on the daily

The kids are snoozing soundly, and I can hear their stuffy snores as I type this. I haven’t done this in forever – writing aimlessly just because I feel like it.

I’ve been listening to this incredible book of essays on my way to and from work lately. I laugh out loud and tear up and just generally get reminded everyday why I love words so much and why I love home so much, too.

I have a lot of thoughts tumbling and nowhere to put them. Because I’ve been spending my writing hours lately exploring things that have long passed, I tend to pay less attention to what is happening here and now – which has always been the aim of this space, to just record events as they happen and my feelings about them as those feelings pass through. I miss that. But there are only so many hours in the day, only so many stores of creative energy to use. As a result though, I tend to find myself surprised when an emotion sneaks up on me these days. I think writing is my mindfulness practice in ways I didn’t realize until my pace has slowed down with this journal.

One thing I’ve been pretty dedicated to lately is a daily yoga practice. I use the early morning hours to make this happen, and if you’d told me years ago that I’d be up at 5am rolling out my yoga mat while my kids slept – every single day – I wouldn’t have believed you. And I’m realistic enough to know that this is not a permanent thing that will happen for me 365 days a year forever after. But for now, it is floating me through the coldest and darkest days of the year which is something.

It ignites certain muscles, I’m finding. It’s an odd feeling — to be sore somewhere you didn’t realize you even had a muscle. How can I live in this body and be surprised at how it works like this? But it feels so good for me to turn that energy on as I begin my day. It somehow makes me feel like my spinning pieces are going somewhere, like there is a place here in the center pushing it all forward and welcoming it back home at the end of the day. It makes the rest of the world matter a little less.

I’ve practiced more intensely than this once or twice a week and not experienced nearly the benefit I’m getting now with a daily ritual. It is this way with absolutely everything in life, I’ve found. The daily rhythm matters. There is no replacement for it. Want to be a better cook? Do it everyday. Want to be in better shape? Move your body everyday. Want to be a better writer? Write everyday. Want to know someone better? Connect with that person everyday. All of life rests in what happens repeatedly, not what we do once in a while when we feel like it. That is a hard thing to swallow sometimes when it’s not always easy to do these things, but that is the truth.

My kids’ father is traveling across the ocean with his current wife this week. They land this weekend to spend it with the kids and then fly out again somewhere else a few days later. As always, I am here with the regular, predictable rhythm.

They call the kids every evening with the daily report of sights seen and presents purchased. I hear the chatter as they explain these things to the kids, and I wonder if this ever stops being strange. I stir dinner on the stove and unpack the backpacks and wash the clothes, and the ocean between us feels more like a universe because I just cannot imagine any other daily life than this one. Sunrise at the bus stop, school days ticking by, dinner at a table for three, and warm bedtime stories before we do it all again the next day.

Travel can bring all kinds of exciting things, and home (especially in the dead of winter) is not always so exciting to say the least. But I’ve been doing so much reading and writing lately about this place I call home, so much reflecting on the stories that float to the surface of my 36 years on this spinning planet, and I think maybe home doesn’t get enough credit for discovery either. I drive the same winding roads everyday to and from work. We lean on the same schedule everyday before and after school. It’s hard not to feel restless sometimes, but that’s the thing about home. You cannot run when you are here. My roots are deep enough in this place that I’ve come to see what self-accountability means. And at the end of the day, life is only made of what you use to create it with your own two hands.

As I stirred the soup tonight waiting for us in the slow cooker, I called my grandad to check in on him and on another family member. I could hear clucking in the background, and he explained he was “fastenin’ up the chickens” as he does every night at the same time. He is from a time that doesn’t seem to exist anymore – one when accountability and honesty were the measure of a man and consistency was paramount. Sometimes it feels like in all the beautiful, wide open possibility of what we see before us in the 21st century, we have lost that touchstone somehow. Jude loves pinto beans, and now that my grandad knows that, he’s asking when we can come for dinner so that he can make them for him. (He was never the cook in the family, but in my grandmother’s absence, he’s somehow absorbed her insistence on feeding legions of people and memorizing our food preferences and sending us out the door with arms full of food… It is hilarious and another post for another day.)

It made me smile to think of every bit of this. The daily task of “fastening the chickens” and gathering the eggs. The way he predicts the weather more accurately than any meteorologist just by the cumulative wisdom of a lifetime of paying attention. The generous offer to feed a growing boy with what he loves and a nod to the days when beans cooked all day were served in a single bowl with homemade bread in a skillet and that alone was called dinner (still works for us).

It is the simplicity of what happens every single day that illuminates the core of your character and offers a rhythm for your life. I need to remember this among the early wake-ups and the packed lunch boxes and the evening rituals. Home is here for you when you need it, but it only blooms when you plant it. You have to tend a garden to watch it grow.

 

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6 thoughts on “on the daily

  1. Salim Reza

    I wish I could memorise all the words you leaves here. After came across this blog, I’ve inclined to give written shape of my childhoods memoir.

  2. I love your blogs, they carry me through a life similar and yet so different to yours, I’ve been following you for a couple of years. This blog doesn’t sit well with me though. Funny, just a single word, probably carelessly added from the sub concious, but actually shadows your whole post. “Current Wife”. for all us second wife;s, and step mother’s…. you are better than this, wiser, bigger and more grounded than the person that needs to insinuate this. Hugs xx
    `

    1. Thanks so much for reading for the last few years and for coming back to read again and again. And thank you for your comment. I need to hear from readers like this for certain.

      It’s funny that you noticed that word as well. In emails / custody scheduling, etc, he refers to her as his “current wife” too, and I think I somehow absorbed that term and honestly didn’t even realize that I was using it here. … until the morning that I posted this when a good friend of mine pointed it out to me because she knows the history of that a bit and she’s always found it strange that he uses that phrase referring to his wife and thought it jumps off the page in this post. (Again – I think I’d grown used to it and don’t notice much if he says it or if I do.)

      I’m sure it seems weird, but this is a place I will actually take up for him a bit. I don’t think he’s implying that she is temporary at all – I think it’s just an ex wife vs current wife kind of differentiation. Maybe because they married quickly or maybe just because I was with him for 15 years, but I think he just designates between the two of us with that term and I absorbed it a bit. … I can see now, from the outside eye, how that term implies temporary nature. But I don’t think that’s what my ex means when he uses it at all. That is not what I mean either, and I expect them to be together for quite a long time. I apologize if it came across differently in this post. This makes me want to be careful about it in the future and watch what kind of language I absorb that might be understood within our complex family dynamics but come across differently for others.

      1. Maya

        Who is to say his “current wife” won’t do the same thing he did to you in the future or vice versa? When you stood at the foot of that altar you never once thought the man you are marrying would be the same man who would tear your family apart for a younger women 10 years later. My point is that you are not who you were yesterday and you definitely won’t the same person you are now in the future. I am sorry for this comment but I get baffled by how people can throw away years of relationship for someone else. Everything in life happens for reason and maybe life wanted your ex to leave you abruptly so you can find yourself and evolve into a person that you are today. I know that one day you will meet the man of your dreams who will cherish you for eternity. Much love and I always look forward to your blogs.

        1. Thank you, Maya. I know for sure now that it was meant to go this way — What sometimes feels like the worst and most painful thing that can ever happen to us ends up being the absolute best.

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