Be in each other's light

The holidays are upon us, and this year we've decided to lay low and enjoy the festivities without the crazy travel. These holidays are our first in our new home, and we want to take the time to cherish them. 

To our delight, we shared in two family visits back-to-back prior to Thanksgiving. Our pre-holiday celebrations allowed us to take the time to sit around the dining table, mulled cider candle lit, and catch up without all of the hooha. It was intimate enough to see and listen to each other while the kids had their run of the house, rocking out to their cousinly beats or toasting jumbo marshmallows in the fireplace. 

Amidst comfortable bedding and feast preparation and ensuring everyone has what they need for a successful visit, taking the time can get lost. 

Take the time. 

My cousin (whom I love like a sister) and I don't see each other regularly enough. She was hell bent on taking the time to share in partner yoga, and our daughters enthusiastically joined us too. My four-year-old cheered, Girls' Day! We took the time to share in each other, to honor our time together. 

That's what taking the time is, to be in each other's light. 

Our family visitors returned home, and the jangle dwindled to an exhausted slumber.

On a usual run through my personal Walden, I happened upon an older man who walked gingerly, thoughtfully. My run stalled to a walk. A rosary dangled from his right hand as his fingers grasped the black beads ever so humbly. These woods were his church too. I was thankful to have stumbled upon this devout churchgoer and his graceful light. 

May you treasure the rest of the holiday season and bask in the band of your loved ones. 


Let us go to the house of Spirit

Sunday morning
i went to the house of our collective Spirit
i eavesdropped on the slow drift of the falling leaves 
one by one
as they landed with a quiet brush on the ground
already a bed of crinkles and crackles
my ear bent to the gentle knock 
of a spotted black and white woodpecker above
i gazed at the Sun
and set an intention --
let every breath, 
all that i am, all that we are,
never cease to honor 
and find the wondrous light 
in each other


The days after

I have had no words. I have had to borrow others' words. Like so many, the U.S. election results have left me numb and headachey. Election PTSD, I've been told. While those around me sob hopelessly, I've been popping advil. 

My eyes welled up having to wake my four-year-old the day after and tell her, "No, we don't have the first woman president." Months and weeks before, she knew I'd been volunteering to make the world a better place. The day of the election, we were both dressed in white in honor of the suffragettes, so it was a bit of a women's history lesson -- as much as a four-year-old can grasp without it feeling like I'm indoctrinating her. 

My closest friends and family are spread across our country. I'd shared with one that all I wanted to do was be in a room with my loved ones and hold on tight. She then shared that she was going to hold a remote candlelight vigil in her home just like when we were in college. I agreed and sent texts to CA, GA, NH, NJ, NY, PA and WA to join me in a remote vigil, so we could lovingly embrace each other from afar. 

The days after, the surreal haze lifts. Our everyday lessons haven't changed. They are evermore fervent. 

We can continue to experience the world around us. I was indeed devastated the day after, and it was painful. Let's not shut down and be hopeless. It might feel like it, but the world hasn't ended.  Let's breathe -- one moment at a time. Our young ones deserve our optimism. 

We can contribute to our community. We can organize donations for those less fortunate. We can volunteer together for the concerns that touch our hearts. We can keep on meeting, keep on tabling, keep on knocking on doors, keep on educating ourselves and each other, and keep marching on. 

We can be brave, ask questions, and share our voice. As any curious four-year-old, there are neverending questions. I encourage her to be endlessly inquisitive because I don't want my daughter to feel stifled. Ever. Let's continue to ask questions of ourselves, of each other, of our representatives. 

We can show kindness to others. A loving word, a thoughtful gesture. Any act of kindness is appreciated. Love trumps hate. Always. 

An American flag continues to wave outside our home. Immediately after the election, I had mixed feelings about being an American. I was heartbroken and embarrassed to be one. But I am hopeful that those around us who are brave and sharing their voice -- like Kamala Harris, Pramila Jayapal, Tammy Duckworth, and Ilhan Omar -- will inspire us to take action . . . courageously . . . together. 


Virginia is for lovers

Autumn won't reach its peak here in NoVA until the end of October. The leaves are just starting to turn ever so slightly -- the tiniest glimpses of topaz and ruby amidst lush emerald woods. 
Running along the creek on Indigenous Peoples' Day, I breathe deeply, thankful for this moment to pause and give respect to the winds whispering zealously and sun beaming through the sky-high thicket canopy as flashes of cardinal red and blue-gray long tailed fellow wanderers catch my eye. 

Something about water, any water, no matter how it trickles or gushes, has a way of soothing our souls and bringing us back to ourselves.

as we walk
the Universe walks with us 
Beauty abounds
as we walk
we walk with Grace

Virginia is for lovers, and still Jersey strong, we have become lovers of Virginia.


Eight summers since

eight summers ago
blue daisies carried your spirit 
upon your adopted hometown's river
some of your ashes laid to peace upon a fisherman's bay

eight summers later
you look upon your four-year-old granddaughter
who never had the chance to know her Lolo, 
but she knows your photos

eight summers later 
happy weeps 
like 7am morning dew on lush Virginia grass
where we now live
as lovers of the beach, the woods, the lake

and now
eight summers later
heartprints abound and flicker like summer's fireflies
we love our memories of you


Hellos from heaven

The Pohick Stream Valley Trail runs behind our home. Since we've moved in, I've had a few surprise visits, and they've been magical moments as I watch from our kitchen.

Still waking up with my coffee mug in hand, I'll glance up and catch the flitting of a summer yellow butterfly, and it perches itself amidst a backdrop of lush trees, staying just a few seconds longer than I expect. It soars through the woods in sight, then will once again sit on a leaf for a short while. Its canary companion dances from the other direction and also stays a bit. 

Hellos from heaven? Perhaps. 

Between N.'s funky 4th birthday, my phenomenal 44th (hers the day before mine) and my Dad's death anniversary, the month of August functions as a considerable time for reflection. 

This week, a Jersey City schoolmate's cancer-free 12-year-old son died from complications of a bone marrow transplant. Since two years ago that J. was diagnosed with leukemia, she has courageously shared her family's journey via photos and updates with supporters near and far, members of Team Jack. The death of any child for whatever reason is always heartbreaking, even more so when we personally know a friend who has suffered such an unbearable loss. Fish on to your heart's desire, sweet J. 

In a shifting hush, I watch for these butterflies' next ruffle. My heart is especially heavy for Team Jack. I am thankful for this instant in our new home, for my loving partner and sassy daughter, our generous families, and this immediate gift of now.  

Visits from these buttercup and tangerine winged creatures are moments of uncanny pause as I feel my heartprints pitter-patter. 



unfolded laundry left wayside
ordinary day after ordinary day
i watch netflix
episode after episode 
of my favorite sitcom
with bated breath
i wait on edge 
& life unfolds
she turns 21 
and sips (not) her first 
taste of riteful sweetness
& life unfolds
just 18, she will feast on
her first pizzetta in Italia
her fledgling eyes gaze upon a naked David 
& life unfolds
(in a John Hughes-esque kind of way)
for the sophomore
stylin' at the high school senior prom
he is a young man 
& life unfolds
as we celebrate everyday achievements
with tea parties
for the little miss, 
who's finally pee'd and poo'd (bare butt!)
in the 'big' toilet
& such is life unfolding
in its own rhythm
life moves,
life is mind-bending, 
& the magic keeps unfolding


Simply magic

typical morning run 
common winged ivory spirits flit along 
this trek through the woods
hushes my mind
as a lilac butterfly flutters past me
like a flash of the sol (*soul*) through the drizzle
simply magic


Ripple effect

weekend brunch
a kindred feast
followed by afternoon cloudbursts
winds whir across the lake
ripples rapidly sweep across
like fetching twinkles of our souls


Wild tonic

i run into the woods
desperate for natural tonic
bristly wildness rustles in the ground cover
blue-gray winged natives trill in conversation
i am wasted in the hinterland


Recent lessons

Every day presents a challenge: What will N. and I learn together? How can N. and I share in a fun experience? Whether it's a science lesson about gravity, an artful paper doll chain, a recipe to be chef'd up, or a love note to be created and mailed out, I am conscious of the simple life lessons and meaningful values I wish to embody and pass along to N. 

Love is patient, love is learning. Our science experiments are easy and quick and most suitable for a three-and-half-year-old's curious mind. Most recently, N. has been pretty keen on Pluto -- both the Disney dog and the planet. So I figured it was an opportunity to learn about the solar system and how planets orbit around the sun. I headed to my usual go-to education sites and picked out an activity. But then, N. asked (and kept asking) which came first -- Pluto the Dog or Pluto the Planet (which we now know, isn't a planet-planet, but has been designated a dwarf planet). Turns out, both were introduced in 1930. And all we had to do was ask Siri! Somehow research seems easier in 2016. This week, we've been making observations of our lima bean plant. To our surprise, every day, it sprouts up significantly and poignantly reminds me how every day is an opportunity for N. (and for me) to grow. 

Community means participating. Every month, we make a donation to the local Purple Hearts Foundation which supports veterans in challenging financial situations. N. has to select the toys and clothes she is ready to donate. N. does this enthusiastically with no hems and haws, and if she isn't ready to donate an item, she communicates so effectively. When we supported a local mental health and wellness campaign event last month, I was heartfully excited to participate in a community awareness experience with N. Yes, a three-and-a-half-year-old can understand feelings of sadness and the need for support from others. 

Self-awareness is critical. Because of her hospitalization almost a year ago, N. has extreme anxiety when it comes to potty learning. The journey is long, and we require no pressure small steps. N. hates getting cleaned up, especially after a bowel movement. She is deeply fearful of getting a suppository or enema, no matter how much we reassure her that we are done with those. At home, it's a struggle to clean her thoroughly because she tightens her legs up fiercely. If she has to use a public restroom, no doubt she will wail hysterically. When all is done, she tells me, "Okay, I'm calm now. I'm gonna take a deep breath." With our kid-centered yoga and meditation practice, I gently remind her that she (and me too!) needs to pause and take a deep breath before (and keep breathing during) clean up. We still need lots of practice . . . because who likes feeling invaded (or doing the invading!) when you have to get your bum wiped by someone else (even if it is your mama). 

Neighbors or fellow churchgoers often ask if N. is in preschool yet. Sometimes their questions seem a bit of an unwanted contest, and it's a brave balance to parent the way we want (which probably goes a bit against the grain) amidst social pressures for children's academic excellence and accomplishments that supposedly start in the womb.

Here's what I'm learning: All we can do is know our child, parent courageously from the heart, and know that it works for our family. To a brave balance. 


Finding home

Four months in our newly adopted state of Virginia, I find myself in a mellow limbo like the wonder of an anticipated snowfall. Excited to begin a new chapter in our Mid-Atlantic lives while nostalgic and missing what was home.

Maybe it's the Jonas effect. 

I haven't stepped foot inside my mother's home for any kind of intentional quality time since my Dad died a little over seven years ago. My Dad's ashes sit on a mantle in the livingroom. I have no desire to sit in my mom's livingroom. Too painful to relive waiting for my Dad to die at home. Too harrowing to come to terms with the hardships of my parents' marriage. Truthfully, it was never home since we moved there after my sophomore year in high school. Home was growing up along Lincoln Park (though the proximity of Liberty State Park had its advantages too). 

Thankfully I am left with memories of my childhood, most of them happy, and I am grateful for the generous life that my parents worked so hard to give me -- from my Jersey City roots to my coming of age in New Brunswick and Manhattan and to growing from a family of two to three along the bayshore. 

So many memories can make home where the heart is. 

Sort of. Living along the Jersey bayshore was home -- our strolls along the fishing pier, weekend runs to the fishery, summer whiffs of bunker and shrimp. While boxes currently remain halfway or unopened in the basement of our rental, much of which just needs to be donated or thrown away, I look forward to finding our permanent NoVA home and settling in, where N. will make her own memories of family, school and adventures and together, we will create a home where once we walk in, aromas will be familiar, tastes will be homespun, and scenes will be heart-stirring. 

Until then, I trustily sit with where the Universe has led us as we wander along these Virginia roads, discover the gems in our new surroundings, and appreciate the awesome quest towards finding home.