“Change in all things is sweet.” —Aristotle

trainIt has been a wet and chilly entry into winter this season with snow pants only just doing the trick at school. I’m sitting alone in our living room—toasty warm—watching as rain drops make their way down the windows of the glass doors that look out onto our backyard. Some drops move oh-so-steady and slowly, others zig-and-zag, others are just as still as stone—like we humans.

I’m thinking about the drive home after school pick-up. It can be a precious time. Jonah likes to climb into the car on Adrian’s side and often begins stripping off his coat and snow pants. I try to keep Adrian in his gear as I strap him into his seat. Often he notices that Jonah is taking off his layers and wants his off, too. I often acquiesce and encourage them to move quickly so I can dole out their snack. All tucked in now, we are off. I am interested to hear about their day but try not to ask too many questions, although I want to. I know that holding space and allowing them to unfold into me is where I can serve them best. I look in the rearview mirror connecting with their eyes and smiles and share what I’ve been up to. Sometimes they are interested, sometimes not. Sometimes they are grumpy and I can see that they have been holding themselves together and are now letting it all come forth. I try not to take it personally on the days when this flooding occurs. I can relate. And, I’ve missed them. We come into town now and it is a charmed day when we see lights flashing ahead knowing that a train is coming through. It happens on this day that I am thinking of. These boys are still thrilled about a train coming through and I hold onto that. I know that this will not always be so. We notice how the train has a big wreathe on the front as it zips by and then we see one on the very last car as well. Jonah points out that this is a train that can go in either direction and then he says, “let’s chase it, Mama!” He knows that I know what he means. We’ve done this before. So as the gate goes up, I drive forward knowing that I have only a few minutes to “catch it” again. It is stopping just ahead and if we zip around the block we can make it in time to see it pass through another intersection. I’m driving forward now, taking in the pedestrians, careful to make sure I am present in my surroundings. We reach a stop sign where the house is that decorates so nicely for the holidays and then we turn left. Looking out my window, I can see through a field of trees that the train is still stopped at the station. I think we are going to make it. I keep driving and then we come to another stop sign and turn left again. Just as we are approaching the next intersection, I see that the lights are beginning to flash and a gate is coming down again. We made it! The train moves slowly past us now and begins picking up speed. We are close—the first in line—and can feel the vibration of the wheels as they go by. Jonah is contemplating the type of train and whether or not steam engines are used any longer. I look back and see that Adrian has his snack in one hand and his face is beaming. The gate raises up and I pull forward, making a quick right into a parking lot and going through it to make our way out on the other side. The boys wonder whether we might see the train one more time at the next intersection but I know that it would have already passed us by. I do see the tail end of it and so does Jonah, but Adrian misses it. I am grateful that this does not upset him.

I remember a few years ago when a friend suggested I start writing a blog. I only vaguely knew what a blog was! I had been thinking about writing a book and she thought a blog might be a good segue. Later, I went to a writer’s workshop and it was suggested there as well, as a way to create a “platform” for my book. I am so grateful that I began writing publicly and not because it’s been a segue for a book or created a platform. I am grateful for this space because of the connection it has given to me to so many mothers and fathers who are interested in my journey in mindful mothering and more importantly they are interested in their own journey in mindful mothering/parenting. I have received so many inspiring e-mails of encouragement and stories of transformation. If you sent me an e-mail and I didn’t respond, please know that I did read it and have been touched by each and every one of you who follow my page.

Although it may sound like it, this is not a notification that I am closing the site! It is, however, a notification that there is a gate coming down and a train passing through. As I have pursued this path of mindful awareness, many things have come alive in me. I feel called now to not separate the various aspects of my life in which I practice mindfulness. Although the site will not be called, “Mindful Mothering” any longer, all of the writing that I have done about Mindful Mothering specifically will remain on my new site and be available and more readily searchable. Readers will also be able to search for writing about mindfulness as it pertains to other aspects of life. I hope to be writing more regularly and will be further exploring the concept of Journeying as a part of life and the great wisdom available through Inner-listening. I will be featuring my art which has come alive in this past year with the help of mindful presence. I am in the process of professionally recording the Mother’s Meditations that have been so popular on this site so that you may be able to continue listening to them for free on the site (without the cut-offs!) and you will, also, now be able to download them or purchase a cd so that you may take them back into your life more easily. I will be filling in a daily log of what is on my mind and things that I am working on—some will be external explorations, others will be internal explorations.

So, there is a gate coming down and a train coming through and it is exciting. It is exciting and to me it is also a bit scary. I both love change and feel very vulnerable in the process of stepping out in this new way, especially when this site has been working so well. I will miss those three birds at the top of my page and the simplicity of it all. I know you will too. Stay with me, though. There is a journey to be had and I hope you will join me. The transition will occur—and the site will be down—between January 5th – January 19th. Between now and then, I wish you peace and presence as we embark on a New Year, together.

“It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.” —Laura Ingalls Wilder

 I’m sitting at wooden table at a Whole Foods Market a few feet from a checkout line. I’ve completed my shopping and devoured a cup of soup. I’ve been out since before dawn, hence my pre-noon lunch. My cart is propped up beside me at a table with a little European Cypress Tree popping out of the basket—a gift to cheer up my husband’s office for the holidays. I drove to a doctor’s appointment this morning in a cold, pounding rain that took me by surprise with its sudden transformation into snow—giant, sloppy flakes, blurring my windshield. I didn’t know where I was going exactly but I relished being out in the early morning knowing there would be time after my appointment to linger before picking up my boys at noon. I’ve bought myself a treat—a dark chocolate, sunflower buttercup. I’m wondering what I should do with this sliver of time between grocery store shopping and nursery school pick-up. I decide to eat my goody. I have been on a mission, lately. I have been on a mission to bring my art, my meditations—my writing— out further into the world. I am working hard to create a new website that will feature all of these things together in one place. My hope is to carve out a unique and welcoming place where I can share more about inner-listening, about journeying. My hope is to make an imprint and I feel called to take these steps. I know about the value of bringing our visions to life—no matter their scope. And as I sit here eating this sweetness—contemplating my to-do list—I begin to experience a deep inner peace about being exactly where I am, in a Whole Foods relishing a treat. Today, I realize, is not a day where I will be checking anything off of my list. Sitting into my seat further, I become more deeply aware of my body and how it feels anchored in my chair. I can feel the wrinkle between my eyebrows softening as I release the need to accomplish something more. I’m looking at the package of this sweetness with all of it’s assurances—non-GMO, Rainforest Alliance Certified, gluten and nut free. I feel assured about the value of sitting and being. I’m eating my chocolate and I’m listening to the rustling of bags. I notice that I’m a little cold, but only on my legs. I’m layered up with long-johns, a sweater and a scarf but my leggings are thin for this damp day. It’s sort of loud where I am but I feel very, very quiet. I notice my mouth is closed somewhat tightly and I open my lips slightly instead. I notice my jaw loosen. I’ve finished my delicious dessert now and contemplate the idea of buying another. I stay seated. I uncross my legs and find greater grounding by placing my feet directly on the floor. I contemplate tree roots quite often and I’m imagining them again now. I love our earth. I’m connecting with my breath now and closing my eyes even a little. It seems a little odd—falling into this space in a public place—but I’m not too worried about that. I notice that my abdomen has softened, now, and I’ve just very briefly forgotten about time. Here I am. Here I am. Here I am. And then I do check the time and I must leave now. I gather together my things and head out to pick up my boys from school. They spend a lot of time in the outdoors there. I look forward to tucking them into my toasty car knowing full well there will be complaints and troubles. It will be cozy, still. In Maine, children are wearing snowsuits already and when I arrive my boys are soaked and muddy in only the way that a snowsuit can be soaked and muddy on a rainy, winter day in Maine. Jonah has a new set of mud-freckles peppered across his nose. I admire them—keeping them to myself— as I get he and Adrian into the car. Jonah strips off his wet outer layers and gets himself “strapped in.” I help Adrian with his clothes and buckling. They are wriggling around and settling in and waiting for me to strap myself in because they know that I have a treat for them, too.

“And your very flesh shall be a great poem.” —Walt Whitman

Acorn 2It’s a sun-drenched day here in Southern Maine and the air is brisk. The rains came pounding down last week like a steady heartbeat—lifting leaves from branches and blanketing the lawns and fields with gold and burgundy and orange. My eyes are drawn to the golden hue most of all. I’ve just come from a weekend visit to meet a brand new baby—a beautiful new boy in my tribe. Traveling alone, I had the space to linger in his gaze, taking in his otherworldly smell, reveling in the wonder of new life. His neck was silken, his grip strong. He reminded me about what is important. He took me swiftly back, too. It wasn’t long ago that my own boys were just tiny babes like him and yet, that season seems a world away. Looking into his soulful eyes, I felt a stirring.

Back at home my life is full. Jonah is rapidly approaching his 6th year and I observe him sinking his roots more and more deeply into his earthly being. He recently walked briskly toward me from his kindergarten classroom carrying a backpack that frequently gets left behind. The confidence of his stride and the straps of the pack over his shoulders reminded me of a trailblazer heading for the hills. Adrian will be four in February. He is living less in our worldly timetable and his days run together sometimes, but his legs have lengthened, his body is thinning and he is comfortable now staying for a longer day at nursery school. On Thursdays he is home for the whole day and we spend time together as a pair. Sometimes we do shopping or go visiting. Last week we decided to have a “home day.” I try to spend time one-on-one with him before taking on any of my own projects or household tasks. We sat down at our dining room table to play cards. Adrian often sits at the “head” of our table on a booster seat and he occupies this position well. His way of expressing himself is nothing less than commanding and he is sweet, too. His eyes grow wide and liquid when he speaks—like saucers filled with chocolate—and he often tips his head to the side in explanation, his hands gesturing as well, twisting his palms upward. His voice is low and strong, his smile wide, his laugh contagious. We begin our game and I settle into a place of observing him as if he is my Drishti point in a yoga balancing pose or meditation. I smile at him when he smiles—which is often—and nod my head in response to his nearly constant monologue. He keeps track of our game judiciously letting me know he is winning and when he sees that I am then winning, he is able to be gracious—a sign of his growth as well.

Adrian and I move on to work together on an “acorn art” project that we dreamed up back when the warm summer breezes caressed our bare, brown arms. I am pleasantly surprised that he is interested again, his enthusiasm having originally waned after gluing the first hundred or so acorns onto the giant outline of an oak tree. I listen on now as he takes orders from me for the number of acorns I need and retrieves a car-carrier truck to move them over to where I am gluing. We’ve coined a term for the littler acorns. We call them, “chicken littles.” We decide that we will need to tell Jonah about this later.  When we first began working on this project, I thought somehow that I needed to apply the acorns in neat rows and with delicacy, but then I saw Jonah take a big handful of acorns and place them wildly on the paper and with lots of glue, I realized the freedom—and the beauty—of his way.

“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

acornsIt’s a cool and foggy Autumn Sunday before those glorious, sweaty, summerish days arrived for one last hurrah. Our family had made our way down a dirt path to a quintessential, rocky Maine shoreline in an attempt to shake the crankiness off of our day. One boy biked there, while the other road along in a little, blue push-car that has a few thousand miles on it now. We climbed on slippery boulders over to a part of the terrain that held an enormous fallen tree that hung like a bridge. Jonah—so agile, now, in these precarious environments—leapt ahead onto the tree. I warned him not to go under it—wary of the possibility of it collapsing further. Adrian—up ahead of me—made himself clear to my husband that he could navigate the rocks himself, too. I found a seat on a damp rock and took in the scene before me. I took in the juxtaposition of the bright and mustard-yellow colored seaweed against the ashen rocks. A thin layer of fog made the contrasts that much more striking. I sat there for a long while and I picked up a lone acorn that had fallen in amongst a sea of mussel shells and periwinkles, noticing the way it seemed slightly swollen from its contact with the salt water. I sat taking in my surroundings, rubbing the side of the acorn across my lips noticing its smoothness. I sat noticing a spaciousness coming over me and my chest expanding. I rubbed the acorn back and forth across my lips again for a while. Later, I slipped the acorn into my pocket, carefully taking it home with me.

My kitchen sink is positioned conveniently in front of a window looking out at my driveway where my two boys love to play. It is only recently that I may stand here, while they are there. We have a vast lawn and yet it is this runway like surface where they enjoy best setting up their work stations, their water-chalk, their digging zones in the flower beds nearby. We have had more than a few skinned knees here, yet still they return. I’m at the sink now. I’ve come to wash my hands. I turn the water on and adjust the faucet so that a warm stream is flowing through my palms. With soap, I massage my hands together, noticing the way the tepid water relaxes me, and taking in the boys as they play. I am rubbing my hands soothingly and Adrian begins running—laughing—down the driveway with Jonah following. There is crying between them at times. But I am marveling now as I gaze out at them—there is so much laughing. Sometimes the laughing gets to be so lively while they are eating dinner that I think that they may choke. I feel guilty at times reprimanding their antics. I am taking them in from my kitchen window like so many mothers before me and Adrian’s smile is erupting with joy and Jonah’s is, too. I rinse my hands of the soap and reach for a towel.

I am remembering now. I’m remembering now how it feels to look deeply into Jonah’s sea-blue eyes. I am remembering what it means to meet his eyes with mine, crouching down, even, to really look at him when he speaks. I am remembering how he stands up just a little taller when he notices me giving him my full attention. He says more. He has so much to share. His inner-world is active and filled with thoughts waiting to be heard. I am remembering about Adrian’s chocolatey—sometimes hazel—eyes and how his become just a little more liquid when I stop and really take in his words, connecting my eyes with his. It is almost as if he is touched with emotion by my interest. Adrian has so much to say, too. Sometimes he will shout at Jonah, “I was talking first!” I am remembering both of my boys’ gorgeous and reflective eyes and I am thinking about what it means to be seen. I’m thinking about what it means to be seen when you are a child. I’m thinking of all that it means to be seen.

A Mother’s Morning Meditation

Tree WomanI have a vision. I have a vision of Mothers around the globe beginning their days in peace. I have a vision of our children experiencing a gentle calm surrounding them as they venture out into this too-fast world. I have a vision of each of us—myself included—growing in our capacity to experience an inner spaciousness that will inform our choices, our tones of voice, our inner resonance. I have a vision of truly living the proclamation that real peace begins at home. May this “Mother’s Morning Meditation” assist us all in connecting with our truest essence as we begin our days and may that essence spill forth upon our children. May we all shed our worries about all that has to be done, our urgency about the ticking clock and break open our anxious hearts instead with the beauty of present moment awareness. Notice intently the sleepy morning stretches. Notice the sticky breakfast fingers. Notice the snail-paced pulling on of socks. Notice and rejoice.

A Mother’s Morning Meditation

Good morning, dear Mothers. Today is a new day and all is well. All is well. As I enter this day, I center myself with a deep, stilling breath. And then another. I sit in the emptiness and experience myself, the light in me. I greet myself with a smile and acknowledge all that I am and all that I give. With eyes closed, I breath deeply again noticing the many spaces within my being. I notice the places that I experience as too-full. I notice the places that feel clear. I notice the places that feel in need of nurturing. With this noticing, I allow the energy within me to begin circulating, first slowly, then with increased power finding all of the places that need emptying, discovering all of the places that need filling and then slowly, so perfectly bringing the energy inside of me into complete balance. I breathe deeply again now experiencing  the steady rhythm of all that is happening inside of my mind, of all that is happening inside of my chest and all around the rest of my beautiful being. I am grateful and know that I may bring myself to balance again and again throughout my day. In this moment, I imagine my body as a sturdy and flowing tree. Through the soles of my feet, healthy, winding roots begin making their way into the earth grounding me into my perfect balance. Through the crown of my head I grow tall and expansive. I am both strong and fluid. I release this image and come back now into my heart center and feel expansive with love. Here I am. And here is my day before me. I have things to do and places to be. I have children who need me. And others, too. Breathing deeply I know that I will find a pace for my words and actions that allows me to meet each moment in my day with grace and presence. I know that my life has meaning, sometimes even in the smallest of actions.  I know that I have time. There is plenty of time. I will cultivate this feeling of expansive space in my home today and treat my children with gentleness. I will hear their words. I will smile at them and invite their thoughts into my heart. All that they are will be safe and respected with me. As I come to the end of this quiet moment I take another healing breath and see myself with the same love that I feel for my children. The love I will share with my children today showers me, as well. I feel peace. I feel energized for the day to come. I feel alive and ready to give.

 

Listen and be guided in A Mother’s Morning Meditation by Meghan Nathanson:

 

“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” —Joseph Campbell

Woman as treeI am sitting at a rustic picnic bench under a sturdy wooden shelter. My legs are stretched out before me. A breeze lifts the hairs from the back of my neck brushing them across my bare shoulders, cooling me. There is a well-worn path to my right leading toward a hilly, lush trail into the woods. The sounds of birds chirping in conversation and the distant rumble of a truck delivering are surrounding me. My boys are filling jars with treasures at a morning day camp a few miles from here.

I recently meandered with a dear friend around the yard of her new home— taking in the various attributes of the land. There was a perfectly rounded sledding hill out front, a brood of chickens in the back and a home in the middle filled with windows and wonder. Surrounding us was a ring of sprawling trees. A breeze moved through these varied and magnificent beauties encompassing us as if in their embrace. Each sprawling limb was doing its part—sending the rushing air along between them. Even the tall deadened trunks—stripped of all their green for a long while now—stood in the distance holding their place in this rounded, breathing space. We wondered whether an owl might find their home in one of these stunning sculptures of nature’s unfolding. I’m taken with the power and the possibility of a circle. My breath seems to move about my body in this same circular direction—the air making its way in and expanding my abdomen, then my chest, up along my spine into the top of my head and then back down again finally settling into my sacrum. All of the spaces inside of me are transformed into a single expansive globe as my breath moves through me before finding its way out again. 

My son Jonah has become enthralled with bugs this summer. He searches for them, creating homes and sometimes bringing them to and fro in our car, around our house—like visitors. He names them and even loves some of them. Sometimes he squishes them, accidentally. Sometimes he squishes them because he is just so curious to see what happens. Moving through his fifth year, I notice him bringing more authority to his way of being. His thoughts are deepening. I observe him as closely as ever—maybe even closer—although from a greater distance. Even as he grows I notice the part of him that remains constant. There is a place in him that I recognize from when he was nestled in my arms in those very first moments—still wet from the womb. I remember that same essence from when he was a wee-toddler, my family cheering for him as he begins running for the first time down a hallway. There it is again—that dear Jonah quality—as a boisterous three year-old resisting sleep one million times over. And here  it is now—as clear as ever—as he unfolds into a school-age boy. He likes the idea of becoming a “gentleman” and he points out the “gentlemen” that we come in contact with. He notices the way they speak politely and offer to help. He notices these things ahead of me. He refers to me as a “gentle-lady” and has pointed out other gentle-ladies as we make our way through the world. He teaches me to slow down and every day—if only through this essence— he reminds me of his worth.

 I take him in—this beautiful gift-of-a-boy—and create a circular space around him in which he may expand. I try not to make the mistakes that I made when he was three years old, transitioning out of regular napping so many moons ago. Then, I tried to hold him there. I resisted and resisted and resisted. Now, I try to look ahead. I try to look ahead and I make room. I lay down my resistance to the pain that sometimes tags along with seeing your child grow. I try to lay down anything in me that might inadvertently take him away from his original essence. Like the trees, I surround him with my energy and with my love in a gentle, circular caress.

“There is no instinct like that of the heart.” —Lord Byron

water drop heartIt is nearly midnight and I am lying in my bed with a heavy heart. My boys have been resting in dreamland for hours now—snug in their beds down the hall. My eyes are closed and my left hand is resting on my heart—a habit I developed in my teen years when recovering from a painful hospital stay. My right hand is resting on my abdomen—a practice I learned from one of my teachers—Renee Trudeau—in a seminar at Kripalu last summer. I’m lying uncovered in my bed—my two hands anchoring me, rising and falling with my breath—and I’m floating around the idea of being, “broken-open” as is so often discussed in conversations surrounding spiritual awakening and healing and living. I’m floating around the idea of lingering in this space and noticing what it has to reveal.

Outside my window-filled room, rain falls rhythmically. I am listening to the various notes sounded as the raindrops land melodically on the window sills, on the air conditioner unit, through the trees. I am lying in my bed, noticing my breath and taking in the stillness. Listening so very closely to the rain, I can almost feel the raindrops coming down and landing—each of them—on my heart. My heart is wide open—like a cavern—each drop is landing with a beat inside of me, watering up all of the spaces that are lacking sustenance. Each raindrop feels weighted and comforting. I am thinking about the times that I have felt broken-open before—it happens again and again to some. At times, I have been very aware of the slow yet powerful internal cracking taking place and leading up to the tectonic shifts—like the time I dialed a therapist I’d never spoken to before from the bed of my tiny, NYC apartment on a dreary, Sunday morning. Other times, the breaking open is more sudden—more jolting—like the time in which a long and dear friendship changed drastically over the course of a few days. And sometimes the breaking-open-of-the-heart seems more ordinary. It seems to have to do with difficult transitions and bothersome illness and insufficient support. It never really is about those things, though. It’s about learning where we abandon ourselves and where we abandon others. It’s about discovering the ways in which we act out our fear of judgment and the ways in which we judge. It’s about witnessing all of the ways that we try to protect ourselves from being seen. There is nothing ordinary—at all—about this type of breaking open. It may be the best and most transformative breaking-open of all.

The rain has come and gone a half-a-dozen times since the night of my heart-watering. Our garden is the most lush and green that we’ve had since coming to Maine five years ago. Jonah and Adrian’s legs are covered in scratches and bug-bites—a testament to a summer moving in the right direction. I’m sitting and I’m writing and I’m aware that the gaping opening in my heart from a few weeks ago has been peeled back and massaged and molded into shape once again.