Aspen Princess: We live in paradise, but we still have our stresses | AspenTimes.com

Aspen Princess: We live in paradise, but we still have our stresses

Alison Berkley Margo
The Aspen Princess

"Take a deep breath, put your hands on your belly, feel your belly rise and fall," I sing to Levi. "In through your nose, out through your mouth, it's not hard at all."

This is a song from the Sesame Workshop-produced television show "Esme and Roy" on HBO (though I haven't been able to record a new episode for several weeks now because HBO pulled all its channels from Dish, but that's another story for another day). It's basically teaching little ones about breathing techniques to help calm them down. The crazy thing is, it works.

When the toddle monster hurtles a hard object at my head, especially after I've calmly said things to him like "think about it" and "make a good decision" as his arm is cocked behind his head and his eyes are dancing with that mischievous look and he proceeds to throw said hard object not quite at my head, but close enough, there have to be consequences. Right?

"Now it gets taken away," I say, trying to keep my own wits about me.

Dramatics ensue, with big, fat tears, a jutted lower lip and cries of anguish. Sometimes this is accompanied by throwing himself on the floor face down to really drive his point home.

Always a step ahead of me, he'll usually say, "I don't want it. Put it away," about whatever toy I've just taken from him in an attempt to teach him something about consequences.

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In these moments, it's hard for me not to laugh. There is a part of me who admires his gumption and hutzpah, not to mention his intelligence. The devil on my shoulder says, "Good for you, kid."

I understand it's my job to teach the kid a thing or two about how to live in a civilized society, to be kind to others and have good manners. I try to discipline him as best I can, though most days it feels like trying to lasso an eel. Two-year-olds are like despondent teenagers; the more you tell them to do something, the more they don't want to do it. At least he's young enough that we can employ reverse psychology ("Don't you dare go to bed! Don't kiss mom! Do not put your toys away!") and it actually works.

This deep breathing technique works well, too, and Levi seems to like it. He puckers his lips as he exhales and will look at me as he's doing it, to make sure I'm watching.

"I feel calm now, Mom," he'll say.

Here's the thing: Taking a deep breath is good for us, too.

As the holiday energy starts to accelerate, as town fills with bumbling tourists and parking is a nightmare and traffic is horrendous and you actually have to wait in a lift line like people from other ski resorts all over the world, stop and take a deep breath.

As your credit card limit comes closer to being maxed out with no way to pay it off in a reasonable amount of time because you bought too much stuff for yourself online when you got all those solicitous emails advertising deep discounts, put your hand on your belly.

As a spotlight is shone on your family drama and/or broken relationships due to holiday demands, feel your belly rise and fall.

In through your nose, out through your mouth, it's not hard at all.

As your pants don't button quite as easily because you went to a holiday party every single night last week and careened off your plant-based eating plan like that Escalade with Texas license plates, take a deep breath. Or if you can't find a thing to wear because you haven't bought anything to get you through the velvet trend yet, just go online because Boden is having a big sale on holiday clothes, er, I mean, take a deep breath. Or if you're too damn short to wear over-the-knee boots because they come up to your underwear and cause a rather awkward rubbing sensation, or if every single pair of leggings you got from Fabletics is like, 4 inches too long because they obviously make this stuff for Amazonian women, then you've clearly gotten way off the topic of how to meditate during the stress of Christmas holidays.

Another thing we do with Levi is make him count to 10, so he can collect himself. It might take awhile, and he might have to first get his point across with banging fists and kicking feet and carrying on, but then he'll slowly walk up to me, maintaining some serious eye contact as he counts slowly from one to 10. It always makes me feel good that despite his potential for doing jail time someday in the future, he has at least learned how to count.

This is another technique you might want to employ as you sit for the 45 minutes it takes to get from the Aspen Business Center to the S-curves in stop-and-go traffic through that maddening merge at Buttermilk. You can also try this when you walk into your favorite restaurants and are told it's at least an hour wait or if you are standing at the bar, and then leaning on it with your elbows, and then eventually crawling on top of the bar stool and hanging as far over the bar as you can waving your arms and squeezing your boobs together to get the bartender's attention.

The holidays can be a stressful time, even when you live in paradise where it snows just enough every day to put a little pillow beneath your ski-booted feet. Just remember it's only two weeks a year. And then think of me, pushing 50 with a toddler and counting to 10 at least a million times over the next two to three years.

Email your holiday wishes to alisonmargo@gmail.com.

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