Friday, August 30

your efforts matter

I am writing this for you today, in case you need to hear it. I know I do.

Your efforts matter.

They have not gone unnoticed.

All the small gestures, they add up. All the little things done with big love. You may not always think that they do. It may not feel like they do.

But oh, they do. I promise you.

Please allow others to reflect the goodness that is your own true self back to you. Believe in the good that they speak of you.

Allow the love in their eyes, the smile that lights up their face when they see you, to hold deep meaning. To touch that soft, bruised place in your heart.

Maybe they are able to see the truth of who you are better than you can right now.

Do not sink into that place of sadness. Do not doubt your own worth. Believe you are enough. If you believe, it begins to be true. Just like that.

Your efforts matter. They have not gone unnoticed. Trust this.

Wednesday, August 28

small gestures

I recently finished a personal challenge to show up on the blog to write a paragraph each day for 30 days. Those particular 30 days corresponded with traveling to Montreal alone with my two young boys, where we would hang out at my parents' house and escape the brutal Texas summer for a few weeks. This kind of disruption of routine is one I generally struggle with. I like the predictable rituals of my days at home, and cling to such rituals even more so now, in the difficult first few months with a new baby. I knew it would be a challenge to show up daily to write, but I did manage to do so everyday, and that is something that I am enormously proud of. Aside from the fact that the exercise yielded some writing which I am very happy with (which it did), the sheer fact that I showed up and honored that commitment to myself, every day of those 30 days, no matter what, means a hell of a lot to me.

The challenge wrapped up just in time, too, because upon returning home I got waylaid by mastitis AND a respiratory infection. I was so, so sick--dizzy spells, high fever, chills, sweats, the works--for a solid week. Antibiotics eventually had to be brought in. I felt so bad that the illness sucked the will to self-care right out of me. I didn't even want to do any of the things I usually do for myself: write in my journal, enjoy a hot shower, practice yoga, sit for meditation. I didn't even have the energy to want out of my misery. I barely drank any coffee. Those ten days or so have been some of the darkest of my whole parenting career. I'm barely just starting to get back to myself.

I'm starting small. Re-establishing my evening routine--shower, yoga, sit, and a nightly gratitude practice--is my first line of defense. Then, slowly rebuilding in other ways, too. Checking in with myself for a daily intention in the morning, doing some mindful movement as the sun begins to shine. Two solid bookends to my days.

And I am continuing with my commitment to writing. What made it easier to show up each day of the 30-day challenge was that I didn't have to wonder whether or not I would write. I'd already decided I would, and that fact pushed me through resistance every single day. And I realized that, no matter how tired or cranky or blah I felt, if I made myself show up, something beautiful would rise up to meet me. It was surprising and illuminating each and every time. Why not continue? So I am committing to write for 10 minutes each day. 10 minutes. That's it. Let's see how this goes.

The truth of it is that these small gestures are all that is available to me, here in the weeds up to my eyeballs with learning what it means to be a family of four. It is so easy to lose myself in the daily spin and grind. But, more so than ever, it is important that I do what I can to hold on to those things that support me in who I am at the core, even before I am a wife, mama, homemaker. It is vital that I keep investing in myself so that I can be invested in my sons and my husband. It is necessary that I be at home within myself so that I can make a home for all of us. When I have the least amount of time for them, and when I have the best reasons to give them up, are the precise moments when it is most important to honor these small commitments to myself.

Here's to starting over. Please tell me, I'd love to know: how are you recommitting to self-care these days? What small gestures are you making towards living your best life?

Saturday, August 17

"30 paragraphs in 30 days"

I can't quite believe I'm here, on day 30 with a 30th paragraph. It's amazing to me that I've managed to show up, everyday, despite travel and disruption of my littles' routine. Despite fever. There were so many good reasons NOT to write but I did anyway, and this fact means so so very much to me. I feel so much power in having accomplished this, having honored this commitment to myself. I'm thinking a lot these days about what it means to be me and also be a mom. How to write, exercise, practice self-care in the midst of my days filled with the care of two small boys, a home, a marriage. What is possible? What is desirable? I still don't know the answers to these questions. But over thirty days of simply showing up I have taught myself that what is possible might be bigger than I thought.

Friday, August 16


Fever. Giving myself a pass tonight. Though I have so much to say. Now for some ice cream and tea.

Thursday, August 15

"creating space "

It's hard to believe that today was only one day--it felt more like two or three. Slow to get going in the morning, testing the waters of being a solo mama of two again, after two weeks of vacation. Epic toddler nosebleed onto both of our new white shirts. Reuniting with our friends again. Vacuuming as quick as I could the bloated black dust bunnies in every corner. Quiet at naptime, making my lunch, cramming so much into that first hour. Making a black bean, mango, avo salad while Silas was in deepest toddler happiness, watching Magic Schoolbus and eating "crunchies". Arranging a new vignette atop the mantelpiece. Late trip to Target for dog food and new underwear. Coming home just as the husband was unloading the new-to-us couch from the truck. Bringing said couch into the house, creating new visions for our living space. Such an epic day of homing, of creating space for the days and months ahead. Carving hope.

Wednesday, August 14

"back together"

We flew home. Two poop blowouts on the plane. Texas humidity. The house a wreck. Bad news that my youngest won't be able to start daycare in the fall after all. The start of yet another plugged duct. But there was also a lavender-scented shower and fresh groceries and some hope for tomorrow. That I'll be able to start putting this life back together.

Tuesday, August 13

"not ready"

Tomorrow it'll be time to leave home in order to return home. I'm all packed, but I'm not ready to go.

Linking up with Christina Rosalie's Just One Paragraph.

Monday, August 12

"first movie"

We took Silas to his first movie in the theater today--Planes 3D, though he refused to wear the glasses, and didn't want us to wear them, either. We didn't know how he'd react, he can be pretty categorical when it comes to new experiences, he's either all in or won't go near it. Though he was still in a post-nap daze he took to it with ease, eating the snacks I sneaked in for us and taking off his Crocs just as he does when we get in the car. There was only one other family in the theater. He didn't much of his usual chatting. The movie was frankly awful, but I was delighted the whole time because he was so engrossed in the images of flying airplanes. I had that feeling, like this is why people take their kids to all manner of horrible overwhelming places like Disneyworld and such. Anything to see that look on your kid's face.

Linking up with Christina Rosalie's Just One Paragraph.

Sunday, August 11

"fresh supply fever"

Every year around this time, it grips me. The fever for fresh supplies, Moleskine hacks and planner templates. The true stationery addict continues to jones for new stuff as September nears even when she is long out of school. Recently a dear and awesome friend went to New York and scored a stash of my favorite Muji pens for me. Today I spent the better part of two nursing sessions scrolling through Pinterest for inspiration. I was unable to get away to score a new pocket Moleskine, though I was dying to. My current one suffered water damage and has been mostly unloved, but after dinner I pulled it out anyway and started to mess around with washi tape and drawing lines, trying to come up with the best container to hold the shape my future will take. My two boys return to Mother's Day Out in two weeks, and I will have two, TWO six-hour days a week to myself. Oh glory. From my current vantage point it is an enormous expanse of uninterrupted time to myself, but my hopes and goals for that time are so lofty that I will need A LOT of planning and supplies to corral and whittle them to size. I feel like a schoolgirl, putting protective paper around textbooks with tight spines and the sweet stink of ink, flipping through the chapters of all I have yet to learn, excited and a little bit scared of what lies ahead.

Saturday, August 10

"which day will be"

There is more than one way to change a life. It's not always possible to change countries or move houses. Sometimes all you can do is change your couch. We drove to Ikea today, joining the Saturday throng to sit on couches and choose which one we'd prefer to watch the gleeful mess of our life from. Thousands of miles away but just days from our return, we talk about clearing space, making space. August has acquired a tang of fall at this latitude north, school's around the corner, we hear whispers of change. What will we turn the page on, what will we begin. In the evening I took a walk to shake out the cobwebs, down the bike path and to the park, up the big hill to watch the sun set behind the bridge. Warm scent of clover released by each of my footsteps. Tonight our oldest went to sleep without much of a fight on a mattress on the floor next to the play yard he's been sleeping in. You never know which day will be the start of something new.

Friday, August 9

"stepping into what might be"

Making friends with my body again after a second belly birth is a slow and shy process. The immediacy of two boys' everyday demands is mediated through my skin and bones. Aches proof in my muscles of both the hard work and passivity that is nursing an infant. My hips and pelvis remind me each morning that being the bowl that holds two growing lives means stretching into never being the same. I long to step back into routines of mindful movement but am constantly struck that there is no "back" to return to. What my body once was is gone; what does that mean moving forward? Today, it meant getting a bang trim. Buying coral pink polka dot skinny jeans because why the fuck not, who knows who I am anymore, maybe I am a woman who wears such things. I am a woman who shaved her legs. Who is stepping into what might be.

Linking up with Christina Rosalie's Just One Paragraph.

Thursday, August 8

"a kind of celebration"

Not the day I was envisioning--not even close. Moments of sleeplessness so awful all you can do is laugh about it. But isn't that a kind of celebration, too: to bless the disaster with laughter, to be bored together on an aimless drive so the boys would nap, both of us looking out at the road ahead, wherever it may lead, along for the ride. (And, at the end of the day, there was chocolate cake.)

Wednesday, August 7

"ten and eighty"

Ten minutes at Starbucks, the parking lot glistening with rain, about to go pick up my love, whom I haven't seen in ten days. I love how a little bit of time and distance suffice to revive the butterflies in my stomach from way back in the beginning of our story. How his voice on the phone comforted me like when it was the only thing I knew of him, that and his wit and kindness and deep intelligence, all that was conveyed through our e-lationship (his term.) Tomorrow we celebrate 8 years of marriage. Eight years, two countries, two boys, one house, finding each other and then, together, finding ourselves. Tomorrow we'll sleep in until 8am (!), go out for breakfast alone together, rekindling, enjoying quiet together over coffee, sinking into the ease of just being together and needing nothing more. And then we'll talk, as we do, about everything and nothing, about the ten days and eight years just past and the ten and eighty years ahead. I can hardly wait.

Tuesday, August 6

"the kind of day"

It was the kind of day I dream of when I think of spending time here in the summer. Clear blue bowl of sky, sitting in the shade of the magnolia tree, eating baguette with butter and blueberries, writing, reading thin delicious French books. The kind of day when I am buzzing with caffeine in a good way, when my shutter finger twitches and clicks as my eye catches on everything. The kind of day when I spend ten minutes on the mat, when plank and dog and half-moon pose remind me how good it feels to stretch and open my body, how in yoga asana forms follows and serves function and how this may be a clue as to how to develop a new relationship to this new post-second-C-section body. The kind of day with a little bit of wine near the end and sunset and pie and two little boys playing and laughing with my family. The kind of day that is good.

Linking up with Christina Rosalie's Just One Paragraph.

Monday, August 5

"all I want"

More blueberries, more magical sparkly light under the grape arbor. Scoring the awesome sour cherry candy I used to buy for a penny a piece at the store in front of my high school and sneakily eat out of my pocket all afternoon. Going out for coffee by myself, having a hard time choosing between sun and shade on the patio at Starbucks. Choosing sheltered shade, keeping my yellow scarf on, iced decaf caramel macchiato which is my jam. That's all I want out of life these days: coffee, my notebook and pen, and an hour. Toddler's hard crash after yesterday's crazy, hot tears and clingy arms. How I love the deep long hugs, even though they come at the price of him being totally beside himself. Counting the hours until my love, their dada, join us here. A little over fifty. I can make it. I can make it.

Linking up with Christina Rosalie's Just One Paragraph.

Sunday, August 4

"there and back again"

There were epic skies and epic cries. Two and a half hours of road time there and the same amount back, trip bloating to almost twice that length the way only trips with children can. We ran out of water and stopped to buy squeaky cheese curds and change diapers in the open trunk of the car. It got cold, real cold for the season, and we all played out our versions of tired: wailing, running, stressing. The "there" was a supposed surprise gathering for my father's 60th birthday. I saw almost all of my family in the way I have for the last 13 years: all at once and not long enough, barely time to say hello and kiss cheeks and say what a pity it is that we don't get to see each other more often. I am left wondering how to love two far away places, and the people they hold, at the same time. What belonging means, to me, what it will mean for these boys of mine. Showers, a rainbow, sunset, blueberries and shows on the iPad. An epic journey in one day, there and back again.

Linking up with Christina Rosalie's Just One Paragraph.

Saturday, August 3

"back to the beginning"

Small mercies: Over The Rhine CD in the stereo of my parents' car, the one they released the year we bought our house, driving around my hometown, memories laying track on top of memories. An iced coffee from the Starbucks' drive-thru, the baby finally quiet and asleep in the back, deciding to go cruise by my old high school. Had felt trapped in the house, trapped in my head, and feeling expansive now as I'm sure I felt as a sixteen year-old, hitting the road. Drive under the green teaching arms of the tall trees lining the school's long driveway, thinking how weird to have gone to Catholic school when we're such secular people, the shrines dotted on the grounds so strange and so familiar all at once. The campus has grown so much, as I have, but there is still that same door where we used to smoke between classes, even in winter, how weird that we were allowed to do that. Stopping in a park by the St-Lawrence river to type out this blog post, baby stirring in the back, another Over The Rhine album and the caffeine kicking in. Even a trip down memory lane leads back again to the beginning. Time to drive back home.

Friday, August 2

"just this one line"

Last night I barely slept. It's not a vacation until everyone's sleep schedule is a complete mess. Tonight I'm showing up, but my paragraph is just this one line: I'm tired.

Linking up with Christina Rosalie's Just One Paragraph.

Thursday, August 1

"the sleep yet to be ours"

Breakfast came early: 4:30am to be exact, both boys inexplicably awake. I settled one on the bed and sat the other one in front of a show. This hour is why Netflix and tablets were invented. From the kitchen downstairs I grabbed a bowl of my favorite fig & date Greek yogurt, and a limp and damp croissant from a crinkly bag. Coffee would have to wait. I went back upstairs to my childhood bedroom, demure and sedate now without the images of Madonna wallpapered on every inch of wall. Now the room where both my boys were awake and where we would greet the early morning sun together, the cumulation of so many dreams I didn't know then I had, not until I held them in my arms. The sun rose. Silas toddled downstairs with his grand-maman, I picked up Cash and together we went back to bed. There was more sweet sleep yet to be ours.

Linking up with Christina Rosalie's Just One Paragraph.