Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A New Home

I have a new home for my thoughts and my words.

As it is with moves, I find myself experiencing a mishmosh of emotion. So excited for my new home, complete with all the things I wanted in a new, updated space. Then, suddenly nostalgic for the old home, complete with virtual pencil marks on the walls measuring my growth.

Consider this your invitation to come visit my new place. I can't wait to see you there: Universal Grit


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Wisdom From Trees

The steam rose out of the sink, holding my hands and the dish they washed. The dish and I were in a warm cloud of the water's vapors while my hands deftly cleaned the bowl. I placed it on the white, waffle drying towel and picked up the next vessel to wash.

As I cleaned, I breathed. I slowly inhaled and luxuriously exhaled. I felt the fingers of oxygen infiltrate my mind, my legs, my arms. The air, laced with steam, filled me. I encompassed that moment so fully. It was so decadent. Simple.


Lately, my mind noodles the concept of balance. Ah, the ethereal life Balance. I've often mused that balance is a lot like the steam that surrounded me at that moment with my dishes--vaporous and impossible to sustain.

Last year, I frequently felt rushed. I often unknowingly held my breath, switching from one To Do to the next, harried and somewhat frazzled. Like time just passed through my fingers. Definitely not peaceful or balanced. I often thought,

If I could just do it all better, more efficiently, I'd feel better and have more time. IF I could better balance my responsibilities and desires, I'd be like those other people who get So. Much. More. Accomplished. Than. Me. I'd have more air. More space.

So, I tried moving faster, but instead of registering balance, I found scattered and not-present. I know life doesn't have to be either-or, but I kept feeling as if I wasn't doing any one thing well. When I was trying to eek out some writing, I should've been starting dinner. When I was putting my sweet kiddos to bed, sentences, aching to be written, danced temptingly in my head. My desire to enjoy my writing career chaffed up against my desire to manage my family, our home and our lives.

My truest desires were at odds with each other.


As this school year began to churn to its own cadence, I listened to my own beat. One rhythm dominated and repeated: Balance. Balance. Balance. It chimed as frequently as the Yoga beats I heard this summer. I quietly challenged myself to find a different way. This different way has manifested in: decluttering closets and my calendar. Cleaning and organizing work spaces. Planning meals and actually cooking them (don't laugh). Sitting in the red andirondack chairs in the driveway while watching the kids make chalk dust, and listening to their aimless chit chat.

An easiness that has been missing started to soften my edges. But. I wasn't writing.

I've been thinking about writing. A LOT. And I've been writing in my notebooks, spinning pitches, thinking on paper. But that fodder isn't making its way into posts here, in this space.


As I stood at the sink, with my steam and my dishes, I suddenly thought of one of my favorite yoga poses, Tree (or Vrksasana, whose Sanskrit name I include because I'm trying to learn the beautiful words for these poses). When I am in Vrksasansa, I feel the grounding of my foot on the earth. I stretch up, body in unison and totally balanced. I focus on my my body. My breath. THE MOMENT. From the not-very-shocking department, the minute I mentally leave the pose--when my brain wanders to dinner, to writing, to cobwebs--I fall. Balance gone.


The definition I used to attribute to balance was something like:

I will achieve balance when I figure out how to do it all well and effortlessly.
I just need to try harder.

Uh, no. I'm finding my way to a new definition:

Balance is not proficient multi-tasking. It. Is. The. Opposite. Balance is doing one thing, whatever THE thing is, well. Fully and wholly. Balance is acceptance of the current moment. Balance is being there, foot and mind firmly planted in the present.


I put my last dish on the dish towel to dry. I dried my hands on the soft, faded green hand towel, noticing the ridges of my prune-like fingertips. Outside my kitchen window, a small brown leaf drifted from a tree. Thoughts for this post percolated. I turned to my next moment, and my children, and smiled.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Limbo in September

Such is the passage of time
Too fast to fold
And suddenly swallowed by signs
Low and behold
(Eddie Vedder, Rise)

One morning last week, I found myself in a pissy mood. For no obvious reason, I felt agitated, annoyed and cranky. The mood would not abate. So, I sought refuge in the trees. I pulled on my hiking shoes and forced the kids to the forest with me. They wanted to stay home and play on the iPad.

We got to the hiking spot and pulled into the nestled parking spot. Often, just the crunch of the tires on the gravel of the parking space will ricochet me from any funk into the woods, into the present moment. Not today. Nature immediately swallowed Abby and Henry, however, and engulfed them with her magic. They transformed, high from just being there, surrounded by vast stretches of oak and maple, ferns and the pungent smell of the earth. The iPad was long forgotten. I, however, wasn't so easily swayed. My persistent crankiness held on with a firm grip. No matter how hard I pounded the ground, feeling my feet contact the Earth, I could not escape the nagging swirl.

The kids found inspiration at every turn--mud from the hurricane rains! Downed tree trunks became draw bridges carrying us from one side of the muddy trail to the other. Bridges allowed us to safely cross a coursing stream, her water's path carrying tinctures of conversation and bubbling laughter.

As we neared the end of our hike, Abby asked that we all give thanks. In her beautiful eight-year-old voice, she spoke clearly and purposefully,

Thank you for our oxygen, for the trees, for the ground and this beautiful day.

Her words softened me. I felt like I was finally able to leave my head and join the hike. Her words allowed me to offer my own less-gracious but just-as-sincere silent supplication,

I am grateful to be. Be full of everything and anything that I bring to this moment, even this annoyance, this mood. I am open.

I softened just a bit . I opened.


The morning was warm. And although the sky still held the summer sun, the first traces of autumn hid in the shade of the tall, tall trees. I stopped. I inhaled the scent of fall. I looked down and noticed the first colored leaf of fall:

My funk began became less random and began to make sense. I realized that I was in limbo. Straddling a bridge between two seasons, two parts of the trail, two intermingling realities, two different, yet overlapped, scenes of life.

Summer and fall. Tan lines and backpacks, filled to the brim with crisp notebooks and unsharpened pencils. Beach chairs crusted with white sand and a soft rain of falling leaves. Children home and children gone. Euphoria about once again having time to myself (craving it, able to taste my need for it, counting-down-the-days-until-I-have-it) co-mingling with a creeping sadness about Abby and Henry's return to school. The cold rush of realization swooshed in, time's swift passage lingering in its shadows.

Such is the passage of time
too fast to fold

Swallowed by opposing emotions. Hooray for the start of school! But if school starts, it's another year. A sign that Abby and Henry are one year older. Swallowed by signs marking the constant growth of my children and my constant desire to slow. it. the. fuck. down. All highlighted by my sudden, unexpected tears, also swallowed, surprising me with their force.


Last week, I volunteered at Welcome Night at Abby's elementary school. This is a night for new students to visit and become more comfortable with the school's layout. I was stationed at the front door, welcoming families as they came in. Most of the visiting families came with starting Kindergarteners. In their faces, I saw timid smiles. I found searching, nervous eyes. I saw white-knuckled hands of parents holding soft, still-pudgy hands of their babies. I found jubilant skips and boisterous, barely-able-to-contain-it excitement. More than once, I saw myself.