Monday, November 14, 2011

Gratitude: In Autumn

Just a little inspired note. As I said in the last post, there has been plenty in our life to love lately. I wanted to share some of that here.

Two things about Autumn here in our new space that I have absolutely relished and felt utmost gratitude for:

Abundant, sweet delicious apples straight from the tree(s). Like all other produce, they are *worlds* more flavorful freshly picked!

Bird migration. I have seen this phenomenon before in my life, but here in this open country I have such a grand view. And I've been floored by the Miraculousness of it! Every flock I hear squeaking in the distance, I stop what I'm doing and try to get a bead on them. Awe-some.

Ooo! A bonus bit of gratitude! See, Self, this gratitude stuff can be catchy! ;-)
All the little wild birds that inhabit the grounds and trees close to our home. We have a huge, productive black walnut tree, as well as a (I think..!) Mulberry bush close to our window. Seeing all the bird activity these provide for is delightful. It lifts my spirit every time I see them.

Oh, gratitude. I'm grateful for ya.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Weathering the Dark (still)

On a morning when I don't really have time even to open the computer,
this blog post came to life.

Well, I do like to wrap things into tidy packages here and say, "gosh, that was hard, but things are all better!" But things are still hard. We're experiencing a lot of stress. You'd think that something we have so anticipated (such as moving to Mexico IN A MONTH) would be all roses (or at least I'd think that), but frankly it's a struggle. There are many beautiful and sweet and calm and loving moments in our days. And underlying that and .. clamping down on it, is a ... tightness. When I get to Baja, and the sun beats down, and I can dip my toe in the ocean, I will be shocked and astounded.

Last night we blew off some steam. I drank more wine than I usually do throughout the course of a whole evening (which is not very much) before we had even sat down at our table at the restaurant. And as soon as we took our seat, Anjali began what might be called our new ritual at this restaurant with chalkboard surface on the table and a little jar of multi-colored chalks. She colored very heavily a circle of purple, and then a circle of red, and then used the straw from her water to drip onto it and swirled her finger to make a paste. Then she reached over and applied it to my face as costume makeup. And while she was doing that on her side, Sealion did the same on his side, and applied it to her face. And before we knew it, we were "that family." With the colored chalk all over our face at a packed brewpub when it is no longer Halloween.

The first time this happened was last week, and Sealion started it. And I was embarrassed and looked for an excuse not to do it. Me ~ a woman who would rather wear costumes (or be naked) and have magical theatrical makeup on every day. Me ~ who considered the face painting that my daughter did at Burning Man to be no less than Sacred and wore it proudly the whole week. (I do believe what I do there to be a sacred ritual. Even, and maybe especially, the silly.) Me ~ who proclaims that Self-Expression and Art are of utmost importance in everyday life. I was embarrassed because I didn't want to draw attention to us and our un-normal-ness. And this caused me great pause. It caused me to question my values. So last night when she began smearing her chalk-pasted finger on my cheek before I even knew what was happening, I took it as an honor. And I drew some on Sealion's face. And he drew one of those silly puppet faces on his hand. And talked to the politely surprised college-age server with it.

Blowing off steam.

Even if I had to blush a little bit, you couldn't see it through the facepaint. And by the end of the evening, we were saying "Fuck it!" "Fuck all the expectations! Fuck how other people see us! Fuck it that there are packing boxes to trip over in the hallway and dirty dishes all over the kitchen!" (But we weren't saying this word so that our daughter could hear us because I have already been in the embarrassing situation where she repeated with great enunciation the curse word I pronounced at the check-out counter.... hmm. Not so good..) And it felt like quite a release.

We still managed to yell at each other just once this morning as we made our way through what needed to be done, but as Scott reminds so soothingly, "We are finding our way." "I know things are rough right now, but things have been rough before, and they felt better after a while."

We are finding our way. Blowing off steam.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Weathering the Dark

though this post feels vulnerable, i'm putting it out there. we are one, right.?

Recent change in location and situation, change of season, (a several-week lag in taking nutritional supplements, on my part...), and death in our midst, shook the emotional foundation of our little family a bit. Mexico seemed like a foggy figment, very far away. I felt the need to hunker down and weather the darkness like a mama hen, collecting my little one under my wings and holding real solid and still for a while. Unable to tell the story from the eye of the storm, we are just now emerging, our ruffled feathers beginning to smooth down to a semblance of calm.
Ever the researcher, I reached for study material that felt good like a soft warm blanket in the middle of the night. I found the book Simplicity Parenting which brings order and rhythm to modern-day frenetic chaos, and Jon Young's 8 Gifts from Nature online course which teaches personal fulfillment as well as cultural repair through Deep Nature Connection.
This email from Julie Charette Nunn also felt good. Though it didn't make sense and I couldn't begin to answer her questions in the moment, I grasped onto it and read it often, like a bright scrap of paper in a sweaty palm during an intense psychedelic journey.

The yellow, red, orange, brown and black leaves are falling to earth.

Giving way

What is giving way in you?

Who are you not?

What trappings must you absolutely let go of now to live your most precious life?

This Autumn time energy is a good time [for] practicing surrender.

This Autumn time energy is a good time for eliminating what doesn't work.

Creating space for what you don't know yet.

And expecting goodness to come from the mystery.

Seeing my little girl laughing and at ease again means the world. Feeling my neck and shoulders relax after being knotted for more than a month helps, too.

photo series: grape leaves in autumn

P.S. My question, though, is: how does one honor emotions without getting bogged down in them? At some point I wondered if my dark place had simply become a grumpy habit. It was then that I tried to implement my favorite Thich Nhat Hanh's practice of smiling. A mindful smile helps us to have humor and remember that "this too shall pass."
Here's what I looked like on one of those first days of pulling myself up out of the muck and shaking my feathers out.

Yikes! That's what a sense of humor's for, right? When you see photos of yourself where you were aiming for a smile and came up with a grimace.

Ah, Life......
Can't live with it, can't live without it! There's something irresistible-ish about it!