Single mom. Superhero.

wendy quote meme

Buon Natale

This photo popped up on my Facebook page the other day. It’s from six years ago, during Angie’s and my first Christmas in our own apartment.
I wasn’t ready to look at it then, and I’m not sure I’m completely ready now, but after a few days of mulling it over, I can see the beautiful things in this photograph. The dignity of that gorgeous staircase. The hopefulness of ornamentation. The togetherness of two stockings instead of three. I sold my diamond ring that year to buy a tree and presents for my daughter, and it was the best damn thing I ever did. Well, one of the best things anyway. That Christmas morning was unforgettable. Angie, in her Hannah Montana pajamas, tearing at wrapping paper. And me, sipping coffee, exhausted but satisfied.
Not long after this picture was taken, I went to California for the first time ever. I saw blue sky and possibility and knew that Angie and I were bound for something else.
This weekend, we’re going to put up our tree and hang some stockings. Three now. Not two.


Pushcart nomination

This week brought news of a Pushcart Prize nomination, my first. The nomination is for a collage/lyrical essay titled “Sand Dollars,” which took about three years to write and appeared in Hippocampus Magazine in March 2015.
It’s always been a secret dream of mine to be nominated for a Pushcart. Winning doesn’t even matter really (though it would be nice).
Cross your fingers, friends!
But before you do, click here to read my essay.

Not a day goes by.

Seven years ago, I had a whole different life. I had a house and a family. I had a plan for the future. I had a sense of purpose and identity. And then one day, it was all gone. Gone. It happened so fast that I wondered how much of it had been mine to begin with.
After that, there was a whole lot of pain, a whole lot of questioning, and a whole lot of suffering and surrendering. But every second of sadness and despair I’ve ever been through, I would go through it all again to get here, to this place where I am now. I have all the things I had before, and then some. I have a beautiful child and a man who adores us. I have a new life, more purpose, and the deep understanding that I can endure anything. I don’t make plans anymore. I let life surprise me.
Not a single day goes by that I’m not grateful.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Letting Go

This morning’s yoga class was very challenging – the kind of class where you think, oh shit, this might have been a bad idea. This might have been too much.
In some of the more difficult poses, as my breath quickened and my mind raced to all the other things I could have been doing instead, a thought popped into my head.
Let it come. Let it go.
What was it? I suppose it was discomfort. It was resistance. It was feelings of inadequacy or regret. It was that voice that says, not today, Wendy. Not today.
Let that come in.
Let that go out.
I found myself staying in each pose a bit longer. I found myself not freaking out, not wondering whether the teacher would notice if I snuck out the back door.
I breathed a little slower. My shoulders softened. My heart opened. Those uneasy feelings still came, still burbled somewhere under my collarbone or in the back of my throat. But instead of dwelling in them, instead of attaching to them, I let them wash over me. I let them move through me as though I were made of water.
I think I’ll take that with me through the rest of the day, maybe even the rest of the week. When traffic sucks. When work isn’t going the way I’d like. When my daughter is being difficult. It may not make the challenges any easier, but it might help me get through them with a little less struggle, a little less anxiety. And isn’t that all that matters anyway?
Let it come.
Let it go.


Kicking Up

Lately, in my yoga practice, I’ve been working on handstand, which happens to be my second-least favorite asana (first is wheel). Handstand, or adho mukha vrksasana in sanskrit, is scary and requires lots of arm strength and abdominal control. You literally turn the world upside down. Whenever the teacher makes us do it, I grumble a little and think of excuses to get out of doing it.
Today, as I was at the wall, kicking into my handstand, I almost made it up. My feet nearly grazed the wall. And it scared the heck out of me, how close I came to landing the pose. After that, I couldn’t kick up at all. My feet barely left the ground.
How often does that happen, that we dream and work toward something, and when it is finally about to come true, we suddenly back off, thinking maybe we didn’t want it that much in the first place?
I don’t just do this in yoga. I do it with my writing, with teaching, with trips and new projects. Any time the thing I’ve been dreaming about looks as though it’s about to become real, I’m suddenly frightened away, talking myself out of wanting it.
What scares me about kicking up into headstand is that I might fall. My arms might collapse. I may not be strong enough. I could hurt myself. The world looks different and strange when you’re upside down. But today, when I almost made it into the pose, what scared me most is that I may be stronger than I realized. I maybe have more control and more courage than I knew. If I can do this, what else might I be capable of? Sometimes it is our potential to do great things is most terrifying.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?”
~Marianne Williamson

Filthy Mama

Last year, we went to Hawaii. We chose the Big Island because we wanted to see everything – the beaches, the volcanoes, the touristy spots and the quieter areas where tourists don’t usually go. It was the most beautiful, magical, relaxing vacation I’ve ever had, and I can’t wait to go back.
My favorite part? Pahoa, where an erupting volcano and its lava flow were encroaching on the town. I loved standing at the top of Kilauea with my daughter and about five hundred other people, watching the orange-red glow of the center of the volcano. Breathtaking.
The best thing I brought home was a bar of soap from the Maku’u Farmers Market, and after I got home and settled back in to life on the mainland, I went online and ordered more. All my mom friends got a bar of this, Filthy Mama, a mix of lavender flowers, oats, coconut oil and a bunch of other natural stuff. At first, it was the name that grabbed me, and the sassy illustration on the packaging. But the products smell divine and they make my skin softer.
Another good one to try: strawberry sweetheart smoochie lip balm. Good for kids (like mine) who don’t like the minty, stinky lip balms.

Draw Without An Eraser

Sometimes I stop to think about it, and I’m not sure how it happened, how this life became mine. I suppose it was the result of some hard work, some choices (and some mistakes) that were made, and a series of unfortunate events that, after the dust settled, gave way to opportunity.
Whichever of those steps or missteps brought me here, thank you, thank you, thank you. Through all the shit and struggle, I am so happy to be this child’s mother, to write these stories, to be married to this man, to live in this beautiful place. And I don’t think I could lay claim to any of it if even a single moment had played out differently.

Dear Wendy,
I’m going to tell you the one thing you can’t seem to tell yourself.
For months now, you’ve been wondering what to do. Your mind changes daily, even hourly. You go to bed with your mind made up, only to wake up again confused. It’s not an easy decision, is it? One minute, you’re holding tight to this tiny life you’ve managed to carve out. You’ve got your part-time jobs and your rental apartment, your rusty Mazda and that teetering checking account. You’ve got your daughter, who is growing up so fast it almost gives you whiplash. The next minute, you wonder what’s on the other side of all this. What would it be like to start over, in a new place, maybe far away, on your own terms, without that shadow of betrayal following you everywhere you go?
It would be so easy to just stay put, to duck and cover, here where it’s safe and familiar, where nothing and no one can hurt you. You can live quietly and simply, just you and your child, under the radar of disappointment and rejection that has become too frequent. You know what you want to do, but you wonder if you deserve it. You wonder if you’re brave enough to say yes. You wonder if your parents will ever forgive you for leaving, and whether you might, one day, end up right back here, right back where you started.
Here’s what you need to know, what you, on some level, already know.
Everything you’ve ever wanted is over there, on the other side. There’s independence. Acceptance. There’s graduate school, a scholarship and a new career – one with dignity and a livable wage. There are friends, some of the best you’ll ever have. There’s a school for your daughter, where she’ll discover her greatest joys: art, music and swimming. There’s also a man who will love you and your child. He will love you in that quiet way, not with fancy jewelry and red roses by the dozen, but with gentle kisses on the back of the neck and love notes scrawled on the bathroom mirror. You will see it in the way he looks at you, the way he watches you when he thinks you aren’t paying attention. You will wonder how you ever managed without that kind of love.
What if I told you that, in two years’ time, you would graduate with a master’s degree, something you’ve wanted for nearly fifteen years? Or that, in three years’ time, you’d be standing at the front of a classroom at a prestigious university, talking about good writing and the power of literature? What if I showed you a picture of your girl, sitting in an art studio surrounded by new friends, drawing pictures of golden flower petals like Georgia O’Keeffe’s?
Here’s the thing, Wendy. If you stay there, you will spend the rest of your life wondering what you missed. You’ll carry the pain of divorce in your heart forever, like a disease. You will muddle along, yes, with your barely-enough paychecks and your food stamps, your lonely evenings and your quiet weekends. You’ll be fine, sure, moving through one season into another, through fallen leaves and then snow, every day the same as the one that came before it.
But you will suffer, and your daughter will watch you suffer. She will grow up thinking that we don’t deserve to follow our dreams, that we don’t deserve anything more than what life hands us. If you go, though, she will see courage and strength. She will understand that life is not what happens to you but what you do with what happens to you. She will know that you took broken glass and made a chandelier.
So go pack your bags. Quit those part-time jobs. Tell your parents you love them, that you appreciate how they’ve tried to help, but the time has come for you to go. You need to see what else is out there. They will understand.
Then get on that plane. Don’t look back. Hold your daughter’s hand and smile, knowing that you both are on your way to becoming the people you were meant to be.
In a few short months, you will lift your face to the big blue California sky, throw your hands in the air and wonder what took you so long to just say yes.

Letter to My Unborn Child

The following letter was written to my daughter, Angela, five days before she was born. Happy birthday, baby.

Sept. 18
Dear Angie,
The day is coming, isn’t it? I’ve been feeling a lot of sensations over the past few days. Besides feeling you wiggle, I’ve felt my abdomen tightening and my pelvis aching. I don’t know exactly what any of it means, but I can only assume that my body is getting ready to let you out.
When the day comes, try not to be scared. It will probably hurt you, and it will hurt me too, but trust that everything will happen just as it is supposed to. I’ll do my best to make it all go as smoothly as possible for you and maybe you could do the same for me. It won’t be easy. But it will be wonderful. I promise. I’ll be here on the other side to hold you as soon as you get here.
Your new mama.


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