Try Again

Because I was sad and going through heartbreak and loss and self-imposed unemployment, when I met my friend Meredith 6.5 years ago, I became instantly connected to her unflappable honesty and courageous vulnerability. Because Meredith is wise and sees beyond the surface of all living things, at that time, she gave me a book by Margaret Wheatly titled Perseverance.

Because, since then, I’ve moved twice, gotten married, pregnant twice and all kinds of other things, the book got shelved upstairs in between a pile of other books that I’d been carrying around with me since college. Forgotten but not lost, it sat there.

Because 6.5 years later today, I was feeling shaky and irritable by my ongoing situation with my injured foot and my forever recovering hip, I started organizing my bookshelf. Because I felt hopeless and sad and somewhat resigned and even a tad victimized, I noticed the title, and remembered brave Meredith. I put the book beside my bed, and told myself I would look at it later.

Because I had a rough night with my kids, with pain in my ankle and with myself, I laid down this evening and let my fears and resignation and sadness out. I cried and considered that I might never be better. I felt like a victim, and as the tears came faster and faster, I allowed myself to believe that I was one. That my chances were gone and my choices were too limited and enough was enough.

About an hour ago, I said: DONE. I don’t even want to try anymore.

But, my daughter wandered into my room to see if I was okay, and as I wiped my tears and sat up, I watched her walk directly to my bedside table and pick up Perseverance.

Because the title struck me again, I opened the book, and flipped through a few pages. Because her name is Eliot and we named her after both T.S. and George, I stopped on a page with a poem written by T.S.

Only Don’t Know

There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions

That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.

-T.S. Eliot

Because I needed to read those very exact words at that very exact moment, I sucked in a big breath. Hugged my baby girl. Touched a hand to my heart and felt the current washing me back through this year, last year, the year before that and every moment all the way back to that time when Meredith gave me this book.

And, because of this gift that has made its way to me after 6.5 years, 2 moves, 2 children, one husband and all the things, I remembered the one thing that I am best in the world at. And, that is TRYING.

I was never the fastest runner.
Not the top of my class.
I was not the most beautiful.
I have never been perfectly coiffed.
I am not the best cook.
I am not the best writer.
I am often not on time.
I am generally dressed for yoga or cleaning my house or both.
I am not shiny.
I am not new.

But, damn guys, I CAN TRY.

Trying’s the thing I was basically born to do. When I don’t know what to do, I try. When things don’t go my way, I try. When things fall apart, I try. I try and I try and I try. If trying was a sport, I would be an OLYMPIAN.

I am not one to refuse my effort.

I am not going to start tonight.

What I mean to say is that it can be painful the way life will hurl us in the direction of our destiny, even under brutal circumstances and in perfectly awkward and downright uncomfortable positions. It is so easy to feel like we’ve been run over by the Bad Luck Bus, and like we’re never getting up and never going anywhere ever again. Or, at least it feels easy to me.

But, dammit. Life doesn’t want it that way. It wants us good and bloody and tired and staring down our path with haggard breathing, AND YET. Try again. Try some more.

“I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without
love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.” -T.S. Eliot

Try. Try again. Try some more.

xo,

M

Quiet Time

Gang,

I was thinking about you and about me and about My Daily Present last night, and I was thinking that I just wanted to sit down together and have a heart to heart. Can we do that?

Every. Single. Year. Winter is just THE SEASON for personal work for me. Somehow, I forget this by the time it’s November, and I’m not prepared when it is suddenly January, and I need nothing more than to put down the outside world and turn my focus inward.

Guys, it happens EVERY YEAR. You’d think by now I would be better prepared (I AM NOT). You’d think I would have made a plan. Set up a strategy. Carved out a ritual. NOPE.

What I do is I get hit over the head. Flail around a bit. Stop. Drop. Roll around. Sit up. Face the music. LIGHT BULB. That’s right! It’s that time again. Time for private, personal work.

So, every year (let’s just imagine that phrase in neon blinking lights), by mid-January, I am here, right where I am even today: Needing a lot of private time, a lot of QUIET time to peel away at the layers. To unearth. To drill down.

Right this very minute, I am up to this work, and I wanted you to know. Because it’s the kind of work that I can really, truly do, but it isn’t the kind of work that I really, truly want to share. Not just yet.

This isn’t because I like to keep secrets (we all know I’m terrible at that). It’s more along the lines of my needing to invest a kind of wholehearted devotion to vulnerability, and this vulnerability requires quiet. Respect. Close confidants. It feels most natural to me to act like a mama bear with myself during this time. To nurture and cover and protect this tender work. When old things come bubbling up to the surface, it is my most precious responsibility to move slowly and gently in their direction. I cannot blare the truth from the rooftops right now, because I simply don’t know it. What I know is that THIS is my season for self-care, self-repair, self discovery and personal work.

Doing this work this way is the best and only gift that I can give myself when life hands me LESSONS (looking at you right now, life). It’s the kindest, gentlest, most practical way to work right now.

I’ve learned (FINALLY) that if I don’t stop and step into this time with appropriate attention and care, if I ignore the signs and push myself to pretend or fake it or grin and bare it, then many ailments will follow, including:

  • Sickness
  • Injury
  • Pain
  • Anger/Frustration at all living beings
  • Sadness
  • Stuck-ness
  • Lack of creativity
  • Loss of perspective
  • Loss of connections
  • And more!

Yes, the cost of not hunkering down when hunkering down is in order is just TOO HIGH for ol’ me. I can’t do it anymore. I did it for years. I would skip the process. And, every time! E-V-E-R-Y-T-I-M-E I would get in a pickle.

So, I don’t do that anymore. When winter rolls in and rolls deep, I go ahead and roll with it.

Which brings me back to the point, and that point is this:

I don’t know if you’re like this, or if you can relate. Does your motherboard start to need rejiggering in one particular season each year? Do you start to find yourself hiding or shutting down or feeling insides on the outside kind of exposed? If you do, then I want you to know that I am right there with you. Doing my trenches time. Digging up and rinsing off and laying down and letting it come or go or be.

I want you to know that I know how hard it is to face yourself when things feel complicated. When your idea of how you thought your life would turn out turns caddywompus, when your marriage goes bump, when your work as a mother becomes more challenging than you feel equipped to manage. When relationships fall apart, or you lose your passion for your work or you simply find yourself without purpose, in general.

These times are hard, but I have learned, they are as necessary as a season. They are as usual as the turning of the page on a calendar. And, if you are trudging through some places in yourself that are feeling STICKY AF, then I want you to know that I am, too.

I’m not publishing a bunch this winter-not nearly as much as I had hoped. But, I am writing often and a lot. I am writing my way right through this season and this moment with everything I’ve got. I am just writing and writing and looking and looking and waiting and waiting. I am pushing self-care, I am pushing quiet, I am pushing gentle, I am pushing SLOW. And, I’m trying not to push much else.

Thank you for your patience while I work quietly and precisely in my own personal way. I am so grateful that I chose to reclaim my writing space when I did. I am a writer, and I write to understand myself, the world and pretty much all of the things. Even when I am not publishing, I am up to some kind of curiosity endeavor. I am most certainly here, hard at work beside you.

Let’s do this.

xo,

M

Well, friends. I come to you in confession today, and the truth is this:

Over the last several weeks, I just completely forgot to have even a speck of fun over here. I admit it. I got so caught up and wrapped up and jacked up on politics and being a grown up, and I forgot to kick back and laugh a little and be creative just for the sake of, well…creativity and laughter and kicking it.

Today, the kids and I came home from school and gymnastics, and I asked them to wash their hands immediately, like I do (small people are walking VESSELS OF DISEASE, I tell you). They washed their hands and came into the living room to color and destroy everything within arm’s reach, so I walked to the bathroom to wash my own hands. And, Lord, have mercy.

What were these two miniature people DOING in this bathroom, because couldn’t be simple hand washing! I mean, guys, the soap container was on its side and dried soap was smeared (and strangely, colored blue and purple) all along the sink and the floor and all the things. The hand towel was balled up on its hanger, barely hanging on by a thread and, again, a lot of bizarre blue and purple (was there a marker in the car I hadn’t noticed?). Bubbles in the sink. Bubbles on the floor. Just like blue and purple and bubbles chaos went to a car wash in my bathroom, and oh, my friends, I had a start for a moment, and then.

I had to sit down and laugh. Because chaos is okay. Let’s say that together with feeling, shall we? Chaos is okay!

Yes, it is.

We are full grown men and women. We can do all of these hard times and difficult conversations and frightening moments and unnecessary threats. We’re going to be able to clean up the messes and put things back together. We’re going to be able to stand up for one another and our planet and for those in need and for the oppressed. We’re going to be able to do the things we’re scared of, and try the thing we haven’t tried before and make it through all of the 3 year old tantrums and survive another bloody Valentine’s Day. Yes, we are!

We’re going to be able to do it, because we’re grown ups, and that’s what we are FULLY CAPABLE OF DOING. This is why we’re here, guys. To walk into the exploded, tiny bathrooms of our lives and put things back where they belong. We are so entirely grown and possible and ABLE. And, if we aren’t able, we can remember that we are also RESOURCEFUL. We are overwhelmed, but we are breathing! With eyes wide open! Let’s start there. And, while we’re breathing and looking, maybe we can remember to do all things with some amount of levity. With a sense of humor. With a kind of ease. Oh, we do deserve that, my friends. Certainly, we do.

I don’t know about you, but when I forget to be easy, things stop working right. Things start clamping down. My hands begin to ball up, and my jaw sets itself into place and my legs lock and my brain starts exploding and bubbles start going EVERYWHERE. And, worst of all, I forget to laugh. I forget that I did not come here to be a hard-hearted person with a tough mug. I forget that I came here to live fully and honestly and joyfully.

Now, I just have to stop for a minute and make sure you understand that I’m not suggesting we have to all stop caring or paying attention or standing up for what is right. Finding humor in chaos and messy times doesn’t mean giving up the work at hand. It simply suggests a kind of uncurling of gripped fingers, and allowing for shoulders to drop (dramatically, if they must!). It begs a breath of fresh air and a lighter touch. It simply means: Loosen up, and live into this in a way that won’t suck your soul all the way out of your blessed body.

You feel me?

I really needed this moment today in a most desperate way. Because the world needs me hard, but I cannot sustain generosity and kindness for others when I am a ball of fire and mud. If I’m going to roll up to this circus show and make some noise, then I will have to show up with laughter, with love and with a whole boatload of personal flair. And, none of those things are even remotely accessible when I am heavy. I must, oh I must, I MUST stay light.

Friends and neighbors, I invite you to join me in taking a nice, deep, relaxing breath of bathroom chaos this week, and returning to the work at hand with renewed freedom, lightness and creativity. Laughter. Fun. Play. Bubbles all over. The mess is outside, and the mess in inside. Still, we can do this! We are grown ups. The most fun and wonderful and capable kinds, indeed.

xo,

M

 

The Road

When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, my son was barely 8 months old. It was spring, and only 9 months before, I had been just myself on the outside. I was still adjusting to being home all day with my baby, even though it had been my choice. The year my son was born, I married my husband, we moved into a new home, my grandmother died and I left my job. I often looked around me and found that I could not look for long. So, I looked at my baby, instead.

After all, my son’s birth had somehow rewired my system. His life had multiplied my own, and given me depth where there had been vacancy. Where there was longing, now there was a tiny, breathing person with constant love and endless tenderness. I felt split open, and being split open felt good.

But, as he grew, and as the focus on my life pulled back, I began to see that I was also fragmented. I didn’t know my husband very well. I knew zilch about marriage, raising children and being a good mother. I had always worked hard, but now I didn’t get paid for my work. My ambition was suddenly measured by tiny developmental milestones, and I was unsure: Is this me in here? Who is doing anything anymore, except a person who is trying very, very hard at things that are very, very important.

God, I was scared. And then, I was pregnant again.

I wasn’t upset about my pregnancy, but I was scared. I already had a baby. My husband and I were so new. I spent most of my time looking at my son, and I could not fathom sharing that vision with another child. We didn’t know what we were doing, but we knew that we were doing it, and so we planned for another baby.

The night I found out I was pregnant, I got into bed and I cried. I cried because I was hopeful, and I cried because I KNEW. I knew that inside my body was my daughter, and I knew that I was in uncharted territory. I look back at me 4 years ago, and I can see myself, so soft and gentle and wanting and willing. I was ready to be everything that everyone needed me to be, even though I had no idea how I would do it. When I look back at me, I just want to hold myself. Tell myself everything I needed to hear. Like:

Baby, you are bigger than everything you have ever imagined. You were built to rise and flow and create and continue. You are made of the truth. You don’t have to strive. You can sometimes wait and listen. You don’t have to worry. You will find the way. You will always find the way. And when you can’t find the way, THE WAY WILL FIND YOU.

This was a long, hard lesson for me to learn, as it turns out. I didn’t grow up with a mom who told me about myself when I forgot. I grew up with my mom on weekends and in the summertime, and even then, she often didn’t know how to talk to me about…me. My mom did the best she could with what she had, but what she had was simply not enough for a girl like me. My mom was busy, tied up working hard on her own life, trying desperately to find her own ground. By the time I arrived in her world, she still had a long road of focus on her own two feet to help me find mine.

For a long time, I tried to help her find her feet. For a long time, I thought that my life was about HER LIFE. I thought that I was supposed to be the kind of person who would make her life easier. It took me a very long time to understand that I was made for something entirely my own.

In fact, if I went back 4 years ago, and got beside myself in that bed, I would also tell me:

You get to be you, now. Yes, baby, just YOU.

And, after 4 years of babies and birth and body and everything and everyone needing me, I am finally here. That was the lesson. This is what I was working on:

I am precisely myself. Precisely who I was meant to be. Enough on the inside, enough on the outside. Precisely my own person. Precisely me.

This hasn’t made life immediately easy. I am not sure of my circumstances at all times. Some things are hard. I still have a new marriage. My babies are still small. I have physical issues, and I must remain very close and very connected to my body. After I had my daughter, I suffered from postpartum anxiety, and I felt drained of energy for an entire year. I made choices out of fear or insecurity, and those choices always caused me varying degrees of discomfort. But, I have stayed on this road. And, on this road, I can always hear the small voice. And, if I can hear the small voice, I know that I am precisely myself.

And, if I am precisely myself, I am whole. And, finally, I just don’t want to be anything else.

You know, life hands us all kinds of choices and events and mistakes and circumstances. Things will always change, but if we’re devoted to ourselves, we are always enough for all of it. I have overcome challenges that would have seemed insurmountable 4 years ago, and that is because there is no limit to personal strength once we allow ourselves to tap into it. We don’t climb the mountain fearlessly, but we climb, all the same. And, if we keep climbing, we always reach the summit. We simply do.

Do not give up on yourself. At any point, or under any circumstances. You’re simply not allowed. If no one ever told you, then let me be the first:

Baby, you are bigger than everything you have ever imagined. You were built to rise and flow and create and continue. You are made of the truth. You don’t have to strive. You can sometimes wait and listen. You don’t have to worry. You will find the way. You will always find the way. And when you can’t find the way, THE WAY WILL FIND YOU.

Trust me on that one, darlings.

xo,

M

Thanks

For over a week, I have worked on the same piece of writing, trying without success to tie it up and have it come together and finish strong, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. A few days ago, I decided to let it lie. I decided it wasn’t working out for a reason, and I figured out that the reason is this:

I’m so swept up in politics that I’m just having a hard time looking away. And, looking at anything else. Even everyday details. Even my kids’ cherubic faces. Even things that are working.

So, I woke up today and decided it is important that I turn my attention, ever so intentionally and briefly, toward the things that are ALRIGHT. That are okay. That are right now. That are rising up. That are progress in the present. It is time for gratitude.

Whenever life is heavy or hard or dark or bleak, I find it is most important to take stock of all things that are light or uncomplicated or bright or possible. It doesn’t take away the work to be done or the pain to be felt or the length of the night, but it certainly is a gateway to RELIEF. An open door onto a solid, steady place to stand and sit or lie down and EXHALE. Gratitude is the pause I need when the pace becomes hectic. It is the space between where we’re headed and where we’ve been. It is a straight shot of RIGHT NOW IS ENOUGH. And, I could go for some of that right about now. You? Here goes…

Oh, Universe. Thank you. Thank you for:

  • My healthy children. They are okay. Eliot fell down our stairs the other night (more like heavy rolled, but SHIT), and I about had a heart attack. She was and is fine, and I thank you for that. These little people are my entire heart, and they just go walking around on this earth, outside of my body, doing all kinds of things and growing up and turning into people that they were meant to be and it’s all a little intense sometimes (INHALE). So, I thank you for at least keeping them safe and healthy and well for one more day. God, I love them deep and wide and hard and strong and forever.
  • My body. My sweet body has really given me more than I ever could have asked for in this life, including my children, good health and a safe place to house my spirit and my voice and my own little piece of God inside. Even when I tried to beat it up with anorexia and bulimia, it forgave. It said, I love you, let me care for you, please do care for me. Even when I over-exercised and pushed it past its edge for years, it never got angry, it kept on going and kept on giving. Even after babies and hip surgeries and so much healing, it just keeps showing up and working hard to do what is necessary. Nowadays, I only want to give this body everything it deserves, including respect, love, appreciation, clean water, fresh plants, delicious food, all the sunshine, good coffee, big hugs and a nice glass of wine. I would not trade this body for the world. I love this vessel, and to this vessel I say: THANK YOU.
  • My good fortune. Even in tough times, I have had good luck. I am able to spend time with my small kids who won’t be small forever. I am able to do work that I enjoy. I am able to buy nutritious food and live in my comfortable house and drive in my comfortable car. We aren’t wealthy. We do not have all the things. But, we have ENOUGH. Especially in these frightening times, when so many have NOTHING, I can never complain about my own lot. We are fortunate, and I won’t take it for granted. Thank you.
  • My sisters. I have been thinking a lot about women these last few weeks. You’ve probably heard at least one woman tell you in her life that she doesn’t trust other women, that girls can be hard, that women can be mean. We have a long way to go to overcome internalized patriarchy and our feelings of scarcity. But, while we’re working on it, I am just so glad that we’re us. That we’re wired the way we are. That we’re all so different. That we’re more than our bodies. That we’re more than our empathy. That we’re more than our biology. That we’re more than mothers. That we’re MORE. In my darkest, hardest times, the people who have understood me and loved me and been with me have been women. My aunts, my best girlfriends, my social media sisters, my co-workers, my kids’ teachers, even the incredibly supportive female security guard at Harris Teeter who never stops telling me how proud of me she is when I come hobbling in with the crutch. What a pack of wholehearted human beings. What a bunch of warriors. What a bunch of big, brave, big, brave, BIG people. I’m so grateful us. Thank you, for my sisters.
  • My husband. Our marriage has never been easy. We got married and pregnant at the same time, and then got pregnant again. We have had 5 years of crash courses in major life choices. We have both had to work very, very hard. We don’t agree on politics at least half of the time, we have entirely different temperaments and we were raised in almost completely different ways. We really do kind of have to anchor everything on our mutual respect and love for one another, and that can be hard to do from time to time. He keeps doing it. I do, too. And, that’s really all it takes, you know? Thank you.
  • Myself. After years of pregnancy, having babies, being consumed with babies and just trying to find my way through motherhood, I finally, actually came up for air this year. I remembered myself. I spotted my hand coming up out of the earth, and I grabbed it and I pulled myself up and through and into the LIGHT. I don’t feel sure of all of the things in the world. I do feel sure that I can do hard things. That I am powerful. That I am enough. That I am exactly the one I have been waiting for. I’m so proud of myself. I worked long and hard to get here. I took every kind of loopty-loo, and I backtracked and had to reroute and then take the same road, over and over and over and over again. I unpacked and repacked and unpacked and repacked and unpacked. And, you know, I still have a lot of unpacking to do, but I just don’t feel nervous about that. I just don’t feel like that’s some big problem. I am just the girl to do the work that I am precisely meant to do. I am ENOUGH. Oh, self, thank you.

It is a wooly world, and we have all got to keep our eyes open and our hearts open and our minds open. This requires so much focus, and it begs for breath. For a break. For a pause. For quiet knowing that the way may be hard, but we’ve got the tools to make it.

Thank you for helping me know that.

xo,

M

 

 

Gentle Warrior

Oh, friends. I have been feeling so HARD lately. When I look at my country, when I look out at the world, the surface of my skin turns to rock, and I am hard. In every direction I turn, I can feel it: that brittle, rough and steely surface forming and forming fast. It is wrapping me up, and I am wrapping myself up in it. And, oh my goodness. It is not the way.

Listen, if I have learned anything from moving slowly and hardly at all last year, it is this: Gentle is the way.

What I learned (and forgot, so thanks for that shame spiral) was that gentle is also STRONG, because it can FEEL without immediately walling off, without ultimately shutting down. Gentle is open, while hard is closed. Gentle is deliberate. Rough is reactionary.

It isn’t just the world, either, that’s turning me to stone, lately. It’s my personal life. It’s that I’ve grown and changed, but then, I still have more growing and more changing to do. It’s that I’m awake to what works, and I can’t be asleep to what doesn’t. It’s that finding myself doesn’t mean that I figured everything else out. It’s that raising small kids can be relentless, and marriage is work, and I want to lie down and rest.

Rather than let myself lie down and rest, I’ve been pushing onward, steeling my face and my senses and my nerves against the wind, and barreling on like some kind of stoic soldier. This is a fool’s errand, because friends, of all the things I am in this world, I am farthest from being an actual, successful stoic soldier. I am literally a photo of an antonym to a stoic soldier- all warm hugs and tears at commercials and poetry over punishment. No, friends. The way for me is GENTLE. It is touching down and lifting up.

The voice was nagging at me this morning, and I realized I hadn’t heard from her in a while, so I shut up. And, I listened. Here’s what she said:

Do you know why you are angry? Because you’re being too hard. On everything. On everyone. On yourself, most of all. Do you know why you feel squeezed? Because you’re squeezing. Everything. Everyone. Yourself, most of all. Do you know why you’re squeezing? Because you are tired. Afraid. In need of rest over answers. Do not continue this search you’re on for the culpable party in every room. Doing hard things doesn’t mean YOU have to be hard. Doing hard things isn’t someone’s fault. Put down your sword and your shield. Walk over to that open window, climb through and walk into the light for a moment. There, there. Gentle, isn’t it? That’s your way, little one. Now, lie down. Take a rest.

Since the voice gave me a tender talking to, I have decided to hit a reset button on myself. I am going to unplug and restart, and while my data reloads, I am taking a nice, peaceful breather. I am going to plan a night away from my family, all by myself. I am going to take a morning and write and read and listen to music and not rush about. I am going to remove the finish line from my hip recovery. I am going to remove the scoreboard from parenting. I am going to let a few things figure themselves out without me doing all of the figuring. I am going to let the world be a mess. I am going to let my country be in upheaval.

I am going to clear the sweat from my brown, wipe the mud from my boots and cultivate a quieter, less resistant frame of mind. This is what I need right now. TO BE GENTLE.

Also, while taking this time to reboot Mira, I have considered loving and embracing all of these things I have felt steeled against. I have an inkling that if I can let be for a moment, then I can bring back my connection to what is broken without all of the baggage of immediate solutions and constant fear over what may be and what must be changed immediately. Patience, child, is what the voice says. You are not a stoic soldier.

No, I’m not. I am a gentle warrior. A fighter who cries. A woman who cannot do life like a rock. Back to it. <3

Onward,

M

What You Do Right Now is What Matters

I’ve been reading and following the teachings of Pema Chodron for roughly 12 years now. While I’m not a Buddhist, I do feel a subtle connection to Buddhist philosophy, and when it comes to Pema, well, her teaching nails me every time.

This morning, I awoke to this in my email inbox, as part of her weekly Heart Advice:

“The key instruction is to stay in the present. Don’t get caught up in hopes of what you’ll achieve and how good your situation will be some day in the future. What you do right now is what matters.”

It felt (and feels) like a good place to start, and to start over.

For the last week, I’ve been snowed in at home, unable to do my routine and my schedule in any normal pattern. I really rubbed up against being “stuck” at home, with nowhere to go, in the cold, surrounded by snow (cold + wet = huh?). I love my kids and love time with them, but being stuck indoors with them day in and day out felt like an imposition. I missed quiet and space to do my work, to show up here and just to be alone.

Also, I’ve been having a setback in my hip recovery, and I have been having ALL of the roller coaster feelings about it. Maybe it’s because the setback coincided with the holidays or with cold winter or with the new year or with the impending inauguration or with a snowstorm, but somewhere in there, I began to give the setback more control over me than I had over it. The setback started to MEAN something, and whatever it meant was BAD. I felt like I needed to ACT and CHANGE and DO SOMETHING, and then 7 inches of snow in southeastern Virginia and the world ground to a screeching halt, and say what?

Gang, I got SO swept up in this experience of wanting everything to be other than it was, in wanting to DEAL WITH THE SETBACK and HAVE MY PERSONAL SPACE and ADJUST WEATHER CONDITIONS and MOVE FORWARD AT ALL COSTS. I worked myself into such a tizzy, spinning a maze of a web around myself and almost, ALMOST missed the point, and the point is:

Right now.

Allow me to elaborate. All of my stories about what was or will be or ought to be are just actually, really and truly STORIES. Guys, I’m crying while I write this, because I mean this, and I know it’s true. Stories don’t matter. What was, was. What will be, will be. I can’t control a zillion things, and when I try to, I kill myself. What matters is RIGHT NOW. It’s a cliche you’d read on a bumper sticker and barely notice, but it is the way: What I do right now (in the present) is of most and highest importance. Always.

I just spent 2 weeks having an out of body because I’m afraid I’m never going to walk again. But, I missed something, and that something is WHAT IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING: I’m just having a setback. It is so simple and tender and normal. It’s just the progression of healing. Go forward, go forward fast, go forward faster-bump. Step back, get back up again. KEEP GOING.

I just spent 5 days worrying that I’ll never have a normal week again or get anything done again or breathe without locking myself in my bathroom again, but I missed something: It’s time for quiet and down time with my family. It’s time for reconnecting with them without a schedule. Even with my angst and anxiety, somehow, we managed to do that. Today, on day 5, I could feel that the kids and I had a renewed closeness. Usually, we are together every day before and after preschool (which is only half a day), but we’re always hustling to the playground or to appointments or to playdates or even just home. Without anywhere to go or anything to do, we could count on each other to just sort of be around. And, I think I needed that as much as my kids did.

Today, while doing my PT exercises, I noticed that I feel okay. I don’t feel bad. I’m not in alarming pain, and my discomfort is not through the roof. I am okay. I’m not moving quite as quickly and as well as I was a few weeks ago, but I’m moving okay. It is not the end. I do not have to throw in the towel.

All of this just reminds me to ask myself ever so gently to please slow down, and take a breath and be easy. I am not running a race or hosting a bake off. I am doing magical life experiences that are as basic as stringing bead necklaces with my children after lunch. I am doing an incredibly dynamic healing process that has been in the works for a particularly long time. I am a woman relearning her capacity, a mother first learning her ability. I am not up to the fast checkout lane. I am up to what I am doing right now. I am up to what matters.

It’s so easy to slide away from what is in favor of what could or would or should be, and I succumb to this tendency every time life shakes my personal snow globe, a little bit. Instead, reality. Right now: It is my work to bring my hands back together at my heart and refocus the lens on my eyes so that I can take in exactly what is around me while staying close to what is inside me.

Period.

Feels good to be back,

M

Start, Again.

I don’t often blather on about my walking status, because 1)it’s been such a winding experience and 2)I cannot afford to be “down” about it.

After all, I’ve been in and out of injuries for a few years now, gang. It’s not new to me, and I have grown used to some level of discomfort, for better or for worse.  I have done the thing where I drown in the challenges and the hard times and the difficulty. I know that when the swell of emotions associated with chronic pain and constant limitations and overwhelming financial commitments (medical care costs ALL the money) set in, I have to ride the wave. But, then. I have to do something else.

I have to get up and keep going. I have to trust. I have to try. And, when things that I’m trying prove unsuccessful, I have to try something else. I have to be resourceful. I have to put a lot of time and energy into being focused on where I am, and where I am headed. I have to leave out how I feel about it, and leave in what I am able to do about it.

Because, let’s face it. We have all got our shit storms, and from time to time, they make land. And, when they do, we all have to deal with what we have to deal with. I am one person dealing with my things, but I’m not alone or special in it.

The difference with my issue is that I wear it on the outside. You can’t miss my mess. I can’t cover it up with flattering clothing, or smear a wod of foundation across it. I can’t stuff it into too tight jeans or wrap it in a bright scarf and call it PERFECT, DAAAALING. I am here. Hobbling along. Stuck on my crutch. Not sure where the finish line is. Not yet, anyway.

Lately, I’ve been up and down about my leg. I’ve been frustrated and emotional and upset and angry. Again, I want this process to reach its completion. I have this urge toward a more “normal” life, where I can move around more comfortably, run after my kids without pain and wander the aisles of Target pushing a cart (I know, I have big plans for my life). Anyway, where I am isn’t always an easy place to be. I search myself for solutions, and I still come up needing a lot of help and guidance and support. Even then, I get on my way, but I go slow.

I get impatient with the slow pace. I get irritable with the one day at a time routine. I get pissed at the present moment. I get fed up with where I am.

Fortunately, when I begin to go to those places, a light bulb starts to flicker on, and I remember what to do next:

Stop. Deep breath. Touch down. Hold close. EXHALE. Start again.

The thing about hard things is they’re often a marathon. We don’t grow or learn or get strong by taking a one hour, online course in tough shit. Life doesn’t show us what we’re made of by sending us a pamphlet and scheduling a 30 minute telecon, so we can phone it in. It’s daily trudging through trenches that makes the journey worth the while, and every time I forget this, the universe conspires to remind me.

I’m not up to fast fix-its and overnight healing over here, although, if I could wave a wand and make it so, believe me, I would. Every time I want to give up and throw my crutch and beat the ground and throw up my middle fingers toward the sky, that is the time I MOST need to:

Stop. DEEP BREATH. Touch down. Hold close. EXHALE. Start again.

This is a basic pattern for operating all of life’s most difficult equipment, and some day, I’m going to be really grateful that I learned it. Even today, when I’m feeling so overwhelmed by the work still waiting for me, I have an inkling of that gratitude. Because, I CHOOSE this kind of journey. I CHOOSE this marathon. I WANT to be a person who is fully awake. And that means being awake in the light AND in the dark. I don’t get to cherry pick the experiences I must face along a road that I have already chosen and begun to walk along.

After all, this road has freed me from wasting time and energy on things that didn’t feed me, and I TRUST this freedom. I believe in it. And, believing in it means believing in me, and I do. I believe in me (cue the choir, please?).

I’m not okay, every day. I miss out on things, and I miss the more mobile me, something awful. Sometimes, I see other mothers or fathers doing things with their kids that I can’t do, and I feel sad for myself or, worse, sad for my kids. But then, I think about the other things I’m giving them, like ME- a mother who shows up for her hard things, every single day. I don’t give up, and I don’t back down. I struggle, but I always show up. They’ll never have to wonder if we can do tough shit together, because we’ve certainly proven that WE CAN. My kids don’t always see me as the most physical person, but they feel my presence, and they know I am right here. And, that’s because, even though I am limited, I am SO HERE. In the present, telling the truth, showing up no matter what.

I don’t talk about being hobbled because in so many ways, I don’t feel hobbled. I’m right here, showing up every day, and when I forget what I am up to, it’s as simple as:

Stop. DEEP BREATH. Touch down. Hold close. EXHALE. Start again.

And, I am back. Back to showing up, back to trust, back to believing in this and, above all things, BELIEVING IN ME.

xo,

M

Help V. Desperation

Guys,

I’m going to try to be brief today (WHO AM I KIDDING), because this day is chasing me down like a something or other. Here’s what I need you to know:

I had a capital bad news bears day. First of all, I was running late to PT, and then my door handle on my car stopped working. Guys, I got stuck inside my car in broad daylight. With the damn crutch. I’m losing my mind trying to figure out how to get out, before giving up and crawling (more like scrambling) over to the passenger seat (with the crutch, I mean-JESUS) and getting out the passenger side. I was verklempt, but I was getting over it.

Then, bad news about medical insurance. I’m going to leave out details here, but let’s just assume that whenever the healthcare industry is involved, excessive inefficiency and SOME CRAZY ASS BULLSHIT is involved. Anyway, so some bad news. I have to make a million phone calls, and spend a lot of time back and forth between providers and insurance and do I have time for this? Does that matter? Did I just escape my car in tears with a crutch out of the side door?

Moving on. I was upset. I had work to do, so I did it. I picked up my kids from preschool and we came home and spent the afternoon avoiding a full out pre-k toddler brawl. No one napped. Everyone was fidgety. We needed something, and we didn’t know what. One child tried to assault the other, and the other, in retaliation, stole the other’s calico critter car and ran away into hiding. It was just ENOUGH.

Anywho, these were not life threatening emergencies going down, but let’s call them stressful situations. And, in the midst of that stress, I started to feel an old, hairy feeling (cue loud booming sounds and high-pitched wailing now, please?):

DESPERATION.

Do you know desperation? No, problem. I DO! Desperation and I date back to EARLY DAYS IN LIFE, and when desperation comes calling, I know what he wants:

TO STEAL ALL HOPE AND COURAGE AND SANITY.

He’s kind of a dick (there, I said it). Anywho, Desperation set in, and I began to FORGET all of the things that I have worked very hard to know and trust and rely on. I began to REMEMBER what I do with Desperation, and I began to behave in an old-fashioned, desperate sort of way. I got scared. I thought the worst. I reached out in wrong directions.

Fortunately, life is a spiral (we’ll unpack this another day), and I get to keep facing the same things on repeat (great), so I was familiar with the WRONG things. I was well-acquainted with Desperation’s cronies. I got halfway to the dark side before I REMEMBERED:

Not you, sister. This is not your cross to carry, anymore.

So, guys. EXHALE, okay. Because I put my hands around Desperation, and I held him close and I told him that I appreciate him for showing up and not leaving me here all by myself, but no thank you. Also, LEAVE, BITCH.

And, it took a minute, but I figured out that:

I just really do need the help of all kinds of different people in my life, right now. I kind of rely on that help. This is a vulnerable and scary place to be. I NEED people, and when that need feels threatened, old man Desperation comes a calling. He means well, but I need something else.

I need to take a deep breath. Pull back. Sit up straight. Ask for help.

So, in my case, that asking for helping part is going to be more complicated and inconvenient. It means that I have to make a million phone calls, and talk to all the people and complete paperwork, take my car to the shop, etcetera, etcetera. It’s not ideal, but it’s the way to help, so I will not complain. After all, these are irritating things to deal with, but they are NOT the end.

And, that reminds me: Desperation shows up because, for a very long time, I thought that when things got hard, IT WAS THE END. Something scared and small and primal and dependent in me shot up like a firecracker and exploded into survival tactics and complete and utter chaos. Something broken and fragile and not enough and unable in me rolled out and spread out into whimpering and worrying and wondering.

What I needed then, is what I need now: Help. Plain. Simple. Period.

What I couldn’t always get my hands on then, is what is readily accessible to me now: Help. Plain. Simple. Period.

I’m starting over tomorrow. All the phone calls. All of the focus. All of the things. I am a grown ass woman, after all, and I can DEAL with inconvenient, difficult times. Yes, I can!

Also, I am going to ask YOU for help. Right here, right now, TONIGHT. Because I could use your wishes and faith and belief. I could use your wish for me to feel STRENGTH through this process (would one of you mind sending me that wish?). I could use your wish for me to feel SAFE through this process (somebody else, can you send me that prayer?). I could use your FAITH IN ME, right now (I’m gonna ask 3 of you to send that, because, you know?).

I am NOT DESPERATE, after all. I am just a little bit afraid and a little bit overwhelmed. Nothing new! Been here, done that, have the mug (maybe have two-let’s be real!).

THANK YOU.

xo,

M

What I Leave Behind

Listen, I know last year was a doozy. I know few people who aren’t reeling from one event or another, whether it be political or personal. It’s just been A YEAR for gut checks and reality checks and bounced checks, and I know I have spent many days on my knees asking for relief.

BUT.

As this year is finally coming to a calendar close, I feel different. I feel grateful. I feel trusting. I feel worthy. I feel capable. I don’t feel bowled over by the challenges and the work ahead. The idea of what I face as a person, as a woman, as a mother, as a member of my community, my state, my country and my world-it doesn’t feel too big for me. I feel sized just right to take on what comes.

That’s because 2016 gave me many things, including and especially my WHOLE SELF. I am not a fragment awaiting completion. I am not a victim awaiting a savior. I can be annihilated and still do things. I can be unable to do things and still be enough. I am not intimidated by harsh reality. In fact, I am driven directly toward it. Last year, I asked 2016 to bring it on, without realizing how unprepared I was to face hard things. I had to work hard, and 2016 gave me that opportunity. Thank goodness!

Now, I have more work to do, but I’m in better fighting shape. I know what I am bringing to the table, and I know that I have so much still to learn. So, I’m stepping into the new year filled with curiosity and anchored in trust that life will show me the way (it always does!).

There are a few things I need to leave behind in 2016, though. Because they no longer fit my life. When I put Whole Mira back together this year, a few pieces just didn’t make sense anymore. They stuck out or looked wrong or just weren’t part of my makeup anymore. Today, it’s a good day to say thank you, and buy-bye. Because what I do not need, I will not lug behind me. Not anymore.

You know what I’m leaving behind in 2016?

Toxic people. Listen, I have worked way too hard to be dragged down by those who haven’t done their work. The best way I can lift others up, is by focusing on my work, and I can’t focus on my work when I’m bogged down with baggage that doesn’t belong to me. I’m going to stand for you by refusing to shrink or whittle or wilt to make anyone feel more comfortable or more secure. I’m going to be brave for you by continuing to rise up with my voice and speak the truth. No matter what.

Self-Doubt. Okay, so I’m not going to be able to wave a wand and magically eliminate self-doubt from my life, but I am leaving behind it’s control over me. I’m saying GOOD RIDDANCE to self-doubt riding shotgun in my life. Like I’ve said before, the voice inside me told me I have work to do, and I can’t do this work if I’m always giving up on it because I think I can’t. I have no idea how things will turn out, and I know that sometimes, I will fail. I have to stick to the voice, at all costs, and that means that self-doubt can come, but its power stays behind.

The Drive to Harmonize. Guys, I am an empath, and that means that I FEEL deeply. I pick up on the people around me. I feel you guys so hard, and I don’t want to change a thing about that. What I do want to change is my tendency to exploit my own empathy for the sake of making everyone feel better. It is not my job to make you feel better. I want WHOLE YOU, but I’ll never give you the chance to get there if I’m lining all of our interactions in velvet and cashmere. The stakes are too high in our world, and I HAVE WORK TO DO. I need to stare back at things that don’t FEEL GOOD, like the REAL WORLD (including, misogyny, systemic racism, patriarchy, poverty and war), and then I need to tell the truth.

Worry About What Other People Think. Oh, darlings. I care so much about the people in my life, and every one of you. But, I can’t sit around worrying about what or how you think I am. Your ideas are your own, and they have nothing to do with me. They aren’t my business. They aren’t my work! You see, I am WHOLE MIRA. You are WHOLE YOU. I get to write my story, and you get to write yours. Isn’t that wonderful? Liberating? Frightening? But, so special and magical and original? We’re up to creating, you and I. I am leaving your story to you, and I thank you for leaving my story with me.

Placing My Value Outside. 2016 gets to keep the last pieces of me that thought I wasn’t enough, UNLESS. That I wasn’t worth it, UNTIL. I was waiting in vain until this year, babies! The train had already pulled into the station, and I was right here. All along! Hot damn! Hello, 2017. I am ENOUGH.

I am lighter this way, and I can go distances this way, and I was meant for distances, so I know this is the way.

 

xo,

M

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