{this moment}

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from soulemama

a friday ritual. a single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. a simple, special, extraordinary moment. a moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

if you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

. . . . . . . . . .

this moment 10252013 - ourtreknorth-wordpress-com

invitations

when the little one was simply a wee one, I felt like I had to follow suit with all that hype of “read all these popular parenting books to learn how to do this”. and it was crazy-making and it was impossible to listen beyond the banter and chatter of what parenting should look like. so, I refused for a long time because in trusting myself, and my child, felt far more important than trusting a book who knew nothing of me beyond my privileged ability to simply purchase it.

but then I read Naomi Aldort’s “Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves” and it made so much sense to view this as a journey for us both, together. so I kept absorbing more, and more again, and  Pam Leo’s “Connection Parenting” spoke my hearts language. the invitation to meet them in this sacred connected space was delicious and so incredibly validating.

soon I dove into anything and everything by Alfie Kohn, Thomas Gordon, Larry Cohen, Gordon Neufield, Gabor Maté, Laura Markham, Jean Liedloff, Genevieve Simperingham and Kim John Payne. with each book I found myself having these epiphany moments, getting to yes! over and over, and finding my ‘parenting-self’ in the words shared.

comfortable. validating. connective and present. mindful and grounded.

then, life shifted. the ground shook, first, ever so slightly but it jarred me enough to take notice. then another shock-wave hit. then another. and another still. and as I held on tight it was all I could do to keep my head above water as the tidal wave overtook so much of our gentle, connected space.

this wasn’t in any of those books! (I checked) where I had such comfort and connection to this positive, attached parenting of the little one, I now felt like I lost my sail and rudder. I was so mad for so long at the universe because I felt like I did the right things and this wasn’t supposed to happen! the tables turned and my questions screamed in my head searching and begging for answers and for solace. what happens when you can’t connect? what about not being able to touch, to hold and nurture, without senses overloading and avoiding? (there is nothing so painful as your child, deep in their own pain, pushing you so far away) what happens when the words fail your little one and you beg for them to come back? I was back to those books being pages with empty words because I thought they didn’t speak my language anymore.

on the days when the floor felt like it simply fell out from underneath me, I used to hold her close to me when she was sleepy and open to touch and dance slowly in the kitchen while singing along with John Mayer’s “Say (What You Need To Say)” on the iThing hoping that in some magical way her words would come. I struggled. I mourned. I cried rivers and oceans of tears. it is the thing you must do – this deep mourning – for the shift in your world is real and it is for a lifetime.

the gravity of this is heavy, and the mourning comes in waves, still, and always when you least expect. 

today, our road is no easier and all the books in the world cannot speak to where we are as a family. but I returned to a few of them recently and re-read them anew and some of the old words connected in a different part of this momma’s journey. our connecting was there … but it was different. growing as a momma hasn’t been an option, it’s been necessary to understand so much so quickly and to be the best advocate and learned therapist to reach her, guide her, and bring her back. today we spend more time in therapist offices and special education meetings and working, working, working on progression in the smallest of increments.

success is measured slowly, deliberately, thoughtfully as the little one guides us on her journey.

invitation 1 - ourtreknorth-wordpress-com

and when I am allowed to enter her space and see life through her lens, I am humbled and grateful and always in awe. this weekend I joined her at her space, at the school in the woods and their newly redesigned playground. so much to see and often introduced to me by the little one with a smile or giggle or an open arm to join in next to her when words fail her. other times the words spill out with precision around the replaying of an exact play scenario in which she found some comfort. and then, she extends her hand, open to receive mine, and bounds us both to the new zip-line and rope-swings. it is here that she shows me why she keeps telling me “no more dresses, momma. can’t do the zip-line with dresses“.

invitation 2 - ourtreknorth-wordpress-com

she glides. she bounces. she moves her body effortlessly and purposefully, inverting her head, allowing her body to feel the push and pull as she moves back and forth. and then, the words came. “momma! look! I bend my head back like C and K taught me!” (her private occupational therapists) she was getting learned sensory input by simply being one with this space. she was self-regulating and self-modulating on her own and I sat there with happy tears streaming down my face.

invitation 3 - ourtreknorth-wordpress-com

it’s what is called carry-over and it is a hard thing to learn and promote because it comes from within. but there she was, in an expansive school playground filled with natural wooden structures and five slides and countless swings and even the “ten-tire bouncer”. and the little one was showing me how she was using it like the gym at her occupational therapists office, doing carry-over from all her countless hours of therapy. there is so much of her that remains a mystery but this I heard loud and clear: this. this is my space where I can be amazing, incredible ME.

so, those books? many of them have been donated to families who need them more than I, but their message of connection and attachment and being present remain. I mindfully stopped reading all those popular (and unpopular) parenting books, as I have learned that our journey is ours alone to travel and experience and continue to be present in. the moments, as long as I allow them to be, are rich and filled with so much that is spoken and unspoken. it is an honor to be her momma and to simply have the great privilege to walk beside her on this life journey.

and the invitation? quietly, ever so quietly, I wait for the next time the little one offers an outstretched hand for mine. for the next time I’m asked to join her zipping on a zip-line or learn how she plays with J and S on the ten-tire bouncer at recess time. knowing I can trust her to continue to show me what she needs is powerful — her voice may not be strong at times, her gaze may never meet mine fully and touch may still be hard … but in all of this, the invitation remains to meet her right where she is. and when that door opens, I will always be there for her. always. 

{this moment}

. . . . . . . . .

from soulemama

a friday ritual. a single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. a simple, special, extraordinary moment. a moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

if you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

. . . . . . . . . .

this moment - OCT182013 - ourtreknorth-wordpress-com

glad for Octobers

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers”– Anne of Green Gables

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we’re glad too. the colors that surround us this time of the year are spectacular and ever changing – painting a landscape that we get to rediscover daily. we cherish that the apple orchard, trees heavy with crisp, cool fruit, is now five minutes from our rural home and not the day-trip we grew accustomed to in our urban home. the little one is slowly getting this momma to fill porch stairs with all the pumpkins she tells me she desperately needs from our local farm … and this momma thoughtfully, deliberately, allows one at a time to join the growing pumpkin porch-crew. we walk, we explore, we wrap ourselves in warmer clothing, woolen mittens and sturdy shoes to stave off the incoming autumn crispness that surrounds us. we mindfully spend time as family, connecting and cherishing each other, as the seasons shift around us.

in all of this, we’re settling. the little one is finding her space and place in her school in the woods. she is surrounded there by so many who want to see her succeed, to be cherished, to be supported and, above all, allow her to show us all what she’s made of. her afterschool program allows her to explore their farm and certified ‘outdoor classroom’, brings her on weekly field trips to apple pick, weave through corn mazes, go bowling, lend a literal helping hand while the younger set has a bike-a-thon. she is enveloped in community — a community that embraces her for who she is, not what she can’t do, but for the beauty she brings to the collective table.

I am the momma who is often left with happy tears brimming in my eyes watching this generosity of spirit, this amazing community, embrace us all … but especially for the little one who has struggled to find connection with such an inclusive community. 

grateful for octobers - ourtreknorth-wordpress-comtonight is the school’s annual ‘pumpkin stroll’ where each child at the school in the woods gets their own pumpkin to carve. the pumpkins? well, they were grown in the school’s pumpkin patch from seedlings started last year by the children – this full-circle theme is one this school does so well. the children will deliver their pumpkins today and parent volunteers will line the path from the school’s sugar shack through the woods and back down to the fields with the hundreds of carved, lit, pumpkins (the local university students come to light the pumpkins and join us all). we will walk hand in hand tonight, as a family and as a school community, in awe of what we’re all creating. we’ll stop at the fire pit to warm ourselves, body and soul. we’ll listen to the story-tellers, purchase 25-cent bags of popcorn and warm cider, spend time with the families and educators who make this momma grateful, oh-so-grateful, for all they give. this … this is our community now.

we are settling. we are exhaling – slowly, mindfully, deliberately. we are embracing this new world for us and are so aware of our gratitude for the October that surrounds us.

the {welcome} sounds of silence

oak-leaf heart - ourtreknorth-wordpress-com

years ago, in a movie I watched, there was a reference to one character entering into their “quiet chapter of their lives” and that description always stuck with me. it stuck, likely because as a person who’s continually physically and mentally ‘on the go’, I’ve kind of longed for that chapter to come. and not just quiet in proximity but internally as well. as a girl living in large cities for so long, I viewed them as separate from each other — like you could have one without the other magically.

what I’ve found since our trek north began is that they are so intrinsically intertwined for me. quiet in my surroundings has equaled quiet in my being. my soul has quieted since we’ve moved out of the city and it’s not just been me — the little one also is less jumpy, less seeking for that long sought after ‘thing’, more in tune with the quiet that physically surrounds and embraces us.

every weekday morning I stand at the bus stop and see the little one off with her friend. every weekday morning I get in my car for the half-hour drive to the little seacoast city that I work in. the first week of this I was desperate for something to entertain me, for noise to fill that space it always filled in car rides — I searched and searched (and seriously searched!) for a radio station I could listen to as to fill the void around me. but my car has decided it will only get in two stations, both filled with talking and talking and what they talked about I didn’t care to listen to. then I decided to stream public radio from our old city on my phone and after a couple of trips of listening to folks lament over the current state of whatever we’re lamenting was enough to create more anxiety than I needed. so I turned the external noises off and went with silence.

the first morning, watching the sun come up as I traveled east through farm land and over bridges that span two bays (one little and one great, as their names tell me) I started to slow enough to really enjoy the silence. the ease of it all while I traveled beside fields covered in early morning dew with horses or cows munching away renewed my sense of connection to our new home. the morning the wild turkey’s stopped me in their parade across the road was laughable and wonderful as they gobbled their way along. but I was still itchy in my own skin with this silence … so one morning I made a game of counting and categorizing road kill along my drive.

that was clearly not my most shining moment … 

but time has passed since the newness of it all, the leaves are changing colors telling me that they too are slowing down and the drive has become somewhat rote and comfortable. now I long for the drive in silence to let go of my work-day in the seacoast town as I shift to being ‘just momma’ to the little one. in the mornings I cherish the time to myself to let thoughts wander, allowing minds time to relax and clear, to know that part of being able to enter into the quiet chapter of your life begins slowly, deliberately.renewal - ourtreknorth-wordpress-com

being the rebel I am I still do drive with an open mug of coffee on my way to the office … but when the mug also reminds me of something bigger than me in one simple word, I’m fine with my rebel-like streak.

I’m not sure when I’ll be convinced I’m fully in the quiet chapter of my life but I’m enjoying exploring it and learning to embrace the silence and the peace it brings both of us.