Saturday, January 31, 2009

My Boys

This week I am rejoicing in my boys.

I almost didn't get this picture. We were upstairs laughing to beat the band and I thought, I'd love to get a picture of this, but the camera is downstairs and I'd rather just be present for this moment. But we just kept laughing and laughing and I thought, I think I can capture this.

In this moment D and G are reading The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog. One of our favorites. G knows it by heart and loves when he can say "blah, blah, blah" along with the pigeon. I don't think he's ever heard anyone say "blah, blah, blah" other than the pigeon, but he has always gotten that it's a funny thing to say. G's sense of humor was obvious to us when he was just a wee little babe. We have great audio of his laughter at just a few weeks old. He is truly a testament to a great quote I read from Paul Krassner: "English is my second language. Laughter is my first." It's true for all of us and I love that my boys speak it so fluently.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Clearest Mirror

Last month I read a remarkable quote in the Sun:

So a relationship is a great gift, not because it makes us happy - it often doesn't - but because any intimate relationship, if we view it as a practice, is the clearest mirror we can find. -Charlotte Joko Beck

I love this quote so much because it describes how I feel about intimate relationships, particularly the one I have with my husband. I wouldn't say it describes it exactly though because our relationship does make me very happy quite often. Of course it has not *always* made me happy and that is where I have felt the rub and that's why I love what Beck has to say on the subject. Even though my marriage may not make me blissfully happy all the time, I am always grateful for the fact that I have a partner who also views our relationship as a practice. He offers a wonderful mirror: it often reflects a big, deep, generous love.

And when it doesn't - when the relationship is not making me so very happy - it offers a clear reflection of where *my* work lies and points to the spot where I want to dig an even deeper well for love. The work is not always easy but it is deeply satisfying. And I know that D is just as willing as I am to pick up the shovel and dig in beside me.

The picture below was taken the other night after D surprised me by arranging for a babysitter and getting reservations at one of my favorite restaurants. It was the first "date" we'd had in months and it was lovely.

This week I am definitely rejoicing in the relationship I have with my dear, sweet husband.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Filling the Well

I am going to get in my weekly post on rejoicing just under the wire: I had, by my standards, a very work-intensive week. Usually I work one 24-hour shift in hospital once a week. One week in every six weeks I need to cover an 8-hour clinic shift in addition to my hospital shift. So this week I was scheduled for clinic Monday and hospital Tuesday/Wednesday, with a monthly staff meeting to follow. Then my dear friend and colleague fractured her finger and she is out on medical leave for the foreseeable future so I need to work more. This week it meant working clinic again on Thursday.

I was a little anxious because so many unusual demands were being made of me and my husband (who was expected to keep the trains running on time at home) and my child (who would be away from me for longer than he ever had been). I think of my spirit as a well: if it is going to be drawn on more than usual, and if I do not want it to be diminished, I need to find more ways of filling it. So I asked my family and friends to help in myriad ways - everything from child care and meals to pedicures and beers. And at the end of the week I was truly grateful to know that not only had I provided wonderful care to my patients but *I* had been provided with wonderful care, too.

My greatest concern was about missing G and him missing me. I managed not to worry though because I focused on knowing that he would have great care. When I got back home on Thursday evening after so much time of being away, this is what he said:

G: Why you come here so soon? Why you come so soon to my house?

Me: I wanted to come home and see you!

G: You through at the hospital?

Me: Yes, I'm all through.

G: What happened to the babies?

Me: The babies are all home with their mommies.

G: They all right?

Me: Yes, sweetie, they are fine.

G (giving me a hug): I'm so glad you went to my house.

D was there and we looked at each other with relief, gratitude and amusement. (And then I told him to make sure to write everything down so we wouldn't forget.)

We've had the most wonderful day today: we're calling it a "jammy" day. We planned nothing more than staying at home - eating homemade cinnamon buns, caring for our neighbor's dog, taking walks, exploring a frozen creek, running around our neighborhood playground, putting together a puzzle, and enjoying each others company immensely.

This week I am rejoicing that my well is full.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

My Baby Ravenna!

This week I'm rejoicing in my children's book, Ravenna.

She had a very long gestation and was born in March, 2007. In her first year, like all mothers, I watched her constantly for signs of development - and a big leap occurred when my dear friend Daniel Nevins provided illustrations in November. But then, in 2008, she didn't seem to reach any of the milestones I had anticipated for her. I tried not to worry when she didn't take her first steps when I expected them, but I was a little disappointed. And then, at some point in the last year I learned an amazing lesson from her. I stopped expecting her to *do* anything. I learned to love her just because she *is*.

And now (of course) wonderful things are happening. About a month ago my dear husband said he thought it was time Ravenna get outside for some fresh air and suggested I upload Daniel's illustrations to my Facebook page and make my favorite painting my profile picture. I got such a nice response there that my dear, sweet husband decided to surprise me on Christmas with the gift of a website just for her. And in the last month I've discovered several publishing companies that might help Ravenna find her place in the world.

It brings me great joy to reflect on Ravenna and all I have learned from her and all I have to look forward to as she develops. But most of all, the greatest cause for rejoicing is the fact that she exists.

P.S. The website isn't quite "live" yet. We plan to make some changes. It would be lovely if you could visit it and provide some feedback (either through comments here or my email).

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Redefining Courage

Since I wrote about courage as a guest at Christine Kane's blog, I’ve had more thoughts about the word. I wrote that courage, for me, was "feeling the fear (resistance) and doing it anyway." Later I talked with a friend who said that she was struggling with feelings of failure because she had started a project that necessitated great courage and accomplished amazing things, but later dropped it. She wondered if she lacked the courage to take it to the next level. I asked her how she felt when she dropped it and she said she felt relief. It’s only when people ask her about what happened with the project that she feels like she "chickened out."

Her story helped me realize that resistance is there for a reason. And it’s not always the point of courage to break through it. In the examples I provided in my guest post it always felt better for me to push through it, but I also have examples of where I pushed and it didn’t feel good. And I backed off. (I’m taking a very relaxed approach to publishing my children’s book.) So the point, for me, is to get out there – living life creates desires that challenge and excite me – and ask myself which feels better? To pursue them or not? Courage is sitting quietly with that question and answering truthfully.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Saying Yes!

I wrote a few weeks ago about how I have decided "rejoice" will be my word-of-the-year for 2009.

Again, rejoice means to "feel great joy" and "be glad" and "take delight" and "celebrate in some event" and "cause joy to". I am looking forward to discovering all of those nuances over the next year. I thought a great way to know that I am on my way is to write a post each week about something that elicited one (or all!) of those feelings.

Today I am rejoicing in saying yes.

It was saying yes after I said no. Actually, I said, "Absolutely not!" It was a beautiful, sunny day. And it was 30 degrees. I wanted to go for a walk and G, who was very absorbed in play at that moment, said he'd like to stay home. I suggested he could ride in his stroller and bring his toys with him. He liked that idea and said, "Can I get in the green blanket?" I said sure. He said, "Can I take all my clothes off?" And that's when I said absolutely not! He said he wanted to sit with the blanket all around him and be "nudie" (a first). I said it was too cold out. He said, "I won't be cold. I'll be in the blanket. And I'll keep my socks on." (But no shoes.)

I thought about arguing with him some more. I thought about leaving him at home with D while I took a walk alone. I thought about staying home. And all of those thoughts felt bad. I decided to explore my immediate negative reaction to him going out in the cold without clothes on. I realized that I didn't know for sure that he would feel cold. If he did get cold I didn't know for sure that would do any harm (we would also bring clothes to put on or we could go back home). And I decided that there was no absolutely true reason why he shouldn't go out in the cold without clothes on.

I realized it felt better to say yes. And as soon as I said yes and I saw his delighted smile I felt so happy, I laughed out loud. I helped him take off his clothes and he was naked (except for the socks) and I laughed some more. Then D looked at him and said, "Kiddo, can we at least make you wear a sash that says Happy New Year?" (Like the Baby New Year - get it?) And then I laughed so hard my stomach cramped.

So we swaddled him as tightly as we could and took a walk we rarely take (to avoid seeing neighbors who knew us and might call DSS) and laughed often with great delight. It was definitely a time of rejoicing.

And I look forward to saying yes a lot more often this year.

I'd also love it if you, dear reader, would share your stories of rejoicing or delighting (Anna!) or soaring (Ruthie!) or anything for which you are grateful. I'd love it if you would make sharing these stories a regular practice with me.