Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ordinary. Perfect. Holy. Still.

Many are the days, the hours, the moments that are perfectly. ordinary. wholly. holy. Those are the days, the hours, the moments when I feel and go deeper. still.

Here are a few such moments from my time in Spain.

Coffee and digestive cookies for breakfast.

A burger, fries, and lemon soda for lunch.

The view from a city bus I rode in Madrid.
On my way to a child's 3-year-old birthday party.

Bathtime for Alvaro.

In the car on the way back from the beach. Talking. Telling stories.

On a walk in Sevilla - just before dinner.

Eating dinner later that same night.

These are the days, the hours, the moments that make my life so outrageously, magnificently perfect, ordinary, holy, deeper, still.

Friday, September 25, 2009

In deep denial...

I have procrastinated and postponed and waited and held off. I don't want to face the facts, to tell the truth, to 'fess up. But here goes:

I'm home. Back from Spain. From yet another adventure across the sea.

(Let me take a moment here to suggest that I might very well have the best husband in the world. Well, he's certainly the best husband I have ever had. He is also the only husband I will ever have... but that's a story for a whole 'nother post. I have the only husband that I know of who that buys tickets for his wife to travel. Some of you may think it is because he wants me to go away, and perhaps you are right. But even if that is the case, not many husbands who claim to want to get rid of their wives actually buy the ticket! Anyway, back to my darling husband, Steve: he buys the airline ticket, plans activities for me to do overseas, and then also plans special activities for himself and the children here at home. Yes, he takes time off from work to hang out with the kids. Yes, he's a keeper. Definitely a keeper.)

I returned to Charlotte Douglas Airport late Monday night to the smiles and hugs of my hubby and children. Bright and early on Tuesday morning, still under the influence of Madrid's timezone, I got up and wandered around the house. I swept the kitchen floor. I cleaned a few toilets. I folded some laundry and put it away. I organized the homeschool table. I made myself a cup of coffee (with grounds I had brought back from Madrid) and sat down at the kitchen table to journal - in my travel journal.

This is a self-portrait: reading and journaling at a gem of a cafe in Madrid.

I did the same thing on Wednesday morning: up early, cup of Spanish coffee, journaling in the travel journal. On both days, I spent inordinate amounts of time calculating what I was doing a week or two ago at the same time. I read my journal entries for those days, trying to re-place myself in the scenarios I inhabited back then and over there.


These two photos are indicative of the way I carry myself in Spain. In public, when others look at me or take a photo of me, I am collected and calm and serene.

When I am by myself, I am laughing and smiling and trying to capture how great I feel in my reflection in the mirrors of closed shops.

Here is a question I often ask myself: What is it about Spain that causes me such joy, that heals me, that recenters me? After 23 years of visiting there (and nearly that many visits) I still do not have an articulate answer to that question.

Yesterday morning, it hit me. I was in denial. My body is here at home. But my soul hasn't caught up yet; I'm experiencing what Nikki Hardin, publisher of Skirt magazine, aptly named "soul lag."

flying home, starting over,
having soul lag, waiting for it
to catch up with my body, the
dislocation of being Here There
Somewhere Nowhere, of being
between heaven and earth, of
flying and landing and waiting
and taking off and going in
circles, when every new wait-
ing room is filled with middle
of the night regrets and yester-
day's news and strangers and
you're a stranger too, flying
so far you break the barrier of
your own fear, flying so high
no one can reach you, flying
home and learning to kiss the
ground I step on every day.

Last night, I decided it was time to put the travel journal up on the shelf and pull out the regular, every day, "this is my life" journal. No regrets. No deep sighs. No resentments. Resolve. Gratitude. Peace.

Here's how my typical re-placing myself fantasies go: This past Wednesday morning, I replayed last Wednesday morning's events in my mind as I sat at the breakfast table. For the next several Wednesday mornings, when I sit down to breakfast, I will replay that moment in my mind.

Last Wednesday morning, September 16th, I sat in a cafe in Valladolid, Spain, with one of my dearest friends in the world, and a song came on the radio that had as one of its most repeated phrases, "This is home." As I sat there, nursing that perfectly brewed cup of coffee (see photo above), eating a grilled croissant with apricot jam (why don't croissants get split and grilled face down here!!!???), tears sprang immediately to my eyes. It was true: "This is home."

At that moment, at that table, and again at this moment, at this table, I declare to myself: There is to be no more living in denial. I choose to live in truth. Here is one of the deepest truths of my life: this place, wherever I am sitting or standing, right here and right now, wherever I am, I can be at peace, trusting in the divine timing and providence of God.

Wherever these meandering feet and this wandering soul go,
right then and there, right here and now, this is home

PS. There's also the minor issue of having fallen in love again...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Confession Time...

I have taken up drinking.

Alone at a favorite watering hole, one I discovered originally in Rome back in 2001.

Alone at the kitchen table of the apartment where I am holed up.
(The title of the book is To Go on Pilgrimage: Outward and Inward.)

And because I have heard that it is not good to imbibe alone, I have gotten together twice with a niece who also likes to toss one back every once in a while.

I have met up with friends on occasion as well.
There is nothing quite like bellying up to the bar, ordering "the usual,"
and enjoying the fruit of the vine.

I can already tell that this is going to be a hard habit to break.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Where my soul roams free...

Words fail me.

No, wait. I feel a few coming to me now.

I am happy. At peace. At rest.
All is well. All is very well.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

One of those times...

Ever have one of those times when you wanted to escape, get away?
Ever have a time when the only line of lyrics that seems to be playing on your internal ipod is: "Leaving on a jet plane"???
When you spend hours trying to figure out a way and a time to "get away from it all."
To take a few deep breaths, to exhale, to laugh, to sleep late, to sit quietly and think, read, reflect, journal.
To take off for a while and not look back, not worry about the wake behind you.

Well, I'm having/in the midst of/deep breathing my way through one of those times.
See you on the other side...

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Dreaming a new dream...

My Mondo Beyondo dreams continue to flow:
Places to live.
The house I will occupy in the dreamy place.
Jobs and other opportunities to pursue.
New skills and hobbies.
People I want to meet.
Books to write.
Interviews to grant.
It's all quite dreamy and wondrous.

But what if there's a dream that I am overlooking? What if all my dreams and wishes are preventing me from living the dream that is already happening? The dream that my life already is?

After all, I get to stay at home with my children and homeschool them.
I get to travel alone and with family and friends.
I read and journal and talk to friends and family members.

I go to the supermarket and am able to freely choose from thousands of delicious items to nourish and delight my family.
Same thing at the mall. Or Good Will. I get to choose which place I go.
Tea or coffee in the morning.
Cell phone, laptop, closet full of clothes, dresser too.
Paint brushes, rubber stamps, glue sticks, paper.
Washing machine, dryer, dishwasher, television sets.

It sometimes seems so ordinary, boring even. Routine. Predictable.
With drawers and shelves and bags overflowing, I often want to go out and buy new stuff simply for the sake of having something new in my greedy paws.
I complain that I can't think of something new to make for dinner
or discover some new-fangled program to teach old truths with new pizazz.
Something in my life malfunctions and I launch into listless laments.

It is easy to say that my life is better and easier than most of the people on the planet. It is also true. After all, we have electricity, running water, two working vehicles, a brick house with a strong roof, a steady and abundant income (at least for now!), health care coverage - access to absolutely everything we need and more.

Some folks might say, "Well, that's obvious. Our lives are easy compared to a lot of people. But you should dream bigger than the ordinary and obvious stuff."

There is a part of me that agrees with that way of thinking. I can and should and will surely come up with a list of bigger and brighter and broader hopes and wishes for my life. I do want to live in Spain with my family for at least a year. I want to become fluent in Italian and live in Italy for a year. I want to learn to cook better and actually learn to like cooking. I want to have more opportunities to teach - and get paid for it. I want to write a book and have it widely read and be interviewed by Oprah. Absolutely.

But there is another part of me that acknowledges that this is it.
This life is the dream that I am meant to live out right now.
I am loved by many. I love many others.
I am well-fed and healthy.
I am more comfortable in my own skin these days than at any other time in my life.
I laugh. I listen. I ask questions. I answer questions.
I reach out to loved ones. I hold myself close.

I am dreaming a new dream.
And living it out on a daily basis.

PS. Additional evidence of the dream that is my life: all the photos shown in this blog post were taken in the company of dear friends who have welcomed me into their lives and their gorgeous homes. If all of this is a dream, please don't wake me up. Please!