In the Beginning was The Word

Here’s another poem written during grad school. This one is on the opening page of my thesis.
klimt mother child

In the beginning was The Word

And The Word was with Silence

And The Word was Silence.

In the beginning was Voice.

And the Voice was with Mother,

And the Voice was Mother.

It was with Mother in the beginning

Through it all things were made.

In Voice was Life –

The One-ness of all living things.

And the Voice became Flesh

Became Word

Became Face, became Image

Became Warmth, became Touch

Became Milk, became Taste

The Voice became Love

It resonated in the darkness

And Silence has not overcome it.

W.O.R.D.S: God, Goddess, Godde (or Cleaning up Pee)

The W.O.R.D.S. Project (Words Open Resonating Depths of the Sacred): An alphabetical search for questions.*

Granted, it’s easy to live connected to the Source when the sky is

Open and the sun is shining, and the flowers bright. But when life

Dumps reality on your head a hundred times a day…

Damn it!

Every day is a lesson in remembering what we so easily forget.

I’m a mother. I’m more familiar with bodily fluids, especially little boy pee, than I ever could have imagined. This past week as I was down on my knees once again wiping up my son’s attempt at aim, I thought:

I’m more than this!

There’s a question that has been nagging at me for a while: How can one be spiritually-minded — in the moment, at one with The All … however you personally choose to define it — when there is all this life?

Oh, I’ve heard it before: Make folding laundry a meditation, pick up those little stinky socks like its a service of love for the greater good, pay the bills with non-existent money as an invitation for more “wealth” to come your way.

When you’ve bent down for the 9th time in 5 minutes to pick up another red, plastic foot-lancet, when the bug hits when the deadline is looming, when the officer is at the meter at precisely the moment the time expires, you’re not exactly ready to come over all Rumi.

In Christian circles, such as the one in which I was raised, any sadness, overwhelm, despair, frustration, anger… any “negative” emotion, was a clear indication of one’s lack of faith. “Pray harder,” “Take it to God,” “Ye of little faith…” In non-Christian, new(old)-age circles, this attitude tends to manifest in language such as not living in the moment enough, not mindful enough. “Just pray!” becomes “Just meditate!”

I rebel against this attitude. I don’t find it helpful because it feels like just another reason to feel bad about one’s “imperfect” self; that I’m not trying hard enough, that I’m not enough. But I am human after all, and I am going to get frustrated at life’s little annoyances.

And to those who will say, meditation/praying does work: I know this. Journaling, creating mandalas, walking are my forms of meditation and they do calm me. But I do not want to feel I am not doing it enough or right, or that if I was doing it better I wouldn’t feel the way I do. That demeans my feelings, my emotions. I refuse to judge my emotions.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to feel calmer, less anxious, less angry, and less grossed out by yellow-stained bathroom floors. And that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t prefer to live knowing I’m part of a bigger purpose; part of a bigger Something, a pulse in an energy with which we are all vibrating.

If I could know, really know, in my deepest depths that I am connected to everyone and everything on and around this planet, both living and beyond, would that late payment charge bother me? I really can’t say.

Source, spirit, god, goddess, godde, nirvana, transcendence, love… these, in my opinion, are all one-in-the same: something one can experience. That opening of the heart when one realizes we are all connected. It can happen, it does happen, to some more than others. It is what makes us part of the divine.

But what makes us human is the constant forgetfulness that keeps us asking questions, keeps us on our toes… and in the end makes even cleaning up pee an opportunity to laugh at our human inability to aim correctly all the time.

Prompt: “I always forget…”

~~~
*This project is an off-shoot of the work I did for my graduate degree where I used Words to help heal from my negative indoctrination from “The Word.” Words are powerful agents for transformation! (Thesis/Final Project: Calling Little Gypsy Home: Reclaiming Voice Through Expressive Writing and the Sacred Feminine; Memoir: Sing from the Womb: Leaving Fundamentalism in Search in Voice.)

W.O.R.D.S.: Feminine (or Mother’s calling)

The W.O.R.D.S. Project (Words Open Resonating Depths of the Sacred): A weekly alphabetical search for questions.*

klimt mother childFeeling something’s deeply wrong

Equality and equity are words they say, but

My body knows the wound of centuries,

Ingrained in the soul of every woman who has ever been called “bitch” or hysterical for

Nothing more than speaking her heart’s song or acting with her

Intuition, her gnosis, her body’s knowing.

No, this wound is deep and it gapes open at times, crying out for balm.

Express the rage. Create! Until we can all shout and cradle the swallowed words of our grandmothers.

~

Expressive writing — expressing the emotions, the body’s feelings, flowing from the unconscious — to my understanding, is a way to tap into the culturally suppressed side of our psyche, which can be symbolized by the “feminine,” that which is archetypically the nurturer, empowerer, and collaborator  in both females and males.

This type of writing, then, can be considered a form of self-mothering. It is a way to care for our inner child.

The following is an excerpt from my Masters’ thesis that explains this further:

I believe it is the suppressed “feminine” voice of the psyche, that which yearns for connection and affiliation with nature, others, and self, which has been held down by fear in order to keep hierarchy in place.

Releasing this “feminine” aspect through writing gives voice to the other half of our psyche and to our natural selves, our actualized self and helps bring us into balance.

Like a mother builds up her children, we can write to vanquish the fear, to build self-confidence—to empower ourselves—so we can empower others.

Through writing we can enter whole, balanced, meditative states that increase “flow” and feelings of connectedness.

When we write we are fostering our own psychic growth towards self-actualization which paradoxically connects us to ALL through understanding and compassion for our shared human-ness.

Prompt: I feel the feminine wound…

~~~
*This project is an off-shoot of the work I did for my graduate degree where I used Words to help heal from my negative indoctrination from “The Word.” Words are powerful agents for transformation! (Thesis/Final Project: Calling Little Gypsy Home: Reclaiming Voice Through Expressive Writing and the Sacred Feminine; Memoir: Sing from the Womb: Leaving Fundamentalism in Search in Voice.)

W.O.R.D.S.: A new project

maa-saraswati

Saraswati, Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, arts (including writing) and science.
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saraswati)

Can I tell you how much I miss blogging? When I began this strange – as I saw it at the time – new form of writing over five years ago, I was quickly (as in, instantly) hooked. I loved the freedom of my own forum, the informality, the brevity, and above all, that lovely button that says “publish.”

Click! Yes, I’m published. Click! Published again. Click, Click. Click.

I’ve never really been concerned that my readership is low, I truly write for myself (but that doesn’t mean I don’t check my statistics page like a hawk and get all excited when someone comments). I love the tippity-tap of my thoughts manifesting on screen, the words a reflection of my inner knowledge that many times I did not know I knew.

I didn’t blog much while I was in grad school and even less now that I am back in the “real” world learning to make a living doing what I love. But it has become very clear to me that part of what I love IS blogging.

And I have so many things I want to share from my graduate research and memoir-writing.* So many things from that experience that I still need to process. So many words I have still inside me.

It is as a storyteller-writer-scholar, I want to introduce a new blogging project. Through it I will look at women’s studies, myth, psychology, spirituality, embodiment, goddess-consciousness, creativity, and of course, transformational/expressive writing.

And I am giving myself self-inflcited -imposed deadlines. If I am to do what I love successfully, I must have deadlines. As my friend, author Burnham Holmes said yesterday in his presentation at the Horace Greeley Writers’ Symposium: Deadlines are your friends.

So, introducing…

The W.O.R.D.S. Project (Words Open Resonating Depths of the Sacred): A weekly alphabetical search for questions. Including writing prompts. Starting next week.

~~~

*Thesis/Final Project: Calling Little Gypsy Home: Reclaiming Voice Through Expressive Writing and the Sacred Feminine; Memoir: Sing from the Womb: Leaving Fundamentalism in Search in Voice

Wise Women Speak 1.3.13

The greatest gift a mother can give her children is her own happiness

j, age 68

(Paraphrased from Shell Seekers by Rosamund Pilcher)

Are you a Wise Woman? Inspired by a recent gathering of Wise Elders where a 75 year-old great-grandmother shared this life wisdom with us younguns: “Remember to Laugh!,” for my 2013 blog project I plan to share the gems of wisdom of older women. Please send me your wisdom (or words you have heard from the older, wiser women in your life).

And how appropriate this project should begin on 1.3.13, 13 being the sacred feminine number; the number of full moons (and menstrual cycles) in the year.

A turret and some (alone) time

I’m sitting in my new Writer’s Turret, as I am calling it. It’s actually just a small room we recently created by putting up a dividing wall in our son’s large bedroom. It is a north-facing room and I was concerned that I would feel the lack of light. But with my desk directly next to the window, looking out over the porch roof onto our residential street, the result is unexpectedly and pleasantly, well, turret-y. I don’t know why I have always fancied myself writing in a turret, it seems very Jane Austen (that’s probably the wrong author – I am embarrassingly unversed in English Lit) or Shakespeare-ish, I guess. I imagined I could be both artistically tortured and prolific in a turret. And alone.

For me, the image of a turret conquers up feelings – glorious feelings – of solitude. Creative solitude. I dream daily of being alone, just me and my words. Emotions, sensations, experiences – intangibles – forming themselves into words and sentences that I might grasp them, hold them, and understand them as best I can. Of course, I don’t need a turret for this, just a writing implement. But solitude? Now that’s an essential.

In one essay I wrote: “In my early twenties the vision of my future life included only the patter of fingers on the keyboard, not that of tiny feet. My imaginary writer’s turret didn’t come equipped with a safety gate.” In one recent workshop which I facilitated, one woman lamented that mothers cannot be fully creative, not because our brains have atrophied, but because of all the demands placed on us. Sadly, unless we can afford, or would be willing to commit to, full-time child-care and/or house-keeping, a mother does not have the luxury to create at her fullest potential. Even with my children out of the home to their respective educational institutions either 3 or 6 hours a day, I find my ability to write (or study for grad school) hampered. I have tried rising extremely early (4AM) and I loved the mental acuity of that time of day. But by Wednesday evening after all the housework, sibling-refereeing, taxiing, errands, etc. etc. etc., I wasn’t fit to be anyone’s mother or companion, let alone write.

I’m not good at grabbing moments. I’m a slow writer. I ponder each word and then go back and ponder it again. This analyzing (self-criticism?) can make a short blog post last the entire length of a Pre-K session. Suddenly I am having to abandon my treasure-trunk of words, ripping myself away mid-sentence to fly out the door to become Mom again. And take today: I have the flu (or something else icky but not bed-riddening). I am home with no demands for the day because after Pre-K my mother (bless her) is taking my son. But Hubby asked that we use this opportunity to do some important paperwork. So I delayed my writing, but then the phone rang and I sat for almost an hour waiting for him to get off the phone. (You know that infuriating situation when you’re meeting someone who’s late and you don’t know whether to leave because they might come right now… or maybe now…? Waiting for him to get off the phone any moment was like that.)

And so goes my life, it seems. I want to write, I love to write, I need to write, but I don’t write (much). I have responsibilities and always the question: should I be doing this or that? what is more important – the clothes or the blog post? And it is this constant questioning – deciding – that is part of the mental exhaustion (links to a NYT article). I love writing so much that I want to dedicate myself to it fully, not some half-hearted minute or two here and there, and so I don’t commit, because I can’t.

But I must. Because by not writing I am forsaking my own soul. My vision of a writer’s turret was just a symbol of my highest need: To be alone with “pen” in hand, scratching away, whittling words – the only tools I have – to make sense of my self and this world.

My turret is finally here. And today is “I Love to Write Day” and I do. So I am. And I will. Will you?

(And as I finish writing this I see this post on FB from Julia Cameron: “Time is what we all need more of–or do we? Time can be chiseled out of the busiest life by replacing our worrying with doing.” Ah, Synchronicity.)

Prompt: If we believe our visions and imaginings are symbols of deep (or higher) yearnings – from our authentic self – what is your “turret”?

We plan. Life laughs.

Well, here we are. Five days into 2011 and I am finally getting to my computer. I had big plans. My goals for work, school, housework, and this blog were all spelled out in my January 1 journal entry. I had my running shoes on and I was just waiting for the starting gun, i.e. the roar of the school bus as it carried my eldest child away for 6 beautiful, peaceful hours. But first I had to pull myself out of bed, clothe and feed two bouncy children and get them out the door to drop the youngest off at pre-school. And that’s when my best-laid plans withered like the poor plants on my window sill.

Puffy-eyed, make-up challenged, and with my mop of hair mashed under my winter hat I said good morning to the too-awake teacher. As I hugged my son goodbye I heard her say, “Did you know you were scheduled to be parent helper this week?” I looked up to see which unprepared mother she was addressing and realized with horror it was me. “And you’re responsible for snack too.”

If I were in a cartoon I would have shook my head to clear my ears because surely I had not heard this correctly. I wasn’t scheduled again until spring. “No, Mrs. Young, it’s right here on the calendar that we gave you at the beginning of the semester. Young. See?”

So, after rushing off to get my eldest to school and then back home to raid the cupboard for a toddler-approved snack (for 15), gulp some coffee, and attempt to do something with my hair, I returned to pre-school, tail between legs, to observe dinosaur vs. race car war games, baby dress-up, circle time, and the nightmare of 15 four-year olds attempting to self-attire in snow-suit, coat, hat, glove and boots. Trying to find the positive in my sabotaged morning, all I came up with was, “One down, only two more mornings to go.”

Then I got sick. It felt like someone was smashing the back of my eyeball with a rock. I woke coughing in the night and my sinuses were goose-stepping behind my face. Then the kids got sick. Croupy coughs echoed around the house. I was going to have to call pre-school and tell them I couldn’t help. I felt guilty. But on a positive note it would be a nice, quiet day reading in bed while the kids lounged around recuperating.

Ha!

While I attempted to breathe through my nose they threw off their croup and began bouncing on the sofa, calling for drinks and snacks, pummeling each other, and asking why we can’t go out for lunch. After I croaked my way through two story books, I decided it was movie time. So, here I am. Finally in bed and all is quiet.

I had planned that my first post of the year would one of new positive thoughts for a new year – a fresh start. But life has a way of letting us know we have to roll with whatever is sent our way, be it involuntary volunteering, the croup, or a blizzard on your wedding day. I am searching for the positive in this delayed start to my new work/writing year… and it is that I got to read to my kids by the fire and I have the chance to write about my silly “misfortunes” while in my jammies and eating Christmas chocolate. The early evening sun is pouring through my window onto my bed. I would have been battling my way through the grocery store aisles on my “planned” day. I have to learn to slow down and take each moment as a blessing. It may not be the moment I had planned for but it is still a moment I have been given to be made the best of and thankful for.

Prompt: The positive in my latest “negative” is…

____

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Recycling my babble for Earth Day

In honor of Earth Day I am going to do some recycling. Not my #2 plastics – I do that everyday (unless there’s too much gooey peanut butter stuck and then the jar sits on my counter “soaking” for a few weeks until I get sick of it and just chuck it. So sue me.) –  no, I’m going to recycle some blog posts.

While going through my almost two-year old blog to attach links to my new Amazon Bookstore (which you should check out, not just because it’s purple and pink and pretty, but because I have recommended some damn good books) I discovered some yummy stuff. Not to brag, but there are some treats buried in this ‘ere blog. For example, have you read of my soap-opera-worthy The Tale of Two Couples (parts 1 – 7) or Can’t I poop in peace? ?

Before I got all focused on this blog, I was more of a random mommy-whiner-writer blogger and some of my posts were actually almost funny. I kind of miss that; I miss the scatterbrain approach to blogging. But I am trying to earn a living here now, so no more funny business.

But I am still a mom, I have another life, and I don’t just sit around reading and writing about journaling all the time. So, just like the Austrians who hang their duvets out the window to freshen up, for the next little while I will be digging out some of the old stuff for an airing (that and I’m bit tired from all the deadlines I had this month – all of which I met, thank you).

Conversations in the grocery aisle

August 10, 2009

As I am trying to find the toothbrush for which I have a coupon while trying to think over, Mama, Mama, I want the Dora toothpaste! Mama, I want this one. Oooo, watermelon, I don’t have watermelon toothpaste. Mama, I need this… what is it?, an old lady approaches me. I think she’s going to comment on how cute my kids are or congratulate me on my ability to grab falling tubes while simultaneously remove brightly colored, cartooned products from my children’s itchy fingers. Instead she asks me if I know where to find the baby wipes. I tell her the next aisle over. She then proceeds to tell me why she is looking for baby wipes. No, not grandbabies coming to visit. No, not a baby shower. She likes to use them herself, she has Irritable Bowel Syndrome, you know.

Thanks for sharing.

A few aisles on, I run into an acquaintance, an older man I knew from my former job. We say hello and howdy-do and he asks me what I’m doing. I point to my cart crammed with two impatient children and far too much food and reply, Doing the mom thing.

He smiles indulgently and says, I meant, what are you doing with your time?

Oh, yea, nothing, nothing at all. Now, where are those bon-bons?


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Gratitude, even while leaning over the bowl

I believe in gratitude. I try to be thankful for everything, to find something to be thankful for even in the midst of a blitz of ugh. I won’t deny this is very hard for me. I love to complain. Love it! Too cold, too humid, too hungry, too tired, too poor, too, too, too. But I am practicing gratitude and practicing finding the positive. I’ll get good at it yet!

Being thankful for what you have now instead of being focused on what you haven’t got is a very healthy mindset. Being grateful for everyday’s little blessings does not mean you can’t dream of bigger and better, it just means being content in this moment, now. After all, our life is ultimately made up of minutes. What you do, think, and say during the minutes is your life. Constantly wishing for something else makes a mockery of what you have now. Thankfulness for what you have now opens the door for more to be thankful for in the future. Contentment in the moment brings happiness in the long run.

The last two days has found me holding one or other of my children while their poor little bodies convulsed to void themselves of illness. This has meant two days when I couldn’t be at my computer rambling away as usual. I had to pull my mommy-nurse hat firmly down over my ears and set to comforting my weakened children. I tried not to think about the two looming article deadlines or the last minute marketing I could/should be doing for a workshop starting this week. I tried to immerse myself in housework that I never have (never allow myself) time to take care of. I tried to live in the moment even while mopping vomit off Little Lady’s chin.

It was hard. My work kept sneaking up and taunting me. And I had moments of frustration when I tried to sit at my computer while Elmo occupied my offspring in the other room, only to be called upon for more water or a tissue.

But then I realized something. I am so blessed! I can be home with my children. I am not letting anyone down at the office or using sick days that I might need for myself at a later date. I am not shorting us a paycheck and I am not subjecting anyone else to my children’s germs. How wonderful that I can be here to hold a coughing child and bring him hot milk.

I am so grateful that Hubby and I made the decision to stick to our guns and pursue what matters to us. It was incredibly important to me to be here to see our children off to school in the morning, to be here when they come home in the afternoon, and to eat dinner together at night. Yes, my dream to write and teach writing was an extremely high priority also, but the fact that these priorities merge almost seamlessly is an amazing blessing.

I acknowledge – and do not in anyway demean – that others would not choose the same route as me. Their dream, their priorities, lie on a different path. I do not for one moment intend to imply that those mothers (or fathers) who have chosen, or have no choice but to work outside of the home, care one inkling less for their children. My point is this, and only this: Be thankful for your every moment, even when you spend a morning washing sick-bed sheets when you would much rather be wringing out words and phrases. Being thankful can change your attitude from frustrated to fulfilled.

Prompt: Even if you are not particularly content in your current situation, what ARE you thankful for?

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Saying goodbye

Today I took down the crib that cradled my two children through nights and naps from infancy into their toddler years.

And today I cried.

It’s not that I want another baby. It’s not that I’m attached to the 3rd-hand crib or the space it was taking up in the kids’ room. It isn’t even because I jammed my finger while trying to wrestle the thing apart (which I didn’t, but surely would have if I hadn’t enlisted my husband to pry its bolts and screws from their nooks and crannies). No, I cried because… well, I don’t know exactly.

Twice I have endured the morphing of my body into an unwieldy monstrosity. Twice I have labored and summoned strength and stamina I could never have imagined for myself. I have brought into this world two babies, two beautiful, smart babies.

I have been splattered and spit up on. Puked on and peed on. I have been sucked on and slept on. I have picked up, mopped up, and been fed up. I have cried, I have laughed, I have felt pride, and I have felt guilt. I have yelled and I have hugged. I have felt alone and I have craved to be alone. I have wanted my life back yet never want to go back to life before I met my children.

I love my children but I know I don’t want any more. I am ready to get myself back, to begin the life I have wanted for myself but have had to put on hold. With one child in kindergarten and one ready to take on the world in his new 2-year-old shoes, I am beginning to get a glimpse of that life.

So why the tears?

Maybe I was crying for the babies I will never hold to my breast again. For the times I gently placed them, limp with sleep, into that crib, their soft breath whispering through milky lips. For the first time I found them standing, holding the crib bar for support, triumph beaming on their face.

Or maybe I was crying for the future toward which they are headed now that they sleep snug and secure in their big girl and boy beds? For the patter of feet down the hallway or the thumps down the stairs. For the curly-topped head that seems each day to have grown a little closer to my waist. Or the slammed doors and stands of defiance that mark another step toward independence.

I can’t answer the question with one definitive answer because I don’t think there is one. Taking apart and stacking in the hallway the biggest physical aspect of my children’s babyhood is an obvious metaphor. What is not so obvious is the part of me I was dismantling along side it.