Sometimes I feel as though I am slowly coming apart at the seams. Dissolving almost, like a sandcastle being knocked over by the waves. Bit by bit, being washed away.
Single motherhood can do that. So can chronic pain or heartache. After years of standing strong, sometimes I long for permission to just let it all go–to fall apart and give in.
Lately I feel it happening alot–these slow motion melt downs. I feel I have no reserves. That I am spent. Exhausted. Empty. Easily pushed around by life’s winds. I feel I am just so easy to knock down.
It could be the January grey and the bitter cold that seeps into my toes and stays there. It could be the constant on again, off again migraines this winter. It could be car who’s engine siezed up this morning. It could be the rollercoaster of my finances. It could be the colds that are sweeping in one after the other–different little viruses who are lining up to line my throat.
It could simply be that I feel as though I am moving in slow slow motion while the rest of the world zooms by on hyperspeed.
It could be any or all of these things that knock me out of balance and leave me there to slowly fall apart, grain of sand by grain of sand.
It crept up on me again this feeling–the slow unravel. As the day upfolded it occured to me that life is happening too fast, that I can’t keep up, that it is all slipping away from me. That I am trying to run on fumes and am failing.
I wanted to run away and crawl into bed and not get up. To sleep a long sweet sleep. Instead, I went to yoga.
I came into the conference room we use as our studio. My teacher was sitting cross legged on her mat meditating. The class had yet to assemble. So I unrolled my mat, the tears started rolling gently down my cheeks. Tears that would have been so hard to explain if anyone had asked me why. It was simply the feeling of blowing away that had me all undone.
A few minutes later, it was time to set our intention for class. “I need to feel the earth under my feet. I need to feel solid. I need to feel grounded and strong.”
It is always amazing to me how yoga and breathing and moving my body can set me right. It never fails to surprise me.
Class was challenging today. My legs shoke through each of the standing poses. These bold triangular moves–they make me feel so solid and strong–a warrior princess. But today, these moves I love were unusually difficult.
As I sunk into the poses I became aware of how gauzy and insubstantial I had felt all day. I realized I hadn’t been connected to my strength, that my breathing was shallow. So I sunk into those poses and I breathed. I felt my feet touch the ground and root there. With each deepening stretch, each breath, each shift back into downward dog, I grew back into myself. I knit myself together.
I left the class feeling no less tired, no less annoyed with the migraines and the car and the bills. But I felt the scales had tipped back into balance.
The substance of me is weighty-I am a granite boulder not a mound of sand. These problems are not mighty waves–they are simply raindrops. They may run along my face, they may even shape me some but they will not wash me away.
Today the bookstore at the Tai Sophia Institute was open. I am going there for acupuncture–treatment for the persistent migraines that have plagued me. Tai Sophia is graduate school, a place where healers come to get advanced degrees. It is a beautiful place with a generous spirit.
The bookstore is a typical campus bookstore. There are good pens, pretty paper. There is a coffee bar with good Chai tea and excellent chocolate. There are the required textbooks for the students who study acupuncture and herbal medicine. There is white-out and post-its and notebooks.
And there are shelves and shelves of beautiful books: books on health and healing, fiction, poetry, philosophy. On days when the bookstore is open, I arrive for my appointment a half hour early. I plan to stay late. I come to wander through the shelves, to pick up books and read, to see what treasure I will find.
For weeks this book has been calling me. All Sickness is Home Sickness. Finally, today, I picked it up and held it in my hands. And as if my magic, a woman stood in front of me and said,
“Are you here for the open house? Are you here to study acupuncture?”
I look around. Yes, I didn’t even notice it but the bookstore is packed with people. Wearing name tags and looking serious–like healers-to-be should look. Yes, today was their open house.
“No”, I say. “I am a patient here.”
I pause for just a second and then as naturally as breathing I say,
“But I WANT to be a healer. I have always wanted to be a midwife. I am drawn to it in a way I don’t understand.”
I am babbling, a thousand miles a minute, saying things to a complete stranger I have barely whispered to my closest friends.
“I have a career I love. I am not changing paths anytime soon. No, I am not here for the open house but I maybe one day I should be. I think it is the next leg of my journey. Not now–but one day. Some day.”
I can’t stop myself now. The words are pouring out.
“Sometimes I think of myself as a midwife anyway. A midwife who is there to hold the space so creativity and joy can be born. You know, the crazy person who just comes and holds the space and makes tea and says ‘breathe’ so beautiful things can emerge. Maybe that is what I am meant for. I wonder. I wonder all the time.”
She smiles at me, a knowing look. Not patronizing. She doesn’t think I am crazy. She has walked my path. It as though she knows what is in my heart. She says to me,
“That book in your hand is a good guide book. It will lead you where you need to go. For those of us who are healers it is a touchstone. It is grounding. It is for you.”
I looked down at the title again. All Sickness is Homesickness. What could that possibly mean? I look up and say,
“Yes I think today I will buy it”
But she is gone.
Tonight, after Max fell asleep, I pulled it out. It is a thin book and so I think it will be a quick read. But instead, I read slowly. This is not a book to be rushed.
And then, I read this paragraph and I am stopped in my tracks. I read it again and again. It is as though the author is speaking straight to me. It is as though these words were written for me alone. I can’t stop reading them. Even now, as I write emails, pay bills and fiddle on my guitar, this book lays in my lap.
“Throughout my entire life I have only ever wanted to love and to live from that love. It is love which is my constancy in a day–like a golden thread stitching through time and showing itself amidst the fabric of all the daily goings-on. I see that love weaves together all things, that there is nothing of life that is not part of the warp and woof, part of the stitching of love’s handiwork. I say this, not as a belief, but more like a midwife present to the miracle and wonder of life, ready to receive the new promise, inchoate gift revealed–human being–word made flesh. It is, in fact, for me at the moment of birth, when one human being emerges from another that I see most vividly the possibility that our lives are for one another. The very cry, the proclamation “I am” resounds and is held in the listening of the rest of the human family. At that moment one birth is all birth, one possibility all possibilities, one beginning all beginnings. We are here for life and we are here for one another, that is, to forward life and forward one another.”
-Dianne M Connelly
I want so desperately in this post to react to this paragraph but I cannot yet. So instead I will write it down verbatim. I will just let it be–speak for itself. Speak for me. Speak for the magic that happens when you babble to complete strangers in bookstores.
The universe is always keeping me on my toes. And with an ironic sense of humor too.
Less than a week after I posted this, about the relief of KNOWING when my divorce will be done, I got an email from my attorney. She is going to be out of town on the 8th. So will everyone in her firm. We need to reschedule the hearing. We are back again at the mercy of the scheduling desk, needing to seek consent from Juan to change the date, having to jump through hoops and coordinate schedules. It seems way too complex to me and yet it is nothing other than what it has always been, a messy, complicated path.
We have a new date penciled in, but this time round I have realized that it is just that, a time when something may or may not happen. I can see clearly now…
I have to say, now that the frustration has eased, I am chuckling about the universe and me–teacher and student. And I am musing that I am stubborn in my unwillingness to learn this lesson I get taught again and again. There is no such thing as certain.
I am the remedial student on a journey to learn to live with uncertainty. But even as I write this, I see a more positive way to cast it. My mission is to learn to live with possibility.
The new date, which may or may not be my court date is February 22nd. It is quite possible I will be divorced on that day–that I will find sweet sweet closure. It is also possible that I won’t. It is possible that a snowstorm will close the court. It is possible that my attorney will fall ill. That the judge will not show up. That the date won’t actually get scheduled.
It is also possible that the divorce will happen and I will realize that I had closure long ago–or that closure is still weeks, months or years away.
It is equally possible that something else magical, interesting, wonderful or heartbreakingly sad will happen on that day, or tomorrow, or in the next five minutes.
Come to think of it, I’d hate to think that because I was fixated, focused like a laser, on waiting for something to happen that I missed the magic.
Here is a little confession. I am the type of person who, when the mystery novel gets a bit too suspenseful, when my stomach is tied up in knots, looks at the last page. I never read the whole last chapter–I don’t really want to know exactly how it ends–but I want a clue–a little bit of information to ground me. Flying along, not knowing, makes me a bit queasy.
And yet, this is my journey–to learn to fly without knowing where I will land. To be comfortable soaking in the story with its wild twists and turns without knowing the ending.
So many times, when the mystery of my own life is getting just a bit too suspenseful, I say a prayer. I pray that when I go to sleep that night I can have a dream–a dream that will give me a tiny taste of what I will find on the last page–a dream that will assure me that it will be alright. And every morning I wake a bit disappointed. No matter how rich or vibrant and downright fascinating my dreams may be, they never have predictive power. And in fact they are often downright confusing.
Really, in the end, there is no way to find out what is going to happen, other than to live it.
And in fact, if I am honest, I already know the closing line of my story anyway. We all do. Mine will say this: “And in the end, she died. She lived a life but now it was over.” The magic, the beauty comes not in the storybook ending, but in what it takes to get there.
Knowing the ending, really, does not change anything. Knowing the ending does not make the journey any less difficult. Certainty is overrated.
So once again, I turn to my teacher, my life, the Universe and bow with humor and humility. “Thank you” I giggle, a little bit amused. “Thanks for reminding me”.
I am back from a magical trip. I was away for three days, but it seems like three weeks. I went to Miami Beach with two soulsisters and for every second of the trip there was nowhere else I wanted to be, nothing else that I would rather do other than what I was doing exactly at that moment exactly where I was. The beautiful thing about living entirely in the present is the timelessness.
Dolores and I traveled with Jackie to her hometown. We were there to get away, leave the children, the men, the houses and just be. But we were also there to discover a bit of Jackie’s past. It was a once in a lifetime experience to walk the streets with a dear friend and soak in the settings of her growing up. I feel I know my beloved Jackie just a bit better having seen where she bought her tunafish sandwiches, to have peaked at the house where her highschool boyfriend lived, to see the elementary school playground where she played when she was as old as our children are now. It was a journey I would gladly take again, to bear witness to the past if only in the simplest of ways. Walking down memory lane with someone you love and watching their face as they rediscover it is an odessey in and of itself.
And the three of us discovered new places too. We stayed in South Beach, a place that was barely on the map during Jackie’s Miami days. We found places new to us all and we discovered it together, forming a bond that only traveling can form. We have now our store, our hotel, our restaurant–the places we went time and time again, walking over that turf until we could claim it as ours, all ours.
I am home now, ready to sink back into my life–the one with a child, a messy house, a busy job. I have hit reboot and can channel some of that living in the now energy back home.
The other day, a letter came in the mail for me. It was from the County court. It was informing me of the court date for my divorce. Friday February 8, 2008. 10:30 am.
Finally after almost 4 years of upheaval there is a date when I know a decision will be made, a paper will be signed, a deed will be done. It is the first time in the four year rollercoaster of my failed marriage when a firm date has ever been named. And I am not quite sure what to do with it–this date certain. I don’t quite know how to hold it.
One of the most difficult things about this odessy has been the complete and utter lack of a timetable, the total lack of predicatability for how it would all unfold.
When Juan told me he wanted to leave me, it was very unclear when and if he actually planned to do so. The night he made this announcement I had no idea when or if my life would really ever change.
It was another 9 months before he would eventually decide to really go. After months of trying to work on our marriage I asked him one night , “Do you even WANT to try and save this marriage?” When he couldn’t answer me. I told him it was time to leave.
But even then there were no solid dates–no sense of on what timetable the big great move would happen. One day, a few weeks later, he came home from work and told me he had found a place–a room with a friend. He would go over there that night to move some stuff in. He might stay the night. He kissed Max goodnight, took his toothbrush and a change of clothes and he never came back. Never once slept in our house again. Clothes, posessions drifted out of the house in drips and drabs. There was no move out date. No time when his buddies came and loaded up his stuff into boxes. No reservation date for a UHaul.
When he first moved out it was supposed to be temporary. We were going to hit the reboot button on our marriage–give each other some space so that we could have the energy to work on our marriage. We scheduled marriage counseling sessions, date nights, family nights–we had a plan for how we would make it all work. But we never got around to setting a timeline for how long this experiment would last. Was it three months? Six months?
And then one all those little dates, the ones we scheduled every week became fluid too. Marriage counseling found me waiting all by myself in the waiting room. Sometimes he came, but I never really knew whether we would actually both be there or not. Our therapist finally called him and told him she was no longer working with us as a couple. We never had a session that was our definitive last session.
Date nights were cancelled and never rescheduled. I kept trying to make them happen but eventually I gave up. I can’t say I ever was able to name the last time we went out together as a couple.
Eventually even family nights faded away. There were weeks, whole months that first year when Max and I didn’t ever hear from Juan. We never really knew when we would see him. Hear from him. It was the height of unpredicatability.
As we approached the two year mark of living this way, I knew that even though I couldn’t name the day, the ground had shifted. It was time to name what had happened. We set up times and dates to talk to each other about the “D word.” But appointments were cancelled–he was sick, he never called to firm it up, “later, maybe next week, soon.” Then one day he actually showed up. All I had intended to do was lay out for him what I was hoping to do. I left that night with the outline of a complete divorce agreement. Completely unpredicatably.
But even though my attorney quickly turned it into a separation agreement it was another 8 months before it would be signed. I gave it to him quickly but it sat so long without a signature. I would ask, “When??When?? When will you give me a signed agreement?” I never got an answer.
One day, completely out of the blue, the day before my 38th birthday, it showed up when I least expected it.
That is how my marriage ended, how it fell apart–with no sense of orderly timetable, no ability to predict. It all happened just when I least expected it.
So having a date, a date when I know it will all end for good–it is a strange and wonderful thing. It has taken me days just to wrap my head around it. After 4 years of never knowing when the next shoe would drop, to know for certain when something so important will happen seems to me a bit surreal.
I have grown accustomed to the constant lack of certainty–the the endless unknowing. It has become a companion really, a partner. For the last 4 years this chap called “Who Knows When?” has been at my side, walking beside me. It has been the constant refrain I repeat when anyone asks me about Juan. It was the refrain I whispered to my heart when it asked me “How much longer can we do this? When will the grief end?” But now I have a date. A date certain.
And while it is a bit disconcerting, it is a relief too. After months of not exactly knowing, when or how difficult news would hit, of not knowing when or how my life was going to shift in seismic ways, its good that I can prepare for this one change. I can set up my community to support me. I can plan celebrations or rituals to mark the milestone. I can finally grasp a thread of predicatability in a situation where there never has been any.
In some ways, this date is significant. It is 3 years and one day after Juan walked out of the house. It is an anniversary. It is one year and one week after we negotiated our settlement agreement. It is the day after Chinese New Year–the second day of the much anticipated (by me at least) Year of the Rat.
And yet, in so many other ways, its a date that matters not at all. After all, Juan divorced me emotionally 4 years ago, sometime before he told me he was going on a date I never will know. I divorced him emotionally sometime in the last year or so, when I finally decided I was done, gradually over months really.
There is nothing REALLY that is going to happen on this date that will change anything at all, anything that really matters anyway. It is a paper. It is simply a different box that gets checked. It is nothing–and yet it feels like it is everything.
It is nothing but a date. A box on a calendar with a red ring around it.
But its a date certain.
Last Wednesday I was getting ready for an early bedtime. I had just kissed Max and tucked him in, had slipped into my pjs and was looking for my book. My cell phone rang. There was something about the ring, something that sounded more urgent than normal. I normally let my cell phone go at night. But this time I ran to pick it up.
My dear friend Cathy was on the other end. What she said was unthinkable. I needed to ask her to repeat herself over and over again. But through her sobs I understood. The greatest dog I ever knew was about to live his final chapter.
Yoshi was a German Shepherd mix–a Fluffy Shepherd I liked to call him. He was the gentlest and kindest soul I ever met.
Last February, on one of the saddest days of my life, the day Juan and I negotiated our separation agreement, I drove to my friend Cathy’s house to pick up Max. Max was thankfully asleep for the minute Cathy opened the door, tears started, tears that wouldn’t stop for almost 24 hours. While Cathy made me a cup of tea, Yoshi herded me to a sofa and put his head in my lap. For almost two hours we sat there, me with my tea, stroking his fur, he with his big beautiful eyes looking up at me. He was Compassion embodied.
Yoshi was a free spirit and smart as a whip to boot. He knew how to open the gate and frequently let himself out, trotting down the street, wagging his tail, as if to wave at all the passers by. He always came home though. Always. He smiled as he let himself back up on the porch. Smug. Content. This happend everytime I was in charge of feeding him when Cathy and family were away. I always panicked. But then I would see him trotting homeward and as he leapt up the steps I would wrap my arms around his big old neck, bury my head in his fluffy fur and whisper “Thank you Yoshi. Good Dog”.
Everyday when I came to pick up Max after school at Cathys house, Yoshi would greet me–a big doggie smile. If I was in a rush, if I didn’t give him a proper greeting he would nudge me with his gigantic head until I stroked him, scratched him, gave him his due. He reminded me that love was not something that we should never shortchange, no matter how busy life was. If I was in a cranky mood coming up the steps to her house, I always walked down them a little lighter. I would kiss his wet nose and pat him on the head, knowing it was his persistent snuggles that had changed my mood. “Thank you Yoshi.” I would say “Good Dog”.
All our kids grew up knowing Yoshi. He was gentle and patient with each of them. He endured endless ear pulls, tail pulls and eye pokes. He never once nipped or even growled. When it got to be too much he would simply give himself a time out. Sit alone until he was ready to throw himself back in the fray. He would then head out again for another game of chase, soccer or fetch. He loved our children almost as much as we did. He was Patience embodied.
When I got to the animal hospital, Cathy was shaking. She was not ready to make this choice. She was not ready to say goodbye. But it was time. As I watched her and her sweet pup, in so much sudden pain both of them–it was clear. They both knew their time together had come to an end after 13 sweet years. After 13 years of nothing but health, it was as though he was pleading with her to let him go. He was chosing this time, this place, even though she wasn’t ready.
Yoshi lived as though he knew each day was a precious gift. He treated each of us, child and adult alike, as though we were precious gifts too.
In that last hour of Yoshi’s life, Cathy was as brave as anyone I have ever met. Deciding to let go of someone so dear is never easy, but her’s was the right choice. I held her as she held him as he let his last breath go, as he gave in to sweet sleep after such excrutiating pain. I felt privledged to witness a life so brilliant, to witness a passing so noble.
Tonight many families gathered at Cathy’s house to write love letters in a book, light candles on a little altar, and speak our memories of a dog so kind. He touched so many lives-each of us cared for him deeply. The kids told their stories, sweet and funny. Then we adults lingered. We said this ceremony was for the children but long after they had gone to play, we continued. There was so much to say about a light so bright.
But now, we are all silent. The tears have been shed. Yoshi has opened the latch to the gate this one last time. He is running free, his tail wagging. There is nothing to do but call after him one last time.
Thank you Yoshi. Good Dog.
Here are mine. Enjoy.
I am in a January kind of mood this week. Its appropriate, I suppose, given that its January. But nevertheless for me its not a pleasant place to be. I am here every year, like clockwork. And every year I bemoan it.
I am hungover from the holidays. Exhausted from the juggling. I have given up trying to keep all the balls in the air and they are most of them laying at my feet, rolling around and tripping me up. The one or two that I am haven’t dropped I am tossing in a half-assed manner, petulantly, like a teenager.
I am wandering around restless seeking something better. I am having a hard time settling back into life.
The clutter piles up around me. The important phone calls and emails go unreturned. There is giggling in the kitchen but I am here, sitting at my computer, looking for something-I am not sure what. During the holidays when I was so busy busy busy, there was an excuse why these things dropped, why I disconnected.
Now…I have no reason other than that I don’t want to do my chores. They are mundane. They are SO 2007. I am resisting.
Every January I find myself here. It is an awkward little place between the holidays and the spring (which I always declare coming in February). To me it feels the whole world is on hyperdrive–moving forward on New Years resolutions. I want to join them–I want to go too! New adventures! Excitement!
Others around me seem to sink into their routines, quickly adjust to the post-holiday with efficiency and joy. They are relieved the holidays are over because they are now back in their groove. I want to be with them too!
But instead I feel completely unable to move forward–stuck. I am neither able to move forward in search of new adventures or sink into my everyday life.
And every January, around this time, I realize there is only one thing to do: I need to pick up the balls, one by one and get my rythmn back. Because even I am feeling restless, I want so desperately to settle in, mind the tiny details of my life, pay the bills, sweep the floor, feed the cat, play my guitar, read my book, cuddle the boy but its as though I have forgotten how. And the relearning just seems so hard.
Every January, I have to relearn, have to reestablish our routine. I tell myself it shouldn’t be this hard, and yet, every year it is.
Lying in bed this morning, listening to the rain, it was comforting to remember that this place is a normal place for me. That I am here every year. That every year I resist reestablishing my routine, that I resist my discipline. It is helpful to remember that I always get my groove back one way or another and that it does all fall into place–not magically–but ball by ball with intention and mindfulness and a whole lot of kindness to my self.
Tonight, I will cancel the plans I made and stay in instead. I will pay some bills. I will read a book. I will hold my son until he falls asleep and with that settling, I will pick up the first ball.
This past Saturday my dear friend Renee’s daughter became a Bat Mitzvah.
Renee has been one of the strong and steady people in our lives–there for Max and I in a quiet but ever present way. When I was struggling through the first few weeks of motherhood, Renee invited me to her house and fed me gourmet meals, enticing me to get out of my pajamas and back into the world of the living. In the horrible months right after Juan moved out she invited us to her house and fed us. We sat at her Passover table and breathed through the prayers, the questions, the stories and she held my hand under the table each time my breath got shaky. Just a few months ago when we went to a wedding in Massachussetts and I wanted to stay up and dance all night, it was Renee who bundled Max up and took him to bed, who read him stories so that I could experience joy. Renee has been a friend who has been a witness to the most poignant moments in our life.
I was so charmed and touched when Renee invited us to this special day for her youngest girl. This was not a huge gathering and I felt honored to be included. When she handed me the invitation back in November I immediately said yes.
I started thinking ahead to that day–What would I wear? What lovely gift would we bring her precious child? My head was spinning so far into the future–thinking of this day. My future-focused head was busy with all the preparations.
So where was I on Saturday? I was nowhere. Nowhere to be seen.
For the last several months I have been so focused on the future–whats coming next, hopping over hurdles and fast forwarding onto the next blissful event: my party, the holidays, some trips I have planned , my wonderful new year and how it would surely play out all flowery and blossomy. No sooner was I in a moment, was I immediately planning what joyful thing would happen next, next, next!
While my head was dreaming of the future, I have done a terrible job of keeping track of the present. Alot has fallen by the wayside. The past couple of months, insurance claims have not been submitted. A bill or two has been paid late. I got a bad cold and slept not nearly enough.
And then the Bat Mitzvah. I lost the invitation in a car that needed to be cleaned. I got mixed up on the date. I asked Renee but didn’t listen carefully, didn’t write it down right away, had moved on to the next item on my to do list. I wrote it in my calendar wrong. I told myself it was next Saturday. In the future…like everything else in my life. Happening sometime soon.
I was so far ahead of myself, I didn’t question why Renee was out of work last week instead of this one. I just assumed she was taking advantage of the end of a short work week to make preparations final. I kept plowing ahead, unaware, unattentive. No pause. No breath. Instead of being now here–I was nowhere.
And I missed it. I missed sweet Hannah’s ceremony. I missed the party my dear friend had so carefully planned. The special event she had called us to attend. She had asked me to be present–to be a witness to the magic of her girl growing up. And I was nowhere.
Sometimes the Universe just has to hit me over the head with a very heavy club.
Last week, the amazing Jena wrote this post about the difference between nowhere and now here being a simple small space, pause, a breath, a moment to be present. In this post she quotes Sue Monk Kidd’s Firstlight:
Someone pointed out to me that the words now, here, and nowhere have the same arrangement of letters, but differ when a small space is inserted. Likewise a fine space separates us from experiencing our life as nowhere or now here.
Attentiveness is entering fully the moment you are currently in, no matter how hassling or mundane, and simply being present with it.
“Ah yes” I said. The words resonated with me. They made sense. They settled into my heart even while my head was spinning-on fast forward ever still. Skipping the pause. I missed it even as I got it.
This morning, before the sun rose, before I realized my mistake, before another friend told me that I had missed the blessed event, I was taking a long walk, a walk I am now taking most mornings. This long walk is part of my plan to get to a healthy weight. The last few times this walk has been an exercise in speedwalking into the future. I walk and I immediately start praising myself for getting up so so early and think I proud I will feel when I have done it all week! I start thinking about how come spring how healthy and strong I will be! I walk and I am thinking about bathing suits and feeling good in them again, about sitting in pools and jacuzzis, about sexy little sundresses.
I caught myself this morning–half way into the walk–when I realized I didn’t even notice much of what I had seen, had missed the birds, the change in the sky. Somewhere out of the buzz that was in my brain, Jena’s words, Sue Monk Kidd’s words stopped me cold in my tracks.
Now here…nowhere…Now here.
One fine space. A pause. A breath.
What had I missed on my walk while I was focused on how beautiful the future would be? I thought about how I couldn’t get that bit back. Those moments where I was lost in planning a future that may or may play out–those precious moments were gone.
I thought back to a time when life was falling apart. When being present, when living in the now wasn’t a choice. It was the only way to survive. In the days and weeks after Juan announced he was leaving, in the months after he had moved out I was anchored in the present because it was all I could take. When I allowed myself to think of our past, I fell apart on the spot, tears flowing, the grief of all we had lost overwhelming. When I started to think of the future, of the next hour, next week, next month without him I was so terrified, so paralyzed I couldn’t breathe. The only thing I could do was get through this minute in front of me, this breath, now the next one, and the one after that. It was a gift that came from the pain, this mindfulness, this practice. But it is one I have packed away, like a forgotten wedding present. A once cherished treasure now shoved over to the side in the chaos of life.
Last night, as I was logging on to check my email, Max came and sat on my lap. “Mama,” he said “Read to me.” “In a minute babe…Mom’s just got to do this one thing.” His answer was strong and clear. “No mom…NOW. I am tired.” Yes. In a few minutes he would be asleep. The moment to read would be gone. The email could keep. “OK” I said, much to his surprise. He was emboldened.
“Mom, you are on the computer too much. You need to stop. You need to be with me. Now. I am grounding you from the computer–at least while I am awake.” “Yes” I said. “That would be fine”. From the mouths of babes…
Tonight at yoga class, as if to drive it home, my teacher was guiding us through an opening meditation. Before asking us to set our intentions she asked us to be aware of the thoughts, the plans, the worries that were buzzing around our brains. She invited us to put them in a box in the hall and to be present. To be in the now. To be here.
And I did. I finally did. I was there through each uncomfortable stretch, through each difficult balance, through each impossibly difficult move to build core strength. And when my mind began to wander I reminded myself that each breath was a chance to begin again.
Each breath calling me out of nowhere and into the now here.
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”-Anais Nin
Last January my dear friend Jen Lemen encouraged me to pick one word that would be the anthem for year. It was the beginning of what I knew would be an interesting twelve months. I was ready to let my failed marriage go, I was ready to start healing. Picking one word to sink into…Well that seemed like an exercise that made alot of sense. I wasn’t sure how I could begin to wrap my head around the huge wide open path of possibility that stretched before me, but I could understand one word, I could wake up in the morning and face one word. It could be a little touchstone, a pact with myself. A mnemonic device of sorts, something to help me remember what my heart thought it needed, to help me call forth what I dreamed of when I felt stuck in the muck. My word could be like a little sign post–something to help guide me through the tougher days.
Last year my word was RENEWAL. It turns out there could not have been a more perfect word to capture the theme of the year. For me, 2007 was like an early spring day. My life, my happiness, my ability to feel real joy–it was coming back, strong and vibrant. In the dark places of my life, the places I thought only dead branches lay, new hope sprung forth like the bright green buds on a dogwood tree. Through the compost pile I thought was my failed little family, community sprung up, thick and green and lush. Over and over again with each breath, I saw an opportunity to start again, to do something a little differently, to hold myself a little more kindly. Even the rain ,when it came, had its purpose. With each difficult experience I learned something and grew a little more. There were lots of moments over the course of the year where my word was just that–a word. To be honest there were whole weeks, months maybe where I didn’t utter it to myself. But, then suddenly, I would remember it and be grateful. It would be a call to recognize renewal when I saw it–in myself, in others, in our lives.
Its that time of year again–time to pick a word that captures my mood as the year starts to roll. This year, I want to do a little welcoming ceremony for my word. I want to make art around it and hang it in the east in my house–the direction of new beginnings. I want to put it over my front door so that I see it every morning as I leave, a little prayer of sorts, a reminder to keep my eyes open for the world unfolding around me.
This year my word is BLOSSOM.
Like last year I have thought quite a bit about this word. I wanted a word that captured being on the edge of possibility, a word that encompassed my belief that something amazing is about to happen–that indeed something amazing is always happening. I walked in the park on New Years Day with my friend Cathy and we tossed about words: adventure, experiment, explore, discover. But all those words seemed too earnest or perhaps too conditional. I wanted a word that expressed the inevitability of how I thought my life was unfolding, exactly as it should, in ways that completely surprise me and take my breath away.
I was coming out of a short sitting meditation when it came to me. Not an idea, but a command, whispered in the gentlest way by the wise woman inside my heart. “Blossom” she said. “Blossom”
Flowers do not think about what they should do next. They do not hesitate to show their beauty. They do not obsess about whether they are talented enough or smart enough to show themselves. They grow, full of life, they stand in the rain, they turn their face toward the sun and then they blossom. And so must I. It is time.
What is your word for 2008?