Daily Practice, again

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I didn’t write anything yesterday that I feel like sharing here, and so I’ve missed my second day of posting this month. I’m a little more than halfway through my commitment to post daily, and I’ve been thinking a lot about daily practice and what I’d like it to be, for me.

This daily writing practice taunts my inner critic and causes me to challenge that nasty voice constantly. Right now, even, it whispers “delete, delete, delete. Nobody cares.” But here I am, showing up anyway and it’s like pulling teeth, as the cliche goes.

The 4:30 am wake up calls since the clocks went back are sapping me. It feels as though I’m trying to dredge these thoughts and words up from a great depth through some viscous sludge. All I can do is hope this passes. Keep showing up anyway. Because this will pass, and all that will remain will be the habit. The words will flow again and I’ll be grateful. Am grateful right now, to the sleepy baby, the quietly playing 3 year old, the kindergarten teacher. To myself, I suppose, if I have to, for being here.

I contemplate a daily poetry practice. As it coalesces in my mind, it would be writing something new, even a few lines, each day. For a year. Without trying to pin down when I would actually do that. Just doing it. And I also think about not submitting my poems anywhere for that year. I want to see where that steady, single-pointed practice might take me. Like being in school: an immersion in poetry, my own and others’. In craft books, in taking in interviews and podcasts with poets, about poetry and process. I wonder if I could do it, really. Through travel and ever-changing schedules, through moves and work and summer vacation, could I find the time every day for 365 in a row?

I want to find out.

Image via Flickr user Dafne Cholet

Coming Up for Air

It really does feel like I’m drowning in children. Drowning in their whys, their wants, their unending demands for attention. Drowning in their little hands tugging at my hands, my legs, creeping under the hem of my shirt to tuck into the warm heavy flop of my breast. Drowning in cracker crumbs, soggy Cheerios floating in almond milk, toast crusts, uneaten vegetables, rotten apple cores under the couch. Drowning in broken toys, rocks hurled through air, sticks slapping the ground in a challenge. Drowning in the challenge of every day.

I’ve had a run of bad days. I’ve forgotten myself again. When I have a moment to myself I don’t even remember what to do with it. What do I like, again? How did I used to spend my moments? Oh, right. Doing whatever I wanted to do. When I see a free moment looming, I feel this rush of “shoulds” pouring over me. I should write, I should read, I should do yoga, I should meditate, I should wash the dishes, I should close my eyes and nap for a moment. Often I do none of those things because they all feel exhausting. I scroll through Facebook, news blogs, and then the moment ends and they need me again and I’ve wasted it. Fuck.

The negative self-talk is screaming loud these days. I won’t bring those words further into being by typing them, but they’re pretty nasty. And I’m starting to believe these awful things about myself, my life, my kids. And reacting accordingly.

So two days ago now, after probably the worst of the bad days, a day that ended with me yelling “HERE IS YOUR DRINK OF WATER” because I’d forgotten how to not yell, I woke up and told myself as kindly as I could “just be present today. Be present for you, for your emotions, for your kids and their emotions. That’s all you have to do today.”

And it’s working. Being present is working it’s magic. It still fucking sucks, a lot of the time. But I’m there for it, instead of checking out. I’m there, saying “yeah, this fucking suck, it sure does,” and there is power in that. Power in witnessing your own life, instead of going numb. And I’m there for my kids, too. I catch them before their “please pay attention to me” outrageous behaviour reaches its crescendo, someone crying and things broken and me just yelling like an asshole.

So here I am, present in this space, letting you all know that it’s not great right now but I recognize that all things are impermanent. This will pass. It’s a cliche but that’s because it’s true and it’s been proven over and over, with each moment passing by, it’s proven.

I’m not writing much these days. Which makes me question if I’m still a writer. I look over the poems I’ve collected for a chapbook and I hate them, because they’re all about how difficult this is. I’m tired of it all, tired of my own voice, my own words, circling over and over how difficult this is. I want to bury those poems, bury myself, or maybe that’s the wrong metaphor. Circle back to the beginning. I want to break through all of this, come up gulping fresh air into my lungs. I need something bigger than all of this, something outside of it. I’ve got an idea for a project, that might actually be two projects, and I need to focus on that. I need something to take me out of this groundhog day loop that is my life right now.

I am not just mom, mommy, mama. I am more than the maker of snacks, the breaker-upper of fights, the picker-upper of toys. I am a woman and a writer and I am interesting and interested and evolving.

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