Wednesday, September 29, 2010

hung up

The kids are in bed.

I've been home from yoga class for more than hour and my mind is awake. Aware. My eyes feel wide in their sockets. It's starting to get late.

John says goodnight and tucks himself in, but I can't go there. Not yet. I'll never sleep.

I have a pile of computer work I could pare down. And an equal pile of dishes by the kitchen sink. There are bathrooms to clean and I have new book from the library and I could stand to write a new blog post.

But I don't want to do any of that. Not working, not cleaning, not reading, not writing.

I could flip on the TV, but silence is singing to me right now. And besides, my teacher focused our yoga practice tonight on forward folds, which function to draw us inward. I don't feel like looking through an electronic pane into someone else's world tonight. I want to be inside me.

So I go downstairs. Dig up a few disheveled shirts from the too-deep to-be-ironed pile. And do exactly what I feel like doing.

I flatten out my thoughts as they trickle down my sleeves, one by one.  They curl slightly, stiff from the heat, and I hang them carefully from doorknobs and cabinet handles. These are temporary decorations -- I'll hide them back in the closet soon -- but I like the colors strung from unexpected places. I send simple prayers up on the steam as I work slowly, deliberately.

I'm getting something done.

But now my head is starting to feel heavy so I turn off the iron. Close the lid to my mind. I leave the shirts hanging where they are, though -- I want to see them in the morning.

Monday, September 27, 2010

the worst idea and some realistic goals

So I was chatting with my sister the other day, sort of complaining about how this has been a dawn-till-dusk sort of month for me, peppered with very little time to do the alone-time things I love with any predictable regularity. Largely, this is because I haven't been sleeping well enough to wake up an hour before the kids flip the day-switch to ON. My evenings are filled with work -- which I enjoy -- but which is stealing the end-cap of my day, too.

So I told my sister that I'm planning to start getting up earlier to gift myself an hour to walk the dog or practice yoga or or write or center myself in meditation. I need this, I told her.

Sarah, that's the worst idea I ever heard, she replied.

She's right.

I know this.

Sleep is so important, even in the stop-starting ways it's been coming to me lately. More important than alone time, I guess. But I'm sorely missing that time and hoping the space opens up again very soon. [I wrote this request in my manifestation book. Do you think the Universe will hear?]

In the meantime, I'm in a goal-setting mood. Even if waking up early isn't going to work, I still want to incorporate more of the things I love into my day, since I can't carve out any quiet space for them right now.

So I'm going to take more walks with the dog and the stroller. [With no disasters, I trust.] I'm going to practice yoga with the baby crawling under my downward dog and Eliza playing along when she wants. [We'll have our own parent-child yoga class here in our basement. I've got some storytime yoga books on hold at the library -- I'm excited to share this practice with her...I hope this spark of interest she's been showing keeps glowing steadily and brighter.]

Meditation really will have to wait for quiet spaces, but perhaps I can find even just 2 minutes before bed.

And as for writing? Well, I joined up with NaBloWriMo, pledging to write a blog post a day. So you'll see me a lot more active in this online unwrapping space in October, and I'm excited to see what the commitment will draw out of me. I won't be offended if you get bored with my daily blatherings, so visit daily if you want...or not...but that's the commitment. The goal.

Do you have any goals for October? For this season of lengthening nights, cooler days, muted colors, and a significant, seasonal, and possibly spiritual folding inward?

Friday, September 24, 2010

rear view

I'm moving at school zone speed but positively hurtling through space relative to the squirrel I almost squish.

He darts in front of my wheels, too late for me to brake. With bated breath I look back through the rear view mirror. Road clean. I'm relieved. I don't really want to author road kill today.

Around the next corner, a whorl of leaves rise up in the middle of the road, levitating on an invisible curlicued breath. A pocket-sized petal of wind. I drive right through it, scattering the leafy dance into regular randomness.

In my rear view, I see the individual leaves grounded, rustling in my wake. Gravity would have gotten them eventually. I know this. But I feel responsible for breaking that spell.

At home, Ruthie is down for a nap. I'm moving through the house, cleaning this, picking up that. Eliza is paging through books. Now she's hopping on the living room carpet. Now she pads off to her room.

I watch her go in my rear view. I stop. Turn off my motor and follow her into her room.

She's arranging her stuffed animals in her bed -- guests for dinner. I join her. Be the lion. We play.

I take slow, deep breaths of her magic, feeling sure and alive in this space.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


You'll never guess where I am right now.

My physical landscape is not the point. [I'm actually sitting on some bun-chilling cement, overlooking a parking lot.]

It's my status that matters. I'm ALONE.

Claire is dancing in the building I'm leaning against right now. And John took both Littles home to get the pizza made. Leaving me here. ALONE.

This is supposed to be book-writing time for me. 45 minutes a week isn't much, but it's more than I was able to give myself between home work and work work. But I forgot my pen and there's a fly that keeps landing on my leg and I wanted to check my email and then there was a cool link on Facebook I had to follow and then I decided to write about being alone rather than trying to figure out where my characters are going from here.

And in one minute the dance class is over so I am closing my computer but I hope to be sitting here next week. Alone. [John willing, of course]

I don't care how cold my butt gets.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

sent to you

yes, you're in my thoughts and prayers. always.

i say this, but what do i mean? i'm not on my knees.

it changes for me, prayer. sometimes i just breathe deeply and think of you, collecting energy from all my corners and sending it to where i think you are. but lately, i've been dedicating parts of my day to you.

i'm in the shower, soaking in the steam. i send you my silence.
i'm standing in between the laundry lines, inhaling the outside and hiding between the billowing sheets. I send you my stillness.
i'm holding my solid, squealing baby, feeling her weight and movement and vitality and life. I send you health.
i'm supporting her as she climbs the playset, all fearless and trusting. I send you the kind of confidence that lifts you higher.
i'm watching the girls dance and take each other down in the living room, crazy silly before dinner. I send you joy. The giddy, all-consuming kind.
i'm hunkering down in bed, day done at last, covers over my right ear, comfortable in the groove on my side of the bed. i send you my peace as sleep takes me there.

i hope you get it. all of it.
it's what i believe.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

access point

They're building a new boardwalk in my woods. I saw it today when I was out with the dog.

It's only partway done, a half-finished pier raised up over dirt and fallen leaves and downed branches and a trickle of a stream. Neon flags mark where it will join up with the main path.

I walked past those flags, through the rough-cleared undergrowth, to take a look at their work. I could see the condos through the clearing -- this boardwalk will pipe those residents right in. Easy access.

I about-faced and bounded crazily back through the brambles, all energy all of the sudden. Intoxicated by the scent of damp fallen leaves? Or maybe just motivated by reality -- I'd been gone longer than I said.

Back on the main path, I kept jogging. I don't know why -- I was wearing jeans, who runs in jeans? But I wanted to hear my heart in my ears.

They were all out today, the runners in their short sleek shorts and wind jackets, watches on their arms. I slowed to a walk every time I saw one. Just a girl on a walk with her dog. But once they were out of ear shot I picked up the pace again, smiling to myself like I was getting away with something. Like I had a secret.

But I don't. I really don't. I've got nothing to report except that the season is changing and I can feel it in my blood and as the days grow shorter I think a window is opening somewhere and the brisk air will sting my eyes as I stick my head out and shout my demands to the universe.

I want to be piped in.

Friday, September 17, 2010

the fitting room

Home from school, she laughs -- another child stuck in her throat.
She speaks with a cadence that came home on the bus.

I want to tell her  

        take that off 
                             it doesn't fit

But I close my teeth over my tongue, scratching the itch to speak.
It's up to her to decide if what she puts on
clashes with what's underneath.

How much water will I have to drink when she's 15 and my whole mouth is burning, burning, burning to speak, to save her from ridicule or preserve what I've pinned down as her sense of self?

But I'll have to let her walk out of that fitting room
with whatever she has on.

[as long as it's not too short]

Thursday, September 16, 2010

not a greeting card.

I hate buying greeting cards.

The sentimental ones only offer canned poetry. [I like my emotions raw, thank you.] And the funny ones? Are never very funny. So if it's your birthday, you might get a haiku from me. [Or a poem that looks like a haiku but lacks the proper syllabic rhythm.] 

The card itself might look a little unprofessional [read: grade-schoolish] – the glue will wrinkle the paper, which will not be straight-cut, and my handwriting might look a lot more Kindergarten teacher than calligraphic. But I hope you'll be able to feel the all that I packed behind those words.

If you're my mom, today's your birthday. But you're not getting a card from me.

I thought about making one, but the poem never came. I thought about buying one, but it seemed so halfway.

You know I'm thinking about you today. And we already gave you our gift. Of course, you can expect a phone call, too. But I have something else for you.

Last night, I was driving home from yoga class when I decided on it. It was right after I saw the half-moon out my window.

I had been feeling rather half-empty the whole day. Like I was leaking energy. Or maybe like it was being sucked out. Physically, I felt okay. It was a mental drain.

At the end of class, my instructor took us through a visualization with the intent of sealing in our prana – our life force, our vitality. Because there are so many ways life can deplete us, she said.

No kidding. There's worrying. And caretaking. The occasional [and sometimes constant] emotional roller coaster. Interactions. Duties. Giving. Guilt. Creative processes. Searching. And the puddles of self can make the floor so slippery. 

On my way home, after this practice, I still felt half-glassed – but I felt half-full. Like that waxing gibbous moon out my window, winking at me with one eye, on its way to a full face, more tomorrow than it is right now.

And I thought of you. Maybe because you really get yoga [and you got it before I ever did]. Or maybe it's because I think you know all about the waxing and the waning and the ups and the downs, because you've been here and are here and…well…this is life.

So what I wanted to give you was that visualization. Not so much the words themselves but the experience of it. The cross legged, spine straightened, room darkened, breath patterned experience of it. And the energy. The heat I felt filling my body and buoying my mind. You would have really liked it.

So here it is. Find your seated posture, tall spine and all that. Close your eyes and locate the tools of sensory experience – eyes, ears, nostrils, mouth, skin. As you breathe in, imagine a white light entering your body through these places and congregating in your head. At the top of your inhale, pause for a second or two and imagine the light filling the part of your brain that rests just behind the space between your eyes. As you exhale, see the light leaving the way it came in. Repeat, repeat, repeat. If you have trouble imagining the light itself, think instead about how the light would feel traveling those pathways. After using the visualization for awhile, release it and simply sit in stillness.

That's for you.

Happy birthday, dear Mother. Much love to you. I hope you feel full today.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

how [not] to take a walk

Beautiful day. Stroller, leash, big hill. Walk slow, soak in.

Pause for usual business, brake on, tidy up even out here. Steaming pile halfway bagged Oh shit stroller starts to roll.  [Keep clutching undesirable bag] drop-leash-grab-stroller-seize-dog-by-collar  ---- Breathe.

Tie bag. Grip stroller and leash with white knuckles. Laugh. Keep going.

Dog poop on my skin but I've got us all in hand.

Monday, September 13, 2010


In savasana, you rest laying flat, eyes closed, face to the sky. Palms up, feet apart, you still the body and invite the mind to follow along.

No more doing. Only being.

Here i am, stealing a moment. Lawn feeling lumpy under my back. Bugs landing on my arms.

And a voice.

     hi, mama
 my eyes pop open.

hi, claire.
     we're playing shell dorothy shell and it's the tornado day episode
that's nice.

She goes back to their game. My eyes are still open.

I can see a spider web catching nothing but the sun, high, high above my head. It's woven between the needles near the top of the pine tree I'm positioned under. A bee buzzes the next strata down, tiny from here but recognizable. And a sparrow-sized bird flits in and out of the branches of a neighboring oak. The sky is empty of clouds.

And for about 30 seconds, my mind is, too. Empty. Aware. A state i sometimes fight too hard to achieve, warring against my restless mind in the dim, quiet, end-of-day space i sometimes carve out for myself.

hey mama? i just made friends with a spider. a tiny one.
     I sit up.
really, eliza? good for you. where did you find her?

interrupted, always. 
but right now, filled with a warm, white light.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

her day

babies never come on their due dates.

do they?

this one did.
she was born on a black-marked day
already filled with freeze frames
of a whole people's fear and pain
she knew nothing about that when she blinked at me

but the world is cold so i wrapped her in All i have
and i gave her to drink that thing that fills me
and i watched her learn to
smile, laugh, walk
talk, reason, empathize

until all of the sudden here she is

all compassion and will and always-right
a sponge, an ear
flitting through the day and anchoring me here
in Truth

someday she'll feel the weight of this day o-one
but i don't believe it will teach despair
to this child of o-four

no, not her.
she has wings unfolding.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


i'm driving down a residential street
kids chattering away in the back seat
when I'm sideswiped. 
not by another car, no.

by a memory.

it's a simple one. one that will mean nothing you 
unless you were There

I'm running down the dim, red carpeted hallway, inhaling the smell of her cooking well before I can see her. And then there she is, all slacks and blouse, plump and smiling, arms held open wide, ready for my accelerated hug.

i resurface
and i'm at a stoplight 
foot on the gas and I go back under
a tidal wave of memory

I'm kneeling on the living room floor, keeping a close eye on my firstborn daughter, all curls and big eyes. There's a lot she could break here – knickknacks right in her reach. My other eye and both ears are on the figure in the recliner, so much smaller and thinner than ever before. She talks about how little she feels like eating these days. A bite of cantaloupe for lunch. And she marvels at that big, healthy baby – she just drinks your milk?? I think this could be the last time I'll see her. Does she know that, too? I lean into my goodbye.

eliza asks another question, insisting for an answer this time. 
the steering wheel is firm under my hands. 
i recover my voice
we're almost Home.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


The other day, I went to a movie. By myself.

It wasn't the movie that really mattered. Or even the by myself part. It was the going. And even more – it was the waiting to go.

It had been another night on top of a night of too many wakings. I began the day with my sleep-cup half empty and the woe is me train roaring through my head.

John was off for the extended weekend, yet I still made breakfast with knit brows. Spoke with unnecessary sharpness. Strode around the house under a black cloud that threatened to split wide open.

I was a crab. I knew it. I felt it.

You're going to that movie today. One o'clock, right? Go. You're going.

I protested weakly but grabbed onto the prospect like a life raft. Suddenly the skies cleared. I could see the sun. Enjoy the morning.

And then I went. I curled into my seat, wrapped up in darkness and someone else's story. I lapped up every sappy second of it.

But looking forward to the movie was almost better than the movie itself. The anticipation buoyed me out of my bad mood so that I could swim in the moment. The gift of time made me a present of… the present.

But I can't go to a movie whenever I'm in a bad mood. I can't count on anticipation as a constant, as an always-available life raft, because there isn't always something sparkly at the end of the tunnel of today. Some days are just regular, flesh colored days. With no embellishments.

Actually, most days are like that, aren't they? Just part of the grind?

I know that whenever I can flick on my own light and focus on the floor in front of me rather than on a shimmery something waiting for me somewhere ahead, I recognize again that the faces and feelings in this moment are the things that are really real.

But golly, I've said that here so many times already. I've gone on and on about the fact that right here, right now is the true source of all the poetry and beauty that keeps me going.

Blah blah blah. I know all that. And I know I don't need anticipation. But it sure is nice sometimes.

Friday, September 3, 2010

the calm year

She kicks me. Hard. 

I feel my water break and suddenly she's completely motionless. Her stillness speaks: Oh crap, what did I just do?

I answer: Oh crap, here we go. I steel myself for another race-to-the-hospital, this-is-an-emergency kind of birth. The other two were that way.

But it's nothing like that. This child comes into the world calmly. After a labor I can honestly say I enjoy.



I sit on the birthing ball, eating a popsicle. Engage in quiet conversation with John, pausing to breathe through the kind of contractions I can honor as honest work but nothing that can scare me or send me jumping out of my skin. John rubs my back when I want him to. This is rare alone time and it's almost like we're on a date. I feel safe and in control. 

She is born. Ruth.

In my arms, she's not exactly a calm-mannered baby. I have to walk and bounce even in the hospital, learning the steps to a brand new dance. It is an improved sequence, subject to change. I have to work for this one.

But somehow, this doesn't stress me out the way it did the last two times. The crying. The work. The feeling my way in the dark. So she sleeps in the carrier – fine. So her naps are crazy short – fine. So she nurses often – fine. So I'm tired – fine. I've been there and back already. And we all survived.

As the months pass, I find myself worrying not at all about milestones. I don't wonder what I'm doing right or wrong. I don't search through books for any secrets that will help me whisper this baby.

I've been here.

So I notice more, stress less. I live in these moments of physical needs, fully aware that this too shall pass.

And it has passed. Not without difficulties, of course – I've waded through a number of low, swampy places – but overarchingly, I've felt the sense of calm that was present during my labor with this child. A safety in my own knowledge and experience. Pleasure in the little moments. Poetry in the quiet spaces. Awe at the life growing, growing, growing – a package bursting at the seams with personality and potential, unwrapping before my very eyes.

Happy Birthday little Bug. Thank you for showing me how to enjoy a baby year. I can't wait to see what you'll teach me in your second.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Baby napping in another room

Girls playing on another level

I swirl warm soapy water between wet wrinkly fingers, soaking in relative quiet.

wash slowly

rinse sparkly

Not really wanting to be done.

Baby wakes

Girls giggle up the stairs

I nestle one last dish in the drying rack

And step