Posted tagged ‘change’

eventide

September 6, 2011

“Sometimes, if you’re too strong, you can’t be stretchy and if you’re too stretchy, you can’t be strong” –a wise yogi said this today as she prompted me to forget the shape of my body and just breathe. She was talking about my physical self, but I actually laughed when I realized she’d articulated a truth I’d been dancing around for a while.

I’m raw. Tired, vulnerable, a bit wounded of late. I’m baffled; relationships aren’t what they seem, people I love are hurtful, I stay connected long beyond the point of loving or healthy or safe. I’m fearful of the force of unknowns in an uncertain time. I’m depleted by the constant effort of being my own best friend. Vigilance against the impulse to shut down wears me down.

I’m determined. Intention and effort combine to manifest new roles which serve an authentic identity. I’ve been working toward this place for four years– learning who I am beyond and because of loss, yes, but also a discovery. There is a core beauty, intuition, gratitude and faith which sustains me. Laughing with my children, lying on the hammock, savoring the kiss of a man I could love, swimming in the cold ocean, the hug of a lifelong friend– Grace reminds me every day how abundant and precious and fortunate my life is and creates the desire to fling my heart open wide.

As in my yoga practice, I struggle in life to find the sweet spot between strong and stretchy. I get glimpses of it. On retreat in Mexico, yoga and love brought me out of the shadows of cynicism, fear, defeat. Challenged gently to keep my heart open, by meditation and conversation and kindness, I went into my yoga practice vulnerable yet mindful of every sensation. The sound of the ocean just beyond the studio doors, the grit on my mat from days walking barefoot, the tenderness in my body from challenging it over the course of a week to stretch and bend and twist, the breath of my community practicing in unison; all vivid yet secondary to the quiet within as I moved without any thought beyond breathing in and breathing out. Toward the end of my practice, my teacher came and wordlessly shifted my body out of the modified version of my forward bend. I focused on her deliberate breathing in time with me. As she lay along my back, she whispered, “it’s about trust” and moved my head to the floor into a full expression of this asana; which I’d never experienced. In that moment, the essence of me existed in eventide. Peace: my mind, body and spirit met the split second homeostasis which would draw me toward eternity. I know it is possible.

And so, I’m realizing that there is nothing to do. The compulsion to draw inward, to protect myself, to flee, can exist alongside the impulse to acknowledge everyday blessing, to follow love, to rejoice. I’ve been trying to choose. I’ve been simultaneously compelled to hold tight and resist or to let go and allow: swinging the pendulum between too strong and too stretchy. The lesson is this: breathe. Forget trying to manifest some outcome. Forget trying to modify or create or coerce or discern. Breathe. Stay focused. Trust the steps I’m taking toward my dreams. Meditate, pray, practice yoga. Savor friendship and my boys and chocolate. Write down the things which make me sad or scared and then burn them in a ritual of release. Write down the things which make me smile or say ‘thank you’ to the universe and read them every day. Be a wise trout. And in that stillness, trust. Love, community and circumstances will collide with intuition, identity and grace; resulting in that moment when all is in perfect balance. It is enough.

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making room

April 13, 2011

I’m staring down the last few months of my life as “stay-home mother”. Granted, in reality, that role shifted years ago to make room for this me, now coming into fruition. It’s hard to let go, though.

Driving to the airport today, I’m chatting with my teenager when I realize my newly-six-year  old is reading in the back seat. Full-on;  sounding out “hammer” and “amazing” and “teeth” and reading out loud a book about sharks. I knew he was making leaps with his literacy. He set it as his Kindergarten goal. “This is the year I will learn how to read”, he said the night before his first day, back in September. And he has. And I’m impressed because he’s ready and reading, yes, but more impressed that he set a goal for himself and now basks in his accomplishment. I’m beaming and proud and also strangely sad. Not sad, really, more just a twinge of some heartache I can’t quite describe.

He doesn’t understand my need to hold him on my lap while we’re waiting at the airport. He doesn’t know the longing I have to keep him small for one more moment. He tolerates my hugs and gets silly when I let him raspberry my cheek, but for me, this moment holds nearly fourteen years of mothering. It’s like the stories you hear people tell after a brush with death: “my whole life flashed before my eyes”, except it’s life and it’s vignettes of me and my boys I’m seeing.

The reality is that raising children marks time in extreme ways. They literally change, moment to moment: visually and markedly. Last summer, my oldest was eye to eye with me at 5’11”. I said to him “I think this might be the year you grow taller than me”. By the end of the summer, he had an inch on me and now at the beginning of this spring, he’s nearly 6’2″. I realize the goal is healthy, inter- and independent children who go off to seek their fortune. I realize a measure of mothering well-done is in the letting go.

But for just this moment, I want to stop time. I want to filter through every mundane moment home with my boys and savor it anew. And I see now that it’s not heartbreak and it’s not letting go. Just as my boys are growing and changing in remarkably ordinary ways, so too am I. My roles change, yes. I make room for school and work and community in ways which are much different from how they’ve been up ’til now. And within the role of “mother”, I change. I make room for these boys as they manifest before my eyes into the beautiful men they will become. And as I cherish the privilege of mothering, I realize there’s nothing to let go of, really. Time moves forward no matter how tightly I hold onto a hug in the airport. The grace comes in allowing it, seeing it, acknowledging it and loving it for the moment in time that it is.

And so things shift and grow. And that twinge of heartache is simply my life making room for us as we are. It is welcoming this me, now coming into fruition.

unexpected

November 11, 2010

It’s raining

Years of drought: ending

I’m afraid of the floods

Packed, unyielding earth

Not yet ready to accept

The blessings

Water flows; forms rivers

Pathways, puddles

Which soothe and cleanse

Create space

Where the earth was

Cracked

Fissures now floodgates, relenting

In the rain

Softening. Suddenly,

Fear gives way to

YES

and here I am

Dancing instead of

Drowning

night terror

October 3, 2010

To shake you awake from this nightmare

Or scream you awake

Screams of my own terror

You’re going to kill yourself

You won’t stop

Until you’re dead.

I cannot

bear the thought nor can I

hold you as a child; when everything was somehow

simple

Even though that is a lie.

Chaos, insecurity, scarcity

I know my own version of that story

Everyone does-

Well, everyone we’ve loved, anyway

And the cruelest lesson of all:

Love cannot save you because you won’t

Give it to yourself

I cannot love you enough to make you

happy, content, peaceful

Though I would tear out my own heart

Just to give you one minute of

knowing

waves

September 26, 2009

What is it about the ocean? 

I woke up in a funk this morning.  I was feeling fragile and working hard not to begin the day in a mess of tears.  There was no reason.  It’s grief or it’s happiness or it’s fear or it’s gratitude; doesn’t matter.  In those moments, I struggle to stay present lest I be lost in emotion.  Then in other moments, I am so present I get overwhelmed.  There is no balance between grace and the horrors of this world.  Grace always wins. 

I had the good fortune of being near the ocean this morning.  Sky and water bouncing into each other in a dance of fluid light. Soft sand still warm enough for bare feet, defying the coming of fall. Waves, the constant motion,fall09 069 a lullaby. I had an urge to fling myself onto the ground and make angels in the sand.  I think it was a desire to hold the earth and sea with gratitude for its gifts.  There is an indescribable peace in such moments.

When I was five, my sister Debbie took me into the waves at York Beach.  She was twelve.  I worshiped her.  The waves were solid, bone-numbing they were so cold, huge.  Debbie took me out to where they were breaking and held me in front of her. She would yell to me “here comes a rumbler, get ready!”  I was terrified and thrilled as a wall of water well over my head crashed with enough force to knock us both backward.  We tumbled in the white water.  Sometimes, she would hold onto me all the way in and we would end up in a heap on the shore.  Most of the time, we got thrashed violently; held down and spun like seaweed so that we couldn’t tell which way was up until we were thrown onto the sand.  I learned to surrender to the waves.  Fear gave way to thrill once I realized that eventually, I would crash onto the beach, find my breath, stand on solid ground. 

I realize now–this memory, which I love so well, is part of what binds me to the ocean.  On the surface, it is me and my beloved sister playing on a summer day.  It is innocence and laughter.  It is me trusting my sister, without question, enough to allow her to hold me facing waves: scary and uncontrollable.  It is learning to allow the ocean to cradle me as it overpowered me.  It is understanding that eventually, it would deliver me to solid ground.

Deeper, this memory, like the ocean, sustains me. I am drawn to both.  At the beach, I cannot be trapped in my head.  There is no will or need to cope or to seek or to struggle.  Some part of that five year old surfaces and I am trusting and innocent and allowing the ocean to carry me.  I see now that it was up to me to determine how long I waited on the shore and recovered my breath and balance before I went right back into those waves.  I see now how it has become a metaphor for life.  My anguish, my questioning…the tender ache of life’s bittersweet blessings…grief, happiness, fear, gratitude:  I am learning again to trust that each wave will eventually return me to solid ground as long as I surrender to it.

dropping stones

September 11, 2009

IMG_0845This morning, sitting in my quiet house with a cup of tea, I heard the church bells from the church on the corner tolling over and over.  At first, I thought it was the bells from the Academy up the hill, calling the kids to class, but that bell happens earlier in the day and only rings once or twice.  This was persistent.  The slow cadence was sad and ominous.  Then it occurred to me: it is September 11. 

I sent a prayer in that moment.  Blessings to those whose grief is tied to this day.  Peace to an endless conflict with eight years of countless victims.  Gratitude for safety and abundance in my own day-to-day.  I sang a song.  I remember…

That bell signaled the rhythm of the day.  It has been a day of reflection on grief and change.  When I have these moments of consideration, I imagine that I am swimming.  As I swim, I carry a bag full of burdens; stones which weigh me down and threaten to drown me.  As I meditate on a circumstance or acknowledge a care, I imagine dropping a stone into the depths.  Usually when it lands, it kicks up some emotional sludge and muddies the water so that I must stop swimming for a  minute lest I be lost.  Eventually, things settle again and I can resume swimming. It is easier as I drop my stones, easier as I release my worries to the universe with the faith that eventually the water clears and things right themselves again and I can swim unburdened. 

  I had a very long conversation with my former husband about our children and our co-parenting and our hopes for the future.  I told him his resentment is a burden for me.  He told me he is sorry for that.  I let go of that stone.

I had someone ask me if there is any possibility of reconciliation with a lost love.  There is not. I re-read letters he wrote to me and then I put them away for good.  I let go of that stone.

As I was cleaning out files and putting papers in order, I came across journals written two years ago, when my world changed so drastically and so suddenly that I am still catching my breath.  I cried tears of compassion for the woman who wrote those pages as she tumbled about in an angry ocean of grief, illness, uncertainty, loss, anger, exhaustion.  She is me, yet removed enough that I can read of her pain without experiencing it again.  I cried tears of relief that I can see the scars and remember the injury but that I know the healing and the lessons and the blessings.  I did not drown in that ocean.  I am a powerful swimmer.  I let go of stones for every circumstance and every fear that did not come true in those deep and despairing days.

And tonight, sitting in my quiet house with a cup of tea, I wait for the mud to settle and the water to clear.  When it does, I know I will move forward with intention and integrity into the blessings of this journey.  They often arrive on unexpected currents.

Cliche

July 18, 2009

 

Bing cherries surprise me every summer

I forget the profound perfection

Of fruit in season

 

October’s stunning blaze

December’s wood-smoke

May’s green intensity

July’s cherries

Returning gifts: new, familiar

Present, home.

 

Seasons changing these two years past

Moments of surprise

Joy, Beauty, Contentment

Gratitude

Fleeting presences which have yet to

Remain

 

In a moment of profound perfection

I bask in the absence of

Grief, Fear, Loneliness

Questions long holding my heart

So tightly

I have forgotten what freedom feels like

 

Until a basket of cherries

Brings me into this moment of

Liberation

Red, sticky, sweet, firm

Returning gifts: new, familiar

Present: home.

 

Time heals all wounds.