Friday, December 17, 2010

Putting it in Perspective

Oh boy...this is the fourth blog entry I have started in the last couple of weeks and never make it around to finishing my train of thought, or get interrupted before I even get going.  I feel like life has been so full, full of good stuff, time with friends, time to play, time with the kids, time with my dear husband, time to take care of myself.  It's always a balancing act, yes, of course, but this past week, despite the busy schedule has been a rich one.
Last week I was working out in White Swan 2 days in a row.  The drive out there is always a good time for me to either get jiggy with myself (also known as, rock out) or to have a long uninterrupted conversation with God (the Divine, life force, the Universe - insert your name of choice).  As I shared in my last post, I've been out of sorts for several weeks, off center.  I have struggled with a couple of relationships in my life, felt uncomfortable in my own skin at times, irritated by people I love (which I know is my own junk, not theirs) and overall had more tears than normal.  I could feel the Universe holding me as I continued to walk through this difficult time.  I think those times when we are more raw, more vulnerable, we sometimes pay closer attention.  Someone's kind words that we might dismiss, we take to heart, they mean something different when our cup feels empty.  I had an old, dear friend send me an email love letter.  I've known her since childhood and we don't see each other often, but we always connect with a capital C when we do.  She just shared with me what she values in me, kind of out of the blue, and I bawled my eyes out when I read it.  Not anything I don't know about myself, but reading it in someone else's words is very powerful, especially when you feel a little lost.  People just seemed extra nice, kind, intentional with me.  I had extra help with the kids.  Maybe I was putting out the vibe that I needed it (of course, I was).
So back to my long drive to White Swan...I was having this heart to heart with God.  I said, okay, what's going on here, tell me what I need to do.  I am lost, I feel fearful, empty.   The response..."You have to take care of yourself.  You have to put yourself first."  That made me cry even more.  Of course.  Have I not learned this lesson yet?  I get a glimpse of it and then I don't know what the heck happens.  I know that when we have these deeply ingrained beliefs about ourselves (like I have to take care of others to be worthy?  I'm not sure what the belief is for me, but I often put others needs in front of my own, in a self-sacrificing way that does not make the world a better place), it can be hard to change them.  I get it in my head, but am still working on getting it in my heart.    Of course, I believe I deserve to have time to myself, I deserve to do things for myself that nourish me, but somehow when the days shake out, I often leave that piece out. 
But, not this week. I have had a great week, worked as much as normal, the difference was I carved out time for myself where I could.  That meant asking for extra help, planning ahead, being away from the kids more than normal and asking for my husband to do a little bit more.  But, damn I feel good and its Friday!  Those little gifts of time that we give ourselves are really gifts to those around us too.  What we do for ourselves, we do for others, and what we do for others, we do for ourselves.  (Somebody wise said this and I'm running with it.)  When I fill up my own cup, I have much more to share, to give to others.  Which brings me back to what I wanted to write about in the first place...
It's the holidays.  There is nothing like children to put the meaning of this season into perspective.  When I picked up my sweet little Ruby from school yesterday, she was all a buzz.  We HAD to get something for her 5th grade peace partner.  They are watching The Polar Express at school today and she wanted to bring a treat to share.  She decided she wanted to make those tasty pretzels dipped in chocolate with sprinkles.  We stopped by the grocery store on the way home and got the supplies.  By the time we left the grocery store, she had a list of 5 other people she wanted to give them to..her teacher, the teacher's aide, the principal, the school counselor, Will's teachers.  I let her stay up late so we could finish the pretzels (decorated with more sprinkles than any one human should eat, but looking quite festive).  While I cleaned up, Ruby wrote notes to attach to the two favorite were the one for her teacher and the one for the school principal.
For her teacher, "Dear Ms. W.  I am glad you are my teacher.  Thank you for spending all your money on us."
For the principal, "Mr. B, Thank you for all you do to make our school a better place."
Maybe it's just because I am her mom, but they made my heart fill, spill over with love.  She has such a generous, kind and tender little heart about her.  I'm grateful she chose me to be her mama.  She reminds me what is important, often.  She reminds me to see the goodness of people and to be grateful for all the good we have in our lives, even when we feel off.
Happy Holidays.

Monday, November 22, 2010


I'm not grounded.  I am in the throws of seasonal change, hormones, internal life struggles, what I am supposed to be doing questions...anything else?  That covers it, mostly.  I feel extremely ungrounded, flighty, unfocused, scattered.  I can't think of any other descriptors, but you get the gist of it, no?
It's funny. I have been carrying some stuff around for awhile, some struggles, issues, unhealthy behaviors.  I've been aware of them, moderately aware, I would say, but I seemed to want to continue carrying the load, until recently.  The right person asked the right question and out came the genie, sharing things I had not articulated even to myself, not even in the privacy of my dear little journal who is almost always the first to hear.  I started to verbally cleanse myself of all this stuff I have been carrying around, and oddly enough, that has been completely ungrounding for me.  I think all that was weighing me down was keeping me grounded and now that I have opened the can of worms, so to speak, I feel a little out of control and uncertain about what to do other than sit right where I am at.
Among other things, my work funding is on the rocks for next year and I verbally committed myself to raising $20,000 so the work can continue next fiscal year.  I know that if that is what I want to do, I can raise the money.  Fear has crept in, on the other hand, what if people say no when I ask them for money, what if it's hard, what if I fail...etc.  So I say to myself, just start asking, who cares.  You can't predict the outcome.  But, it has also forced me to ask the question of myself, is this what you want to be doing with your time?  I think so, yes, it's important work and I do believe it makes a difference.  In the midst of my scatteredness, though, I think, wouldn't it be nice to have something more stable, more consistent.  Yes, but I wouldn't trade that consistency for the flexibility and time I get with my kids, ever. 
I've been doing this month of gratitude on facebook, posting something daily (or at least most days) that I am grateful for.  I find myself struggling some days to think of something and then I pinch myself, like duh, you have SO much to be grateful for.  Why is this hard for you at the moment?  I think I need to extend myself a little grace.  It's okay to be ungrounded, to feel uncertain, fearful, and maybe what I'm thankful for today is that I don't feel like that every day. 
That's all for now....I'm stuck.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Spiritual Hunger

I feel hungry.  I have for a couple of weeks, maybe a month, and I think I am just now finding my way to articulate it.  This feeling has come and gone throughout my adult life.  If you ever experience that longing for a deep spiritual connection, you know what I am talking about.  If you haven't, I'm not sure I know how to explain it.  I feel restless.  I find myself spending time on the computer, mindlessly looking for something, what I don't know.  I wake up in the midst of it and think, I am totally wasting my time.  I am not going to find what I am looking for in somebody else's facebook post, or email or whatever.  This hunger is spiritual.  It's a need to feel connected to something greater than myself. 
I have passed up two recent opportunities to participate in something that might have fed me a bit.  I'm not sure why.  I won't say I regret not doing these things, but I do find myself wondering why I opted not to, knowing that I feel this discontent.  There have been times in my life when I feel like I know exactly what I am supposed to be doing, and I'm doing it.  There are times like right now when I am not entirely sure what I am supposed to be doing.  I keep doing what I do, sharing and giving when and where I can, but it doesn't feel like enough.  Not in a I'm not good enough kind of way, but in a way that feels like I am being called to something more....I just don't know what that more is.
I continue to teach yoga, which is usually a place that feels connected for me, but right now that isn't doing the trick.  I'm not sad, depressed, unhappy, nothing like that.  I just feel like I need my soul to be shifted a bit.  I shared this with a friend on Monday and she replied, "Sometimes it is hard to be a woman who feels things deeply and longs for connectedness.  I will pray that you have peace in your soul and insight into what you need."  Heck, that is my prayer to.
In the mean time, I will try to allow myself to just feel what I do.  To sit with this uneasiness, knowing that it will not stay as it is.  I know that everything changes, that is one constant in all of our lives, and so what I feel will evolve and shift and move into something different.  I think I am beginning to feel like I might be able to create a little space in my life for something that would nourish me, I'm just not sure what that is.  Elsie is less dependent on me physically, I feel like I am getting much better about asking for help, about not feeling guilty for taking care of my own needs, I just am not entirely sure how to tend to this particular need right now. So I sit, spiritually hungry, praying for some awakening, some a-ha, something to happen next.  It always does.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


My show is on tonight, Parenthood, but that isn't the parenthood I'm going to write about.  My dear husband is out of town tonight, I'm flyin' solo and I'm tired, I'll be lucky to stay up for it tonight. I should be cleaning up the dinner dishes, following up on some work stuff, baking cookies to do something with all that leftover Halloween candy (my newest idea is Peanut Butter Crunch Cookies - as in Crunch bar).  I haven't made Ruby's lunch for tomorrow yet and I have a kink in my neck that is literally a real pain in the neck, but I've been itching to blog, so screw the work, I'm taking a moment here.
I was having a conversation with my friend today about how hard it is to be a parent.  Actually, I was telling her about how tiring it was to crack down on Willis this week and she said, "I always tell myself when I'm doing some thing that is exhausting me as a parent, being a good parent is hard work."  It is so true.  No one tells you before you become one that if you are going to succeed at this, or at least offer your child the best possible springboard to jump from, you are going to work your ass off.  You have to be extremely consistent, dedicated, disciplined, motivated, patient...the list goes on.
Last week was conferences for Ruby's school.  They had half days, out at noon every day.  Willis always gets out at noon and we usually have this leisurely lunch together, he, Elsie and I.  Then I put Elsie down, or not, and Willis takes a rest.  It's usually a pretty uneventful lunch hour, he's tired from school and ready to chill out, he rarely protests about his nap and goes down easy.  Last week, it was another story.  He often had several time outs before nap time, protested or practiced his best stall tactics and by the end of the week he was a bit of a bear.  I have to attribute it to the change in the routine, but who knows, he could have just been having one of those weeks where you are more irritable, edgy, aggressive.  He is a Gemini, maybe the twin was hanging out with us last week, who knows? 
Friday night Sean and I were sitting on the couch after the kids had gone to bed and we ended up watching Super Nanny.  That woman knows her stuff and you can watch how effective it is when people practice what she preaches.  It works.  You just have to set clear boundaries, stay calm, and be consistent.  I was gone all day Saturday and Sunday morning I could tell Papa Bear was in desperate need of a break from the kids.  I saw it as a great opportunity to put into practice what I already know works, from watching Super Nanny and from doing it sometimes, and I just focused on what needs a little shaping up in my parenting.  For starters, I am not always consistent and  I don't always follow through.  I will tell the kids to do the same thing multiple times with no response and so then I get ticked off and raise my voice and then they do it.  Why don't I just tell them once and let them know what the consequences will be if they don't do what I ask the first time?  duh.  Instead of getting royally p'd off at Willis when he gets rough with his sisters or does something naughty, I get down to his level, tell him what he's done wrong and what the consequences are.  He then willingly takes his punishment, and I don't end up dragging him to his time out.  It's great. 
It seems so obvious when I parent well, why the whole thing works.  Why do I get lazy and start slacking on the job?  Probably like most things in life, it takes a lot of self discipline to do what is right.  For whatever reason, our tendency is often to do otherwise.  Even with Sean gone tonight, and having an extra kid in the mix for an hour, I had a very smooth evening.  I did not raise my voice once today with the kids.  I don't think we had any major melt downs.  I felt happy and satisfied putting them to bed and didn't crumple on to the couch with a big sigh, thinking finally, they are in bed.  I actually feel like I still have some energy. 
I'm going to try to stick with the program.  I know it is easier on my kids and its definitely easier on me.  Now, if I could only get the dog to get with the program.....

Sunday, November 7, 2010

It's Getting Hot in Here

I currently have two kids napping, one in the backyard doing her homework on the kids picnic table, and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven.  I've been a blog slacker for the last two weeks and if I am lucky, I'll get this entry out before the timer goes off or the kids go off, so to speak.
Yesterday, my yogi friend and I travelled to Seattle for the day to do yoga.  We went to take a couple of yoga classes, in lieu of going on an annual yoga retreat.  We decided on a morning anusara class and an afternoon hot yoga class. 
The morning anusara class was fantastic, great teacher, beautiful studio.  (If you aren't familiar with anusara, it is all about expanding your heart and your mind, but I didn't notice it to be dramatically different than other kinds of yoga I practice.) The teacher was encouraging, gentle, honest, authentic, all the things I love about a good teacher.  She talked about fall being this season of mulching, about surrounding yourself with support and stuff to mulch with.  I looked up the definition of mulch, because I thought I knew what it meant, but wasn't entirely sure...mulch is "a protective cover placed over the soil to retain moisture, reduce erosion, provide nutrients, and suppress weed growth and seed germination".  It's obvious isn't it, in these drier, colder months, we tend to go more inward, just like nature (leaves returning to the earth, apples falling from the trees, etc).  And as we do this, it is important we surround ourselves with people who keep us warm emotionally, eat foods that nourish us - lots of soup, warm and wet, and create time or space in our lives to reflect and study ourselves, as a way to suppress weed growth (root causes of suffering) and to germinate seeds (all the goodness and grace, light we can create for ourselves). 
It was a dark and wet day in Seattle and the yoga class felt right for the day.  We had a yummy lunch at a Japanese noodle restaurant in U-Village, wandered around in and out of shops and it felt good to me to have the freedom of the day, to be away from my routine, to be in good company.  We headed off to Bellevue in the rain, to find the hot yoga studio.  They required newcomers to be 25 minutes early.  We arrived early, on time, and filled out the proper paperwork.  The proper paperwork entails agreeing to stay in the class even if you feel like running out, bring a towel and wipe up the pool of sweat you leave behind, sounds enticing, doesn't it?  We still had 15 minutes or so to spare and sat in the lobby waiting to go in to the class. 
I had never done hot yoga before, nor had I been to a hot yoga studio before.  Sitting in the lobby, I felt much more like I was sitting in a gym or athletic club type lobby.  It smelled a bit like a tanning salon and there were men in shorts with no shirts and women in sports bras, tube tops and shorty shorts.  It was fascinating to watch.  There was a teacher training in session and I could hear the instructor "yelling" at the students "I said breathe through your mouth." My friend and I giggled as we waited, wondering just what we were in for. 
Eventually, it was time for class.  I was blasted by heat when I walked in.  The studio is 105 degrees, yes 105 degrees.  I am still amazed that people don't fall over from heat stroke or faint on a regular basis.  It is hot.  The floor has radiant heat and there are heaters hanging from the ceiling, so you are getting it from both directions.  No where to run to, baby, no where to hide.  I was thankful my friend had suggested I bring short pants or my skimpiest yoga clothes for the class.  I had thrown in an old pair of climbing shorts at the last minute and thank goodness, I might have fainted had I had any more clothes on.  The instructor marches in when it is time for class to start.  She begins ordering us into poses.  The feel of this was like night and day from the morning class.  The morning class was all about trying something if you always really push yourself, see what it feels like to back off a little.  The hot yoga was all about, don't give up, go deeper, push harder, sweat more.  I was praying about 20 minutes into the class that this was a 65 minute class and not 75 minutes.  It felt a bit like torture.  Not only did my clothes feel like I had jumped in a swimming pool they were so wet, my head felt like it was going to explode every time I bent over.  I do have to say that for the first 15 minutes or so, it felt good, and after that it was all down hill for me.  I had a strange experience at some point, where I felt like a knife was being pierced through my scar from the strep infection I had over the summer.  I'm not sure if it was scar tissue doing something, or if there was something left from the infection that decided to cut loose in my leg.  It was fierce, whatever it was.  It was more challenging mentally than physically.  The instructor said at some point that our bodies are made to do this.  I'm not so sure I believe that.  Mine definitely is not.  I think there is some detoxing that goes on when you sweat like that and that is good for you.  It's good to rid the body of the junk we don't need.  Unfortunately, my body gets really dehydrated in that environment, despite having tried to prepare for it.  I felt like throwing up the whole way home and had a headache that I began to wonder if it was a migraine (I've never had one.) 
I woke up today thankful to be home, thankful to not be feeling as disgusting as I felt when I went to bed, and pretty certain I will not try hot yoga again, ever!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

oh dear!

I am trying to "practice" my writing on a somewhat daily basis.  I don't always do that by blogging.  Sometimes, it means writing in my journal, sometimes, it means scribbling down random thoughts or ideas in a notebook and on occasion it is just me writing in my head as I walk or as I drive.  It's those times when I wish I had a recording device.  It usually only manifests itself into a blog when I have something to write about.  I know, there is always, always, SOMEthing to write about.
I just returned home about 25 minutes ago.  It has been a full morning.  I dropped kids off, visited at my in-laws for a bit, headed to my old high school to do a suicide prevention presentation to a group of freshman, volunteered at Ruby's school, picked up the two younger kids, returned home, got them down for naps (actually I can hear Elsie squawking in her crib, but she needs a nap, so I'm going to leave her be for a bit) and then I have an hour or so before we head out the door again.  I'm tired just typing all that and man, why don't I feel exhausted after doing it?  I'm choosing to use this precious time I have with kids napping and no demands of the moment for myself.
I've got these 2 things I keep is how we spend our time and the other is what we hold as dear.  I am going to try and find some common ground between the two, forgive me if I'm not all that coherent in my thoughts.
Most people I know are busy.  Well, let me think, I don't know anyone who is not busy.  Everyone's plates are full, whether it be with kids, volunteering, working.  I don't know anyone who sits idly and watches the day float past.  Really.  That being said, we have all the time we need.  We just don't always make decisions about how we spend our time that match what it is that we value.  I had this busy morning and as I ran home for 10 minutes in between my time at Ruby's school and picking up Willis, I thought to myself, phew, it's been a packed morning.  And then, I smiled.  I wouldn't choose to spend my time any other way.  I can't say that for every day.  Some days I waste my time.  I go buy stuff I don't need, I eat chocolate chips or other goodies because I am bored, I spend time on the computer window shopping or being a cyber-snooper on facebook, or who knows what.  I'd feel much more satisfied, I am sure, if I made a conscious choice to spend that time doing something that nourishes me than to just let the time pass.  It's like the difference between taking charge of your life and letting life happen to you.  There is no question in my mind that I am, in the bigger scheme of things, in charge of my own life. 
And what we hold dear...that is my other food for thought at the moment.  The latest American Girl catalog has this line on the front "What is dear to you?".  My mind immediately listed off a whole bunch of things as I walked back from the mailbox with it.  Here are a few...
my kids.  chubby little feet and the smell of baby's breath.  blankies.  my mom, her relationship with my kids, with kids who aren't hers biologically, but belong to her heart.  my dad, his passion for literacy and the way he lives that out, his willingness to help me whenever I ask, his love of nature, his wild grey hair.  my sister, the way she can make me laugh like no one else.  watching my children laugh with each other the same way.  watching my daughter laugh with my sister's daughters that same way.  knowing i am loved, always, no matter what.  having friends i can call to pick up my kids from school in a pinch, or can call on whenever i need anything.  my sisters-in-law, treasures, sisters of my heart.  my girlfriends.  mom squad.  my mother in law, she will always listen, always encourage, always offer her wisdom.  my father-in-law, he is so generous, sees the good in people, always supportive. teachers. my husband, his laughter, his commitment to me, his playful spirit, watching him with babies.  yoga, other yoga teachers, anyone who does yoga.  prevention work and those who do it.  meeting new people that you know get you.  people who express themselves through art.  generous acts of kindness, like friends who bring over a meal unexpectedly or a chocolate treat.  chocolate in general.  laughter. morning walks. dates with my husband. babysitters. a good book.  feeling connected to another human being.
This list could be endless.  I could go on and on.  We have so much to hold dear and I guess what I have been pondering is whether or not I always spend my time on those things I hold dear?  Not so much.  Sometimes because things like the dishes have to get done, but sometimes because I am just not mindful of what I am doing.  I've got 30 minutes left before we go to pick up Ruby...I'm off to make the most of it.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

dear laura

I was talking with a new friend the other night, about the work I do, youth suicide prevention.  She asked me if I do that work because I lost someone in my life to suicide.  I wasn't entirely sure how to answer.  I think most people know someone who has died of suicide, although that isn't exactly what got me in to the work.  Eleven years ago, my friend Laura took her life.  I haven't thought about her death for some time, the aftermath that followed me.  When I began to tell the story of losing Laura, it became more about my own story related to hers.  I had saved my last correspondence between us and 2 letters from her sister written after her death.  Talking about Laura on Friday night, made me want to find them.  I hunted for them yesterday and couldn't find them.  I had an aha this afternoon and found them in an old filing cabinet in the basement.
I met Laura in Seattle during the summer of 1999.  She was dating a friend of mine from college, Dan.  They had spent the past 12 months traveling around the world.  We met at a restaurant, waiting for another friend  to get off his shift so we could go out.  Laura and I became fast friends.  Laura was tiny.  Despite her size, she had this huge, open heart, sweetly loving everyone who crossed her path.  We left the restaurant and hopped in the back of her boyfriend's VW bug to head out on the town with friends.  I remember sitting next to her, completely drawn in by her presence, talking non-stop.  She kept articulating things I had felt but never spoken.  I remember feeling a sense of great relief to know that I wasn't the only one that felt like the world was messed up, like I didn't quite fit in to the world I lived in.  I went back to her boyfriend's house with her, we danced for hours.  We stayed up the rest of the night talking.  We watched the darkness of night be overtaken by light.  I had to go, there was still more to say.  We agreed to see each other again in a couple of weeks.  We made a plan for her to come to Yakima with her boyfriend on Labor Day weekend. 
Laura and Dan came over Labor Day weekend.  We drove up to the mountains with them and spent a night camping on the river up near Chinook Pass.  At some point in the night, Laura disappeared from around the campfire.  I asked Dan where she had gone and he said not to worry, that she liked to go off by herself to be alone.  She didn't come back to the campfire before I went to bed that night.  We saw each other in the morning, went to Boulder Cave, hiked through, stopped by Sean's family cabin and chatted with his parents.  Dan and Laura went back to Seattle, Laura was headed back to California where her family lived.  She didn't want to be there but felt obligated to be.  She was torn between this world and another, the world as it is and the world as it should be.  We corresponded through email over the following weeks. 
The last correspondence I had from her was on September 28.  Here is an excerpt from her email to me:
"Life is such a mystery, full of so many unanswered questions, presenting us with so many options.  We are always reaching and searching for happiness.  I know happiness comes from within, I just don't know how to find it with my eyes open.  All I know is that I appreciate more than ever the little beauties in life.  The sound of chimes, the color of a flower, the smile from an elderly lady.  I feel weak and so the essence of life as it was meant to be understood speaks clearly."  I would venture to guess I wrote her back, but I couldn't be sure. 
Sometime in early November, I received a letter from Laura's sister.  She wrote to tell me of Laura's passing.  I had not heard from my Seattle friends and I was shocked, my heart cracked open.  I remember tossing and turning that night, trying to make some sense of the letter, struggling to catch my breath.  I couldn't sleep, couldn't articulate the pain I was feeling.  I felt lost.  Laura had felt like a kindred spirit to me.  If she couldn't survive this world, how could I?  I spiraled into a depression.  I cried often, felt lost, alone.
I'm not sure how much time passed, but I think it was that following spring before I recognized how far down into the darkness I had journeyed.  Sean and I had dinner at my sister's one evening, by now we had moved out on our own, were living in a little duplex.  He was talking on the phone at dinner, making plans to go out with an old friend.  On our drive home, I asked him not to go out.  He questioned why.  I remember being afraid to tell him and more afraid to be left alone.  I was scared of what I might do if left alone. 
It was the first step toward finding my way back to the light.  I still think of Laura often.  I think of her beauty, her gentle spirit, I wish that I could have saved her. 
Having our last exchanges in writing, gives me peace, I know that she felt loved, that I said the "right" things.  Not because I had been trained to, but because I knew where she was coming from.  "You said everyone tells you that this will pass.  I think it passes when you find a way to express what you are feeling and know that you are heard.  Tell your story until you feel you are listened to.  I think there are many of us who can understand what you are experiencing.  I wish I knew some answers to how to leave that state and let go of the emotions that go with it.  You must find what gives you peace in your heart and live that, regardless of what those around you may be pushing you to do....I wish I could be there with you and assure you that life is sweet.  As you said we are spirits in a complex world, but not misplaced." 
Knowing what I know now, I can see that she felt trapped, alone, hopeless.  I'm so sorry she left this world so soon.  She brought such light and joy to the lives of others.  Her sister read these words from a card at Laura's funeral...I couldn't say it better.
"Laura was a healer, but she never swallowed her own sweet medicine.  Life is not always sweet and in life there is sadness and trouble-filled times.  I hope she has found sweetness.  I see her dancing to the music of freedom from this world."
dear Laura, I still miss you.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

I've been thinking lately...who me? Couldn't be.  Then who?  Yes, you.  No, me.  If you are wondering if I have lost my marbles, no, I haven't.  I am just tired, a bit exhausted and rummy.  I went out last night and didn't stay up that late really, I think I was in bed by 11 p.m., but I have a sick baby and she was up half the night, or so it seemed, and you'll have to forgive me if my thoughts aren't exactly coherent.  I'll do my best. 
My thinking...I wish we could see ourselves more purely.  I think we all have these interesting distorted lenses we see ourselves through.  If we are lucky, we get a glimpse of the real deal, who we are at our core, when we are taken out of our comfort zone or when we are completely embraced by unconditional love. For some, this happens more often than not.  The rest of the time, I think we see ourselves as labels..I am a mom, I am an artist, I am good at this, I am not good at that.  I talk too much.  I am the junk I ate today.  I am a bad driver.  I am a good driver.  I am impatient.  Anyone relate to this?  Why don't we ever just think, "I am."  We label ourselves all the time.  We label ourselves as who we want to be seen as, and we label ourselves as who we have been taught to think we are, too. 
I think it is safe to say that we often have a hard time seeing ourselves as others see us.  I know when I hear people describe me, (which I love to, who doesn't like to hear people talk about them, unless it is bad or mean, of course) I am sitting back thinking, really?  Is that what they see?  It fascinates me.  It isn't necessarily that I don't think I am who others describe me to be, its just that it isn't what I see when I look in the mirror.  I am sure I am my worst critic.  I judge myself harshly at times and can be very critical of myself when I do something I wish I hadn't or say something I wish I didn't.  How often do we get to stand outside ourselves and watch our interactions with others, to see ourselves at our best? 
I watch my children look at themselves in the mirror and they are so enthralled.  They smile so beautifully when they see their own face.  Ruby can't get enough of herself.  She eagerly runs to the mirror in the mornings to see how good she looks and then models her outfit for herself.  It's a kick to watch.  I think she is most interesting to herself to look at.  Willis looks at himself and tells us how strong he is or how brave he is.  Elsie's whole body gets excited when she sees herself and she smiles so big.  Why do we stop being so in love with our reflection?  When do we stop seeing beyond the surface when we look in the mirror?
The function I went to last night was held in a room that had mirrors all over the walls.  There were enough people and artwork around the room, that I didn't ever really see myself.  I heard someone say at some point that they kept catching a glimpse of themself in the mirror and that was when I noticed the walls were covered with them.  The only time I looked at myself in the mirror was in the bathroom, to check myself out, was my hair messy or flat, did I look tired?  I didn't really See myself.  Why is it so hard to see our best self when we look in the mirror?
Next time I look, I'm going to say...Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?  You are!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I'm Late, I'm Late

....for a very important date.  No time to say hello, goodbye, I'm late, I'm late, I'm late.

Sometimes I feel like the white rabbit in such a hurry, going where?  I find myself hurrying the kids along, getting impatient, frustrated with them for taking their time, dilly-dallying on their way to wherever I am herding them to.  And then I say to myself, what is the rush?  What if we get there 2 minutes later, does it really make that much of a difference? 
Once we finally got out the door this morning, I started to consciously breathe and I could feel myself all wound up because we left 5 minutes later than normal.  (We have a quick turn around time from one drop off to the next. It's enough time, there just isn't extra time, especially when we are running late.)  I don't want to be one of those people always hurrying my kids from one place to the next, not giving them time to smell the roses, or say hello and goodbye without them being a part of the same sentence.  We rush around too much in this life anyways, we are so tied to time.  Why don't I just take a breather and slow it the heck down?  So, as we drove to school, I apologized to my kids for being impatient with them as we got out the door, explained that it makes me stressed out, frustrated when they don't get ready in the morning when I ask them to.  I know they don't like feeling rushed and it sets the whole tone for the morning when we start out this way.  Ruby wanted to bring something to share at school and I was scolding her for not getting ready and not available to listen to why she wanted to bring her special huge ruby gem to school.  I don't like who I become in these moments.  I am not the mother I want to be.  I'm thankful that kids are so resilient, they just kind of go with the flow.  When I'm all wound up, they just keep their cool or remind me (directly and indirectly) that I'm not being very nice or patient and we get ourselves back on track. 
I dropped Willis off first and as we were walking out of school, one of the mom's asked me when Ruby has to be at school.  I told her and said "It's a mad dash from one school to the other."  She commented that I don't ever seem like I am in a rush (thank you, because I feel like I am).  It made me pause and slow down.  I may appear put together or calm on the outside and inside I am all a buzz.  I let Ruby play on the toys for a couple of minutes and then headed out to the car with her.  As we loaded up, I saw another mom, a week away from her due date, sitting in her car right next to mine.  I decided I would break my stride and check in with her, see how she is feeling, doing these last days of pregnancy.  I chatted with her for a minute or so and then we made our way to Ruby's school.  We arrived just after the second bell.  Her gracious teacher says, "Don't worry you aren't late, come on in."  Ruby settles in to class and I am out the door.  Our time together during the morning is so brief, couldn't I make it a little more pleasant by letting go of the worries about time? We always make it on time or close to it.  No amount of badgering seems to hurry the kids into getting ready quicker.  I've tried rewards, I've tried routine.  It seems like it is just part of what we work with as parents.  The other day Ruby said, "Mom, do you know that one of the hardest things in life is getting out of bed to go to school when you are still so tired?"  So true.
I'm hoping tomorrow I can slow down, take a deep breath, stop rushing and be on time.  And, if we are late, I will be calm, take a breath and hum that little Alice in Wonderland tune...I'm late, I'm late, I'm late.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Students and Teachers

Last week, I got a phone call from an old colleague of mine, Susan.  She was calling to ask if I would teach yoga to a group of women in a parenting class she is facilitating.  Susan is one of those people that embodies what is right in the world.  I think she always does the right thing.  She was a home-ec teacher before she had kids, has raised 3 beautiful daughters, has more Cougar spirit than most men I know, fights against injustice, stands up for what she believes in, even when its hard. She is one of those people you feel privileged to know.  I don't see her often or catch up with her on any kind of a regular basis, but when our paths do cross, I am always thankful.
When she called, I, of course, said yes.  Susan is one of those people that I would probably say yes to just about anything she asked me to do.  She proceeded to describe to me the women she is working with.  They are living in a clean and sober house.  They are all mothers, but none of them have custody of their children.  They are completing this parenting program as a part of their treatment and what they have to do to get their children back.  They live in a highly structured environment, express feeling very judged, watched, and have very little free time or time for self care.  She described them as needing deep healing, many having suffered significant trauma and abuse in their lives.  I asked myself, can yoga begin to heal them? I believe it can.
I have never taught yoga in this way, to a group that hadn't necessarily chosen to do yoga.  As I agreed to do it, I thought to myself that I would have to really plan for this class, that I couldn't just wing it so to speak.  I wasn't really sure where to begin.  I believe in the power of yoga and trusted that if I sat with the idea, with the intention to do the right thing, to offer these women something that could be of use to them, it would come to me.
One morning on my early walk, I started to craft the class in my head as I walked.  It seemed to come together in my mind, make sense as to what would work and what they would be open to.  I spent some time last night outlining what I would teach.  I don't pretend to know what goes on inside the head of anyone else, but I did have some ideas about what these women might be feeling, about what ideas they might have about who they are or what they are.  I believe with all my heart, that at their center, they are light, radiant beings, filled with potential for joy, love, and compassion and without saying that, I wanted them to feel that. 
I had my regular noon class today at the yoga studio and then headed over to where the parenting class meets.  They took a break when I got there, so I could set up the room for the class.  I laid out the mats, put them in a circle, hoping that it might foster a sense of unity, as opposed to a sense that I was the teacher and they my students.  The two mats on either side of mine were the last to be taken.
I talked for a bit about what yoga is, about why I do it.  One woman said to me, "You aren't going to make us like to downward dog or warriors or that s#it, are you?"  Another woman asked me if I had been to a studio in Spokane where they talk about "tapping into your divine energy".  I could see that they were nervous, definitely out of their comfort zone.  I was too, not nervous, out of my comfort zone.  I just held on to the notion that if I practiced what I was there to teach, it would all turn out okay. 
There was lots of giggling the first 15 minutes or so, side conversations, inappropriate comments.  At one point, one of the women who had looked skeptically at me when we began said, "This actually does feel good."  I stayed with it and they began to soften a little, to get a little more comfortable.  I almost felt as if they were testing me, seeing if I was the real deal or if I was just preaching something I didn't practice, if you know what I mean.
The last 10 minutes or so of class we practiced savasana.  Rather than simply let them lay there, I talked them through a guided meditation/relaxation.  I could see the feet of two women tapping, could see them struggling to completely relax.  I kept talking.  Eventually, they all settled in.  They all became still, quiet, a couple might have even fallen asleep.  It worked.  Yoga did its trick.  I could see as they came out of savasana, they all looked a little calmer, more peaceful, more centered.  As we brought our hands together in prayer at heart center to close the class, I shared with them why we say Namaste at the end of each class.  As I spoke a heartfelt Namaste and bowed to them, I felt immense gratitude and respect for what they taught me in our time together.  I just hope that they got as much out of the experience as I did.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I see you and I hear you

My husband and I are big fans of the show Parenthood.  We meet on the couch most Tuesday nights, kids are in bed, hopefully the kitchen is cleaned from dinner, lunches are made for the next day, living room is picked up, etc.  There is something about this show, the complications of family, both the immediate family and the larger extended family, that speaks to us.  I find I always laugh at some point in the show and I almost always cry (well, actually always, anything touching usually moves me to tears).  A couple of episodes ago there was an exchange between the mom and dad or should I call them the grandma and grandpa.  They are going to couple's counseling in an attempt to salvage their marriage.  The husband says this line to his wife, "I see you and I hear you."  as a way to acknowledge he is getting her.  It's obvious that one of the sources of discord in their marriage is her feeling like she isn't seen or heard, like he doesn't always connect with her in that deeper way we all need.
My husband has taken to saying this to me periodically when he knows I am trying to express something significant to me.  The first couple of times he said it, I probably rolled my eyes.  I was a little ruffled by it, felt like he was patronizing me.  As he has continued to use it, I see that he really does get it.  Just yesterday, he had done something that got under my skin.  It was something small, something I figured I could probably let go of if I just pushed it out of the way. Then I remembered, the little things lead to bigger things, and so after I wasn't feeling irritated about it any longer, I shared with him what was bothering me.  He initially started defending himself, trying to explain why what happened, happened.  I didn't really care, frankly, I just wanted to feel heard.  He could see my frustration and he stopped talking, looked directly into my eyes and said it..."I see you and I hear you."  I felt myself soften.  He got it. 
I came across this quote the other day from one of my favorite author's..."Writing a book is an acceptable form of being completely naked in public."... or something along those lines.  I've said it before, we all want to be seen and heard.  We all want to feel like we can stand naked in public, so to speak, and be embraced, be loved for the essence of who we are.  Any close relationship holds that possibility, we just don't always choose to reveal ourselves enough to go there.  There is risk involved when you share your truth, whether it be writing a book or telling someone how you feel.  I'd like to think that more often than not, the reward is greater than the risk.
I'm not entirely sure where I am going with this or that these two things even come together, but I guess that is why I blog, why I share these personal stories of my day to day life, in hopes that I will be seen and be heard, in hopes that my stories will inspire something in someone, or that they will remind you that we are all very much the same, more the same than we are different.

Friday, October 8, 2010


This week in my yoga class I talked about klesha, the root causes of suffering.  We are taught that once we eliminate one of these root causes, we burn them away and they don't come back.  There is 5 of them and they are ignorance (I definitely haven't burned that one out completely yet - you know when you act like you know something or think you do and you really don't), ego, attachment to pleasure, aversion to pain, fear of death (which doesn't mean necessarily death with a capital D, it can mean the death of a relationship, habit, pattern, etc.).  I have been thinking quite a bit about them lately as I feel like I, myself, am suffering a bit and am definitely the one creating it.  I have been working too much, find myself really tired all the time, am having trouble getting out of bed in the mornings, staying up too late because I am sitting at the computer catching up on work that I couldn't get done during the day and by the time I'm done I want some down time with my husband, cool dude that he is.  I'm not eating as healthy as I'd like to be and not moving my body nearly enough.  We all know how this vicious cycle goes round and round and it can be so hard to break it even when we see it.  The next 2 weeks are equally as busy...ugh, I did it to myself.  I absolutely set my own schedule and I know I don't like to be too busy, but I must also not like to disappoint people or something because I keep saying yes to things.
Enough on real source of suffering isn't all that, well it is, but not what I sat down to write about.  It's about nursing.  I nursed my older children until they were both about 2.  There are many things I love about nursing and for some strange reason with the first 2, I attached some measure of motherhood success to being able to exclusively nurse them for the first year, no formula.  I am not sure why and it made me put a lot of pressure on myself, was stressful at times, and kept me tethered to them for a good long while.  (Just for the record, I don't measure other mothers by their ability or choices around nursing.  I am an advocate of it, I do believe breast is best, but I get that it doesn't always work out that way for everyone.   )
Elsie is just 9 months old and she is already kind of over nursing, I think.  I find myself literally wrestling with her to try and get her to nurse when she doesn't want to.  Inevitably, it ends with her starting to cry and me having a conversation with myself that always starts something like this "What ARE you doing?  Stop force feeding that baby."  I know why I am doing it, I want her to keep nursing.  I want to nurse her until she's 2.  And what if that doesn't work out?  What if she decides she is done?  I forget she has a say in this. 
I had a conversation with my mom about this the other day and she said I decided I'd had enough at about 6 months old and she grieved the end of nursing, too.  I apologized for what I put her through 36+ years ago.  We laughed about it, but I meant it.  It's hard.  I don't know that Elsie is really done, done, but she is nursing less and less frequently and I am fretting about it more and more. 
She has an independent little spirit about her.  When we started solids, she only wanted to eat things she could feed herself.   She's content to play in a room by herself for 15 minutes or more.  I lose her sometimes around the house, and our house is not big, by any means.  She finds little spaces she can tuck herself away into and then gets very quiet as I wander around the house calling for her.  She gives me this enormous smile when I finally find her, and it's usually behind a door in a dark room.   I walked in to the living room the other day and she was standing next to the coffee table holding a flash card in her hands.  She was not leaning on the table, standing freely.  I am afraid one day I am going to walk in the room to find her taking her first steps and not be the one she is walking to. 
I know she is my last baby and I am probably going to grieve and suffer a little bit at each stage, letting go little by little.  You'd think it would get easier with each child, you know the drill, they grow up - even when you tell them not to.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Black and White and Right and Wrong

Last night, I went to the Jack Johnson concert at the Gorge.  I went with my sisters-in-law, sisters-in-spirit.  It was a treat to be together, we don't get to do it often without children.  The day was gorgeous, the night, brilliant.  My spirit felt light, free.  Life felt abundant.  Jack's lyrics (no, we aren't really on a first name basis, but when you watch him sing, you feel like you know him, he just pours out his Self up there on the stage) are all about truth.  He sings about love, what's good in the world, what's wrong with the world, about the world as it could or should be, about the world as it is.  It is a treat to watch people as they are moved by his music.  I watched children sing his lyrics, big smiles on sun tanned faces, sleepy heads resting on their daddy's shoulders, the joy in people's hearts expressed through their bodies as they dance. 
Amidst that beauty, I experienced an interesting contrast.  I think everything he sings about is trying to get us back to where we started, I think he might have a song that says that even.  He sings about getting back to love really, back to a simpler life not so shaded with darkness, not so jaded by the human potential for wrong. Our "neighbors" in the crowd introduced themselves, offered us drinks of their water, their beer, shared our blanket, grooved with us side by side.  At some point in the evening, some people stood in front of us and the "neighbor" grabbed me and was trying to get me to move the people out of the way.  She said to me, "You have to stake out your spot.  Claim your space."  I thought to myself, "Aren't you missing the point here?  He's singing about sharing stuff, about recognizing that we are all in this big world together."  Instead, I just said "It's all good.  No worries."  Inside I wanted to shout at her...don't you get it?  I was drawn out of my little bubble, sort of awed by the fact that not everyone was feeling it, or at least not to the degree I was.
Toward the end of the night, when Jack came back out for an encore, he played solo with his guitar.  He sang a couple of songs to his wife, which it is very evident, he loves dearly.  And then he sang a song dedicated to his little girl.  It's called "My Little Girl".  It's my current soundtrack, I keep playing it over and over.  Here are a bit of the lyrics...
"Hey little girl
black and white and right and wrong
only live inside a song
that i will sing to you.... can i look you in the eyes
and tell you such big lies
the best i can do is try to show you
how to love with no fear"

I danced and smiled with tears in my eyes.  How sweet, this lullaby he wrote for his daughter, and how bitter, that it's the truth.  I kept thinking about my husband and our kids, knowing he too wishes he could shelter our kids from what isn't right with the world, that he could protect them from suffering, from pain, from witnessing violence, from injustice.  I know it is just a part of our human experience, but I've seen too much of it this past week.  Being in my line of work, suicide prevention, you hear amazing stories about people's compassion, their ability to make a difference, and the flip side of that is that you hear awful stories about how horrible we can be to one another, about young kids bullying one another to death, about how alone and isolated people feel.  It is depressing.
I know that in some way I do make a difference,  I make the world a better place.  It doesn't seem like enough though.  What are we doing to raise kinder, more compassionate kids?  I don't mean you and me, I mean WE, like we as a culture.  I don't have the answers, I just know I feel like if I sit silently I am contributing to the problem and not the solution.  I think doing something that feels like enough means getting out of my comfort zone and I don't really know exactly what that looks like.
Last week, one night during our bedtime talks, Ruby told me a story about a boy in her class teasing two other boys, told them they were going to marry each other.  She said "Wouldn't that be weird, then they would have to kiss each other?"  She's 6, what is appropriate?  I'm navigating new territory for me.  We had a conversation about it and about not teasing or making fun of someone for doing something different than we do, or something we think isn't normal, about how that can make someone sad.  I talked to her about speaking up when someone isn't or can't for themselves.  I don't have the answers of how to fix what is broken, I do have hope that if I continue to teach my daughter to love without fear, as Jack describes it, perhaps she can be a seed of change, too and the world will have a little bit more right than wrong.  One can hope....what else is there?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Heads and Hearts

I just spent the last 30 minutes consoling my 6 year old.  As I laid in bed snuggling her, she told me she thought she was going to cry.  I asked her why and she told me she didn't want to tell.  I spent the next 10 minutes or so talking to her about why it's important to tell somebody when we are feeling sad or when something is wrong, that things don't seem so bad when we share them with someone else and that we usually can make things better or right if we ask for help.  She kept telling me she was worried she was going to get in trouble.  I got her to tell me it was something that happened at school, that it didn't have anything to do with another kid.  She was crying at this point and so I took her into the living room and sat down on the couch with her.  She finally got out that she had broken something at school at the end of the day and had not told her teacher.  She was really worried, said it had been bothering her all afternoon and she knew she was going to have a hard time sleeping because she hadn't made the "right" choice.  She is very worried that she is going to get in trouble at school.  
I've been in the throws of my suicide prevention work the last few days.  There were 2 suicides last week in one of the communities I work with.  I have been talking with community members there trying to understand what happened and help them figure out where to go from here, what action to take in the community to make sure this doesn't happen again, that not one more life is cut short.  It makes me keenly aware of why this work is so important.  In the mean time, there is talk of the funding being cut for this program.  I have sent out a couple of emails to my contacts, professional and personal, asking people to advocate to the Governor's office to keep this funding intact.  I have been touched by several of the responses I have received from folks, one in particular from a woman who lost her son 10 years ago to suicide.  He was being bullied at school.  He had created a sculpture of his tombstone in his art class and yet no one picked up on the warning signs.  No one intervened.   He obviously felt there was no one he could turn to, that there was no one that could help.
It brings me back to the start of this...we have to teach children to be help seekers.  We have to give them permission to make mistakes, to out themselves, to encourage them to ask for help, to have reasonable expectations of them, to tell somebody when something is wrong, either with them or when they notice something is wrong with someone else.    It seems obvious, but so many of us internalize what we feel and things fester and grow until they feel bigger than they are. 
I'm thankful Ruby shared with me what she was feeling. The truth is, I didn't notice anything was off with her after school.  We walked home together, she talked about her day.  We had dinner together as a family.  Kids don't always want to talk when we might want them to, when it's convenient for us.  I was at the home stretch when Ruby told me she felt like crying.  I was tempted to gloss over it and tell her to go to sleep. She has been having a harder time going to sleep lately and often stalls bedtime.  The thought crossed my mind that this was one of her tactics.
One of my coworkers last week talked about her teenage daughters and how the time that they were ready to talk was at 11 p.m. and so she'd have to stay up late so she could come in and lay on their beds and hear about what was going on.  A part of me feels like I'm drawing a parallel between things that don't really sync up, but another part of me recognizes that these patterns start now.  The problems will only get more complex, our lives will be just as busy if not busier as the kids get older, but we can never be too busy to listen, to really listen, with our whole heads and hearts.  It's what life is all about. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Baby Face

This one is all about the baby...
My sister used to have this magnet on her fridge that said something along the lines  "a baby in the house is clear evidence of minority rules."  Elsie is 8 1/2 months old.  This Friday I have to go to Seattle for an all day work meeting and it will be the first time I have spent more than 3 or 4 hours away from her.  Hard to believe.  I am very grateful that I have been able to be home with her so much, that the work I do doesn't take me out of the house for more than a few hours at a time.  I'm lucky.  This arrangement may not work forever, the state budget is being cut yet again and we'll see if the suicide prevention money that funds my work makes the cut.  I am putting out into the great universe that this important work I do, both at home and in the community, will continue, at least for now, as is.  I also must add that I marvel a little at the fact that I am so physically tied to her.  Someone told me when I had my first baby, who knows if this is true or not, that for the first nine months the mother and child see themselves as one being, not separate from one another.  I get that. I wake up moments before Elsie does, I know when she needs to eat because my body tells me, I can read when she is tired sometimes before I can read it in myself.  It's a beautiful, marvelous thing and we are coming to that place where a little separation is healthy.  I'm feeling the need to have some freedom, to feel like I can take some time for myself (more than an hour or two at a time) and go.
I'm supposed to be meeting some girlfriends for coffee in 20 minutes.  The baby was tired after we did drop off of the big two at school and so I came back home laid her down and am letting her sleep.  I've been itching to get into a new groove, to figure out what this new schedule will be like and so I need to stop scheduling morning dates.  Elsie can't exactly get into a "routine" if I change what we do every day, eh?  She is the most flexible little child and will take her morning nap at 9 a.m. or at 11 a.m. depending on what I am dragging her around to do, but I think if I let her natural rhythm take over, we'll have a quiet morning at home and I will be able to get my work done, she'll be well rested and we'll all be a little saner.
One more thing on babies...
When my oldest daughter, Ruby, was about Elsie's age, 8 or 9 months old, we went to Boise for a college friend's wedding.  It was a weekend event and many of my old pals from college went and we all hung out together, stayed at the same hotel, etc.  My husband and I were one of two couples that had kids. We met up with everyone on Saturday morning to go to the farmer's market that was right downtown.  My friend Tony, who did not have children, asked if he could push Ruby in the stroller as we cruised around.   At the end of our outing, when he pushed the stroller back to me he said, "Wow, your life must be dramatically different having a baby."  Of course, yes, it is.  He then described what he called a life changing experience - his experience of walking through the market with a baby, everyone smiling at him, at her, looking at him like he was a great dad contributing positively to the world, asking him questions about her.  He said the experience was so different for him because he normally is looked at with skepticism (he had longer curlyish, somewhat wild hair, he is/was kind of hippie-ish) and people generally didn't light up when they looked at him.  He told me that his days might be a bit brighter if he walked around with a baby all day, he thought people would be nicer to him.  That has always stuck with me.  I feel that love that people send my direction as I walk around with Elsie.  It's a rare occasion for me to go somewhere and not be stopped by someone that wants to love on her, tell me how sweet or how cute she is, ask about her.  Babies make people feel good.  Maybe it is because they are these innocent, pure beings, a clean slate.  They hold so much potential.  Maybe it is because it represents new life, new possibilities.  What I want to know, is at what age do we stop looking at them like this?  When do we stop seeing each individual being as this wonderful potential for goodness in the world.  People generally live up or down to our expectations of them.  Wouldn't it be nice if every time we encountered another human being we lit up like that?  Try it for a could change your life, or theirs.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Grooves and Ruts

I am very tempted to go stand in my kitchen and eat handfuls of chocolate chips right now, but I'm not going to. (I brought a handful to eat at the computer desk instead.)  I've got a mountain of dishes around the sink from today's breakfast and lunch and didn't sit down to eat either meal myself.  I ate both of them standing up while preparing food for my kids or trying to pick up the house.  Thankfully, I don't usually do this.  For whatever reason, I feel like I have some anxious energy.  I keep wondering how in the heck I am going to do it ALL.  Moms are really the true superhero's I think.  We juggle a million things every day, manage to raise incredible children (at least in our own eyes) and nurture friendships, family, husbands, etc.  It's crazy.  I wonder sometimes if this had always been how it is, if my mother's life was like this, too and her mother's.  We have enormous expectations of ourselves and often times rise to them.  It seems to me like just feeding our family healthy, home cooked meals is a job in and of itself.    None of this is why I sat down to type though.... I was just in my kitchen thinking there had to be something more productive I could be doing than standing there looking at the dishes wondering how I do it, so I'm blogging, instead of perseverating (a new word I learned yesterday, I'm hoping I put it in the right context although I'm still not entirely convinced it is a word, and spell check is not recognizing it) about how women of today, moms in particular, do everything they do and hold it all together.
Grooves and yoga philosophy we talk about samskaras.  If you aren't familiar with this word it sort of has two meanings "that which has been put together" and "that which puts together".  It is conditioned thinking, mental volition, these particular patterns of actions that we establish in our lives, typically through repetition.  I see the first meaning "that which has been put together" as the rut and the other, "that which puts together" as the groove.  The rut is something we create and the groove is already there and something we glide into and move forward in life through.
As I walked alone the other morning, I was contemplating how when I walk by myself, I walk the same route over and over again.  Once in awhile, I will switch directions, but that is about as far as I stray from my route.  My walking partner loves change and so she is always taking us on new routes, walking in different directions, new roads, searching for more hills to climb.  I enjoy the change, partly because someone else is directing it, I suppose, or perhaps because I am distracted.   Where am I going with this???  Good question.  I'm not entirely sure.  What I am sure of, is that these samskaras can be grooves or they can be ruts.  We get in these routines, cycles of behavior that can feel like we've got our groove on or it can feel like we are stuck in a rut.  They aren't really so different if you just think about them, but the connotation we give them is much different.  I've been working on this non-duality thing (remember Deb and Flow), seeing what feels like opposites as just two sides of the same coin, part of the same whole.  When I give my patterns this label of being in a rut, it drags me down.  If I give my pattern the label of getting in the groove of things, it takes on a whole different feeling.
That being said, I'm in a rut this week, a mental rut.  I'm trying to find my groove for this transition into the school year, work year, and all I feel is myself resisting the change.  My new shoes worked for a day and then here I am feeling like I am moving at a sluggish pace to find my groove and not doing so with much ease.
I know, I need to just be patient, sit back and enjoy the life unfold and slowly, but surely I will find myself in the groove, going with the flow, feeling brilliant again. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

New Shoes

I have been itching to write for a couple of weeks, but I have felt like I have nothing interesting to write about or anything that is brewing, that I might want to write about, is too close to home and you can't really blog about the people that read your blog, can you?  Maybe you can. 
It always feels like as the seasons change, I feel unsettled.  Not in a bad way, it just feels like there is movement in the air and me being one that doesn't gracefully embrace change, I tend to feel a little cautious, vulnerable as things shift.  Just like all of life, in order to make way for something new, we have to let go of something old.  Being aware of this shift is helpful, but doesn't exempt me from experiencing it, by any means.
For the past few months, I have been walking in the mornings, most days with a friend that lives a couple of blocks away.  We meet in the middle at about 6 a.m. and are usually still rubbing the sleep out of our eyes.  We joke about what we do so we can sleep in another minute or two...I stopped putting my contacts in and wear my glasses. I think she wore her walking clothes to bed one night, or walked in her pajamas.  Regardless of how early it was and how hard it was to get out of bed, knowing someone else was doing it too, or was relying on me to do it helped me get my hiney out from under the covers and get a move on.  She started a new job recently and can't do the early morning walks due to her schedule and so this morning I headed out solo.
When my alarm went off at 5:50 a.m., I contemplated just going back to sleep.  I spent the next 5 minutes talking myself in to getting up, knowing that if I didn't get up today, it would be easier not to tomorrow or the next day, and I've had a good thing going since school got out back in June.  I finally made enough of a case for getting up and drug myself out from underneath the covers.  As I reached around in the closet for my old sneakers, I remembered I had bought myself a new pair of walking shoes last week that I had yet to wear outside.  I decided I would try them out today even though I wore them around the house one day last week and they hurt my feet.   What the heck I'd be by myself and wouldn't slow anyone else down if I was limping by the end of my walk due to new blisters!  Got the dog and off I went...
I love being out early in the morning, most houses are still quiet as I get going and by the time I am heading back toward home it feels like the street is waking up and the world is greeting the day.  The morning walk has multiple purposes....when I walk with a friend, we talk, sort life out a bit and then that's taken care of for the day and I don't have to do any more mental processing (maybe that is why I haven't had anything to blog about either?).  your exercise is done for the day, your body gets kick started and then there is something meditative about walking for me, too.  The other day in yoga class, my friend and teacher described spirituality as your relationship with yourself.  I loved that description.  I would most likely have described it, prior to hearing it articulated that way, as your relationship to the divine.  We are divine and it really is about you and how you view yourself in relationship to that.  I'm not sure that makes sense as I write it, but it makes sense to me.  I definitely feel this awareness as I walk, particularly when I am alone.
The shoes didn't hurt my feet, I felt inspired to write, settled in my own skin again and my mind felt uncluttered when I got back home.  The winds of change are on the horizon, its a new season, I'm "back to work", school has started.  It's not that change in our lives ever stops, there are just periods when we are more aware of what is changing, I think.  Thank God for new shoes.  For whatever reason, leaving my old shoes in the closet this morning felt like letting go, releasing whatever it is that I've been holding on to that feels like it's holding me back.  "Today I put my new shoes on and suddenly everything is right..."  I'm stealing lines from a song here...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Full Moon Fever

It's Monday. I feel fresh, just back from a great weekend with a "tribe", I am enjoying the crispness of fall you can feel in the air today and just feel happy. Helps that I am making dinner for one of my favorite people, my mother.
I spent part of my morning today with a dear friend. She arrived in the midst of the morning chaos, or whatever you might call it. Kids restless to do something, me trying to get the house organized after a weekend away, bags still to be unpacked and stuff all around the house that needs to be put back in its proper place.  I loved that she just stopped by, because she had some free time, that she willingly joined the mix of chaos, parenting, crazy kids and mess that we call life. She sat on my couch and we talked...shared stories of vacations, life. I let the mess sit and gave my full attention (as full as I can with my 3 children in the vicinity) to her and felt grateful to connect. Letting go of what could wait...the laundry, the to do list, the grocery shopping, making beds, prepping for my late morning yoga know, the endless list. Letting it go set a tone for my whole day that has helped it to flow with ease. I love that saying about how when you live your life at the right rate, the path is leveled before you, it's effortless. I can't say that my life today was effortless, but it did involve ease.
Somewhere in our conversation this morning, my friend said "That's what is so great about you, Celisa." My heart swelled. How often to we tell each other what we think is so great about one another, how much we love each other, how inspirational or fabulous or incredible we are? Hopefully, we tell our partner, or our kids if we have them, but how often do we say it to our friends. It feels so good to be loved, to feel seen, to feel connected to another human being on a soulful level. It's a gift.

This poem speaks to this desire we all have to love and be loved.
With That Moon Language, by Hafiz
Admit something
Everyone you see, you say to them, "Love me."
Of course you do not do this outloud,
otherwise, someone would call the cops.
Still though, think about this, this great
pull in us to connect
Why not become the one
Who lives with a full moon in each eye
That is always saying with that sweet moon language
What every other eye in this world is dying to hear.

Looks like a full moon out there tonight...perfect timing.
Thanks for tuning in, for being a piece of the puzzle that keeps me feeling connected.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

In My Head

I've spent a fair amount of time in my head lately. I'm not sure if its because I have had little time in my body lately...I know we always inhabit our body, but since mine has been out of whack, the time I've spent in it has been more about pain than enjoyment, so I've stayed put in my head instead.
I've been pondering relationships, how they ebb and flow, change with time and how sometimes the hardest times in a relationship are the ones in between the past and the you know how it was or used to be, but now it's different, and you aren't quite sure what it is now, or how you feel about it not being what it was. In yoga teaching, it is often said that the most injuries occur during transitions between poses. It's making a lot of sense to me right now. We do well when we know what "the rules" are. It doesn't matter if it's a yoga pose, a friendship, dress code, whatever, when we know what the rules of the game are, the boundaries, what we've got to work with, it's way easier to navigate our way through things. It's usually insignificant as to whether we like the rules or not, because we know what we've got to work with and so we can find our way through it. It's when we don't have the rule book, that things begin to feel a little tricky..might I say, vulnerable. And that is how I am feeling right now, which is a hard place for me to sit, I tend to want to retreat when I feel vulnerable, but I am making a conscious effort to stay present in the transition of a relationship where I feel like I've lost the rule book.
I've also been thinking alot about the transition back to school. I need order when things get busy, or more accurately, I need organization - maybe they are the same thing? I need meal plans, my days sorted out...when I will do the grocery shopping, which day I will make the Costco run, who will watch kids when I teach yoga. There is a lot of juggling that goes on as the activities increase in number. I made a to do list yesterday of things I need to do, stuff like getting my daughter signed up for dance class, paying bills, school supply shopping, renewing library books, etc. I read off the things I had checked off to my husband and he said something along the lines of "Wow. If I was home with the kids it would be more like 1. breakfast, 2. lunch, 3. do dishes. And I'd be glad if I could get all that done." As a mom, I know I juggle a lot of balls. And most of the time, I feel good at it or at least competent. Being sick for a few days, I feel like I fell off my a-game and have been sort of throwing it together..meals, etc. School is right around the corner and I am sure I will have my hands full with 2 kids in 2 different schools, 2 different schedules, my prevention work back in action and a busy life to boot.
I best get out of my head and get busy!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Bite

Random ordeal...I got bit by something 10 days ago when we were in Idaho. Not certain what it was, but I think it was a horse fly. I actually got bit a couple of times, once on my back and once on my inner thigh, a few inches above my knee. It was a Friday, I didn't think much of it. My leg got swollen around the site of the bite, it was itchy. A couple of days later, it was still extremely itchy, had started to feel pretty tender and was bright red. I still didn't think much of it, assumed it was some kind of an allergic reaction to whatever bit me. Day 6, post bite, rolls around and I now have an open wound that is oozing (I know, not for the faint at heart). My husband told me on day 5, I should see a doctor. I called and made an appointment for the end of the week which would be day 8, thinking I would end up canceling it because I'd be all better. By the evening of day 6, my husband thinks I should see a doctor right away. I decide to phone the on-call nurse for my insurance - a 24 hour hot line I have used 3 or 4 times in the last couple of months, I love it. The on call nurse has saved me a doctor visit at least twice, recently, and my $25 co-pay, and in this case got me to seek help when I really needed it and didn't think I did. I ended up going to the ER on the evening of Day 6, thinking they would probably just give me some thing to put on it and send me home...little did I know I had a nasty infection growing in my leg.
The ER doctor took one look at it and said, "Oh honey, you have a serious infection going on in there." She proceeded to tell me there was a walnut-in-its-shell sized abscess underneath the site of the bite and she would have to open it up, culture it, pack it with wicking and would put me on antibiotics and prescribe some pain meds. Oh, "and follow up with your doctor TOMORROW to make sure it is getting better and we are giving you a tetanus shot." I told her that I wouldn't likely take the pain meds, she told me to fill the prescription, just in case. Thank goodness I listened to her advice! She then proceeded to numb my leg with five injections. I thought numbing was supposed to prevent pain, not inflict it. I won't go into the gory details of what she did next, but it wasn't pretty and felt like minor surgery, scalpel and all.
I returned home a little shell shocked, how did this silly bug bite get so ugly so fast? I was in a fair amount of pain when the numbness wore off, and thankful for the pain meds I took faithfully for the next few days. The next day, day 7, I went to see my doctor to discover things were not looking better, were actually worse and if we didn't get this thing under wraps quickly I was going to end up in the hos-pi-tal...inpatient style with an IV drip of antibiotics. I started thinking this was serious. My doctor put me on another antibiotic, in case the one from the ER wasn't the right one since we were not seeing any improvement, the culture hadn't come back yet, so it was hard to say. She drew a circle around the swelling with a sharpie, so when I came back on day 8, we would know which direction this thing was headed. I promptly filled the second antibiotic prescription and started it.
Day 8 I wake up and the redness is worse, the swelling has spread as much as an inch around parts of the sharpie mark on my leg. I feel horrible. I spend most of the day in bed, sleeping or in and out of a fog. As I zone in and out of the fog, my mind begins to go to scary places. You hear stories of random things like this where people end up hospitalized, dying, being paralyzed, having their internal organs shut down...infections going systemic. I kept thinking about my kids...what if I had to stop nursing Elsie? What if I had to be in the hospital for weeks? How would Sean keep working and who would take care of them? What if I died and my kids had to grow up without me? I realized somewhere in the midst of my mind running wild, I was more worried about what I would leave behind, about what I would miss, than I was about me. I wasn't as scared about what dying would feel like as I was about what life would be like without me for my kids, my husband, my parents, about what it would be like for them to lose me. Funny thing this ego is, eh? I was worried.
I made my husband come with me to the doctor on day 8. The doctor said things were not looking better, but the culture had come back and it was a strep infection that antibiotic number 2 should kill, and since I hadn't yet been on it for 48 hours, she was going to give me until the morning of day 9 before hospitalizing me.
Thank goodness, I woke up on day 9, after 12 hours of sleep, redness dulling and swollen-ness shrinking significantly. Hallelujah, I am not dying!
Today is day 10 I feel 100 times better. The hole in my leg is still nasty, but improving. I have some energy back and I feel human again. It's good to be alive...nothing like a little brush with a horse fly bite to make you grateful for your health!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Lake

I returned home last Sunday after spending 9 days with my husband's family at "the Lake". It's been an annual vacation for my husband, at least since he was in his teens, and maybe even farther back than that. Two, sometimes 3, families come together, 3 generations of people, to play, relax, unwind, commune, to simply be. It started out as a long weekend for us, 5 or 6 years ago and has grown into a not long enough week sandwiched between two weekends. Over the years all 3 families, that started this tradition so long ago, have grown, the kids have married and had kids of their own, and we are never quite sure how to describe the generations...are we the adults? parents? we feel like "the kids" but we now have kids and so the "parents" are really grandparents, but they aren't sure they are ready to be labeled as such...doesn't really matter I suppose. There are 3 generations and I wouldn't be surprised if someday we are doing this with 4.
It is a unique experience, being at the Lake. It always feels like there is some healing for me, some forgiveness or letting go, directed toward myself or something I've been harboring with another. Some layers of my own onion get peeled back as the days go by, that allow me to go deeper inward and expose more of my true self, my fears, wounds, heartaches, dreams, deep love. It's as if there is this great sense of safety there that allows me to expose it all. I always go wondering what our time will bring, but somehow without expectations. I am never disappointed. The family that owns the place at the Lake are gracious hosts, you never feel like a guest, you feel like you just belong there.
There were seven little girls and 1 boy all under the age of 7. They play like a pack of wild children, as they should. I marvel at how inventive they are when removed from the day to day surroundings of home, toys, etc. They go on nature walks, play on the beach, in the water, explore the "woods".
At one point in the week, I stood on the front porch, looking out toward the lake. My 7 month old daughter, Elsie, was sitting on a blanket on the lawn being entertained by Sammy, 3 years old, that loved on her all week. My 3 year old son, Willis, was on the dock fishing with his Dad, and my almost 6 year old, Ruby, was on the beach, playing with her cousins. I smiled inside, grateful for these experiences my children and I are blessed to have. Elsie got her first tooth. Ruby passed the "swim test" (which means you get to be on the dock or the beach without a life jacket). Willis discovered he could swim with his life jacket on after being bounced off the ski trainer by a big wave...brave little soul he is. Sean and I surfed behind a boat, a first for both of us. I tubed with my 14 year old nephew and his cousin, got bounced off, but not injured. I took long walks with my sister-in-laws (always a treat when we get to have uninterrupted talks without children), laughed in the kitchen with my father-in-law, who despite having pneumonia continued to be his jolly, generous self. Shed tears on the porch with my mother-in-law as she told my husband and I what great kids we have and what great parents we are. (Parenting is such hard work, it's such affirmation whenever anyone recognizes how much effort you put in to it.) It's like being away together for that long, you get to unwind, exhale and let the busyness, worries of day to day life stay behind and just be. It's such a gift, my kids look forward to it all year and we start talking about next year at the lake before we even make it home.

Friday, July 23, 2010

You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile

My daughter did "Annie Camp" this summer. If you aren't familiar with Annie Camp, it's a 50 minute dance class every day for a week that ends with a performance, song and dance, of a couple of the tunes from the musical. On Monday, she brought home a song sheet with the lyrics of the songs they would perform on Friday. We downloaded the songs so she could listen to them and practice. She spent one afternoon watching the musical, one she has seen many many times before.
One of the songs she practiced was It's a Hard Knock Life...sung by Ruby as "It's a hard enough life." It took both my husband and I to convince her that the lyrics were just a little bit different which led to a question about what Hard Knock Life means, which pretty much does mean it's a hard enough life. I still heard her singing her version. She performed her dances for her daddy while he was home for lunch. She practiced, practiced, practiced. I found myself humming Tomorrow while I shuffled around the house and every now and then busting into Broadway mode dancing as I sang.
One day when I went to pick Ruby and her cousin up from class, I arrived a few minutes early and sat outside the studio listening to them practice. Their sweet little voices belting out Tomorrow, I got very emotional, started to tear up. And then on the last day, the big performance in the theater attached to the studio. So sweet. They were dressed up in orphan costumes and Ruby smiled from ear to ear. She has definitely got the whole notion of performing, she stayed very present with the audience, acting out each song through her face. I, of course, cried. Felt like my heart might burst open at the immense amount of love I feel for this little girl. She fully embraces the notion of Annie..."You're never fully dressed without a smile", always looking at the positive side of life. One of the things people often say to me is how she always has a smile on her face.
My little Ruby...she's a gem.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Deb and Flow

If you have ever seen Finding Nemo, you know about Deb and Flow. They are the same fish. I am not sure which one is the "real" fish, but one of them (let's say Deb) sees herself in the reflection of the aquarium glass and thinks it is another fish (Flow), seperate from herself. I feel like Deb and Flow sometimes.
My husband and I were off last week. Nothing major going on, no fight, nothing like that, just out of sync. He was sick and I am a horrible nurse to him whenever he is sick, not just last week. I felt needy, empty, spent, in need of some TLC by the end of the week. Instead of being compassionate and kind, (we'll call the nice version of me, Flow), I am impatient and irritated with him for staying home from work, resentful he is taking care of himself (and I am not). Deb gets mad, maybe even bitter and she doesn't say so. She feels burdened by the change of routine. She's already taking care of 3 children, she doesn't want to be taking care of another person. And to Deb's credit, men are needy when they don't feel good, really needy.
Flow, on the other hand, wants to take care of her sick husband, wants to be attentive to his needs, keep the kids quiet so he can rest, sleep, get well. Deb always seems to win the battle and sends us into this downward spiral until we feel disconnected from one another, unappreciated, hurt. It's really no fun. I have no problem tending to my small children when they are hurt, sick, in need, but for some reason, that same tenderness I offer up to them feels hard to find when my husband needs it.
My husband and I always continue to function in the midst of being off, not at our optimum, but we get by. We both feel it, it's obvious, and we react to it differently. My husband responds to our disconnect with little jabs, barbed comments. I tend to retreat in to myself. Finally, last night, we sat still together long enough to delve into the feelings. The timing was right and we both reached out for one another. I let Flow come back out to play and expressed that my feelings were hurt, that I was feeling unappreciated, tired, like I was not doing a good job of getting my needs met, not asking for what I need. My husband was feeling the exact same things I was. He shared that he still was not feeling well after being home for lunch yesterday but went back to work anyways because he thought I'd be mad if he stayed home and slept. We both laughed at that, but he wasn't trying to be funny. It made me pause and my initial reaction is I don't want to be Deb!
The truth is, we are all Deb and Flow. We all have these 2 sides, 2 faces, duality if you will. The trouble comes when we try to separate one from the other as opposed to seeing them both as one. We couldn't feel the connectedness if we didn't also experience the disconnect. We couldn't feel the resentment if we didn't know the gratitude. It is when we live in the duality, separating one from the other, that we make ourselves suffer. The hard feelings, whatever they may be tell us something. They invite us to move underneath them and discover their root, to dive into the ebb and flow of our relationships, of life, and ride the wave.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

What Goes Around

"Envy and jealousy stem from the fundamental inability to rejoice at someone else's happiness or success." Matthieu Ricard

For some reason, I wrote this quote down a few weeks ago. And sometime between then and now, I had a conversation with a friend about scarcity mentality. And then today, I found in my inbox a yoga article about envy. Coincidence? Probably not. It's been a blog post brewing in me.
I spent most of my childhood living with scarcity mentality - the fear that there wasn't enough love for me or that I wasn't good enough for the love that I needed. I operated from that place in many areas of my life, whether it be about friends, money, love, all had this foundation of fear. Fear that there was not enough for me and everyone else. It made me jealous of people that had things I wanted, which makes it difficult to really be happy for the people you care about when they are living life. I was aware of these feelings, but I am not sure I could have articulated them or that I understood why I felt like that. Who knows, maybe I thought it was normal!
I remember the first time in my adult life when I recognized I felt truly happy with my life. It was the summer I got married. I remember sitting on the couch in our first home together, a little duplex on Yakima Avenue. I was looking out the window and the feeling washed over me....I don't wish my life is anyone else's. I had always looked at my friends' lives and wished mine was a little more like hers or his. It always seemed like the grass was greener in everyone else's yard. We had a BBQ that evening, I think it was my brother in law's birthday, which coincidentally was just a couple of days ago. There are pictures of me taken that evening and I look really happy, free.
I wish I could say that I stayed put in that space without envy for always. I didn't, of course. I have cycled through periods of envy, jealousy, a side of myself that I don't much like. I am very aware of those feelings when they arise and try to immediately shift my thinking to some other place. We attract what we think and so if I think not enough, I feel not enough. I get it. I do my best to fake it until I make it if I'm feeling one of those oh so unproductive emotions. Other times, I am keenly aware that I am not feeling envy or jealousy when something good happens to someone I know. Instead, those emotions are replaced by gratitude, celebration, genuine happiness for another. I'll tell you what, that feels much better than the alternative.
I guess in a way I feel like I've had to learn to choose the goodness, to sometimes reframe situations that might not feel very good. In the long run, though, I think what comes around goes around and not only am I much happier when I can celebrate the success of others, more goodness comes my way, too.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Heavy Hearted

I'm struggling today. In actuality, I've been struggling for about 24 hours.
About this time yesterday, my dear friend called me to share some very sad news. She lost her unborn baby girl. I have cycled through waves of sadness, disappointment, loss, anger...a whole spectrum of emotions. In the midst of taking care of my 3 children, I am struggling to grieve, to allow the sadness to wash over me and pass through. I feel like I am being a negligent mother, this backdrop of grief waiting to be tended to as I keep pressing forward, onward because these other little beings need me to. I feel useless, challenged to focus my mind on where I am, irritated when their needs pull me away from my thoughts. I catch myself periodically feeling guilty, like I should be thankful they are, that I have them, that they are healthy. But, I am human, I need time, space to figure out how to make sense of this and to let go.
In the conversations I have had with those touched by this loss, both indirectly and directly, I am moved by how deeply people feel, the compassion and empathy when someone you know and care about experiences loss. It's hard to put it into words. I am moved by the interdependence of us all and how touched we are by the lives of those we know if we allow our hearts be open to them.
There have been lots of prayers sent in the direction of this family. I have to find comfort in knowing that there is a giant circle of love surrounding them, holding their whole family as they grieve. We all wish we could lighten the load in some way, I'm sure. The only way to the other side of grief is through it. So, we wait, we pray, we love, we hold them close in our hearts until the heaviness begins to lift, and I have to believe that eventually it will.
Life shifts so quickly. Yesterday morning I was rejoicing in summer. I have felt so free this summer, less work, more play. I've felt like it has truly been a summer vacation for me, too. All it takes is one phone call, and the day takes a dramatic turn. Outwardly, nothing looks any different in my house, but inwardly something has shifted.
My writing is disjointed, I know. I am just trying to find a way to put to words what I feel, to find some comfort in the letters I type.
Say a prayer. Light a candle. Be kind to those you love. Extend comfort when you can. We are all in this big life together. We have to have faith that despite the pain, despite our heavy hearts, there is light, there is goodness, there is hope and there is always love.