The Smallest Moments

The Smallest Moments

Lately I’ve found the greatest joy in the smallest moments.

Like the time I pulled out of the driveway for a quick grocery run at bedtime and I saw the outline of a little head in the window, watching me leave. I could not see my baby’s face, but I knew it was filled with longing. This is the sweetness of life. By loving deeply, I am deeply loved.

Or the morning I dropped off my big girl on her second day of kindergarten. I watched as she enthusiastically followed the procedures she’d learned the day before, hanging up her backpack next to her name card and retrieving her snack and dropping it into the snack bucket, then looking up to notice me, her face lighting up and her hand waving, ready and willing for me to leave–without more hugs or more kisses or more goodbyes–before if I was ready and willing to leave. I will never forget how she looked when she smiled and waved across the sea of children and parents.

Or every time I pick her up, that first moment I see her happy face, her baby sister calling her name. The best part of my day, five days per week.

Or the Pisces super moon rising over Napa Valley last weekend, the magnificent golden orb against sapphire sky, the last night of my husband’s thirties. We were walking “home” to our hotel from a dinner at everyone’s favorite restaurant, our daughters frolicking in the vineyard alongside us, all long dresses and glittery purses and curly hair, Pisces in their sun, moon and rising, collectively. This life, it never ceases to line up.

There have also been small moments that rock me. That stick with me. That tug at my edges.

Like the time we walked in different directions at school pick-up and I couldn’t find her for a good one or two minutes and then I saw her, from the other end of the hall, hovering near the front door of the school, her profile silhouetted by the sun. I will not forget that instant of sweet relief, my heart still pounding, wrapped in my children and in grace. Perhaps losing track of your child at her own elementary school does not merit panic, but it is what it is. This moment is sticky.

Or like the day she got hurt at school, and she didn’t eat lunch because she was too upset by the owies she’d gotten on the playground after colliding with a little boy. That moment when I found out she hadn’t told her teacher or any adult about the incident because she didn’t want them to clean her wounds, when I fully understood how vulnerable she is at school, how I am not there to protect her and kiss her when she falls. I won’t forget any of that.

Nor will I forget what happens inside of me every time my sweet toddler screams at the top of her lungs because she doesn’t want to be in the carseat and I know she’s tired and should be napping and I made a scheduling mistake. Her pain is my pain. I cannot separate myself from it. Or maybe I just don’t want to. Is there a difference? Between not wanting and not able? Between her and I? These things are not completely the same, but not completely separate.

These small moments, like strong winds they knock me over and they push me and they carry me. They shock me and they shake me. They open me and they mend me.

To read more of my thoughts on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow the blog or subscribe via feedburner.

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What I Learned in 30 Consecutive Days of Blogging

The hardest part was not writing the posts, but hitting publish.

By committing to posting daily, I found myself publishing things I’d written that I wouldn’t usually have looked at twice.

I carried my blogging journal around with me. I opened it even when I didn’t feel like I had anything to say. Usually I opened it because I had something to say.

I started in the journal. I expounded and organized my thoughts in Evernote. I moved the clump of words for a third and final time to WordPress, made a few final edits, added a picture and categories and tags, and then, regardless of how ready I felt, I let it out into the world.

I pushed beyond my comfort zone. I opened my eyes wider. I felt purposeful and connected, allowing a greater peace to the beginning of my days because I’d accomplished something that mattered beyond my personal microcosm.

I enjoyed asking questions and getting introspective and feeling my way through pages of thoughts.

I loved having the “excuse” to write creative non-fiction. I loved how posts arose organically when I was not under pressure to promote or sell or generate revenue. I loved finding the flow of consciousness and riding it for a couple hundred words.

I had more posts in me than I thought possible. Instead of succumbing to the lack mentality that I needed to save good ideas, I cultivated them, and I used almost all of them. Like many things, ideas beget ideas. Thought knows no limitations. Language, while limited, allows abundant expression.

But there is always a shadow side.

Blogging daily sucked me dry creatively. My fiction, my art, suffered. Yes, blogging is its own art. But its not my first priority as an artist.

Blogging daily borrowed precious time and presence during vacations and visits with loved ones

Blogging daily took a lot of time. Time well-spent, but time nonetheless.

So what’s next for me and this blog?

To be continued…

This is day 30 of 30 consecutive days of blogging. I made it! Thank you for joining me. If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. If you have something to add, feel free to comment openly or anonymously.

To read more of my thoughts on womanhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow the blog or subscribe via feedburner.

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How I Learned To Love The Playground

It took me years to face my dislike of the playground.

I didn’t go as often or stay as long as (I felt) I should. Unless I had another adult to talk to, I was bored. Unless I was desperate to get out of the house and the weather was nice or it was extremely convenient, I just didn’t go.

Until I learned this trick.

I had to make the playground fun for me, too. I had to learn how to play.

These days, I sit on the swing, usually with a toddler in my lap, and I swing. It is soothing.

I zip across the zip lines. I jump and I slide. I use the monkey bars to work on my pull ups and I climb the fire pole in my bare feet. I stretch.

It feels good to heat up from the inside out, it feels good to strengthen from the outside in.

The power generated from playing with my children at a good playground is intoxicating. I become invigorated and ready to tackle what’s next, even dinner and bedtime.

My advice for the perfect playground adventure? Bring nourishing snacks, more water than you think you will need, and sun protection. Choose a playground with nice scenery and equipment. Wear clothes in which you can comfortably move. Most importantly, if you catch another parent giving you the side eye for your childlike behavior, smile at them. You’re having fun, after all.

This is day 29 of 30 consecutive days of blogging. I’m glad you’re along for the ride. If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. If you have something to add, feel free to comment openly or anonymously.

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This End of This Era

It’s the end of an era.

Someone said this when my last living grandparent passed in 2008. It still rings in my head, this idea that an entire era that was rich and real and colorful could cease to exist. 

But eras are continuously beginning and blossoming and ending. There’s nothing novel or unexpected about it. Life is slippery. Nothing lasts forever.

My daughter, the sweet, spirited, and sensitive soul who made me a mommy, starts kindergarten in a week.

I wish I didn’t have to dwell on this at all. I wish I could watch the end of my daughter’s babyhood without feeling so sentimental about it and reflecting on it and wishing I’d read her more books or taken her to the playground more times or taught her more about reading and math.

Because she couldn’t have been snuggled more or kissed more. She couldn’t have spent more hours playing pretend or holding her sister or babying her dolls or dressing up. She couldn’t have written on more walls. She couldn’t have used more trees in the name of art. She couldn’t have heard “I love you” more times.

I’m going to miss taking her to the gym and grocery store with me. I’m going to miss midday trips to the public library. I’m going to miss the long afternoons. Im going to miss a thousand things I cannot articulate. I’m going to miss my daughter’s babyhood.

In one week, she starts kindergarten. Her elementary career begins. I stopped myself from mentioning my sadness to her more than once today. Why should my sadness tamper her joy? In reality, her joy is my joy and it is much louder than my sadness. Dwelling on the past shadows the present.

Here marks my moment to move on. 

We’re going to live up this last week of my daughter’s babyhood. This end of this era. 

And then, we are going to step into kindergarten with all of the excitement welling up inside of us, including the distinct feeling that I, too, am going to kindergarten. The emotions are both familiar and distant, and just as real as they were 25 years ago. It’s a trip. 

Mostly, I love school and I know my daughter will love school as she loved preschool and I am so grateful that her babyhood happened and it will be her cushion as she navigates the waters of bullies and mean girls and power struggles and teachers who don’t understand and teachers who change something inside of you. 

So. Grateful.

This is day 28 of 30 consecutive days of blogging. I’m glad you’re along for the ride. If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. If you have something to add, feel free to comment openly or anonymously.

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Adult Siblings, Housework & The Menstruation Stigma

On Sundays, for your reading pleasure, I share a few favorite links discovered in the past week.

Have you talked to your adult sibling lately? According to NPR, adult siblings may be the secret to a long, happy life. Another benefit to cultivating friendships among our children.

Traditional gender traps are fascinating. We often operate according to these paradigms without realizing because they are so deeply ingrained. This article explains why men tend to think they are overworking as parents, and why this isn’t true. Please note the sweeping generalization and the many exceptions to the rule. (My husband, for example, keeps our floors decent with the help of the roomba, pictured below.) But it is also true that many men tend to over-estimate their performance in the areas of household work and child care “because society congratulates them for doing these things at all.” Why, society, why?

In the same vein, I loved my friend Gail’s piece about why she can’t let the housework slide— a witty response to the popular piece of parenting advice to “let the housework slide” because “a messy home is a happy home.” I relate to every little thing she says.

All of my props going to Kiran Gandhi, the musician who ran the London marathon without a tampon, with blood dripping down her leg, to fight the stigma surrounding menstruation and to represent the women who don’t have access to tampons. This makes me so happy to live Now.

 

This is day 27 of 30 consecutive days of blogging. I’m glad you’re along for the ride. If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. If you have something to add, feel free to comment openly or anonymously.

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When Life Hands You A Lemon

When life hands you a lemon, do you bite into it? Do you make a face? Do you shave the peel over your ice cream? Do you squeeze it? Do you squeeze it into warm water first thing in the morning to jump start your digestion? Do you squeeze it into sugared water? Do you add ice? Do you put it in the fridge? Do you throw it away?

Lemons are like lessons. They can be interpreted any which way. They can be savored and sweetened, or they can be thrown back to the earth. They can rot without ever serving a purpose besides absorbing sunshine and water. I’ve seen it happen in my backyard. Literally, metaphorically.

When life hands you something sour or bitter, how do you make it sweet?

This is where faith comes into play. Faith is believing that something good is about to happen. Faith is believing that doors close so that windows can open. Faith is believing that our dreams exist for a reason. Faith is knowing that lemons can be made into lemonade.

True peace is finding calm in the eye of the storm. True faith is finding fortune in the unfortunate.

If you’re going through something big or something small, if your heart hurts or your brain hurts or your body hurts, I hope you find something to hang onto. A thread, a hand, a hope, a prayer. Let it take care of you. Someday everything will make sense.

This is day 26 of 30 consecutive days of blogging. I’m glad you’re along for the ride. If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. If you have something to add, feel free to comment openly or anonymously.

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What Is Community To You?

I moved to San Francisco 9 months ago. I had a great life in Seattle, rich with good people. I had family. I had community.

Yet I left willingly. I left to know a new part of the country. I left for opportunity. I left because I’ve sensed from a young age that I would live here. I left because I have always been a California girl at heart.

I’ve arrived. So of course I am happy to be here. Of course I love it. Of course San Francisco charms the hell out of me.

It’s always worth it, but it’s not always easy. Usually the effects are subtle. An undercurrent of something unsettling, whether it be the logistical nightmare of moving states and building a new infrastructure, the exorbitant cost of living, or the distinct feeling of uprootedness. Though I’ve made lifelong friendships here in these short months, though I’ve co-founded a community to support mothers who make art, I’m still knitting the web of connections. My community is a work in progress.

What is community to you? Is it seeing people you know on the street? Is it making small talk? Is it comprised of those who know the most important things about you, no matter how far away? Or is it formed by repetition, the people you see day-in and day-out? Is it formed by default? Do we choose community or does community choose us?

San Francisco is a small city comprised of neighborhoods that function like microcosms. After a few short weeks here, I started running into people I’d already met. It happens often. At the grocery store or on the street or at the park. In less than a month, my little girl will start kindergarten and the double doors to a new faction will swing open.

Yet a community made by default is different than a community created with conscious intentions. So I’ve started asking myself what I want.

I want a community that reflects my values. A community where we can celebrate our unique talents by sharing them, where we welcome everybody and we learn from each other, where we support one another in making healthy choices, where cooperation trumps competition and everyone understands that the rising tide lifts all boats. A community that thinks creatively and practices non-judgment. A community that loves art and craves culture. A community that lifts its members up.

Writing this down enlivens me because I know I’m already well on my way. Slowly, surely. Because communities are never formed overnight. Luckily, we have our whole lives.

What is community to you?

This is day 26 of 30 consecutive days of blogging. I’m glad you’re along for the ride. If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. If you have something to add, feel free to comment openly or anonymously.

To read more of my thoughts on womanhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow the blog or subscribe via feedburner.

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