Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Placing Petals

In honor of the Summer Solstice, Oliver and I made floral sun catchers. It's a simple, quiet art. After
tucking the two little ones into bed for afternoon naps, Oliver and I made our plan.  I told him we needed to gather materials from nature.  We'd break them apart and make something new.  We watched a video about the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge (it's on my bucket list).  Then, with the deepest clarity of understanding, Oliver said, "Oh. So we're combining science and art.  I love that!" He capered off to don his lab coat, because, science.

In the yard, Oliver saw the familiar in close detail.  I mean, he did have the magnifying glass (science, after all), but in a more figurative sense.  He noticed the veins in the leaves, the pollen on flowers, the delicacy of a flower's petals, the coarseness and variation of a blade of grass. He noticed the pieces that make up the whole. I never tire of seeing the lessons nature has to extend. She is a powerful teacher. How can we hope to understand the whole if we don't see the pieces that play a part?

With a melange of petals-grasses-leaves in hand, we settled at the dining room table to begin. Oliver plucked petals from flowers. Then, with his little Oliver twinkle in his eye that somehow always manages to make the freckles on his nose more pronounced, he glanced at me, smiled, and said, "She loves me, she loves me not..."  He asked if I knew about that.  I smiled and told him I did.  He responded, "I figured." And just as the natural world came into sharper focus with new eyes, so did my son.

Oliver shared things he's learned recently. We sang to Gillian Welch and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.  Beyond enjoying the soft moments of creation alongside my son, the placement of petals in a new order leant itself to a reflection on my morning.  My close friend lost one of her dearest friends today. I thought about cycles and time and how much beauty is there that we fail to notice. I thought about circles and cycles -- how comforting and ever-present they are, but how it can still manage to feel like a punch to the gut, even when we know what's coming. I thought about how rare it is to experience a pure emotion -- that the others so often overlap. I thought about memory-making. As a mother, I always wonder, will this one stick?  Will this one embed?  When we're 60, will this moment flash -- sitting at the dining room table singing and placing deconstructed flowers to build a creation of our own? Will it implant?  Will he remember it?  Will I?

Oliver's Suncatcher
Neither of us worried much about the past or the future as we celebrated the solstice today. We were present, the two of us, velvet petals between thumb and index finger, seeing parts to make a new whole.  On the longest day of the year, we were content.  We were full.

Monday, June 19, 2017


When all else fails, retreat to nature.  I don't know if anyone's ever said that, but someone should have. It's solid advice. I'm wound tightly.  After a full day at home with my children -- a day I loved and deeply enjoyed -- I began to feel that tug to retreat, to escape.  And this is one of the things I love most about my husband.  He understands me and never judges.  I knew I needed to flee to quiet the rolling storms.  I knew that would happen in nature.  He helped me toss the essential camping items in the car, kissed me, and gave his blessing for me to take myself camping. Alone.

As with many things in life, I arrived less than prepared.  I didn't anticipate that I wouldn't be able to purchase firewood at the campground.  The mosquito armies were relentless.  In a matter of minutes I was covered in giant, red weals.  I was without bug spray.  When one feels the compulsion to flee, bug spray is an afterthought.  I didn't anticipate the misogynistic attitudes of both the park ranger and the campground host; they were seemingly caught of guard by my ability to pitch a simple tent, by my ability to build my own fire (even if I had to be resourceful and fuel it with pages torn from my son's Reconciliation book, praise the Lord).

In so many ways, the whole experience -- the urge to escape, arriving in nature to be met with a series of other unanticipated assaults, and finding the beauty anyway -- echoes the peaks and valleys of my 33rd year.  It would have been easy to throw in the towel, to pack up, let the mosquitoes win, give in. But I didn't. I visited a nearby gas station. I procured firewood. I bought bug spray (it didn't do much to stave off my assailants).  I regrouped.  And then there was the beauty.  After a bit of rain, a rainbow.  The clouds transformed into fluffy swaths of cotton candy, imbued with oranges and pinks. The breeze enveloped and reminded me to breathe.  The fire crackled.  Birds chirped.  I found clarity. That night was, perhaps, the beginning of my reflection on my year. Yes, there were elements that poked and pricked, there was some unexpected pain, but there were great rewards too.

I turned 34 last week. I've never experienced any turmoil over aging.  In fact, I've always wanted to be older than I am.  I'm jealous of my friends who have gray hair. I've never longed for an age that has passed. I have to be careful, however, not to wish away my youth -- to be present now.  There were certain years that seemed to hold greater promise -- years I was anxious to reach for no reason other than because I'd attached some significance to them. 17, 22, 25, 30, 33.  But I don't have another number in my mind; there isn't another milestone I'm anxious to reach.  Maybe 67.  But the others have come in fairly close succession.

I'm not sure what it was about 33, but I apotheosized it to such an extent that it was only a matter of time before it fell shattering from its pedestal.  33 was the epitome of balance.  It was about reason and centeredness.  It was about knowing myself.  It was a settling, a grounding -- no longer aimless and wandering, but intentionally and pleasantly rooted.  It was a sense of purpose and creation.  It was the embodiment of contentedness.  A long-awaited arrival.

Those who grew up Catholic know there are lessons, stories, and histories so deeply engraved on our inner walls that we can't ever shake them.  Maybe that's part of it for me.  Jesus was 33 when he was crucified.  Maybe it was something to do with wanting to be reflective of one's maker.

At any rate, 33 was anything but venerable, anything but balanced.  In fact, it was a bit of an upending.  33 was oddly and disappointingly reminiscent of 21.  And who wants to be 21 again? 21 was uncertain, insecure, inexperienced, ego simultaneously looming and fragile, searching for a sense of self and one's place in the world.  No. 33 wasn't supposed to be like 21 at all, and yet...

On the surface, I suppose 33 was a failure. I often felt more lost and out of control than I can remember ever feeling (though time has a way of dulling the sharpness of experience).  I cried more in the last year -- not just tears, but body-wracking sobbing -- with more frequency than I can recall. I was cruel to myself in many ways. My judgement was often clouded. I felt marooned at work.  I contemplated calling it quits on my marriage. I invested energy in people who drained and didn't fill. I misread more often than I got it right. I questioned whether I possessed any value, any worth in the world. I dredged up many demons who were never dormant exactly, but caged.

It's easy to see all the failures. But cliche as it is, I steady myself: never a failure, always a lesson. There was a great deal of success and accomplishment over the last year, too. Friendships came to the forefront.  They blossomed and were strengthened. I made several new friends who have been paramount as I've attempted to sort through my messes. As frightening as change is, I took the plunge.  My dear friend, Allison, provided a beautiful balm from Marjorie Leader: "Go now, you are ready to go.  I know, leavings are lonely, but growing is only a larger kind of living.  The world, my sweet, like any other womb, is round."

If I'm honest, I don't want to live a predictable, comfortable life. I want a life of excitement and surprise and experience.  And I'm doing that.  I'm uprooting in order to do that.  This year, and the accumulation of many years before it, have nudged me. So I'm taking the leap into the unknown.

And marriage.  Marriage is a choice we have to make every day. We have a tendency, I think, to make our relationships with our children the most important in our lives, especially when they are young. Those relationships are the ones we feed.  But when I always put my children at the forefront, I starve my relationship with my husband. I starve the relationship with myself, too. And it's an easy pattern to fall into. Matt and I had been languishing in some kind of torpor, I think. And it could have gone in 3 ways, as I see it: quit, languish, or lean in. We chose to lean in. The embers were still there, still burning. We just had to fan the flames a bit. We needed to remember why we chose one another. We needed to commit time. We have to be honest, ask for what we need, and strive to provide it. Though 33 was painful in many different ways, especially in regard to relationships and a sense of my personal worth and value, I know that Matt and I wouldn't be where we are now -- a really good place -- if I hadn't experienced those dark moments. Peaks and valleys. Always peaks and valleys.

So I'm heading into 34 in much the same way I feel after a difficult run or a challenging yoga practice. There is strength and a sense of accomplishment that comes from enduring, from not giving up, from pushing through the pain.  My friend Lindsay and I made vision boards the other night. We focused in on what we want to manifest in our lives. It hangs in a place that I see many times throughout the day.  It reminds me of what is most important for me right now: meaningful and reciprocal relationships, whole health, and writing as a means of knowing. Those are the places I need to direct my energy. I trust that the rest will work itself out.

33 may not have encompassed all I'd hoped it would, but I think it certainly provided the groundwork. 3 plus 4 is 7. Maybe 34 will be the luckiest year yet. Maybe 33 did the work.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Paradox of Permanence

Sometimes I imagine the sheer unbridled thrill that must have accompanied the first charred line on the wall of a cave, the determination to make paint of dried seeds and water and mud, the rush that must have traveled through the hand of the artist scratching lines into soft clay. One of the defining characteristics of humankind is our language of expression. In Art History my teacher's enthusiasm and passion and awe when she spoke about Mesopotamia and the Sumerians and cuneiform stirred something in me.  When she projected slides of marked tortoise shells and cave drawings and tablets carefully imbued with scratches, it called to mind the human desire to document, to leave a message behind.  Perhaps that's the pull to the page -- to leave a message about who we were and what we believed.

There is a power that comes with the permanence of marks or words.  Of labeling and naming. Soft clay, cave walls, and papyrus weren't enough. Whatever is left behind is an expression of the self, so it only makes sense that virtually every culture in the world has some history of the body as canvas. Our word tattoo comes from the Tahitian to mark.  A mark on the human canvas can be done for good or evil.  We certainly have history close enough to show us that -- the marks placed on the bodies of slaves to remind them of their place (and still they found song and dance and laughter, in spite of the horrors).  In the Japanese Edo Period, each time a criminal was caught for a non-violent crime, another mark was added to his forehead, ultimately creating the pictograph for dog.  He was marked.  But most ancient tattoos were oracular and bridging. They communicated a sense of belonging, just as the Cree would mark each of its people. It provided a sense of identity. In 1891 Egyptologist Eugene Grebaut discovered the mummy of Amunet.  Her abdomen was covered with tiny dots; when pregnant, those dots would spread as a net, safeguarding her womb from the world outside it.  Her thighs were marked by Bes, a divinity who served as protector in childbirth.  Sailors, too, marked themselves with such amulets -- anchors and swallows.

I suppose, then, it was in my rich human history to feel compelled to mark my own canvas.  But I did so without much forethought, unfortunately. On my first day of college, I was presented with a college coupon book at the University's book store. Inside, like a siren, was a coupon for a tattoo at the shop just around the corner.  It whispered to me, called me. Perhaps it was the desire to ground. To remember myself. To become.  I was away from home, away from my friends.  Lost.  And so, a few hours later, I found myself there in the tattoo parlor, coupon burning a hole in my pocket.  I quickly sketched out the design I'd doodled in notebooks for years. A spiral with lines emanating outward.  My version of a tribal sun. Why tribal? I can't be sure. Something ancestral not snuffed out through evolution and breeding and modern civilization?

The tattoo cost $10.  He was done in less than 10 minutes.  I'd nervously sketched the image.  The sun was in my own hand, which I suppose is symbolic in its own rite.  He went too deep with the needle.  The ink bled and solidified in thick, disproportionate lines.  My father's joke for years every time he saw it was: "Oh my God! There's a spider on your foot!" There were things I loved about it, despite its clear imperfections.  I like the notion of the sun.  I've always been drawn to that idea. Astrologists tell us that it represents power, influence, energy, and the self.  The sun is about the present, the moon about the past.  The sun rejuvenates, provides vision.  And obviously, the sun is our life force.  Without its light, its heat, we perish.  And its also about consistency.  As Amy Krouse Rosenthal wrote, "It just keeps rising and never asks for anything in return."  And I needed that concept at that time in my life, even if I didn't think all the way through it -- to be a light and an energy, to know myself, to be present, to keep rising.

I lived with that mark for 15 years. It became a powerful teaching lesson.  Each year a student would ask about it. I joked that it was a remnant from my time in the slammer.  Some smart-aleck would ask if it was an asterisk, if that was my favorite piece of punctuation.  Did I swear a lot? So it became a lesson in patience and purpose.  It became a lesson in knowing when to use a coupon and when to pay full price. It became a lesson in permanence -- some decisions aren't so easy to sweep under the rug.

I'd toyed with having it removed, but that seemed silly. The mark was a piece of my identity.  It provided a dot on the timeline of my life.  It was, perhaps, terribly similar to a rudimentary mark on a cave wall, but a mark nonetheless.

The process of covering it was as far removed from the experience of my first tattoo as it could have been. This time, I toiled to decide.  When I finally knew, I waited 2 more years before committing.  I sought out an artist, not some dude with a tattoo gun and some ink and a coupon. I booked the appointment -- she had a four month waiting list.

This tattoo is large, covering the length of my foot.  It is emblematic of values that are important to me. It is comprised of 4 prominent images: a stalk of lavender, a coneflower, 2 poppies, and a strand of wheat.  Beside the base is one simple word: be. 

Just as the Sumerians and the Egyptians felt compelled to leave a mark, an experience, a story behind, so too do I.  I feel most at home in nature, most myself. I'm tightly wound.  The natural world reminds me to breathe a little more deeply, to let go.  I'm naturally anxious.  This new image is there as my own amulet of sorts: lavender to remember to breathe and relax, a coneflower to heal what ails, the poppies for creativity and imagination, and wheat for stability and a reminder to give energy to that which nourishes.  The word be works on a series of levels.  One of my favorite quotes is Jane Kenyon's line, "Be a good steward of your gifts."  I think it ties nicely with the symbolism of the bunch.  From Psalm 46:10, "Be still, and know..." -- a reminder that the world is larger than me.  I often struggle to be fully present.  I make lists and count days and think of the next thing and the next. That simple two letter word ushers in the importance of presence.  When Amy Krouse Rosenthal was diagnosed with terminal cancer, she wrote about "Plan Be," not "Plan B." And it reminds me of the sun, that rash act I committed 15 years ago in a hopeless effort to make a mark, to know.  I love that the initial mark, the impetus for this new one, remains underneath.  Others won't know, but I will. And now, beneath it all, that sun is seemingly giving energy and light and love to each of the plants that remind me to be the person I want to be.

Few things in life are permanent. We are in a constant cycle of evolution, of growth.  The permanence of that initial tattoo no longer seems permanent when it can't be seen.  This tattoo will last only as long as my flesh, a nanosecond in the world's existence.  We cannot hope to last forever. We cannot hope to know something in its entirety. I am a child of the universe: small and temporary. But I have the capacity to be large in the time I have.  I have the capacity to be a light, to be a force, to be a vision.  I have the capacity to be gentle and kind, both with myself and others.  I have the capacity to nourish and inspire, to feed.  I have the power to be.  I've marked it; when I lose my way, as I invariably will, I'll be reminded.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Presence over Fear

At ten I swallowed my fear and timidly climbed the ladder to the high dive. I think I wanted to prove something, not to others, but to myself.  I'm not afraid of heights; that wasn't the source of the fear. I think maybe it was that people might watch.  People always watch the high dive.  There's some risk there.  Some uncertainty.  It's such a long way to fall.  Will the form hold so tightly that there's virtually no splash at all?  Is it a character up there, determined to drop the cannon ball of all cannon balls to douse the lifeguard? Will he be chastised and admonished with curt ear-piercing whistles?  There's always uncertainty, suspense, with the high dive.

As I ascended, I fixated on the slippery ladder.  I imagined the impact of my body on the pavement below if I should fall.  I wondered how much blood there'd be.  Would I die?  At the top, again, my attention was keenly aware of the danger of falling.  I saw flashes of my body sliding off the side of the board, coming to a crushing blow with the medium dive, neck broken, body askew.  I hesitantly teetered to the end and stood there, shocked that the board beneath me wasn't sturdier, more dependable. I tenderly bounced, frigid in the wind.  A voice from below the ladder shouted, "Go! Come on!"  Rushed, embarrassed, I stepped off the edge, legs scissoring like possessed blades, arms flailing.  I came crashing into the water with anything but grace. I burst through the surface, eyes stinging with chlorine, gasping.

I've been thinking about that experience today -- something I haven't thought about in years.  It's either comforting in its familiarity or disappointing in that notion that perhaps we never actually grow out of childhood at all, but it's apt.  So much of my current state of life is like that high dive experience. It's easy to be governed by fear and uncertainty.  But it isn't liberating.  It isn't enjoyable.  It isn't making the most of life.

Had I approached it differently, I might have noticed the strength in my arms and legs as I ascended the ladder.  I might have felt powerful, capable.  I might have noticed the rough sandpaper grip of the rungs -- precautions had been taken, innovation put into action. I was perfectly safe.  Once on the board, I might have noticed the view.  I might have taken in the eyes turned upward in anticipation, eager to watch my experience.  I might have noticed the easy spring of the board, sound, but capable of catapulting me high into the air with just the smallest effort, defying gravity, if only for a moment.  I might have exhilarated in the sensation of body racing through air, free falling, trusting, knowing I'd be gently cradled by the water below. I might have relished the rush as my head emerged from the depths of the water, cool and clean, into the fresh air.  I might have smiled. Laughed.

Instead I was so preoccupied with the fear of what might happen, of the catastrophe that could occur, I wasn't capable of taking in each of the moments.  I missed them.  I neglected to recognize them.  And it's a pity. I still do.  I miss the moments all the time.  I let fear take the helm.

I'm about to take a plunge off another high dive, of sorts. I don't want to be the maniacal leaper --rushed, fearful, uncertain.  I don't want to miss the opportunities to notice, to truly experience and be present.  I've been that ten-year-old self, but it isn't too late. Beginning now, I'm making a conscious effort to be present and take it in. To feel the heat of the pavement, the rough grit of the rungs, the bounce of the board and the wind and the view and the joy and the anticipation.  This time, when I finally take the leap, I want to enjoy every moment -- the ascent, the fall, the reemergence.  The grin.  The rush.

What a beautiful thing to know I can, if I choose.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Grief and Gratitude

I've only experienced this feeling, this enormous grief, one other time in my life.  I was in college and had broken up with my boyfriend of 2 1/2 years. It was my choice.  I loved him deeply, but we weren't right for one another.  I knew that.  He was slower to know it. He begged and pleaded. Surprisingly, I had the courage to say no.

The thing about grief is that it swells and takes you under at unexpected moments. The checkout lane at the grocery store, when you're tucking your kids into bed, on the drive home from work...  And your whole body aches with it, is wracked by it.

This sounds dramatic, I know. But anyone who knows me knows that I don't do anything just a little bit.  I'm all in. Plunging. With abandon. And I've been all in for the last 12 years. I have given hours and tears and laughter and sweat and hope and forgiveness and love.  I've built a foundation. I've built friendships and community.  More than that.  I've built family.  And more than that, too. I've built an identity.  I came into myself there.  Roosevelt has been home.  And I'm leaving.

It's all becoming terribly real. The room is bare. Colleagues, teary eyed, pop in to say goodbye. I'm an emotional person and even I have been caught off guard by the depth of this sadness.  I'm not sure I've grieved to my core since Jon. It sounds silly to chalk up a break-up at 21 and a transfer to a new school as elements of grief -- deep soul-wrenching grief -- but they are, as much as anything. Because both are about a sense of self and identity.  With both, I'd built a future. I tethered myself. Cutting that cord is healthy, I know, but terrifying.  In doing so, I accept the free fall.  I relinquish control and safety and the familiar. And all I can do is hope. I hope I made the right decision.  I hope this isn't a colossal mistake. I hope people will like me. I hope I don't suck at my job. I hope I will build relationships as powerful as those I've built at Roosevelt. I hope it feels like family there too. I hope I don't regret it. I hope that what I've built isn't made of sand.

I have so much gratitude for Roosevelt. It's taught me the value of community.  It's taught me how to use my voice and how to shut up. It's taught me perspective and love. It's taught me compassion. It's taught me confidence and humility. It's taught me heartache. It's taught me strength and perseverance. It's taught me pride. It's taught me hope.

I mourned the end of my relationship with Jon for a long time. The decision for a different future didn't erase the past we shared, it didn't wipe away the love and attachment I had for the future we'd hoped to build together.  It was the right decision. I know this is the same. There will be joy and excitement. There will be laughter and friendship.  Home is where you make it.  I know, realistically, I'll be just fine.  But for now, there's grief.  There's loss. I'm untethering, free falling. I'm trusting, between seismic sobs, that this is right. I know it is.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Expression of Love

People express love in so many different ways.  Some are more guarded.  Some still resign to the adolescent boy approach; they act as if they can't stand the person they love, they tease and taunt. Others are affectionate. There are those who can't hold it in, the words flow and they tell you, again and again and again.  Sometimes it's a combination.

Anyone who knows me knows I love few people in the world like a love a teenage boy.  Don't get me wrong, here, people.  This is not Mary Kay Letourneau love; it's the furthest from it.  Because they're CHILDREN.  No, I love teenage boys because I get a front row seat as they navigate the world, practicing for the kind of men they're going to be.  Teenage girls are more difficult for me.  So much drama.  Such a quintessential gift for making hideously mean faces.  The eye rolling.  Uff.  I don't get that from boys.  They don't hate their mothers like girls do at that age, so they don't give as much push back to a mother-figure.

As I prepare to wrap up the year and start at a new school, I've been so blessed to experience such an outpouring of love from kids.  Each expresses it in unique ways, reflective of who they are and where they are at this point in their lives. Yesterday morning Beyonce and Gabby arrived in my room before school, unplanned.  Each had a small gift for me -- my favorite pastry from La Mie and a box of Hot Tamales.  Later Alice piped up, "I saw you last night at the soccer game."  I told her I didn't see her; she should have come over.  She said, "Yeah. I hid from you... It was cool you were there."  Kids.  Gunner referred to me as Dragon Lady, an odd term of endearment he's taken to.  But the sweetest is Chris.

I had Chris in an English extension course last year.  He's incredibly bright.  I think his home life is a little rocky, but he never wanted to talk about it.  He is in desperate need of love.  He wants hugs all the time. (Again, not in a gross way.) He needs a lot of reassurance. He came in during lunch to chastise me for leaving.  He's planning to take AP Literature and Composition next year.  He signed up because he thought I'd be his teacher. So many kids in that class need assurance and support; they need someone to not only believe in them and challenge them, but to assure them they will be successful, that I'll help them.  They doubt themselves and they fear failure. It's easier to take the less challenging course, but they signed up for the risk because they knew I'd be there for them.  Those are the kids who are taking my departure the hardest.

At any rate, Chris and a couple of his friends came in during lunch.  When I stepped out to heat up my lunch, he jumped on my computer and left me a note. He expressed love in a way that only a teenage boy can.  He typed his thoughts into the google search bar.

There's something poetic in that.  He'd played the mean boy card -- he razzed and lambasted and called me a traitor.  But ultimately he was left searching for a way to communicate that he cares. Enter the Google search bar.  He didn't wait for me to see it.  He told me on the way out the door, "I left you a message on your computer, Ms. Moehlis!  Check Google."

So, love...  I felt it in spades yesterday.  I don't think any other job has the capacity to fill a person with such outpourings of love.  I am lucky that I get my fill of it everyday.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Atmosphere as Self

Spring weather in Iowa vacillates as dramatically as my students' emotions.  As any classroom teacher can attest, weather matters.  It affects our kids. If we're honest, we know it affects us too.

Today the stale air hung heavy.  It was thick, damp.  Molasses. Papers went limp.  Focus, too.  Kids whined and puttered and were slow to begin work (if they began at all).  Everyone was a bit irascible.

I'm keenly aware of how closely weather patterns influence my mood.  Today I internally endured that same thick, stale air.  I was irked to face the reality that I am still holding on to things I'd decided not to hold onto anymore.  I felt trapped under the heavy piles of work that remain, but struggled to mark more than a couple small tasks off my to do list.  I spent long stretches of time feeling a little prickly as I stared off into space listening to music that only exascerbated  my foul mood.  I was unproductive, static.  I hate that.  I desperately needed to be productive today.  I wasn't. Perhaps through osmosis, the tension in the atmosphere seeped into me as a palpable and disquieting force threatening to unleash.

The sky turned a sickly hue of green.  The wind bent trees, snapped trunks, tore limbs.  Finally, the torrents of rain, the pummeling hail, the eeriness, the sirens.  The atmosphere wailed, lashed out. It was scary, the unbridled force of it.  Like a toddler, the universe had a tantrum, made a scene, threw a fit.  It expelled more than anyone could have anticipated, as if drawing from secret reserves of angst. It raged.  And then, worn out, it slinked off.  The demons were expelled, the slate wiped clean. The sun reappeared.  The earth looked greener.  The scent of grass sweeter.  The sky opened up.  A double rainbow appeared.  Temperatures cooled.  The damage was evident, but there was some peace now. Something had been worked out.

The same tensions were mirrored within me.  But I didn't throw a tantrum. I didn't wail or rage.  I endured. I swallowed the desire to throw myself on the floor, to beat my fists and kick my feet at some frustration I couldn't even name, some intangible thing.  Instead, I harnessed.  I turned to my writer's notebook.  I took deep restorative breaths.  I reminded myself that the tension would pass, that I shouldn't give it energy.  I turned to the 5-4-3-2-1 strategy to quiet the storm: name 5 things you see in the room, list 4 sounds you hear, touch 3 things and name them, identify 2 things you smell, name 1 good thing about yourself.  I distracted myself from the chaos, from the thickness of it.  I paused.  I collected myself.

Eventually the winds abate.  The downpour ceases.  The earth glistens in its newness, in its baptism. The storm within, the tension, quiets and passes.  It's only May, after all.