Tuesday, August 30, 2011

a start

All I could find
to write on
was this narrow
strip of paper,
the width
of which truncated
my lines into
something that
looked like a
poem but was
in fact

I was thinking
about running
and racing
and another life,
about lungs
exploding and
everything wanting
to stop but not
stopping because
that's not
what you
did, in a race.

Now I like
to stop. Have
to stop. Or
not do it at
all. That's
how it is
and I don't mind

But I always
start up again,
even if all that's
left is down
the block. Because
I want to.

I stopped
writing stuff
down for a
long time
because I forgot
or my mind
was full or
empty and
now my
guts are burning,
my limb are

I still have
nothing to say
but I found
this narrow
strip of paper
and filled it
up because
it's a start.
After a

Friday, August 26, 2011

be here now

When I tell some people, I feel guarded. Self conscious. Pregnant catches in my throat for two weeks before I tell the folks I work with. For no good reason, of course -- they are kind and congratulatory.

But when I walk up to her it tumbles out. Four, I smile. She has that many, too. They're all out of the house and she grows and raises and crafts food with passion and runs her own business and she looks so strong standing on her own two feet and I hold her up as a model for what I could be after all this. When she smiles I can see her laugh lines. Oh, how I wish mine were still young. I hear her past threading through her words.

I'm not there but I know what she means. I hear what she's saying. Live here. Live now. 

So simple. But so hard. At least for me.


Dishes done, one girl napping, two girls playing. Notebook in hand. I haven't opened it yet when the Awake Ones find me. Request candy (just one piece?) and ask me to play a game. Of course I will. One day they'll stop asking. I know this. 

But one smacks her gum while I shiver and the other fidgets across five square feet of floor, wiggling under my skin. I have to remind each player of her turn. The space vibrates with their noise. I'm starting to get annoyed. I'm starting to wish myself somewhere else. With my notebook, maybe. Or with my pillow. And definitely alone.

But then, for once, I remember what I've been reading. About finding now by finding the breath. (I know. I've written about this before. I'm a slow learner, it seems.)

So I notice the in and the out. The rise and the fall. And I notice how annoyed I feel. It doesn't go away. But I'm here, feeling and playing, and suddenly very Aware that annoyed is an emotion -- it's not what I am.

The feeling never really goes away but I set it aside, on the edge of my periphery. Out of focus.

No one wins the game. It goes on too long and we all agree to quit early. When I tell them I had fun its mostly true. My feathers are all lying down, at least. 


It's later. The napper is up and busy with cups and water in the yard. The other two play in Another World of their private creation.

Okay, now's the time. I open my notebook and set down a few lines. She looks up from her cups and sees me sitting there. Her wheels turn while she plans her approach. 

She plants her damp bottom on my lap, thinking she's so sly as she slides the pen from my hand and oh-so-stealthily scribbles over my page. Her smile is so satisfied.

I just watch.

Soon she's asking about Eeeee's and Oooooh's and we're filling my writing space with capital letters. She says H like eight and watches my mouth as I tell her double you. That one mystifies her. Her joy seeps into me as sure as her wet dress soaks through my jeans and cools my skin.

She won't remember this -- she's too little. But I will. Because I don't need to breathe to be here this time. I just am.

Monday, August 15, 2011


I feel it wherever I am. In whatever I'm doing. In quiet space like Ironing at Night, Doing Dishes During Naptime, Walking the Dog Alone. And especially, most notably, in loud spaces like Mealtime and Cartime and Bathtime and They Need a Referee Time.

It's a tightness around my mouth. Tension I hold there, captive, where it whispers about the wrinkles that are carving my face into a map, historical, that tracks patterns that I thought were invisible.

But whenever I am here enough to let it go -- let my mouth relax outside and in -- I feel a sigh travel up my cheeks and across my scalp. Down my jawbone and all over my neck. But always, moments later, the clench creeps back into my lips and tongue and palate, pulling closed what was just open. I try to practice letting go again and again, but this pattern runs deep beneath the surface. It owns me.


I walk into class expectant but unsure what yoga will say about The Joy of Running. All I know is that I used to enjoy running, back and back in another life when I was fast and good and had all the time in the world. But the only thing that's fast about me these days is the rate at which tired and done set in. With lungs exploding and shoulders slumping and various injuries knocking at my door, I've always quickly given up any attempt at resuming running. I hated it.

So I'm all ears when he talks about teaching the body new patterns of movement through yoga and drills and then not worrying about it in the moment but trusting that the body will remember what it learned and the elegant posture that's nothing but natural will feel good and efficient and leave room from the mind to notice all the things it loves about sweating and breathing and being outside.

We work from the ground up. Talking about the feet and how a light step starts with firm grounding. About pelvic flection and using the most efficient muscles to bend the knee. About a strong pelvic floor and a strong low belly. About coordinating movement across the planes of the body. About finding the sweet spot in shoulder alignment. About exhaling fully and -- interestingly -- relaxing the roof of the mouth.

I take these tools home with me and find myself running fast and having fun -- and -- stopping often. But stopping isn't the enemy, I learned. Run -- walk. Exert -- rest. A productive pattern that keeps the heart rate up and allows me to enjoy the exercise. I am in love. Sore, but in love.


I want to enjoy everything more. The quiet spaces. Even the loud spaces. And I have a hunch that letting the tension drain from every little moment is a way to start from the ground and move up, changing old patterns and trusting that with time, my body will learn to help my mind meet loud and quiet, stress and leisure, exertion and rest with equal composure and presence and peace.

And just like in class, where we started the process of teaching our bodies with yoga and drills so that the run could be effortless and enjoyable, I need a place to practice, outside especially the loud moments that can sometimes totally take me over.

Can daily meditation be that practice place? I was working to meditate a single minute each day earlier this year, but that intention evaporated at some unknown point. I stopped. Gave up.

Maybe it's time to start again.

Monday, August 8, 2011


Looking out across the lake there's something coming. Ignore the sky and it could be rain or an unnamed, unexplained swarm boiling beneath the surface. But the clouds are few and colorless and the fish hold no mystery. They've all been caught at least once, don't you think? No, it's just the wind sending ripples across the pane glass surface. The boats rock against their tethers.


My seat is a curb in this crowded parking lot where people oooh and aaah to my left and right and I am alone. I sit down late and last minute never leaves the scene. I look up but look back, remembering years ago, lying on a blanket watching the lights explode and fade leaving smoke imprints in the sky floating like specters behind the here and now. The sound echoed in the hollow of my chest and light after light lasted forever. Tonight I'm not looking for magic but I wanted to feel something. Lonely is not what I expected.


She's sitting near the shore, lake up to her waist, legs in front of her floating on their own accord. She pulls stones from the soft sand and declares them BIG before tossing them into the water. A boat passes. She points. When the wake reaches her, pushing her pulling her, she watches the waves fold onto the shore -- shouting where moments ago there were only whispers -- and her eyes are big and wary. The water gentles and she remembers the stone folded between her fingers. She tosses it. It splashes.


I turn on the tap and look out at the grainy purple dusk settling over our backyard. Glass halfway to lips I freeze frame, arrested by the ordinary, made breathless by the everyday. A hundred fireflies take turns sounding in a silent symphony, pricking holes in the approaching black that fill with light rushing in from another world. I can't drink deeply enough.


I'm pretty sure I know my body but I've pretty nearly convinced myself this can't be real. I take the test anyway. A plus sign. It screams POSITIVE and FOUR and OMG. It flips my calendar and timetable and expectations and forecasts over and upside down and out the window. I never saw this coming. I'm rocked. I'm at square one. I'm bewildered. But here I am, two once again, and totally, totally awestruck.