Wait. Just stand there for a sec.

ben becoming

He walked to the table for breakfast this morning.

He looked different.

He looked different than he did just nine hours ago when I badgered him about getting his nighttime reading done.

And when I tucked him in for the night.

He looked older.

I said to him.

Wait, stand there. Just stand there for a sec.

You look different this morning.

I looked at him.

I surveyed his face, his every hair and the space he occupied in the room.

I saw the baby I once held.

I saw the small boy who used to hold my hand and call me mama.

I saw the teenager he almost is.

I said to him.

Sometimes I miss my little little boy.

But mostly, I just really like who you are right now.

And.

And I am curious about who you are becoming.

He looked at me.

With eyes that almost rolled. Almost.

He said to me.

Ok mom.

3july

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Quit your whining. Move.

2012-07-06 09.21.20

Running. Trying to run.

Gasping. Stopping. Whining

Two weeks off.

A trip.

Of gastronomic proportions.

Eating. It all.

Jet lag.

No movement.

One with the couch.

Gasping. Last one in at run’s end.

Feeling bitchy about how easy it doesn’t feel.

Round the corner.

Head down. Eyes to the ground.

Almost.

There.

Glint. In my eye.

A car. Parked. The door opens.

Eyes still down, in view are two rubber stoppers.

Those things at the bottom. Bottom of crutches.

Two stoppers. One shoe.

Shit.

I have two legs.

Shit.

Run. Run. Run.

Dig deep, woman.

YOU.Can.Run.

Heart rate picks up. Pace picks up.

Momentum surges.

Still last runner in.

Still gasping.

But running.

On two legs.

Quit your whining.

Move.

+

This memory, from a few months back upon returning from our Paris trip, is still SO vivid in my mind, in ME, and was triggered by yet another  lapse in momentum.

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A Dearth of Words

dearth

Dearth.

Yes. A scarcity of something. Words. Here.

And it’s noticed, I know. A few folks I know have commented, casually, ‘uh, you haven’t written anything in awhile….’

And, then leave the comment trailing…

All I can seem to muster in those moments is a quasi-quizzical look and a mild sigh. Then, I try to explain what I haven’t yet sorted out for myself.

They know all that you all know about the the circuitous and yet full circle path I’ve been on, and so when they say….

Maybe you don’t need to anymore?…”

… I am – every time – simply silent with no real meaningful response.  You might say, a dearth of wit in those moments.

In my silence, however, I am uncomfortable. Not at rest. Maybe even slightly agitated.

But – and because – I am unable to articulate why. Even to myself.

Until the other night, or rather very early morning, when I should have been sleeping snuggled and sound; instead my mind was busy. No dearth of 3 a.m. thoughts, of that I can assure you.  In that vast, wide open space otherwise known as the middle of the freaking night, I circled about, eyeing this notion like a bird preying it’s lunch down below.

I thought of something Mimi wrote in her last post about “becoming a paean to gratefulness.

I thought about how much that resonated with me.

I thought about why that is.

I thought about how as a young girl, I was drawn to writing my thoughts and how when I look back at my old diaries, I see many starts but not as many finishes.

I thought about the idea of why we write. Why I write.

And then…

I thought about all this thinking.

And then…

I thought about the satisfaction that comes from writing.

I thought about so many issues sorted and unraveled because I wrote.

I thought about the community of friends and writers created and curated here, over time.

I thought about how it feels when I do write.

I felt it.

….

I kept circling back in my thoughts,  back to the comment, ‘maybe you just don’t need to anymore…’

Like writing was simply a temporary friend during a lonely and unsettling time.  (You know ‘that friend’ who constantly cries on your shoulder about this, that or the other thing, and never lets you know how things turned out? )*

A band-aid to put on during something that hurt.

A salve to soothe an an open wound.

….

And then I finally landed on the morsel.

But I do.

I do need to write.

I need the writing.

It is part of me that I (re)discovered during all that. The silver lining, so to speak, in the mess of of it all.

maitriser-le-web-reseaux-sociauxIt’s how I distill meaning from what’s in and around me.

It’s a way of thinking that makes sense to me.

It’s like the friend who totally gets me. *(And I don’t want be ‘that friend’ to writing.)

….

And, I fell back to sleep, but not before imprinting this in my mind’s eye, to come back to. Here.

Because, I need the writing.

Even in the absence of angst, without a glaring problem to solve or sort. There will always be – the way I see it, the way I want to see it  – something to distill.

So, what does this mean? I am not sure yet; I just know that the next time someone says, ‘oh maybe you just don’t need it anymore?” I know that I will say, ‘oh but I do…”

And while it’s true, life as I know it now is so much brighter, full of promise and love and possibilities limited only by infinity, it’s ok to still need the writing.

I need the writing.

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She had to ask

paris2

Standing at street’s edge; waiting for the light.

A dynamic, vibrant, bustling world class city.

Next to us a young woman stands, waiting.

Poised, stylish, together, confident in her own skin kind of way.

An unlit cigarette in hand.

The signature scarf worn in that effortless and elegant way;

the way of Parisian women.

We catch a moment’s contact of eyes

and then return to our impersonal, stoic forward stares.

Waiting.

I sense movement to my left and turn.

She leans in, so subtly in her graceful way.

Parlez vous Francais?

She had not pegged us as tourists.

There was the chance.

She had to ask.

travel

Non.

But my eyes said more.

Merci.

Merci beaucoup.

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it just keeps getting better…

those rocks that tree

When you don’t do something for awhile, it can seem unfamiliar and the starting point anything but obvious. So, somewhat recently on Live & Learn, when David shared three lines of a poem in the midst of one of his posts, it stopped me in my tracks. Not just because the words were just spot on truth for me. Not just because I found myself wishing that I had been the one to assemble them in the way the author had so eloquently (and seemingly so effortlessly) done. But because those three lines capture what had been elusive to me: what I needed to get this post started.

The three lines by poet John O’Donohue posted on this blog read like this…

Unknown to us, there are moments

When crevices we cannot see open
For time to come alive with beginning

and reminded me that much as we try, we can’t know what is to come.

In months that have somehow managed to have sped by, under the hood has been an ongoing process.  An examination of not my conscience, but rather my very consciousness and a riotous path of change and growth. Big things have ended, little things have cropped up and simmered right back down and all along there has been an eyes-wide-open-deer-in-the-headlights-bring-it stance on it all.  I like to think of it as beginner’s mind, which for me is any time we find ourselves in some degree of both amazement and trepidation – and often, dogged determination – in some kind of new or changing time.  But beginner’s mind cannot last forever, for eventually a beginning moves to somewhere in the middle. Yes?

There is the saying that all good things come to an end.

I think perhaps that is not always true.

And, on the contrary, it can actually get better.

However we slice it, in review, it might help for you to know that as I cast my glance in the rear view mirror, I see a marriage that ended, and necessarily so; and subsequently I see a rift in a family for a young and yet so wise and resilient young boy; I see a move to where less truly became more in ways so unexpected and a brand of co-parenting of which I am proud of for my son.   I see professional hurdles and challenges and just a whole lot of unpleasantness that are best described as hanging on tightly to a ship’s mast out on a stormy sea. I see a bank account that some days had more question marks than dollar signs.

But in the midst of all of that: endings, upsets and so many unknowns, there has also been grace and goodness, and so much understanding and without question,  many unanticipated lessons.

wrong roadI have navigated these last few years, with my kiddo and I, bolstered of course by our magical friends and family, in an intentional and optimistic way. I found a way to go at it at my own pace and in my own way.  I wanted to – I had to – go through the pain, not around the pain.  I wanted to understand, and to admit where the wrong turn(s?) have been made and why. So, the kiddo and I, we have laughed, we have logged miles, we have sat side by side on the couch checking off episodes of our favorite TV shows. We created our signature ‘funk-food-dinner-and-movie nights‘ (sometimes, mama’s in a funk and can’t find her way around the kitchen…). And, we have done our own thing – he with his friends, me with mine. Sometimes that happens all together. I dipped my toe in the dating pool. Murky waters I tell you.  But that is another story for another day. Or not.

With this in mind, almost exactly a year ago, I took a few days away to reset, and continue this re-evaluation. I went up to the mountains, a place that I consider a second home.  I spent nearly a week: I went driving around the entire lake, hiking, sitting, walking, and chasing sunsets.  And thinking. A lot.  And learning. For example, one night the power went out. All of it. Guess what I learned? That I really am a little bit afraid of the dark!  Who knew!?  

I learned something else equally important.

On my last day there, I positioned myself at a stunning location facing west and since the summer rush had subsided, the beach was nearly left just for me. And my glass of wine.

beach

I sat in wait and I was not disappointed.  The sunset was literally spectacular. And slow. And evolving.

Like we are.

I savored each moment as the sun performed right in front of me.

sunset

As the sun sank lower and lower, and aware that I had parked somewhat far away, I – so reluctantly – left in time to get to my car before darkness set in fully (I’d  already completed my Intro to Darkness course, successfully, I might add). I walked along, hopping over some boulders, looking back to catch every last possible glimpse. I wanted that image printed in me as much as in my camera’s SD card.

We all see sunsets, it’s nothing out of the ordinary. Right? The sun sets every day. It has to.

I thought I’d seen the last of it, but the sunset had changed once again.

It was like it had one more act, an encore perhaps?

I found myself smiling, relaxed and leaning up against a railing on the boat launch and muttering to myself, ‘it just keeps getting better’. And then, I thought to myself, huh, and nodding, and thinking, realizing…

…it’s all going to be ok. It just keeps getting better…

I was smiling.

sunset4

I’m not going to lie.

The last few years have been enlightening, maybe you could even say “exhilarating” at times. But not easy.

But, I realized what I was saying. Out loud.

As I heard myself, I smiled bigger as I realized, yes, it does. It just keeps getting better.

It’s true.  There have been moments unbeknownst to me where things were at play and I had no idea.

My kiddo is doing awesome. He continues to teach me and surprise me.   His resilience is not just comforting; it’s affirming. At work we have a new captain of the ship and while you cannot turn a ship on a dime, it seems the seas have calmed and we are headed in a better direction; I am excited to be starting a new academic year, energized and maybe somewhat overwhelmed, but excited.

Colleagues have said to me, “I’m so glad you hung in there…”

And, I met someone. Someone most special. In the most unexpected of places.

People keep telling me, “You look so happy, it’s good to see you smiling again…”

It just keeps getting better.

Kiddo and I mixed it up this summer and instead of hitting the road, we jetted off through the friendly skies to enjoy our annual summer trip. Let’s just say, it was monumental.

So lessons learned:  Don’t get stuck in the dark. And it can definitely get better.  Sometimes we just to have to trust the wisdom penned by John O’Donohue.

And a ps…to the ‘nudgers’, you know exactly who you are, and thank you.  You have no idea…

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Abundantly Inadequate

simply

We are all readers or writers here, and in some cases, both.  In short, we are no strangers to words. Their power, their play and their partnership when we need or want to express ourselves in some way. We write blogs, books, poems and songs; we pen memos, letters, missives and lists. Daily.  We engage in witty banter, endless text threads, singing song lyrics and reciting movie lines.

But, sometimes we come face to face with a situation where it seems that the right words, or any words for that matter, are on par with the amount of water here in California.  Simply not enough.

We’ve all been in the situation with someone who’s facing a tragedy, or they have received terrible news, enduring a heavy load with no end in sight, or grieving, missing and mourning when someone is no longer. Simply lost.

Face to face with these moments, we are moved. We feel deeply and when our emotions course through us and rise up out of the belly, we can find that the words are absent. Simply not there.

A light bulb flickered for me this morning while getting ready for work. A different way to think about this. While standing in front of my bursting closet I had that all too familiar and frustrating feeling of, I have NOTHING to wear!

emptyFor all of the infinite possibilities afforded us by the English language, sometimes it’s like that feeling of standing before your first-world over-packed closet.  Hanging there are all of those blouses, cardigans, shirts and pants.  In those fraught face-to-face moments, hanging there are all of those verbs, nouns, adjectives and prepositions, yet somehow it feels abundantly inadequate. Simply not enough.

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A Little Bit Back to Center

As with most of us, the weeks in between Thanksgiving and the holly jolly holiday can be likened to either a sausage or a can of sardines; in either case too much is constrained in far too small of a space.

Work demands seemed to ratchet instead of dwindle and we lost a bright shining star long before he should have ever gone shooting across the sky.  Losing a dear and trusted colleague is never easy, and especially the peak of the season.

On the home front we switched from cleats to high tops and a whole new game schedule.  I really need the coaches to check with me before signing up our team for extra scrimmages and tournaments.

As such, it was a push to get Christmas on the table, so speak.  A naked tree stood vulnerable in my living room for too many days before it finally got it’s well earned bling and blitz.  The flour and sugar and mixer remain tucked away in cabinets this year and I did not support the US Postal service this go-round….

(I was kind of feeling like the elf who barely made it in for the night and just kind of hanging on….)

2014-12-17 20.34.03

 

…and the gift list was whittled and all through the house; this nearly bah-humbug mama slowly began to exhale.

An almost stolen (but not) purse, a few unusual conversations and all the requisite daily pushes and pulls, and the edges began to fray.  I found myself needing to respond to a particular situation, make an important decision, and I realized that I felt so far from center. So far from my own self that finding the inner voice of reason and the all-important gut check seemed akin to the journey to the center of the earth; a really long way away.

***

Last night, kiddo and I spent the evening with dear and long time friends who came into town for the holiday.  To help welcome them, the friend hosting them also hosted an evening gathering with friends and family who also wanted to be with them.  There we were, the atypically warm December night found the women gathered on the generous front porch sipping wine and talking like there is no tomorrow, the kids running free between basement and front yard and the men tossing back a few beers in the kitchen. And of course, any mix and mingle of all peppered the evening.  Before I knew it, jackets and santa hats donned, wine glasses re-filled, we walked the neighborhood which some would liken to a modern day Mayberry and took in the light strewn homes, horse-drawn carriages transporting families and friends doing the same as us, and pick-up trucks filled with carolers. As we walked, conversations were easy, natural and changing depending on who walked next to whom. Kids ran front, center and in between.

At one moment, while I had the three biggest kids in my reach, I let them go ahead a bit, and ahead of them were the smalls and other adults.  I hung back, I lingered, wine in hand, and took it all in.

I exhaled deeper. A lot deeper.

Bright lights in my periphery. People I love in direct view.

Cheerful sounds filling the air.

A sip of my wine.

Exhale.

This. This right here. This is Christmas.  I exhaled fully and smiled.

I caught up to my kiddo and draped an arm around his shoulders, not far below my own now,  and said, this is good, eh?  We are good. We get this.  He was quiet and I said, this is a moment to just be.

 

***

This morning, as I woke, I thought of last night.

I realized. That was a little bit of coming back to center.

***

Merry Christmas. Holly Jolly Holiday.  Blessings.

My wish for you, each of you, is that moment to just be.

To exhale. To find center.

***

Peace & Joy

-Bonnie