Posts

“If the whole world followed you, would you be pleased with where you took it?”—Neal Donald Walsch

Jonah and Adrian have been coping with the heat these last, sweltering days by spraying each other down—fully clothed—with a garden hose left out in the driveway.

When water hits the blazing pavement they marvel at the steam rising-up from the surface, transfixed by the chemistry—radiating heat mingled with a cool stream.

An aqua and yellow wave-board becomes a shield—blocking water shot forcefully in a front-yard battle between brothers. Shrieks of laughter and withdrawal and the pounding sound of the hose turned to jet hitting the board emanates like the call of wild birds across the still, quiet landscape.

They look for rainbows in the places where the sun’s radiance intersects with mist and Adrian calls to me—from outside into the house—elated by what he’s seen.

I wish that they might always care so much to share with me about what they’ve seen.

I try to understand how the mind works and construct a future scene-of-them—two, grown men eager-still to share about the things that stir them—the places they will be drawn to—the people—the ways of being in the world that I have yet to know.

I imagine intersecting with this vision of them on another wave in the swell of time.

I sift around my being for any evidence that I can—even now— remember them in this way.

Running inside, they leave footprints on the wood floors and scoop out ice from the freezer carrying it back outside on a makeshift tray.

Delivering it onto the hot surface, they dip their bare feet into the place where it is quickly beginning to puddle and watch as it begins to disappear.

They argue about who has had a longer turn with the hose and ask me to be their referee.

Sometimes I try to decide what is fair—making a judgement and enforcing it. Other times I encourage them to figure it out themselves. Occasionally I will approach them—bringing them to the ground in a seated circle—and engage in a more nourishing exchange meant to soothe tensions all-together with reminders of who they are to each other.

I am always reminding them of who they are to each other.

When I arrived at the soup kitchen, I signed-in, grabbed an apron and asked the supervisor how I could help.

As she started taking me to the back, storage area, I kind-of-wished I’d waited around the serving-line where I hoped to be placed. Instead I found myself walking into a labyrinth of boxes and rows of shelving units filled with a plethora of donated food needing to be sorted and stacks of paper products, plastic utensils and containers strewn about.

As I began moving boxes from one room to the next where the contents would be put in their right-place, I assumed I would be there for the entire shift.

I thought about how I had come there to help—whatever that looked like.

It was a familiar job for me—like the work I had done when I helped manage a large endurance event in New York City and was responsible for keeping straight all of the medical supplies supporting thousands of participants.

There were two teenage girls who I would be working with in this task—one with a warm, wide-open smile and sparkly eye-shadow, the other more-sullen and with a sharper way of speaking.

People donate a ton of tea to food pantries—and canned pumpkin, and artichoke hearts. I imagine it is what they find in the depths of their pantries when they feel compelled to give.

I came-upon multiple boxes of coffee filters and smiled when I thought about how I had been using a paper towel for a filter in my coffeemaker at home for several days because I kept forgetting to buy more.

After chatting about what-went-where, the girl who seemed less-amicable mentioned that she would be doing this work for two days straight. She did not seem at-all happy about this fact.

I didn’t make the connection at first and just as I was asking her why she was there for an extended time, it became clear that she was fulfilling a community service requirement prescribed by the courts.

I’m just a normal teenager—there’s nothing wrong with me or anything.

I said something about how one way or another we are all just learning—I was there volunteering because I believe people are inherently worthy beyond their circumstances and I certainly knew there was nothing wrong with her.

I wasn’t so sure nothing-was-wrong or that she knew her own value but I was certain of her worth.

I wished I could have offered her a glimpse into some of my less-than-stellar life-experiences to put her at ease—to let her know that she was far from alone in her misstep—whatever it was.

Any one of us could pull out a long-list of all of the ways in which we might have done better at some point in our lives.

I thought of Maya Angelou. Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.

I knew better than to try to share a quote with her in that moment or to convince her of anything so we moved-on to the paper goods area where she put her hands on her forehead—overwhelmed by the mountain of products.

When I suggested we combine like-with-like she seemed to agree that was a good idea and took over from there, ignoring any further suggestions I made.

Her friend smiled at me sweetly from time-to-time.

It seemed like we had been working for a long while when the manager came back and asked if any of us would be willing to come to the dining room and keep track of the number of trays being served that evening.

I was surprised when I entered the steamy kitchen and saw that the food had only just-then been placed in the serving-line—the first wave of people lining up like pilgrims, layered with their belongings.

I was asked to position myself in a place where I could observe—either in the dining room or behind the serving line in the kitchen and to press-down on a little, hand-held lever each time a tray was filled with food.

I chose to stand behind a friend who was gently dipping out mashed potatoes onto trays—tenderly creating a little space for the gravy—and offering light banter to the souls passing through in the way only a person comfortable-in-her-own-skin can.

To my right was another gentleman I know who—despite his own, significant, physical challenges—was offering bread to weary travelers.

In addition to physically taking a tally of each individual who passed through, I made an accounting of them as well.

Not having a responsibility to interact or provide a service, I passed the time engaged in deep noticing of all those who came there for sustenance.

They selected the foods they wanted and I recognized them as valuable—infused with a powerful life-force and birthed into this world, welcomed or not.

I took in each part of them—the energy radiating from their bodies and especially their eyes and their hands, the turn of their mouths—studying the stories written there upon flesh.

I watched them light up and remember and retreat—expressing preferences and showing gratitude—in much the same ways as we all do.

I told myself the stories of their battles and considered the microcosm accumulated in their various paths—emblematic of the universal struggles we all face.

In the quiet of my mind, I let them know they had been counted—not just for having consumed a meal, not for having passed through, but for having arrived on this planet—in all of their unfettered humanity—worthy of being seen.

 

Join my e-mail list!

“There is not a sprig of grass that shoots uninteresting to me.” —Thomas Jefferson

It is so quiet in here. Quiet like when a house full of visitors have just gone. Quiet like sleep after a sandy day leaping over waves in the ocean. I could hear a pin drop, quiet. It is only the two little tadpoles who have gone, though. Off to squeal and inquire, climb and test boundaries under other roofs, beneath another part of the sky. September in Maine usually feels so yellow—sunshiny and glowing with warmth. But this first day of school is grey and damp. The evening temperatures seem be to be getting cooler more quickly than in years past. Noticing the entrance of a season has become a past time of mine. I could never have known this would interest me so. This morning the leaves on our sprawling oak out back are stirring—a very slight breeze bringing them to a subtle simmer that has gone on since dawn. I am sitting in the quiet and I am noticing the contrast of this day with those long and boisterous days of summer. I can almost hear the tug and click of the door shutting closed on this salty season.

I had not intended to grow so silent on the page as I did in these warm months. I hadn’t planned to put other things first. It just happened. It happened in the same way that I didn’t plan to be writing today—but I am. Our summer was full. Full like a basket overflowing with a garden’s harvest, full like a storm cloud ready to burst, full like a car en-route for a camping trip, full like a mother’s embrace. I made many scribbles in journals instead, a sketch of my cat and found a story to tell in the black-and-white photos I took of my boys going about their summer jobs of touching and smelling and tipping-over and digging and gobbling and climbing and hanging and balancing and talking and laughing and crying and wailing and caressing and saving and destroying and repairing and competing and loving and making mischief and making gifts. I took them in closely. I took them in from afar.

In August we had fewer plans—no camps and little travel. I was craving the lazy days of summer for boredom and the ingenuity that follows to kick in for Jonah and Adrian. On one of these such days, I agreed to play kickball in our front yard. It is not my favorite of activities, but my boys love anything that involves a ball and meeting them in this matters to me. They are remarkable in their ability to create a “ghost team” and keep track of who is where and mostly—although on opposite teams—remain in agreement about what has happened. I am just along for the ride. We were in the midst of a game such as this and I was running to try to tag Jonah on third base when suddenly his attention went beyond the yard and into our driveway. He stopped running and pointed to something he saw in the driveway and said, “a mouse!” I looked over and together the three of us began walking toward a smallish mouse lying down and moving its body from side to side—it was clearly struggling. It was white and soft-looking and quickly loosing life force. It was dying right before our eyes.

I have never particularly cared for mice and once even had to spend the night with a friend when I discovered that there was a mouse dwelling in my apartment in New York City. But living in Maine and raising children I have come to see these innocent creatures as just as valuable as any other I might come across. I knew this moment was important. Jonah and Adrian wanted to help the mouse and so did I. I wasn’t sure what to do. I am lucky that my 7 year old son did. Jonah suggested that I go and get my gardening gloves so that we could pick up the mouse who was still moving slightly and move him off of the hot pavement. I ran and got my gloves. Jonah took them from me and put them on. In this time it was clear that the mouse had died. I watched on as Jonah so gingerly moved the little, still creature back and forth so that he could get him into the palm of his hand. We decided to move him over to a wooded area. We acknowledged that he had died. Jonah placed him under some bushes and then moved him back a little, hiding him behind some branches and leaves. We wondered about what had happened to him and how he had just appeared, seemingly out of nowhere. Later we theorized that perhaps he had been dropped by a bird flying overhead—we have two bald eagles, osprey and many seagulls living in our midst. But just then we sat with this strange and seemingly important happening and all of our feelings about it on an end of summer day.

 

Join My Emil List!

6 Ways to Enter into Conversation with the Divine

It is an unseasonably warm morning in Southern Maine. Our screen door is open and I am listening to the song of seagulls as they come and go, rocking back and forth across the sky, first near and clear along the rocky shoreline and then dim and fading in the distance. I’m especially drawn to their whistles as they call out to one another. I find their cries soothing and they somehow elevate my insides to a place of quiet contentment. I’m peering out over the sun-drenched mudflats and suddenly notice a bit of movement in the distance, a bit of blue —a “clammer” is there almost fully blending into the landscape, folded at the hips and digging for clams. It seems that we are a world away from one another.

I’m home for a rest day and my children are at school. With a minor cold, I’ve fully lost my voice and needed to cancel my plans for the day. It was interesting to try to capture my boys’ attention this morning in a whisper—a profound contrast to the escalating strength of sound I’ve needed to gather their eyes these past weeks as they have stepped fully into a new chapter of their growth and independence. The whispering proved more effective.

Rising before daybreak this last month has peaked my attention, heightened my inner-listening and brought me more in-tune with a sense of magic and co-creation with the Divine. I choose this term, “the Divine” purposefully. It indicates a quality of pleasure in this process. It speaks to a communion with that which is greater than me. It carries with it a bow toward all that is sacred. This word might be substituted with: God, The Universe, All-That-Is, Higher Self, Consciousness, Spirit, Inner Self or any other word or feeling that resonates. I’ve been noticing the ways in which the Divine is whispering to me as I go about my work in the world and reveling in the flow that comes to life when I am listening. I’ve compiled a list of a few ways in which I have witnessed this conversation playing out for me. My hope is that in considering these observations and suggestions, you might heighten your own inner-listening, come to trust and follow your own unique calling and join me in the journey toward a better world.

  1. Be willing to begin the conversation with a question. I recently came to a place in my work as an artist in which I needed to make a decision about the direction to go in next. I was drawn to three different projects—one of which is to create a piece of art that would be donated for a public space where homeless and disenfranchised  individuals go to gather and eat. Journaling in the morning I made a request for direction and opened my heart to listening. A few hours later, in a quiet moment, I had the opportunity to open a book that I often reference regarding the creative path and turned to a random page. I came across this proclamation  “Make something for someone else, not to be somebody.” Message received, easy as pie.
  2. Trust in and notice divine meetings. I had recently been in a meaningful exchange with a dear friend and fellow artist. It would have been nice to have connected with her for lunch or even on the phone after this exchange, however, both of us had a lot going on and neither of us had reached out to connect in-person. I was in a place that I rarely go at an unusual time. She was there in the same place outside of her normal routines. Together in the crowded space our paths crossed and somehow our exchange/work together felt affirmed. We connected and celebrated the work of the Universe bringing us together despite our unavailability.
  3. Sometimes the messages will be subtle. In some ways I am partial to the more nuanced ways in which the Divine comes through to me. These are the moments in which the hairs on my arms raise up ever-so-slightly or I sense a shift in my energy when I hear or read something. These are the times in which I feel stirred, called, compelled. It’s where the heart comes into play and pleasure, too. What and to whom do I feel drawn? What would I love to do if I were not afraid? These messages can be accessed at any time with a quieted mind and an inward attention.
  4. Sometimes the messages will be really clear. In the fall of 2014, I was spending the day with my son Adrian. Thursday’s were our “special days” then and we would spend the entire day together while Jonah had a longer day at school. On this particular Thursday, we had gone to the library in the afternoon. We picked out some books for him and played a game. As we were leaving the library I suddenly felt compelled to ask the reference librarian if she could look for me to see if there were any books about the art business that I might be interested in checking out. At that time I had been experiencing some of the more subtle whisperings and was in the process of opening myself to bringing my art more into the world. She took me to a “jobs” section where she thought there might be some books about creative work and told me she would be back after she had done a further search. Immediately, a book caught my eye. It was called, “Show Your Work!” by Austin Kleon. I took it off of the shelf, glanced at it briefly and handed it to Adrian to look at while I perused the shelf further looking for something more “specific.” It was bright yellow and appeared to have some pictures, I thought it might occupy him. Glancing down I could see that he was looking at the table of contents exploring the numbers. After a few minutes of looking, I didn’t find anything else that seemed meaningful to me and Adrian handed the original book back to me. I decided that it was probably the only book in the section that was going to be of any use. I opened it up to explore it further and turned directly to the inscription page. It read, “FOR MEGHAN.” Clearly I had found my book! This book led to the entire creation of my website and joining together my art and my writing and opening more doors than I could even begin to count.
  5. Trust in divine timing and believe in meaning. I have come to understand time in a less fixed and more fluid way. I’ve come to believe that things never really end and that all relationships, all interactions—even the painful ones, maybe especially the painful ones—have purpose and potential to propel us toward growth. When faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges with people or events in life, it can be a powerful exercise—at the very least—to offer up these situations somewhere, anywhere! I offer mine up to the Divine and I both grow patient and simultaneously release. I try not to linger in worry and yet my attention is peaked for the ways in which I am being acknowledged by a greater voice. It comes in the message on the highway billboard, the initials on a license plate. It is the cat in the play that looks just like my own. It all matters. Every single thing.
  6. Express gratitude. When I begin working on a new piece of art, I always invite the Divine into the process. When I complete a piece of work, I always offer thanks to the Divine. I do not pretend to know how that translates. All I know is that I can feel the good things grow in my life when I am grateful and that my worries lesson when I release them to something greater than me. It does not explain all of the truly awful things that happen in the world. The only thing it explains is that my ability to give as well as my ability to receive grows with gratitude.

Thank you for your continued support in both my writing and in my art. If you have read these words, please consider this the Divine speaking through me to you. With love, Meghan

 

If you would like to receive Meghan’s Journal Entries upon publication, please share your e-mail address below.

“I wish that every human life might be pure transparent freedom.” —Simone de Beauvoir

Last week a friend invited Jonah, Adrian and me for an impromptu picnic just after our noon pick-up at school. She said she knew of a spot by a stream just a stone’s throw from our campus. It was a lovely location, she said, “as long as you are ok with trespassing.” My friend wasn’t sure how I felt about trespassing. I happened to have a picnic packed in my car for my boys to go to another location, so we were able to join readily and were delighted for the company. I was fine with the trespassing part of this equation as well. I had seen my friend’s car parked alongside the road before and wondered where she and her daughter had been adventuring off to. The entry into the hidden nook was quite steep and we had to make our way around some muddy, sinking spots and down a plunging incline. My friend joked that they hadn’t chosen this locale for ease of entry. Once settled we found ourselves situated on the edge of a bubbling stream—laying out shirts to sit on and beginning to pull out food. My friend’s spritely daughter quickly shed her shoes and began making her way across the water over to a big pile of rocks. My boys followed suit—only slightly more timidly. Looking up from this picturesque spot we could see a guardrail from the road and the occasional car driving by. Not long after, two more familiar faces popped up from behind the guardrail— another adventuresome mother and daughter pair. Could they join us? Of course! We all luxuriated together in these unexpected and sweet moments-in-time basking on sunny rocks like turtles and taking in our surroundings. I braided one girl’s beautiful hair and one mother felt like the Pied Piper with all of the children surrounding her—gobbling up her yummy snacks. The third mother rose again and again as a spotter for the children who needed support crossing the water. At one point, I looked over at Adrian—now solidly four and a welcome member of the bigger kid tribe. He was on the edge of the water near a little pool, enraptured in mud-ball making. His pants and arms were covered in clay and I briefly wondered how this was going to work itself out in the car. I assured myself that this would work itself out. Eventually, Jonah let me know that he was ready to move on. We had a bike ride planned and he was eager for peddling. I dipped Adrian’s hands into the brisk water rinsing him clean and we were the first to depart—journeying back out from where we came.  All of the mud has long since been washed away, reapplied and washed away again. I am sitting in a cozy spot and feeling called to continue reaching out to you. I am sitting and I am writing and I am thinking about my friend’s words again and again. I am thinking about how I feel about trespassing.

 

If you would like to receive Meghan’s Journal Entries, please share your e-mail address below.

“Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” —Emily Bronte

As a young girl, I attended a very small, missionary Catholic Church. In our little church building, the floor boards creaked and slanted with a low ceiling hanging over us. Many of the congregants only spoke English as a second language. Our leader was a Hungarian priest who was lovingly nicknamed Father B. The church later grew to house thousands of parishioners with a beautifully appointed interior, but at that time Mass came to life in a very humble space. As these last wintery months have crawled forward, my mind has been sifting through experiences of days gone by. The chorus of a song that I first learned there at St. Francis so many years ago has risen to the surface. I remember the feeling of being near my Mother singing that song, sitting in one of those creaky, hard pews and an emotion rising up in me like a tide. The song begins with a very soft and gentle description of a God who is present in the seas and the sky and of a God who is listening. Eventually it comes to the chorus. This is where I choke up—even now—as I relive this powerful song from my past. It is all beautiful, but it is in the chorus that we come upon a poignant phrase—one that might align well with most belief systems. “Here I am, Lord.” This line is sung very slowly—deliberately, even. It goes on as a lovely offering, but the words that I keep coming back to are these three. Here I Am. Here I am, Earth. Here I am, Love. Here I am, Friend. Here I am, Son. Here I am, Self. I see you. I am listening. How may I help? Maybe I cannot help, but Here I Am. This is my prayer today—and every day—here I am.

In the late fall, we made an harrowing attempt at transforming an outside-wall, gigantic fireplace in our home on the very windy coast of Maine into a wood burning stove. Once inserted, our stove had brilliant moments of burning intensely and shaping our large and drafty living room into what felt like a toasty ski lodge. There were other moments in which smoke came billowing into our home unexpectedly with the force of the fierce winds outside. In the process of trying to remedy this situation, we were introduced to a father and son team of chimney experts. They felt familiar to me from the start. The father was from Boston and had some of the characteristics of my father, of my Uncle. I will call the son, Greg. They were interested in my children and very caring about what we were going through with the fireplace. The first time I met Greg—a tall and unassuming man in his mid-30s—I noticed a turning down in his smile, in his eyes, that evidenced to me a deep pain. He was very sweet with my boys and interacted with them readily. I thought about asking him if he had children but I didn’t at first. The next time we met, I did ask him. There was a dramatic pause between us and he looked down heavily, his head drooping. I could see him catch his breath. Finally he said, “I did have a 7 month old son.” He went on to tell me a very tragic story of his loss and the death of his son. His father saw that we were talking and began engaging my boys. We talked for a long while. There were tears rising and falling from his eyes as he expressed his dismay and deep pain. He showed me pictures of his beautiful son and told me details as if we were old friends. Mostly I just listened. I offered to support he and his wife in whatever way that I could and gave him my phone number. His story lived in me for a long while. We crossed paths a couple of times after that and it was clear that we were bound. He is looking forward to a vacation! They had such fun! His wife is pregnant! They are waiting to hear whether they are having a boy or girl.

Spring has finally arrived in Maine! Our final snow—we hope—landed discreetly in the night ten days ago. Yesterday, Jonah, Adrian and I discovered a bed of crocuses flowering in a very sunny spot with a bee busy doing its work of moving pollen around. Jonah joined in when he discovered a bit of pollen himself and began blowing it off of his fingers. There is construction work going on at our house again and we are displaced at the moment. This morning I traveled back there to feed my kitty, Autumn. It is a glorious day with sun rays bursting through the clouds after a morning rain— a day unlike anything we have seen in Maine for months and months and months. When I arrive home, there are many trucks in our driveway that I recognize but there is someone pulling in ahead of me that I am not sure of—I think it must be one of the workers but when I get out of my car I see someone bounding toward me and this person—his face—just lights up. It is Greg and he looks so happy! We had offered his father the cabinets that we are replacing in our home but I didn’t expect to see Greg at all. He bounds toward me and he is thanking me for the cabinets and he is telling me the good news. His face is beaming. His wife is doing well and they will be welcoming a baby girl in August. Here I am. Here he is. Here we all are. I see you. I hear you. I am you.

 

If you would like to receive Journal Entries and Newsletters from Meghan, please share your e-mail address below.

“I want you to be everything that’s you, deep at the center of your being.” —Confucious

I’ve just left our bustling household. My husband and I made a quick hand-off with our boys and I am now heading for a meeting at their school. I’m snuggled in my car now and I’ve got the heat blasting despite the onset of Spring. We are still measuring snow in feet here in Maine. I take in this wonderful sensation—chilled bones heating up with toasty air. I’ve driven about a mile now and reach forward to turn on the radio but bring my hand back to the steering wheel instead. I decide to allow the silence to wash over me like the waves of heat now coming through the vents. It is so still and quiet on these hilly roads. I can feel myself softening—the boisterous voices of my children falling away, the requests and needs no longer surrounding me. I’m driving along and I notice a little pine tree in front of a home still decorated with colorful holiday lights. I am suddenly taken back to the Christmas tree of my childhood and I feel little tears come to the corners of my eyes. Normally my emotions are secured in a much deeper place, but that tree—it triggers something. The intense feeling passes quickly and I wonder about it a little. I’m coming to a sort of intersection now where cars can merge seemingly out of nowhere and I’m remembering another car ride with my now four year old son, Adrian. It was right about here—at this strange intersection—that he said a few magical words to me, that I have tucked away for safe keeping.

It was one of the first snowy days that we’d had this winter. We had rushed out of the house to pick up my bigger boy Jonah early from school. His slightly irritated eye had rapidly revealed itself as “pink-eye” within the first few hours of his being dropped off. We were driving along and I was noticing the way the snow met the windshield and I was both rushing and trying to be careful of the increasingly covered roads. Adrian was looking at a book in his carseat and he wanted to show me an image he saw in the book. It was too dangerous for me to be turning and looking even quickly so I told him that he would have to describe to me what he saw. I felt rushed to get Jonah and I felt guilty for not noticing that his eye was on the verge of a bigger issue. I asked Adrian to describe to me what he saw in the book and he said, “There is a little girl with a butterfly on her head and she looks grateful.” I heard his description and I felt my entire body relax. We continued propelling forward in our car on slippery roads, but in my mind time suddenly slowed and then came to a complete stop as I found myself momentarily living in the spaces between his lovely words, “there is a little girl with a butterfly on her head and she looks grateful.” I took in the beauty of the snow kissed tree branches now almost in slow-motion while my heart dangled on Adrian’s words. It was the butterfly on the little girl’s head—a magical butterfly. It was that word—grateful. It was Adrian’s capacity—at age three, then—to notice what grateful looks like. It was the unexpected nature of being stopped in my tracks on that snowy, rushed drive. I repeated Adrian’s words back to him and told him how much I liked his description. I thought about stopping and writing his words down. We moved on, though, and soon we were picking up Jonah. He and his teacher met us at the school door. His eye was watering like a faucet and was really, really pink against his bright green jacket and the white snowflakes coming down. We collected him and hurried for the car where we would call the doctor and carry on.

As I have embarked upon bringing my new website to life, I have been holding space within for revelations about what more it is that I would like to share here. I have been listening deeply for what I am called to share here. I believe this will ultimately unfold as I sit down to write and my thoughts begin revealing themselves, however, in this moment I keep coming to this, to the moments like these with those magical words that I received from my son—thinning the veil and slowing time for me. I keep coming to the idea of sharing about the places where our lives are speaking to us and the times in which we may meet those messages with peaked attention, allowing them to offer us a sense of our own purpose, a sense of that which will matter at the end of this chapter of our lives and ultimately in the final pages. My wish is to share about this and about so much more.

I hope that you will stay with me as I move slowly into this work of putting these moments, these ideas, to the “page”—my life remains so full with my family and with my art. And I hope that you will stay with me when my webpage decides to slow time as well—there are still a few kinks to be worked through! And if my words are speaking to you, please consider sharing them with the people in your life who may benefit.

If you would like to receive Meghan’s Journal Entries, please share your e-mail address below.

“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.

 

If you would like to receive Journal Entries and Newsletters from Meghan, please share your e-mail address below.

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

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

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

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

 

If you would like to receive Journal Entries and Newsletters from Meghan, please share your e-mail address below.

5 Unexpected Opportunities for Beginning Your Meditation Practice Today

One might believe that a mother like me, the author of a blog titled, “Mindful Mothering,” must have a well-oiled meditation practice complete with a special pillow, a well-decorated alter and a neatly blocked out period of time in which to practice quieting her mind and noticing her breath each and every day. She must conduct this practice quietly and in her own space and with no interruptions. It must be that she begins her day this way and her family just knows that, “Mommy meditates in the morning!” It turns out that I don’t, at least not in the way that one might imagine. I do have a Buddha kitty statue sitting reverently beside my front door and I have looked up various satsangs and Buddhist temples and other mindfulness gathering opportunities on the internet more times than I would like to admit—never having attended any of them! No, formal meditation has not found its way into my life. Instead—as I’ve noted in previous posts—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 door and the varied expressions of my children’s faces, allowing my attention to come to my breath, allowing my mind to quiet. I absolutely have a meditation practice, it just isn’t formal and it would take a keen eye to even know that I am practicing. To an untrained eye, I may just appear very, very patient (in those moments in which I am meditating, that is).

I’ve been noticing recently when these moments occur and how they can be very powerful in thwarting blind reaction, in slowing things down so that I can think, in preventing me from being too harsh with word or action. I am not always capable of tempering things enough and sometimes I do react unconsciously. Some would argue that this is good for the children, that they need to learn the varied ways in which people may be. It is this (occasional) harshness that will prepare them for the world. I do not agree with this reasoning—perhaps it is just my perfectionistic nature! If I were to humor this idea, though, there is another—maybe even more powerful—realization that I would come to. It would become clear that even if my reacting harshly is “good for the children,” it is not good for me! I do practice mindfulness for my children. I want for them to experience me as peaceful, as someone they can trust, but I also practice mindfulness because of the tremendous beauty and peace it allows me to experience. No matter how many pictures we take of our children—and I have taken thousands—nothing compares to the breathtaking moment of truly taking in the depth of a child’s gaze and realizing the pure love that is in your midst. Nothing compares to truly experiencing a child’s words as they earnestly ask for your opinions, for your knowledge about the world around them. Nothing compares, even, to fully witnessing a child gripped with anguish and blaming you and still discovering enough space in your heart to know that they both need to make you wrong and to be comforted by you at the same time. I practice mindfulness because I’ve seen my children just melt before me because of that little extra heartbeat that I’ve allowed to beat between us.

With all of this in mind, I’ve created a list of a few unexpected moments, perfect for beginning your meditation practice today. All families, all humans, have their challenges, myself included. My hope is that these ideas might awaken in you the knowledge that there is time to breathe, there is always time for one more heartbeat to inform your next steps.

  1. You’ve been out with your children and they didn’t want to leave your previous location and now they are beyond hungry for a meal. You enter a restaurant and they begin acting out as soon as you are seated. You are temped to pick them back up and storm out of the restaurant, or worse. Instead, sit back into your chair and allow your feet to sink into the floor. Feel your attention come down into your abdomen and begin noticing your breath. Take a drink of the water before you and notice the water as you swallow. Rub your hands back and forth on your legs noticing the texture of your clothes. Connect with your child’s eyes and smile. You’ll know what to do next. Maybe you’ll leave. Maybe you won’t.
  2. It’s bath time and no one wants to take a bath. One child is running naked down the hall and the other is standing on top of the sink making faces in the mirror. You begin threatening that there will be, “no books tonight!” It doesn’t matter that you know this is an empty threat. Find a space where you can be near enough to the climber to keep them safe and release your expectations for bath time, for bedtime at least for the moment. Release the need to “get there” when you had planned to. Raise your arms up in the air stretching and clasping your hands, turning them inside out. Pull your elbows back opening your chest, opening your heart, noticing your breath. When you are able, walk over to the tub, turn the water on and dip your feet in truly experience the water washing over them. Notice your children as they surround you in all of their naked glory. Wash and repeat.
  3. It’s a cold and rainy day—your only day “off” away from your children. You have a doctor’s appointment and you are made to wait. This is your only free time! You don’t even need to be at this appointment anyway, you think. They aren’t going to help you. Notice this way of thinking. Notice the tightness in your chest. Make a choice and sit up in your chair finding your spine lining up with the back of the chair. Curl your lips into a smile even if you have to pretend to be tickled by the way your mind is working so hard to make you miserable. Allow a flush of gratitude to come forward within you. Find your breath and just unweight yourself of all of this. Let it go and just breath. Close your eyes and breath and relish this ability to be in life. Open your eyes and look around you at the other faces in the room. Notice the varied ways in which people occupy their time. Notice the lines on their faces. Are they smiling? Are you?
  4. You’re in the car and the decibel in the backseat is raising exponentially. You begin to whine, “can’t we just have a good day?” Then you start to threaten about pulling over the car or swinging your arm into the backseat like your Mom used to do. Meditate instead. First loosen your grip around the steering wheel. Slide your hands back and forth, noticing the texture. Roll down your window and breathe in a bit of fresh air. Feel a sense of spaciousness arriving inside of you and sink into your seat with your whole body. Look into the rear view mirror and smile. You might need to stop and let someone know that they are distracting the driver or maybe you won’t.
  5. You’ve had a very rough day at work and you just know that when you walk in the door at home the smiling faces of your children are going to make everything all better. Instead you walk in and all of the children are crying or screaming or throwing something. The house is a train wreck and your partner greets you with a scowl. You feel like you might scream or cry. Sit down immediately and drop all of your things. Let go of the idea of the house being a mess. One day it will be clean again. Maybe even sprawl out completely on the ground, notice how your children begin crawling all over you. Close your eyes and find your breath, noticing the miracle of living. Notice the many varied sounds around you. Wiggle your fingers and toes then tighten and loosen them. Feel your shoulders relax and settle into your being. Stay as long as you need to and then you will know what needs to be attended to first.

“The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.” —Kierkegaard

I am grateful to have a garage that is connected to my home. It makes for easier winters and for fewer distractions when loading my boys up into the car for outings. From the  rearview mirror of my car drapes a pair of teal, prayer beads that I bought at The Kripalu Center this past summer. I remember seeing them from across the gift shop and hoping they could be mine. In the center of the necklace dangles a single clear colored bead. I often place that bead between my fingers, smoothing the fibers that hang beneath it before buckling my seatbelt, peering behind me to double-check carseats and then turning the key to start my engine. Something about climbing into my car and heading out on the road makes me more able to breathe, more able to sink into myself as I go. I savor the longer distances of rural living with the boundless trees to get lost in along the way. Journeying to the historical, port-town of Bath has become a favorite excursion for me. The process of creating a memory quilt for a beloved family member has taken me there recently. The owner of the shop that I visit says that her long-deceased grandparents make themselves known in her store quite often. It is my kind of place. The drive is not long, really, but as I drive, time begins to stand still and I feel overcome with a sense of expansiveness. The road widens and so do the possibilities of my life. Noticing the inlets that pepper my travels, noticing the way the water sparkles—like diamonds. Noticing the quiet. There is so much time for noticing. There are so many beautiful things to notice. Adrian, my littler boy, is with me. He is not sleeping, but he is still. Still and looking, too, out his own window.

It has not always been this way. There was a time when I drove this route and felt like a lonely, drifting balloon. I was new to Maine, new to motherhood, and new to driving after a long hiatus of thirteen years. I traveled to Bath for a weekly chiropractic appointment. There they gave out little quotes on tiny slips of paper—like you might find in a fortune cookie. I still have some of them secured to my refrigerator. A favorite reads, “There is nothing that makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is so.” I have noticed this to be true for the beautiful women that I know. There is another one that reads, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” I long to make habits of pausing, of noticing, of lingering.

I was invited to attend a mother’s self-renewal group last weekend based on the work of Renee Trudeau. We were asked to bring one item from our homes that represented ourselves. I knew what I wanted my item to be but I also wanted to be certain that my choice was true to who I actually am, not just who I want to be. I asked my bigger boy, Jonah—nearly five years old, now—what item he thought best represented me. I was slightly afraid of what he might say. He might have said the vacuum cleaner, or the stove. He has many times seen me using these things. He might have chosen my phone or any number of books—items that I am frequently holding, perusing. He might have thought of one of my gardening tools or my new, nifty fireproof gloves for building fires in my wood stove. He might have thought of a paint brush. He didn’t say any of these things, though. I was in our kitchen when I posed the question to him and then—looking for his answer—I peered through an opening between where I was and the room where he was and I saw him—I witnessed him. He was standing, warming himself by our wood stove. He was thinking, looking up a little and then he began sort of squinting his eyes tightly, like he was thinking really hard. I relished that moment—his earnestness in answering my question, his deep commitment to connecting me with an object.  And then he answered. It was not what I expected or could ever have hoped he would say. He lowered his head back down and he looked at me. “A prayer,” he said.