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 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 5: The Wonder of Tiny Seeds

“Come outside. I have to show you this,” my mom said.

I followed her outside to a little area of dirt next to the sidewalk I hardly ever notice. The patch is shaded and nothing grows there.

“Look closely,” she said.

I bent down and noticed between the coiled hose, a tiny sprout of something green.

“Back in October, after we carved pumpkins, I carried the seeds to the trash. One must have fallen off the plate, and now it has grown here.”

I looked closer, in awe, as there it was: the pumpkin seed still attached to the top of the sprout.

“Isn’t that amazing?”

In life, sometimes we plant seeds, and other times, something grows despite supposedly being “trash.”

Maybe the new year can bring a re-imagining about how we see failures in our own lives. If we open our eyes and look for the unexpected of what was once discarded, we might just find a gift.

Tiny pumpkin
Up close

Day 4: My brother Experiencing Wonder at Legoland

It’s Day 4 of the year and I’m already feeling the growing pains of doing something new every day. It’s hard. No wonder I have not done a project like this in ten years!

But to make this project more interesting, and to take it out of my own world, I decided I’d tell others’ experiences of wonder, too. I decided this from the beginning. I think there is wonder and enchantment that comes from listening and being present for others’ stories. Storytelling is a gift.

Well, yesterday my dad, Gavin, Nick, and Bennett came home with one of those stories.

The four of them spent the day at Legoland. Nick had a free ticket that was expiring, and the boys love it, anyhow, so they went.

However, sometimes we don’t know how big places like Legoland will be in accommodating my brother, Gavin. He needs a little extra help. But I’m proud and happy to report that the people who worked at Legoland went above and beyond for him. Because he cannot walk on his own, my dad has to carry him into each ride. I guess my dad was supposed to pick up a special ADA pass at guest services so Gavin could get to the front of each line — a nice gesture — but he didn’t know and did not have one when entering the first ride. Well, while my dad, Nick, Gavin, and Bennett were on their first ride, the ride attendant had called a supervisor and someone hand delivered my brother a pass. No one asked them, they just did that on their own.

At the end of the day, they said they were waiting in line somewhere, and wanted to ask another supervisor a special question. I guess Legoland has a really cool thing where some employees carry special gold coins on them, and you can ask them, “Have you seen Mr. Gold?” and if they have, they give you a free gold coin, which is a free ticket into the park!

Well, my dad had a good feeling about this guy carrying one, so he pushed Gavin his his wheelchair to the guy and asked him if he’d seen Mr. Gold. “Who is asking?” the supervisor responded.

“He is,” my dad said, placing his hand on my brother’s shoulder. “He would ask you if he could, but he can’t.”

The man then became extra gregarious and playful with Gavin. He engaged with Gavin while he searched in his pockets and found a Mr. Gold! Nick grabbed Gavin’s hand and extended it to be able to take the coin. My dad said the Legoland staff were all over-the-top kind to Gavin, and it was so nice to hear.

Sometimes, it’s difficult because Gavin wants to do normal fun things, but he just needs a little extra help, and I’m happy to report the two boys — Gavin and Bennett — were both able to experience the wonder of Legoland.

I’m grateful for days like this one. There is wonder in the kindness of strangers.

on a coaster at Legoland

Thanks for joining me: a note from the author

I have been obsessed with wonder since I realized I noticed less of it. As a child, I cherished dunking miniature plastic dolphins and manta rays in a puddle out in the cool grass in the backyard, make believing the wonder of a re-created mini (and quite muddy) ocean. Life can make us all grow-up too fast, too much. Wonder brings us back.

As I plan this project, in the fall of 2019, I have already been noticing wonder more. I haven’t even started the yearlong project yet, but it’s showing up because I’ve wired it in my subconsious.