Eternity is in love with the productions of time. William Blake

Archive for September, 2009

25 Hours: Getting There? . . . Getting Here

When I began a draft for this post, I was writing about the physical journey of getting here (Portugal) and what that evoked in me emotionally.  Side-tracked by the miscarriage, the draft has sat and I’ve had time to think about ‘getting here’ in more expansive terms.  This rumination is underlined by what I’ve come to understand as an annual cycle of spiritual cleansing that happens for me in the fall.  It took me many years to recognize it, but sometime in my mid-twenties I realized that every year, come mid-Autumn, I found myself in the middle of some transformation.  Becoming conscious of the cycle has made the occurrence less of a crisis and more of an opportunity; I’ve come to trust the process, to turn my face as directly into what’s scaring me as possible, and to know that change will happen, life will settle and my heart and soul will be clearer on the other side.

So what is the center of it this year?  Only as I type these words does it become truly clear.  Changing my geographical location is manifesting itself as the perfect opportunity to examine, and flush out, long-standing habits that have long since stopped serving my alignment and happiness.  Perhaps the biggest habit is lack of structure/discipline.  Some part of me just resists and resists, as if structure inevitability means stasis, which it doesn’t.  What I know deeper, and am slowly taking steps to embody, is the knowledge that healthy structure is alive, and supports all the watery, non-linear parts of myself that seem to resist the structure.

For instance, I have an empathic personality, feeling a lot of the emotions of the people and place around me.  I have learned to distinguish what is mine and what is not much better than, say 7 years ago, but unless I have some active practice to flush my system of all that energy/information, I tend to feel gunked up, and sluggish.  Physical activity is the best way for me to achieve this, especially something like yoga.  Yoga is so simple, and yet so effective and far-reaching.  So why has it been so hard for me to make this a daily part of my life?  I don’t have the answer, but instead of searching for it, I have just started doing at least half an hour of an Ashtanga yoga video in the morning, these past three days.  I have often tried to think my way through things when thinking only goes so far, and yoga circumvents that dead-end process.  It’s both astonishing and ordinary.

Kale’a recently started school, and I’m noticing that her routine is helping me–it’s something I don’t have to make a decision about, but I do make decisions about how I structure my days around it, and that feels good.  Like a gift.  So we wake up in the morning, and we each take a quick shower to wake up (Bruno has already awoken early, and is doing his own yoga downstairs).  Admittedly, it is hard for me to be patient with Kale’a in the morning, because I crave quiet, and she is such a vivacious little talker.  But we’re working on it.  She has been helping to cook her scrambled eggs, and I sit and drink my lemon water with her as she eats.  Sometimes I eat a little bite then, sometimes not–today I had some bread, butter and cherry jam, to hold me over until after yoga.  This morning Bruno, Kale’a and I fed and watered the chickens together, then I took my turn for yoga.

Ashtanga yoga is challenging and intense, and it is a good practice to be where I am with it, learning the sequences, and allowing that I am nowhere near as flexible as the teacher.  And it is the practice is important–yesterday Bruno and I were discussing this.  Doing yoga daily is not to get more flexible–it is just to do the yoga now, because it brings me back in alignment.  Opening myself to communicating more clearly and vulnerably with Bruno is not to get back to some state, but to communicate now, because that is at the heart of our relathionship, this moment-to-moment sharing of life.  I find myself wanting to get somewhere with him, and then I am stepping back, shifting focus to getting nowhere and practicing this yoga of heart . . .

And in this yoga of heart, what do I return to in myself?  I turn to these words, words longing for expression, imperfect, messy, even disorganized, but alive, born on my breath and through my fingers.  Bruno and Kale’a leave for school, and I am learning to sit down, to let all else wait until I have poured forth some part of my soul.  I am learning to carve out what is already there, like Michelangelo revealing the form hidden in the particular stone.  No form placed on top, only revealing, allowing, flowing, being with.  Then the body calls, for lunch and nourishment, and there is simple cooking in the sunlit kitchen.  Today there will be tomato soup, a little bit of pork cooked with garlic, salt and pepper, bread delivered to the house last night (bread is delivered Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays!), maybe some fruit.  Somewhere in here I will load the laundry, and then later hang it in the sun.  There is lavender to prune back.  At 2:30 I will leave to pick up Kale’a, and as the weather is still beautiful, we will go to the beach.  Home from the beach I will rinse the bathing and wetsuits, hang them up, along with the towels, out to dry.  Bath for Kale’a, shower for myself.  Kissing my mother-in-law hello, helping with dinner or laying down to read for a bit.  Dinner together–Bruno brushes Kale’a’s teeth, and I sing her songs as she quietly–or, like last night–not so quietly wiggles herself to sleep.  These past nights I have been quite tired, and wanting to sleep early, but last night Bruno and I started reading out loud to each other again (The Lord of the Rings) and it is a sweet way to combine my desire for intimacy, and reading, and entertainment.

I don’t so much need an answer as to how I got here.  I think I have answered that question enough times to have uncovered the threads, follow them back, and then out again.  I see their colors in my hand, and I slowly reweave them into a simpler pattern, one that follows life as it is.   In cranio-sacral anatomy, we say that form follows function, so I endeavor to choose the forms that support the graceful expression of my soul in this world.

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Sintra

Sintra

Sweeter Things.

(small disclaimer:  I don’t know how to add the various accents to Portuguese words from this keyboard yet, so words should be spelled correctly except for that! Obrigada.)

It’s good to sit down and finally write about all the good things that are here.  I am reveling in the quiet of the countryside, and the huge garden that surrounds the house.  Much of the food that we eat is from the land, and Kale’a has become a fanatic about collecting eggs from the henhouse several times a day.  There are actually chickens, ducks and turkeys, and we also eat the animals (sorry all you veggies out there; at least they have a good life before):

Ovos

Os ovos

A casa das galinhas (hen house)

A casa das galinhas (hen house)

Os patos e as galinhas (ducks and chickens)

Os patos e as galinhas (ducks and chickens)

We have been harvesting various goods from the garden, and the other day it was beans, two kinds.  It was sweet to just sit in the warm sun, listen to music and shell the beans.

Kabuz, um dos caez, e Kale'a, nas feijaos (Kabuz, one of the dogs, and Kale'a, in the beans)

Kabuz, um dos caes, e Kale'a, nas feijaos (Kabuz, one of the dogs, and Kale'a, in the beans)

As feijoas (beans!)

As feijaos (beans!)

I find that it’s difficult to stay in a bad mood while working in the garden, and about a week and a half ago, when I was feeling somewhat hormonal and out of sorts, the grunt work of hauling pumpkins out of the garden set me right again.  It doesn’t hurt to be able to get a suntan in your bikini while you work, either!

as aboburas

as aboburas

There are two kinds of pumpkins here.  The ones shown above are for our consumption:  Teresa makes a yummy pumpkin soup, with cabbage or leeks in it.  She also made tasty pumpkins fritters a week ago, fried and dusted with sugar and cinnamon.  The other pumpkins, which are mottled white and green on the outside, are for the birds out back; I had fun smashing a few against the ground for them to eat the other day.

As aboboras para as galinhas, e os arvores das macas e dos figos (pumpkins for the chickens, and apple and fig trees

As aboboras para as galinhas, e os arvores das macas e dos figos (pumpkins for the chickens, and apple and fig trees

Probably the biggest crop that Teresa grows is potatoes.  Literally, there must be about a ton stored in the pantry and garage.  I don’t have a picture of them, but here is the part of the garden where they grow, along with the onions and garlic.  I also dug up the rest of the onions the other day, which was quite satisfying.  Did you know that onions have to dry out before you store them?

As batatas e as cebollas (potatoes and onions)

As batatas e as cebollas (potatoes and onions)

As cebollas

As cebollas

There are quite a few fruit trees here; the most prolific are the lemon and fig trees (green and black).  Kale’a and Teresa are quite crazy about the figs!

Os figos

Os figos

Os figos

Os figos

Here are a few other delights from the garden:

Os tomates

Os tomates

O alecrim (rosemary)

O alecrim (rosemary)

Os girasois (sunflowers)

Os girasois (sunflowers)

And while you can’t eat most of them, I believe flowers are like poems, a la William Carlos Williams:

It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die every day
for lack
of what is found
there

"Naked Ladies"  (anyone know what these are called in Portuguese?)

"Naked Ladies" (anyone know what these are called in Portuguese?)

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As rosas

As rosas

As rosas pequeninas

As rosas pequeninas

A rosa branca

A rosa branca

One more lovely naked lady . . .

One more lovely naked lady . . .

Today is the Autumnal Equinox; night and day dance in equal proportion to one another before we begin a greater descent toward the darkness of winter.  I have not felt a lot of equilibrium within myself these past weeks:  leaving California, getting to know Portugal, learning a new language, miscarrying the pregnancy, getting Kale’a into her new school.  But in the garden life it is clear that life is always as it should be.  I am blessed to enter it in the harvest, getting used to having my hands get dirty as I gather the fruits of labor and prepare everything for the winter rain.  This morning I did a little pruning, cutting back some of the enthusiastic lavender that graces the backyard.  It released fragrant oil into the air as I cut it back, neither willing nor unwilling to be cut.  I will gather some tonight in a bag and take it with me to an Equinox bonfire, and throw it on the flames, releasing the cleansing scent into the air.

Changing Course

I hardly imagined that my first post from Portugal would be about having a miscarriage.  I had even started a draft about the 17 hours of travel it took to get here,  but didn’t finish it before yesterday.  As I sit down and write this I am aware of the social taboos that exist about speaking about miscarriages.  I am amazed to recognize that those taboos have a certain shame attached to them, and I wonder is it because we somehow assume it is our fault?  Perhaps it is also linked to the lack of acceptance and open discussion about our bodies, especially our sexuality, in much of western culture.  However, I know that what happened was beyond my control, and that the only way we will come to love and accept our embodied selves is to speak without shame about our experiences.

* * *

Sunday late morning Bruno took me on a drive up into the serra, or hill, that defines Sintra.  It is a beautiful forest, dotted with castles, palaces, convents and big boulders.  We stopped several places to walk to see a particular view, and it felt so simple and happy to finally be exploring this place that is so a part of my husband.

After we arrived home and ate lunch, I noticed that my back and abdomen felt achy and tight, so I spent as much of the afternoon resting as I could.  Although in reality it felt like the onset of menstrual cramps, I told myself that I was probably just sore because I had done so little exercise over the past 2 months (due to 24/7 morning sickness) and so my muscles in that area, already changing so much from the hormone relaxin, were feeling the use.  In the back of my mind I knew it could be otherwise, but I decided to just stay calm and rest.

The dull ache continued through falling asleep, and sometime after midnight as I lay on my side curled up with Bruno, I felt a sudden gush between my legs, and for a minute I thought that I had involuntarily peed, and felt embarassed (strange what we will come up with to try to make sense of something–when have I just involuntarily peed in bed?).  I went to the bathroom to get a towel, and when I turned on the light I knew the truth–drops of blood on the floor drove all thoughts of incontinence out of my head.  I sat on the toilet and called for Bruno.

Unlike the miscarriage I had before Kale’a, which was some of the worst pain I have ever experienced, this felt mostly like very intense menstrual cramps.  I spent the night going back and forth between the bed and toilet.  Bruno was an angel, getting me anything I needed but most of all just being completely present with me.  Finally sometime around dawn things slowed down and I was able to sleep.

Earlier that weekend I remember thinking to myself,  hmmm, am I still pregnant?  At the time, I accounted the change in feeling to no longer being so wretchedly nauseous and sleep deprived, but once the bleeding began I knew I had been checking into something much deeper.  I had asked myself that question because I could no longer sense into the baby (or babies, as I had the strong feeling that I was pregnant with twins).  Other physical signs of pregnancy had also started slowly decreasing, but it was really this lack of sense of  baby that clued me in.

I come now to the time to write about how I feel.  There is a strange resonance with my previous miscarriage, a sadness, and a quiet, but there is also a peace.  I trust in the wisdom of my body, that this life was not meant to carry forth any longer than it did.  As contrast, I remember when I was 15 weeks pregnant with Kale’a; 15 weeks was when the first miscarriage happened.  Kale’a spirit was so present with me that I realized I would have been devastated had I miscarried then.  This marked difference validated for me the trust I had felt, and now continue to feel.

I look forward to being pregnant again, when the time feels right.  It was strange sitting in the waiting room at the maternity hospital in Lisbon where we went to see a doctor.  A good third of the people in the room were pregnant women in their second and third trimesters, juicy and round.  I didn’t feel depressed, it was more like a bit of envy, because I had so been looking forward to that after the difficulty of the first trimester.

And now I am a sailboat setting course to a new wind.  The air is gentle right now, and the boat moves slowly.  Yesterday, after the hospital, Bruno drove me around some of the most beautiful parts of Lisbon, and I relished the wind in my face and watching the new people and the stately architecture.  We drove home along the coast, watching the sun set, and  I felt no sense of right or wrong, good or evil, my body moving through itself like the earth goes round;  there is light and dark, and I am home.

“Although the wind

blows terribly,

the moonlight also leaks

between the roof planks

of this ruined house.”

Izumi Shikibu

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