every morning, after some milk and a fresh diaper, melby and i read two books.
though abundant, i quickly tired of those on our shelves, so we incorporated a weekly trip to the library into our routine. melby pops her beautiful, big ole head out of the front of the carrier, while i troll through the shelves of the children's section, haphazardly amassing a combination of books i've grown to love over the years and books i know nothing about. i kiss her head one million times and talk to her endlessly. there's nothing too organized or ritualistic about the experience except the simple fact that we do it.
yesterday morning, i chose two books we hadn't read yet from the stack. one was harold and the purple crayon, which i remember well. harold is a tiny person, creating his world exactly as he needs it, exactly as the need arises with a purple crayon. when he falls into an accidental ocean, he simply draws himself a boat and sails to land. nic was home, and he read it to us, delighted by the story's unfolding. next came journey. i recalled that it was a wordless book, but not much else. we looked through the first few pages, in which a young city girl with too busy parents is shown feeling kind of dejected and bored. she's languishing in her room, when she finds a red crayon on the floor. she draws a red door on her bedroom wall and then walks through it into an enchanted world.
i found it curious and special that i'd randomly chosen two books with very similar premises. melby found my reflections uninteresting.
that afternoon, i went to a goal setting workshop hosted by lululemon and this badass woman, named bree. my friend, karen, had told me about it ages ago, and nic sweetly arranged his schedule so i could attend. i thought it was from 3-5. the day before, i realized it was from 3-6. somehow that extra hour threw me for a loop. it didn't fit into the little space i'd carved out for myself, mentally.
that's too long to be away, i told myself. i don't even know what my goals are anyway, i said convincingly, trying to talk myself out of it. why was i going in the first place? it was silly and presumptuous. i don't have goals. i should be with my family.
but nic, my always champion, insisted i go. i didn't think i'd be one of those crazy helicopter moms, convinced i'm the only one, who can properly care for their child, but i definitely am. as it turns out, when it comes to being a mom, i am basically everything i said i'd never be. motherhood is certainly humbling.
i am a worrier. the world cannot go on without me. as nic says though, reassuringly, totally correct, i'm her dad. as in, i can take care of this, woman. so get the hell out.
i don't need to tell him how to give melby a bath. i don't need to tell him how or where she likes to eat. this is his house and this is his daughter and they are fine. i can let go.
so i went, but a little begrudgingly. it was pouring down rain; i had trouble finding the yoga studio where it was hosted, which meant i was only 5 minutes early instead of the 15 or more i insist upon; we took our shoes off for the event and my feet smelled like a wet basement. i just felt soggy and uncomfortable. i felt so heavy with my own brain and my feeling i should be at home. i felt immediately resistant to whatever was about to happen.
one of the first things we did was an exercise, where we listed three people we admired and the qualities they possessed that we found admirable. then we shared them with the person next to us. the woman to my right chose brene brown, the dalai lama, and some other incredible, powerful, renowned person, who now escapes me. she went first in our exchange, and even the difference between our choices made me feel small. on my page, i had three friends. i wanted to critique myself for it, for focusing so narrowly, but that's who i am. i thrive on intimacy and connection. i admire people i really know, people whose ins and outs i witness firsthand-- flaws and all, because i've personally felt the effects of those qualities.
my three people are very different people, but they all possessed one quality: resilience.
i wrote it three times, unintentionally.
i sat with that a little bit.
the next exercise was a guided visualization meditation. despite my involvement in so many things hippie, spiritual, and mindful, i cannot stand that kind of shit. all i do is second guess myself. when they say, picture a room. what color is it? all i can do is summon an endless series of colors and then question if i really see that or if i made it up with some ulterior motive to seem a certain way to myself. it is waaaaay too many layers of self-doubt and -criticism.
but i do what i assume a lot of people do in this scenario: close my eyes, conjure up as supremely peaceful a face as possible, and act like i know what the fuck is going on. we're visualizing. i'm so blissed out it's crazy. i definitely don't hate sitting here.
but then the woman says, picture a door.
and i see a door. i really do see a door. it is the red door, drawn on the wall of the little girl's bedroom.
because i don't typically spend a lot of time thinking about or noticing doors. but this morning i did. i noticed a very particular door.
and then she says, open that door and picture what's on the other side of it. and i picture the exact forest of magnificent trees, full of sparkling lights and lanterns, depicted in the book.
the critic in me assures myself that i am the least original person in the world. i am just mimicking something i recently saw. and yet, it's all i can see, so i roll with it. there is some further imagining of meeting our older, wiser self, and asking that self a question. i think about how the idea of resilience had emerged so concretely for me.
how can i be more resilient? i ask my older self, whom, despite all my declarations that i am crazy and lost and insecure and terrible, is actually none of those things. the older self i imagine is kind of quiet and soft. calm, maybe. or... settled. older self is settled. i am sure of it.
she doesn't tell me then. i mentally just keep wandering through the book. but i realize later, that that wandering itself was the answer.
how can i be more resilient?
harold told me. the little city girl told me.
draw a door.
when you are trapped or lost or stuck, just draw a door. and open it.
that is resilience. that is ease. that is moving through life instead of around it.
i think it sounds overly simplistic. my doubtful self says, what if i can't? what if i forget how? what if i don't have a crayon? why do you say this awful hippie crap to me when i am actually, really struggling?
you just do it.
i've been struggling to write lately, struggling to draw, struggling to honor any part of myself that's creative or interesting. i don't write, i tell myself, because i don't have time or energy. i don't draw, i tell myself, because i am out of the pens i like. silly things. lies. and yet, i decided it is what i want to do. i want to do it, because it makes me feel like me. it makes me feel unique and real and connected to other people. i decided i would do it, that i would make it my life. and, in part of that decision, i reached out to a lot of bloggers and authors i admire to say, how? they wrote back about how hard it was to make money writing.
that didn't not resonate with me at all. i need money, clearly, but i don't care about money. lack of money isn't what's creating a feeling of longing and loneliness in my life. it is distance from myself. it is wanting to do what i crave and be who i am. it's authenticity. i want that. and one lovely, very right, amazing person wrote back,
I think you've answered so many of your own questions in your email. You want to write, then do that. You want to become a writer? You already are. Write the things you want to read. And publish them online, on your own, or for whoever will have them. Just keep writing, even if it's not very good (or so you think).
Write what you love, what you believe in, and go from there. You already have all the tools.
and that resonated with me more than any other words about money or copywriting or freelancing or anything else. it summoned all the pema chödrön i've spent a million hours reading and all the brene brown i've nodded my head in agreement with. it said: it's already right there. you're already doing it. you already are.
all the striving and yearning and chasing and penance for all the terrible things i think i am-- those are nothing. they're not getting me anywhere.
i am there. i am where i want to be. i have what i need. if i need to move from the space i'm in, i just draw a door. i make it happen. i am here.
that is resilience. it is being capable. it is having everything i need, because i know i can create it myself.
i realized that if i want to write and draw, i just need to write and draw. if i want to connect, i just need to connect. if i want to feel important and valuable, i need to live like i am.
part of the workshop was making a list of the things we'd need to have and do to reach our goals. my goal was, as written: i will be a writer and illustrator.
it feels lofty to call myself that. it feels pretentious. but it is who i am and what i'm doing, so why not? one of my steps for execution is to change me "about me" page to state simply that. another, more concrete one, was to buy my le pens so i can stop my bullshit and draw. i said nothing about this to anyone.
sunday, nic and melby and i met some friends for brunch. we were a few minutes early so we wandered into carmichael's bookstore beforehand. i popped into the bathroom before we left, while nic held melby.
i met them at the door, ready to walk out. here, nic said, sliding two fresh le pens into my hand. he had bought them in the small moment i was gone.
i tucked them into my purse and felt a wave of gratitude.
i have everything i need. where it feels like something is missing, i can draw a door.