Lately I’ve been trying to simplify my schedule, opting for No over Yes; looking for ways to streamline and pare down. It’s not just that the holidays are busy, or that family is busy, or that applying to schools in New York is busy – although all of those are true. I am realizing that my longing for less is a sign that should not be ignored. It’s not laziness and I’m not in danger of becoming bored if I take a day off. My brain cells are not all going to wither away and dissolve into nothingness if I say No (to the contrary, that’s when I will finally have the time to think and to create again).
But. I said Yes to something this past month. I almost dismissed the idea altogether – without even considering it – and then, hesitantly, opted in. And it has been surprisingly, refreshingly wonderful.
I said Yes to writing a poem every day during Advent. Continue reading
Last night when I lay
I turned my problems
from back to front,
then front to back,
trying through worry
to wear them down
I only made them
loom larger, by slipping
one next to another,
matching craggy edges
until I had fashioned
wall. Continue reading
Today is Henry’s first day (well, partial day) of day care. I dropped him off at 10, rushed to Jacob’s violin lesson, and now have settled down with journal and poetry in hand. It did take me 20 minutes of searching to locate the journal…I was sure that I had one, somewhere, and was fairly certain that it was green. But I had no idea where I put it or when I last actually used it.
And so now I sit here, at a coffee shop, enjoying a “fancy” soup (cauliflower mushroom…or is it mushroom cauliflower?) and my first solo time in thirteen months (although let’s be real: between the violin lesson and picking up my daughter from school, I have almost 115 minutes). It’s a battle, to stop the thoughts whirring in my head: should I have handled drop-off differently? Should I have fed Henry a snack before we left home? Packed him his favorite snack to have once we arrived? Sent one last email about his schedule and what he likes? Will he nap? Will he be okay?? Should I have just kept him at home???
But then I hear a phrase echo in my head, a phrase that I overheard another mom say to her three kids yesterday on the subway: “What’s done is done.” They repeated it after her, almost automatically – a household mantra, I guess: What’s done is done. So I try it out, saying to myself and the whirling thoughts in my head: What’s done is done. You chose to start him at daycare today. This is how you decided to do it. What’s done is done.
It feels good. I stare down at my open journal, the date on the page. What am I supposed to write? It has been so long since I’ve written in a journal that I’m not sure how to start – and while I have a vague idea that I should write about “how I’m feeling,” it’s been so long since I’ve actually thought about how I’m feeling that I’m not sure, honestly. Continue reading
I was nervous the first time I met the men. Possibly even afraid.
They were behind bars. Locked up in a maximum-security facility. Separated from society because they had done bad things. And most of them were going to live that way for a long time. Some already had, their crimes unfathomable.
My trip to the facility was to present a Latin jazz band concert. A few of the incarcerated men were onstage, helping with set-up when I arrived. They were polite, but physically far away in the large, concrete auditorium. I had worn a navy turtleneck sweater, black pants, and no make-up, very aware that I was a young woman entering an all-male facility. I could feel the eyes of each man who noticed me, wondering what I was doing there—so obviously out of place. A flurry of emotions flew through my head as the auditorium slowly filled to capacity. Should I be afraid? What are they thinking about me? Should I have come at all?
I’m honored to be writing over at the fabulous website Off the Page again this month! Won’t you join me there to read the rest?
Oh you guys. Where did April GO?? I have a couple of half-finished posts that are waiting for those last few paragraphs to get written, and I’m sorry I haven’t been able to share more this month. I’ve been busy with other writing projects and performance work, and otherwise have been just trying to keep all the balls in the air.
But I’ve missed writing here – so here’s to a new month.
In other news, we had Spring Break (since when is having the kids home all the time a “break”?? Whose idea was this??), and the kids and I had a pretty great week, with lots of at-home Montessori activities and city outings and cooking projects. We all survived! But now my work for the summer is cut out for me, and I realize how much I need to plan, plan, plan for these kiddos at these ages.
Blog Posts & Articles
People, Borne of Poetry. By. Eugenia Leigh. What’s the value of poetry? What do poets do? Poets are story-tellers who help us understand the truth of our story, digest what is true, and both break and mend our hearts – according to my amazingly talented poet-friend Eugenia. She wrote this honest, beautiful piece for Inheritance Magazine this month and I hope everyone reads it.
The Body Broken Whole. By Jennifer Underwood. This piece is so beautiful (if a bit disarming for me to read since it’s about a woman named “Leah”), and a beautiful picture of community and restoration. Continue reading
Blog Posts & Articles
How Weeds Become Offerings of Love. by Nicole Walters. Words that I needed to be reminded of this month, especially! A beautiful post about being thankful for the weeds-that-are-gifts in our lives…and also an adorable story about a mother and her boy.
How I Won the Lottery. By Micha Boyett. One of my favorite bloggers has taken a hiatus from blogging to dedicate more energy to her family life after welcoming their third son, Ace, who has Down syndrome, into the world about a year ago. This post is one of the most beautiful, uplifting pieces of writing that I’ve read all month.
Changing the Question. By Sarah Wells. I probably need to read this once a month, just to be reminded that I need to “change my question” from “Why?” to “What now?” I love how she reminds that asking “Why?” always points us to the past, while asking “What now?” points to the future. Continue reading
This is a sign that I’ve seen probably hundreds of times along the many shared walkways and bike paths in New York City. Recently, I noticed it in a new way.
Go Slow, Respect Others.
It was like God speaking right into my life. That morning, I’d been frustrated with my son. He was supposed to be getting dressed for school and instead of putting on his pants, he stripped off all of his clothes and proceeded to run around the room shouting, “Naked dance! Naked dance!” (He’s three-and-a-half, after all.) Then he kept getting distracted by one thing or another and it felt like this simple task of getting dressed was taking for-ever. And I, of course, wanted to get out the door.
Then there’s my daughter. She’s at that “do-it-myself” stage. This includes walking instead of riding in the stroller. We live on a steep hill. She wants to walk up the hill. On a recent morning, the whole family left at the same time. I walked more quickly up the hill with my son, and at the top we turned around to check on the progress of Sister. She was only a few yards behind, and the grin on her face was bright enough to see for a mile. I’m almost there! She beamed. I’m a big girl now, like Brother!
This sign along the river isn’t just for bikers. This sign is for me. Continue reading
I am so happy and excited for you to become a mom. And while I feel so far from inhabiting a place of wisdom (or even peace) much of the time, I wanted to give you more than some hand-me-down maternity clothes and half a box of size one diapers. Although I know those come in handy, too.
In fact, there are so many things that I want to tell you – little things, like how you should buy prints instead of solids because then the spit-up and peanut-butter and runny-nose-residue are less visible – and big things, like what being a mom has been teaching me about grace and forgiveness and love and patience and despair. Here are four things I’ve learned so far.
PRIORITIES. Being a mom is really, really busy, and really, really hard. I know you’ll be juggling a lot next year with the baby and your running and your work and, of course, your relationship with your husband and your church and your small group. So many things seem so important. And they are. Continue reading
My son has this book that he loves called The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge. In the book, the little red lighthouse is proud of its job sending out beacons of light to protect the boats in the river from the rocky shores. One day, a crew of men appears:
Every day [the little red lighthouse] watched the strange new gray thing beside it grow and grow. Huge towers seemed to touch the sky. Strong loops of steel swept across the river.
How big it was!
A great gray bridge, spanning the Hudson River from shore to shore. It made the little red lighthouse feel very, very small.
“Mommy, is the little red lighthouse sad?” my son asked one day after I read this passage to him.
“Yes, sweetie, it is,” I replied.
“But why?” he asked. (He is a three-year-old, after all.)
“Well, the lighthouse is afraid that he won’t have any work to do, now that the great gray bridge has been built. He’s afraid that there’s no job for him. And that makes him sad. It feels good to have a job to do, doesn’t it?” Continue reading
This year, I’ve worked hard to help my little ones understand the holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas. Birthdays. In November, I designed a Thanksgiving and bought 60 small leaves in fall colors. My husband, son, and I practiced recounting one thing each day that we were thankful for, adding leaves to the branches and counting down the days. While other trees were losing their leaves, ours blossomed until we celebrated all those good things together with extended family (and turkey) .
In December, we had an advent calendar and an advent wreath and read stories about Mary and Joseph and Jesus. We talked about how Christmas was like Jesus’ birthday and how we give gifts, just like on other birthdays. We named all the gifts that God has given to us. (And most of all, Jesus, right? My three-year-old always repeated in his earnest, lisping voice.) Continue reading