Tuesday, September 21, 2010

it's about time

I've been hitting a wall of late in terms of word flow. Oh, I have ideas, and usually they come to me when I'm out in the pasture scooping up piles of manure. But when I've sat myself down with the intention of writing I find only that I have chosen avoidance and really gotten nowhere. It's been very hard to concentrate and it's been very hard to put my finger on the point I'd like to make.

The last time I posted was the last time I had a few hours alone...16 days ago. When I say alone I mean A.LONE. No one but me around. At my home. Alone is not, in my book at least, when I'm in the office and everyone else is down in their rooms watching tv or on the computer or playing a game. Alone is they're gone and I'm here. No interruptions.

Facing the fact that life is so full that in sixteen days I haven't had another period of alone time, except perhaps a car ride by myself, makes me stop and shudder...because a soul needs more time off, more private time, than a few hours every 16 days. And that being said, I don't really count the moment, this moment, as time off, since everyone is here with me and I expect to hear "Maahh-ahhm" called from downstairs at any moment, or the click of the bedside light as Mark gives up on me coming to bed at a reasonable hour and turns in himself.

But tonight I was reading about my friend Maya's adventures on her blog, Tales from the Tour, and it hit me that right now her life is as opposite to mine as possible. She is travelling across the country and back, sharing her poetry with others and teaching poetry workshops. She is driving, by herself, thousands of miles. She is meeting new friends and some old, sleeping in their guest rooms, eating at their kitchen tables. Sharing stories and smiles and favorite coffee bars.

And did I mention she's alone? All by herself? No one to talk to but little old Maya?

[Our house was her very first stop on her Tour de Word and it was a magical couple of days. She helped us feed the equines, she accompanied me to a friend's farm to pick up fresh eggs and raw milk. And then, she taught two writing workshops in our living room, one for teens and moms and one for younger kids in our homeschool community. All three of my boys participated with enthusiasm, Harry said afterwards that it was the first time he felt inspired to write in his life. (And boy, did he deliver!) Ben, who ran away from home (temporarily, you know, for a few minutes) several months ago when I insisted he write something, sat on the edge of his seat all night, gazing intently at Maya and then writing with furvor when given each assignment.]

I know Maya from the days when I attended Wild Writing workshops at my friend Laurie's home in Alameda. Those were lovely times when I spent hours on myself, crafting poetry or narrative, looking deep within myself and then letting it all pour forth from my fingertips and the ink of my pen.

And that's where I come back to my point. My life, rich and full, fast and furious, is missing a very key element. The element of time for me to draw or write or meditate or craft or walk or ride or pick through the racks at the thrift store. I need to carve out an hour or a day or a weekend for just me, regularly, repeatedly, before I evaporate before my very eyes. I have all sorts of dreams for me: time to improve my blog/writing/photography, time to draw and journal, time to learn to preserve food, time to craft, time to purge all the dust and clutter in my beautiful house, time to build a relationship with my horse.
Oh, and time to grieve. That has become something that happens on the edges of my days, sneaking up on me at night or waking up with me in the gray morning hours. I can spend afternoons accomplishing little, and I forget to even check my to do list, that I even have a to do list.

I've been told by several beloved friends to be good to myself. And so I'm trying. Don't be surprised if you don't hear from me again for a bit. And, then, don't be surprised if you hear from me again tomorrow. I don't know which way I may go, but I'll be taking care of me. I promise.

And now, I'm off to tuck a boy in. ("Maaaahhh-aaahm!!") And hopefully get to my own bed before Mark turns out the light.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

a lesson from my father

Who knew the universe had this for me to learn?

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In the past couple years, after decades of struggling, I came to a peaceful place in my relationship with my dad. I stepped back and accepted it “as is.” 

My father was someone who could love deeply without having a deep relationship. This was something I had not fully grasped or understood before. How was that even possible? But, as his life was pared down—by circumstance, his limited mobility, his age, the end of his third marriage—he became less distracted by his own life and drew his attention to mine, and what I had created with my husband and sons, in a way he never had done when I was younger. That doesn’t mean we suddenly had long meaningful talks or that hurts of the past were erased from memory. But he loved us fully. He adored my boys. He was thrilled that I had found my soulmate. I was able to give to him, take care of him, and pay attention to him after years of resenting that kind of expenditure on my part. When I accepted him I realized that years of wishing it to be different had only created years of deep disappointment and that the change in my heart was very healing.

Acceptance has made the past week much easier to bear. No holes to fill. No arguments left unwon. No expectations unmet. I have no anger towards him. I am only feeling love, and a calm and an understanding that truly would have been unfathomable to me a few years ago.

A few days into the week with him gone, as this awareness of my own inner peace washed over me, I realized that this is my lesson to take forward into all my relationships. Why only accept my father? Why not my mother or my sister or an old friend? Why not just accept everyone for their strengths and weaknesses and let the negative stuff fly right by me?

So yesterday, when Mark and the boys went off to play at the river (they left me in our still, quiet house; the only hours I’ve had to myself in over a week) I meditated on that. I meditated and chanted to myself: “I love you. I love you. I love you.” I pictured all the people in my life. And I sent my open heart to them. And then my meditation changed. I kept repeating “I love you,” but suddenly I saw myself. “I love you. I love you. I love you.”

I grew up judgmental and a perfectionist. I come from a long line of bitter grudge-bearers, folks who because of one angry event, or maybe a whole slew of them, cut ties with friends and relatives till the day they died. That’s something I’ve considered.

Acceptance. I have spent so much energy on anger over the years and anger is so debilitating. In the end, it’s my own self that is needing that acceptance and love.

I would not have believed this to be a lesson from my father. And yet, here I am today, stepping out of a lifelong mold.

Friday, September 3, 2010

my dad

My father died suddenly last week and I'm having trouble gathering my thoughts. Not that I haven't written pages and pages of them. But nothing's come together yet that I would like to share.

So please have patience. I'll be back soon.

Until then, these photos: