Things I Miss

There are things I miss when I’m focused elsewhere but the beautiful perfect present–distracted by the fierce competition of to-do lists, thoughts and the technology I keep forever close to my fingertips.

I miss the details of my living room, the marble framing the fireplace, the blue chesterfield armchairs from my childhood, the columns that have showed up in five homes where I’ve lived and loved.

I miss the breadth of my child’s smile and the depth of her questions. I miss the wonder in my baby’s ever shifting gaze and the cadence of her babble.

I miss the whoosh of the cars on my city street and the sunshine soaking my garden. I miss sitting on my chaise lounge and tilting my face towards the great expanse.

I miss words that might come if I faced the blank screen more often, letting the discomfort scrape away the roughage to make room for something I can never know without trying.

I miss eye contact with my husband and playing with my children and ideas that only grace a spacious uncluttered mind.

I miss reading books and seeing strangers, really seeing them. I miss eavesdropping and people watching. I miss conversations with people whose name I’ve yet to learn. I miss meeting people. I miss knowing them in the flesh.

I miss the dreams I don’t write down and the phases of the moon and the guideposts planted carefully by serendipity.

I miss teaching moments and learning moments. I miss the direction of the wind and the full body of my coffee and the sweetness of a crisp cold apple.

I miss the fullness in my belly after a good meal. I miss the tension in my shoulders and the strength in my legs. I miss the brightness in our eyes and the softness of their skin and the shape of their cheeks pressed against me.

I miss the smell of leather and the silhouette of a beautiful boot. I miss unexpected art exhibits. I miss the chance to help people with a smile.

I miss loneliness etched in faces. I miss the moment when someone opens their mouth to speak to me, then stops. I miss imagining an entire lifetime from the three words an old man says to his companion on the bus.

I miss questions. I miss answers. I miss jokes. I miss chances for laughter. I miss knowing them better. I miss understanding.

I miss looking up.

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

My New Years wishes for you

I welcomed 2015 with The Flaming Lips and pounds of confetti and giant balloons including a monstrous mylar sculpture of the words “FUCK YEAH 2015.”

Maybe you think that’s vulgar, but I did not. I thought it irreverent and appropriate and empowering.

Because I had just one glass of Sofia Coppola sparkling wine, my mind stayed sharp. All of my senses in tact. The music vibrated with alarming intensity. Layers of pot smoke drifted in and around the bodies. My husband’s sturdy arms held me close. Primary lights flashed and popped. Psychedelic characters graced the stage. Polka-dotted mushrooms and caterpillars with butterfly wings and a sun with spikey rays and a rainbow with no clouds attached. A large mirrored ball descended from the rafters and the lead singer held his arms open to it as it spun, reflecting fractals of light onto thousands of people. I saw the ball as a metaphor for the earth. And every hand that rose into the charged air belonged to a human communing with the spirit.

Some people have church, some people have concerts, and some people see God everywhere. In the beat of a drum and the rhythm of a poem and the snow on a mountaintop.

I hope you see God this year. Anywhere, everywhere.

Minutes before midnight they played a banging cover of a song that’s been special to me for a long time. If you’re a Beatles fan like me, you already know I named my blog after this song, even if I myself wasn’t named after the song at all. As a child I sat upon my dad’s knee while he played it on the piano, his voice hitting all the right notes.

Picture yourself on a boat in a river. With tangerine trees and marmalade skies…

Where do you picture yourself this year?

I hope you live outside of your comfort zone.

I hope you aren’t afraid to fail.

I hope you don’t dwell on your mistakes.

I hope you do something every day that makes you feel alive.

If you have dreams, I hope you chase them.

If you don’t have dreams, I hope you find one or many. I hope you dig deep and come up with diamonds.

I like to think that, by definition, our truest dreams exist to make this broken world a better place. The body is a microcosmic representation of the universe. Our neuron connections look like constellations. If the body can heal itself given the proper conditions, so can the earth. One person at a time. And because life longs for itself, the earth wants to heal, the universe wants us to make our differences. Our passions have purpose. These flames did not start from nothing.

I hope you tend your flame.

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

We’re all messed up

When this life feels like a hierarchy, I don’t like it. But what else can we be? How can we exist here and now in this heavily populated existence? We don’t live on farms, miles apart. We don’t grow our own food and ferment our own grapes. Generally we are entertained by popular musical artists and prime time television and mass-produced fiction words than our own pianos and imaginations. We drive one another around and serve one another dinner, hedging for more, curating our prettiest moments to share on a universal bulletin board.

We are tangled and torn. Our soft spots snagging on one another’s sharp edges. Scrambling up, falling down. Looking for a place to settle. Believing and disbelieving that our place in society says nothing about our worth as human beings. Learning, and breaking, and growing strong where we were once weak.

I love wearing red lipstick because it makes me brighter and louder even when I am feeling quiet and shadowy. I don’t have to look how I feel. I can be anything anyone anywhere I want to be. So long as I respect reasonable limits.

The truth is that I don’t always like myself. Sometimes I distinctly dislike myself. I’m sick of talking about myself. But my life and my thoughts are fodder for my art. Perhaps, if you can relate, this isn’t a bunch of narcissistic bullshit but rather a mirror that reveals something far more important than a flat image trapped beneath the looking glass.

Friends are like mirrors, too. My best friends know me so well. From my vices to my dreams to my privileges. When I sit across from them I am turned inside out and even though my insides are messy and scarred they show hints of something promising. I see my friends, too. Their talents as they discover and hone them and use them. We feel conscious of our imperfect selves and jealous of one another’s creativity but mostly just admiring. We see one another for what we are and we are beautiful. And hopeful.

I’m listening to the audiobook of Lena Dunham’s memoir. She’s brilliant and I love her. She exposes so much of herself, I don’t know how she does it. I also love her show, Girls. I love how she portrays modern youth, calling us out for our somewhat crazy spoiled reckless behavior, breaking hearts (our own and others) like a man with a loaded gun on a rampage. As a dear friend (not the one pictured below, however) recently said to me, “we’re all messed up, we’re all crazy. But we’re also beautiful and creative and amazing.” An ironic statement seeing that it came from a seemingly perfect mormon mother, the homecoming queen of my high school, an athlete and a cheerleader. Someone I’ve always admired, even in the moment she beat me out for senior class secretary.

Could it be our flaws that make us our most beautiful and cherished and powerful selves?

Hegarty says that fearlessness produces creativity.

So that’s why I’m wearing red lipstick and telling you about my insecurities. After all, I have no reason not to like myself, but sometimes I just don’t.

Maybe you understand.

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

Modern-Day Royalty

An interesting thing about (average middle class American) children these days is that they are so well tended.

There’s no scavenging for water when their class goes on a field trip. They carry BPA-free bottles in their backpacks, filled that very morning by loving attentive parents.

They can play in the rain without getting chilled because they always have a change of clothing nearby, and if not, the school has something they can borrow.

There’s no sliding around in the backseat. They sit in five-point car seats and high tech strollers like modern-day chariots.

They may as well be royalty.

We work to support them and when we aren’t working, we entertain them and care for them and clean up after them.

Before they are even born our friends throw them baby showers and after they come we remember their arrival by hosting annual birthday parties. We shower them with gifts on Christmas and we set up elaborate egg hunts on Easter.

We want everything to be magical for them.

We want everything for them. Everything we had, and perhaps more.

I think kids are so well tended these days because parenting builds on the previous generation. We parent the way our parents took care of us, compensating and occasionally over compensating for the gaps that may or may not have existed in our own childhoods.

But are there dangers to over compensating? Can we possibly give our babies too many gifts or too many parties or too much attention? If we overdo it will they grow up to be generous with high social and emotional intelligence, or needy and dependent on all sorts of addictions?

I think it’s something for us to consider as we finish our holiday shopping and embark on long school breaks. Can we find balance in the season of excess?

How do you find balance? Tell me in the comments or email me lucymiller7 [at] gmail [dot!] com. I would like to know!!

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

Finding Equinimity as Parents

A tough thing about this gig is the polarity of moods. From great to terrible and back again. I can hardly keep up.

Yesterday I had a major mommy win in which I fulfilled my vision of coaxing both little girls to sleep in their carseats so I could watch the ocean crash against the shore.

While they slept I indulged in my guiltiest pleasure (Instagram). And I started listening to a new audio book: “Yes, Please” by Amy Poehler. Before I could get too settled in the baby woke up and then the big one woke up and the peace quickly morphed into loud tears.

The rest of the day followed suit. Skyla cried the whole way home. Messes ensued, forming faster than I could fix. The baby is becoming a munchkin. She rarely stops moving and she can climb onto our bed by herself. She has teeth and a mischievous giggle.

My children, they lasso my heart with ribbons of sweet baby’s breath, and they squeeze out of me all the energy and patience and resources I have to give. They are relentless demanding little bosses and they kick my ass on a regular basis.

The joy and the misery are two sides of the same coin. I can’t have a front without a back, an up without a down.

Buddhism teaches about equanimity: seeing good and bad as essentially the same. Not letting yourself be pulled too low or high. Practicing nonattachment. When I start feeling strong negative emotions (and when I remember) I pray for equanimity. Not indifference but evenness. So that my heart stops beating to the rhythm of anger. So that I don’t slip and say something I regret. So that I can give my little loves a decent example to follow.

It’s hard. A continuous practice. But when I write about it, it becomes that much easier.

By default we take our troubles with the utmost seriousness even when we know they will dissolve should we allow them.

Ultimately, we have control over very little, but we do have control over our moods.

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

Taking Risks

I think maybe the important thing for writers is just to keep writing even if they don’t at first think they have anything to say.

Only because it’s cathartic. It brings a unique satisfaction. If my brain is a leaky tire, then words are my oxygen.

I’ve long wondered what this blog would become should I make it a daily practice rather than an occasional one.

(I hate blogging about blogging but I’m going to follow this train of thought anyways.)

It could become a collection of boring thoughts that don’t make sense. It could become a compelling journal about an ordinary middle class American life. It could become an ode to mothering or writing or San Francisco. It could be good practice for finding my voice. It could be all of these and none of these depending on the day.

But I haven’t taken the leap because I don’t know if I want to expose that much of myself. Which reminds me of this poignant quote by my current favorite artist of my generation, Lena Dunham:

Shame is the emotion that makes us feel most isolated from each other, and the most isolated from ourselves. It’s deeply important to try to rid ourselves of it. Exorcising your demons is a gift that you can give to other people, I think. It’s what makes our art not totally self-indulgent nonsense.

I think I’m ready to experiment. I learned this year that change is good. 2015 is around the corner, I’ll be 30 soon. I feel like shaking things up. In truth, I’m bored more often than I’m not. Maybe because I’ve been playing it too safe.

Instead of wasting time on the how, I’m going to leave it at the intention: I intend to take more risks. I intend to blog more frequently. I intend to publish more work. I intend to make new friends.

Perhaps this could be the year..

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

Public Transit Vs. Driving With Kids

I thought that maybe if I took the bus I could journal for a moment. But it was crowded and I had to stand with the baby on my back and when I did get a seat, the baby grew fussy. I could barely hang onto the lurching bus and my girls at once, much less open my purse. Skyla lost her patience around the same time we got to our stop, so naturally, I missed it.IMG_3551.JPGNo worries though, we walked through Chinatown for the first time and got caught in the rain before hopping on a bus back up the hill to the 22 foot gingerbread house at the Fairmont in San Francisco. I do love public transit that comes every 5-10 minutes.IMG_3569.JPGI experience something on the bus from time to time like when Skyla flirts with everyone she can catch with her eyes, smiling and babbling and a fat little hand on an elderly man’s chest, or when Giovanna chooses to stand rather than sit with a smirk of pride. A swelling of my heart, simple but deep enjoyment of my children. It makes me sad for all of the hours I’ve spent in my car. Isolated, bored, lonely. Convenience and speed the tippy top priority. Time too finite to waste. Yet driving is another sort of waste… And a whole lot of freedom.IMG_3565.JPGOnce we have our basic needs met, what do we chase? A lot, but at the center of it all is freedom, I think. Freedom of expression via art. Freedom to explore via travel. Freedom to consume via money. Freedom to grow via information. (Enter the internet!)IMG_3577.JPGInterestingly, motherhood seems to impose the opposite of freedom. By it’s very nature motherhood occupies our bodies and consumes our hearts, sometimes our thoughts. Whether we want to accept it or not, our children are like teeny tiny bosses. IMG_3595.JPGDriving can become its own sort of break as our children are temporarily encumbered by their carseats. Their only power in that position comes from the power they have over us. Both of my daughters have been known to wail in the car, and I have been known to pull over. I’ve grown more skilled at handling the cries with my second babe and I do wonder how this will affect her in the long run, praying it will be mostly good rather than mostly bad.IMG_3592.JPGDriving, when the children are quiet or sleeping, becomes its own meditation. It gives you choices.

Taking the bus is a social and cultural experience. It allows you to look sideways in addition to forward.IMG_3612.JPGI’m grateful to live in a city where I can do both. And I encourage other people, not just mothers but especially mothers, to shake up their transportation routines. Bus instead of drive. Transit instead of taxi. Walk a different way. You might just get inspired by something new.

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