** mighty hawk **
My child has a standing group-counseling event miles away once a week; this means I drive even more than normal to pick the child up, early, from a rural school. As well this week I am running back and forth for a sporting season (basketball: Nels). I am logging hours on a backwoods road which regularly yields heron, bald eagles, elk, and the occasional owl – but rarely-to-never deer or hawks, more often seen alongside the thoroughfare highways.
I have not yet adjusted to having the children out of the home during daylight hours. I have been working on sleeping more – discovering, half a year ago, that even when I did not need to rise at a particular time, I could only sleep six hours at a stretch. (Thanks to practice, patience, and some supplements – calcium, magnesium, wild lettuce, and melatonin – I’m up to nine!)
With more sleep comes a (seemingly) less productive schedule. Made (seemingly) less-productive still by my practices of meditation, volunteerism – and resting while I recover from a deep cough.
My son wants me to take a job at his school: his idea of paradise is to play kickball (or this week’s fad: sproutball), selectively partake in hot lunch, play with friends, and get cuddles from his teacher/playground-aide mama. His simple demands for childlike needs tug at my heart. My son is remarked upon by strangers often for his advanced vocabulary and speech patterns, his good manners, his dress – but at the same time, his younger nature. While other boys have followed suit of their peers and the television programs in their home, Nels is still childish in some ways. He dresses his own style; he is quick to cry publicly. Gentle at heart with animals and small children. As excited today as he was years ago – at a common snail or dun-brown snake:
Is it special, when you’re lonely?
Will you spend your whole life
In a studio apartment
With a cat for a wife?
On my mind today is a sense of illness – it steals upon me during a perfectly sunny walk in the woods this afternoon, and creeps through my belly, blooms in my chest. My head swims a bit. I want nothing more than to rest, to lie down. Instead I get to drive and haul children, a dog, a friend or two.I get to do the minimum amount of housework at home so we can visit a new family with a new – brand-new, as in born today – baby!
My children’s interests, activities, appetite, and clothing consumption seem to have escalated here, in their pre-teen years. Their needs for scheduling, and for talking out peer issues, and our plans for their upcoming birthday celebrations, do not make for idle time. Tonight I sit on bleachers in the rural school’s immaculate gym – splashed everywhere with the school colors of black, orange and white – and watch my son and other boys dribble basketballs, run pass-drills, and work on shooting form. I feel a softness in my chest for these boys – the little boys, and the “boy” coaching as well. I stand up and pocket my phone at four as Nels proudly hauls his backpack up his shoulder – before asking if I’ll carry it. My son puts his arm around me when we leave; he is growing so tall, so fast. His neck is flushed and his body elastic and warm from practice.
Today’s exertions have left my cough a little deeper than it was this morning; my neck and head ache. My body feels ill-used, and misses the weekend-night cuddles of my children, who go to bed before I do on school nights.
But tonight I am grateful to have once again discharged the day’s duties; to have remained true to the purpose. To have walked the dog and pet the cats and helped the children and held hands with my husband and looked into his eyes deeply and when he asked me how I was, to tell him, “I love you.”
Life is a gift and today although my bones are cold and brittle I’m grateful to get the chance for another 24. Breathing in, breathing out.Read More
I’d conceptualized this garment a while back – probably after listening to A Princess of Mars on tape. Not that this particular babycreep is inspired by any particular bit of Burroughs’ descriptive prose, but more like an idea that banged around in the ol’ braincase for a bit.
I had this wonderful 50/50 heavy duty knit in a heathered plum… and of course a high-quality poison-green faux fur. Perfect!
Believe it or not, faux fur – a good quality one – is a great fabric for baby and child use. It is rugged and withstands washing well, is warm, and most people enjoy the way it feels. It is also surprisingly unfussy to sew with – once you know a few tricks.
I had to include some star-shaped ear-tabs because this is a Space Baby, of course. These were a wee bit tricky to get just right, but I know my knits. Interface first for best results!Read More
I’ve had a hospital visit, a couple chest x-rays, and a couple roadtrips since I last wrote here.
Nels dressed up for the cats at Purringtons Cat Lounge. Yes, that’s a real thing. Above: Owen. Owen was a bit of a trouble-maker – but handsome, and affectionate.
Emily with Rephil. Rephil was not shy about straight-up clinging to a lap. Anyone’s lap, really. A true sweetie!
Phee, looking super-posh. <3
After the cats: a soak at the Kennedy School.
Then dinner at Nicholas Restaurant on Broadway. Pictured above: Phee’s lamb kebab.
Now and then the cloud of depression lifts. It is such an obvious difference – like clouds parting for sunshine. I am wise enough to really appreciate my good-mental-health days fully – to savor them. Who knows how I will feel tomorrow!
Today I started sewing after a long hiatus. I have an ambitious project I’m debuting in spring, and I’m making the preparations now. Winter was a little rough – first, the tail-end of my busy season, then an unsavory experience or two.
One good thing about getting older – for me, anyway – is having a bit of perspective. I don’t take my time, talents, or resources for granted. I’m glad to have had a chance to put in some time designing and sewing tonight.Read More
Each of my mixtapes is so lovingly curated. I listen to them enough that, over time, they come to evoke the memories of a particular time in my life. Last year, I humbly admit, I busted out some awesome double-CD love for not only V-day but my 37th birthday. This year, what I lack in quantity (no 2-disc mix), I more than make up for in twisted, sad, or otherwise super-disturbing “love” songs for the happily-coupled or singleton alike.
“a little too sweet” – the story goes my father’s grandfather always had to comment on his wife’s homemade rhubarb pie. “A little too sweet,” he’d say after taking a bite. One year, his ladywife baked the pie with no sugar whatsoever – I believe verily this to be old-skool trolling. Half the family was in on the joke, keeping their giggles in their bellies as the patriarch sat down to his pie slice, and lifted the fork to his lips. Chewing, swallowing. Then: “A little too sweet”, he deadpanned.
Enjoy, my lovelies!
Today was my 38th birthday. I took a picture first thing: before shower, before makeup, before dressing – before my first cup of coffee, even.
I had a wonderful day out with family and friends. I woke to a few gifts in the post – a large parcel of treats, and a package of yummy socks. My good friend E. picked me up and we headed to Olympia for this and that. While there, Nels and I each got a haircut – he made quite a change!
We shopped, ate food, picked up a few things, and headed back to town to reunite with the family.
After we got into town, I ran off to the yoga studio and sweated it up pretty profusely on the mat – nursing my injured shoulder all the while, of course.
Dinner at the local Rediviva – where the chef made me something special. More flowers, and a few moments with friends and my mother.
My mom made a homemade cake – a white cake with fresh berries. She made separate cupcakes for the restaurant workers too. Because that’s how she rolls.
I don’t have a picture of this – but Ralph found and paid a violinist to serenade me with “Happy Birthday”. Every year my husband finds a way to surprise me, and every time it’s something very special. It occurs to me now that he is providing a wonderful example for our children. I hope I am doing the same.
Home again – finally – and I snap a picture of Phoenix, who researched how to tie a sarong, so she could dress up for me this evening. Of all the wonderful, amazing gestures and gifts today this was the most unexpected. She is a lovely lass and as you can see – I am very grateful.
Flowers from a friend, flowers from my husband, gifts in the post: chocolate and clothing and candy and sweets.
My house is full of gifts, and warmth.
My body, tired from this evening’s yoga. My cough is a bit deeper and I look forward to rest.
I am, as always, quite grateful for the love I receive on my birthday. The loving generosity of family and friends is always humbling, and always wonderful.
A decade ago I voluntarily sought out counseling for emotional and mental difficulties, after an upheaval unlike any other I’d experienced; an upheaval seemingly impossible to overcome. I remember my counselor, a very gentle woman with grey, careworn curls and a soft voice, giving me a questionnaire on my life experiences. I answered as honestly as I could. She reviewed my answers on paper and informed me I qualified for “mild to moderate depression”, before lightly setting the paper aside to interview me further.
Upon her pronouncement – well, honestly, I felt as if I’d passed a test. On one hand I was mildly discouraged to discover something unwholesome had taken me over despite my best efforts. On the other, it felt a bit validating to know I had a reason to seek out this kind of help. I wasn’t just making it up, for fun. (for fun!)
This latest episode of depression has differed quite a bit from my experiences in the past. Unlike ten years ago, I am more consciously aware of my innermost difficulties. Perhaps a good analogy is that of receiving dental work with, or without, anesthesia. The same procedure, the same pain, the same violation of the body occurs in both cases. But with an analgesic the mind is in a sense less aware of what it is going through. Many consider painkillers to be a mercy – even a necessity for all of life’s discomforts. There is some doubt about the wisdom of such an approach, as medical and spiritual traditions continue to inform us.
As I cope with this latest bout of depression – without the use of intoxicants or medications, or my previous habits of smoking, over-spending, over-activity, and over-eating – I am acutely aware of my discomfort. Without the anesthesizing effects of Valium or alcohol, without looking to my partner to “make me feel better”, I confess I go through some very scary spells indeed. Today I felt a paralyzing coldness creeping over me, dragging me to the depths, a more powerful experience than I’d ever had. It felt like drowning, but in a muffled darkness, not a liquid element. My husband, asking after my pneumonia, says, “Does your chest hurt? Is it your head?” Depression like this is a bodily experience, a bloom like influenza, down to my bones.
I am sad my partner and children do not live with a woman who is entirely well. I think I could somewhat cheerfully step through my own pain, but my sense of responsibility to them is a tripping-stone on the path, an obstacle I struggle with. A hangnail I worry at, not allowing patience, and healing. I know I am not seeing clearly, because to require I do not suffer illness for their sake is to spit their unconditional love back in their faces.
I know I owe them not perfection or Wellness precisely – but honesty, gratitude, self-love and self-care, humor, gentleness, and my presence. And for me – because I practice while things are good – I know it is entirely possible to be present while in so much pain. It really is one breath at a time, an exercise in mindfulness, breathing, awareness, lovingkindness, and acceptance. It is no different than when things are easier, and perhaps that is the biggest mystery of all, one I find a great deal of joy in discovering, over and over again.
Tonight while my children attend a community hockey practice I wash my son’s coverlet; I light candles, file papers, and dress for yoga. A headstand will help! Time with friends, sweating on a mat, enjoying my body – will help. My gratitude practice – through wellness and illness – will help.
I am glad for you who read here, and who can accompany me in some way on my path. The rocks are sharp underfoot; a foreboding stoniness of the cliffs loom around me, and a bitter wind slaps through my jacket. But the thought of you keeps me alight, the little flame in my chest, that shan’t be extinguished as long as I draw breath. I make my way to your campfire with a gladness in my heart that may not be happiness, but it is joy.Read More