Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Gray Sky and Gray Mood

Henry and I took a walk today. Because he's sick, he agreed to ride in the stroller and I got some much-needed exercise. As we headed down the wet road, Henry wisely noticed that fall was "really here". A wet kaleidescope of leaves marked our path. Reminding me that something existed here before us.

Moments before our walk, a twisty, tumbling mood descended about me like the stippled rain clouds above. The dappled, molten, gray sky mirrored the toppling malaise within. The sadness frayed the edges, heart aching just so. I didn't understand it. Yet, in a fairly nuanced step for me, I didn't judge it; I embraced it and let it be. I let myself be. Be sad. Angry. There.

Henry and the leaves provided the brightness and levity. I looked down as the dark, wet and slightly-pitted road jumbled along beneath my feet. The leaves still beautiful, my son still, my mood still. I watched Henry's blond hair curl in the damp afternoon. I deeply inhaled the emerging autumnal essence--bold and sweet--and reminiscent of days past. Shaded memories hiding beneath recently fallen leaves. The scent signaled endings, beginnings and the always-present now.

The gray sky comforted me. The spinning wheels of the stroller lulled me into the current moment, filled with dampened beauty. My son, the wise sage, front and center. Now. I realize I am ensconced and interwoven with all the elements--I am not I and they are not they. We are we. (Thank you, Karen Maezen Miller, for this timeless, peaceful reminder.)

My nascent attempts to sit in this moment--regardless of any discord that moment may serve--propel me through to a new reality. Just like the vibrant blue bits of sky that persevered and peeked through as the weather front passed. Just as they always do. Just just as I always do. Just as we do.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


To a dear, dear soul whose weaknesses I now see as strengths. Whom I will always miss, yet who I know is always, always with me.

Torrid secrets dancing

in the purple, dark
smudges beneath her violet eyes.

Dying to escape
her truths. Diabolical men,
serving disrespect on cowardly,
tarnished platters.

Damning demons masquerading
as a husband, brothers, self.
throwing salt into
her invisible wound.

Dementia numbing
the edges of her jagged past.
Eyes remaining still hopeful,
a tenacious testament of
human endurance.

Resilient love thriving,
past be damned!)
on the precipice of faith;
love warming like baked bread,
constant like oxygen. Like the sun.

A white flag offered, illuminated
by faith, dutifully woven with forgiveness
and imagined insurance
for her legacies.

Relief spilling
out of violet reserves,
she blissfully resided
in the few, dusty, happy
corners of her dwindling mind.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Plunging in Boston

I traveled to Boston this past weekend to Karen Maezen Miller's Mother's Plunge Retreat. I went, not truly knowing. And I returned. Knowing...that not knowing is fabulous. Raw. True. And ok.

Karen discouraged us from taking notes. Being an ardent note-taker and writer, honoring this request challenged me. How will I remember? How will I return to these truths without the permanent talisman of Karen's words, etched into paper? She said that whatever we need will come to us, whenever we need it. And that in order to be present, here Now, I, needed to have my heart in hand, not a pen.

Karen filled the room with her ancient truth, heralding the knowledge we all have but sometimes miss. Or misplace. She introduced herself, and shared that an introduction is a beautiful way to start. She is beautiful, warm and wears the sun on her face.

The day, the weekend, the shimmering strands of the verity, lighten and fill me. I am, for the first time in months, able to introduce myself to myself, and recognize who I see.

I see me.

Right now.

I got to see some friends, Corinne and Lindsey, too.

I'm pleased to tell you: I consider myself one of those friends, too.

And some new spirits I am so glad to have met. Jenna. Katrina (and when Katrina read, oh my did I cry). And my sitting neighbor, Katrina. And Tracy.

With the resonance of a mystic secret and the levity of a child's laugh, I am full. And I look forward to the awakening of all the truths and I embrace knowing that I don't know when they will unfold. I'll have faith that they will enlighten when they should. I will breath in. I will exhale...and let go.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Beginnings and Endings

A fine, almost imperceptible, veil exists between some beginnings and endings. A slight shift here, a leaf dancing on the nuanced edge of the wind there.

Then, others present boldly, loudly, waving and flailing their arms, the moment seems to scream, "Here I am! See me!"

As if he had a bold Sharpie in hand, Henry marked a clear line between this school year and the last. Last year his pudgy, full cheek would press into mine as he attempted to morph us into one, cleaving and willing himself into me to ensure that when I left, he would too. This morning, Henry, in his second week of school, informed that he would like to continue to walk into school by himself. He is four. I said yes.

We got out of the car and he told me to stop. So I said, "I love you. Have a good day". I wondered if he could hear my heart, which said something that differed just a smidge,

Don't go. Come put your cheek to mine and let me inhale you. Let me lock your essence into my lungs...

I watched him wind down the brick-lined path.
Out of our moment and into another. He did not turn. He did not need to turn. He had it. He got it. He owned it. His moment. One folding into the next.


As my seconds passed and morphed into the next now, I reflected on the bold swagger of this particular beginning with Henry and mourned the end of the end. I drove away from school and toward here. I wound down the road and passed a small cemetery, one I pass every day on the way to and from school.

This morning, a woman stood at a grave sight with her head bowed reverentially. No fresh dirt, damp with the morning dew. No black clothes. Just the sun on a beautiful autumnal morning. And a long-standing tomb stone, cloaked by ancient grass and her. She stood with her thoughts and memories.

I cried for her and her loss and for her gains. I cried. I cried for my own beginnings and endings. And I remembered with dizzying clarity: they are the same. Some bold, some tenacious, some insidious and others crazy. But they are all the same, leading me down the hobbled, smooth, winding, straight path to now.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Girl Walks Into a School With a Cookie

My sweet, multi-faceted, complex, intelligent, lovely, warm daughter had a no-good-very-bad morning. So sad sad sad. She cried. She bawled.

After pulling herself together, she started crying again. You see, being the oldest child and therefore predisposed to pleasing the world, she crumples when she realizes I am not pleased. And this morning, I was calm, but definitely not pleased. I calmly explained why her behavior (screaming) was unacceptable. And then, I calmly asked her to go to her room. When she responded by screaming and slamming her door as she retired to her room, I calmly explained that she just lost a privilege (which, by the way, undoes her).

(An aside about me here because, at the end of MY day, it is all about moi: I went through a screaming phase lately. And I didn't like it. My anger flared quickly. I was constantly astonished at how little my children listened to me and so I started making my voice loud and my face ugly...maybe now they'll listen, I'd think. I mean, really, I was like one of those people who talk more loudly to someone who doesn't speak their language, as if increasing the volume of the words would magically translate them. I felt the wheels falling off my bus--the carnage in the aftermath of a yelling rampage is, ummm, bad. So, I recalibrated and returned to calm. As my good friend G says, "take the emotion out of it". It's one of the best things I've ever done for me and my kids. Also one of the hardest.)

With a blotchy face and red-rimmed eyes, Abby finished readying for school. And as I watched her, something happened. Instead of being angry and frustrated at her behavior, empathy started oozing from my heart. I think my calm meditation actually broke the hardened shell that started to reside around the outer chambers of my heart. The chasm, large and vast, healed. Both me and Abby.

She sat in my lap for another round of tears. I had all the time in the world. Nothing was more important.

And then everyone got a cookie.

Henry declared that this was a really, really good thing.

Apparently, sugar and chocolate sprinkle light and frivolity back into people's eyes...Abby began to shine once again.

We climbed into the car and drove to school. Abby requested Miley's Party in the USA. We listened, noddin' our heads like Yeah and movin' our hips like Yeah. I watched chocolate stained faces (and one tear-stained one) in my rear view mirror. Gratitude rumbled in my belly and poured out my heart.

I dropped Abby at school. She still wanted to walk in by herself. I pulled to the side to watch her entrance into the building. Even from a distance, I could see her sniffles, the swipe of her eyes with her sleeve, and I thought I could see her last bite and swallow of cookie. I sent her mental hugs and kisses and warmth for a good day. Her belly was full of cookie. My stomach lurched, my heart hurt and I realized, with absolute certainty, that she got my telepathic message. She turned and waved.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


These days, my daughter and I travel divergent paths. I am keenly aware of the granularity of our nuances, like oil and water. Our moments, both episodic and fleeting, etch our polarity into the ether.

She tries on audacity like a rare jewel, sparkling yet hard edged, challenging me, my answers, my experience.

"No, you haven't been unloading the car for minutes. It's only been seconds."
"No, Mom, you said..."

Even though we are both attracted to the strengths of our individual bonds, and even though we are tethered by our shared gene pool, we now separate. Me, heavy with experiential knowledge, often times missing the purity of her wisdom. She, a metaphorical and physical a light-weight, skimming the top and wondering what the bottom holds, secure in her formative assumptions of the world.

The whys of this (now) obvious insight elude me. However, the knowledge now settles around me, warm like an old friend, helping me pick through the prickly path of our days.


When I shake a bottle of salad dressing, I try to pour it on my leafy greens immediately, before the oil and vinegar separate, bursting away from each other once again. But you know that exact moment when the two elements hang together, suspended in time, beautifully?

That happened last night. Before we scurried and dispersed into our individual spaces, we connected.

Bedtime arrived. I breathed. Abby breathed. We talked. I didn't exacerbate her. She didn't annoy me. We met, in that fleeting, magical moment where time suspends worn habits and molecular structures. Her freckled nose crinkled while she giggled. Time did not push me out the door. Affinities abounded.

Our hearts filled. Oft-giving and oft-refilled vessels, buoyant, once again, with the bliss of this shared time. An endorsement of all the variances which make us both us.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The One Where My Heart Walks Into a School

This morning, the first day of preschool for Henry, he told me he'd walk into school by himself. I told him that with today being the first day of school and all, that I'd walk him in. He acquiesced. Even though we walked in together, he still managed to walk by himself. So unconcerned about where I was....we didn't even hold hands. Whole families filed between him and me on the path into school.

He entered his classroom, chatted up his teacher and settled in.

I had to ask for a hug. He hugged me happily, briefly.

I found myself standing there, watching him, the other kids. And realized I was the only parent doing so. I felt the familiar tug, the swirl of hot tears threatening their escape.

I turned to leave. No one noticed.

With the lump in my throat, I watched Henry through the window. He emulated contentedness, peace and calm.


I walked back down the path. Alone.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Lessons Learned, Forgotten and Relearned.

I find the great thing about life is that it keeps teaching me things until I learn them.

I find the annoying thing about life is that it keeps teaching me things until I learn them.

Before the summer began, my expectations rose, grand and proud imagining the bevvy of symbiotic togetherness with my kids. I was almost sanctimonious in my aspirations and hopes for the always-enjoyable time we'd spend. Apparently I was delusional. Because this summer, we've been trudging through the mud. After all the tantrums, mediations, huffy exchanges, screaming, emotional outbursts and punishments, I'm exhausted. And deflated. (And, for the record, I feel self-indulgent even thinking this, never mind writing this and publishing it here. I feel like a whiny, selfish snot. My life shines like a bright light--so full of warmth, grace, love and good fortune.)

Of course,
our summer presented many fabulous moments. Dear friends and family visits, vacations, multiple beach trips. Our week-long family beach vacation presented tiny gifts in the form of undivided attention, which I drizzled and poured on my children. They rose, stretched and thrived.


The rest of the summer...well, the rest of the summer, I've frankly felt flat. I've now realized, I really haven't been with my kids, despite the fact that we've been together day after day after day. I've been....elsewhere. Submerged in my thoughts.

My children felt this, because they house fabulous intuitions. They inherently know. They know that they've haven't really had my attention, save those rare moments during vacation. They see me nod, clap, hug, kiss and cook but they know that I'm going through the motions, even though they don't own the words to articulate it.

Their behavior reflects the knowledge of their mommy-deficit. As my mother-in-law wisely noted during her week visit: when children can't get their parents' attention by behaving well, they resort to getting any, even negative, attention. Even if it's the form of firm words, time-outs and lengthy lessons about "the right choice". I left my children starving for me.

So, when Abby or Henry throw a rock of yucky behavior into our mud, it splatters. Their negative behavior brings me down, and I then bring them down, and then they bring me down. Splat, splat, splat. We all spiraled down together and I, as the adult, did not remain calm, nonplussed. I tantrummed along with them.

I've suffered my guilty thoughts, my nagging doubts and self-disappointment somewhat silently, save for the rare explosion to Hubby, or the text to dear friends, which could usually be summarized in four letter words.

We're all worn from the summer months of continual togetherness.

And, in a not unusual, ironic turn, we're all richer for the continual us-ness.

As I shake the metaphorical mud from our boots and wipe my brow, I look up from our trench of learning. I see the sun, brightly illuminating my lesson, once again: ups and downs, Denise. Ups and downs.

I don’t quite know why I force myself to reconcile these two realities because that’s what they both are: realities. Clean boots and muddy boots. Some moments blissful and others reproachable. The other day, after a long string of yuck, I sat in the driveway watching Hubby teach Abby how to play Lacrosse. The shade danced around me as the wind lyrically rustled the leaves. Henry played quietly. Abby’s and Hubby’s full laughter punctuated my thoughts. The sunlight illuminated Abby’s golden curls. I admired her long, lean muscles and quest to learn something new. My mind quieted and suddenly, I was exactly where I was. Thankfully, aware and still enough to realize this was an Up. And I'd better pay attention. I did.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


I'm still here...just a bit wordless. A nasty cold took residence in my body--and vocal cords. Experienced horrible laryngitis. And that voicelessness seemed to creep into my brain, rendering the part that creates, connects and strings words a bit useless. So, instead of saying nothing, I'll say this:

on this day, I said yes. The cowgirl and the ninja in my car asked if we could turn around and go to the park. I said yes. As I turned the car around, jubilant squeals reverberated, swirling up into the stratosphere.

They bounded toward their favorite park as the cool, late August breeze welcomed them.

ps: The upside about not being able to talk: actually listening.