In a world that offers too much injustice, hate and loss, no matter the brevity of daylight and the temperature of the wind, I welcome that seasons change.
Last night I learned that all the people of the world were going to die soon. Shortly after, a small fluid-filled vesicle appeared on my knuckle, signifying my vulnerability. I knew, when I went to sleep that night, I would die. I told one person, and she frantically set about planning my escape from death in a subplot of my dream. So I did not tell anyone else–I lived a day with the secret of knowing it would be my last. I felt peaceful. Weird dream.
Last week we made our yearly trek with our three boys and grandma and grandpa to our favorite YMCA family camp. Year after year it’s worth every minute of backseat fighting, carseat wetting and marriage-questioning-packing-rage. The people, the wilderness, the sauna, the campfires, the togetherness; all quintessential “vacation.” I should mention they take the children off our hands for three hours a day and return them happy and instilled with self-confidence and values–how great is that?
We’ve never before gone this late in the summer, and the northwoods fauna was acting strangely. Twice, little red squirrels crossed my path closer than I have ever witnessed. A chipmunk squatted in a ring of children and stuffed his cheeks with seeds. Loons danced with each other in circles on the lake. Dragon flies sped into our faces like bugs to a windshield. Even the moss appeared psychedelically green. Like the subplot in my dream, all living things were frantically preparing their escapes from portending death. Before the doom of winter, they exhibited the fiery flush of survival.
And one creature went first; a virile Maple sapling. Before the daytime temperatures dropped, the creek water dried, the Arctic winds blew, and the geese gathered in flocks, she turned red. I looked at her, alone in her Autumn, and wondered what made her different than the other trees. Was it bravery? Enthusiasm? Was she anxious, like the crazed animals, to prepare for months of dormancy? The only thing distinguishing her from the other trees was her particular microclimate; the angle of the sun, the exposure to air and her particular access to groundwater.
Sometimes we act on our own lives; enter, rodent swiftly gathering nuts. And sometimes, the forces acting on us demand adaptation. Red, rising in our veins. And fluid, shunting to our core. In my dream, I was not going to survive. No one was going to survive. But I didn’t wake up with my heart racing; I felt relief.
Because I cannot survive another season of gathering nuts. I have become squirrel-in-Autumn; rushing important perilous crossroads, ignoring children gathering curiously about me, biting blindly at threats to my existence, heart racing. Its time to let that life die and be the little red tree, whose supportive microclimate helps her survive the changing of seasons.
Blahdy blah blah blah. I love this idea. I also love the idea of my house being clean, my children being polite and my career path being linear. We are so often bombarded with beautiful, lofty ideals we fall short of achieving.
After vacation, we visited with the therapist who is helping us cope with my dad’s Alzheimer’s. He recommended that my mom take a “Mindfulness” class. She wrote in her planner; “Mindful Mess.” She told me her local library had a class on “Mindful Mess.” She suggested I also consider a “Mindful Mess” class. I corrected, and corrected, and corrected her, until we giggled. And only then did I understand her genius. Somewhere in her subconscious, my mom invented something we all can achieve: “Mindful Mess.”
This I can do!! Doesn’t it just give you HOPE? Its all the mindfulness you can muster, with a hint of reality and a dash of forgiveness. Its understanding that I can’t always change my messy microclimate, but I can adapt to it. Its acknowledging that seasons affect us and consistency will be rare. “Mindful mess” is the sweet spot between frantic red squirrel and glorious red tree. We know this place deep in our roots; its all the fun of finger painting and none of the restraint of the canvas. Survival, after all, is a messy and artful thing.
I keep an embroidered bracelet I bought in Costa Rica on my nightstand. It’s a token of our recent 11-day family adventure, infused with the balm of sandy kids, surf lessons and seaside meals. This trip we did not just take the show on the road. Costa Rica felt like a true vacation; one that reminded me of who I was before 2013. I sniff it every morning when I wake up to remind me of being there.
Arriving in Costa Rica was our own personal miracle. The week before our trip my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and spiraled into depression so deep we hospitalized him. My brother flew in from L.A. and insisted we go. The night before leaving, two out of three children threw up. We went anyway. We were dropped off at the airport with 4, not 5 passports; a near miss. Within hours of arriving in Tamarindo we were informed that the Pacific coast was being evacuated for a tsunami. Hardened against the other shoe dropping, we waited it out in our bungalow.
2013 had rolled that way. We lost my Uncle, we lost our dog, my mom had a stroke, my son broke a vertebra, we moved my mom and dad out of their thirty-five year home after both endured multiple hospitalizations. I hadn’t realized how maladapted to stress we’d become until we spent some time at peace.
The genesis of the trip was our inner knowing that we needed to refocus our attention on our kids, revisit the baseline of our stress levels and release our fears of what wicked was to come next. In January, on our way home from cross-country skiing with the boys, my husband suggested a cheap and easy vacation in spring. In my post-ski glow, I looked at my surfer-husband and wondered what it would feel like to have left behind a skill that lights me up, for decades? Landlocked, he’s only dabbled in an hour’s surf here or there every few years. We had been talking about “surf camp” since our 9-year-old was travel-worthy. It was time to go big. I offered Jason the vacation reigns and he gleefully, skillfully planned a family surf trip to Costa Rica (read: he picked out a beach and bought plane tickets). Once we arrived, it took me about a week to stop asking what we were going to do next and had he really not planned ANYTHING other than the flight. After about a week of detox from our harried life at home, I could see the ABSOLUTE WISDOM to his plan; we were there to catch a good wave. Nothing else.
We woke up at our friend’s cozy cabin in Ely, Minnesota to -35 degrees outside. My nearly 3-year-old extracted himself from the warm space between his dad and I to express, “I am just a big boy. You are a big gorl. You are HUGE,” then disappeared under five layers of blankets, pillows, and brothers. I got up and wrapped my body in animal, plant and petroleum products; wool, feathers, leather, silk, rubber, polyester and vaseline. I am huge. I step outside into the crystalized, silent cold. Squeak, squeak; very cold snow is loud under foot and too frozen for footprints. My eye lashes freeze together. Half my breath catches in my throat; the part that makes it out freezes on contact with my scarf. I am in my element.
This act of exposure suggests a hearty commitment to my continued, or rather, reinvigorated practice of daily outdoor meditation. November was amazing. I gave up on December at 3 or 4 days in. The contrast in my state of mind between December and November has me clawing my way back. January 1, 2014, seemed a poetic day to begin again. Going outside today, January 5, is not the extraordinary effort it appears. I love the vice-grip of negative temperatures under dazzling blue skies. Light fractures off every crystal of snow like a zillion tiny disco balls. The humbling cold squeezes my head thoughtless. It takes skill to be out in cold like this, and I love the challenge.
I can’t sit; my toes won’t make it through 15 minutes of inactivity. I watch for animal tracks in the fresh snow and in contrast to the balmy 15 degree morning yesterday, I see none. Not one snowshoe hare, squirrel, mouse, pine martin, deer. None. It’s time to stay covered, hidden, warm. I am gloriously alone; a spectacle for smarter bunnies as I squeak, steam, and grin down the road. The northern winter’s temperature, wind, snow, ice and glare; none of it is gentle upon its inhabitants. But with enough preparation, protection, togetherness and patience, it is a more peaceful, beautiful, serene and affirming habitat than I have known from Chile to the Yukon.
At dinner on New Year’s Day I told my kids that a friend recently asked me to describe each of them in one word. I chose, from oldest to youngest: inventive, creative, and delightful. Tenny decided each boy should do the same for me. From youngest to oldest, I was: poopy pants, author and busy. “Poopy pants” I accepted from the youngest of 3 boys. As to be expected. “Author” made me feel good, though it’s a stretch. Other than grad school research, newsletters, birthday cards, my journal, some op eds, and this blog, I have never published anything. Apparently I now have a goal for 2014, presented to me by my precocious and puzzling middle child. “Busy,” for all of its accuracy, however, made me very sad. I know that little look. I know his inner wisdom. I know he found his moment to say what he needed to say.
This year has been nuts, and being with my children has not been enough of what made it busy and challenging. I already see the climate of the coming year and it looks a lot like January. I have three aging loved ones. My Uncle will leave us much too soon and it already hurts. My parents will need more support than ever and I already feel at capacity. I’m attempting to return to work and apparently, to publish something. THEN there are these very important boys. Their paperwork alone makes me manic. Add in some potty training and glimmers of puberty and I am what my children see. Most of friends would say the same of themselves; we wear huge, busy pants.
I recently asked my dad, a psychiatrist, how to slow down time and feel less busy. He said in 40 years of practice, he’s only seen one thing that appeared to work, and it wasn’t eliminating obligations, or balancing schedules, saying “no” more, or working less. He simply said, “notice more details in your everyday life.”
I cannot change the climate of the year to come. Like so many of you, I long for more ease in 2014. The fact is that every year, no matter where you live, there will be a January, a deep freeze, a record low. But in the love of winter there is also a lesson about endurance if we have the skills, support and protection to survive, or better yet, enjoy it. It’s hard and it’s beautiful. It’s audacious and it’s exquisite. It’s challenging and it’s invigorating. Step outside in the woods and you will hear…nothing. You will need layers and tea and baths and snuggles. Neighbors will shovel each others’ walks. Friends will bring soup. Strangers will assist each other over snowbanks. Someone will give their mailman a gift card for hot coffee. Snowmen will dot the tundra. The beautiful details of a long, cold winter are infinite.
I want a better word to describe me in 2014. Ideally my word would reflect, like a zillion snow crystals, the light that is essential to get us through the darkest days. But I would take something more mundane, like “warm.” In the middle of January, I can wrap my kids up in all that earth offers. If I carefully eliminate thermal aperture at wrists, ankles, and earlobes, they will make snow angels. They will sled gleefully. We can toss a cup of boiling water to the sky, freeze an egg in snow and watch our spit freeze midair. And for heaven’s sake, there will be a thaw; a day that everything drips and we expose our collective skin again. I can show them we will also have: Spring.
Jason and I spent the morning in sleeping bags, lying with Gebo in the yard. Our friend and doula, our life-cycle specialist, visited with flowers just before the vet arrived. Gebo gave her an enthusiastic greeting and kiss (he rarely kissed), but he could not stand. She spooned us spooning him. We cried in great heaving sobs. She met the vet at the door. I’m not sure we otherwise would have responded to the nauseating knock. But with Gebo’s comfort and dignity in our hands, we banked on there being a better place for our very old, very wise, very loved pet. We agreed it would never feel right, maybe because his mind and his eyes were the same as always, or maybe because he couldn’t give us express permission. His body was entirely used up. Gebo relaxed his head on my lap. We cried and held him. Jason choked out, “I have needed to cry like this for thirty years,” and thanked him for that departing gift. Gebo gently wagged his tail. The sedatives kicked in and the vet took the last step. His tail wagged euphorically and we whispered, “race on, Gebo,” through our tears. I felt a surge of tangible peace. “His heart has stopped.” I looked up at the sky for an eagle or rainbow, laughing at my ridiculousness. I chose the surge of peace as my sign. His quiet body rested in the sun. I curled him up. More sobs, last warmth, last goodbye.
In his final month, Gebo mentored me on my quest to meditate outside for fifteen minutes everyday. Within the first week we learned he was dying. Like Jason, Gebo gave me a departing gift; a few weeks of excused absences. We cocooned together. I stayed home, I said “no,” I turned off my phone and neglected email. I took time for myself. I hurt, I cried, I smiled, I listened. I woke up. I contemplated God. On day twenty-four I realized that preparing for the future demise of a very-much-present being is not, in fact, being present. Sitting in the woods, listening to the creek, sniffing leaves, tasting fall air, appreciating the universe, and watching Gebo watch squirrels; that is presence. He gave me an excuse to take long-overdue time to be quiet and observe. Now I can’t imagine facing this loss and losses yet to come without the weakness and strength I found in me my last month with Gebo.
Gebo’s gifts to my kids are countless. Most recently, he gave them grief lessons. This month we cried together, told stories, created Gebo-art, planned a memorial, discussed God/universe/magic and talked about Heaven/hereafter/souls. My children have excelled at this, teaching Jason and I in turn. We have prayed together, which is new. I nudged the kids to give Gebo a good solid goodbye before leaving for school the morning he could no longer stand, and they were not shy with hugs, kisses, I love you’s and gratitude. When we met them at the bus and told them Gebo was gone, they leapt into our arms. We walked home and looked through photos, drew pictures, made a flip-book of Gebo rolling in leaves, lit candles. Tenny soothingly finger-knitted us bracelets. Wilder shared, “this candle is glowing brighter than other candles because his spirit is here. Oh, there goes a spark–that must be him taking my prayer up.” Tenny said to me, “mom, don’t hold back your tears.” Even our two-year old informed us, “Gebo went to Heaven’s house,” and was a little mad that HE didn’t get a playdate with this Heaven character. Wilder explained that God greeted Gebo upon his arrival and swiftly helped him find his old friends. How could they be so good at this? They have found what consoles them.
The next day, I stood where he died in our yard. All is not blissful in nostalgia, even in a well-earned, timely and poetic death. Death sucks. I ache. I miss my dear friend. Wow—people endure much, much worse. We will endure worse. It’s no wonder at all that God has to exist in order to ease our suffering.
In the spring we will make a gravestone, bury his ashes, and plant a tree. We will see him in the sunshine. He will force us to believe that souls endure. I still anticipate his greetings when I come home. I long for him. Today I heard his long exhales around the house. My inner cynic chastised me for thinking the furnace noises were Gebo all these years. The believer fought back with doggie angel visions. The buoyant me, the one that learned a thing or two from that dog, just smiled and said “Gebo” without questioning.
Week 2 & 3: Sit Spot Report
Day 8-9: I forgot the whole point is to listen for nothing. Autumn sun, beautiful, wagging dog friend here with me. Mutual grins. Hum when my mind gets going. Old trauma’s voices are the only ones that break through.
Day 10: Check in with the 5 senses, as per usual. Last night’s campfires, yellow leaves, cold air, woodpecker, armor. I actually say “armor” out loud. I have been identifying things like “chilly nose” for the sense feel, not “armor.” But today I went deep inside, inspired by my husband who is a little more “woo woo” than I. He did the Sit Spot and came back with reports on his Chakras, and I realized I had been glossing over this sense, with intention.
Day 11: I go back to last week’s coyote lesson and picture taking off my fear and my urgent unders. I attempt to lift the armor. Its heavy.
Day 12: I cuddle Gebo in the sun. Death is coming; the vet has confirmed it. It looks like a warm yellow light. I remove armor; put it on a dressing form nearby in case I need it.
Day 13-16: Its quiet. Armor is back on. Mind is busy. I feel like giving up. Gebo seems happy in the sun.
Day 17: I feel like prey.
Day 18: Gebo limps to our spot. Its easier to stop thinking with the sun glowing on my closed eyes.
Day 19: I carry all 55 pounds to the sun. Gratitude for Gebo overwhelms me. God gave me one of the great ones. Armor is off.
Day 20: The crying starts. We share some goodbyes and knowing looks. He wags for me.
Day 21: We spoon in a sleeping bag in the grass, shivering together. Head is a traffic jam of thoughts. I take a deep breath and try pouring love into Gebo.
Day 22: I am frustrated and doubtful and busy. I practically shout at God that I’m done figuring out a purpose in life, a career, that makes me feel fulfilled. I’m sick of myself. I find a plastic buffalo in the same spot where I saw the coyote. Weird.
Day 23: Just us. He wags every time a child walks by. He wags at the geese flying south.
Thirty days now feels short to me too and as you said, hardly enough. Its day 23 and I can’t imagine living without this practice. It has already been so grounding just to remind myself, “did you sit in nature today?” With that said, I haven’t been sitting in nature everyday. My heroic dog that has joined me throughout this is dying. I have followed him out into the leaves and sun to our Sit Spot over the last few weeks and watched him like a mentor, absorbed in nature. Eventually I started carrying him. This week I started criticizing myself for skipping days. Today, with death more palpable, I reversed that self-criticism. What could be more natural than sitting with the dying? The days I haven’t been out there I have been on vigil, riding the ups and downs of the end with him since about Saturday. Sometimes it feels silly to put my life on hold for a pet. Most often I thank Gebo for putting my life on hold for me. My guard is down; everyone including my mailman has seen me crying. And I feel like I must be the most special person in the world right now to have been given the world’s best dog. I feel like Pete saying goodbye to his dragon.
If I hadn’t started sitting in the woods with him, I would have no idea how to process his exit. With this gift of 15 minutes of quiet in nature everyday, his passing has become a gift as well. I am grieving the young me that raised him, the stay-at-home-mom years we were together most everyday, the tiny boys that love him so growing up too fast, and the deaths that are to come among our eldest family members. You’ve given me a trail for this journey, and I am so grateful.
You are so right; it doesn’t always work to quiet my mind. I have not yet felt free of thoughts. But I can see the value in the attempt. “Its about dropping the stuff (armor) that stops you from being awesome and as deeply connected with your intuition for yourself (as you are for others).” Thanks for this. I can hardly lift the armor to put it on now. I even called my mom the other day just to tell her I hurt; she is one tough cookie. My weapy call absolutely brought out the best in her, and let me be ME instead of what I have always been to my family; the tough one, funny one, light one, the easy one…in the armor.
“…Its in our vulnerability that we find what we are seeking…the tension and emotions you are experiencing…I see you embracing them or at least, acknowledging them. Perhaps, this is your job right now? Perhaps your exploration of stillness is your job.” This has allowed me to wait for the next track to appear, and trust that it will, without so much demoralizing effort. It also made me realize my question isn’t so much “what is my purpose” as it is “who am I now?”
I don’t know if you can relate to how my dog’s death has been such a poignant part of my experience. But remember what I explained after my first week? The first week the universe sent a loud truck, then a bulldozer, a coyote, an empty gas tank, a fierce wind, and that was easy. Then it sent some terrifying quiet and stillness. That was hard. When I was about to give up, the universe sent death. As you suggested, Michael, I could no longer see past “what’s real, right here, right now,” as Gebo began to die. Gebo translates, “a gift from the universe; partnership, forgiveness.” Gift, I acknowledge. Partnership, we’ve done. Forgiveness feels like the last step. I don’t feel like I have to go searching for what or whom to forgive; I just finally feel done with my armor. After he’s gone, which I believe will be eerily close to day 30, I have a feeling the quiet and stillness will be a whole lot less terrifying.
As I was leaving the place where I saw the coyote, I found a tiny toy buffalo on the ground. According to Lakota Shamanic Tradition, the bison symbolizes manifestation, courage, formulating beneficial plans and abundance.
If I were to launch into my recent self-discovery, my meditations, would you cringe? I feel a need to qualify sharing this with some excuses and jokes. I have always been pragmatic and scientific; one who blushes when asked to exhale audibly into a room. I like my religion grounded in hymns and history; and it takes effort to believe in that. I have a master’s degree in evidence-making. I like proof. Don’t get me wrong, I also like hugs and cards and deep conversations. I like sharing and caring and children’s books and Sarah McLachlan. I actually named my dog after a Norsk ruin stone. I like it when my intuitive cousin reads my cards. I like tears, other people’s tears, to flow freely. I just get uncomfortable when I am asked to let down my own guard. A friend recently told me I should try to be a little less tough. Pppff. Whaa? Me? Tough? That is so not…well…ok. I was raised by a psychiatrist and a teacher in a Lutheran family. Lots of communication, love, campfires, singing of songs we all knew. How I ended up valuing “toughness” and “evidence” is a topic for another day after a few more years of therapy. But, I decided she was right and I am going soft. Its soooo uncomfortable. And yet it feels so good (Blechy blechy). So I am launching…
I started an exercise a week ago called “Sit Spot,” suggested by personal coach Michael Trotta, from Sagefire Institute. I asked a panel of coaches in an online discussion for advice on how to quiet my busy mind and listen to my heart. Michael suggested sitting in nature for 15 minutes per day for 30 days, taking inventory with all 5 senses, which resonated. I trust nature. Its old. Historic. Deeply rooted. I think having static-in-the-attic is a fairly universal problem, so I am sharing a weekly update this month in the hope it will be helpful to some of you, too.
Day one: I picked the only 15 minutes out of every 2 weeks the recycling truck comes. Beep, beep, beep. Trying to hear dam bird. I had to work so hard to hear every squirrel for the shattering glass that I was actually distracted from my thoughts. Apparently I needed a serious challenge.
Day two: Bull dozer loading bricks. For real. I went through my senses over and over, switching every time thoughts crept in (which was often) but the constant kaboom helped, again. Does God/god/nature/Universe/whatever send noisy trucks?
Day three: Nighttime experiment under the stars. Very still. Distant roar of tarmac. Geese fly south at midnight?? The creek. Its so loud and lovely–how did I miss that before? Sleepy. Wee small voice says, “get more sleep.” Woah–was that The Voice? Wisdom? Heart speaking? Nah, probably chamomile tea.
Day four: I brought a mentor; Gebo the dog is a serious expert in sitting outside doing nothing. He is also a soul mate of mine, age 15, and dying. We need quiet time together. Someone walked past me, saying “I believe in the Universe. It sends lessons and then…” Huh. I am feeling more open to this whole nature/God/Universe/spiritual thing.
Day five: First thing in the morning, I ran out of gas on the highway at rush hour. Trapped. I knew the car was on empty. I didn’t take the truck. Didn’t stop to fill up. Too rushed. Suns coming up–the light in the car is beautiful. I decide this is my 15 minutes with “nature.” Cars and trucks speeding past me are terrifying. A MnDOT man comes and gives me gas. I stand there watching him step into traffic to fill my tank–his life at risk for my error. That would have been my husband had he not shown up first, less adept and not wearing a flashing vest. I’m here, tank empty, demanding someone else fill it, rushing to an appointment it turns out is tomorrow. Analogy is quite clear; “Fill your tank.”
Day six: I sit in sun for 5 minutes and then suddenly jump up. Behind me, coyote, 40 feet, happy and bounding. Coyote 20 feet, eye contact. Calm. Coyote 10 feet. Stare. Heart. Racing. Instincts say leap into tree! She recoils. I fall, she runs. Breathe. Laugh. Breathe. Adrenaline. The difference between the coyote and I glares at me. She wasn’t scared until she felt threatened. She owned urgency and fear and employed them like tools–I saw them enter every inch of her body as she turned coat and ran. I, however, put on my jeans, some fear, a shirt and my favorite urgency every morning. She trusted her instincts to stimulate fear at the right time rather than wearing it all day long. I have instincts. I stood before I knew she was there. A talk with a friend later helped me face there is a constant voice in my head saying “something is coming. Be ready.” Time to thank that voice for teaching me so much and giving me skills; I am not conflict avoidant. I operate keenly when distressed–eg: awkward painful leap into tree. Thank you for your service, fear voice, you may leave. Urgency; I have worn holes in you.
Day 7 (one week): Me and the mentor. Gebo can sniff one leaf for over a minute. 100 thoughts circulating. I even check my phone. Argh. Start the timer over. A voice inside says, “you’ll get better at this.” Again, is that THE VOICE? So unfamiliar and calm. Lots of sunlight and warmth; scent of last night’s backyard fires. Its loud out here. I cover my ears. Its sad in here. Vision of my mom in a hospital bed. I feel a little of that day months ago–ouch. Vision of life without Gebo. Double ouch. I do an inventory of my hurting family and friends. So many right now. I send them all love. Well, well, Universe. No motor vehicles or wildlife today?
Week one and I felt something new; I felt pain that I did not resist. I felt comfort. I felt pending loss. I felt safe without my armor and cloak. We all have a little warrior in us. But I’d like my warrior robes to be something I don when necessary, like the coyote, not a daily wear. I can’t say that after one week my mind is any quieter. And I certainly haven’t removed all of my armor. But I have realized it will take much more bravery to disrobe than it ever did to start wearing this tough-girl costume.
I am participating in a 6-week online course called “Finding Your Calling.” I love it, but I also like to tease it. Each week it starts with a meditation. I lay down, get quiet, and try very hard not to get distracted by the cheerios under my table, the ongoing Target list in my head, and the fodder. Oh, come on! Your yogi’s voice has never quite suddenly morphed into Zach Galifianakis’s saying “step into the blue light?” You’ve never riffed on “release yourself into the space?” I admit, I had to suppress giggles recently when told to “let go of my fruits” in yoga class. What does that mean? And how did “juicy” enter yogi vocab? But, civility wins out (except if I am with my old friend, Molly, the elusive and cunning Jokestress that destroys my every attempt at maturity).
The truth is, in fact, it takes guided meditation, at least eight miles of running, paying a therapist, or a long road trip for me to hear myself think these days. I have been a stay-at-home mom for five years. I have not loved every minute but I am proud of my work here and I will look back fondly on my privilege to spend so much time with my babies. But now the purse strings are tight and I feel this need to contribute to society as a whole again. And, perhaps exercise the part of my brain that can do stats beyond the chances the tooth fairy is visiting on any given night in a house with three children.
One of my kids lit my hair on fire today. Since I decided to stay home with my three boys and my parents tarted having health problems, I have called myself a specialist in “taking care of humans and putting out fires,” but I didn’t mean it literally.
It was not his intention to light mama on fire. He meant to spray the baking sheet with oil for me when we were making cookies. He sprayed south, the bottle pointed north, I leaned in toward the lit stove and kaplooey–the oil completed the arc from hair to flame. I suddenly realized I could happily spend a little more time in an office with grown ups.
I poke fun, but I do feel like I have an unmet calling out there I cannot figure out. My dog, my first born, is 15. I am trying to learn something from him while he is still here with me. We are oddly similar aside from our coloring. He howls, I sing. He is a herder, I am a caretaker. He loves puppies, I love babies. He protects his flock; I’m into public health. He also loves running through the woods and jumping in creeks and is always banged up and bruised from playing really hard. I can’t say I mind that either.
All of these things come together in this absolute gem of a dog. In me, however? I am a mom who is often asked to volunteer for causes, loves giving advice and problem solving and would consider policy work if I didn’t also love writing so much and being outside and I would love to hold your infant and help you figure out your latch problems as well as perhaps be with you at your birth as long as I can be home to get my kids off the bus and I don’t have to sit very much.
I would have made a better dog.
So, I opening my mind to my juicy self today. I have been advised by a “coach” to go outside, sit, listen and attempt to quiet my mind for fifteen minutes. Gebo does that. And my hair smells too bad to be inside. I’ll give it a try and let you know if I see the blue light.