We’re eating brunch: French toast and Sunday bacon. We’re running low on eggs and I just don’t want to keep running out to the store.
NY is supposed to be at our “peak” this week. There’s an uneasy, eerie, surreal feeling. Safe in our bubble, with our yard, and blooming daffodils. “All is well.” And yet, not far from here, tents line hospital parking lots to house the dead - like an episode of M.A.S.H. I’ve just messaged a friend to purchase some homemade cloth face masks, because there just aren’t enough. I’ve ordered industrial, roll-less, eco-toilet paper from Staples, because it’s all I could find. I was close to buying a bidet, instead, but I don’t live alone. And these folks insist on paper. Strange conversations at the table.
I’m wearing yoga pants, and I laugh - I’m a dress-your-best girl. I wear dresses in Spring and I haven’t been bothered to put on anything but soft pajama fabrics. Dress for what? There’s a strange sort of acceptance creeping in and around the house about what is happening - “out there.” In WWI, it was “over there.” And this isn’t a new thing - this feeling of dissociating. Distancing. Hovering above trauma - but we’ll all process through it later, that’s how trauma works.
In the age of gratitude and mantra and good vibes and the esoteric and Buddhism in the West, we’ve grown great at detaching from realities, as they happen, and probably for our own good. Stress is bad for our health, too. It does no good to worry over what I can’t control. But I can be present to it, acknowledge what is happening, without allowing it to cause me stress. Or so I’ve been taught.
But I let it in today.
This morning, after meditating, in my deep gaze and stillness, I wasn’t underwater or in outer space or OHMing in bliss or imagining future worlds - “show me” - I said. And then, I was in a hospital room.
With gowns and PPE and breathing machines and urgency and tubes and frustration and tears and desperation and so much skill and patience and “I’m tired. I’m tired. I’m so, so tired...” the crumpled and fatigued nurse practitioner said. Slow, tingling tears. But the dire need to compose herself, stand up, and keep doing her job.
And I consider my plight - low on eggs, should I risk a trip to Whole Foods?
And then, I feel hers, “I’m tired of all this death, I don’t know how to feel it anymore. What world is this? Please, help me get through one more day...please... please...” I see her in my mind and I shudder. Nothing about working in medicine is easy, it's a calling. But during times like these... it's above and beyond. Stressful, taxing, exhausting, unimaginable.
My problems are few and her struggle is great and could I be in her shoes? I don’t know.
And I decide that I’ll eat whatever is around the house to let my son and my Pop eat the good stuff, to avoid an extra trip out. It feels pathetic and silly, and like hardly anything in such a crisis, but it's something. And it gives me a moment's peace. I can get by on a variety of things, while my son and my father need the most nutritious foods. Because that’s what Moms do. (And because they're both so picky and stubborn.)
And I remember Mimi, my mother’s mother, the Italian side. I remember, suddenly, that she taught me this: at family dinners, after the table was set and everyone had eaten and everyone had their drinks refilled... only then, she’d sit and nibble on whatever was left. It’s something Italian ladies do, apparently, they feed you. And I'm not the best cook and I'm okay with that. I do other things. I have my own ways.
And truth be told, these are minor inconveniences that we’re suffering, in perspective. But they make huge impacts, just because of how we live our lives. What we’re accustomed to, what we rely on, day to day. We’re in new terrain...for us. But not for humanity, we’ve been through trouble before, historically.
And this is why I love history: one long, weaving tapestry of where we’ve been, who we’ve become, who we want to be, and where we’re going. And we’ll emerge better from this crisis, armed with more perspective and more wisdom, more courage, and more compassion. I believe that we will. We must.
I nibble on the last bits of soaked eggy-bread from my son’s plate, less than half a slice of bread’s worth. I sip my espresso with foamed almond milk and a dash of cinnamon (I'm really getting creative, these days.) And my heart feels heavy, yet expanded and cracking at the edges, even as it threatens to burst open. Again and again.
So. Sending Love... out there. And patience. And encouragement to keep going. And wishing I could do more or give more or that I had sewing skills or that I had a medical background and that I could help someone, somewhere. To alleviate the suffering. I cannot.
But I remind myself: I am a Mother. And my job is here, in this house, with these people, in this moment. And right here, right now, we’re okay. And the little bit I have that flows over, the little bits of extra love and compassion, rests here, for now. In these simple words and memories and perspectives. It’s what I have; it's what I've got.
May they be of use. To someone. Somewhere.
Mangia, per favore. Don’t forget to eat.
Every April for the past 3-4 years I devote my dreams, deep thoughts, and some creative work to Mother Earth - for Earth Day, Earth Month - which I feel should be honored all the time and not just in passing...
The other great thing about my new love for the garden and putting my hands into the earth...is the reminder, that she is our Mother. And working with her, knowing her rhythms, her responses, her preferences...is life-changing. How? Well, in honoring and showing reverence for Mother Earth, we are reminded about the feminine side of divine energy. And what came to me...out there in the soil...is how important that is. A mother nurtures, provides, loves, sustains, teaches, and heals us. And in return, she should be respected, cared for, tended to, valued, and appreciated. Do you see where I'm going with this? What does that say for how we treat our planet? Are we respecting our Mother, who has always sustained, fed, and nurtured us? And in the microcosm, are we respecting our women? Are we valuing, protecting, and caring for our women? And women...are we valuing and loving ourselves, setting healthy standards, are we celebrating our gifts, or hiding them? Are we respecting the feminine energy within all of us -- to nourish, nurture, emote, lift up, heal, inspire, and love each other?
"Let us dedicate this new era to mothers around the world, and also to the mother of all mothers -- Mother Earth. It is up to us to keep building bridges to bring the world closer together, and not destroy them to divide us further apart." - Suzy Kassem
This is why it always starts within. If we know who we are and value and cherish ourselves, as we are, and we are open, caring, generous, and nurturing with ourselves; we can then send that love out. To heal. Heal each other, lift each other up, empower each other, walk with each other...and maybe our dear old Mother Earth will get a spa day and some needed love.
The hard truth is...she will be fine. Our planet will do what it needs to do to heal, with or without us. But we need her: We must bring back the balance. Let's create a beautiful, nourished Earth. Where food is grown -- naturally, beautifully. Where each species, including humans, can co-exist in harmony. Where the power of God and Love is revered and honored, but religion doesn't divide and destroy us. Where the circle of life, the balance of all things, is respected, honored, and practiced. Not perfection, not utopia...but a healthy, sustainable balance. That's the best that any of us can ask for, and work toward. For ourselves, for our home. For tomorrow.
And oh... do I know the world is grappling with this virus, at present. It overshadows everything. And I feel all of it, but I let it through, it doesn't stay.
But I'm a writer. An observer. A pattern-noticer. A perspective person, a future thinker, a deep-feeler. Sensitive. I notice things, I pay attention to things. Subtle shifts, changes, details. Minutiae, to some. The pulse of Life on Earth, to me.
And when industry stops and the skies clear and the natural world breathes in a deep fresh breath, without pollutants... it's awe-inspiring to me. It's a gift. A sacred perspective, a flashback, to how it always, always ought to be. And the contrast that rises up...when we see what we've done.
In the micro - it's in our behavior when fear hits - national toilet paper shortage. <--- this is insanity. But really, it's greed, brought on by unchecked fear. Personal fear - will I get stuck in a quarantine? I'll need toilet paper. Big fear - can I trust that I'll get the information about this? I'm all alone on this, it's conspiracy, better prepare for doomsday. Or worse, simple greed - buy it all up and try to flip it. Let others suffer, so I can be rich.
And that's it. That's the worst of humanity, in a nutshell. It's all for me, and none for you, unless you buy it..from me. Even if you need it more than me; I bought it first, pay me. Greed. Personal gain, up and down and sideways. I'd want to be out of the way of that karma-boomerang.
But not all. No, also, is humanity rising up into its finest, most generous, most breathtaking magic. Giving, sharing, singing, loving, shining, caring deeply for others, for the greater good, for those who can't do for themselves. People..are mostly kind and compassionate. If we encourage it.
But zooming out, as I do...
The virus is real, down here on the ground, close-up. In our lives and homes and psyches. It's debilitating, it's scary, it's sad and mournful, it's tragic.
Perhaps, it's a physical, tangible manifestation of what we refuse to see and act upon, collectively. Our climate crisis is the wider and more pressing reality - and it's just as real and just as terrifying, and it's been swept under the rug like it doesn't matter, by too many influential people. For far too long.
I started writing in earnest about Gaia/Mother Earth years ago, after I woke up in cold, shivering sweat one night - absolutely nauseous, trembling, my heart palpitating, my mouth parched and dry, my lungs burning with dry heat... I woke from a dream - I stumbled on dry dirt, all desert, in a barren landscape, with no vegetation left, and very little clean water. No wildlife; maybe insects were left. The air was so toxic and hot that it hurt me, physically. And it felt like a warning of what was to come if we didn't get out of our own way. An image that's hasn't left me, since. (I'm in a serious mood, today.)
And I've been in Her service, ever since. Craziness? Maybe. I'm okay with that, it gives my life meaning and purpose and helps me do good and eat the right things (most of the time.) I'm in it for my son - for a clean, healthy, vibrant Earth for our children and their children's children.
We've known for decades that we over consume and over pollute and that we have to change. And we do nothing. Over and over and over again. We remain stagnant, like...a virus. And Nature protects itself, just as we do.
I just don't know what we're waiting for anymore. It's nonsensical, at this point. The technology is there, the science is there. It's nearly suicide, now - if we know that we'll lose our breathable air and drinkable water to our waste and pollution... and do nothing to change... well... it's a sad state of affairs. It's like injecting yourself with a vicious virus and waiting for the worst.
But is it hopeless?
We have guidelines, we have science, we have tests, we have precautions and safeguards. To stay home, to create distance, to rest, to take care of ourselves, to stay healthy. We can prepare for and try to manage our exposure. And our planet, our environment - we can plan, prepare, use guidelines, safeguards, and science... keep her healthy, let her rest, take care of her.
It seems like a no-brainer to me. Yet, we resist. Perhaps, when we fully learn to care for ourselves - stay out of harm's way, follow guidelines that protect us, trust science and data and facts - maybe we'll be ready to extend it to our world, as well.
This is a great training ground, a long game, and it looks like, here? In the states? We're running out of quarters. Fast. And it has to change. I think we've been dreaming the wrong dream for too long, and I think we should wake up now, and get on the ground, and do the right thing. With this virus and how it relates to our public health...and with our planet, which also concerns our public health.
“We have become great because of the lavish use of our resources. But the time has come to inquire seriously what will happen when our forests are gone, when the coal, the iron, the oil, and the gas are exhausted, when the soils have still further impoverished and washed into the streams, polluting the rivers, denuding the fields and obstructing navigation.”
“Defenders of the short-sighted men who in their greed and selfishness will, if permitted, rob our country of half its charm by their reckless extermination of all useful and beautiful wild things ... sometimes seek to champion them by saying the ‘the game belongs to the people.’ So it does; and not merely to the people now alive, but to the unborn people.
The ‘greatest good for the greatest number’ applies to the number within the womb of time, compared to which those now alive form but an insignificant fraction. Our duty to the whole, including the unborn generations, bids us restrain an unprincipled present-day minority from wasting the heritage of these unborn generations. The movement for the conservation of wild life and the larger movement for the conservation of all our natural resources are essentially democratic in spirit, purpose, and method.”
- Theodore Roosevelt
He knew then; it's been over 100 years.
And I'm mad, a little. About these patterns. About how selfish we can get in a crisis - protecting narrow, personal greed and convenience over the greater good and our collective health:
Can you see how this health crisis is showing us to ourselves, in black and white?
As above, so below. As within, so without.
I worry about it. A lot. We've got to take better care of each other, still.
On the flip-side, we gather with new technology, alone-together... singing, performing, speaking, giving sermons, offering prayer services, entertaining each other, lifting up spirits, creating hope and beauty and joy and lightness...even as we suffer and struggle. And I know we are also benevolent and kind and compassionate and loving creatures. We are lights...in darkness. We are rainbows in storms and fresh blooms in abandoned concrete.
We're all of it, at once, somehow. But we're going to need a bit more light than dark, going forward. A bit more kindness, than greed. A lot more Love than Fear.
And if energy is contagious, then let us Love...even more. And I just hope that we - that so many of us - notice, too. What our world feels like... when it's clean and healthy.
How interconnected it all is... you and me and everything else... from the noetic and arcane to the commonplace and basic.
But it begs the question....humans...
Who are we? What do we want? And what the hell are we waiting for?
Something funny happened last night. My little one was with his Dad, doing fun stuff with cousins, I presume. I had every opportunity to go out and be reckless, or even just...cozy and lush and jazzy with bourbon in hand. To go a-drinkin. Hangin' out. To mix and meet and mingle in loud and numbing, pulsating rooms. I could’ve. I had places in mind. Venues. Some money in the bank. I’ve done it so much, so many times. Free! And I’m not one of those who are introverted and shy about strolling into a restaurant, club, bar, venue alone and chatting up who’s there. I used to joke that: “after two drinks, we’re all best friends anyway!” Ay... :cheers:
And I do still enjoy a nice bourbon cocktail, or a glass of wine, or a cold beer, here and there, every few months or so with family and close friends. I'm not a big drinker by any means, it's never been a drink-to-get-drunk thing for me. And no judgment, always do you.
But I just hadn’t the desire last night. I wanted peace. I wanted easy and lazy and yoga pants. I had nothing to prove and had no interest in pretense or small talk or overpriced plates. And I wanted to wake up rested and ready and feeling good for another day off. So, I watched Gone with the Wind, had veggies and yogurt ranch dip, a few chocolate covered strawberries, one indulgent piece of tiramisu (so worth it), and later on did some blissful rocking-chanting-sageburning-beadholding-mantra singing-soulpartying for all the Peace and Love on Earth.
It’s been a while. I've had a lot going on.
I’d forgotten how good it felt to just connect, vibe, appreciate, hold space, stretch, lay flat in shavasana, and celebrate the very notion that we’re here. Now. On this beautiful rock, together, lighting it up with love, all over the world, as millions gathered and celebrated and chanted and rocked out and danced hard and held great hope for things to come. A consumer extravaganza? No question, but still.
Optimism can be a drug, too, and a healthy one. It just feels good to feel good, doesn't it? And how much more kind, open, and trusting are we... when we feel good? When we're gathering, when we're at ease?
If you’re sensitive to group meditations and infectious energy and how it all resonates and ripples outward and connects us all, you know NYE is very special in that regard. So many cities, in succession, around the world, celebrating life and opportunity. Together. Regardless of any other beliefs. And yes, there is sadness, loneliness, hardship all around as well. But also, so much hope, joy, wonder, gratitude, and peace. Unity. Uh, I live for it, when we all just vibe and get along. BLISSSSSS...
Oh, I do run on. I know.
This morning I slept in, woke up refreshed and rested. No hangovers or drama. Just pop out of bed and go. How nice? So, I went for a quick chilly hike, I felt great and wanted to move around. I drove up the Hudson and stopped at a favorite riverside park and walked around. I stopped at a local coffee spot there and got a mocha-something, guilt-free. Delish. And I drove home, my mind free to release things and consider things and let go of things and make room for more things. Creative ideas. Dinner ideas. Big, beautiful future ideas.
I got home, made a bite, and took out the vacuum and started cleaning up. And mid-vacuum, I had the best cry. Out of nowhere, like it finally had the room to pour out. You know when it just won't stay in anymore? Days and days of pent-up who knows what that didn't really bother you at the time, and it just picks these weird moments to squeeze out of you. And I forgot how great it feels to allow that. Those cleansing moments, letting it all go. The release. Life is full of moments that stress us, upset us, confuse us, gut-punch us, snicker at us. No big deal, but sometimes it lingers, festers. And hormones are a joy, too. And that release is so important. Stagnant emotions cause health problems, something I'd learned all too well.
And I only mention it to stress that... emotion is human. And healthy. And right. And so many of us stifle and silence our emotions in the pursuit of appearing perfect or all-together. Sometimes it's taught to us, from young. Suck it up, stop crying, get a hold of yourself. You're so dramatic. Oh my God, but you're SO normal though, really. You're supposed to feel. Feel all the things, feel them! And also, a reminder that emotions are full of charge and information...they teach us things. To feel so strongly and powerfully about something, or a circumstance, or a someone, is an indiction that they are important. Emotions move us closer, deeper, into ourselves and away from what isn't for us. Toward what's really true and really worthwhile. Emotions show us what we really care about. They have so much to say and they can help us create beautiful art, as well.
In the digital age of instant gratification and "don't catch feelings," and "stay up," and all the rest... I'm here to remind you that it's all so very okay and human to feel and have joy and sadness and long stretches of awkward reality to deal with. It's life. The clouds are lovely, but we've got to walk through the dirt, sometimes, too.
Always listen, when your heart starts to speak. In cries or screams or contented sighs or sweet, singing, intoxicated bliss. Listen in. To all of it. It all matters. The emotion exposes the true desire, the root, and then a plan becomes the solution, the map, to fulfilling that desire. And then, an action starts the journey toward it. The emotional outburst is the clue, the whisper, the inner-inclination that you've been ignoring for too long. So it got louder. That's what I think, anyway.
It's all on time. So, don't fear the feels, my friends. Observe them. They carry wisdom, from you...to you. You truest strength, and greatest contributions are built from your own inner wisdom. Even when it's just normal passing ups and downs, it doesn't have to be deep grief and soul-healing to be lesson-worthy.
Oh, and that peaceful moment when the stress leaves the body and you know... you've answered your own questions. You just had to give the space. All that's left... are the next steps. One foot, then another, then another, then another...
Happy New Year <3
You might not believe this...
But it won't always hurt the same. One day, not far from now, you'll be able to simply hold your sadness, like a cherished stuffed animal, without apologizing for it. Or hiding it away. Walking over it, like it's not there. Numbing it back, just enough.
Sometimes we've got to do that, to stay afloat. I've been there so much and for so long. But it doesn't last. Waves wash in and out, I've found. And I promise, one day you'll see how much strength it gives you. To stand. To not run. To feel the weight of it, as the tide washes over your toes, your ankles, your shins, and you simply stand. And then, you're just okay, that's all. You're still okay, see?
And how naming it helps to heal it. To release it. To free it. And to free your heart. Someone will need it. I promise you that, it's not that far off. So write it out, get it out, purge it out, sing it out. Over and over and over again until you can stand, a little more each day.
And you might not believe it, but it's happening. You're healing. Every single day.
You have no idea how bright you shine when the world gets to see your heart. xo
“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it's having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it's our greatest measure of courage.” ... “People who wade into discomfort and vulnerability and tell the truth about their stories are the real badasses.”- BRENÉ BROWN
I get it and I don't. I am someone who constantly, idiotically perhaps, tries to push things out. To try things. Go out on a limb, push it, test my anxieties and self-love-meter out. Trigger therapy. Get to the other side. And I seldom feel like a badass, though I love to learn and grow and improve. And I do love how far I've come in the past few years...
I've never had a problem being creative. Writing songs, poetry, short stories. Books. Inspiration abounds, always. But when it comes to the showing up and sharing part...the visible part, the performance part...I have mixed emotions, I always have.
I've recorded myself on video before. Take after take after take, until it was perfect. Usually while doing something fun and light, like singing. Playing guitar. Hanging out with my kid, being silly. Maybe because I don't take these things so seriously, I just enjoy them. But still, the right lighting, angles, the right outfit, good hair... And tonight, I pushed way out of my comfort zone, and did a live video without much thought or preparation. I felt good about it, it wasn't a big turnout, but that's okay. It was good practice...
And then, I watched it back...and all sorts of things happened, inside...it was turbulent...and emotional...
My inner dialogue went like this:
I don't look like that. Sound like that. Why did I make that face, my boobs are hanging out, the scrap of ribbon to hang up my shirt is loose and dangling, and oh, swell...dry, split ends. My roots are growing out. I need to get my hair done. That crease in my forehead...I need Botox, don't I? And on and on... Complete and utter contempt for this strange creature who didn't look or feel like me. I don't do this to others. I look at other people on video and I just enjoy what they have to say, I notice their very human expressions and smiles, and a light in their eyes. I find beauty past any flaws or imperfections.
Yet, I tore myself apart. I looked up this phenomenon:
And do we all do this? They look great, they can do it. Me? No... who even is that?
Perhaps writers ought to stay writers. Or perhaps I need to put more effort and planning into video making. Or perhaps I should stick to pre-recorded video. Or perhaps, better yet, it's a great time to zone out and watch Eat, Pray, Love.
Dolce far niente. - The joy of doing nothing...
Even as I lay here, cozy in blankets, fighting the urge to self-loathe after such a vulnerable and awkward display, life speaks to me. It's enough now. It's enough. Enjoy yourself, you work enough. "Dolce far niente..."
And in these passing moments I feel so far away from myself. Could I find my way back to that return...of "doing nothing?" Of sitting blissfully, freely, in a rose garden. Finding poetry in all things. Living art. Is it a rather remarkable and rebellious idea to opt out of the race? And to simply love your life? Mm. Right. What happened to that? To celebrate. To stand where you are, in each moment, with the joy of being alive? And I'm looking at this scurrying, proving, busy creature... trying to do what? For what? And for whom?
Hm. And when I ask myself what I want, it's more self-care. It's a life worth savoring. Enjoying the fruits of labor. Simple pleasures and live music and daily gratitude and the shimmering bliss of just being healthy and alive, with nothing to prove to anyone. But to breathe. Smile. And know that I am all I need, that I have all I need. And why do I feel the urgency to do and try and produce so much more, more, always more... because that's the culture, now. Fast. And I'm exhausted. Again. I've got a few events in November and December, and the holidays, and I just want to enjoy them. Feel them. Be present, fully present, for them.
Mm, whatever happened to...slow? Heart-full. Free.
And is this deeper inclination, this stirring inside, to pull back and slow down and focus on home, health, and heart... is this laziness in such a fast-paced, purpose driven, better-than-your-best environment of chasing perfection? And for whom, and for what? And... Sacred Mother. And re-connection. And surrender. And a coming home...again, wiser.
And sometimes courage is being exactly who you are without apology. I'm reminded of my days in Monterey, CA... slow. Indulgent. Patient. Pleasing. Relaxed. Feminine. The magic of otters - slow down, play, enjoy life, trust your magic. I found my heart that year, journeying through layers of myself, years of pain and false beliefs set free, and how easy it is, how easy... to drift right back into busy-ness. Proving. Pleasing. Grinding. Producing. Protecting and guarding, instead of flowing and feeling.
Creating...has always felt free, inspired, divine. Magic. Living in harmony with all that is and capturing it, in some sort of art. And I can get lost in the busy, sometimes. The searching. Seeking. Instead of remembering, knowing, and believing in something greater and bigger, guiding me through.
I saw Liz Gilbert, who wrote Eat, Pray, Love, on an interview somewhere recently...in a sound-byte, a quick passing moment, faster than lightning, in my Instagram feed somewhere. And she was talking about...women who know how to relax. How much that would inspire her... And wow. Me too. And why can't I, for more than a moment? Or why won't I? And why don't we, in general?
Oh, to simplify. Once, being free and grateful was enough. Until I was enticed with more. I'm reminded to unclench my fists and to cherish what matters most:
"All my surface worries and preoccupations evaporated: instant clarity. My boy mattered. Health and well-being mattered. Family mattered. Good and true friends mattered. Experience, love, joy, art, human compassion, and adventure mattered. We waste so much time, on this earth. So much precious, valuable time is given to nonsense and fear and unworthiness. How quickly it could all be gone..." - Wild Horses and Mistakes
Grateful for that clarity.
November. Darker. A deeper release. Another shedding. And further inward...may we all find the courage...to relax. And let Love find us, healthy, whole, and at peace. And so wildly enough.
PS...sometime in the nineties, I wrote about adults being this busy. And all that working Mama wanted to do was Slow Down and put her feet up. Life is funny.
Mother. Librarian. Storyteller.