Tag Archive for 'children'

the other intimacies

I have been learning and remembering other intimacies. Perhaps even collecting.

I am fascinated by those instances when you can feel the fabric of the universe between you and another being fall away or bunch together, bringing you magnificently undeniably closer.

What is chosen at that moment is a talisman of the whole being, of the present moment, of all existence. Do you run? Make a joke? Serious your gaze? Bite your lip & bat your eyes like a teenager aspiring to Hepburn?

Or do you lean into the intimacy of being your actual self in the actual moment, raw uncut live present?

Here are some of the other intimacies I’ve noticed:

– sustained eye contact with a baby or child. There’s no where to go & nothing to hide, but a massive amount to aspire to.

– being vulnerable about your limitation(s) with those who pay you.

– crying. Not constantly or regularly, but uncontrollably and inconsolably. Crying from the root because you are thirsty.

– loving people you do not like.

– a baby or a child pressed up against you knowing you are their safety. The way the..soul? Divine inner being? Mama warrior?…steps to this task, oh it is so beautiful to be alive in that moment.

– to be a child/relation to someone you can support/help/serve – and you want to. From compassion.

– to return to one who has wronged you, knowing their darkness, knowing they know what hurts you, both of you looking in each other’s eyes again.

– to recognize a stranger and smell on each other, hear in each other, something kindred. To let that be, and smile on it, rain on a rosebud, unafraid to open.

I am still noticing. Have you seen others?

Reflections on miracle work

The most important things in life are breathing, sleeping, eating, and letting go of what you don’t need.

It really works to use the right words for the situation. ‘Yes’ ‘down’ and ‘open’, for instance, are great words, chants, guides for a birth.

Love at first sight is possible, in context. When I first saw her, I saw my whole lineage in her strong body swimming through the tub towards her mama. I started crying because love opened me.

There are ways to be strong even when you can do nothing on your own, even when you need many hands to hold you. This child has dignity, as do her strong and vulnerable parents.

The most radical gift one human can offer another is encouragement to listen to themselves, their bodies, their own knowing.

The beauty of children encouraged to feel – it’s a perfect tender beauty. Watching my nephew and niece fiercely miss their mama as she attends to their new sister, and be able to say so, is emotionally thrilling.

Some feelings are so big they require me to go outside. I keep going to bring in more wood so I can smile in the snow and let my body move around all this massive love in my heart.

Anxiety is not useful in miracle work.

It takes about two hours to heat enough water on a stove to fill a birth tub and have it around 96°.

An apron with pockets is a great uniform for a birth.

Delegation, done well, is an act of kindness. People of all ages and abilities long to be useful.

Patience is a gorgeous feeling. To actually feel unrushed at a cellular level, not urgent in your soul, is healing.

There are so many things we don’t understand. Lately I’ve been worrying about mortality, beginning to feel rushed and anxious about my life and my philosophies. But the patience generated as the baby was coming was a balm. She didn’t know where she was coming to, but still it was time to move beyond the known world. It was an active patience, she was not pushed only, she was working too, finding the way.

I have to think on this more, this active patience, doing my work in abundant time, with a respect for ripeness.

For the moment I am inspired by remembering my central work is like hers, to breathe/meditate, to sleep/rest, to eat/nourish, and to let go/have faith.

Welcome to my new teacher, Mairead Irene Brown Conway.

21 observations for a new day

i love days like this, uplifted as something special – winter solstice, new calendar, mom’s birthday, named in time. here are 21 current observations from my life.

1 there is no silence, but it is good to quiet ourselves enough to hear the night animals hunting, the snow melting, the vibrant pounding of our own hearts.

2 there are moments which cannot be thought through, must be felt through. this becomes more apparent as i am growing my capacity to feel.

3 i am starting to ask children the questions i really hold. their answers delight me. i highly recommend this.

4 ‘so now i am older/than my mother and father/when they had their daughter’ – fleet fox, ‘montezuma’. when i remember this, i feel such compassion for my parents.

5 it comforts me to imagine that thousands of years ago, people sensed that humans would need thousands of years to work out our worst tendencies, but longing for a compassionate resilient way of being was present even then.

6 that said, i don’t presume to understand what was known then. it makes me nervous when people speak too definitively of what someone in the past was thinking, knowing how often i am mysterious and misunderstood in this time.

7 every single day that i begin with meditation and/or yoga is better than days i don’t. writing is a meditation some days, jo others.

8 it is taking me a long time to apply that lesson to my morning routines. but i am aware now, and feel the immensity of choice in me, that any time things aren’t feeling right i can return to breath, begin again, and again.

9 dignity is becoming very important to me. i notice it in posture, in the way people meet my eyes without falling in or falling away, in the pull of gravity and dreams. i want to be of a dignified people.

10 i’m not the only one who hears music all the time inside. when i let my ‘soft animal body love what it loves,’ i am always dancing. (mary oliver, a beast among poets, wrote those words in her poem ‘wild geese’)

11 i really do hope i was foreseen, and am worthy of my time.

12 home is an internal condition, and a way of being in relationship, for me.

13 fashion is a communication of home, beauty and vision. my fashion, which i am finally allowing to matter to me and for me, was shaped by marilyn monroe, new york city, and images of the future from the past: star wars, star trek, idoru.

14 i prefer to be part of the beauty, not part of the background.

15 ‘we must keep in mind that we are not going to be free – we already are free. every idea that we are bound is a delusion.’ swami vivekananda

and

16 ‘the only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.’ camus

17 complexity is liberating me. i now hold that there is an absolute freedom, some place we are all driven to, and a relative freedom, the freest we think we can get given our conditions. taking steps towards the relative freedom can move us towards the absolute.

18 i love love. it feels really essential to being alive, to risk the vulnerability and the heartbreak, to actually live in love with others.

19 i love this body of mine, part of the greater human body. the more i feel, the more i realize every cell is full of stories, and more are coming.

20 i have, so far, avoided getting so serious i can’t laugh at these efforts of ours to make meaning of our seeming insignificance. we are completely hilarious.

21 i have, so far, avoided getting so cynical i can’t feel the miraculousness of my life, and of our efforts to understand and evolve what it means to live. we are utterly incredible.

love letter to the babies/they are all ours

they are all ours
don’t let the sickness infect you
that division
that says these children matter
these don’t
they are ours,
holding guns children
sweat on brow
death in their eyes
they are ours
freckles, hair flopping
running from the teacher’s son
death in their eyes

they come from our bodies
from our hard work
from our dreams
from our desires
and they need us to hold them close
so they can become themselves

they need us in the wilderness
however it appears
within and without
to be that greater love
to answer every question
without violence
to cover them with those kisses
that cause them to giggle
that let them know
from the cosmos
they found a place to belong
on this earth
in this time
in these hands
they are all ours

dear babies,

i cannot sleep, thinking of you.

i went and looked at all your pictures, videos, those beautiful faces, hearing your forming voices lifting all of your questions and demands, your expectations and futures bursting off the screen.

i have spent my life wondering about good and evil, heaven, hell, life on other planets, justice on this one. i have sought the cause, the root, the place to put blame. i have spent millions of hours developing theories about all of these things, and building my fury and grief, weeping and wanting to know what could make the world good enough for the possibility of you.

and then you came. from other wombs and other stories, but i knew you were also mine. i held you in my arms for the first time, felt your weight upon my chest, the shape of your whole fluttering life becoming solid in my hands. and i realized my ideas and theories would never come to life soon enough. to love a child is to know the limitations of time, and the horror of being in a particular moment of time, a hollowed out age where babies are collateral damage for borders and egos, among other things.

everyday the world reminds me that i cannot protect you. i don’t know if protecting children has been possible yet on this earth. i just believe that what we do, or allow to possibly be done, to our babies, in this world, at this time – that is the measure of our humanity.

it’s quite possible that this is the purpose of our evolution, to reach a point where we do nothing which takes away from childhood, that protecting childhood is how we grow healthy societies. that the safe unfolding of children into adults shapes every aspect of the worlds we build.

perhaps…

but now? even as a warning i can’t whisper the horrors of what we allow to happen to you. some of us, we do our best, but we are all traumatized, living in a competitive society where violence is normalized and vulnerability is shamed.

how many of us were taught how to live with a switch or belt on our backsides? what world does that create? the small violence opens the door, the gateway drug of violence as control and discipline, it is intoxicating.

and every hour there is more. it is a more thoroughly interconnected world – we cannot pretend we don’t know the violence, genocides, and injustices happening in our cities, in the country, around the world. we cannot even pretend we are not fascinated by, obsessed with, the violence. it is our news, our movies, our music, our video games, our foreign policy, our right, our sickness.

baby boy, baby girl, we who hold your future in our hands are woven into the fabric of violence which is suffocating our species.

so we must do the impossible, and liberate ourselves.

i won’t be defeated by the immensity of the task – my love is unconditional. especially when the conditions are violence, abuse, trauma and scarcity. that is the state in which i give you my heart. love is what i want to be best at.

i don’t want to use the words promise or try with you. i want to give you things that are solid, values that won’t falter under pressure, and a safety that you can create and hold for yourself.

i want to love you without error, i want nothing of my pain to be part of your life, only my devotion to you, my brilliant love. i want you feel and taste the freedom of safety. i don’t want you to worry, to feel scarcity, to live your life in a constant state of defense.

because i long for what you are and what you are becoming.

so – i turn away from anything that could hurt you.
i seek out violence in myself and attend to the wounds that cause it.
i generate compassion in myself, particularly with those who hurt or wrong me.
i turn away from those who live defensively, and turn towards those who let love guide them.
i learn new ways to handle conflict, no matter how much harder they are than giving into anger and fighting.
i conjure up change in myself, my greatest self, to be worthy of you being in my life.

you are recreating me. i love you and i am so grateful for you. i will give my all to make this a world worthy of the miracle of you.

auntie.

they are all ours
that is, why we are here
to hold them close to our hearts
let them run fingers
over the tips of the wheat
lick sunlight from their palms
and find the place without nightmares
in our arms
before dawn

they are all of them ours
our karma and creators
the only test
for our species
over and over given
the air, the food, the water,
their skin, their unique way
their smiles

their smaller hearts
pounding inside our bodies from the moment
we are born
ancestral
unpromised
they are ours
they are all of them ours
they are all ours

longing

i woke up this morning and was lost.

for the past 10 days i woke up in a room of windows that looked out on the woods, usually to the sound of my babies’ feet hitting the floor above me, or them bursting through the glass door separating my futon guest room from the kitchen, seconds before they jumped in the bed.

my sister is pregnant, and i am her doula. part of my commitment to her is visiting a week out of each month to support with kids/house/life – our sister april is supporting my travel, so it’s truly a sister-doula experience.

after the kids had me awake, we would have breakfast, and then spend the day looking at pictures of lava – nephew’s latest obsession (his first was the moon), drawing pictures of lava, going outside to play, learning together, processing boundaries, asking and answering questions, watching wildkratts and super why, posing for my camera, visiting their nona (my brother-in-law’s mom) who lives just through the woods, having bath time, reading stories and then i’d sing them to sleep.

when not with them, on the days they had school/daycare, i would write, cook, load up firewood for the fire, and, more often than not, find myself looking out the window and realizing i was missing the babies.

each time i visit them, my love for them deepens – deepens the space for love inside of me, makes me grow in order to be an adequate adult in their lives.

they are both so smart, so emotionally open and curious and testing everything…with the whole world before them. and they have so many adults around them who love them, the only privilege i have seen have universal positive impact in the world.

i thought my doula work, and even my auntie work, was about what i could do, be and give. but it’s also about what i need to learn right now, as a human – to listen, to feel, to be honest, to be gentle, to be radically committed to curiosity and seeking what is unknown.

when i am away from them, interacting again with adults and seeing where the lack of love leaves it’s ruts, patterns and wounds, it floods me with this level of compassion that feels like an awakening.

we were all of us children once. every single one of us. it’s so simple, but when i look at each person that way…it takes away my breath. it’s so beautiful to see people this way, as children, who sought love, who seek it still.

which makes me think of all these people who want to do right by their children, who want to leave their children something better than they had. this aspect of humanity that is about future generations – it feels so visceral to me right now.

as usual, on these first days after awesome baby immersion, i’m lit up and all the paths in my mind lead back to them. i am longing for them, with every known sense and some that feel new and unknown.

and what a blessing, what a gift – to love this much, to know such longing.

the too smartness

i am, and have always been, too smart for my own good.

i know this now, in a way i don’t think i have ever fully known before, because i am watching the too smartness of my niece and nephew in their growth. i have delighted in their intelligence, from the first brilliant responsive kicks in the womb, even their timing for showing up in our lives.

before they could speak i called them cellular geniuses for the speed, strength and flexibility of their lovely bodies. now they are speaking, setting boundaries, fleshing in their personalities, and my delight just grows and grows.

now, when either of them decides they want to do something, they are not interested in any adult redirection or trickery, nor are they at all concerned with arguing. they are not hemmed up by the potential worst-case-scenario impacts, they don’t care if people older than them insist they are embarking on a path of danger to themselves and others – they just want to do what they want to do.

they want to see for themselves.

and in that impulse, i recognize myself.

my child self, who was loved, and read to, and in talented and gifted programs, the me who thought i could outsmart everything from my military dad to discipline to spelling.

my young woman self who thought i could outsmart racism, sexual assault, rootlessness, or needing hairdressers.

its gotten more serious with my adult self, who has at various points been convinced i could outsmart fat phobia, my body altogether, addiction, depression, fidelity, heartbreak, politics, the federal tax system, hierarchy. even love. that somehow i could avoid and ignore the guidance and wisdom of my grandparents, my parents, other experienced people, loved ones, experts, advice columnists, therapists – errybody.

and by outsmart, i don’t mean that i thought i could skip these experiences. merely that i thought i could somehow do them differently, skip the painful bad parts and just experience the awesome parts that i wanted.

there is a brilliance to this – a vividness, an aliveness outside of any measurable intelligence. i live so thoroughly, learning this way. I fling myself into the world.

the way my nephew wants to jump off of high places, the way my niece throws herself off stairs and into streets, the way he drinks and spouts the dirty bath water, the way she puts everything in her mouth first.

now, older than these two beloveds of mine, i feel such compassion for them, such curiosity about what they are learning, and such a deep comprehensive desire for them to learn without hurting themselves in any way.

and then i am flooded with compassion for my parents, grandparents, aunts, ancestors, friends – everyone who has watched me run through this life, so painfully foolishly wonderfully smart.

i am flooded with gratitude for the care, for the warnings, for the hands that caught me when i fell down hard along my educational journeys, for the unconditionality of the love i got just because i was born to two people who loved each other and wanted to parent.

and for the friends who have loved me as i walked in the opposite direction of their guidance. all of these family and friends have loved me tirelessly, abundantly, tenderly.

and i have learned so very much in this short life, because of the paths i took, because of the crises i missed – not because of my intelligence, but in spite of it.

and i am like the child, even now. happiest when i am living at full speed in the direction of the unknown, the possible, surrounded by those who love me uttering soft warnings, reaching out hands that never let me crash, and looking at me with eyes that never seem to tire.