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New Directions

New Directions

Have you ever heard of “resistant starch?”

July was a month of mini-breaks: a long weekend in Omaha, two nights on the road delivering my peeps to camp, a working weekend at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival, and a much-anticipated return to very near the boundary waters in Minnesota after I collected my camping peeps. As I nearly always do, for each of the trips I packed a work bag—overdue editing, financial papers I’ve been wanting to scrutinize, letters to write, my computer with its infinite access to concepts and things to read, two books because I might finish one.

On the second of these trips, the one where I was determined to have a “sort it all out” big picture meeting with myself, I couldn’t face spreading out all of the list snippets and partially formed goals on my hotel bed as I had envisioned spending the afternoon. It was past six when I arrived at the historic and lovely St. James Hotel in Redwing, MN, after a stormy day of driving and an emotional hour of settling my peeps into camp, Twelve away from home for the first time. I told myself I’d do it in the morning and took my legal pad to the hotel bar where I wrote a journal entry, most of a blog post and started a birthday letter to my pen pal of thirty years. That, for me, is sitting still.

In the morning I brought breakfast from downstairs up to bed and spread open the newspaper I had discovered outside my door. I skimmed through the news, read the funnies, and got thoroughly engrossed in an article about resilience training.

Referencing the work of The Chemistry of Joy author Henry Emmons, MD, the article explained resilience training helps people live through difficult times by attending to the needs of body, mind and spirit. It sounded to me a lot like yoga and to be sure, the article mentioned mind-body connecting practices like yoga and meditation as helpful in boosting our resilience.

The idea dovetailed with a physical concept I’d been thinking about since the first trip nine days before, resistant starch. I read the term “resistant starch” in a food column I was proofreading early one morning and thought, I’ve never heard of that before. Garbanzo beans, one of my all-time favorite foods, contain resistant starch, starch that I learned essentially resists digestion until it reaches the intestinal system where it helps to feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut. Cold cooked potatoes have resistant starch, hot potatoes do not. Cashews, another favorite, are loaded with resistant starch. Naturally, once I started looking on the Internet, there was a ton of information about this trendy topic and plenty of lists of foods to try.

On the drive home from Redwing, I started to see resilient and resistant as a pair, and they bumped around together in my brain. I wanted to pull over and look up their origins to see if they were from a common root. They are not, although they both trace back to Latin. Resistant is from the Latin re- “against” plus sistere “take a stand, stand firm.” Resilient stems from re- “back” plus salire “to jump, leap.”

In much more recent usage, resilience adds the sense of having the power of recovery. Thus, if we’re not able to resist and we get dragged through something awful, our resilience comes to the fore and we bounce back. Or at least that’s how I decided it should all work if I’m practicing regularly and eating well.

These two concepts were frontiers for me—new ways to examine what I eat and what I do and how such behaviors interact and bolster me. In one way they confirm what I already know; in another way they clarify, expand and even challenge my thinking. As the miles rolled by and the work in my bag stayed frustratingly unfinished, my brain got to riff between the ideas, blending them and pondering and wondering.

And it is then I stumbled upon the next understanding. My expectations are foolish; there’s no extra time when I travel. In some ways there’s less time because nothing is routine. Particularly as a parent, I find my awareness and attention absorbed by when and where and what to eat, how to sleep, and finding our destinations. Time is allotted to going the distance. But precisely because traveling energies are different, maybe more basic to survival, there is also more room in the brain to absorb and engineer new ideas, to refurbish old thinking. I can travel in my thoughts, reaching my own frontiers and adding concepts, not just bookmarking them for later. On the road, I think them through. Such mental discoveries, I decided looking at the summer greens of Minnesota, are one of the tremendous benefits of travel, even when getting things crossed off the list doesn’t happen.

The new moon rose a couple of days ago—the last moon cycle presiding over this summer’s fun. Hope you’re enjoying whatever you are doing. As ever, thanks for coming along on my journey with me, Rxo 

Fifteen and Twelve jumping off the dock into the welcoming waters of Lake Vermillion.

Fifteen and Twelve jumping off the dock into the welcoming waters of Lake Vermillion.

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Guilty Pleasures

What do I envy about my children’s lives?

Sometimes, late in the evening, I relax after a long day with a hot bath, my computer nearby streaming something from Netflix, an iced beverage beside me. If I feel like it, bath complete, I can keep right on watching in bed or I can surf the Internet and post nonsense to Facebook, or I can chat into the night online with a west-coast friend. I don’t have a bedtime.

Granted, if I do stay up indulging myself, the morning call to my treadmill that is meant to start the day might be met with a grumpy thump on the snooze button. I really do get up early and work hard all day, but the choice to relax and stay up late, like eating too much chocolate, is often more alluring than minding my very real need for sleep.

And then there are some nights I can’t sleep. After turning this way and that, finding the pillow too cool and then too hot, flipping the covers off and back on in a hurry, sipping some water, putting drops in my eyes, and wondering if I should go downstairs to make hot milk, after moments like these I’ll reach for my computer just for some way to try to wind down. It’s not a good solution and I usually end up cross with its light rather than enchanted by anything I find to look at.

It was after just such a night when I had gone to bed at a decent hour but then woken so often I finally got up, made a snack, warmed a cup of milk and carried my computer up to bed to watch something, anything to take my mind off being awake, that I was reporting on my night to Fourteen.

“I can’t wait until I’m a grow-up,” he said, “so I can stay up late and eat and watch whatever I want. It sounds really fun.”

On that morning as I went about my routine, sipping tea while I made school lunches and kept Fourteen and Eleven on their way to their buses, I wanted to retort—well, I wish I was fourteen and someone told me when to go to bed and fed me and made sure I got where I needed to be with my homework done and my equipment clean and provided money for the bills so there’s electric and water and … but before I complained I thought for how it must sound to him. When I was living the strains of being the adult, he was seeing freedom, just as I was seeing the freedom to relax in the care of a grownup.

In the first-ever guest voice here at Overneath It All, Fourteen comments a further:

Guest author Fourteen at his computer, headphones on because he is, after all, a teenager.

Guest author Fourteen at his computer, headphones on because he is, after all, a teenager.

As a teenager, being an adult seems wonderful to me. I suppose that I’m in the middle between childhood and adulthood, and at this stage in my life, adulthood looks to be the better of the two options. Certainly, adults have more freedoms and can stay up as late as they want, but what really appeals to me about being an adult is having my own space in the world.

To have one’s own space is a great thing, be that space a house, apartment, or even a dorm room. From my experiences at sleep-away camps, it is a liberating experience to be able to do just about whatever I want. I also find the idea interesting to be able to really make a space in the universe obviously my own.

Another thing about being an adult is that it looks like an accomplishment. Many people ask me “What do you want to do when you grow up” or “What do you want to be when you grow up” in casual conversation or when trying to make small talk. My answers to these questions have varied greatly, but generally end in “but I’m not sure.” As an adult, I would rarely be asked this question, and I think I will try not to ask it, as it pressures kids into deciding their futures too soon.

Fourteen lives his questions and they’re not small. From my vantage point I’d love to encourage him not to be in a hurry to grow up. That’s best left unsaid, but I can ask myself, would I really want to be a kid again? What do I actually envy about their lives? It would be fun, I think, to go to school again. I’d be better at it this time, would enjoy learning, would take stellar notes, wouldn’t be stressed out by studying, and could probably do fairly well on exams and papers. I’d love to be taken care of—meals planned, shopped for and prepared, laundry done, outings, special events, and vacations booked and paid for—for a while. But life is a series of learning experiences, something I don’t have to go to school to explore. And I’m enough of a control freak that being cared for would become claustrophobic quite quickly. I don’t envy my children many of their first-time experiences, like travel abroad or performing on stage, because I get to experience these firsts with them, through their eyes, anew. So I guess what I envy my children most is sleep—they both fall asleep easily. Eleven sleeps ten hours a night; Fourteen between eight and nine.

On the other hand, when I can’t sleep, I’m in my own room in my very own house, a place that is expressly my space. I own Radiant Om Yoga, another space I’ve designed just the way I want it to be. Nobody bothers me about what I want to be when I grow up because I’ve had three careers already—it’s better not to inquire! And I just discovered Orange Is the New Black on Netflix; what’s not to love???

Happy First Day of Spring, gentle and lovely readers. May it be sunny where you are, xoR

Beggars Can Be Choosers

Beggars Can Be Choosers

How was your Halloween?

In what strikes any transplant to the greater Des Moines, Iowa, metropolitan area as the oddest possible tradition, we trick-or-treat here on the night before Halloween. The practice, the local newspaper explains every year, began sixty or seventy years ago in an effort to safeguard the well being of children going door-to-door. Dressed in costume and sticking to the sanctioned hours of six to eight p.m., children ring the doorbell and chorus “Trick-or-treat” when the resident arrives. Traditionalists will then ask, “Do you have a joke for me?” And easily or haltingly, the children will issue gentle jokes in exchange for candy treats.

“Why didn’t the skeleton cross the road?” The child might ask.

“I don’t know,” parries the resident, standing with candy bowl in hand.

“It didn’t have the guts!”

Or:

“What do you call a cow with no legs?”

“Hmmm, haven’t got a clue,” shrugs the candy bearer.

“Ground beef!”

Our first Iowa Halloween, Fourteen and Eleven were Six and Three. Three wanted to dress as “a sparkly star.” Her brother wanted to be Harry Potter. I made him a black satin cape with a red lining he still finds occasion to wear. Three’s star costume, fringy, silver lame fabric hot glued to fourteen-inch star cut-outs, stuffed like cushions and worn sandwich board style over the shoulders, hangs over the top of my office door.

I make my children Halloween costumes every year because it’s something I remember my mother doing for me. Neither of us is a practiced seamstress, but either one of us can haul out the sewing machine and make a costume or sew a long seam to turn brocade into a tablecloth or remnants into a curtain. Over the years I’ve made Eleven a cat suit, a squirrel costume, a sparkly ballerina dress, a vampire cape, and a fairy costume (with three different gossamer fabrics and several pieces, it was by far the most complex). Fourteen has also been a squirrel, and he has needed a Jedi robe to be Yoda, repurposed to dress as Luke Skywalker a couple of years later, the Harry Potter cape, and a Lego costume, which we made out of a cardboard box adored with flat-bottomed plastic bowls as six Lego studs. That was a particularly cool costume, but nearly impossible to wear. It was quickly smashed when he donned it for the Halloween event at his school.

This year when it was time to sew Eleven’s Athena costume, I found the sewing machine heaped with items to be donated to Goodwill and quite dusty, testament to just how often I use it. It takes some doing for me to remember what I know about sewing, and I always feel I could do better—leaving more time for basting and fitting the costume, for example. Then I tell myself it’s a costume and needs only to hold together as such and sew away. When the costume was finished, Eleven’s squeals of delight and the joy she took in wearing it to her school’s dance—Monster Mash—and out for Beggars’ Night, were hugely gratifying.

Eleven dressed as Athena, goddess of wisdom. Yes, yes she is.

Eleven dressed as Athena, goddess of wisdom. Yes, yes she is.

Beggars’ Night. Traditionally the night before Halloween, observing Beggars’ Night means that when we actually arrive on Halloween, the festivities are over. For all of the talk there is about how we hurry into the holidays and merchants start merchandizing earlier and earlier (not just talk—a local department store this year had Christmas trees up and decorations for sale the Thursday after Labor Day), our very own community rushes the holiday by twenty-four hours. Even after nine years, this still takes me by surprise.

Nonetheless, Halloween is a fairly easy holiday: Purchase candy—I bought full-sized candy bars this year in varieties that should we have leftovers Eleven, with her new braces, can eat; put together a costume; enjoy going door-to-door. We’ve generally carved pumpkins and this year we made just one: Eleven carved “BOO” in big letters on her jack-o-lantern with some amount of assistance. “Aren’t you going to carve one?” she had asked me at the grocery store, selecting the biggest pumpkin she could carry. I gave myself permission, “No, not this year.” I knew that getting hers done would involve effort by me and I thought, why not simplify? I don’t need to carve a pumpkin this year even though in other years creating an ornate design in a pumpkin has been one of my pleasures.

As a mother, giving myself permission to change up what we’ve always done for holidays isn’t always easy. There’s a voice in my brain that tells me I should be creating traditions for my children, things they’ll remember and recreate in their adult lives. I remember a pile of homesick teenagers, freshmen in college, hanging out in the hallway outside my friend’s dorm room, just as our first semester was closing in on finals. Taking a break from studying, we longingly described our familial holiday traditions. We each shared things that we cherished the most.

That Christmas at home it was well below zero and icy when I got off the plane dressed impractically in high heals and a wool skirt. My luggage didn’t make it and I spent most of the break housesitting for family friends, wearing borrowed clothing. With changing family dynamics and my own struggles to reconcile who I was learning to be at college with who I was at home, nothing about my first Christmas home from college was like any other Christmas. Still, I was home for the holidays and the experience had all of the magic and comfort I needed.

So while other years I have dressed in costume, carved a pumpkin, even organized a children’s costume parade, this year I didn’t. I didn’t dress up. I didn’t make a pumpkin. I didn’t save, clean and roast the seeds from Eleven’s pumpkin. I didn’t haul out the Halloween decorations or play scary music or suspend ghosts made from sheets across the front door or turn the garage into a spider web. All of these are things I have done in the past. I did, however, go along on Beggars’ Night while Eleven and two friends ran from house to house filling their treat buckets and Fourteen stayed at home to dole out candy. I did say, “Yes, please,” when neighbors circled around a bonfire enjoying the mild October night and greeting trick-or-treaters offered me a glass of wine for the trek around the neighborhood. I did marvel that I had off from work a rare Wednesday evening and that fact granted me a little freedom I could thoroughly enjoy. I did learn, or maybe relearn, that even if we don’t do what we did last year, even if we don’t have a checklist to follow, and even if we simplify our observance of a holiday, we can celebrate because we’re together, because the spirit of the holiday will carry us, and because with less shoulds and items on a to do list there will be more opportunities for freedom and fun.

And I did have the best Halloween I can remember.

This post comes out as Mercury moves out of retrograde, as the November Beaver moon approaches the quarter mark, and as my magnificent friend and sometimes writing date Kim does me the great honor of publishing my words on her blog, my first guest post ever. Should you wish to read it, find “Plus One” here: http://attorneymediate.wordpress.com/2013/11/10/guest-blog-plus-one-by-robin-bourjaily/ Thanks, as ever & always, for sharing my journey. Namaste, Rxo

Overneath It All 2012

What happens when a robin breaks her wing?

The chiropractor told me on my first visit that my shoulder is “acute.” The tightness and stress in my neck, rhomboids, and all manner of tiny muscles that feed into the inners workings of my shoulder plus overuse just before Thanksgiving caused tear-inducing pain. I think of myself as a pain wimp, but according to my doc the shoulder pain I’ve been living with on and off since February would have sent a lot of people over the edge long ago.

Maybe it’s my yoga practice. A couple of years ago I was in a workshop with Doug Swenson and he was answering a question from a participant. She said something like, “I can’t do it on that side, that’s my bad leg.” Doug, small, wiry and strong, shot back, “Then, that’s your teacher leg.”

Our aches and pains do teach us volumes, about what it is to be human and fragile and temporary. That they are object lessons in the making doesn’t make them easier to bear. The pain is one thing; the blues that go with them are quite another.

It’s been a year of aches and pains for me, most of them emotional or energetic. This current shoulder pain aside, my problems are first world problems. In the plus column, I am fed and clothed, I have a roof and a job (well, several), my children are happy, learning and thriving.

Still, pondering the year here at Overneath It All and thinking about writing a review post that might just sound a little like a holiday letter, I sat one recent morning and considered the highs and lows of the year. My word cloud of the 100 most-repeated words in my blog is revealing. I’ve written a lot about my children, about writing, about yoga. No surprise there. I’ve written, apparently, the word “like” many, many times, although I wonder about this because I’m not, like, you know, given to Valley-girl speak. That the word “writing” sits at the foot of it all, a solid foundation, makes my eyes grow wide and I smile. I’ve also written quite a bit about Menards, apparently, and my bank statements confirm I go there to spend money second only to Trader Joe’s on Tuesday mornings.

"Writing," my foundation and what I reach for. It, too, is overneath it all.

“Writing,” my foundation and what I reach for. It, too, is overneath it all.

I feel as though the cloud is incomplete. It doesn’t include the amazing friendships I’ve forged and deepened this year. It doesn’t make mention of a single martini, although I’ve enjoyed more than a few. It doesn’t update the ongoing stories blog posts have touched upon, nor does it project harbingers of what comes next. But it’s a picture of some of it, a snapshot, a place to begin.

At the end of December 2011, I wrote about my visualizations for 2012: This year I’ll be visualizing that published book, more yoga, more writing, happy, growing, engaged children, and yes, more martinis or cups of tea or delicious bites of chocolate, so long as there are friends to enjoy them with. I realized a part or all of these visualizations, although I’ve made less progress on my book than I’d like. And the “growing” part, if you read my last post about Thirteen you already know, has hit a bit of a roadblock. But excellent doctors are working on that. In April I wrote about wishes, specifically the wish for more time. In May I mentioned the garden, rich with sweet snap pea plants. That garden delivered many peas but little else as first weeds and then unbelievable heat took over this summer. I wrote more than once about my car—somehow it continues to chug forward and hold together in spite of itself (knock wood). I mentioned a list of things to do, written when I was five years younger than I am now. One of the undone items I took to heart this fall, and I’m 17 pounds lighter than I was when I wrote that entry. I wrote about the new kittens who are thriving and keep the house alive well past bedtime. For the full blue moon in August, I wrote a line that—and this was a first—a reader actually, kindly, quoted back to me: Breath by breath I rescue myself.

That’s some of what I’ve done this year. I’ve also cried, screamed to release pent-up frustrations while driving, downloaded an inordinate amount of emotional crap to friends who were kind enough to listen, and thumped my pillow more than a few times. I’ve dovetailed alternately between feeling like I was failing whatever test the Universe was hurling my way and feeling like I couldn’t get a break.

And then, the same week that Ten was on stage dancing the Nutcracker role she was destined for, the Party Girl wearing a green dress, I found myself with a sick child (Thirteen), a broken wing and jury duty.

But instead of making everything worse, somehow sitting in a room with a group of randomly selected strangers offered the onset of healing. Like a lingering body pain that teaches us to surrender, rest, and release superhuman expectations of ourselves, jury duty—where this time I did not serve—reminded me to let go, accept what is, and be a little more patient. My reward included completing my civic duty with little overall interruption to my parenting duties and clarity.

The metaphor isn’t hard. We shoulder the world, stand shoulder to shoulder with friends, cry on someone’s shoulder. Shoulder pain refers emotional stresses, burdens in our lives we somehow can’t address or resolve. My shoulder has hurt all through this year and its challenges. It got precipitously worse when I overused it physically, but that corresponded with a particularly heavy moment in my heart. It’s getting better, slowly, with physical care from my talented chiropractor. But I won’t pretend for a moment that it isn’t getting better because when I walked out of jury duty after the second day, I recognized the gift of space—I have space to move, space to manage my own schedule and thoughts, space to parent in, space in my heart, and progressively more space in my shoulder joint. My studio is a welcoming space where I love to work and people arrive every day to further their practice. My home is an evolving space that offers shelter and solace. My yoga creates interior space, my words connective space, my friendships loving space. And 2013? It’s the space of a whole new year, one where I shift beyond the need for rescue and into a larger frontier.

Happy Holidays and thank you for spending this year with Thirteen & Ten & poses & prose & me—I’m giving myself a mini-break from posting. See you around the new moon in January 2013. Much, much, much, much love, Rxo

Ten-thousand Things

What time is it?

The five—six if the rice maker is plugged in—clocks in my kitchen don’t agree. The one by which we leave for scheduled activities is two or three minutes faster than the others. Upstairs, I have three clocks in my room and bathroom. The one on the back of the toilet is a full twelve minutes faster than the one on the bathroom counter. That one is two or three minutes slower than the clock by my bed that I can’t really see from anywhere else in the room. I stopped wearing a watch years ago.

It’s no better at the studio where the credit card reader doesn’t agree with the weather clock or any of the three thermostats. There I start and end time by a Timex wristwatch that has never known a wrist, but is small enough to set alongside my yoga mat.

Soon, it’ll be time to fall back, and I will consult my cell phone to sync all of the clocks. For a few days there will only be one time zone. It’s never long before the ones in my bathroom slow down (counter) and speed up (toilet back), entirely on their own. It takes a fair amount of mental gymnastics to remember which one is how wrong.

When Thirteen was Four, he already had a well-developed sense of time. I was helping out one day, watching the class run around when his preschool teacher gave a five-minute warning on the playground. Four ran up, out of breath, to confirm, “Five minutes more?” Miss Heidi said, “Yes.” “Okay,” he called, tearing off to take a few more rounds of his circuit. She turned to me, “You know, five minutes means little to the rest of them. Your child actually knows.” I nodded, and neither of us was surprised when he zoomed over to line up ahead of his teacher’s call. He remains on time or early for most events.

By contrast, Ten gets lost in time. Given twenty minutes to complete a task, she might get it done in half the time or she might get distracted by a book, a cat, or a doodle and not look up before thirty minutes have gone by. Perfectly capable of marching easily through her homework or other chores, she can drag her feet and take hours without gentle and, more times than I’m proud of, nagging reminders.

I’m in the middle—generally on time or finished with things that have deadlines, work, children’s activities, generally a little bit late for social engagements. So long as I know the clock in my car is two minutes fast, I am more or less punctual without (too much) rushing.

Recently I read an article about changing your relationship with time. The most compelling suggested was to work on arriving to everything ten minutes early. But on the off chance I get somewhere early, my first thought is not, “Ahh, I can relax for a few minutes.” Instead, I immediately wonder what I should do to fill whatever small window of idyll I have. I can even start to feel slightly panicked, for there is a never-ending list of things I know I need to do. If none of them is available to me, what can I do with those precious minutes? Surely I must not waste them doing nothing?

Look in any line of people and most of them will be head down, checking an electronic gadget. I’m not immune. A short wait at the coffee shop drive-up window? I’ll check my email or quick text a friend. Mom’s not yet free from the dentist’s chair? I can flip open my laptop and tend to some copyediting for one of my clients. Twenty-five minutes left in Thirteen’s TaeKwonDo class? Perfect. I’ve got an email message I have been wanting to write.

All of that feels productive. But what about the times when I press the key on my phone to check my mail and there’s nothing that needs attention there? What about incessant checking of Facebook? In so many instances it’s electronic noise and it serves to masquerade as focus so I don’t get overwhelmed.

I am prone to feeling overwhelmed—overwhelmed by all that needs to be done. The house, the yard, the studio, my desk, correspondence, finances, writing, childcare … my list, like everyone’s, goes on and on and on. When I’m in those crunch moments, those times when there isn’t much time, that’s where my mind begins to spiral, my energy getting spun out fast until everything seems impossible.

School started for Ten and Thirteen about two weeks ago. The morning feels like a shuttle run, their buses arriving a few minutes apart. On the walk back from the second bus, I never fail to notice my neighbors’ manicured lawns, the many new roofs, some just installed this summer, the clean windows and the driveways with no weeds growing up through the cracks. Then there’s my house—that list doesn’t begin to cover what it needs. I could start just by sweeping the spider webs away from the front door. But it’s not just the exterior; the interior needs paint and the floors need attention and the basement needs to be cleaned and the garage needs new shelves … and … and … and …

Thirteen & Ten waiting for their buses on the first day of school.

I stem the spiral with my current favorite fantasy—a crew of dancing workers clad in pristine white jumpsuit is flowing over lawn, house, garden and interior, rescuing me from all of the ten-thousand things. They’re singing a happy working song and smiling. In no time the house and garden are scrubbed, repaired, and gorgeous, and they whirl off, leaving quiet sparkle in their wake.

A girl can dream, but I do know that my life isn’t like a musical. What will happen is that one thing will get done at a time. Some days it might be something tiny, like changing a light bulb that’s burnt out in the basement. Still, each time I do get something done, whether it’s cleaning a screen or figuring out what to do with the tree that came down in a July storm, it’ll be right, maybe not easy but also not insurmountable. I’ll be able to focus, get it done, and move on. It’ll happen in divine right time.

It’s a life lesson I seem to have to keep learning: how to navigate through the ten-thousand, one-hundred thousand, one-million things that distract my attention to focus on the one, the moment I’m in. It’s all I can do. It’s all any of us can hope to do, breathe into the moment and trust that another one will follow this one. Breath by breath, I come to my own rescue.

Once in a blue moon—what could happen this week in the waning light of August’s second full moon. May it be something magical … Rxo

Wish List

Do you tell anyone what you’re wishing for?

When I was little, I had a white ceramic piggy bank. For a long time I was puzzled by the words emblazoned on the side: For My Convertible. Truth be told, I loved that piggy bank solely because it was encrusted with faux plastic jewels. Two tiny keys were glued atop the pig’s head. I never knew where the bank came from; the plug for the bottom was lost. I sealed it with tape and wadded up paper and occasionally deposited coins in the wide slot in the center of the pig’s back. Mostly, though, I tried to chip those jewels off, certain that they must be the items of value, not the coins within or the mysterious convertible I was saving for.

I did not know that a convertible was a car until long after the piggy bank was broken. And it was only when I started wishing for a convertible of my own that I finally understood what those tiny keys represented and what the slogan meant. Had the bank still existed then, I certainly would have deposited all of my loose change within.

Today I could have a tidy army of “for my … ” piggy banks lined up. My wish lists both at home and for the studio are remarkably long. It’s not that I’m seeking to acquire a lot of shiny toys—quite the contrary, I’m wishing for necessities like refinished wood floors and new carpets and a battery-powered lawn mower for home. For work a refrigerator and a filing cabinet would be able assistants in my daily responsibilities. These are just a few of the priorities.

Twelve, who will turn into Thirteen in just a few days, was Three when I was pregnant with his sister. At three he was fascinated by throwing pennies into fountains. Although most of my change went into a jar at home set aside for vacations, I would save a few pennies for him to toss with glee into the water, watching them swirl to the bottom. As the due date for his sister grew closer, he started to wish out loud when he tossed the coins in the water: “I wish my sister would come.”

My superstitious self wanted to warn him—don’t share your wish or it won’t come true. Wasn’t that what I had learned? After blowing out the candles on the cake or seeing the first star, didn’t you make your wish quietly to yourself and then smile with your secret, never breathing a word of it out loud? But he was three and what he was wishing for was going to happen, one way or another. And I found myself loving the freedom with which he tossed those coins and wished aloud.

Maybe there are different types of wishes, some of them secrets even perhaps from ourselves. Secret longings may best be whispered under the breath, but these are supernova wishes, the stuff of fantasies. What about the wishes that could come true? Rather than keep them quiet, is there truth to the theory that you need to put it out there in order to realize your hopes and dreams? Perhaps it isn’t be careful what you wish for, but take care with how you wish for something to come true.

Beyond a fridge, for the studio I’m wishing for a Roomba, maybe two. A luxury? I don’t know. I love the idea of tiny bots zooming around the yoga studio cleaning it when I’m not there. My daughter, Nine, loves Hex Bugs, those battery-powered toys that behave like bugs, turning and skittering away when they encounter a wall, getting locked together when they smack into one another. I think of the Roomba as being a similar critter, but one that would earn its keep by vacuuming up the lint and dust and real bug detritus that inevitably litter the studio floor.

It’s my responsibility to clean that floor and the rest of Radiant Om Yoga along with it. I tell myself it’ll take two hours midday Thursdays, but the truth is it’s more like three and a half hours and often I need to split the tasks out over several days. I have 2800 square feet to clean, high and low, and while none of it is strenuous or untenable, I can’t help but think there’re other things I could be doing instead.

Is it boring to wish for cleaning devices, working appliances and shiny floors? Like Almost-Thirteen, I wished hard for his and his sister’s arrivals. I wished, too, for a studio home of my own. These were big wishes, complicated by the requirements of real life and the hard work that goes into bringing a dream into being. They are, however, wishes that came true and I am grateful for them every single day.

It was easier, the year I turned 41, to buy my first convertible. It’s every bit as much fun as I hoped it would be, and since it’s my only car and it has a bad habit of needing expensive repairs, on my grand wish list is my next convertible. Although broken parts and dust bunnies can’t exactly be wished away, most of the items on my wish list revolve around organized clean spaces, with new or replaced parts so that home and work are more comfortable or more pleasant and less chaotic. So, yeah, I wish for a Roomba because it would hoover up the dust bunnies and save me a few steps. When things are neat and clean and organized, and better still when things become neat and clean and organized because there’s a system or the right tool in place for the job, life’s chaos backs off just a little bit. And when the chaos backs off, there’s room for my mind and my heart to roam. That is at the center of all of my wishes right now—making less chaos and more time.

Here’s a wish I’m not afraid to share: I wish for more time. What would I do with free time? Well, catch up on sleep, a little, read more, work on my writing, and enjoy time with friends and family, sure. But more than anything I like the idea of taking a walk or staring out of a window and figuring out what I may be yearning for—the next big, big, big wish, the next thing that’s going to take hard work and a little luck and clear vision—just what are those supernova wishes?

The new moon shines on April as our changeable spring continues. In honor of Earth Day,

The organized tools I use to keep Radiant Om Yoga, well, radiant.

I’m wondering why they don’t make a Roomba for lawns … hoping all of your wishes come true, xoR

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