Spending the morning alone with CJ is taking me back a few years, to the first year-and-a-bit I spent alone at home with my first-born (his younger sister arrived not quite eighteen months after him, at which point, life became considerably more chaotic). The house was so quiet. I used to turn on the radio, or the television, for company. We were living in a new city and knew no one. I didn't feel lonely. I was 26 years old, and utterly thrilled by motherhood, captivated by this newfound, instant purpose to my life. I am thinking about this not only because my feelings have changed in ways profound and subtle over the last eight years, but also because we have been discussing the implications of stay-at-home mothering in my women's studies class. For most of the students, fresh out of high school, this is purely theoretical. For me, it feels deeply personal. That slogan "the personal is the political" is suddenly relevant. At times during last night's lecture I felt hurt and upset, as when the professor said rather casually something along these lines: most of you aren't planning to get your degrees so you can stay at home and bake cookies and raise children, are you? Her point being: at this stage in your lives, all of you fresh-faced, ambitious first-years, you're harbouring bigger plans, right? But that's me. That's me in a nutshell. I am the woman with the master's degree at home with my children baking cookies. My professor was essentially sympathetic to the quandaries and choices families have to make, husband and wife together, in order to raise children in a society that hasn't really figured out how to support young families: is daycare the answer? Early childhood education? Paternity leaves and benefits? Why is there this unspoken concept of "the mommy track"? Her answer to all of these: it's the patriarchy, stupid (I paraphrase).
I can't do this topic justice in one blog post, so herewith, I present a few random thoughts. First, I refuse to think of this (at least) decade spent primarily with my children as lost time, or a waste of my talents and abilities. There was nothing I wanted more than to stay home with my babies. Nothing. No amount of subsidized daycare could have driven me back to work, when I had the option, financially speaking, to stay home. I asked Kevin whether he felt a horrible pang upon returning to work, leaving his babies at home. He couldn't remember. He is, however, a very active involved father, and I know his feelings toward our children are just as strong as mine. But the truth is, had he wanted (and been able) to stay home, I would have fought him to get to stay home instead. I didn't want to leave my babies and go back to work. On the other hand, what Betty Friedan was addressing in The Feminine Mystique, "the problem that has no name," that puzzling, weary, unspoken malaise experienced by many stay-at-home mothers (in the 1960s, and now) is a real phenomenon. It's a feeling of spiritual lack, unfed by middle-class wealth and comfort; and of personal, often secret, longing. The feeling of being unfulfilled. And guilty, too, becase our children are supposed to fulfill us, somehow--I would argue that still remains the overwhelming trope.
I would like to counter this with a baking-your-cookies-and-eating-them-too philosophy: my own, which is unfolding even now. We live our lives in stages. I'm not a big believer in being able to do--or trying to do--everything all at once. If I am fortunate, my life will stretch long enough to be lived in quite different ways at different times. (Though this is not without compromise). I am coming to the end of the young-child stage, the every day, every minute, pre-verbal, breastfeeding, diapering, lost sleep stage. Of course, my children will continue to need me, but not at this same level of simple intensity. The problems become more complex, but children grow. It's what they do best.
For me, spending this young-child stage so completely with my young children has been deeply fulfilling. But, like my professor suggested, it is not the only thing that I want to do. I'm getting ready to move along, to enter the world, on occasion, unencumbered by my children (I mean that literally; as a young mother, I felt naked on the rare occasion I was out in public without my kids, I wanted to tell every passing person about their existence; and I don't feel that need anymore, which is an interesting shift).
What fascinates me about life is how much there is to learn from every situation, every pain, every contact, every seemingly ordinary moment. No one told me to take this class at this moment in my life; in fact, it seemed a bit silly, even self-indulgent. (I am taking it because, should I choose to pursue a degree in midwifery, this course would count toward that). But it has become, like so many of the things I've chosen despite no one telling me that I should or could, another entry point for these random pinpricks of light that illuminate my path.
Almost all the leaves are down from our big trees out front, and most from the back. Yesterday was warm enough for no mittens while playing outside till nightfall. The kids raked up a giant leaf pile, snacked on the last local watermelon of the season, ran, climbed, dug a giant hole in the sandbox. It so was easy to entertain them--because they needed no entertainment.
Want to alert any readers in Waterloo to next week's "Bookstravaganza" at the Starlight, Monday, November 2, 8pm. It's a mini-festival to celebrate books, and includes in the lineup local writer Jason Schneider whose most recent book has just been published by my brother Christian's own Blaurock Press. Also appearing will be exciting new talent from House of Anansi, ECW, and Coach House.
Today is a sleepy writing day. I'm tapping away at the stories, and wondering ... what comes next? If you were to ask my kids that, they'd say: Hallowe'en!!!! All week it's been: only three more days, Mommy. Only TWO more days! And after that comes Christmas! Here's what I look forward to at this time of year: winter solstice, when the days begin imperceptibly lengthening again.
Okay. So, the reading. It was such a gift to speak those words out loud, to share them. It made me want to finish the Juliet Stories, and share the rest, too, collected altogether into something coherent and complete. The more I've reflected on memoir versus fiction, the less it seems that one needs to eclipse the other. Both can exist. Each would be a different creation, and there's enough material to go around. I'll barely touch it in one, or the other. Because the stories are so near completion, my plan is to return there first, and finish those. Any publishers out there short on beautiful story collections? Call me. Heh. Pretty sure I know the answer to that. But, the reading reminded me that these are strong stories, worthy of being published. Open. That's my state of being these days. Open, not closed. Look at those kids playing in our backyard. They ran outside after school yesterday, despite the chill, and imagined themselves a thousand different places and things. You couldn't be more open than that. :::: Oh, and a late edit addition: just discovered this post on the reading by the musician who played for us that evening. His name is Alex James, and he played us an evening's worth of sweet homegrown tunes. When we clapped, he said, no, please, I'm just the background music! Well, background or foreground ... he gave us the perfect soundtrack to a really fine evening.
Attempting routine after a decidedly not-normal week, with ambivalent results. Three children returned to school, one jolly (the smallest) and excited about sub day, one with well-brushed hair, and one feeling queasy about entering school after a week off. I suggested coming to pick him up early, but he thought that would just be weird. I contemplated calling the school mid-way through the day to ask his teacher how he's getting on, then realized that would be even weirder. From his point of view. After a week of excitement and mealtimes askew and late nights and visitors we all feel unmoored, rattling about, dithering, sleepy. I am staring at a handscrawled list of to-dos, on which "blog" does not appear. This is what CJ's doing on the floor beside me, chatting quietly to himself. Just noticed I've left a package of frozen hamburger thawing on the counter in a puddle of bacteria-laden mush. Sheesh. And now the kid is throwing things. This is my cue to depart for the out-in-the-world errands that need doing, while it's just the two of us, and we have a vehicle at our disposal.
An update seems in order. Yes, my midterm went well. Apparently my mama-brain still retains and regurgitates factual information upon request. I realized it had been a really really really impressively long time since I'd written an exam; in grad school, we had to endure nerve-wracking seminar presentations instead. All said, it was doable. Best of all, my cold vapours seemed to lift as I entered the classroom, and by the time Kevin had picked me up and driven us across town to the Art Bar, I felt very nearly in the pink of health. It had been a really really really long time since I'd read, too. Though initially nervous, and somewhat dry of mouth, I reminded myself (as ever) to enjoy the moment, and take confidence in the words. The words will lead you home. Or something like that. Tough crowd, reading to a roomful of friends.
I never remember to have photos taken at readings, which is why CJ appears above, not me. He loves to climb a stool and hack away at the computer keyboard, which is probably ill-advised for its long-term health. Apple-Apple has also been spending great swathes of time at the upstairs computer, working on a Quidditch story. She has amazing focus and patience, and reminds me of myself, the way she can hole up inside her imaginary worlds and vanish. I perform vanishing acts regularly, much to the dismay of my family. It is maddening, I can see that. But there's no other way to write something out. Writing takes me out of life; but it takes me deeper inside of it, too.
Alice Munro said a few things that struck me to the core: one, was that she doesn't consider herself a very brave person, and though she might be a brave writer, it was very difficult to come back from that writing world and have to deal with the consequences of what she'd written. She admitted that she'd caused pain, not purposely, of course; and one could infer that it pained her greatly to have caused pain. That's a part of the writing life people don't much talk about. It's damned true. She also said that outside of her daily chores, she really just writes. It's all she does, all she wants to do. That gave me pause. Because it's not all that I want to do. I have such a variety of interests, my energies run in different directions, and I love that part of myself that is physically engaged with the world; maybe I will not be a writer-writer after all. I'll just be a happy dabbler in the great sea of literature. Just let it be that what I write is true. Both Alice Munro and Diana Athill spoke at some length about how the only thing that really matters, when writing, is to get at the heart of the matter, that in holding back, hesitating, being afraid, unwilling to go to the core, being anything other than totally honest ... well, what you write will ring false. Which returns me to Alice Munro's comment that she's not a brave person: yes, she is. She's been brave enough to write truthfully and unselfconsciously, and brave enough to publish it, no matter the consequences. I salute her. (And I can't wait to read Diana Athill's memoirs. I'm certain she's a brave writer, too).
Here's where Kevin and I were last night: in Toronto, listening to Alice Munro and Diana Athill talk about their writing lives. Amazing! Once-in-a-lifetime. Anansi Press has posted a link to the podcast (click on the link above to find it all).
And here's where I'll be tonight: in Kitchener, reading from a new story at the Art Bar for the launch of this fall's New Quarterly (still haven't held the finished product in my hands; looking forward to that).
Where I'll be immediately before that doesn't get a link. Suffice it to say, I'm just required to show up with a brainful of knowledge and a working pen.
And, finally, here's where I am right now: in bed, clad in pjs and bathrobe, sipping garlic-lemon-ginger tea (apologies to anyone who will be in my vicinity at any point in the near future), fighting a cold. Thankfully, my mother-in-law is visiting and has been wrangling children all morning. We're all happy it's finally naptime. (And if you've never seen me clad in pjs and bathrobe, be grateful. Be very very grateful. No illustrations needed.)
Things were not going well. Despite paper doll houses and painting projects at the dining-room table. Some of us have been inside for three days straight. Some of us felt like throwing our heads back and howling.
What's that you say? Out there in the big wide world? Today is not freezing, or windy, or rainy? The sun is shining? I could hang the laundry?! Boots on, door open, fresh air, improved moods. Especially mine.
Must direct anyone interested in the book biz to my friend Deanna's blog post on the brave new digital future/present. Deanna was one of the first people I knew to start blogging, years before the rest of us caught on; she's also an accomplished writer, reads at an amazing pace, and has worked in the publishing industry for years. Her enthusiasm and optimism is refreshing.
The pink pajama-ed "little" ones. Relaxing post-breakfast, before school. Block building morning: three-stories tall. Food-spilling CJ. This was followed by much vacuuming. And then by more spilling. Eldest now back in bed feeling crummy. He took care to destroy his own creation before CJ could wreck it first.
This has been a fine day. Gorgeous sunshine in which to run a morning errand. Finally feeling inspired to cook and bake again, after a long spell of ho-hum-ness. Kevin and the little kids spent almost two hours playing in the leaves out back. But our big boy is sick. He spent the day in bed, which would be evidence enough; but he also has a fever. As he's staying hydrated and has no cough, I'm not worried. If it should spread, however ... well, that would throw a wrench into the wheels of this busy approaching week. Kevin and I have plans to celebrate our tenth anniversary, a few months late, in Toronto on Wednesday--attending the Alice Munro/Diana Athill conversation at the International Festival of Authors!!!!! Can I wait? No, I cannot. We decided against spending the night, despite having elaborate babysitting in place, because I have a midterm and my own reading the following day. Too much. Throw in a little H1N1 and ... The best-laid plans, huh. ::: This was a good day, however. Quiet, sleepy, filled with good food. I baked four loaves of whole wheat bread, a batch of oatmeal/chocolate chip cookies, and cooked up a huge pot of chicken stock, made with the frozen lizardy-gizzardy bits from chickens past. I don't know whether the savoury garlicky broth will cure what ails anyone, but it can't hurt. Plus, I made so much, I've got four containers frozen for later use (likely in the crockpot). And with today's kitchen frenzy, I feel a renewed resolve. Nina's buying club will be going to a monthly schedule after this coming Friday, and our pantries and cupboards and freezers are full of fall and summer bounty, and of the raw materials for baking and cooking magnificent meals from scratch. So, here is my plan: to eat from our stores. If what we've stored runs out, hurrah, I'll take it as a sign of the experiment's success. And order some more (lentils? bread flour? potatoes? stewed tomatoes?) from Nina. I don't mean I'll bake up crackers (my homemade crackers are lousy), but yes, bread, yes, cookies, yes, granola. Yes, chicken stock. ::: Okay, the child seen pictured above is clad in a yellow duck towel and stands behind me demanding I pick out her pajamas. Oh, I should say that her headgear belongs to her planned Hallowe'en costume. I'll leave it to your imagination. You'll just have to wait and see. Over and out.
Is it wrong to have given my son a mullet? This cut was the result, yesterday morning, of him complaining that hair was getting in his eyes, and of me responding with an eager, but rather dull, set of scissors. After I'd sawed a bit off the front, and trimmed over the ears, the boy was growing impatient, and it dawned on me that I'd accidentally given him a genuine style ... a curly-haired, eight-year-old, somewhat matted, slightly punk-rock version of that old Canadian favourite. So I stopped right there.
She's on the fifth Harry Potter book, reading on her own; and she's entered whole-self into that world. She ran through the door after school yesterday, clad herself in cape and hat (plus a plush duck that stands in for her owl, named "Tweet"), and began practicing the piano. I love that she's not pretending to be Hermoine or Harry, she's herself, Hogwarts student, wholly integrated into that magical world. Kevin and I have been replying to notes sent via her owl, rubber-banding messages onto the owl's leg. The piano practice was spontaneous, which I must say happens rarely, though both kids were greatly more enthusiastic when I suggested they try writing their own songs. (Still, they need the practice to gain the skills to write songs; can I persuade them of this?) Albus's made-up song had a catchy tune, with the words "Turkeys running everywhere-ere / and the sun is shi-i-i-ning / Turkeys running every which way / Turkeys running every which way." Apple-Apple's had a more complicated melody and made much use of the sustain pedal. If you're around and would like a performance in person, just ask. As far as I can tell, all four children enjoy being on stage and performing for an audience. Hmm.
Thought of the day: obligation and responsibility make us who we are, and by living up to these, we are molded and changed by the things we choose to do. This may explain why children respond so well to routines and (small) responsibilities. Kevin and I held an impromptu, late-night parenting meeting on the weekend--initiated by Kevin, which I appreciated--and we made a master list of all the things we'd like our children to do. Such as: practice piano, set the table, clear their plates after supper, use manners, better behavior in the car, help tidy the house, clean their rooms once a week, brush teeth, wash hands. Very simple, basic stuff. The table setting routine was easily put into play: a simple rotation, one child each evening in charge of helping mama. I remind them in advance that it's their evening, and so far the response has been cheerful. Fooey is especially pleased to be my helper. We've also returned to holding hands and singing a prayer before we begin serving food, as a way of pulling all of us together. And this is a very basic parenting tip, but just reminding the kids of the plan, well in advance, and repeatedly, makes everyone more open to it. Nobody likes to be told, cold, while in the middle of building a gigantic Lego ship, get your boots on we're leaving Right Now! Much better to call out a five-minute warning ... even if it means you'll be five minutes late.
No photos, because I'm upstairs.
Obligation also works for grownups, too, I think. I'm terrified by the concept of retirement. Sometimes I wonder why I'm so driven, why I layer my life with extra reponsibilities away and beyond what is already required of me, and wonder what exactly I'm hoping to achieve, or even what achievement means to me, and worry I'm hiding from something inside myself--hiding by working so hard and being so busy. Um, that sentence was way too long. But conceptually, it encapsulates the inner trackings of my brain, when I get a spare moment to think Too Damn Much. Which perhaps is why I appreciate being busy, being active, doing rather than thinking. I question less, when I'm doing.
Life isn't all about action, of course. It needs to be about contemplation, too. And even about rest. And occasionally, leisure. I'm always trying to make use of everything, every scrap of experience. I want it to be useful, somehow ... educational, or fulfilling, or meaningful, or something that brings pleasure. I hope this makes me more open to experiences; but maybe it just makes me more introspective. Like, alright already, just enjoy the moment, Obscure Canlit Mama, don't try to make it into something else!
Part of growing up has been accepting, with humour, who I am. Even while trying to alter in many minute ways, and hopefully for the better, my public and private self.
Listen, as penance for this blah-g entry, my next is going to be brief, maybe even glib, and accompanied by cute photos of my offspring.
I spent the holiday weekend researching and writing a paper on midwifery, and combined with the book reviews I've been working on, and the bits and bobs of commissioned work for The New Quarterly, I've (re-)discovered something: I love to write. Really, I love to write just about anything. But there's a catch. I love to write to a deadline, to a commission, to a purpose, to an end. What's hard, and beginning to feel near-impossible, almost stagnating, is writing purely for its own sake. I don't mean these blogs, which feel purposeful in that they're acting like journal entries and recording details about my family's changing daily lives. I mean stories, poems. And I don't mean that I write stories or poems that don't need to be written--every story and poem I write comes from a place of genuine inspiration and need. The problem is that many of these don't have a home, and after many years of working quietly and patiently upon material, what one wants is a home for it. Readers. A purpose. An end.
I've been reading Noah Richler's cheery article in The Walrus on book publishing. His wife is the publisher of Anansi, a small and lovely Canadian publishing house, so he has a double view into the issues plagueing the industry. Which are not small. Do people even want to buy actual hold-in-the-hand, printed on paper books anymore? Who buys books? Did you know that Google has surreptitiously digitized whole libraries of books which will be/are available online? For free. And there's the problem. Writing is work, like any other. Writing a book of fiction can take years. Who pays for those years of work? The idea is that one gets paid at the end, with the publication and plenty of sales; and, yes, this model works out for a few.
But for everyone else?
The publishers don't know the answer to this either, big and small alike.
In researching for this paper, I discovered a big change: everything's online. Journal articles are searchable and fully accessible with a university library account and a couple of clicks. Heck, entire books are available too. On the one hand, this is marvelous, saves a huge amount of wasted time and travel, allows one to scan a variety of sources looking for those most useful. On the other hand, reading text online is not fun, hard on the eyeballs and the back and the butt. I ended up printing out the most useful articles and headed to the library for the actual books. Is this because I'm old-fashioned? I also like to curl up in bed with a nice fat paper-printed book.
I've got too many ideas today, and too little time. It's nearly lunchtime, my littlest would like to be held non-stop (runny nose, teething?), and I'm babysitting an extra, too.
Above, see pictured the food for our family Thanksgiving dinner, a snotty-nosed little tiger, and CJ's latest favourite place to play (even better if a grownup is doing dishes).
Nope, that's not Apple-Apple striding ahead out in front, in her very first running race ever; there she is, that very small figure most decidedly bringing up the rear. This was at the start of the 2.3 km race, and we had instructed her to pace herself. Which she did. "I was really exhausted because it was the farthest I've ever run, but when I saw the finish line I felt so excited that I forgot that my body was so exhausted and I sprinted as fast as I could!" She came in sixth in a field of about twelve seven-year-olds; interestingly, she will run in the same field next year, as she's still only six. (But there is no six-year-old category). Albus--also pacing himself--also headed out in dead last, then worked his way somewhere closer to mid-pack, at 41st. There was some debate about the size of his field. Suffice it to say, he felt supremely pleased with his performance. And the parents were equally pleased.
This was a Kevin-in-charge event, and I received all reports via texts, as I was on my way to class. It was called a "Fun Run," and Kevin and the kids were under the misapprehension that it would involve a jog around another school with their running club (or something of the sort), when instead it was a mini-cross-country meet, with loads of kids from other local schools, loud music playing, coaches readying their charges, nervous excitement, wearing your school's shirt. Kevin said even if he'd known it was a cross-country meet, it wouldn't have made a difference, because in his experience (rural living), cross country meets only involved, at most, fifty kids total.
Next time, we'll dress the children in race-appropriate clothing. Apple-Apple was wearing a button-up shirt, for example. This is what happens when we co-parent. But it's small stuff compared to the overall payoff, which, this fall, has meant that I get to say "yes" to more opportunities.
This past week, I was fortunate enough to doula at another birth, this time a friend's--in fact, my first friend-birth (the others were people not known to me previously). It was, as it has been on each occasion, a revelatory experience, a true gift, the kind of experience that doesn't translate easily into words--even for me. I drove home thinking, I must do this again, how can I do this again? I'm focussing my research paper on midwifery, generally, and have been reading a variety of texts, including a manual from 1671 written by a midwife; for some reason, this subject remains deeply interesting to me. I know this isn't the case with a lot of topics, so it feels like I've struck on something that resonates core-deep. If I were to pursue a doctorate now, I suspect it would relate to midwifery in some fundamental way. But I don't think doctorate is where this interest will take me. I can't see the destination clearly. Maybe I don't need one right now; maybe this journey, this process, this research and continuing hands-on experience is enough.
My other great pleasure this fall has been a renewed appreciation for writing. (Though it's been almost entirely non-fiction. Hmm).
Speaking of writing (though in this case, writing fiction), I've just discovered that The New Quarterly has posted a sneak preview of their upcoming, soon-to-be-available fall edition, featuring my Juliet stories. Take a look! Those are my cows on the beach on the front!
Oh, and here's the info on the Oct. 22nd reading related to those stories, though, yikes! As soon as I saw it, my heart started to beat about twice as fast. It's been awhile since I've done a reading ...
This is how we get to preschool. The extra child pictured is my occasional charge. I get a kick out of the way his hair lies almost precisely between Fooey's and CJ's, along the colour continuum. Fooey loves when he comes to play because he is fun (for example: they like to play a game in the backyard where they pretend to watch TV; taking turns changing the channel; his favourite involves racing cars), and because he will let her boss him around, most of the time.
Our discussion today, on the way to preschool, was about how long they could expect to ride around in strollers, and from the sounds of it, no one was eager to retire from the privilege anytime soon. Oh, before you know it, you'll be walking everywhere, I assured them, and, nope, not us, they assured me.
Catching up with a few photos. Block towers, feats of balance, Apple-Apple giving CJ piggy-back rides, and my little kindergarten elf dressed for the weather.
Today, we are planning out the week, filling out forms sent home from school, trying to convince one sullen daughter that learning to the play the piano is a REAL SKILL with REAL LIFE APPLICATIONS. (Is this true? I think so), doing homework, cooking up eggs, trying to decide whether or not to purchase a Thanksgiving turkey, feeling decidedly ho-hum about cleaning the house, being grateful to have another parent in the house today, and hoping there will be time to read and work today.
My photos are loaded onto a different computer. I may add some in later, but will not let lack of illustration get in the way of a small update. With a life packed perhaps slightly too full, there seems no time to blog. And I miss it. It's like journaling, which was something I used to do every day, by hand (unfortunately--of perhaps fortunately, depending on one's perspective--those journals are essentially illegible, written in code, due to my "handwriting" which is a cross between cursive and print--an unsuccessful, take-it-behind-the-barn-and-shoot-it cross. Except I can't because it's all I've got).
Darn. Tangents always seem to happen in Blogland.
Here are some of the things currently filling my days ...
Books: I'm writing a review for a former colleague at the Post, who is now publishing a magazine called Lake Simcoe Living; we're rounding up some books to recommend for holiday giving and reading, and as such, I got to thumb through catalogues (not literally, because everything's online now), make a shortlist, consult with her, then call publishers for review copies, which was something I used to do almost daily, but haven't for years. Of course, all the publicists I used to talk to have moved on. But publicists are friendly; it's their job. I've got two beautiful books already sitting at my elbow, waiting to be read and reviewed (that's on my to-do list for this morning)--one of them I'm especially excited about: it's called Earth to Table: Seasonal Recipes from an Organic Farm, by Jeff Crump and Bettina Schormann. The photos are gorgeous and make me want to fondle vegetables, and then cook them.
Mark your calendars: I will be reading at the launch of The New Quarterly's fall issue on October 22. That's a Thursday. Which is the same evening that I also happen to have my first midterm. Seriously. Did I mention that I'm taking a women studies class? The professor thinks I'll be finished in plenty of time. I'm excited about this class because I'm focussing my major paper on midwifery and doula'ing, and have already spoken to her about it. Yes, I'm a keener. Why the heck else would I be taking a class, if not to squeeze all potential learning out of it?
October 22, Art Bar, which is in the Centre in the Square, in Kitchener. I'll be reading around 8:45pm, but doors open much earlier. Details to follow.
Kevin's in Toronto running a slate of training classes, and this morning was HAIRY. I was a chicken with its head chopped off. Picture a cartoon Carrie suspended mid-air with legs and arms stretching in four different directions. And her head popping off. But we made it. And I enjoyed a brisk jog too. Which reminds me that I meant to blog about exercise. Am I fitting it into my life? I felt in better shape this summer with all the family biking we were doing. But I do bike to and from campus once a week, at a racing pace (why am I late, no matter where I'm going?). Biking after dark sure gets the heart pumping. I am covered with flashing red lights, but still feel only an invisible obstacle away from mangling myself. I also run home from school a couple of mornings a week. And I walk to school every day to pick up the kids (briskly on the way there, as, yes, I've started leaving later and later, because, really, why be early, when you can enjoy the adrenalin rush of not being sure you'll quite make it in time?).
I'm mother of four, writer, dreamer, planner, runner, teacher, photographer, taking time for a cup of coffee in front of this computer screen. My days are full, yet I keep asking: how can I fill them just a little bit more
-- with depth, with care, with pleasure.