Thursday, December 15

15 december


it feels like windows and doors are being thrown open and fresh air is blowing in, changing everything. I am smiling all the time.

Wednesday, December 14

Tuesday, December 13

Friday, December 9

seize the instant: a partial list

One thing a mama's life lacks is time. Time to do this, to do that, time to oneself, time to breathe--there just isn't any of it, it seems. But if looked at closely, the fabric of a mama's day has these little pockets of free time tucked away here and there. Maybe it's naptime; maybe it's baby-and-daddy time. Maybe it's those two or five or ten minutes during which baby is engrossed in an activity, or bouncing in the exersaucer (affectionately dubbed the "circle of neglect" by a friend.) If the expression carpe diem had been coined by a mother, it wouldn't be seize the day so much as seize the instant. The free pockets of time in a mama's day are almost always unpredictable, both as to when they'll happen and how long they'll last. A gal has to be ready for them.

I was always astounded, in the first weeks of my son's life, how I became a marvel of productivity whenever someone would relieve me of baby duty. I would zip and zip this way and that, getting a bunch of stuff done with sleek efficiency, and still get time in for a hot shower and a mini yoga practice. In her wonderful book What Mothers Do Especially When It Looks Like Nothing, Naomi Stadlen suggests that this is because we spent so much time feeding, rocking, holding our precious bundles, and that these activities afford us the luxury of almost endless daydreaming of what we'll do when we finally have a minute to ourselves. Time becomes such a precious commodity when you have so little of it, and a mama's focus sharpens to razor-sharp precision in order to answer this most pressing question: What is most needed right now?  How best can I use these three, five, fifteen minutes of freedom to cultivate health, well-being and sanity for myself, and help restore some order and happiness in our family home and life? We likely all have our own lists, our go-to tasks, habits and practices that are given first priority when we are handed a blessed minute, or ten. Here is a partial list of some of mine:

::Sit:: Except on the most miserable of sleep-deprived days, the first thing I do when my son goes down for his morning nap is park my butt on the cushion for a ten to fifteen minute meditation. I don't know what kind of mother or wife I would be without this practice; I don't want to think about it. It's as necessary to me as water. Here is why you should meditate; here is how.

::Breathe:: Take a deep breath in. Feel the air fill the lungs, feel the belly soften. Notice the pause between inhale and exhale. Feel the breath fully exit the lungs; feel the shoulders relax. Don't you feel better? Lather rinse repeat.

::Make tea:: It's a long-standing joke in my marriage that I like having tea more than I like drinking it. So what? The ritual of making tea itself is so pleasant and soothing. Sometimes it's all that's needed--the making of the tea alone can be nourishment enough. I have a coaster that reads When there is tea, there is hope. So very true.

::Eat something::  I cannot function when I am hungry--it's always been true, but never more so than since I have been a mother. Between the hormones, the nursing, and the stress of caring for a very small person, no matter how cute or adorable he might be, I walk around like a loaded gun, and hunger is what pulls the trigger. My go-to snacks are smoothies, peanut butter toast, cottage cheese with pineapple and maple syrup, bowl of cereal. I strive for a healthy balance of protein, carbs and fiber. But I have been known to eat half a bar of dark chocolate, or fistfuls of smoked turkey slices. No judgement.

::Go outside:: Number two on my list of things that are guaranteed to lift my mood--and that of my son--is to go outside. It's not number one because we live in Texas, and half the year (this year, anyway) it's blistering hot out, which makes the enjoyment of the outdoors mighty difficult. But most days all I need is to venture out on the porch, and maybe walk out under the big oak trees that dot our property. Just being out of doors and gazing up at the sky can be all the refreshment necessary. Extra bonus points if there is soft grass in which to sink my toes.

::Play some music:: Number one on my list of things that are guaranteed to lift my mood is to play some music. Preferably loud music that makes me want to bust a move. Current favorites include Arcade Fire, Foster The People, Matt & Kim, The Avett Brothers, Florence + The Machine, and Phoenix. And, of course, there is always Madonna.

Tuesday, December 6

the practice of motherhood

This is one of my favorite words: practice.

Not practice in the sense of practice makes perfect. Not like practicing scales, practicing lines, practicing as the rehearsal before a final performance that is to come.

But practice as a set of habits, rituals, commitments that one engages is regularly. Practice as something sustaining, supporting comforting. Like my yoga practice, my meditation practice.

In the world of yoga, in which I have been firmly rooted for the last five years, having a practice is something very positive and personal. As teachers and studio support staff, we talk of helping students develop and maintain their personal practice, we talk of our own practice as the ground for our work, as something changing and evolving and ever alive, ever present.

My practice is my refuge, my home base, my safe place. It is where I go to resource and recharge, to stretch or sweat out the kinks of daily life, to iron out my nerves, my spine, my breath so that I'm ready for the next round.

Here are some more facts about my yoga & meditation practice: it will never be over. It is ongoing, and the point is not to get it right, to do it perfectly (or even to do it well!). The point is to engage with it, to hold it up against the needs and challenges of my daily life and to make adjustments, amendments, so that what I do on the mat or on the cushion (literal or metaphorical) both reflects and supports my daily reality. There is no making perfect. There is just showing up, breathing, moving.

It occurs to me that I would do well to approach motherhood as a practice more often. Much of what I do in my days as a mama is to try to figure out what is the right way to do things. Specifically when it comes to my son's sleep issues (rather, his lack of sleep, or inability or unwillingness to stay asleep), it feels as though there is a magic answer up in the sky, a perfect method of soothing and cooing and leaving-be that will deliver perfect nights of sleep for my family, and that my job is to stare, squint and try to decipher it. At this, I have failed every day. In the long laundry list of things I feel clueless at, here is a random sampling: feeding, playing, signing, napping, dressing (it's cold out--what's a baby to wear?) For each of these, the first assumption is that there is a right way to do things. The second assumption is that I do not know what that is

Here is some relief: there is no final performance for motherhood. There is no test. That means there will be no applause and no gold star, but it also means there will be no judging, no failing grade. There is no perfect. There is just showing up. Every day, whether it's with my son, or on my mat, there is only one question: What is needed right now? And to this, there is only one answer: Love. From there, the particulars of the day flow more or less with ease. What is needed is a hat, a hug, a tickle; a deep breath, a rest, a spinal twist.

What is the practice of motherhood?

Show up.

Observe what is.

Act with love.

Over and over and over again.

Monday, December 5

5 december


Consumed today: peppermint bark, peppermint hot chocolate, Candy Cane Lane tea, Green & Black Mint dark chocolate. 'Tis the season.N

Thursday, December 1

1 december


things are always better when I slow down to his rhythm, get down to his level.

Tuesday, November 29

29 november


grateful for: a day for me, coffee with Elizabeth, a better mood, writing, noodles & tea, picking up a happy boy.

Monday, November 28

28 november


grateful for: nearly but not completely losing my shit, chocolate, Arcade Fire.

Sunday, November 27

27 november


grateful for: sock & sweaters, tea, apple cake, a solo outing, loud music, love.

today I...

  • woke up to coffee and smiling boys
  • heard the wild wind howl at the windows, though the trees
  • sat for 15 minutes of meditation
  • ate waffles
  • finally made the unfussy apple cake (delicious & decidedly unfussy)
  • nearly lost all hope & patience with my non-napping son
  • gave myself my very first bang trim
  • dropped off half the cake to a friend recovering from surgery
  • got a much-needed chair massage
  • drank a pumpkin spice latte
  • wrote hard in this journal, then in this journal
  • played Arcade Fire and Florence + The Machine LOUD in the car
  • finished sprucing up the studio
  • took a bath with my baby
  • made Candy Cane Lane tea
  • am so deeply grateful for my sweet hubby
  • am still holding out hope

Thursday, November 24

24 november


grateful for: healthy & happy husband, son and family, cozy home, good food, tea & yoga breaks, innumerable blessings.

Wednesday, November 23

Tuesday, November 22

Sunday, November 20

20 november


grateful for: sleeping in, Sunday afternoon, chair massage, chai tea, pizza & ice cream.

Saturday, November 19

19 november


grateful for: coffeeshop time, mama friends, splendid weather, other people's toys, writing, yin yoga, baby sleeping better than yesterday.

on seeing clearly

Here is a picture of my son and I, taken recently on a warm November day at the park:

Almost 10 months into this gig, I still find it very strange to me to see a picture of myself with Silas. I am the photographer of the family, so while there are countless pictures of Silas, and tons of him with his daddy, with his grandma, grandpa, etc, there are very few of me and him, alone, except for the occasional self-portrait with child. It's as if my vision of myself hasn't fully adjusted to my new role: like getting a drastic new haircut or glasses, and for a few days, constantly startling oneself when passing a mirror. Is that really me?

I didn't expect motherhood to come with such an intense identity crisis. I have always wanted to be a mother; I have always wanted to be a stay-at-home mother. The man I married is the best friend I ever had, and the most amazing father. Our journey to fertility was long and difficult, due to a thyroid problem. This baby is very much wanted. This life is the life I have always wanted. Yet daily, I find myself wrestling with questions of self-identity. What does it mean to be a mother? What does it mean for me to be a mother? What sort of mother do I want to be? What sort of mother am I capable of being? (Two questions which, as I was much chagrined to find out, may have little to do with one the other.)

In bed the other night my husband and I were discussing this. It's not like that for men, he said. There is no fundamental shifting of their ground of being when they become fathers. It is as I suspected: on this point as in many others, motherhood is a bum deal. (Don't get me wrong: it's an honor and a privilege and a tremendous joy. And it's also very, very hard.) As is often the case though, DH cut through the fog of my neurosis with a comment of piercing and illuminating clarity:

"Silas knows that you're his mother."

My son is not confused about my role in his life. He does not wish me to be any other sort of mother. No matter how shitty or doubtful I feel about myself and my capacities (or perceived lack thereof), he accepts me fully, gladly, exuberantly. I am the one he wants, always. I am his mother. Looking at myself through his eyes, seeing what he sees, I see that all those brambly, thorny questions are just mind clutter. I do not need to figure out what it's like to be a mother. I am a mother. What I do everyday is what mothers do. There is nothing else, nothing to figure out.

In this matter, my son is my greatest teacher. He helps me to grasp and accept the truth of who I am. He cuts through my bullshit. He knows what's up. He is unrelenting in his teaching, yet filled with nothing but love and acceptance.

I am so very fortunate to share my life with two guys whose vision of me helps me see myself more clearly. Baby and all.

Friday, November 18

18 november


grateful for: mama friends, Netflix, coconut chicken soup, my husband, tea.

Thursday, November 17

17 november


grateful for: my mother, shared new journals & pens, bacon for lunch, a moment of quiet, rose soap.

Wednesday, November 16

16 november


grateful for: autumn leaves, naps together, sitting meditation, a hot shower at the end of a long day.

Tuesday, November 15

15 november


grateful for: our pilgrimage to Steeping Room, rain, Texas BBQ, a new mug.

Monday, November 14

grateful for: pumpkin spice smoothie, strong core work, brown butter, coming rain.

confessions of a serial blogger

So, Nablopomo...  I tried, friends, I really tried.

I was all set and excited to spend more time here at MHN this month. When Nablopomo struck (translation: National Blog Post Month, or a month in which we all endeavor to post on our blogs everyday) I thought this was the perfect motivation to get me onto a more regular posting schedule, something I have been stuggling with (ahem) ever since I first set up this space. And then, weekend before last, our household was hit by a double wave of sickness: little man and I got a nasty stomach bug, which we recovered from just in time to be felled by a wicked cold. We're still coughing.

Here's a confession: I am a serial blogger. I first hit Publish right here on Blogger back in the dark ages of 2004, when we had to edit ALL of our own HTML stuff. (You kids don't know how good you've got it.) I was so good at blogging back then that it snagged me a husband--true story. Between that blog and this one lay a sad trail of little clumps of posts, begun in the greatest of hopes and long since abandoned. But this one--oooh, this one, this one is shiny, this one has the feel of a winner. Now I've got the material, a wealth of stuff to write about, share, puzzle out--because I've got this kid now, and I need to figure out all over again every day how to be his mommy--but what I don't have, what I desperately lack, is time.

Here's another confession: I am a schedule addict. I like things to be reliable, predictable, I like to set it and forget it. This is when I practice yoga. This is when I bake muffins. This is when I write on my blog. But, you see, nine-month-olds laugh hysterically in the face of schedules. They mash them between their chubby fingers like so many Cheerios. My son makes a mockery of my need, my deep desire to have things the way I like them. That's fine--that's why he's here, that's why he is the best and greatest teacher I will ever have.

But there you have it--my sparkly dreams of posting every day dashed by baby germs. A perfect little microcosm to illustrate this life of mine. I could throw my hands up and wave the white flag. But I come to you here, nearly 10pm at night, saying--what, exactly? That I fell down. And that I'm picking myself back up again. And that I'm trying my darndest not to judge myself for having fallen, and not to make lofty promises about what'll happen now that I'm standing back up. I am here. Now. Writing. It is all I've got. It is good enough.

Sunday, November 13

Friday, November 11



grateful for: yoga class, cupcakes, fat orange moon, murmuration of starlings, pajama pants.

Thursday, November 10

10 november


grateful for: time, sadness, movement, noodles, swings, driving with the windows down and the music loud.

Wednesday, November 9

Friday, November 4

4 november


Grateful for: ginger tea, miso, rice, showers, and my wonderful husband and mother who looked after my son today while I was sick.

Thursday, November 3

3 november


grateful for: cold enough weather to wear handknits, running into friends at the coffeeshop, tiniest kisses all over my son's sleeping face.

Xs and Ys

Sometimes I happen upon two quotes almost simultaneously which, like the meeting point of an X and Y axis, create a bull's eye of truth that hits right at the heart of my experience. At the moment, they are:

"Whenever you do what you don't want to do, it is a spiritual practice."  -Karen Maezen Miller, from a tweet about a week ago

"Only one feat is possible: not to have run away"  -Dag Hammarskjold

I make no secret of the fact that I am deeply struggling in caring for my 9-month old son right now. His sleep is a mess from teething/learning to crawl/standing and cruising around the furniture. I wrote about it in this post last week; I'll probably write about it next week, too. It is, no doubt, the defining fact of my life right now. It's messing with my brain, big time. When I sit up with him at night, half-asleep, achy, feeling lost and crazy, my mind clouds up with dark, brooding, menacing thoughts, most of them summing up roughly to this: I am not good enough. I am a terrible mommy, and therefore, I am a terrible person.

It is incredibly easy and seductive, as a mama, to exhaustively list all of our perceived faults, and give ourselves no credit for all the good that we do in a day. It feels good to hear other people tell us that we're doing a good job, but we don't really believe them. Surely if they knew about all the stuff that's going on in our heads, what we feel we're really like, then they would retract their praise. But even amidst the densest fog of self-doubt and self-loathing, as these two quotes indicate, there is one redemptive truth one can cling to, and catch a bit of clarity from.

I show up.

I show up for my son, no matter what my state. True, sometimes I let a few wailing minutes go by, and true, I often mutter curses under my breath, but I go to him.  "This is your new spiritual practice: getting our of bed." (KMM again.) I show up, I hold and nurse him. I pick him up when he falls down. I pick him up from daycare two days a week. No matter how much I fantasize, in the dead of night, about getting in the car, setting the GPS on a course to Mexico and never looking back, I'm still here, day in and day out, and I show up for my little guy. I have made the choice to be a SAHM, and sometimes I feel like this choice is costing me a great deal, but it's still the toughest job I've ever (mostly) loved, and I do not, not ever, regret one minute of being present for my boy.

I have not run away. I will not run away. I may do it grumbling, but I do those things that I do not want to do. It may not at all feel very spiritual, but there is no doubt that it is a practice, this mothering gig.

That could be the shortest and most complete job description of motherhood: showing up.

And I do. Job well done.

2 november


Grateful for: my deeply kind and understanding husband, a lovely visit with my lovelier girlfriends, dinner at the food trailers.

Wednesday, November 2

happy place

Our little guy's sleep has been unreliable at best, and today things have really come to a head. I am worn out and near the brink. But for the almost five minutes during which I watched this video tonight, the world was again a happy place. Enjoy!

(Oh, the many incarnations of John Travolta.)

(Pssst... I'm playing along with NaBloPoMo. Here goes nothing!)

Tuesday, November 1

1 november


grateful for: solo coffee date, long yoga practice, park outing with my boy, fresh insights

Friday, October 28

28 october


some days all I'd ask for is to drink a hot cup of coffee from the first to the last sip without having to reheat it four times.

Wednesday, October 26

coffee with Elizabeth

There are few things nearer the top of the list of things that make me feel better than having coffee with my friend Elizabeth. She is the brave and beautiful mama of three, a doula who was present at my son's birth, and a touchstone of sanity, inspiration of laughter. When I'm having a rough time being a mama, she's the one I text, late at night, to suggest coffee the next morning, while our kids are in daycare together.

Over our buckets of coffee, we talk about books, handbags, where we would live if not in the fiery pit that is Central Texas. And babies. We talk about our babies. Mostly, these days, we talk about how and why our babies aren't sleeping, and what we are or aren't doing about it. I didn't expect, before becoming a mama, that another being's sleep (or, more to the point, the lack thereof) would be the dominant factor of my existence, dominating conversations, an obsession verging ever nearer to insanity. But it is--oh, is it ever, the ruler of my life.

Elizabeth has tenure as a mama--I feel a mere guest lecturer in the field. But I do not go to her for specific advice, as our nighttime parenting styles are very different. The reason I walk away from meetings with her feeling lighter, and more able to handle my life (and my kid!), is that she has helped me remember two very basic, very important things:

1) We are all going through this. (I am not the problem!)

2) It will pass. (I can stop beating my head on the wall trying to find a solution!)

That is all I need to hear, really. I need to be reminded that I am not a crappy mother, and that things will not be this way forever, two ideas that harden into the death-grip of certainty when I am awake, again, at 2am with a wakeful babe. Our talks remind me that I am ok, and that things will get better. If not soon, then soon after that.

Comfort and coffee. The two best things that mama friends can share.

Tuesday, October 25

the beauty of a pause

There I was at my kitchen table,  too early in the morning, weary, bleary-eyed. My almost-9-month-old is working hard on crawling, and the newly-firing neurons in his brain are messing with his sleep--and hence, with mine. With only the benefit of coffee for a crutch, I looked out over the day ahead, and just before I could get discouraged, the little scene coming to life on my kitchen table caught my eye:

Then caught it again:

I wish I could say that, in that moment, I could finally see the beauty that is my life, and that the day--and all days thereafter--rolled smoothly on. Not so much. But that much isn't necessary, either. In the moment I chose to pause, and see; to fire up my iPhone, open my Hipstamatic app, and shoot, I reminded myself of a few things:

...that my life IS indeed beautiful

...that I want to be the kind of person who chooses to pause and see that beauty

...that when I choose to pause, I connect to my "infinite power to relax, to release, to change, and thus to change everything."*

And so I carried on. I got up, walked around, and I found this:

And this:

It may not be much, but in the moments when I paused, looked, and shot those images, all I was connected to was that very moment, that breath.

And that is how I choose to live out my days: breathing into the moments, easing into the beauty. As it turns out, there is an app for that.

Monday, October 24

24 october


after that horrible night, if ever there was a day to give up, this was it. I'm so glad I didn't.

Sunday, October 23

23 october


I am ready to stoke that fire.

today I am... feeling inspired

there are lots of yellow-ish moments involving beverages on my back porch these days...

...inspired to walk with gratitude, camera in hand

...inspired to spend more time in this space, each day, even if for just short bursts of time (inspired by amanda's early posts)

...inspired to eat mindfully and well

...inspired to dream up playful spaces for my growing boy

...inspired to curl up with a good book

...inspired to take in the season. and to that end, I am heading outside!

see? here's another one

What is inspiring you these days? Do share!