the art of the unsettled life.

I don’t like that word – unsettled.  But that’s all I have felt this month which is why I haven’t written here in awhile.  I have about a dozen drafts of stories about my trip but my mind keeps jumping too far ahead into the future to really be here to reflect on our awesome travels.

(And according to Mystic Mamma, this is the theme for April – “unsettled.”  If you read the description, it totally sums up the month for me so far.)

In the first week of April, my oldest child turned 18.  (I have a post coming up about my thoughts on that event.) I held it together and prepared myself for this milestone event.  I felt very “settled” as a mama and very proud of our relationship as we approached her birthday.  We had one of the most entertaining and fun birthday parties I had been to in awhile and on her actual birthday, we spent time together.

Me and one

But then my youngest child lost his first tooth that same week.

That was my tipping point.  I knew in that moment that April was going to have its way with me.  And then he lost a second tooth and I was not prepared to see this toothless smile greeting me.  Then people began to tell me how much my third daughter had grown while we were away.  I hadn’t noticed because we were in bathing suits for the last few months.  But then she put on a pair of pants she hadn’t worn since January and they looked like they had shrunk.  I started to stare at her more.  I began to notice that her body had changed.  She had lengthened and her face had lost that “baby” roundness.  She is also now one of the tallest players on her volleyball team even though she is a year (or even two years) younger than all the other players.

There’s more. Yesterday my second daughter informed me she was going out to her favourite crystal and gem store, which is a 20 minute subway ride away, by herself! She was very nonchalant and casual and proceeded to leave the house with confidence.


Wait it gets better.

My phone beeps with a text and I ask #4 to pass me my phone and she giggles because she read the text.  This child who couldn’t read well before we left, let alone read messages on my phone which is why I ask her to pass me the phone, can fully read.

What is going on here?!?

I can’t.  I can’t keep up.

And there are other changes happening that are moving us in a very definite direction that is full of unknowns and undefined edges.  Big changes that I hope to talk about soon.

Then there is snow on the ground every few days.  In April.

I texted a friend yesterday that I have found myself so unsettled that I take moments to sit by the window to smoke my pretend cigarette and drink my pretend whisky.

Then it dawned on me this morning.  (And it this happened literally at dawn.) This feeling creeps up on me when I am in the midst of transition.  This is the feeling of the in-between, the space between the spaces.  The place where everything and nothing happens all at once.  It is a place where I find myself in more often than not because I felt major shifts in my body, my mind, and my spirit in the last two years.

This month is one of those in-between places.  Although technically we celebrated the arrival of spring a few weeks ago, mother nature hasn’t gotten the memo in these parts.  There has been a lot of waiting and preparing on my end.  Waiting to move.  Waiting to start our spring science block of botany, astronomy, and geology which all include outdoor lessons. Waiting to create.  Waiting to decide.  Preparing for change. Preparing to step out of limbo.

Then I remembered one of the most amazing lessons that I learned in Costa Rica – nothing lasts forever.  One of the yoga teachers and a new friend, Danielle, would repeat this mantra during the yin moments of the practice where we would have to hold a tough pose for 5-6 minutes or when we did core work that set my mid-section on fire.

Nothing lasts forever.

Take this chocolate for instance.  I made this beautiful piece of chocolate in a chocolate-making workshop in Costa Rica.  I love this picture because it has already started to melt in the heat.  I could admire it a little longer and it would continue to melt away or I could pop it in my mouth and savour it.  Yes, it would be gone but nothing lasts forever.

melting chocolate

If I can hold that mantra in my heart – hold it as I look around at these children who tower over me, cook for themselves, and go out into the world, I can remind myself that I am always in a space of departure and arrival.  I am always in transition.  I am always unsettled.  This is the beauty and wonder of feeling alive.  To move without resistance to the flow of what is happening in front of me.  I can pause and marvel but never for too long because life will move me when it’s time to go.

One of the definition of “unsettled” is to “undo from a fixed position.”  The opposite of staying in one place permanently.  And if you have ever held pigeon pose for 5-6 minutes, you know how unsettling (and painful) it feels to release and come out of that position.  Sometimes we do have to stay in one place for awhile – to catch our breath, to have awareness, to appreciate, to refer to our inner guidance system, to listen.

Having children that inevitably grow up and out on their own timetables keep me moving.  When I don’t allow for their own growth because I want us all to stand still, to remain this little family that I can hold together for a little longer, they rebel and resist me.  I have children ages 6 to 18.  The dust never settles.  If I look at the past 18 years of being a parent, life never actually settled down.  My most stress-free and happy moments were when we laughed at the chaos and made the biggest messes of things without worrying about the potential clean-up.

In fact, life with 5 children is an unsettled life.  Life in a house with 7 people is unsettling.  Everyone needs something different at every moment of the day.  Yes of course I feel unsettled!  What else could I be?  Would I really want to settle?


What if we never settled?  What if we never settled for a lesser experience?  What if we never settled on the conventional and widely accepted modes for living?  What if we never settled on choices that gave us security without joy?  What if we settled on a life that was less than we deserved?  What if we never settled because it was uncomfortable and unbalancing but led to exponential growth and learning?

When my third daughter was little, she would put on her shoes and say, “I wonder where my feet will take me today.”  And she would smile with a twinkle in her eye and walk out the door never knowing where our day would lead.

Today I am going to make peace with this unsettled feeling.  I am going to stop letting my mind tell me that I need to feel sure about everything.  I am going to dance and move and feel everything.  I am going to meet my children where they are at today.

I am going to put on my shoes and let my feet move me to where I need to be.




One response to “the art of the unsettled life.”

  1. Cathy Avatar

    Great post! Yes, I’m feeling very unsettled at the moment too. I should probably pencil this in my diary for next April so it doesn’t take me by surprise and unbalance me again.

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