WHY DO WE WRITE?

Why do we write? Reposting this because I need to remember, again and again. 

Orhan Pamuk: “I write because I have an innate need to write! I write because I can’t do normal work like other people. I write because I want to read books like the ones I write. I write because I am angry at all of you, angry at everyone. I write because I love sitting in a room all day writing. I write because I can partake in real life only by changing it.’

“I write because I want others, all of us, the whole world, to know what sort of life we lived, and continue to live. I write because I love the smell of paper, pen and ink. I write because I believe in literature, in the art of the novel, more than I believe in anything else. I write because it is a habit, a passion. I write because I am afraid of being forgotten.’

“I write because I like the glory and interest that writing brings. I write to be alone. Perhaps I write because I hope to understand why I am so very, very angry at all of you. I write because I like to be read. I write because once I have begun a novel, an essay, a page, I want to finish it.’

“I write because everyone expects me to write. I write because I have a childish belief in the immortality of libraries. I write because it is exciting to turn all of life’s beauties and riches into words. I write not to tell a story, but to compose a story. I write because I wish to escape from the foreboding that there is a place I must go but – just as in a dream – I can’t quite get there. I write to be happy.”

- Orhan Pamuk, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature 2006 (excerpt from The Australian Financial Review Friday Dec 16 2006)

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COME TOGETHER

Isaac and I have been slowly building a community. Thirteen events later we are more inspired than ever.

Come join us!

More here: SALON // NYC // LA

Next gathering = INNOVATE

 

 

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TRAVELING MOTHERHOOD

I’ve been thinking about this post for many months. It came to mind when a flight attendant asked me on the tarmac, “Oh is this baby’s first flight?” I smiled at her. “Uhm, it’s his ninth.” Julius has just turned six months old and is going to take another three flights before December. This is a lot of traveling for a (robust and healthy) baby. What I’ve noticed is that he thrives, even adores this constant movement. Perhaps he was destined to. Perhaps he doesn’t know any better. What I do know is what has worked for us, for him, and for me.

What I’d like to share with you are our little travel routines – not only for families who travel, or are thinking about traveling, but also for the maybe-one-day-mothers who hesitate to start families because they’ve been led to believe that we can’t have it all. That their life would stop at some indistinct point in the future. That they would ‘finally’ ‘settle down’ with a cookie cutter husband in a cookie cutter house on a cookie cutter street. That they would finally achieve the American (Australian/ Western) Dream, and that everything will be perfect and complete.

I’m here to show you that you don’t have to walk that way.

For reasons known and unknown, the house plus car plus domesticated female paradigm has taken root as the dominant stereotype of achievement as a woman and mother. Forget it. The code has been broken. The data has been shredded, scattered to the wind. You don’t have to follow the American Dream. You don’t have to follow, full stop. You can go out to dinner with your baby (!) You can have a life after 5:30pm (!) Your baby can sleep in the restaurant booth (!) On the seats next to you (!) On you. You can travel around the world to different countries without a ton of baggage (I left my house a pack mule, I will return much wiser!) You can be healthy and happy and grounded even after months away from home.

My generation of mothers, lovers, peace-makers, global travelers – we are reshaping the world. I feel it. I know it. What do you want to do with your life? Anything you want. These are the days we are living. Don’t stop just because you have a baby!

Here’s how we have managed the details of our universe whilst traveling abroad:

* Pack light. Pack smart. Think ahead.

* Bring food for you on the plane! Reserve a meal ahead of time!

* Put your feet on the earth as soon as you can upon arrival.

* Wear comfortable clothing and shoes, and bring a backpack for the airport.

* Bring lots of toys, books and other distractions on the plane with you!

* Try to arrange family or friends to have a stroller, car seat, travel crib at your location so you don’t need to bring them..

* Use a baby carrier, like the Ergo! Put all your passports and oft-used items in the front pocket.

* Take lots of vitamin C before you leave and when you land – and wipe down all surfaces that baby will touch on the plane with anti-bacterial wipes.

* Don’t wear pants with a zip especially if traveling alone… hello one handed bathroom trips!

* Keep baby hungry until take-off, but if they lose it, just give them the boob/ bottle and let them get comfortable. The sucking helps with ear pressure, and settles them after the craziness of general airport madness.

* Use a light scarf to cover baby’s head while they are nursing and sleeping – sometimes bright lights can wake them, and if you want to sleep while baby is still on your breast, it’s nice to have some privacy.

* If they don’t sleep in the bassinet, let them sleep on you, or on an empty chair or two beside you, if you’re still awake and can watch them.

* Just go with the flow! Switch games, toys, flip through the magazine, go talk to the hostesses. Even run their hands under the water in the bathroom – anything to make it through those hours!

* When you get to your destination keep as much familiarity as you can – sleep sounds, toys, books, blankets, routines, etc.

* Lay on the grass, go to the beach, be in nature if possible! It’s very grounding for both of you after all that travel.

Enjoy!! Until the next flight. In which case, rewind and replay.

I hope this was helpful. (Longer and very detailed, possibly mind-numbing version here)

 

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GROWING PAINS

Even though I have felt stretched many times this past week, being with Julius by myself, I am floored with gratitude for the moments I get to witness of my little boy growing up. Yes, it is me who does all of the rocking to sleep, puts him down for naps, walks him in the stroller and the ergo and cooks and cleans and does the laundry and takes the car to the mechanic. My body knows it.

But –

Being the only one who gets to watch the way he picks things up and turns them in his little hands with the chubby wrists; the way he talks quietly to himself (‘weeb weeb’ ‘beeb’); the way he takes a wooden egg and puts it back in its wooden egg cup for the first time; the way he looked at me when we went for a walk outside this afternoon. My heart expands until it hurts. His two bottom teeth jut out of pink gums, his eyes turn to slits and his forehead bulges between his eyebrows as he offers me the biggest smile I’ve ever seen. He is saying thank you, I love you, thank you, I am happy. Only I get to see that smile, that message. I cannot capture it in film or even in writing.

So, I tend to stop what I’m trying to get done (reading, studying, writing emails, paying bills) just to watch him explore. Tipping over baskets and feeling the woven base over and over again. Picking up fallen sprigs of parsley or onion skins and tasting those. Shaking things that make noise, his favorite blue cloth rattle with the face on it, or a tupperware container full of coffee beans. He can eat a whole small banana now and it amazes me that he has learnt how to chew and swallow. I am brought to tears with the love that I have for him as he engages with the world without me.

As I rocked him to sleep in the rocking chair tonight, I remembered the earliest nights. The dozens of pillows to prop us up. Tired limbs and devoted hearts. I can’t remember what his cry sounded like. He was so small, so vulnerable, so loving. He still is. Now he falls as he learns how to crawl and to pull up to standing and his body takes the blows. He complains but he gets back up. God I love him so much. He is my baby and he’s growing so fast. What will I do when there are no more toys on the ground and little hands to hold them? The teepee I built for him is still and quiet and the living room is darkened as I write while he sleeps upstairs in my bed. What on earth will I do when he grows up?

Julius Max, six months young, just learnt to crawl.

I will have my relationship with my husband back, all to myself, that’s what, and we will write poetry and dance and cook together and drink wine at our kitchen table with a hundred scratches on it, and we will be together again as we were in the beginning. Expanding and contracting. I saw this evening as I walked the frozen ground in the empty fields, not another soul around, that we will be back to this land. This place where I became a mother, where I escaped from New York with my lover, where we were married. I know that we will return here to burn sage and bonfires, to swim in the river and smoke joints in the cinema parking lot. It might be 20 years from now, maybe more, but I know it in my bones.

What a ride life is. I am excited for our new chapter in California next year. Give me desert nights and sun-touched skin, cactus and wild fennel and the ocean and all the lemon trees. I love you Julius. I love you Isaac. My family, my blood, my world.

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WHOLE HEARTED

“I have no right to call myself one who knows. I was one who seeks, and I still am, but I no longer seek in the stars or in books; I’m beginning to hear the teachings of my blood pulsing within me. My story isn’t pleasant, it’s not sweet and harmonious like the invented stories; it tastes of folly and bewilderment, of madness and dream, like the life of all people who no longer want to lie to themselves.”

~ Hermann Hesse, via mysticmamma.com

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AUSTRALIA

There’s a certain color that the sky goes when the sun sets over Western Australia. A purpley grey. The olive branches waving gently over the walkway towards our house. I miss this. Heat rises in my throat. The way the seagulls swarm in tangential directions as salty bodies wash the day away, and the sun drops into sea. I miss the feel of this sand in my toes, of this salt in my hair. I miss the comfort of hot showers in this water after a swim against the sun setting ochre in Perth. Wet towels and sandy cars and seaweed. Dry clothes enveloping a body still warm, sandy hair washed with supermarket shampoo and conditioner, scenting for hours. The heat still penetrates the body that swam in that sea. I miss this.

T-shirts the shade of swimming pools. Hoodies and Ugg boots and socks with sandals. A long day well spent. I want my son to experience this. I want my son to grow up an Australian. I want my son to know the particular smell of the night here, the quality of the air as we step outside to drink rainwater amongst the honeysuckle and grapefruit flowers. The swell of the Indian ocean. My chest fills as I realize how much I have missed this place. As much as my childhood home is changed each time I return, there is a magic that hangs over this house, this suburb, this city. The owners change and the buildings are painted over, new businesses start and old ones reposter front windows. It’s still my original home.

Original home.

I have wandered far, looking for some kind of (replica of this) home. Yes, I have been enchanted by the deer and the hummingbirds and the late summer storms and the three-feet-snowy winters. I have been distracted by New York, baffled by Los Angeles and everything in between, drawn towards the strangeness, the newness, the idiosyncrasies of America. I have followed my heart towards that great land and found many a treasure there, and many, many a friend. How do I explain to myself the deep feeling that doesn’t creep in from the outside, but seeps out from within when I return to this West? How do I quantify the love I feel for this land? My homeland. Do we all feel this way about our birthplaces?

I have written before about this part of the Earth where I was born, arriving nearly 30 years ago at King Edward Hospital in Subiaco. I haven’t acknowledged, perhaps for a decade, how I feel when I am home. How do I feel? Home. How strange that we must leave and return to feel this. How strange that our seeking is so often borne of the origin. How do I reconcile my love for Australia with the rest of my life? If it were up to me alone, I would return to Perth. I would have brunch with my high school girlfriends as we did yesterday, laughing about things only we would remember. I would swim in the sea. I would drink the expensive coffee. I would write and I would perhaps even model again. I would take my son to the desert and the red sand North. I would show him the yellow wattle flowers and the blue Lechenaultia, the banksia and Stuarts desert pea.

I have seen the kangaroos and the camels, the rainbow lorikeets, the pink and grey galahs, the magpies and the lilies and the color of the sand and the rocks in the ocean and the way we walk barefoot and sandy through the drive-in liquor stores, the shiny malls and the way no one has a coat hook nor need for a scarf. I have seen the sights of my childhood, and I yearn for this feeling, to be nearer my parents as I age, to be nearer the people I knew when I was young. I don’t let myself weep, because I know it’s no use being sad. I will leave this city tomorrow, and I will return. Wherever life takes me, I bend myself against the wind towards the shore where the sun sets towards Africa. I miss you Australia. I love you my home. I thank you my life. I give you my heart.

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MOMENTS: PART TWO

Aug 12th 2014. Julius is 3 months old.  I want to remember:

The way he held the hem of that pillow as I nursed him in bed, the one with the matching quilt covered in red and blue stars, stripes, moons and checks. How he looks at things in our house intently, his body pulling away from my shoulder as he arches to inspect the pictures on the wall, the red and white cloth lantern Isaac and I found in Elizabeth Gilbert’s store across the river. He is fascinated by cooking and eating. Watched me stir a pot tonight and spoon mouthfuls into my face. I love the peach fuzz on his upper arms illuminated by day light in a darkened room.

Two days ago he learnt to blow raspberries with his little tongue. Spit bubbles spill down his chin as he sticks his tongue out and blows, then waits for you to reciprocate. He grins and continues this game for as long as possible! Our first verbal communication game. So much fun to be seen and heard by each other. Squeals, shrieks, yells, growls, laughter ricocheting off the rooms. He’s our little Taurean Horse boy, born in the hours of the ox, with Capricorn rising. Four four legged animals are his totems. Sixteen legs. I love them all.

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THE GLORIOUS MESS OF PARENTING

I love being a parent. But saying that doesn’t mean it’s been easy. During the first week of nursing a newborn, I hit blissful highs and tearful lows. At one point, pinned to a rocking chair in our once tidy bedroom upstairs, I relished in the empty bowls and crumpled sheets, the spit up cloths and bountiful pillows that mounted our bed. A glorious mess, I thought. Something was happening in our house. All was full of life.

A few days later, pinned to the couch, nursing a newborn, I felt like my only redeeming quality was breast milk. I didn’t understand then that everything would change. That it wouldn’t always feel so constant, so exhausting. That my baby wouldn’t always nurse for an hour at a time, every hour. That I would one day have longer breaks, that one day I won’t be nursing him at all. Yes, babies grow into toddlers, into children, into teens, into adults. Realizing this constant movement means I can let go whilst simultaneously treasuring the magnitude of Now.

What I didn’t expect to be so challenging is the adjustment we have had to embrace in our relationship as husband and wife, lover and lover. I had heard glimmers of this truth in passing, picked up from segments of documentaries we watched, skimming over that section. That won’t happen to us. How unfortunate. I remember Isaac saying, I won’t be your number one any more. It broke my heart and I didn’t want it to be true.

It is true.

Becoming a mother means shifting from Nymphette to Guardian of the Wellbeing of a Vulnerable Life. It means balancing five spinning plates whilst juggling on your toes. It means online shopping late at night and wearing a baby most of the day, leaving dishes undone and wet washing in the basket. It means realizing that you are a human being who needs to be touched, but not too much! (Your baby will be doing most of the touching.) It means accepting that you cannot give it all, that you cannot please everyone, that your back will hurt, your wrists will hurt, your shoulders will hurt, but they will get stronger. You will get spit up in your hair, bright orange, tumeric-colored baby poop on your clothes, and it will take some elbow grease to get that out. You will wake up during the night and develop new ways of entertaining a constantly evolving human.

You will learn to be spontaneous. You will learn to be helpful. You will learn to be responsive, response-able. You will learn how to wear your baby because it’s best for them and you. You will go for long stretches without food without realizing. You may get incredibly thirsty (and soaking wet) from breastfeeding. It’s likely that you will love your body more after giving birth – mostly because of the respect you will feel for it, producing and then nourishing your incredible new baby. You won’t ever have the same body again. You won’t ever have the same relationship again. You will probably mourn this. You might celebrate this.

I was surprised at how much things changed. But they keep changing. 

How do we lovers cope with this unspoken shift, the changing of the spotlight from each other, towards the gaze of a creature you would do anything for? I have wept inexplicable tears whilst looking at my son. The love I feel for him is frustratingly indescribable. But the love I have for Isaac? It feeds me. You will need to be fed. Your partner may feel isolated, neglected, far away. Keep communicating, keep sharing how it is for you. If you feel something spikey growing between you, talk about it. Even if you don’t have words. Start talking. Just share. You will come together one morning in tears, and together the same night in love.

This is what I’ve learnt it means to be in a partnership, to be a parent. A glorious mess. Constantly evolving. 

 I will love you forever Isaac.
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MOMENTS PART ONE

My baby is three months old this week, and I keep meaning to write something down so that I will remember these fleeting moments, memories that may not be stored in a month, or a year. The endless, glorious mess of parenthood keeps everything moving. There is always something to do, something to remember, and yet these are the days I know I will pine for, come autumn, winter, subsequent springs.

I have wondered about how it will be to have other children – perhaps only then realizing how different we each are; how unique our jewel, Julius.

Some of the many things I love about him:

The way he strokes my chest while nursing, sometimes so much so that I have to hold his hand. The way his bottom lip curls downwards when asleep. The tiny, surprisingly deep creases carving such soft little palms. The way he stares into a corner smiling as if an angel were speaking to him in a language only he knows. The long curved eyelashes. Inexplicable dirt already at the edges of tiny fingernails. He laughs as his father dances, little legs retracting quickly, knees to chest, the arms waving about, little fists clenched, eyes only slits, toothless mouth wide. His squeals of delight rise in octaves.

Watching fireflies and fire

A few of his favorite things:

Ceiling fans. Flowers, gardens, fires, the silhouette of trees against the dusk. Being held, carried, or swaddled in a wrap on mumma’s chest. Dreamcatchers. The way the feathers sway subtly in breezes from hidden draughts. Mumma’s milk. Daddy’s kissing, games, and songs. He dislikes clothing. Getting more familiar with hats. Love his ‘spesh’ – a red silk scarf given to him from Daddy (‘the color of my heart.’) Dislikes long car rides. Enjoys distraction, especially when musical. Loves New York City and all the sights and lights. Enjoys being held by aunties, uncles, grandmothers, grandfathers and friends. Stays up late with us and sleeps in late too, sometimes after we’ve left the bed for breakfast. Can currently turn himself from his back, to his side, to his front in one (currently awkward though awesome) movement. Loves talking loudly, swinging, bouncing, hammocks.

We will love you forever Julius Max.

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ELEVATING EACH OTHER

I wandered into the kitchen this morning with Dido’s song Thank You in my head. This happens only every so often. Like it were planted by an angel, a spirit, from a parallel universe. And I want to thank you, for giving me the best day of my life. And oh, just to be with you… 

Motherhood has grounded me. These days, I’m willing to just lay here and soak up the moment, breastfeeding my son before he falls asleep across my chest, the tree leaves rustling and the blue birds still nesting. I remember when I wasn’t pregnant, I seemed to fly across the surface of the earth, buoyant with all kinds of energies. There will come a time when I have dance parties in the living room again, probably when Julius can walk and dance with us. At this point in time, he is little, getting heavier, and I can only hang him from my shoulders for so long.

I feel blessed to be able to truly enjoy this time. These last three months I have cleared my schedule; there is nothing I need to be doing but attend to my baby, my body, my surroundings. This is how I dreamt it would be. There is nothing more important. When I hear my son laughing with my mother in law from another room, I can put down the dishes and lay down with them. When I hear him crying on another person’s shoulder, I can take him and hold him close to me and his upset melts away. I am his mother. I have never felt more engaged, more excited for the future, more enlivened to create a life with purpose and meaning and direction.

I watched a documentary called Tiny the other day, about tiny homes. I am inspired by sustainable housing, and I am inspired by California, and I am inspired by traveling on the road with Isaac and The Kin. The path is unfolding slowly, and I am in the middle of this inexplicable journey. I feel there are a dozen paths to choose from and instead of feeling daunted, I am thrilled by all the possibilities. What do we want to create? How do we want to live? I am not content with the idea that we need (or should want) a large house heated by fossil fuels, a mortgage, two cars, a nine to five job and kids in an underfunded school. I don’t want to work because I have to pay the bills. What if I didn’t have those bills in the first place? What if my kids didn’t go to a ‘regular’ school? What if we stopped relying on fossil fuels and actually, seriously, sought a personal solution?

What inspired me about Tiny was the idea that when building a tiny home (or even a ‘regular’ home smaller than a McMansion) one has to think about every surface, every space. There is a purposefulness to living this way that really excites me, as well as the fact that you need to live with less belongings. What is all this stuff in my home, and do I really like it or need it? I refuse to buy or use a lot of things that many others in my life still purchase, like kitchen towel, surface spray (we use multi-purpose environmentally friendly dish soap) or plastic (saran) wrap. There is no need to use these ‘convenience’ items when a perfectly good tea towel or bowl with a lid is on hand.

Reuse, reduce and recycle. I have been saying it for years. It’s time to take it to a new level. I want to live in tune with our values, with the vision I have for our child and future children. The time is up for staying uncomfortably comfortable. I felt the wind change a few days ago and I’m ready.

Let the planning begin…

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