Last week was winter vacation from school in Israel.
In the past few years, I filled each day of vacation with some sort of fun family-packed event for my kids such as hikes, museums, and festivals. And, as a member of the Israeli National Park system, I’ve been taking my kids to as many as those historical and archeological sites as possible.
And these vacation days are great times to do just that.
But this year, with the recent rise of terrorism and the near-death accident we were in a few weeks ago, I kind of wanted to keep a low profile for the week.
In fact, I didn’t really want to leave the house at all.
I kind of just wanted to sit home and work on writing my book, to be honest.
So, we didn’t go anywhere.
On the first day of vacation, my boys jumped out of bed at dawn (my teenage daughter sleeps in) and screamed, “No school! Yippee!”
They danced around the living room and did hula hoops in their pajamas.
(Makes me kind of wonder, “Is school really that bad?”)
Anyway, after a few more hurrahs and a quick breakfast, the kids asked, “So, what are we doing today?”
“Uh, nothing?” I responded.
“Why?” they quickly retorted.
“Well, because,” I stammered, “we have no plans for this vacation.”
“So, what are we supposed to do?”
“I don’t know,” I grumbled.
“Find something to do. Play a game. Clean your room. Practice your guitar. Go for a walk.”
They all looked at me quizzically.
Apparently those were not good ideas.
And they had a better one.
Like wrestling on the floor.
Because what else do three young boys do with their free time?
And, in the meantime, I turned on the computer and started compiling the blog posts that would go under the chapter in my book named “Stuck on Desire”.
But, the wrestling only lasted for about ten minutes because invariably one of the kids got hurt in the head.
“It was his fault!” one said.
“But, he started!” the other griped.
“Now what can we do?” they whined.
“We’re bored!” they moaned.
Starting to lose my patience, I responded, “Go up to the basketball court. And don’t forget to take your ball!”
“But, no one is there!” they continued to whine.
“Everyone is on vacation! Except for us!”
“Can we go on the computer?”
“NO! You cannot go on the computer at 8 AM. You can go on the computer in the afternoon and you know each of your has a time limit on it anyway. GO. FIND. SOMETHING. TO. DO!”
And as for me, back to writing.
Now, what was I thinking about a minute ago?
I lost it.
And it was such a good thought!
And so went my vacation.
I got frustrated with my kids.
And frustrated that I was stuck home with them.
And stuck on wanting to anything other than be stuck in the house with them.
I just wanted to write.
And in the between my kids’ screaming and hollering and whining, I found myself going to the kitchen.
A latke here.
A jelly doughnut there.
And somehow, between trying to find something for these kids to do and writing down a fragment in my book, I kept returning to the kitchen.
Apparently, all I wanted to do was eat!
I must have been so hungry!
At one point, I almost ate the entire refrigerator!
It was obvious I was stuck on a desire to eat.
Or was there something more hiding behind that?
Somehow the morning passed and in the afternoon when the kids sat down for computer time, I went to my bedroom, lay on my yoga mat, and focused on my breath.
One inhalation, one exhalation.
Two inhalation, two exhalation.
The thought of, “Get off this mat, Shira, and go down for some hot chocolate,” came to mind a few times.
Three inhalation, three exhalation.
My belly felt full.
Which is when I realized that I wasn’t even hungry at all.
And, I wasn’t even hungry then.
All those times that I kept returning to the kitchen for more food wasn’t out of true hunger.
I was eating out of some other emotion.
And it dawned on me that I was eating out of my unsatisfied desire for wanting to work.
(Yes, the irony. Most people in this world are seeking vacation and here I am desiring to work.)
Four inhalation, four exhalation.
I did a progressive relaxation exercise throughout my body.
And noticed my furrowed eyebrows.
Which I released.
I thought about the concept of needing to work on this book.
And how my kids are just taking away from that precious time.
Five inhalation, five exhalation.
I considered that I don’t really need to work on this book right now.
It can wait.
But my kids can’t.
They’re growing up before my eyes and now is the time to be with them.
After a few more breaths, I got up from my mat and reunited with my kids.
“Who wants to go wall climbing?” I asked.
“Me! Me! Me! Me!” they cried. (My daughter woke up by then.)
And so, we did.
I was reluctant to get into the car, but I did so anyway because my kids were anxious to wall climb.
And, I wanted to be with them.
I got stuck on desire (twice!), but it’s OK.
I am grateful I was able to see past both of them, save my body from any more harm that I already caused it, and savor the rest of the vacation with my kids.