Sunday, September 14, 2014

soccer Sunday

My girl had her first soccer game today.  Fall, second grade.  Shinguards, jersey, cleats -- the whole nine.  Thanks to my girlfriend Jody, she had all the gear she needed to look tough on the field, without her mama having to spend a time.  It was a low-investment, quick dip into the world of team sports.  Hair pulled up so that nothing could obstruct her view.   Just a girl and her ball.

Of course, girlfriend had only had one practice.  And for whatever reason, I didn't get the email, so she showed up to her first practice in a sparkly skirt and sandals.  The other girls totally looked the part.  I rushed her outside and then ran to the curb to make sure that my middle schoolers made it safely home.  I wasn't exactly too concerned about girlfriend and the game.

That all seemed to change today on the field.  Today on the field, five small girls facing five other small girls, it all came back to me.  My one season of soccer.  Second grade.  The Space Invaders.  Sky blue and gold uniforms, my hair in a pixie cut, my gappy smile and knobby knees.  The orange slices and Capri Suns.

And how I never, ever wanted the ball to come near me.

I hated soccer.  Despised it.

Oh, I remember them all.  The Strawberry Shortcakes with the DeLellis twins, their sporty blonde ponytails and fancy footwork.  The tomboy Meghan Ramierez with her evil looks and aggressive elbows.  The coach who totally scared me. 

I was always full-back, out in the far corner of the field, praying, praying, that the damn ball stayed away.  I'm pretty certain I never kicked it.  I'm pretty certain that in my mind I was singing songs from, The Sound of Music, staging elaborate renditions of, "So Long, Farewell."  I'm pretty sure I was wondering how I ever ended up on that field, what possessed me to think that I was like these other girls.  I hated being on a team because I hated the idea of messing up.  I didn't want to be blamed.  I didn't want to be weak.  I just wanted to blend in with the grass and count the minutes until the whistle blew.

So some odd flashbacks occurred today as I sat on the damp grass, watching Eliana run up and down the field.  I was anxious.  I was intense.  I was pissed when she spaced out, rolling a fly-away ringlet around one finger instead of following the ball, called her name, tried to bring her back in to the game.  I was definitely saying more than any of the other moms.  I was cheering and encouraging, I was focused and intent (because Lord knows that while I failed at team sports, I excelled at cheerleading). 

As I watched the other team score goal after goal against my daughter's team, watched her peppy posture grow more and more deflated, my empathy meter rose.  My flashbacks came faster, neon colored like bad hallucinogens, bright and quick and a bit scary.  I hated to think of her experiencing the sensation of losing, hated to think of her feeling in any way like a failure.  Life has been gentle on her so far.  She's naive and blissed out and dances wildly to her show tunes.  She is not aggressive.  That said, she is way tougher than I was.  She skis fast, hikes hard, rides her bike like the bully in Pee Wee's Big Adventure, up and down the street.  She is not me.  Even with her love for, The Sound of Music. 

I was afraid of what she'd say when the game ended.  They lost twenty to three. Not that I was counting. 

But she just rolled on through her day without saying all that much.  She said that they did pretty well for only having one practice.  She was really proud of her fancy footwork at the end.  She wanted to go eat Asian bento boxes at Iza and when I told her Iza was closed, she wanted burritos.  She was just moving through another thing.

And maybe I did too when I was her age.  Maybe I chose to never play another team sport again, ever, not because it was so awful, but because I just got really, really into dance and didn't have time for the field.  Maybe. 

Or maybe she is a totally different kid than I was, her daddy's daughter, a Montana girl.  I guess it doesn't matter.  But at the end of the day, I was so full of love for my girl.  And as we listened to, "Eidelweiss" that afternoon and made plum jelly, her taking breaks from chopping and stirring to do wild dance moves in the dining room, I felt so thankful for this opportunity to look full circle, to feel so deeply, to love so hard. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

quick shifts

I really appreciate this blog because it helps me grasp time.  Time and her dramatic sweeps and gestures.  The way she takes us so boldly from one place to the next, one day energized, the next an exhausted stupor.  Time and how she holds our babies high, their legs lengthen, their vocabularies expand.  The internal seasons end abruptly around here.  The external a shadow, a reminder, the sun still on my face, even on the coolest mornings.

Time swept me from a tiny peninsula in British Columbia to a Los Angeles highway.  Swept me from my sister's sweet tree house to the sea, to aunties and cousins, to mothers and fathers.  

Swept me back to our little valley, the school we head to each day, the plans and meetings and goals.  The early mornings and early bedtimes, my body and brain so done before the sun has even set. 

Sometimes it seems a bit insane, the schedule of a teacher.  To go all out to full-stop.  The first few days always feel like a hazy dream.  A dream you've had a million times but never fully remember.  It's neither bad nor good, just totally real. 

So we're in it now.  We're in the glow of September and the gold of the hills.  We're in the apples as they ripen on the trees, the bears as they meander, the children as they snuggle us on a Saturday morning in bed, everyone so very glad for slowness of movement, for a day that can just unfold. 

Friday, August 15, 2014


I've been back for less than twelve hours.  Most of that time I've been asleep.  Yet re-entry is a wonder to behold.

For four days, I woke up to silence.  A pot of chai was waiting.  My journal.  A yoga temple swept sacred.  Sage smudged.  I'd lie in banda konasana, tears of gratitude falling down my cheeks.  Eyes closed, I felt the heavy warmth of a yoga blanket placed across my chest.  I'd have hours to do just that.  Listen to my breath.  Watch the rain make ripples on the lake.  Slowly ease into asana. Mind still and quiet. 

The rest of the day unfolds in a similar pattern.  Tea.  Silence.  Breath.  Asana.  Gratitude.  Perhaps a hike through an ancient forest, all moss and magic.  Or my body weightless in the cool water.  Or watching for shooting stars at the edge of a dock, face to the sky.  Every step sacred.  Peace and presence.

This morning, I awoke back in my bed.  Felt blessed by the quiet movement of leaves on the tree outside my window.  Felt whole against the stillness of my husband's body, the rise and fall of his breath, the return.

I heard their bedroom door and Solomon pattered down, huge smile, snuggled into me.  There were ten solid minutes of peace and perfection.  See, I'm integrating.  I'm bringing the gifts of my retreat home.


Mama, can I watch a movie on the ipad?

And so it begins.

Oh, Soli, you know this morning you have swimming.  We've got to get up and get moving.  Besides, we don't watch movies first thing in the morning.

But, mom!  The water is sooooo cold!  I have to go to swimming every single day!  It's freezing in there, mom!  

And we continue forward.

I notice then how I've poured two bowls of cereal, fried three eggs, made three pieces of toast, before I can even remember to turn on water for my tea.  I've made Jeff a pot of coffee, put away dishes and gathered recycling.  I've noticed that the cabinet door is sticky and have attempted to wipe it down.  It seems some of the blueberries are rotting.  I try to separate them out.  I should freeze the others today.  Note to self.  School's starting soon.  I should really just make muffins with them. They always eat muffins when I pack them.  I'll make really healthy ones.  Maybe with bananas too.  And nuts for protein. 

The clock keeps moving.

I'm still not dressed.  Quick brush teeth, wake Eliana.  She groans, exhausted from waiting up for me last night.  I hear how my voice changes as I'm continuously coaxing them to move faster, finish their food, put on their shoes.

I manage to pull a brush through my hair for the first time in days.  Stare aghast at my closet full of clothes, my tiny dishes that overflow with earrings.  Why do I have so many earrings?  What do I really need right now?  Ah, the toothbrush.  Where is the toothbrush?

Babe, you really should get out the door.

I back the van out of the driveway.  My kids begin to argue in the backseat.  A soft fall of rain.

The pool will be really cold because it's raining!


Mom!  Elie won't stop singing!  Moooommm!

Solomon, I can't hear you!  Let it go!  Let it go!  Can't hold it back anymore!

I can't hear you, Elie!  One, two, three, four, five, six...this is my sword!  You can't defeat me!

I glance at the clock.  Four minutes until swim classes startMake a left turn across heavy traffic.  Hope to make the next light. 

They continue to sing/banter/whine/yell from the backseat.  I focus on my breath.  Find a parking spot. 

Okay, beauties!  Let's begin!

And so it goes. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014


The universe has her own plan.  So even in the midst of chaos, tomorrow, I step away from it all.  I drive north, cross into a new country, re-seek sacred space.  I will live simply, be in my body, write and dream.  I will build up strength so that I can be everything that I need to be for my family.  Tonight I explained this all to Eliana.  Told her that I hope that she will try to keep herself strong in her mind, in her spirit, in her heart, so that she can be ready for life and all her challenges.  I think she kind of gets it.  The magical shores of Grey Lake await.  The little boat, the open air tipi, the sacred yoga tent.  It's hard to leave them, but I know in my heart that everyone will be okay.  I know that my husband wants this for me.  I know that we are all in this together, that my happiness is intrinsically linked to theirs, that we are a sweet circle.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

the unknown

The ground is shaking --
everything is off.
One mistake after another,
Morty listless in a hospital bed,
a husband's eyes ringed with loss,
children in the backseat
wondering why I woke them
in the middle of the night.

He's still on his back
white sheet
closed eyes
they open wide,
curious and strange.
His false teeth
bite his bottom lip and
the children wave wildly.
He shuts his eyes again
and we wait.

And driving back
over the dark hills
a strange peace settles
around us,
something holy
like understanding.

Monday, August 4, 2014

sweet Oregon

We've only been back for three days.  After almost three weeks away -- the longest trip we've taken since Soli was born.  Three days.  Yet the brown feels sloughed from my skin, the sand no where to be found.  Laundry lingers and it takes the thick smell of campfire smoke on my fleece reminds me that just last week, we were finishing our days by a fire.  It's so easy to slip back into the ease and comforts of home.  Before I settle in too deeply, I have to take some time to savor our little adventure.

Our journey started in Bend, or rather, at a motel on the way to Bend for our bestie Josue's wedding.  Eliana spent the morning of her seventh birthday in a Comfort Inn swimming pool, her belly full from the highly processed and exceedingly novel motel breakfast buffet.

We drove further into the desert, arriving in time to celebrate more birthday shenanigans with some of our favorite people.

From there it was Team Wedding.  Four days of laughter and lake time, toasts and sing along's.  It's pretty wonderful when someone who you love more than anything marries someone that you love more than anything.  Good times all around.  Perhaps one of the loveliest parts of this celebration was the pack of little's that ran around the lake like gangbusters.  The posse was intense, the rounds of Red Rover, for real.

From Bend, we headed to the coast for ten days of ocean bliss.  For some crazy reason, the beach was actually sunny and warm, quite odd for the Oregon coast.  So we slid into the groove of sand toys and novels, wave games and ice cream dates, lazy mornings and salmon on the grill.   I wrote a bit in my journal on the last day of our trip.  It seems to capture the feeling better than I can right now:

The children chirp with abandon from inside the yurt.  It's another chapter of, "Baby-Mommy" and they are lost in their imaginations.  Moments ago they were unicorns.  Before that, cheetahs.  It's another busy day of vacation.

Blessings engulf us.  I sit down to write with no idea of the date.  I've been so supremely present this trip that I can barely recall too many of the particulars, just this steady through-line of calm, of quiet inside, of no worry about tomorrow, or even this afternoon.  We have all we need.  We have each other.  We have love from friends.  Books to read.  Universes made from sand and water.  Trails of old growth trees, wild mosses, fairy houses.  We have oysters and wine, water and sleep.  There is decadence and simplicity, long walks and lazy, lie-around days.  I feel the way all of the small wounds of the year settle and close over when we have this quiet time together.  I eel the way we need to drink each other in without rushing, without distraction.

For so many years on these family trips, I crave time alone.  This year, it was the opposite.  I'd have my alone time and find myself only thinking of them, what they were playing on the sane, the sound of their sweet voices.  There's a wholeness that is happening here.  A settling into our identities as mama and dad, sister and brother.  A celebration, a spirit of love-filled contagion that will have to carry us through this next chapter, carry us through the wilds of another fall. 

For now, I'll look out at the moss covered grove, listen to the soft wind and feel the sun on my back, full, so very full, of thanks for this time.