her doctor with, “I have a stethoscope, too, a real one!” (which she got as one of her birthday gifts). And when I asked if she wanted to hold my hand for the shot since she forgot to bring a friend (she always has one stuffed animal with her), she paused only for a second and shrugged, “No, it’s okay, I’m 4 now, I’m fine.” Not a cry, and she later explained to the receptionist, “It hurt just for a bit and it was gone.” She’s becoming such a big girl and quite social. I’m so proud of her and so grateful to be a part of her happy life!

And her new greeting to anyone she meets now is “Hi, I’m 4!!!”

synchronistic encounters

I love synchronistic encounters, whether that may be a person or, in this case, this wondrous book: “Love: What Life Is All About” by Leo Buscaglia

I added this book to my reading list from reading excerpts from Brain Pickings (Leo Buscaglia on Education, Industrialized Conformity, and How Stereotypes and Labels Limit Love and A “Dynamic Interaction”: Leo Buscaglia on Why Love Is a Learned Language) a few months ago and it just sat there on my list, waiting patiently. I felt the urge to start my New Year with this book, along with a few others, and I am beyond glad that I listened.

I just started two days ago but I’m already so captivated by his words and ideas, willing to learn, grow and “take what is right for [me]” from all that he is sharing.

This quote hit home hard and gave me a boost of confidence to believe in my own path:

“You can only be “real” on your path. The hardest thing in the world is to be something you’re not. By straying from yourself you must get closer and closer and closer to what you are. You’ll find it’s an easy way to be. The easiest thing to be in the world is you. The most difficult thing to be is what other people want you to be. Don’t let them put you in that position. Find “you,” who you are, be as you are. Then you can live simply. You can use all of the energy that it takes to “hold back the spooks,” as Alpert calls it. You won’t have any spooks to hold back anymore. You won’t be playing games anymore. Clear them all away and say, “Here’s me. Take me for what I am with all my frailties, all my stupidity, and so on. And if you can’t, leave me be.”

~ Leo Buscaglia

And this quote:

“If a man in the street were to pursue his self, what kind of guiding thoughts would he come up with about changing his existence? He would perhaps discover that his brain is not yet dead, that his body is not dried up, and that no matter where he is right now, he is still the creator of his own destiny. He can change this destiny by taking his one decision to change seriously, by fighting his petty resistance against change and fear, by learning more about his mind, by trying out behavior which fills his real need, by carrying out concrete acts rather than conceptualizing about them, by practicing to see and hear and touch and feel as he has never before used these senses, by creating something with his own hands without demanding perfection, by thinking out ways in which he behaves in a self-defeating manner, by listening to the words that he utters to his wife, his kids, and his friends, by listening to himself, by listening to the words and looking into the eyes of those who speak to him, by learning to respect the process of his own creative encounters and by having faith that they will get him somewhere soon. We must remind ourselves, however, that no change takes place without working hard and without getting your hands dirty. There are no formulae and no books to memorize on becoming. I only know this: I exist, I am, I am here, I am becoming, I am my life and no one else makes it for me. I must face my own shortcomings, mistakes, transgressions. No one can suffer my non-being as I do, but tomorrow is another day, and I must decide to leave my bed and live again. And if I fail, I don’t have the comfort of blaming you or life or God.”

~ Zinker, Gestalt Institute in Cleveland, from his paper called On Public Knowledge and Personal Revelation

Other powerful quotes to share:

“We are all so much together, but we are all dying of loneliness.”

~ Dr. Albert Schweitzer

“We are all functioning at a small fraction of our capacity to live fully in its total meaning of loving, caring, creating and adventuring. Consequently, the actualizing of our potential can become the most exciting adventures of our lifetime.”

~ Herbert Otto

“Change and growth take place when a person has risked himself and dares to become involved with experimenting with his own life.”

~ Herbert Otto

♥ happy 23 months ♥

In exactly a month, our baby Mina will be 2 years old!! Hard to grasp that soon it’ll be 2 years since that day of her birth; about 2 years, 9 months, and 1 week since that moment of her existence inside my womb.

The passing of time is intangible but what’s tangible is Mina’s growth: she is changing every day right before our eyes. The passing of time is immaterial but what’s material or essential is our interactions and connections that fill that time: we’re changed by our exchanges, we’re strengthened by our experiences. This makes me realize that the only meaningful way to carry our past with us is in our growth, our lessons; the only meaningful way to exist is to let this moment change us for the better.

I can’t help but feel that time is flying by; Mina is growing up too fast! I want time to slow down, so I can indulge in this moment just a little bit longer. Pretty selfish of me, I know. I just don’t want to miss a thing, and I want to remember every detail. Pretty impossible, I know.

I can’t change the flow of time, but what I can change is my attitude towards time. I can’t take any time for granted and I have to make every moment count. All that’s in my power to do, then, is to pay attention in every moment, because “every interaction counts” and “this very moment is the perfect teacher.” (Tiffany Shlain & Pema Chödrön respectively)

I’m so grateful for our Mina. She inspires me to change for the better.

Mina is our perfect darling daughter, our sweetest sunshine.

♪ ♪ Here comes the sun, here comes the sun, and I say, It’s all right… ♪ ♪

bubbly toesies & hands

I love kissing Mina’s soft, bubbly toesies and hands! (Yes, like the children’s book, “The Kissing Hand.”)

Just seems like yesterday when Mina was born…and in a few short months, she will be 2…though her terrible twos has already begun…. Actually, I take that back. Humbling and challenging, yes, but not terrible at all. (What’s terrible is when I’m not as patient and compassionate as I’d like to be…worse yet, when I can’t make it all better…but every day is practice, every day I’m learning to be a better Mama to my Mina.) She’s just growing up, discovering the world in her own way, sharing more of herself, and wanting to “Mina do!” everything because she knows she can, because she’s secure, confident, and curious. We love that about her! She’s a wonder!!

Pema Chödrön’s quote comes to mind: “This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.”