So, apparently, I’m not the only person who believes in Meditative Hug Therapy. About 900 people on Facebook and Picking My Battles clicked and shared and, hopefully, practiced a little HOGA with a smile.
Thing2 was really excited – it’s his firm belief that any negative situation can be remedied, or at least tolerated with an eye-popping hug. We have set some ground rules for him – the hug-ee must be a willing victim.. uh.. participant, unless it’s a family member, in which case there are no rules.
The only time that causes a conflict is when eight-year-old Thing2 is ready for Weekend HOGA. The Big Guy likes to sleep late. I like to sleep later than normal too. But our idea of normal and Thing2’s (who believes sleeping past sun rise is too much sleep) are entirely different things.
So here at the Institute for Meditative Hug Therapy, we have come up with a routine that makes Weekend HOGA an uplifting experience for everyone (it gets everyone in this house out of bed):
The hugger stands at the foot of his or her parents bed. If the time alarm clock on either side of the bed starts with a 6, it is recommended the hugger slides onto the bed quietly, wedging himself between said parents. If it is later in the morning, the hugger can leap into hugging position, since parents may need to get up for a few minutes at this hour anyway.
Once in hugging position, it is recommended the hugger begin hugging one parent at a time, gently putting the elbow in the other parent’s face as he administers hug therapy to both parents. Well-hugged parents should begin to respond to therapy after accidental bumps to their bladders.
The hugger should continue applying hug therapy with a thorough inspection of each parent’s face until at least one parent is ready to hug back or lift themselves out of bed and make breakfast already.
HOGA really is a thing. Hugging Yoga has been around for a while, maybe decades, and it’s known to cure all kinds of well-known problems like too much cleaning, worrying about paychecks, and just being kinda down. Possibly the best part of HOGA is that it takes just a few seconds to master and achieve the ultimate hugging status of being a HOGI.
Thing2 went to bed at nine last night, with supper but without iPads, Harry Potter wands, muscle padding or any other accoutrement which might inspire more creative ways of avoiding sleep. He would get his revenge.
About 10PM, the Big Guy and I finished a rerun of The Office and headed to bed.
Lately, I’ve been heading to bed and grabbing items that might make a good still life in the morning. Perhaps because I almost stepped on them for a repeat of my unfortunate performance, Thing2’s cracked iPad and yellow Lego car made the journey down the hall to the Mom-Cave.
Before the clock struck on the half-hour, I had a lovely arrangement of garlic (I love garlic in my still life) and an old-fashioned looking camera in front of a stack of elegant books, crowned by the cracked iPad and yellow Lego car. It was perfect. I didn’t know what it represented, except a desire to avoid tripping on the Lego if the cat’s exploration of the kitchen island (which, coincidentally, sounds just like a burglar rummaging around in the dirty dishes), but it was perfect.
At 5AM the alarm went off. The animals were let out to use the facilities. The fire in the wood stove was lit. Music started, and at 5:30, I sat down to immortalize the still life.
Five minutes later, the dog was ready to come in. As soon as I shut the door, the cat was climbing on the screen, letting me know he was coming in, one way or another. Back down the hall I hobbled, settling into study the still very still life on my desk.
It was 6:00AM. A whole hour before the kids had to be out of bed.
First the outlines. I started penciling in the reflection of the car on the iPad just as Katy the wonder dog began scratching at the door of the Mom-Cave, certain that there were turkeys crossing the yard in the dark with no one to bark at them. The door opened as the Big Guy poked his head in to say good bye.
The iPad was beginning to look like an iPad, and the pencil began filling in the first book by 6:20 when Thing2 popped his head in to say he was ready to go skating after school, and, to his credit, he was dressed and ready to go, six hours and forty minutes ahead of time. The swish-swish of his red puff coat filled the room as he draped himself over my drawing arm in various positions, trying out his favorite exercise – HOGA (hugging yoga).
“Hey, why do you have my iPad?” Thing2 broke out of the Meditative Trachea Squeeze Pose.
“I’m drawing it,” I said. He leaned over my shoulder to study the barely begun sketch.
“Wow!” The seven o’ clock chimes began, and he moved into Parental Arm Entrapment Pose. “Why are you drawing all those things with it?”
“I don’t know, buddy,” I answered truthfully. “It’s supposed to be a still life.”
“What’s a still life?” he asked.
“Just a picture of a bunch of stuff,” I said. “I just picked a bunch of stuff from our life.”
Thing2 nodded, but there was still a crease on his brow.
His morning HOGA complete, Thing2 moved into the aerobic phase of his workout – Badgering Older Brothers out of Bed (burns TONS of calories and is a terrific form of birth control for most older siblings).
Noon was skating time, but a case of pink eye brought us home early. It seemed like a perfect time to wrap up the morning sketch, so I took care of a couple administrative issues and toddled down the hall to the Mom-Cave. I sat down and opened my book, automatically picking up where I left off.
But then I had to look closer.
The still life I had so carefully contrived the night before was missing a few pieces (over which I will surely trip tonight). Thing2’s homework was done, so I really couldn’t restore the arrangement, but I decided on another sketch for the evening. Suddenly that stationary pile of inanimate objects didn’t seem to be a good representation of what I had almost written off as a terribly still life.
The first two weeks of August, I had a hard time putting down my pen and little orange travel sketch book. There was nothing I didn’t need to draw –
the beach, the bluffs, fruit, the occasional art plate from my grandmother’s collection of mythology books in our old secretary.
We were on the shores of Lake Michigan, and inspiration kept me up till 2am most nights.
Fast forward four months, and the little orange sketch book – now filled – has been replaced by a slightly larger orange sketch book that is not nearly dog-eared enough for its age. Inspiration is still there, but I almost smothered during the fall.
Now, a few inches of snow cover inspiration outside and a few days ago I began contriving inspiration from things around the house. They are boring things that reflect the last few weeks, but in creating collections and taking the time to study and draw them, I have felt something saving my life.
I don’t mean that something pulled a bottle of pills out of my hand, and it didn’t prompt primal screams of passion, but the act of intentionally seeing, of connecting even the most ordinary objects to pen and paper, did breathe life back into the day-to-day job of living.
I think it was art. And I owe it my life. Hopefully I can pay it back someday.
Well before my unfortunate performance on ice, a happy accident began.
Over the summer, I claimed part of the second floor of our house for my ‘studio’. Because we originally planned to bury the roof (along with the rest of our house) the unburied upstairs has always been a bonus space with a big but (even before I moved up there). That but is that, while it does make a capital guest room, the only way to heat it is to open the door from the lower portion of the house and let physics send the woodstove warmth (our only source of heat) up.
Heating the buried part of our house with one woodstove is a snap and a crackle, but I knew heating the upstairs on a daily basis would be labor and wood-intensive and started scouting locations I could co-opt. Fourteen-Year-Old Thing1 had solidified his claim on our third bedroom, relegating my former office – a windowless room behind the kitchen originally designed for photograpy – to our indoor laundry drying area. Knowing the laundry dries well there because of the room’s proximity to the wood stove, the solution for the winter was obvious: the laundry and the working mom would trade rooms.
The upstairs is big and airy and good for drying with only one caveat that only my unfortunate performance would reveal. It’s upstairs.
So the laundry that was hung would wait to be folded until impending Christmas company prompted a family laundry-mat day. Thing1 and Thing2 got valuable life lessons (why we have quarters,why mom turns red when you ask at 9pm if she can wash one shirt for tomorrow at 9pm), and we had a bit of giggling.
A month later my Grandma’s fold-down desk and a bunk-bed turned day-bed have turned what could have been a prison cell into MomCave 2.0. A little laundry gets done here and there, hung on drying racks, but it finally knows its place. I’d say the whole thing qualifies as a happy accident.