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    Wordless Wednesday: Sunrise

    The grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never dried all at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.

    ~John Muir


    It is rare that I wake with the sun, but I have this week in Maine; and on Monday, decided to step outside and watch the sky change, alone with nature. It was, as it always has been, breathtaking and magical. I hope you too are having an amazing week.  

    The sky, painted.

    Starting to brighten...

    The sun, making an appearance above the trees.

    Being Present

    The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.
    ~Thich Nhat Hanh


    As the afternoon arrives with my children’s school day completed, and my work day done, I find often find myself immersed in my own thoughts. Most days, these thoughts are on the present: seeing my kids! Or, our immediate future: afternoon plans or fun activities. Sometimes though, I find myself on my way to pick up my children focused on the past: mulling over what I didn’t finish during my work day, or fretting over the future: what things I’m going to have to clean up once we get home, what am I going to make for dinner, are the kids going to be calm or rambunctious…

    In my nearly seven years of parenting experience, I’ve come to understand (or at least acknowledge; I haven’t quite mastered understanding *how* to disengage from muddled thinking) that neither of these – future-worrying nor past-mulling – are ideal states of mind to be in when with children. As, whether I’m focused on the past, or I’m focused on the future, it means I’m not focused on the present.


    And the problem with that is that children are usually, naturally in a state of being present; so when I’m in the past/future, I’m directly opposed to their state of being. Children naturally live in the now: what feels good right now, what they need right now, where they are right now. They aren’t much concerned with what’s going to happen at the end of the day, or week, or next year, and certainly aren’t uneasy, as adults tend to be, with the past. When something is done, it’s done, and children move quickly on. It is us adults who often teach them the art of anxiety over things not-yet-here, and regret or remorse over things already done (have you never sat your child down for a “talking to” after a particularly bad run of behavior?).


    Of course, not everything can be focused on the very moment. Reflection on behaviors, in order that we can make changes and improvements going forward, can be beneficial! Looking forward, planning, in order to be more organized and prepared (I’m thinking about the hurricane that is about to bear down on us, for example), is worthwhile and can be useful. But in spite of their usefulness, thoughts of yesterday or tomorrow are, at the most basic, distracting. Lingering on future anxieties or troubling over things which we can’t change is almost always to our detriment. Think again of children’s natural state: even if we are planning to go somewhere amazing – say, DisneyWorld – children aren’t consumed with it. They don’t fret over the planning, they just feel the joy of expectation of something great. Mostly, they just live to live; they needn’t be reminded that “tomorrow is another day” – today IS the day. 


    I’m trying to grasp that joy and learn from my children’s ability to live most fully in the present. It’s freeing and opening to be concerned only with the now. When I feel my mind worrying over things, I feel my body tense up, and I find my children’s antics to be much less manageable. When I am able to release my tension about things already done, or not even here yet, and focus instead on where I am in the present and what I’m ACTUALLY EXPERIENCING (not what I’m imagining might happen later), I can feel my body relax. I am able to be more mindful, comfortable, present, gentle, and creative with my children.


    How do I get there? Well… that part I’m still working on (that will be another post, hopefully soon in the future – oh, wait, I’m not supposed to be thinking about the future!). For now, just realizing that I need to work on being more like my children – be more interested in where I am NOW and less concerned over where I was or where I might be next –  so that I’m better able to just. enjoy. life. To be a Zen mama. That’s what I’m going for here.


    So. How do you find YOUR zen?

    Posted: Aug 27 2011, 16:25 by kelly | Comments (3) RSS comment feed |
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    Did You Feel That?

    Tuesday afternoon, August 23rd, while outside gardening with my children, we experienced an earthquake. Just typing this makes me feel alternatingly giddy and faltering (pun sort of intended). I only remember ever feeling one other earthquake in my life, and it was a teeny tiny one, as a teenager, and relatively unmemorable – nothing more than a bit of a shimmy. But Tuesday was so much more. And, as exciting as it was – living history! – it left me feeling vulnerable, all the same.


    We had been out back, sweeping off the porch after trimming back our tomato plants and putting down some soil on our pumpkin patch, taking advantage of the coolness of the afternoon shade to start preparations for the Fall.  Adam was inside, working from home (what a lucky thing, we’d both said, later). I began to hear our wind chime ringing, which, in and of itself, wasn’t a big deal, and my mind didn’t pay much attention – it was a normal sound for the back porch. Only, in retrospect (moments later, retrospect, that is, as little things began to fall into place as being connected and part of a bigger picture of EARTHQUAKE), I realized that there was no wind. That’s when we started to hear a clicking sound, all around… sort of like hail, only, there was no hail. I was looking around, up, down, trying to determine the source of the sound – it was like a crackling or snapping and it seemed to be coming from everywhere – when my husband came to the back door, shouting: "Did you feel that? Was that an earthquake?"


    The force of that word brought the clicking sounds and the ghostly ringing (now loudly jangling) into sharp focus: the clicking was not hail, but rather the house shifting and creaking, along with bits of things falling from the trees (we're backed right up to the woods), the windchime was chiming because the entire building, from which the windchime was hanging, was moving. Just as I took a step towards the back door, I felt a dropping in my stomach, like the sensation of being on a boat in rough waters, or in a car, going too quickly over a dip in the road. I was suddenly dizzy, disoriented, and just then – a good bit scared. We gathered the children and moved quickly inside. Then, as the woman-of-the-21st century I am, instead of rushing upstairs and out front as my husband and children did, I decided to hop on to Twitter, and tweeted:  

    And also: 


    The moment my feed refreshed, my suspicions were more than validated. Nearly every other tweet in my stream mentioned an earthquake! It was surreal. From as far south as South Carolina to as far North as Canada, people had felt the earth move! Interestingly, @Twitter had this to say, later in the day (making me feel a bit better for rushing so quickly to my computer):


    I grabbed my phone and stepped out front where I was greeted by the sight of the largest number of neighbors I’ve seen since moving here five years ago. Once we determined that yes, we all “did feel that”, and weren’t feeling it any longer, we ventured back inside to turn on the news. Already every local station had reporters on the street in Philly talking to folks who’d been evacuated from their buildings, and the national news stations were reporting from DC. Within minutes we knew the epicenter, and the magnitude of the quake: 5.9, near Mineral, Virginia.



    In spite of knowing – both in numbers, and in experience – that the quake was relatively minor, and no one was injured, and that it was over… we stayed glued to the set (and me to my iPhone) for the next half hour or so; answering the kids’ questions, and maybe, in the back of our minds, waiting for the other shoe to drop. It felt eerily reminiscent of 9-11. I did feel a bit dizzy about a half hour or so later, as did the rest of my family. Aftershocks, or, sympathetic vertigo of sorts.


    In the grand scheme of things, this earthquake was a brief moment in time. Tuesday afternoon is nearly two days past, and #earthquake is no longer trending. The news of the world has moved on to another event. We weren’t hurt, nothing near us was damaged, and the rest of our day proceeded relatively uneventfully. My children experienced their first earthquake, and I experienced a feeling of helplessness and insignificance and awe, moved as I was by my minisculeness; pushing headlong through time, magnetized to the unstable crust of our great earth, rocketing through our infinite universe. I’m humbled, and grateful that we were able to experience a bit of the wonder of the earth without any injury.  I’m amazed by the technology that allows us all to be so far from one another, yet so connected. I’m sleeping well, but maybe I checked on my children just a few more times than usual Tuesday night.


    Did you experience Tuesday’s earthquake? I’d love to hear your experience. (by the way, you can report your experience, here. I did!)

    Posted: Aug 25 2011, 01:16 by kelly | Comments (0) RSS comment feed |
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    The Tree of Life

    Unless you love, your life will flash by.

    ~Mrs. O’Brien, Mother, The Tree of Life


    For our tenth anniversary, we went to see the film, The Tree of Life. I don't typically review movies here, but this film was so affecting, I'd feel remiss in not writing about it.



    The movie was intensely moving, thought-provoking, and introspective to the point that I may have been in tears as much as not while watching it. So vast in its scope – the meaning of life – that even with it’s more than 2 hours of running time, it was barely able to scratch the surface of why we’re here, yet was able to distill the feelings of human experience (white, middle class, Christian, mid 20th-century human experience, it should be noted) with remarkable poignancy and intimacy.


    Along with the immensity of nature, creation, evolution, and existence, there were expertly woven intricate vignettes of the often uncelebrated moments of life which have shaped us (which many of us humans have filed away in our memories, all but forgotten until this film expertly – and even painfully –  extracts them; see: crying through most of the film, above): the smallness of a newborn’s foot, the willfulness of a toddler, jealousy and then conspiracy with a sibling, the joy and freedom of spinning in circles as a child, learning to trust and then losing that trust, the reassuring touch of mother, the disapproving look of father and the pride felt at his acceptance, the way music can get inside and move you, the loneliness of being human – knowing only your own thoughts, and never really knowing another’s, the rush and tumble of feelings when you do something which you know is wrong, the fear of the unknown, the rawness of learning to forgive, the strangeness and confusion of learning of the presence of the opposite sex, the freedom and otherworldliness of swimming underwater, the deep pain of loss and the ineptness of those around trying to explain and soothe it. And intertwined with the concreteness of our everyday lives, were mammoth metaphors of birth, death, rebirth, god, nature, heaven.



    The film was propelled by breathtaking beauty, poignant music, and immense symbolism.  Channeling deep emotion through gifted acting, we experienced the struggle of children to grow, of parents to teach and guide and love, of the pain of loss, and of the constant effort of humans to understand where we came from, where we are going, and why we are here.


    Interestingly, some viewers left the theatre mid-movie (I’d heard, ahead of watching the film, that people have been very polarized in their reception of this movie). Understandably, this film isn’t for everyone.  It is unapologetically spiritual – yet… firmly embedded in naturalism. It attempts to expose feelings that we may prefer to keep hidden; so at times it was difficult to watch. It is sprawling, occasionally slow-moving, abstract, and non-linear in its storyline. But in spite of any of those potential drawbacks, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a film more real. If only for the sheer beauty and uniqueness of film, it’s worth a watch; but I came away from it with a more tangible understanding of what I’ve already known and felt: that we all are part of one another and of the earth. And that truly there is nothing more important – no matter what you believe about our inception or destination – than loving and appreciating what we have and where we are, now. Right now.

    Posted: Aug 14 2011, 14:55 by kelly | Comments (4) RSS comment feed |
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    Ten Years

    I do know one thing:
    Where you are is where I belong.
    I do know, where you go is where I want to be.



    Prom... ~17 years ago

    Our first house ~11 years ago

    Getting married 10 years ago - TODAY

    Hiking partners ~17 years ago - the present

    Our first baby ~6 years ago

    Our family ~NOW

    Happy Anniversary, Ad!
    17 years together, 10 years married. It's been a long time.
    There's no where else I want to be.

    Posted: Aug 11 2011, 08:51 by kelly | Comments (4) RSS comment feed |
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    Filed under: Family Time