The Simple Things ARE the Things

A toasty bagel oozing cream cheese

A crinkly wrapper compressed solidly in your fist

Sun light streaming

Fears, panic, stress receding

From a simple soul baring followed by an authentic affirmation

Jennifer Butler Basile

Jennifer Butler Basile

The joy and light of crisp fall leaves all around me

Radiance enters my soul and sings

Grace

The bounce in the step
the joy bubbling up and over
through words, demeanor, joie de vivre

The hearty laugh
blossoming at the core, rolling out in waves
infectious, contagious, sanctifying – us

The conscious breath
undulating and growing with each notice
the physical embodiment of our existence

It fills us –
if we watch for it
if we train our eyes with a gentle gaze
if we open our heart to the gifts around us

It imbues us with a calming peace
and a loving embrace

We can all glide through life with a little grace

It’s the Depression Talking

 

After writing yesterday about how so much of my writing makes it sound as if I hate my role as mother, I got to thinking.

 

I don’t hate being a mother.

I don’t hate my children.

I don’t hate my life.

 

It’s the depression talking.

 

Aside from shoving cotton into the mouth of the Debbie Downer who has taken up residence somewhere in my grey matter, I wouldn’t change anything about my life. I wouldn’t make different decisions. I wouldn’t rearrange the pieces.

Though far from perfect, this is pretty much the life I always wanted to live.

And I’ve known that. For quite some time. I know I have multitudes of blessings for which to be thankful, highest on the list those three little beauties. Only now have I figured out why I couldn’t make the leap to gratitude, to joy.

Goddamn depression.

I’m well acquainted with the irrational/illogical movements of anxiety vs. the rational/logical progressions of what​? Someone in her right mind? I can access that part of my mind. It’s functioning quite well, in fact. It just never wins. That raw part of me, that most primal adrenaline-sucking beast always wins. It rules me with an iron fist to the already queasy gut.

The sun is always shining in my part of the world. I’m just below that low-hanging, suffocating layer of clouds beneath it. I haven’t figured out how to fly up and out of it.

cloud-3

from howstuffworks.com

 

Gratidão

There are many things for which to be thankful:

The kickass song by a local ska group* for which this blog entry is titled.

Education – without which I wouldn’t be annoyed that I have to shift around the above two sentences so they don’t end in a preposition.

A Facebook meme that focuses on something positive and productive for once – albeit every single day of this month.

The light of a skylight encircling me and my laptop as I write.

The tenuous hold we have on this earth.

The tenacious grip of a frail relative determined to hold on.

(Oops, broke that rule about prepositions)

Humor and its ability to help us carry on.

(Despite conventions 😉 )

A full-on arms-and-legs-wrapped around hug from a toddler.

A gentle hug from my first whose head now nestles into my midsection she’s so tall.

The shy smile of my middle daughter whose quiet strength is not to be taken for granted.

Love – strong, old and new, ever changing, enduring.

The wistful look of an elderly woman – reminding me of the immense gifts right under my nose.

Remembrance, reminders, traditions that connect the present and the past and put us in better mind for the future.

* The Agents

Next Stop: Transition Town

Ironically, the section of the book I’m reading right now is all about transitions.

To ease the transition of moving for our children, I gathered a thematic collection of books to borrow from the library:

  • Fred Rogers’ Moving (classic – right down to the 80s fashion in the photos!)
  • Mo Willems’ City Dog, Country Frog (we are going from city to country – though I didn’t expect the heartbreaking twist!)
  • Our House by Emma and Paul Rogers (inspired my daughter to suggest leaving a time capsule; guess it translated my idea of legacy and different chapters in life)
  • Moving by Michael Rosen (the cat giving his family the cold shoulder b/c of the move didn’t quite get across the positive vibe I was going for, but I guess it shows that even ambivalence can be won over with food!)

As I sifted through the on-line card catalog, I extended my search to books for me.  I think originally I was looking for books on the logistics of moving, tips and tricks.  Maybe.  Who knows?  I’m all over the road lately.  But in any event, I found two titles that sounded interesting.  The first, Moving On by Sarah Ban Breathnach, caught my eye because I’ve had Simple Abundance on my shelf for years.  I figured the universe might be giving me a nudge if I was seeking books on moving and here was one by the woman who first introduced the idea of a gratitude journal to me.  Though I know her other title to be more of a self-help, for some reason I expected a memoir on the rigors and epiphanies of moving.  There are personal anecdotes, but it’s also about finding one’s true home regardless of physicality; being comfortable with one’s space in the world regardless of where she calls home.  The idea of home and making the space within those four walls enjoyable is tackled, but it’s really more about letting go of excess baggage to make room for that enjoyment.

Ha, ha, ha.  So funny as my days are filled with purging and packing.  I am totally in limbo.  This home no longer looks like my own as the boxes begin to outnumber the intentional home décor.  My new home is still occupied by someone else.  So I’m hanging out somewhere in the ‘twain’.  I can’t do any of those exercises she suggests for finding what works about your home because I don’t know which one to focus on!  I know the chaos that surrounds me right now certainly isn’t working.

So I get about halfway through this book and reach the section on transitions.  A major thrust of it is that we actually make these difficult times even harder for ourselves by refusing to let go, go with the new flow of things, honor the past and appreciate the future.  Who, me?  I hate change.  There are some people who have wondered if I want to move.  Yes, of course.  And another scared, change-hating part of me, says, this is so freakin’ hard.  I lay in bed one night and realized I’d have to leave the blades of grass I’d stenciled onto the walls of our first nursery (affectionately known as the grassy knoll).  So between the stress of actually making the move a reality and the mental and emotional preparation, I probably do come across as a little ambivalent at times.

But not because I’m not looking forward to settling in our great new house and setting up shop, exploring the community, meeting people.  It’s just because I’m apparently really good at setting up roadblocks on the way to transition town.

And so this is where another highly appropriate quote from Moving On comes into play.  Ban Breathnach shares the words of Mary McCarthy, who says,

“There are no new truths, but only truths that have not been recognized by those who have perceived them without noticing.”

Ha!  If that does not describe me in nearly every aspect of my life, I don’t know what does.  How often have I relearned something I’d already known?  How often have I ignored what needed to be done though the answer was staring me in the face?  Human frailty, I suppose.  That damn weak free will.  We know what’s best and yet take the easier, more convenient, if insanely repetitive and possibly destructive, path.

I know I need to focus on the amazing truths on my doorstep.  A rich life lived in this beautiful little house with many pleasant memories to pack.  A lovely, airy, hope-filled home waiting for us to fill it with sights and sounds and silliness.  I know I can be my authentic self there.  I know this transition will make me stronger and truer.  It’s just a hell of a lot easier to feel it when you’re at the other end of the journey.

 

In a somewhat related vein, the other book I chose to read is a memoir: On Moving: A Writer’s Meditation on New Houses, Old Haunts, and Finding Home Again by Louise DeSalvo.  I have yet to read it.  I’ll let you know what epiphanies that unveils ☺

What books have helped you and your children make a successful transition when moving?

My Lifesaver

“I save you.”

My two-year-old daughter said this to me one morning as I dressed her.  She reached up from the changing table and grasped my arm, hugging me to her.

“You save me?” I asked.

“Yeah,” she said, a smile lighting her sweet little face.

She’s been playing games of chase, tag, and intrigue with her older sisters, which is no doubt where this line came from, as they ran from imagined assailants.  But these three small words held a much deeper meaning for me.

If it weren’t for Angela’s love – and my love for Angela – I might not have survived the three years that have elapsed since the news of her coming.

I read recently that humans have an evolutionary predisposition to always think the worst.  If we did not anticipate danger, we would get eaten by the wooly mammoth hanging around the corner.  If we didn’t worry constantly about starvation, we wouldn’t feel compelled to gather berries for the coming winter.  If it were always sunshine and roses, the species as we know it would not exist.

However, in the modern age, where thankfully we do not have to parry with wooly mammoth, this predisposition makes living a life of gratitude really hard.  Being genetically wired to pay attention to the negative, the positives of our life fade into the background without a concerted effort on our part.

And, sadly, I can say that I let that happen throughout my pregnancy and postpartum with Angela.  Letting the blessing of a child be outweighed by the unexpected timing of it.  Letting myself be buried by the drudgery of day-to-day rather than being uplifted by the wonder in her eyes.  Letting myself founder instead of accepting the help I needed.

There were times when I could pull those positives back into the foreground.  Little arms wrapped tightly around my neck.  Sitting in the living room, surrounded by my husband and the girls.  Watching the three of them splash in the bathtub.  I even started a gratitude journal as a concrete reminder of the blessings all around me on a daily basis, especially helpful on those days when the clouds made it impossible to see them.

It was through the filter of Angela’s unconditional love that I began to see the world differently.

If at the end of the day, chaos ruled, but our kids were safe and happy, all was right with the world.  If things didn’t go according to plan, maybe that was because God had a better one.  And if we weren’t happy, maybe that meant we were supposed to be doing something different anyway.

I decided to do a lot of things differently.  Acutely aware that there were some things in life that would choose me with no regard to my misery, I decided to only choose things that would bring me joy.  I found myself contemplating risks I never would have taken pre-partum.  With newly opened eyes, there were new possibilities.

It was Angela who gave me eyes to see.  She gave me back my life.  If her birth – and the resulting struggles – hadn’t happened, my serious examination of my life and place in this world wouldn’t have happened.  And every time I got lost or distracted by the discouraging things around me, her two little arms around my neck reminded me to come back to center – to the heart of what truly matters.

Angela returned the wonder to my eyes.  Watching her find her way in the world inspired me to find mine.  She is the ultimate gift of love – and isn’t that the greatest blessing of all?

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