mayacama mama


Leave a comment

One Autumn Day in Maine

It’s Sunday morning and Zoey asks me, “Do you think God regrets having made humans?” I think how do I answer this question and then I just speak from the heart. No theology lesson here for my 9 year-old, just a deep felt sincere answer. In the split second before I answer, I think about the parallel between God viewed as “Father” or as a parent and the human attribute of God’s disappointment in humans and perhaps Zoey’s growing consciousness as a 9 year-old and her struggles to live up to her own parents’ expectations and perceived disappointment. I tell her no, I don’t think God regrets creating humans and I add on that the God she is learning about at school when she hears the Old Testament stories is how the Hebrew people understood God a long long time ago, but that it’s not necessarily how God is understood today, nor how I understand God. And of course I can’t pass up the opportunity to question what makes her ask. But she doesn’t explain. I continue to think about her question in light of the world events today. It prompts me to pull out my Jerusalem Bible and reread the creation stories in Genesis. It’s when I get to the Flood story that I see the line “Yahweh regretted having made man on the earth, and his heart grieved” (Genesis 6:6). This verse must have been living in her since her teacher told her the story of Noah’s ark last week.

I’ve been reading Untamed by Glennon Doyle, who I heard speak on Brené Brown’s podcast Unlocking Us, a new favorite of mine. There are so many gems in this book. Here is one I love for the times we are living now: ” . . .the deepest truth is not what we can see but what we can imagine.” What we can see can be limiting and in times like now disheartening, but the possibilities within our imagination are endless. In our imagination we can dream of a beautiful world where we tend to the earth and take care of each other regardless of borders, the color of our skin, our language, culture, or religion. In our small mind of the intellect, maybe we can only understand God as having human feelings and reactions. And if that is so, then yes maybe God is disappointed in humanity, how we continue to commit acts of violence in our actions and words and fail to live in right relationship with those around us and the natural world. And I don’t think it’s a big stretch to consider that Zoey might be wondering if her own parents regret having had her. I have had too many clients in the past who have shared their mothers directly voiced that they regretted having them. It still pierces me to the heart thinking of the pain of knowing your mother never wanted you. But I am not one of those women, who for whatever reason, wanted a different path for their life. Nevertheless, I do find myself feeling more frustrated these days as my instructions to Zoey get brushed aside as she does what she wants when she wants. And she sees my frustration and perhaps wonders do I have regrets? I pause and have to consider, am I just building a cage around this beautiful, kind, and loving being who strives to be her own person and am I trying to mold her into my own expectations of how she should be?

The autumn always reminds me that the cycle of death and letting go is a normal part of life. And regret and disappointment serve a purpose. If we let ourselves feel the regret and disappointment, it can open up space for change and doing something different next time. The biblical restart was what came after the flood. Perhaps for us in America our restart will be what happens after the November election.

What Zoey doesn’t yet realize is that we can never live up to the ideal. We may strive for the Garden of Eden before the “fall,” but who wants to live without human consciousness? There is no perfect human being. Part of being human is that you’re going to make mistakes and disappoint someone. And you have to learn as you grow what you need to let go of, what part of you needs to die so that something new may form and blossom. I am still trying to prune my need to please others. My need to please God. My need to please friends. My need to please my husband. I’ve somehow managed to get over my need to please my own parents. I have to let go of my need to control my beautiful butterfly of a daughter. I have to trust that as Stephen and I provide the safe boundaries she needs, she will find her own way of being in this world.


2 Comments

How to Move Forward

IMG_5336

Popham State Beach, ME

I realize this blog title is misleading. It makes it sound like I am going to tell you how to move forward in these difficult times we are living. These difficult times we are living, as if the present has known more difficult times than the past, which we all know isn’t true. This is just life as it is evolving in front of us, as we live. I know you don’t think I have all the answers because I don’t. I’ve remained silent for too long, like so many, worrying I will say the wrong thing yet wanting to speak out. Yesterday I was reading this article “How to Start Making Real Change in Your Organization,” where Heidi Brooks, Yale School of Management leadership expert, talked about the mistake of keeping silent. She says, “Silence is not neutrality. If you’re saying nothing, what you might be projecting in your organizational culture, especially if you’re a leader, is the way that we deal with these things is through silence. If you’re thinking you’re kind of a neutral Switzerland in this, I would say silence is not neutrality right now.”

I was invited to join a small group recently to discuss consciousness raising, and I shared how I haven’t written on my blog because I don’t want to write something that will offend people. But the reality is that I will offend some people because we all have different perspectives. My experience is not your experience. I think perhaps I could rename this post “Allowing Ourselves to be Moved.” For a long time I would skip over news articles that were too painful to read. My excuse was self-care; working as a therapist and hearing clients’ trauma stories was enough for me. But perhaps a truer excuse is that I don’t like to feel uncomfortable. But I’ve known for some time now that growth happens in that place of discomfort and fear if we allow ourselves to stay there and pay attention to it before running the other way or distracting ourselves with what feels good. For me, the discomfort or fear starts as an ache in my heart and feeling unsettled in my belly. This internal feeling makes me feel restless, wanting to do some thing. As I live this 42nd year of my life, I’m trying to do that very thing that scares me, that makes me uncomfortable, the hard things, the impossible things. How can I translate this discomfort into healing, into a movement of action and compassion? 

In my own little world here in Southern Maine, my one little thing is writing on this blog. I can share with you how I am trying to learn and listen and reflect on the present and the past in order to inform how I can live into the future. Here’s a free online course Yale offers on African American History I am taking. I also highly recommend listening to Krista Tippett’s On Being interview with Resmaa Menakem. 

I recently finished reading When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron. A former client, who was a practicing Buddhist, introduced me to her writing. Here’s a passage from Chapter 13 of the book to sit and reflect on, my offering to you this day: 
     “How are we ever going to change anything? How is there going to be less aggression in the universe rather than more? We can then bring it down to a more personal level: how do I learn to communicate with somebody who is hurting me or someone who is hurting a lot of people? How do I speak to someone so that some change actually occurs? How do I communicate so that the space opens up and both of us begin to touch in to some kind of basic intelligence that we all share? In a potentially violent encounter, how do I communicate so that neither of us becomes increasingly furious and aggressive? How do I communicate to the heart so that a stuck situation can ventilate? How do I communicate so that things that seem frozen, unworkable, and eternally aggressive begin to soften up, and some kind of compassionate exchange begins to happen?”

That’s a lot of questions, I know. But she has a starting point, a place to begin again and again. Pema writes, “Well, it starts with being willing to feel what we are going through. It starts with being willing to have a compassionate relationship with the parts of ourselves that we feel are not worthy of existing on the planet. If we are willing through meditation to be mindful not only of what feels comfortable, but also of what pain feels like, if we even aspire to stay awake and open to what we’re feeling, to recognize and acknowledge it as best we can in each moment, then something begins to change.”

I had to write these words before I could move on to writing about our day to day life with my little family. I’ll share what we’ve been up to next time.

IMG_5325

 

 

 


3 Comments

At Home Again

IMG_5078

We’ve been living in our new house in southern Maine for three weeks now. Our visit with my parents in California was cut short when we realized the increasing seriousness of the Coronavirus. The kids and I arrived at an empty house the morning of March 15th. After taking a nap in the parking lot of Cabela’s in our rental car, we bought the bare necessities i.e. air mattress to sleep on, towels, and a few kitchen items until Stephen arrived at the end of the week with our remaining things we had in storage.

We’ve had two snowfalls since we’ve been here. Zoey and Zane put on their winter clothes in the early morning following our first snowfall to go walk through the snow to make trails.

IMG_5118

Our backyard

We took a long three week spring break, one week during our time in California and then the first two weeks in Maine. It was a difficult decision whether to stay in California with my parents while Stephen drove our stuff across the country, knowing if we waited too long we might not be able to fly east and would be stuck in California for months on end but have food security, or fly to Maine before Stephen  and arrive to an empty house with no food in the pantry, not knowing how the grocery store shelves would look in Maine. We took the risk, and here we are settling into a new home that will take a while to furnish. As the weather warms up here to the 50s, I’m looking at our backyard thinking about growing a vegetable and herb garden. There is a raspberry patch and two apple trees in the backyard.

Our days here in Maine haven’t been that different than when we were traveling in our Airstream except that we aren’t traveling anymore. I am still homeschooling the kids, and we are playing endless games of Uno, Monopoly, Scrabble, and Sequence. Zane told me tonight that he really didn’t want to be my partner because I wasn’t a “winner.” Before we started our around the country trip last June, I was most looking forward to spending every day with Stephen and the kids. I would have to say that was the best part of our trip even though at times it was stressful and difficult. And here we are at home spending every day together again, but we have more room to spread out now.

I never had a chance to share photos of the last leg of our trip before we reached California. We spent three days in Sedona, Arizona hiking each afternoon.IMG_4932

IMG_4938

Outside the Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona, AZ

After leaving Sedona, we stopped at Arcosanti for a tour and ate lunch in the cafe there. You can read more about it on their website.

IMG_4978

IMG_4984

IMG_4985

Last year, in the days leading up to the Epiphany, I spent some time each day writing and reflecting on a value to cultivate for each month of 2020. January was courage, February was creativity, March was discipline, and April is generosity. I haven’t observed Lent this year, but as Lent comes to a close with Easter on Sunday, being more disciplined in our consumption (we had 2.5 rolls of toilet paper when we arrived, and thankfully Stephen brought us a few more) and in our actions hasn’t been so difficult for me. What has been difficult for me is cultivating generosity–generosity of words, time, space, gifts, money, empathy, and understanding. Fear and anxiety usually get in the way, but I’m working on listening more to that nagging voice that moves me to action. I am inspired by stories from around the world, where people are reaching out to their neighbors and strangers in these difficult times. For me, that is Easter joy. We are all humans, vulnerable in so many ways, but we have an incredible capacity to be kind and generous to one another even in the midst of suffering.

I leave you with “A Verse for Our Time” by Rudolf Steiner.
We must eradicate from the soul
All fear and terror of what comes towards man
out of the future.
We must acquire serenity
In all feelings and sensations
about the future.
We must look forward with 
absolute equanimity
to everything that may come.
And we must think only that
whatever comes
is given to us by a world-
directive full of wisdom.
It is part of what we must learn
in this age,
namely, to live out of pure trust,
without any security in existence.
Trust in the ever present help
of the spiritual world.
Truly, nothing else will do
if our courage is not to fail us.
And let us seek the awakening
from within ourselves
every morning and every evening.

IMG_4933

Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona, AZ

 


2 Comments

Thoughts for the Coming Winter

IMG_2437.JPG

Photo taken by Zoey at the arboretum in San Francisco

My days begin around 5 o’clock in the morning. The sun has not yet risen. I rise in the dark and in the quiet of the house. I rise to make lunches for the kids, lunch for myself, breakfast for myself while reciting John O’Donohue’s A Morning Offering:I bless the night that nourished my heart/To set the ghosts of longing free/Into the flow and figure of dream/That went to harvest from the dark/Bread for the hunger no one sees. Stephen makes his way downstairs around 6 o’clock, making breakfast for himself and the kids. We do our morning dance around the kitchen, back and forth as we get food cooked and prepared. By 7:30am, I am off down the mountain to work as the sun begins to rise. Orange and pink fills the morning sky.

Tonight as I drove home from work, I listened again to the SuperSoul conversations with Joan Chittister.  In the midst of darkness, how do we hold light for one another? I make attempts at that daily with all the patients I see at the clinic for therapy. And in my own family and friends? I could do better. When I turned 40 in October, I had this awakening that seems perhaps obvious, but usually isn’t until we bring it to our consciousness. I realized I had the choice to choose what media or content passed across my eyes. I didn’t have to take everything in and feel crummy afterward. I didn’t have to watch a scary movie and feel frightened. I didn’t have to read news stories that were ugly and disheartening. I could filter what brought more light, beauty, laughter, and joy into my being. It’s not that I’m not aware of what is happening in the world. Reading the headlines is often enough to fill me in, or perhaps an article sent from a friend that I can trust is worth reading and being moved. But the daily bombardment of ugly, selfishness, and greed? I’ll pass on that.

As we move towards greater darkness, we hold on to the hope of the coming of light. Nature points us in the direction of more understanding if we wake up and look. There are beautiful, inspiring things happening in this world. There are people who are living their life as prayer. May you and I be one of them. And in the words of John O’Donahue, May I have the courage today/To live the life that I would love, To postpone my dream no longer/But do at last what I came here for/And waste my heart on fear no more.


Leave a comment

Five months later: A life lived

IMG_2279Summer is coming to a close even as school has already begun and the 100 degree weather rages on with smoky air lingering from local fires. I pressed the reset button again in June. I couldn’t sustain the life I was living at my previous job. The term “quality of life” has been ever-present in my lexicon since working in hospice nine years ago. How do I want to spend my days? How do I want to live my life? These past few months, as I complete paperwork for my new job, I’ve realized how little patience I have for tedious, seemingly unnecessary work. I have no guarantee that this new job will be better than my last. That’s been my life, changing jobs in search of the better one. I keep coming back to the question, how will I live my life differently this time around? How will I balance home life and work as a therapist? How do the two become integrated into my one life I am living? After seven different jobs in two decades, maybe the answer is that there is no balance for my life as I am living it. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

I was listening to the Rewind Yourself Podcast #151 Ancestral Amnesia and the Village Mind with Stephen Jenkinson yesterday, which really stretched my brain in thinking about my life. I won’t summarize the interview, but challenge you to listen to it. It was a bit like listening to a foreign language, trying to comprehend something just beyond my reach. A friend in her sixties said to me yesterday that she didn’t know why she was here, meaning her purpose in life. From my viewpoint, twenty years younger than her, I was shocked and surprised. How could she not know after 6 decades? In my naiveté, I assume that wisdom will come in 10, 20, 30 years from now, but the truth is, we are all just living our days trying to figure this life out. I think that is part of the poverty that Stephen Jenkinson speaks about.

Zoey often will ask Stephen and me to share a story from our childhood. There aren’t too many I remember. And then I started thinking about how the stories we could be telling her and Zane would include not just stories of one generation past, but also the stories of her great-great grandparents and who they were and what their life was like.

So I come back to that question of how do I work differently this time around? The truth that I have lived again and again is that work is hard. Work is tiring and draining. It can be boring and tedious. And sometimes it can be fulfilling and inspiring. We live in a time when we’re always looking for the next best thing, trying to avoid where we are. That’s my story anyway. So maybe this time around I open my hands and welcome it all in. The difficult and the easy, the sorrow and the joy. That’s a life lived, right?

 

 

 


Leave a comment

Living in Between

IMG_2099.JPG

This morning I slipped out of the house while Grandmom was reading Charlotte’s Web to Zoey. The boys were down by the shed. I walked over to the lake, sat down at the picnic table on the dock, and watched the wind moving across the water. The sun was shining, there was blue sky, and a cool breeze. Time appearing to stand still or at least passing more slowly.

The last time I wrote on my blog, I wrote about my struggle to survive the demands of my job. I was reminded of the constant change of life as I watched the wind blow across the lake, seeing the ripples expand. There is much to do when you are young, and I imagine the meaning of the doing becomes less important as you age. Doing my paperwork, doing the laundry, vacuuming, cleaning the kitchen, etc. All that truly matters now and ever matters is the being. As I look at nature all around me, the lake just is, the flowers just are, the trees grow where they stand. Nature teaches us what we have forgotten as we advance our minds and forget our bodies and spirits–we are living and breathing beings–we are of nature and a part of nature. Our greatness and value is that we are, not that we do these amazing things that set us apart from other creatures on earth.

There is such beauty in life. I need constant reminders and moments like this morning to reawaken to what it means to be human. I have not yet been able to welcome and embrace suffering like the flowers and trees who accept the fading of their days with grace. We humans may be smart but we are often foolish in spirit, forgetting the wisdom of our ancestors and fellow earthly creatures. I think to be human is to be one with the earth. We who are capable of deep knowledge, we all have a call to service and to care for one another and the earth we live on. But we too must rest and follow the rhythm of the seasons. As I near my middle years of being, doing takes up much of my time, balancing family life and work life. And somehow living in between. And I hope as I advance in years, the wisdom of the flowers and trees will stay with me and teach me how to be more as I am able to do less. And that I will recognize the value of my being even as my spirit and body fade back into the earth.


Leave a comment

Finding My Way

img_1990

I find myself in a state of listlessness or of acedia as the Christian monks would have called it. My inner rhythm has been thrown off since returning to work. For quite some time, I held on to the vision that I would be a runner and enjoy running, but I never did. I would get stomachaches every time I tried to run (except perhaps when I was playing soccer because I’d have rest periods). And then I discovered yoga a little over 10 years ago, and I fell in love with the slower pace that let me breathe deeply but also got my body moving and stretching in challenging ways.

I realized the other day that my present work feels like I’m running everyday. And it only dawned on me after going to Zoey’s school for a parent meeting in the middle of my day. We sat down around Zoey’s circular lunch table to felt little mice for our children for Christmas. We talked and shared ideas and thoughts about gift giving and there was a sense of stillness and rest. And then I returned to work and felt the difference in the energy at my office. We should be a place of healing. We work with children who are traumatized, yet the energy feels frenetic, agitated, and restless. What kind of healing place is that?

About a week after Thanksgiving I was called to my supervisor’s office to explain why I was late on several reassessments for clients which resulted in lost billable hours (meaning our agency lost money). Last month was rough. I got sick for about a week, Zane was sick for a week. I took almost a week off for Thanksgiving. And as much as possible, I try not to do office work at home. As much as I would like to think I could turn my office work into a yoga rhythm, the truth is that I would just fall further behind in my billing, and would feel the need to keep running to catch up.

I recently finished reading Circle of Stones by Joan Dahr Lambert. Towards the end of the book, she writes this paragraph that seemed to sum up how I feel, but on a larger scale seems to also reflect the condition of our world: “There will come a time of imbalance when the dark will blot out the light, when the strong will brutalize the weak, when men will rule over women, force Akat upon them and make them bear young they cannot feed. In all that I have created, there has been a balance, between strength and weakness, between predator and prey, between that which is female and male, between the coming of new life and the resources to nurture that life, between the joy of birth and the release of death. But when the Mother’s ways are lost, the balance will die with them. So terrible will be the imbalance that the earth will no longer be able to renew itself but will strangle in its own decay. All of you to whom I have given life will be trapped in a chaos of your own making.”

I think it comes more naturally for women to be more in tune with daily rhythms and monthly cycles, but often women, too become disconnected from those rhythms. To work non-stop from morning to night without breaks feels more like imbalance to me than balance. My inner Wild Woman called out to me, so I started rereading yet again Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D. She writes: “Don’t be a fool. Go back and stand under that one red flower and walk straight ahead for that last hard mile. Go up and knock on the old weathered door. Climb up to the cave. Crawl through the window of a dream. Sift the desert and see what you find. It is the only work we have to do. You wish psychoanalytic advice? Go gather bones.”

The bones I’m gathering tell me what I’ve already known–the best part of living is talking to others, soul to soul talking, sharing meals/breaking bread with others, digging down deep in the earth, moving my body, making something beautiful with my hands, breathing deep, sitting still, and listening. This is what I want–in addition to some really good loving–I mean body on fire, tingling loving.

I haven’t found my way yet, but I’m hunting with my nose to the ground.


Leave a comment

A Perfect Rainy Sunday

img_2001

After breakfast this morning, we headed out for a Sunday morning walk, before the rain came, which turned into a long hike around our property. Zoey and I stopped to eat some ripe, red manzanita berries while Stephen was up ahead carrying Zane. All of our mud boots/rain boots earned their name today with all the mud we trudged through. I had to pull Stephen’s rain boot out of the mud on one hill because he had his hands full with Zane, and I could barely pull it out with two hands.

I made zucchini bread after lunch. Here’s the  zucchini bread recipe I found. I didn’t eat it because it has flour, and I didn’t put the chocolate chips in it, but the kids seemed to like it. We all took a nap except for Zoey, except she did lay down for about an hour reading and singing to Zane from the book Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. Once Zane finally fell asleep, Zoey and I did yoga together in the living room while the boys slept.

I’m waiting for our beef stew to finish cooking for dinner. I made these biscuits. I haven’t been writing much on the blog or just in general perhaps because my work week is spent typing on the computer when I’m not seeing clients. Documentation for Medi-Cal can be brutal. I try to avoid spending time in front of the computer as much as possible at night and on the weekends. But today I felt like writing again. Yesterday the kids and I went to the children’s museum that is an hour away because I had to pick up my glasses from Costco. They played outside climbing the cedar tree (anyone good at tree identification?) while I ate my lunch.

I’m taking Friday off for my birthday, which is Saturday. I’ll be 39. Zoey keeps asking–“which is older? 65 or 39?” Maybe depends on how you feel? I’m not sure how 39 is supposed to feel, but I’m happy to be alive to enjoy Sundays like today.


Leave a comment

Memories to Sustain You

IMG_1932

We took a mini-vacation over the weekend to go camping on the coast. We escaped the 100+ degree weather to experience the coastal mid-50 degree weather that chilled us. I love the beauty that surrounds us here on our land, but I am drawn again and again to the coast.

I think a lot these days about the work I’ve chosen to do. I was listening to Dr. Aviva Romm’s latest podcast Natural MD Radio and heard this quotation I wanted to share because it sums up my desire to change my attitude towards work.

“What if the word work was changed to dance with life? And instead of being viewed as an alternative to fishing or a way of paying our dues, it was seen as our own chance to meet creative new friends, discover your own untested potentials and unpolished gifts and open avenues for abundance to come pouring into your life.”

What if work was no longer a burden but a gift waiting to be unwrapped? Each day a surprise waiting to be discovered? I’m not sure I’m there yet. Meanwhile, I hold on to memories of our camping trip hoping one day I can feel that same sense of buoyancy at work that I feel when I’m sleeping under the trees.

IMG_1920

 

 


2 Comments

Summer Ennui and A Few Favorite Things

IMG_1757

Yesterday morning I suddenly remembered this feeling of lethargy that hit me last summer. Perhaps it’s the heat that drains me, but my desire to keep busy through the summer months wanes, and all I want to do is relax and kickback. Yesterday instead of doing the breakfast dishes, I went with Stephen and the kids on Big Red around the ranch to water the redwood, cedar, and silver linden trees we planted last fall. So far they all seem to be surviving.

IMG_1811

The grass is growing so tall, we are eager for the sheep to come and graze, but we’ve been waiting since April for their arrival and so far no sheep. Thankfully we had no surprise rattle snakes waiting for us in the tall grass.

 

IMG_1829

Zoey took this photo of Zane and me yesterday. The first shot she cut off our heads, but she managed to get us in the frame for the second. I’m all dried up and at a loss for words, so I might as well end this post with my favorite things for June. I found this new blog called Cooking With Toddlers. She has beautiful photographs and some recipes I’d like to try that look yummy. Check it out. And I’ve been listening to Brandi Carlile on Spotify, which has been giving me a little pep during these hot, summer days. May you all find ways to stay cool.