Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Portal to Wonder

Fuchsia

We've had a very full morning, and I'm sort of tired from it all.

It started with beautiful scenes for my book that came floating into my mind through that liminal portal that opens just upon waking. I lay there for about 20 minutes, letting those thoughts take shape until the pressure of their substance became so great that I knew I would lose it all if I didn't get up and write it all down.

I threw off the covers, swung out of bed, and slipped my fuzzy jammy pants onto my legs. I walked out, not sure what I would find, not sure if I could hold onto the glory hovering in my thoughts. But it would be worth a try.

I said nothing to Eric, just waved and smiled...not wanting to lose the exquisite words rolling gently through my mind. I walked through the kitchen to my desk to jot a few of the most important ones down on a note card and then began gathering my things for going outside.

The kids were playing nicely in the living room, and my aspirations seemed within reach.

 Eric piped up, "I'm going to leave in 15 minutes."

I said, "Awesome. Have a great day at work. I'm going outside to write some things down."

"Oh," he said, knowing I was headed for the coveted blue chair at the corner of the porch. "I was going to go outside for about five minutes to drink my coffee."

Oh dear, I thought. How am I going to hold this quiet space for five minutes?

I decided I could do it with a glass of water on the steps in the sun. So I walked out the door in silence and sat down. Two minutes went by, and they were glorious.

It was a perfect morning. The sun was shining, but it was coming in at an angle so that the light came through the plants all around me, rather than falling directly on top of them.

I was holding the silence, the beauty, and my thoughts in the quiet moments of the morning. It was perfect.

Then I heard the door open behind me. I worried not, determined to hold the portal open for as long as humanly possible.

"Are you here to tickle my back?" I asked my son.

"No," he said with a knowing chuckle, as he ran around the porch. He folded himself up and sat at my feet. "I came to be with you."

I wasn't sure if the portal would open to both of us, but I was willing to believe it could. How could I say no to that smile, to that warm love emanating from every pore of his body? He nearly bowled me over with the grace of it all.

"As long as you're quiet," I said, realizing it was a tall order, but also realizing that already the impossible had happened, so expecting more was not too much.

I noticed a few individual curlicues radiating out from the top of his head, and I couldn't help myself. I started touching them, tugging at them just a little bit, marveling at their perfect shapes and intricate coloring.

"Ack! That tickles," my boy said, as he jerked his head away.

I told him how I was marveling at the beauty of his ringlets the way I've marveled at the beauty of my own many times over the years. I've never quite gotten over the wondrous nature of curly hair.

After a couple minutes more of this gentle quiet shared with my boy, the door opened behind me again.

"Are you here to tickle my back?" I asked my daughter.

"No," she said with a smile, "I want to sit right there!"

She was pointing at the space between me and her brother.

"Oh," I said. "I was really hoping you were going to tickle my back, even just for a minute."

"Well, I will, if I can sit there when I'm done," she said, as her fingers started to swirl and twirl across my shoulder blades.

I was in heaven in that moment, and I would have agreed to anything, as long as I didn't have to move.

She stopped after a minute, expecting her reward. "If you go around the porch, I'll help you sit there," I said.

Pretty soon, she was safely, if not completely comfortably, sandwiched between my boy and my legs. I hardly gave a thought to the portal, which seemed to expand to include her. My son wrapped his arms around my legs, and my daughter smushed herself against my abdomen and chest.

And then the shift came, in the form of a poke. It was a small poke from a small plant sitting beside my son's arm on the steps. Our attention, united as one, shifted toward the source of pain. Beside the pokey plant was another pokey plant, a lizard's tongue, as my son called it.

Zara reached out to stroke the succulent leaves. "Be careful," I said to her.

"Don't worry, Mom. If you rub the leaves in the same direction as the thorns grow, they won't hurt you. You should try it," she said knowingly.

That's when I surrendered fully to the portal and allowed it to take me where it would.

Stroking the leaves myself, I said with admiration, "Zara, I've noticed that you really spend a lot of time watching and observing things in the world, like these plants. You learn from what you see, and you see things that other people miss," I said.

For the next hour, Zara invited us into her world of observations. We talked about how hummingbirds use the honey they eat to power the circuits in their wings. We talked about the way honey bees use their proboscises (a word supplied by my son) to get at the nectar, and we wondered over the possible ways a bee might navigate if his face were covered in pollen.

We dissected fuchsia blossoms and discovered that the ovule, style, and stigma of the flower actually emerge directly from the stem, whereas the stamens grow out of a layer of cells that coats the inside of the sepals.

We discovered a perfectly round drop of dew or nectar resting deep within the flower, and so discussed the long tongues and beaks of hummingbirds and butterflies and just what they're going after when they dip them into the flowers. And we discussed the habits of bees and wasps and how they make their nests.

The whole while, the portal remained open. I gave no answers, for I was not their teacher today. I just enjoyed looking at it all through the eyes of their imaginations.

As the conversation ebbed, my thoughts returned to my book and all those delicious scenes I awoke to discover. I still wanted to see if I could capture them, so I asked the children to return to their play in the living room.

They did so in earnest, but before I could even take my notebook out a fight erupted. I spent the next hour talking them through the situation, offering solutions and perspectives, and appealing to their better natures to come up with a new approach to the problem.

Finally, I pulled out my big guns. "Didn't Mommy just spend the past two hours exploring with you, talking with you, and helping you solve your problems? Now, Mommy needs the same amount of time to sit quietly and do some thinking and some writing and some problem solving of her own," I said.

So, Zara is currently playing Life in the bedroom, Orion is watching a Disney Imagineering movie, and I'm offering you an opportunity to step through the same portal, which I believe is actually still open. Have you stepped through it yet?

What do you supposes you're going to find in there?

I hope you'll share with me some of your discoveries of wonder!

~Angela

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A New Season

Our Family is Going Places
Photo by Grace E. Mears, Copyright 2013.

Winter has passed, and the aching sting of death has eased (somewhat) with its passing. Spring has also passed, with its endless possibilities and the hurried rush that accompanies all that promise. Summer is now upon us, and along with the warmth and sunshine, a new life season has definitely made an entrance.

This new season is clearly marked by the end of contemplating new ideas and the beginning of actually making a few of those ideas become a reality. While other folks are out there water skiing, camping, and touring the US, I'm about to enroll in my own personal university--Life U--and fall semester starts on July 23.


Rhythms

For a long time I've tried to find my own rhythm within the rhythm of our family, to understand what derails me and what keeps me on track toward meeting my goals as a wife/mother and as a writer. And to understand how to work within the often chaotic demands of my husband's schedule which can sometimes make it feel impossible to keep any kind of routine going for more than a few days.

That's what this spring has been about. One by one, I've been facing my own personal speed bumps and detours looking for ways to end the constant sense of road construction so that I can get up to speed and put on the cruise control for awhile.


Honing In

After countless hours spent trying to harness my own energies, corral my varied habits, and hone in on the few things that really matter right now, I've chosen the goals that will receive the most attention in the next four months:

  1. Business Plan. I am developing a business plan for a media group which will encompass my varied writing projects, including the launch of my first book, my own press, a series of writing/creativity workshops, and the expansion of my jewelry writing.
  2. Three Pillars of Health: Food, Sleep, Order. As a family, we are dedicating our efforts to learning how to eat for health, to optimize our sleeping hours, and to bring order and functionality into our home. After more than a year of believing this home was temporary, we have accepted the now-ness of our situation and are now transforming this house into a home where we can work from rest. 

School Mode

As I mentioned, in order to streamline all my efforts toward the realization of these goals, on July 23, I'm putting myself on "school mode," named for the last time my life was divided naturally with organic breaks in between.

Between July 23 and November 17, I will pretend I'm in college. When I was in college, I kept a regular schedule, rarely missing a class and using the majority of my free time to complete my homework. I did not allow myself to get sucked into novels, computer games, or late nights out with friends on school nights. And I kept a regular bedtime and wake-up time, so that I would not have trouble getting enough sleep each night.

I mapped out my projects and worked on them incrementally and never turned an assignment in late. I was externally motivated to do all these things, as I feared failure. I'm no longer in college, and I no longer have a syllabus handed to me at the beginning of the year. No one is going to pass or fail me, and no one is going to give me a test at the end of the semester.

However, I can create my own syllabus in the form of a detailed outline of my goals and the steps I need to take in order to accomplish them. And the reward for a job well done will be far richer than a grade on a piece of paper. By the end, I will have placed a solid foundation beneath my business, enriching our income potential and paving the way toward the next season's goals. I will have learned the value of the steady administration of my intentions and that I can trust myself to work when I need to work and rest when I need to rest.

Here's to my final days of summer and to the onset of a season of work and rewards!

~Angela