Be Happy for the Rest of Your Life

“I’ll do it if you agree to be happy for the rest of your life.  Deal?” Edge said.

“Okay,” I said.

“Okay?”

“Happy for the rest of my life.”

“I hope you understand the commitment you just made.”

And with a nod, he handed me the computer cord and plugged in the other end, as I had asked him.

What if we all held each other to such standards?  What if we all helped our partners commit to happiness above all else?  Not just the pursuit of happiness, but actual heart-pumping, lung-filling happiness.

All you have to do is let go of expectations, attachments, and judgements.  Make a commitment to the present moment, and agree to be happy for the rest of your life.

It’s not always easy, but the reward is surely worth it.

cropped-dsc_1758.jpg

Letter to my Baby

As 2014 begins I’m cleaning and organizing the yurt.  This morning I find the journal I kept during pregnancy and start reading through it.  I remember the night of July 25th, asking Edge when he thought the baby would come.  Tomorrow he said.  The next morning my water broke, and though Waylon didn’t arrive until 1:52 am on the 27th, Papa’s instincts were right.  I read the entry from the 25th, remember how I walked through the garden and sat between the Calendula and Tulsi, breathing in their light and calm.  I remember how, with a burst of energy, I pruned the tomatoes.  That night in my journal I wrote to the babe inside me:

Oh little baby, I encourage you to move into birthing position.  I also trust you to do that when it is the right time for both of us–when your body and my body are truly ready.  I love you so much, baby.  Your life is sacred, and you will be born into a beautiful world.  Whatever adventures you choose, I will love you and support you in living from love, in seeking truth, in finding and being joy.  I will do my best to let you go, to give you space, to accept the freedom you are born into, even when I may want to hold on.  I don’t know yet how motherhood will change me–just that is already has, and that it will continue to change me forever. 
 
This is what I wish for us both:
to love each other freely
to see each other honestly
to respect each other
to allow the space we each need to grow
to joyfully share many moments
to grow together as a family in love
 
Baby, you have already changed my life.  You have already brought wonder, joy, love and mystery to me and your Papa.  We both love you so much, and we are so excited to see you and hold you!  Thank you for being here with us, for coming into being inside me, and for all the wonders you will bring and share.  I am doing my part to get ready for birth, and I know you are doing yours.  I will be listening for the time you say when~
 Love and Namaste,
Your Mama
Waylon, 2 days old
Waylon, 2 days old

Wonder, joy, love and mystery: these things remain an ever present part of our days, and as we enter a new year, I carry my wish for us forward as a resolution of sorts–that we may continue to grow and discover each day as a new adventure.

Thankful

“Be joyful because it is humanly possible.” ~Wendell Berry

I began the day journaling, feeling thankful.  Three pages of thanks for the moments and people and wonder in this life, and it makes everything feel possible.  To recognize the abundance that swirls around us, to live in the freedom of each moment as energy dances and manifests in so many different ways.

“Thank you” is the most expansive phrase I know.

Thank you

What are you thankful for?

In A Blink

“Isn’t it amazing how little you can get done with a baby around?”  A farmer friend asked us.  We laughed and said, “Yes!”

Some days all I do is nurse Waylon, change his diaper, and hold him.  When I try to do something else, he calls for me again, and I pick him up and we bounce or dance or eat.  A few days I have felt a mixture of frustration and disappointment as I feel I am not helping Edge on the farm at all, and then he reminds me again of all I’m doing, just as he did when I was pregnant.  Mostly, though, I drink in these moments with Waylon, and I remember how I’d giggle as a little girl when my mother would tell me, “I blinked and you were born, then I blinked and you were 2 two, then I blinked and you were five…”  How can a month have passed already?  I realize that he’ll keep getting bigger, and I savor these days of rocking with him, the endless kisses on his plump little cheeks, the cooing and gurgling and humming sounds he makes as he nurses, the way he stretches his arms up like he’s superman each time he wakes.

So as the days begin and end and keep on going, I am learning that getting things done is not as important as simply being with Waylon and watching him discover the world.  And though he grows each time I blink, he has slowed my pace down, and for that I am thankful.

Sunday Morning

March third.  It has come so quickly that I am surprised it is already March, and I am not quite ready for the month of spring to be here.  Maybe I have not played enough in the snow this year.  This winter has been a transition for me: the first trimester of pregnancy into the second, the loss and regaining of energy, the expansion of my belly, the waves of emotions, the juggling of a full time job with planning a new farm.  No wonder March’s arrival surprises me–I think I slept through December and January since the first trimester exhausted me.  Now I am reclaiming that time, staying up and reading, journaling, finding the rhythm of my pen on paper again.  The baby is helping, too.  Each time I feel it move I slow down inside the moment, expanding my attention to the rhythm inside me, to the snow falling outside, to whatever small miracle is revealing itself.

As I write on this Sunday morning, I find I still must practice claiming the space I need.  I breathe deeply, and before thinking of everything I have to do, and before thinking I can do it all today, I remind myself:

This moment is graceful
This moment is abundant
This moment is all there is
 

How do I want to experience each moment?

gracefully
joyfully
thankfully
with love
 

This life is energy evolving.  May I dance with it as it unfolds.  May I dance as my heart opens, ever expanding with the Universe.

Love Emerging

Now that I’m free to be myself, who am I?
Can’t fly, can’t run and see how slowly I walk.
Well, I think, I can read books.
“What’s that you’re doing?”
the green-headed fly shouts as it buzzes past.
I close the book.
Well, I can write down words, like these, softly.
“What’s that you’re doing?” whispers the wind, pausing
in a heap just outside the window.
Give me a little time, I say back to its staring, silver face.
It doesn’t happen all of a sudden, you know.
“Doesn’t it?” says the wind, and breaks open, releasing
distillation of blue iris.
And my heart panics not to be, as I long to be,
the empty, waiting, pure, speechless receptacle.
~”Blue Iris” by Mary Oliver
 
When I first read this, the lines that pulled me close were the last two: my heart panics not to be as I long to be

Now I come to the poem again, and another line shouts to me:

It doesn’t happen all of a sudden, you know.
“Doesn’t it?” says the wind, and breaks open…
 

Caught in frustration, I cling to the mantra that life is hard, life is work, what we want does not come easily enough.

Then in an instant my breath breaks open and says to me: love.

Love.  You already have everything you want. 

and I say nothing back, but I breathe in and then out, releasing a broken mantra.

In and then out, love emerging all at once all over again.

 

Cold Snap in a Heat Wave

I had seen a recent picture of them in the paper, and I had heard on the radio of several sightings around Vermont, but still I was surprised on Sunday morning, as I walked across the UVM campus, to see a flock of robins playing in the wind and bouncing about on the thinly veiled ground.  My teeth chattered as I headed toward the Davis Center, where the Northeast Organic Farming (NOFA) conference was gearing up for its second day, and in the single-digit air I felt my neck stiffen, my arms shiver, and my feet quicken their pace.  In this winter that has been so mild, all of the sudden 9°F sends a deep cold into the bones.  Then I think of the robins and wonder at their agility and speed on a day like this, when they should be at least in Massachusetts, if not further south, where food is more abundant and temperatures are warmer.

Food, though, it seems is one of the reasons some Robins stuck around: there is enough food to be found this winter, due in large part to the warmth of the season.  Last week, Jane Lindholm, host of Vermont Edition on VPR, spoke with experts and callers about the effect this winter is having on Vermont.  One woman called in to ask why the variety of birds at her feeder has decreased, and the answer was because there is more wild food readily available right now.  Another reason we’ve seen more Robins is due to the subtle but steady climate shift.  In his essay “Bear”, Craig Childs states: “Climate zones are shifting north across the globe at a rate of a few feet every several hours, and species are steadily following, sending out scouts to find fallbacks and future niches.”  Though we’ve known about climate change since at least the 1980s, and though I studied it in college and have seen the graphs and charts, these physical reminders—robins and the flow of sap in early February, a tropical storm ravaging Vermont land, an autumn posing as summer—these are the things that shock me into knowing how deeply we have altered the world we depend on.

It takes a few moments for the warmth of the Davis Center to seep into my bones, softening my neck and relaxing my arms.  I welcome the heat into my body, and see others streaming through the doors to find relief as well.  As a species, we have adapted to cold climates through clothing and shelter, and as a society we have designed vacation packages to Oceanside resorts, where we can lay in the sun and absorb its energy.  Sometimes I wonder if the American people would care more about climate change if we were going into an ice age instead.

I walk up the stairs to the fourth floor, where Wendy Johnson, a Buddhist meditation teacher, gardener, and environmentalist, is waiting to give the Key Note speech on resiliency.  I take a seat in the front row, and when Wendy stands up to the podium, she looks out with clear blue eyes and says, “Gratitude.  First I want to start with gratitude.”  She then asks us all to stand and face east, and leads us through the four directions, grounding us in place.  “It takes groundedness in to be present in this world,” she tells us.  When Wendy speaks of resiliency, she speaks not only of the physical earth, but also of the necessity for we as people to slow down, to go deep into life, and to “plunge into bearing witness.”

I share this with you now, in part to bear witness to changes that may devastate the world, and in part to bear witness to the beauty of the world.  Both are at hand.  Robins and winter, cold and hot, harmony and discord.   Like all animals, we depend on this climate, and as it shifts so does our food, our livelihoods, and our home.  Let us bear witness together, share in gratitude for this world and our lives, and ground ourselves like trees into the earth.

Be In Love

There are days when fighting for what you love just won’t do.  Even Edward Abbey, the great environmental writer, said no one can be full-time crusaders–you must take time to enjoy what you love.
 
Today is a day for enjoyment.
Today is a day for celebration.
 
So I snap on my skis and head into the forest with the dogs, gliding through two inches of new snow beneath a bright gray sky. 
 
Rumi said: Whatever you are, whatever you do, be in love.
 
That is where I am, in love.
That is what I am, is love.
 
I am in love with this world, and it goes far beyond romance.  Just as a seed is born bursting open with green shoots and flowers when it is called to do so, you and I, too, are able to burst into this world with our arms extended  and our hands open, smiling at the beauty of being alive.
 
For at this moment I am alive, and the earth is alive, and that is worth celebrating. 

Give Yourself a Perfect Day

“Give yourself a perfect day.  Do what makes you happiest.  Look upon what gives you joy.  Speak to those who warm your heart.  Listen to that which lifts your spirit.  Surround yourself with sights and sounds and people who give you pleasure.  For all the happiness you give to others all year long, give yourself a perfect day.”

 ~author unknown

You know, I love the New Year.  I love it not for resolutions, which I don’t particularly believe in for the way they allow us to put off the important things a little longer (if you have a resolution to make, make it now, don’t wait for next week or next year, do it now).  I love it because we remember what a beginning is, and we feel the hope and excitement that comes along with beginnings.  Just as the transition from winter to spring does, January reminds me of the renewal each day offers, and in times of global turmoil and bad news, it is this renewal that is sacred.

A beginning often marks a change of course, or at least some type of change in one’s life, whether it is a new day, a new job, a new outlook, or a new way of living.  I will tell you that I am a generally positive person, fulfilled in love and family, and though I don’t make much money, I know how to make my own bread, grow my own food, and create my own happiness.  Still, there are obstacles I run into, and I have been known to let my frustrations ferment, trapped behind the walls that my own desire creates when something does not come fast or easy enough; and I have been known to give all my energy away to others until I am empty and have none left for myself.  So when I read the quote above, I thought yes.  Yes I will give myself a perfect day.  Then I realized, I can give myself many perfect days.  For me, this means waking up refreshed, taking time for tea and yoga in the morning, taking time to write, time to run with the dogs for hours in the woods, time to cook and tend to the farm animals, time to be with my husband: time to create a life rather than to buy one.  I am reclaiming my days and renewing my energy.  This is my beginning, my change.  This is my resolution happening now.

 * * *

A few days ago, I opened an old journal of mine and read this entry, dated 9/29/05:

I’ve been thinking about my future.  And I have no idea what career I want.  I know what I want to do—I want to laugh a lot. and smile.  Just simply be happy.

As a freshman in college, this sentiment set my path, and I follow it still.  I will give myself a perfect day.  I will do what makes me happiest, and perhaps this joy will find others, and bring a perfect day to them as well.

 

Edge and I Raising our Yurt

 

photo by Katie Spring
Canoeing with Edge, Green River Reservoir

 

Homemade Bread

 

photo by Katie Spring
Yurt at Night

 

Winter Love List

On December third, I came home with a headache.

I sat down to write and found I had no energy to relive the day or to ponder the frustrations that might come up later.

So instead I wrote a list.

“What I Love”

Fresh snow at the beginning of winter

Thin, translucent ice spreading across a pond

Cardinals, chickadees, squirrels

Chai

Nobee and Pebble, and their excited, wagging tails when we see each other

The smell of woodsmoke on a cold crisp day

Winter skies, night skies

Baking cupcakes

Eating cupcakes

Smiling

Love

Running

Milking goats by hand

The satisfied snorts of pigs as they eat

Edge

Mountain tops and emerging from treed trails onto a rocky peak

Skinny-dipping in lakes

Lake Massawepie 

Saunas in the winter

The quiet of a snow covered field in late afternoon

The excitement of young creatures

When I finished my list, I sat for a moment, and then continued:

There is so much in this world to celebrate.  May I see this; may I recognize these things; may my heart be lifted and my lips flutter into a smile.  Not everything has to be big.  May I find contentment in the small pieces of life and see each moment as alive, and may I know there is always a choice to be happy.  I am a being of love.  May I always live with this knowing.  

So today, I share with you these things I love.  May you see what you love also.