“Only in looking back do you find those crumbs you dropped that marked your way forward.”
-from A Year in the World, by Frances Mayes
I’m probably about to loose my Two Owls Readership given that I’ve already posted a tribute to my 40’s and to being 49 in the past 48 hours, but doesn’t a half-century warrant taking a good look back?
~At the cusp of 30, I left my hometown by the sea (and the embrace of extended family and the pain of miscarriage) for a new and unfamiliar life in VERMONT.
The following year, I abandoned my career as a classroom teacher; and was introduced (in a part-time educational role) to the community of Marlboro, which would eventually become our home.
Around this time, I took my first yoga class which set me on a path of exploring the body/mind–incredibly alien to one who grew up in a medical family.
That fall, I had my first experience of the “energy body” which turned my world view on its head.
Two weeks later (after a second miscarriage and a year of “trying again”), I was pregnant with my first child.
Just before 32, I gave birth.
I can’t remember much after that… but those early years as a mother involved softening, letting go, reclaiming my non-doing self, rediscovering my dream self, and more along those lines, best illustrated by my post: Lobotomy.
It was during this time that I stumbled into my life’s work as a writer; though I didn’t know it at the time. I had taken a administrative position with a non-profit, and my first assignment was to get coverage on an upcoming project. The editor of the local magazine said that it was too close to deadline, and suggested I write it myself. (It would be more than a decade before I would actually call myself “a writer.”)
Around the age of 35, I remember reaching a plateau; perhaps the first of my life. Where nothing happened. No crisis. No events. No departures or arrivals. No new careers or new homes.
I remember asking the Universe for “something.”
I remember later regretting that request.
Around this time I participated in my first “women’s council,” which was a mysterious and odd invitation that I surprisingly jumped toward.
Within that circle of women, I began to appreciate and honor the feminine. I spoke my truth. I listened. I took the weaving of our voices home. I began to feel the stirring of a second child. I signed up for an art class, my first since college. Things began to move…
At work, a male colleague gave me a cassette tape of some music that he borrowed from his son. The artist’s name was Lauryn Hill, and her voice stirred something deep inside me.
I borrowed a basket of scarves from my son’s preschool (where I was now working) and brought this music to the next women’s council, so that when it was my turn with the talking piece, I pushed “play” and invited the women to grab a scarf and dance with me.
(In the next decade, I would look at back at this moment as the seed of my unfathomable incarnation as a YogaDance Instructor.)
That year, I (finally) conceived that second child who had been stirring inside. It was late Autumn, the 3rd of December, in fact, when I discovered that I was pregnant. An unseasonably warm day brought me outside to my lawn, where I danced to a song (from a cd) which had just arrived in the mail from a highschool friend, honoring my 36th birthday:
9 months later, that same song would be sung at my mother’s funeral. (She was 57.)
Two weeks after she died, we were forced to move out of the sweet home where we had lived for 7 years (the longest I’d ever lived anywhere.) In the following weeks, I would experience and surrender to… an outpouring of support. Our family, with a new baby, was fed and packed and unpacked and loved on like no other time.
I learned about community.
I experienced a dark depression that winter. I thought about suicide. I began writing about my life. I began letting go of the caretaking role I had played with my family of origin. I found a therapist (who continues to be one of my life’s champions.) I met with a channeler. I created a women’s singing group.
The following year, at 37, I returned to the sea to gather with family on the anniversary of my mother’s death. While there, the Twin Towers crumbled on the television. When I finally made it back home, we received news that the baby’s lead test came back high. I came down with pneumonia. Countless friends packed us and unpacked us once again.
At 38, we lived in community with another family, as our apartment was attached to their home. Our children moved between us without boundaries. Hers would join me in bed or in the bathroom, mine would be found in her bathtub. I deepened further into the feminine. I expanded further into realms beyond the physical. Animal medicine. Spirit guides.
At 39, I was presented with two unimaginable healings: unexpected immersions with two significant men from my past: my father and my first love.
As I approached 40, my need for increasing solitude became fierce. It was at this time that we began walking a piece of land that we hoped to call our own. The property belonged to a family in my home state with the same surname as my first love, and it bordered a beautiful pond and summer camp, owned by the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of Mary–an occasion which is celebrated on December 8th, the day my mother gave birth to me at a hospital run by the Sisters of Mercy…
(Click here for the next chapter: Tribute to my 40s or the that came before: Turning 20; and before that: The Hardest Decade:10-19)