I don’t think I’ve mentioned it here, but I enrolled in the Institute of Integrative Nutrition this year, and am almost ten weeks into the program. It’s been incredibly interesting and really fun work to be doing. There’s this workbook that we have that is more focused on the business aspect of the schooling, and we’ve been chugging slowly through that the past couple weeks. The beginning is very much about intention setting and sussing out your goals for the the school year(s) and your application of what you’ve learned (including any business you want to grow out of it). I love this kind of stuff. This might be a surprise to some of my friends… but I’m a huge internal planner. Goals, lists, check-ins… I do this multiple times a year. So the first couple chapters of this workbook have been fun. An extension of some of the things I already do.
Then I hit this one question, after a string of school and work focused questions.
“What is your life purpose?”
And I froze.
Actually, quite literally, paused. Pen suspended above the workbook, staring at the question.
Absolutely empty-headed and awash in a sea of blank space.
Let me repeat… I think about this type of stuff A LOT. It’s a constant record in my head… How do I want my days to go, to look, to feel… How do I want/need to be spending my time, where do I want my energy to go, what are my priorities. I can tell you lists of goals, things I want to do, experience, accomplish. In the next couple months, this year, over the next two years, the next five… I have goals that I know will resurface twenty years from now.
But my life purpose?! That’s a question outside of goals and plans. An intention stripped down. A purpose that would be yours whether you were a massage therapist or a social worker or a stay at home mom or a business owner. Whether you were married or not, had three kids or none. Whether you lived in New York or in Modesto. And I think it’s been a really long time since I’ve even thought to consider a question like that.
So I’m here… still letting the question marinate… but hoping that some friends can give some little shout outs, and help me out as I mull this over.
Do you know what your life purpose is? Have you thought about it? Are you willing to share?
I meditated this morning. And among the many many thoughts that swirled, was this need for connection. For a deeper foundational connection to where I came from. To something eternal. Something that has endured, persisted. Changed, but still is. Roots. Ancestry. Solidity. The earth even. My Native American side? Something that I can feel like I can draw strength from. Find beauty and power and patience in… when I feel like it’s dwindling in me.
Sometimes I feel… not disembodied (although sometimes I feel that too!) But sometimes I just feel alone, you know? I don’t mean that in a lonely, depressing way. But I mean… alone in this journey of personhood… motherhood.
Mark is a huge source of strength and support for me, of course, we’re such an undeniably fantastic team… But I even sometimes feel like we’re alone in this.
Not always. We have amazing friends and family… and it’s a comfort to be able to share in their journey… But I sometimes even feel like we’re all alone.
What I’m trying to say, is that there is this whole, rich, deep, continuous source of personhood, parenthood, motherhood… centuries and centuries of people who have lived, trying to be as true to themselves as they know how. Trying to act with passion and integrity, to find adventure and solitude and peace. Who have fought and loved and raised children with as much whole-heartedness and imperfection as all of us are doing everyday…
I know that…
But I want to feel connected to it.
I’ve been thinking about a theory my friend Kim Gill and I came up with a couple of years ago… about how a person’s sense of rootedness correlates with the place they grew up, and how long it’s been settled. I know this is a vast generalization, but she said that people on the east coast seem more grounded, sure of their sense of place… and that west coasters often seem more untethered… seeking more, always searching. And if you think about it more… take Europeans… the French, Italians, Grecians.. They have such an ingrained sense of belonging to the locality, so tangible you can nearly steep in it as a visitor, that I really think it fosters a sense of connectedness to history, continuity, that is missing out here…
Like we’re all sourcing from a wading pool, when in actuality, we have the ability to reach so much further and deeper…
I don’t have an answer… just taking notice of some things … in this small window of stillness I found this morning.
I’m integrating over here. Trying to integrate, anyways. Or maybe halfheartedly and distractedly trying to integrate.
Do you ever reach a point, where your head is just swirling with so many interesting, pointedly poignant, ideas that really feel very integral to living, that you need to pause for several beats and integrate? Give all those ideas a chance to soak and resurface. For the flavors to melt together and clarify a bit before you can keep inputting. I’m there.
I’m mentally suspended amongst some recent conversations with friends. Some are reflecting on life as it is, some are headed on new adventures and some are going through tough times. I have words from all of them floating through my head.
I also have the habit of reading several things at a time – multiples of books, articles, blog posts, and audiobooks. For instance, right now I’m at varying stages in a novel, a book on baby’s brains, a book by Osho on Creativity, an audiobook by David Whyte, and just finished one by Anne Lamott. This isn’t including the various blog posts and online articles I dip into.
And most of the time, I like it this way, because I have different books I pick up depending on my mood, or the amount of time I have when the reading bug strikes me. Different conversations I examine further when I have a moment. But eventually, it gets to a point where the information has all converged and assimilation is necessary or else more words and ideas will just get lost amidst the rubble.
But assimilation requires stillness. It means I have to reel in on the information input.
Maybe I should do the dishes… or take a shower… isn’t that where everyone says that the ideas that are colliding tend to calm and part? Smooth themselves out? Presence + Space.
I’m reminded, last night, as I have been many many times over the past year, of the importance of owning up to your own shit.
I remember reading a line in a book sometime, years ago. It said that sometimes we don’t even realize we’re in a bad mood until we’re around other people. It’s like, our moodiness is hard to recognize until it can bump or crash up against another person.
Never have I found that to be more true than in marriage. And I give myself a huge, internal pat on the back whenever I can pause in the middle of some misplaced crankiness that I’m splattering all over my bewildered, and most often innocent husband… take a breath… and explain what’s really going on in my head. Resisting the urge to imply that he is somehow to blame.
Most of the time I can get there… even if it takes me a while.
Sometimes I can’t.
But I sure do try. Because we’re allies in this life we’ve created, not scape goats for our own individual tantrums. And I like it better that way.
There’s something almost magical about seeing live music. The Santa Barbara Bowl in particular, is just such a gorgeous setting, and even when the sun has gone down, the presence of the beauty that surrounds you leaves its imprint. And I really believe that some music just needs open air. To vibrate and pulse without constraint or reverberation, to allow the soft notes and the suspensions to linger breathlessly, and fade into the night.
And somehow it strikes me, on occasion… that so many of the audience members are probably bursting with musical talent as well. Whether it’s a voice or a beat or strumming fingers or even a finely tuned ear. Because in addition to coming to experience the magic it stirs up in us, I feel like people are often attracted to something they feel has the potential to bloom inside them. And I marvel when I think of some of my own friends that I saw scattered throughout the bowl that night, and the talent and passion that I know is there. And how often it’s audacity and perseverence that seperates a working musician from one who sits in the audience dreaming.
“Being a mama is hard.There are tantrums, tired nights, morning sickness that lasts all day….But I just can’t shake the thought of what an incredible blessing I have been given.It changes how I see everything.God trusted me with these sweet little spirits.me.And it’s moving so fast.”
Every word of that post is the truth.
Because this time will pass so very quickly.
“That’s the way it is with dreams. They scratch at your door. You see them through the peep hold: A stray dream looking for a home. You think it might go away if you ignore it. Wrong. It’s still there when you open the door, smiling. Wagging it’s tail.”
It’s rather amusing to me that this is the quote on the cover of the notebook I pulled out the other day to start brainstorming about this. Because I have, for so long, maybe even always, wanted to have work that is based in creativity. A dancer, a writer, a singer, an illustrator, someone who makes pretty things that others will buy…
I’ve wanted to be all of these things at one point or another… and the truth is, if I had a chance to do any or all of those things now… I’d jump at it (then of course, I’d pause and evaluate what would actually be possible with a husband and a 3-month old baby). My problem has been that I’ve been too scared to go after these dreams. To grab them by the tail and pull them back into me before they scamper away to find some more serious… or more daring individual.
And it’s such a hard time to decide to try and do one of these things… because my time to spend independently is so choppy (new baby, and all). But here I am. Suddenly re-inspired. It’s been such a crafty couple of months, and I’ve enjoyed them so.
And I was thinking earlier… why isn’t that just enough? Knitting and crafting and cooking little things for myself or for the baby or Mark or as gifts… writing for myself or to share on the baby blog…
I wondered if having my creations monetized made them feel worth more to me… but that didn’t sound completely true. I wondered if having others acknowledge that my work and my efforts and my thoughts and beliefs have value is some kind of validation for me… and while, of course, it’s lovely and gratifying to see that others value things you create… that doesn’t seem to be the driving force either…
And I started to unravel it on the way to do my last massage of the day on Sunday. It’s about valuing my own creative expression. It’s about saying something, writing something, showing something… just so that more of me can be seen and heard. Yes, I’m thrilled whenever I see a page visit, a comment, or someone says, “Wow, you made that?!” And of course, I wouldn’t be able to start a business without that kind of outside appreciation. But what I’ve realized is that even putting something of yourself out for the world to see. To hear and touch and wear and taste… whether they accept it… embrace it… or ignore it. There’s something magical in the delivery. In having made the statement, I have something that the world needs to experience.
And we all do.
I’m just making a pact with myself, today, to step up and join the ones that aren’t afraid to say it.
And live it.
This is me.
Not separate from who I was.
Not just a floating island composed of the circumstances that make up who I am today.
But a culmination of everything I have danced with and walked with until this point.
Every thing. Every thought. Everyone. Every event. Every friend. Every fight. Every smile.
Every pause. Every leap. Every breakfast and every cup of tea. Every cocktail and every cigarette. Every kiss and every shock. Every heartfilled emotion-exploding moment.
I am my ten year old self.
I am my single wandering self.
I am my married and in love self.
I am the self that is a mother.
a new mother.
I am someone who relishes the time alone with black tea, cream, agave, some music, and someplace to write.
I am someone who will never stop singing.
I will always feel magical around strings of lights.
I will always feel more at home in my life when I am creating.
I love that I am with a man who loves everything that I am. Who says he’s proud of me almost on a daily basis.
I love that this same man who loves me for who I am helps me to hold myself to the standard of all that I have the potential to be.
And this man… this gorgeous, kind, silly, patient, dedicated, endlessly loving man also helps me to be gentle with myself whenever I fall short of that potential.
I think that it’s my turn to be on top of the world.
I am trying to be very conscious about enveloping myself in every moment of this new life I’m creating.
The moments that are happening right now are the quickest to slip away. And I want to be sure that I am living up to it all.
In my own way.
Who I was, and who I am… while so very different in some ways, are the same person. Traveling among hints and wisps of who I am becoming.
And I love that.
I love the layers and complexities, and how much love can bubble up inside one human being’s heart.
I love feeding my baby, and watching him sleep. I love every facial expression he makes and every crinkle of his brow as he tries to understand all he can about the world around him.
We’re similar in this way.
Maybe we are all similar in this way.
Like empowerment. Like incredible courage and conviction and determination all rising up inside me. The kind that makes you draw your chin in, your neck back, and narrow your eyes with the smallest and hardly detectable smile that says, “Soy la diosa de esta jodida galaxia.” I am the goddess of this fucking galaxy.
It’s a feeling that I want to grab and run with. To stoke the fire under it and fan it till it roars and shines and lifts me into a long awaited tango. Dancing in between the release and control that are so hard to balance when you try.
But I don’t know where it came from. Where it’s meant to lead me. What step it is that I should take. It felt like a nudge… or a shove. But before I can ride the momentum… I try to understand it. And it fades. Not from memory. It’s still in my body, my breath and lingering behind my eyes.
But that moment that I assumed wanted action… Maybe that feeling just wanted to make itself known.