Laughing, crying, tumbling, mumbling,
Gotta do more, gotta be more.
Chaos screaming, chaos dreaming,
Gotta be more, gotta do more.
~Charlie Dalton, AKA Newanda, Dead Poets Society
I wake. I cuddle myself in the warm, fluffy cocoon of my bed. My iPhone reclines on the bedside table. I resist the first urge to grab for it. I begin mentally cataloguing the events of my day, shifting them from cell to cell to see if I can fit it all in. To see if it’s possible, this mission of wholeness and mindfulness. Because it takes a lot of work to be zen.
I roll out and thunder down the hall to my daughter’s room. I open the door and greet her in the way she deserves–with love and excitement. I figure if I can make the start of her day perfect, the many imperfections to follow can be partially forgiven. She lives next to the kitchen, so it’s not difficult to reach over and grip the handle of the smallest pot, fill it with water, and put it on the stove to boil. I drink instant coffee at home. It’s either dehydrated caffeine crystals or the best espresso I can find within a mile’s walking distance. This polarity doesn’t bode well for my moderation mission.
I cut bagels and place them into the toaster oven. I begin washing last night’s dishes. I keep a keen eye on the water; it’s important to remove it from the heat just as the bubbles begin inching towards the surface. If I fail in that, I’ll burn the crystals and the crema will be non-existent. I pour my daughter some water and place it on table in front of her. By this time, she’s gathered her toys and blankets and arranged them exactly where she likes them when she eats breakfast.
The toaster oven dings and I remove the bagels and butter them. I give her a half, and I give myself two. We eat side by side silently, because we’re generally serious eaters. I kiss her forehead with bagel in my mouth. I push her bangs aside and feel how soft and new her skin is. She’s so vulnerable, so eager to challenge and eager to please simultaneously. I think of how tough it must be to be a kid–to know that you need to make people love you in order to survive, and to desire freedom in the midst of intense socialization. It pains me to be a parent. I hate thinking that I’m her authority, that I’m her “man”. I do what I do to keep her safe, to keep me sane, and to assure that she’ll be able to make friends and be fair. If she wants to reject social acceptability, I’ll be all for it. I refuse, however, to send her out into the world with a chip on her shoulder. My heart sinks as I imagine her rejecting me in her teens, as I imagine her tracing back her fucked-up characteristics to me and her father. This is the first time I consider this today. It will not be the last.
Now, the work of tarot begins. I check each of my social media platforms, reply to posts and responses, like things worth liking, retweet things worth retweeting, and give some love to all my tarot/witchy/new age-y peeps out there trying to be the awesome come what may. I do a daily draw and use the morning light to make a pretty scene to set my card in, because I love art and I love photography and the world can always use more pretty things. And then I try to write something poignant, something uplifting, something true in the caption space beneath the photograph. Some days it’s easier than others. Some days, it’s harder to pull poetry from the silver lining, but I do my best.
Then, ten minutes meditation. Sometimes my daughter climbs on me. Sometimes I’m interrupted three times. I used to get ridiculously annoyed by this, but I did a quick reframe and told myself that if I can learn to meditate while simultaneously caring for the needs of another, I’ll reach Buddha-like status.
I fight to get her into clothes. I’m conflicted. I don’t want to force her, but I don’t want to capitulate to her either. And I only have so much time, you see. I’ve unnaturally planned out my day just so that I can fit in self-care, so I can write, so I can do everything that needs to get done and feel good about how productive I’ve been. I don’t want to waste forty-five minutes waiting for a toddler to put her arm through a shirt-sleeve.
We go downstairs. We walk. She holds my hand when we cross the street. We look at birds and planes and flowers; she touches them gingerly, reverently. We go to the park and I hope that it’s perfectly populated. Or maybe I put her in her stroller and I walk quickly, engaging my muscles and getting my heart rate up, altering my consciousness with increased speed and walking to the South Street Bridge so I can see the river and the skyscrapers and the field and the highway collide. So I can feel the thrumming of the city where I live, so I can get transpersonal. Or maybe we walk to Woodland Cemetery and weave between the headstones, considering graves that people hardly consider anymore and hide out in the community garden by the dilapidated mansion and rub rosemary between our fingers to release the smell. Sometimes, this revery is beautiful. Sometimes it’s mundane, punctuated by power struggles. I prefer the former, but I respect the need for sensitivity when dealing with the latter. It’s a good lot of work.
We return and I make lunch and I fold laundry and we eat. Again, we’re serious about it. I’m serious about cleaning up, about watching the clock, about making sure that I don’t lose the window of time in which she’ll fall asleep. If she doesn’t sleep, there’s no Youtube video. There’s no blog post. There’s no mid-afternoon ritual. There’s no client reading. There is yoga–I sit her in front of Sesame Street and shut the door. I used to feel badly about this, but now I don’t. I can’t sacrifice everything for her, especially since she’ll trace all of her fucked-up characteristics back to me anyway.
She sleeps. It’s the holy time, the only 1.5-2 hours I have alone all day. I treasure my solitude, and I respect my need for it. If I don’t get it at least every other day, things begin to unravel. In order to ensure that I get it, I must stick to a pretty rigid schedule. It takes a lot of discipline and planning to be zen.
Each of the aforementioned are my favorite thing to do during this time, and only time tells exactly which one I’ll be doing that day. If it’s tarot readings or ritual, I hot-box my apartment with frankincense and sage and drift into alpha mindset. I channel the archetypes, my spirit guides, the divine feminine and masculine, the specters of the collective unconscious. I transmit their messages or I simply sit back and listen, depending. If I’m writing, I channel the muse. If I’m filming, I channel the four queens of tarot. If I’m doing yoga, I’m firmly rooted in my body until a pose unexpectedly lifts me into the Higher Mind. Regardless of what I’m doing, grounding is always necessary.
When she wakes, I throw myself back into the mundane–budgeting, list-making, scheduling, planning, instagramming and tweeting. Oftentimes there’s YT videos playing in the background. Oftentimes there’s glorious opuses, newgrass phenomena and operatic amazingness. And sometimes there’s The Sugarcubes. Tears for Fears. Sitar and tabla. All kinds of diverse crazy music because I’m crazy about music and my taste knows no genre boundaries.
I’ll cook dinner or make candles. My sister comes over and talks to me about her newest relationship or about how she feels about her business. Sometimes, we make each other feel better about our failings. Rarely, we don’t, but it happens. And then my husband comes home, smiling regardless of the day he’s had, mostly. Other times he comes home and goes into immediate hibernation. We’ve both struggled with depression and work hard to keep it at bay and when we need to be alone, we let each other be. It took our egos three years to grant each other that much needed privacy.
We eat together, the three or four of us. We usually watch crap TV–things like Catfish or Intervention or 16 and Pregnant–because these shows bring about a strange catharsis that’s usually much needed around five PM. We talk, he and I. Sometimes we’re great at it. Other times, we fail. Sometimes I wonder how I could ever have allied myself with someone indefinitely; it’s so “not me” to be married. To be a mother. But I am. I did those things. And I love those things.
Sleepiness creeps in and I fight it. I need to write a blog post or finish a tarot reading. I need to iron out tomorrow. I need to read this book about high magick/familial relationships/mythology/tarot/patterns of addiction/survivor stories. I need to reconnect with visual art (it’s been ages). I need to bust out the sewing machine. I need to be more, do more all while being happy being who I am, right now. And I am, honestly. I truly am. And that’s why I’m excited and grateful to get up and do it again tomorrow.