Tag Archives: wide awake

since my last two posts have been pictures, i guess it’s time to use some words

december has been (as it usually is for me) both glorious and insane.

i love christmas, really. for anyone who knows me well, you know i love presents, giving and receiving. i realized this year that getting and giving presents is like giving and receiving hope. there’s this package, big or small, and truly it could contain anything. ANYTHING! that’s amazing to me.

the insane part comes in the usual and not so usual ways. first of all, where the hell did december go? i feel like i had thanksgiving dinner, blinked, and now it is almost new years. it is like that for me every year now. i feel sad about that. for ellie, every day was a moaning of how many days until christmas! for me, i am stunned that it has come and gone again.

most people feel that way i think.

as for the not so usual ways, december has been a very reflective month for me. not in ways that have been comfortable or warm and fuzzy. the idea of the season of advent is truly astonishing if you think about it: something is about to happen and it will make it so nothing is ever the same again. i haven’t felt the hope that might accompany ideas like that, only the terror of change and new growth and how often i feel like hiding in my bed until it is all over.

but here i am. waiting and wishing and dreaming that this new year, life will break loose in a way it has not before. i am hopeful that i get to do things differently and curious to know how that might change the world. because that has been my goal all along.

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to inform

when i am listening to someone talk about art, and they begin to tell me what informs the painting, i feel my heart pick up the pace. this question of where does it come from always motivates me to look deeper, to press in. i begin by noticing all of these elements that i had missed previously and suddenly, this art is no longer just in front of me, but rather is it is in and through me and we are cut from the same dna.

i have been pondering this today. what informs my life? from where do i derive my energy or strength? what are the influences which lead me to believe one thing or another? this question of what informs my life is complicated.

motherhood has informed much of my adult life. perhaps only for certain seasons, like now, in which i find myself slightly sleep deprived with an achy back. in other seasons, it was my friends: long talks into the night, walking to the grocery store in the snow, or crying through movies. those places where the air is actually thin and as the celts believed, the divine peeks through. most days, being awake to the vast needs of marginalized people is more than enough to inform my life.

and whether or not i like it, pain informs much of my life and the lives of everyone i know. and humans have a great capacity for running away from pain, from avoiding anything that we see as negative.

as i thought about what informs my life today, i realized that even after all this time, i am prone to try and avoid pain. maybe i always will try. but now, i can see in my life, more than ever before, what beautiful and fierce works of art that are made when i allow pain to season and develop my life. the pain digs and carves inside me, and then those holes become cisterns and wells to be filled with divine compassion and love. compassion that otherwise would not exist.

on the days when i forget what those cisterns are for, i try to fill them with anything i can.

but today, i remember why they are there and their role of informing my life. and then i wait for each one to fill.

my boss swears that one day i will write a really good book. we’ll see. maybe by the time i am ready to write it, everyone’s cisterns will be old news.

bone tired and it is fall break, thank the laaawd.

not much more to say than that, really.

well, i’m am extrovert, since when did not having anything to say stop me from talking?

here is one thing to note: whenever life feels most out of control, it is good to notice what you want to do in the middle of said out of control moment.

somedays, i remember to breathe deeply in and out through my nose, as my yoga teacher is always saying.

somedays, i repress the urge to kick and scream and yell.

somedays, i don’t repress the urge.

maybe for today, it is enough to live and let live, proverbially and physically.

a first for me . . .

so basically, i have spent the last two years of my life in prenatal care land. appointments, ultrasounds, glucose tests. last year of course, it was for my own sweet t who eventually made her appearance in january. and just as i finished up the last of my postpartum visits, one of my friends, one of my language teachers found out that she was pregnant. in fact that she was already several months pregnant when she found out.

so, we went to prenatal visits together, to ultrasounds together. she had a uncomfortable pregnancy, but nothing dangerous. and this baby was due last week. naturally, baby girl didn’t come when the calendar thought she should.

so when she texted in the middle of the night yesterday to tell me she was in labor (gratefully, t woke me up because she was gassy, otherwise, i might have missed it!) i was excited! of course! it’s time! i picked up my bff the doula/painter/community organizer/yoga awesome-er/has too many jobs to list and off we went to see how things were moving along.

and thus began the day at 2:30 am.

she was a champ! she worked so hard, even though she was exhausted, she stayed with us, she trusted us, even though she wanted to run away so badly. i wept with so much grief for all she has endured in her life and then enduring labor with grace and faith. it was so amazing to be a part of her journey like that.

and that is really what i am feeling this morning: how amazing it is to be invited to join in another’s journey. it is a great honor to be sacredly entrusted with the vulnerability and tender terror that rises in us when we do not understand our lives.

and the truth is a birth is only a well illuminated metaphor for this phenomena. every day, we are all given this trust by people in our lives, sometimes even by complete strangers.

it was a great privilege. one i will never forget.

and of course, at the last moment, when she thought she could do no more, this lovely lady arrived (see pic below), full of fierce grace and beauty.

as we sad goodbye to her last night, sixteen hours from our first texting, she hugged us and thanked us for being there with her. her heart was full of a new baby and gratitude. and then i thanked her for the honor of trusting me to walk with her.

my friend doesn’t believe me yet. that it was an honor to walk through those sixteen hours of her life with her. it’s okay, i didn’t believe it either the first time someone told me that about the hard thing i walked through. but maybe i am catching on.

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prepare yourself, there’s going to be some whining

arabic is hard. but not the way you are thinking. my new teacher is a sweet lady who sounds like she understands a lot of english, but then asks me random words sometimes that i think surely she would know (like “knock on the door”). anyway, i like her very much and to add to the mix, she has three small little ones. and some days, i can tell that she is struggling to like her life in any way. she says the kids give her a headache. i totally get that, mine often give me one too.

but it is more than just that. it is the life she is given, taking care of kids, cleaning and cooking and being at home. she says she doesn’t mind, but i can sort of tell that she does. it is both prescribed for her and selected by her, if only because she has no idea another way is possible.

i never regret being a feminist. but there are days when it is easier than others to believe that empowering women will elevate a society.

so i keep going back. i must press into arabic. but i expected to struggle with more language and not so much the relational aches. maybe i was just naive.