Wednesday, April 24, 2013


My family is sick lately.

We’re not usually sick – we get regular flu shots and for the most part, we’re all rather healthy, even in the middle of flu and cold season. No one has severe allergies or any sort of “-itis” or medical condition. We’re really lucky like that.

But something shifted late last week.

My younger daughter has been a little out-of-sorts, crying, upset. My middle daughter collapsed from a mild case of heat stroke on a Sunday hike (she’s fine, thankfully, just needed a lot of R&R and water) and missed most of her classes on Monday.  My oldest daughter, already in pain from the final rigorous phase of her last month of wearing braces, felt like she was going to black out this morning and collapsed into a catatonic heap on my bed before school.

I wondered aloud to my husband, What is going on?

He didn't have to answer. I feel it, too.

We’re depleted, plain and simple. Depleted of the energy required to go through the motions of a regular schedule. Sick of waking up early and running and working all day long, only to have hours of homework after school (when they should be outside, playing, enjoying the real, natural world). Ready for the unstructured freedom of summer.

What is it about the sun that makes our minds wander?

At the start of every school year – or, really, a month into it, around October – we’re ready for the structure and discipline of winter. It seems as though the cold weather inspires a nose-to-the-grindstone attitude, followed by the rewards of winter holidays and New Year celebrations. And just past the new year, we have a plethora of faux-holiday days off that keep our stamina up. But after Spring Break, it’s all about the last few months of school, the “final push before summer.”

But still, I hate it.

This morning after I dropped Serena off at school, I watched Emme sleeping in her bed, mouth open slightly, dreaming, her braces enjoying their final weeks in her mouth.

It won’t always be like this, a voice inside my head admonished. Someday in the very near future, my little ducklings will have to finish up their little lives here with me and go off in search of their own paths. And at that time, will any of this rigor matter? What will missed homework and sick days and even school itself mean?

Again, I know the answer. 

Not much.

Watching Emme sleep, I recognized the trap we fall into, believing that we have to do this, or we have to do that. And I was a junkie for good grades and being the best at my job, etc. Just last night (and again this morning on the way to school), I lectured Serena on not falling behind in homework because the due date is several days away (and other homework tends to pile up, on top of it). To tell the truth, I got sick of hearing my own voice lecturing, mostly because I don’t get the point of so much homework.

Is it just me? Or are you feeling depleted too??

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Lately, I'm thinking about transformation.

Before I begin, though, I'd like to apologize for my spotty blogging over the past year. It's my intention to write more frequently now that I've finished the second draft of my novel - YIPPEE! Even though I have much more to do with that project (revisions galore, dipping my toe into the "next step" of publishing and getting it into the world, for starters), I have ideas for new projects and new ways to communicate. And one of the things I've really missed is blogging, which is more a form of journaling for me and allows me to connect more fully with YOU. 

And so we begin again.

Last weekend, I was in Ojai at my twice-yearly yoga retreat. My teacher Julian Walker calls them "transformation retreats" and, after 18 of these events, he has structured the 4-day/3-night weekends to allow participants to explore the inner depths of their personal journeys. The interesting thing is, sometimes we don't know we're actually transforming... and it takes a long time to recognize it ourselves, though the other participants can see it in within us.

Because I missed the last retreat in October, I hadn't seen many of my dear yoga retreat friends for nearly a year. In that time, I've finished my novel (twice, really, since I did a major revision for the 2nd draft), I changed my nutrition and got real about my physical form (I'll write a separate post on that one of these days), and I stopped allowing myself to believe the stories I'd made up about myself. You know the ones, about being "too old" to learn things, "I've always done things this way, so I'll continue on this unproductive hamster wheel," and other ridiculous ideas that our minds use as propaganda to keep us from pursuing our dreams. 

For me, this new thinking has resulted in a different-looking body, a strong will to forge ahead as a bonafide writer, a kick in the pants of what I thought being over 40 was supposed to look and feel like, the exploration of hobbies I've always wanted to try (singing on stage, for one), and a "what the hell?" attitude toward creating and living the life I want.

The transformation feels intrinsic to my well-being and I hardly notice it now. But when I first rolled up to retreat, fresh from my regular role as a mom who has to get shit done and live in the regular world, as my friend Evann shared with me later, I didn't seem the same. Yeah, I looked different, etc., but she wondered, "Where is Erin? Is she still there?"

Which reminded me that, even with transformation, we can still put up our defenses to deflect others' judgments. Sure, I was sparkly and self-confident, but I still wanted everyone to see me and LIKE me. It was seamless.

Over the course of the weekend, as I practiced silence and meditation and being in community with other people who are as committed to finding their best selves, I found myself again under the new layers I'd added to my "self." When I dropped under all of it, I knew again that I was so much more than even the transforming self I'd worked so hard to create. 

Once again, I knew I was infinite and I didn't need anyone to tell me that. 

I guess the thing with transformation is, we're really just stripping back the layers and finding who we already are. It's ironic to me that our most magnificent selves are the naked, vulnerable ones. 

Here I must quote Mary Oliver (yet again), from her brilliant poem "The Journey":

...and there was a new voice,
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company 
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do --
determined to save
the only life you could save.

And that life is your own.