A Date With my Daughter.

I am going to say what every mother has thought at least once or a hundred times in her career as a mother, but has probably been too afraid to admit on the internet at the risk of becoming another casualty in the Mom Wars:  My three-year-old daughter was really annoying today.

Wherever I would go, she would follow.  She was almost always touching me in one way or another - it was cute sometimes, like holding my hand or hugging me.  Sometimes it was obnoxious, like flicking my ears, laying across me, digging her feet under my butt as I sat on the couch or poking me in the neck.  At one point, I just wanted to yell, "Leave me alone for five minutes!  Find something quiet to do by yourself!"  I was very close, but thankfully for all involved, I didn't.  I just kept pushing her hand off my ear telling her she needed to stop.

It's hard to deal with these kind of annoyances sometimes, but they'll always pop up so "dealing" is just what we have to do.  My first idea of "dealing with it" is saying Welcome Home to my husband as he comes home from work and then immediately disappearing to the bathroom where I can sit in a hot tub for an hour or two and read a book in relative silence.

So, I challenged myself today and did the opposite.

It's hard for Evelyn to get all the attention she craves and rightly deserves.  Her younger brother consumes a lot of my time and resources.  It's hard for all of us, and can be very frustrating at times.  I don't stop and think about the toll it takes on her often enough, though.  While Gus is throwing a tantrum and I have to rock him, or while I'm struggling to feed him, or when he's climbing all over me and ripping the book from my hand when I'm reading to Evie, she watches me walk away from her to tend to him very often.  She handles it with such grace and patience, though, far beyond anything one would expect from a child her age.

My daughter is amazing.  She is at this age where she is realizing the effect she has on the people and the world around her, that she can manipulate her environment to suit her desires and needs.  It's a self-centered stage of development, this time when the ego truly seems to come into full glory.  It doesn't need to be reigned in and beat down, but nurtured and guided toward the right ends.  Even without a constant stream of correction or input from me, she is guiding her ego into this green pasture of love and sympathy all on her own.  It astounds me.

It also makes me feel intense guilt.  Here I have this beautiful child with an old, wise spirit and I'm not doing everything imaginable to lift her up, enrich her, nourish her mind.  The guilt I feel for simply being a mother to two children who must divide her attention - unevenly at times - is suffocating.  There have been times when I have called my husband at work in tears convinced that I was failing the entire family and destroying their little lives for simply deciding to stay in on a nice day because laundry needed to be done, or that I felt I was failing Evelyn for not taking her to play with other kids at the playground because I finally got a screaming Gus to take a nap, or that I was failing Gus because he didn't want to play with Evie and I so I wasn't actively engaging in therapeutic play with him when I was giving Evelyn the attention she craves.

My heart is full, but this fullness makes it so heavy.  I beat myself up all the time for the many failures I see when I look in the mirror, and the more beat down I become the weaker I am, and then even less gets done.  Then the cycle continues.

That obvious solution of running away to my bathtub oasis seemed like the exact choice a weak person would make, something predictable.  Run away, indulge in some selfish luxury, affirm my original belief that my daughter was annoying me, justify my escapism with a nice pat on the back and a "You deserve this warm bath and good book."

No.  If I was the swearing type, right about now is when I would say "Fuck that."

I took Evelyn out for a Girl Night.  We talked about anything she wanted to talk about and sang songs in the car.  We held hands around Old Navy and Half Price Books, saying "I love you" freely as often as the spirit moved us.  We shared kisses and laughter.  We ended our night with new books, a new summer wardrobe for a growing toddler girl, and a table at Menchie's before a huge crowd shoved in.

As we sat there, she with her bowl of berry frozen yogurt with chocolate chips and fresh raspberries and me with my simple honeydew sorbet, I felt this overwhelming sense of relief.  The guilt was lifting, and for the first time in a long time I feel like I finally did something right.  We both needed this time alone together - she needed to know that she's still my best friend, she's still important, she's still a priority, she is valued; I needed to see that she's still this amazing person despite not always being able to go to the park or the library, that I'm not an abject failure at motherhood, that I'm still her best friend and that no, she's not annoying.  Not in the least bit.

I still spend most of my night in her bed, because she gets scared and upset without me.  I'm writing this now from her room, and the feeling of her little feet burrowing into my back is the welcome sensation of love and trust.

At this moment, I feel good.



I need to learn to deal with my negative energy in an effective manner.  I always think that I've got it under control, that I've had enough practice with times that evoke impatience and stress that dealing with them would be easier than it always seems to turn out to be.

I think the problem is that I tend to practice stress-reducing techniques when I'm actually not stressed at all, when deep breathing and meditation and yoga are much easier to do because I'm not fighting against a wall of anger and frustration.

Today was deeply stressful, and I dealt with it very poorly.  I decline to go into detail, because looking back on it, I'm ashamed of myself.  The things that I would whine about now are so unimaginably trivial in the grand scheme of things that anyone looking in on what upset me would wonder how I could lose sight of the multitude of blessings I have and focus on these tiny complaints.

The truth is that I am incredibly blessed, even when I feel suffocated by tiny dark clouds.  My son was having a bad day, but he leaned on me for his comfort.  My daughter got to run in the sun, to play at a park we've never visited before, to laugh with her dad.  The weather was beautiful, and we were outside to enjoy it even though our planned picnic didn't quite happen the way it was intended.  I might not have been able to photograph the several varieties of beautiful spiders I found today, but I got to see them, to let them crawl on me, to peacefully return them to safe places.

But I failed to see these little beautiful things, to really focus on the positives because I was too caught up in how the day was "supposed" to be instead of letting it shift and change organically.  I dug my feet into the sand and didn't move when the tide came in, so I really have no right to complain about my wet legs.

Instead of focusing on how to calm myself when I become stressed, I think I need to simply combat the stress before it even arrives by simply giving up, and giving in.  Giving up the plans, giving in to the flow.

When we got home from our excursion today, I was moody and irritable.  I quietly seethed to myself as I shoveled food into my mouth, though I wasn't hungry.  I let myself be broken, and the worst part is that I broke myself.  I will not let myself be broken again; I will prevail.

*     *     *

Men are born soft and supple;
dead, they are stiff and hard.
Plants are born tender and pliant;
dead, they are brittle and dry.

Thus, whoever is still and inflexible
is a disciple of death.
Whoever is soft and yielding
is a disciple of life.

The hard and stiff will be broken.
The soft and supple will prevail.



This Neighborhood.

I'm back in my old neighborhood, the place where I grew up and lived the better part of my life.  My daughter was watching a cartoon with my mother, my son was rocking to sleep with his dad.  Everyone was taken care of, so I used the opportunity to take a walk to the lake and watch the sun set.

The neighborhood is beautiful and simple.  Humble Cape Cods and ranch homes line the streets where well-tended lawns seem to glisten.  Cars parked along the street are unlocked, their windows are down.  There are no sidewalks, but you can walk in the streets with no worry.  It's a quiet neighborhood, a slow neighborhood.

Down at the lake, I sit at a bench.  Long grasses flow in the breeze before me, and the sun glows like a golden lamp in the sky.  The lake moves gently and constantly, reflecting the light like drops of golden oil floating on the surface.  I am a alone, but there are other people watching the sun.  Everyone is content to sit in silence, to simply watch the earth slowly turn and welcome the evening.  I am sure that my blood nourished a mosquito or two, but they take very little and I have much to share.

Soon, the black trees of Presque Isle in the distance swallowed the sun, and following it, a slow exodus of people.  Some walked away.  Some rode their bikes up the steep hill.  Others hopped back into their cars, to drive to some other neighborhood not quite as blessed as this one to have such an unfettered view.

A purple tulip shoots proudly among a small garden of yellow and pink flowers; a robin with her beak full of worms bobs her head into the dirt for another.  Lights start to come on in living room windows.  A man stands in his garage with a beer, talking to a friend out of my view.

It is a safe neighborhood, a peaceful neighborhood.  A neighborhood of working families proud of their homes.  Some yards are full of decorations with no worry of vandalism or theft.  People walk the streets after dark.  As I head home, two young boys are playing a simple game of basketball in the park.  One stops and waves at me, and happily says "Hello."  I wave back with a smile.  They are quiet, respectful.

Soon, I come back up to the house where I grew up.  It looks like the other homes around it, but different.  The front yard is littered with white petals delicately fallen from small flowering trees; a lilac bush peeking around the side of the house sends a sweet smell through the air.  I will never see this house as anything other than my home.  This neighborhood will always be the ideal in my mind.

Who can blame me?


Good Day.

Today was a very good day.

It started off with a typical morning:  My daughter curled up next to me in bed with her arm across my neck, telling me "Good morning" and how much she loves me, my son sprawled on top of me giggling his sweet morning breath in my face.  We wrestle, we play.  Someone eventually gets tickled before we finally march downstairs for breakfast.  It was sunny and the wind that came in through the windows was cool and fresh.

My son's therapists arrived a little late for today's appointment, but the visit went wonderful.  We talked about the small hurdles my son has made, how he says an approximation of "Go!" when we prompt him with a "Ready, set..." and a wand full of bubble solution.  It was a trick he was eager to show us again and again as we met with applause and excited squeals, and blew long strands of bubbles into the air as he shouted "GAAAH!"  We reviewed a video we had taken at our last appointment of Gus and I playing together, and I was given much needed pointers on how to imitate more than initiate, and techniques for more therapeutic play.

After they left, we went to Costco.  We had pizza for lunch, and the kids sat happily at the table with me without a single fuss, ate happily.  When we walked around to shop for a few necessary things (like chocolate-covered caramels with sea salt and dried figs, y'know, the important things), I was able to slip a little cinnamon and sugar-covered churro into Gus' mouth, and for the first time out of many, he actually seemed to enjoy it.  He ended up eating at least a third of the churro, and while it's not anything I'd consider healthy at all, it is huge that he took a textural leap of faith and accepted a sandy-feeling treat.

When we got home, we settled down with a little bowl of pretzels and watched "Frozen" for what must have been the 40th time so far.  Then, we went to the park.

Taking my children to the playground is a pretty predictable routine:  Gus climbs up the jungle gym, runs to the slide, goes down.  Tries to climb back up it, gets frustrated, runs to the swings and expects to sit on my lap as I swing.  Evelyn is more than happy to run all over the play equipment by herself while I watch.

This late in the day, though, there were a lot of girls there, some only a little older than Evie and some much older, and they eagerly accepted her into their play group.  They had bags with dolls and they sat on a step brushing their hair.  They climbed the slides together.  They ran around holding hands and jumping.  The joy in her little face to be included and welcomed, to be enjoyed and adored, to be among peers melted my heart.  It made me think of preschool and how my little social butterfly will be in full flight when she starts to make real friends, not just passing acquaintances at the playground.

We walked home, kicking and chasing our ball.  I got Chinese takeout for dinner.  Everyone honored bedtime happily and fell asleep quickly.  Gus even let me brush his teeth without a fight.  I am tired and worn out, but I powered through my yoga in a hot attic with sweat dripping down my cheeks and I feel amazing.  My life may be simple, but it is beautiful.

Yes, today was a very good day.



Balance is a still facade over the truth of constant effort.  To put our weight on a small point is to require consistent stabilizing movements from our muscles, who ripple and shift as our center of balance moves gently with the rhythm of our breath.  It is an act of will, to look into the eyes of gravity and accept the risk of stumbling and swaying, but remaining strong of body and of mind.

My yoga tonight took me through Virabhadrasana III, Garudasana, Ardha Chandrasana.  All of these asanas are one-legged balancing acts requiring a different center of balance.

Virabhadrasana III, or Warrior III, is a strong pose balanced on one leg with the opposite leg stretched strong behind while the core of the body and the arms are stretched in front.  I struggle here to find my center of balance:  My grounding foot rocks from side to side, my calf muscle tries to compensate for this weakness by rippling and swaying.  I try to keep my eye focused on something immobile in front of me, and I find soon that my entire sense of balance is carried in my vision.  Eagle Pose, or Garudasana, finds one leg wrapped around the other like ivy on a tree trunk, with one foot rooted strongly in the ground.  The grounded foot is at the end of a bent knee, the body is in a gentle standing seated position, the back is strong and stable.  The arms mimic the legs as they wrap around each other.  My center of balance here struggles as my back sways, my ankles rock.

In Ardha Chandrasana, or Half Moon Pose, the weight is again balanced on one foot, but the hips are open and the opposite leg opens outward so the outside of the foot is reaching for the sky.  The chest too is open, pointing out instead of down, and the arms are open with one hand reaching for the sky as the other brushes its fingers lightly against the mat.  The temptation to put weight on that hand and split the weight between the arm and the leg is great, but giving in would be detrimental to learning the delicate art of balance.

Here is where I crumble.  I find myself open and vulnerable in Half Moon, pulled in too many directions and I lose sight of my vision.  My heart feels open and my eyes feel closed; half of me is grounded and the other half is reaching into the clouds.  I fall backward, I lean forward onto my arm, I seek some kind of crutch as I find myself laughing at my inability to control myself, to even address the center of my balance.

All of a sudden, the time for Half Moon is over, and it becomes a small part of my past.  I don't know if I'm stronger and more balanced after the experience of wavering and losing myself to gravity, but I like to believe I am.  I won't know until I find myself in Ardha Chandrasana again, and when I do, I like to think I'll be a Warrior.


A Day in Photos - 5/19/14

The weather today was beautiful, the kind of day that you can wear jeans and T-shirts and neither be too hot nor too cold.  It was the kind of day that screamed "Come, enjoy me!"  So we headed to the North Chagrin Reservation, a beautifully wooded nature preserve dense with wildlife and vegetation.  Winding walking trails of asphalt awaited us, beaten paths of dirt and stone beckoned.

Watching Buttermilk Creek tumble forward.
We made new friends with some local wildlife.
A, B - Platycryptus undatus, "tan jumping spider"; C, D - Ellychnia corrusca, 
"diurnal firefly"; E - Unidentified caterpillar.
We ran around in the grass.
     Evelyn believes the humble dandelion to be nothing less than flower royalty.  
     I refuse to tell her otherwise.
We explored the ruins of a castle that never was.
Contrary to popular belief, Squire's Castle is not haunted.  It was never completed,
and the Squire family never lived here.
We discovered the true artistry of nature's masterful hand.
An elemental and imperfect Celtic knot.
Then we came home and enjoyed the true artistry of my own hand.

A simple caprese salad - Roma tomatoes, fresh basil and fresh mozzarella with organic olive oil, cracked black pepper and Kosher salt.
We had an amazing day, and I am thankful for the simple beauty that surrounds me and the opportunity to share it with my children.


My Everest.

The Indian tectonic plate slides deep beneath Asia, and where the two meet, the rocks push to the sky.  There among the Himalayas, we find soaring Mt. Everest.  In Nepal it is known as Sagarmatha, or "Goddess of the Sky."  At 29,035 feet it seems to be the point at which Earth and Air become one.  It took nearly sixty million years for a humble slab of rock to become the majestic and iconic peak that it is today.

This is how the earth moves, slowly and deliberately.  It accomplishes great things over even greater lengths of time and to those who have patience, it offers nothing less than itself as a reward.

The wind on Mt. Everest is wild and free.  It comes and goes as it pleases, blowing up to 175 miles per hour at its own behest, picking up as it desires and dying down when it has grown bored.  It dances with the snow like a swirling cloud; it kisses the summit hard like a lover.  It is the constant companion of the lonely mountain, urging it ever forward, ever higher into the realm of the sky.

This is how the air moves, capricious and volatile.  It accomplishes what it can in very little time, and to those who enjoy the unpredictable, it offers nothing less than itself as a reward.

I have a proverbial Everest, a lofty peak to climb where these two opposing elements dance harmoniously in solitude, cold and set apart from the rest of the world where the only warmth is in the joy they must feel when night falls and together they reach for the moon.  


Alternate Reality.

I don't regret many things that I have done; however, I regret many things that I haven't.  Words I didn't say, doors I didn't walk through.

Every decision I made not to act was a link in a very straight and narrow chain leading to the here and now, and each action I did not choose branched off into what is now its own parallel universe, its own hypothetical world that would lead to entirely different circumstances than the ones in which I find myself now.  I know that I'm where I'm supposed to be, but I can't help but wonder about all these other points on the map that I'll never travel to.

I journey to these worlds in my daydreams sometimes, and once in a while I find points where these chains run parallel to my own, and I fantasize ways that I could somehow skip between these realities without losing very much, almost like doubling back with a handful of what I have and taking a different route at the intersection of confusion.

Failure is the standard when trying to jump between the worlds.  People haunt these spaces the most, opportunities for social advancement alone stab me in the heart.  I care not about jobs I had lost, or the college degree I never finished, or the hobby I didn't pursue.  It is the relationships gone and forgotten, the ones that never were which make me long to leap that phantasmic space between these chains.

If only is a delicate whisper on this cosmic wind, a light breeze against my soul that turns me around sometimes.  But because I walked that particular chain and made no divergence in what must only be my destiny, I have my eyes focused solely on one bright, shining star:  My children.  They alone are my reason, and they alone are the only things I'd take with me if ever I doubled back, that handful of whatever goodness I found along my way.

I eagerly drink from the springs of new opportunity only to find myself eternally thirsty.  If only...


Simple Happiness. (Recipe)

I held off going to the grocery store for three days before today.  There were many things I needed, but I somehow managed to work around their absence through bizarre and random preparations from things I already had.  Sweet potato and tofu curry with shallots and a can of stewed tomatoes that I purchased on accident weeks ago was one of those meals.  I wouldn't call it a disaster, but it certainly wasn't something I'd care to reproduce in the future.

As procrastination usually goes, the day that I had to finally do what I had been holding off was an unforgiving one.  The sky was low and gray with storms that faded in and out.  The rain was hitting our windows with such intensity that I thought it was hail, lightning cracked through the darkness and thunder rumbled like a hungry stomach.

It took all day for me to finally get up the courage to run the kids out to the car during a welcome break in the weather.  Of course, between our house and the grocery store, the rain had returned worse than it was before.

I managed to get us all into the store with minimal dampness.  I unbuckled the kids from their carseats and pulled them to the front of the car.  I opened my umbrella and went into the rain, ran to the passenger side and scooped both the kids up.  Balancing a toddler and an umbrella in one arm and a purse and another toddler in the other, I rushed across the wet parking lot and got us inside with but a few raindrops on their precious little faces.

I found myself laughing at this point, at what I found to be my smartest moment of the day (pulling the kids into the passenger seat so I could grab them both at once - nothing genius, but still pretty good for a day where I used very little of my intellect) and what must have been an at least slightly comical view, a short woman shuffling through the puddles with two toddlers slipping out of her arms, her head obscured by an umbrella pressed against her forehead.

At that moment, I realized just how beautiful a day it was.

*     *     *

Meat and Potatoes.


Three or Four Yukon gold potatoes
Half a small head of savoy cabbage, cored and thinly shredded
Salt, pepper, butter/oil

About one and a quarter pounds of thin-sliced small steaks (really, any boneless cut you like)
Two large shallots, cut in half lengthwise and then sliced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups low-sodium beef broth
2 tablespoons white wine
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1.5 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
Salt, pepper, butter/oil


Peel the potatoes and cube them.  Place in a large pot and fill with water to about two inches above the potatoes.  Add about a half a teaspoon of salt, bring to a boil and cook until tender.  In the meantime, heat some oil or butter in a pan and saute the cabbage with some salt and pepper until just tender.  When potatoes are done, reserve one cup of the cooking liquid and drain them.  Return them to the pot, mash them gently using reserved liquid to thin them as needed.  Add cabbage and about a tablespoon of butter.  Cover to keep warm until ready to serve while you prepare the beef.

Cutting against the grain, slice the thin-cut steaks into strips and cook them in a single layer in a skillet with some oil or butter for about 30 seconds on each side.  You will probably have to do it in batches.  Lightly salt and pepper the steak after removing it from the pan.  In the same pan, add a little more oil and saute the shallots until lightly golden.  Add the flour and cook for about a half a minute to reduce the raw flavor.  Slowly add the wine and broth, then allow to simmer so it can thicken.  Add the mustard and the thyme, heat through for a moment.

Arrange slices of beef on a plate, pour gravy over top, and enjoy.



Ahimsa is an ethical discipline, or yama, that at its simplest means non-violence.  This concept is practiced in as many different ways as there are individuals who strive to adhere to its message, but the theme remains the same:  To practice a life of compassion, gentleness, and love.

Like a rose, the petals of violence are many and they unfold one atop the other.  At the center is spiritual apathy, a disjointed view of who we are as a species, who we are as individuals, who we are in relation to each other and where our place is in the natural world around us.  This apathy opens us to emotional despair - confusion, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and no sense of our own worth or the worth of those around us.  Finally, this leads to the outermost petals of the rose, the ones who seem to decay the fastest, those of physical violence, the manifestations of which are devastating to who we are a species, who we are as individuals, who we are in relation to each other and the natural world around us.

Ahimsa isn't only about those outer petals of physical violence, the blows we inflict upon ourselves and others.  It's about the emotional and spiritual violence, as well.  Hate, prejudice, anger - all of these things cause injury, all of them are harmful.  Our thoughts and our words need to come into line with a concept of non-violence if we are to reap the benefits of a life lived truly in compassion.

We all are guilty of planting seeds of violence.  When we exert our power over those who are smaller than us, like stepping on an ant, we are actively guilty.  When we walk past a beggar and avert our eyes, we are guilty by omission.  When we spread a rumor, hold a grudge, feed a deep-seeded hatred, we are passively guilty.

Ahimsa requires some initial discomfort.  We need to make ourselves small so that we can see how big everything else truly is; we need to make ourselves nothing so we can see the something in others; we need to let go so we can give back; step back so others can step forward.  When we are all doing these things, we will all meet in the middle.  If something pleases me but hurts six other people, I need to sacrifice that happiness, because I am only one but they are many.

In my own life, I fail a lot.  I am impatient, I am emotionally volatile, I am lazy.  Each time I stumble, though, I see it not as a fault but as a teacher, an opportunity to recognize the bad in me and hopefully exorcise it so the next time I'm walking down that same sidewalk toward a violent outburst, I can try to avoid tripping over the same cracks.  I have a long way to go, but I have a long time to get there.

You are stronger than me.  Walk with me.  Hold me up.  Forgive me my faults and know that I am trying.


Rainy Day.

I was driving into a storm waiting to happen, a horizon composed of blue and gray clouds stacked one atop the other.  Erie had faded behind me, and Cleveland was too far away to see.  I felt like I was in limbo - I was nowhere and anywhere, driving what might as well have been the same mile of highway over and over. Trees, an exit ramp, a bridge.  Repeat.

It always feels weird leaving my hometown.  There's something that feels incomplete and empty, something I can't quite explain - plans conceived in a wild imagination that come to naught for lack of desire, lack of time. A sensation of leaving an important job unfulfilled.  Sometimes it feels like I'm not heading back to my home in Cleveland, but that I'm heading there only for a visit and that I will return to Erie, to my real home.

Driving in limbo, rushing toward a storm.  Somewhere between here and there, almost without space, almost without time.

This emptiness, this loneliness springs forth from a door that pivots on a rusty hinge, a tiny joint that opens and closes the channels of my peace.  In my tunnel vision, that empty space is all that I can see.  All I have, the walls that hold up my whole structure, are blurred along the edges while my focus is centered on that hinge just waiting for it to break, for that door to stop creaking open and slamming shut with every unconscious gust of wind.

I was overcome by an intense sadness, and could feel it hot and stinging in my eyes as tears began to well. Just as they hovered along my eyelashes, it started to rain.  It felt like the sky had taken on my burdens and shouldered my load for a little while.  The clouds cried for me, and I no longer needed to cry for myself.

The thunder even now as I lay here in bed rumbles a message, that all storms pass.  Whatever hides in the darkness will be brought to the light in brief flashes.  The earth needs the rain, and sometimes our souls need depression so that in braving it, we will grow stronger, larger.  Let us soak up the storms so that when the sun shines again, our flowers will bloom.


A Celebration.

The sweet smell of viburnum fills the air as handfuls of tender pink buds slowly begin to open into gentle white flowers.  In the shadows, ferns shoot into the sky and the curling leaves of the hostas break through the soil and unfurl like pages of a book.  Bright tender leaves begin to speckle the trees, little drops of green beginning to color an otherwise gray and seemingly lifeless forest.  The fertile earth springs to life in May.

It is no wonder that Mother's Day falls at a time when we can feel a kinship with the creative bounty of the earth as it opens itself like a womb to welcome life into this world.  We celebrate motherhood because it is reflective of the steady love around us - the marriage of the soil and the sun that brings forth the plants; the patient mother robin as she sits sentinel over her nestlings.  It is a day to appreciate that which gives and sustains life, something always so present to us that it's easy to overlook.

I find with great joy that I am still awestruck by my own motherhood.

My hips are wider, my breasts hang lower, loose skin on my stomach is decorated with silver threads where my body stretched to accommodate lives growing.  I have dark bags under my eyes from years of exhaustion, and they are rimmed now with lines born of laughter and smiles.  When I stand, I sway slowly from side to side without any conscious effort, a habit most moms pick up in the first year of their child's life and it becomes as much a comfort to us as it does to them.

My hands are dry and rugged.  They have bathed newborns, they have wiped tears, they have cleaned mucus and feces and vomit, they have patted backs and tickled armpits, they have scrubbed potty chairs and high chairs and kitchen floors.  I have never raised these hands with violence, have never used them to instill fear or dread in my children; they have only been offered in compassion, generosity, mercy and aid.

I am strong.  I have given birth twice, have been brought to my knees in the most joyous pain, have pushed and strained and yelled and torn.  I have fed a child at my breast while I suffered postpartum depression and battled intense anxiety.

I have given up the very things that made me who I was, stripped myself of my former skin and emerged larger, stronger, and hungrier than ever.  I am a teacher.  I am a nurse.  I am an adventurer and an explorer.  I see the world through fresh eyes, through the eyes of my children.  I am new.  I am reborn.  I am no longer scared.  I have battled and I have won.

My children don't know what I endure on a day-to-day basis, the physical, emotional and spiritual struggles my life as a mother has thrust me into.  They don't need to know, because to understand the sacrifices a person makes for us is to feel compelled and obligated to return the favor in some way, and I have no expectations of ever being repaid, no desire to ever hoist that burden on my children.  They owe me nothing, but I will accept with grace all the love they freely give.

And the love flows like a raging river, free and boundless.  Whatever rocky pitfalls lie beneath its foaming surface are covered and consumed by rapids that continue to push us forward.  It is wild.  I have never felt more alive than when I am consumed by this love, giving up any sense of control and simply going with the current.

My children are not mine; they are their own and they belong to the universe.  I am humbled by my role as their caretaker and nurturer, humbled to prepare these two amazing lives to go out into the world and fulfill their own destinies.  I project as little onto them as I can manage; instead, I let the colors of their lives write upon my own canvas.  Their innocent lives are my own newness, my own ticket to experiencing the world anew.

As I sat on the deck today and watched the mother robin with her mouthful of worms bow her head to the gaping mouths of her lightly-feathered babies, I knew that we were connected.  In her own way, she feels the same about her motherhood.  Her children are an extension of her no less than my children are an extension of me, no less than the grass is an extension of the earth and the sun - and we are all an extension of the stars, of the universe.

We are all amazing products of the fertility and love of the earth.  Celebrate spring.  Celebrate life.

Happy Mother's Day.


Why I Write.

Nothing compels me to write more than disconnect, that feeling of being alone in a full and busy world, of being composed of things unearthly and beyond reality.  That deep part of my soul like the bottom of the ocean where creatures we haven't yet discovered make their homes is cold and untouched by the sun.  I don't know what hides there, but I long to.  I drop anchor in these dark places every time I sit down to write; I imagine the strings of black letters are like a fishing line at the end of which is an enticing bait that will draw these creatures forward and pull them into the light where they can be studied, and known, and released.

I felt a compulsion to discover my oceanic beasts yesterday as I drove east on a nearly empty stretch of highway.  The broken white lines were lulling me into a thoughtful silence that sparred with the dull anxiety I always feel when I drive east, a result of playing chicken with Helios as he drags the sun across the sky and I'm fighting against the solar current.  I thought about how close we can be to someone while simultaneously being so far away, how half a mile of physical distance can be extended through walls of brick and glass that divide us, walls of apathy and ignorance that pull us even further apart.  

I thought about a single heartbeat in a building, this spark of energy that pulsated unseen into the air and was carried by the breeze and into my open car window, delicately caressing my cheek.  I could smell on it the same smell I find on myself, the tarry stink of destiny that firmly holds us in one place.  Our heads and our hearts don't always know it's there, and we get these amazing and lofty ideas of where we'll run to next, but every time we lift our heels, that black viscous tar of fate holds us firm.  And the heart beats on, unaware of my existence as I drive solemnly by, hidden by walls both visible and invisible.

In a city full of people, I saw buildings and cars.  I saw no one.

When I woke up this morning, I stood barefoot in soft moss wet with dew and watched the sun sparkle off the delicate pink blooms of a bleeding heart.  A mother robin nervously approached her nest to feed her naked, hungry brood.  I filled my lungs with the fresh air of a cool breeze and waved warmly to the first golfers of the morning as they made their way to the smooth green behind my parents' house.  I connected.

I am Gemini and Cancer, that zero degree mark between the signs that dives out of the air and into the water.  Born on the last day of spring, I am a daughter of the free sky, sister of the warm breeze and cousin to all those with wings who have tamed the fickle wind; I am a child of the sea, born looking through the rippling waves at the cool dark places the sun can't warm.  I am gaseous and gossamer; I am liquid and flowing.  This morning, I am everything.

I am starting this blog with high aspirations, that every day I can write of the things about which I am most passionate.  I am determined to hold back my wild horses, to no longer want to run against my destiny but stand here in my tar and learn to enjoy the view with patience and love.  Because it is full of beauty.  It is full of life.  It is full of awe.