The other night I had a dream. I was running with a friend, one of my dearest friends, down a creek bed to waterfall. We were running with the exuberance and complete wild abandon of a couple of 10 year olds. The whole world seemed open, a bright and full of possibility. We got to the wild rapids and I jumped, sliding down the rocks into the river and let it tumble and carry me on a wild ride. My friend jumped with me and we hooted and hollered and tumbled head over feet, tossing and turning and being swept along. The river was wild, almost dangerous but we knew no fear. Then the water dumped us into a deep still clear pool where I swam like a porpoise, like an Olympian, like the strong swimmer I never was but always wanted to be. I woke up knowing my dream was about trust.
About two weeks ago a friend was over. After a long chat, she presented me with a deck of cards and invited me to shuffle the cards, close my eyes and pick one. This was the card that I picked. TRUST.The experience gave me goosebumps, or rather chills as I had already decided that TRUST would be my word for the year. Every year I pick a word to settle into. A word to set the tone of the year. A word to serve as a guiding light. The word for 2007 was “renewal”. For 2008 it was “blossom”. But this year it is trust.
Even looking back at the posts I chose as my favorites, this past year on theme seems to rise up and scream at me: Trust. Trust myself. Trust my heart. Trust my loved ones. Trust my life. Trust is my big promethean struggle–it is the boulder I push up the hill. Settling into it seems like a fitting new years resolution. The card I picked said this. It seems to be to be the truest thing I ever read:
The more we follow our intuition, the more we’ll find that the right doors open to assist us in fufilling our life’s purpose.
At a holiday party, one of my friends talked about being laid off. She told me how when she got the news, she called an old friend and mentor. This wise woman told her, “This is either the worst thing that has ever happened to you…or it is the best thing that has ever happened to you. You get to decide what it is. And however you decide will determine what happens next. What you choose to make it is up to you.” I have often thought this way about Juan leaving me. In some ways it was the worst thing that has ever happened to me. But in many ways it has also been the best. I have grown in new ways, ways I never would have explored had we stayed safe and secure in our less than perfect union.
I used to think that trust was impossible for me to wrap my heart around. I was a master at second guessing. A master at double checking. A master at making plans and then doing everything I could to push against the river to keep it from flowing. But I have come to realize that trusting is just as simple as relaxing into what is–that it is, that it can be the easiest of all possible ways. All around me, the universe is whispering “Trust, girlfriend…just let go and trust.” So this year, I chose TRUST. Not just as a word, but as an anthem…a way of life, a mantra, a prayer, a guide.
I will remember what it was to run along a creek bed. I will summon joy and jump into this messy, tumbling river called my life and let it carry me along through rapids, across rocks and ultimately to deep still water.
What is your word for the year? Whisper it here…or in your heart where it is most important?
When I was just 6 or 7, we would spend long frozen days during winter school breaks on
Now I am here again with my dear cousins and as dusk becomes inky night we are dancing with flashlights as mics, belting out the words to other 70s tunes. We are rising before the sun to all of us float our kayaks out to the middle of the lake to watch the sun rise. We are eating each other’s food and scolding each other’s children and sitting silently in the sun, our eyes on a book, relishing being simply there together.
From the minute the sun rises they are off, catching frogs and minnows, playing imaginary games, and board games, and hide and seek, fishing and sneaking treats when they think we aren’t looking.
Each night, Max whispers the same thing to me as he drifts off to sleep. I wish we lived here Mama he says. I know what he is craving—the long lazy days filled with people who love you…no matter.
51 weeks will go by between this week and the next. We will leave with the best of intentions—to keep in touch, to trade emails, to visit. We will have plans of weekend trips we will take together—of meeting halfway between. But the hustle and bustle of our lives will overtake us all. We won’t hear from each other at all but then before we know it I will be on the road to
“Meg…Its Kevin. We are at on the highway, crossing over into
And my heart will relax into a way of being that is only possibly in the presence of one’s cousins. And I will say, under my breath…I am there Kev…I am always there. My heart is just a beat away from this.
For Kevin, Christine, Maureen, Eileen, Shawn and Rich…and Lisa too. I love you, I love you, I love you
It feels so normal to be here—as though every piece of this place is knit into my very fabric. The squish of the mud under my toes, the gnarled roots on the path. I walk this path as though I have walked it every day of my life. The view out my cabin window seems ancient to me, as though I have looked out this window and seen these cedars, these pines for hundreds of years, the row boats rocking at the dock, the kayaks pulled up on the lawn.
Here the miraculous seems normal and the normal seems miraculous. Here.
I had finished packing the car. I went over my list one more time, just to be sure. I was certain I had left a box somewhere in the house. But as I went down the list it was all there. The car looked empty compared to years past. I couldn’t figure it out. How is it that I had downsized my life to this point, to this place where Max and I would be away for two full weeks and we needed so very little.
The boys were running around on the soccer field and Marcy and I were wrapped in a blanket, trying to stave off the
At the top of the mountain, a lake had sprung—rainwater filling a hole created by a glacier or perhaps from years and years of falling water. While the children, skipped rocks on the shores of their own private pool, Marcy and I were on a mission of our own, finding a quiet place for our ritual to mark the day. We found a tiny crevice—somewhat protected from the breeze that was blowing the clouds around. And we gathered all the children around.
I pulled our precious cargo out of my backpack. The wishes we had made. Each of us had written or drawn our most precious wishes (no telling!) and folded them up tight. We placed each of them into the tiny space between the rocks and all leaned in tight. Marcy and I instructed the kids to think about their wishes with all of their might. And then she and I pulled out a book of matches.
Since that night I have dreamt of nothing but magic. Wild, Technicolor dreams of flying and knitting needles turned into magic wands. I have dreamed of great love of my child and of bright yellow gingerbread homes and the dear friends who live in them. I have dreamt of healers, and teachers and loved ones all doing amazing things in my little dream world. I have woken to find myself sure, as I have ever been, that Max and I are living a magical life—a life full of wonder and joy and surprises. Whether or not our wishes come true I am sure that I have been blessed by the magical day of 8.
Originally posted Sept 27, 2007
Tonight it rained. I sat in wonder and listened to the sound of the rain against my windows. I stood out on the front steps and let me feet get damp. It has been such a dry summer. The rain smelled miraculous and hopeful, the harbinger of good things. Life giving and cleansing. Just what we needed.
I have thought alot about my trip to Rio –the one I took two Octobers ago. We took this photo our first night there. Eddie’s friend, an ex-pat who had settled in this magical city, had taken us for a walking tour and showed us his favorite spot, a park across a lake from the hustle and bustle of this city. A rainstorm rolled in suddenly, unexpectedly, catching us on the wrong side of the park. It fell in sheets soaking us all as we ran for cover under some trees, laughing. I laughed harder than I had in months. At that moment, laughter bubbled up unexpectedly, as unstoppable as the rain. It was so absurd and silly and joyful. We were dressed to the nines for a night out on the town, with water running down our noses, with my chic outfit dripping and misshapen, my “oh-so-Rio” sandals squishing and making ridiculous noises. It was the funniest thing ever to be in Rio in the warm rain. I jumped in a puddle and lost my shoe. Pretty soon we were all laughing because I couldn’t stop laughing
I had felt so heavy and stressed when I got to Brazil. I was at the height of my financial panic and I had just started to wrap my heart around the idea that Juan was not coming back. I arrived at the airport after flying all night with only $20 American and a three day training to run in Spanish. I went to the cash machine at the airport to take out money for taxi fare and found my account was overdrawn. My cell phone was out of batteries. I had forgotten my credit card at home. I had no idea what I would do next. I went up to the money exchange counter and cashed in my $20. I hoped it would be enough to get me to the hotel where I could regroup and figure out my next move. I thought I had hit rock bottom. I felt so alone, like such a failure. To keep myself from breaking down in this strange city, I repeated a mantra “It is going to work out all right” and then I added a fervent “please” and threw in a prayer for good measure.
The taxi fare was exactly what I had in my wallet.
I got to the hotel and they told me my room was already paid for. I slept a heavy deep dreamless sleep. I woke up to find lunch. A a friend of a friend living in Sao Paolo who had come to meet me. A fully charged cell phone and a Dad on the other end able to wire some cash to get me through the week. And best of all when Eddie arrived that evening he had two airplane tickets to Rio.
Four days later I was standing in the rain in Rio, laughing as the water poured over my toes and ran down my fingers. I remember thinking that the rain washed some of my grief away that night, just let it slip right away and run into this lake, leaving me feeling a tiny bit lighter and ready to start healing.
Originally posted August 16, 2007
At last, on Thursday, I rise before the sun. Lisa stumbles down with coffee in hand and drags me out of bed. Together we pull the kayaks into the water, though first we inspect them thoroughly with flashlights, making sure there are no sleeping spiders to tickle our feet. And then with few words we push off onto an ocean of glass and mist.
The lake is still. Only one lone bird is awake and singing. Fog hangs down silent and heavy over the pines—the distant shore but a watercolor—an idea of a forest—a memory of one long ago.
As I move silently I half expect the Arthurian lady of the lake to appear and whisper something wise, perhaps ancient mother secrets of creation. My paddle dips into the water. But the ripples disappear almost instantly as we glide glide glide along the lake, paddling to the middle. The eastern sky is becoming blue now and then from behind the Monet pines fingers of orange reach up, like a hand offering hope. Then the great globe rises brilliant and true—a drop of primary color oil paint on a watercolor masterpiece: brilliant, garish, warm.
We sigh, Lisa and I. We break our silence to talk of metaphors of God and sun. I point out that every ancient culture worships the sun in one way or another because of moments just like these when a dark night instantly becomes day. More birds are in the sky and trees now waking their children and their neighbors with hymns to this hope—this promise that we have one more chance to live. The mist is fading fast, giving way to a brilliant day of blue skies.
I breathe in the smell of pine and cedar and whisper thank you. It is late before we beach the boats. Activity has broken out now on shore. I enter the cabin to see my child raise his head and smile—“Good morning, mama!” I pick him up and wrap him in his blankets, snuggling him in my lap. “Yes,” I breathe into his little ear. “it is”
originally posted August 2007
Its rained a little everyday now. Not all day, just a bit. Enough to drive us all indoors for awhile to pop popcorn, or eat lunch inside before the sun comes out from behind the clouds again. And I have too admit, I have been a bit draggy and gray myself. Not all day. But I’ve been a bit more tired and grouchy than last year. A bit more foggy and tired.
Last year, my first year at the lake it didn’t rain at all. It was a picture perfect week—for both of us “the lake” and me.
Last year, the lake and I, we were like new lovers putting on our very best for each other. Every day I woke full of energy to witness her brilliant sunrise, the glassy stillness of the water at daybreak. Every day she sparkled, all blue skies and sunshine while I dwelled fully present in the marvel of every hour—“Look how lovely the trees look in the 2 pm light—how different from the way they looked this morning.” “Oh! The air smells so beautiful right now? Does it always smell so clean here on a Tuesday?” And every night we stayed up late together the lake and I, a chorus of thousands of grasshoppers playing along with the soundtrack of the restless waves rocking the boat knocking it against the dock, as I lay on my back on the green green grass and counted stars with my son.
But this year we are sure of our love for each other and so we are no longer pulling out the stops. I am too tired this year for sunrises. I wake well past dawn when the lake is already busy with swimming and kayaks. The nights are not always clear and bright. The grasshoppers are not always singing. And sometimes this lake she is even gray and choppy. And sometimes we both rain a bit.
Now don’t get me wrong…The lake is no less lovely to me. She is every bit as beautiful and peaceful as I remember. I am seeing a new side of her and finding new beauty in the rain rolling of the pines or the reflection of the dark clouds on the water. Furthermore, I am enjoying my time with my cousins twice as much as last year. There is a rhythm and a comfort this year—a routine that feels like it has always been this way—us here on the lake. We feed each others children and pick up our conversations exactly where we left off last year. There is not so much to catch up on. We can just look at each other and smile—holding hands while we watch our children play at the waters edge, helping gather each others books and towels when the storm clouds come.
And this comfort I think is translating to my relationship with these magic surroundings. The beautiful spot I call the lake–she knows I will come back each year a faithful pilgrim. And I too know that she will be here for me next year, a resting spot for my tired bones. This lake and I, we no longer need to impress one another. We are in that phase of a new relationship when you can relax and let a little of your imperfections show. I am really not that much of a morning person. She is not always sunny and bright. But we will love each other nevertheless. In sunshine and in rain. And that love is in the end better than a vacation full of sunshine.
Max and I are on vacation. We are up for our yearly jaunt to Maine. I am writing this early, scheduling it to post. We have no wifi up there….no internet access for miles around. There is no cell phone coverage…and actually no old fashioned land line phones. All there is to disturb a nap is the slam of the screen porch door, the distant sounds of children in the water. If you want to find me you are going to have to be close enough to yell.
This is our third year making this trip. We spend seven days with a group of my cousins and their children, all of us lined up in little homes so close to the water you could trip coming out your door and get wet. Its the perfect balance of solitude and community and each of the last two years I come home feeling as though I have been away for a year. My batteries are recharged and I am ready to tackle whatever life has in store.
Two years ago, I needed the trip to rest. I was so weary from single parenting, I was so beaten down emotionally from the trip Juan and I had been down. I spent long hours reading…in the early morning on my screened in porch, in the afternoon in the sunshine in an Adirondack chair by the lake, in the nighttime in my bed. I was a battery that just got plugged in the the earth, to the quiet and go filled up.
Last year I was in a different turning place. I went and spent time sleeping, rejuvenating, painting. I was cranky when I needed to be and hid in my cottage some. I ran with the kids, kayaked on the lake and slept some more. I drank in the space to emerge, new social and ready to take on a new life…ready to build community…ready to blossom.
This time, I am yet again in a new space. So much has been happening in my right brain. I have felt infantlike–taking it all in but not at all able to articulate in language what I am experiencing. I don’t know what Maine will offer me as a way to process this all but I am sure that it will deliver what I need.
I am going to re-run some of my favorite traveling posts this week–just for fun. Rest assured I will be writing and when I come home I will have new material and hopefully will be back to my writing self. I know things have been mighty slow on this blog front–perhaps the quiet will give me what I need to get moving.
It was just a week ago that I was in the desert. It feels like a lifetime ago. It feels so far away. And yet I am still buzzing in my soul from that trip. It was three days that could have been a lifetime.
One of the most luscious things about this trip was the long stretches of silence and yes emptiness. While there was plenty of laughter and much catching up to do, lots of wine and cooking, there were long periods of time when the talking ceased and we all just sat content in our own quietness.
What struck me at those moments was how unbusy I was. There was nothing to do, no problems to solve, no to do list to process. I would flip through my book, or walk and just sit and be. There were moments when I would just look over at Eddie, who lives so far away and I would just smile, happy to be near him, to soak in the magic of him in in his environment. There were moments when I could just be. Quiet. Unworried. Still.
As we walked amid the chollaya cactus on Sunday, AJC broke the silence. “What is so beautiful about the desert,” she said quietly “Is vast space where things aren’t”.
When she said it I repeated those words over and over again in my brain. The space where things aren’t. That was the magic that was calling to me. I was answering a need to take in the emptiness, to dwell in the vast space where things aren’t.
I am a lucky girl. My life is full and teeming with life. My life is crowded and rich and overflowing with juicy, crazy manic loveliness.
I spend my workdays doing meaningful work surrounded by people who bring me great joy. I return home to a boy who rocks my world, delicious food on the table cooked with love by a dear friend. We sing and hoola hoop and hang in the park and then after Max lays his head to sleep I fill the hours between his bedtime and mine with guitar, long chats with friends, walks with Jackie, blogging, email, knitting and a good book. My life is a rainforest, dense and green, teeming with energy and pulsing with life. It is full of music and laughter and deep conversations and tears of sadness and joy. It is beautiful and I wouldn’t change it.
But it is a bit full and sometimes I feel a bit crowded, choked and overgrown.
I am blessed. I have bills to pay but a checking account to pay them from. I have a yard to sit in but bushes to tend, beds to weed and grass to mow. I have a beautiful house that collects dust and too much stuff that needs to be put away. Sometimes I am drowning in my abundance.
When I walked into the desert and felt the space all around me, felt the austere wind on my face and spread my arms to the sky I could breathe. I could be still. The energy of a thousand wonderful things was not beseiging me.
Instead I could look down and notice the beauty of one small wildflower sprung up out of the rocky sand. One tiny bit of beauty made even more lovely by the fact that it was all alone.
When our time in the desert was done I was thrilled to be back in the jungle of my life. I wouldn’t trim out any of the messiness about me–at least not permanently–but I realized I need to create my own private desert. The mental space where things aren’t. The physical place where I can sit and just be. I need to build me a desert into my days. A space where things aren’t.