Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Possibilities of Washi

I was advised, in a round about way, to not automatically expect a person with clearly set and identifiable traits to act as expected within the boundaries of those traits. In other words, my expectation would affect the possibility this person would act in a different manner all together. Reminds me of a middle school science lesson, when science was wondrous and magical, relatively speaking.

During my morning yoga practice I meditated on all of the times I've been with a friend, loved one, or enemy, and disrespected their potential by not giving them the chance to be themselves rather than the version of themselves I've interpreted. I can see how I've failed to listen to their thoughts, cutting them off when I think the next thing they say will be that thing that annoys me so about them. Or I've patronized, not taking time to acknowledge how they've grown.  I wonder where all of those interactions could have gone, had I not turned from them so quickly to avoid a conflict that may have been destined to be a beautiful moment. Is there a place lost possibilities go? A distant shore pebbled with skipped kindnesses and drowned intentions, perhaps.

Afterwards, I sipped coffee and browsed Pinterest, completing the trifecta of favorite morning rituals. I am currently fascinated by washi tape. Washi tape is practical masking tape made impossibly cute, as all things Japanese tend to be. The crafty uses for washi tape are so abundant, I could never decide which is the cutest or most practical. Like tattoos, there are so many amazing designs, I will never get one, simply because I couldn't choose which design to commit to. I saw an invitation decorated with washi. I was lost in imagining a dinner party by washi invite; glorious food, friends' smiling faces and tinkling laughter, the flowing wine. I felt a warm happiness wash through me for a party that hadn't happened at all. Maybe, if the possible uses of brightly printed masking tape can make me feel so good inside, letting go of my expectations of people, might accomplish the same feeling doubled; for them and me.

We have more possibilities available in each moment than we realize.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Ah, February, how you wear me out. I've been chasing sunshine for weeks now. There! A ray of light in a corner, let me go huddle in it like a cat. Until this past weekend, we've had rain, with a few days of drizzle, and one lucky break of fog. When the rain stopped briefly, we set out on foot two days in a row! It was thrilling... wet, muddy, and cold, but thrilling. I'll take it.

In an effort to clean out my stash closet, I wound some bright yellow wool into pretty little finch colored cakes and cast on for a baby cardigan. About an hour into knitting, my son, with all the tact a 7 year old can muster, stated, "That is so bright I am blind." I pretended to be dismayed. When my husband informed the baby I was making her a raincoat, I did my best to pout and look wounded as I pulled the needles out and unraveled the whole collar.

I wasn't really upset. I had been questioning the choice of wool with each stitch, but championed on because that is what I do nowadays. Listen, I'm forty with a six week old. I haven't slept soundly in at least 10 months, my pregnancy brain has slipped into what google search informs me is early onset dementia, and my body, well, I avoid mirrors from the neck down. When I do catch a glimpse of my changing self, I get pretty damn sad. I know it takes time. I know, because I've done this twice before, but when you feel you've lost control of everything, normal proportion and perspective go out together on a long holiday. Funny how we forget what it is really like to have a baby. Mother Nature is clever that way.

I cast on again in a pretty blue wool. Rather than doubting myself with each stitch, I am intentionally reminding myself nothing remains static, to let go of the way things were going to be and look forward to the way life will be. I intend to find joy in the little moments while the big issues reign themselves back in. For instance, I am happy to have a family who practice honesty, or else I could have suffered terrible regret many years from now upon hearing my daughter proclaim, "I can't believe you dressed me in a hand knit raincoat. I must have blinded people."

Or, I could knit them all yellow raincoats, sing a round of you are my sunshine, and blame it on the dementia. Sounds like a plan.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


Sylvia Plath asked, "What did my arms do before they held you?" What did they do? I don't quite remember what life was like before my children or my husband. Looking back it seems they've been here all along. Of course, they haven't always been in my arms, but I like to think they were part of me when I was young. They were a baby tooth, or a freckle, or skin where now resides a scar, all come back to make me whole again.

I turn forty today. To celebrate, my husband and I are going on a long walk through a state park followed by a picnic lunch by the lake. We'll enjoy the one day this week forecast to have sun and warm temps, escaping the February gloom for a few hours. We'll be silent for long stretches, listening to winter birds and daydreaming of things personal to each of us. We'll fall into long conversations about all things right and wrong with the world and just as we get close to solving everything, the light will change, and we'll fall silent again, each snapping photos of lovely things.

The day will be sweet and slow and quiet. Then, we'll pick up the older kids from school, have loads of chocolate cake, and settle into the comforting rhythm of a Thursday night, which is similar to a loud conga line led by a drunk uncle. Someone will inevitably burst into tears, because it isn't really a birthday party until somebody cries; a phenomenon my kids call 'birthdayitis'.

My birthday wish? Sharing cake, laughter, and tears forty years from now as I wonder what my arms ever did before.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Early one morning last fall, I shuffled toward the kitchen to make coffee. A warm glow forced open my eyes. The rising sun had transformed my staircase into a Wyeth painting. I love his work, his light, his grainy interiors and dusty windowsills. I fully appreciate his glorification of lived in everyday spaces since I gave up dusting for Lent... in 1997.

Knowing moments like this are prone to fleet,  I raced back into the bedroom for my camera, all the while thinking, this is a pneuma photo, I should post it there! Sigh.

There I stood, in the same house, yet everything had changed. Everything had changed in wondrous, happy, and sometimes confusing ways. Really surprising ways, I mused, as I rubbed my hugely pregnant belly. See, three years ago, life was poised to give me a succession of ins-outs-ups-downs at such an incredible speed, all I could do was let go and live as fully as I dared. Three years of constant change, struggle, and lovely blessings, all leading up to this quiet moment, watching sunlight slip across a wall.

Well, the baby is a month old now, her brother and sister have both grown at least 6 inches since the summer, my husband is expanding his artistic portfolio in exciting and enviable ways, and I am ready to  share my musings again. To my dear friends here, I've missed you. To those new to pneuma, hello, my name is Heather, what's yours?

In three words I can sum up everything 
I've learned about life: 
it goes on.

Robert Frost