Lately there is much talk about being vulnerable in the media. I love Brene Brown's first TED talk;
she rocks. I have recently been humbled as a mom, as a daughter-in-law, as a spouse, and as a human.
I have to remind myself to let go, and that I will enjoy many more experiences and see more color if I don't worry.
My most recent experience was over this past weekend. I reacted to a situation with my daughter in a way
that I'm not proud of, but that I was able to repair because we stayed in contact with each other.
She sent my husband and I a text informing us that she was going to jump out of a plane. My heart lurched,
my husband responded to her by text telling her that she was going to make me cry, and I told her that it was
a selfish act, because if she ended up very hurt, I would be the one taking care of her. Ouch. Bad parenting move.
Talk about laying on the guilt, and I am in the business of coaching parents, double ouch!
I apologized a few hours later when I came to my senses. Life is precious to me at 50. We have lost my mother
and my brother-in-law to cancer in the past few years, and I responded to her out of my fear. I remember being 23,
and I felt that life would never end. She is an adult, and even if I don't agree with her choices, she has a beautiful
life and should enjoy it to the fullest (and for her, that includes adrenaline fixes).
She informed me when she landed safely-and sent pictures of the skin of her face flapping in the wind.
Next, she's gonna swim with sharks.
Whether they are walking to school alone for the very first time, or swimming with sharks, part of being a mom is having an open heart and loving our children no matter how much the choices they make tug on our deepest fears,
and perhaps our even deeper yearnings to jump, to swim with sharks, or even to be as brave as they are.
I got a text from one of my dearest friends the other morning. She said,
"I'm in bed, I'm OK, but I'm taking a break from my life." A long time ago
my therapist called this the spiritual flu. I believe it is the perfect
diagnosis for what I have from time to time, and what I know
so many of my friends, family, and clients have from time to time.
Our culture supports being able to do it all, particularly for women.
I know I'm wired to multi-task, and I'm pretty good at talking on the phone
while I'm doing laundry and thinking about what to make for dinner and
getting ready to see a client in the next hour. Until I'm not. Picture
Road Runner doing his thing and then coming to the edge of the cliff
at a screeching halt.
I know there are some women that are better at the balance then
I am. I am envious of these women. I do move with more fluidity now, after many years of practice, and now that my children are grown. Some weeks and months go by with nary a snag, and a little retail therapy (OK, sometimes a lot), never hurts here and there...and then comes a day when staying in bed with a stack of trashy magazines, a good book, or a Netflix lineup is called for. I text my BFF, get snugly under the covers, shut the door, and languish for a day.
A little Matzoh Ball Soup never hurts either.
Sometimes my soul needs a little tending to. I have to get quiet enough to know.
So, our youngest daughter is leaving for college soon. I'm getting lots of comments like, 'Oh, are you sad?"
and, 'This will be the worst time ever." The complexities of my life right now -helping to care for my husband's elderly parents and my daughter's health issues have recently left me little time to check in with myself about how I
feel about our so called looming empty nest.
The term empty nest seems to me to be a patriarchal left-over from the past when women stayed at home with
children, and when the children were gone there was little for them to do. Granted, there are many mothers and
fathers that stay at home with their children, and indeed might feel a certain emptiness and loss of purpose after
the kids fly.
I do know that at this time, in my mid-life, I have a felt sense that my arms are stretched out as wide as I can
The metaphor is that my nest, our nest, includes so much more than a house with four walls. We have a community
of family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, and activities, and, after 23 years of children in our house with four walls,
I look forward to the space and time to incubate the creative potential that exists within us and within me.
As artists hubby and I have always had to balance raising children and creative time. As a devoted mom, children
have always come first, and my adult children always will when they need me.
I know when I peek into my daughter's room after she's gone I will feel a pang in my heart, and maybe shed a tear at first. I also know that I'll be sending gluten free care packages, texting with her, and Thanksgiving will be here
Maybe it's because she's not my first to leave, and maybe it's because I trust that the bond we have created as
a family will always bring us back together for holidays and occasions. What I do know is that my nest is full
for now- full of life, full of potential, full of love, laughter, sadness, hope, anger, grace, vulnerability, and
moments of joy.
...and then there are the dishes.
Morning rituals are an essential part of living- finding food and drink, bathing, and caring for oneself
and others. More complex rituals like meditation, prayer, and movement are intrinsic to tribal,
spiritual, religious, and so many other communities throughout the world.
I find that I look forward to my own morning rituals; making coffee, feeding our dogs and my renewed practice of sketching or coloring, or quickly painting in the morning. I have a basket of drugstore magic markers on the kitchen
table with a stack of coloring books, and a sketch book, and some paints, right there, and easily accessible.
Sometimes while I'm doodling I find that I remember dreams, or find inspiration for a larger painting,
or some other idea begins to bubble up. Other times I sit in nothingness with the markers or the paints
and my mind is clear, and my day begins, and I am present.
Some days my phone is next to me and the texts and emails are coming in one after the other and my mind
goes to my calendar and it's more supportive to get on with my day, even though I know staying with the drawing would be the more mindful thing to do.
Other days I love to paint all day.
I invite you to try a morning practice, see what happens.
Let me know!
The coloring book above is:
Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book
by Johanna Basford