Sunday, September 26, 2010


I did 108 sun salutations this morning. It's been almost a decade since I've done this. My version of a marathon. My version of a summit. Because while those things have never really interested me, I do love something about that goal. Though Solomon didn't sleep beautifully, I did have enough three or four hour stretches to feel reasonably rested this morning. And while my more rational mind thought about the things that could go wrong -- strained wrists, a body still not in good enough shape to hack it, I hit it anyway.
Come on, Gil. Just go. You keep talking about it.

I love my husband and his ability to be direct. So off I went.

We began. The first dozen or so brought out memories of the strong Ashtangi in me, the me who in her early twenties found herself racing rush hour traffic to make it to a 90 minute practice in Silverlake. I was skinny and twitchy. Totally overwhelmed. Naive and new in a chaotic field. My brain filled with images of needy dark children, stacks of papers to go through, the looming national standardized tests. Savasana was my greatest struggle. A lifetime of dance training kept me flexible and strong. Keeping my mind quiet was another struggle.

That was twelve years ago. The last time I did 108 sun salutations, I was in a packed, fancy Los Angeles studio. This was not a solstice event, but a weekly class for die hards. The little bald headed instructor greeted us drill sergeant style. It was a lot of numbers, a count down. I battled my way through, caught up in the challenge.

And then there was this morning. Four and a half months post-partum. Still fleshy and busty. Still unable to fully extend in navasana. The muscles still reforming. But something about the email invite got under my skin. Could I do it? If I couldn't do it, could I be gentle with myself? Find grace? Just be in that space. Honor myself for the attempt?

Suddenly we were a quarter the way through. Our reward was a splendorous wide legged bend, fingers interlaced behind us, shoulders and arms stretched overhead. I felt my hand hit the floor. I smiled inside. I was open. I felt clear and grounded and strong. Three quarters to go.

And then I started to get into the zone. The closest place, perhaps, to the effects of a hallucinogen. That place between contractions during labor. I'm not sure if my eyes are open or shut. I'm totally focused on what's happening in my body. The weight that each bit of finger is taking in down dog. The spiraling open of my things from a forward bend. The grounding through my feet in tadasana. Sometimes I felt the urge to sit one out, felt my hips releasing back to child's pose. Sometimes I felt like stepping instead of hopping, flowed down knees-chest-chin, just like I was taught. I never knew what my body would ask for, but I tried to keep my ears open.

Then the images came. I'd look down at my glittery toenails and remember the way Eliana and I played beauty parlor on the back deck yesterday.

The way she held out her little fingers for me to paint just like a lady. Light from the window reminded me of the light at dusk. Sitting in the vineyard, taking in the gold of Mt. Jumbo. Elie and her BFF racing through the field. My baby in my arms.

I jumped forward again. My left breast, Solomon's favorite, began to find it's way from the modest casing of my tanktop. I thought about our connection. The ease with which he inhabited my body for all those months. The way, as Case so aptly put it, he looks at me like we're sharing an inside joke. The best inside joke ever, all the time. My guy. So my guy. Won't even let Jeff shush or soothe him in the night. I'm trying to take it as a compliment.

So then I've moved from Hello Kitty polish to Jumbo to my love of the light and all things Fall, to my sexy little boyfriend and we're at 75. Holy shit. This is so cool. Because if I had stopped to rationally think about whether or not I could do 108 sun salutations today, I most likely would have said no. Hell no. But there I was.

Somewhere towards the end Brian started to describe the beads on the mandala. This one is orange with glittery silver specks, this one gray. Each bead connected to the images in my mind. To my intense concentration. To the trippy, cool zone I'd inhabited. And suddenly he was saying something about taking our last eight. And that was it.

So here I am. So calm and strong in my body. So psyched to have had completed that. To be in a new zone. To be done having children. On the one hand, it makes me look ahead. To re-energizing my practice. To setting new goals. On the other hand, it makes me so value what I have. My extra flesh. The heaviness in my chest. The way I share my body to sustain my son.

Don't know how to wrap this one up neatly, except to say, that was cool. I took myself to lunch afterwards. Between savoring sips of my beet/ginger bisque, my feet happily propped up on the wrought iron chair next to me, skin soaking in the Sunday sun, I felt that place of balance. That thing that brought me to yoga in the first place. That concept I began to wrap my self around and embrace. That goofy award my boss gave me years ago. The award for the word Balanced goes to Gillian. And just when you think you've got it all figured out, you go make yourself crazy. Make two children. Work two jobs. Try to maintain. That place of balance you thought you found is way too easy to leave.

Being a mama of two can easily make one feel off kilter. There are times I'm so tired at the end of the day, I can barely manage to pick up a piece of paper from the floor. God bless my child who has learned to cut. Learned to adore band-aids, their evil little wrappings strewn about, my need for order constantly disrupted by her ridiculous whims. Then there are moments like this where I wonder why I even care about the paper on the floor. Nobody else cares. It's just the moment we're in. And it's not tidy. Yet I know in some moment of exhaustion next week, I'll get unreasonably frustrated with Eliana when she doesn't pick up her pieces of paper. I'll be quick. I will lose all mellowness.

As Eliana said to me yesterday, Don't give me the hairy eye-ball, Mama! Think she was on to something...gotta let go of the hairy eyeball. Jeff even captured it in the breakfast pic.

So let's move forward already. Move towards a new goal. Loosen up a bit.

Here's to the fall. To 108 sun salutes. To sweet chaos. To blazing reds and dusty golds.

To new found strength. To the strive towards balance. Again and again and again.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

and then there's the weekend

A teacher's summer is weekendless. A Monday morning can be wilder than a Saturday night. The days run together. But one of the joys of a return to work is the remembrance of a weekend's importance. Two days to do nothing. Two days to be together. To stay in jammies and read in bed. To loaf around and be silly. To dance to Madonna who is, by the way, staging a huge comeback in our house. And Madonna helps one little curly headed spitfire get going on Monday. So weekend is kinda like week in training. Because we need a bit of extra fuel to get through those five days. A bit more fire. A few more laughs.

So while I did indeed go to the dark side, I can proudly say that I'm on the up and up. And sometimes going to the dark side is pretty cool because when you feel better, you wonder whatever made you think it was so hard. And then you feel extra capable. So I'm working with my cool, mellow, capable self this week. I'm hitting the sleep training (Drowsy But Awake, my new mantra...), trying to put my feet up a bit more, remembering to go slow when I can cuz goodness knows, it always picks up. So there. Back at it. In it. On it.

Love it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

and sometimes it's really hard

And that's okay. Because a full life wouldn't be full if it was sometimes hard. Or something like that. One of the big bad challenges I've been dealt is the curse of the over-doer. I have always done too much, tried to put too much into one day, be too many things for too many people. About halfway through teaching my yoga class yesterday after an already excruciatingly long day involving a transitioning toddler and her meltdowns and her first time ever, Go away, Mommy! I don't like you! I just want to stay here by myself, a nursing baby and his needs, 40 brilliant children and their ideas and collective need to be heard, a beautiful husband and his desire to fix, and...the kicker...a freaking enormous batch of crabapple jelly that didn't set...I hit my wall. And with that wall came lots of tears that had no where to go but out so they came and came and came. Because sometimes a nursing mama who's hair is falling out just needs to cry. And I have to assume that I'm not the only mama who sometimes just feels so damn spent and frustrated. It is so constant. There is always so much to do. And I want to do it all well. I'm kinda getting off on trying to do it all well.

My nanny friend asked me today, Are you type A?

I had to laugh. Anyone who knows me at all would know that I'm not at all type A. I wish I were more type A. I'm taking lessons in type A. I'm trying out for the type A talent show and kinda in the running until my jelly doesn't set and I have twelve cups of crabapple syrup and I just can't shake how pissed I am. Sometimes you have to write things down to realize how ridiculous they are.

So when the tears returned this morning, I called my girl. And she talked me down. And later delivered a People magazine and a peanut butter cookie. Cuz that's all I really need to get a bit of perspective. Just ten minutes of something totally meaningless like photos from Beyonce and Jay Z's trip to Italy. Because sometimes it all feels like so much. It's all so important and so deep and so imperative and so beautiful and strong and scary and rich and I have visions where I trip on the stairs to the laundry room and Solomon flies from my arms and hits the concrete wall and I wonder if I'm totally psychotic and then I remember I'm just a mom who loves her children so fucking fiercely. And it's scary. And I love this life. I love intensity. I love people. I have to go to the dark side sometimes to bring more sense to it all. Cuz this is all I needed. Enough time to drink one glass of wine and eat one chocolate kiss and purge it all on this silly blog. Enough time so that I don't fall asleep and wake up with someone attached to my body. Enough time to brush my teeth before bed, not just conk out with the serial nurser at 8:45, my body too spent to get up from the bed.

I have to say. I love this blog. Would it be the same if I were writing this all in my journal? Maybe. The cathartic value would be the same. But the satisfaction of knowing that one person might actually read this and get me, that's huge. Because I need to be got. So there it is. Sometimes it's really hard. But it's always really, really good. As in tremendous. And huge. And remarkable. And vibrant. And now.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

our fall

We made it through the first week of school! I couldn't really reflect while I was in it because it all felt so big and full and topsy turvy. But here we are on week two, day two, and it seems we're kinda catching the groove. I love working part time. It gives me time to use my brain in a sort of organized, focused way and be out in the world. The flexibility that living so close gives me is awesome. Sometimes life offers you little gifts. Not sending Solomon to daycare is one of those little gifts. Having him at home is an excellent way to spend our hard earned cash.

Speaking of earning cash, I am so proud of my hubby in his new role. He is taking his jobs as father, teacher, husband, and administrator all so seriously. He celebrated a birthday on Friday.

After a last minute babysitter bail (what is this trend?) we were able to find someone in a pinch who would watch a whole posse of toddlers. That let us have a triple date with two of our couple BFF's and the babes. We so rarely go out, let alone out with our friends who have children. It was perfect. We came home to four toddlers in jammies, popsicle sticks strewn about, toys everywhere. I love our village.

It was a true village weekend. The sun was bright and the mountains clear. Everyone was downtown celebrating this glorious fall and I felt so thankful to be a part of it all. Festivals abound in this town and I'm quite certain there is no such thing as too much facepaint or live music or free empanadas.

Back on the homefront, brother is making tremendous changes. He is attempting to find his voice in our loud home.

Sometimes while he can't be heard, he can be seen. He flips his body around on the colored playmat, kicks and splashes like a banshee in the bath and eats rice cereal like a champ.

I have a sense that while Eliana is my auditory learner, brother may be my kinesthetic one. Watch out.

And while he's decided that he needs to nurse for like two hours before he'll settle into a five or six hour bout of nighttime sleep, I'm deciding that it's just his thing. The same way I used to rock Eliana for hours and sing her show tunes, brother likes a dimly lit room and lots and lots of boob time. It forces me to slow down, and even affords me some reading time. I'm not going to worry about where he'll go when he outgrows his bassinet. This is the routine right now. The goal is staying focused on each bit of the day, being wholly present in all the in's and out's.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

school girl

Eliana rocked her first day of school. She looked so gorgeous in the dress Casey made for her. She had very little separation anxiety (just one, Mama will you stay in my classroom all day with me?) and then the classic report (We didn't paint, we didn't play with clay but we DID go on the playground and I fell in the wood chips and I was sad and I wanted you but then Adriana made it all better and I got up). So there. We just have to keep getting up.

The day was full, full, full -- a preview of the next ten months. I imagine I will get much better at taking deep breaths (and I'm already pretty good). The day was a shuffle of roles -- from mom to teacher to mom to teacher to mom. Thank goodness I live so close to the school or this little dance would never work out. Jeff and I sacked out at 10:00. This is a good thing considering Solomon needed me to nurse his back to school cough for lengthy sessions throughout the night. It's 9:32 in the morning, and I feel like I've already had a full day. My feet are already up. And I haven't even been to my paying job. Woah. Bienvenidos a el otono!

Monday, September 6, 2010

growing up

Our little posse is growing up. Brother Bear turned four months old on Friday and is wowing the rest of us with his changes. He's super chatty; this is a good thing in a family where it's hard to get a word in edgewise, especially with Happy Sad as a sister. She and he are starting to interact more. Happy loves to bring him special toys and babies.

She pushes him in the swing and the stroller and loves to set herself up for him to grab her hair. She then promptly says, Mom! Baby Brother grabbed my hair! with her best actress voice, all full of kid like tattletale tone. Luckily she keeps the smile on her face. We both know she's kinda kidding.

She is growing up in so many ways. While she continues to have her Sad moments, she is getting more advanced at articulating the source of her discontent. Like the other day when I asked her to stop jumping on the bed so close to brother's head she said, No! You can't talk to me that way. You have to go back in Gran's belly now. Alright then.

We also have a new game we play with incredible frequency. She's Galinda and I'm Elphaba and we are two characters based on the show Wicked. She's learned some of the songs (anything, anything to get us moved on from, "Free to Be You and Me"...) because I figured all the dialogue and melodrama would appeal to her. You betcha. But now she says things to me like, Elphie, now that we're friends, I'm going to teach you how to be popular. How do I explain that one to the preschool teacher?

And speaking of preschool, HomeSlice hits the books tomorrow. She is so ready. And I've been saying I'm so ready too, but the whole pacakage kinda hit me today. She's gonna be in school full time for the next forever. I'm gonna be back at work. Sol's gonna be buckin' the bottle. Dad's gonna be the new BMOC.

My emotions were all over the place today. One second I was in full on teacher mode, ready with cool, creative ideas and back-to-school zeal. The next I was squeezing Elie way too tight, telling her proud I was of how she's growing up. Then I was on my belly head to head with little man, watching him flip himself over and scoot around like he's working the trenches in 'Nam. I would lean in to kiss the meaty apple of his cheek, his big, gummy grin beaming right back. He's my big, happy, handsome boy. I can't get enough.

Our little unit opted for a staycation this weekend. We toyed with going away to the hot springs but after we realized how hard it was for us to pack everything just to get a mile up the road to the snazzy new park, we opted to stay local and hit the hot tub instead. Jeff's folks have been away since May and we haven't been up to their pad all summer. It was just what the doctor ordered. Time away from the piles of laundry and dust bunnies of our tiny abode. The planner books and back-to-school to do lists. Instead we just settled into a beauteous view and an empty fridge. The purpose excuse to go out to dinner. To not make any more mess.

Perhaps the greatest gift of my weekend was that Jeff decided to do the Costco/REI errand blech trip for me. Which meant I had all day Saturday with my children. And when Happy napped, brother and I had some awesome q.t. together. He loved the hot tub and tripped hard on the steam and bubbles. Then we found Elie's old jumpy thang and hooked it up. He is turning into such an expressive little guy and he loved floating and landing, spinning and swaying.

Then Brother napped and Happy and I played. She too loved the hot tub and is fearless in the water.

Later we watched a bit of The Sound of Music which happened to be on TV. I got all teary as we watched Maria run through the hills with the children, the silly sentiment of sharing her first view of this beautiful movie that was such a part of my childhood.

The whole scene reminded me of weekends when I was young. Hilary and I would play in the pool and spa. We'd then loaf around on my parent's bed and watch whatever old movies happened to be on cable. I realized yesterday that this is all I've really ever wanted. To be totally happy with my family. Two beautiful children. A husband who's the coolest. A beautiful view and clean air. It sounds so simple, but the whole weekend had this sort of serendipitous feeling, this special sparkle. I felt so supremely blessed to be in that gorgeous home with those three gorgeous humans. And one goofy dog. And my new, sassy haircut.

Tomorrow the kids arrive. Elie has her first day of school. Her lunch is all made and waiting for her in the fridge. We've talked about the routine of the day multiple times -- probably more for my sake than hers. Solomon will hang tough with his buddy and continue to explore his place in the world. We'll work hard and love hard and anticipate another weekend of regeneration time. Grow into our new flow.