Shooting Arrows

The language we use, if chosen carefully, can carry with it wonderful images and sentiment.  Some of us are rather animated when we speak, too, and can elaborate on the phrases with our body language.  (I am totally projecting.)

A step I took today felt like I was shooting an arrow into the air.  It wasn’t a shot in the dark.  I’m not flying blind.  I’m not trying to fulfill some cliche.  I was shooting an arrow at a target I can very well see, but I had to aim high.  Telling a friend I felt as much, I even raised my invisible bow and pulled back the string and arrow, releasing my intention to the Universe.

Now it’s out of my control.  Outside factors are at play now, factors similar to the wind and weather.  I can only hope my skill and aim are correct, that they are enough.  If not, I tried, no one is hurt, and at least my quiver is still full.

I wonder how many other arrows I need to release?  God grant me strength and courage!

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What to do with Uncertainty

When surrounded by the fog of uncertainty, the popular thought is to take one step at a time or “one day at a time, sweet Jesus.”  Apparently, my personal reaction is to stick to routine above all things (one must have a tidy house when feeling suppressed with chaos) and alternate between bursts of energetically-getting-things-done and sit-and-read-a-book modes.  Combine this with deciding once and for all that I must go to work and must change my eating behaviors before I will buy another item of clothing, and my life is topsy-turvy.

But is it really?

After reading Mists of Avalon (why not fully escape for 800+ pages for a little respite with the Goddess?), I finally decided to read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.  Again, it’s a book that I was hesitant to read after it’s widespread popularity.  And, I have to read it with an open heart because sometimes it comes across to me with the voice of a whiney New-Yorker, accompanied by the world’s smallest violin.  I realize that it’s probably jealousy.  She’s my shadow, and it’s easier not to like what she got to do than to try to manifest some of her privileges in my life.  That, and I take most of my spiritual understanding and gifts for granted.

I am enjoying it, though, especially the Italy section that describes luscious foods in short detail.  I’m on week 3 of the South Beach diet, finally able to stave off the sugar cravings and 7 lbs. lighter.  Needless to day, penne and pastries and gelato aren’t on the menu for me these days.  Most of the foods she describes I’m not sure I’d be able to handle anyway.  (Octopus?  Intestines?  Really?)  Like most Americans reading this book, it’s a good vicarious journey, akin to my affection for Under the Tuscan Sun.  Fortunately for me, she’s leaving Italy (before I head downtown and raid Scarpino’s gelato stash) and heading to India.  Maybe this will stimulate my meditation practice.

While several of Gilbert’s revelations triggered thoughts for me for further reflection, her laywoman’s interpretation of Italy’s infatuation with food intrigued me.  You’ll have to read it yourself for her words, but let it suffice here to say that when you can’t control the rampant corruption and uncertainty of the powers that be or the world around you, you can rely on beauty — beautiful food, art, and music, to name a few — in this very moment.  That makes this day worth living, worth enjoying, worth savoring.

This might explain some things.  If Americans could direct our addictive tendencies toward expression through art, dance, music, creative and delicious foods, then maybe we would be a little less suppressed, obese (if we can practice moderation!), depressed, medicated, etc. Maybe.  It’s just a thought.

As for me, I’ll appreciate the beauty around me.  I’ll try to present our healthy meals a little better and to make the kids’ meals a little healthier, too.  I’ll work at making our garden more enjoyable — flower and vegetable, poison ivy be damned!  A tidy house is beautiful to me; maybe one day it will even be clean.  I’ll keep working on my body temple, as my inspirational card suggests, and I’ll respect the beauty within that radiates outward.  I have a beautiful husband, children, friends and family.  Soon, even our budget will look beautiful as the debt dwindles and things become a little less vicarious.  May I continue to do beautiful work with and for others.

With gratitude for all the beauty that surrounds me, I realize that no matter the circumstances, Love is certain.  For isn’t it the love and appreciation for all these things that radiates the beauty after all?

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The Only Way to Know

There are moments in conversation with dear ones when I know I don’t have the experience they have.  The only way to know how they feel, what they’ve been through, is to have been through a very similar situation.  (Losing one’s home does not equal losing your favorite CD.)

These days I’m looking at everything as gaining experience, diversifying my life skills.  I’m building my portfolio, so to speak.

But most importantly, I remind myself that there is so much I don’t know.  There are some experiences I hope never to have.

I give thanks for this luxurious life, knowing that my scale of luxury differs from others’.  With thanksgiving and appreciation, I go forth into the world.  All I can do is live this life with compassion.  That’s the only way I figure I can know God’s love, if such a thing can even be done.

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Channeling the Flow

I love visualizing Spirit as water.  The rich symbolism never fails to make apparent a new way Spirit flows in and through my life and the world around me.  If only I am aware.

Here of late, there’s been a little too much water for my taste.  A mysterious leak somewhere resulted in an extravagant water bill, creeping up at first then holding steady at outrageous for a couple of months till we had to call in the professional.  A couple of little holes spewing out 600 gallons a day, average.  Plumbers are not cheap and for good reason, but they’re not always covered by insurance.  Our loss.

Another mysterious appearance of water damage in our master bath.  Definitely mold.  Not definitely covered by insurance.  We’ll probably fix it with some elbow grease, removal of sheetrock and some Kilz.  Hopefully the water will not reappear, and the mold, too.

Then there’s the flash flooding at the Albert Pike rec area in the southwest part of the state.   I don’t know these people any more than I knew the victims in Haiti.  For some reason, though, the cries in the night leave a vivid impression.  Maybe it’s the water.  Maybe it’s the vulnerable image of people surrounded by the sheer force of nature, not just in water but by the trees and hills.  Maybe it’s because that could have been my family out having a good time just getting away.  Maybe it’s the reality of the fact that no one deserves that, to watch a child or family member swept away.  The reality is that this happens often.  Helplessness is part of our suffering, isn’t it?

A friend and I decided to pick back up a book that we put down for a while.  Thinking about the title, Finding Water, I said, “The last thing I want to do right now is find more water!”

So it seems to be that there’s too much water in my life right now.  I’m definitely not in the desert; I feel like I could be swept away.  The resources around me aren’t being used the most efficiently, and while there seems to be waste, there also seems to be not enough of the right things.  We’re not a family that usually has $1,000 extra laying around (though every family should be!).

I take it as a directive to find how the water flows in my life, where Spirit is moving, and how efficiently I’m channeling this flow.  There is much here, and when given obvious opportunities, I feel like I’m channeling well.  It’s the every-moment opportunities I’m likely to miss.  It’s the things that are harder to do that I feel resistant to — like putting a book together, making pottery, sewing clothes, etc.  We all have gifts that we don’t fully tap into for risk of . . . succeeding?  being held responsible?  fear of failure? (insert your own hold-up here)?

I pray that none of us get overwhelmed by an abundance of Spirit.  May we all be so blessed, and may we all be granted the wisdom of how best to participate in the creation of our world, channeling the flow so well that it appears effortless.   I won’t always understand why things happen the way they do.  I won’t always be able to get out of my selfhood.  But I trust that my faith will help keep me afloat or at least help pull me back to the surface.

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Cutting Attachments

Letting go of things I’m attached to is becoming a life lesson I’m getting used to, but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel something when letting go.  Imagine an invisible umbilical cord to all the things you love and want to hang on to.  Favorite necklaces, earrings, dishes, relatives . . . at any point something can happen to sever an attached relationship.  Snip, and it’s gone.

Snip.  Snip.  Snip.

I suppose I was getting attached to my daughter’s long hair.  My son had long hair, but I wasn’t as attached to it.  I thought I was, but it was easy to let go and cut it when he was ready two weeks ago.  I wasn’t prepared to look around the corner and find my daughter standing amidst her locks, her friend holding the kid-scissors, smilingly proudly.  “Now Autumn has short hair, too!” she exclaimed.

I couldn’t help but laugh.  Indeed she did.  In that moment I could laugh or cry.  I could be angry or deal with it.  I opted for laughter and sent the girls to the bath.  I wasn’t planning on being stylist this night of pizza-making, but it had to be done.  Now Autumn’s hair is short, in a little bit of a choppy style, not incredibly unlike her older sister’s.  I’m not a trained stylist, after all.  While at it, I also trimmed the little friend’s hair.

It’s only hair.  They’re just kids.  It’s only life.  Why not experience every moment and choose life and love?  The practice keeps coming, the lessons growing stronger.

Life is sweet, and little girls with short hair can be so darn cute!

p.s. Uta, Autumn reminds us of Sonja!  🙂

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SpringTime Haiku for Moms

An invitation . . .
Sun beckons to come play now.
The dishes will wait.

The beautiful weather this day couldn’t keep us indoors, even after me having two fillings replaced at 8:10am.  Off to the woods we go so I can get another go at rock climbing and so the kids can enjoy the warm, fresh air and the dog a good swim.

A few minutes alone, walking along the upper trail to fetch the draws from a climb, I felt it– the presence of nature that speaks through the living things around you and whispers on the breeze.  It’s a stillness and peace, an acceptance of life as what it is, for what it is, and all is well.  All is beautiful.  Oh, that I could bring that presence into every breath.

I’m pretty sure that the potential is there.  We have within us the ability to be still and fully present.  But how quickly I forget how beautiful it can be, even in the storms, for when the sun returns again I wonder, was the green so brilliant just the other day?  Was it this amazing last spring; did the colors so vibrantly glow?  I don’t have to compare.  I don’t have to know.  My purpose is to love indiscriminately; it doesn’t matter what the weather’s like.  I always have a choice.

Will it rain or shine?
As you make each choice, you ask.
Is Love wet or dry?

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A Birthday, an Anniversary

Ten years ago yesterday, my husband and I went to our 37-week check up to find out that we were going to the hospital to be induced due to pre-eclampsia.  I was huge and swollen but felt fine.  I wouldn’t be going back to class, though.  (I was still in college at the time.)

Ten years ago this evening, around 7:45 to be more accurate, our baby girl was born in the hospital, and I morphed from a pregnant mama into a mom — drugged, clueless, bewildered.  I had just done the hardest thing ever, experienced the greatest pain ever, was in the hospital for the first time in my life as a bed-ridden patient, and now I was responsible for a baby I couldn’t even see or care for properly.  It may be easy to understand now why I work closely with pregnant mamas and support other mothers.

I teach Bradley classes to help all who want to be healthy and know about the process, all who don’t want to walk into their birthing situations not knowing what’s going on.  I serve as a doula selfishly because it is a window into a sacrament of life, in my opinion, but I also sacrifice my time to help others have a more calm, peaceful, empowered birth.  I hope to advocate for mothers, to help them when they feel they need it.  In my ten years as a mother, I have learned these things can make all the difference.  All these things help mothers in their role, in their lives.

Being pregnant and mothering is not always easy.  It’s hard, frustrating and exhillarating all in a day, with windows of peace of calm (and not always just when the kids are sleeping, though that helps).  Time is our best teacher.  We cannot always go up to a woman and tell her the things that will make her “job” as mother easier.  I don’t know that I would have listened and heeded such advice.  Many of us have to experience it for ourselves, learn in our own time.

So on this, my daughter’s tenth birthday, I also celebrate the anniversary of my motherhood and revel in all the lessons I’ve learned along the way, a few of which I share on this blog, most of which I’ve either internalized or will experience again and again until at last I truly learn what it is I need to know.  I’ll always be learning.  Whether we have one child or four (or heaven help you if you have more!), we will never fully know or understand everything.

As I kiss the kids good-night I always wish them peace and love and hope that when it’s their turn to be parents, they will know more than I.  We do the best we can with what we have, which may sound cliche, but it’s true.

We didn’t plan the timing of our first child, whose birth was also induced, but maybe that’s what I needed to become the mother I am.  Maybe I needed the divine intervention because Lord knows if I knew what I would be getting into, I may not have been humble enough to choose this route!

Blessings and gratitude to my eldest child and to all us mothers who should celebrate our motherhood daily if for nothing else than for the fact that we are doing our best.  The rest is out of our hands.  Here’s to the decades to come.


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Unexpected Beauty

Cinderella.  The frog prince.  Angels in disguise.  Tragedy turned blessing.  All our lives we are given the lesson that things are not always what they seem.  Be not quick to judge, for you do not know what lies within or ahead.

destin_beachmoor.JPG.jpgLast fall as news of deaths and stress of life seemed to be our daily lot, I never dreamed of spending Thanksgiving in a beautiful house on the beach. Yet, there we were.  It was almost eighty degrees Fahrenheit, and while I’m partial to my chilly weather and general November dreariness, it was itself a blessing.  Be ye of good cheer.  Enjoy life.  Revel in the source of life, of energy.  The clouds came, the wind and cooler temperature.  Even so, standing on the beach with my toes in the sand, I was grateful for life, for the moment.

It was sunset, and the clouds left a window to assure us of as much, though to the southwest we could see the rain.  The light, the wind, the chill, the laughter — everything was right.  Everything was and is beautiful.  After our summer trip to the beach down the highway, I wasn’t expecting it to be so lovely.  I certainly didn’t expect to see the stingray jumping in the distance.

The next day the ashes of a loved one were released to the ocean, our reason for being there, but I don’t think that means we weren’t to enjoy ourselves.  If our aunt were with us, she would have been having a ball, too, enjoying the place but even moreso the family togetherness, the tradition of food, the sincerity of our lives.

Maybe we like being surprised.  We act with disbelief when something truly good or beautiful presents itself.  Sometimes, even, we blatantly deny or ignore it.  We do not expect to find beauty abundant.

What if we accepted that beauty is abundant, is within everything and everyone?

Rather than hoping for a surprise party, we can search for the treasures we know are there, excavating the golden moments or the silver linings.

destin_beach.JPG.jpgI didn’t have my camera with me to capture the smiles and sunset on the beach (photos are from my mother-in-law’s camera).  All I could do was breathe in the salty air, taking it all in as deeply as I could.  For that Thanksgiving, I was grateful, as ever, for the abundance of beauty, in all its forms, in our lives.  May I go forward expecting to find and experience beauty, even though I do love a pleasant surprise.

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Try, Try, Try . . . and Try Again

The proverb says if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again, right?  Well, I did, and I wasted at least two pounds of clay.

With the kids out of town and the littlest one sleeping, I decided to revisit the ol’ pottery wheel.  It’s an electric, so I feel like it’s just a machine.  The clay, on the other hand, comes from the earth, so I feel like it can have a mind of its own.  At least, that’s what I’m going with.  I tried with at least three helpings of clay and at least a dozen times to get it centered today so I could make a vase or even just a small bowl.  It wasn’t happening, and I could feel my temperament sinking, even with my now awake daughter watching me.

Thoughts going through my mind:  Perhaps I am not a potter.  Of course I’m not a potter; I’m a writer.  But everyone can write.  Can’t everyone wield some clay?  I’d just like to make something nice for someone.

Why won’t this center?  Am I not centered?  Are my arms that weak? My husband says that it’s not about your upper body strength.  You don’t have to strong-arm this.  Then why the hell is it knocking me around???

I’m not a quitter, but I know when I need to stop and get a new perspective.  I cleaned everything so that it will be nice for my husband when he decides to use our last bit of clay.

How many times do you not succeed before you give yourself permission not to do something?  (I’m trying to keep this as optimistic as possible; pardon the double negative.)  My thinking is that the answer is not simple.

Rather than try to make a concrete decision as to whether or not I’ll accept my fate as a non-potter, I’ll take the lesson that I have more to learn and more practice to do.  It’s a hard lesson to take, but our number of practices is determined by how well we can accept the current moment for what it is, no matter what we are doing or want to do.

I need to exercise my patience better.  I’ll stop by the clay studio and ask for a reminder lesson.  And I’ll practice more, if I can make myself take the time.  Some lessons take a while to sink in.  I am grateful for my time to grow.  No, really, I am!

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Maternal Responsibility

Almost three years ago I started my little book of mini-essays, maternal meditations, if you will.  As much as I’d like to think I’ve climbed some mountain of achievement as I have filled the last pages, I realize I’m still in the foothills.  My kids aren’t yet teenagers.  I’m sure those years will warrant their own book of assurances!  I still see and hear my mothers and grandmothers worrying about their children, welcoming them back into their homes, living daily into their role of mother, a.k.a. friend, confidante, nurse, shoulder, financier, comedienne, etc.

Looking hard at my current situation, my husband and I conclude that we don’t focus enough quality time on the kids.  It’s hard.  We are but two, they are four.  We both like to be involved in our community.  I like to keep a tidy house.  The kids only really like to do things if it’s their own idea, even our toddler.

Yet another realization sets in, as lessons seem to be coming at me hard and heavy these days.  I’ve never wanted to have kids that resent me because I was too busy working on this or that or too adamant about keeping the house clean.  While I’m not likely to let go of the minimal cleanliness we have going around here, I know I cannot take on any more projects.  Any thoughts I have of going back to school or working in any way outside the home will have to wait at least another three or four years.  Right now I need to be the mother I say I am, the mother I want to be.

“I’m just a mother,” I usually say when people ask what I “do.”  After all, I don’t want to make them feel bad for not volunteering as much as I do, and I don’t want to make them feel bad for not spending more time with their kids.  But if I am to validate myself, devote more time to my kids, make my writing time spare and intense, then I shall declare, “I’m a mother of four exceptional children” (as my husband describes them).  If others offer that look of “oh, that’s all?” then I shall ask if what they are doing is having as great of an influence on the next generation as nurturing four souls.  I’d like to think I would, anyway.

My gift, my charge, is maternal responsibility.  Being a good mother for my children now will only make me a better person later, no matter what I do when I get older . . . when I grow up.  🙂  Besides, don’t I always say that life is all about living in the moment?
When we go on vacation, I don’t like to be the one behind the camera — not because I want to be in all the photos but because I want to experience the real thing, photos or no.  May I be blessed enough to offer my kids the real thing.  May there be something, some way for me to be for my children a window to the Divine.  What greater responsibility is there?

photo from everystockphoto by Rosa y Dani

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