“Trust the process”

At least, that is what my wise-woman self tells me.

Trust the process.

artwork my own.

The process is not linear.

The process will not be understood by your monkey mind (which undoubtedly will want to dictate the process and will fail miserably).  

The process may be met with all your defenses. The sudden need to sleep. The sudden need to hide into a book. The sudden need to shove mouthfuls of popcorn into your mouth while reading said book.

If your body says rest, rest. If you body says dig in, dig in. If your body says, “you are putting up your defenses” then stay curious. 

Allow your partner to call you out (they always will). Allow your dreams to speak to you (make sure you’re listening).

Move. Shake. Walk. Dance. Tickle. Flail. Kick. Conga. [really wise self? Conga?]

Walk, relax, meditate in savasana.

Self-care, self-care, self-care. And then some more.

The sun will rise again. It didn’t disappear, it was just out of view. Relax into the orbit of your life.

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Bathed in moonlight

“The night comes and we give ourselves permission to dissolve into the rest of darkness. We let go of all the valleys and rivers we wish to cross and our dreams for some distant future.” -Sarah Blondin, Live Awake.

Tonight I stretched out on the living room couch in the dark, earbuds in my ears and ready to listen to a guided meditation. I looked up, there was the moon peaking through our skylight. 

I meditated bathed in moonlight. I was brought to tears by a deeply moving meditation about learning to surrender. It was just what my soul needed. 
 

Stitching it back together with love

I am sitting here in my favorite oversized sweater that smells a little bit like beagles, but maybe that makes me love it more. I wore this sweater while studying for exams in law school. I wore this sweater in the drafty farm house in Iowa as my belly grew larger and larger when pregnant with my daughter.

I don’t get to wear this sweater as often anymore in Florida, but I woke up chilly and even the dogs are snuggled together in a puppy pile. It is a brisk 58 degrees (seriously I am not trying to rub this in–I know that everyone else in the US is dealing with arctic temps) and my first thought was, at long last I can put on my favorite sweater. And more importantly, at long last I can write.

I don’t even know where to begin with what has unraveled these last few weeks. Unraveled has a negative connotation but I mean it as a neutral term. Merriam Webster defines unravel as to disengage or separate the threads of :  disentangle b :  to cause to come apart by or as if by separating the threads of; to resolve the intricacy, complexity, or obscurity of :  clear up <unravel a mystery>.

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That has been my last few weeks. Resolving the intricacy and complexity of challenges and clearing up mysteries. It involved a coming apart in the sense that it is no longer longer knotted up.  It has been untangled and laid bare so I can see it for what it is and begin to slowly and lovingly stitch it back together. It turns out that my healing and my daughter’s growing pains seem as intertwined as the DNA that we share.

The way I write makes it sound so dramatic. It isn’t. Nothing large or scary happened. It all felt large in the way that things often do when we are triggered or afraid. And the stitching back together felt large, but it too was not. It involved daily acts of love (which makes it sound easy but it was anything but easy), done in minutes and hours and days.

Those small things done with love are the hardest parts of parenting. It is a slow slog that surrenders to trust in the process. Trust that many small steps will add up and make a difference. They do and it is beautiful.

I will write more about the untangling and the stitching back together. But for now I will wear my oversized sweater and drink hot coffee on the lanai. I will prepare to go Christmas shopping with my husband, and then later I will listen to my daughter sing Christmas songs at preschool. My heart is full.

Frog-Swimming 

I have written a few times about how it feels like things are moving at glacial speed in my life. That the universe is testing my ability to be patient. To trust. And also, I think, to simply experience joy in the meantime.

It seems I am frog-swimming through life.

That is what I realized yesterday as I dipped into the swimming pool and effortlessly started moving with frog kicks. I was doing the breast-stroke I suppose, but slower. And did I mention effortlessly! I did this nearly the entire half-hour until the last five minutes of my workout when I suddenly decided I wanted to be on my back. So I flipped over and began doing the backstroke.

As I flipped from facing down to being outstretched on my back, gazing into clouds, it reminded me of yoga. Where you have poses that curl you up, surrendering…and then standing with shoulders back….heart open to receive.

Surrender. Receive. Repeat. 

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Image copyright of Lori Portka.

Earlier this summer I started swimming regularly. I remember telling my therapist about this new routine, and I was a little embarrassed. I explained to her how rough I have it– you know, having to walk past a total of four houses to get to a large community pool. And to arrive only to discover that I have the pool all to myself. I know–I told her–I am a bit spoiled.

Her response: Isn’t it wonderful to be spoiled?  

Her words took me aback. Actually it IS nice to be spoiled. How often can I claim to have felt spoiled by anything? Especially in these last few challenging years.

I’ve held tight to her words as I have floated on my back in the cool water watching clouds move above me. As I’ve seen my leg kicks move from weak and disjointed to strong and in sync. As I have danced giddily under water like a mermaid. 

Frog-swimming through life right now. Surrendering and receiving.

Surrender. Receive. Repeat. 

 


Are you frog-swimming too? Share your experiences!

 

The (Birth)day Lessons

Today my daughter turns three!  I have to admit, I’ve been a bit nostalgic.

Yesterday I wrote about how pregnancy taught me skills that have served me as a parent. Today I thought I’d write the same about my daughter’s birth.

Not the BIRTH STORY story. That would take a novel. My daughter’s birth was the equivalent of baptism by fire. A big ol’ metaphor for the wild ride to come. At times unexpected and intense, always driven by a curious and determined child, and scattered with tiny miracles.

For now I thought I’d share a few take-aways* that three years later still stand out.

Birth Lesson One: Listen to Your Gut

At 8pm on the night before my daughter was born I could be found dashing around a nearly-empty Target store in Des Moines, Iowa. I was like a mad woman, determined to pick up the final remaining odds and ends on my baby list. Loaded with infant nail trimmers, newborn diapers, a thermometer, and who knows what else, I then headed to the airport to pick up my husband, who was flying back from a job interview.  We went home and headed straight to bed.

At 4am I woke up, waddled to the bathroom and realized water was seeping out of me. But I wasn’t peeing. It was one of those moments when you think, THIS CANNOT BE HAPPENING. 

Oh it was happening. My water had most certainly broken, there was no doubt about that.

I was 35 weeks, 6 days pregnant.

The next hour was like something out of a cheesy sitcom: my husband and I were running around the house, throwing things into a duffle bag willy nilly.

I remember early in my pregnancy when I asked my higher self, what will my birth look like? The answer I got was “comical.”

I wasn’t laughing. I was, however, glad that I listened to my gut and made that final run to Target.

Birth Lesson Two: Trust Thyself

I come from a long line of women who have a high tolerance for pain. (Is that a good trait? I don’t know.) My mother would famously tell the story about how when she was in labor with me, she asked for an epidural and the nurse turned to her and said, “Honey, it’s too late! You are about to push out this baby!”

Like mother, like daughter, it turns out.

About seven hours into my labor I was DONE. I could not stand one more minute of it. I cornered my midwife and pleaded with her, please, just look and see how far dilated I am.  Because if I have a long road ahead of me I NEED AN EPIDURAL.

This entire time nobody had examined me to see how far dilated I was. The midwife didn’t want to risk infection since I hadn’t yet been screened for Group B strep (and they had to proceed on the assumption that I had it). Since I was a first time mom, and since apparently anyone who isn’t wailing and gnashing teeth is assumed to only be dilated to 3cm, the scene was very laid bad. Everyone was all, “Well, let’s wait on the tub, you don’t need it just yet!” and “Hey can I put an IV in your arm while you are in the middle of a contraction?”

When the midwife finally examined me, the look on her face said it all.

I was 9 cm. I was almost ready to push.

Turns out this rookie mom wasn’t taking her sweet ol’ time. Funny thing was, I knew my body and I suspected that I was progressing faster than expected. I had a feeling that everyone—the nurse, my midwife, even my doula— were all misreading my cues. Birth may have been new for me, but my body wasn’t.

Trust thyself.

*To be continued – I will follow my own advice and trust myself to know that I need to sleep off a particularly nasty cold I caught from said three-year-old. More to come once I’m feeling better!