Whoosh Went the Wish

Can you tell summer vacation is here? Where did my routine go? Today started with a migraine and ended with a spontaneous backyard dinner with a passel of neighbors, kids chasing each other with light sabers and big sticks, swinging from the giant maple next door, red wine and such long light. We’ve let bedtime slide, sucking the marrow out of the day as Greg says. Like the giant peonies weighted down by their own glory, these pre-solstice evenings are not long for this world, and I’ve mostly been enjoying maxxing them out.

Ever read the children’s book Whoosh Went the Wish, about a man who lives in a little house facing all four directions, and all he ever wanted was a cat to keep him company, but his wishes keep getting snagged on tree branches or otherwise intercepted, leaving the wish fairy to get only partial messages? It’s quite charming. And lying in bed with Pearl tonight while she ooched and squirmed and resisted sleep before finally conking out, succumbing to sleep, that’s what I found myself thinking. Whoosh! School’s out, rhythms are scrambled, this is both unsettling and freeing, and I don’t quite know where I’m at, what I’m wishing, or where my wishes are landing.

What I do know is that Friday I fly to L.A. for the first time in over a decade. I am going to the Mother’s Plunge, which Karen Maezen Miller, also known as Momma Zen, describes as “a one-day summer camp offering retreat and renewal especially for mothers.” This is exactly the kind of thing I would have previously longed to do but assumed only other people get to do. You know, people with time, people with money, people with lives vastly different from mine. But life kept making it hard for me to fall back on that. Karen asked me to call her a few months ago and said, “You have to come. You have to come see me.” I committed to coming then, even as I wondered how I would manage the money, the logistics of leaving.

Then one of my sisters not only offered me miles on American, but decided to fly out with me to see old friends for a few days. And then a scholarship appeared out of the blue with my name on it. Finally, with so much conspiring in my favor, I sat down with Greg and asked how he’d feel about my being gone on Father’s Day. He happened to say something perfect about what better way to spend the day than with his girls. And so it happened that this plan evolved and now I’m here going whoosh and getting ready to meet approximately 50 women who by the end of Saturday will no longer be strangers (including Holly, who I finally get to meet in person!).

It’s no wonder I haven’t written much this week. Sometimes when I need it most is when I can afford it least, the time, the sitting down, the settling, the check-in. I am amazed to think that this time next week I will have spent five days without my husband and kids. This time next week, I will be on a plane back to Boston, at which point I will round out my time away in Amherst, where Aviva is going to Farm Camp with her cousin.

We were at a party last weekend for my friend Nyarkoa‘s son, who was celebrating his fifth birthday. When it came time for the cake, all the kids were gathered at the table, anxiously waiting for him to blow out the candles so they could eat. But he didn’t just blow out the candles. He looked up and around at all of us and announced, “This is how I do it.” Then he squeezed his eyes shut, very tightly, for a good half-minute. You could feel his concentration, his intent. You could practically see the wish whooshing by. And then, slowly, finally, in his own timing, he opened his eyes, looked at the cake, and blew out that candle.

This is how I want to wish. With my whole face, my whole being, scrunched up then released, gathered carefully then scattered freely, with faith that my wishes will land, complete, intact, just right, where they belong. Well over a year ago, when Karen wrote about a Beginner’s Mind retreat at her Zen Center, we had the following exchange in the blog comments:

Jena Strong said…
Some next time, I will be there, sweating it out with great sincerity.


Karen said…
Your seat has your name on it.


So the wish went whoosh, and here I go, off to claim that seat with my name on it. I’m going to go sit there, plop myself down, and see who I am when I’m not mama, wife, coach, poet, blogger, housekeeper, cook, money manager, girlfriend, daughter – all of the roles I choose, some of which I cherish and others I sometimes loath, all of which are temporal, whooshing past. What’s left without all that wishing and all that whooshing? That is exactly why I’m going to California this weekend.

I’ll be back.

8 thoughts on “Whoosh Went the Wish

  1. Holly says:

    Cue visuals of me jumping up and down like a cheerleader in my living room.
    safe journey here.
    then we journey together!
    love, holly


  2. Karen Maezen Miller says:

    Sixty women, girl. Sixty girls and a guy. "This is how I do it." And next time, I'll come to Burlington to claim my seat. Your life is your practice. Your life is the dharma. Do you trust it, yet?


  3. Meg Casey says:

    Enjoy Jena…I wish one day to be somewhere like this with you both. Until then, my heart is wishing for you all to have a lovely, blessed and spirit filled retreat.
    xo meg


  4. Stacy (mama-om) says:

    Oh, I wish I could be there! But my wish is whooshed right onto my two-year-old who is in my lap saying, "Mama."

    But next time, some time, my seat has my name on it — Stacy — and I will be there! :)

    Enjoy the journey…


  5. Beth P. says:

    I love the 'your seat has your name on it'. Have you checked lately? 2 letters per cheek?

    Oh boy, girl, have a great time!

    Can't wait to experience vicariously thru you and Karen what may transpire there. 'Do you trust it yet?'

    Ah, such a plunge. I just left Karen a note asking if I can come next year and bring a Grandmother's Plunge energy…

    Love and all the speed you need–


  6. GailNHB says:

    Jena, have an absolute ball of a blast with Karen and the others out there. You are gonna take care of yourself and mother yourself and cook yourself up plump and juicy and otherwise shower love and caring and gentleness and mindfulness and uncoerced parenting on yourself this weekend. Sounds like a whole lot of folk have conspired (as in breathed together!) to make this happen for you. Yeah for you! Super duper yeah for you!!!



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