31 January 2013

(hum drum) routines & sonnets

It is early here. Though not as early as it was. And not as nearly as cold and quiet as my time last week in Yosemite was. No one else is awake in my house, though I hear N's alarm which lets me know that my precious moments of alone time are coming to a close.

This morning, my alarm was set for 5am, but my eyes flew open at 4am. It was the fourth day in a row I have awoken that early, on my own.  My goal lately HAS been to get up around 5am: to make coffee, have time for myself, mull over my list of things to complete. I also have been wanting to try & sort through my writing and art project ideas before the second round of coffee. Get it ALL done before N & the boys get up and ready for day/school/work. But 4am? It seems a smidgen too early that makes me tired at the end of the day. But maybe, what has awoken me so early lately is I miss this, the quiet and the cold, the still & silent beauty of the mountains. Maybe.

Because it was again, earlier than I intended, I did not jump right out of bed; instead I lay squished in the sheets and blankets, wondering if I could doze until 5am (or maybe even 6am).  When I realized that sleep wasn't going to happen, I pushed myself up, and ever so silently slipped out of the covers.  I paused for a moment wishing I could go back to the warmth of sleep. However, once I am up, I am awake.

Whether I get up at 4am or 5am or 7am, my routine is generally the same. I grind the coffee, put water into the kettle and onto the stove.  Then comes one of the best parts of the morning, no matter how tired or awake I am. It is the measuring of the sweet smelling grinds into our press. The sound of the sprinkling spoonfuls of coffee pattering against the glass of our French press wakes me up almost as much as the first sip of coffee. N & I are very much into the alchemy of our coffee. We are a bit snobby about it, almost to a fault...almost.

 Another part of the morning is the animals.

We don't live on a farm...unless you would call it a very, very urban farm for wayward animals: a collection of boys, dogs, cats and, of course a fish that G&B won at a county fair.  Though I may not be milking cows, our animals are even more devoted to the morning routine than I could ever hope to be. At our house, whomever is the first adult up, the pups and kitty will follow around begging to be fed. They know that once coffee is being ground, food for them is almost imminent.

Most days, and much to our doggies chagrin, I feed our girl cat first. She is a bit quirky and enjoys being petted while she eats; sometimes there are mornings where she will wait to eat until someone starts to pet her. She definitely counts in the wayward and quirky urban animal column. After I give her some love, I turn my attention to the pups. Just the simple act of getting out their bowls sends them into a tail wagging frenzy. Often there is a whiney squeak of excitement and an occasional rapid thud as Bella's tail whacks the stove with anticipation. I do try to make them sit while I dump their food into their bowls; but the bowls are heading to the floor, they barely give me the time to give them the command to "eat!" before they gobble their food up as if they hadn't been fed in days. Oh those dogs! They delight in their food almost as much as they delight in their boys.

Now here I sit, sipping hot loveliness, with dogs snoring on the floor and a cat who has retreated back to the warm bed. Here I sit and I am left staring at this very the screen waiting for the earth to move more towards the sun.  Waiting for words or thoughts or images to move me, waiting for N to wake up and the boys to grumble out of bed. Waiting. Not getting much done at all. And then I always wonder, every so briefly on morning's like this, how I am going to get everything I need to get done in a day, done. It just doesn't seem possible.  But then life keeps inching forward reminding me to clear my mind and work on the tasks at hand. Life inches forward. Tasks are always at hand.

By the end of the morning, I wish I could partition my day out as Shakespeare does a sonnet. Partition my day out into neat little stanzas complete with a gorgeous iambic pentameter, and neat romantic couplets. Every moment would be poetry. The day would always be complete, & beautiful. Each task I finished could end with a rhyme within a scheme.
Instead, my life often feels a bit out of focus, just like this morning. A bit groggy and unsure, a clashing between the domesticated urban farm for wayward animals I run and a overly wrought bad poets beat club I want to attend. Nonsensical words and actions often stumble out of my mouth and I feel like I am trying to shove more lines, words, moments into every second of the day.
Finally I remember that this morning time is a time of slowing down and editing my content, even if it is not for very long, even if it is not very good.  Listening & listening, even if its not for very long.

Maybe someday my inner Shakespeare will show up. 

Until then I will be busy writing, making, & knitting my own version of awkwardly paced, busy, puzzle pieced sonnet of a life. Loving and caring for this little wayward and quirky domesticated urban farm.  


PS:  I just have to say, that today, I am missing my long hair. I am not going to look at any metaphor in this. I just miss it.

29 January 2013

What Makes a Home?

Wondering if my house is a home....
We have lived here for a year and half now, and I wonder, do we, as a family, feel at home?

Does a house feel like a home when things come together and the house is clean and the windows sparkle? Or is it when I bake something that smells really good?
Some days I feel like my house smells like my boys' dirty feet and the the only thing wafting through the air is the stink of muddy dog paws.
What makes a house a Home?
Is it in the moment you realize you are ready for guests? Or is it that moment when you realize your heart brightens when you see the front door after a long day?

Is it when the plants say hello? When they say, "I am cared for, I have not been left to drought and famine of water, and you will be taken care of too." At my house, my plants are often forgotten.
I do so try not to let any of them wilt away.

There are things that I think, that make my house a home. There are pictures on the wall that are hung. However, they are often crooked and not dusted properly.  Occasionally I find a piece of food flung by the boys smeared across a frame and I wonder...how did that get there?

I have baskets on the bookshelf I recently repainted.  I have beloved books there too.  I so mean to re-read many of them...but there is so little time these days.  And the baskets! they are beloved as well. They are fair trade and a gift to me from me.  I got them with the intention that I would use them for the farmer's markets on Saturday. But between all the busy things going on during our precious moments on the weekends as a family, it is rare that I gather the bunch and peruse the bounty there.

In attempt to make our house a home, I painted the walls of my living room and dining room and kitchen. The dining room opens into the kitchen and they are both painted Benjamin Moore's Midnight Desert. The living is two-toned. I adore it. The top color is BM's Revere Pewter, below is BM's Cinnamon Raison (a name that doesn't do this dusty red color justice -truly). The color is as close as match as I could find to Farrow&Ball's 'Rectory Red.' I divided the two colors with a clean black line.  It is nice to have color to help claim this shabby (yet expensive!) rental as our own.

I have an old wooden cabinet/hutch that I paid 50 dollars for several years ago. It is not flashy, yet at the same time, it seems almost tooooo fancy for our usual taste; but I adore it.  It was $50. I rarely have the entrepenuership to find such a thrifty gem. In this hutch, on our "fancy" display shelves, I have dishes and platters from our wedding registry.
I have added saucers and sugar bowls from a big box store.
I have pinecones I have found. I have rocks the boys have claimed as their own. There is the occasional seashell.  Ceramic treasures are there too, made by the boys at school. And there is most definitely plates to eat on & glasses to drink from.

I have flour that is ready to be made into some sort of something yummy.  However it is waiting. The sugar does not wait as it often gets sprinkled in tea and the like. I have bowls of fruit that ask to be eaten. More often than not, they are. Apples and bananas and pears don't last long in our house.  But does any of this make it a home?

What makes a home?

 Truly, I should just delete this all because really for me...
It is when I tuck my boys in at night, brush their hair from their foreheads and know that the love I have in my heart for them is the most fundamental foundation in my life; and that they are, those unruly, smelly, loud stinkers who seem so very impossible, they are actually the greatest chef d'oeuvre, the greatest masterpiece I could ever actually add to my house Home. 

I think you know that you are Home when you understand in your heart that the love you hold for your family, (whether it is just you+books, or cat, or partner, or you actually have minions running around) is absolutely unconditional and very intangible.  That this love will never be available to purchase online or to shop for in stores.

And for that knowledge, for a simple understanding of that love, I have no way to bottle it.
                                                                              I have no picture at all.


28 January 2013

Gratitude Mondays

Gratitude Mondays: Gratitude is the New Black 
And though Gratitude doesn't hit the runways for any fashion preview, it doesn't hurt to wrap ourselves up in it from time to time...especially on the hardest day of the week, Monday. 

I am so, so, so grateful this week.

I am so grateful for amazing scenery whooshing past me as I stare out the bus window; staring out, thinking, reflecting amongst the noise and happy teens around me. 

I am so grateful for the crushing sound of Yosemite Falls,the rushing flying spray of its waters, and the long journey it has to make to nourish the valleys & the people & the crops hundreds of miles away.

I am so very grateful for meadows that are left dusted by snow and shadowed by the long trees and towering mountains in and around them. All the valleys & plains carved by an ice age thousands upon thousands of years ago. 

I am grateful for points of view that are steep, incredible & scary. I am grateful for my heart that pounds as I look over the railing, watching the rushing water scatter over the rocks below feeding the stream, into the river, into my soul. 

I am so very grateful for PineCones. They become the trees I love. The Pine, the Evergreen who hold the wind that whispers in our hearts.

I am so grateful for the Giants of our World: the Majestic Sequoias. They hold more knowledge, and years, and life, than I could ever hope to obtain. 

I am grateful for the Mountain Laurel emerging from the snow, saying, "good day" to my heart, making me smile. 

I am grateful for this meadow full of snow with squishy boggy streams underneath. For feeling my heart skip a beat as it does cartwheels and makes angels in the snow. I am grateful for the Great Grey Owl that lives in this meadow. Though I never saw him, I know he saw me, he knew that I was there. He knows that I will come back one day, calling for him, looking for him to soar over the meadow, hunting in the dusky dark of night. 

I am grateful for my time in Yosemite: for laughing until my belly hurt & my eyes watered & my jaw was sore; for falling over in the snow while cross-country skiing; for making new friends; for eating SO well & nourishing my whole entire self.

I am just so, so, so grateful for this past week...though perhaps you knew that already.


27 January 2013

Back to Reality

I am definitely back...

I am definitely back from Yosemite. There are no towering snow peaks in the distance. I don't hear the crushing gorgeous rush of Yosemite Falls. I can't feel the wind rushing across my face & dancing amongst the pine.

I am definitely back. The only teen I have seen in 24hours is my own. He is crabby and overtired and he doesn't joyously shout "Becca!" when he sees me.  Nor does he want any hugs. The younger two are showing me how much they missed me by fighting and arguing over who should be in charge of which toy.  N, who has bent over backwards shuffling G & B back and forth from school, as well as being the task manager of the house and his job, has disappeared to catch up on the projects, ideas and things that were pushed to the side while I was playing in the snow. I can hear the dim force of the freeway towering in the distance as I sort and start the backloads of laundry. There is no snow to see for miles around and it is raining muddy puddles that help the pups track in muddy goo from the backyard. The house is a mess. I am definitely back.

This morning I showered and scrubbed off the last of the dirt, the last of the sticky bus ride home. I would have loved to go for a run but B woke up too early and I needed to sit with him for a minute so he could fall back asleep. Really I did. And, as I mentioned, it is raining. Rain is not necessarily prohibitive for me, but today, in the early morning dark, with a restless B and a busy husband, it just doesn't quite feel quite right to head out. Finding excuses to put off exercise means I am back, definitely back to my routine and my ways.

                                 *  *  *  *

When I gave birth to E, I forgo (temporarily, so I thought) getting any sort of advanced degree. I had just gotten my B.A. in French and Humanities, but I was so inwardly focused on the little creature I brought into the world I had a hard time gaining perspective about my options. However I wanted options. I wanted the dream of options. I wanted to know that my life didn't end and begin with creatures #1, #2, & #3. For the past 13 years, despite my odd assortment of jobs here and there outside the home,  I have often laid awake at night wondering where my path lay for me: how can I be Mom, which is so fundamental to the core of my being, and create a simultaneously successful and fulfilling corner for me? A separate corner, for me, apart from the label "Mom."

I did not notice it at first, but the intensity of my mother's illness and her subsequent death HAS been a catalyst for inviting a bit more into my life. I am not quite as shy as I have been in the past about taking on projects, volunteering at the boys school or speaking my mind. I have seen, over the course of the last year, even in the last few months, a small bit of my corner shining through.  Last night N said that my path is slowly emerging, opening up, blooming, maybe even a little. I wish, though, I trusted that something was happening. I worry if I forsake the dream of the advanced degree there will be less stability in our long term life. Less security. Less Hope.

Then the worry really kicks in: Maybe this 'just for me' corner is a fantasy novel I have fashioned for myself over the years. I have envisioned SO many different worlds in which I emerge perfectly triumphant after obtaining the ever elusive Masters Degree: lawyer, therapist, teacher, professor, scientist, nurse, mid-wife that perhaps none of these paths are a reality. And the truth is I always have shied away from my artistic self in lieu of the fantasy of a stable job with a stable income that will allow us to live a moderately stable life with all those middle class values I cling to: save for college for the boys, save for retirement for us, a mini-van, a Prius, vacations and the latest gadgets and wear.  And I shy away still from my art, because quite frankly, I have never thought I was really any good at any of it anyhow.

I don't know whether it is the worry that holds me back or the reality of life. Maybe it is both. I don't know.  I do know I am definitely back. I am definitely home, back here to this street and this house and the grumpy, whiny and often sweet ways of my boys. I am stumbling over the pups, listening to the roar of the freeway in the distance and the pitiful mews of my cat begging for more food. I am back to reality of the day to day. Hoping to forge a path to live and create in.

I just ask, that today when you are out there, living your life, if you stumble across my path, would you please let me know? If you can see the forest through the trees and the path climbing though them, I would love to know where it is. It would be so much easier if someone could just point the way.


26 January 2013

Yosemite: The Legacy of Our Mothers, Of Our Fathers

The Legacy of My Mom & the Legacy of John Muir

I spent the last 6 days in Yosemite National Park. To know me, is to know that much of my life is a cause & effect from my upbringing. For example, I love the outdoors (much thanks to my dad) but sometimes I despair when things don't go as planned (much thanks to my mom).

However this trip, chaperoning 7th graders on a science field trip to Yosemite, was different.

It was very much a trip that was suited. just. for. me....a place beyond the reach of my father and my mother.  It didn't matter, despite the dire beginnings when the bus we were all on, blew a tire; and then, after finally getting back on the road with the very restless teens, the bus overheated. We made it anyway. We arrived at our destination. Late & tired; restless from having been on the road for more than 12hours. We made it. Somehow, we knew as a collective group, that it was going to be okay. That the bumps wouldn't break our time here.

On this trip I could feel the weight of this past year lift a bit from the tiny place I have it trapped. Here in this place, I could feel the legacy of my mom, the one she didn't leave for me, the time stolen from us when she died from ALS, the guilt I feel for not being a better daughter, the daughter she had hoped for and imagined, the weight of this unwritten legacy, it lifted, just a bit, allowing me to creep out a bit from my mental hibernation and play in the snow.

I know this blog is about something other than the Outdoors, but this past week has been so profound that I find it difficult to not share it here on this conjured notebook of my life.

With every crunching, squished snow step crackling in the silence of a dark and cold morning I felt Life breathing. A gift of being that unfolded: A taking apart and refolding of an origami square. Here in this place I was allowed to step from the threshold of my day-to-day life into the Life of living in the exact Moment.It was not a moment of Carpe Diem trapped in its own juggernaut; instead, this week was a compressed Love, tightly bottled up then shattered across the valleys, meadows and mountains of this wonder, falling across this space, carved out of this rocky place we inhabit.


I must confess, in the beginning, I entered the week with trepidation and a slice of worry. In November and early December I had been excited for the trip. Then suddenly, after the Holidays I became daunted: Leaving behind the tasks and chores and the children I walk with in my every day had me unexpectedly fretting. I didn't want to leave my cup of coffee, my list of things to do, my younger two boys, N and the pups.

Yet somehow I did.

Not to mislead you about who I am, for I do so love to feel Life and all her intensity. But Life for me this past year HAS been Intense.  It was just a year ago when we really began to worry about Mom. A worry that was a slipping away of rocks into a tumbling of fear. The worry that was a whispering mountain, looming over us, over me, judging and wondering. What. What. What has come over Mom.  
In the week before I left on the trip, I let the fears of the past take over. I was afraid of being Exhausted.  Again. Drained. Again.
I worried I would see things and hear things that I wouldn't be able to fix. I was afraid of further breaking a bone that was not even set.  I was afraid that something would fall apart and it would be my fault. Again.
Yet, Life and her taught string, the woven thread that is connected between our heart and our mind, pulled me through.  There, awash in the hushed winter, every step, each sound and small movement echoed the pattern of my own soul.
Though my heart, still broken from my mom's passing, my heart could feel my Mother brushing across the Mountains.

In the Wind, dusting dry snow across the meadow, and pulling the hair across my face, I could feel my Mom, tucking my unruly short crop behind my ear.

My Mom was there, my Mom, who never much liked the mountains (she preferred the ocean, the salt, the crashing of waves), she was there threading the string through the eye of the needle, helping me sew up my loss in my own Way.  My Mom was there: Letting go of what she wished I could have been and what she had dreamed for me to be. I felt safe there in the shadow of the mountains to be all that my Mom had not wanted in a daughter and felt safe to accept the fact that she loved me nonetheless.

I felt safe there, in those looming rocks and towering mountains.  I felt safe there to be just the daughter I was; to be just the daughter, the friend, the mother that I am.

I felt my heart knitting up my darkest sadness and my largest loss.  Every single beat of my breath seemed to drum inside the caverns of my soul and the largeness of Yosemite stuffed my heart.
The largeness of Yosemite filled my heart up
with the snowballs
and laughter of the teens I was with.

Their silliness,
and invincibleness,
and their disregard for tomorrow seemed to watch over me.

Those young teens,
not quite past their 13th year,
those teens and their love of life
and their trust that things will
just. work. out.

Yosemite cracked open the empty remains of my grief and filled it up.

Filled it up again
with the stories of the friends I made,

with unexpected cups of coffee,

and with lively lovely meals made with care.

Yosemite etched my heart with her own story, her own lines, her own patterns.

Something that I learned on this trip is that the preservation of this valley and the existence of this place as a national park is largely due to the man John Muir. His inner being was marked by Yosemite's beauty, by the bounty of Nature herself, and he fought desperately to make sure THIS was here for us (for me!) to enjoy.

I am sure Mr. Muir did not necessarily envision that today over 4 million people would visit the park every year. But he did have a vision. A vision where Nature invites us in and lets us stay for as long as we need or are able.

I have also come to understand, through the brief understanding I have of his life, and the paltry quotes of his writing I have read during this past week, that he did in fact hope that this place would, one day, influence those who came here for the better.

Among his working and dreaming John Muir wrote, "I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in."

When you read his quotes and learn a  little about this man you realize that the course of American history has been changed, for the better, by him. You can taste his passion for Yosemite, his passion for nature and his passion to preserve the beauty that exists there. You remember that there are those who so blindly believe that they can change the way things are, that they actually do just that.  You remember MLK and Gandhi and Desmund Tutu. You remember those who walked before us and left us a legacy. A legacy of caring deeply for our life and the way we live it.

I hope that I keep a bit of this place, a bit of this legacy inside me. A bit of these stolen moments. A smidgen of the peace I felt at night, knowing that I lived the day to the best of who I am. 

Knowing that for now, for this, I have found a quiet peace.

24 January 2013

Do You Know Where Your Coffee Is?

Its 5am do you know where your coffee is? 

I do. I know where my coffee is. 

I have been awake since 4am. My mind churning with the millions of little puzzle pieces I need to fit together before the day is through.  I was torn, between attempting to slowly clear my mind and returning to sleep; and just getting up and begin checking things off my list.

Through total inaction I compromised.

I lay there in bed, my body still, my mind not so much.  Husband snoring softly in his dreams.  Marie the Cat, purring rather loudly while laying across my chest and kneading her prissy paws close to my face, reminding me I am her servant & must feed her as soon as I start to stir.
The lists and things go on inside my head. My body is quiet but my mind is not.

Now, I am propped up on the couch. Its 5am. A few lights are on. Hot coffee next to me. Marie the cat is too. I can't hear N's sounds of slumber, but sweet Bella dog is snoozing snoring on the floor and the house seems quiet.  But it is not.

Despite the loud buzzing in my brain telling me to be a bit more active and not so reflective, it is these early morning encounters with my ego and my self that I love so much.  For me, the day doesn't really start until the Boys wake, so this is just a few milliseconds, of the millions of minutes I cram into the day, that is just. for. me... Sort of. If I didn't have to share it with so many other little thoughts and lists and TO DOs.

When I was in my 20's this early morning time was ABSOLUTELY sacred to me. You couldn't touch me or talk to me before 7am.  I look back now and think, wow, I lost a lot of time being super rigid about my routine. My morning routine was vaguely obsessive. Well, considering I didn't want anyone to talk to me before 7am, including gentlemen who spent the night, most likely means it was more than a little obsessive.  However, I didn't have much ability to be objective back then; yet I am pretty sure that I thought I was objective about life because I got up early. Which is always a bad way to live. Thinking you can constantly be objective about all things, just because you have some whacky routine.

I was so, so, naive to think that this absolute one thing (my quiet morning time) could make or break my day. When I got pregnant and had E, my whole world was inverted and the solved equations I thought were there, suddenly no longer made any sense. I was exhausted. Exhausted. And I really no longer had any energy to wake up early. Why? Because I was already waking up early...all night long. All night long. Every Night.

Babies are very good ego crushers. They take what you thought was yours (your body, your free time, your home, your furniture, your life) and they poop and spit up all over it. And once they have done that, they become mobile. Which the parenting books and child psychologists claim is all about discovering and learning. But really what mobility means is that they can now start taking apart things, climbing into dangerous places, breaking things and making your home look like a cross between a small budget circus and a 15th century insane asylum. Reflecting on this, its no wonder my "Dalai Lama self" didn't really flow so easily into my "Mommy" self.  And it is no wonder the Dalai Lama emanates such love and understanding: he has no children to raise.

So here I am. 13 years later when that beloved whirlwind E crushed my ego and spit up all over my dreams of "holier than thou." Here I am.

It's 6am now. And I DO know where my coffee is. Sitting serenely and calmly on the old trunk of a coffee table. Half drunk. Cold. More quiet than my mind could ever hope to be. Here I am, looking forward to the day with all its millions of puzzle pieces that need to all fit together neatly.

But first I am going to take some quiet time for my self. And maybe have a nap as well. I don't have to  worry about setting my alarm. The boys will wake me up. I am looking forward to it.


22 January 2013

Inspiration: Follow Your Heart

These words are so tiny.

So very tiny are these words (on this URL image I copied from Pinterest), that you HAVE to almost squint to see them.

However, there is a way these words actual whisper, and it seems properly appropriate to have the words so very tiny, the lettering awash in the background. It is appropriate because the soul and the heart are delicate things. Sometimes they need just a a gentle text, flapping every gently at the door of your self, of who you are.

Tapping and echoing against your heart; whispering "follow. follow. follow. follow."

Hoping that for today, that you follow where ever your heart leads you.


21 January 2013

Gratitude Mondays

Gratitude Mondays

 Today I am grateful for wonderful
landscape design that promotes beauty and sensibility in this arid climate we live in.

I am grateful for the grace in these olive trees; and for the wayward sun, that pushes through the fog and dusts the landscape. 

 I am also grateful for the sweet bungalow homes that are attached to the lawns. I am grateful for them as they foster my own dreams of making a house into a home for our unruly bunch.

I am also grateful for the pups. They both live the life of a dog to the best of their ability (which often is not my high standard). But they live into their ability as well as they can...for the life of a dog. 


18 January 2013

A Short Post on Being Present

a short post about being present in the moment. 
short because thats all I got. 

I got up early to work, to think, to write. I wanted the space to lay out the plans for the morning and the coming weekend. As I was making coffee and feeding our pups, my youngest, B, appeared. Apparently he was honing in on his "mom's awake" radar.  I tried to return him to his room, then when that didn't work, tuck him into our bed. That didn't work either.

He is now pretending to be some sort of creature. An up-too-early creature who will be over tired at the end of the day. The little creature is now whining and galloping through our bedroom and into the kitchen and living room.  Perhaps he is pretending to be a very fast and whimper-y hedgehog (hedgehogs and polar bears are among his favorite).

I am pretending to be the mom that is NOT annoyed that he is infringing on the small amount of time I am attempting to carve out for myself. If you were here with us, you would hear B, making odd "creature noises" and me, tapping away on the screen, (click, click, click) pretending to be a half engaged mom, "Oh little creature...you are so cute." "Oh cute little creature....." then not finishing my idea or sentence because I am trying to write a post about being PRESENT in the here and now and I am not doing a very good job at multi-tasking. Grrrrrr says the voice inside my head. (and so does my voice because now the Little Creature is scratching my toes trying to get my attention.)

So I will end this post.

Because sometimes life doesn't allow for us to do exactly what we want when we want to. But I am going to try to be present with what life is handing me.

16 January 2013

january is february is blahuary...

January is February is Blahuary
or Embracing Crappyness With Intention

Blahuary: A yucky time of the year accentuated by the absence of the twinkling of holiday lights and general holiday cheer. It's when things are cold, people brood, children are moody and tempers are dour. Blahuary.

I often get lost in the Blahuary of January. I want to do a million and one projects, yet I feel like I have no energy and follow through. I snip and snap and pick more at the boys. They respond by acting even more rambunctious and defiant. Then I find myself whirling deep into a hole of self pity and regret.

During these times I find the pull inside my body to be filled up with something even stronger. A desire to create. To be created. I long to give birth to something, to a project, to a child. I want to give birth to something beautiful, something remolded and formed, pulled up out of the ashes of my grumpiness and woe, given new breath and light then set it to dance across the sky. Then I turn around and I find that I AM filled up! But not with the ideas and projects I want to complete nor with sweet loving clinging children. But with with sugar, and candy and wine and too many cups of tea. My body feels creaky and my jeans feel ever tighter. I feel like I want to collapse and start over but instead its another scone or cookie or crumble.

 Oh Blahuary!  I could forever more write an ode to the woes you can bring!

Yet, this year I want a different Blah in my Blahuary.

I want a different path.

I want to embrace this Blah.

I want to hold it and remember the Blah.

I want to nurture it and love it for what it is.

I want to enjoy every single morsel of sugar laden coco puffs I shove franticly into my mouth and every little slurp of the high fructose candy canes left over from the boys' stockings.
I want to remember every single moment of crusty dishes in the sink, itchy undies on my behind and the smell of unwashed socks on my boys feet.
I want to embrace the pile of laundry that looms over my head as the Mountains of Mordor had lain at the feet of Frodo.

In all of this, I must confess that I am so blessed to belong to a small group of women who periodically muster up their strength to find lovely odds and ends that they can safely and triumphantly share within our small safe "group world." It is like an email book group, that doesn't necessarily talk about books.  It is lovely, and though I have not met every single woman within our group, I care for them all deeply.

At the same time I have been working on this post, one of the women in the group, the ever beautiful and lovely genius R, shared this with all of us, "I have been feeling shitty for the better part of a month. Emotionally, physically, spiritually shitty. One of my intentions for this year has been to actually feel my feelings as they come up, so I am declaring it to you all here! I'm in the dumps! I have been not washing my hair and being generally crabby. And I've been doing an awesome job at it. This is a brag because I've been really present for my minute-to-minute shittiness lately. Yar!"  It was so so so great to read. Not just because I was working on my own Blahs, but because what she is actually doing (embracing the shit) is at the heart of what I am trying (TRYING!) to learn to do.

To Be present with all the crap. To be present with all the crap, even when it is bad and scary. To be present with it. To nurture it. & hopefully, ever hopefully, to let it go.

So here it is; the worst part of Blahuary. My belly bump. My belly bump brought on by the Blahs of Blahuary. Brought on by the lack of excersise and overindulgence in sweets and treats and things.

Looking at this bump in the mirror, I see that it sticks out, more than just a smidgen over the edge  of my jeans. A soft mushy cliff reminding me that I have not been at my best lately.
When I see it, mushing all over the place, what I want to do is this: I want to wear big baggy clothes to hide my belly bump so people won't know that I have the Blahs and a bit of extra weight around my middle. Or even worse...think or ask if I am, you know, on the "nest" so to speak. Preggers. pregnant. 

But I am not! (see indignant exclamation point) I am not pregnant! But you can't really walk around with a shirt on that says "No I am not on the Nest; Blahuary got me at my best!"(well maybe you can...but that is another project).

I have decided something. What I have decided is this: that I am not going to to hide behind my blahs and my belly. Nor am I going to hide my blahs and body and all it's baby belly blahhhh-ness.

Instead I am going to try and nurture it. And take care of it. And remember that all things come to pass and the Blahs are not forever.

                   *   *   *   *   *

Sometimes these things inevitably come back to my mother. And the grief I feel. What is so hard to do sometimes is feel the grief I feel while still being wife, mother, lover, chef, volunteer and all around general handyman. (and handle the blahs of Blahuary).

I know that the intense grief I feel for my mom's passing will not last forever.  Perhaps...perhaps maybe these Blahs and this Grief go hand in hand. I SO want my heart to stop constricting in a tight little bunch every time I think of my mom. I so really want that tightening around my heart to stop when I think of her and all the things she was in her lifetime, that I forget. I forget that what I need to do is let go of what I want and instead hold the WHAT IS more openly and lovingly. That I need to carry "what is" with pride and care, and not with shame. Carry it, cradle it. Nurture it and not deny it.

Because this is what is. Not what I necessarily want it to be, but here is what it is and I need to love it, this life, take care of it with what I got.


it is early morning here...

It is early morning here and I am trying to desperately cling to my cup of coffee and the quiet that this house will be for just another 5 minutes.

Soon the boys will be up. Breakfast will be needed and clothes to put out and on. Then its out the door. Out first is E on his bike riding, off to his school. & then, my walking companions, G & B set out with me to their school several blocks away.

The day wakes up and it's ever busy schedule begins.

I want so desperately to carve more time for myself. Time to be quiet and create and breathe. But these last few days when I seem to have a window of quiet and solitude, I fill it up with worry and anxiety and numbers and my addiction to Pinterest. I feel the quiet escaping me. The quiet of my soul. When I feel it leave, I don't even seem to have the energy to chase after it. I just fill up the quiet with more franticness.

                                         *   *  *  *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *
Last night I dreamt I was sitting in my living room.
N was playing a board game with the boys.
As I sat there, I stared out the window and watched a dark hawk and a beautiful snowy owl fighting in the branches of a bare winter tree.  In my dream I was transfixed. Unable to move as I watched them struggle.  And as dreams go, that feeling changed & suddenly I had to stop them. Immediately. So I ran outside, out the backdoor.... and the tree transformed.
It was no longer my tree, but the bare branched crab-apple tree in my parent's backyard.
And there in the snow, lay the owl, white and spotted and small.
A baby owl. Broken and bleeding. The hawk was gone, caught up by the wind or the blowing snow. And I am no longer married with children, but I am young again, maybe 10, maybe 12, maybe 15.  And I bring the young owl into the house & lay him in a small cardboard box, fitted just for him with blue blankets and clean cotton scraps. I clean up his cuts and scrapes. I set his wing, determined as I once was as a young girl, who KNOWS she will save the world, that this baby owl was sent to me to be saved.  And he was mine. He wanted to be my owl. My baby. My bird. My owl.
                                     *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *  *  *  *
This morning as I wake up I know it was just a dream. But I am haunted by the struggle in the snow and the raw knowledge that this Owl was mine to save.  And I wonder about the symbolism in this dream. The Push and the Pull. The push of the busy family life, the one I have created and filled up with all it's ins and outs. And the one that pulls at my soul, the one that is tattered and a bit broken lying in the snow. Waiting. Waiting to be saved.


14 January 2013

Gratitude Mondays

I just posted yesterday on Facebook (though I am sure I read it somewhere on Pinterest or Tumblr) that gratitude is the new black. And though it really doesn't hit the runways for any of the Fall Fashion 2013 previews, it is something that we should wrap ourselves up in from time to time. 

Or at least on the hardest day of the week to be grateful, Monday. 

I am grateful for beautiful & inviting cups of coffee and the people who take the time to make it.

I am grateful for a happy smile from B & a content grin from G.  

I am so, so grateful for small graceful moments of inspiration. 

I am grateful for the oldest, born 13 years ago this week, who wove into the core of my being motherhood.


10 January 2013

sometimes there is absolutely no more room.

Tonight it is quiet. There a few extras in here as I reflect on the day. Three bodies extra in the bed (two boys and a kitty) + me + a puppy on the floor. What you cannot hear is the absolute sense of comfort the boys feel, the cat's tail luxuriously
swishing contently with satisfaction across the pillow, and the gently snoring Bella-dog. Oh sweet Bella, wishing she could be up here, but knowing that there is absolutely no more room.

Sometimes I think that there is absolutely no more room for anything anymore in my life. that there is absolutely no more space for friendship, for love, for any more laughter, for any more loud whacking fist fighting sword yielding testosterone, and absolutely no more space for projects and ideas and creativity. I feel full. full to BURSTING and then. and then.

and then it all slips back in. Slips back in a sometimes loud outpouring of self, and other times a quiet calling at night. Although I feel that there is absolutely no more room inside my heart and inside my soul tonight, I count the deep breathe in and out of my boys, in.&.out. in&out. in.&.out.
Then I feel my own heart loosening, stretching out a little bit more between each slow push in and out of my breathe.

I count my own breath. in.&.out. In&Out. in.&.out. & I know, and I know that what I feel is okay, it is fine to feel that there is absolutely no more room! but my soul says don't worry, there is always room for more, sometimes it is just a matter of when.


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