Tuesday, December 24, 2013

gratitude day 7: family

well it does kind of go without saying, doesn't it? i thought i would avoid the obvious, but really, if you mention gratitude for your slippers, and then leave family out, there is something lacking!

my extended family is spread far and wide, but i am of course very grateful for them. family in cyprus, greece, england, france, florida, michigan, new york city, washington state, california. in-laws also spread across the country, from the east coast to the west. and i'm incredibly grateful my mother has moved nearby. it adds another great dimension to our lives to have her close.

but tristan, dan, and tashi are the ones that put up with me on a daily basis. my moods, my flakiness, my distraction, my anxiety, my silliness, my enthusiasm, my pickiness, and my love. and they are the ones who get me through my days with their help, their humor, their wisdom, their creative spirits, and the brilliant light that emanates from each of them. 

really, i can't believe how fortunate i am.

so at this time of year that is so joyous and so difficult for many, i feel thankful that there is mostly joy to go around here. my heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones, or are lonely and despairing. may you find connection in community, the trees, a creative outlet, your job, travel, literature, meditation, great film, the night sky, a garden, a pet, the light that shines through your window for a longer spell each day.

do (safely) light a candle and focus your intention on that flame, 
may fulfillment blaze through your life in the coming year.

Bright Solstice, Beautiful Christmas, and Bountiful New Year to All! 

I am grateful to you as well, for reading, and for 
bringing your own very special light to this planet!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

gratitude day 6: community

my high school community. my college community. 
community in buffalo, seattle, the bay are, ann arbor, and charlottesville. 

communities developed through day jobs, my doula work, dan's tibet work.
communities that have unfolded at my childrens' schools.
a community of mamas, papas, and babes.
communities of writers, artists, musicians, activists, earth lovers.

community to celebrate the seasons with.

people i miss. people i remain connected to.
 the map of populations and locales lives in my memory.  
miraculously my communities find a crossroads on facebook,
a characteristic that keeps me a little hooked on social media. 

i am grateful for all my little and big friends all over the planet,
while my immediate community continues to grow and find inner-connections,
an amazing labyrinth evolving at the foot of the blue ridge mountains.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

gratitude day 5: this moment

i'm grateful for this moment.

as i sit at the top of the stairwell near the door ajar to tristan's room, waiting for him to drop off into the nether, i look around me from this strange angle. there are relics on the walls. a mask of the golden nymph tashi fashioned and then donned in her fourth grade play. pop paintings by steve keene i collected from a lively exhibit at the 2nd street gallery. and the recent acquisition from my mother: a huge painting of me looking serious and dour at age three.

as i sit here looking at these time stamps, waiting for one child to drop off into sleep while the other bathes just a couple of yards away, i find myself wondering at what hangs on the walls. the vibrancy of the mediums: paper mache, bright tissue paper on white canvas, pigment, sparkles, feathers, wood. the significance of each piece: a king midas play i barely remember where my daughter portrays the radiant essence of gold.  music that  make echo certain passages of my co-existence with dan. driving to big sur on our first road trip while neil young croons. going into labor with tashi while sitting in our car listening to sonic youth tear into some cosmic feedback. my early childhood in cyprus, the solitude.

so i sit on the top of the stairwell considering these details, feeling warm, sandwiched by my children, hearing the splish of the water in the tub that tashi bathes in, hearing tristan whisper to himself as he struggles to sleep, hearing the heater blow through the ducts, knowing dan is out jamming with his band, and i feel snuggled in gratitude for all that i have. a big sweeping thing, all this.

and then while i'm feeling this large feeling of love and relief and bittersweet nostalgia, tristan addresses me from his still wakeful state, tells me of lights passing by his window, speculates on what they were, that they may have been will-o-the-wisps, red ones. his words combine with his pre-k tempo, and i am dazzled. four year old poetry, so profound and fleeting in its frequency, filling this moment with pure light.

this moment that i am grateful for. my children. their sounds. their art. my past. my partner's. our path.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

gratitude day 4: my house moccasins

i know, i know. really? slippers?

yesterday passed by so quickly that i didn't even realize i had missed posting. and today has passed by almost as quickly. so sitting here tonight i gaze at my feet while considering what i am grateful for, and i see my slippers. 

these sturdy slippers have been around for at least five years. they are a bit marred, but have years left in them. they swaddle my feet in warmth, while i remain connected to the ground beneath me. i am usually a barefoot girl in the house when it is warm, so i want my slippers to be another skin.

dan kindly gifted me with them for christmas one year. they are an investment, but a quality one. i've had other slippers. they last for one season and become landfill.  

when the weather cools down i wear them all the time at home. i cook in them, clean in them, curl up by the fire in them, sew in them, play in them, and sometimes even step outside in them (you know, to gather wood from the deck, or pick that last branch of oregano). it seems they are an integral part of my winter comfort.

so if you are stumped for a present for your loved one consider some wicked good slippers.

dan has a similar pair that are 31 years old. seriously!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

gratitude day 3: compassionate care

i missed yesterday's gratitude post because when i came home from my doula gig at a 
24-hour birth, i sat down to a delicious dinner dan made for me and then went straight to bed.  

yesterday's experience leads me to mentioning many things i'm grateful for.

i'm grateful for natural childbirth and those who support it. i'm grateful for medical interventions when they are absolutely necessary. i'm grateful for choice and informed consent. i'm grateful for midwives, their assistants, doulas, acupuncturists, chiropractors, herbalists, naturopaths, and massage therapists. i'm grateful for nurses, doctor's, surgeons, anesthesiologists, physical therapists, and counselors. i'm grateful for accessible and affordable (if not free) health care for all. i'm grateful for warm, clean, and functional healing environments. i'm grateful for loving life partners. 

i'm sure i've missed a few several things here, but what it really comes down to is that i am grateful for compassionate care. 

whether it comes from family members, social workers, medical staff, childcare workers, alternative health care providers, police men, managers, or teachers, compassion makes all the difference in one's approach to helping another. 

it is a practice i certainly need help with: empathizing rather than judging. 

children raised with compassion feel understood. medical treatment is missing a vital component if it does not include compassion. underserved populations may feel less marginalized if treated with compassion. babies whose needs are met with compassion feel far more secure. peace on earth is impossible without compassion.

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. 
If you want to be happy, practice compassion. 
~ His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Friday, December 13, 2013

gratitude day 2: the hands


we take them for granted, this intricate web of phalanges. 

they tuck under your pillow at night. pick up the crying babe in the morning. cook. eat. feed the cats. massage. clap. hold a pen. hold a book. direct traffic. gesture.

they type. sew. push. squeeze. 

catch. throw. grip. give & receive.

 hands press together in namaste. they raise strength in sun salutations. 
they are spangled in meaningful rings, and in some cases, tattooed. 

your palm speaks of the future, while the wear and tear speaks of your work 
(or lack of moisturizer, as in my case). your nails may be beautifully manicured, bitten short, 
or neatly trimmed. you might have hang nails, splinters, cracked skin, age spots, wrinkles.

hands have great strength and sometimes deteriorate with arthritis. 
lately i've been considering my hands as i've experienced some carpal tunnel. 
my chiropractor has made a huge difference with simple adjustments. 
her hands heal mine. touch makes music. touch makes love.

hands itch, comb, press, and pat. 

you have your voice, and you have the words that your fingers give away.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

gratitude day 1: feline affection

we have had our dear cats, luna and loki, for eleven years. tashi and i went to a pumpkin patch one autumn day and came home with sibling cats. they are quirky, loving, hilarious, and sometimes very naughty. they offer their purr therapy on the darkest days and arrange themselves in storm pose when bad weather is immanent.  they are very patient with tristan who likes to test their boundaries and less patient with everyone when it's time for a meal. luna is particularly fond of tashi and tries very hard to follow her into her room at night. tashi has sadly had to shut her out due to a developing allergy, but they still bond a lot in other spaces of the house. loki used to be in the habit of fighting other cats and climbing trees when dogs appeared, but he keeps himself out of trouble these days. luna can be a bit aloof and has a way of watching things unfold from her safe and distant perch. but when she decides to be affectionate she really has a way of turning up the sweetness volume.

i would love someday to have a pair of dogs too. 

but for now we are happy with these mysterious creatures who seem to see through
the walls of our house, and into the chambers of our human hearts. 

(thanks to dan for the above two photos!)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

tis the season to be grateful

welcome to my home

we have been lucky renters, dan and i. we have shared quite a few lovely homes to date. 

we started living together in a spacious edwardian studio on haight street in san francisco. lofty ceilings, latticed windows looking over the city to the east bay, a huge walk in closet, glass china cabinets, and an enchanted garden in the back, were a few of the stellar features. 

while our house in north oakland didn't really look like a house, it was a charmed flat above three garages. it had a large kitchen with art deco features and an antique stove, beautiful hardwood floors, big windows full of lacy light, and a healthy meyer lemon tree in the yard. 

our apartment in dharamsala was palatial by some indian standards; i was pretty pleased that my kitchen had a refrigerator. in ann arbor our home had a big stone fireplace, two acres of lush land with a natural pond, woods all around us, and a trail down to the huron river outside our front door. all of this within walking distance of ann arbor's downtown, the university of michigan, and my workplace at the food coop.

yes, i am grateful for this home, and all of my homes. 

and for yule trees. they are most certainly a reminder of the majesty of the green world, and when decorated, are light vectors. everything looks better when there is a yule tree in the room!

i have been a long time away from the blog. it always ends up a large time commitment, uploading all the photos, formatting, and finding just the right words. that time has lately been spent sewing market wares, running around a whole bunch, working, and being a mom. those things. 

i look forward to a renewed commitment to blogging, and writing in general, in the new year. and while i love selling things that i make at the holiday market, i will be happy to have some down time with my family once it concludes.

we march toward the solstice at an awesome clip. the world is so troubled and so stunning. i am grateful for this place. so many amazing people. my life. as the season of stress and consumerism steps up, i'd like to issue a grateful challenge. i will try my best to make a post a day featuring gratitude. and a good picture to go with it! does anyone want to join me?

happy, happy december!