Reflection on a spring morning

This morning I sit quietly,

my cup of coffee steaming on the windowsill,

as the rain streams down outside.

It’s late spring in our region,

the sky is watering my tiny swiss chard and kale plants.

The weeks leading up to this moment of peace have been challenging.

My body told me to slow down with bronchitis and exhaustion.

My stepfather passed away of a heart attack unexpectedly.

Two of my three kids are out of school for the summer.

And my mom’s cancer treatment continues.

I sit quietly this morning and reflect on all of this,

and all of the blessings that have come into my life.

As I write, I am enfolded by a comfort quilt gifted by a friend.

It was made by members of a local church and I can feel the love that went into making it.

My colleagues have set up a meal plan for my family.

I have been surrounded by comforting arms and cried with many loved ones.

I have received cards and love from far and wide.

In all of this, every aspect of life,

from the happy to the sad,

I know that I am surrounded by love,

and with love anything is possible.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Twilight 

This time of day, 

after the shoulds, the musts and the have to dos are done.

The kids are tucked.

The dishes are running and the laundry is drying. 

This time of day is for me. 

I open the bedroom window, 

to a chorus of frog song. 

I feel like a queen on her balcony saying goodnight to her adoring subjects. 

I turn on the bedside lamp, choose a book from the 23 in the pile, 

and flop down on my queen bed. 

I fluff and snuggle until all the pillows and blankets are just so, 

and then, 

I exhale. 

And read. And revel in today’s beauty. 

And give thanks for the blessing of today. 

I am a different person

oak-trees-18Sometimes we have to crash face first over the bicycle rails to see things clearly. Metaphorically, I did that recently. It wasn’t fun. But then, I picked myself up and said to myself, I am starting a new life. I life lived in balance and in love.

I am brave.

I am in charge of my life. The schedule or the kids needs do not control me.

I am raising three kids by myself. And that hurts and it’s hard. But I am not going to run myself into the ground any more to avoid the pain. I am going to sit with it and let it move through me, like waves on the beach. And I will rise, perhaps a little drenched but free.

I am doing my best. I have recently learned that I was going way too fast (hence the crash). Now that I know better, I can do different.

It won’t be easy, this new habit and lifestyle of slowing down enough to feel. And yet, I am ok with that. Because, this, right here, is the messy, beauty of life.

I will not hide from the wind as it rushes, past bringing stories of old and fears on its tails. I will stand, like the mighty oak tree and let it blow through my branches. Yes, the leaves with rustle, yes the rain will wash down my smooth bark and still, I will stand.

I will stand, rooted in life, love, God and the knowing that I am a different person than I was before.

 

Selling yourself for the cause

I have been reading recently about simplicity. About slowing life down so we can appreciate the sweet moments and tastes of life.

It occurred to me as I was reading today, that unintentionally as it might have been, I have been selling myself for the cause.

I have been in nonprofit service for 20 years both on staff and as a volunteer. I have volunteered for my kids field trips, joined fundraising committees, chaired galas, joined Rotary and Women’s marches and community organizing gatherings. I have also worked for multiple organizations raising money for disaster preparedness, the environment, low income families, scholarships and emergency funding for students.

All of this is great, and I love that I am a very giving person. But, for years I have been prioritizing “the cause” and “changing the world” over relationships, family, and my health. It is time for that to stop.

If I’m honest, I think I have gravitating to saving the world because, A. I am good at raising funds to support a cause I believe in (and I get great feedback and acknowledgement for that) and B. there are so many people and organizations in need that the compassionate part of me can not sit back and watch, when I know I can help.

The trouble is, I am burning myself out. I have gone from wanting to attend every gala, to dreading the next invitation. I have gone from dreaming and scheming on how to get more resources for my organization, to dreading the “yes, your request has been approved”, because I know that means more work.

I have been meditating this weekend on filling in this sentence, “I am a person who….”

I person who is living a peaceful and peace-filled life.

I have energy to spend meaningful time with my family.

I am living a long, healthy life with a strong and vibrant body and mind.

I am becoming more connected to the source of all life, the spirit that surrounds us and is in us all.

I experience joy through creativity and laughter.

I am a loving partner, mother, daughter and friend.

When we move from saving everyone else, to saving ourselves, this may sound selfish. But in reality, it is the kindest thing we can do, to love ourselves and never, ever sell ourselves for any cause. The price is too high.

As my quiet retreat comes to a close, and I move into the week, I am taking these mantras with me. My life is changing as I learn to enjoy life more fully, love more openly and say “yes” to my own well being. As you move into this week, may you know love and a smile that radiates from your insides saying, “All is well.”

 

I found time to miss you

I’ve been going like a freight train, 

for awhile. 

The last time we talked, 

you said you wanted more, different. 

And then the talking stopped.

I went my way, 

sad, but not super surprised. 

This is the first weekend I have had to myself, 

in 10 years. 

I found time to miss you.

You have brought so many gifts into my life.

I am grateful beyond words. 

I know it’s going to stick this time, 

and then, in the same breath I want to invite you over.

It’s a process I guess.

The rain comes down on this spring afternoon, 

I bet it’s sprinkling wherever you are too. 

Be well. Be better than that, be spectacular.

Because that’s who you are. 

reboot

You know how those wise computer people say to turn off your computer on the weekends so it can reboot and install updates? Well, I kinda learned that this week.

While I’ve started this post with computer references, let me just go on record and say I know nothing about computers and this, as with all of my posts, is about life, and figuring it out (or at least attempting too).

I have had a lot going on for awhile. Let me illustrate:

I’ve been a single mama of three hella bright precocious children for 10 years.

My beautiful, inspiring mom was diagnosed with cancer last year and is fighting with the strength of 1000 warriors.

I am the Executive Director of a nonprofit Educational Organization. I raised $400,000 in 4 meetings last week (woot!).

My daughter is graduating from 8th grade and plays club volleyball which has us all over the region every weekend.

All of my kids are musical, they take piano lessons, play guitar, sing in choirs, etc.

My two boys…one is building a rocket on the dining room table as I write, the other one is at grampa’s house, helping him make gluten free bread.

(When I write all of this, it looks ridiculous. Like hello, one person is not capable of doing all of this!)

So anyways, I started not feeling well a few days ago. I’m anemic and I thought it was that. Turns out after a long day in ER that my stress was so high, my heart created an irregular rhythm to try to deal with it. Oh.

The ER doctor gave me a letter that said, no work until next Tuesday. Huh.

So, I came home (by that I mean my dad drove me home) and sat on the couch, for a long time. My dad made dinner, and I worked on chilling the heck out.

I started with working on my belly breathing (thanks yoga) and figuring out what I can take off my list. I decided to send my daughter to the volleyball tournament this weekend with another family. I asked my dad to take the boys for the weekend. I wrote and I wrote and I cried and I breathed. I started to feel much better. Today, I feel pretty much back to normal.

This was a wake up call. I have been running for so long without stopping that my operating system was thinking about getting out of whack. Hence, the reboot.

Today, after I said goodbye to my daughter, I had a huge meltdown. She is getting older and I have 4 years with her before she graduates and takes on the world herself. Time is so precious. As I sat there with the tears pouring onto my hoodie, I felt like such a failure. Failing at doing all of the things I want to do. Failing at self care and being a good mom and spending enough time with my kids, my mom, my dad, my friends. Failing at holding it all together.

And then I remembered something a dear friend said to me once, she said, “Tanya, why are you being so hard on yourself? If this was happening to a friend of yours or one of your kids, you would wrap them up in your arms, tell them how much you love them and how capable they are. Do that for yourself.” Oh.

Another friend said, “it’s not you that is broken, it’s the system. The go all the time, crazy rush of American life.” Oh. 

So, it is with self compassion I say to myself, “you’ve come a long way baby. You deserve a break to slow down and reboot. Welcome it with open arms, it’s a message and you need to hear it.”

So, the rebooting starts. I will be offline, in nature, with loved ones and learning how to sustain and balance this precious life. 

Take care of yourself. Reboot if needed. Breathe and repeat. You’ve got this. And do do I. 

Time 

The hourglass,

The seasons,

Timelines and deadlines,

Graduations 

Beginnings and endings. 

Time sees all.

Occasionally I think I can control and affect time, 

But then I realize she is a force all her own. 

“It goes so fast”, people say. Others have “all the time in the world”.

I mostly say “I want more time”. With loved ones, to create poetry and art, to move my body. 

How do we create more time? Is there an answer the this mystic question?

I don’t know. 

But today, I will say how grateful I am for time.  

To be, laugh, rest, inspire, love and imagine. 

To grow, live, empower and adventure. 

I will acknowledge time as my ally in this walk.

With intention and grace I will continue to balance priorities,

and embrace time, 

as a friend.