Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Birthday Princess

She had dimples when she was born, after two boys, my very first little girl. I remember the fresh joy of realization. Surprisingly, it was followed immediately by a squeezing of my heart. I knew some of the things this tiny being would go through, the sorrows, agonies, and challenges faced in life on earth as the fairer sex. It surprised me how immediate the kinship was. I did not love her more than my baby boys, I just knew that a woman's heart would be hers one day. A heart that would break and, even in that pain, expand forever to encompass more in love.

Now, she's a young woman, lovely to behold. She is beautiful, strong, funny, and artistic. She walks to her own, unique music, a bundle of contradictions. At times I look at the children we have and wonder at the experimentalism of genetic mixing. How can she be both soft and loving, deeply caring, and yet have the depth of character to not give one damn about what people think of her? How can she love soccer passionately, playing tough and running hard with the boys, and yet be terrified into screaming idiocy by spiders? How can she collect both skulls and porcelain dolls to display equally with pride on the shelves lining her walls? How can she cry, her tender heart splintering because a friend asked out the boy she adored, and yet move on to forgive that lifelong friend and keep their friendship alive?

Right now she sits at home, a little melancholy because both Mom and Dad had to work today. She's waiting for us to finish up so we can go for our dinner and movie date. Still a sweet, tiny, fairy-girl who drifted in from another realm, she just wants to spend time in the loving presence of her parents. But, Dad and I both know, we are the lucky ones.

Happy Birthday, Little Princess, I am coming home to see you.

Love and Blessings,

(Photo by Jyothi Sacket: In the Moment Photography)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Finish the Story; a Mother's Tale

Children are not very forgiving, at least not of the flaws of their parents. It was a good idea to begin with or so I thought. They harass me, incessantly, on long drives, on slow evenings, on snowy days and dark, close nights in the confines of our camping tent, to tell them stories. They don't want the store-bought kind, the ones some other writer has struggled to create. They want me to tell them tales off the top of my head. They give me a theme, "Mom, tell us a story about a sea-turtle and a jelly-fish." "Tell us one about a mountain lion and a squirrel." They're nothing if not imaginative. And so, I sigh, close my eyes, and begin.

A tale told by the seat of one's pants is not an ordinary kind of story. Strange things happen when you allow your imagination to run free. There is no editing, no careful choice of word. The force of the story moves itself, the unexpected abounds. I listen carefully with my inner ear. In that slight pause before I speak, I grasp the tale from the nothingness and weave it into being.

I find, I like these rambling, unpredictable tales, so I decided to write them down. Why not put them into books of my own? Other children might like to read them. Another struggling writer-mom might be grateful to be able to read a story.

I don't have a lot of writing time, like most artists, squeezing it in between dinner and home work, soccer practice and the weekend chore-list, between kisses goodnight and the pull of sleep. Writing these stories was a good idea, but it's hard to recall it all to words in a single sitting.

Advice to all writers: Do not read your children an unfinished story. They do not respond positively, at least my kids don't.

"Read the end." The 7 yr old said. I had kept him and his 9 yr old sister completely captivated right up to the point where the old man was bobbing in the black, black sea.
"I can't read it, I haven't written it yet." I was thinking of course they would understand.
"This is the worst story ever." He glares at me from his warm blankets. "It doesn't have the end!"
"Yeah," His nine-year old sister agrees, "It doesn't even have the mermaids, yet."
"It needs the rest." he says.

Of course it does! I just haven't written it yet.

Note to self: Children do not make good literary guinea pigs.

There are many risky moments on the rocky road to achieving a dream. Moments when you could throw up your hands, turn tail, and crawl back into the safety of your quiet cave. Should I be flattered or horrified? They loved the story, loved it enough to be very upset that it hadn't been finished. I feel obligated to finish it now. Before, it was just the hint of idea, the pale, frail glimmering of opportunity. Something I could set aside, work on at leisure. Last night, fate made an edict. To save face with my kids, I must finish the story. Weary from work, disconsolate with my minuscule time to write, I worked on that story long past the time when my babies lay dreaming, till my eyes were grainy and my vision blurred.

Shhhhh, don't tell them, but "Tell Me a Story of the Old Man and the Sea", is nearly done.

I'll let you know if they like it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

I am Alive

writing hides inside my throat
words burning to be spoken
in frail fingers
struggling to make their meaning known
in the stillness
where all life is born
words arise
as ghosts from ashes
the silent observer
sees everything
and speaks about the slant of sun
the breath of wind on lips
eyes colliding
life aching to be born
it comes to me as gift
and offers me salvation
all I have
is strength of spirit
writing comes
I answer
and so
I am alive

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Autumn in Virginia

Why do I love Autumn in Virginia?

On the 6th of November, it is sixty-six degrees of sun-filled sky. The morning breeze sends orange and red leaves skittering across the pavement. Clouds of birds fly over my building heading further South. The steady stream of diving, dipping, chirping life lasts for 25 minutes. How many thousands could that be, making their merry way to sunnier shores? I stand staring up, open-mouthed, until I realize what is falling from the sky, polka-dotting the cars in the lot.

The evidence of fall is here, in the mama and baby bear who wander through the pasture, four eerie eyes, bright in the flashlight beam. They set the horses to stamping and snorting and send my daughter's heart skipping into triple beat. They were merely looking for a place to hibernate. "Not in our barn!" She says.

Autumn sports are played in the brisk, chill mornings, we stand screaming and shivering in hats and scarves, fingers gripping hot coffee, the steam swirling into empty air. By game's end, we are in shirt-sleeves, cold coke pressed to forehead, while the sun seeks to turn our skin to the same russet of the leaves.

Autumn is a kind friend in VA, bringing simple gifts of the full fall harvest, the colored leaves, and lazy sunshine. The cold nights cast a frosted glow on every morning, but roses still bloom in our front garden, slim and regal, floating on their green-coated stalks. Past the weighty, viscous heat of summer, and before the bitter ice-rains come, fall rests, offering a lull in the passing seasons, time to pause, to watch the birds and reflect on nothing more than beauty, simplicity, and the natural wonder of our world.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I Am Created

My mind was created by something greater than me
the secrets of my heart
the greatness knows
the flowering tree
giving air
sweet fruit
ever pure in service
the wide world
wraps her arms around me
cradling this one
thoughts rise like bubbles
from the depths
they are not my own
I did not make them
I am not of them
a great, still force
I am created


Some mornings when sleep tries to shake itself from my brain, I just want to forget the world and sink ever deeper into nothingness, to remain in my dreamlands, where colors are brighter and the vague, sweet longings beneath the surface of the day, become my bold reality.

I fly in my dreams. I love the feel of rushing that sweeps me head to foot as I realize I can thrust myself off the ground and into the great, dream-sky. I dip and dive over hills and swaying branches, a dream-wind sliding over me, and look for things I never let myself have in reality; waterfalls, open fields, horses that change color.

Sometimes I see you in my dreams, and wake with you beneath my skin, closer now than we would ever be on Earth. In the clear waters of my dream-mind, I take on the colors of your soul, and wear them like an inside cloak, a talisman against the waking day. Though time may pass, and distance wear forever on, in my dreams, you are with me ever still.