They stand like witnesses to a lost era. Solid brick, lines still nice and square. I wonder if new floors and windows would be all they need, these abandoned houses. Who used to live there? Why did they leave? Why did no one buy a nice 2 story brick home? What led to the boards and the warning placards and the decay?

I suppose I could ask myself these same questions. Long ago, I chose to abandon myself just like an old brick row house that had long since passed it's purpose. I left emotions and being and conviction behind and I followed the paths others had broken ahead of me. I suppose that's how I became a nurse instead of a doctor: a PhD prepared professor instead of a clinical degree; how I became a mother quite by accident but slowly and surely let those responsibilities slide into the abyss of incapacity and unwillingness.

I sit in front of the 16th floor window.  The one that, ironically, still opens out to the street. The pavement glistens with rain many floors below and I am mesmerized. Somehow in this hotel room, accusations and invalidation have taken root once again; somehow, nothing else seems to matter.

But tomorrow WILL contain happy moments, carefree moments, even moments of satisfaction and fulfillment.  I WILL make it. My brain has tried to kill me before, and so far it doesn't fritz out badly enough that I lose myself completely.

So I walk away from the window and decide this is not about my own ugliness or failures at all - it's about those pathways in my brain that were ridden so often the pavement is wearing off. It's those slippery pathways I slide inexorably into, sometimes because of a single thought ("I'm not good enough" or "my place in this person's life is meaningless").

Today I'm paving new pathways. Today I refuse to slip into old patterns. When the ugly thoughts come, yes, I still think them. But somewhere mid-thought I realize I'm headed down that pathway again, and I stop and reassure myself and climb back up the hill to self-compassion. My therapist says eventually it will work. Eventually, if I train my brain to toss those useless, fictional thoughts, slowly I will go free from the prison of my own mind. Maybe someday, my brain won't try to kill me anymore.

Utopian? Yes. Unrealistic? Yes. Worth trying? Yes.

Water babies

Spring break arrived all at the same time for the kids and I, so we bundled into the Sub and drove up to the iced over Lake Superior with Ali along for company. There is something about water - I don't put much credence in astrology but it is noteworthy that I am a Pisces and my name means "white wave". Water speaks my language and syncs my soul with the mighty universe, tapping me back into the source of energy, peace, growth. Here I am safe and I am whole, I have limitless potential, I believe in myself and the earth and others. It is respite much needed from dangerous precipices of past and present colliding to set me off center.

The textures and colors on the shore are breathtaking. The harsh cascades of ice off the rusty cliffs, the contrast of the soft and solid ice, the pools of water melting from the brief sunlight, the sound of an underground river running...

Of course, we have adventures: I brave the icy waters below and try to edge my way along the shoreline to the caves that I've never been able to see. Sliding each foot forward tentatively, one finally pushes through the mushy top layer. I almost put weight on it, thinking it's just surface melt. But Lake Superior is unforgiving always, and deadly in winter, so I push with my toe once more, and my boot goes down into the icy water. I keep my balance, pick the slab of ice out of the hole, and look clear through to the bottom 15 feet below. Every pebble is visible in still relief through the viscous water, clear as glass but with that wintery blue hue that bathes the world up here.

We pick rocks, dig through to the underground river, slide and skip stones across the glassy ice in the cove. Facts and ideas and things to teach keep leaping to my tongue, but the hollowly silent air by the waveless expanse swallows up my intellect and we are all just awe and contentment and bliss.

Little fingers are red with cold and cheeks have angry splotches, but we press on into the twilight after sunset, skating with our boots on a small natural ice rink, eating snow, sliding on our butts down embankments and boulders covered in inches of ice.

Recharged, refreshed, rested, we drive away on a sunny Thursday with the lake sparkling like an vast field of diamonds. There are no words for the joy of seeing a once-in-a-lifetime natural event like the ice over on the big Lake this year. There are days you barely scrape your way through to bedtime and wonder how you made it, and then there are days you know you will never forget: days like these last stolen few on the wild, boundless beauty of our favorite shores.

"shine bright like a diamond"

Plowing new furrows

Sometime in the last weeks the winter air has lost it's arctic bite, and I turned 35, and our whole family life turned upside down and it is only in the last few days that it seems to be righting itself again. Caleb and Rosy have birthdays, and there are sleepovers, presents, ice cream on carpets, art messes and confetti detritus. 

We are up early every morning, packing bento boxes and supervising baths and outfits and homework. At first it was pure adventure, then some growing pains, now it seems like regular life. Caleb still whines about putting pants on so early in the morning; Katy's stress over homework gives her stomachaches…even though she is performing well above grade level. Ahh, my perfectionism repeating itself!

Into the vacuum faith left, I fight against the tug. I find ways to build this new life, this awake life, this purposeful life. I take down old mantras and verses and I begin to craft sentences that fill the void left. After all, if this is all there is, I have no reason to die and every reason in the world to live!


You may notice that the blog is significantly smaller than previously. For personal reasons, I have unpublished posts from July 2011 onward. If there is a specific post you would like to read in the future, please contact me. It is deeply painful to unpublish so many hours spent pouring my heart and mind out in type. But many writers have books burnt or banned, flops and momentary failures before new flashes of brilliance. 

And so, I start fresh. It has been a year of fresh starts…jobs, schools, schedules, living arrangements. Now the blog. Hopefully this change will prove as gratifying as the others.