String and Shadow


Hanukkah was lovely – and I was ready for it to be over. As the weekend comes to a close, I’m feeling drawn to the elemental, back to basics, roll-up-your-sleeves, elbow-deep in cookie dough and nut-and-date bread batter, some combination of surviving and enjoying the holidays.

We went to the mall today. The mall! Greg noted that we didn’t see a single person we knew there, whereas it often seems we can’t go downtown without seeing virtually everyone we know. We reveled in the otherness of it from our usual experience, embraced what we’d normally chaff against. We practiced non-judgment, browsing in two toy stores, and eating lunch in the food court. It was kinda fun, especially knowing we probably won’t do it again for a long, long time.

Aviva received a Cat’s Cradle kit – string and a book of instructions – from her cousins for Hanukkah. She has spent the last 24 hours perfecting Teacup and Saucer, Jacob’s Ladder, and Cat’s Whiskers. It was a fabulous gift.

She and Pearl have been alternately at each other and playmates to the tune of this-is-why-we-had-two-kids. The former is as maddening as the latter is fulfilling to be around. I’m both dreading and looking forward to school vacation. Here they are drawing portraits of each other:

Last night, we ate fettucine alfredo on the living room floor and watched “Kung Fu Panda.” Then we stayed up playing string games and making ceiling shadows before saying goodnight. I felt so appreciative of the simplicity of these elements – string and shadow, things people all over the world have been playing and creating with for eons, no assembly, no packaging, no mall required.

Later, Greg and I watched a Robin Williams movie and ate a pint of Phish Food. We could hear the girls stomping around upstairs (usually we lie down until at least Pearl’s asleep, but last night we suggested she could use her new Bread & Puppet to help her remember she could do it without us).

Eventually they did get to sleep, even if it was in a sleeping bag in the middle of the hallway, looking every bit like a two-headed beauty.


I had coffee with a friend this morning, a treat as I rarely go out on the weekends with girlfriends. I talked a lot about The Book with her – The Book I seem to spend more time talking about then working on. I talked to her about my “illusion of confusion” that I don’t know what to do next, my habit of going outward to find someone to help me (rescue me!) rather than inward for my own answers (coach thyself, woman!). I put a lot of creative energy into my coaching work, being a mama, and writing here – and I allow things like Facebook to devour some of my other time. Perhaps most importantly, I realized that the very thing I am most afraid of – getting it right (or not) – is what the book is ABOUT. It’s about this. It’s about practice. It’s about the thing I’ve been writing about for the past three years right here. It’s about having permission to f*#k up and try again, to be good to myself even when I’m struggling, to find moments of connection and meaning in the everyday. It’s about being enough, waking up, integration, taking up room, and laying claim to my own experience.

I am toying with what’s next, i.e. creating more discipline for myself to whip all of my existing writing into manuscript shape. It’s time already: to stop talking and start doing, not in a harsh way but in a stop-pussyfooting-around way.

I may take some new approaches to the blog while I’m at it, but I’ll still be here. And you know me – I always invite connections offline, and in case you didn’t know, I offer a complementary 30-minute consultation (on the phone or over coffee) if you’re curious about life coaching.

So feel free to give a shout out, especially when you are ready to get elemental again in the new year, back to string and shadow and the courage to embrace whatever it is you are so very ready to do.

7 thoughts on “String and Shadow

  1. Sheryl says:

    I don’t think you can do anything but get it exactly right in the end. It will be the book it needs to be with the story you need to tell and it will be perfect.

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  2. Nancy says:

    Jena,
    When I first started my book, everyone had so many opinions of how it should be written. Do this, do that, on top of my own conflicting directions. I finally just decided to write it the way it happened to me. It really was the only way. And I think that is what you are getting at too. Quiet the noise in you mind and just go .
    Nancy

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  3. Janice says:

    Too early for talk about discipline. Enjoy the last of these sleepy dark days and as the light comes back, I bet you’ll see the path illuminated. Happy Solstice!

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  4. rowena says:

    I believe that what we really need, as mothers and as creatives is to learn to mother ourselves. To be our own friends. To be our own coaches.

    Sometimes we’re so hard on ourselves, when really, we could just treat ourselves the way we treat others, and that would be the greatest gift we could give to ourselves.

    Like

  5. Beth Patterson says:

    What would happen if we knew we were loved, beyond all measure, no matter what we accomplish or don’t accomplish? A friend asked me that just today, and I thought I’d pass it on. LOVE the photo of the girls asleep.

    Like

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