be here now

The sky dropped nearly a foot of wet, dense snow on us, and now we face the task of digging out.  I wouldn’t have to, really, as the weather will probably warm, and all the snow will disappear on its own.  But I like shoveling snow, and my toddler loves being out in it, so we spent a good portion of our day outside, taking turns wielding the “shubble,” as my tot calls it.

The snow is beautiful.  I lift scoop after scoop, keeping an eye on my boy as he wanders down the yard, half-walking, half-swimming in deep drifts.  He tumbles and squeals.  His hat falls off, and I try to put it back on him.  “I don’t aunt it,” he insists.  I see the neighbor clearing his deck in a t-shirt, so I figure a bare noggin is probably fine, at least for a while.  One by one, my son’s boots get sucked off by the snow, and I pick him up, carrying him back to the house like a sack of potatoes, if potatoes were known for kicking and crying and yelling.  I put him down by the door to brush the chunks of snow off him, and he darts back to the snow, just in socks.

He runs, squealing joyfully, and I follow him, but slowly, as I’m hindered by my jacket’s pocket zipper… as I try to take out my phone and capture some of his glee.  I take a few photos, none of which captures quite how happy this makes him, and then I give up and just watch, taking it all in.  The white-carpeted trees, the crunch beneath my feet, the way the snow muffles all the sounds.

A slushy rain starts falling, and I put the phone away, zip up my pocket, put my mittens back on and go to my son’s side.  He pulls a colorful knitted sock out of the snow, hands it to me, announcing that it is wet.

“Do you ever get cold?” I ask him.

“No,” he insists, looking up at me with one bare foot and one sock-covered foot, standing in a another foot of wet snow.

I pick him up anyway.  He protests loudly as I carry him to the house, this time depositing him inside, determined to keep him there at least long enough to put dry clothes on him.  He fusses for a minute and then relents, helps remove the rest of his wet gear, and heads upstairs for a much-needed nap.  I tuck him in and he slumbers, and I head downstairs to see that more snow is falling, the wind is picking up, and I know we’ll have more to do when he wakes, and know he’ll be delighted by it.

A couple four-wheel-drive trucks have managed to make it down our sleepy little street, but the rest of us with cars are staying put, content to tuck in by the fireplace with a cup of cocoa.

As I sit by the fire, I resist the urge to reach to my phone, and just sit instead, savoring this quiet, snow-filled day.  May each day bring us these moments, when we opt for what is tangibly before us, not on an illuminated screen.  The dumpster fire of politics will burn on with or without my gaze.  The one in my fireplace needs my attention, right here, right now.

Happy winter, friends.  Wishing you peace and love and the best present of all:  presence.


a nighttime story

As I put my son to bed, I lie on my side, and he lies next to me on his belly.  I rub his back, tiny gentle circles on either side of his spine.  If my hand stops, he quietly asks, “more?”  So I resume my tiny circles until his breath slows, his fidgeting stops.  Then his weight shifts and he turns onto his side, resting his back against my belly.  His little hand reaches back and finds mine, and he drapes my hand across his belly.  I hold it there, still, as his breathing falls into the same rhythm as mine, our chests rising and falling together.

And in an instant, I am taken back in time to when I was pregnant with him, lying on my side in bed, my hand draped across my burgeoning belly, feeling our bodies connected, our beings so delicately intertwined.  I recall both the excitement and the gratitude I felt for holding him within me, feeling him grow, nurturing him (and me) with healthy food and rest and loving care.

Coming back to the present, I feel him again, the back of his soft warm head nestled against my breastbone.  Our shared breath seems at once like a wave, a tandem rise and fall, and then I remember: we are the ocean, not the wave.  He and I, and all together.

I slip out of his bed, silently, draping the covers over his shoulders, tenderly kissing the top of his head.  Tiptoeing down the stairs, I re-enter the world, pick up my phone, glimpse briefly at the headlines, and sigh.  Fire, terror, finger-pointing, name-calling, gunshots.  Right now it’s easy to forget that sense of connection that binds us all together.   Reading the news, it’s hard not to feel a keen sense of separateness from others.  We’re divided into so many fractious factions, and the reality that we all share this space together, exist in this singular ocean of existence, spinning around our corner of the galaxy on the very same watery sphere, is easy to forget.

So please, if you will:  Remember.  We’re all in this together.  What affects me affects you.  What ails you ails me.  And what lifts one of us up, lifts all of us up.

Lifting you up, sending you love from afar.

Why “Upstream”?

A client asked me, “Why’d you name your practice Upstream Health and Healing?  It makes your program sound hard, like we’re swimming upstream.”

That’s a valid question.  Indeed, for many of us, our journey to greater health may, at times, feel like we’re swimming upstream, but that’s not what the name is referencing.  Rather: our health is like that of a stream.  If I walk out to my section of the stream and there’s slimy algae growing on the rocks, and the fish are dead or missing, and there’s bits of flotsam and jetsam lining the banks, and the whole thing just seems… nasty… well, there’s only so much I can do right here, where I am.  I can pick up the trash, tidy things up, but how do I address the algae?  If I re-stock the fish, will they survive?  Probably not.

(You know where this is going.)

To really fix things, you have to go upstream.  You need to hike in the woods a while, heading for the source of the problem.  Is there a confinement hog operation upstream, diverting its waste into my waterway?  If so, the fix is not just cleaning up my section of the stream.  It may mean nicely asking my neighbors to build a lagoon.  If they refuse, it may mean petitioning for stronger regulations on the hog farm.  Worst case scenario:  if my environment is toxic and I can’t find any way to fix it, I may need to move and find a cleaner stream.

This is all largely metaphoric, unless you have an actual hog farm upstream from you, in which case, you may actually want to move.

The point is:  we can mask symptoms with pills and potions, but unless we go looking with curiosity and open mind to see what’s truly causing our symptoms, and unless we set about treating the actual causes, not just the symptoms, we’re always going to be sitting by our section of the stream, griping about the moss or the fish (or the lack of fish).  And you can do this, if you wish.  Lots of people do.  Just hang out at an old-time cafe, and you’ll see and hear lots of this.

But you needn’t live like that.

As Robert Frost wrote in “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,”

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

We all have miles to go on our journey toward greater health and well-being, and it’s often upstream and uphill, if we really want to fix things.  But the hike is lovely, and you needn’t go alone.  If you’d like a guide on your journey, a caring companion to help you along the way, please contact me and schedule a free consultation.

My hiking boots are already in the car.