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

Riding the Waves

I said I would write every day this month but maybe I should have said: not Sunday. I work my regular bar shift on Sunday’s, and between that and the rest of life, it’s hard to get to the page. I wanted to make the effort, though, in the few stolen moments before I get dinner ready.

Last night as P gave the kids a bath, I watched an almost-full moon rise over the hill, its bright light cutting through the fog that lingers. Then, I sat and meditated before helping to get everyone to bed. I feel my own fog lifting today. There was a power in naming it yesterday, in fully acknowledging that I’m having an off week. I’ve got plans for some much needed self care in the coming days, and tomorrow I begin a two week online writing group with Jena Schwartz that I am so excited about (and there are still a few spots available if you’re interested in joining us!)

Wishing you a peaceful Sunday night, friends!

Unlocking the Cupboard

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I keep the craft supplies on lockdown because I cannot handle the chaos that ensues, the paint smeared past the edges of the paper onto the table, the scatter of pipe cleaners, the glitter that gets into everything. Today, though, Colm found his way into a mixed bag of pipe cleaners and coloured pom-poms. He came running into the living room, tossing great handfuls of the stuff onto the floor. He and Charlotte continued, back and forth, from my stash to the living room, until the bag of supplies was empty and the floor was covered. They threw the pom-poms around; we twisted together pink and purple pipe cleaners to make bracelets. For a moment, I let go, just a little. I felt a bit of their joy at something so simple touch me. To access the joy of childhood is a letting go: of expectations, of the need to control. To access the joy of childhood is to embrace chaos, wild randomness. It’s to do just what each moment requires of you, just what would feel good. Hands full of velvet, a whirl of snowflakes, a silly walk. Giggles and secrets and your own private language of colour. To unlock the craft cupboard and let them be free with their own creativity, with mine.

This was a prompt from The Inky Path’s book “Bread Prompts”. The prompt was “joy”.

Image via Flickr user Essie

Daily Practice

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I spend a lot of time thinking about daily practices: how to fit them in and how they might change me. If I practiced something every day for one year, how would my experience of that thing be at the end of the year? How would it be going forward? I first experimented with a daily practice when I was learning about photography a few years ago. I made several attempts at a daily photo project. I don’t think I ever made it to 100 consecutive days. But even after those 40 or 50 days, I was a better photographer than when I’d begun.

What is important enough to me to practice every day? I think about a daily meditation practice, a daily practice of moving my body, a daily practice of writing. And they all feel important to me. Do I have to choose just one, at this point in my life? Truthfully, the only things I have done every day without fail for the last five years have to do with keeping babies alive and well. My own well-being is an afterthought. But it’s time to return myself to the foreground, time to find my way back to a daily practice, or to several daily practices. Because I’m intrigued by the idea of how I might be changed if I did something every day for a whole year. The discipline involved, the deep commitment to myself and my goals, is unfamiliar territory.

I want to prioritize a daily writing practice. Because I can practice mindfulness as I go about my regular day, and isn’t that one of the end goals of meditation? To be more mindful, more present with whatever arises? I practice that in real time. And I do move my body, though often at a toddler’s pace. The maximum weight I lift is that of my baby. But writing is a muscle that I feel I need to keep flexing if I’m ever going to go somewhere with it. I feel an urgency there, too, that I don’t necessarily feel with the other things. I know that in a few years I’ll have so much more free time (right?) but I feel like I’ve already wasted so much time in not writing. When that time magically opens up in the near future, I want to be further along, as a writer, than I am now. So I think about what a daily writing practice could look like for me. I keep trying, and then losing the thread, because life changes, schedules change, naps change, we move and move again. It’s hard to maintain such a focused routine as writing, through all that. I make excuses; it falters and dies and I begin to worry the Muse will forget where to find me.

This month, I’m going to try something a bit different. This month is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, where very eager and well prepared people try to write a draft of a novel over the course of 30 days. I am not ready for that. But coinciding with this month is National Blog Posting Month, or NaBloPoMo. That is something I can do. I like the idea of blogging daily as opposed to, say, writing a poem a day, because I typically write a post and hit publish with little editing. The focus is on just coming to the page and writing. I’m going to post here every day for the next month, as a way of showing up for myself and my craft. I hope it will be a way for me to jumpstart a daily practice. There are others doing this very thing this month, and I hope that community coupled with the fact that there are people (10’s of people!) who read my blog will keep me accountable.

I’m not sure what will come out of it, or who I might be at the end of the month. I’ll at least be a person who has blogged every day for 30 days, right? If I keep showing up, the words will find me.

Image via Flickr user Anonymous Account

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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