Not that long ago in the treatment room, my acupuncturist took my pulses and told me that my chi was stronger and more balanced than she had ever seen it. And its true, I was feeling more full, more peaceful, more aware of the great abundance in my life than I have perhaps ever. The situation of my life was not all that different than it had been a few months ago, but I am so fully aware of the gift of it all, it was not a surprise that my body began singing that tune. I felt so blessed that the Universe and I had worked together to heal some cracks in my heart so that I could begin to store a reservoir of energy to face whatever life would throw at me next.
You know what happened then? I immediately began to wonder when the next shoe would drop and tragedy would strike. I was certain the Universe had brought me to this pinacle of joy, only to rob me of it. I admit this sheepishly, but to be honest its true. I have programmed myself to believe that opening up to goodness means a sure fire punch in the gut is coming. I sat with that a while and got curious about it.
Max went on a long planned overnight trip this week to an indoor water park a few hours away with some of his best buddies from hockey. The trip is well chaperoned by people I love and trust deeply. For him, it was a holiday dream come true–an amazing adventure laid out before him.
Over the holidays Max and I had lots of opportunities for mom/son time. We spent hours reading together all snuggled up by the fire. Just as I would sink into the goodness of being his mother, fear would start to creep in. Foreboding Joy.
With this trip on the horizon, this trip so exciting and marvelous laid out like a gem I got fixated on the fact that this trip–this beautiful gift of a trip would be the thing that did us in.
I was certain that something was going to go wrong–horribly wrong. A car accident, a drowning, a bully or a sick man who would lure him away. He would bump into sharp corners of some sort and be wounded horribly. He would not come home. All these things do happen after all to families every day and the truth of the matter is we never know when life is going to shift and change or throw us a curve ball. We don’t know when we or our loved ones will breathe their last breaths. I tried to hold these facts without dwelling on them. I breathed and focused on the present moment. It seemed to help.
One night Max crawled into my bed, his room was so cold. I was awake and as I snuggled him and watched him sleep I felt that fear start to rise again. That panic that he would be taken from me. Visions of firey car crashes warred with my internal reassurances that he was traveling with a paramedic. I wondered whether it was my mother’s intutition that was telling me to not let him go, to slam the door on this opportunity and keep him safe by the fire with me. I then wondered whether this was my own difficulty sinking into the kindness and the adventure presented to him. This war was taking me nowhere good.
So late that night, I made a different decision. Instead of stepping on that rollercoaster, I stepped back and asked myself what on earth could this fear be pointing to. As I looked at his giant puppy ten year old self sleeping in heap and stealing my covers it was clear.
I love this child so very much, so deeply, so completely and with such abandon that my heart is completely and utterly exposed. And that is a very blessed thing. Being Max mom is the greatest joy of my life, a job that has new challenges and new twists and turns, a job that is ever changing. It is a job that I love with a passion so great, I sometimes think I will explode. And that is a blessed thing.
It was not his trip with the long list of possible (though not probable) tragedies that could occur that was scaring me. It was being this vulnerable. I sat with this fact for a long time. I wrapped my arms around my boy and I slept on it.
When I woke up, I realized that my vulnerability is what is saving me, what is healing me. When I sit, open in the classroom, letting myself be moved, I am practicing being vulnerable. When I marvel at all that I have, kissing each ordinary blessing in my life, I am being vulnerable. This vulnerability is terrifying and it is a treasure. It is what is opening up the deep well of energy and chi and goodness that I am drawing from. It is what is allowing me to sink even deeper. Its not a surprise that as I wake up to vulnerability I found myself struggling with it too.
What a treasure it was to stumble upon this. I have bumped into the work of the marvelous Brene Brown before and yet as I sit in my pajamas waiting for Max to come home, it resonates at a level so much deeper than before.
I am aware of how I protect myself from this vulnerability by refusing to open up entirely to the love and goodness in my life. How quick I am to slam the gates around my heart and what it has cost me. And I am making it decision, right here, right now, to practice vulnerability, over and over again.
The Ted Talk takes 20 minutes but it may just change your life.
**Thinking with love of K. and others who are sharing this journey with me. We are all walking it together. Holding hands will make it easier.**
Sometimes in order to learn something deep in your bones you need to forget it. Only then can you realize that you knew it always and this learning was really a remembering, a reawakening, a recovering of wisdom ancient and old.
This is wisdom you always had, though you thought that someone had to teach it to you so that you could really have it. So you go through the motions and you bring your good school girl self to the classroom and you listen with new ears and see with new eyes. And you flail and throw yourself against it until you are tired. And maybe then you are still.
In doing so, the school girl realizes she is really a wise old sage and that even if her mind wasn’t sure she ever had it, her bones always knew she did. This wisdom is woven into the very essence of her/of you/of me–of all of us.
You only needed to get your mind out of the way.
So you told yourself you didn’t know. You came at it in new again so your body could demonstrate that you do know. Everything that you need to know is already here. Its just a matter of remembering. Its just a matter of allowing heart, your bones, your blood to speak what it has always wanted to say if your mind would simply let it.
Christmas morning found me in my pajamas, cooking pancakes and bacon and brewing a pot of coffee while Max and Juan played the boy’s new video game downstairs. It could have been a scene from the movie I used to play over and over again in my mind during the early months of our separation, the movie entitled, “If Only It Could Work Out”. So funny that we ended up here even though we haven’t really ended up anywhere near what I thought “here” would look like. Two separate homes. Custody agreement and child support.
Its been almost 7 years since we separated. Max doesn’t remember what it was like to live with his dad and sometimes he cries that he just wants to know what its like to have both parents in one house. I know that feeling of wishing my family to be whole too–that sense that THIS is not how its supposed to be. That sense that families are SUPPOSED to be together in one house or that parents are SUPPOSED to work it out for the sake of the children or that we are SUPPOSED to be rewarded for hard work with “happy ever after”. I once held onto those old stories too.
And yet, if life has taught me anything these past seven years it is that there is no “supposed to”. There is simply life, marching on, throwing curve balls and opportunities to learn new ways of being. There is no happily ever after but if we can let go of the SUPPOSED TO there are plenty opportunities to be happy right now.
The definition of our family is constantly shifting. Truth be told, every definition is really simply a story, made up, self constructed. We are just three people, two adults and one wise, funny, brilliant and gorgeous child doing our best to make it through life peacefully. Connected to one another in a thousand different ways that matter. (Disconnected in some other important ways too!) Juan and I are both profoundly awake to the fact that whatever we did to one another in marriage and divorce, the best thing we ever did bring this amazing child into this world. We have found a way to let the rest go so we can both bathe in that sweetness. We have found a way to dance a new dance so we can both be with our son and witness his glory on this most magnificent morning.
We have done Christmas lots of ways, but recently have found a way to a shared Christmas morning. Of being together the three of us around a tree because there is no where else any of us wants to be right at that moment than together. Next year it could be different.
I called the boys to the table and served up the breakfast on the Christmas plates that someone had given us a few years after our wedding. Its lovely to have this ritual now, this simple way of celebrating life, despite what it threw us.
Next year may bring new challenges to navigate, new rituals, new dances. Truth it, despite every tradition faithfully executed, its always new. Each of us is always showing up new and that means new dances every time. And so while this Christmas morning was pure sweetness, I simply breathe and let go of any attachment to the fact that this is the way it is supposed to be.
After all there is no way it is supposed to be. There is only just the way that it is. There are ten thousand ways to be a family–joyously, painfully, brokenly, messily, lovingly a family. Every one of them is perfect.
Every glorious one.
Hello….Hello…Is anyone still there?
I know its been awhile. Its been a wild and wooly fall and I’ve missed you.
The last several months I have had to let go of a lot to make space for this dream I have been living. Unfortunately, some of what I have had to let go of is writing–or at least writing that isn’t being handed in for a grade.
But I haven’t given it up completely. And so today, with several final papers handed in, and others printed out, stapled and tucked safely inside my school bag I can take a breath and return to this page. Hello again. Have you missed me?
Our life has been turned upside down and inside out by my decision to go to school. Max and I both have had to learn new ways of being. Homework side by side, he now needs to wait for me to complete my thought on paper before I can look up to help him. Each minute of our waking time needs to be used wisely for work, or school, or chores and so we linger less at community gatherings and leave lots undone. The house always looks like a bomb went off and sometimes we have to reach into the dirty laundry basket for clothes. Mornings are a bit harried as we both have school that starts exactly at nine. There have been more life solutions that feel as though they are held together by duct tape. Max has had to do more on his own. Its been a change.
And yet life is change. Life is always changing and school has been a gift that has called me to witness it shifting so.
When I decided to go to school I imagined that I would blog about it frequently, sharing pearls of wisdom that I had taken in and digested. Looking back now I can only smile at that intention–the hubris inherent in it. This school is nothing that I can distill so neatly. For what I am learning, along with history and anatomy and theory is the art of being. And that my friends is the Dao that cannot be spoken.
I am finding myself being completely broken open. Sitting quietly in a chair with tears streaming down my face, only to be laughing in the very next moment. I am being moved beyond words. I am noticing a softening in myself, a loosening of places that have always felt tight. I am smelling things as though for the first time, and digesting ideas (some long cherished) so completely that they no longer live in my brain but reside in my bones.
I am doing it all in community, in a group of people who don’t rush in to fix me when I cry. They don’t ask me what is wrong or try to fix my messiness because they know that I am perfect exactly as I am, tears and drippy nose and all. In fact, knowing that we are all perfect exactly as we are is an entrance ticket to this world I inhabit. Don’t dare pick up the mantle of healer until you know that there is nothing to be fixed. Instead be there to fertilize the soil, bear witness to the flowering, assist with the pruning and kiss it all. That is how the healing happens.
As the fall has shifted to winter I have experienced exhaustion, fatigue, a sense of desperation and terrible gut wrenching fear. And as each of these have surfaced I have let them move through me completely. No need to stuff, repress, reframe or even understand. It is simply energy in motion. I have faced some really dark places–moments of intense loneliness and moments when I thought that I would not be able to keep carrying on with this schedule and yet even in the darkest hour never have I regretted the choice to walk this path. I have never doubted walking this way nor have I doubted that walking this way will lead me home..
I have learned that I can keep going if I simply do what is in front of me without worry about what comes next. I have also learned that when I give up the fight with what is (the worry, complaining or stress over what to do) and simply focus on what action I can take to keep moving that we keep marching ahead. And I have learned that putting lots of reminders around to keep me in practice.
I have often operated from a place of deficiency–no enough rest, not enough time, not enough money, not enough support. I have been a fight with the “not enoughs” for so long. So now, I write this message on my hand and remind myself to pay attention to the abundance of ways that I am being held by the universe. The squeeze that has been this trimester, the relentless pace and constant shifting has been teaching me to find space in the chaos to breathe. That space is the place I call peace. It is always there. Finding that peaceful space to inhabit no matter what comes, that is the art of being.