Saturday, June 28, 2014

mother of.

It was stronger than myself tonight, the urge. Like gravity I was drawn to you. I hesitated outside your door, listening, my breathing shallow as my heart began to race. I could hear you stirring, restless. The door creaked, as it always does, but it didn't bother me tonight. You startled and fixed your gaze on me as I stumbled in the dark, my eyes taking too long to adjust.

I lay down beside you and you pulled your little body closer, folding into my creases like we were puzzle pieces, and I felt whole in a way I haven't since you were inside me. Two bowls of smooth round wood stacked neatly underneath my taut belly, the texture of the weathered wood grain stretched in marks across my skin. We were one then, more than whole the three of us together. I had purpose and my future was straightforward.

Then you came and my belly hung loose in folds where we once were joined. Our holy trinity was broken and I was left cold and shamed on the manger floor, surrounded by hay and donkeys and in desperate need of frankincense and myrrh. I fumbled in the dark then, too, relying too heavily on my senses to try to find you. I thought I had lost you and assumed it was forever.

Tonight I see that I was wrong. You have been there all along.

You search for my hand and find it without looking. Your legs twitch a little as you drowse and your tongue clicks as it searches for my breast. Alas, in vain. You are already sleeping and I'm already too far gone as I feel your tiny chest rise and fall pressed against my body.

My eyes have adjusted now and I examine you in the waning light. I study your features; your brow, your fluttering eyelids, the curve of your nose, your parted lips, the way your hair falls across your forehead, and I bury my face in your neck, taking all of you in. You smell of wood. Of course you do. And sweat. And something warm but faintly sweet like cinnamon.

I close my eyes and trace my finger down your face like a map, trying desperately to find my way; would I be lost without you?

I wipe a tear (mine, not yours) from the hollow above your collarbone and breathe that shaky breath that comes soon after the sobbing has subsided. You exhale, too, and I wonder if we are not still more connected than I give us credit for.

It's too much, the love. The last time I opened up this much, you came barreling out of me. I thought that was the happy ending but something else got in instead. It buried itself deep under the surface and I closed myself off, thinking in was the way out. But there you are, so peaceful in your slumber and suddenly I'm split open like an oyster, both halves pulsing and I realize I've had it backwards all this time. I thought I was all shell, but somehow it got under my skin. It's calcified in concentric layers and I've never felt so baroque.

All this time I thought I had become small and calloused; I have watched from a distance as I fold in on myself again and again like an origami heart. The truth is, I have become small and calloused. But tonight I see that it's you, the oyster and I'm the wild pearl. I'm so sorry to have put you through so much trauma and all for a grain of sand. I've let myself out now. Now we can all heal, together but separate. Distance is good for all of us, I think. I was you and now you're me and I watch us becoming something so different than anything I've ever known and it's excruciating to love an extension of you so much more than you've ever loved yourself.

I kiss your chin and touch your cheek and tell you I love you and then I'm gone.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

climbing out of the darkness.

I have been afraid of admitting it for such a long long time. Part of that was the idea that admitting it was true, well, meant that it was true. If I stayed safe in denial, there was the slim possibility that it wasn't true, that everything was fine, that I was just going through "a rough patch".

I was terrified that saying it out loud would make the whole world crash down around me. That I would lose friends. That I would ruin my children. That people would treat me differently - that they would give me "the look" and whisper and say meaningless phrases like "you poor thing" while giving me that annoying injured puppy dog look and then tiptoe around me like I'm too fragile to touch.

I figured if I just stopped moving, everything would be ok. If I stopped moving, things certainly couldn't get worse. They'd just stay the same, which wasn't great, or even good, or even fine if I was totally honest, but it seemed like every time I took a tiny step yet another catastrophe would rear its ugly head and make things that much worse, push me even further down into the rut I had found myself in. My "rut" was more like underground caves that spread for miles and miles in endless unexplored caverns under the surface, with whole rivers and waterfalls and ecosystems hidden deep below, completely unknown to the people walking around oblivious on the earth above.

I felt like admitting it would mean those caverns would collapse on me. Just thinking about it made me feel claustrophobic, like I was suffocating. So I stopped moving and kept my mouth shut and stayed in denial. But the earth kept quaking and I kept slipping and finding myself falling even deeper and deeper into the darkness until it swallowed me whole.

Then one morning, while I was getting ready to start my daily struggle to just stay put, it slipped out, quiet as a whisper, shaky and unsure.

"I am suffering."

It echoed off the cavern walls, repeating again and again, each time louder than the next, in chorus and round robin, a sick grown-up version of a childhood song, until every part of the phrase was repeated all at once in a deafening roar that consumed my entire being.


The echoes changed, voices I no longer recognized, but were somehow still distinctly my own. "I am sad. I am lonely. I am gloomy, dejected, downcast. I am miserable, morbid, disheartened, discouraged, devalued, suppressed. I am depressed."

Three little words can change so much. I thought saying it out loud would send me deeper into the darkness, but I was wrong. I have been wrong about a lot of things. Instead, somehow, a great weight has been lifted.

I will find my way to the surface someday. I will climb to the top and feel the sunlight warm on my skin again. For now I am content with no longer being afraid of the dark. I am climbing my way out, step by step, but I am enjoying exploring these caverns on my way out. They are dark; they are cold and damp and contain creatures that thrive in the absence of light; but they are strangely beautiful.

The more I move, the easier the movement gets. The more I trust my feet, the steadier my stride. The more I look up, the more I realize there is already light here. And hope. And love.

The closer I get to the surface, the more I realize that I am not alone. That I have never been alone. There are others climbing with me. People who love me. Who have always been there by my side, it was just too dark for me to see.

We are climbing out of the darkness together. Will you join us?

Friday, June 13, 2014


Syllabification: grat·i·tude
Pronunciation: /ˈgratəˌt(y)o͞od
noun The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness: she expressed her gratitude to the committee for their support
Origin late Middle English: from Old French, or from medieval Latin gratitudo, from Latin gratus 'pleasing, thankful'.

Syllabification: grate·ful
Pronunciation: /ˈgrātfəl
adjective 1Feeling or showing an appreciation of kindness; thankful: I’m very grateful to you for all your help 1.1 archaic Received or experienced with gratitude; welcome: enjoying the grateful shadeDerivatives
(adverb) There will be a cake sale and donations for this will be gratefully accepted.
gratefulness (noun) I remember it with joy and gratefulness for all the times spent there.
Origin mid 16th century: from obsolete grate 'pleasing, agreeable, thankful' (from Latin gratus) + -ful.

(This is a running, rambling list, coming straight from the heart. I might find myself grateful for the same thing more than once throughout the course of this journey, but I'll try to express the different reasons I am feeling particularly appreciative of each particular instance. The beginning of this list is at the very bottom. Scroll down and work your way up to the most recent expression of gratefulness.)

175 I am grateful for the moments that come after bath time but before bedtime; they are my absolute favorite moments of every day, where I am the happiest version of me, watching my boys explore and play and laugh and laugh and laugh and cuddle and kiss and snuggle and read together and cozy up under the blankets and wait as the lullabies lull them to sleep.
174 I am grateful for living under the same roof as my mom; I never ever thought I'd say this as an adult, but sometimes when you are sick or hurting, you just need your mom; having her upstairs is convenient and comforting.
173 I am grateful for a mom who is a physical therapist; it is amazing how healing her hands can be.
172 I am grateful for rituals; they bring meaning to days that can often feel meaningless.
171 I am grateful for nail polish; it is so silly and simple but seeing color on my fingers just makes me feel young again, brightens my day and makes me smile.
170 I am grateful for watermelon; what a perfect summer treat.
day thirty:

169 I am grateful for my cats; I love them so much.
168 I am grateful for making out with my husband.
167 I am grateful for non-verbal communication.
166 I am grateful for language and for watching my children learn how to speak.
165 I am grateful for my favorite sweater; I wear you almost every day, you keep me warm, you make me feel comfortable, you make me feel like me.
day twenty-nine:

164 I am grateful for having the entire house to myself - to myself! - no one else here but sleeping babies; I want to run around naked drinking wine, dancing & belting Celine Dion.
163 I am grateful for a long hot shower.
162 I am grateful for laughing until I cry until my sides are splitting until I can't tell which are tears and which is saliva.
161 I am grateful for laughing harder than I have ever laughed in my life, thanks to Arlo giving me incredibly intense kisses and Owen cracking up watching; I have never heard that sound come out of my mouth before - it sounded like holiday bells mixed with a waterfall and it was awesome in every sense of the word.
160 I am grateful for falling asleep last night with Tippen curled up next to me (he was the little spoon, of course).
day twenty-eight:

159 I am grateful for CKK6; you feel like butter between my fingers.
158 I am grateful for Tippen jumping up on the bed and then down again with no assistance.
157 I am grateful for a husband who supports me exploring and growing and trying new things.
156 I am grateful for sisters who watch my babies so I can go throw for a couple of hours.
155 I am grateful for finding someone to talk to who truly listens and helps me make positive changes in my life.
day twenty-seven:

154 I am grateful for swinging on the porch swing with my boys' heads on my lap, watching the late afternoon sunlight filter through the blackberries.
153 I am grateful that I do not have to be afraid of suicide bombers or rebels shooting down airplanes over my town.
152 I am grateful for the fact that I've never been in a plane crash.
151 I am grateful for my health.
150 I am grateful for being alive.
day twenty-seven:

149 I am grateful for letting go.
148 I am grateful for alone time.
147 I am grateful for true friends, who you can not talk to for years and then pick up again like the last time you saw them was earlier in the day.
146 I am grateful for mediation, the way it focusing outward energy being wasted on less important things inward, promoting peace and healing.
145 I am grateful for yoga, the way it challenges the mind way more than the body sometimes, engendering patience every time you just stay on the mat and let things unfold.
day twenty-six:

144 I am grateful for a husband who is constantly reminding me that there is a solution to everything, even the hardest things.
143 I am grateful for a husband who takes care of our cat as one of our children.
142 I a grateful for a husband who is also a lover who is also a teacher who is also a best friend.
141 I am grateful for a husband who is as creative in the kitchen as he is with his art.
140 I am grateful for a husband who takes my children on runs in the double stroller and to the park and to the aquarium and to the children's museum.
139 I am grateful for a husband who sits next to me and listens on the bad days and holds me tight and tells me I don't ruin everything I touch.
138 I am grateful for a husband who wakes up and takes care of the kids while I sleep for a couple of hours, helps me with them throughout the morning and early afternoon, works hard until late at night and then comes home and works on his art until the wee hours of the morning before starting it all over again; I don't know where the man who needed to sleep 14 hours a night went, but this super husband is crazily amazing and I don't thank him enough.
day twenty-five:

137 I am grateful for finding inspiration in adversity.
136 I am grateful for my arms and legs; I appreciate them now more than ever and want to strengthen them and use them every way possible.
135 I am grateful for living in a basement; hot damn being cool feels wonderful on a 95-degree day.
134 I am grateful for how my body feels when I eat clean.
133 I am grateful for the opportunity my children are getting to be around their elders; it engenders compassion and respect in a society that seems more and more to ignore the wise entirely.
132 I am grateful for people who wholeheartedly follow their truth; I hope to get their someday, too.
131 I am grateful for people who take their creative ideas and put them into practice and then share their real, tangible creativity with others; creativity is catching.
130 I am grateful for the company of best friends.
129 I am grateful for giving.
128 I am grateful for the way if you take ten seconds to ask how someone's day is going, you'll probably learn a whole lot about them.
127 I am grateful for crafty people.
126 I am grateful for incredibly kind strangers.
day twenty-four:

125 I am grateful for wet sloppy kisses and super tight hugs from my boys.
124 I am grateful for amazing veterinaries.
123 I am grateful for splashing in the pool in my swimsuit.
122 I am grateful that everyone else in my life still has all their limbs.
121 I am grateful that Tippen is still alive.
day twenty-three:

120 I am grateful for three and a half hour naps.
119 I am grateful for the health of all of my friends and family; we are a healthy bunch and I appreciate it so damn much.
118 I am grateful for people who create things that try to make other people happy.
117 I am still so grateful for my the nursing relationship I have with my children.
116 I am grateful for making homemade popsicles with my babes.
115 I am grateful for my ridiculous kitties, our original babies.
day twenty-two:

114 I am incredibly grateful for Arlo asking for milk this morning; my heart just about burst into a million pieces; I was not ready to wean yet and spent every second of our nursing session this morning being present and completely where I needed and wanted to be.
113 I am grateful for black gold; seriously compost is the shiz-nit.
112 I am grateful for all the dozens of comics inspirations that happen every hour of every day in this house and the outlet that is drawing.
111 I am grateful for the very end of a run, that feeling of accomplishment and pride.
110 I am grateful for our old stomping ground and the amazing neighbors and friends who are still looking out for us.
109 I am grateful for a husband who can just hug me and make everything seem better.
108 I am grateful for little boys who eagerly help me re-pot plants and water the garden.
107 I am grateful for morning meditation; my oh my how it sets the day.
106 I am grateful for listening to your intuition and realizing you have known the answers all along.
105 I am grateful for every second of every time I get to nurse my boys.
day twenty-one:

104 I am grateful for my body; every single part of it.
103 I am grateful for weaning.
102 I am grateful for 18 and a half months of nursing my boys; I never ever ever imagined we would make it this far; I cherished every moment and will never forget being physically connected with them.
101 I am grateful for a roof over my head.
100 I am grateful for tomato plants; and peppers and beans and melons and cucumbers.
99 I am grateful for naked frisbee.
98 I am grateful for watching my kids devour watermelon and enjoy every last bite down through the white of the rind.
day twenty:

97 I am grateful for yoga and the way it helps me focus on the moment; I love just breathing and focusing on the task at hand.
96 I am grateful for a clean house and bills paid.
95 I am grateful for a squeeze on the shoulder from my husband while I'm meditating; it was a birthing technique we started practicing about half way through my pregnancy designed to train me to relax during labor when he touched my shoulders a certain way - after all this time it still helps my breath deepen and my pulse drop and my mind clear.
94 I am grateful for children who help me put dirty laundry in the hamper and clean clothes in the dryer and then help take it out when it's done; and who pick up their toys and books and put them away when asked; and who follow me around holding the cord to the vacuum cleaner every step of the entire house.
93 I am grateful for toddlers who do Downward Facing Dog and Child's Pose and Happy Baby without me even needing to show them how.
day nineteen:

92 I am grateful (albeit jealous) for the language my boys are creating with each other.
91 I am grateful for capes.
90 I am grateful for nectarines.
89 I am grateful for people who truly listen.
88 I am grateful for new readers.
day eighteen:

87 I am grateful for servers who just get it.
86 I am grateful for rainy day walks.
85 I am grateful for someone painting your nails bright colors with fun designs.
84 I am grateful for phenomenal friends.
83 I am grateful for drunch.
day seventeen:

82 I am grateful for gratitude, because it just might have changed my life.
81 I am grateful for Arlo - that he exists; that he is alive; for the way his body twitches in the moments between wakefulness and sleep; for the way he fights slumber with impressive determination but then suddenly decides to surrender and just. lets. go. his limbs limp, a rag doll abruptly abandoned mid-play for something better as he succumbs to the universe; for his deep, raw, course, vulgar laugh that sometimes almost makes you blush; for his compact little body, all motion and conviction; for his steadfastness and certitude, all pluck and scrap until you think you can't handle it a second longer and then suddenly you're knocked off your feet under a deluge of compassion as he smothers you with affection; for the way his big blue eyes make you feel exactly like a wave somewhere out in that vast blue ocean, like you're a part of something so much bigger than yourself, and you have to stop whatever you're doing at that exact moment to pick him up and hold him close because it's just too much.
80 I am grateful for Owen - that he exists; that he is alive; for the way he exhales deeply soon after falling asleep; for the way he grasps my index finger like he's never letting go; for his pure raw emotions, never hiding who he is or how he feels because that's just what he does; for his laughter that shatters into a million little pieces of light that scatter across the horizon like sunrise, giving meaning to the whole damn sky; for his curiosity and the glimmer he gets in his eye when he is about to do something he knows he shouldn't; for his eternal smile and boundless love; for his birth, our birth; for his resilience, our resilience; for never questioning his existence (like I do every minute of every hour of every day), truly immersed in the now is all there is; for his unwavering faith in my ability to be his mother (even when I don't deserve it); for the way, even though most of the time I feel my heart fall crooked when I think about all the things I could have done better, when he looks at me with those big brown eyes it's like falling into warm honey and I'm stuck exactly where I'm supposed to be.
day sixteen:

79 I am grateful for rediscovering pictures of myself pregnant 34 weeks and 4 days with my twins; I have never been so sure of my purpose on this earth, never so in the moment, never so proud and in awe of my beautiful body, never so full of faith in the universe, never so happy in my entire life.
78 I am grateful for strawberries at the farmers market these days; holy moly are they good!
77 I am grateful for thirty day fitness challenges; very effective motivator.
76 I am grateful for Tillamook Oregon Blueberry ice cream served with crushed graham crackers and Washington blueberries; you better believe I'm enjoying every bite.
day fifteen:

75 I am grateful for seeing Arlo gently help Owen climb up next to him on a lawn chair and then give him the sweetest hug.
74 I am grateful for employees at internet conglomerates who are not complete a-holes even at the end of a 58 minute phone conversation.
73 I am grateful for faces smeared with blueberry juice and hummus.
72 I am grateful for this new stage where the boys wave at me and say bye bye when I leave at nap- or bedtime, stay quietly in their bed and fall quickly asleep.
71 I am grateful for toddlers who tell me through signs and babble that they want me to roll out their own yoga mat next to mine so they can do yoga with me.
day fourteen:

70 I am grateful for a meal with no food thrown on the floor.
69 I am grateful for the hilarious babbling going on in our house right now.
68 I am grateful for watching my son draw; even squiggles take concentration.
67 I am grateful for the dreaming that comes with buying a lottery ticket.
day thirteen:

66 I am grateful for watching their eyes get big and round as the babes try Rainier cherries for the very first time (they promptly asked for more).
65 I am grateful for giggling with my boys as they go for their first swing ever on the porch swing.
64 I am grateful for a change in perspective on our housing situation - starting to view all the ridiculousness as endless creative writing and drawing inspiration!
63 I am grateful for kind leasing agents who were super patient with our babies as we toured an apartment complex.
day twelve:

62 I am grateful for fits of pure wholehearted belly-shaking laughter.
61 I am grateful for getting to watch as my boys try new foods for the very first time ever (today it was cantaloupe and they absolutely loved it).
60 I am grateful for naked babies running around the yard playing with water.
59 I am grateful that a candlelit shower can be almost just as relaxing as a candlelit bath.
58 I am grateful for summer.
57 I am grateful for the smell of fresh cut grass and the feeling of accomplishment after mowing a much overgrown lawn.
56 I am grateful for a house with one less person in it, even just for a couple of days.
day eleven:

55 I am grateful for watching my boys walk hand in hand for the very first time, giggling and cracking up every time their fingers touched; my heart just about melted out of my chest!
54 I am grateful for the Cascades.
53 I am grateful for hiking backpacks that help you carry your children to some of the most beautiful places on earth.
52 I am grateful for chocolate chip pancakes.
51 I am grateful for eating out of a bowl I made with my own hands.
day ten:

50 I am grateful for five years of crazy married life with the best friend I've ever had.
49 I am grateful for finding a partner who still makes my heart race and my body tingle just by touching my hand after all this time.
48 I am grateful for walks home in the dark holding hands and eating ice cream bars.
47 I am grateful for a hilarious movie playing right when we got to the movie theater on an impulse decision.
46 I am grateful for kind servers.
45 I am grateful for people who gave us gift certificates to nice restaurants for the boys' birthdays.
44 I am grateful for babysitters.
43 I am grateful for the quantity and quality of writing/comic material that happens hourly in our current living situation.
42 I am grateful for Costco starting to sell Honest Co. diapers & wipes.
41 I am grateful for getting to sleep in until 11.
day nine:

40 I am grateful for freckles.
39 I am grateful for really nice gardening gloves.
38 I am grateful for a huge backyard where my boys can run around and explore while I attack the blackberry invasion.
37 I am grateful for the sun setting after 9pm.
36 I am grateful for picnics in the park on a sunny afternoon.
day eight:

35 I am grateful for water; drinking it, showering in it, swimming in it, soaking in it, watching the sun set over it - I am truly an Aquarius.
34 I am grateful for the people who yelled words of encouragement out their car window as I ran uphill pushing two heavy toddlers in a stroller this afternoon; and for the old man who smiled and told me to keep keeping in shape as I ran with the boys yesterday.
33 I am grateful for American Sign Language and the way it helps me communicate with my children on a deeper level.
32 I am grateful for doing handstands in the grass at the park while my toddlers run around waving sticks and squealing with delight every time an airplane goes by.
31 I am grateful for amazing pediatricians who make my family feel like the most important family in the whole wide world; who have been there since the day they were born; who literally helped save Owen's life (and mine); who carry a picture of my children in her wallet and left our last appointment ever with her as our doctor this morning with tears in her eyes. (We will miss you as our pediatrician, but I haven't shed a tear because I feel deep in my bones that this isn't goodbye - I think we'll see you sooner than I think we think.)

day seven:

30 I am grateful for the way Owen cracks himself up and laughs with his whole damn being.
29 I am grateful for friends & family who donate to a really important cause.
28 I am grateful for comfortable running shoes.
27 I am grateful for double jogging strollers.
day six:

26 I am grateful for bright red toenails.
25 I am grateful for a husband who takes the kids in the morning and lets me sleep for a couple of hours - I would literally be a zombie without this luxury.
24 I am grateful for Baron Baptiste and his words of wisdom and encouragement.
23 I am grateful for white wine.
22 I am grateful for rainy mornings turned sunny afternoons.
day five:

21 I am grateful for peeking in to check on my boys and finding them fast asleep, holding hands.
20 I am grateful that the father of my children is the best damn papa I could ever ask for (Happy Father's Day, mon chéri).
19 I am grateful for the way I feel better when I take my vitamins.
18 I am grateful for bacon (from happy, organic pigs, of course) and everything that can be done with it, but especially BLTs and bacon + bleu mac & cheese.
17 I am grateful for people who come up with fun, creative & motivational ways to get back in shape.
16 I am grateful for the way Arlo's body twitches right after he's fallen asleep.
day four:

15 I am grateful for two beautiful boys who know how to light up a room; who smile with their whole bodies; who dance like nobody is watching when really everybody is; who laugh from their bellies; who run as fast as they can to splash in a puddle; who can spend an hour playing with great-grandpa's walker or a balloon; who eat their weight in blueberries; who give the best, most slobbery kisses; who love deeply & recklessly and with no abandon.
14 I am grateful for that feeling I get on the wheel like I'm finding the shape the clay was always meant to be; for being so engaged with every step of the process that time becomes an illusion; for finding flow and being exactly where I need to be.
13 I am grateful for Liz freaking Duarte.
12 I am grateful for friends who create amazing nonprofits and host wicked fundraisers.
11 I am grateful for spinach dip & ciabatta.
day three:

10 I am grateful for sisters who truly listen and care deeply.
9 I am grateful for chocolate ice cream.
8 I am grateful for kind bus drivers who smile when the doors open and they see little kids waiting to come on board.
7 I am grateful for my crazy cats; even when they knock over the dry cat food dish and the babies dash to stuff as many pieces as humanly possible in their little mouths before I can get to both of them & yes, I am grateful even for Napoleon.
6 I am grateful for blueberries; how much my boys love them & how much time they spend playing/eating with them.
day two:

5 I am grateful for friends who embrace all of me, every last raw fiber of me.
4 I am grateful for access to nutritious, local, life-sustaining food; for the ability not just to feed my children but to teach them to feed themselves; for the time and space and access to resources to allow me to experiment and innovate and create in the kitchen; for the chance to share the food I've prepared with the people I love the most.
3 I am grateful for a roof over my head; one with lush green through the windows, hot water in the pipes and a separate room for my boys.
2 I am grateful for a partner who tells me I am beautiful even when I feel the most profoundly ugly and who loves me even on my darkest days.
1 I am grateful for my two beautiful children; that they are alive and in good health and well on their way in the pursuit of happiness.
day one (Thursday, June 12, 2014):

Thursday, June 12, 2014


I have been thinking about gratitude a lot lately, probably because I have also been thinking about how terrible things have been for the past couple of years, full of a seemingly endless series of traumatic and stressful events.

I have been thinking of how very different I handled the very first of all of these traumatic events compared to how I handle stressful day-to-day events now and the contrast is striking.

When one of my twin boys was born blue and not breathing and spent his first twenty-four days in the hospital, I was stressed and often sad or overwhelmed, of course; but I was also extremely confident that everything was going to work out, with this incredibly positive attitude and approach to every decision or event of each of those twenty-four days. When one of his doctors came to tell us the news that the brain damage from his oxygen deprivation gave him only a 30% chance of having a life with a limited disability (meaning a 60% chance that he would have serious physical or mental handicaps that would severely limit his life), I remember telling the doctor that if I had a 30% chance of winning the lottery I would play every damn day. I felt so overwhelmingly grateful that he was alive at all that a 30% chance felt like something to be incredibly grateful for.

Today, I grumble about almost anything. I grumble when I wake up because I'm so tired; I grumble when it's a mealtime because I have to figure out what to make and make it and serve it and play referee throughout the meal and clean it all up afterwards; I grumble when I'm putting the boys to bed; I grumble when they're in bed because I have all this other stuff to do - or I have all this stuff I want to do and don't have the time - or have nothing to do and wish I was doing something. I even grumble in my dreams.

What has changed? I have thought for a long time that what changed was myself from naive to jaded, but I am thinking these days that it might really be something much more profound. I have stopped being grateful. I have stopped taking enough time to pause, to reflect, to appreciate.

Then I saw this: Want to be happy? Be grateful.

It got me thinking even more about "grateful living" and living a life of gratefulness. Compared to where I currently find myself, it sounds like a long, patient journey. But it also sounds like an incredibly pleasant one, and one that can bring wonderful changes to myself, to others, to my community, to the world. Everyone benefits from being grateful.

So I'm taking a small step that will hopefully encourage many more. I am going to start recording what I am grateful for every day and sharing it with you. I am going to drop the thinking and analyzing and write from the heart. My hope is that knowing I will be writing it out and sharing it with others will encourage me to reflect on it more often; that even possibly you reading about it will encourage you to find something to be grateful for yourself; and that you might even share your gratitude with others who might share it with others who might share it with others and that gratitude might spread like wildfire.

I'm already grateful for the opportunity here. :) Let's get going.

Monday, June 2, 2014

a sunken track.

What ever does one do when one finds oneself stuck in a rut? One wallows in the mud like a pig for a while until one is quite finished feeling sorry for oneself. Then, carefully, one small step at a time, one finds one's footing and climbs on out.

It occasionally happens that two poor souls find themselves trapped in the same deep rut. This usually pertains to two poor married souls and of the types of ruts one can find oneself in, this is by far the more dangerous of the two.

Why so dangerous? You see, while a great deal of time might be wasted wallowing at what once was by oneself, two poor married souls spend twice the time blaming the other for getting them into the mess in the first place, which only digs the rut deeper and the walls steeper.

What ever can they do when stuck in a rut as two? Firstly, both must stop digging and abandon their shovels all together. Secondly, both must stop writhing and fuming and pacing about lest the unstable earth beneath them give way like quicksand. Thirdly, and most importantly, both must kiss each other with their eyes closed. (Sometimes, upon opening their eyes after this last step, if the kiss was especially tender and passionate, both might find themselves out of the rut and far down the road, though this is quite rare.) Next, they must construct together a series of hand- and foot-holds that both can use, separately, on their own and at their own pace to, carefully, one small step at a time, find one's footing and climb on out.

Once the first has crossed the threshold (pay close attention, for this is of utmost importance), one must not let one's excitement carry them too far from the edge of the rut, lest the second lose their way and turn up on the contrary - should this arise the two will undoubtedly part ways for all eternity. Instead, the first must stay near enough to the trodden track to hear the other should they need assistance, and should often peak one's head over the edge to offer words of encouragement.

Upon safe arrival of both parties to the crest, both must kiss each other once again (though this time their eyes may be either open or closed with no adverse effect on the outcome, provided they are far enough from the edge of the opening, of course).

Occasionally, when a rut is especially deep or steep or dark or otherwise precarious, both must construct their own separate paths and ascend independently. In this instance, the aforementioned step pertaining to patience is all the more crucial to the perseverance of both (though the resulting kiss in these rare cases is so resoundingly passionate that it inspires the greatest of composers and poets and scribes to write works so devastatingly moving as to leave everyone wracked with tears and forever changed).

I suppose a wiser way would be to watch carefully where one walks in the first place, though I must admit to never having followed my own advice. If you must know, I'm still down here wallowing in this dank dark place, but surely someday soon enough I'll be quite finished feeling sorry for ourselves and will mindfully make my own way out.