Wednesday, December 5, 2012

the strength of womanhood

Strength in surrendering
All I could do this past weekend was go for a walk in our serene Arb, communing with the trees and prairie grass. Then I got to a crossroads and I paused. I wanted to walk on, but I wasn't sure I had the time for it. A woman who'd been walking in front of me had sat down on a log and was overlooking the view, I thought, and I didn't want her to think I had paused just to follow her next move. So I explained. "I don't know which way I should go." I can't recall the order of our sharing past that, but it sort of went like this (condensed version; I talk fast, so a lot more went into it):

She: "I just want to take the path you don't take."
Me: "I'm just trying to figure out if I have the time for the longer route. I'd really like to take the longer route."
She: "I just want to be here in the Arb. I'm supposed to meet some friends at the college for a concert and it's supposed to be fun, but I just want to be here."
Me: "... I can't decide. I am coming undone."
She: "So am I!!!!"

So then I gave her a big hug.

And then we talked.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

mucking around in the mud, opening my heart to the sun

My yoga teacher said something beautiful the other day about the symbolism of the lotus flower in yogic tradition. — How the lotus flower grows from the bottom of muddy, cloudy waters, rising above the surface and opening itself to the sun. Suggesting how we too can open our hearts to lightness and brightness, even when we feel ourselves stuck, mucking around in the mud, be it our everyday mundane lives or grief-stricken anguish.

This reminded me of how another yoga teacher used to describe me as a lotus flower with her petals always wide open. And how sometimes I might try to protect my heart a little by folding my petals inwards a bit when encountering unkindness or aggression.

For me, this closing in without shutting off is a real challenge; it's like I can never tell before it's too late that this would be a good time for closing in a little.

This fall, I will make more of an effort to follow the lotus flower's balanced modeling of exuberant opening up and graceful closing in.

image: wiki

Monday, October 15, 2012

when sentimentality rules

Our house is a sailboat and the fuck is my life but my life is also a wildly exciting roller coaster ride. And I have been finding more calm lately by simply observing and accepting, returning not only to my yoga mat but also to my former dabblings in Buddhism. I'll write more about that later. The bit I wanted to share today is my newfound lesson that sometimes sentimentality rules.

So I have planned this crazy packed Europe tour for my book, leaving this Friday and returning on the 31st in the afternoon. There is no coincidence in my coming back on Halloween. I feel immensely sad and bad about leaving my four-year-old for so long, even if she'll be in the highly competent care of her loving papa. It's my second long trip overseas this fall and on the previous one I missed first day of preschool. I simply can't miss Halloween.

So I've made these really busy stressful plans, cramming as much as possible into those ten days I'm in Europe before catching a flight out of Amsterdam early in the morning of Halloween to be back, well, for Halloween.

And though it may sound like I've gone entirely mushy, the fact of the matter is that it works.

Monday, October 8, 2012

the f*ck is my life

This is no f*ck
I went to a friend's mother blessing yesterday and it was good. It was good, because it was real. It was good because it wasn't all about showering her with gifts and well-wishes, though we gave her those too. It was good because we also shared our losses and pains and our sorrows and worries, even as we celebrated the arrival of new life and the strength of motherhood. As a friend of mine pointed out, the fact that we can so genuinely share our times of heartache makes the celebration of our times of joy all the more heartfelt.

Pain and love always coexist, another friend commented.

I take great comfort in my circle of mama friends; we are the rock mamas.

I need this kind of communal comfort these days. Feeling the ground shifting beneath me, I find comfort in coming together to share pain — and joy. Just life.

There is a section in Cheryl Strayed's bestselling collection of advice columns originally published at the Rumpus Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar that really resonated with me. It's a column she wrote in response to a reader's query that simply asked "WTF, WTF, WTF?" Cheryl responds by sharing one of her own immensely fucked-up childhood experiences of her father's father having her jack him off when she was three, four, and five.
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