Today our first snow fell.  The ground, the trees, the street have been transformed as if by fairies.  After Max was tucked into bed, after Jeff had packed up his guitar, I very deliberately pull on my peacoat, my scarf, my gloves and head out for a walk in the first snow of the season.

It is hard not to be overcome with peace on a night such as this. 

The snow clouds have gone and just a tiny sliver of the moon peaks out into the sky while a few bright stars wink.  The snow on the ground, bright white and luminous reflects the streetlights and makes the night bright, hopeful, expectant.  The air is perfectly still, so still that when a bird flies out of a tree half a block a way, I feel the air ripple a bit and then settle again. 

Its as though the whole world is holding its breath, waiting…waiting…waiting for something amazing and wonderous to happen.  Its as though something magical is about to be born.  Its as though I am standing on the cusp between one moment and the next.

Silent night…Holy night….Prince of Peace…Loves True Light…

As I walk on the crunching snow, my eyes lifted up to the trees above me, I feel none of the anxiety or sadness or exhaustion of the last few days.  I feel none of the buzzy ecstasy I felt just moments earlier playing my guitar.  I am overcome by quiet and a sense that all is well.  The howling winds are gone.  The sun has not yet risen.  We are in that spacious place between the inhale and the exhale. 

There is a magical moment between two lovers right before their first kiss–a moment when they know that everything is suddenly about to change in ways they can’t even begin to imagine.   It is the pause  before the rush when the whole of possibility stretches out before them, before they tumble into bliss or heartbreak or both.

Juan and I were standing in a sudden summer thunderstorm, in a park, in the middle of a city that might as well have been deserted.  That moment probably only last a second or two but to this day we both feel we hovered in that space for what seemed like an eternity. 

As I walk in the snow I am in that moment again, though this time, the lover is the totality of my life, my crazy, chaotic, heartbreaking and wonderful life.  I know that life is unfolding exactly as it should be.  I sigh and relax into the space before life starts to tumble again in a new direction, whatever that direction may be.   

Its been an advent kind of season.  I have my own little post about the season percolating but its not ready yet. 

Last night, however, after I practiced my guitar, before I crawled into bed, I took a few minutes to catch up on some of my favorite blogs.  Rachelle Mee Chapman over at Magpie Girl offers this pair of posts on Advent that left me feeling open and spacious…and reminded me exactly what these waning days of the year are about.  As the winds roar around our house this morning I can’t help but say a prayer of thanks for such a beautiful meditation.

There are many things I cherish about this job I have.  One of the small, but precious perks is the subsidized Monday night yoga class–right here in my office–just downstairs.    It makes it possible for me to get to the mat.  No excuses.

Today was an impossibly hard class.  Lots of work on the core muscles.  Last week we were all about stretching our heart centers.  (I loved that class)  This week we were all about making them strong (not to mention our legs, backs and arms).  I have to admit when I rolled off my mat to move my body up to sit at the end of the class I felt a bit wobbly and shaken.

Every time we moved into a pose, I would think “wow this is hard”.  By breath #3 I would begin to feel my whole body begin to shake.  By breath #4 I would think “I can’t possibly do this anymore.  I don’t think I can make it.”  I would be tempted to come out of the pose one breath early, or to cheat or wiggle.  There were a few points when I was even tempted to sneak out of class and call it a night.  But instead,  I just took one more breath–I told myself all I need to do is breathe again and try to stay, however painful it may be.  And then just when I thought I would lose it, it was over.  And we would move on, to another challenging, but different pose.  And it would start again.  Everytime I thought it was all going to fall apart and that I would topple on the floor in a wobbly heap I would take one more breath and I could stay until we finally could shift.

I have noticed that really when my world feels like its collapsing, when my whole foundation starts to shake, I tend to want to stop what I am doing, change position, head for the hills, quit, leave.   Yeah, some weeks are a little bit like my yoga class.  Remembering to take one more breath, if and when I can do it can make all the difference.

Max has been in a tough place.  He has been needy, so needy but not in a cuddly way.  He tests my patience  over and over again.  He tests the limits.  He seems to want to test how much I love him, whether I will forgive him.  He regresses with behavior that we haven’t seen in years.  He feels so sad and out of control and angry that Juan and I aren’t going to be together.  He blames me and pushes me away.  He clings.  He pushes.  I am exhausted and my heart aches for him.  Breathe…change.

I have been in a tough place.  The good news is that for the first time I really feel as though I have let go of my grief over loss of Juan.  But with that grief comes another realization.  In letting go of the grief, in letting the ghost of that relationship, I am now standing a bit more naked and vulnerable.   Grief is a very powerful shield with the power to keep you safe from the pain of rejection, the pain of loss.  With it gone I feel a bit raw.  A bit wobbly.  A bit off balance.  Inhale…exhale…

There has been the advice from so many well-meaning friends, friends who care deeply about Max and I.  They speak from a place of observing, not knowing what it is like to sit where we sit.  I try hard to hear what they have to say through the eyes of their concern for us, but reflecting back on how the words played off my own fear, it feels a little like judgement, a little like exasperation.  It burns a bit.  I want to react, to run away, to leave this place, this impossible difficult stretch, this uncomfortable uncomfortable place but instead  I close my eyes and breathe.  Just one more breath…

There is the jealousy that bubbles up in me when my happily married friends try to empathize with single motherhood and I know that they can’t.  Their sweet attempts to relate to our day-to-day completely miss the point of our experience. They have a partner to share the burden with, their children don’t know the pain of abandonment, at night when their ass is whooped from the hard work of parenting, they can lay down their head in the arms of their beloved and feel restored.    I am so happy that they have what they have but sometimes the jealously makes me feel so uncomfortable I want to run for the exit.  Instead I breathe–one more breath and it passes.

There is the reality that when mechanical systems break down it all happens at once.  There was broken pipe in the basement that flooded our rec room, pooling up around the piano and the big screen TV.    There was the hot water heater who’s pilot went out for the first time since Juan left.  The flat tire on the car.  The oil leaking from the engine.  The brake light that won’t work.  All things that are so out of the realm of my knowledge.  Things that make me need to strain my already tired brain.   Things that make me scared.  But I take one more breath, reach for the wall to get a little support, and then…I shift.

There was the week of migraines just when I needed to be at the top of my game at work.  The pain that would not even go away with the heaviest of drugs.   The echo of the headache that stayed behind my eye even when I was feeling at my best.  Inhale…yes…exhale.

 Tonight during class I did one last backbend and then we came down into Savasana pose, the corpse pose.  Tonight I really understood why it is called the corpse pose.  I felt so beaten down as I lay there, sore and tired.  I had pushed myself to my limit.  Every bit of my body ached. 

After meditation, I rolled up my mat.  Tonight I will sleep well.  I know deep in my soul that tomorrow my heart and body will be a tiny bit stronger, even if I won’t quite be able to perceive it, even if my legs and back still complain about the storm we just went through.  Tonight I can just rest in the knowledge that it all eventually passes.

I breathed right through it and its over.  It always just takes one more breath. 

I have been thinking alot about traveling.

And about how stressful it can be when I just am not sure if I have the right directions–if I don’t know the right way to get there.  If I am not sure I can find my way to where I need to go.

I have also been thinking about how great it is when I just know that I am going to get there and am able to relax into trust.  Maybe its because I am riding in the passenger seat and I have faith in the driver.  Maybe its because I just know I am going to find it if I just keep moving along in this general direction.  But its always then that I am able to relax, roll down the window, crank up the music, breathe and take in the scenery. 

When I am confident I am going to get where I am headed I am able to enjoy the journey.

When I am not, I am a mess.  I scrutinize every marker, analyze and reanalyze and second guess every decision that I make (to turn left or right?, to take the HOV lane or not?).  I am up and down and all about and not at all seeing what is good about the getting there.  I am obsessed with making it there finally.

On the otherhand  if I can just have trust in my own inner compass, if I believe that I will get where I need to go no matter what happens on the road, suddenly the road is an amazing adventure–full of bumps and tunnels and unexcepted turns sure-but also full of amazing scenery I may never pass again.  As amazing as the destination, even…

It would be shame to miss it because my head is in a map worrying about my next move, don’t you think?

Just a thought…

Last night I left a crying child at home with a sitter, put on my favorite jeans and best blouse, and headed out to listen to live music with a couple of good friends.  Max needed me to stay home with him he said, he just couldn’t live without me.  I knew he would be fine, and I knew I might just not be if I didn’t get out.  I closed the door on his tears.

While my autumn blues have faded and I am cultivating excitement for the upcoming holidays, the reality is that something has been missing in the patience department.  I come home and head straight for my computer, to write, to check email, to delve into a project.  I don’t seem to have the time or the energy to play with Max the way we both like.  I am short with him, his fears and insecurities annoy me, his endless yearning for “Mama, mama mama” are like nails on a blackboard some days. 

I am short on reserves.

And of course, there is nothing like listening to live music to fill me back up again–to the top and overflowing.  As we danced and sang and drank rum and tonics, the part of me that is not a mother, that is not an ex-wife, that is not trying to hold it together every day (however miserably or triumphantly) found her voice, felt her space and just soared.

This morning I woke up and played hide and seek with Max for two hours straight.  I have been to the well and am filled again.