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love note no. 23: dear colours.

Dear Colours,

After the last couple of days, I have come to the conclusion that we take you all for granted.  In fact, I am quite sure that this love letter will seem silly and even trivial to some who read it. But you have a depth that intrigues me.

In a sense, one could speak of the secret life of colour. Despite its outward beckoning, like true beauty, colour is immensely hesitant in giving away its secrets. Painters learn to respect the hesitancy of colour and endeavour to refine their skill to become worthy of its revelations. A painter learns the language of colour slowly. As with any language, you struggle for a long time outside the language. There is a willed deliberateness to how you sequence the strange words to make a sentence.Then one day the language lets you in to where the words dance to your thoughts with ease and fluency. Perhaps for the painter there is a day when colour lets him in, when his palette sings with synergy and delight.

― John O’Donohue

Yesterday we painted.  And painted.  And painted.

And today we are painting again.

I asked a simple question:

If you could choose any colour for a palette that would surround you everyday, what would it look like?

This turned into this question:

How many different colours can you actually paint?

And this started an epic project in the exploration of YOU.

They all began painting and mixing swatches of all shades and tones of you to see which combinations made their heart flutter:

They mixed.  They diluted.  They layered.  They experimented.

Some were attracted to more neutrals that reminded me of desert and sky:

Or a symphony of turquoise. This child left a clue in this pile for you to guess whose it belongs to…

One of the kids had a great idea.  She started to cut up all the swatches so that she could group her favourites on a board.

Here is their confetti of colour…

The final palettes.  One reminds me of sherbets and sorbets and the other reminds me of sunrises and sunsets on the ocean…

We took the rest of the confetti and placed them in a container.  We took turns picking one of you and finding a sample of you in nature:

And then we reversed the process and picked an item in nature and tried to match it to one of the confetti pieces we had painted already.  We wanted to see if we actually did create most colours found in nature!

I even got in on the action and painted too.  I call this palette “Shades of Happy”:

I ask them if every colour we create with these paints can be found in nature.  They immediately say YES but then stop and think about neon.  I tell them of those fluorescent gems that glow-in-the-dark that we saw at the museum and the vibrant corals and tropical fish stripes we have seen.  They wonder about black and white – and is there really an absolute black and white? (I think that question worked a little deeper on the older two.)

In terms of place, how do the colours differ in a tropical climate versus a temperate climate – how are the greens different, the browns, the sunlight?  City colours vs nature colours – what colour do you see more of?

We talked about why colour makes us happy and what if one day, one particular colour was gone forever.  Their favourite one perhaps.  How would that make them feel?  What if we lived in black and white or shades of grey, what would they miss most? And why are we gravitated to certain colours depending on our mood? And are we all attracted to the same colours when we are in a certain mood?

To answer this last question, the younger kids built a store, La Tienda de Colores, to “advise” on colour.  If I came in feeling a certain way, they both tried to find just the right colour to describe it and possibly a different colour to change the mood.  Or maybe I was in the mood for a certain type of food that would make me feel energized, what colour food would that be? It was interesting to discover each child’s language of colour.

When I was young, I learned about you very mechanically – colour by number books, what colours make up the rainbow, what colours do you mix together to make what colour on the colour wheel.  But it’s so much more fun to watch them discover all of this by themselves, to go deeper into the idea of you and your connection to emotion and temperament.  It’s a beautiful experiment for me too as it helps me take a moment and look, I mean, to REALLY look.

“Mere color, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways. ”
― Oscar Wilde

At their tienda, I asked each of them to pick one colour that would make me happy. Just ONE.  This was pretty hard for them because they said that part of what makes them happy is finding unexpected combinations of colour that make them smile and some colours are just better suited to have a partner.

After some agonizing deliberation, here is what they chose for me:

It’s interesting how they chose the samples where you could see a rich mix of other colours – like gemstones with layers of different growth seen from the surface.  I was happy to use some fake money and pay for their advice.  Their choices made me happy.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou

I think she is also referring to you, dear colours.

Playing with you is also the beginning of our future Physics lessons in Colour and Light.  I will be beginning this block soon with my soon to be 12-year old.  She is still learning through feeling.  Through these few days of curious play, she is feeling colour without too much critical thought of how and why.  She can just appreciate it for what it is and how it makes her feel.  Once she feels this, she can learn more in-depth about it with a joyful awareness.  She is also warming up her observational skills which we focus a lot on in our science/nature/art blocks.

Our last activity was a fun game of show-and-tell with colours.

Each of us would pick a handful of colours and show another person each colour and they would have to quickly say how it made them feel or of what it reminded them.

Here are some of their answers to what a colour meant for them:

“That colour makes me want to explore the earth.”

“That colour makes me warm inside.”

“That colour is just like the trunk of an oak tree. It makes me feel safe.”

“That is the colour of the days that are strange.”

I am pretty sure that for the next few days there will be further questioning and wondering and a little more noticing of the world around us.

Thank you again, colours, for introducing us to your mysteries and letting us in on your secrets.  You give us an opportunity to stop and SEE.  And of course, like all the the best things in life, you encourage us to take our time.

“Nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small it takes time – we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.”
― Georgia O’Keeffe

Love,

Rozanne

 

 

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love note no. 22: dear second born.

Dear Second Born,

You turned fourteen yesterday.  I read this birthday post and birthday post and and marvel at the young woman I see today.

You are beginning another seven year cycle of life. 14-21 years of age marks a time when thinking blossoms.  You are leaving the stage of learning through only feeling and are ready to meet the world with a critical and discerning eye.  This is the final phase of your childhood.

In this phase you are on a personal quest.  You are seeking answers that I can’t give you.  I can try to present what I have discovered for myself but you cannot rely on what I have to say alone.  I have already watched you ask why we choose to live a certain way and decide for yourself what is true to you.  As your big sister advised you yesterday, it is a time of questioning.  To truly begin “to live the questions,” as Rilke so magnificently puts it, is a skill that will benefit you for the rest of your life.

In this time, you will spiral out into the world, a delicate training in how to cultivate judgement and how to make decisions.  You will form your own philosophy by exploring different philosophies.  You will gather information, experiment, explore your theories, and hopefully make a lot of mistakes.

Don’t be afraid of making them.  They are really just markers and signposts leading you to another path – a path that is more aligned with who you are becoming.  You are probably wondering, What does that look like? Well, my love, I have no idea.  You will begin to hear more clearly the voice inside, your intuition, urging you to stop and see what brings you joy.  That will look different for you than for myself and for your siblings.

Now you are creating a life of your own.  Here is the poem that I chose for you this year that you copied in your book:

This is an important skill too – how to let go gracefully and create anew.

To prepare you for this exciting start to your journey at fourteen, we embarked on “21 Days of Creation.”  For the last twenty-one days, we have gone into the past and explored the present.  For the first seven days, we travelled to the Philippines. On our first day, I told you a Philippine indigenous creation story.  For the rest of the week, we created a family tree and talked about what it would be like to grow up in a nation of scattered islands.  We talked about the stories of my grandparents and your grandparents.  We looked at the indigenous writing that is almost forgotten.  You wrote your name in this language so we would never forget, invoking the wisdom of our ancestors.  We talked about the power of your names.  We also spoke about migration. Why did your great-grandparents decide to leave the Philippines?  Their decision to leave changed all our lives.

And in the next seven days we spent time looking at Canada – the land that stretches from sea to sea to sea. We compared land mass and population of Canada to the Philippines.  Canada is 33 times bigger than the Philippines yet the Philippines has three times its population.  Then we narrowed in on Toronto.   The place where my family landed in 1973.  The place where you, your siblings, your father, and I were born. I read to you a Haudenosaunee creation story because that is the land that we lived on.  I wanted to acknowledge that piece of our own history – how do we reconcile that?  That we bought stolen land.  It’s a complicated story we have – immigrants leaving a land that was also stolen to a land that also did not belong to us. I am still navigating those murky waters and I was honest about not having the answers.  On a map, you mapped out my own migration.  I think we counted that I had moved fourteen times in Toronto and it was in our last house that I had lived the longest – 10 years.  We also labelled your favourite places in the city that held special memories.  We talked about your birth and your early years and our homeschooling journey which has allowed you time for you to have a slow childhood.  Finally, we talked about our own migration, leaving Canada.

For the last 7 days, we focused on Costa Rica, specifically, this area where we have decided to live.  I told a Bri Bri creation story involving cacao.  We talked about the Afro-Caribbean roots and listened to all the stories from The Rich Coast Project which is archiving the stories of this area.  You listened to stories of how life once was here as we spoke to local friends who grew up here. You drew a map of this area and labelled your favourite spots and landmarks.  You cooked using local ingredients.  Discussions always led to why we moved.  Why did we immigrate here?  As she is beginning to understand the components of her own creation that began in the Philippines, she is beginning to understand what motivates movement like our choice to move here – to reconnect with land that feels so familiar and to try to create a self-sustaining life.  I grew up in the city yet my family grew up in a rural province in the Philippines.  I am just regaining the skills that were lost to my generation.  I am learning again so that I can pass down those skills to you so that wherever you end up in the world, you will always be able to sustain yourself.

The day before your birthday, I ask you to draw a Venn diagram, three circles that represented the Philippines, Canada, and Costa Rica.  The three places that have contributed to who you are today.  The circles overlap in different places but in the centre, all three overlap. Ask yourself what is the common theme of the three, or two of the countries, or what is specific only to that one country and to fill in the circles.  What can we learn from migration?  What is home?  How does our environment affect the life we create and define the story we tell? The stories we write about ourselves?

How does place and time affect your own creation story?

Then on your birthday, I went to the beach early to prepare for your rite of passage into this next phase of young womanhood.  I asked you beforehand for your input.  You gave me a short list of who you wanted to be there – women who have spent a lot of time with you over the last several months that we have been here.  I drew a labyrinth in the sand for you.  I told you it was the final day of our Creation together.  I drew the labyrinth but you would have to walk it.  I led you to the entrance and gave you your last instructions of creation. With each deliberate step, I asked you to envision your dreams and to speak your intentions.  I wanted you to visualize what you wanted to create and what you wanted to feel over this last phase of childhood.  This was another skill I wanted to teach you – that your dreams are real and your words are powerful and you have this power to create with you always and can tap into it in peaceful meditation. I left you there and walked back to where the rest of the women were waiting to greet you with your first cacao ceremony and women’s circle.

I watched you walk slowly.  I saw your mouth moving.  Your head was bowed low.  You stopped several times and it seemed you were staring off into the distance.  Each step was intentional and full of purpose.

This is the magic of the labyrinth.

In The Faraway Nearby, Rebecca Solnit writes:

A labyrinth is an ancient device that compresses a journey into a small space, winds up a path like thread on a spool. It contains beginning, confusion, perseverance, arrival, and return. There at last the metaphysical journey of your life and your actual movements are one and the same. You may wander, may learn that in order to get to your destination you must turn away from it, become lost, spin about, and then only after the way has become overwhelming and absorbing, arrive, having gone the great journey without having gone far on the ground.

In this it is the opposite of a maze, which has not one convoluted way but many ways and often no center, so that wandering has no cease or at least no definitive conclusion. A maze is a conversation; a labyrinth is an incantation or perhaps a prayer. In a labyrinth you’re lost in that you don’t know the twists and turns, but if you follow them you get there; and then you reverse your course.

The end of the journey through the labyrinth is not at the center, as is commonly supposed, but back at the threshold again: the beginning is also the real end. That is the home to which you return from the pilgrimage, the adventure. The unpraised edges and margins matter too, because it’s not ultimately a journey of immersion but emergence.

This is the place where I can’t follow you.  Where I stop and you begin.  Your father and I have been with you co-creating since you were inside of me.  Now we are handing the task over to you.  You are ready to create anything you wish.  You are ready for the twist and turns that lead you to your centre.  We are always there to support you on your journey if you need us but we can’t follow you into those sacred places of descent – the place where you become  and unbecome who you are at your choosing.  Because the act of destruction is a natural companion to creation.  You can discard or destroy what doesn’t serve you at any moment.  You define the criteria.  You alone can decide.  This is the purpose of the next seven years  – to allow yourself to create even in darkness, in the unknown, trusting that you will spiral back out into the light.

You don’t have to be afraid.  In fact, I want you to love being in solitude.  You will have more time than most teenagers to sit and think by yourself.  But you will also have so many people who love and support you.  You are surrounded by people who are passionate about their own creations.  They are your guides.  Listen to them and ask questions. Keep what you need.

Right before I began to draw your labyrinth, before you arrived to begin your journey, we saw a sea turtle making his/her way into the ocean…

This was a little miracle.  You see, over the last few weeks, multiple dead sea turtles have been found on the beaches.  It was a sad mystery.  But yesterday morning, this little dude was a symbol of hope and beginning.  I recently looked up the significance of the “sea turtle” and I found this description:

The turtle totem symbolizes our peaceful walk on this earth. It represents the path we take as we embark on our journey through life.  In contrast to emotional or spiritual development occurring in bursts, the way of the turtle anchors our personal unfolding in a slow, more grounded series of steps and longer cycles of transformation.

The turtle is associated with our physical and embodied evolution on the earthly plane. Call this spirit animal for help to be more grounded. You can also get help slowing down and pacing yourself, so you can take your next step with more confidence.

And our friend Hannah who lovingly prepared the cacao for you to drink spoke of a golden orb spider dropping down just over the cacao as she prepared it.  You have always had an affinity for spiders, leaving them be, and admiring their webs.  When you were little, you would love to find the webs just covered in morning dew.  To you, it was the most beautiful thing nature created.  You are the weaver now, integrating all that you have learned into your own web.

I just finished reading aloud “The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster to your younger sister and brother.  It’s one of your favourite books. Milo sets out on a quest but the King of Dictionopolis and the Mathemagician of Digitopolis both tell him that there is something that he needs to know about the quest that they can’t say until the quest is over.  Eventually, he rescues Rhyme and Reason and returns from his quest.  He is then told what he couldn’t hear at the beginning – the quest was impossible.

And then they tell Milo, “So many things are possible as long as you don’t know they’re impossible.”

We love you and are excited to watch you blossom in this next stage of your life.  You are surrounded by all of your ancient grandmothers and a wise council of women who are committed to guiding you through the darkness when you need it.  Both your grandmother and sister sent you beautiful advice and a commitment of support yesterday.  Distance and time does not create barriers to love and wow, you are SO loved.

Happy birthday.

Love,

Mama

 

 

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love note no. 21: dear spring.

Dear Spring,

Last week, to begin our “Time” unit, my son and I talked about the seasons.  I copied a poem on our little whiteboard that described a season. #5 closed his eyes and I read the poem aloud to him.  I asked him what he saw and to guess the season.  He then painted the picture from his mind and copied a sentence of the poem in his main lesson book.  We talked about each season and what it was like to experience four very different times of the year in Canada.  We compared it to Costa Rica.  As we sat on our porch in the hot midday sun, beads of sweat collecting in every fold of our body, we talked about what seasons look like here.  Yes, there is a wet and dry and a high and low which is related to the number of people coming and going through our little town.

I asked him if it was possible to experience or feel “Spring” here?  At first he said no.  He told me how it was always hot here even when it rained for days.

I told him to close his eyes again and tell me about Spring in Toronto.  What did he remember?  He remembers planting seeds in egg cartons and what it felt like to be able to go outside without a jacket.  He remembers the return of the birds and the waking up of animals.

When we travelled back to Toronto at the end of March, we were all hoping to catch a glimpse of you.  Technically, you were already supposed to have announced your arrival.  Spring equinox had come and gone and I was looking for your signs.  Instead, we found more snow and chill and I wasn’t sure if I had seen more shades of grey in the sky ever.  We used to love welcoming you in Toronto.  Your grand entrance would be marked by the buds on our magnolia tree on our front lawn and the flecks of green that would catch our eye in the valley near us.  We would squeal with delight when we saw the fiddleheads of budding ferns on our hikes or the wild leeks peeking out of the brown earth in the forest.

But the true herald of spring were the birds.  One of my earliest memories of my grandfather was his story about coming to Canada and lamenting the length of the cold winter but he learned to see the signs of spring.  He learned to love the song of the “robin red breast” – this is what he called the bird – announcing the imminent thaw of our concrete city.  Spring meant that his tropical bones could warm up again and his breathing would be less strained.

When my grandparents, parents, and aunts and uncles, waxed nostalgic about the smells and sights of the Philippines, I imagined an endless summer.  When they talked about it in the middle of a cold snap, I fantasized about life in flip flops and grabbing our favourite fruits – bananas, mangoes, pineapples – right from the tree.  As I look around this morning, I am stunned at where I find myself.  It’s early morning and I hear the call of dozens and dozens of birds amidst a canopy of the largest trees I have ever seen.  I am already beginning to feel too warm for this light wrap around my shoulders.  And hanging just above me is the bunch of bananas we are sharing with our neighbours that they just cut from the tree beside our house.

This is the first time we are here at this time of the year and finding myself in a land where summer never really ends, a place where I can feel how my parents grew up, makes me reflect on the seasons I grew up with.  I mean, people complain about the “cold days” when it’s 22 degrees and grey.  Here we are all in sweaters and pants and wool socks. But that was the summer nights in Toronto where I remember sitting on my old porch in shorts and a T shirt.

I tell my son that spring can be felt here.  In fact, all the seasons happen here all the time.  But the cycle is different.  In Toronto, the four seasons cycle in a year.  Here, they cycle in a single day if we look close enough at the signs. My son is the one that rises early with us.  We sit together to listen to the birds wake up and call and there is an almost unnoticeable balmy waft of air that flows through the trees and down to us that feels like a spring breeze.  Here it is subtle because our days are filled with heat but in Toronto, it’s that unmistakeable breeze that is welcome after a long chill. The dawn light feels like that delicate glow of spring – the muted hue of a sky and earth awakening after a long rest.  Flowers open from their slumber.  After a night of rain, new plants have sprouted and everything smells fresh.

Each morning here holds the gifts of spring.  The rest of the kids listen in on our lesson – a lesson of the seasons that aren’t contained in one span of time – a year.  Seasons can fill a day or span a lifetime.  What qualities can be found in the seasons?  What attributes of spring can we find in each of ourselves as we set out on a new project, a new outlook, a new life?

In many ways, we find ourselves in the season of spring, awakening to our purpose, feeling optimistic and full of expectation.  I was afraid that I would miss you too much but here you are.  You are always here.  I feel you during my moon cycle.  I feel you in the cycles of parenthood.  I feel you in my homeschooling year when I detach myself from strictly adhering to the structure of the school year and tune myself to our own family rhythm based on what is happening in our lives.  I feel your presence more now in this Land of Endless Summer than when I took you for granted in Toronto.

Sincerely,

Rozanne

 

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love note no. 20: dear homeschooling.

Dear Homeschooling,

This is one of many letters that I will write to you because you appear in my daily gratitude list over and over again.

Because of you I was able to hear myself say these words over the weekend:

“Put your schoolwork away.  We have to go to the beach! You have all weekend to do it!”

And then I heard these words:

“But Mom, I just want to do my work. Can we go to the beach later?”

For the last three weeks, we have had a solid family rhythm thanks to you. When we moved into this final long term rental that we will live in before moving up onto our land,  I announced our lessons and that we would be having some structure with their learning. After a year of unschooling, the kids were excited.  In the last year, they learned lessons in how to travel including how to pack efficiently, currency exchange in multiple countries, how to cook differently.  But most importantly, they learned lessons of the heart and its resilience as they have had so much opportunity to sit in the fullness of emotion, and that emotions aren’t like a multiple choice question and sometimes the answer is “all of the above.”

In previous years, we have been able to maintain a good balance of unschooling and a structure of lesson blocks that follow the outline suggested by Rudolf Steiner.  Before the rise of “Waldorf Education” and its subsequent pedagogy, Steiner referred to education as an “art.”  Although I refer to Steiner often, I always have one of more of his quotes in my mind as I develop lesson plans.

Where is the book in which the teacher can read about what teaching is? The children themselves are this book. We should not learn to teach out of any book other than the one lying open before us and consisting of the children themselves.
― Rudolf Steiner, Rhythms of Learning

You remind me to look at my children.  Where are they now in the development of their body, mind, and soul?  How are they interacting with the world?  What hindrances can I remove? What light needs protecting? What do they see? What do they hear? How do they see the world?  Do they love the world?  Do they wonder? What do they wonder about? How do they feel right now?

One of the most important lessons you have taught me, my dear friend, is to be flexible.  When the children get excited about a project, let them go deeper and follow the interest and the joy.  Other times, I introduce things that excite me or things I think they need to hear at this stage in their development, and this leads to igniting that spark.

As I meditated on my 11 year old, I kept seeing this vision of quicksand and mud.  Shortly after, I came across this quote quite randomly:

I sincerely believe that for the child, and for the parents seeking to guide him or her, it is not half so important to “know” as to “feel.”  If facts are seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow.                             – Rachel Carson

I remembered that we didn’t get a chance to finish our Botany block at the end of last year’s school year because we had decided to sell the house just when I started the block.  I began planning this block again to focus more on the senses and emotions rather than the factual information so I taught it alongside geometry.  We began it on the New Moon, planting seeds and intention.  We finished this 3-week block of both topics this past week and it was just what she needed.  She looked forward to each lesson and the beauty of her drawings and her writings were imbued with life.  She wrote poetry about the plants and trees.  We talked about which plants needed the wind or the butterflies or the bees to pollinate.  And we finally talked about the Rose.  Her second name.  It is a beautiful balance of a plant that is of the light of the sun and heavens and the grounding of the earth. She learned how to construct the Flower of Life for her title page.  Nature provides the consistent patterns and beauty as fertile soil.

References:  Charles Kovacs’ Botany book, Live Ed Gr. 5 Botany/Gr. 6 Geometry Curriculum, Christopherus Gr, 5 Botany, and of course, our own observations of the plants around us here in Costa Rica.  I also hope to schedule a plant walk with a friend who can speak to the plant wisdom of our locale.

And every time I teach lessons that work on their soul, my soul feels it too. As I researched different aspects of plants for these lessons, I learned quite a bit about where I am.

For one particular lesson, we talked about seaweed and algae.  We compared them to babies just beginning to walk. They can stand upright only supported by water all around them just like a baby holding the fingertips of their parents’ hands taking their first steps.  As we adjust to our new life and create a new family rhythm, I hold my children’s fingertips as they begin to walk again after a year of being pulled, pushed, carried, and thrown into challenging situations.  Even my oldest.  As she stands upright in the world on her own two feet, I am gently supporting her through our texts and phone calls, encouraging her to take those scary first steps with new opportunities that push her past her comfort zone.  I ease my fingers just outside of her grasp so that she can see for herself that she is strong enough to support herself now.

#3 went on a scavenger hunt with the camera to find the different types of plants we had talked about and here is her seaweed picture that she said looks like a tiny evergreen tree which led to a lot of wondering…

Seaweed and algae also have this mechanism called a holdfast.  It is a root-like structure at the base of the algae or seaweed that fastens them to a hard substrate like a rock.  They use these “holdfasts” to anchor themselves to their environmental substrates.  For examples, those that live in sandy environments have holdfasts that are flexible while ones that anchor to smooth and hard surfaces have a flat base for a holdfast.  Holdfasts are different than roots because they do not absorb moisture of nutrients, they serve only as an anchor – a way to stay stationary.

This by far is the best way to describe my shifting definition of motherhood at this time of transition.  When we established our life in Toronto, we set down roots.  For those early years, these roots gave them a sense of security and rhythm that they needed as we figured things out as a family – as I figured out what kind of life we wanted to create for our children.  But now that I have uprooted them and have not been able to root or ground ourselves in another solid foundation yet, I serve as a holdfast.  Right now, I shape shift into different anchors depending on the child and situation so that they aren’t swept away by turning tides of a stormy life of inconsistency and constant moving.  I hold them in position just enough that they can catch their breath and know that they are loved.

This makes sense.  A temporary anchor until we can set roots again in a home built with a solid foundation…

Thanks again my tried and trusted friend, homeschooling.  Through you, we learn a lot about where we are right now and how to be grateful for it all.

Sincerely,

Rozanne

 

 

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love note no.19: dear blog.

It has been awhile since I have written.  I have had mix feelings about blogging.  It was a different place in the blogworld back when I started in 2009.  My original intention was to share my story and give me a chance to try writing.  This is still my intention. Please forgive my grammatical errors and ramblings.  I have wanted to write but there has been just SO MUCH. So much.  I need to exercise my writing muscle and this is the best place for me.  Thank you for your patience.  Time for more love letters…

***

Dear rozannelopez.com,

Hi again.  It’s time we reconnect.  There’s just been so much I have wanted to say but it’s all been too much or too little.  I have been drifting in and out of here like the prodigal blog writer I have become – reckless with my commitment to recording and documenting our latest endeavours.  I write today because I have some explaining to do.  If writing has been such a source of joy and clarity over the last few years, why haven’t I written?  Where have I been placing my words?  And why have I come back?

Last May, we sold our house.  A year ago, on this day, I sat in front of a willow tree and asked some tough questions.  The answers came flooding.  A torrent of knowledge that I didn’t want to face because I knew what was ahead of me – uncertainty and a heaviness that I hadn’t encountered in almost twenty years.

Back in 2009, I started to write here.  Well to be more exact, I started to write on rozannelopez.wordpress.com.  It was an experiment and a release.  Life with four children was a gong show and I just didn’t want to forget any of it.  I wanted to celebrate it.  I wanted to confirm to our family what they had told us all along as we decided to expand our family that we were a) crazy and b) we loved every bit of our crazy.  My blog posts were filled with humour and sarcasm as I recounted daily living – mountains of laundry, the absurd situations I found myself in, and the things these people would say that made me love being a mom

I started writing on the original blog because I had a third degree ankle sprain which had me hobbling on crutches taking care of four kids aged 1, 3, 5, and 10 for 6 weeks.  I needed somewhere to write about our “tomfoolery and shenanigans.” At the time, you could catch me laughing hysterically at any given moment due to the predicament we found ourselves in but looking back, I see that it was the greatest blessing for me as a mom.  It took an insane amount of patience and creativity to take care of my peeps.  Read more about that on my blog post on 25 inexpensive indoor activities for kids.  All of this lead to some beautiful free play and bonding and also opened my mind to homeschooling.

I didn’t write on a public blog to gain followers, to sell something, to showcase a perfect or imperfect life.  I wrote because I wanted to share with family and friends what was going on in our little corner of the world. I wanted to connect with others out there who were going through the same things.  I needed a place to land and sort things out.  I wanted to share my story.

I want to continue writing to share my story and parts of our story.

 

Over the last few months, I have only written snippets of my life on instagram.  Snapshots of what is going on in front of me.  I haven’t wanted to write more than that.  I have been afraid to write.  I haven’t even written in my journal.  I look back on what I have written and I am amazed at the power of the words and what has come to pass from writing things down.  The power of my intention when I write.  It lead us to where we are right now and I have been barely able to keep up with living this life we have chosen.  I have been in pieces over the last year and now am starting to put it all together.  Writing here helps me connect the dots and keeps me accountable.  Over the last year, I didn’t have the mental or emotional strength to connect the dots.  I didn’t want to.  I didn’t want the answers or clarity.  I didn’t want to dive any deeper with my thoughts.  I was already trying to stay afloat in the deep end. We were in so deep as we uprooted our life in a matter of months. My words lead me down rabbit holes.  I didn’t need to go into that space when I had to focus on action.

What was happening over this last year couldn’t be written about.  It has been such a private journey for my family. The emotions have been so real and raw that I didn’t feel right about laying it all out as we were feeling it.  It wasn’t the right time to write about it.  I could only stay present with them and keep moving.  This was the phase in my life where my body took over.  The “doing” part.  The “hands on” phase.  We were in constant movement this year and when I stopped for a moment to think, I risked paralysis.  I risked breaking down in grief over the past or feeling overwhelmed at what needed to be done.

I remember a moment when a child was breaking down and instead of consoling them, I continued to pack.  I asked them politely to go somewhere else because I just couldn’t go to that place with them in that moment because I wouldn’t be able to get back up.  I think I said, “I can’t indulge this right now. I’m sorry but you have to leave the room.” We were about to fly out in a couple of hours and leave a child behind and I had to store those emotions for when I could fully allow myself to feel them without a time constraint.  It wasn’t my proudest moment as a mother.  In fact, this year has been one of my most challenging ones as a mother.  There were more than a few moments I wish I handled better.

When I look back and read you, you patient and steadfast blog, I notice the gaps in my writing.  Where there are gaps, they need me.  When I can’t be here with you, I am focused on riding a wave with them.  As they get older, I am not prepared to share what the waves look like.  I am prepared to share what they feel like to me, as a mother. When I have been consistent in my writing, I am in my creative space – my heart.  I am ready to settle into my heart again.  I am getting used to the intermittent aching and growing pain of a mama’s heart that has to let her children go or stand strong as they get angry or are in pain that can’t be fixed with a hug and a kiss.

Today I read some old posts and came across this one which made me laugh: scumbags and superstars.  Whether I am a scumbag or superstar, I am doing what I am capable of doing in that moment.  Sometimes it’s enough for one of them, some of them, and even all of them.  Sometimes it just isn’t enough for anyone.

A beautiful friend just told me how much I inspired her and my commitment to my children after watching #4 perform aerial silks publicly.  I downplayed my efforts and she scolded me.  She said to take the credit.  I didn’t tell her this but I cried because I never like to take the credit.  It’s not that I am being humble. I want neither – the blame or the credit.  But after a year of holding them all and navigating how to be a mother when everything is up in the air, I am going to take the credit today. Today it’s Mother’s Day in Canada.  My mom is there.  My daughter is there.  I feel them both.  I read the love letters my other children have made for me today.  They remind me that they see me. They see me both as a scumbag and superstar.  Most importantly, they see me as doing the best that I can.

Thank you old friend for being here so I can remember all the ways I have done the best that I could.  Thank you for holding my stories so that I can read them when I am ready to look back and look forward.

I have so much to share.  I can’t wait to get started.  See you tomorrow.

Sincerely,

Rozanne

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love note no.18: dear 2016.

Dear 2016,

With an hour left of you, we landed in Costa Rica.  December pretty much summed up our entire year.  We were in a frenzy – emptying out our storage of our last bit of belongings, adjusting to life without a permanent home in Toronto, spending quality time with the people we love, and of course, more airport departures and arrivals again.

I spent your very first day, January 1, 2016, meditating on my intention for the rest of my time with you.  I reflected on the year before. My 2015 was full of beginnings – a collection of sunrises that changed my relationships including my marriage, a meditative artistic practice turned workshop, and a deep trust developed through forgiveness. In 2015, my word FAITH led meet to the most beautiful open experiences that had me confront a lot of my fears including open waters, heights, and letting my children go.  I wanted to continue this journey into the unknown.  But I wanted to remember that even in the darkest parts, there was always light to be seen.  At the end of 2015, I finally was able to say that I was happy.  I didn’t want to dim the light or forget the lessons I had learned from months of daily sunrises.

My one word intention for you was LIGHT.

When I look back on this year, it’s ironic how it was also one of my heaviest emotional years as I released things I didn’t realize I was so attached to.  There is only one other year that I have cried more. We made our lives lighter by purging most of our possessions including our home, finally living with what is essential.  With the commitment to living in the light, I had to grieve the things I had to let go and redefine myself as a woman, a mother, and a wife. I look back and see how faith was intricately intertwined with my search for light.  In the darkest times of transition, when our whole foundation seemed to be moving, my faith gave me strength.  When I couldn’t fix things, I relied on love to get us through it all.

You are filled with so many magical moments where light led the way – literally and figuratively. You are sprinkled with moments where light shines.  I barely blogged and left my book of hours on the shelf.  It was an emotionally exhausting and uplifting year where my physical presence in the moment was needed more than anything else.

There are a few moments that stand out.

The light of womanhood shone bright in a women’s retreat.  An opportunity to connect with my body through movement and sitting in circle and ceremony while bonding with other women allowed me to enter a new phase in my own heroine’s journey.  I stood in my body and allowed myself to both be the light and accept it.

When I walked through the jungle barefoot in the darkest of nights, I relied on the light of fireflies and a new friend to lead the way.  It was unplanned and felt like a dream at the time but it is now one of those moments I look back on that changed my life – to trust that life-giving light was making the path for me – as I reclaimed a piece of me that I had buried.

The first moment I stepped on the land that we eventually bought to build a home on, I started to cry.  A single ray of light shone through the towering trees and landed in my eyes.  I knew that it was my grandmother saying, “YES.”  I felt it in my bones and in my being.  I closed my eyes and felt her hand on my shoulder and her kiss on my forehead.

After deciding to sell our home and move to Costa Rica, we purged our house to get ready to list and shortly after, I found myself lying on the ground beside my husband under the world’s largest kaleidoscope observing patterns that light make visible and enjoying the miracles of what light can create during an epic road trip on our own for the first time since having kids.

On a hike in the outskirts of Chicago, I saw light again and again on the wing of a butterfly, on a perched eagle, and reflected in a mother’s fierce love for her children.

After walking across Brooklyn with a 25lb backpack strapped to my back, alone with my eldest daughter who had developed a nasty rash crawling up her legs and a cut up swollen face from an incident with the floor of a fast food restaurant, I sat on the Brookyn pier with her.  We sat in silence because we were exhausted.  Exhausted from the walk, exhausted from the recent events of our life. I remember us taking of our shoes and socks and airing out those nasty things while we sat side by side on a park bench.

I can see the image so clearly.  The sun is getting low and its soft light gives a magic sparkle on the water and blurs the edges of the sharp city skyline.  We watch the boats go by on the east river.  It’s the summer so Manhattan is bustling but here we find rest by the water.  I occasionally look at her next to me and hold back the tears.  I want to keep this moment in my heart forever.  I want to imprint this sight of her glowing face, the beginning of the blossom, the moment when the petals slowly turn to the sun and unfurl.

We took some selfies which I regrettably left on the hard drive in Toronto along with all the other photos of 2016.  But I see the photos in my mind.  I see us taking them.  We make silly faces and serious faces.  We laugh and the light is perfect.  It is perfect for so many reasons.  She begs me to go on the subway instead of walking back on the Brooklyn Bridge.  I slowly put on my socks and my hiking boots that I am breaking in and tell her that we can do it.  We can make it across the bridge. She sighs deeply in a gesture that is so   It’s crowded on the bridge and our patience for people is waning.  She speedwalks ahead of me.  I don’t know if she’s more annoyed at me or the human traffic jam on the bridge.  I know she can’t be that mad at me because she slows down to look back wondering if I am keeping up.  I know that I can’t. I take pictures of her walking ahead of me on this bridge.  When we get to the centre of the bridge, I ask her to stop.  I know crossing this bridge means more than simply a way to get back to where we are staying.  I know that once we cross this bridge, our time on the pier will slowly become a distant snapshot.  Once we cross this bridge, the gap between us will widen as we both prepare for separate journeys away from each other.

We stop in the middle and I tell her to make a wish.  She closes her eyes as we stand at the rail.  I don’t.  I want to remember every visual detail.  Time slows down again.  People rush past us as we stand still.  We make our wishes, hug, and look at each other. I think about all the bridges I have helped her cross and the ones that she has helped me and continue to help me with including this one.  I will never forget the light that washes over us as we stood there holding each other before joining the flow of people to get to the other side.

A few days later, a family hike in the Catskills acted like a highlighter, making visible all the turmoil brewing under the surface and I came undone at the top of a mountain.

As a family, we marvelled at how light was guided, reflected, and invited in the most spectacular visual ways depending on how a structure was built and how a little planning goes along way in dancing with light.

On a remote trail on the pacific coast, I found light that solidified a lifelong friendship.  I found it with others walking alongside us on the trail.  I found it in the ribbons of stars in the Milky Way camping out on a beach on a night where we were the only people for miles.  I had to pee. I didn’t want to go in the forest alone and I didn’t want to wake up my friend.  I walked toward the sound of the ocean without a light and looked up.  In that moment, awash by the starlight and enveloped by expanse of the universe, the roar of the ocean just ahead of me, a deep knowing filled me.  I knew that light and darkness could live beautifully side by side.  I knew that I was never alone and deeply supported.

I learned how to piece out my heart. I learned how to crack it open to not only let the light in but to let it out. I opened my fragile heart this year to a new community.  They took it in loving arms and never let it go.  I left some of it in Toronto with people who I will always feel connected to no matter where I am.  I gave big chunks to both my daughters who aren’t with me right now and to the world that is holding them while I am not with them.

On Christmas Day, I married my husband again in last minute church blessing.  In this blessing, we committed to a spiritual partnership.  For me, this day has come to symbolize the light of creation, the signal that we move into a season of re-creating ourselves in the darkness of winter.  I healed many wounds with the church and with our relationship as we checked in and decided to move forward together in this next phase of our life. I had my daughter as my maid of honour.  Almost 17 years ago, she was my flower girl.  She stood beside me again, but now alongside with her siblings.

And all those airports.  The sadness of departures and joy of arrivals. – that became my thing.  We said so many goodbyes.  The latest was saying goodbye to my middle child for six weeks as she boarded a plane for Argentina and saying goodbye to my eldest as we boarded a plane for Costa Rica.  It is in the walls of the airport that I began to see the common thread in coming and going.  Everyone waiting in anticipation to see a loved one.  Everyone holding tight as they say farewell.  This is the beautiful light of humanity.

These are just a few moments that come to mind as I reflected on this year of transition, of shifting my perception to light so that it is all I see.

I am so grateful for you.

Love,

Rozanne

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love note no.17: dear christmas quilt.

Dear Christmas Quilt,

A couple days before Christmas, I finally found you in a box I had packed away.  I looked for you for weeks and couldn’t find you. I thought I had given you away, or worse, thrown you out by accident.

Years ago, I made you for the couch – a holiday quilt to snuggle under on cold winter days.  You were the first quilt I had ever made. You gave comfort to sick and feverish children. You kept multiple pairs of legs covered as we finished knitting and sewing our handmade gifts.  You were a lesson in sharing and how to keep warm together.

Here is a pic of you in 2012 keeping my babies warm:

We used to all fit underneath you – all seven of us.  Chris and I used to be book ends to squirmy little ones who overlapped each other’s bodies like squished sardines in a can.  We would watch Christmas movies together all snuggled together with at least half of us falling asleep beneath you.  You held us all together through a lot of laughs and some tears, the emotional highs and lows of the holidays.

When I pulled you out the other day, you seemed so small.  Although it has only been a year since we last saw you, the kids seem so much bigger than you now.  I was excited to show you to the kids.

You see, our old home, the house itself, played a big role in so many of our family traditions.  This is what I wanted for my family when we created it.  I wanted the children to associate the season with family activities that brought us joy and warmth and an opportunity for reflection on our year during the darkest time.

Our advent calendar was centred around doing things together every day. The ultimate emphasis on gift-giving through acts of kindness.  Each daily envelope held a love note for each child plus an activity to do as a family.  For example, one day we would call three different people and tell them you love them.  Some days had us baking cookies for our neighbours or handing out wool socks to the homeless or finding “peace” in ten languages.  Other days had us watching a favourite movie together or sing carols under you – our family holiday quilt.

We made all our gifts including many little quilts like you.  We would use all of our scraps and create quilts and little stuffed toys for all the new babies in our family as a welcome present. We knitted scarves, sewed cowls, and made hats for family and each other.  This was a huge part of our homeschool year – our crazy month of handwork, my own little Santa’s workshop.  If you walked into our house a week or two before Christmas, you would see a child at the cutting mats with piles of thread and cut fabric all over the floor around her.  You would hear the buzzing of the sewing machine.  You would see another one at the ironing board.  The rest would be cuddled under you knitting or hand sewing.  I would be moving from station to station helping with the tough parts of the project – the cutting, the turning, the lining up – and then running to the kitchen to take the spiral bread out of the oven to eat as a reward for a hard day’s work.

We would take tea breaks to snack and sit with you stretched across us as I gave pep talks of encouragement to weary fingers and tired eyes.

I remember piecing together each tree on you.  You were supposed to be filled with them but I had babies needing me and I settled on a few trees in the centre with “snow” surrounding them.  I remember binding you and the kids watching me patiently sew your edges. They couldn’t wait to play with you – to use you as a roof for their indoor fort or just hold you in their arms.

I was excited to pull you out for them to see again this Christmas.  I imagined them all under you again.  I wanted to see them all fit under you again desperately.  But I found you late.  There were only a handful of days left of us all being together.  I pulled you out and was overwhelmed by memories.  The sight of you brought back visions of my babies crawling under a tree that had ornaments only on the top half and kids making mini gingerbread houses on the big dining room table.  When they saw you spread out on my bed, they didn’t react with the joy that I thought they would. The kids touched your trees so delicately as if you weren’t real and the act of touching you would make you disappear into the land of Christmas Past.  One of them kept touching the little handmade tag on the back.

They smiled with a quiet sadness. I watched them and knew how they felt.  Because we hadn’t pulled out any of our old decorations or even did any of our traditions this year, you were a reminder of what Christmas once was and those traditions we had let go of this year.  I could have tried to cling to them and force them this season but I needed to hit pause.  I couldn’t just move on trying to fit the old with where we are now.  We talked about it as a family.  We talked about having this year be simpler and to enjoy the seventeen days we had as a family of seven before we would have to say goodbye again.  We talked about spending quality time with family and friends instead of a few hours here and there for a quick hello. It was ok to reminisce and talk about what we missed.  It was ok to grieve the loss of something that would never be the same again.

We still watched our favourite movies together and cuddled under the blanket in our bed but you stayed folded on the floor.  No one fought over you.  One child would pick you up occasionally and spread you out on top, trying to cover us all, but somehow you wound up on the floor again and again.  You no longer could fit us all even if we tried to squeeze ourselves and sit on each other’s laps.  I remember a year when they all fit in it on the small couch.  I could hear them laughing and giggling from the kitchen and I distinctly remember feeling that I was taking this time for granted.  We homeschooled so we were able to be together every single day and have a whole December of baking, singing, making, and giving.  Every time I would feel completely exhausted from writing love notes until 2am or reading all the winter holiday books over and over again for hours, I knew that a time would come when those moments would end and the days of all of us just being together would be fewer and fewer.

As I sit at the computer this morning, I pull you onto my lap. I look at the little tree in the centre, the one with the heart on it.  I hand stitched that heart right before I pieced it all together.

I told the kids that the little bit of red gave some visual interest to the tree and it looked cute.  I never told them the truth.  It was a secret between you and I.  I put a piece of my heart into this quilt, my love for each one of them.  But the hand stitched heart was also a reminder for me.  It was a reminder that putting effort into building traditions was worth it.  Stitching this quilt while having a toddler on my lap or a little one unplugging the foot pedal over and over again was worth it. Traditions would hold us tightly while we grew and figured things out.  They would give us comfort and security.  They would ground us and help us define what was essential to our family.

The sun streams in now for the first time in days.  The darkest days are behind us once again. As the holiday season comes to a close, I will put you away again.  Thank you for keeping us warm and holding us together over the years.  Thank you for giving my heart a place to rest this morning as it ached.  Thank you for reminding me how traditions are built slowly and that it’s ok to build new ones.

Love,

Rozanne

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love note no.16: dear caterpillar.

We have began a new chapter in our family adventures here in Costa Rica.  And we have been busy maintaining connection with our daughter who has been living abroad. It is unfamiliar emotional and logistical territory – piecing out my heart while navigating time zones.

I haven’t written any love letters here in over 6 weeks.  Every time I started to write a love letter it felt like writing holiday cards – too many to write, so little time.  Now I have figured out how to stay in one place and feel the earth beneath my feet.  

And I think the world needs a little more love right now.  

Don’t expect a chronological review of the sequence of events over the last bit of life.  I will touch on all of it through these letters, collaging them together with story and memories.  I write again because I found this quote by Lousie Bourgeois:  “To be an artist is a guarantee to your fellow humans that the wear and tear of living will not let you become a murderer.”  I need to stop compartmentalizing and trying to organize my experiences and emotions.  So here is where I spill the contents as I see fit.  To let myself get messy without anticipating a tidy finish.  To map out the metaphors and celebrate the uncertainty.  To stay in just one place for a little while.  

Today I begin my letters again slowly and with a small miracle.

Dear caterpillar,

We found you the other day resting between two large leaves.  By the following day, there was this film, this veil starting to form around you.  And now, a few days later, you are less lean and long and more swollen with the silky, thread-like film thickening around you.  We can only speculate that you are building your cocoon and not a chrysalis because we don’t see a hard casing around you.  We think you are on your way to becoming a moth.

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I’d like to give you a heads up little caterpillar – moths get a bad rap.  Butterflies get all the glory.  All the children’s books are written with butterflies adorning the gardens or stories about growth and transformation into a beautiful butterfly in the light of day.

My daughter recently wrote a short story about a girl and a caterpillar.

Spoiler Alert:  After the girl rescues the caterpillar from being trampled on a foot path, she brings it home to live in her garden and the caterpillar turns into, you guessed it, a butterfly.

But I am writing this love letter to you because I know you are special. You will have a frenulum while butterflies do not.  This little piece of your anatomy joins the forewing to the hind wing so the wings can work in unison during flight – an advantage, I suppose, for your nighttime flights because you are primarily nocturnal.  You love the night – the quiet and the darkness.

As we find our nightly rhythm here in Costa Rica, we have welcomed many moths into our home.  Attracted to light, moths of many sizes have paid us a visit – some very unexpected and humorous visits including one where a grown man jumped out of the bed when a large sphinx moth landed on his head.  (At least, we think it’s a sphinx moth. It actually kept showing up every night during the first week we were here.)  And as I sat here this early morning, before the sun rose, the tiniest of moths landed on my finger.

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The moth is a creature of transformation, similar to the butterfly, but its nocturnal nature is what sets it apart.  Its ability to thrive in the darkness but at the same time to always find the light is a trait not to be discounted.  To not flail when things are unknown.  To have faith that you were born with a deep inner knowing even in the darkest places.  Some hypothesize that the moth is led by lunar light and it occasionally mistakes manmade light for the moon’s light which explains why it follows any light.

Guided by the moon, she takes flight in the darkness.

Needless to say, my family is going through its own metamorphosis on a collective and on an individual level.  We are a microcosm of what is going on out there. We are being transformed whether some of us like it or not.  There has been breakage, dissolution, stripping, and releasing.  But like my daughter’s story of the girl saving a caterpillar that could be trampled in its most vulnerable time, and giving it a place to undergo its transformation in peace, Chris and I are trying our best to do the same for our children – hold that space for them as they turn to mush, a necessary act before becoming something new.

A few weeks ago, it was dark and the jungle symphony changed from birds to insects.  We were sitting outside under the stars and my son put his hand across his forehead and said, “Mama, I’m sick.”

I felt his head and said it didn’t feel like he had a fever.  He said, “Not that kind of sick.  I’m homesick.”  I moved my hand down to his heart and rubbed it and said holding back the tears, “Tell me about it.”  He talked about our old couch which now lives in a friend’s house which used to live in our basement in the house we also sold.  He talked about how cozy it was and how he loved sitting there to cool down when it was hot outside.

I asked him, “So you miss that feeling.  Being able to go to a place that you knew would make you feel better?”

He nodded.  And I said, “Hold on to that feeling.  Close your eyes and feel it.  When you do that, you invite that feeling to come back in any space you happen to be in.  Feel us with you cuddling and keeping cool.  Feel family loving you wherever you are.”

This has been the simplest way for us to hold space for our children and for ourselves – to create a container of love to hold them steady.  We have found beautiful people in this community to hold a space for all of us too.

It is at night when my children miss our family and our old home the most – when the bright colours of the jungle and the ocean fade and they are no longer distracted by the sights.  It is a dark with life moving through it, a dark with a different world waking up.  It’s been so long since we have been in a darkness like this – the occasional light from the moon when it breaks through the clouds, the only thing that gives us comfort.  We are used to noisy city light outside our windows from street lamps and the glow of a big city.  When there are brown outs here, we can barely see our hand in front of us sometimes and the sun sets in an instant without that familiar phase of a comforting dusk, a softening of the light.

dusk

I had been telling stories to my children about caterpillars and butterflies to heal them when they feel unsettled and not at home – in their body and in their physical location.  But little cocooning caterpillar, you have taught me that I missed the mark.  It is the wisdom of the moth that I must share with them.  The butterfly – they know.  They have even raised monarchs and released them.  It is the moth and all its stories of the dark that they need, that I need.  I need to bring them to light to show them this mysterious beauty – the beauty of faith in the darkness.

My story will be along the same lines as my daughter’s story – to rescue a caterpillar from being trampled on when it’s most vulnerable – when it doesn’t have its wings yet and moves slowly on unchartered terrain – and place it in a garden where it is safe and has room to fall apart, to rest, and put itself back together to enjoy a life of moving through the darkness, occasionally chasing the light of the moon.

So little caterpillar, thank you for your lesson.

We will protect your cocoon and let you take your time to transform.

Love,

Rozanne

 

 

 

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Dear Facebook, Instagram, and the Internet in general,

We’ve been on a break for the last couple weeks.  I do this periodically to keep a healthy relationship with you because I have known to be a little dependent. I hate to admit it but sometimes I have needed you for validation – how many likes did I get?;  or a way to escape – I don’t want to feel anything right now so let me get lost in other people’s lives for a moment.  

So instead for the last few weeks, I’ve returned to the beauty of my own sensory perception.  Delighting in my five senses while hiking, knitting, or just thinking.  (And sometimes all at once.)

But you have somehow managed to always be on the back of my mind.  What’s new?  Am I missing out on some great article or updates from friends?  Will I still be connected to all my relationships that are sustained somewhat by social media due to physical distance?

The interesting thing is that I have taken a break from all of you because I WAS afraid of missing out.  Afraid of missing out on what was going on in front of me.  A few weeks ago, I hiked deep into nature, to a remote locale without service, and I felt grateful to be forcibly separated from you so I could be absorbed by nature herself.  I couldn’t text or call my family and they had no way of getting a hold of me. I couldn’t post the spectacular vistas in real time.  I couldn’t post a blog about how great it felt to be disconnected from the online world.

algonquin_secondsite

I decided to extend this break because I was about to embark on a few travel adventures with my family.  Travel adventures that would require all of my energy – energy to tap into my multi-tasking logistical side, energy to recognize and be aware of my children’s hunger, exhaustion and hormonal cues, and energy to be present in the miracle of each moment we were together.  And with all this family time, I knew that I would have the smallest of moments alone.  I wanted to spend these tiny portions of solitude in stillness or writing in my journal and not lose myself in your worlds.

I try to make a case against you each time we are on a break: You are a waste of time.  What people post isn’t really what’s going on.  You are a vehicle for showcasing ignorance and hate.  You make me judge and compare and sometimes I feel like a total piece of crap after spending hours scrolling through other people’s lives.

For the past few weeks, we have had the most wonderful experiences on our travels.  We are living our dreams out loud.  But we also have had some tender times with tears and homesickness.  A homesickness that I can’t make go away with a kiss and a hug.  So I have stayed away from you and posting our adventures because I haven’t been able to be as transparent as I’d like to be.

Life isn’t perfect, we all know that.  But my question is, why do I feel like it has to be to post the beauty, to post the pauses in the pain? Why is it sometimes I feel like a fraud when I post a calm before/after the storm picture on Instagram?

Hold on, let me finish.  This is still a love letter because every time I question our relationship, you remind me of a truth that is sometimes hard to swallow.

You prove one truth to me that I keep forgetting every time I start hating you:  the love for you is correlated with the amount of love I have for myself.  And by love, I mean the healthy kind.  That giving, open, expansive, and compassionate love. You are my mirror just like everything else in my life. When I choose to stop judging myself and others, I see more beauty in humanity on my Facebook feed.  My heart tunes into a different frequency.  When I am afraid and alone, you amplify that too.  When I feel there is something missing, your posts make me envy and compare.  When I feel full and light, I am grateful for each and every post that comes across my feed.  I can put the device down after a reasonable amount of time and go back to my sensory experience.

It has to do with intention, my friend.  This is what my wise and patient husband said to me the other day as he lamented that I haven’t written a blog post or shared anything online.  He said that it has to do with intention.

(He’s a big fan of yours…for obvious reasons…)

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So why share and like and love?

To share in hopes that we might give comfort or to inspire others.  To learn from each other.  To connect in ways that surpass physical boundaries.  To like and love for the simple fact that we do – we like and love each other.

When I lay my heart out in honest surrender, you send me love.  You send it when a friend sends me a short and sweet text saying they are thinking of me or a friend in another country sends a FB message to Skype soon.  You provide articles that articulate exactly how I feel which gives me the relief of self-awareness.  I see photos of friends and their families living in joy.  I don’t need the behind-the-scenes.  I know that their lives are like mine – complicated and messy.  But in that one instagram photo or Facebook post, they shared the light.  The joy.  Even if it lasted for only that instant.

That’s what I learn from you.  You give me what I give.  I receive what I need when I need it.  I write here and my heart feels a little lighter.  I post Instagram photos from our travels because there is so much beauty to be discovered wherever we go and because learning and curiosity never ends or is confined to text books or an institution.

When I take a break from you, it has nothing to do with you.  It’s me.  I need to step back and re-evaluate how I feel and what I need.   But because of you, I have been able to maintain relationships and connect with others all of the world.  You are the reason we are able to live our dreams and travel.  I have been inspired by postings from friends and strangers to create a life of my choosing and to question my beliefs over and over again.

Thank you my old friend.

With love,

Rozanne

***

P.S.  This doesn’t mean I am going to get on Twitter and Snap Chat.  I still have five kids to homeschool. 🙂

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love note no.14: dear ball of yarn.

ballofyarn_barca

Dear ball of yarn,

We find ourselves together at the break of dawn on a terrace in an apartment in the middle of Barcelona.

Unlike the other four balls of yarn before you, you aren’t wound up so tight.  Perhaps they weren’t either. Perhaps it was just me that tightly wound, trying to tug and pull so fiercely at them in airport lounges, airplanes, car rides, restaurants, parks, couches, and beds all over New York City, Toronto, and now, in Barcelona.

I have knit furiously for the last few weeks.  You have sat silently in the corner of the room or the bottom of a bag waiting for your turn.  Knitting has become a safe place for me to feel because that’s all I have done this month –  feel.  Instead of writing which involves a lot of my heart and too much emotion, I have turned to my hands and my will. And when it gets too much, just before the dam breaks, I focus on the softness of what I have made thus far and the single stitch on my needle.

You are the last one my friend.  The last ball of yarn to finish my project.  But I have slowed down now that we are here.  Here at the place where I have to finish.  The place where I have to knit your final strand so that I can give this labour of love away.  It will get done.  But now that it is near the end, I am slowing down to savour, to bless, and to love each stitch.

You are a part of the whole.  The last line in a long story.

In September 1997, pregnant with my eldest,  I picked up another thread to weave into my own story.  So entwined into mine for almost two decades, it seemed like this was the time to tie up the loose ends so that she could weave her own.

So with you, and the other balls of yarn, I have spent the last few weeks knitting a blanket.  She chose white and cream, and then you, a single grey ball for the end.

When she was born, she was wrapped in a pink receiving blanket at the hospital.  I still have it.  The pink has dulled.  The edges are frayed.  There is blue on the other side which her father normally chose as the side to wrap her in after that initial pink announcing that she is a girl.  I thought about giving it to her as a gift but that blanket is for me to keep.  It is the day I received the gift of motherhood.  The day I received her into my arms, my life, my tapestry.  Another life stage for me – motherhood.  She chose me to take care of her and be her mother for the rest of her life.  And I accepted.  I kept her warm in that blanket, always keeping her swaddled and protected when she wasn’t near me or on me.

Today I am knitting a different type of blanket.  It is a giving blanket.  It is a blanket to give her to herself and to the world.  It is a reminder to her and to myself that she will now give birth to herself over and over again as she enters womanhood. I will never stop being her mother but I must stop being the one to knit her story with mine.  I am ready to give birth to her one last time.

This blanket is knit with every intention I have had for her since the day she was born – the blanket I would have wanted to make for her as a baby.  With every stitch, I pray.  With every stitch, I give thanks for every moment we have been together. With every stitch, I whisper all the things I have to say that I can’t say out loud.  With every stitch, I pour love, love, love.

This is why I pull you softly to me, my last ball of yarn.  I know we are almost done.  I stop between stitches to dry my eyes.  I pause the clacking of needles when there is a lull in traffic so I can catch the sound of her deep sleep breathing in the room next door.  Part of me is reluctant to knit so fast.  Maybe if I slow down, time will grind to a halt too.  But I know it won’t.  I know this has to finish.  Pulling the thread won’t rewind the last nineteen years or stop me from coming undone with the moment I eventually have to face.

When we finish, I will give her this giving blanket.  A blanket that will find it’s home in an apartment that will be her own, in a city that will become her own.  I will lay it on my lap on the ride there, letting it keep me warm for a moment and letting it comfort me softly.  I will whisper a final blessing and let go.  Let go my labour of love.

giving_blanket

Love,

Rozanne

 

 

 

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