Tag Archives: love

Daily Intention: Love & No Pressure (Respectively)

1 May

Monday

Yesterday was my wedding anniversary.  One year.

I’ve seen a lot of bloggers post wedding photos on this day, and write public love letters to their spouse.  Of course that’s sweet, but I’ve always felt it was a little cheesy too.  So in defiance, I post our alternative to a champagne toast last night:

We had to reschedule our date day (it’s date days now with the little one) for a couple of weeks from now because of a forgotten work event.  But last night was some Mason :-) jar poured delicious seasonal beer (courtesy of my sister from Bootlegger’s Brewery down in Fullerton), take out thai food and a netflix movie.  Perfection.  Have I mentioned how utterly wonderful my husband is?

Yesterday, my intention was love.  Predictable?  Maybe.  Appropriate? I think so.  Especially since yesterday, I also attended a funeral for the step-brother of one of my very close friends.  We need love for the sad times as well as the celebratory ones.

I’ve been wondering how a more abstract intention would play out, as opposed to one that’s more instructional.  Love.  I tried to just keep it in mind, like any other.  When I was at a loss for words, seeing my friend after the funeral, I tried to just send her love.  When I found myself tempted to make rude comments in a conversation, I thought of my intention, and reframed what I was saying.  And when my husband got off work… well, that part was easy ;-)

Tuesday

Today, I stressed myself out a little this morning, trying to settle on an intention (again, so not the point of this practice!)  There’s another more abstract idea I’ve been wanting to use as an intention but have been a little intimidated of it.  So part of me felt I should go for that one, another part of me was trying desperately to find another intention that would make me feel like I wasn’t using it as a cop out.  I finally got so fed up with my internal conflicts that I declared this a no pressure day.

My intention is to not put any pressure on myself.  Not to sink into the couch all day and do nothing, but not stress myself out with accusations about what I should be doing or thinking or saying.

I’m also starting to develop a sneaking suspicious about the theme of these intentions… a potential key to living, at least in this stage of the game.  But I want to wait and see before I get too attached to it.

And hey, if you’re reading this.  Try it out.  There’s healing in laying down the whip.  Even for a day.

A story, the hardest part. Part 3

15 Feb

Lighted alley

Just to be clear… I did not think that the telling of this story would fall into chapter form.  But so goes life with a little one.  I write in bits and pieces now.

Between feedings, naps, and playtime.

You may have noticed that since parts 1 & 2… I’ve stalled.  Again… building courage… potentially because the lead up is a little easier, and the harder part comes next.  I looked over those two posts, and they read almost like a love letter to Mark, my now husband.

Which is appropriate I suppose.  It was because of him, that I started to view having children less as a startling life interruption, and instead as starting a family, creating a future built off of an amazing love you have for another person.  These things had just never clicked for me before in that simple way.  And life would not be what it was now had it not been for him.

So, onward…

Like I was saying in my “part 2” I had always thought it would be a no-brainer.  An automatic response.  Because they tell you, it’s just a microscopic collection of cells at the very beginning, right?  But everything that I thought before, and everything that other people told me meant absolutely nothing.  Nothing in comparison to the reality that a tiny being had started to form in me.  When you begin to feel that tiny realization grow… that unimaginable bundle of potentiality… size and development and science and religion and well-intentioned advice and warnings… they all mean nothing.  And the wonderment and the awe… they only crescendo.

Me, I’m a reader.  I’m a researcher.  I devour as much information as I possibly can when my interest has been peaked.  And to say my interest had been peaked at this developing little soul inside me… well that’s a ridiculous understatement.

I soaked it all up.  I shyly but excitedly spread the word to my friends and those I worked with.  Mark and I talked and planned some more.  We even found a one bedroom apartment to move into together, contacted the landlord and submitted an application.

It felt much longer… but it must have just been days.  Because from awareness to completion… that pregnancy lasted almost exactly two weeks.

And this is what was the hard part.

Not the miscarriage itself, there was no pain or physical difficulty.  Mine was all emotional.  I laid out the contrasts in my former self in that last post to highlight the extreme mental plowing I had to do in order to prepare my mind and my heart for the embarking on a journey towards motherhood, towards partnership, towards putting someone else’s needs before my own for as long as they needed me to develop and grow and thrive and learn.  These were things to which I had barely given a second thought, previous to these two weeks.  And so much processing and soul searching, reality checking and dream analysis went into reworking myself from the girl who pulled over to the side of the road and sobbed in terror at the news, to one who could not contain my wild reverence for what was about to happen to our lives, whose eyes sparkled whenever I told someone new.

Two weeks.

And then I miscarried.

The day we were going to drive down to Orange County to tell my parents, I started spotting.  A nervous hour of monitering led to a cancel of that morning’s breakfast plans, and a five hour stay in the emergency room.  No pain.  Just suspension.  Confusion.  Disbelief.  Not even disbelief in the sense of “How could this happen to us?!”… I wasn’t there yet.  I was still really in disbelief.  I did not believe the events that were occuring.  I still thought that everything had to be okay in there… this was just some rarity.

I laid in a hospital bed, Mark stood or sat next to me.  We held on to each other.  We talked very little, except to acknowledge that people were giving us mixed messages.  A bait of hope that this was a false alarm, followed by some casual statistics of the frequency of miscarriages this early on.  Doctors and nurses came and went.  Blood was drawn time after time for test after test.  Ultrasounds were done on two different floors.  They wheeled me in the bed through the hallways, under the fluorescent lights, with inconclusive results.  Blood pressure checks, the same questions over and over, the same numbness and dazed feeling that came over me in the clinic two weeks before.  When life as I knew it had changed… the first time.

I made up a story about not being able to get out of work for that weekend, and texted it to my parents.  We went back to Mark’s place after leaving the hospital, a follow up appointment at the county clinic for Monday morning, and some more Gelson’s comfort food.

Looking back, I’m so impressed with how we handled that miscarriage.  That may seem like a strange thing to say, but it stands in stark contrast with the poor way in which I handled the second miscarriage I had about six months later.  But after the first one, we leaned on each other the way that a couple should.  We cried and we held each other and we looked to some healthy distractions, but we let the emotion out when we needed to.  And as time went on, even well into the times where we had the inkling that maybe we should have been “passed it” by then… we still told each other when there was a day that we were feeling particularly heartbroken, and needed maybe a little more patience or sensitivity.

And we had to go back, through the lists of people we had sheepishly, yet excitedly told about our big news… and tell them what had happened.  That was so hard.  Because then you had to choose whether to paint on a brave face, or cry on the spot.  And then there were always people you had forgotten to tell the updated story to… I was leaving a class at the massage school one day when one of the student receptionists asked me an excited question about my pregnancy.  It stunned me nearly into tears and I pasted on a smile, said itwasfine, and booked it out the door, letting her believe, for a while longer at least, that I was still glowing… not wanting to tell the story again just yet.

I remember feeling, even a couple weeks after the 2nd follow up appointment confirmed in hormone levels that I had, indeed, miscarried… like they were all wrong somehow, and my little one was still growing inside me.

Eventually it sunk in that it was over.  All that mental shifting… all that planning… all that excitement and wonder and hope and anticipation… it was gone so quick I couldn’t wrap my head around it.  Like it never happened.  Life could have gone on just as it had before.  Only it couldn’t.  Not a chance.  Everything had changed.  Only I felt I had nothing to show for it.  We had grown up and taken a huge breath of courage and stepped forward in commitment to each other and this new baby… and were left standing with our hands open and empty.  And our hearts so much more than a little bit crushed.

What’s amazing is that as I type these words… I can feel myself wanting to skip over parts.  Having to go back and fill in more little details, because I’m still trying to avoid telling the story, even as I tell it.  And as I write, I can feel the emotions that I’m typing.  Which is possibly why I’ve been stalling continuing.  Who wants to relive this stuff?!  What crazy head feels the need to tell this story almost two years after the fact.  After time has passed, and a lovely marriage to the man in the story, and a beautiful baby boy born healthy and gorgeous are part of the new story…

I talked about bits of the lead into this in here and here.

And I’ll talk about it a little more in one more wrap up post… but for now, I’ll just say this…

There’s something about having two people in my life that I love more than I ever thought possible.  Two people who depend on me in such drastically different ways.  Whose lives are so permanently intertwined with mine, that not a moment goes by where we are not affected by each other.  Our lives, our contentedness and our spirits are nourished by each other.  And this amazing and relatively new fact… makes me want to be to best version of myself that I can possibly muster up.  For myself of course, but this new and seemingly stronger motivation is to be a model for my son, and a support for my husband.  And as I’m trying to bring attention to every part of my life… I’m realizing that my best self… experiences every moment of her life, and listens to and learns from the heartbreaking times as well as the times of elation.  I think that being present to even those moments we’d rather rush past, is a way of showing respect to this life we’ve been given.  Of treasuring it.  Of saying to God or the universe or whatever you believe plays a hand in the rhythm of our lives, “I’m not wasting it.  I’m invested in every moment.  From the mundane to the movie-worthy.  I will be present.  And I won’t be afraid of being seen.”

A story, mulled over and marinated. Part 2

27 Jan

Campfire

To this day, I know that I owe so much of my convictions about Mark to that moment.  It was the first in a pair of aha moments that led us to where we are today.  That confirmation that there was a reason we had our eyes on each other since we met.  Since the day we met.  God, I adore that man.

So we let it be for that night.  We went to Gelson’s deli and bought some comfort food.  Ate it all at his place, watching When Harry Met Sally.  The good food and good girly movie wrapped their arms around me just like he did, keeping me safe and held for the night.

In the two weeks following, we talked.  We talked and talked and thought and thought and when we couldn’t think of anything new to say or think, we ran through it all again.  Countless times.

Now.  This is a serious situation for anyone.  An unplanned pregnancy, with a man you’ve only been dating for two months.  When your immediate life plans are to move across the country.  Regardless of how madly in love with him you are, this is a predicament to sort out.  The lovely, delicate and fresh emotions and feelings of a long awaited new relationship that are being newly unwrapped and discovered have to be held up to the light so soon.  Weighed and examined for their long term potentialities, compatibilities.

<<————————->>

And let’s pause for a moment to explain who I was.  Well, who I (and am, and will be) is so much more than the things I am about to explain, obviously, but for the sake of story continuity, and to illustrate the dramatic 360 the direction of my life was facing, “Who I was”:

I worked four days a week, Thursday-Sunday, as a massage therapist (which I still do) and a waitress at a gloriously sexy place called the Blue Agave.  My shifts ended at 2am, but my nights often ended well past that and there several nights where the sunrise served as a gentle reminder that I did need to sleep at some point.  My schedule had been carefully crafted over the past 2-3 years until I had arrived where I was.  Few shifts, on a few optimal income days in two fun and contrasting jobs, which provided so much flexibility for living life outside of work.

I was learning, practicing and sometimes teaching ballroom dancing 2-5 hours a day.  Just for fun, just because I loved it, just because I could.

I was, as I said, quickly falling in love, but trying to drink it all in slowly.  Before Mark I had been a chronic relationship-avoider.  My last relationship a year before him and lasting two months, and my longest being a year and a half, taking place 8 years earlier!

I had always proclaimed myself to selfish to have children.  Unashamedly so.  I was 25, living in the years that are ideal for unabashed self-discovery, reflection, experimentation and ah, the years of the readily disposable income.  I had only just decided that yes… I did want to have kids, someday.  ((Literally, the conclusion hit me on a trip to Italy four months prior.  Fairly spontaneous travel being another thing my work schedule allowed me to do.))

Apparently, the universe took that inkling and ran full force with it.  And my newly discovered inkling that kids might be nice, let me repeat, someday, again, being held up to the potentiality of nearly immediate parenthood.    

I live in a world of polarized friends.  I have a group of friends from Westmont, the small Santa Barbara christian college I went to,  and groups of friends from my massage and restaurant/bar life.  Let me tell you those are two vastly different minded groups of people.  So this next statement is on a subject that’s touchy to some, cut and dry to others, but I had always been in full support of abortion.  I had close friends who had unwittingly found themselves in a similar situation before and that’s the route they went.  Quite rightly so for their circumstances and place in life.  The women in my family had a history of much younger, inopportune pregnancies, and while I ADORED my nieces and nephew, and cringe to think that there was even a potential at their absence in my life… I always figured that if I found myself in a “delicate” situation in an disadvantageous time of my life… there was no question in my mind.  I wouldn’t hesitate to pull the plug.

 <<————————->>

So why was I hesitating?

That’s what I kept asking myself.

Why was the obvious answer… feeling less than obvious…

It was because of Mark.  It was because of his instinctive response of support.  It was because the fact that we had been dating for only two months was nearly immaterial in comparison to the way he had already etched out a permanent home inside my heart.  In that short amount of time, his heart was transparent.  His character was clear and I didn’t know then, and I don’t know now how it’s possible to have all these amazing and genuine, intelligent, contemplative, fun-loving, dedicated, quick to laugh, grounded, soul-touching qualities all wrapped up and packaged in such a gorgeous and true-hearted man.  It continues to blow my mind every day.

So there we were.  Wrestling with what we were feeling instinctively, versus what seemed from the outside to be an insufficient amount of time to enter this overwhelming stage of life together.

We probably thought more than we talked for the majority of that week.  Although we kept touching base to ask each other various what if’s.

It was on a camping trip, in the San Padres National forest, that we finally each admitted to the other that we were leaning towards wanting to have this baby.  Shyly, carefully… testing out the words as they left our mouths, lying on a pile of blankets outside by the firepit as the sky darkened.  Words flowing more freely the more each of us talked.

No decision was made that night.  But the atmosphere had been set.  The confessions had left their protected houses inside us and we gave each other permission to consider.  A future.

Holding Back

13 Jan

There’s a way in which I am holding back, from the deepest parts of my heart.

And I’ve only just become aware of it.

Just recently been able to string it together

The hints of it in a small collection of instances and odd occurrences.

A dream that left me feeling heavy

An inner resistance to a mundane change that didn’t make sense

A hesitation, around one of the most basic and fulfilling forms of expression


And strangely,

It’s because I already love so breathlessly…

                                                              with such awe

                                                  and such reverence,

That it’s hard to tell that there are even deeper wells inside of me to access.


I’m holding back for a reason familiar to humanity.

I’m holding back, because I have lost before.


And that loss, builds a barrier.

Even if it’s thin enough to let love through as it grows, changes, expands.

Portions of whole heartedness still get caught in the web that is left.


And time doesn’t heal completely,

if you don’t take the time

to understand the effect your own story has on you.


And the benefits of avoidance,

or oblivion,

do not outweigh the heartbreak

of not experiencing the truest

and most unabashed depths of love.


                             The love of motherhood.

                                                          The love from being a wife & partner.


I want to be able to devour these emotions wholly and completely

and let them pour freely out of every pore in my heart and body and soul.


and to be able to do this…

I think I need to tell my story.

Confessions of an Over-Caffeinated Brain

28 Sep

SkyI’ve been wanting to write, and the problem has been that there are so many things I’ve been wanting to write about that I fear they will exit the flood gates in a woefully unorganized fashion. I’ve spent most of the morning writing through various thoughts to be placed elsewhere, and caffeinating myself from an espresso machine that dispenses perfectly formed cups of coffee in the push of a button. I can never own one of these. I have enough energy to race around the building after two cups.

That aside, I have an hour before I have to leave for work, and in that hour I really want to write about the unknown.  Fear of the unknown, conversation with the unknown, and contentedness with the unknown.  And I’m giving myself permission to write about these things, despite how little I have actually engaged in dialogue with them, because how else do you familiarize yourself with something besides entering into conversation about it.  For me, for now, that means writing.

I think so many people have heard of that quote by Rilke,

I beg you…to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without ever noticing it, live your way into the answer…

I bought that quote on a magnet earlier this year when I was going through an incredibly difficult and foreign experience.  I bought it because I knew that I had no answers or explanations for what had just happened in my life, and that it was so new that it would take me a while to wade through the unknown, and I wanted to remember to sit with those things.

Now I’ve not always remembered to sit with those things.  I’ve gotten frustrated to the point of tears over the lack of answers I’ve been able to provide for myself.  I’ve been so disgusted with my inability to neatly categorize my experiences that I’ve tried to detach from them, only to have them erupt in very misplaced areas.  Of course I’ve had those times where I’ve slowed down, let feelings ebb and flow, let the unknown simply be the unknown… but those times have taken work.  Constant reminders and monitoring.  It’s been part of my challenge to myself over the past week… to take those necessary first steps but at the same time to ease off on myself.  To stop demanding that so much of my time and efforts and evolution be constantly producing efficient results.  To stop insisting that I always be able to chart my progress, and instead, to let my life shape itself through those first courageous steps.

I’ve been ever so slowly discovering that the reason I’ve had such a hard time taking those first steps into the unknown is because so far, I’ve refused to acknowledge that somewhere along the way I became a bit terrified of the unknown.  A thing I’ve always appreciated about myself is my comfort with change.  The excitement I find in changing living arrangements, going to new places, exploring new vocations, learning new things and resting in the comfort that things will work themselves out.  If something doesn’t go as I’d planned, an opportunity will always present itself.  This is how my life has always gone.  So it’s been really hard for me to recognize that this relationship that I had with the unknown had changed from happy-go-lucky acceptance, to tight-fisted refusal to move forward without some kind of predictable outcome.

But my attachment to that fact that I held dear about myself has not prepared me for this truth… that I have become intimidated by those unknowns.  That recently I’m tending more towards seeing the possible failures and heartbreaks and humiliations in them rather than anticipating a world of potentialities.  And holding on desperately to my former disposition of jumping into the thrill of the new is keeping me from offering up to myself those small bits of support and comfort that might give me the courage to walk more slowly towards those potentials.  And maybe that means taking small steps through the unmapped landscape that results from loss.  Making slow-paced venture, and allowing myself some excitement over growing possibilities for the future.  And most especially, acknowledging that maybe all those things I’ve been afraid of and worrying over and have kept me immobile are of my own making.  And that I really am strong enough and deep enough to pull out all the necessary love and forgiveness and curiosity that I need in order to keep taking steps forward.

Phew. Now there’s a lovely thought.

Built up thoughts that pour out at midnight

8 Sep

WHAT IF…

you said exactly what you’re feeling right now?
you let your no be no and didn’t back down when someone pushed back?
you let yourself say yes to something that delights you even if it appears foolish or impractical?
you stand by your intuition and decide it’s okay not to explain or apologize for your wordless wisdom?
you ask for what you need and don’t wait for someone to offer or understand?
you allow yourself time to let go of the struggle and do nothing at all?
you stop doing that thing you do just because someone expects it?
you take things at face value and decide there is no reason to walk on eggshells after all?
you assume that underneath everything is NOT something dark and dangerous or scary but something more like goodness and love?

what if you assumed that compassion for yourself is a powerful way forward? that being gentle with who you are right now is a kindness that spares the world a certain kind of suffering?

what if you could let yourself imagine being held in a divine embrace?

sitting in my room tonight, holding the what ifs, wondering if you are, too. sweet dreams, dear friends. i’m thinking of you.
-Jen Lemen

That felt like a direct challenge to me. So here is exactly what I’m feeling right now, however unperfected.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately. A LOT. About so many things. And at so many points, I’ve also thought, I should write that out… Writing it out helps me to figure it out along the way, expands my own consideration of it.  But as soon as I evolve one notion, another flicker starts to attract me in a different direction.  For instance, I’ve been thinking a lot about friendships. What makes them strong and lasting, nourishing to each other… what causes them to deteriorate or transform into a sustained energy suck. And going down this thought path keeps leading me back to myself over and over again.  To consider the ways I relate to others and the ways I relate to myself.  The thoughts and habits that keeps me alive and strong and enchanted with the world, and the ones that cause me to feel like I’m withdrawing from it.
I listened to this talk yesterday, with a man named Mike Robbins. Right before he and his wife had their first child, he had a mentor that told him that he had two main jobs when it came to his new daughter. The first was all about teaching her how to get by in the world. Things like tying her shoes, blowing her nose, crossing the street safely, and all of that stuff. Then he says, “But the second job you have is the most important. And it’s harder. You gotta teach her how to love herself.” And Mike says, ok… how do I do that? And his teacher says, “Well you love yourself. And you let her see that.”
It’s got me thinking about how many things that is true about… how much more of an impact something has when you can witness someone living it.  How much more you can reach out when you have your own reserve to reach from.  My friend Megan just wrote a post about an exercise she did.  Imagining herself at her own funeral, standing in front of all the people most important to her in her life… what one, brief message would she want to give them all.  She chose, “Love one another.”  I think that’s beautiful. One of my favorite quotes of all time is a Storypeople quote that says, “Anyone can slay a dragon, he told me, but try waking up every morning & loving the world all over again.  That’s what takes a real hero.” I agree with that. But I’d add to it.  Try waking up every morning & loving yourself all over again. That’s what takes a real hero.  Love yourself ((be patient with yourself, don’t demand immediate perfection of yourself, encourage yourself, listen to yourself))… so you can love one another.
So, ever so slowly… I’m holding up pieces of myself up to the sun… inspecting them to see which beliefs and habits still hold any sparkle for me and which have dulled without my realizing it.  There’s times when it’s an overwhelming process. When I feel like I need to show some kind of tangible measurement of my progress in order to know that my days are being well-spent. But I’m finding that this kind of work doesn’t respond like that.. and trying to remind myself to be gentle.
I feel like I’ve had so many lightbulbs go on at such a rapid pace in the past several weeks that I almost haven’t had time to catalog them all… which is what I’ve been feeling like I have to do. I had been trying to put a finger on why and I came across a few lines in another blog that sparked some recognition in me… “Just as surely as my outer geography has changed, so too has what’s inside. I’m in need of new inner maps; the old ones don’t seem to be of much use here. They no longer match the terrain.” (Kate’s Ordinarium)  I feel a need to re-orient myself to my own life again, because I feel like I’ve made a lot of changes recently and haven’t quite caught up to myself yet.
I guess I’m writing these half formed thoughts now as another reminder to myself. That everything is always evolving. That the more comfortable I can become with the parts of me that are unfinished or not quite smoothed out and nicely packaged and presented, the wider and more steady my foundation becomes.  As one of my new favorite writers Jen Lee says, the more we are loved, the braver we can become.  And for me that includes loving all those parts of myself that are still being worked out.
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