Tag Archives: Jen Lee

Coffee Date

20 Jan

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After the reinvention of Red’s coffee shop in Santa Barbara’s funk zone, Goleta Coffee Company has been my favorite coffee shop. I don’t come too often, because there are so many more that are closer to where I live. But I really just love this place, feel instantly at ease, cozy, and energized by all the visual eccentricities. I adore places like this. A little industrial, a little mismatched and haphazard, and if you can’t have an outdoor patio, then yes please to the fireplace surrounded by booths and a couch. Some of the furniture is quite hideous, and there’s a crazy red paisley rug on the concrete floor under the sofa, but these things make me want to camp out for hours all the same. I’m really here to do some IIN coursework, which I’m excited to get started (who ever predicted I would say that about school!), but I was listening to one of Jen Lee’s Retrospective podcasts, (where she has conversations with so many different people with different backgrounds and different kinds of work about how they got where they are, stories from their life and what drives, inspires and provokes thought in them.) on the way over here. She interviewed a novelist, Diana Spechler in the one I listened to this morning, and I was so captivated by this conversation. It just sparked so many thoughts in me.. Those kinds of mind-boggling, open-ended, questioning thoughts about why the society is in the state and shape that it is, and how achingly delicate and impressionable the human mind can be, and how long we can hold on to healable wounds that we try not to realize are there. It made me think about how so many people are in such desperate need for connection, whether they realize it or not. And how overwhelming that need seems sometimes, and by that I mean the need in the world. How great the need is for mentors. The need for, not even service and resources and organizing committees, but for one individual to sit with another individual and be able to hold a space of patience and honesty and unconditional love. For a conversation.
I guess, for me anyways, it always comes back to conversation. So much can be healed through conversation with another. Through entering into a real conversation with yourself about how you’re making your home in the world and what is or isn’t nourishing you. A conversation with the scarier parts of the secret wishes and judgments that we try to keep locked inside ourselves so that the world stays properly balanced on our own self determined axis.
And I don’t think the power even lies in finding the answer. I think back to how many friends and former homeless shelter clients, and even fictional characters (which you know were based on real emotions) have said, if only I knew why I do this! Why do I have this pattern, this reflex, why do I keep myself here, why do I do this to myself… if I only knew why, maybe I could do something about it. It sounds almost like just another mind trick to keep yourself stationary, doesn’t it? Safe in the obvious truth that until you figure out the answer… there’s nothing that can possibly be done differently.
I think fixating on the answer is a stalling technique. And I think the real power lies in the conversation. In the attempt to understand. In the willingness to hold a dialogue with yourself or someone else, or in prayer or in meditation, and to ask the difficult questions, “the questions that have no right to go away” (David Whyte). To always try to have that courageous conversation. It opens up those dark and messy places, it brings them into the light, little by little, until they don’t feel so taboo anymore. Until the twisted and aching, the hidden and seemingly shameful are finally recognized as passing, malleable, and so unavoidably human and common and cyclical. I don’t know how it happened, that unpleasant feelings became so unmentionable. Like excitement and enthusiasm and affection and satisfaction are the most acceptably universal feelings. But shame… loneliness, and despair and numbness and uncertainty and even sometimes desire… struggle… how did those feelings get exiled? To the land of no-that-never-happens-to-me or don’t-you-mention-that-out-loud-because-it-might-make-people-uncomfortable… to see or talk about an emotion that has a story attached to it. Its all just so stupidly common. From drug addictions, to body image and disordered eating, to the aftermath of feeling abandoned by a parent to the regular old longing for things to be shaken up a little.

How the mind reels.
I may have ended up in a very different place than the podcast started me out with. But isn’t that just how thoughts are. They tip and they pour into other thoughts, which tumbled out in various directions and trip over personal histories and experiences before being sifted into new or rehashed notions.
And I just had to get that all out onto a page, even a virtual one, so that I can focus on learning dietary theories and planning out my February.

Thanks for having coffee with me.

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Daily Intention: Finishing Things

2 May

Finishing things… Tying up loose ends… Wrapping things up…

To be honest today’s intention is a little slow in the uptake.

I can blame it on the gorgeous hefty armful of an almost seven month old I have in tow… but it’s really more me.  There’s a handful of things I have occupying space around the house.  Small, easy tasks left half completed that are not only physically taking up precious space in my surroundings, but are also sucking up valuable energy in the corners of my mind.

I remember listening to a podcast by Jen Lee, about this same topic.  She said that she thinks that when we put off finishing little things like this, we’re actually putting off the thing that is going to hit the to do list after they’re checked off.  I’m not sure what it is that I may potentially be avoiding… but I’m sick of these things hanging around my home and my head.

Checked off so far:

  • I took some baby clothes to a consignment store this morning that have been sitting in either our living room, or the trunk of our car for at least three or four weeks.
  • I’ve started on our meal plan for this month that I’ve been meaning to do for the past week.

And I was about to go on about how I’m lagging, but actually as I’m writing it out, I think I’m doing okay so far.

So, thanks for reading!  With my confidence renewed…

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.”