11 December 2013


Della, somehow you are 3.
Magnificent, magical, astonishingly 3.
You have been a miracle since those two cells decided to join up and create a possibility, where, statistically, there was none.
You make me laugh every day. Drive me wild with my impatience and your own. Challenge me to be the best of myself, and to be compassionate when I am the worst of myself.
You are tender and fierce, and have taught me so much about my own tenderness and the surprising depth of my fierceness.

You are so smart
when you act like a 3 year old, it is shocking.
and I catch myself over and over and over again feeling shocked at things that are so completely typical of 3.

You are so eloquent, that I am lost when your fears or sadness cannot find words.
You are so kinetic, and want so badly to share every moment of your movement.
You love to dance and sing, and dance and dance and dance. You climb on daddy like he is a jungle gym. You love to be carried "like a baby", but at 50 lbs, I cannot carry you as easily as I once could.
You negotiate like a diplomat.
You state your needs like a pro when you know what they are.
You come apart when you are tired.
(so do I, so do I...)

You sing your own words so our lullabye now goes
Lullabye, go tonight
sleepy dreams to you
sleepy dreams
sleepy dreams
sleepy dreams come true

You are losing your baby-speak, so I find I am not wanting to correct the ones that are left-- vanilla is something else, like, vallina.  Banana just graduated from buyana. Granola is still something like grallona. Coloring or drawing is Drullering. You know coloring. you know drawing. but you also know you most often do both. hence drullering.
we could all do a little more of that.

You are starting to play a little more on your own, for moments at a time. But always want to engage us, and want us to be on your level. When you sit on the floor, you want us to sit on the floor too. When you dance, you want us to dance with you too. You are flooded with instantaneous sadness when we say no.
We say no.
There is sadness.
We are all learning how to surf this.
It is so not easy.

You are complex and beautiful. You are so smart and strong,
We may never wean, you exclaim that you LOVE NURSING, LOVE MY BOOBS (oy), and while we have cut way back, and want to cut back more, it is so not easy.
We may never potty train. An event at daycare with a scary toilet that caused pain once has set us back years it seems. you are too big for success on the small potty. You will NOT sit on the big potty even with a special small seat... oy, it is hard.  But we are working on it, by offering opportunities, quiet rewards, support.  You do not poop for days at a time, worried about the discomfort, so you hold it, and create discomfort that then causes more concern. So, Miralax. but that is not so easy or magical either. Except yesterday when I took it by accident thinking it was water.
That was easy. And magical. In a sarcastic pooptastic sort of way.
We may never sleep apart. You sleep crazy-- sitting up, talking, lying down in random directions. I have lots of retroactive wishes that were not possible at the time. Like, say, CRIB.  But there we are. Here we are.

You count to 20, know the alphabet, recognize all numbers and some letters. Are starting to see the connection between letters and words, words and reading... I can see the circuits starting to form.

Your language skills are insane, nuanced, complex, sophisticated.  So are your facial expressions, and your mannerisms. You get jokes-- and have cultivated a spooky fake laugh.
I love making you laugh more than almost anything, the real laugh, the one that causes dimples.

You love toast and peas and cucumbers. You love apples. You look at carrots with suspicion and have stopped eating sweet potatoes outright. I am not sure what you think they are, except, perhaps, carrots in disguise.  I wish you would eat food that I remember loving. But you are you.

you are you.

you are you.

Every day is a miracle with you.
I get lost, sometimes, in the logistics-- getting you dressed and out the door, getting you down the stairs and into the car, getting you to do anything that is not motivated by you or chocolate bits...
I get impatient and I am sorry. I do not like my own voice then, my own face, my own impatient body. I want to soften into the moments, since hardening does not create ease, or make things happen faster or more efficiently.

You are friends right now with Lucy, whom you idolize (since she is 4 and has princess dresses). Your best days are at her house.

I cannot imagine life without you except when I do, say, 20 minutes into a crying jag, when I feel  my edges fraying, and I remember that I always wanted to drive cross country alone.

But even a few hours apart when we would normally be together and I feel a pull like gravity, and feel so grateful to walk back in, and see you, hear you say Momma. You are now calling me MOM with a teenage lilt. And Mommy, sometimes. But I want you to call me Momma forever.

with my mom, sharing a scarf

3!!! just. like. that.

15 November 2013

fever week

A week of fever finally over, and Della is three, and we are surfacing, slowly, back into a semblance of normalcy.

Della's fever and cough meant nights were long and interrupted, and days were long and interrupted, and I was home too much, too long, too much time indoors.
Yesterday I had child care, and ran out for a morning of errands with a nearly giddy heart. Giddy that the fever was gone, and giddy that I was about to get out of the house.

Della is now 3, I owe you a 3 post and I will.
I wanted to just stop in and say hi, and say we are surfacing at last.

08 November 2013


today is my last day with a 2 year old.
how is that possible? truly... astonishing.

I was thinking back to before, as if it is a different lifetime. Standing at the fridge with the vials of liquid gold. Hoping for the best with each stinging injection, each stylized ritual.
There was a rhythm to it. The cycles, I mean.
And now, it is all downhill wild rush of in-the-moment-ness, yes with moments of foreshadowing and some of nostalgia.
Was she ever little? She is so big now.
Was I ever not this person? This one, this tired one with the biggest most filled and overflowing heart? This one, struggling and blessed, competent, incompetent, flailing, tender?
This one who is loving more and more and more and realizing, bone deep, that love has NOTHING to do with ease, and everything to do with mystery.

I hate when folks talk about marriage being work
and parenting being work
and work work work
hard hard hard
i thought, great, thanks for that. welcome! I wanted to hear, welcome to the best things ever!

and it is the best thing ever,
but to be honest, a lot of it is hard. hard hard. hard because there has never been a me doing this before, parenting this amazing child, learning these things in these moments.
i am humbled and awed and feel as if there is KNOWING that is just over there, that if I could just reach out and touch it, I could socket into a river of knowing, a river of ease, a river of being able to go with the flow of this without so much internal struggle and doubt.

it is the hardest most wonderful thing I have ever done, have ever had done to me, have ever taken part in doing.
there is no ease in this.
there are easy moments, moments that feel like silk, calm water under calm sky.

but most of this truly is a mad rush.
a mad rush flying by in a twirly skirt wearing wings
or flashing impatience
or laughing hard enough to reach the very core of the earth and the heavens above.
my earth is being rocked, people. In every moment.

I am learning by the moment, learning how to be(more) centered in the storm, how to create safety, when to walk away, how to get down on my knees, hold my arms out, and welcome a sad being close, when no magic can happen but everything is magical that is happening...
I am learning to hold on and let go of ideas of plans of expectations of self judgement...
I am learning and relearning and relearning.
I am in need of a well to recharge and want quite desperately to build a tiny reserve so my patience does not end like a cliff dive onto rocks bristled with barnacles.
it runs out. just. like. that. and I suddenly hate the way my voice sounds, my chest feels, my face feels, my eyes, my mouth, as if I have been hijacked.
I am learning to get up, or go inwards. I am trying to learn to shut my mouth. Breathe.

but the thing I am learning most is how rarely I give my full attention.
and this may be the saddest thing.
the phone, email, internet, connection with things *out there*, pull at me all the time. I don't want to miss out, and in so doing I am missing out
on this
this miraculous now.

so my intention truly is to spend more time present. even if it is in one minute increments.
the space of 10 breaths.
focus, singularly, as singularly as possible on this amazing person.

I know this is about me me me and you want to know about Della Della Della and that will come, I promise.

30 October 2013

Journeys: the day after

waking to a flat cloudy sky

the long dark morning of late fall, the slowest dawn

a stillness

it hits me that it was not a dream

my grandparents used to live on long island sound, on a bluff with a view out over the water. one cold winter, the sound froze.

and where there had been motion, there was suddenly a jarring stillness.

yesterday when I came home, alone, my eyes moved to all of his places-- seeking a glimpse

the kitchen under the highchair

the strange spot on the shoes by the door

the closet

the bed

the bathroom rug

the tub

all night my eyes kept vigil, seeking the tell tale slink or flicker of him.

"I see his tail" Della said once. And then said she was just pretending. But in that moment before she confessed, my heart leapt, as if.

as if.

today, I am busy and grateful for the busy. but my eyes seek the motion that has always been. the quiet company. My friend Lorraine reminds me that he is here differently now, and "here" has expanded into everywhere. But my eyes and heart ache for the familiar, the furry presence, the small reassuring movements of breath and tail and whisker.

28 October 2013

Journeys: Tenderness

Being with a being who is dying is profound.

I have dealt with life.

I have dealt, on some level, with the aftermath of death.

But I have never dealt with, been with, allowed myself to contemplate the process, the fact of dying.

I am tender in the tenderest ways. Teary and broken open. Wanting to not fuck this up, wait too long to intervene, not wanting to intervene if intervention is not necessary.

I want to honor this creature's innate wisdom and cathood.

I want to honor our relationship and the vast love I feel and have received.

I want to honor ALL of this, the being and now, the transition into whatever is next.

He feels more and more internal now, quiet and often sleeping. He has stopped eating. I have stopped forcing him to try. I feel he is spending more time on whatever is next, and less time here, on being here, staying here. But he is still here, still jumping up onto the bed, still drinking water, still looking at me in a way that shows he is still here with me in those moments.

I know everyone would make different choices, but I am trying to make the right ones here and now for this person (me) and this amazing creature (Finn), and navigating this feels like the most awesome space of not knowing, wishful thinking, and something like intermittent acceptance. This sucks. But this is what it is. In this moment, he is curled up, not too tightly-- I can see the fluff of his surprisingly white belly, and the stripes that curl down his sides that are the deepest black. I can see the white line down the bridge of his nose, his white whiskers, how his breath moves his sides so slightly I can barely see it.
He seems peaceful, in this moment. In this moment, I am not. I feel all tied up, knotted with grief, and so very unsettled since I am allowing myself to be present in a way I would not have expected.

I am astonished at the depth of what I feel, the complexity one moment, the simplicity the next. LOVE< I keep telling myself, move from there. Witness from there. Choose from there.

And sometimes it means running in circles wailing. And sometimes it means sitting and not poking him, but enjoying his quiet companionship, even just in this moment. Even if it is just for this moment.

23 October 2013


day 3 of our homeopathic hail mary for Finn and

we are holding even as far as I can see from out here.

I have journeyed to explore in there, and the innerspace is respectfully held off limits, and so I stay, out here, witnessing only what I can witness

which is stasis.

now that I type that, I realize that is not the case. There is moment by moment motion-- my waves of hopefulness and despair. He eats a bit and then does not eat again for hours. then eats again. he is moving morning and night but then, during the day, does his best impression of a sick cat who is very, very sick.

The new-to-me vet said that his numbers mean he should be much sicker.

Since he's not sicker, well.., maybe his numbers are not telling the whole story.

HEAR ME SELF: the measurables, the quantifiables, do not tell the whole story.

so, we are doing *something*-- homeopathy for nausea and organ support and detox and circulation. Kidney function supplement. Reiki.

I have turned into a frustrated pesterer. This reminds me of watching my daughter sleep as a baby, I would panic between breaths.

I have started to call Finn by my last cat's name, as he has aged 10 years in one month. Now he walks and moves and looks like Paco. He seems ancient.

But today, a purr (he is not a purring cat). A tiny vibration in there when I was scratching his neck.

And when he is up and about, I pick up him and put him by his bowl and put my hands on his sides with healing intention. And he eats.

And then, after 10 seconds or 100 he walks away.

And then, later, I do it again.

I am pestering,  yes. But not in every moment.

And in this moment, it feels like a temporary stay of execution of uncertain duration.

Hopefulness and despair. Bite by tiny bite.

18 October 2013

Losing Finn

I am losing Finn.

Advanced kidney failure, and rapid decline.

My heart is breaking, broken. He is only 7, barely mature for a cat... and I am stunned by this news, nearly breathless with it.  A day with a bite of food makes my hopes soar. And then, today, a quiet day, where he looks at his food then walks away, over and over and over. I can feel myself coming apart.

Grief, grief. Yeah. I get it. I will drown in you slowly and quickly and over and over and over.

But there are shifts this time. I am not doing the frantic avoidance dance. I am feeling horrid and allowing myself, at least sometimes, to fully be with my horrible sadness.

I also have a child, who declares, Finn, you are DYING, many times over and over in a way that is both funny and not funny at all, but reminds me that this time, I guess this time is about the anti-avoidance. It is about witnessing and being present and holding space and being compassionate as I flail about wanting to do anything possible to change what is.

Losing Finn. Unimaginable. My relationship with him opened my heart to risking true connection, true relationships. My choice to first seek him out at the shelter, and then bring him home as a companion... a companion who spent the first year torturing me with nights of fierce attacks on my feet and head, of knocking things off, of being almost entirely nocturnal and naughty.

My ordered life needed to be knocked about, broken open. I needed randomness, chaos, Finn. I needed this once enormous now skin and bones being.

And now, here I am, facing the loss of his amazing companionship. days maybe, or maybe weeks. It is just so raw.

07 October 2013

coming back home

It was so dark and foggy this morning, nearly monochromatic until 7 when the yellow of the leaves started to peek through. it is hard to imagine that vibrancy dulled in any way now that it is midday and bright with clouds flying by overhead south to north.
The long stillness felt like a held breath, and there is relief in the motion, of leaves falling, of clouds flying. And there is a relief too in the view opening up, the fog gone, a sense of distance renewed.

I traveled last week for business, and am just now getting my feet under me. I was only west-coast time lagged, but felt like I was on mars. Away away. Way away. Being away from Della felt horrid. Not just because we have not yet weaned (although that was its own kind of suckitude), but because I am used to being within a car drive, an arm's reach, an hour.

So I am back and reconnecting every which way. Catching up to language that shifted in my absence, making that absence feel more acute. Catching up to my own selves, also feeling a bit shifted in flight. So yes, back home.  Grateful. Steeped in tea and toast and wool socks.

22 September 2013

Journeys: buddha and ammo boxes

Driving up route 145 north out of colebrook, you'd pass Dostie's furniture on the right.  A long low building sided in vertical boards of a medium blue. Tune up shops, trailers and homes fall away quickly as the road heads uphill faster than you can downshift. 
The drive takes you up one of the most beautiful winding drives in New Hampshire, up and up and up. Up through Stewartstown to Clarksville toward Pittsburg.
For the past half hour, before I lost signal, I'd been listening to NPR, coming in tiny aggravating bits, a TED show on storytelling. I hear enough that affirms what I know, how stories inform us, connect us, express our humanness... and even though the sporadic signal is long since gone, an npr-ish narrator remains.
Driving up route 145 out of colebrook...
but it is me,
I am driving,
and I am driving to the cemetery.
This story was supposed to begin like this:
3 ammo boxes, a buddha and some bells.
An empty bag from Dunkin Donuts.
An empty car seat.
A baggie of stale cheerios.
A small painting of a winter sky.
A well-past prime brown eyed susan.
I am in good company I guess, confused company. Bit and pieces that express my life in this instant. This journey today has been a long one, and it has been a long one, and it will be a long one. I realized a while back that grief is a long term partner. It is patient enough to wait out any amount of denial and diversion. It comes up, coughs politely into its hand, just often enough to not forget. Occasionally it moves a doorway so you slam into a wall that was not there the day before, but that, these many years later, just happens sometimes.
I am here with two boxes of Jeff's things. Things I could not throw away but cannot keep. Things that were personal, intimate. Things that were his. I've added some symbolic things too, a fountain pen, an abacus, 3 fly fishing flies (a wooly bugger, blue winged olive and a royal wulff). I've added a knot of keys from an old truck. 3 stones. And a note I wrote with a very shaky hand the night before.
The things are in two ammo boxes, a momentary act of brilliance on my part, waterproof,  compact, and speaking directly to Jeff's love of old military equipment, and utilitarian design. He used to have one in his truck for change and the notebook where he fastidiously recorded every gallon of gas purchased, every oil change, every mile driven.
The third box came with my ebay purchase, and I will give it to Peter, the Sexton, whose history in the armed forces has just been revealed to me.
The buddha is in place of a marker I cannot afford.
And the bells, I am not sure what they are for. Movement maybe, movement. Change. 
And the flower, if all goes well, will come up again and again and again, spreading its pot bound roots deep into the nearly impenetrable soil that has been loosened, in this moment, by 2 and a half hours of Peter's patient digging.
Peter is a farmer and an angel. He has dug a million holes. Fence posts and grave markers. The hole where we stand is just one of those million, but the angel in him says that this is the only one that matters, the only one that matters this way, today.
We put the boxes in the bottom and slowly fill the hole with handfuls of soil and rocks while we fill the air with conversation that stretches nearly as far as the sky.
We talk of town politics and god and vietnam, of guns and hospitals, of his wife, and love, and hope.
We talk of things we agree on and things about which we disagree, but I can see how he sees it, if I were standing in his shoes.
He raises heritage chickens and I am raising a spirited child, and his kids are long grown.
We place the buddha and the plant. He places the carefully cut sod.  I arrange rocks to hold the bells which do not meet with my hopes for either clear ringing movement or of heavy-bottomed groundedness. Oh well. There are a million things, I know, that are better in theory than in practice.
And then, my nose fully burned, and my hair blown wild by a wind that has kept up with our conversation, we make our way back up the hill. He finds and hands me a turkey feather. We talk about skunks and the divots they've left everywhere in the grass.
With a hug, we part, and I walk to my car, stinking of the stale beer I spilled from a can I picked up as trash when I first arrived...my eyes seeking sign of cousins of the bees that flew in fast, as soon as my doors opened, and would not get out until ignored fully, with all the doors open, while I moved boxes and buddha and bells to the site.
It has been an hour and a half. And it has been much longer than that. And I am still 4 hours from home.
The light has changed, and now the hillsides show more glorious color-- the air has cleared maybe, and the wind is no longer tossing every leaf upside down.
145 is more beautiful north to south and I creep along, happy that no one is behind me, as I look out over acres of mountain sides, flush with fall color, and the black spears of some sort of evergreen.
I drive home through rain in franconia, hard enough to look like dark coming on.
The down and down and toward home.
Just as it is truly dark, I get out of the car to throw out my donut bag,  and my legs are wobbly from the journey.
It feels like so much longer than  a day.
I look up at the windows of our apartment, the twinkle lights strung perfectly imperfectly across the glass. It is like coming back from the moon, I imagine, welcoming and strange. And I am both lighter and heavier than I was when I left.

03 September 2013

Della at 2.75 going on 14

My wee teenager.
We are in the thick of it, rolling eyes, crossed arms, humphing. The impatience and impertinence.  
It would be more funny if I were less tired, more capable. Hey, I do realize this: this is about doing the best you can. Sometimes that is pretty good, sometimes it isn't, it's awkward and I spend my day uglyfaced, short tempered and unfun. But sometimes, sometimes it is pure magic.

She is immense, people, truly. Immensely herself. All of this will serve her well later in life.
She is immense, and she is encouraging me to become more than I ever imagined.

What an awkward gift that is.

No, I say, No. No a million ways, a million times.
I disappoint. I just do. It's built in. If you told me that I would do this, over and over, knowingly, I would have told you you were crazy, it is * SO UNKATE*.
But here I am.

And however unfun the moments, 
however awkward some of the gifts,
however tired my tired ass truly is (it is no longer dragging, dragging indicates motion, and motion indicates energy)
however much I fantasize about sleep or resilience or reserve or calmness in the face of it all
however much I fantasize about whatever it was I fantasized about when I still had braincells
this is so much MORE.

pure magic, with a side of snark.

14 August 2013

not at all our ordinary

Della is asleep.
not on me or next to me
or on anyone.
she's alone in the other room.
Granted, she is on my bed, the bed I will sleep in...
and worn out from a day of copious snot and some farm animals and a trip to target and a walk downtown

but we don't do this.
this is not at all our ordinary
it is the oddest thing ever to have her be asleep in there and have me awake in here

she fell asleep at 6 and will wake, starved and imperious, somewhere between now and 3am.

but here we are.
in separate rooms.

I've checked her a few times, she is now 90 degrees away from her starting position.
I'm going to go have some dinner.
maybe read a book?
I don't have the faintest idea what to do which is insane and just goes to show just how far down the rabbit hole I've fallen

10 August 2013

august anniversary

10 years ago and the memory is both sharp and muddled

I have a story my self tells myself. the moon was near full, but the day was rainy

and it was years before I was ok on sundays or mondays or on nights with a big moon. I could not even look at it.

today is saturday, and it is not rainy, and the moon is thin and waxing. my life’s a million leagues away from that life, but I am still the same kate. this is still the same heart.

I sometimes talk about my “past lives”, seasons from this lifetime that feel nearly separate, like chapters. But the truth is, this is my mosaic. This is my tangle. This is my weft and weave. There is no metaphor that captures the dimensions of this kind of human evolution, the one that is in each one of us, in heartbreak and success, in growing up and into and out of and beyond. There are things that keep us grounded, but there is the urge to keep seeking; the feelings of nesting and those of setting out. Achievement and beginners mind. All that we know informing us, humbling us, with all that we don’t yet know and all that is unknowable.

the thing about grief, for me, is that the loss is still a loss. It did not happen today. but today it is still lost. and there is all this space for whatiffing. all this space for the wild thicket of guilt and horror, of astonishment, of disbelief.

so yes, I mark this day with a heavy heart. no matter that my life is filled with wonderful things. no matter that my heart is filled with love. i hold both, the full and the empty.

there is an ancient japanese art of mending, Kintsugi, that believes that mending can be as beautiful (if not more so) than the original vessel.

today, i hold this image cupped in my hands.

broken, yes, but mended and mending with a thousand golden seams.

06 August 2013

what we want, what we are wanting

Hi Folks! I have a guest post up at Seek Your Course!
I'd love it if you'd pop over and check it out. It is an empowering meditation about wanting.
It is always a bit surreal to see my words packaged in such a polished fashion, but I also have to confess a bunch of sheepish pride.

05 August 2013

falling, saving myself, great fits and starts

once I wrote that flying is just falling and saving yourself over and over again, and I thought i was pretty clever but, of course, a bazillion other clever people have seen it the same way

so here I am
falling, saving myself, falling, saving myself.

I realized that I was stressing myself out, being crazy busy, working as hard as I could, putting in the biggest effort possible-- more hours of daycare meant more time to work, more hours of daycare meant I needed to work more time... and clients come and go, projects come and go... and
finally, after working like that-- there came a moment when I realized if I cut back on everything, that really, the only thing that would be different is my stress level.
Financially we'd be no better or worse off, but my days would get unwound from the crazy insanity of go go go go go go that I've been running, to something maybe more manageable.

Then, in the middle of that, there is summer, and Doug being away, and serial Della sickness and barfinesses thanks to daycare that kept me/us from being able to go and see him, and finally

Along with this, a new client who is a great fit.
And, my own heartwork, developing it fits and starts, culminating in a workshop I gave yesterday on everyday mindfulness that 11 brave and wonderful women attended... I was absolutely where I was supposed to be, doing what I was supposed to be doing.
Right fit.

So, I am in a rebuilding and regrouping phase. Daycare is not an option for summer, and I need to just know that and plan for it if Doug is away.
Working like a crazy insane person to pay for daycare to come out even or behind is actually crazy and insane of the option for working like a slightly less crazy and insane person leaves me in the same position.

Lesson learned.
For now.
Because right now I am in the saving myself part of the program.

28 July 2013

junior birdman

I am not sure where I left off, was it before the latest all night barf or after? Was it before I wanted to move or after? was it before I quit daycare? before I decided that work as it was was untenable?

up in the air junior birdman

more when I have two hands

how interesting it will be to see how things settle (once again proving that panic and opportunity are bedfellows)

15 July 2013


Della came up behind me last night as I was standing at the sink in the kitchen,
leaned forward, ever so sneakily,
bit me very hard, directly in the butt. the bite was so surprising and so hard I yelped out, and spun around. She cried, since she was just curious. And I did give her a tiny lecture, but I had scared her with my reaction enough I figured.  Man alive, I will have some bruise there.

In other news, our apartment building has fleas. None in here yet. But many, many, many out there. I am feeling like a house bound crazy person. I cannot get to the car, or the laundry or the garbage without removing many many many from my legs. I have tried spraying myself with cedar (a repellent) and I still run out of fingers.

I am looking for alternatives (aka cannot imagine moving but cannot imagine staying), so any locals who know of an apartment or small house to rent? I am all ears.

(the landlord met with me and an exterminator, and they really are trying, but they are not winning (nor are they as irritated as I am since apparently I am irresistible flea-nip) and I am done.

In other news, the summer is being its own insane self, complete with layers of complexity that we did not choose, and others that I have created from not wanting to make too many changes (ha) or saying no to any potential incoming work. Compressed schedule plus daycare in flux and now farther away and a real desire to focus on my own work, and, yes. Each day, no matter how productive, always has a list longer at the end than at the beginning.  Too much to chew, to stay on theme.

So. yes.
and bitten
and too much to chew.
that's my story.

09 July 2013

Losing Papa

Doug's grandpa died early this morning.
He was grandpa and father and friend. He was bedrock. It is hard knowing that this loss brings every other kind of shift away from all that could be counted on, a house that was home will be gone most likely, and all the history that it contains.
But memories, those will last if we're lucky.
The smell of caramel cake, and a deep throated laugh, the world's most horrendous teeth...
I will always remember our visit in March, he met our amazing Della, and I rubbed lotion into his hands. And I confess, I took longer than I needed to, imagining all those hands had touched.

02 July 2013

23 June 2013

non weaning, yes, another update

after that shitstorm of emotion, that instantaneous shift that I was clearly not ready for...

she's nursing again.

what does it mean? it means I got a front-row preview of my actual process, and while it does suck, I will live.
tears don't kill us, thank god/goddess/all-that-is
but oh! there is grief
and gosh darn, how much I don't want to slog through that.... but I will, and I will live, even if it is astonishing in its complexity

but since i am in the habit of looking for hidden gifts, it also means I got a glimpse into what it might be like to sleep without the weight of my not-so-little-one slung across me, and, well, in some ways that will be nice. hello deep breath, I remember you.

it also means that I am aware of the fact of my own complexity, and at least I can practice (and practice and practice) self compassion...

thank you for your kind support while I struggle my way through this

22 June 2013

on not weaning, part... heck, I've lost count...


Yesterday Della woke to a stiff neck. As a reminder for those of you who might have missed some salient points, we co-sleep (a most excellent plan that helped us survive her infancy, and a most shitty plan when it comes to making or even envisioning changes), and are still nursing especially at night since I am like an all-dessert exhausted buffet.

So, her stiff neck was horrid. A full hour of shocked horrified tears, full blown, so very sad and horrible to not be able to do anything to help (no! don't rub it. no! no warm compress...). She tried to nurse to soothe, and each time she tried, it hurt really badly and she cried harder (not good for either of us).

Her neck THANKFULLY improved as the day went on, but a midday attempt at nursing still hurt, so...

We tend to nurse to wind down before sleep, but last night.... no. She said she was done.

And then we went to bed, and for the first time ever, she fell asleep next to me and not on me, and I cried hard and lay awake for hours trying to come to grips with this sudden change.
I was not ready to have it break off like that, associated with pain, and Oh, it was bad for me.

Midnight, she turned and nursed one side.
3am she nursed the other.
(Engorgement pain is no joke, and I was surprised and grateful)

Then, this morning, we're up and going and I guess I won't know where we stand until tonight.
I do know this: change is part of every moment, and while some of this is about me holding on to things I will never do again, and a kind of closeness that is one I have never experienced, and a connection with her that I know will transform, but this I know... this transition is one of the most fraught with emotional complexity that I have ever dealt with philosophically or in real life.
This is really, really, really, really hard.

16 June 2013

good intentions and the unintended consequences of Yes

So, I had good intentions.
Before Della was born, before I knew who she was, I imagined creating a world for this new being that was full of yeses.
I imagined making the kind of space that would allow for free ranging (with supervision of course) but without the million navigational "nos" that I had seen others use.

Yes, a fantasy, a FANTASY created by me, kate, with no prior experience with kids.

So, I tried yeses.
As many yeses as I could.
I yessed whenever possible, and sometimes spend energy making a no situation into a yes situation just so I could stick to my oh-so-innocently-conceived party line.

Then, inevitably, the Nos came.
They had to, right?
and they were met with shock.
And defiance.
Really? No? What does that even mean? (I could hear her infant brain asking with stunned surprise).

I had one of these too during my teenage years. A clear memory of a No that came out of left field, the shock that came with it, and the hurt that felt as if I was not trusted.

(I know so much more now, I know that was not the case, sometimes limits are protective in other ways).

So here we are, navigating a sea of Nos that corresponds to 2 and a half, an unbelievably willful child with a clear vision of what she wants.

And I confess this:
I have, in the past 3 days, begun to use 5 chocolate bits as a once-a-day outright bribe. Nothing awful-- I say-- standing at the top of yet another well-intentioned slippery slope. Nothing bad--I say-- since I am just trying to get out for a walk, or wait a few hours before nursing (another post for another day on not weaning)...

And I am aware as I am doing this that the solution that feels the most harmonious right now, may simply screw me in the near future.

I did not realize how much of parenting is survival in the now, and regret in the soon.

13 June 2013

where I've been

I know I have been somewhat absent here comparatively speaking-- I've been "on assignment", posting daily over at heartwork. I've spilled a lot of content over there, things i would have said here about my grief stuff. I am consolidating, sort of, as I think the grief work I am doing is somehow tied in with the Workwork I am supposed to be doing.

These past few weeks have been chock filled with stressors-- I have been sick for several weeks, first with a nasty cold, then with a sinus infection that laid me out. Just finished the hallucinatory antibiotics last night and hope I am done. It was about 3 or 4 weeks start to finish.

I've also been working very hard at moving my own personal grief work forward, and well, I over did it.  Too many long trips in real time/space, too many long trips in memory space, and too many complications because of financial and emotional needs and those various conflicts, and well, shit.
Breaking point.

Two nights ago I had a panic attack, my first ever. And let me say this to all of you who have had them:
DAMN. I have never experienced anything like it, where I felt so hijacked for so long, so powerless, and so horrid.

Doug is now up in Maine for the summer, and we were to visit today. But daycare has a new barfing flu thingy going around, so I am staying home since I do not want to get sick there, on the way there, or on the way back or bring it to a summer camp (Opening day bonus gift!!! sick staff!, um, no).

So last night I slept some with the help of Rescue Remedy and a lot of safety nets in place.
I am totally exhausted, insanely so.
Will be home today with Della, praying that the barf gods pass us by.

Once safely on the other side of the barf zone, having flown over or slogged through, I think this will be a time of reconsidering- I cannot continue to ignore my stress signals, clearly, but am not sure how to give myself permission for better self care. I am a world-class-should-er and it is really hard to decide not to use such a well honed skill.

Just wanted to let you know where I've been.

08 June 2013

two and a half and so much more

Sweetest Della,

you are so much more than two and a half.

you are fairy wings and chocolate popsicles
you are fierce and tender
you are talkative and quiet
you are independent and tucked in close
you are so incredibly smart
and so incredibly stubborn
you are mercurial and delightful and silly and embody fury and frustration
you laugh hard, and cry hard
you hold my face when I push my lip out
you ask me to tickle you
say stop stop stop stop stop
and say

your sweetness and beauty are breathtaking
your stubborn ability to ignore me and not do anything I am asking is maddening

I am learning about my own strengths and weaknesses
how much I love to snuggle
how much I hate to raise my voice
how much I want cooperation and peace
how much I do not ever want you to be hurt

I am learning that anger does not sit well on my face or in my belly
and that you are smarter than anyone I know
can play out a story all day long
are sly and cunning
and truly the light of my life.

after a full day refusing 100 offers (each time with great drama) to let me remove an ouchie "boo boo bandaid", you took it off in one quick pull when I offered a mini cupcake for the privilege.

well played, my little one.
well played.

04 June 2013


Because there world is filled with so much hate, and it is so much what we hear every time we turn on the news....
this made me cry in a very very happy way.

kindness is *so simple*--

02 June 2013

have you ever....

My friend Lorraine recorded this really fun song, and dedicated it to DELLA!
Love her bravery and love the lyrics.
Hope it sticks in your head (happily) like it does in mine.

Please share freely.
We could all use a little more whimsy.

01 June 2013


anonymous shared a great comment on my infermentality post, about her feeling of otherness as she knows her family building days are coming to an end... and it really supported a feeling I've been having, an ongoing revelation maybe, that most of us, at the core, feel "other".

We may not feel it all the time, or every day, but there are always times when we feel like we are outsiders from an individual or group that we feel *should* be familiar somehow.

I know I have always felt this way with women. like there was a handbook that I did not get, and finally, so much time had passed, it was embarrassing to ask for one so I didn't. I've felt other in the arty school, other in the techie school, other in friendships sometimes when I felt less evolved, or just so different.

I think that is why community matters so much, and our support groups however virtual or distributed.
No one community, just like no one individual, can sustain all of our needs. We are complex creatures, and the person I talk tech to may not be the person I talk with about shamanic journeying, or reiki. The group that sings is not the same as the group that writes.

I realize, getting older, there are infinite layers of otherness just waiting to be explored. I am no longer the target market for anything except estrogen replacement therapies, rosacea cream, and antidepressants. Oh, and chocolate and face creams. So yeah, I take that back. I am a very targeted target market, because I have moved into a niche from the mainstream.

Which brings me, briefly to the idea of a normal curve, the idea of an average anything.

I recently came to a magical revelation that I want to share that I think has broad ramifications in the radical self acceptance movement:

no one has ever been you, living your life, making your choices, having your experiences.
you are the only expert on what it means to be you.

I know we all know this, but isn't it sort of awesome?

As a parent, I felt sort of freed up when I realized that no one has ever been me, parenting my child, with my partner in the context of my life, my work.... so to not find me reflected in a  book or expert is actually more expected in this framework than surprising.

but when I look more deeply, not at just the role of parent, but at the whole of kateness.... well,
I am rocking the kateness like no one else can, because no one else is me.
of course, somedays rocking it is quite literal in the rock and hum sort of way.
rock and hum and eat chocolate and pray for bedtime.

So, thank you anonymous! I so appreciate the comment and also appreciate the nudge to really expand my conversation about otherness.  there is a pantload of suckitude in feeling other, but then there is this little bit of magic that I hope to cultivate.  Gives envy a harder job.

17 May 2013

Journeys: the way this has gone

Driving up north on Route 3 is a slow rewind through spring.
Back to buds and near bare branches
back to just the gentlest haze of color on the hillsides
snow in the shadows

last week I drove up, 4 hours each way through fog that broke open into ragged-bottomed clouds, the bluest sky, then the hardest rain.
I was looking for a cemetery that I did not find.
Instead I found myself pulling off the road without choosing to, into a gravel parking lot, taking a right turn at the bottom down a dirt road.  Into a smaller space, where my fingers turned the key, opened the door and then I was walking thorugh the woods on a path from my memory
through it, I guess
drawn by it
to turn down a path obscured by a fallen log
through the scent of lemony evergreens (hemlock?) 
the first time I ever walked those paths without a fishing pole, without Jeff.

down to the river, down the bank,
hands into the cold water by the falls.
A large water bird flew down the river, fast and low. Black and white and silent.

The day pulled me apart in ways and places I did not expect, and had me laughing, and swearing, as I went down each of a hundred roads, over a bridge (YES), up a hill that turned just so and opened up (YES, said my body, HERE) only to find that no, it was not the right place. the lump in my throat gathering so much unexpressed and inexpressible
loss, and lostness

I drove and drove and drove. I drove for two and a half hours, down roads, up roads, across bridges.
Rain so hard I could barely see.
Rain so hard it turned the dirt roads to muddy slides
I felt my tires slip a million times and each time felt a very different depth of alone-- I was not anywhere that anyone would find me and my signal had been lost 2 hours south.

Then I simply ran out of time.
Drove home.
Could not have been more exhausted.

Yesterday, I drove up again. Armed, this time, with different information. My first trip triggered memories, memories of a specific stone, one that was insanely easy to search for on google.
I went with a map, with a plan.

Back through the craggy mountains at franconia notch
back by the old man in the mountain, who fell the year Jeff died.
back up and through and beyond into the strange wide open that is the great northern woods.

I drove to the cemetery on the map. 
Found the stone of memory.
Left the twig of hemlock taken from the fishing spot. Left the pinecone. The stone is of Mettalak, the last of a tribe.
But it was not the cemetery. It is not the one, all those many winters ago, where I stood by the side of the road and threw snowballs laced with ashes over a snowbank too high to climb.
It wasn't. 
So said my body that felt no sign of him, did not feel him in the way the road had been worn down below the grade of the stones. 
So said the sign that noted the road is closed December-May 10th. 
I could not have driven that road.
It was february and the road would have been impassable.

There has been no simplicity in this journey. And that moment, there was an opening back into curiosity.
The wind was howling and the amazingly bright clouds were moving so fast their shadows felt almost tangible.

I got back in my car, and decided to drive back in a different direction, taking different roads, wondering if I would trigger more body memories that could help me navigate. 
Eventually I turned back onto pavement, and I immediately realized I'd turned the wrong way, and I heard, no it isn't. So I drove a mile at most, back to a cemetery I had found last week. One that said yes in every way except the lack of the stone that I had remembered.
But this time, I knew it was the right one. 

I got out and walked.

I looked on the ground, for what, fragments of bone? my wedding ring? I put a stone in my pocket.

I got back in my car, and turned toward home. 
It is high there, and the mountains fall away in all directions, and the light and shadows were moving so quickly with that wild wind, there was more than I could see.
Dark pines are nearly black against the spring green of new buds,
and the hillsides, that amount of open, 

I pulled off to let a truck pass, and to my complete surprise, cried a different way than I usually do about this. It was about the beauty, I guess, and my luck at the gift of just being able to witness.
Witnessing the shadows moving so fast, the light, on that hillside, that one. The one with the bright spring buds, the ones with the dark pines.

14 May 2013

thanks dooce. I needed that.

Ok. besides being behind in my own writing...  I am more than a bit behind satisfying my online addictions of reading about other people's lives.
And when I do get online in stolen moments and I've sent comments that mysteriously disappear or send mid sentence, keep tabs open indefinitely waiting and wanting to comment and just never actually doing it, then the system crashes, and so does my mind, and there we are.

But yesterday, a momentary foray in the world of dooce, brought me to the singularly most hysterical quote about parenting I have ever read.
Resonating, no doubt, with this mother of a 2 and a half year old wildly spirited multi personality-ed spit fire of a holy moly how can That big a Soul fit in that body???

And today, laughing again just thinking about it (the quote), I spent 10 minutes finding it again to share with you.

Without further ado I give you:

Whoever invented parenting is the same type of fucker who would hand you a whisk and a stapler and demand, “Make fire.”
Excerpted with gratitude from http://dooce.com/2013/01/22/her-name/


08 May 2013


in this moment, our first, real hard spring rain is falling...
coming down as if it's been thrown.
suddenly the air smells *so clean*
and every tiny new green thing is instantly impossibly greener.

I can almost hear the grass growing.
(I imagine it sounds like a subterranean version of sneakers on a basketball court)

07 May 2013


yesterday, apparently, was pregnant lady day at the GYN

I was the only non-spouse or parent there without a burgeoning belly
a non stress test was sending the whoosh whoosh whoosh whoosh of a tiny determined heartbeat into the hallway
nurses were happily announcing, Another labor check! while handing off manilla folders bedecked with hot pink post-it notes

If I had been someone else
If I had been my earlier self
it would have been sheer unadulterated hell.

As it was, I felt like an imposter. I felt other. I felt--- I felt my infertility acutely... and felt, something like shame?

As I have said a bazillion times, I am holding the brass ring.
I know it, and revel in it, even in the midst of 2 and a half year old 2 and a half year olding....
And yet, even with the ring,
even with the best thing ever
I fear there will always be this otherness, this shame, this tentative outsiderness, this longing, this whatever-it-is. This infermentality.

29 April 2013

remembering how to walk.

Each season, my eyes learn something new. This spring, I learned that the papery leaves on the beech trees that last, miraculously, all winter-- get pushed off by these long spiny spiraled furls of new leaves. The old leaves are parchment. The new ones begin as dark red tips on gray brown twigs.

I walked. I walked in the woods.

In the old days, this would have been nothing to remark on. The walking I mean. The beech leaves would have been worth remarking any day.
But the walking. Remember how i used to walk? I hiked every day, or most days. I spent time outdoors every day. Sometimes in the garden. Sometimes in the hammock. But outside. looking long and far (sky and stars) or close at flowers and roots and dirt.
I walked and breathed fresh air and felt my muscles push me uphill, and slow me down on the descents.  I walked and walked and walked.
I walked.

I have missed it. OH how I have missed it.
Della and I climbed into the thicket beside the big overgrown apple tree, up behind the garage thingy that holds the tools for maintenance here at our apartment building. We made a hole through the branches of the tree, the branches of the bushes next to it, and suddenly were under the tree, a mystical umbrella of branches and sky. Oh loveliness.
Then up behind the tree into the woods.  Woods with tiny tiny pinecones. Woods with fallen branches to step over. Woods with fallen leaves. Woods filled with deer poop.  Woods that smelled like woods and dirt and life.  Up the hill toward the clearning I could feel by the light.  And to the edge of the back side of the golf course! What a surprise that was. I did not know that is where this property ended.  The rustic local course that feels like it is far away. I realize now, the roads fold back, and the clearing makes sense now that I know it. But it felt like a surprise, like I was expecting sheep up there. Not greens.  
We turned back and came downhill again, back under the tree, through the branches, and back into the small slice of grass before the parking lot.  It was a small walk, but a very big walk. I spent so much time thinking about it. How the woods have been there much longer than I have lived here (of course), and of course I look at them and look at them and look at them.  But then, that day, something shifted. The light maybe. My perspective. The woods, I realized, could be hiked through.... it was like an epiphany. And it felt *possible* for the first time. A walk! Yes, with Della. Yes, holding hands and lifting over logs and under branches, and no don't pick that up it's poo. And yes....

And up there, a beech tree. Parchment leaves littering the ground underneath, with a few still on the branches...and new furled leaves waiting.

Totally gratuitous Della photo and me, smiling, and leaning wayyyyyy over to compensate for the DellaGrande.  From friday at my Mom's.

17 April 2013


photo by the amazingly lovely Susan Mullen (www.susanmullenphotography.com)
Today we are celebrating 3 years of wedded bliss
(Thank you, my love. I would do it all over again.)

This has been such a hard week.
It is so hard to hold on to what is good and right in the face of horror and tragedy.
It is do hard to remember LOVE when fear and sadness are so very present.
It is so hard to dig down deep and stay connected to the very best in ourselves and each other.
It is hard work.
But it is, perhaps, the most important work we do.

Many folks have been much more eloquent than I can imagine being.
But I do wish with all my heart: Peace, healing, resolution.

11 April 2013

100 breaths, micro meditation

Hello loves,
I recently posted this over at Heartwork, but realized we could ALL use a bit of relief, so I am cross posting it here.  I am using it every day. Sometimes only for a breath or two, but sometimes for longer, and it really does help.

There are downloadables at the bottom.

100 Breaths: Experience the power of micro-meditation

Meditation can seem mystifying and mystical…  The benefits unattainable or something that can only be attained after years of practice and patience and… well…real life (for many of us) does not include easy access to that sort of space and time.
In the same way as nearly almost any other thing worth doing (even loving and allowing ourselves to be loved), practice does indeed help. But here’s a secret: hardcore intense practice is not necessary for you to experience some very real benefits of meditation. You can do it right now. No kidding.
Ready? Don’t overthink this, just give it a go- no preparation is required.
Simply watch your next breath come in and release.
Don’t try to change your breath, or force it, or hold it, or prolong it or even examine it. Just witness it. One breath, in and out.
Try witnessing two breaths. Breathe in. Then Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Just witness, don’t change anything except your attention.

Things that help:  Closing my eyes often helps me focus, but I just as often practice this with my eyes wide open.
For some of you, it may help to listen or hear yourself count (“1”, “2”, or say “inhale, exhale”). For some of you it will help to watch each number float in during the inhale, and float away during the exhale. For some, feeling your way around a string of beads or knots will help.

Mind wandering? Getting lost? If you lose track, don’t panic. Just begin again at some number near where you think you left off to go wandering.
I find that I often exhale, yawn, or sigh around breath #9.
When I find my mind has wandered off (and it always does), I just bring it back to witnessing my breath, choose a number close to where I think I wandered off… and just simply come back to counting.
A gentle invitation: Today (right now?), start with one breath or two. See if you feel some unraveling, some release, or maybe a moment of unexpected quiet.
Next time, try witnessing ten breaths.
Each time you return to this practice, add a few more breaths—maybe 5 or 10… By the time you reach 100 breaths? Congratulations! You will be doing 10-15 minutes of mystification-free meditation.
Here's a link to a downloadable version of the piece.
And here is a link to an audio file.
copyright 2013, Kate Johnson

09 April 2013

near miss, hot damn

First, I'm fine.  I just wanted to put this out there for any of YOU who experience the same thing or anything even remotely similar. I want to offer some big squishy whole hearted compassion and a brand new sort of insight and awareness I did not have before.

Gosh darn.

"pea-sized mass, 9:00, left breast"

Ultrasounded, and got the all clear from the Radiologist on the spot, but it was 24 hours of a weird out of body terror, a terror-on-hold, a weird waiting.  The all clear was met by me getting totally choked up, and nearly losing it.
As if, I could not lose it before during the fear.
I wonder why we do that?
I wonder, but I think I also know-- there is a whole lot of DOING that has to happen, a process to follow, calls to make, appointments to show up for, cars driven, tests to undergo... and there is sort of this weird otherworldly thing that happens, a shock of sorts, that allows those pragmatic and logistical things to happen.
all clear means I can fall apart.
And think about the what ifs
and the scary family history I carry in my genes
and think about this time, how lucky I am, and this time, how smart I was to go get checked immediately and not wait to see what happens.
and how lucky I am that this time, the results were as awesome and perfect and wonderful as anyone could hope

"complex tissue" thank you very much.
I'll take complex tissue with no side of awfulness.

Again and again and again and again

07 April 2013

light, in three parts

Am sitting with sun coming in
tea warming me after an unexpectedly COLD shower (ug)
and just am trying to gather myself together.

I was going to be taking a goal oriented trip today, a solo trip. A long-ass drive trip. An all-day-in-the-car trip.  An at least one-part-shitty, one-part-maybe-healing kind of trip. But then I realized I was not ready, not really, and I am trying to be ok with that.  I try not to dwell here on shitty history, but sometimes it just is what I am dealing with. This year will be the 10 year anniversary of Jeff's death, and I realized, somewhat to my own surprise, that I was maybe ready to do some things I was not even able to think about a short while ago. One is to find a place to have a marker. A touchstone in the most literal sense. And this must be in the upper reaches of the state, in a place I know he loved. And I was going to go today to meet with a cemetery sexton to talk plot selection, etc. And it turns out, not surprisingly, that the place I picked from the map, upon further reflection, is not the right place. And yes, there is a right place. I have been there before, just long ago and far away. I will remember it when I see it. But I need to go, first. I need to go and look and feel my way toward the place I am remembering. And that will suck differently. Then I can talk plot and narrative arc and denouement. I was to leave well before dawn today to get there for a meeting time, then home again I hoped by dinner. Instead, I am here.


My beloveds are off eating pancakes, and I am needing to work since I can (I cannot when Della is here, our place is too small, and we are too interactive), and instead of diving into work I just played a bit with something I've been wanting to learn to do-- text along a curve

And I am stoked since it just simply worked.
Yes, I am an engineer by training, but I know no one more persistently thwarted by technology. So when I have success, it is like the biggest surprising YES ever, since my view of technology is that it should either be completely transparent (JUST WORK), or delight me. And this view persists, oh how it persists, in spite of my repeated experiences to the contrary.

So while I gather my expectations for the day while practicing more than a bit of self compassion, I wanted to write since I have been missing words here for a while. Sharing lovely images of Della is wonderful, (see below where Doug helps her look little for just a little longer), but words heal me differently and sometimes I forget that it is important not to hold it all back and down and hope it just magically resolves. There is healing when I let the light in.

another from easter