List of Beautiful: May 20, 2016

   

 celebrating 10 years of marriage with my love at our favorite cabin in the mountains

the sweet piney fragrance of the air when it rains

morning walks under ponderosa pines

my boys gathering kindling for the fireplace 

feathering new growth in my hand

an unhurried pace

dreaming about the next 10 years

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Nurture

I did not learn early
to love my body.
I sigh sometimes
to untangle curls, another
task in a day
of tasks.
I do not hold holy
in my hand
the toothbrush, take
a few moments more
to care for these teeth,
or carry enough
gratitude for the
geometry of the joints
that carry me.
But I am learning
what the massage therapist
says is true–who sees
naked form bundled into bones,
sinews, and muscles splayed
on a table before him every day
like a sacrament–
there are only beautiful
bodies.

Beautiful Things: May 12th, 2016

One of my most important purposes for homeschooling is to fill my children’s lives with beauty of all kinds. At the same time, I sometimes have a hard time noticing and holding onto the beautiful things that dapple our days. (To be fair, I just learned that there is neurological evidence that negative thoughts, feelings, and experiences imprint instantly on us, whereas positive ones need to be savored for a minimum of 15 seconds to attach).  So, I am keeping lists.

-a canopy of tree shade in our yard, sunlight softened as it filters through
-baby girl sifting mulch at the playground with her fine fingers
-my middle boy smelling the baby’s head, and telling me it’s a different kind of sweet than me
-first boy’s counting to 100 by I-Love-You’s at bedtime (I-love-you 1, I-love-you 2, I-love-you 3….)
-hearing each of my loved ones breathing in the still of night
-the poem Pied Beauty, by Gerard Manley Hopkins, taped to my bathroom wall
-reading Far from the Madding Crowd, by Thomas Hardy
-a giraffe’s slow grace at the Zoo, and how I enjoyed the little train ride, with my arm around my boy
-second son asking me what my favorite part of the day was, and when I answered about his giving me a card and book, he said with satisfaction, “I thought you were gonna do that”
-dancing and singing with my kids and remembering when my mom did the same with my sibs and me
-how burying my nose in my kids’ hair can change me and the trajectory of my day in a moment

Spill

All my anxieties spread before me
in that two-feet-square slick
of sludge on the tile. Even after making
up with my boy for my overreaction
to the upset tumbler, I still grieved
having broken the beautiful
morning. Felt I had shattered
some pristine crystal sculpture.
No,
my husband gentled me
in his arms. It’s more like the water,
the rock thrown does not ripple
it forever. Calm returns and the whole
of the body of water is unbroken
again, the deep envelops, embraces
and covers, absorbing the impact,
stone sinking until it joins
the soil and sediment, the foundation solid
and undisturbed beneath.

Year of Beauty

The morning is a rare gray, air cool and moist as I trod to the open dirt at the end of our neighborhood. I am looking for uneven ground, the better to challenge my muscles and joints.

My eyes, unaccustomed to the softness, still want to squint. Then I see the weeds. I feel like Rey in that scene: I didn’t know there was so much green in the universe. I need the clouds in order to truly see it. I look for more, and find the mesquites with their new spring growth. Diminutive fronds shower soft from their branches, a green whose name is unknown to me, almost the same as the pastel I chose during the therapy session last week. Inner resources. I closed my eyes and searched, questioning. What does the resource that is continuously renewed look like inside me? A tendril curling within, bright green and growing. Needing nurturing, thirsty. An ocean of water surrounding, feeding it. The depths of that ocean dark and calm underneath any tumult at the surface.

I reach as though to shake hands with the branch, pull back at the last moment when I notice the thorns, a good half-inch long, ivory colored like perfect fangs smiling at me. I test one carefully, half expecting it to be soft and undeveloped, but, no. It resists with a hardness that is surprising.

I so often feel overexposed here, a photograph blown out with too much light. I breathe deep, eyes open but still wary. The haze greeting me on this morning walk is ethereal, otherworldly, the sun’s light diffuse.

By the end of the walk I am in tears. There is so much beauty, and I need to see, and seek, it. I do not know what this will look like. I do know that I struggle to hold onto the beauty. As soon as the misty smudges across the sky register, I am caught in longing again, wishing for more of these mornings and glowering at the thought of the return of the usual desert harshness. Like the ones in the Snow Queen story who have got tiny shards of the magical, distorting mirror in their eyes, the ugly and painful magnified in their sight.

My baby is nine months old on this morning, her arrival in July in the middle of a storm, in the first hour of the morning. I will tell her yet again how beautiful she is when I get back from my walk. Year of Beauty, the words beating a rhythm in my head to match my march across the sand. Quail skitter from one mesquite to another. The soft mixing with the hard.  Beauty and thorns.

What I’m Learning

That breaking inertia is the hardest part
That you can’t argue with feelings
and yet motion changes emotion (see Amy Cuddy’s TEDtalk on posture for one example)
To ask for time to process, to give him a script for asking when I’m ready to discuss, and know that my response doesn’t depend on him saying it perfectly
That the times when I most feel like I want to lie in bed are often the times it’s the worst thing for me to do
That my Type 4 attachment to identity and feelings can be turned into a strength (hello, growth mindset!)
That The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s theme) is great for getting Big Feelings out
Bubbles help, too
That singing is the best use of my voice with my children
To seek the uneven ground