Day 103: When the Morning Comes

Happy Easter everyone, from our 6:30 am Easter to you. He is Risen. We Rise too. We will get through this. Now begins week 5 of quarantine and we are continuing with national lockdown to at least April 30th, probably longer. It’s the first time in history all of the states have been declared a state of emergency. We move through this time period with both fear and joy. But we know our joy is stronger. 🌸💜🐰

Day 71: COVID-19 Fears Escalate. Wonder Found in the Movies.

Today, on March 11, Trump banned all travel from Europe, the NBA suspended its season, universities are moving classes online, Coachella was rescheduled, book tours are stalling, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson reported having the coronavirus in Australia. My husband is sick. Today is Day 3 of real fear vibrating through the world. Each day it’s pivoting into worse places.

I thought hard about wonder today. A tree’s spring buds seemed too trivial to report. But I did find wonder in looking for it. A teacher of mine looked out the window, admiring a small dog. I laughed and felt lucky by purchasing one of the last cans of Lysol at Wal-Mart (it was generic AND mandarin scent). Tonight, Nick and I watched Knives Out 🔪. It is a film inspired by my absolute favorite game as a child: CLUE.

I found wonder in reflecting back to childhood, playing this game at the kitchen table, always figuring out a way to win.

Day 40: Puppy Asleep on my Chest

I’ve been sick. Literally, the night we brought our new girl home I had a slight fever. So I’ve noticed wonder slips out of my mind when I’m not feeling my best. I’m stressed, wanting my body to feel better. Bennett and I have had a cough for about a week and I think it’s just a viral thing that will go away soon.

I watched a movie today that invoked zero wonder in me: Joker. It was more angering than enlightening. (Maybe I’ll write a film review later.

But in the brief moment of a sick day, our new Shi Girl fell asleep on my chest like a newborn. Prepare your hearts for the most precious wonder ever from our new girl.

Day 38: Waking Happy

This morning I woke up feeling so naturally happy. My son was sleeping horizontal in the bed next to me. My husband had kissed me before his commute to work, like every morning. I had a long day ahead and was waking up late; I had to rush to get out on time. But I wasn’t stressed or overwhelmed. I didn’t have anything grand to look forward to, it was just a regular day but I felt overwhelmingly grateful and with joy in my heart. I think that’s wonder, in the body, and mostly, in the spirit.

Here is a photo of what I was up to today: running a thesis workshop for Masters students.

Day 37: Something About Mangoes

This is the title of an essay I workshopped in class tonight. It’s about mangoes and obsessions and grief. I find wonder in the mind’s ability to create ideas — for books, poems, essays. I was reminded of the wonder of that tonight. As well, I was reminded of the fact that most things need a revision.

It’s okay to find wonder in a revision. Whether that be a life or a creative piece. There is always room for improvement.

I think we get ideas from something other than us, and I like to give that credit to God. I enjoyed this post today from a pastor in San Diego:

Day 24: Grief is Healing in Motion

Today I began again. I decided to dedicate every Friday to writing my book. It’s a memoir and it requires a deep dive into a story that still brings me grief. “It’s so hard,” I told my husband on the phone. Last summer, I wrote a funny novel. However, writing about your life warrants deeper more complex and un-finished emotions. But it is worthy work, and that is why I do it.

Tonight, my friend, Tanya, who is also writing a memoir about illness and family, similar topics of my own book, sent me this beautiful article titled, “Grief is Healing in Motion.”

I’ve copied and pasted it here. It’s short and full of wonder. Grief is motion, grief is love.

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“Grief is the response to a broken bond of belonging. Whether through the loss of a loved one, a way of life, or a cherished community, grief is the reaction to being torn from what you love. As Martín Prechtel teaches, the words for grief and praise are the same in the Tz’utujil language because you can only grieve what you have dearly loved.

We grieve the loves we’ve lost. We grieve our abilities vanishing through illness or age. We grieve the loss of faith in our religion. We grieve our children leaving home. We grieve the paths we didn’t walk. We grieve the family we never had. We grieve the suffering of the planet. But while grief may look like an expression of pain that serves no purpose, it is actually the soul’s acknowledgment of what we value. Grief is the honour we pay to that which is dear to us. And it is only through the connection to what we cherish that we can know how to move forward. In this way, grief is motion.

Artwork by Inhyuk Jo

Yet in our culture, we are deeply unskilled with grief. We hold it at a distance as best we can, both in ourselves and in each other, treating it as, Joanna Macy says, like “an enemy of cheerfulness.” There is unspoken shame associated with grief. It is sanctioned in very few places, in small doses, for exceptional occasions such as death and tragedy. Beyond that, it can feel dangerous and weak. Perhaps because we fear we’ll drown in our despair, or because it means falling apart in a world which values ‘holding it together’ above all else. But grief plays an essential role in our coming undone from previous attachments. It is the necessary current we need to carry us into our next becoming. Without it, we may remain stuck in that area of our life, which can limit the whole spectrum of our feeling alive.

Grief is the expression of healing in motion. As you make the seemingly bottomless descent, it helps to remember that grief is the downpour your soul has been thirsting for. Because what remains hidden for too long doesn’t change. It is calcified in place, often sealed by shame, left untouched and forgotten by time. But when it can finally come into the open to be seen, it is exposed to new conditions and it begins to move. It rises on a salty geyser of tears, sometimes sung to the surface by a terrific moan, streaming down our cheeks until it moistens the soil where we stand, preparing us for new growth.

Have you ever noticed how beautiful a person is after they’ve wept? It’s as if they are made new again by the baptism of tears. Indeed, when something stuck can be released through grief, we are freeing up a greater capacity to love.”

Day 21: When a Surgery Goes Better than Expected

The washing machine hums. My wet hair coils in an orange towel atop my head. Red flannel pajamas wrap around my legs. Today has been a Tuesday. A regular Tuesday. School, work, teaching, meetings, stopping by Sprouts and picking up tortilla chips and cheese and pinto beans to make nachos, making nachos and rice and guacamole at home, stopping at the corner gas station to buy cold Chardonnay I never get to, baby gets a bath, baby goes to bed, Nick and I collapse on couch, washing machine still on, still loud.

An average day.

But today I received a text message from a family friend who also happens to be my brother, Gavin’s, nurse. Nurse P. She had to undergo a surgery and was afraid of what might happen during the surgery.

But today, she sent a group message to my sisters and I, and it warmed me, made me believe in the gift of wonder in ordinary days. She writes:”Courtney, I have found wonder from days before the surgery all of a sudden I felt peaceful, I was no longer in constant fear of the unknown, in every person who has taken care of me, in all the visitors I had…I’m so full of happiness and I feel incredibly blessed. Once again thank you for cheering me on. Xoxo.”

The surgery went exceptionally well, better than doctors may have predicted. That’s wonder — a gift, a sense of peace, the arms of love.

Day 12: Let the Failure Go

In church today there was an important message for anyone who’s tried to accomplish anything. That is to say — everyone who has ever breathed.

The message was about failure. Or — who to blame for failure.

None of us like to fail. And when we do fail, we often blame ourselves.

But the pastor said, “It’s not your fault. If you are taking the blame when you fail, that means you are taking the blame when you succeed.”

He told us to give it away. Give it to God.

This was so powerful for me. I’m the first to feel down when I fail, but if I take away that control, then it isn’t so bad. And when I do succeed, I will always say I was never alone. I was with God. A wave of wonder settled inside of me. I went in peace.

Day 8: “Will you always take care of me?”

I thought my “wonder” today was going to be me posting a photo of Takis with a can of La Croix. What a wonder the combo of spice + crunch + fizzle can do to a palette.

But then I overheard something a little more wonderful…

When Nick was putting pajamas on Bennett after his bath, Bennett asked him, “Will you always take care of me?”

I don’t know why but that question got inside of me (and it wasn’t even asked to me!). He has awareness, and impressive and compassionate thoughts.

Will you always take care of me?

I hope so, my love. I hope we all take care of each other with our love forever and ever and ever.

My boy turns three in 10 days. I’ve been reflecting (and crying! gosh…) about my role as “mom.” Tonight I RSVPd to a birthday party. For years I talked to other moms as the “big sister,” but now that my child is walking, talking, makng friends, I’ve entered the new land of talking-with-other-moms as a mama myself.

Life, man. Life. And time.

In 18 years I will be 50. 18 years ago I was 14, just starting out in water polo, about to get clear braces, and about to begin thinking about my driver’s permit.

There is so much of me that still feels like I am that 14 year old girl. So much of me feels like I would stay that girl forever. Now I’m 32. In 18 year I’ll be 50. In 10 days I will have a three-year-old.

Time, man. Time.

Will you always take care of me?

Spice + Bubbles