“Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.” –William Wordsworth

It’s another temperate October afternoon—still damp from the night’s rain and Halloween is in the air. A flock of crows swoop back and forth high above the tallest pines cawing loudly—announcing the coming storm or some other alarm that only those within their clan can decipher. I’ve yet to bond with one of these dark and intelligent creatures—so frequently in my midst—although I did once place a shiny, silver carabiner on the top of a hedge in a gesture of friendship.

The hammock has been taken down and packed away in the shed safe now from the winds, the pollen scrubbed from the pair of white Adirondack chairs that sit in welcome throughout the seasons. I’ve placed a pot of lemon balm on a table between them—a gift from a soul sister, dug from her garden and offered as a tonic with antiseptic properties. Later I will snip some of its leaves and pour steaming water over them for tea.

We have more pumpkins than we need—two are enormous—larger than we’ve ever picked out before. There are six in total, the pair of smaller ones already tucked in the car ready for carving in the classroom tomorrow.

The bees are telling their story again. They have had to find a substitute for the few remaining flowers that I pruned this morning in the front bed and four or five or six of them have landed on the jagged mouth of a jack-o-lantern, nibbling away at the remaining pulp from yesterday’s carving. One lone bee makes its way across the stone walkway, tipping over to its side and falling and then gathering itself upright again to keep moving forward toward some unknown destination.

He must have been brave—or looking for a way back to his den— to come so near, the boys playing loudly in the front yard. I suddenly felt compelled to look behind me. I must have heard something. As I was turning and peering down the pathway on the side of our house I caught a glimpse of a fluffy, grey tail leaping away from us. I took a few steps forward and at once realized we had been just a few long strides from a large grey fox diverted with my turn toward him and now running for the shoreline.

Inside a few days later, the boys and I were gathering our things to leave for an appointment. I was talking with them and facing our front door—large and outlined in windows. My eyes were suddenly drawn beyond them through the window where I came in contact with a pair of large, black eyes peering at me and attached to a wide and round body.

At first I couldn’t make sense of what I was seeing. The raccoon was so large and walking up our pathway with such confidence, it seemed he might stroll right up the steps and ring the doorbell. I composed myself and quietly alerted Jonah and Adrian and they turned slowly to face the door. With just that amount of movement our visitor scampered to hide in the line of bushes along our porch, Jonah heading quickly outside to catch one final glimpse before he scurried under the porch.

Dawn’s first light was only just beginning to reveal itself, a gentle fog hovering in the distance around a tiny island offering ambiance to the season. The house was completely still and silent except for the gentle movement of my pen across the page. I was perched in the spot I return to before the sun comes up morning after morning opening to connection and preparing myself to meet the vast energies that cross our paths in living.

In an instant I felt a presence to my right where a wall of windows looks out into our yard and the water beyond. I turned slowly—unsure of what I might find. My mind had to acclimate itself to an unusual scene once again—the presence of four majestic deer lingering within a stone’s throw of my seat. It was as if they had been looking in at me.

I looked back at them in awe—feeling my heart expand—and zeroing in on the mother’s perked tail, white on the underside. Her head turned toward me in a steady gaze, her ears at attention. In my mind I immediately felt compelled to send her a message of safety—of love, even. I thanked her for being there in a way that I hadn’t had a chance to do with the other wild creatures that seem to be circling our home coming more and more near.

I began to rise up—I don’t know why. There were two little deer along with the adults and as soon as I rose, they all began quickening their pace—moving gracefully— across the landscape away from me. The mother—in the rear of the group—looked back at me for just a moment longer than the rest. I took in the softness of her tender gaze and then watched as she caught up with the rest of the herd, wondering what other visitors I might be welcoming next.

 

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“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.

 

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“Memory … is the diary that we all carry about with us.” —Oscar Wilde


In the corner of my boys’ closet are two paper shopping bags—each filled to overflowing with the tiny garments of years now gone by. There you will find the most beloved of the baby clothing. The striped onesie immortalized by innumerable photographs, the “Kiss Me I’m Irish” t-shirt that made my friend burst into laughter when she saw my bigger boy Jonah wearing it as a 3 month old with a cheek to cheek grin, the “I love my Mommy” sleeper suit. I’ve compiled these precious items with the intention of having them made into a keepsake quilt. On each, I plan to have embroidered a memorable word/quote from each of my children. A long while ago my husband and I decided that on Jonah’s quilt we would inscribe the word, “baku.” It was Jonah’s very special way of saying “thank you” for what—at that time—seemed like a
long time. His use of that kind of language is a distant memory now as he marches briskly and boldly through his fifth year.  

Lying in bed the other night I was ruminating about these two bags of clothing and the mountain of other baby and toddler accouterments in Jonah and Adrian’s closet. Questions swirled around my hazy, half-sleeping mind about where these baby items should next live and whether or not they might get any further use in our home. I was wondering if keeping them nearby would keep my boys little any longer. I was wondering and ruminating and suddenly I was pondering the quotes to be embroidered and I realized that I couldn’t remember the quote I had chosen for Adrian’s blanket. I thought and I thought and I couldn’t remember it. Adrian—as a baby—suddenly seemed like another lifetime ago. All I could see in my mind’s eye was his confident, vivacious three-year-old self standing before me with his chocolatey eyes and the tilt of his head—looking at me in wonder. I nearly sat upright in bed. I was wide awake now. I kept flashing in my mind to the little, blue 5 year, one-line-a-day memory book now tucked away on an overflowing bookshelf. At one time, I had been so diligent in filling this little book with the precious lines, the exquisite moments of my life—of my so full, so fun, so frustrating, so funny, so fulfilling life with my two little boys. And now it has gone empty for months and months. We have been so busy living. We have been so busy living, I thought, as I sunk back into my sheets somewhat relieved.

The quote on Adrian’s quilt will be “Deet-Deet.” It was his very own phrase for nursing and he sung it out joyously so very many times. I remember now. How could I have forgotten? He still says it sometimes. He thinks it is funny, now. I hope it doesn’t embarrass him too much in the years to come. When it does, I will tuck his blanket away for safekeeping and relish in the memory of this unforgettable time.

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” — W.B. Yeats

I have come to fully believe in the magic of life. I thought that I always had, often the ethereal friend toting a pack of tarot cards in my bag on a weekend away. But it was my son Jonah who truly opened my heart to all that it means to truly believe. Two years ago, just before his second birthday we celebrated his second Christmas. My entire family was visiting from around the country and therefore present as Jonah and I crouched by the fireplace setting out cookies and milk for Santa Claus and carrots for the eight, flying reindeer. In a video we have from that Christmas, I can hear myself laughing nervously as I explained to Jonah about how Santa would be entering our home through our chimney and why that was ok. I remember catching my sister’s eye in that moment as she took this all in skeptically. At that time she hadn’t yet become a mother and later that night she teased me, questioning me about how I felt lying to my son for the first time. My sister is one of my dearest friends and I respect her immensely and so I could take her comments lightly and tease her back about, “just you wait until you have children.”

As Jonah’s second year unfolded, his inner world began to open exponentially. He frequently approached me or my husband, stuffed animal in his grasp, saying adamantly, “I want he to talk!” And so my husband and I mastered a wide array of animal voices. According to my husband, all of my voices sounded exactly the same — high pitched an squeaky. He had become more skilled than I, demonstrating a wider body of characterizations but Jonah was perfectly content with either of us as long as his animals were coming to life, making his world that much richer. Any difficulty convincing Jonah that it was time to go upstairs for his bath was easily put to rest when he heard that Panda had already started climbing the stairs and he was not alone. Beside him climbed Giraffe and Hippo and Elephant too. Later, the stairs transformed into Mt. Kilimanjaro. Two toy airplanes became brothers flying across the globe. I couldn’t help but notice that big brother airplane came to life just as Jonah was becoming accustomed to his new role as an older sibling. We traveled across the deserts of Africa, to Alaska, Maine and Aruba. When we weren’t flying to Aruba, we were taking our toy box turned motorboat there – that is unless we were taking that same boat to Mama’s favorite place – Coffee. Jonah discovered Coffee himself. I wonder how he knew?

In these cases, Jonah was often leading our journeys but then about midway through his second year we began telling him stories during dinner and baths. He liked it best when he was the main character or the main character was thinly veiled as an animal or vegetable that closely mirrored him. I watched in amazement one evening as I told him a story about a little boy who was able to become strong enough to do a pull-up at the park with his Daddy because he began eating his vegetables. Jonah gobbled up his spinach pizza eagerly as I shared this story. Later he would request that I retell this story when spinach pizza was on the menu again.

Through storytelling we’ve explored issues such as going to bed peacefully, treating other family members with love and exploring the excitement of adventure and learning. It has been such a surprise and gift to discover that I may be welcomed into Jonah’s psyche so readily simply by communicating in a way and to a place where I can be heard. It is so tempting as a mother to assume that our children are little adults, mirroring our inner thought process and therefore attempt to tell them how to be with a lecture or wordy explanation. I am still “guilty” of this at times but overwhelmingly I have discovered how wrong that assumption would be. I am so grateful for this realization and only wish that I had come to it sooner. I am not a psychologist and nor have I conducted any research, but I have observed my children closely and I am certain that my sons are more connected to the “other side” than we adults are. Through stories, through their imaginations and through an attention to the magic that surrounds us in our every day world, I work to preserve that other-worldly connection in them for just as long as I possibly can.

In recognizing the depth of their inner world, I have come to experience a renewed feeling of magic all of my own. I remember rocking my littler son Adrian in the night, after a long period of illness, and being enamored by the faint sound of bells ringing. At first I tried to figure out where the sound was coming from, but I couldn’t. I imagined that I was having auditory hallucinations from lack of sleep. After a few nights I decided to just enjoy this very slight — yet beautiful — music. I imagined that the love that I felt for Adrian, the love that kept me at his side for so many long nights, had offered me an opening to another, higher plane, where I entered and was refueled with images of Angels keeping watch over us in the dark of night. It wasn’t long after this experience that I was given an actual white, sparkly, decorative angel with a little battery-operated light inside of her — lighting up her heart. I found this not to be a coincidence at all. Never before in my life had I been particularly drawn to angels. I was then and I am now.

It was wintertime again and my what a difference a year makes in how we perceive the world. As Christmas approached again, and Jonah approached three years old, together we discussed Santa in great detail with much excitement and anticipation. My heart, like the angel’s, was filled with light and I was fully engaged in the inner world of my magical little boy. I had no qualms about sharing in the mystery of the season and knowing full well that the stories I was telling him were true. They were true to me. They came alive with my belief. They came alive with the love with which I told them. They came alive in the heart of my son.

The glowing angel became a favorite fixture in our home and graced our dining room table for weeks after the holidays, surrounded by an earthy wreath peppered with berries. She looked beautiful sitting there. I loved her and so did both Jonah and even our little baby Adrian who accidentally bit off her wax nose one day in a moment of excited expression. When he later accidentally pulled off one of her wings, I gasped in disappointment. Jonah saw my reaction and his little eyes also filled with tears. I worked to fix her wing with glue but I was unsuccessful. I knew what she had come to represent for our family. She stood for our connection to a higher place. She stood for our sense of wonder. She stood for our being watched over and loved. And so I went online and made my first purchase from QVC. I rushed my order and spent a pretty penny to replace our dear angel as quickly as possible.

To my surprise when I opened the box from QVC there appeared not one, not two, but three lighted angels! In my haste, I hadn’t realized that my purchase was for a set of three angels. I saw this as a sign of the abundant number of angels who are constantly looking over us. I chose one and placed her in the center of our table, encircled by her wreath of red berries. When Jonah saw her, he said, “you fixed our angel!” I explained to him that I had not been able to fix her wing so her sister had come to take her place and look over our family while she was away healing her wing. Jonah was completely content with this explanation, happy to have an angel back looking over us again. I was comfortable with this story too. I knew that it was true.

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” – Robert Brault

My son Jonah began taking swimming lessons alone for the first time this summer. It has been so exciting to see him at a distance, his little head just-barely bobbing above the water, a mixed expression of joy and anticipation crossing his face. He is very social, chatting gregariously with the other children in his class, testing out the echo of his voice across the massive aquatic center. I am so proud of the way he follows the instructions of his teacher and I observe her closely, looking for pointers. I too feel a mix of joy and anticipation. Joy for all that Jonah is on the cusp of discovering in his new life as a budding pre-schooler. Anticipation for the letting go that will come along with it for me. I bob in the shallow end of the pool with my younger son Adrian. He loves the water too and seems to want to dive out of my arms. I can still see Jonah, so clearly, on his very first day of life. And yet, now, Adrian, born two years later, is ready to swim already? Tears come to my eyes with a mix of emotions. I think about how the days are long but the years are short, as they say.

Later, the three of us go to the family changing room and my two boys take their first shower alone together. It is one of the most precious moments of the summer for me, their two unclothed bodies shivering slightly at first and then slowly steadying as the water warms. I notice that they have their own language between them now. Jonah enjoys his role washing off his baby brother with a hand-held sprayer. Adrian is in a state of pure pleasure, laughing wildly and acclimating to this novelty that is a shower. I can only imagine the cacophony of laughter and shouting that can be heard on the other side of the door.  I dry and dress them both with surprising ease – given the environment – and as we are driving home I give thanks that everyone is clean and ready for bed, all cozy in their car seats, busy with their snacks. I give thanks that I am able to derive so much pleasure from observing my children in such a mundane task as showering and getting changed after swimming lessons.

As the mother of these two little ones, I almost never sit in meditation. Instead I discover an inner silence in the space between filling sippy-cups and cleaning up crumbs. I focus on tiny fingers placing magnets on the refrigerator and the varied expressions of my children’s faces. I often listen to their words with peaked attention noticing the hairs on my arms rising up with this heightened awareness. The opportunity for bliss in a mother’s life is vast; we only need to truly see what is before us in order to experience it.