Saturday, October 17, 2015

fall freak out

The color is insane.  Life is full.  We move fast, the leaves turn even faster, everything an unrelenting cycle of movement and change.  We hiked six miles up to a gorgeous waterfall today.  The larch are gold and tremendous and the drive up the Blackfoot was literally breathtaking.  There is nothing that I love more, nothing, then being in beautiful places outside with my family.  We stopped at this diner in Seely Lake, one of those places where time seems to stand still and all of the waitresses still look like Flo from Alice, too much hairspray and sorta snarky and odd.  I love feeling like we're on a little vacation from the funky cool of Missoula, like we're on a vacation in the real Montana.  The Montana of dirt roads and ma and pop diners, of remarkable seasons and lots of old trucks on the highway.  We drove by some weird little distillery where they make "moonshine-style" whiskey.  Maybe next time we'll stop.

On the way out, I hiked in the back with Solomon and Lucy.  Lucy was struggling, sweet, old girl that she is.  She'd sort of sunk in this muddy lake, so she was dirty and stinky and limping, her old hips not able to take the terrain like they used to.  Sol had to stop every few minutes to gather more sticks as they arsenal of weapon possibilities is almost unlimited in this neck of the woods.  I think he talked the entire way out, from his elemental powers to defeat me to the story of all the worms he and Blaise found on the hill at the top of the playground to his asking for more and more addition problems to figure out on his little hands.  He would turn his back to me so that I didn't actually see him using his hands.  That and he was hiking behind me so, ya know.  He's such a cool cat.

And then there's sister bear.  Sister and her songs and her kindness and her knowing.  She got an awesome role in our school play.  She screamed when she read the cast list, just like a good little thespian.

She and Jeff were talking about favorites in the front.  I love it when I watch them together.  The daddy/daughter thing is so sweet and when they're on, they are just a pulsing little mass of love and goodness.

 They both seemed happy for the space from the Ninja Warrior.  He was all mine today.  Perhaps that's why I'm exhausted, have elevated my legs, and can't seem to move from the sofa.  He's watching, you guessed it, Kung Fu Panda in our bed.  Alas. 

This is our kind of Saturday night. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015


I hiked up Waterworks today.  It was a boon, a surprise, a little taste of spontaneous, blissful freedom.  Such a simple thing.  Such an incredible gift.


The hubby is away surfing, the children and I are lounging the way we like to do.  We marvel at the leaves, so red and yellow in their majesty.  We bake weird zuchinni/banana/chocolate/chia treats.   They play with the neighbors and life moves in this organic sweetness.

I didn't really know that same, neighborhood sweetness as a child.  I take that back.  Hil and I were organic sweetness, our long games of Fame and radical choreography sessions.  But there wasn't a whole lot of action of the kid sort in our hood.  There were cars.  A whole lotta cars.  There was skinny Raymond and years later, Heidi Zee, but really, we weren't kiddos riding bikes and running in and out of the neighbors houses.

So the neighbor kids and the long and wild games they've played in my basement this weekend, they are a boon like the hike.  Like the mama hostess of the birthday party saying, leave the kids here!  Go have some time to yourself.  

I look both ways and burn rubber outta there.  I quick get my favorite latte.  I say a sweet prayer that both my headphones and my hiking shoes are in the car.  I bust out on to the trail and my legs feel strong, my feet, super fast.  The music fills me as does the sun on the mountains, as does the light on the hills, the turning trees in the valley.  I think about tomorrow night's dance class, the theme -- what do I need -- and the wind picks up, blows my headphones outta my ears, blows my hair wild, whips with freedom, with the fresh brisk of fall.  I need to honor the elements.  The elemental.  The simple and daily goodness that is sun, that is wind, that is a change of seasons.  Organic sweetness.

I've been intensely reading Claire Bidwell Smith's memoir this weekend, The Rules of Inheritance.  She writes about her mom's illness, how it escalated during her freshman year of college.  It brings me back to that dark time in my own life, about the ache and vacuous desperation of the college years.  We are close in age and she listens to the same music I did, wears the same shade of dark lipstick.  I feel this wild duality, half of me thrust in that ugly sadness, the other marveling at the yellow aspen leaves, the sun on my face, my healthy and silly children that laugh from the field below. There is such grace everywhere.  Sometimes I don't really know how it found me.

This book has me dreaming of my parents, of Los Angeles, of my old home.  I woke up and looked at plane tickets today, the need in my gut to lie by my mama on her big bed and stay up too late with our deep talks dug deep, deep inside of me.  See, my mama made it.  She had all that sickness - the chemo and radiation, the unknown diagnosis and terrible surgeries, yet she's still here, almost 81, her mind and spirit as sharp as ever.

And I made it.  Found a life that is full of love, of good work, of art and children and the natural world.  I feel so full inside when I think about what I get to do each day, when I look out of my windows at the valley that I get to share with kind people.  I feel strong and creative when I walk these hills, when I listen to my music and read my books of poems.  It feels good to just sit here and write, to not care a whole lot about craft or the arc, just to get it all out.  There are so many details to hold on to, all the time.  Eliana and Sol and I sitting at the Catalyst eating lunch today after Eliana's soccer game, the way Sol drew pictures for me using Eliana's drawing book, the way Eliana looked at me at one point and said, I just love him so much.  
You and me both, I replied and we marveled together at his tenacious commitment to drawing the perfect cheetah for his mama.

I get cranky too.  I look at the pile of dishes and can't image that I can actually get them all done.  I think about how busy tomorrow will be and dread making their lunches, unpacking the leftovers that are still rotting in their backpacks from Friday -- wasn't it just Friday -- how does it all go by so quickly? Then I think a bit harder.  So I have to get them up and going.  So what?  So they can go and love their school day, thrive and laugh and create with their kind teachers and silly friends.  And I have to get myself together so that I can inspire kiddos to write and think, so that I can be creative and plan, then grab my children who are right there with me in the same building,  drive them around a bit, feed them from my stocked fridge.  It's a pretty blessed life.

The gratitude meter is way high these days.  The way I love the people I love with everything.  The way I am able to shed what I know I don't need.  My friend Amanda is a medium.  Amanda is one of my oldest friends in the world. She has always been way more put together than me, smarter, better organized, more responsible.  She taught me what the word "perforated" means when I was fourteen.  I thought it was remarkable that such a word even existed.  I still kinda do.

Anyway, Amanda had a life change, a deep sense, a knowing.  She embraced her powers while still holding her responsible day job and raising her three children, single-mama style.  I went to see her with Hil and my mom when I was visiting in June.  Amanda had a lot to say to all of us, all of it was right on, but one thing she said keeps coming back to me again and again.  She said that she had this vision of me karate chopping all the things/people/crap that I didn't need out of my life.  She saw me just tearing down a path and karate chopping in both directions.  She said that what I wanted would become extremely clear.  It was that easy.

I've always had trouble with decisions.  My mama calls it my Haagan Daaz syndrome, tasting flavor after flavor before I can pick out my scoop.  But right now my Haagan Daaz syndrome feels blissfully part of my past.  I know so clearly what I want.  I know who I want to spend time with.  I know who and what I need.  I forgive myself more easily.  I think I'm rad most of the time.  I don't know if its age or space or gratitude that has brought me here, but it sure as heck feels good.  I love my life.  I love my family.   I love my past and my now.  I love my big, tangled mess of story, my truths and triumphs and sneaky hikes up the hill, how walking with the wind can connect me with my very best self.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

fall settle

September always slays me.  I love it and fear it with equal parts -- the shift and the noise and the readjustments.  But by the time October arrives and the colors begin to turn, we wake to the crisp air and woodfire smell in the mornings and I want to start making soups, I remember that I really do love fall.  We're all settling in with some grace.  Solomon is rad at kindergarten.  He is really starting to blossom and is full of questions and math facts, his little mouth running on and on about the dramas of his life.  Eliana claims third grade is her best yet.  She sings Matilda like it's going out of style and actually performed two numbers for the extended Grillo clan after dinner last night.  It was pretty amazing, her bravery, her fierce belief in herself, her props and blocking and choreography just so.  Jeff and I have turned a corner with them in that they can pretty much hang with us these days.  Last weekend we hiked to the summit of a mountain at 7000 feet and their attitudes were pretty remarkable throughout.  We kept looking at each other wondering when the whines would start but for the most part they were pretty damn awesome.  My love affair for this town, these mountains, my new neighborhood, my home, continues to expand.  While Jeff loves the woods this time of year, I still heart the open space, looking down on the colors from above, the golden hills and bright blue sky.  I'm dancing again and that fills me up -- I can't really believe I ever let it go for as long as I did.  So, all in all, I'll take it, I'll take fall.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

All In

I had to open up my journal from Tipi Camp tonight to remind myself that I was actually there.  It's been less than two weeks since my return home and my silent mornings and asana filled days feel ridiculously far from my present state.  Exhaustion overwhelms me.  I will stop right there. 

But I seem to have maintained a bit of a stillness inside. It certainly isn't pure, it certainly isn't unwavering, but it's like a deep calm was ignited on the shores of that lake.  I want to maintain that stillness.  My mantra for now.

Solomon's stillness is in a state of flux as he started kindergarten on Tuesday.  He had a long, long day and was definitely full of all sorts of questions.  I spied on him from my upstairs window at work and my was it wild to see him, one of the smallest in a sea of huge children racing around.  Tonight he belly laughed from his raw little core while I read Captain Underpants.  His belly laugh is one of the most beautiful things on earth.

And then there's little missy third grade.  Today she sang her Matilda song acapella for her whole class.  She has been practicing this little number incessantly, like really, at the top of her lungs, in the basement, in the living room, on the swing, to the trees, incessantly for the past few weeks.  It's all she wants to do.  Sing.  It's pretty damn awesome, British accent and all (though I will say last night, after a very long first day of school, followed by ballet class and a very late return home, it was pretty hard to stomach yet another rendition, especially as she really just sings the same song over and over again).  Holy awesome, that girl.  Full of her own special spice. 

So here we are.  Again.  Our little world has turned big, full of faces and noises, school bells and Spanish verbs.  I am sending myself big doses of energy and strength.  I am sending myself deep, healing breaths.  I am elevating my feet and drinking lemon tea, honoring the fullness of this life. 

Tipi Camp, a third year

You may feel like a garden of flowers right now,
living in abundance, living intensely, living in totality.

Kootenai Lake, Silent Morning

A cool, clear morning
fingers numb from the lake
the way she opens herself to me
so soft and vast
red and silver and rust pebbles
an old blanket on my shoulders
a terrecotta mug of chai and
the quiet lap of waves

She too takes just what she needs
melds with the breeze
blows and glimmers
flight and majesty
open yourself to me.

Now the smoke has settled
long and light beyond
the lake, like a soft white

veil, soothing and ancient.
My body is soft and strong,
rubbed and stretched and

held.  Laughter and chatter
meld with the soft lap of waves,
the continuous calm of

life on retreat.  This is part of
me now, these shores
and their silent mornings,

three kinds of tea all day
and so many shades of green
spread across my plate,

offerings of nourishment,
offerings of kindness,
of non-doing.

All I must do is show up,
work internally, quietly,
with strength.  All I have to do

is listen and see.  Lift the judgement,
soften the gaze and lead
from my heart.  

This morning the smoke
has smoothed into
a low cloud

stories and memories like
long stretches of congestion,
of hazy light, fill the

sacred space and I am
alive and awake in my
own gorgeous humanness

the still is still
inside of me

the sound of stones
beneath my feet,
the shining surface of lake

integration is everything

the eagle and the swan
the dragonfly and serpent
all these strange creatures

that land here on this page

my belly is hungry again
and my body fills with
greens and reds

like a strange and ravenous animal
my aspirations scattered and
radiant, raw like these mountains

raw like this heart when
she's alone, no tugging
of shirtsleeves,

no asking for more,
they need so much from me
and I spin with them,

spin and spiral and give
like some wild fountain
give like

a tremendous tree, until
that unexpected summer
storm and I land,

precarious, the roof caves
in and inside,
the children scream and cry

judgements are harsh rain,
judgements and blame and
need are rolled into

an iron ball, hurled
towards the grand house,
hurled and the bees

land and buzz, their venom
so twitchy and alive,
their anger palpable

and they said they were
all gone

and they land on bits of
eggs and parsley,
on almonds and mangoes

quick to balance my shit out

quick to remind that pestilence
and disease lurk in
dark corners,

that even with bliss and
a silence that soothes the lake

the mind darts and flies,
predicts and solves

like those tulle wings,
that incessant buzz.

Saturday, August 8, 2015