Sunday, November 27, 2011

clash and crossing

There is a bridge I've gotten to know pretty well. It marks the turn-around on my running route.

It's older than the others in the conservancy, spanning the stream narrowly with slats that run the same direction as my tread. It smells distinct when damp. Like rot. And mothballs.

My footfalls feel uneven and muffled. Hushed, unlike hollow ring of the newer, neater bridges. The ones with the perfect, gradual arch and the uniform spacing.  I like this one better.

I cross my bridge alone, mostly. At a run. At a walk. Thinking. Spaced out.

But if I ever have a companion, the vibrations of our steps clash just so and the whole thing bounces in a subtle but slightly unsettling way.  Just enough to remind me of my position, suspended above the water. Somewhere between here and there. Vulnerable even though completely supported. 



Everyone's in bed. Even the refrigerator's hum quiets and silence settles like a snowfall, a soft dusting over everything. I'm stretched out on the couch, holding an unopened book.

I'm staring off into space when I notice it.

The clock.

It talks in ticks and tocks all day but never audible over the tide rushing in and out, high and low, the sounds of a life loudly lived. But it's a mechanical shout right now, not to be ignored, marking every second that's here then gone.

The rhythm nearly matches that of my heart beating -- but not quite. There's a space in between so the thump falls a step behind the tock -- just so -- and the sound and the sensation clash. The reverberations bounce across my belly in a subtle, but slightly disquieting movement from within. Just enough to remind me of her position, suspended over time and vitality. Somewhere between here and there. Vulnerable even though completely supported.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011


I know I don't have twenty minutes, but maybe ten. Maybe five. Or just one? I know I'll be interrupted. But I'm starting to need this. Every. Day.

So I fold my legs under myself and sit on my feet. I close my eyes and exhale everything.


When I'm in this space, I rarely think about my hands. They just rest where they want to. But I've heard about the difference -- palms down means grounding. Palms up means receiving.

I seem to always need whatever gifts are floating around me so I make the conscious decision to accept them. Palms up.

The Littles play down the hall, in their castle. {This is day three of it's construction. Blankets off beds, toys and chairs rearranged to prop them up. We take it down at night to clothe the naked beds, but they resurrect it every morning.} They are anything but quiet but their laughter is what lives in my landscape.

And so I sit in the other room. A point on the periphery of so much motion, but still, at the center of things. 

It really isn't long before Littlest pads into the room. Her socks are gone.

I almost cringe. I almost tighten. I almost resent. But before that taste even creeps into my mouth, she plunks herself down on my lap. Right onto my upturned hands.

A gift.

I accept it.

Monday, November 21, 2011

coloring my cheeks

The sun is still bright. Too bright, sometimes, and I squint. Shield my eyes.

But what little power it has weakens daily as the earth tilts away and it cannot warm my face. I've grown pale these last months, summer's mark completely faded.

Now would be the logical time to put on a little blush to brighten my face. But I've been applying heat instead. 

It starts with my morning shower, water as hot as I can stand it. I scare away the cold with steam and my skin reacts by reddening. I'm not boiling my flesh but I try. It feels so good. 

I pour warm foods down my throat. Chicken soup at 9am. Tea all day long. Warmth in my throat, in my belly. I feel it in my face.

I crank the heat in the car, directing the vents right at my face. The temperature soars and my cheeks turn pink and this is exactly what I needed.

I try to hold the warmth in with layers. Tanks tops under long sleeved shirts under sweaters. Socks up to my knees. Slippers. Always. But the heat escapes. The color quickly fades.

And so the best way to feel warm and alive, I find, is to stoke my inner fire.

One way to get the bellows going is to just move. So I go running or practice yoga when there's time. Sweep the floors, clean the bathrooms, when I have to.  Wiggle around with the kids when I can.  My blood flows faster, circulates better, and I feel lit from the inside.

But even more effective (and often more elusive) is the thing that happens when I'm sitting still.

Maybe I'm tutoring a student and I have to think hard about how to construct the thesis of her essay. We throw ideas back and forth and we really get somewhere. I'm so excited about her essay that I want to write the whole thing myself. I don't, of course. But I leave the session feeling primed. My cheeks are flushed from the mental exercise.

Maybe I'm writing something of my own. For once the ideas run down my arm like water. I don't even have to wring my hands to get them out. I'm lit, head to toe, with the creative spark. My face glows in the firelight and I can't remember ever feeling cold.

But then there's this: I'm sitting with my legs crossed, my spine tall. I imagine the crown of my head to be not a barrier but a portal to my insides. I watch prana -- energy -- trickle in and saturate the grey matter of my brain. It spills into my spine and drips down each vertebra, eventually percolating through all my bones and tissues. It fills me. With energy. With heat. And I am so, so warm. Flushed with life.

Sometimes we use makeup to feel a bit more beautiful. But I've been putting on heat. To feel a bit more--


Thursday, November 17, 2011

letter to eldest, age seven

Sometimes I forget
that you're not a teenager, when you stomp down the hall
with steps that sound louder than your size one feet.
When you shout not fair or stand
like a statue over some stubborn ground.

Sometimes I forget
that you're not an adult, when you wait
with your tank full of patience, while your sisters
completely lose it.
Or when you speak some bit of wisdom
about kindness or friendship or
not making someone else feel bad,
truths it takes most people
a lifetime
to learn.

Sometimes I forget
that you're a child.
Until I sit completely still for twenty straight minutes
watching your face as you sing with expression
through a book of poems, rhymes you learned at school. 
Until I feel your mittened had slip into mine
as we walk to the bus. Still small.
Until I watch your bright face through the bus window
as it pulls away
and you're waving
like you mean it.

Then I remember
that you're stepping every day
into bigger and bigger shoes.
And that the sunrise tomorrow will look
mostly the same as the one I saw this morning,
only subtly different because of the tilt of the earth.
And I might not notice until you're coming up
from a completely different direction
that you've changed

into a teenager
and then an adult.

So I'm trying to memorize your face
your voice
the feel of your hand

So I won't ever forget
when you were a Child.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Back when Middlest was still the littlest, she was terrified of the open bathtub drain. You couldn't let the water out until she and all her toys had been lifted ashore, safe on dry land. There could be no compromising about this. No hurrying. Though we explained and even showed her that objects and people are much too large to pass through, she remained skeptical. She feared the deep and the darkness and the unidentified, never-ending space that exists on the other side of that shiny drain cover. She could see a tiny bit of it in the crack that let the water out, and Down There must have been so vast in her mind. It had to hold all that water, didn't it?

Eventually, she grew most of the way out of this fear, but she still never lingers in the tub once the drain has been opened. She still doesn't like any of her toys floating unattended while the water goes down. But she isn't nearly as frantic about it. She seems to trust, beyond her fear, that she'll stay here, even after the water is gone.


I've been sneaking in tiny yoga practices a couple times a week, 20 minutes in the morning when the kids are playing or maybe watching a little TV. {It's been lovely. Day-altering, really.} I usually conclude with the legs up the wall version of savasana (meaning, I lie on the floor with my legs up the wall, literally).

I was in this place yesterday morning, breathing deep and visualizing the blood flowing out of my legs and saturating my brain. I imagined that my worries and doubts were flowing that direction, too, but not pooling in my head. No, all that stuff would enter the Earth where it supported me and drain drain drain away. Out of me and into something much bigger that could hold all that and not feel heavier. God? Maybe. Sure. I don't know. I can't even call It anything with words but I can say thank you. When I'm sitting upright again, palms together. I press my thumbs into the bony outline of my eyes and say it more than once. Thank you. For absorbing everything I simply cannot carry.

Because I could hold onto all of that, afraid to let it drain, afraid to let it go, afraid of the bigness of Whatever it is that supports me here and keeps me from disappearing through the floor.

And sometimes, I am afraid. Sometimes, I still hold on at least somewhat, watching warily as all the things that bother me and overwhelm me and make me sweat float around in my mental tub.

But I think I think I think I think I may have grown out of that fear, mostly. I've heard about it and seen it and really really really felt it, how light and full of light my whole being can feel when I've let go.

But it takes trust, I think, to release and surrender. Trust that even after the last of the water has drained out, there's still something left. I'm still here.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

with love from my muse

So you're waiting for inspiration? You think stories will just come to you and characters will whisper in your ear? That's very nice. Good luck with that.

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but no one is going to come knocking. There will be no story waiting on your step when you open the door, ready for you to unwrap. It never happens like that. Well, maybe it does. But I'll tell you right now you are on no one's mailing list. So sorry.

Maybe you've heard? Inspiration is a myth. All that you'll find is this: work. What? You don't have time for that? You need to learn more about writing fiction before you can actually write it? You have no ideas? Nothing to write about?

The ink in your pen is all dried up because you never use it. You're not trying.

Consider this. You are surrounded by ideas. Something like 6 billion of them. They walk past you every day. You see them. You hear about them. They talk to you. Listen. Watch. You will find ideas peeking out from under every rock if you just turn them over.

Forget about anything as grand as plot for now. You're not ready for that. You need to learn how to enter someone's head. Breathe life into the dead. And follow their paths and their reasons for being in the light and in the dark with no one noticing you are there.

Do that, and then we'll talk. We'll see.


Okay, I heard you. Point taken. No more whining. No more putting it off. No more waiting for the gift that isn't going to come. Time to write. About you. And you. And you. And maybe a little bit of me. 

So if you tell me about your day, I'm warning you. You might end up in my notebook. 

But don't worry, I'm just practicing.