Sunday, September 23, 2012

All is Winter

High Resolution Winter Pictures - Trees is a free comely image   

(In honor of the first day of Fall)

All is winter
All is bare
All the limbs
have shivered
their crackling leaves
to the floor

crystallized, frozen
clings to
presses on
the naked branches
that splinter and groan

There is no sign
no detection
no gleam of green
to hint at
an under-

But down below
beneath grass and snow
hidden away
with rocks
dirt and loam
a seed was sown

The seedling drinks, swallows
nourishes itself
even when all else
empty, barren

the first trimester
of every gestation,
when the embryo grows 
and no one knows
All is beginning ...
                                       but all seems gone

In the spring
all of nature
is pregnant and proud
She bares all
her swelling buds
and blooms
Then summer comes
with burning heat
Sun throws open
her curtains
and reveals herself:
hot, brazen, bold

Spring flowers
take their perennial bow
and the summer buds
peel back
their petals
in flirtatious charm

All is Sun and water
warmth and wet
in the summer months;
the flora grows
without both

When the season closes
and Sun
puts on
her autumn coat
all of nature
changes with her

The trees give up
their dangling leaves
the plants their blossoms
and Earth
its seed--
now full-grown

In Autumn
Sun tilts her head
until the trees
strip down again
and another seed falls
ready to be sown

Then Winter,
the first trimester
of every gestation,
when the embryo grows 
and no one knows
All is beginning once more...
                                        when all seems gone

Monday, September 17, 2012


This summer was all about being wet. As the season draws to a close, I see it wasn't just about cooling myself from the heat. It was a practical way to teach my heart to drench itself in beauty, refreshment, relaxation, peace.

It reminds me of my summers as a child. On the days when no one was available to "come out and play" I would venture into the pool in my backyard alone. After I had done enough handstands and somersaults, front dives and back dives to satisfy my need for play, I craved a different kind of movement. I would swim to the bottom of the pool and sit with my legs crossed Indian style and see how long I could stay there.

I learned quickly how buoyant my little girl body was. As soon as I positioned myself, my bottom would go floating up, up, up. I'd be suspended in the water, body tilting forward and sideways, legs still crossed, trying to get myself back down, down, down.

I learned that if I stretched out my arms beside me with my elbows bent, and made small upwards motions with my hands, I could keep my body down.

Once I mastered this, I remember enjoying the expansive stillness around me. I recall yelling out and listening to the sound of my own warbled under-water voice.

As my mind wanders back to that place, my body can still feel the palpable comfort of being enveloped by the deep.

Right now I feel like I could stay at the bottom without any butterfly movements of my hands. It's like I have leaden weights tied to my ankles, and if it weren't for my need to come up for air, I could stay in the deep for a very long time.

I crane my neck and look above me at the water's surface. It seems far away from here. And that's exactly where I need it to be.

I relish the muted sounds. I'm fascinated by the way everything looks fluid under water--even my own body.

I want to hush everything around me and say, "Listen. Just listen to the deep."

Friday, September 7, 2012

Five O'Clock Shadow

During my recent move, I got rid of 75% of what I owned—my belongings. My belong-ings.

It required me to get clear about what I did and didn’t want to fill my life with. Now I am searching to find what fits—what belongs. 

When the search-and-discard impulse seizes you, two crosscurrents are at work: the old is leaving and grieving, while the new you celebrates and grows strong. As with any rupture, there is both tension and relief… You may find yourself feeling volatile and changeable. You are.
-Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way

It feels like I’ve just shed skin. I feel raw and vulnerable and exposed. I only want to touch and handle things that are light, fluffy, soothing and calm. I’ve temporarily lost my ability to tolerate things that are rough around the edges.

My soul wants to settle into a bed of down and feathers. I want to be enveloped by Grace. And I don’t mean church-y Grace. I mean I’m free to be me Grace. Uninhibited, unfiltered, unashamed, unabashed Grace.  Human, vulnerable, honest, beautiful Grace. The you-can-rest-because-it’s-all-going-to-work-out Grace.

I have just been through the arduous process of creating s  p  a  c  e in my soul, and I’m not anxious to fill it back up with little tchotchkes, meaningless trinkets that create the illusion of full-ness.

My soul is waking after a long sleep—a hibernation of sorts—and it needs room to spread its arms in an I’m awake! stretch.

Stretching always comes after waking.

As I’ve been adjusting to this new soul-space (which doesn’t always feel expansive), I have noticed this phenomenon.

During the morning and afternoon hours, I can (for the most part) wrap my head around all the change. I feel grounded in this needed to happen and I am learning to embrace this new season.

But when evening rolls around—almost precisely when the little hand hits the five—when my natural rhythm is to think what’s for dinner, and how will I unwind, my heart turns toward Home. And Home is not the same as it used to be.

That’s when the clouds roll in all I want to do is clear the deck, collapse and cry. It feels like a torrential downpour is on the horizon and I have to take shelter immediately.  And if I don’t or can’t, I feel prickly—like the coarse whiskers on a man’s cheeks whose face was shaved early in the morning.

It's the five o’clock shadow.

As far as I can see, there are two ways to deal with the pesky thing. I can get up and (figuratively) shave it off (and then it’s only a matter of time until the shadow comes back), or I can just let the freaking hair grow in.

I like the second option.

I have to just let myself grow in to this new space—not just the rooms I’ve set up furniture and clothes in—but the new space I’m inhabiting in Life.

I can’t say I know exactly how to do that or what it’s going to look like, but I have a hunch that simply by putting my Yes out there, the answers will present themselves.

Growing in might look like collapsing and crying for now. It might look like hanging curtains or painting canvases. It might look like walks on the beach, dinner out with friends, bike riding at dusk. I don’t know.

But I do know I can’t hide the shadow in the shadows. I don’t have to be ashamed at my growth. Because that’s what it is. Growth.

Five o’clock shadow emerges on a man's face because the hair that has been cut back keeps on growing. The five o’clock shadow in my soul emerges because even though my external living space has been cut back, my insides are still growing and expanding.

But it doesn’t necessary feel like I'm growing while I am in the midst of it. Sometimes it feels like I’m shrinking; other times like I’m regressing.

We may feel—and look—erratic. This erraticism is a normal part of getting unstuck, pulling free from the muck that has blocked us. It is important to remember that at first flush, going sane feels just like going crazy.  
-Julia Cameron

Five o'clock shadow feels a lot more like grieving than growing. And even though grief is involved, the pain isn't just over what I am leaving behind, it's over the enormity of the blank canvas of my future that has been set before me. The prospects are both exhilarating, exciting and--when the shadow appears--exhausting.

The five o'clock shadow comes because I'm at the end of a long day, and it's time to breathe in the new and let my hair down. It's time to embrace the rugged, wild terrain in front me. 

I've never been here before. And today I'm reassuring myself that that's okay. In fact, it's good.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Saying Good-Bye

This weekend I moved out of the home I have lived in for the past seven years.   

Those walls hold some of the dearest and most painful memories of my adult life. It’s where I lived when one of my sons was born; it’s where I lived when my marriage died.

On my last night there, I crawled into bed early to give my body adequate rest for the big move. It seemed as if I would doze off immediately, but after a few minutes of lying there quietly I suddenly felt wide awake.

I felt a pressing need to sit in the dark and say good-bye. I listened to that need and decided to start right where I was--in my room.

I mentally roamed around the space and let myself connect with the many memories I made there.

Then I got out of bed and glided to a corner where an armchair sat--nestled in front of a large window where the light streams in every morning. I love how the wind blew the curtains up in a good morning dance as I sat there to write every day.
In another corner, I leaned against a wall--with my palms and forehead pressed against it--that used to support a makeshift changing table when my school-aged son was an infant. I remembered what it was like to change and dress my baby when his body was small enough to be held with one arm.

As I stood near my bed, I remembered the countless middle-of-the-night feedings that had taken place there--some filled with angst, and most filled with awe. I remembered the times my son laid belly laughing as I played peek-a-boo in a high-pitched sing-song-y voice that made my baby boy's eyes sing with delight. 

The mood changed a bit as I paced the floors on a spot next to my bed where I had sprawled out on the ground late one night and cried tears of anguish and let my heart-blood spill all over the ground. I knelt down and let my fingers caress the spot--knowing that it was a sacred touch point in my journey toward healing. 

I remember, I remember, I remember, I whispered as many times as my heart needed to say it and my ears needed to hear it.

I felt courage and strength as I remembered there that night. I held my open hands out in the darkness and I relished their emptiness. I felt unburdened and free—knowing I was not clinging to the past but was willing to embrace the present. I was aware of my heart and the pulsing rhythm of life, energy, peace and rest that was flowing through it.

 Empty hands and a full heart, I said out loud with a smile.

Then I made my way downstairs. 

I walked softly into the room of my sleeping child. I knelt down next to his bed and gently pressed my hand against his heart and whispered my fierce mama love into his ears. 

I thought of the pencil marks we had made on the wall next to his closet--a cheap alternative to a growth chart--and how we'd excitedly recorded his growth and celebrated every inch he added to his stature.
As I tiptoed through the rest of the house, I found I didn't want or need to linger in all of its rooms. Some I simply passed through and mentally assented my good-bye.

My last stop was the family room.  I gazed at all of the furniture in it that would soon grace other homes, and I felt relieved to be leaving it all behind. I looked forward to the next morning when I would take the remaining curtains down so the windows would be left uncovered--letting the light shine in full force. I prayed that the light would never again be covered in that place.

I remembered the blessing of health, joy, hospitality and peace I had written for that home two years ago after my brush with death--a blessing I had typed out, printed and camoflauged in a frame with 3D paper butterflies taped to it. I left that blessing in the air for whoever would live there after me. I prayed they would inhabit the blessing and not resist it.

I went back up to my bedroom and in the middle of the night under the soft glow of a bedside lamp, I wrote this journey down. I felt like I was standing in the middle of my own “promised land” of a restored heart. 

I wrote, “Now I stand on a precipice, face to the wind, and I know it’s not me against The Force anymore. I’m not struggling to survive. I’m living, breathing, hoping, dreaming. I’m ready to say good-bye. I’m ready to move on. My tear-soaked pillow has been replaced with a new one. It’s time. Good Lord, it’s finally time.”

I’m clinging to that clarity and those words tonight, when I feel stripped of the familiar and my heart feels like it might bleed out.  

Empty hands and a full heart. That’s what I’m praying for. 

Empty hands and a full heart.