Tuesday, February 1, 2011

9 Months!

Dear Little One,

From here...
To Here!
You have now officially lived in the outside world as long as you lived within me. In just 18 months you've been: a little bitty ball of cells; an alien tadpole with a tail; a flutter-y feeling in my belly; a somersaulting under-water gymnast; a brave diver from the cramped darkness to the wide-open unknown outside; a funny little creature with strong lungs and a powerful voice; a world-class babbler and perfect-postured sitter; an all-night nursing gourmand; an adventurous taster of new foods and player of peek-a-boo; an expressive communicator, infectious giggler, flirtatious comedienne, and authoritative baby-language lecturer; an adaptable traveler and serious scooter; a teacher of pure joy and patience and perfect love.

I'm pretty impressed. I think these are all signs of even greater things to come, but I don't want to be distracted by that, even if the daydreams are nice. There's too much to soak in right now, because among your many skills and powers you are also, somehow, a time-speeding sorceress-- it is all moving too fast.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Confidential to a Mama...

We were speaking recently about keeping a blog- writing to record our experiences as mothers, as women. We spoke about others whose writing we enjoy and, with more than a little self-deprecation we laughed, diminishing our own work and words. Comparisons creeped in, followed shortly by that all-too-familiar voice of doubt. One woman is a brilliant and funny storyteller, another an assured and well-researched source for advice on healthful living and this led somehow to you feeling less than in some way. As though your voice matters less, can not compete perhaps, is not worth sharing.

Your words echoed the ones that sometimes fill my own head. Especially recently, when thinking about returning to this personal project after (more than) a month's absence and facing that surging feeling of what is the point?

I don't really have an answer. But I do hope you keep writing. And I hope to continue as well. Because each time we put our experiences into words- however, awkward, inelegant, or fumbling we may feel them to be--  we create the possibility of connection with one another, with anyone who happens by to read. More importantly, in taking action and writing for ourselves we win a small victory over that inner voice that doubts, that compares, that diminishes. And as women, as mothers,  I think we need as many of those small victories as possible.

The memory of a fragment of a quote came into my head as I started to write this and it took me a minute to recall the source. It turns out it could not possibly have been more relevant:

"So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say. " (Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own)

I think that is a fitting closing for the moment and one I hope you will take to heart (as I will try to also).

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hitting the Road...

We're gearing up for a big winter teaching tour that will take us, over the course of two and a half months, to all four corners of the US as well as Jamaica and Australia. Life, as you can imagine, is more hectic than usual as we pack up our house here in Venice, store our belongings, and stuff suitcases full of clothing and essentials for four or five very different climates. On top of that we'll be moving house when we return in January! All I can say right now is thank goodness for good friends and a meditation practice to keep us all sane! More updates to come...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Stormy Weather

Here I am, tentatively, back again. Our faraway family's whirlwind visit has drawn to a close and our house is (relatively) quiet as we turn our attention to work and tasks neglected in favor of adventure and entertaining. This week I found myself in a mood as grey and bleak as the clouds hanging over our Venice home. The rational mind would perhaps attribute this gloomy mien to the weather, the pressure of postponed responsibilities to be dealt with, the sadness of departed loved ones, any number of temporary grievances. Having been sleep-deprived through a several-week-long bout of Little One's nightly restlessness, my mind was something short of rational. My inner monologue became incessantly negative, my perspective utterly lost. Simple tasks became exercises in frustration and my entire being a cause for criticism and self-doubt. I panicked in the (seeming) realization that my life's work was a fraud-- how could I possibly teach others to meditate, to find calm, peace, presence in the moment, when I felt like a complete hopeless wreck?

Fortunately, I was able to come back to my practice (thanks to my husband taking Little One on a few nice long walks). My meditations have been ongoing through these early months of mothering, though they have not been the regular-as-clockwork, twice-daily twenty minute breaks I'd been accustomed to- more like 10 minutes while Little One naps, maybe 5 before dropping off to sleep after a middle-of-the-night nursing session, you get the idea. Having the opportunity to reconnect for just a half hour in solitude made a world of difference. During meditation that racing inner monologue of doubt, fear, and frustration was interrupted and when I opened my eyes I felt settled, the edginess that had threatened to take over was at bay, and my awareness of the good things around me replaced that nagging inner voice of (false) negativity.

In that experience of solitary rest I realized that the mood that had seemed to consume my identity was a trick of an overtired brain. The things that had caused me frustration or made me feel doubt were magnified exponentially by lack of rest. After the pause of meditation, reconnection with my inner sense of grounded-ness and one-ness, my perspective was restored. I realized too that for most people, that fog I was in is the status quo. New parents especially are warned of the misery of sleep-deprivation, but not offered solutions. That suffering is seen to be a rite of passage, but it is not necessary. There are ways to cope. For me it is meditation, a practice that I believe so strongly in that I have dedicated my life to sharing it with others. I have experienced how hard life can seem and I have found how simple a change can be. If you'd like to do the same, or know someone who needs help please contact me. Life and parenting should be a joy-filled challenge, not a fear-filled battle.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Checking In...

I've been feeling a bit guilty about not writing here too often recently, but to be honest, life is full and staying engaged moment by moment amidst a lot of activity has seemed more in line with my intention to be a more present mama than forcing myself to reflect out of a sense of (imagined) obligation. Our Australian family is visiting for a few weeks and it's made for a full house and a lot of wonderful adventures and excursions- some highlights:

*Glow in Santa Monica: An all-night art installation extravaganza, we made it til about 10pm with Little One and her two year old cousin in tow! All loved riding bikes down the boardwalk, seeing the incredible lights of the pier and beach installations, and being out late with thousands of others. My favorite bit of surrealism was an orchestra of accordionists playing on the carousel:
A swirly dream...
*Abbot Kinney Fest: Our neighborhood has been as busy as us recently! The yearly street fair did not disappoint and provided plenty of great people watching, delicious street food, and giant bounce-houses for the toddler contingent. Little One slept through most of it, even my favorite part, watching the sisters (one is 14!) of Puro Instinct rock out on the DubLab stage.
Coffee break from the AKFest crowds- Little One is really into trying to drink from a cup!
*El Matador: My favorite beach in the area, tucked into the cliffs and rarely crowded. We had a beautiful day and Little One loved sitting in the sand and dipping her toes in the ocean for the first time! Of course, this is LA, so the Australian faction got a kick out of the fact that there were two separate fashion photo shoots happening while we played in the sand (one for kids' clothing and one for thong bikinis apparently).

*Disneyland: Had to take our Aussie family to the Happiest Place on Earth of course! It's funny that even my anti-corporate, hippie feminist streak is subdued by the sight of children experiencing the unabashed ecstasy of the Mouse. Even Little One was enthralled by the lights and sights (when she wasn't sound asleep on my chest in the Ergo) and we all slept quite deeply after a long day.
Sword in one hand + Buzz Lightyear in the other= one happy boy!
Of course there have been the more mundane pleasures of time with family-- meals together, walks on the beach, the two young cousins getting to know each other-- and there's yet more fun to come. I'll be back here with more regular posts (maybe) when the time suits and the inspiration strikes! Until then, don't forget to make your monthly wish tomorrow morning before you get out of bed!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cozy Corner

When I was a little girl, like most children I suppose, I loved building forts and creating secret spaces for play and hiding. They never required much room, in fact smaller was better, more suited to my scale. Whether it was a tent made from a table and tablecloth, or a sheet strung over a clothesline between a few trees, these spaces made every activity seem more exciting, magical somehow. My Little One may be a few years off from such adventures, but I was inspired by a friend who created an adorable little nook for her daughter for reading stories, cuddling, and playing, and decided to get a head start.

 I started with a small alcove-like space beside our fireplace. I had a few large pillows on hand and a ridiculous amount of gold silk fabric that I'd been given by a fashion designer friend. A bit of simple sewing and the pillows looked quite regal. Some old curtains were strung on a bit of twine for the "walls," a couple soft sheepskins spread on the floor, and of course, favorite toys tucked in.

For finishing touches I made a small mobile by stringing some origami cranes (which I'd always wanted to learn how to make and finally did thanks to these excellent instructions) on thread and a garland out of stars I cut from some pretty paper I had in my collage bin.

It's a work in progress-- I'd love to add some kid-level bookshelves to display favorite books and perhaps change the decorations to complement the season (the garland was fun to make and I have a bunch of ideas for others)-- but I think Little One is pretty content with her cozy corner for the moment.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ojai, How Are You?

Yes, that's my joke. This weekend was the women's meditation retreat I've been planning for the last few months. It went splendidly- the food was delicious, the discussions interesting and inspiring, the location beautiful- but I'm feeling, at the moment, a bit drained. The feeling is akin to the days when I did a lot of theatre-- months of preparation and rehearsal, intense bonding with a small group of people with an immense challenge to tackle together, and then the few fleeting moments where it all comes together, the play itself. That final curtain call of every show always left me with a somewhat hollow feeling, the days immediately after seemed empty and a bit flat. There was always a limbo before the inevitable rush of now what?

That's where I'm at now, so you'll forgive me if it takes a few days before I'm back into the swing of writing again. This deflation is good I think after the steady build toward the weekend's events. I am satisfied with the results of my efforts and enjoying this little lull. Sewing and a bit of creating around the house have occupied the last two days so soon I should have some interesting things to share. Oh, and Little One rolled over for the first time yesterday and today has discovered that she can sit up on her own- big changes every day!