Don’t Steel Yourself

by Rachael on December 18, 2014

new year sky

On the day my mother died, one of my cousins drove my sister and me from New Haven to the house where we grew up. “Don’t steel yourself,” he told us that night. I don’t remember anything else he said then, but that one sentence has been a mantra for me in times of sorrow. Because in the years immediately after my mother died, I did steel myself, and for years I suffered for it. Better to let your heart crack open than to harden it against grief.

A week ago today one of my uncles died, and this mantra has again been on my mind. My Uncle Laurie had a large, open heart, and I cannot think of him without thinking of him laughing, telling a joke, or gracing us with a smile. Sometimes it may hurt to have an open heart, but overall I’d say it was a good way to live. May he rest in peace.

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The Process

by Rachael on December 11, 2014

First day!Everything changed this fall. In September the Gnome started preschool, where his schedule more or less matches L’s at the public elementary school. For the first time since I became a mother, I have all the weekdays to myself, at least when there’s school, and at least until about 2:30 (when I really ought to be at the school already to pick up L but am more likely to be rushing down the street toward the school). The days I have to myself are short, and they are bookended by mad rushes first to get the kids to school on time and then to fetch them from school on time, but still: I don’t need to work so many hours at night, after they’ve gone to bed. At last, instead of staying up late, I can wake up early, to meditate and write.

Or maybe nothing changed at all. In October I worked late into the night most nights and through the weekend at least twice, and I didn’t meditate or write much at all. And then in November I did my best to recover from the disaster of October, but now as I write these words I’m recovering from my second illness since Thanksgiving. No one else in the family has been sick at all, not as I’ve been. What is my body trying to tell me?

Usually the message that one is supposed to receive from illness is something along the lines of slow down, which it would probably do me good to do, but I’ve been wondering if my sickness is actually symptomatic of a deep fear. A deep fear of change, of the idea that now is the time. Now is the time to write that big poem, to finish that manuscript, to make all those changes I’ve been planning to make in my bread-and-butter work.

At first I was going to write that my fear is of the big questions, such as “What do I really want to be doing with myself?” But the truth is that I’ve already answered those questions; I answered them a long time ago. The questions I need to answer now are more practical, such as “How am I going to make this stuff happen?” Given the chaos of this fall, I’m terrified that I’m completely messing up this opportunity. When in truth, this fall is just the beginning of another long process of change.

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August 29, 2014

A Friday ritual inspired by SouleMama …

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Swimming

August 26, 2014

It was about four years ago that, in reference to the lake, he said his first sentence: “No like it.” Thus it was to my great surprise yesterday that he said, “I love to swim!” Never mind that he wasn’t actually swimming. He was in the water, and he was smiling: close enough.

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August 15, 2014

A Friday ritual inspired by SouleMama …

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Better Late

August 13, 2014

The bluebells bloomed later than usual this year, a week or so after my birthday. As usual, I made sure to go see them, and as usual, I took photographs. For nearly three months now, the photographs have been sitting in my camera, unseen. I have thought of them often, intending to upload and post […]

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Epiphany

August 7, 2014

One afternoon last week, I decided to take L to Coney Island so that we could put our feet in the water. We brought beach toys, but we didn’t even wear our bathing suits. As it turned out, the beach satisfied a longing I didn’t even know that I had, for the open sky and […]

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July 25, 2014

A Friday ritual inspired by SouleMama … For something like a year now, cosleeping with the Gnome has looked much like this. Perhaps we should get him a harder mattress.

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July 18, 2014

A Friday ritual inspired by SouleMama … What I like about this ritual is that it is a ritual: a pattern of behavior that, when practiced skillfully, cultivates the effort that is effortless. This particular ritual is one that I take up and abandon frequently, as my blog archives show. Right now, it is a […]

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Words

June 20, 2014

Of course I love words, so it’s so very exciting to hear the Gnome saying more and more of them. He even says au revior and à demain when he leaves his day care and can point to la tête, les yeux, le nez, and la bouche. But at the same time I’m sad that as […]

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