Posted tagged ‘peace’

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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Shimmering

May 5, 2011

The following are attempts to create poems about the birth of my boys, written as part of a project for grad school…the only writing I’m doing these days…

Griffin
Middle of the night water flowing
Dawn breaks after a slow walk in the morning mist
Carrying a blue sky Strawberry festival day
And the intensity of anticipation and effort
Vivaldi and honey-laced ice
the large soft hands of a capable shepherd
Trust and surrender to the
Welcome cries of eagle-lion
Myth and magic and mystery become
Divinity in my arms

Andrew
Jupiter rising within my impatient belly
It’s today! I think
But then re-think when everything stops
And the midwife decides not to come
Hours of disappointed inaction and I hardly
Notice when I start laboring again and
By the time I start paying attention it’s
Chaos and it’s just you and me little Jupiter
No time for conscious support it’s primal as
My body and my baby take over
A cacophony of action until twelve minutes after
The midwife arrives
You arrive
Time stops
Music stops
As the universe makes room for
This unspeakable love

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.

indulgence

January 17, 2011

“Sorry, no matinée today”.

I’m on a “mummy date” with my five-year old. We’re supposed to see a show about paleontology. Not happening. We’re at the planetarium on campus and the building is empty. It’s creepy. We stand in the lobby for a minute; discussing why it’s called a matinée and why it’s canceled. I’m trying to think what else we can do to make the 45 minute car ride worthwhile. The Children’s museum closes in less than an hour. It’s bitter cold. We had a snack in the car, so an early dinner is out. I’m not familiar enough with the city to quickly come up with ideas and my limited search via cell phone isn’t helpful.

Sweet child needs to pee, so we travel a few deserted hallways to find the restroom. He’s giving me a what for because it’s the women’s room. I tell him the sign on the stairway door across from this restroom says that the men’s room is in the basement. Not an option. He gives me squinty eyes and heads for the stall. A few seconds later, I hear him mumbling at first, then louder, “oh you can’t be serious!” It sounds exactly like when my mother says it. I’m smiling, despite that he’s obviously in some kind of mild distress. “Hey, pal, everything okay?”

Suffice to say, he’s pissed, literally, and I’m doing my best not to laugh about it. He’s giving me a commentary fit for the stage about how it happens that a five-year old, *practically grown!* can end up with pee on his pant leg.

We clean up as best we can. I’m trying to figure out how to salvage our “special” time together. I decide the only thing to do is to visit the toy store and find some ice cream, despite January in Maine. What else?  Off we go and within minutes we are lost in the world of toy store. Puppets. Kites. Model dinosaurs and dragons, books, games, wooden trains and play kitchen. He’s holding a couple of fierce dinosaurs, Utahraptor? Ovaraptor? He knows what it is. The other is a Velociraptor and I’m sure about it. “Mum, you know my birthday is just around the corner”, he says. “You can get one now, honey.” I say. “Oh, no. I could never decide which one”. I sneak them both to the sales clerk and ask her to set them aside. “Well, you can choose something for now” and he does, a glow in the dark skeleton pirate who rides a monster crab and carries a sword and a pistol. Not my favorite of his choices, but it assuages my disappointment about the day. We buy some board books for a friend and a craft kit for another friend’s birthday. We buy a WWII era plane with a red propeller. It’s about 3″ long and fastens to a bike handle. We decide it’s the closest we’ll get to making the airplane and history obsessed big brother’s dreams of owning a plane come true. I buy myself a craft kit, too, realizing fully that I will have zero time to start it anytime soon. I can’t help myself though.

I’m carrying the toy store loot, including the birthday surprise dinosaurs; we decide to take a walk. I’m looking for ice cream but I don’t say anything to the kid. It’s super chilly but we’re laughing as we walk. He takes my hand and pulls ahead of me, pretending to be a dog. I pull him back playfully and say “heel” as I did with our pup. Several times, I automatically call him by the dog’s name, which he finds hysterically funny. I don’t even realize I’ve done it! I’m noticing every detail as we walk. The smell of garlic from a restaurant. The wind whipping up tears and stealing my breath. The weight of the toys in the bag on my arm. The press of his hand against mine, warm in our mittens. The little upward pitch at the end of his giggle.

Turn the corner and we’re at the most wonderful “authentic” Italian gelato shop. The kid has no clue but I realize we’ve hit a jackpot. I order coconut and he orders something–I can’t remember the Italian name for it–translated, it means “deliciousness combined with chocolate deliciousness to make supreme deliciousness”. He shares, as long as I use my own little spoon, which is purple. His is pink, but he insists it’s orange. We have the discussion again about how there are no “boy” colors and no “girl” colors but he squints again and I know he’s the king of discipline for holding his tongue.

He takes his skeleton pirate out of the box and immediately starts the giggle. “Lookit this mullet, mum!” I’m about to ask what he knows about mullets when I remember showing both of my boys some prime hair band videos from the 80s just a few nights earlier. When was the last time you watched “Jump” by Van Halen followed by Ratt, Poison, Motley Crue and Warrant? Try telling those guys there are “boy” colors and “girl” colors!! We get a kick out of the skeleton mullet and he’s happy playing for a minute. I’m eavesdropping on the people next to me, savoring each bite of coconut deliciousness, when I realize that this beautiful boy of mine is not -so- quietly singing, “she’s my cherry pie, dunn nan na na naaaa na na” over and over while he’s lost in monster crab play. Okay, so the Warrant video was a huge mistake. I’m sure he’ll take it up in therapy when he’s older.

As we’re cleaning up our table and putting the toys away, he says, “Mum, what do pirates have to do with Jesus?” I can’t come up with anything appropriate quickly enough so I ask why he asks. “I just always think of Jesus when I think of pirates.” No idea. I know I’m giving him a dumb look but I’m caught between marveling at his comment and the sheer joy of this very moment. A few seconds later, “mum, do you know why the universe is here?” I wait, he’s not finished. “No, not the universe, I mean earth. Do you know why earth is here?” This is not a question he expects me to answer. He expects me to say, “no, honey, why is earth here?”, which I do. “So the moon has someone to appreciate it.” The dumb look again but now I’m just giddy smiling. He doesn’t miss a beat. Takes a deep breath and lets it out. “Mum, this was the worst day of my life. No movie, no paleontology. I thought for sure people would be near me and [he breathes deeply through his nose and then gives a few short sniffs with his face a crinkled in mock disgust] ‘oh man, why does that big kid smell of pee?’… but it’s not the worst day. I got a cool toy. I got that yummy European ice cream, what’s it called again? and nobody sniffed me.”I’m nearly crying now, just so in love with this boy, this moment.

As we leave, he takes off his mitten and puts his hand into mine. We’re quiet as we walk along, trying to remember where we left the car. A perfect day.

sticky

January 12, 2011

Controlled chaos; a random snapshot of the things on my desk at this moment.

Seven half-finished thank you notes which my oldest is avoiding.(He thinks I’ll quit nagging him to finish them if he hides them in a stack of other papers.) A stack of papers, including a notebook with a running list of “to do”: errands and phone calls to make, books to read and snippets of inspiration and a time-line with suggestions for revisions for the soul-stealing research paper I finished last month.  A 2011 supporter card from the American Heart Association and a thank you for my recent donation in memory of my sister. Two bills, one for my youngest kid’s recent ER trip and one for the trash pick-up. A notice for a roller skating fundraiser, a drawing of a snowman with all of his parts properly labeled, a list of things to bring and accommodations for an upcoming trip to Mexico.

A lamp. A hammer. (Why is there a hammer on my desk?) A heart shaped rock. Blue seaglass I found last weekend. A joystick for a flight simulator.  A book of pine cone stamps. Three pencils with lead, one without. Two blue pens, my favorite sharpie, a surgical skin marker. A screw, Philips head. The gold hoop earrings I wore to a work event last Friday. An army guy minus one leg. One dollar bill. A black plastic spider ring from Halloween. A dime. Two lethal looking straight pins. An extra yo-yo string, fastened with a rubber band. (Never know when you’ll need a yo-yo string!) Speakers. Monitor, mouse, keyboard. A stack of sticky notes, just waiting to be scrawled on and plastered about the house. (Where would I be without sticky notes???) Two small, blank notebooks, a book of inspirational quotes. A book about creating a “charmed life” (including the notion, I’m sure, of having an uncluttered workspace!)

Sticky notes: email address regarding a leadership program I want to take. Reminder of the Sea Cadets auction. Reminder of the ASTD event next week in Falmouth. Reminder to get my passport renewed (done, guess that can come down!) and book tickets for my trip and call my Reiki practitioner for an appointment.  Reminder to do some random survey for my former husband’s insurance group. (Not happening) Five stickys with quotes I like, such as, “Ain’t no talkin’ to this man, he’s been tryin’ to tell me so, It took a while to understand the beauty of just letting go…” which is from one of my favorite Patty Griffin songs and reminds me that he’s gone for a reason. The address for an editor I never followed up with.  A sign in purple marker “I love you mom” in the most wonderful kindergarten print.

It all makes sense, this stuff.  I look around this space with my heart full. I love this home I’ve created. I love these objects, snippets of my life in process. I love my life: in process and filled with blessing.

celebration

January 5, 2011

The other day, I had an overwhelming urge to call a girlfriend that very moment. I obeyed my intuition. When she answered, she shared some of her troubles. Valid, heartbreaking, heavy; she’s struggling for clarity and worn out. She doesn’t want to set another intention, make a list of goals, reflect on her vision.

Understand: this is a woman who sets standards for competence and generosity. A mentor, a leader, an inspiration; her intelligence, wit, ambition, creativity and awareness and kindness make her as beautiful inside as she is outside. With an incredible list of accomplishments proving her power and worth, I’m a little bit in awe of her. She sets her mind to something and makes it happen, but she does so while also raising up everyone around her. She nurtures friends, business partners, clients, family–she finds a way to connect which is genuine and so positive–which, it seems, is a common thread among my friends. I am blessed.

I look at other friends: balancing personal goals and career; raising incredible children, negotiating marriages and relationships, finding the humor in each day. They carry dreams for themselves in pockets filled with tissue, receipts from the grocery store, worn out lipstick tubes, stray crayons or legos and a to-do list bigger than Obama’s. They bring casseroles to friends with new babies on their way to one more PTO meeting/kids practice/appointment/meeting. They host holiday dinner parties and end the night loading the dishwasher while a sulking partner surfs the net. They face their demons with courage and honesty, humor and some therapy. They endure illness without complaint, except to say that it’s difficult sometimes to ask for help. They run marathons and teach yoga and coach and sing and play in the band.  They get advanced degrees while working full-time and raising a family and still manage to put a hot meal on the table each night. They get on another airplane to another gig in another city and leave each place better than it was before they got there. They take on a second job or stay home for a week straight because the kids are sick, or whatever else is required, because it’s just what you do. They take the high road more often than not, encouraging and expressing gratitude. They love their friends and family with passion and loyalty. I am amazed by what these friends accomplish. I am amazed by how generous and loving and spirited they are.

I want to throw every one of them a party. A moment for each to see each accomplishment and blessing as it is. A moment to let go of things undone. A moment to forget the negative and focus on the ripples of light and love from each positive they’ve inspired or created. A moment to shut off the chatter in their heads which criticizes or holds their feet to the fire relentlessly. I want to create a ritual for each one of them, to acknowledge their power and strength. I want to grant a wish which would bring them true satisfaction and contentment and a sense of pride in a life well lived. I want to sing them a love song of verses meant to encourage, comfort, thank each one for her gifts to the world. I want to whisper to each that it’s okay to celebrate. Take a deep breath, sit a minute in the glow of your beauty. Shower yourself with the affection you give so freely to others. Give yourself permission to gloat, brag, accept some well-deserved praise for your wonderful-ness. Go ahead, revel in the wonder of life in this moment, it is too soon gone.

 

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