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come back to center

Ruthie turns 8 today. It feels floaty high to remember her torpedo launched freight train birth. But that’s another story for another time.

Today, I get to watch her practice playing with all that she is –
shadow and light braided together,
a one of a kind stepper on this ground we call earth.
(Just like me. Just like you.)

And although magical to me, this day did not start out feeling magical to my son.

It’s so very hard to feel that undoubtedly a sucky situation will never change, isn’t it? Especially with someone who we love and so very much WANT to enjoy and be around. But instead, we find ourselves judgy and miserable when they do the same old same old and we react with the same old same old. It’s some heavy quicksand this roundabout we ride on. And although I know we as grownups may have more layers to our relationships, there is much to learn from beginner’s mind.  Watch this quick story about John and his sister and how he found his own way toward less judgmental and more present.

Watch. See. Feel what you feel in response. And notice, how does it feel to be human with him?

And with me. And with each other.

I’m grateful we are here together. Bumbling along, it’s good to travel with you.

Take care,
Rachel

permission to be

I know there are plenty of people who feel what they feel and think what they think and that’s that. Then there are those of us who have an extra layer to what we feel and think.

We’re really good at watching the world and taking it all in.
And we’re excellent at comparing ourselves to it.
And we’re exceptional at making ourselves wrong because we see all those other ways.

Because our eyes are wide open to the world out there.
While there’s something in here that we’re sure is different.

“I’m tired, others seem so energized.”
“I’m confused, others seem so focused.”
“I’m slow, others are so fast.”
“I’m doing so little, others are doing so much.”

It’s a twisty filter through which we can watch the world.
Tricky stuff, this is.

So.
Just for this moment, give yourself permission.

Permission to be
confused
tired
overwhelmed.

Permission to
slow down.

Permission to
breathe.

Permission to be
angry
righteous
judgy.

Permission to
be happy
joyful
silly.

Permission to be…

what?

What is it that you need to give yourself permission for?
What is it that you’re already feeling but you’re fighting?

Say it three times to yourself with your word.

Permission to be…
Permission to be…
Permission to be…

You have permission to be ALL of you.
And I’m so glad that you are.

Take really good care,
Rachel

the 10 year old teacher on “judgmental”

Ruthie turns 8 today. It feels floaty high to remember her torpedo launched freight train birth. But that’s another story for another time.

Today, I get to watch her practice playing with all that she is –
shadow and light braided together,
a one of a kind stepper on this ground we call earth.
(Just like me. Just like you.)

And although magical to me, this day did not start out feeling magical to my son.

It’s so very hard to feel that undoubtedly a sucky situation will never change, isn’t it? Especially with someone who we love and so very much WANT to enjoy and be around. But instead, we find ourselves judgy and miserable when they do the same old same old and we react with the same old same old. It’s some heavy quicksand this roundabout we ride on. And although I know we as grownups may have more layers to our relationships, there is much to learn from beginner’s mind.  Watch this quick story about John and his sister and how he found his own way toward less judgmental and more present.

Watch. See. Feel what you feel in response. And notice, how does it feel to be human with him?

And with me. And with each other.

I’m grateful we are here together. Bumbling along, it’s good to travel with you.

Take care,
Rachel

the cat got stuck and then…

Doh.

I knew this part would be bumpy but holy smacks. It’s like for the past year, our little family of 5 was orbiting the normal world (aka “the pandemic pause”), looking down at the stunning and heartbreaking thing called earth, and now the past 10 days we’re getting a “smack smack smack” cartoon slap to the cheek as we blaze through re-entry to the atmosphere.

Today’s highlight reel of proportionally representative mess comes by way of our two cats and includes, A) not just a single turd but a rogue pile of poop, B) a verifiable bucket of pee (one of the cats got stuck in the basement last night), C) morning vomit, and D) afternoon puke that trailed a good 18 inches from wood onto carpet.

ugh yuck wow blech.

And it’s fitting.

Because as I’ve said, right about now, re-entry into the atmosphere of “our normal world” is slimy slippery, rough and tumbly. Our little spaceship’s bouncing off some everyday rubble and flipping flames into the space around us. There’s enough human emotional biohazard in this house for the well deserved title of shitstorm.

Well, break out your umbrella, my friend, because pieces of my life have no silos. So, you’ve already seen and will continue to see me bump scraping along in my blog as I try on some new (for me) things in the coming weeks and months.

Instead of doing the u-turn here on the page, check out this video (which does NOT include anything about cats) and how I injected a quick dose of ease into my day. Do it, feel what you feel and leave a comment about 1 thing you notice.

Until we chat again, I’ll be over here, cleaning up cat puke, poop and all the human emotional detritus in between. Well, to be fair, I can’t really clean up the emotional detritus but I can hang out with it. (While I also thank the inventors of Lysol wipes and Resolve for their worthwhile contributions to my life.)

Click here to watch and remember to comment with what you notice.

Take good care,
Rachel

how to witness

My friend’s text to me says, “How are you holding up with the birds fleeing the nest?”
(Translation: “How are you doing with the kids back in school for the first time in almost a year?”)

I stare at the screen, thumbs at the ready, tilt my head and look up toward the ceiling (is the answer up there?). A thought springs forward and I nod to myself, thumbs a-movin’ now,

“Kind of confused and peaceful and more confused,” I say.

“Bahaha! Sounds about right,” she replies.

Yup. It does.

This week I’ve,
walked my kindergartener to her classroom for the first time,
jetted home to grab her forgotten computer and returned to school,
climbed back in the van and let myself burst into tears,
pulled into my garage 5 minutes later and allowed the dam to burst yet again,
watched a mental slideshow of my babes and toddlers run across the back of my closed eyes,
walked (and danced) with a dear friend in mid-morning down the greenway,
cringed at the throbbing of a headache,
giggled with a different dear friend on a different mid-morning walk,
marveled at the quiet in my living room,
listened to my husband in awe of his own growth,
talked with client friends about our work together over the years,
watched my children explode in overwhelm and exhaustion,
snuggled into my couch with the cat upon my lap,
witnessed brave women share their truth,
tossed my hands skyward at the icy weather forecast and kids now home tomorrow,
choked up to share my life’s story with a weekly reflective group,
smiled at the moment of sitting here, thinking of you sitting there.

This week, I’ve felt,
grief,
joy,
wonder,
jealousy,
confused,
not knowing,
silly,
pride,
fear,
hope.

This week, I’ve felt my aliveness. And it is bold, rich, stunning technicolor.
This 1 minute video is a mere snapshot of that aliveness.
Watch my eyes, see my face, listen to my voice, see the space around me…

Practice being with one another. It is a skill like no other.

And how very grateful I am to be with you.
Take good care,
Rachel

off they go into the wild blue yonder

I would like to grab a remote control, press that button with the two parallel vertical lines and
C L I C K
P-A-U-S-E.
 
But I can’t seem to find that remote anywhere. Is it between the cushions? Under the chair? Did John take it to the kitchen table again? Did Nora hide it on the bookshelf?

You see, next Monday, my three children will return to their school building for the first time since last March.

My 5 year old will go to her first day of in-person kindergarten. Ever.
In her lifetime on this Earth.
My youngest child is now in elementary school.
Wow.

The Pandemic first cursed and then blessed me as mother with an encore of 3 young children at home. This stage *should* have wrapped up last July when they all went to school together for the first time. But instead, it’s wrapping up now.

I’m no longer a parent of “young children.” I no longer find myself trudging up the impossible hill of a parking lot at Trader Joe’s. The cart piled high with groceries, a babe in the seat leaning forward to grab my hair, a toddler beside me with her little hand upon the cart, and a pre-schooler owning his oldest child status by walking inches away from my other side. All three children bursting with aliveness, joy and insatiable exploration of the world.

Under my watch.

The curtain is falling on that Act.

I don’t need someone to convince me that my hands are still full and that the work of parenting isn’t going anywhere and that in fact it will get more beautiful / harder than it ever was.
Others tell me such things and I can for sure observe them. But that’s not where I am yet.

I’m here.
I’m walking through the door of tomorrow.

I’m scared. We’ve been enmeshed with each over for 11 months. Will Nora be okay going from 100% home to 7 hours a day 5 days a week away from us? This fear is a panic bug skittering around in my chest looking for the way out. “Where is the friggin’ exit from this place?” it chitters.

I’m sad. To see them go. To feel them go. To feel this time of messy innocence slip drip through my fingers.

I’m tired. My heroic mind skip hops after a flavor of the day attraction distraction. It’s landed on perfecting my business model. “MUST DO IT ALL! ASAP!” orders the little General waving the baton in my head. He’s saving me from my own (surely) sorry demise.

But the veil he’s dropped is flimsy. It’s billowing in the wind and I can see what’s under it.

Now.
Now is under it.
This sad. This scared. This tired.
This human.

I love these kids and this life. With its indulgences and ignorances. With its infinite joys and infinite sufferings. With its screw ups and prize wins. With its constant learning. I love this life.

Hey… look at that.

I think I found that remote control after all.

Watch this short video for your own 4 minute pause and try my words in your very own way.

Thanks for being here. It brings me joy and wonder to feel you with me.
Take good care,
Rachel

what does she want from me?

7 year old Ruthie and I sit in the dark, the clock drips to 9:00 p.m.
Books and songs are complete. We’re together in stillness, because we can.

Her voice crawls through to me,
“Mama, how old were you when you got married?”

“26.”

A beat of in-betweenness and then she says,
“I’m afraid of something if I get married.”

“What are you afraid of?”

“I’m afraid of divorce.”

My heart grabs and holds tight to itself. Suction in_in_in.

I perform some mumbo jumbo about how marriage takes work to be happy. That you must work through stuff and find your way together. blah blah blah. That divorces also happen for may other reasons. That there’s much to it.

I finally shutup. We’re back to the in-betweenness. In the infinite grey between the words.

Which is when I hear what she’s really saying – underneath her words,
“I’m afraid if I love someone, they’ll leave me. Or it’ll end badly.
I’m afraid I’ll get hurt.”

These words appear in my mind like writing in smoke. They’re there and dissipating all at once.

Even as my tongue rests, my heart replies,
“Me too, baby. I’m afraid of that too. And I know it to be absolutely true. I know that every person that I love will eventually leave me. Or me them. I know this to be true.”

I also know that every person that I love will hurt. That their hurt will vibrate within me – sometimes like tiny tip toe kitten’s paws and sometimes like broad, heaving, crashing, thundering lion’s paws. I know this.

I know that every person that I love will experience joy. Whether they can see it and feel it or whether it gets pushed under the rug and hidden from them. It’ll be there. I know this.

And I know that we’ll all feel alone at times in life. Some more than others. Even in our togetherness. I know this.

And that is the way of things. And you, my child, know it too. And seeing that breaks my heart here and now. Because you are my child fearing the suffering of adulthood. And thus, already knowing it. The fear of loss now. The reality of loss later.

Your seeing sears me from inside out. Heart to skin branded by you.
And.
Your seeing bathes me from inside out. Golden light and clear skies in you.

It’s one and the same, this thing you see. The love, the heartbreak, the wisdom.
You’re brave to touch it, dear one. We all are.

We’re brave to love.
Oh, so brave.

Let’s love fully and without abandon for this drip of time. This sacred Now.

Take good care,
Rachel

that’s not meditation

Hello to you on this January day. I’ve posted a short meditation video that’s inspired by this blog. Click here if you need a downshift right away or, read first for context, and watch it next.

We spend a lot of time at my parent’s lake house. A lot of time. During summer visits, one of my kids’ favorite things to do is to “Bomb PopPop” which equates to jumping into the lake near my father and splashing the heck out of him. Cannonballs, belly flops, jackknifes, off the boat, off the dock, off the huge trampoline tube. This is THE game of choice and has been since my children were barely toddlers in bulky life jackets that had them waddling toppling left and right.

I swear – a few days prior to each lake trip, at least one child calls up my dad and says, “PopPop!!! I’m going to BOMB you!!!”

And my dad laughs in a Santa-esque boomy way and says,
“No no no, you’re not going to get me!!!”

But you know they do. Every time.

And they each have their own way of doing it. John takes off running as if to a starter gun and then sets off a geyser explosion. Ruthie is all about the technique as she goes for catching the most air and the crispest, sleekest entry into the water. And for Nora, I swear I see the water shiver and giggle at her full force launch and S*P*L*A*S*H.

Concentric ripples bubbling outward.

And for every time they jump in,
they must climb out to start again.
(Because no way is just one “bomb PopPop” enough, right?)

Take a big breath, run, jump, splash, surface, swim, climb out.
Repeat.

huh… I see a connection here.
feel a connection here.

You see, many people think meditation is about “quieting” the mind or “stopping thinking”, but those words don’t quite cover it.

Instead, the practice of meditation is the practice of choosing Now.
Again and
again and
again.

It’s the practice of choosing what you want to focus on instead of letting the loudest voice in your head (or loudest thought or emotion) hijack you with its flavor of the day / hour / minute / second.

It’s the practice of perhaps beginning with your focus on the breath. And then over and over wandering away from the breath, jumping into the bottomless waters of the well of creativity (also known as the brain stuff) and then realizing you are, in fact, underwater. And so, you swim upward, climb out and stand on the dock again.
With your breath. To begin again.

For a minute. Or a second. Or even a milli-second.

Before off you go once more flying into the waters and losing yourself in swirling, twirling, curling thoughts and wonderments and ruminations and worries and fantasies and “what if”s” and “how in the world’s” and “oh no’s…”.

You see, the water of the mind stuff is not a bad place to be. It’s colorful there and full of glorious imagination.

But coming up for breath is helpful and even necessary. If my kiddos didn’t come up for breath and out onto solid dock, then they couldn’t continue the game of bombing PopPop.

Big breath, run, jump, SPLASH, surface, swim, climb out. Repeat again.

Breathe, begin thinking, get lost in those deep thought waters, get SUPER lost in them, catch yourself somewhere along the way, return to the breath…
on and on and on and on.

A million times we go under. And a million times we come up for air.

Ah, the air and ah, the water.
Ah, my mind and ah, this place of real and alive life.
The contrast awakens my senses and renews me.
For this choice and for this remembering, I am grateful.

Now, click here for the short video meditation and to perhaps feel how little time it can take to feel better than you do right now. (Or perhaps to feel what right Now actually means.)

Take good care. And swim well, my friend.
Rachel

you choose your way

A wispy breeze is emotion when let Be. Blowing in and blowing out.
 

Read on for two poems – both emerging this week from a time of much in our world and country. And selves.

Consider.

Where are you? What words serve you? What words stand beside you in company, hold your hand, offer you some needed ground? Or space? Or the place that calls to you?

You choose this week,
To long for
or
To hope.

With gratitude for your open hearts and minds,
Rachel

 
 
To long for
 

“Mama, I miss you,” 5 year old Nora says through the hollows of the phone, “Will you come here tomorrow?”

“Yes, Nora. I will be there tomorrow,” I say to my youngest child.

To miss someone can feel like a deep hole. A longing. A magnetism.

A longing that seemingly cannot be answered without seeing, holding, touching the one whom we miss.

Or even a time for which we yearn.

Gone. Past. Dissolved with the sunset of yesterdays.

That ache in the chest and lump in the throat of
grief
sadness
tenderness
revealing the softest spots of our being.

The raw heart.

Open and revealed for all to see.

Close your eyes. Let yourself touch that which stops you

in

your

tracks.

Deep, sinking footprints tattooing fresh snow.

Ah, so…
longing

this is.

 
 
To hope
 

To hope means

what?

To allow for the possibility of different. Of brighter. Of open space that accepts anything
as the Next.

Hope feels like the candle prick in the pitch of dark.

Or perhaps the candle wick in the pitch of dark. Waiting to be found by the match.
Wick black as night. Tucked into night’s cloak.

Hope goes broader
and higher
than we are right now.

Hope drives down deeper. Into bedrock and beyond. Strata of old. Of survival and sustenance and spirit driven onward.

Hope slices through the silence like shafts of light through the cracked and plastic vertical blinds.

Spin

left
           spin
right.

Slice.

Hope pauses and pulls from center of hardened rib cage forward into open space.

Arc. Pull.                                            GO.

Into the void of not knowing. But of wondering,
What now?
What next?

Hope burns softly, a little stronger, a little hotter. A spreading flame outward and upward.

Exploding, swirling, churning, burning,
stillness,
possibility.

Anything is possible. Anything.

Ah, so…
hope

this Is.

thank you

I began this post with the intention to say,

Thank You.

And in this moment, I take a deep breath and choose to remain focused on my intention. Because even as I stare at news that causes my brow to furrow, my throat to close up and my eyes to scrunch in search of understanding, there is something else spied from the berth of my vision.

I began writing this blog every other week in January of 2017. And so in this January of 2021, I have had the chance for 4 beautiful years to write for you. Over 100 times. And for me. To have your eyes read my words. And in that time, in some way, I have been connected with people that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Regularly. With the flow of ideas toward your considering head and heart, we have met each other in some space made by our togetherness.

I suppose that is where we can continue to grow. You. Me. All of us.

We read and hear about other’s experiences and thoughts. We listen closely. We watch. We allow different ideas to resonate at the level that we can understand. Have compassion. Provide whatever opening our own heart can muster.

Not to change them.
But to heal us.

Us.

And in bringing ourselves back toward a center – a center of knowing and not knowing all at once – we will discover what is meant to be next.

I am grateful for your eyes.
I am grateful for your hearts.
I am grateful for your choice to pause here with me for the last four years.

May I offer to others the same gifts that you have offered to me.

Thank you. Deeply and truly in this New Year of 2021, thank you for this opportunity to be with you.

It is so. very. very. good to be with you.

Take care. And let’s remember to exhale sometimes,
Rachel