Tuesday, January 31

january daybook

Inspired by Amanda at The Habit of Being... a daybook post to close out the month of January.

:: :: ::

Outside my window... Sunlight catching on rain-beaded blades of grass; cheerful chirping of birds

I am thinking... About eating that leftover crepe for a late breakfast

I am thankful... For all of our friends and family who celebrated our son's birthday with us

In the kitchen... Black bread baked yesterday, lots of leftover bags of chips from the party

I am wearing... Gray yoga pants, green-striped shirt, brownish wrap sweater, gray & pink socks

I am creating... The life I've always wanted

I am going... To spend more time with my yoga practice in the evenings

I am wondering... Whether my new Prenatal Yoga class will be a success

I am reading... The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

I am hoping... That the car will be okay

I am looking forward to... A dear friend and her brood coming to play and eat later today

I am learning... How to mother a busy toddler boy!

Around the house... Too many new toys; quiet wrapped around the boy's nap

I am pondering... Which new yoga mat to buy

A favorite quote for today... "the path to peace is right here, when you want to get away" from the lovely Pema

One of my favorite things... Making tea in my new infuser mug

A few plans for the rest of the week... Going to the library to get more books for bedtime; juicing the last grapefruits; sewing a new zippered pouch

A peek into my day...

Friday, January 27


Taken at Cypress Creek, Wimberley TX

five senses friday: birthday edition

Happy Birthday, Silas Henry Cash! 

A year ago we welcomed you into the world, and my life has been so greatly enriched for having you at its center. You are the sweetest, happiest, most beautiful little boy I have ever  known. Thank you for all the love you give me, and for all that you teach me. I want to learn how to embrace the world around me with the same confidence and enthusiasm that you bring to each new experience. Your mama loves you so much, little bear--and so do your daddy, grandma, grandpa and JJ, grand-maman and grand-papa, uncles, aunts, cousins, and all your friends!

For today, then, a Silas-themed Five Senses Friday.

::tasting:: the bananas, muffins, pears, and Cheerios we share for breakfasts and snacks.

::hearing:: you sing and chatter and chirp to yourself in your crib before falling asleep

::feeling:: the sweet weight of your head as it rests on my collarbone before I lay you down to nap

::seeing:: the funny little fuzz that stands up at the back of your head

::smelling:: clean fresh baby skin after your bath

Thursday, January 26


lessons to carry us forward

This Friday, my little guy is turning one. As the date of his birth nears, I find myself weeping at odd times. Yes, I wonder where my little baby has gone, and my heart breaks a little bit as Silas is cheerfully developing the skills to walk away from his mama. But my tears are not so much for sadness and nostalgia, but more for sheer relief.

I made it. Oh my god I made it through the first year.

While rationally I understand that there wasn't much danger of this happening, still there were plenty of moments in the past 12 months when I actually, truly believed I was going to die. It is astonishing to be that I am here, alive, and happy.

Plenty of things did die. Little bits of ego, each day, withered and fell away. Thoughts about who I was, and what kind of mother I would be. Plenty of expectations bit the dust.

In these last weeks of my son's life I have felt a new space opening up. There is more ease and joy in our days now. I am more comfortable in my new mama skin. And while I know there will be plenty of tough times ahead (terrible twos, I am looking at you), I take a lot of comfort in knowing that we won't have to fight these first year battles again, and that the lessons we have learned this far will do a lot to carry us through what lies ahead.

The two most important lessons are:

  • You are not your thoughts. I forgot this at my own peril, and wept with relief when I was reminded in a particularly poignant yoga class. All those nasty dark violent thoughts you are having are not who you are. They are not reality. They are just thoughts, as temporary and weightless as clouds in the sky. No matter how mean and dark and menacing they may look, they are just vapor, and will blow away.
  • You are a good mother. It's hard to feel like a good mother when plagued with such dark and nasty thoughts. But I was, from the start, a good mother. Maybe not good in exactly precisely the ways I wanted to be, but I was. My husband, my mother, my friends, my son have always known it. It took me a while to see it too. When people tell you you are a good mother, even if it feels the furthest thing from the truth, believe them. Try to. They can see more clearly than you in that moment.
And in no particular order:

  • Mamas are all in it together. Sharing doubts, fears and dreams with my fellow mamas has quite literally saved me many times over. I don't expect that will change. They make me feel less crazy and less alone. I need all the less crazy I can get.
  • Ask for help. Over and over and over again. You would totally do it for others. Let them do it for you.
  • Forget the advice you have been given. Advice can be wonderful and life-giving. It can also be confusing and paralyzing when it doesn't quite fit with the reality before you. It's okay to let it go. Tuck it in your back pocket, though, as it may prove helpful in time.
  • Take care of yourself first. No one else can do this one for you. You can pass the baby off to another caring adult to be changed, fed, cuddled. But no one can shower, relax, nourish yourself but you. Your baby deserves a calm and happy mama. It's okay to invest precious time to refill the well.
  • It will change. It will all change, and sooner than you think. It's so easy to get locked into thinking that a specific difficult period or circumstance will last forever. It won't. You know the saying, "If you don't like the weather here [insert location], wait ten minutes?" That goes for baby weather too. Nothing lasts. You can huddle and live through pretty much any bad weather. There'll be a bit of sun on the other side for sure.
  • You can do it. You are doing it. That voice in your head that repeats "I can't do this"? It's just a thought. See lesson #1.
  • Love is all that matters. I have worried about a lot. There is so much to stress about: are we dressing/feeding/stimulating/washing/photographing this little being enough? Are we doing it right? One thing has never been in question: Silas is everyday being showered with love. Love covers over a multitude of sins. 
  • You'll forget most of this anyway. Time is merciful that way, it erodes the rough edges, leaving memories soft and easy to handle. Already I've gone back to reread journals of Silas' first months and if it hadn't been written down, I would've forgotten how hard it was back then. Everyone else around you will forget, too. None of this will brand you forever.

What are some of the lessons that are carrying you forward? I'd love to know!

Thursday, January 19


be the empty cup

Oh, the things I didn't know.

Being a yoga teacher, I pride myself somewhat on having a good knowledge of my body. Without looking down, I know when my feet are parallel to each other, and when they're not. Without the help of a mirror, I know when I am holding my spine straight and strong and in line with the earth. I know what poses, what stretches I need to do to unwind certain knots in my upper back, to ease some tightness in my hips. Being a prenatal yoga teacher, I thought I was heading into pregnancy a little bit ahead of the pack because of all the fancy knowledge I had about a pregnant woman's body.

(Are you laughing yet?)

I didn't know. Not a single blessed thing.

After my dream of a water birth at home took shape as the reality of a C-section, after I spent days sitting cross-legged on a hospital bed, awkwardly trying to get a sleepy newborn to latch and nurse, my hips hurt. A lot. With my fancy yoga teacher brain I figured, My hip flexors are tight from all this sitting! So I would get up, and do very gentle stretches for the front of my hips. It, of course, didn't help. The nurses would ask me, Are you having any pain? I would say, Not really, but my hips are tight. Until, one night, a nurse commented on how I was taking very little pain medication. So I explained about how there was very little pain where I expected there to be some, around my belly, and how my hips were tight. "That's the pain," she said. What I was feeling, she told me, were bubbles of air trapped in my body after the operation. I was having gas. In my hips. What!? She upped my meds, she gave me Gas-X, and I felt better. She will be my angel forever. She healed me; she woke me up.

After my dream of co-sleeping and nursing my sweet babe forever and ever turned into the reality of no sleeping, for anyone,  I was screaming and scared and trying not to think the horrible dark violent thoughts that were pressing into my brain. I thought I was a terrible mother, a terrible person, I thought I would die for sure. No matter how little I slept, when I got up I was functioning. I could dress myself and the baby without stumbling (though not without cursing) and pretty much go through my day without the deep fog I thought sleep deprived mamas were shrouded in. Many months went by, and then he slept. Through the night. For several nights. And then black heavy clouds lifted from my shoulders, the sun broke through, and I saw clearly: I am not a terrible mother. I was a sleep-deprived mother. (Duh, right?) I thought sleep deprivation would forever be like getting up at 3am to catch a flight, when you can barely remember your pants or your name or how to make coffee. I didn't imagine that you could adapt to sleeplessness, and basically carry on with your days, although without the benefit of deeper functions like patience, joy, hope.

When we think we know, we don't.

There is a classic Zen story that goes like this: an eager, learned student shows up to study with the master. He knows so much about Zen, so he thinks he'll be an awesome student. The master invites him for tea. He begins pouring tea into the student's cup, pours to overflowing, and keeps pouring and pouring, tea all over everything, flowing everywhere. What are you doing! cries the student. Can't you see the cup is already full? The cup is your mind, the master tells him. If it's already full, how do you expect to be able to acquire knowledge?

When we think we know, we don't. Better to be the empty cup, open and ready to receive.

“If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything, it is open to everything. 
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's mind there are few. ” 
                             -Shunryu Suzuki

Motherhood makes beginners of all of us. May we be open and willing to learn.

Friday, January 13

five senses friday

::tasting:: red lentil coconut soup with brown rice three days in a row

::seeing:: lush green grass, streaming light, irises in bloom

::smelling:: like someone else slept on my couch (they did)

::feeling:: warmth of sun, cold grip of wind, sweet burn in quads

::hearing:: Avett Brothers over and over and over

Thursday, January 12


opening up to 2012

It is so good to be home.

I rang in the new year back home in Canada, near Montreal and near Quebec City, visiting family, introducing my boy to winter, and going skiing for the first time in at least 15 years  (it was terrifying and exhilarating.) Silas and I arrived back home late Monday night, so very happily reuniting with his daddy, though it's taken mama a little while longer to make peace with the house that daddy had been living in, bachelor-style, for almost two weeks. But the act of cleaning and clearing spaces in my home, the slow process of re-entry, has actually been a very fitting way to start 2012.

This January my mind has been turning to the beginning of last year. When 2011 dawned I was 34 weeks pregnant. My little boy is now almost one year old. It is staggering to consider all that happened in the past 12 months--all the growth, both the astounding physical growth from infant to almost toddler, but also all the internal growth, of my growing ever more into motherhood, with ever more ease and grace. It feels so good to be here, now, to have figured out some stuff, to be getting some good sleep, to feel ready and excited about what lies ahead.

I love the practice of choosing a word for the year, to inform, inspire, and guide our development and endeavors for 12 new months. Two years ago, the year when we were trying to conceive, the word I chose was process. Last year, I didn't chose a word: it was chosen for me, and the word was baby. My son is whom  guided and inspired me, my own little guru. This year, my word whispered itself to me in the last weeks of December, and as it landed in my ears and in my heart, hope and excitement grew.

My word for 2012 is expand.

Often when I want to think about what is needed in my life, I turn to the principles of sequencing that I use when putting together a yoga class, or a personal practice. The idea is to create a flow in which movements balance each other out. Folded, closed-in postures like forward bends are counterposed with heart-opening backbends. Twists are neutralized with simple forward folds, and so on.

Last year I spent folded, closed in on myself. Holding baby, gazing into his little bright eyes, nursing forever and forever (he would only nap at the breast or in a carrier for the first, oh, six months of his life.) But also looking deeply into myself, trying to make sense of the mess that my heart, head and moods had become. Crying a lot. Nursing my bruised, black-and-blue sense of self.

But in the last weeks of December, we finally got Silas to sleep through the night, and the dark and menacing clouds lifted, revealing clear blue skies, and hope for the future. I stepped into 2012 ready to open my arms and heart, to embrace this new life, excited to expand. To open to possibility, to grow into areas where seeds have been planted. Even while I was a freaked-out, sleep-deprived new mama, I still managed to lay some new foundations for myself: I started this here blog with much excitement, I firmed and deepened my commitment to my meditation practice, I discovered new strength in my mama's body by joining a gym and exploring new territories in my yoga practice, I explored my love for photography with a new tool (iPhone, I love you) and a new subject (Silas, you adorable cutie!) So in 2012, I don't want to launch new ventures--I want to grow, develop, expand into all of these inspiring areas, with an open heart and open arms. In just the same way as my almost-toddler is embracing each new day, each new experience--open wide arms, open wide grin.

Oh 2012, I think I like you. A lot.

:: :: ::

Keep checking back into this space over the coming weeks, as I spent the rest of January exploring more deeply all the areas and ways into which I will expand in 2012. Do you have a word for 2012? What areas do you want to expand into this new year? Share in the comments, or link back to your own blog posts!

:: :: ::

One more thing! If you want a resource to help plan the year ahead, I cannot think of a better one--and it's a free offering!--than Susannah Conway's Unravelling 2012 workbook. I worked with it back in December, and it's beautifully and thoughtfully put together. Do yourself a favor and check it out!

Wednesday, January 4

4/365+1 #365

The Versatile Blogger Award

I was stunned and excited to find out, on the first day of 2012, that I have received The Versatile Blogger Award by the lovely Naomi of Poetic Aperture! This is what she wrote about me:  I met Fanny at The Art of Mindfulness workshop in Houston and liked her immediately. I love that her humor shines through her new-mother haze. Thanks for the love, Naomi! Right back at you.

For this award, the rules are:

1. Thank the award-giver and link back to them in your post. (see above)
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Pass this award along to 15 recently discovered blogs you enjoy reading.
4. Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award.
:: :: ::
Here are my 7 things:
:: I am very sensitive to light, and I simply cannot abide lighting that comes from ceiling fixtures, such as ceiling fan lights. Must. Be. Turned. Off. Table and floor lamps only, please.
:: English is my second language. I grew up speaking French near Montreal.
:: I am a mushy-hearted devoted cat lover--love all cats, everywhere--but I do not care one bit about cat-shaped things, or cat patterned things, or anything cat-related that isn't an actual cat.
:: Before moving to Texas 5 (gasp!) years ago, I lived in Victoria, BC for 7 years. I miss the Pacific Northwest like crazy.
:: My husband and I got to know each other through our blogs, in the blogging dark ages of 2004, back when you had to wrestle your own HTML stuff (no fancy widgets!) They are now defunct, but his blog was titled Punch Like A Poet, and mine was Weeds Of Contemplation.
:: I have a hardcore scarf and bag fetish. I shudder to think how many I possess of each. This little green number is my latest addi(c)tion.
:: I was always a dedicated tea drinker. But the hours new mothers are forced to keep has given me a deep and abiding affection for coffee.
::  ::  ::
Now, to spread the love. I adore blogs, and follow lots, but they tend to be biggies (see links in sidebar.) Here is a smaller selection of sites deserving of a larger audience, and two of my dharma teachers, whom I would be remiss not to mention, regardless of how many followers they might already have.
Piles of Laundry in the Holy Land :: Ravyn was one of the most inspiring voices in my yoga teacher training. She has recently moved her adorable family from Austin to Palestine. Her adventures are definitely worth following.
Dollop of Cream :: My real-life friend Stephanie shares her culinary creations (most can be made gluten-free) on this lovely site. Her photography is as mouth-watering as her recipes.
Honest 2 Betsy :: She doesn't post all that often, but her beautifully written and often hilarious posts are so worth waiting for.
Live Free :: I found my way to Nichole's blog recently. It's a quietly beautiful place where I like to hang out, and read about her days with her sweet little girl.
Radiant Reflections :: I just subscribed to Kylie's blog today. I sense a kindred spirit. I'm excited to get to know her better.
Cheerio Road :: I don't know how I would have made it through this first year as a mama without Karen Maezen Miller. Her blog is a fount of real wisdom about this beautiful mess that is our lives.
Susan Piver :: My meditation practice has been the touchstone that has kept this mama sane lo these 11 months. Susan's blog has helped me anchor and deepen that practice.
:: :: ::
What a wonderful, and very fitting way, to start this new year, since more blogging! is right at the top of my list of intentions for 2012. I hope you'll come around and hang out with me as I develop my vision for this site. Here's to health, happiness, and spreading the love for the new year ahead!