Friday, November 1, 2013

keeping on

I wrote a very raw post a few days ago,
which took me literally hours and hours to write…

but I deleted it for a couple of reasons.


I was concerned it misrepresented a very dear person who I credit with being part of my Life Safety Net. In the beginning of my post, I wrote words my counsellor said to me, and I don't know that I gave him, or them, justice. Out of context, the words he said seemed less kind than they were in real life, as he sat a leg length away, listening. The words he said were couched in enormous empathy and understanding. I wish you'd been there to see how much they helped, and how much it helped to talk to him.

I don't know how things would be if I didn't see my 'Professional Brain Sorter' every month or so…if I wasn't able to tip my thoughts out in front of him, like bright pebbles in a sack, and have him there to sift through them all with me. All those bits and bobs and tears and joy…together we try to make sense of it all. I am lucky to have people like that in my life. It's not something I take lightly.


I thought my words might be too dark and just too heavy.

They weren't supposed to be.

I want to write about homeschooling and our camping trips and swimming and hugs and all my workshops and just how many times we laugh in a single day… but my fears at the Unravelling State of the World seem to be sitting on my shoulders saying, "Oy! Write about us first! Hurry! Hurry! Get everyone to listen! Something must be Done! Nothing else matters but us!" And so those are the words that come out here.

I want to make a difference in this world. I want to make a difference. But I'd like to remember to live, too.

I don't know how, in this year of incredible experiences and magical growth and glorious discoveries, I ended up writing more and more about the things that concern me, and bring me down. And almost not at all about the marvellous Everything Else. But I suppose that's part of the journey, right? You don't know what's going to take up space in your brain. You share what you care about, in that moment, the thoughts that rise, the things that you think of in the spaces in between. You just have to hope that the Hard and the Heavy don't fill your pockets and sink you. You have to hope you'll notice the joy, too.

So in the spirit of noticing and finding joy (Remember that, self? Finding joy.) I want to share the music that got me through the recent Really Rough Patch I wrote about in my deleted post.

And I'll share some of those deleted words because I want to share the moment, as I was listening to beauty, things seemed to begin to turn around…

And tomorrow will be another day, where I am certain I will laugh, and my children will hug me, and I will love them like crazy and my husband will be funny,

and I will smile at all the living things.

The music 
(aka the soundtrack to the following words…)

The words

And you notice…

that all these days of being battered by sorrow and confusion and despair, you've STILL fed your kids and laughed with them because they are inspiring and beautiful, 

and you've made sure they know they are loved.

Somehow, you've taken them swimming and taught your girl algebra and filmed your son juggling and been proud of your husband and doled out hugs like people handing out balloons at the mall.

You haven't shouted at anyone and every single day you've gotten out of bed.

You've smiled at passers by and you've let people go ahead of you on the road. You've chatted to friends; you've scratched the dog's belly and stared into his old, old eyes. You've run your workshops and forgotten about the Awful and the Mad for those magic, light-filled hours. You've told silly stories to small children. You have made puppets.

You've found …  lying determinedly on the flipside of madness, is delight.

Delight is reaching through water as you swim lap after lap of the pool, your hands pulling you forward. You swim between your kids as they play. You poke at their bellies under water as you pass them by, and make them laugh.

Delight is listening to your son tell you about neutrons and the theory of 'intersubjectivity' from his university history class; it's him showing you his new juggling video; it's watching as he balances a swim noodle on his chin in the pool.

Delight is hearing your girl laugh at a line in the Princess Bride, her latest book. It's her telling you about her newest animation project; it's your girl's arms thrown around you on the couch for no other reason than Because.

Delight is music, found and held, three days ago. You reached for it then like it was a lifejacket, thrown as you bobbed about on the echoing waves, there under a fathomless sky, alone in a sea you'd built with your mind.

Delight was that moment, three days ago, as you listened to that song.

There you are, do you see?

You are sitting at the computer, bathed in only a dim square of light. Night pulses, possums scritch the eucalypts outside. Kids are in bed, your husband is far, far, far away somewhere in the house; you've shut him out with those headphones on; you can't even speak to tell him how sad and afraid you are.

The song begins, it's enormous, it's beautiful. Everything hurts.

The cat wanders by, his tail effortlessly high; he peers at you. You are just another breathing thing in this house, just another thing. But in that moment, suddenly, he's all you have. You will, you wish—all your senses reaching—for him to leap into your lap and stay.

He leaps up. He pauses, two paws balanced on each thigh. Does he sense, his tail twitching slightly, how deep your despair runs right now?

The music rises, builds. Will he stay? Will he stay?

As the music opens up and lays you bare, the cat turns into a fur circle, and lies down. You pull him close. His paw reaches to wrap around your arm. He stays.

You are so grateful, you cry.

It is the first time you've cried, all these long, Mad days. You don't know how many there have been; more than one, more than enough.

Everything curves out from this. The song. Your tears. The cat. The warm. It's the beginning of something else.

The beginning of talking to people you love…again, again…and the beginning of reaching out.

There, do you see it?

Somewhere on the spinning disc that is madness and delight bound impossibly together,

perhaps pinned to the ridged, thin seam in between

or perhaps floating around it, like an idea
or an electron cloud,

is something a tiny bit like hope.


  1. Dear Helena, I clicked into to read your post the other day (joy! joy!) and when it said deleted, my heart reached out to yours - are you alright? It is hard to survive in this world sometimes - the greed, pain and suffering. But as you say, thin shafts of light radiate into our tunnels and we reach up, embrace the ones we love and in those moments we are held, we are loved and that is all that matters. I love the music and love your words. Your hope is my hope too xxxx

  2. Thank you SO much, Lou. Thank you.

  3. Hi Helena, Lou could not have said it more eloquently and beautifully. I remember reading a blog post, "Tell a Friend: You are a Good Mama", this past week and it had be weeping at my computer screen. It was just nice to feel some kind of acknowledgement that I was a good Mama.

    Between the music in your post and the words that followed, I was again in tears. I really appreciated your ability to express the rawness of your emotions and how you struggle with the tides of feeling so overcome with despair and then the fine balance of looking at all those delights and blessing that surround you. I was very moved by your words as I recently I have had my own overwhelm surface, so thanks so much for sharing your journey. I decided a few years ago when my osteopath said to me, "Regina, Stop being a missionary." (She helped me pull the plug on thinking I could help extended family with my 'good' advice.) That statement changed my life for in that instance I realized that the only life I had to live was my own, and if I tried to take on everyone else's pain, and save the world in my own way, I was going to literally burn myself out. So I decided that day to plug into my own family life and pulled the plug on the rest of the world. Not that I don't care, but I realized that the only difference that I could make as a person was in my own life, with my own kids, and in my own household and to those friends and family that requested my support. My load that day became exponentially less of a weight on my shoulders and I could breath again as a simple change of perspective, a few words, had saved me from trying too hard, doing too much in cases that I could not control and that I was not responsible for. This was just my experience, so Helena, I guess what I am trying to say to you is, "You are making a difference to this world. You are a GOOD Mama." and your post brought me back to remind myself, "So am I." XXX


I love hearing from you! Thank you for your heartfelt, thoughtful responses—they lift me, and give me light.