Posted by: alegra22 | June 26, 2014

Revealed

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“Damn, girl, you don’t do anything by halves, do you?” writes a friend in response to an email with pictures and explanation of my recent adventures. He wasn’t the only one. I also received variations of, “When Alegra gets her first tattoo, she doesn’t start with a cute little butterfly, oh no…”

I love this version of me but the truth is, I’m not nearly as crazy or daring as my friends give me credit for. Mostly, I’m trying to climb out of my anxiety-riddled brain back into the Eden of my spirit. Most days, this involves giving thanks for my heart that beats, my body that processes food, the house I live in, the family that supplies me with enough surround-sound chaos and drama that I rarely have need to seek entertainment outside my home. Just give me a few hours of quiet in my office and I’ll entertain myself, thank you very much.

Despite reputation and appearances, I don’t like taking big, spontaneous life-changing action. This is what happens, I’ll be weaving and bumbling and willing my way along the path between the very logical part of my brain and the part of my brain that speaks the language of dreams and bottomless oceans and I’ll be captured by a pocket of calm. It swoops down and grabs me by the back of the neck, gives me a little shake as I dangle, and says, “Are you ready to listen?”

I’m never *entirely* ready to listen, so it goes ahead and tells me what is going to happen anyway. About a year and half ago it was this:

Alegra, you’re going to get a tattoo. It is going to be a shark. For years (one of the first blog posts on this site is titled ‘A shark-filled peace’), you’ve been letting your own idea of sharks chase you out of the surf. They’ve bullied you in your dreams. They have been a source of strength you’ve been rejecting again and again. They are protectors not predators. 

And so it was planted. I was going to get a tattoo. It was going to begin just beneath my belly button and wrap around my side to my scapula; a representation of my gut instincts and sense of purpose protecting the tender underside of my heart. Once I understood this, there was no going back, although I tried but friends and other forces made it impossible to not commit.

I knew that the shark needed to represent many things, so I brought it to my husband and asked him to design it for me. He went through multiple drafts and over the evolution we began to add in elements:

1) the head of the shark became the Maori bone carving, a ‘manaia’, that I’d found in Baja on a surf trip before I ended up in NZ. It was one of those ‘calm’ moments when life told me what it had in mind for me. It was one of the first moments in my adulthood that I recognized that direction of wonder and faith. The manaia is a spiritual guardian that makes sure the spirit remains on the planet until its time is done. It is a guardian of fortune and a connection between this world and the next.

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2) I wanted something lushly feminine and creative. When I was a child living in Ithaca, N.Y. my imagination was impacted by two flowers, lilacs and tiger lilies; lilacs for their scent and tiger lilies for their wild beauty. There was something fierce and unapologetic in tiger lilies. In my child-mind, they mixed with my struggles to comprehend mortality, the reality of the broken world, and the awesome beauty that flourished despite everything.

3) Symbolically lilies represent faith, motherhood, passion, remembrance, transitioning, purity, renewal, hope…I could go on. So I wanted three lilies to represent my three living children. I also wanted a bud representing the child we lost at thirteen weeks.

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Over the time of making the commitment to a date and payments, things began to change in me. I had my own plans in terms of what I wanted to change, but those, of course, didn’t happen. They weren’t important. 

Let me say this: I went into my four hour appointment innocent as to what I would experience and in total faith of what the artist would do with what I’d given her. I wasn’t wrong. I’m glad I had no
idea what to expect in either area. I’ve found that the best of my life can’t be predicted.

Almost all of the important work is done on my ribs and scapula, some of the most sensitive areas. When the tail work cradling my heart began, the pain really began. My friend, Amber, let me squeeze the bejeezus out of her hand. She said, “Honey, remember the metaphor: you’re protecting the back of your heart. Of course this is going to be the most painful part.”

The completion of the petals that represent my children were just as painful. They were the most detailed of all of the work, and really, the most important.

On the other side of things I understand the power of choosing the level of pain that comes with a work of an art like this; it is a pain that you know won’t break you, it will empower you. It is pain that transforms into permanent beauty. I have been reflecting on how all pain in my life is like this: it doesn’t need to scar. It can be art if I choose it to be.

Also, I feel like I can no longer hide who I am. There it is on my skin in a way I could have never chosen for myself – it chose me:

You, it said.
You bold, fierce, beautiful creation.
Hide no more

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Posted by: alegra22 | June 17, 2014

Hidden Kiss

tumblr_mhjncxCIJn1riy0mto1_500Last night was our second night camping out in the lounge on the super king mattress. We dragged out a single mattress from the boys’ room to put at the head of the big mattress, lit the fire, and negotiated sleeping arrangements. Sol had created a strange little ‘hut’ in the two foot space between the big mattress and the couch. He folded up blankets to use as bedding and dragged a chair to put a pillow under. He was feverish but convinced this was his ideal sleeping arrangement. Joaquin and Zaviera, took up position next to me on the main bed, and Dan sat in one of the recliners, working on school reports.

The rain came in waves. A tide pouring over the house and retreating as I read to the children from the original ‘Peter Pan’. Zaviera nestled her nose into my neck and Joaquin, sitting half on my chest, kept himself occupied fighting villains with the army of his fingers. Every few paragraphs he would get carried away by his victories and whisper, “KABOOSH! I GOTS YOU!” Zaviera and Sol would retaliate with, “Joaquin! QUIET!”
At one point, Zaviera said to me, “Joaquin thinks everything is a sport. He thinks eating popcorn is a sport. He thinks going pee is a sport. He thinks getting dressed is a sport. He thinks…” and Joaquin was already doing a flip on the mattress over my legs. “See?” she sighed. “He’s always trying to win at everything. Can’t he just do something without it being a sport?” I said to her, “Sweet pea, that’s just his nature.” “Settle down, Joaquin!” she yelled. “Alright, are we done reading?!” I asked. A chorus of “No!” had me continuing on the grand adventure of the Darlings and Peter Pan.

It is my first time reading the original Peter Pan and I’m already enchanted by the brilliance of the writing. We are two chapters in and the ‘hidden kiss’ that exists at the edge of Mrs. Darling’s smile, the one hidden in her ‘innermost box’, has captured my mind.

When I was a little girl, around Zaviera’s age, I would wait for Peter Pan at bedtime. I kept thinking if I arranged my bedding correctly or did something wild and fun during the day, my perfect playmate would arrive and we would adventure through life together. It wasn’t so much that I wanted to escape adulthood; I just didn’t want to lose my joy and imagination. I loved the idea of having a home, children, and responsibilities, but I wanted to play at these things, not be burdened by them. I didn’t want a little boy that refused to grow-up. I wanted a companion to discover my hidden kiss.

It has been a difficult year for us and because of this, I’ve been quiet here. I’ve missed writing down the details and stories of my day-to-day life with my family, but it hasn’t been time for me to scatter my thoughts freely, because I’ve been in a process of finding my own shadow. And in a funny sort of reversal, I’ve found that it has been the man that saw my hidden kiss, the one nobody else could see, that has been waiting patiently for me to settle down long enough, to stop fidgeting and trust so that together, we could sew it back onto my heels.

Dan is the Neverland of my heart. We will watch one another grow old but our spirits will only grow stronger, our love burn deeper. He is the one that holds my hand and looks me in the eyes and says, “Together, we can fly.” And he is never lying. He means it.

Last night as I hummed the children to sleep, I felt anxiety about all of the things I want to be able to do to celebrate the birth of this extraordinary man…my husband. Over the eleven years since we have found one another, he has believed in me without until finally, slowly, I’ve felt that childhood wonder slowly creep out from hiding.

As I hummed the children to sleep, Sol fidgeted and complained of the way his fingers were feeling unusually large and his head disproportionately small. He’d whimper every once in a while about the way he felt as though he was tilting his backwards and his bones weren’t quite right in his body. I’d check his temperature and Dan would suggest, “Maybe sleeping with your head under a chair isn’t helping.” Sol would grumble a reply. Dan and I would catch one another’s eyes and smile.

When the room settled in the way it does when the children have finally succumbed to their dreams, Dan lifted Zaviera and placed her on the single mattress. He slipped beneath the blankets and gathered me to him. In his arms, I was mother and little girl, best friend and wife, but most importantly I was home.

That hidden kiss is no longer hidden at the corner of my smile.
It defines my entire face.

Happy birthday to the love of my life.
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Posted by: alegra22 | June 11, 2014

a time

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I don’t want to start with a prologue, I just want to say; I’ve been going through a lot; too much for me to process into words that don’t waver in front of me the moment they are written. I haven’t known how to write words that aren’t already asking to be translated and transformed.

I knew there would be a time to dive back into this space, I just didn’t know when, and then, my eyes puffy from crying, I said to Dan, “I just need to write.”

So here I am, asking for prayers for my flesh and blood guardian angel. I’m sure I’ve told him, but if I haven’t (because I often speak to him in my mind), I refer to him as my ‘godfather John’. Before Dan, he was the first person in my life that I trusted. He was the first person that helped me learn to trust myself, and by ‘learn’ I mean that he taught me to be a work in progress…he is one of the angels that has brought me into the life I’m living today. He was one of the first people to point out that I had a skill with writing. He helped me to believe in my intelligence, emotional and intellectual. He witnessed, reflected, and called me on my shit, and this man that I’ve never met, became my family. 

It began with serendipity. That serendipity became another pillar of my spiritual faith. I’d moved to New Zealand with my ex, September 11 had occurred, and I was destroying myself with the stress of acupuncture school. The eating disorder I thought I’d left had reared its ugly head and was trying to destroy me. I’d been in a 12 step program prior but I didn’t have that option, not in the situation I was in, so I went online and began to search for support. I found the writings of someone who made my spirit say, “Yes. Yes. Yes…this.” And then, in desperation, I wrote to several sponsors.

The one that replied was the one that I had declared, “Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes…this.”

And at first I was terrified to email with him. I had left high school early. To this day, I feel a protectiveness when others are mocked or criticized for their punctuation and grammar because it took me until the age of twenty-five, and wanting to save my life, to gain the confidence to correspond through writing.

John became my witness, my register of sanity in an insane situation. It wasn’t that he ever dictated anything to me. He never tried to fix things for me or tell me what I was doing wrong; he simply reflected and suggested. He was always there, steady and unconditional.

It doesn’t matter, now, why this was so important, but this steady support saved my life.

It allowed me to leave an abusive marriage and find the love of my life.
It allowed me to pursue my writing.
It allowed me confidence in giving birth to children.

And I always knew, no matter how negligent in my correspondence, that there was this godfather out in the world, loving me and believing in me and willing to hand me my ass if I stepped in the direction of self-destruction.

What a gift.
Honestly…what a gift.

There are quiet moments in my every day life when I think of him and speak to him and think, “I need to write him.”

There are quiet moments when I fear he will pass to the other side before I can say all of the things I want to say to him because I’m flaky and fatigued and narcissistic.

Tonight as the storm rages around our home and my eyes are puffy from crying because I said to my husband, “I’m not ready to be without him…and I’m worried about him”

I understand that all I can do is call out to all who have known a true guardian angel in their lives, and ask for prayers thrown into the night sky.

A declaration for all those that have loved boldly and fearlessly:

Let us have our time.

We all have a time.

Let it be a forever time. 

Posted by: alegra22 | May 4, 2014

In – Between

ImageYesterday one of my dearest friends posted about the death of a beautiful woman. The night before reading the post, I’d been writing an essay about kindness and how my first intimate experience of death changed me.

When there is a repetition of theme in my life, I pay attention; repetition is an aperture focusing my vision and asking me to consider the view, and while my life tends to be polite and kind with me; I’ve learned that if I don’t listen, it also gets shitty, just like I do, and will throw its toys at me if I don’t pay attention.

So I paid attention.

I read about her death and looked at her photos. She was stunning and bold and so much younger than myself.

I’d expected a car accident or cancer but no; she fell 150 feet to her death. 

Last night I closed my eyes and imagined what that would be like. I tried to count the seconds and imagine the thoughts going through her mind…I was left with nothing but dreams and cliff edges and moments before I was received by the padded earth, my fall cradled; my waking life restored with a gasp and a jerk and a sigh of ‘Thank you, God.”

And then my thoughts took on the momentum of time, rushing past me;

You are falling.
In a few months you will be 39. 
Eleven years have grabbed you and taken you with its wins and losses.
Your oldest is turning quickly into a teenager. All of the things you’ve wanted to do? There is no pause button. The past is written. The future is a wild inhale of air too fierce to process.

The moments? They just keep happening. 
You will be 40 and then 50 and then 60… 

 

My body was in a state of anxiety I hadn’t felt since I was 9 years-old and contemplating my mortality and wanting to know what would happen to the “I, Me, Myself” once my body stopped all of its effort or was ended in violence or disease.

Last night I felt my heart racing. I felt the way my  mind clawed at what was inevitable and I breathed in and out.

I imagined the life and last moments of the beautiful woman and surrounded her with my greatest dreams of grace.

I whispered to my plummeting mind, “It is okay, dear one. Tonight you fall and fall and fall…until you learn to fly.”

I fell asleep putting my faith in the truth that we are all born and we all die and there is a great kindness weaving all of these moments together.

I fell asleep naming all of the things I’m grateful for that happen in-between.

Posted by: alegra22 | March 16, 2014

conversations with my firstborn

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Tonight Sol and I watched the movie Legend together. In the beginning, I had to keep pausing the movie and discussing, scene by scene, what he thought was happening versus what I believed was happening. Half an hour into the movie, we were following the same storyline but it took some deep breaths on my part, some leaps of faith, and I couldn’t help but see the parallel between the discussion occurring between us and the themes of the movie.

It started something like this:
Sol, “Why did she touch the unicorn? I think she should be punished.”
Me, “She touched the unicorn because she is young and testing her limits. Jack is the one that led her to unicorn, so he is equally responsible. The unicorn came to her because she was pure of heart.  Jack is a young boy trying to impress the girl he is in love with; this is a story about learning the power of consequence, responsibility, and transforming from being a boy and a girl into a man and a woman.”
Sol, “I think you’re just saying that because you’re a woman. I think it was Lily’s fault.”
Me, taking a deep breath, “Okay, but just watch. This is very much like the story of Adam and Eve. It is about how men and women need to work together. Jack brought Lily to the unicorns but didn’t explain to her the rules. Lily saw the unicorns and was overcome by the desire to touch one and she didn’t listen to Jack but Jack didn’t stop her. They have both made a mistake and this movie is about taking responsibility for the consequences of our actions. Do you understand what I’m saying?”
Sol, “Yes, but I still don’t like the girl.”
Me, “That’s okay. But she isn’t the one to blame. They’re learning a lesson together.”
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Halfway through the movie:
Me, “Do you understand what ‘temptation’ means?”
Sol explains it to me and I confirm his understanding, “Yes, so you see, this movie is about how temptation comes at us when we are afraid and doubting ourselves and those that love us. This movie is about learning how to be brave through our mistakes and when we give into temptations over our better knowings. Both Jack and Lily made a mistake and they’re both trying to fix it. Neither are wrong or right.”
Sol, “So Jack is powerful with his muscles but Jill is powerful through her mind?”
Me, “They are both powerful through their minds and bodies, just in different ways. They have to trust themselves and trust one another in order to save the magic in the world.”
Sol sighs, “Yeah, I’m still annoyed at Lily for touching the unicorn.”
Me, “I know, but Jack brought her to the unicorn because he was showing off.”
Sol, “This is how I’ve always imagined the devil. With big horns. Also, he has a chin that looks like a butt.”
Me, “Of course fear and temptation would appear powerful and charming. And yes, his chin looks like a butt.”
Sol, “He isn’t attractive at all.”
Me, “I agree. But he’s powerful and scary.”
Sol, “So why does he need Lily?”
Me, “Because her love for Jack is powerful and he can’t control it. So watch, she’ll pretend to be giving him what he needs, and then she will put herself in danger. It is  more important for her to protect the goodness in the world than protect her own life. That is the lesson both Jack and Lily learn before they can become a man and woman that choose one another.”
Sol, “That’s hard.”
Me, “Yep, it is. And they can’t do it alone.”
Sol, “Yeah, they need all of those forest people.”
Me, “Exactly. We protect one another by believing in one another.”
Sol, “This movie went by really fast and I wasn’t scared at all.”
Me, “Good, I’m glad.”

Dan comes in and the wave of bedtime rituals ushers us onwards.
Me to Sol, hoping to review the highlights of our conversation, “So, what did you learn from the movie?”
Sol, “I’d never let a girl touch a unicorn and I’d fight the goblins with my sword in the beginning.”
Me, “Cool. Get some sleep.”

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I know the conversation will continue.
But for now?
It is time to sleep and dream.

Posted by: alegra22 | February 17, 2014

to you

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Dear friend,
Bring me the thing from your darkest corner.
Put it at my feet.
I will not stomp on it in disgust.
I will not shriek.
I will crouch down and see the unborn potential of it, the greater self it wants to be, and I will stand up slowly (I don’t want to scare you or this naked shame).
I will look you in the eyes and say, “Thank you. You’ve shown me what you think is rotten, but all I see is what is ripe…you’ve given me the soft underbelly of your heart, and in return, I will give you a glimpse of mine.”
And when I believe you’ve heard me, I’ll kneel back down to this thing you fear is too ugly for anyone to see, I’ll gently scoop it up in my hands and whisper, “You are seen.”
For you, my friend, I’m willing to be hurt.
I am willing to witness and be witnessed in return.
I understand it might cause me pain.
I understand that there are times you might need to accuse me of things I don’t understand, simply because you showed me the password, the code, before you were ready to let anyone in to your heart’s home.
It will hurt.
I will mourn you.
But I trust that at the end of this great play, we will find one another again, and we will dance in one another’s arms. We will laugh. We will tell stories. We will thank one another.
For those that place these quiet and strange angels at my feet, I give you mine in return. I learn, day by day, that this is what succeeding at life means; we find the broken pieces we belong to. We rub against one another and sometimes we bleed. We discover what it means to be vulnerable.
It is humbling to realize that all that I am has nothing to do with me. I am the woman that I am because all of the souls that have chosen me.
Bring me your darkest corner. Tell me your greatest fears.
I will love you the more for it.
You don’t have to promise me anything.
I am here.
Pinky swear.

Posted by: alegra22 | February 10, 2014

it will begin again


It happens like this; I’m dreaming of my childhood home in Sonoma, ‘The Valley of the Moon’, and a large bear that is pacing through the yard. I watch it nuzzle a cat with its snout and I go out to it, even though my brain is warning me against it.
The bear doesn’t attack. She sits down in front of me. We speak the same language. She needs me as much as I should probably fear her. Equal measures of love and power pass between us.
And then Joaquin stirs.
He climbs up on my chest. Wraps his arms around my neck and begins to cry. It is the kind of cry that I remember. I was once that small and open to the world. His feelings are hurt because his nose is blocked and it makes no sense to him. Why would his nose betray him?
I whisper and coo. Dan stirs and lifts him from my arms. I curl around a large pillow and fall back to sleep.

I wander through an amusement park made out of people’s deepest fears. I choose a temple built into the wall of a mountain. I’m not sure why. There seems to be something terrifying in the smoky, chanting, charismatic labyrinth of ancient religion. So I wander in, open to the experience. By the end of it, I realize I’m not scared, just really cold and a little disappointed by the experience.
Joaquin is rolling over my body again. I wake to being blanketless. I try to hold on to my dreams as I curl him into my body and whisper, “Hush, hush…it’s okay.”

By morning, I was exhausted.
By morning, I was exhausted and Sol was anxious and obsessing and pacing.

By morning, I needed an hour, maybe two of silence.

I needed to write out the worlds still withdrawing like a tide from my body.
I needed to write and then do something that made my muscles ache and my skin sweat.
I needed to remember:
Here I am.
In this world.

But that is not motherhood of three children.

So I moved through a day of listening to the nonstop discussions of my firstborn and the moment when he stopped, looked at me, realized I was wilting beneath the fierce rays of his mind, he said, “I don’t usually say so much, I’m just so excited to be with you. I can talk to you, so I want to keep talking to you. But I don’t usually do this. I usually shrug or say nothing. So this isn’t normal.”

I was able to say, “I’m glad, sweetie. I want to hear your thoughts. Just be patient with me. I get a little tired.”

“I know,” he said.

And I did what I could for the hours that followed.
I was a mother until I couldn’t be anything anymore.
So now I’m up at midnight because the quiet has returned to my mind.
A pocket of wildness all my own that I can run through, unencumbered for these stolen moments. These moments that will lead me back to the quiet and fierce magic that is the exhalation and inhalation of my sleeping family.

I will dream of wild animals and ancient temples. Or other landscapes not yet imagined.
I will be kicked in the face, nuzzled, pushed and pulled through sleep and broken stories.
Every time I wake from sleep, I’ll feel the warmth of my family surrounding me, mourn the future days when my sons and daughter don’t snuggle into me with absolute trust.
I’ll try to still the restlessness in all of us.
I’ll sleep and dream and tomorrow it will begin again.

Posted by: alegra22 | February 5, 2014

Welcome, Xavier

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Dear precious boy,

By the time  you read this, you’ll be used to me (I hope). You’ll read this and shake your head or laugh, as both of your parents often do when we’re together.

I want to welcome you into this world and tell you that we’ve been dreaming of you for a long time. The first time I met your parents, it was ‘chosen family’ at first sight. I felt as though I’d known them both in some ancient story of our spirits intertwined long before we knew this world. When your parents came to share the ‘tree house’ with us, I prepared their bedroom by painting words on their walls. I painted, “child”, “fertility”, “love”, and “parenthood”. I covered the words with paint and prayers and I believed you were destined for this world.

The day your mother told me about you, she did it in her usual fashion…she came for an unexpected visit and mid-sentence informed me that, “By the way, I’m pregnant!”

And the miracle of this announcement changed something in me.

You are so loved, Xavier. You’ve come into this world earlier than expected but I have no doubt this is just part of the plan for your long and powerful life. I want  you to know there has been a tribe of people with big hearts praying for you and your parents from before the moment you were conceived.

You, Xavier, were meant.

I can’t wait to watch you tousle with my children. I warn you; Zaviera will mother hen you but don’t worry, you’ll have an ally in Joaquin and a commiserating companion in Sol. 

And with all of us, a family of the chosen kind.
Bless you, little man, and bless your parents as they fall in love with you in that absolute way that is beyond measure or words.

May angels surround you as you learn to breathe and figure out this business of being in a body.

Grow quickly and with a strength beyond this world.
We are so grateful you are here.

The Clarkes

Posted by: alegra22 | February 2, 2014

always

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My daughter has been making a serious effort to identify with me.
“Mommy,” she has said (repeatedly), “the only thing that is different between you and me is our eyes. I have daddy’s eyes. They’re brown. Yours are kind of gold/green, but other than that, we are absolutely the same, aren’t we?”

I nod and smile because I don’t know what else to do. How do I say to my only daughter that every morning I wake up and find her curled around my body (because most nights she sneaks back into our bed) I think to myself, “I’ve done nothing to deserve this. Dear God, let me be good enough for this task of motherhood.”

And then I yell out to Dan, “Babe! BABE! Can you put on the jug for coffee?”
And all of my spiritual poetry and great intentions gets shoved beneath the blankets.

This is motherhood. I wake up in awe of my children and husband. I blink and want just ten minutes alone with a hot cup of extra strength coffee and my journal.

I’m learning it doesn’t matter. Some days I’ll master the balance. Other days, I’ll go down in flames.

For the last few days, we’ve been on weekend time.

Weekend time is not rest time for parents.

I’m trying to get back into a writing/living/being healthy schedule. I have to say that it isn’t easy. I have a vision  but the reality of my life often crouches, sits back on its heels, and laughs.

It laughs an ancient laugh. I agree with it for a moment. But then I argue. And surrender. And argue.
It is a wasteful cycle.

In the end, I listen (only because my parents raised me right) and then, after great consideration (I’m lying, I didn’t consider), I give it the finger and still declare:

“I don’t agree to any of this!
I don’t agree to the droughts.
I don’t agree to the instability of rain or warmth or cold.”
So, every day, as we work at our gardens, as I eat the dinner my daughter prepared (a sliced tomato and carrot with sea salt) I want to throw a planetary tantrum.

Right now, more than anything, my daughter wants to know that she is my girl. That I’m hers and she is mine.

She wants to know that if she takes care of what is given to her, that what is given to her will take care of her. But I can’t promise that.

So instead, I say to her, “My love, I’m so proud to be your mother.”

What I would want to say to my daughter br />
“You are a beauty that leaves me humbled

You are generous and fierce in a way I could never be

You, my dear, arrived in this world…

…perfectly formed.

I’m grateful for the grace of loving you.

Our eyes may not be the same, and that is because you have new eyes.
Trust your eyes, my daughter.
I love you.”

Always.

 

 

 

 

Posted by: alegra22 | January 25, 2014

throwing my toys

ImageI was so proud of myself. I had packed a picnic for the children. I piled them into the car. Sol sang along to the music as we drove. I stopped into the store and bought a few extra drinks and snacks. I went to the doctors and picked up Joaquin’s immunization charts. I stopped in the bank to file a paper for our land tax. We went to Bunnings to pick up the extra paint I needed to finish a few things. And then I crashed. All of my energy left me. My nerves started zinging. I could see the disappointment in Sol’s face when he asked me to chase him around the indoor playground and I had to say no. “No, I need to just sit here, sweetie.” That is when the anger began in me.

I had promised to take them to the park and I wasn’t familiar with how to get there. I’d reached the stage of fatigue when the surface of my skin had become blurry and my fingertips numb. My thoughts left tracers and noise piled up in my brain like storm clouds. I programmed the GPS and told myself all I had to do was get to the park and then I could sit. Of course, I missed the exit. I missed the exit and then the GPS fell off the window and I cursed and panicked and apologized. And then I missed the second exit while trying to get the GPS back up on the window. The anger and frustration grew in the center of my body like brambles, thorns tugging and tearing at my spirit, whispering, “See? You’re useless. I’m not sure why you even survive. It’s laughable you thought you could do something like teaching or function in any way. This is all you’ll ever be. Your body can’t handle LIFE.” And then the anger reached my throat and I wanted to yell at something, someone, anything before I choked.

I took a deep breath and prayed. I prayed some more. I got us home and I wrote my dear friend that has counselled me over the years. He said many wise things but he also asked me what I thought the root of the anger was inside of me.

Anger has served as an energy source for me. When I’ve hit fatigue, I’ve gotten angry and used the anger to drive me through the fatigue. Anger has served as a processor of emotional pain and sorrow. When I’ve been hurt, I get angry and the anger drives me out into the garden or into cleaning or some activity that allows me to slowly and surely wear myself out until all that is left is the vulnerability and then I’m able to confront it. Anger has helped me to draw boundaries and to defend myself and those I love, although the anger has not always been the best medium for expressing it. 

I’ve begun to see anger as a guardian. An instinct that something has been breached inside of me. It leaves when it is sure that I’m safe and have learned the lesson needed to protect myself or others against further attack.

But the root of this anger that wells up in me when I’m tired, the anger that flooded through me last night and that I tried to pin to specific people or situations, it is an old, primal anger that can’t be contained by any single person, event or explanation.

It is the anger of being disconnected from my essential nature.

I am the child that would take on a group of boys and tell them off for stuffing rocks in a snake hole because they wanted to trap it. 
I am the teenager that would challenge authority if I thought it was unjust.
I am the woman that will stand up in a lecture hall of three hundred students in NZ and confront the gross generalizations being made about the USA and its people after September 11 happened. In other words, I will go into battle to protect the people and beliefs I hold dear.

I am the friend that will be lied to or vented on and will forgive if you come to me and show me your soft underbelly. If you tell me about your ugly, the things you are most afraid of, I will love you more for it.

I want to be the friend that sends thoughtful gifts and cards. I want to be the mother that organizes great holiday traditions and birthday parties and manages to write novels and short stories and articles and keep a clean home and take care of the finances and grows her own food.

But I’m the woman that is healing. 
I’m the woman learning that she is enough.

The anger that rose up in me over the last few days was ancient and wise. It had nothing to do with those who have fallen short of my expectations or hopes. My anger brought me those memories and laid them at my feet with one message: You must learn to love and respect yourself.

You were perfectly made, child. 

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